Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

January 2005

PoliticalWednesday, January 26th, 2005, (10:18 pm)

I’m curious, how many of you would go to the voting stations on voting day, if an army said they would kill you and anyone else if you did. The army isn’t huge, so you might get away with it, but would you be brave enough? Think about your life, the people you love. Would you really vote if it cost you your life?

Occupied Iraq is only days away from voting today, and with the numbers of American soldiers being shipped home in body bags, and the numbers of Iraqi’s being killed in their own country, I think it’s safe to assume that these elections will be a huge failure. Apart from the interim government (put there by the Americans) nearly all of the other candidates have yet to campaign openly for fear of being murdered, and some parties haven’t even named their candidates for the same reason. So it kinda makes you wonder who the people are going to vote for, even if they wanted to! – What a mess.

British PM Tony Blair has ruled out any military action against Iran, as have the rest of the world. If Bush wants a bite of that cherry then he’s on his own there. Which is good news to those able bodied Americans who are concerned over the possible re-introduction of conscription. I can’t see Bush stupid enough to open that can of worms surely?

And today, after four years of being held in Guantanamo Bay without charge, or trial, or visitations from family or friends, the four Britons who were recently returned the the UK by America, have been released – without charge. Just like the previous POW’s that America called ‘detainees’ so as they could avoid breaking the Geneva conventions ‘rules of war’.

I love America, but I tell you what, we’re going through a rough patch in our relationship at the moment.

Danger haunts Iraq’s campaign trail
Another wave of car bombs explode in Iraq
From 1000’s of miles away, the most heavily guarded man in the world tells Iraqi’s to be brave
Iraqi election gloom as day looms.
What the Arab press say about the elections in Iraq
UK Police release Guantanamo four

GeneralTuesday, January 25th, 2005, (5:19 pm)

I gotta write something to get all this sadness to scroll away. Let me see, what can I write…

I’m going to the gym tonight. Run a few miles on the road to nowhere while watching silent TV’s that require a headset to hear them, surrounded by older ladies who haven’t figured out yet that they need to do more if they hope to ever lose that ‘little extra weight’ they always moan about carrying around. One of these days I’ll say “Well you know ladies, it’s NOT a walking machine, it’s a RUNNING machine and if you turned up the pace and actually ran on it, as opposed to strolling slowly on it while chit chatting, you might just lose some of the weight you’re carrying there.”

But I wouldn’t do that in reality. I do that in my head every time they start moaning, rather like a ‘Six feet under’ or ‘Ally McBeal’ imaginary moment, you know?

I get so bored doing those machines though. It would be better if they could make them more interesting. You know, like have obstacles pop up and go past you. Things you had to jump out of the way of. Maybe a dog that chases you barking for a bit. Stuff like that.

Scroll away…

Scroll away…

Okay, it’s a quarter past eight. I should go.

I wish they had one of those boxing punch bag things that I could beat the crap out of.

GeneralMonday, January 24th, 2005, (1:33 am)

Had a fairly quiet weekend. Friday afternoon I drove to the beach and listened to quiet music on my iPod. Went to Wales on Saturday with my girlfriend Posh (known to most as as Rachel). It snowed, great big feather snow flakes that covered the hillsides and farms in a seemingly never ending white blanket, that looked like clean white sheets on a un-slept-in bed. Back in England the snow hadn’t come, just the rain.

Didn’t do much today. Went to the gym in the evening, came home watched a bit of TV. Then went downstairs and cleaned up the kitchen. Collected all the boxes from Christmas and my Birthday that were too big to put in the bin, then took them out to my backyard to have a little late night fire.

The air was still and not as cold as you might expect for January. I piled the boxes then lit them and stood back. Within seconds the flames were eating through he cardboard like hungry wild animals savaging a newly killed prey. I sipped on my coffee, and listened to the music on my iPod while I made sure every last bit of cardboard was burned.

As the flames died down I was about to go back inside to the warmth of my apartment when I decided to go for a walk instead. I opened my not very functional back gate and just walked down the path to the little road that takes me to the park behind where I live.

I walked past the tiny cottage into the park that was bathed in silvery light from a full moon shining from a cloudless sky. The ground was spongy, the grass wet, and the trees bare and ghostly. I made my way to the children’s playground and sat on the roundabout that I slowly span with my feet while starring at the stars. After a while I went over to the swings. The chain-linked rubber seats were cold but it didn’t stop me having a few swings in the night, completely on my own in the park, not likely to be seen or see anyone else, not that I cared. Then I just there and listened to my music and the wind in the trees making sounds like the ocean. The dead of the night was unusually bright. I walked on some more.

Along side the railway line, now sleeping like everyone else. Past the allotments and the goal posts of the football pitch where I’ve never seen one game of football played. I took slow pensive steps accompanied by only my thoughts and my shadow. In the rose garden I sat down for a few moments on one of the many park benches. There are no roses yet. A plane so high it could not be heard, drew a long white line in the night sky. I watched it travel silently on it’s way until it was out of sight. I sat back in the chair and blew little clouds of warm breath that quickly disappeared into the chilled night air. Everything was still. Everything was so still.

I took a slow walk around the barren rose garden, then made my way along the path under the great oak trees that have stood there for years keeping secret what they’ve seen. If only the trees could talk, I wonder what stories they could tell. They stand close together as if watching out for one another, like the last remaining soldiers on a fallen battlefield. The orange glow of street lights grows brighter as I walk along the path toward Mayor Hall and the park gates.

I wander slowly back along the village road, past the front of Mayor Hall where the clock tower tells me it’s nearly four o’clock in the morning. The red post box by its front gate stands like a guard at a century box. Past the Rose and Crown pub where you can get a pint of real ale, if that be your poison. I make my way along the path back toward my apartment, a path that will be lined with daffodils comes the spring. Past the tiny cottage on the edge of the park and behind my neighbors thatched cottage with its towering dove cot.

As I once again open my back gate the embers of my cardboard fire still glow. The sound of the wind chimes in my neighbors garden mingle with a night birds song and the jingle of my keys as I look for the key to my door. Then I turn and look at the sky once more. A deep long gaze out into space. I’m cold now. I step into the warmth and shut the door behind me.

GeneralFriday, January 21st, 2005, (8:26 am)

Your life amazed me. I thought somehow that you’d last forever. They said you had a 70/30% chance of surviving. I would have bet on that 30% any day Granddad.

I’ll miss you old timer.


So long granddad

PoliticalThursday, January 20th, 2005, (2:07 am)

If your Mother and Father were shot dead in front of your very eyes by an occupying military force do you think this might have an influence on how you viewed the country whose men it was that killed your parents? That is the question on my mind as I sit here looking at the faces of five children who went through the harrowing experience of seeing their parents shot and killed by U.S. soldiers after they failed to stop at a dawn check point.

I’ll accept that the American soldiers were simply doing their job (for what that’s worth), but nonetheless five kids watched the life leave their Mom and Dad. The people who bought them into the world and bought them up, who had earlier put them in the car, were gone in an instant, a terrifying instant under a hail of bullets and noise.

I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that those five children are somewhat more likely to become terrorists than before. They may not of course. One can only hope that they’ll be able to move on with their lives and forgive America and the soldiers. But what if shooting those two people dead has created 5 new terrorists. Terrorists willing to avenge what they will probably view as the needless slaughtering of their parents. Though hatred is an ugly and destructive force, could we not perhaps at least see how such a force might find its way into the hearts and minds of these five children.

They are of course not the only five children to have witnessed such a horrific scene, however this time the rest of the world gets to share in the minute part of the tragedy because a photographer was there to capture the event in harrowing detail.

The BBC show a gallery of ten pictures that feature pictures of the five confused and clearly traumatised orphans. Pictures that would provoke international sympathy and mobilisation of resources from around the world if they were the faces of children caught in the recent tsunami. But there will be no international aid effort for these kids, they weren’t caught in the tsunami, they were just caught in the crossfire, and it would seem that for that we don’t care as much.

I find myself shaking my head as I look at these pictures. With the war in Iraq officially over nearly a year ago according to Bush, the country is in ruins ahead of elections that it would seem most Iraqi’s won’t take part in even if they knew they could. And as another devastating car bomb explodes today in Iraq I am left wondering once more, why on earth we ever got into this mess. How is it we went to war in the middle east yet we don’t spend nearly as much money in a far more legitimate war on drug production in countries across the globe. How come we don’t send troops into countries with shameful human rights records, how is it we don’t send troops in to places torn by civil wars.

It’s plain to anyone who reads my blog that I find it hard to have even the slightest scrap of respect for the current President of the United States. But that aside, I look at the faces of these children in Iraq and feel as sorry for them as I do for the children in Southeast Asia for whom there would seem to be so much help at hand.

Now of course the situation in Iraq has become a mess of monolithic proportions costing not only billions of American tax payers dollars, but also the lives of their soldiers and the many many thousands of people who have been caught up in this war for no good reason. The Bush administration has now quietly abandoned the search for those weapons of mass destruction that were so serious a threat that they had to level much of Iraqs populated areas to find them. And while the people in Faluja slowly return to the rubble of their houses to rebuild their shattered lives without so much of a cent of aid money, fireworks will light up the sky over the Whitehouse to celebrate another four years of the Commander-in-Chief of the army that destroyed their livelihood.

5 Children orphaned by U.S. soilders
Iraq under occupation
Poll: World more dangerous with Bush
America divided
United for Peace

GeneralSunday, January 16th, 2005, (11:03 am)

So I’m just getting to bed, a little topsy mind you, but I think you’ll excuse me, as tonight was my Birthday party.

Actually, the term party is not how I would choose to describe the event at all. A party would at the very least require the music to be several decibels louder than the sensible volume it was tonight. But I don’t really want to call it a ‘gathering’ either because that sounds like something you might go to when you’re old. It might just be though, that I am approaching the age where I am invited to more gatherings than parties, having just turned thirty four.

The celebrations of this event took the form of an ‘open house’ at my apartment from around 4pm onward. Various friends arrived, not hoards though as some were ill, unavailable or plain old skint (British slang word for ‘short of funds’). Besides which, when you’re thirty four you have to accept that your collection of friends has usually thinned somewhat as through the years you’ve lost touch with people and shaken off the hangers on who always seemed to arrive at parties in your twenties whether invited or not.

For the open house I had purchased what I considered to be far too much alcohol (about $80 worth). Too much because many of the people attending would be driving, and having to get home relatively early so as to excuse the babysitter, another sure trait of the thirty-something years. Indeed, despite the availability of an impressive selection of beverages to chose from no drank anything other than tea and coffee until after about seven o’clock, at which time the music did not get any louder and the drinks that were being enjoyed were being enjoyed at a very pedestrian pace.

Everyone sat around chatting and laughing in my lounge that would ordinarily only seat four adults comfortably, but was now playing host to more than double its allotted capacity. More people were due to meet us later at the restaurant that I had booked for the occasion.

Just before eight o’clock we all went into my small back garden and watched what has become a customary firework display that last year caused an old man to come to complain that the noise was “scaring the women and the dogs!” No such complaints this year though, which surprised me because ‘Orange Andy had brought with him a large box of fireworks leftover from bonfire night (November 5th).

The display lacked the organisation and grace of anything you would expect to see anywhere else, mainly die to the fact that lighting the fuses of the fireworks was difficult due to the wind and darkness. Nonetheless the sky was lit up to the chorus of the occasional “ooooh” and “ahhh” of my friends, along with the customary bangs, whistles and pops one might expect from fireworks. Fifteen minutes we set of for the restaurant and all was quiet, much to the relief of the local woman and dogs I assume.

At the restaurant we were to be joined by three others, but Steve and Nerice had to cancel at the very last minute as Nerice is five months pregnant and had fallen ill. Elizabeth-anne turned up though, smiling and complaining about the lack of parking in Heswall as I introduced her to the people she didn’t know.

It was great to have ten of my best friends all in the same place chatting and exchanging amusing anecdotes. From ‘Football Philly’ to Elizabeth-anne, Posh to Joelle, my Brother to Darryl Waterhouse, some of these people would ordinarily never have met and it was just wonderful to sit back and watch everyone having a great time. We ate gloriously prepared food that look more like gastronomical works of art yet somehow left us satisfied and full. Then, thanks to Posh and very much to my surprise, the waitress brought a cake to the table backed in the shape of a computer and topped with sparklers, as everyone sang a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ with other people in the restaurant looking on and smiling. We were the last to leave the restaurant but I am quite sure we could have stayed there a lot longer.

Most people came back to my apartment and helped make some inroads into my unusually impressive selection of drinks (after the obligatory ‘cup-of-tea’ that was made to warm us up as we arrived, such is the English way). As the night drew on, later than many had planned, one by one they began to leave.

It was by all accounts a most enjoyable evening, not wild by any standards, but one which I will certainly remember with fondness.

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