Class (un)distinction – SoCS June 18/16

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“Due to overcrowding on this train, I am pleased to let all passengers know that the First Class compartments have now been declassified.”

Oh, the oft-repeated lament of the conductor on my commuter train services. It seems to be a permanent fixture of late. There’s an ongoing dispute between the crew and operating company and who comes off the worst? Of course, the passengers. Cancelled trains over and over and over again.

But then, this statement got me to thinking. No matter how often claims are made that we live in a classless society, it can’t possibly be true. Here in the UK we are staring down the barrel of the Brexit gun, with our in/out of the EU referendum taking place next week. The tone of the campaigning has made me feel very uncomfortable, to say the least, with many, many arguments focussing on very thinly disguised racism, on the part of the Leave campaign. We are not an isolationist nation (I don’t think), but that’s how the Leave campaign appear, wishing to pull up the drawbridge between here and mainland Europe, looking down on the policies and nationalities of our neighbours from a very ill-drawn and shaky high horse.

I grew up in Birmingham in the 1970s. Most of my friends were second generation immigrants – Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Afro-Carribean. I loved the fact that our school nativity play was as multi-racial as I imagine Jerusalem would have been back then. I learned so much from my friends, our neighbours, the shopkeepers about different cultures. Yes, there were disagreements, no, it wasn’t all easy-going, but it worked.

On Thursday (yesterday as I write this) a female Labour MP was murdered in her Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen. She was a shining example of a good person (from what I have read), someone who believed that we all had far more in common as human beings than differences. She was passionate about humanity, about looking after people. She strongly believed that we are better off as part of the EU than outside it.

I don’t tend to write so bluntly about politics, about racism, about isolationism on this blog.  But I am terribly worried about the direction the UK is taking, about the direction many other countries are taking, about the polarisation of views, about the insistence that there is no need to understand the ‘other’, because the ‘other’ can’t possibly be right, shouldn’t be listened to. Shouting loudest (something that seems to be the vast part of our politics these days) is not the way to understand, is not the way to deal with differences.

Compassion. We all have the capacity for it. Where has it gone?


Here is my early-bird entry into the lovely Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where we are invited to write using the word ‘class’ as our prompt.

This was truly a stream of consciousness. Feelings in the UK are ugly right now, with the Brexit referendum right round the corner. It hurts. I don’t like much of what I am hearing.

Please do feel free to read – even better, take part. You never know where it might take you!

 

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Special sauce

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“I like hats.”

That’s what Donald said the day before Sally was murdered..

It seemed like a totally random comment, unless you knew Donald, and indeed, unless you knew Sally. You see, she would never, ever, not in a million years, ever wear a hat. Don’t laugh, she often said she wouldn’t be seen dead in one. Which, unfortunately for her and her nearest and dearest, she was.

Artfully arranged on the kitchen floor of Mo’s Diner she was, looking so darned relaxed, even pretty, except for the pool of blackened blood that had turned sticky and gelatinous what with the heat blasting out from the grimy old range cooker and all. She’d been fixing up a Mexican chili when she had a slice taken right out of her. Shame. I’d have loved to dig in, but it was evidence, according to Officer Gonzalez. Yeah, right. Evidence of his expanding waste-line, the smear of tomato sauce at the side of his mouth and settling in the creases of his fat forefinger.

The hat, the offending accessory that Sally just couldn’t get past was one of those cloches, you know, like from the 1920s. It perfectly suited her short, graduated bob – the deep red of the felt set off the jet black sheen of her hair so darned well. Such a shame. She’d have owned that look, for sure.

Donald’s wife wore hats, but she didn’t suit them. And I knew that Donald was offended that his favourite women’s accessory made his wife look like a bulldog at a fancy dress party (my words, not his, but still, he was a sensitive and passionate man, so I reckon he’d have agreed with my assessment). I think that was the problem. Plus, Margaret had this habit of spitting. God alone knew why and how on earth they’d managed to get hitched and stay that way for so long.

Margaret’s brother Morgan on the other hand was elegance personified. And whilst I don’t think that Donald was that way inclined, I do remember his face softening in some kind of brotherly desire every time Morgan donned his fedora and tilted it to a jaunty angle. Such a dashing, beautiful man.

And I wanted him, so, so badly. Trouble was, Morgan wanted Sally, Sally wanted Donald, but he couldn’t get past the hat thing.

And Margaret knew that. And I owed her, big time. So, you know, the old switcheroo with the kitchen knives, it was easy enough to lay a trail straight back to Donald.

Margaret knew what Donald’s opinion was of her, she knew I’d swiped a few hundred from the tills, she knew I couldn’t bear to have Morgan find out I was nothing more than a common thief.

But you know what? Sticking a knife into Sally’s side felt kinda familiar. Like slicing brisket for her famous Mexican chili.

Officer Gonzalez really enjoyed that by the way. I wonder if it was the fine brisket, or the slice of Sally that set his tastebuds a-jangling?

Guess we’ll never know.

Meat is Murder – Sunday Photo Fiction

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I zip up my wet suit, noticing the tightness in my shoulder as I reach between my shoulder blades. I’m not getting any younger or more flexible, and it’s been a week since I felt the muscle tear. I have to do this now, before it’s too late.

I look up, back to the dunes and watch Timmy gnawing at the bone I had given him earlier. Hopefully, the marrow will keep him occupied long enough for me to be nearing the horizon and far beyond his failing eyesight. I’d been giving him a lot of meaty treats lately. Guilt, I suppose.

I pat my chest, feeling the reassuring crackle of plastic underneath. All of our, no my worldly goods are in there. It should be enough.

I push the canoe into the waves, past the first swells and step in, settling myself into the seat. I begin paddling, strong, swift strokes that are my reward for months of practice.

I ponder at Timmy’s new and healthy appetite. Funny, I’d never thought of him as a predator before. Still, I suppose any animal can develop a taste for human flesh, given the opportunity…

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Here’s my latest entry into Alistair’s Sunday Photo Fiction. He supplies us with his own wonderful photos, so deserves our support! Happy Sunday, all….

Do take part if you have time, or just pop over and read the other entries.