So what’s new ? I’m in recovery mode after a literary festival in whose creation I had some initial input, which had me carousing until late in the evening for several days on the trot; rubbing shoulders with many old friends and tripping over herds of poets, writers and musicians at every turn. Old friend , from way back ,Sean O’Hagan, of the Observer and Guardian , interviewed poet Paul Muldoon and Horslips in an entertaining way and a day later Malachi O’Doherty interviewed Sean. Of course , what we really wanted to hear Sean talk about was shopping with Joni Mitchell in Covent Garden or interviewing the likes of Tom Waits, Debbie Harry and Beach Boy , Brian Wilson . We did get a few great yarns about Van Morrison ,who happened to be a very interesting interviewee subject ,in that he’d rather have been anywhere else than answering questions,; when Sean decided to abandon the interview, Van chased him ,beseeching what might the problem be…. and that he thought it was going so well. Sean had the idea that talking to someone’s back wasn’t the way to have a real conversation, but Van hadn’t seemed to notice.
Malachi kept turning the conversation back to growing up in the 1960s in Armagh and the bloody Troubles!….Ooooh , the memories!The nostalgia! I thought Sean would rather have been anywhere else than to re-live those times….especially the recreational rioting which became part and parcel of everyday life in the estate in which he lived. That’s one of the reasons he got out of this bloody place in the first instance. You’ll have to wait until Sean publishes his memoirs to hear about life as a rocknroll writer for the NME and a freelancer for the Observer and Guardian.He’s working on it.
I stayed with Sean in his London flat when I returned from one of my “On The Road” hitch-hiking jaunts through Europe , during the 1970s. It was at the height of punk rock in the city ,against a background of austerity .That was the summer of the “Anarchy in the UK” and the Sex Pistols”God Save The Queen” collided with Her Maj’s own Silver Jubilee celebrations …and it was that same summer when Elvis later died. As far as the punks of that time were concerned , the King was long-dead already by this late date. Year Zero beckoned.
After a few days I had landed a job over near Wembley stadium with a couple of shady characters who ran “Harrow Vehicle Cleaner”s .Those wages helped pay the rent on a neat semi-detached house in London for a while and Sean’s late brother and the brother of another friend arrived to stay .I abandoned that house when it became Party Central and handed over the rent book , long before they both spun into the orbit of Shane McGowan and various Pogues and Popes. Unfortunately neither of them survived those years and are sadly, missed.
Outside, the winter is showing its first colours. The first hard ,white ,crystal frost put my honeybees on their notice. I discovered some fallen drones near the entrance ,so they are probably being expelled to conserve food .it’s a hard, cruel life for a male bee when the season ends. They are helpless outside the hive. The bees are not flying so much now and I can’t imagine there’ll be much left to forage on.Today the rains have set in and the wild birds are fighting over peanuts in the feeder , oblivious to the damp . Yesterday ,I fed the bees sugar syrup, probably for the last time of this season. They seem to have had enough , but I’ll check the feeders next week to make sure and remove them if necessary. Old feed will only go sour and mouldy otherwise.
Meanwhile ,let’s see what is also happening in the mad world of Norneverland politics, Our First Minister , Arlene Foster of the DUP is still grizzling away at the fact that the Equality Commission ruled unanimously against the Ashers Bakery group in the “GayCake” row. She still can’t get her head around the fact that the bakery was found guilty of discrimination.It was always perfectly clear to me that there was discrimination involved, but I can understand why some find reality hard to deal with. She says that”Faith communities in Northern Ireland (SIC) are experiencing a “chill factor” following the Ashers bakery judgement”.I can’t imagine why that is. Faith doesn’t depend on proof of any sort.It doesn’t have to .That’s why it is called “faith” in the first place .”Faith” demands no explanation whatsoever.
Arlene never seems to take on board the very clear logic of the decision and what it might mean to those who don’t have this “faith” but are otherwise upstanding citizens(or possibly subjects). It’s bound to happen that faith and logic will occasionally collide in the real world. It’s a simple fact of life to anyone outside ,looking in , so why can she not see that the Ashers were in the wrong in this case?Their faith led them to do a criminal thing.
“The Democratic Unionist leader has said: “I think it is incumbent upon the Equality Commission to indicate to the Executive how they intend to remedy what has been pointed out to them by the court and what affirmative action they intend to take in terms of the faith communities, because there is certainly a chill factor there in terms of the faith communities and that is something that is communicated to me on a weekly basis and it is something that they have to take notice of.”
What exactly does she need explained and why should anyone have to explain anything to the “faith communities” ? Whose fault is it that these communities believe these things that fly in the face of the common law? Is the law to be blamed for their lack of understanding?Why should that be? it’s like trying to argue that black is white or that blue is really red. You may as well argue that a man who takes a car out onto the highway without learning the highway code or passing a driving test should not be sanctioned for breaking the law.Surely it should be a necessary requisite for anyone in business to understand the laws , diplomacies and sensitivities of the position they have, in relation to everyone that they serve, before they actually engage in the business of trade ? Trading is a world of minefields already, as anyone who has had the opportunity to engage with the public at the other side of the counter , can readily attest.
The first Minister also challenged the Equality Commission to spell out what affirmative action it intended to take after the judges said the publicly-funded organisation which supported Mr Lee ,gave the impression it was not interested in assisting religious congregations.
My question would be ,how could anyone help or assist them when they appear to be oblivious to what “equality” actually means. Education might be the only route possible, but surely that is something they should already be aware of before they go into business.The Commission has run up legal bills of more than £100,000 , but that is hardly their fault either.
As I write this ,an article concerning this very item is actually beginning to air on the radio at this very moment Someone is obviously reading my mind .I’ll set aside the keypad and listen in…..