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Citizen Clem : The Fairytale Of My Childhood

I knew I was channeling the fairytales of my childhood when I wrote Bold As Love, but I never knew how much I'd remembered, or how clearly, until I read John Bew's Citizen Clem . . . I knew Ax had to be a soldier,(check: Gallipoli, wounded twice) that's why I invented the pocket war with Muslim Yorkshire (doesn't sound so unlikely, or so romantic, now, does it?). And the dictator thing, not something anyone would have called Clem, but it says this is total war, and we're in it, better get fighting. As true now as it was then, and "against no human enemy".* I knew there had to be a thrilling landslide victory (well, everybody, surely, in my generation knows about July 45), so I shoe-horned one in, although Ax wasn't the leader of a political party, and never going to be PM; and here it is, in weirdly familiar detail. There had to fighting in the streets (check!) and the mission had to about more than survival, but about founding the New Jerusalem, in the worst of times: English socialism, tolerant of other shades of politics, channeling Blake and William Morris; London broken open with rivers of flowers and meadow; that's not in "Clem" but the spirit of making human life lovely is. It's all here, mysterious, magical reading for me. And then, just when they've achieved something, the awful box of troubles that empties itself on their heads in episode 2; as if Hope had hopped out of the box first, and flitted off immediately. Which is exactly what happened to that Labour government of 45. In dreadful debt, the USA pulling the plug, the Russians gone to hell and worse; committed to dismantling the Empire in a catastrophic hurry . . . Well, it's all here; and did I mention the Weapon to end all Weapons (not) which I called the Neurobomb? But you know what really sent shivers down my spine. Labour Party Conference, Blackpool, October 1956. I was there! I was four, my daddy went to union meetings I suppose, the hotel had red carpets and white walls, there was an interesting girl (older than me), who wore her shiny straight hair parted on the side with a clip, very elegant; the baby in a cot in our room, my big sister telling me horrible stories about the big pipe that dripped grey goo (eh, those were the days! None of that EU muck about clean beaches) She sang to me at night, in a vile whisper, ghosts, skeletons, Noooooorth Piiiiier. . . Where was I? Lost in the fuzzy gardens of memory. It's a gripping biography, a great leader, best we ever had, certainly in modern times, a quiet man; steely brave. No guitar, admittedly, but you could do worse than read it.

The magic carpet carried me all the way to the end of episode 3 Midnight Lamp, & then I had to make the transition to the future of 2002, only Tony Blair, Claude Shannon's information theory, and DONT ATTACK IRAQ to guide me. Ouch.

Hungry Ghosts Moon was on the 5th of September, very late this year, and very beautiful, the full moon pitted silver, polished shining white, floating in a gauzy aureole of transparent amber.

What more can I tell you? I'm still wrestling with Joanna Russ. It's okay, poor woman's got a bad back, and I'm little but I'm tough, I'm going to win. Nothing good else. All the news is bad, from #fracking to #Irma, from #Rohingya to the #SLC, and that idiotic destroy everything in the whole world button marked #Brexit. "Where did this all come from???" Nowhere, didn't have to, it's all of it been building for years. Just try to keep your spirits up. These are the times. Somebody had to live in them, looks like its us. Give what you can, think of the people in real trouble, and pull the other way (pick your own crisis) as ever you get the chance.

'Wir schaffen das' - we will do this, says the leader of the free world. What would "doing this" look like? Better than not doing, I hazard a guess. And she's been right before.


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><a href= Back in July 2013, a young Syrian woman, engineering student, came to talk to the Brighton Amnesty Group, about a revolution that began in flowers, petals and coloured fountains, it was young Syrians trying to get the message to Assad, your regime is hateful and we've had enough . She brought a movie for us to watch; I remember We Are The Spring, written in green, Arabic of course, with flowers, on a broken concrete slab. Today, or maybe yesterday by now, Assad retook Raqqa, the so-called capital of the Daesh caliphate. In between, these young men, this citizen journalist collective, got the news out of this starving city; or died trying. Mostly both. Very moving, claustrophobic; overwhelmingly male. Not a woman in sight, except a few shrouded black stick figures outside Paradise Park, hovering beside the dead bodies of resistance fighters, husbands, fathers, sons or brothers their severed heads impaled on the park railings; a few head-scarved little girls, in the crowds of kids scampering after Daesh PR jeeps, squealing for candy and mobiles. You get the picture. It wasn't like this, in Syria, just a few years ago, but it's a man's, man's man's world again now.

They won an award, but don't let that put you off. See the movie, if you can. City of Ghosts. It's painful, but worth it.

Kubo And The Two Strings A very pretty animation, US made, Pixar sensibility, Japanese cute. (They're big on origami, aren't they? Let's have lots!) Lame ending, but mostly entertaining, and Charlize Theron, you can't miss with Charlize Theron as a sarcastic animated macaque, can you?

*no human enemy?? Okay,a tactful blur.

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