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On the beach the ghosts rattle,

lespritbritanique

I am tucked away in the hills, unsophisticated and a long way from the front line. English by birth, a privilege I wore but never embodied, I live on the honey and apples butt end of the Continent, a part of the world designed to receive, to welcome.

When I go to the Metrop I take no weapon and although territory is parcelled out by the strongest on the street I still imagine I can sit at any pavement cafe. The notion of public space remains valuable to me. I do not want to retreat with look alike think alikes into gated (cloisonné) communities but the tide is going out and leaving stark and bare our differences, we no longer swim in the same medium, we have to shout across gaps. Everybody shrinking into hardened, pre-fabricated shells, drawing back in (rétrécissement) for hard shelled years of drought.

And now there is a new strike against me, a new colour slashed across my back thanks to Brexit. Have to think about it, if I start to disentangle my Englishness from my European roots it doesn’t add up to much, natch, otherwise I wouldn’t be this side of the Channel. And not just roots but shoots since of my four granddaughters two are half Italian and two half Spanish.

How to live with this future coming on so quick like raging fire? There are models for it. English people of the Catholic faith who refused to attend the State Anglican services in the sixteenth century were labelled recusants, a word whose time has maybe come again like the @ did.

“But the question is not the same with this Brexit thing”

“True but I like the word, recusant”

It seems churlish not to be able to identify with the country I was born in, to feel a foreigner there, to have to disavow its current posture yet I have day to day life to think of. I may become an adopted child of Marianne (liberté égalité frivolité ) and will do so with a sense of return since my ancestors, persecuted for their religion, left for England in 1715.

But then who is to say which English? The Northern Islanders who see the world as their oyster are unassimilated Europeans. There is something that doesn’t quite click, there is a bee in their bonnet, something makes their pants itch to be off. We see the irritation over here amongst some of the second homers who just don’t get practices which conform to personal and family space not to efficiency.

Now the vote has been taken, I have no beef with their choice, I’d sooner it was over with and quick. Thatchers children have grown up and swiped the reins from nanny. English reserve has been cast aside, ale swapped for lager, and a piratical mercantile race re-engineered (see Hakylut) I doubt they’ll find new lands though, nor ignorant savages. In which case they’ll come back over here for the honey and the apples no doubt…

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china:adamminter

A Shangai scrap yard / Adam Minter

A click-bait sized hole was torn off England’s fairy tale cover with the news that five workers had lost their lives in a metal recycling plant in Birmingham. The businessman said,”It’s a tragedy, the metal re-cycling world is a small one. We all know each other, a tragedy” The landlord said, “They were good people, he even helped me with my bags”
The friend said, “He watched the Wales vs Portugal game with me yesterday, then I drove him to the mosque” One of the dead, before the tragedy, “My family is coming over from the Gambia, I will need a bigger room” In fact he got a much much smaller room – the space it leaves you to breathe and do all your living in when a one and a half ton concrete block is shoved over by an unknown (because unmeasured?) tonnage of scrap iron. Right on top of you.

Of the five workers killed Thursday 7 June at Hawkeswood Metal, four were originally from the West Coast African state of Gambia and one from Senegal. They had been directly recruited in Spain, this was possible because England was still a member of the European Community, could still get cheap labour in.

The metal recycling trade? Ships arrive from China stuffed with cheap goods, the brands the natives love, and go back home with scrap metal. Thirty years ago the scrap would have gone back into furnaces to feed fresh metal to the factories in which the West Midlands natives made things. Today eighty per cent of the scrap is exported.

The market for scrap iron to China was strong but recently demand weakened so pressure on storage increased. The margins are small so you improvise storage bins which won’t necessarily stand the burden. You long ago got away from English native teams, with their unions and their tea breaks and their stubborn attachment to safe working practice.

You recruit gangs of strong young men who have already proved their resilience and initiative by braving the voyage to Europe and for whom the local Gambian community (rather say internal colony) makes up for the miserable weather and for whom the challenge and stimulation of being in a foreign culture makes up for the low, low wages and the zero hours contract.

The internal colony at Birmingham (Britain’s second city by population) is in a district called Aston. Do you like figures? Aston has an area of 6.4 km². Already fifteen years ago there was a population density of 4,185 people per km² compared with 3,649 people per km² for Birmingham as a whole. 70.6% of the area’s population are non-white compared with 29.6% for Birmingham. 36.9% were born outside the United Kingdom, nearly four times the national average.

Described as gang ridden Aston is now chiefly owned, in terms of property, by people from Pakistan who house their fellow Muslims, 44.3% of the ward’s population, in handy red brick slices served quick: here, split this house between you and be quick about it.

The phrase internal colony springs from the Brexiters world view. Nostalgia for the days when oak hearted fellows from the Shires of England buccaneered for silver in the Spanish Main – free trade under-writ by violence. The fantasy of the bush hat, the knee socks, the sambok and naked black porters toting bales. An internal colony as Empire theme park with real live nasties. Build it right there in Birmingham, with the help of entrepreneurial landlords and shopkeepers and no nonsense metal traders.

At sight of the tragedy at Hawkeswood I paused the video on three team members of a specialised rescue unit. They all had shaven heads. Workplace fashion. A white man goes for a job, not very energetic, he likes the idea of a uniform, he doesn’t mind working at night. He gets a job in the security industry and shaves his head. He has classes in first aid and intruder recognition. He takes part in exercises with the police, fire service and ambulance services. He is described in Whitehall working papers as a civilian auxiliary.

Our man is allowed, encouraged even, to wear his uniform off-duty. He is sent on an Army run course on non-lethal restraint techniques. Everybody wears the same coveralls. Each of them has been given a little bit of authority. They can drive in the bus lanes. They are called on if there is trouble in the internal colonies.

While the deepest recesses of the internal colony is allowed to be self-governing and a blind eye turned to sharia and voodoo at the margins the picture is less clear. There is a ribbon of territory whose limits are known only by doing battle there. This is how the young learn their place and where the whites get their extra-legal kicks. Plenty trouble. See this link http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4jwnkv

But wait, who am I to say all this? I kneel before the spirit lives of Saibo Sillah, Bagally Dukureh, Muhamadou Jagana, Alimamo Jammeh, Ousmane Diabi. Your deaths were just too good to miss.

Updated post: Crushed workers.
Do you remember back in June 2018 when a click-bait sized hole was torn off England’s fairy tale cover with the news that five workers had lost their lives crushed at a metal recycling plant in Birmingham?
The businessman said it’s a tragedy, the metal re-cycling world is a small one. We all know each other, a tragedy. The landlord said they were good people, he even helped me with my bags. The friend said he watched the Wales vs Portugal game with me yesterday, then I drove him to the mosque.
One of the dead said my family is coming over from the Gambia, I will need a bigger room. In fact he got a much much smaller room – the space left to breathe and do all your living when a one and a half ton concrete block is shoved over right on top of you.
The metal recycling trade? Ships arrive from China stuffed with cheap goods the brands the natives love and go back home with scrap metal. Thirty years ago the scrap would have gone into furnaces to feed fresh metal to the factories in which West Midlands natives made things. Today eighty per cent of the scrap is exported. The market for scrap iron to China was strong but recently demand dipped so pressure on storage increased.
The margins are small so you improvise storage bins which won’t necessarily stand the burden. You long ago got away from English native teams with their unions and their tea breaks and their stubborn attachment to safe working practice. You recruit gangs of strong young men who have already proved their resilience and initiative by braving the voyage to Europe and for whom the local Gambian community makes up for the miserable weather and for whom the challenge and stimulation of being in a foreign culture makes up for the low, low wages and the zero hours contract. Of the five workers killed Thursday 7 June at Hawkeswood Metal four were from the West Coast African state of Gambia and one from Senegal. They had been directly recruited in Spain.
Birmingham’s internal colony is in a district called Aston. Do you like figures? Aston has an area of 6.4 km². Already fifteen years ago there was a population density of 4,185 people per km² compared with 3,649 people per km² for Birmingham as a whole. 70.6% of the area’s population are non-white compared with 29.6% for Birmingham. 36.9% were born outside the United Kingdom, nearly four times the national average. Described as gang ridden Aston is chiefly owned by people from Pakistan who house the 44.3% of the ward’s population who are Muslims in handy red brick slices served quick – split this house between you and be quick about it.
The phrase internal colony springs from the Brexiters world view. Nostalgia for the days when oak hearted fellows from the Shires of England buccaneered for silver in the Spanish Main – free trade under-writ by violence. The fantasy of the bush hat the knee socks the sambok and naked black porters toting bales. An internal colony as Empire theme park with real live nasties. Build it right there in Birmingham, with the help of entrepreneurial landlords and shopkeepers and no nonsense metal traders.
I paused the video on the tragedy at Hawkeswood on three members of a specialised rescue unit. They all had shaven heads. Workplace fashion. White man goes for a job likes the idea of a uniform doesn’t mind working at night. Gets a job in the security industry and shaves his head. Has classes in first aid and intruder recognition. Takes part in exercises with police fire and ambulance services. Is described in Whitehall working papers as civilian auxiliary.
Our man is encouraged to wear his uniform off-duty. He is sent on an Army run course on non-lethal restraint techniques. Everybody wears the same coveralls. Each of them has been given a little bit of authority. They can drive in the bus lanes. They can be called on if there is trouble in the internal colonies.
While the deep pockets of the internal colony are allowed to be self-governing and a blind eye turned to sharia and voodoo, at the margins the picture is less clear. There is a ribbon of territory whose limits are known only by doing battle there. This is how the young learn their place and where the whites get their extra-legal kicks. Plenty trouble. See this link http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4jwnkv
But wait, who am I to say all this? I kneel before the spirit lives of the men crushed by concrete blocks: Saibo Sillah, Bagally Dukureh, Muhamadou Jagana, Alimamo Jammeh, Ousmane Diabi. Your deaths were just too good to miss.
Here is the inquest update as mashed reportage from the Birmingham Echo tk and Frances Perraudin of The Guardian tk,
Court staff handed a box of tissues around the public gallery as relatives of the five men broke down in tears while the jury’s conclusions were read out. Proceedings were paused when one woman’s cries became too loud and she was helped out of the courtroom.
(The men) were killed when a 15ft wall made of interlocking concrete blocks collapsed as they were clearing out a storage bay at the Hawkeswood Metal Recycling site in Birmingham in July 2016. According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive, the waste industry remains one of the most dangerous in the UK, with death rates 16 times higher in 2017-18 than the average across all industries. The men had to be identified by fingerprints after suffering devastating blunt-force injuries when the wall and 263 tonnes of metal ingots in an adjacent bay fell on to them.
Woodhouse and Wayne Hawkeswood, the company’s managing director, said they employed a health and safety adviser, Michael White, to carry out monthly inspections of the site.
Note that the safety man was not employed by an independent authority.
(He) was encouraged to walk freely around the site and highlight any potential health and safety issues he observed. His visits varied in length but were usually a couple of hours. Michael had unfettered access to the whole yard including the storage area and bays.
Michael White denied that he had visited the site every month,
At no time do I recall seeing quantities of scrap material or any block walls. In relation to this wall, I have no knowledge of how long it had been there, who constructed the wall and what its purpose was. I have therefore not requested or conducted any risk assessment concerning the cleaning out of bays at this particular location.
Graham Woodhouse said,
To this day I remain completely stunned and perplexed that the bay wall collapsed, if the company had any indication that the bay wall was unstable it never would have allowed for it to stand. I cannot comprehend how the bay wall collapsed.
In a report referred to in court, health and safety expert Martyn Ostcliffe concluded that the wall collapsed because it was not properly designed.
It would have been reasonably practicable for the employer to have appointed consulting engineers to design the retaining walls to resist all foreseeable loads. The poor and unsafe condition of some of the leaning and defective retaining walls, at the locations around the site, were so severe, the defects would even have been obvious to an untrained layperson.
Surrounded by the men’s families, Lang Dampha, a friend of Almamo Jammeh, read a statement outside court,
We are extremely disappointed with today’s verdict and firmly believe our loved ones were unlawfully killed. We believe that anyone who sat and heard the evidence at the inquest hearing would agree with us. Our loved ones had died a very violent death and the deaths were avoidable. No one expects to go to work to die … It is shocking for us to think that this could happen in the UK, one of the most developed countries in the world. We never imagined this would happen but we now know why it did. We believe it was because of obvious and serious failings by the company that ran the workplace. We believe they didn’t really care about our loved ones. We believe that they thought of our loved ones as cheap labour and didn’t really care if they lived or died.
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My forthcoming ebook on the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower here

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