August 2nd, 2005


(no subject)

Ah, Lionel Shriver is back again, talking about those nasty little Northern Irish Catholics:
Surely, Catholic civil rights might have been secured without killing anybody? Civil rights for blacks in the US came about largely through peaceful protest and civil disobedience, an approach based on Gandhi's successful strategy for pursuing Indian independence. Granted, Britain's hysterical desire to stop the bombings doubtless hastened the satisfaction of Catholic grievances. By the 1980s, Ulster Catholics had the finest public housing in Europe, and the highest number of leisure centres per capita in the UK, while working-class Protestant enclaves were still ailing. Anti-discrimination bodies overseeing employment were already vigilant and aggressive. It might have taken a bit longer, but these remedies were all doable without blowing anybody up.

It takes a lot to set me off in some sort of nationalist rant, but the fact that Shriver has managed this twice has to mean something. How dare those civil rights groups get aggressive! Catholics should have been happy to take whatever crumbs they were given! In fact, all my Belfast relatives should have just stayed there enjoying their leisure centres rather than bugger off to a place - England - where they might actually be employed. You know, Unionists are, justifiably, very fond of demanding apologies for decades of nationalist violence, and rightly so. But do you think we're ever going to hear Orangemen and other Unionists apologise for several decades of anti-Catholic discrimination? Or for gerrymandering? I really, really doubt it. And let's get back to this bit:
Surely, Catholic civil rights might have been secured without killing anybody?

You'd think, wouldn't you? Especially in the Bogside, in 1972. Except wait, the nationalists were the only people who ever killed anyone, weren't they? So let's forget that little incident never happened! After all, the army wanted to. I don't think the 'Ra's violence was ever justified. But can I understand why it happened? Yes, I can, especially when I see footage of Bloody Sunday. Doesn't mean I agree with it, by any stretch of the imagination, or condone it. But understanding that violence doesn't usually happen out of the blue is obviously too much for Shriver.
During the dozen years I lived in Belfast, I offended more locals than I can count.

You don't say.
fat pony like thunder

matter of taste

I've almost finished reading Hannah Pool's My Father's Daughter for work, and enjoying it very much (you can read an extract from it here). Pool was adopted by white parents from an Eritrean orphanage, and now writes a column for the Guardian's weekend magazine. She always thought both her biological parents were dead, but in her teens she discovered that her birth father was actually alive, and so were several siblings. The book is about her eventual journey to Eritrea and her reunion with her long lost relatives. It's a very moving story, all the more so for being told in relatively colloquial prose. So I found this review somewhat distasteful. Apparently, Pool isn't serious-minded enough to really experience her own life the way the author of the review would like. The obsession with make-up suggested by the reviewer certainly doesn't come across to me - in context, it seemed completely normal that, having arrived in a country where she could not only not understand the language but read the local script, having familiar, readable stuff from home would be comforting (in the book, Pool wishes she had more photos of her friends and family back home to make her feel less disorientated, and eventually jokingly settles for the familiar bottles in her toilet bag). And then the reviewer says that "few women, in fact, could be less suited to the hazards of travel in Africa." Why? Because she uses conditioner? Pool seems pretty brave from the book, not least because she was scared shitless before she went, but she still went anyway, and she certainly doesn't show herself to be too "girly" to actually do anything once she's there. To me, that review felt like the author was projecting her own personal priorities onto Pool, and found Pool failing to come up to the reviewer's personal standards. Which doesn't seem like a very fair way of reviewing a book to me.