Monday, 19 June 2017


sprinkling light spreading debris sparkling
fire-wrapping the homes flaming
flaming the living core fire-wrapping
fire-wrapping the furnace of families flaming
flaming choking the children fire-wrapping
fire-wrapping blinding the babies flaming
flaming closer to the crying fire-wrapping
fire-wrapping the people who perish flaming
flaming suffocating the souls fire-wrapping
fire-wrapping searing the skins flaming
flaming shriveling the hopes fire-wrapping
fire-wrapping the black skeleton tower flaming
shaming blaming underneath blaming shaming
Mail-ing shaming blaming Mail-ing
lying regulation stuff “get-stuffed” stuff regulation lying
underneath ha-ha ha-ha “get stuffed” ha-ha ha-ha underneath
ash and cinders cinders and ash

Ruth Hartley
19th June 2017

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Shakespeare is a European - Shakespeare would not and cannot Brexit

Shakespeare could not have voted for Brexit.

Shakespeare might, of course, have written a tragedy about Brexit. It's a subject for a tragedy and farce because it's about lies, misunderstandings, feuds, boundaries, wars and ambitions all of which bring damage and death..
Shakespeare belongs to all humans because he wrote about the human condition.
Fundamentally Brexit is a reduction of humanity. Britons go from being important actors on a world stage to disappearing up their own ever diminishing island fundament.  Scottish independence is the same. A diminution of what it is to be human from a universal respect for humanity to a populist jingoism.
Brexit if you must - but William Shakespeare belongs to the global village - all of humanity - he will never be part of Brexit.

I found this quote from a paper by Richard Wilson
"The Globe Theatre […] would have been for Shakespeare the pattern of the universe, the idea of the Macrocosm, the world stage on which the Microcosm acted his parts. All the world’s a stage." The words are in a real sense the clue to the Globe Theatre." It is by Juegen Schulz, ‘Maps as Metaphors: Mural Map Cycles of the Italian Renaissance’.

 I borrowed this too -
 The Settings of Shakespeare's Plays by Date for a chronology of the content of the plays.

All’s Well that Ends Well
Setting: Rousillon, Paris, Florence, and Marseilles

Antony and Cleopatra
Setting: Parts of the Roman Empire

As You Like It
Setting: Forest of Arden

The Comedy of Errors
Setting: Ephesus

Setting: Rome, Corioli, and Antium

Setting: Britain, Italy

Setting: Elsinore

Julius Caesar
Setting: Rome; afterwards, Sardis and near Philippi

King Lear
Setting: Britain

Love’s Labour’s Lost
Setting: Navarre

Setting: Scotland and England

Measure for Measure
Setting: Vienna

The Merchant of Venice
Setting: Partly in Venice, and partly at Belmont, the seat of Portia on the Continent

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Setting: Windsor

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Setting: Athens, and a wood nearby

Much Ado about Nothing
Setting: Messina

Setting: Venice (for first act) and a sea-port in Cyprus

Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Setting: various countries

Romeo and Juliet
Setting: Verona and Mantua

The Taming of the Shrew
Setting: Sometimes in Padua, and sometimes in Petruchio's home in the country

The Tempest
Setting: The Sea; afterwards an Island

Timon of Athens
Setting: Athens

Titus Andronicus
Setting: Rome

Troilus and Cressida
Setting: Troy

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Setting: Verona, Milan, and the frontiers of Mantua

Twelfth Night
Setting: A city in Illyria, and the sea-coast nearby

The Winter’s Tale
Setting: Sometimes in Sicilia, sometimes in Bohemia

Go on then - Brexit - but you can't take Shakespeare away from the world, from Europe and from humanity - he won't fit into anything so small-minded even with Boris's putting all his weight onto it.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Pantomime, the Imaginary and the Straight Banana Brexit.

Loving the Independence Referendums


Harry Potter - a modern British hero of the imaginary.
Before the first Scottish independence referendum, I was sad but sure that the Scots would opt for the romantic version of their nation and vote with their hearts. Scottish independence is economic nonsense but it is very pretty, all plaid, pipes, heather and warm whisky heating up what's under the sporran.It's good to have a heart but better when you vote to use both heart and brain. We're all the same though, myself included. We're motivated by a mixture of sense and nonsense, imagination and reason, culture and nurture.

Romance and Brexit and Straight Bananas


Like Scottish Independence, Brexit is also romantic and unwise. It is a myth derived from our parents' actual nightmare memories of WW2 mixed together with the revisionism of popular cultural history in the humour of Dad's army, the gallantry of Brits alone against the Nazi invaders, the altruism of the last man standing holding the flag in some Pinewood propaganda film.

Patriotic Reassurance


The local lads at home during a global war
It's teeth-grittingly untrue but of course, we love it. We've absorbed it into our patriotic souls right down to the soles of our hobnailed bovver boy clogs just as we absorbed, but didn't believe Boris's blatant baloney about the EU that bananas had to be straight not curved. In fact we know from nothing to a little about the EU.






Real History and Pantomime History


An unhealthy thoroughbred leads a mongrel nation?

Yet we have always been a mix like the EU of many cultures and nations. First, we and our rulers were Scandinavian, Danish, Viking and Russian. Alfred was Saxon, Harold, part Viking, his wife Russian, William, a Norman (Norseman) and French, Then our rulers became  Dutch, William and Mary, and German, Victoria and all the rest. For 100s of years, English kings and queens ruled France. We absorbed  Huguenot refugees, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, German and Italian immigrants and even some of our African slaves.



European Divisions and the Empire that won the war

We split Europe up with other Europeans and then split up the world with those same Europeans. After Dunkirk we weren't exactly alone against the Germans - we had the biggest ever Empire in the world on our side with all their soldiers fighting for us - sorry Captain Mainwaring - but then you did bank colonial money, didn't you? We had the free Poles in our air force and the Free French fighting for us. We were a mongrel nation under Elisabeth 1 and remain so today under Elisabeth 2.

My generation - children of soldiers

It seems that a large proportion of my generation, the most affluent and educated pensioners to date, born during and after WW2, voted for Brexit. Why I wonder? I do know that there are many different kinds of Brexit voters and many different reasons for voting for Brexit but I am curious about those who make up my peer group.

The Brexit Dream and the Imaginary


Boadicea - our queen - defeated by the Roman Empire.
 Brexit is a dream from the past. A trap laid into the brains of a large section of the voting population of Britain by the emotional dramas played out in childhood in our families and our cultural environment.  Is it a forward-looking utopian hope for a wonderful future or is Brexit is a retreat backwards into a fantasy world? Is it a regression into an imaginary state? Is Brexit a nostalgic trip into the past to fulfil an infantile wish to live undivided lives as whole personae and heroes in a world without conflict or confused and confusing choices.


We are all in it

At some level of our beings, all of us, myself, included, inhabit this world of the Imaginary and inside it, we live happily in a state of unreality. It might be described as the world of the Pantomime, the world we understood as children, a world of transformations and magic, a world without facts or cash.

 Pantomime characters

It is hardly a surprise that those who led us into Brexitland are Pantomime creations in fancy dress acting out stagily contrived roles - Farage, faking it as the genial innkeeper turning away refugees, Boris, as Buttons, Bulldog, Billy Bunter, and our favourite cheeky Churchill-like chappie, IDS, the loyal officer and boring police plod, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, Arthurian aristocrat, and snobby academic. They're pretend people acting out Downton Abbey fantasies to amuse us -  and to deceive us. Foolishly, we like what they tell us.

It's Behind You and it Bites

Brexit wasn't chosen for common sense reasons but for a dream.
"It's behind you!" shout the audience.
"Where?" asks the smiling yellow-haired clown turning around.
"Its behind you!" repeat the audience.
Brexit and the Land of Pantomime are behind you - imaginary and unreal and not a good choice if you are an adult with European grandchildren who need a real future and not the Imaginary past. Our past may give us great ideals and worthwhile values but they need to be grounded in the reality of today's world.

Monday, 20 February 2017


This anecdotal account is about the interconnectedness of the above.
Mike, my husband and I arrived on the Zambian North Bank Power Scheme in 1972. Our news, the Observer newspaper, arrived by post every week.
Our friends, Hamish and Monica, left Zambia to work on another dam in the Shah's Iran. There was an earthquake in Iran. Soon after the Shah was replaced by a revolution. They didn't stay.
It was the Cold War. Zambia was punished by apartheid South Africa and Smith's UDI Rhodesia for its support for African freedom. Oil supplies were a big problem. Iraq provided oil by tanker – a pipeline from east Africa was built. Dundiza Chidiza Crescent became Saddam Hussein Boulevard.
There was a war between Iran and Iraq in which the west were involved on one side or the other or on both. It was a moot point as to which was the worse regime for its people and for its women.
Kate, a US diplomat, who had served in Zambia and acted in Lusaka Playhouse, was one of those imprisoned in the US embassy in Iran.
The Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, was vilified by the Western press for his friendship with Saddam. He was supposed to have become a billionaire and personally owned an oil tanker. Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). There was a connection with Israel, Holland and apartheid South Africa and the Big Gun designed to deliver the WMDs. Lusaka was a key airport on route for these deals which may or may not have happened. It was bar talk in Lusaka.
Saddam arrested an Observer journalist in Iraq who was investigating the WMDs story. He was executed. That journalist's British friend, Daphne, was put in solitary confinement. Kaunda arranged her freedom and she was released to Zambia and the British High Commission.
Saddam invaded Kuwait. Many of us believed that this was the start of the Third World War. It was the first Iraq war. The West defeated Iraq but the war was unfinished. From this point onwards the West continued to bomb Iraq ostensibly in support of the Marsh Arabs. Iraqi civilians also died but Saddam often used hostages to defend military sites.
The Afghan War continued in its myriad convolutions. Fundamentalist forms of conflicted and divided Islam had been recruiting in Africa for decades but now in the Middle East they had developed into Al Qaeda and ISIL.
On 9/11, a brilliantly conceived and successful attack on New York, the commercial capital city of the USA, took place.
2003 Bush and Blair decided to finalise the war with Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein. It seems likely that the WMDs used as the excuse were no longer in Iraq as a weakened Saddam had handed them to Bashir Assad of Syria who later used chemical weapons against his own civilians.
2013 Britain voted not to take action against Assad in support of his people. The resultant tragedy in Syria caused the huge migrant crisis which helped an anti-immigrant Britain vote Brexit and may lead to the breakup of the European Union.
In 2016 The Chilcot Inquiry reported. Tony Blair was apparently entirely and solely the most responsible for the war and all the deaths that resulted from the American/British intervention in Iraq over the whole period. He is the single scapegoat in an extraordinarily complex situation. Is that just?
The security of Britain, Europe, the USA, the Middle East and the Mediterranean areas are closely bound together now and have been for over a century. Today British and American troops continue to operate in Iraq.
Please explain to me why, in this complicated and interwoven scenario that has gone on for so long, Tony Blair is singled out as the one and only bad person?
Should his intelligent and patriotic concerns about Brexit be therefore disregarded?