Tuesday, 13 December 2016

This is a powerless blog

                               Syrian child runs past bodies in Aleppo

As I sit in my chair in Cardiff and write this blog, in Aleppo, Syria, pro-government army radio is encouraging soldiers to rape a man's wife and daughters in front of him, as standard protocol.

As I sit in my chair in Cardiff and write this blog, captured Syrian men are faced with the choice of being killed or joining Bashar al-Assad's army.
Buses are leaving, some have seen mixed groups on board these buses, some have seen only women and some children.
It is not clear where they are going.

Yet as I sit in my chair and write this blog, in BBC headquarters, and other news headquarters around the World, the official line is that the fighting is over. That the resistance is crushed. 

The resistance is crushed. The military resistance in Aleppo is no more. 
And yet the massacre continues.

It seems that the pro-government forces are slaughtering all they see in their victory, and they can see a lot of innocents. As Abdulkafi al-Hamdo - a Syrian in Aleppo (Find his Twitter here - @Mr_Alhamdo) - states, "They don't want to leave any of us alive".

Many children, reported on the ground numbering over 100, are trapped within a building in East Aleppo, under indiscriminate bombing. 

And yet why is it so hard to access what is going on? 
Why does the BBC headline "Fighting over in besieged Aleppo", making it sound like the crisis is over? There are currently detailed reports in the hands of the UN that show massacres of unarmed civilians by pro-government militias, but that's no story. 
The UN have already recorded 82 field executions of civilians. 

“Aleppo is being destroyed and burned completely,” Mohammad Abu Rajab states “This is a final distress call to the world ... Nobody is left. You might not hear our voice after this. It is the last call, the last call to every free person in this world. Save the city of Aleppo.”

As politicians wring their hands and nod their heads at grandiose expressions of how sympathetic we are to the Syrian plight, civilians dying in Syria as they talk. 

There will be no inquest into the atrocities in the International Criminal Court. Russia and China vetoed it once in 2014, they will veto it again.

What can we do? What can we do? What can we do? 

This is a powerless blog. 

The military resistance in Aleppo is no more.

And yet the massacre continues.

(I thank my sources - I am just blundering around the situation without them, with just a sense of deep wrongness about the situation. They have given me a point.)

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Malaise Marmalade

So last Wednesday I had a birthday. And ever since then, I've been unable to shake this feeling of something not being quite right, something being not quite present.
So far, being 21 has devolved into a heady cocktail of making my own sandwiches, reading books, and gloomy thoughts.

There are a few contributing factors, I believe:

Finishing University -
In about six months, I finish my degree, and leave the comfort blanket of books I have wrapped firmly around me for the last decade of my life behind. No longer will I be in a nice institution which I can 'do politics' in. No longer will I have simple routes to achieving. At uni, if you want to be better at a subject, you put more time into that subject. You talk to your lecturer, you do practice essays. It all operates in this nice, cosy bubble, and I love that bubble. There are rules to the game.
I will suddenly be thrust into a world I don't know, where I don't know the rules so well, And those rules are looking increasingly harsh on new graduates.
In six month's time, I will reach the end of my degree, and of my house contract, and I will be not tied to anything or anywhere; exciting, and bloody terrifying. At University, I can always ask "Am I doing it wrong?" When University is over, there's no such question. There's no support net.

On the flipside..

Being at University -
University is nothing like the popular perceptions of University life. You are not automatically surrounded by a bubble of friends, I have not been inside a club for seven or eight months. I've had a few deep chats on the kitchen floor, granted, but on the whole, my house is deathly quiet; University has been the most lonely experience of my life. I go to lectures, I go home.
Once a week, I go to Lidl.
Mental, I know.

Also, my workload has never been greater. The best and worst bit of adult life is that any day you choose, you can stay in bed, buy a takeaway, and watch TV all day. As a kid, knowing that would have caused me to run in circles around my room with excitement, as an 'adult', knowing that is bittersweet. Because it's not enough to spend three years slogging away at a degree, now we are expected to take unpaid internships, smile, and say "thank you very much"; even then you are more likely to land your dream job, cold calling.

The reason I mentioned being a kid is probably the biggest reason for my mood downer.

I am beginning to reach the age that, when I was younger, I had grand plans for. "By the time you're 21, you'll have a house, Joe, and it will have a really big bath, with a TV at the end of it, and you will be able to drive. You'll have a really cool career job, which helps other people do cool stuff, and you'll make music and record videos on the side. You'll eat sherbet all day, and it won't be bad for you, and you will kick ASS at football."
I also still haven't quite reconciled my inner 12 year old to the sad truth that I will never grow up in New York and eat a bagel on the way to school, that I will never be a quirky Spanish kid, who lives by the sea.
I still haven't reconciled my inner 12 year old to the sad truth that the daydreams I once had and the characters I write about are that, daydreams and fiction.

I'm beginning to feel tired of lonely experiences, and of the myth of freedom coming with age, and of how expensive everything is.

If I could, I'd go into the American forests in winter, and hole myself up in a log cabin covered in snow, with a roasting fire, and write a beautiful, haunting, wistful album of music.
But I can't.
I can pour a glass of wine, and continue writing my essay, in an empty house.

Sorry if this is a bit melancholic, I've been positive and uplifting for too many blogs recently, time to return to normality. Apologies also if it's a bit scattergun, I have a hell of a lot of thoughts going around my head at the moment.