Of Two Men – And One Short Story

This is a tale of two men. The first of these men was brutally murdered. He was a good man who helped people. The second man cares nothing for others. He is egotistical, loud-mouthed, and uncaring of anything but enhancing his own power and success.

In 2004 I wrote a short story entitled, “The Room.”** It was, perhaps, the most harrowing piece of writing I have ever attempted. It was a work of fiction, but was inspired by the plight of a British man in Iraq.

Kenneth Bigley, alongside two American colleagues, was working there as a civilian soon after the U.S./U.K. invasion, when Saddam Hussein was toppled from power and al Qaeda moved into the country.

Bigley and his colleagues were captured by al Qaeda. The two Americans were beheaded soon after falling into their hands, but Ken Bigley was held in an al Qaeda hideout for weeks, in hideous conditions, while his captors tried to elicit concessions from the British government.

With its usual arrogant stance of never negotiating with terrorists, the British government failed to save Bigley’s life. Eventually, after three weeks of mental and physical torture, he was beheaded and his body buried in a ditch from whence it has never been recovered. He left behind a young Thai wife. They’d been married for seven years. It was to be Bigley’s last job before retirement. They’d planned to live in Thailand.

Ken Bigley didn’t deserve to die. He didn’t deserve to be abandoned by the country he came from. He went to Iraq to help the Iraqis through their trauma. He was a Liverpool man, and courageous. He needed every ounce of that courage during his imprisonment by the fanatical jihadists who held him, and who eventually took his life in the most brutal manner. Most British people were incensed that so little was done to try and save him. [1]

The other man in this tale used to be the editor of the British newspaper, ‘The Spectator’. He went on to become the Mayor of London. He’s now the British Foreign Secretary in Theresa May’s government. His name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

He comes from a family that would be called, “distinguished.” He married into another “distinguished” family. During that marriage he had a number of extra-marital affairs and in 2012 fathered a child to one of his paramours, Helen McIntyre, an arts consultant. He tried to gain an injunction to prevent the matter being made public, but three judges refused, stating:

“The core information in this story, namely that the father had an adulterous affair with the mother, deceiving both his wife and the mother’s partner and that the claimant, born about nine months later, was likely to be the father’s child, was a public interest matter which the electorate was entitled to know when considering his fitness for high public office.” [2]

Boris Johnson is keen to be the next British prime minister. Some consider him a likeable clown, a buffoon. He’s neither; it’s all an act. In October 2004, just days after Ken Bigley’s brutal murder, Boris Johnson the then paper’s editor, published this editorial in the The Spectator:

“The extreme reaction to Mr Bigley’s murder is fed by the fact that he was a Liverpudlian. Liverpool is a handsome city with a tribal sense of community. A combination of economic misfortune — its docks were, fundamentally, on the wrong side of England when Britain entered what is now the European Union — and an excessive predilection for welfarism have created a peculiar, and deeply unattractive, psyche among many Liverpudlians. They see themselves whenever possible as victims, and resent their victim status; yet at the same time they wallow in it. Part of this flawed psychological state is that they cannot accept that they might have made any contribution to their misfortunes, but seek rather to blame someone else for it, thereby deepening their sense of shared tribal grievance against the rest of society. The deaths of more than 50 Liverpool football supporters at Hillsborough in 1989 was undeniably a greater tragedy than the single death, however horrible, of Mr Bigley; but that is no excuse for Liverpool’s failure to acknowledge, even to this day, the part played in the disaster by drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground that Saturday afternoon. The police became a convenient scapegoat, and the Sun newspaper a whipping-boy for daring, albeit in a tasteless fashion, to hint at the wider causes of the incident.”[3]

(The Hillsborough tragedy referred to in this quote occurred at the Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, on October 15th 1989. The venue was chosen to host a football match between Liverpool Football Club and Nottingham Forest F.C.. It was the worst disaster in British sporting history. Ninety-six people died and over seven hundred were injured. An inquest found “…that the supporters were unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent failures by police and ambulance services to fulfil their duty of care to the supporters. The inquest also found that the design of the stadium contributed to the crush, and that supporters were not to blame for the dangerous conditions.”)

I have had personal experience of the inhabitants of Liverpool. I worked in that city for five years, from 1963 to 1968. Even then it was a cosmopolitan city, a major port, and my interaction with people from all walks of life never failed to impress me. Their warmth, generosity, and kindness are, I believe, unmatched anywhere else in Britain. Johnson would never have known those sort of people where he came from – Oxford, North London, a family farm near Exmoor, upper class boarding school (Eton) from the age of eleven, before moving on to Oxford University (where else?).

The editorial in The Spectator wasn’t written by Johnson. He only passed it for publication. By so doing he signaled his approval of the content. The first draft was actually written by another sleazebag journalist, Simon Heffer, who like Johnson, writes to appeal to the minority ‘landed gentry’ rather than the ordinary folk who make our nations work.

But Heffer is just another puffed up, narcissistic, pseudo-intellectual, Oxbridge educated, right-wing Tory supporter, (he’s supported UKIP and Nigel Farage – but then it’s a known fact that rats run together) and deserves no more than a mention here due to his acrimoniously penned attack on Ken Bigley and the city he hailed from. Heffer will never be anything but an arse-crawler to the rich and powerful. Johnson, on the other hand, could become the premier politician in Britain.

This week marks the thirteenth anniversary of Ken Bigley’s death. Most will have forgotten him. If you were to ask Boris Johnson who he was, he’d probably look at you blankly. The people of Liverpool will remember – those who were around at the time. They’ll also remember the man who belittled his good name and libelled his city and its people.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson wasn’t fit to lick Ken Bigley’s boots. He’s certainly not fit to be the next Prime Minister of Britain.

**The short story, ‘The Room’, can be accessed from the Sparrow Chat sidebar.

[1] “Hostage Bigley murdered in Iraq” BBC, October 9th 2004

[2] “Public has right to know Boris Johnson fathered child during affair, court rules” Guardian, May 21st 2013

[3] “Wikipedia.

NRA Leader Feigns Sympathy While Demanding LESS Gun Control

In the wake of the slaughter in Las Vegas this week, the U.S. National Rifle Association is urging Congress to outlaw ‘bump-stocks’. A bump-stock basically turns a semi-automatic weapon into a fully-automatic weapon. The Las Vegas killer had twelve rifles fitted with bump-stocks in his hotel room.

The group [NRA] said: “Devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”
Republicans have said they would consider banning the tool, despite years of resisting any gun control.
Lawmakers plan to hold hearings and consider a bill to outlaw the device.
The NRA called on Thursday for regulators to “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law”.
“In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented,” NRA chiefs Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox wrote in the statement…[1]

Is this the voice of the Wayne LaPierre we all know and hate?

Well, at least those of us who respect the rights of citizens to live in safety, and without the fear of encountering a gun-toting madman while enjoying a music concert.

Yes, it is that same Wayne LaPierre, and the BBC report goes on to explain the twisted reasoning behind his ‘apparent’ change of attitude towards legal controls:

…In the same statement the NRA urged Congress to pass their longstanding pet proposal to expand gun rights nationwide, [the] so-called right-to-carry reciprocity.
The lobby group wants gun-owners with concealed-carry permits from one state to be allowed to take their weapons into any other US state, even if it has stricter firearms limits.

So, basically LaPierre is prepared to accept the legal outlawing of bump-stocks, if the U.S. government will pass legislation over-riding that of states sufficiently sane as to not allow their citizens to wander around in public with firearms concealed on their person.

LaPierre will never change his spots, even though he’s more reminiscent of a snake, than a leopard.

NOTE: Since the Las Vegas massacre, the BBC report that, Slide Fire, the company who manufacture bump-stocks:

… had sold out “due to extreme high demands” since the Las Vegas shooting.

There are some very, very, sick people in America.

[1] “Las Vegas shooting: NRA urges new rules for gun ‘bump-stocks'” BBC, October 5th 2017

Who Needs Islamic Terrorists…

…when you have home-grown American nutcases with access to an arsenal of high-powered weaponry?

The State of Nevada has the least effective gun laws of any state in America. Anyone can buy a gun and carry a gun openly, or, with a permit, concealed.

Its state constitution gives ‘every citizen’ the right to keep and bear arms for ‘security and defence’, as well as for lawful hunting, recreational use and other lawful purposes. It allows people to buy a gun – rifle, shotgun or handgun – without a permit. In fact, the only thing you need a permit for is to carry a concealed weapon. Background checks are carried out when people buy guns but it is still technically possible to sell your gun privately. In January, a universal gun background check measure that was narrowly approved by voters in the state was put on hold indefinitely after the FBI and Nevada’s attorney general said it was unenforceable. [1]

This atrocity has gained the dubious reputation of being the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. But only by one victim (at least, so far) beating last year’s Orlando club shooting, when forty-nine people died. Neither of these attacks was in any way organised by ISIS, though the Orlando shooter was sympathetic to their cause.

The facts show that Americans are one thousand times more likely to die from domestic gun violence than from terrorist attacks.[2] Yet, despite the best efforts of President Barack Obama, particularly following the Sandy Hook School shootings (2012) in which twenty-six (inc twenty children) were callously gunned down, any attempt at greater law enforcement to control the availability and use of firearms is consistently voted down in the U.S. Congress.

Given the belligerent, gun-happy, puppy-pet of the National Rifle Association, presently incumbent in the White House, this latest slaughter of the innocents is unlikely to change a thing.

[1] “At Least Fifty Dead In Las Vegas Shooting” BBC, October 2nd 2017

[2] “American deaths in terrorism vs. gun violence in one graph” CNN, October 3rd 2016