Thursday, April 06, 2006

Easy Pieces

Growing up in the South of England in my early teens, I idolised my cousin Danny. A few years older than me, he was so cool and trendy. He knew all the best music (Lloyd Cole, Prefrab Sprout and The Cure) long before I read about them in the NME back copies that he saved for me. But more importantly, he was incredibly sensitive without being a wimp. He had a great anti-establishment sense of humour and joked about being an anarchist but we knew that despite his protestations he was growing into a very eligible young man. But he was highly impressionable and was always falling into and out of love with some gloriously unattainable woman. My friends and I swore to hate with a vengeance the bitch who’d eventually steal our Danny away.

In the mid-1980’s, Danny went off to another cousin’s wedding in Killorglin. We were so envious of him. We loved our summer trips to Ireland but were never trusted by our parents to make the journey on our own. But being nineteen and in gainful employment, Danny had a lot more freedom. By all accounts, he’d a fabulous week of partying with his Irish cousins culminating in the first big wedding of our generation. He came back with stories of sessions in pubs and driving through the night to remote discos in the middle of nowhere.

The only sour note to this great adventure occurred during his return to England. Danny was stopped at Holyhead and invited to help the local police with their enquiries. It would seem that Danny got drinking with a suspected IRA man who was under surveillance. In hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t that surprising that the cops should take an interest. A young first generation Irishman with a healthy disregard for convention, travelling alone to Ireland. Drinking with a known activist. The police were suspicious of everyone back then. We know now about IRA sleepers, terrorist cells and recruitment of clean operatives. Danny, I think, thought the whole interrogation thing quite amusing and most probably strung the cops along before commonsense prevailed and they realised that this man was far from being an evil terrorist. Danny spent an overnight in a cell near Bangor and no real harm was done.

Three young British men – first generation Pakistanis - travelled to Afghanistan for a wedding around the time of the American invasion. I’ve no doubt they looked forward to their adventure with the same enthusiasm as Danny did twenty years previously. However instead of an inconvenient detention overnight, these gentlemen were shipped off to Guantanamo Bay. They were held without charge for 3 years on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity despite no evidence and strong alibis.

We Irish know what it is like to be viewed with suspicion and fear by a superpower because of the misguided actions of a few of our countrymen. We know how terrorised nations react when confronted with an evil that they can’t (won’t) understand. We know that human rights get quickly trampled in the rush for homeland security. Also, we are a nation that is generally well disposed to America. We consider ourselves as friends. Don’t we have a duty to tell that friend when they are perpetrating evil? As Bono said, “Building our own monster, to defeat a monster”.

My cousin Danny or her cousin Rashish deserve it.

Pic :


Blogger Fence said...

Thats a great post.

Course the problem is that no matter what we do or say, as a small, relatively insignificant country we won't have much of an impact.
Even were Bertie and friends to stop playing to all sides.

8:54 a.m., April 07, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...


You are so right. It's a fabulous post, all the more so because it captures you through the beauty of the writing, and the poignancy of the story, then holds you to attention and gets you to look outside your frame to a wider and wilder world, by challenging you without making it explicit what you personally should do to make an impact.

10:11 a.m., April 07, 2006  
Blogger Curly K said...

Well said Paige, great post.

The whole stance that our government has taken is appalling particularly with regard to the Iraq War, the use of Shannon Airport or backing away from challenging anything that the Americans or British do etc.

2:49 p.m., April 07, 2006  

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