Hey Gringo! You’re in trouble now!

Reading Time: 10 minutes
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John McHarg

San Felipe, Baja California 1998.

I didn’t want to go, this was a fairly common reaction when Gary suggested going anywhere. Through frequent bad judgement being anywhere with Gary was a bad idea and as was to prove more than accurate, this time was no different. “Let’s go down to San Felipe”
This was Thursday, payday was tomorrow which in the car dealing trade in Barstow was every two weeks so inevitably every two weeks I’d hear ‘let’s go somewhere’ from this guy, he just couldn’t handle booze although he loved drinking it, it would almost always end up in him starting a fight. “No I can’t, remember Linda is flying in from Glasgow for a week” I replied with acknowledged futility. “Bring her too!” It wasn’t a suggestion it was a statement of fact. Next day I drove down to L.A.X. to get Linda, through the arrival gate she walked with the biggest suitcase I had ever seen along with her sister whose suitcase matched perfectly, I wasn’t expecting the sister.

Formalities and greeting dispensed with we got into my hired car and drove back up to Hesperia where I was staying.
The next day we all got together in Victorville and inevitably ended up in the Mall, the company consisted of Gary, Andrea and her friend, myself, Linda and her sister Sandra, needless to say the first day of the girls holiday amounted to nothing ,in a Shopping mall, in Victorville California.

“I’ve booked us huts on the beach at San Felipe, we drive down tomorrow” that was that as far as he was concerned. Next morning after getting destination details, the sisters, their suitcases and I made our way down to Mexico via Palm Springs and through the Border at Mexicali. It’s a beautiful journey through the Mojave Desert, San Bernardino Forest back into the desert and down to the border, I’d recommend it just for the boost it gives to your spirit and the girls were excited to be going to Mexico, they really shouldn’t have been as it turns out, however the journey and the Smiths CD I forced them to listen to was the start of what I hoped would be a nice trip, “from the ice age to the stone age, there is but one concern, some girls are bigger than others, some girls are bigger than others, some girls mothers are bigger than other girls mothers”.
Down the 5 and into San Felipe was quite a long trip and we were happy to arrive and pleasantly surprised, the beach was amazing and the accommodation really nice ‘nice one Gary’ I though, this might be ok. We all slept sound and spent the day on the beach together, that night, well that was to change everything in my life.
“Right! Let’s go out!” The girls were still a bit jet lagged and tired so wanted an early night “ok” I answered “where?” “There’s a bar in town, bottles of beer are only 50 cents here” “FUCK!” I thought.
We strolled into town and found the 50 cent beer bar (they all where) in which Gary eagerly started purchasing. To be honest, the night went pleasantly although I was on full red alert for indications of normal state of affairs behaviour and remarkably enough we even managed to leave the bar without trouble ensuing, a first for my socialising experiences with this guy. ‘Phew’ I thought as we were leaving, it was a ‘Phew’ far too soon….

As we strolled our way, happily I may admit, back to the accommodation we walked past a guy standing at the door of a real estate store, even to this day I am amazed at the speed into which Gary started a fight with the guy, it was so quick that I had walked a few meters on before I had even heard or realised what was going on, my instincts kicked in and I automatically jumped into trying to separate them, before I knew it I felt the searing pain of a baseball bat on my left arm……from that point to the re-emergence of my conscience in the back of a Mexican Police car with a gun pressed firmly into my temple all I can say is the red mist had set in.
“Gringo, you’re in trouble now”

The clarity of which I can remember almost every detail of the next 18 hours is a blessing and a curse as I can recount this story faithfully but I can still smell the shit, blood and piss in my nose and on my clothes when I do think about it. I got dragged into the police station by 3 officers, two male one female and deposited to the desk sergeant who instantly started screaming Spanish at me. “Gringo! NOMBRE” I didn’t have a clue what they were screaming at me but I did know that a Mexican cop screaming Gringo at you was BAD NEWS. They hate ‘Gringos’ it’s their hate term for Americans. “No Gringo, Scotland!! No Gringo!” I pathetically pleaded. This went on for a while until, and I’m shitting you not, this was said

“Scotland? Celtic? Whisky?”

“Yes!!! Yes! Celtic! Whisky! Yes…”

This changed everything and I mean everything! They calmed down and started asking me questions , I wasn’t American I was Scottish, they couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t believe my luck.
For some reason that I will never be able to explain the fairly pleasant line of questions led to this. “What does your mother work as?”

Now at that point my mother was working as an assistant, nursing elderly catholic nuns in the North of Glasgow, I could have spent a week trying to come up with a lie to impress and it wouldn’t have had the impact that this truth had.

“Your mother is good woman.”

Mexico is a VERY VERY VERY Catholic Country and the mere suggestion of fellow Catholics from other Countries had a remarkable effect on these officers, they went from utter fury to total genuinely interested inquisition (no one expected the Mexican inquisition!)

One peculiar thing I remember is that even though this was 1998 they processed my details on an old manual singer typewriter.
All the erm, pleasantries and formalities aside they told me I was heading to the cells.
When I use the term shithole it normally relates to a messy dirty rundown place, but in this respect it really was a hole in the fabric of space and time filled with actual shit and a lot of pish.
The bar cell door was about 600mm wide which led into a room of about 4mx6m in almost complete darkness. To say I was scared is accurate, to say I was shitting myself isn’t as the environment had done that for me. The smell was brutal as was the sensation of the body fluids and near fluids squelching between my toes. I made my way with my hands along the wall on the right to the end of the cell and stood with my back against the wall. The only light was the little amount trickling in from the cell door, the source of the light was a bulb that was around a corner about 3 meters away.
After about 20 minutes I had no choice, I was exhausted, a wee bit beaten up and my arm was killing me, I had to sit down. The jeans I was wearing and the 1974 No 5 West Germany football top immediately soaked up as much of the dank surrounding as it could hold. It was only then that I noticed the front of my top was red and warm from the nose bleed that had developed, it wasn’t easily stopped.
I reckon it took a good 2 hours before I noticed two pair of eyes staring at me from across the cell 6 meters away. Now, that’s when the fear really kicked in. I said nothing, they said nothing, we just sat there, in the human waste staring at each other. My fear was misplaced, this was the beginning of an amazingly positive experience in my life.
“Hey Scotland! Agua! Water for you” The Policeman was standing at the bar cell door holding a bag of water, a clear plastic bag of water. “Your friend have brought you a bag of water” I took it and drank with a thirst I have rarely known, it was then my cellmates made themselves known to me. “Please, agua, Please” they pleaded. I wouldn’t ever refused any man a drink of water and in this situation I was eager to share.
I can’t remember both of their names, I really wish I did as these two guys gave me a re-energised love of humanity that night but I do remember their faces, their humour and their story, which they told me in near perfect English.

I explained who I was, where I was from and how I had ended up there, their foul language equally matched mine, I stole ‘Celtic, Whisky’ and we spend the next 2-3 hours talking, mainly them asking me about myself and my Country. They were locals, “peasants” and I mean no insult, that was their own words, they hung around town begging from tourists and getting drunk, “we come here lots of times Scotland”. In that dark shithole, we shared stories and laughter.
Now this is a weird story I know but it gets weirder.
“Hey! You, the guy I was fighting with! You Irish?” There was an American guy in the next cell, asking if there was a guy in my cell who was Irish. “D’you mean me?” I replied.

“Yeah you” was the response. “I’m fucking Scottish! Who the fuck are you and why did you hit me with a baseball bat?” “Maaaaaaaaaaan! I’m sorry dude, I had no idea what I was doing, I was really drunk” This was Bill, he went on to explain to me that he was a local businessman, a realtor as they say in America.
His mother had come down to visit him and it had gone badly, he went on to admit he was an alcoholic and his mother had left earlier that day, he had got drunk and went out looking for a fight, to make himself feel better about himself which he had managed rapidly with the appearance of Gary.
As we both stood at the cell doors about 400mm away from each other in that dark shithole we shared our life stories and a few laughs. “Hey maaaaaaaaan! I feel terrible about fighting with you, I want to make it up. He offered one of the properties he owned locally, free of charge for as long as I liked, I thanked him and politely declined.
Bear in mind this had been a few hours now and the girls were a huge concern, knowing the bullshit that Gary was capable of I later found out my fears were well founded, I may get to that at another time.
From having a gun pressed painfully into my temple to the moment the judge appeared, in shorts, sandals and a pristine white t-shirt, at the cell door must have been around 18 hours, maybe more. He proceeded to speak to Bill to which Bill replied in fluent Spanish, I tried to interrupt to find out what was going on but the Judge told me to be quiet, I wasn’t gonna argue with him, judging by the guard that was standing next to him it would have been an unwise move. This went on for 20mins with Bill assuring me that it was “getting fixed”.

“Ok” the judge pointed to me and said to the guard “let him out” In that moment I can still go back to and relive the relief, it was overwhelming…It lasted approximately 20 seconds. When I stepped out of the cell I immediately turned round to speak to Bill and it was then I saw his face for the first time, or more accurately what either myself, Gary or a combination of both had done to his face, it was a bloated beaten bruised mess, I felt like I had been hit with a baseball bat again, it took me all my composure to not burst out crying at that moment, in that jail, I was disgusted with myself. “I’ve paid your fine maaaan! It was 40 bucks, I admitted it was all my fault and you were only trying to stop the fight, you can go”. I couldn’t speak, I just looked at him and then finally all I could utter was “I’m so sorry Bill”, “Maaaaaan! It was my fault”.
“Ok, come with me Gringo!” Where the judge led I followed, into his office, well I say office it was a shack with a desk and some crappy chairs.
So, so far this has been a weird story right? And you don’t believe a word of it right? Well, it’s true and it gets a wee bit weirder.
“I cannot believe I have someone from Scotland in my jail! I am delighted, tell me all about Scotland” and I did, everything I could think of and that was about an hour and a half before he let me stop. As a side note, I drank the one and only cup of coffee I have every drunk in my life, in that shack, speaking to that judge, it was nectar on my tongue, I hate coffee and haven’t drunk it since. Finally I politely told him I really had to get back, I was covered in blood, head to toe in shit and piss and exhausted, he didn’t mind.
On handing me my stuff he said ” do you have any souvenirs for me?” Remarkably there was still money in my returned wallet and I took out what I had to give him, “no, no no Gringo, not that, something from you to me, to remind me of your stay”. For no reason I can explain to this day I rummaged through my wallet and found a tightly folded one pound Clydesdale Bank note, I took it out, opened it up and showed him the picture of Edinburgh Castle. “The capital of my Country” his joy was a sight to see, “sign it, please” which I did. He pinned that note up on the wall of his shack and we shook hands like friends do.

“Before I go, can I ask when Bill will be getting out?”

“Oh Gringo, ( this Gringo wasn’t an insulting Gringo) we are sick of his behaviour, he is a big man with big money but he has caused trouble too many times now in San Felipe, he gets drunk and does it all the time he is going to the big house”,

“The big house?” I replied.

“Yes, Prison, this time he admitted his guilt and in Mexico you are guilty before you are innocent, he can’t buy his way out now, lucky for you he did or you would be going too.”
I returned to the accommodation to the obvious relief and bewilderment of the girls, this is a whole other story which I won’t get into now as Gary again is instantly involved.
I will finish on this, on getting cleaned up and packed we got our stuff into the car and drove through San Felipe, on our way through I couldn’t believe it but there, at the side of the road in the town centre was my two cell mates. I pulled up, opened my window and called them over. They were delighted to see me, we hugged and I emptied my wallet and pockets of everything I had, I knew what they would do with it but it’s all I could do in the moment. These two guys took me from the absolute bottom of despair, to laughter and amazement in a shit hole, in a jail, in Mexico, and for that and them and the life changing experience that was I will be forever grateful.

 

 

Jesus – Guilty as Charged

Reading Time: 5 minutes
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Chuck Hamilton

Jesus Christ did not come to rescue Wall Street like President Obama. He did not come to save the American Chamber of Commerce. He did not come to free corporations, regardless of how many courts claim that they are, contrary to all rational thought, “persons”. And he would not have agreed with that money is speech.

Jesus Christ did not promote austerity, balanced budgets, or privatization and dissolution of government services. He did not means test or drug screen those coming to him in desperation seeking mercy. He did not hide the homeless from the sight of the affluent. He did not gentrify cities with wholesale destruction of public and otherwise affordable housing in order to clear space to build apartments and condominiums for the wealthy. He did not come to preach Third Way, supply-side, trickle-down, horse-and-sparrow neoliberal capitalist economics that make poor and working people pay for the lifestyles of the rich and shameless.

Jesus Christ did not support White Supremacism or Christian Triumphalism. He did not build at great expense graven images in the form of gigantic crosses and statues of the Ten so-called Commandments. He did not call for public prayer in town councils or at football games, or for God to be thanked by celebrities at awards shows.

Jesus Christ did not extol American or Israeli exceptionalism. He did not support the original illegal immigrants to the Americas seeking a better quality of life at the expense of that of the native peoples, nor their descendants facing later illegal immigrants seeking the same.

Jesus Christ did not promote Open Carry. He did not preach Stand Your Ground. He did not even advocate Self Defense.

Jesus Christ did not condemn birth control or abortion. He did not come to save zygotes or nonviable fetuses, or for that matter fetuses of any viability, especially not at the risk of the mother’s health against her will. He did not teach that a woman’s only place is in the home and that her only purpose in life is to be a housewife and mother.

If you believe Jesus Christ supported or would support any single one of those things, you are not following the real Jesus Christ. You are following Ayn Rand in a White Jesus mask riding a red-white-and-blue horse shooting fire from its nostrils, lightning from its eyes, and oats from its arse onto the road behind it for the peasants to consume.

The real Jesus Christ, by the way, was not really Jesus Christ. In the early Christian era, he was more often referred to as Isho Nasraya in in his native Galilean Aramaic, Yeshu ha-Notzri in Hebrew, and Iesous [Ee-soos] Nazoraios [Nad-zo-rah’-yos] in Greek, all of which translate to “Jesus the Nazorean”, not “Jesus of Nazareth”.

Jesus the Nazorean was not a 21st century American with blonde hair, blue eyes, European features, and an aquiline nose. He was a 1st century Galilean with dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes, and a big nose. In other words, he looked more like the humans America has been bombing since 2001, as well as the humans against whom bigots in Texas and other states of the Southwest are building fences and patrolling borders, than he did any White, American, Suburban, Professional.

Jesus the Nazorean did not hang out with sanctimonius saints, billionaires, celebrities, lords of Wall Street, masters of industry, land-owners, TV preachers, colonials, the popular, the chic, the cultured, the socially acceptable. He hung out with righteous sinners, deplorables, basement-dwellers, workers, tenants, prostitutes, thieves, collaborators, aliens, indigenous people, refugees, addicts, the poor, the outcast, the socially undesirable. He was in the lower class, of the criminal element, and as unfree as the prisoners of mass incarceration under the empire.

Jesus the Nazorean did not deny to anyone food, shelter, clothing, or healthcare because they were the wrong race, the wrong nationality, the wrong ethnicity, the wrong social class, the wrong religion, the wrong gender, the wrong sexual orientation, felons, addicts, too poor, not sufficiently poor, or able-bodied enough to slave for pittance wages or in makeworkfare-for-welfare programs.

Jesus the Nazorean was neither a capitalist nor a supporter of capital. He did not teach that a person’s only worth derives solely from their ability to produce profits. He frequently advocated social justice and redistribution of wealth, even invading the Wall Street of 1st century Palestine to chase out with a whip the brokers, bankers, financiers, and other swindlers who had taken up residence in what was supposed to be the sanctuary of the people.

Jesus the Nazorean was an outlaw who was executed as a terrorist by the Roman empire. And of that charge there is no question that he was guilty under imperial law. Make no mistake; his trial and execution has fuck all to do with jealousy from the elders and religious elites. Their sole participation, if in fact they participated at all, was as agents and clients of the state.

Jesus the Nazorean was crucified for an act of rebellion against the state. In his time, the Temple precinct, where the oligarchs of Judea held court, their money-changers defrauded, and the sellers of death profited, fell under the administrative supervision of the Roman prefect, so an attack on it was, legally, an attack against the empire. The insurrection that took place in Jerusalem at the same festival over Pilate’s use of Temple money for building an aqueduct into the city made the outcome of Jesus’ trial inevitable. Which shows that the law is not about justice, morality, or equity, but first and foremost about protecting the elite.

And “if the real Jesus Christ were to come back today,” as the 1980s song by the English punk band The The goes, “he’d be gunned down cold by the CIA”. Maybe. More likely, he’d be sent to Camp X-ray at Gitmo, or extraordinarily rendered to a black site in Poland or Romania, or turned over to be tortured by the secret police of Egypt or Azerbaijan or Saudi Arabia.

If his itinerant preaching brought him into America from Mexico, he might find himself in a detention camp as an illegal alien. Or should he somehow make it past the border patrol and vigilante militias, he would doubtless find himself on a no-fly list.

In some states, he and his entourage would find themselves driven out of town or sent as vagrants to private prisons with forced labor for private profits. Certain municipalities would have him arrested for feeding the poor and homeless in public. Other communities would keep him and his crew from sleeping with spikes driven into the ground of every possible shelter and place of rest.

Here in America, he would not die on a cross. He would die frozen under a railroad bridge, or in a booby trap at the border, or at the hands of a suburban middle-class white ammosexual wearing fear goggles “afraid for his life”, or beaten and choked to death by cops with the words, “I can’t breathe” on his lips instead of “It is finished”.

And if he were in his homeland today, he would probably die from American drones. Or from Israeli bombs. Or from gasoline ignited after being forced down his throat.

The Kara Sea

Reading Time: 1 minute
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The Kara Sea

 

The Kara Sea was a one-woman band; the woman in question is Glaswegian/Mancunian hybrid multi-instrumentalist and “flâneuse” (according to an early review) Sarah Bradley, who guides violins, guitars, omnichords and assorted found-sounds into songs that have been described as “Cocteau Twins-esque electronica”. After spending her formative years working as co-founder of Valentine Records, DJing, playing keyboards in Manc pop band Megarider and generally partying it up, Sarah turned her attention to solo recording in 2006, and released a handful of well-received tracks online and through low-key releases.

The Kara Sea played several gigs in Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds, as well as recording tracks that were showcased on compilation and split EP releases on several DIY labels. Bradley drew a line under The Kara Sea project in 2009

You can find her music on MySpace https://myspace.com/thekarasea

An Ungagged Christmas Gift For You!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Available FREE on iTunes and Podbean

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In this bumper festive episode, Roy Møller interviews Stiff Little Fingers singer Jake Burns, Chuck Hamilton talks about what Jesus would be like were he around today, Red Raiph treats us to anite afor chrismas (Scottish style), and Victoria Pearson fixes the rip in the fabric of space-time to restore normality before 2017.

Debra Torrance discusses the redistribution of reality, Fuad Alakbarov speaks about Syria, Amber Daniels asks us to consider those without this Christmas and  Steve McAuliffe treats us to his poem Toasting the Bloody Queen.

Matt Geraghty talks the joyless joy of commercialmas, Mara Leverkuhn discusses the Snoopers Charter, we hear from Beinn Irbhinn with a message from Kazakhstan, and John McHarg tells us the true story of the time he ended up in a jail cell in San Phillips, Mexico.

With music from Attila the Stockbroker, Steve White and the Protest Family, Roy Møller and Sporting Hero, Victoria Långstrump, Frank Waln , Argonaut , The Kara Sea, David Rovics and The Wakes, Jackal Trades, and Thunder on the Left.

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Start times for individual pieces will go up tomorrow.

The Clock Strikes Christmas – An Alternative Christmas Tale

Reading Time: 5 minutes
This piece originilly appeared on V’s blog
“You have to understand, we didn’t want this” said Berry nervously. “Every elf in the workshop chose this job because we are passionate about bringing hope, joy and laughter to people all around the world-“
“Yet here you are, threatening to strike days before Christmas.” said Santa, stroking his beard. Something about the movement made Berry nervous, reminding him of a Bond villain stroking a cat. “Happy to disappoint every child in the world, and for what? To make some kind of political point?”
Berry tried to swallow his nerves. He wished more than anything that it hadn’t been him that drew the short candy cane.
“With respect sir, it isn’t about the politics. Whether we agree with the expansion or not, things just aren’t workable as they are.” He scrambled around for the words to explain, words that would make him understand. Santa rarely visited the shop floor, preferring instead to sit in the grotto with his sexy secretary Mrs Claus and some of the perkier elves, counting out cookies and mince pies and basking in the adoration of the masses. He rarely saw the worker elves sobbing with exhaustion as they tried to work out how to craft the latest piece of gadgetry.
“We’ve become so focused on the side venture that we are losing sight of our original mission statement.”
Santa snorted, then leaned back in his seat, tucking his thumbs into his red braces.
“We have to move with the times Ber,” he said. “Joy and hope are nice, of course, but that’s not what the modern consumer wants. They want HD ready, virtual reality compatible real time gaming experiences.  They want the latest smartphone, suitable for socialising and work on the go. They want status symbols, material proof they are loved. The market has spoken.”
He said it with an air of finality that booked no argument, as if he had said “it is written” or “God wills it.” Berry took a deep breath, clenched his bladder against Santa’s thousand yard stare and said;
“With respect, we don’t serve the market. We never have” he flinched as Santa leant forward, then ploughed on when he realised the big man was just taking a fat cigar out of the gold plated case on the desk between them. “We serve Christmas.  Our primary job has always been to gift enough hope, compassion and joy to the world to see them through the year. We can’t do that when we are tied up making drones and smart phones.”
Santa chewed on the cigar, raising a single, fluffy eyebrow. Berry tried to fill the silence.
“We’ve always been about bringing people what they really need,” he said. “It’s the reason most of us came to work at North Pole Incorporated. I mean, we could cope with the workload when all we had to make was a small wooden train and a yo-yo.  But this is beyond a joke, it’s all too big, this isn’t what our job is all about.”
“Your job,” Santa said, “is to make whatever the fuck I tell you to make. Hope? Joy?  Laughter? Outdated concepts not fit for a modern workforce.”
“But it’s our primary purpo-“
“But nothing. Wittering on about love and peace like they are saleable commodities. Going on like the humans are the important part of this-“
“But sir,” Berry interrupted, trying not to pee in his stripey tights, “the humans are the only important part of this. They are the reason the firm was founded. Joy is what Christmas is all about-“
“Wrong.” Santa sat forward in his chair suddenly. “You know what Christmas is all about? Me. I am Christmas. It’s about what I say it’s about. And I say it’s about $14billion sponsorship deals from coca cola. It’s about $200 billion per year contracts with toys r us.  It’s about Samsung and Apple entering into a bidding war with each other over who gets my endorsement. You think people care about joy and love and goodwill toward men? People care about going one better than their neighbours. No one cares about our invisible gifts. People want things they can hold, and show off and sell on eBay.”
“But without our gift of hope, humanity will fall into darkness…”
“I’m not saying don’t give them the hope. We will do that alongside the material gifts, like always.”
“We can’t keep up with the demand, sir.” Berry said “We don’t even have time to pee! Holly gave birth on the shop floor, she was too scared to stop work. When the Festive Joy-O-Matic crushed Buddy to death, we didn’t dare shut the production line down. We had to return the body to his family in a set of jumbo sized crackers. We have no joy to give. We just can’t go on like this!”
A pair of blonde, giggly she-elves burst in, but when they saw Berry, they stopped,  uncertain of whether to come in or not. Santa raised a finger at them to wait. Berry eyed them distastefully. Tall, leggy wood-elves had no place here at the pole. They weren’t suited to the climate like the small, pointy eared snow elves that traditionally ran the workshop. They were too flighty to work the shop floor, and too noisy to fill stockings.  No one knew why Santa bothered employing them at all.
“This just isn’t sustainable sir.”
“Listen here you little shit” Santa growled. “We might have started out as a two-bit not for profit, scraping together a living on stale mince pies, but I’ve moved on. I’m a someone now.” He beckoned to the wood elves. “and I’m not going back to being a small time demigod  scraping a living in the snow. You can do what you want as regards hope and joy and all that shit. As long as you keep my profit margins up. I have shareholders to appease.”
He pulled the identikit blondes onto his lap.
“You’re dismissed Berry-“
“But-“
“Berry. Either run my corporation how I say, or I’ll sack the lot of you. It’d be cheaper to outsource your jobs to China anyway. Go ahead, give me an excuse. You think no one wants your job?”
Santa fixed Berry with his ice blue stare. What more could he say? Berry was defeated.
“Understood sir”
“Good. I make that 16 minutes you’ve been in my office. You can make that up at the end of your shift.”
Berry sagged, sighed, and trudged out to give his coworkers the news.
“Now then my lovelies” Santa said, nuzzling into one of the elves necks. “Which one of you is naughty, and which one is nice?”

Twenty Four

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Wow! What an advent it has been. If you’ve been following along with Ungagged’s Activist Advent, you’ve done some amazing things, raised awareness and even saved lives.

It may not feel like individually you have made a massive difference but collectively we can apply pressure, raise each others voices and force change.

Today’s task is equally important. This month you’ve run around shopping, wrapping gifts, preparing food, put other people first and you’ve found time to follow along with this, doing what you can to make the world a better place. You are an absolute super hero! You must be exhausted. So today’s task is to have a self care day.

Take some time to chill, in whatever way leaves you most relaxed, even if only for half an hour. If you frazzle yourself out, you can’t help other people.

Be as kind to yourself as you are to other people. You deserve it.

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Merry Christmas from the whole Ungagged Team

If we’ve inspired you to keep it going, we’d love to hear all about your acts of kindness and activism. Whether you have found an amazing local charity, activist group or cause, are performing small acts of kindness to improve your community, or are writing to your MP on a regular basis about issues that matter to you, we want to hear about it. Tell us what you are up to, tag us in pictures videos and statuses on our Facebook or twitter and we will share the best ones.

 

Image by Debra Torrance

Written by Victoria Pearson 

Death of a Vampire

Reading Time: 4 minutes
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Steve McAuliffe 

 

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For far too long we have lived under the rule of the Parasite.
For too long the Parasite has dictated to us who we are and what we are capable of.
For too long the Parasite has ruled over a mental wasteland of his own creating.

And in order to make us subservient to his twisted aims of total spectrum dominance the parasite has poisoned the waters, infected our minds with his own perversities and denied the existence of anything beyond the corporeal body-state, whilst simultaneously launching a never ending vicious and ruthless war against the human soul he repeatedly informs us does not exist.
He has, bit-by-bit removed the free-thinker, the philosopher, the wise man from centre-stage; replaced him with a gibbering, fame-obsessed body fixated retard, and held this idiot up as a role-model. And many have aped the self-concerned moron, even tried to outdo him on the stupidity-stakes, hoping that by simply being more stupid, more vain, more sexually-deviant, they will rise to the same stage as their parasitically-created hero. And yet –

‘Imagination is a glimpse of the divine’
William Blake

-These insipid mimics fail to realise that fame is not democratic. It is an orchestrated spell intended to take us away from our own potentialities. It is a closed-club, existing only to offer us a ready-made escape mechanism, its ultimate aim is to restrict our innate desire to self-create, and utilise the endless possibilities of our potentially-boundless imaginations.
We are prisoners of the limitations set for us by our parasitical, self-appointed master.
In order to transcend our limitations all we have to do is realise that our master is not like us, despite the illusion of superiority, he is, by definition a ridiculous inferior.
His only strength is his psychotically-relentless pursuit of self-advancement. Having sapped our desires to self-advance is it any wonder that he has the power to dominate us?
It is merely our surrender that makes us slaves.

‘The greedy, ugly people are not like us,
They don’t feel the love,
That she and I would die without’
Hefner.

And as for those life-affirming sensations of intense bliss and contentment – the sense of ‘outrageous good-fortune’ that breaks through our lives oh too rarely, and yet when it does, whispers to us of a divine truth long-forgotten – well, once we come to the realisation that the Parasite is incapable of such life-affirming feelings, that he is in fact completely devoid of empathy and contentment, then we realise the tragedy of his existence – the sheer, hollow ringing emptiness of a man who denies the existence of the human soul, chiefly because it is absent in himself.

Suddenly, upon this realisation, we begin to see the man behind the curtain. A man who best befits the old saying: ‘The small man cuts off the heads of others, in order to make himself seem taller’.
-Then, if we have any autonomy left at all, we refuse to stand in line for the chopping-block. Or to revert to an earlier metaphor, we refuse to continue offering our necks to the vampire.
And there is a reason that myth says that a vampire has to be willingly invited into your home in order to drain your energies and feed off of your life-force: we must first acquiesce to our own surrender. In order for the vampire/parasite to hold dominion over our souls, we must first give our permission.

But here’s the good part—-in the last years, months, weeks, days…the Parasite has been exposed on so many fronts for the vile predator that he is. Each day brings another revelation. And with each revelation a thousand more souls reawaken from the drugged slumber he has held them under. We are in the middle of the much-anticipated ‘acceleration’ that Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson and countless others had predicted and expected. It is happening right now.
The masks are falling to the floor, the internet is uniting like-minded souls across the globe, and in doing so is de-facto releasing the souls themselves, and the internet is merely the forerunner, moving us toward an understanding of our true oneness. It is an important step towards the soon-to-occur Unification of the Cosmic Mind, which will open the way for a telepathic-interconnectedness that will ultimately shrug the vampire from our necks, and reduce the parasite to dust.
You can feel it now.
Among the debris of a tumbling, crumbling Empire of Lies, you can feel it.
Despite the day-to-day sordid revelations and exposes of the Predator’s vile and endlessly deceitful practices, you inwardly know that these are merely the death throes, the dying gasps of the Vampire Parasite whose long-held claims to immortality are being exposed for the lie they always were.
There is another myth about the Vampire; he withers and dies when exposed to the full glare of sunlight.
Well, an awakened populace will burn with the strength of a thousand suns.
So you better look out Parasite —
Coz we are the light.

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Twenty Three

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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The Trussell Trust reports food bank use is at an all time high, with over a million 3 day emergency food parcels given out to families in the UK over the last year.

Thirteen million people live below the poverty line in the UK, with individuals going hungry every day for a range of reasons, from benefit delays to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. Stopping hunger is about more than food though, which is why the trust work with foodbanks to provide a range of new services like money advice and Fuel Banks, helping people to break the cycle of poverty.

It is shocking that we even need foodbanks in the UK at all, and their use is exploding. It has been reported that the DWP is leaving new claimants weeks in between being considered eligible for benefits and receiving their first payments and, instead of offering social care grants or bridging loans to make up the shortfall,  they are referring people to foodbanks. In the Tories austerity Britain,  hunger is rife. Several vulnerable people have been reported as starving to death this year, and record numbers of children are suffering the effects of malnutrition.

Foodbanks partner with a wide range of care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers and police to identify people in crisis and issue them with a foodbank voucher. Foodbank clients then bring their voucher to a foodbank centre where it can be redeemed for three days’ emergency food. Volunteers meet clients over a warm drink or free hot meal and are able to signpost people to agencies able to solve the longer-term problem.

Foodbanks wouldn’t be able to function without schools, churches, businesses and individuals who donate non-perishable, in-date food to foodbanks,  and the 40,000+ strong army of volunteers who sort through it all and pack it into boxes ready for people in need.

There are lots of ways you can help support Trussell Trust- from shopping at or donating to their charity shops, donating to their Christmas appeal, donating food at your local collection point, or donating money to Trussell Trust.

You can volunteer to help pack, deliver  and distribute food, or even set up your own foodbank.

As ever, we encourage you to write to your MP and tell them that over a million people relying on foodbanks is not acceptable in the UK,  in 2016.

 

Image by Debra Torrance 

Written by Victoria Pearson 

Twenty Two

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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Today we are asking you to spare a thought for those who know that this will be their final Christmas, and the nurses, doctors, carers, cleaners and caterers who give up Christmas with their families to make sure that people recieve the care they deserve at the end of their lives.

There are so very many outstanding organisations and charities we could highlight that work tirelessly to give people dignity in death, and we encourage you to find out about any that are local to you and the different ways to support them. We have chosen three to highlight here.

St Margaret of Scotland Hospice is the oldest and the largest hospice in Scotland. They not only  support patients with advanced life-limiting illness and older people with complex medical and nursing needs in their Clydebank hospice, they also offer Out Patient Facilities, Community Specialist Palliative Care and Counselling Services.

One of our contributors has experience of the care and compassion shown at St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, and how the staff there helped a dearly loved relative end their days with dignity and without pain.

You can support St Margaret of Scotland Hospice by getting involved with their events, visiting their shops, or donating to their shops. If you’re inspired to do even more, you could volunteer.

49,000 children and young people are living in the UK with health conditions that are life-shortening or life-threatening—and the number is rising. That’s one in every 270 children—the equivalent of one in every school. Together for Short Lives are the leading UK charity that speaks out for all children and young people who are expected to have short lives. Together with everyone who provides care and support to these children and families,they are here to help them have as fulfilling lives as possible and the very best care at the end of life.

They also support all the professionals, children’s palliative care services and children’s hospices that deliver lifeline care to children and families across the UK.

You can help by donating to their Christmas Appeal 2016 , taking part in one of their fundraising events or by volunteering.

Rennie Grove Hospice Care is a charity providing care and support for patients in Herts and Bucks diagnosed with life-limiting illness, who wish to die at home, and is another charity close to one of our contributors hearts.

Through their 24/7 responsive hospice at home service and day services they make it possible for people to choose how and where they want to be cared for towards the end of life. The support they provide for families both during the illness and after bereavement is very valuable to the families they support.

Our contributor said;

The Iain Rennie nurses helped keep my grandfather comfortable through emphysema and the final stages of cancer, but their care went beyond that. They were on-call at all times and were an unobtrusive but calming presence through the very private moment of what, thanks to them, was a comfortable, dignified death. They weren’t just a support to him, but to the whole family. The care, compassion and support they gave my grandmother was invaluable both while she was caring for my grandfather and through her bereavement. We could never thank them enough.

You can find out about the many ways to donate to Rennie Grove Hospice Care here.

Image by Debra Torrance

Written by Victoria Pearson