Thursday, 16 May 2013

London life, a canal boat carnival, another lovely day and Sol Campbell for Mayor

The sun had popped back last week after a six month absence, having paid a fleeting visit to these shores, but it was blown away by winter's allied forces of wind and rain until, to our pleasant surprise, it briefly reappeared and burned away the opposition, dragging us and all London's 'little platoons' out again to Regent's Canal, this time towards Little Venice.

Here, there was great canal boat carnival under way.
An armada of Victorian looking long boats had descended on Little Venice to show off their shapes and sizes and swap tales of life on the waterways of Britain.

A build up of gas in the bilges seemed to be the biggest danger that these mild mannered mariners had to face, or absent lock keepers and rising mooring fees.
How Captain Kidd would have scoffed at these narrow boat navigators with their narrow horizons and flat waveless waters!
Captain Kidd was born in Scotland in 1645, the son of a Church of Scotland minister - things don't always go to plan do they?
By 1689 he was a Caribbean buccaneer, a pirate signed up by the governor of the Leeward Islands to fight the French in King William's war. But his piratical crew found this a bit boring and forced Kidd to sail for New York to sell their stolen bounty in the market there.
Kidd decided to become a pirate bounty hunter and set off with a new crew to the Indian Ocean to pluck the rich pickings that had already been plucked from their first owners. (who had probably plucked them from someone further back - who was the first plucker?)
King William himself had ten per-cent off this investment in plunder, and there were many other powerful and establishment investors in this daylight seaborne robbery. (Queen Elizabeth 1st - Good Queen Bess - was one of the very first investors in the slave trade. Worth Michael Gove, our staunchly patriotic Minister of Education,  reflecting on quite how proud we should be of our history.)
Captain Kidd ruled his ship with murderous violence but eventually, after taking six ships and their precious cargoes, he fell foul of his backers and was caught and sent for trial in London.
He was hanged at execution dock in Wapping on 23rd May 1701.
These were the men that built our Empire!
They sailed close to the wind and were made of stern stuff.
Were cruelty and violence essential survival techniques in a world without modern technology?
Our Industrial Revolution needed sugar to energise its working class, and that needed slavery to grow it and chop it. You can see the argument.

But it seems to be that any excuse will do - as A. Hitler and J.Stalin and M. Tse-Tung have shown, among many others, there is always a reason to massacre and blow everything lovely to bits.

Today in London, everything seems peaceful and the bounty of the earth seems to be plentiful.
But Sol Campbell, one of England's greatest footballers, points out and provides the evidence that racism in Britain is alive and well. Yet he loves this country despite its obvious disfiguring defects and crude discrimination.
Sol talks more sense than Boris Johnson and his privileged pals, who put up fantasy schemes to make their opponents look timid and lacking in vision.
It's one of the oldest tricks in the book.
Look instead at the life of Sol Campbell.
It will show you the kind of buccaneering courage, integrity and discipline we need nowadays.

We know it ain't easy, but the capacity to love outside of our own tribe is what we need now that there are seven billion of us.

And we know it will take more than love, but it's a good start, so hats off to John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison when they sang 'All you need is Love' - Love is all you need.

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