There is no such thing as failure in art
This newsletter is powered by Revue. The home page of Revue says it “is an editorial newsletter tool for writers and publishers.”
I am, in the vernacular of British English, ‘giving it a go’.
To give something a go means (if you are not familiar with the nuances of the phrase) to try something without expectation of success or attachment to the result. It is a way of disarming the risk of failure.
Coincidentally, Tamara and I went to a talk last night, and the actor David Suchet recounted how he had been coached by an acting coach. This happened quite late into David Suchet’s career, and the coach told him that there was no such thing as failure in art.
That is, as long as one gives it a go, let’s go, breaks out of one’s comfort zone, doesn’t play safe - then there is no failure.
Now writing this I am thinking that it helps to have an aim, of course. That towards which one is heading. What is the aim of this newsletter? Is it to build a huge following - for what purpose? Well I think I have my purpose - it is to give it a go, to let go - and to explore that.
Get Revue tells me that my account is not verified yet. They express it so nicely:
“You don’t seem like somebody that is going to send spam 😉 However, we still want to get to know you a little bit better before you can start sending your issues to a larger audience.”
Therefore I can only send to ten subscribers right now.
How, I wonder, will Revue “get to know me a little better”?
OK. On with the newsletter: You can skip item #2 if you want because I wrote it a while ago and it is overtaken by more Brexit insults and madness. Or you might want to read it to learn more about the very English way of insulting your opponent.
#1 Fracking Causes Earthquakes
“News: Another tremor felt near the UK’s only fracking site An earth tremor has struck near the UK’s only hydraulic fracturing site. A tremor measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale was detected at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, and was felt by the surrounding area. Cuadrilla, who operate the site, say no fracturing was taking place at the time.”
If you are not familiar with fracking, it is a process of filling seams in the ground rock with slick water under pressure in order to drive the oil in the seams to the surface.
Fracking has a troubled history, and for good reason. If you are interested, I wrote a longish piece about the risks of fracking under the title The Awful Story Of Fracking
, - and that is without talking about the risk of it inducing earthquakes.
So perhaps the earthquake near Blackpool was just a coincidental tremor, a tremor of the kind that Britain suffers periodically? So what does the British Geological Survey list of recent earthquakes show…
No, it’s not listed there. But it is on the list of Induced Seismicity around the British Isles in the last 50 days. The page with the list has this statement:
“Last updated: Sun, 25 Aug 2019 14:10:00 (UTC) This list contains seismic events for which there is strong evidence that they have been induced by human activities. It is linked to a database of seismic events and locations and magnitudes may change as events are re-analysed and revised. Background, tectonic seismic activity is reported on our recent earthquakes list.”
So now we can say unequivocally that fracking caused the earthquake.
If you looked at the Recent Earthquakes list you may be surprised at just how many earthquakes the planet suffers - there are a few every day.
#2 Philip Hammond Writes
Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer (the man with the keys to the treasury) under the previous Prime Minister Theresa May, has written to the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His letter is an accusation to counter a false accusation made, he says, by the Prime Minister’s office. Philip Hammond’s letter reads as follows:
24 AUGUST 2019
Dear Prime Minister
Operation Yellowhammer document leak
According to the media, a Number 10 source has briefed that the Yellowhammer dossier was ”deliberately leaked by a former Minister in an attempt to inﬂuence discussions with EU leaders”. The clear implication was that a Minister in the last government had retained, and then leaked, a copy of this document. The media has speculated accordingly on the source of the document.
It has now become apparent that the leaked document was, in fact, dated August 20l9 and would not, therefore, have been available to any former Minister who is not serving in the current administration. Accordingly, I am writing on behalf of all former Ministers in the last Administration to ask you to withdraw these allegations which question our integrity, acknowledge that no former Minister could have leaked this document, and apologise for the misleading brieﬁng from No. 10.
I will make a copy of this letter available to the media.
I look forward to your reply.
Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
If an MP accuses another MP of being a liar, a scoundrel, etc. directly on the floor of the House Of Commons, the accuser is required to apologise or is sent out of the House until he relents and apologises.
This fiction that all MPs are upstanding leads to some semantic gymnastics as MPs find ways to accuse one another without explicitly doing so.
The other side of the coin is that within Parliament an MP can say anything about anyone else who is not an MP, and cannot be sued for defamation for saying it.
There is no such convention outside of Parliament. So imagine what would happen if No.10 were to apologise. Then the ex-Ministers could collectively sue No.10 for defamation.
So, how will No.10 react to Philip Hammond’s letter? My guess is that they will no nothing at all, and just sail on. It has become their method. And there is method in the madness.
#3 Olympics 1936-1948
Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd is a book about tourists, business people, students, and diplomats who were in Germany in the 1930s.
What did they think, what did they notice? Mostly they didn’t notice much. They did little mental gymnastics to avoid characterising the rise of the Nazi state for what it was.
We all know how the black American Jesse Owens was cold-shouldered when he got Gold in the Berlin Olympics.
But a snippet about the Olympics that caught my attention was a quote by Sir Robert Vansittart, a British diplomat who was head of the British Foreign Office in Berlin in the 1930s.
After the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games he said that the stupendous cost of putting on the Games made him thankful that Britain had relinquished its claim to the next Olympiad in favour of Japan.
I didn’t think there was a 1940 Tokyo Games, and that led to me to this little trail of events:
First, the 1940 Olympic Games never happened. The Japanese pulled out in 1938 because they were otherwise engaged with the Second Sino-Japanese War that broke out in 1937.
The Games were then to go to Finland, the runners-up to the original bid. The 1940 Helsinki Games were cancelled, though, because of Finland was at war with the Soviet Union.
The 1944 Olympic Games were due to be held in London, but they were cancelled due to World War II.
So it wasn’t until 1948 that an Olympic Games was held after the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
They were held in London and they were known as the Austerity Games because Britain was nearly bankrupted by the Second World War.
Food was still rationed, and would be until 1952. Things were so bad that the Government had to issue regulations to allow the athletes at the Olympics to be fed more than twice the UK national rationing allowance.
Some countries didn’t attend the 1948 Games.
Germany and Japan were not permitted to send any athletes to the 1948 Olympics, and the Soviet Union didn’t send any athletes because of the deterioration in East-West relations.
# An homage to a friend
I watched Charlie Wilson’s War on Netflix – a 2007 film, based on historical events. U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson got Congress to approve the funds and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos organised weapons and training to the Afghan mujahideen so they could fight the Soviets in the Soviet–Afghan War.
The film shows Wilson meeting General Zia Ul Haq of Pakistan, and setting up a deal between Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to get old Soviet heavy weapons to the Afghans and thereby hide American involvement in the war.
It is not surprising that Ul Haq would side with anyone who could encourage the Soviets to leave, not least because Pakistan was playing unwilling host to millions of Afghan refugees.
The number of helicopters, tanks, heavy vehicles, and men the Soviets lost after the Afghans were armed was staggering.
Of course the mountainous terrain hampered the Russians and favoured the Afghans.
And the break up of the Soviet Union was not far off, so who knows what internal struggles guided the Soviet’s political decision to withdraw. But still, the Afghans destroyed an awful lot of material.
I remembered that General Zia Ul Haq had been killed in the 1980s but I couldn’t remember how, so I looked up the details of how he died.
He was killed in an air crash in August 1988. He and 30 others died, including the American Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Lewis Raphel and the head of the US Military aid mission to Pakistan, General Herbert M. Wassom.
The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in May 1988, and I wonder whether that plane crash a couple of months later was payback to Pakistan and the US for the proxy war?
Pakistan and the events there may seem far away, and it would to me, save for a friend I made. For that, I have to take a step back in time.
Until 1967, the irrigation system of Pakistan depended on the seasonal flow of the River Indus and its tributaries. The problem was that there was no adequate storage for the water, so it ran off and agricultural yield was low.
The Mangla Dam was completed in 1967 to correct this. The second part of the project, the Tarbela Dam, was completed in 1976. Between them they regulate the irrigation system of the Indus Basin.
The downside of the Mangla Dam project was that upstream of the dam the reservoir submerged 280 villages and the towns of Mirpur and Dadyal, and more than one hundred thousand people lost their homes and lands and were displaced.
Some of those who lost their homes were given work permits by the Government of Pakistan to work in Britain , and as a result, in many cities in the UK the majority of the Kashmiri community originates from the Dadyal-Mirpur area of Azad Kashmir.
There are 750,000 Kashmiris in the United Kingdom, mostly in the industrial North of the country. In Bradford, many Kashmiris took up work in the textile and steel mills, and that is where I met my friend, Zaid Hussain.
I was working in an office, and on the floor below was the Pakistan Consulate. I got to know one of the staff there when he brought people to have documents sworn.
I think it was he who introduced me to Zaid, but in any event Zaid came to talk about his father who was an army officer, and about his mother. They wanted to settle in the UK and there were documents to swear.
The process went on for months and during this time I got to know Zaid, his wife, his brothers, and eventually all of his family.
Our friendship continued for years, until he died a couple of years ago.