On ISIS, Islam and Terror: Why Honesty and Bravery is Needed

It’s been several week now since the Paris attacks, and I have bided my time to say my piece, which is a nice way of saying I haven’t got round to finishing it. In the aftermath of such a visceral event it is easy to slide into an angry and emotional narrative that makes one feel better when faced with such threat. This can be “all Muslims are terrorists, send them home!” or “this is all the West’s fault, we are a disgrace!” Both these interpretations were rife, at least on my newsfeed of well-educated lefties, and both are false. One should wait and reflect before pinning the blame on whatever group ones sees as nefarious and villainous, be it immigrant Muslims or Western powers. Life, unfortunately, is never that simple.

What is to follow is my take on this whole affair. I will attempt to attribute blame and responsibility where I see it lies, discuss some of the issues involved, critique much of the reaction – mainly on social media – and offer some very tentative and vague solutions. I believe much of this will indeed centre around left-wing reactions to the attacks that I see as wrong. This is not because I have now set up camp in the opposite side of the political spectrum, but because I feel that if the left doesn’t sort itself out – and quickly – then the electorate will be tempted into the arms of far-right parties. As Nick Cohen says in this informative video, conservative groups have much more success with an electorate when they can say how their left-wing counterparts hate their country, and many on the left seem to be crippled by self-loathing.

One final point before I get started: I am a humanist and want I want, above all, is the progression of the human race. I have no other agenda: I am not Islamaphobic, nor am I racist or xenophobic, and I am fully aware of the West’s shortcomings in foreign policy. The fact I have to make these caveats clear is a frustrating aspect of politics at the moment, as discussed by Sam Harris in this podcast, but this is the environment in which we find ourselves at this moment in time. So, anyway, let us begin.

Who is to blame?

When 130 innocent people are killed in streets of one of Europe’s most iconic and well-loved cities, a day after 41 people were blown up in Beirut, and the day before 147 people – innocent as well – are murdered in cold-blood in Kenya, it is quite natural that people want to attribute blame. In such instances, I think the blame is very clear-cut: it lies with ISIS and the insidious spread of Islamic fundamentalism.

Of course, the disastrous war in Iraq created a political vacuum that these black-hearted monsters have occupied with glee, but to blame the attacks on the West, to suggest that we are ‘reaping the rewards of Western intervention’, is, in my opinion, extremely churlish, weak and wrong, particularly as France wasn’t involved in Iraq at all. That mode of thought is dangerous. Children were killed on that Friday night, so what do they have to do with Western foreign policy? I use the example of children deliberately: if I had said families one could counter with ‘they voted for the government who carried out x attacks’ but clearly this is not true of children. Of course, you could argue that by being born in Western society they have benefited from the misdeeds of imperialism, the War on Terror, but it would take an extremely brave person to qualify their death in such a way. Furthermore, Islamic fundamentalism predates 9/11, the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. In 1989 copies of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was being burnt on the streets of the UK;there was an attack in West Germany in 1986 killing three; the Lockerbie bombings were in 1988. The rush to blame Western foreign policy ignores the facts.

I have been making the following comparison for a while and it is one that Rafeal Behr makes too: the war in Iraq is to the rise of ISIS what the Treaty of Versailles is to the rise of the Nazi’s. But, looking back on history, people tend not to apologise for the misdeeds of the Nazi’s on account of the failings of the Treaty. I think history will judge the Iraq war in a similar way. Clearly it has created conditions that were ripe for ISIS but it is doesn’t justify the actions of evil individuals. When you see Yazidi houses being marked out in a chilling fashion, similar to how Nazi’s marked out the Jews, it is hard to see that and think ‘but Afghanistan didn’t work….amiright?’.

A final argument that is often used to attempt to explain the behaviour of Islamists is that in the West they are marginalised, unemployed and disaffected. I have some problems with this interpretation. Firstly, being marginalised, unemployed and disaffected does not justify the murder of innocents. Why should it? Secondly, there are millions of marginalised, unemployed and disaffected people in the Western world so if it were such a pervasive reason for radicalisation we would have many, many more on our hands. Thirdly, a lot of the terrorists that we know of are actually fairly affluent. Jihadi John, for example, the poster boy of brand ISIS, was from a relatively affluent background and was well-educated. He had a degree from Westminster University. Brahim Abdeslam, the man who died on Boulevard Voltaire during the November Paris attacks, owned a bar in the rundown Belgian district of Moleenbek. Hardly an aristocrat, yes, but not exactly a poverty-stricken life. His income was probably more sustainable than most other struggling writers, for example.

Omar Ismail Mostefai, one of the Bataclan murderers, worked as a baker; Cherif Kouachi – one of the Hebdo killers – a pizza deliveryman; Nasser Muthana, one of the high-profile Britons fighting in Syria, was a former medical student. Once again, not living the high life but not cripplingly impoverished. Indeed, even the Guardian concedes in an article in January that “French jihadis heading to Syria are emerging from varied, often middle-class backgrounds, sometimes with a good education and prospects”. Finally, a study done by the psychologist Sageman in 2004 Sageman in 2004 found that 94 of 132 (71%) of Muslim terrorists have some kind of college education and 57 of 134 (43%) were professionals. Clearly, the reasons that compel people to fight Jihad are far more complex than economic hardship and low job prospects. Indeed, if that were the case, nearly all of my fellow LSE graduates who didn’t go into banking would be boarding the next plane to Syria.

I am not trying to suggest that there are not causal factors, such as environment and economic standing, that contribute to a Jihadists decision to fight. Every decision a human being makes is the result of a myriad of complexities. Merely, I am trying to illustrate that there is no simply solution here.

Is ISIS Islamic?

In short, yes. To deny it is false, weak and cowardly. It is like trying to deny that the IRA was about the liberation of Ireland or that the PKK want a Kurdish state. It is part of ISIS’ explicit, stated aims and a massive mobilising factor for their ideology.

The best explanation I have read of ISIS and one that has greatly altered my thinking of the organisation is this one in the Atlantic. ISIS is a religious group and it sees itself as a key player in the fulfilment of an apocalyptic prophesy derived from, yes, the Qu’ran. How is that not Islamic in origins? Yes it is a hateful part of the Qu’ran, yes the Bible has similarly fire and brimstone parts, yes not all Muslims agree with it. But, it is Islamic. Denying it from the fear of seeming Islamophobic or sounding like you read the Daily Mail is truncating rigorous intellectual discussion and debate.

Let us try and explain some of ISIS’ most hateful acts in light of this. ISIS has a disregard for innocent and civilian life. They blow people up in market squares, they shoot people during concerts, they behead journalists. Why? This is because they don’t have the concept of ‘civilian’ as we do, derived from the Geneva convention. Instead, the world of ISIS is divided into believers, i.e. Sunni Muslims, and disbelievers (mushrik or kafir), i.e., the rest of us. To kill a disbeliever, for ISIS, is a moral act in accordance with, for example, Sura 9:5 of the Qur’an, which states :‘Fight and kill the idolators (mushrik) wherever you find them’.

Many argue that ISIS are not religious but are nihilistic, a mindless death-cult. Once again, this totally disregards the facts. Janet Daley, writing for the Telegraph, argued the West is at war with a ‘death-cult’, Obama has termed them as ‘nihilistic’ and ‘speaking for no religion’. This is wrong. Nihilism is the belief in no values at all, that there is nothing to be loyal to and no purpose to live. This is not ISIS. Indeed, to paraphrase a good article by Mark Durrie – an article I recommend you read – the boast that ‘ISIS love death like you love life’ is not a nihilistic calls to arms but is a ‘is a theological reference to a series of verses in the Qur’an in which Jews are criticised for desiring life (Sura 2:94-96, 62:6-8).  According to the Qur’an, loving life is a characteristic of infidels (Sura 3:14; 14:3; 75:20; 76:27) because it causes them to disregard the importance of the next life.  The taunt much used by jihadis, ‘We love death like you love life’, implies that jihadis are bound for paradise while their enemies are hell-bound.’ The supposedly nihilistic outlook is in fact deeply rooted in religious scripture. To deny this is wrong.

One of the more idiosyncratic aspects of life in the Islamic State is that Christians are allowed to live as long as they pay a special tax called the jizya. There is scriptural justification for this found in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Qu-ran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” Or, how do we explain ISIS’ disregard for Yazidi life? Well, according to Dabiq, an anonymous magazine acting for ISIS, ‘Yazidi women and children [are to be] divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations… Enslaving the families of the kuffar[infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narration of the Prophet… and thereby apostatizing from Islam.’ Once again, the justification for their actions is an appeal to religious scripture. We simply cannot deny this.

Now comes caveat bingo: I am not Islamaphobic, I have no axe to grind, I don’t hate Muslims. But, to deny the Islamic nature of ISIS is so risky and so dangerous that we cannot afford to do so. We must be brave and say it how it is, not how we wish it were.

Social media

Social media, in time of tragedy and crisis, is a terribly predictable place to inhabit. There is the initial shock, the racists, the virtue-signallers and the whatbouters?, who have handily be given an apt name: “tragedy hipsters”. These are the people who, despite having shown no explicit interest in any of the atrocities they harp on about, are perfectly happy to moralise and admonish all those showing any grief at the death of innocent Parisians. “Why aren’t you turning your profile picture into a flag of Beirut?” they ask, “where was the reportage on Baghdad?”

I have quite a lot of contempt for these people because it doesn’t strike me as genuine concern for the lives of other people. Perhaps I am a cynic, but, it seems that the vast majority of these people are suffering from a serious bout of white guilt and want to project that upon other people on their news feeds. Does it really hold that more reportage on France means that you care more about French lives than Lebanese? Or is it that Paris is just over the channel, people have actually visited it and many have friends and family who were in Paris during the attacks? And, is it really appropriate, less than 24 hours after the death of innocent civilians, to use this as an opportunity to show how you have an encyclopaedic knowledge of human suffering and that you’re not interested in mainstream death?

Channel 4 journalist Lidnsey Hilsum has railed against this in a personal blog. She argues, quite cogently, that attacks in other parts of the world are covered but they just aren’t watched. She uses the example that she reported on a bombing in November 2013 that killed 23 people and the video got 80 recommends and 29 retweets. Yet, when Krishnan Guru-Murphy had his argument with Quentin Tarantino, the video got 3.52 million views, and rising. So, is it the evil media that is not covering things because it is inherently racist, or is that people are only interested in other atrocities when it suits their agenda of ‘I’m so much more caring than everyone else’?

Of course Paris was a bigger story than Beirut in the Western world and it is no great sin that it was. Paris represents so much of what we love about the West. It is free, it is secular, people drink, people debate, it is intellectual. An attack on Paris, like the Hebdo attack in January, feels like a direct assault on European liberalism and all that we love about it. Furthermore, as Hilsum continues to argue, it is much easier for ISIS to attack Beirut than it is to attack Paris. So, the Paris attacks were also frightening because it displayed a might that we didn’t necessarily believe ISIS to have.

I really do believe that all those who can’t help themselves but ‘whatabout?’ ought to have a long think about what motivates them to do it. Do you really believe that increased coverage in Paris means that we value French lives better? Did you really care about whatever atrocity you are waving around when it happened? Are you really hoping to educate people about deaths in other parts of the world? Or are you using it is a golden opportunity to puff out your chest and tell the world just how erudite, caring and oh-so culturally sensitive you are?

The Left

The left, in general, offers a limp-wristed response to Islamism. So blinded by its anti-Western, anti-American, anti-media, anti-everything, some on the left cannot see that it is bending over backwards to apologise and justify the actions of people who stand for the exact opposite of what the left stands for: fascism. This tendency can not be more aptly summarised then by the actions of the student union of my beloved LSE: a motion condemning the attacks in Paris failed to pass, a motion condemning the British government’s decision to bomb Syria did. Quite hilarious, really.

Left-wing politics are supposedly about tolerance, diversity, equality – gender, sexual and race – and progression. ISIS and Islamic fundamentalists stand for the exact opposite of this. They are utterly regressive, utterly totalitarian and want to drag humanity back to the 7th Century so that they can see the fulfilment of their ridiculous prophecy and the apocalypse. Why the rush to defend the people who join them? Why the rush to apologise? Why the rush to pin their creation on us? It beggars belief and unless a strong, coherent message is adopted Labour will continue to lose votes and UKIP will continue to gain them.

I see the problem as a fear of association. Many well-meaning, intelligent, left-wing people are fearful of condemning ISIS and Islamic fundamentalism too harshly through fear of procuring uncomfortable allies. You don’t want to be seen to be siding with the likes of the Daily Mail, Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, so keep schtum. Yet, this isn’t a new phenomenon for the left. During the era of the Soviet Union, liberals on the left were reluctant to criticise the Soviet block in fear of being associated with the enemy. George Orwell in his prescient foreword to Animal Farm wrote:

You could, indeed, publish anti-Russian books, but to do so was to make sure of being ignored or misrepresented by nearly the whole of the highbrow press. Both publicly and privately you were warned that it was ‘not done’. What you said might possibly be true, but it was ‘inopportune’ and ‘played into the hands of’ this or that reactionary interest.

Indeed, after the Charlie Hebdo massacres, Ian McEwan gave a commencement speech arguing to the students that freedom of speech suffers when we are too scared of getting “applause from the wrong side”. What I am trying to say is that those who say they are progressive should argue against the enemies of progress – in this instance, ISIS and Islamism – without fear of who might agree.

Solutions 

In the time I started writing this and actually finished it, the UK has taken the decision to bomb Syria. I don’t agree with this decision for many reasons which I won’t go into. This essay is far more concerned with the world of ideas and what one who is engaged in the world of discussion can actually do.

Firstly, those who consider themselves to be intellectual must feel honest and brave enough, must resist the temptation to self-censor for fear of causing offence or sounding far-right, to have the conversation about Islam and religion.  Is it our role to be tolerant of the intolerant? Is it Islamaphobic to be honest about the atrocities done in its name? Do we demonise Muslims by saying what we see? These are questions that we need to ask ourselves but we live in a society founded on free speech: we should be able to debate and discuss freely for that is how we progress as a society. The reverse to this is that Islamic fundamentalists who wish to defend ISIS in this country should be given a platform to debate if they so wish. An important aspect of free speech is that you must listen to the views of those you dislike and this applies to Islamists. Watching Anjem Choudary refuse to say whether Maajid Nawaz would be killed as an apostate in his Caliphate can hardly have done his cause much good.

There are some practical steps to take too. For one, in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo, no newspapers in the UK decided to print the cartoon. I would argue that if, heaven forbid, something like that were to happen again then all newspapers should show the cartoon. Not doing so was an act of cowardice and we cannot allow, to quote Douglas Murray, one little magazine “to hold the line of freedom of speech.” We printed Piss Christ, we should have printed the Hebdo cartoons.

So my main solution in the area of debate is this: honesty. There are some brilliant thinkers and writers on this subject: Maajid Nawaz, Sam Harris, Maryam Nawazie, Douglas Murray, all of whom are worth reading. Also, it is important to remember that Islam is not a race, it is a religion. And like every other religion it is subject to scrutiny and criticism. We, in this country, are quite happy to criticise – quite rightly – Catholicism, Judaism, atheists. So why not Islam? If people take a criticism of their religion as persecution or an attack on them, well, tough.

Bournville Students’ Feminist Society

After the unprecedented success of the Bournville Students’ Rugby Club, my cat Binky and I have decided to expand our venture into other areas that we strongly believe in. One such area is feminism. So, I proudly present to you the Bournville Students’ Feminist Society!

For all those wishing to join our fight against the cissexist, capitalist, white supremacist, heteropatriarchy, or the CCWSH for short, I would just like to lay down some ground rules so that we can be a cohesive team. I will begin with a ranking of your privileges. If your privilege is at the top of the list then that means your opinion is less valid. If your privilege is at the bottom of the list then that means your opinion is more valid, regardless of your life experiences or history of oppression.

Privileges

1 – White male privilege – This is the most privileged of all the privileges and you are PRIVELEGED to such an extent that you make me feel SICK and you are not invited. Get out! What’s that? Both your parents died in a car accident? I don’t care – out, out, out, I HATE YOU!

2 – Male privilege – You are a male and so that gives you lots of privileges that a female doesn’t have. However, you are not white so you aren’t as bad as a white male but you are still a male so I still hold you responsible for many of the world’s ills.

3 – White privilege – You are very privileged but your saving grace is that you don’t have a bit of skin hanging between your legs. However, you are white. I don’t care if you are working class, have no arms, are blind or deaf because you are white and therefore you are more privileged than anyone non-white. Even Beyonce!

4 – Human privilege – You are a human so you should count yourself extremely lucky to have been born with that level of privilege. You get to talk, for example, and tackle complex issues such as why there is a disproportionate amount of female murders in TV detective shows. If you ever find yourself lecturing to a donkey about the patriarchy you should definitely check your privilege because you don’t know the oppression that that donkey has gone through.

5 – Cat privilege –Cats have a level of privilege that other animals don’t have because they live in houses and are fed by loving owners. Also, they get stroked a lot and the pay gap between the cost of cat food and the cost of goldfish food is absolutely shocking and cats should check their privilege if they find themselves having a heated discussion with a goldfish about who’s a better role model for the women of today, Taylor Swift or Queen Boudicca.

For those of you who are still a bit confused about this list it means that Binky, as the least privileged member of our group, always has the last word on any discussion we may have. Binky is from an ethnic background, what with being a black cat, and is female. So, let’s all feel sorry for Binky and whenever she has anything to say I would like it if you patronise and demean her by agreeing with her instantaneously, even if what she has said is complete fucking wank like that time when she tried to organise a death squad to take out all the dogs in the local area.

Whilst I’m on the topic I believe it is really important to make sure that an ethnic member of our group is made aware that they are ethnic at every opportunity and also that that means their opinion is better. For example, if an Asian member of the group said something like “I hate Big Issue sellers who shout too loudly just because they are men” then you should reply with something like this “You are Asian and what you said was right.” That way they will be made to feel like they are being treated differently on account of the colour of their skin and that is something to aim towards.

Our initiation ceremony is a low-key affair as we hate the Bournville Students’ Rugby Club and we don’t want to be like them. This is a difficult position for me to be in as I am the head of the Bournville Students’ Rugby Club but I find it incredibly easy to hold two very conflicting ideals in my mind. For example, I think it is OK to say “kill all white men” but at the same time my Dad is a white man, as is my boyfriend, and I love them both. How do I do it? Magic! For the initiation ceremony we will all meet up at my Grandad’s house, Old Pops as he is fondly called, and we will murder him in cold blood for all the pain and suffering he and his like have caused the world. The old cunt is going to die soon anyway.

I hope this has enticed you to join my group. One of the biggest benefits of the Bournville Students’ Feminist Society is that if you join, regardless of your past actions, behaviours and decisions, you are automatically a better person than anyone else who hasn’t joined.

Enjoy!

Ode to my satchel

As a would-be-writer, what is more apt?
Then to have as a bag a nice leather satch?
It makes me look rather smart,
There is one problem: it smells of fart.

I wear my satchel with pride and joy,
There stands a man where once was a boy.
A brilliant vehicle for books and my phone,
But when I wear it there is always a groan.

I used to thrust my head in the sand,
I couldn’t accept it, you must understand.
But like a fox who’s wearing a thong,
I knew deep down that something was wrong.

One day, eventually, I had to give in,
Gossip heard above big city din.
I’m on a bus, behind, sit two young girls,
One with straight hair, one with curls.

“Saturday, did Sandra kiss Barry?” they ask,
My face becoming a very bored mask.
“I’m really not sure, but something stinks”
I look at my satchel and it leers and winks.

My satchel was treated in camel piss,
It makes it look great but here’s the twist:
My satch smells of arse and stinks out my room,
But I love it so much I endure the fume.

What shall I do? Shall I throw it away?
My mind says yes but my heart says nay.
I love it, I love it, I can’t let it go,
You say otherwise you’re a lifelong foe.

This is a tale of conflicted love,
The satchel was crafted by the Lord Above.
Yes, it reeks, but it looks great with my mac,
And the same cannot be said of an old rusksack.

Introductory Pamphlet to Bournville Students’ Rugby Club

Hello. You are reading this exclusive leaflet because you have made it through the rigorous and arduous selection process for my cult: the Bournville Students’ Rugby Club. I am writing this leaflet from my Daddy’s flat in Dubai. I am not wearing any clothes because I am fixated in an infantile state of mind whereby nudity still fascinates me and never fails to make me laugh. Without further ado, I invite you to read the introductory pamphlet.

Initiation Ceremony

Initiations are a vitally important part of the BSRC experience. It will begin by meeting at 9am – in the morning – at my grandparents’ house in Kings Norton. On arrival, you will be expected to do a shot, shot, shot!!! of my dog’s piss. Then you will made to do thirty press-ups whilst said dog, Tarquin, aggressively fucks your leg having been deliberately led into a dangerous state of arousal. After that, you will be expected to watch an episode of “Deal or no Deal”. Every time Noel Edmonds swishes his golden hair and says “hello”, “and”, “how”, “are”, “you”, “deal”, “or”, “no”, “deal”, “is”, “it” or “metamorphosis”, you will have to allow me to place my entirely bald bollocks on your head so you will them wear like a little hat and drink a bottle of red wine and a pint of balsamic vinegar which Mummy has very kindly let me use.

The grand finale of the initiation involves my grandfather. Old Pops, as you will be required to address him, is unfortunately incontinent. However, I have turned this into a positive for the purposes of the Ceremony.In the build-up, Old Pops has been fed on a diet consisting solely of fig rolls, chicken madras and vindaloo. I have then blocked his arse with a large champagne cork. During the course of the day I will release the cork, allowing a deposit of Old Pops’ excrement to cascade out like Niagara Falls. You will then be forced to wipe it up. Best of luck guys!

Post-Initiation Ceremony Celebrations

Having been initiated into the BSRC, all lucky members will be invited to celebrate. The Celebration will commence at my parents’ house in Bournville at 7pm. We will begin by eating some party rings, playing a furious game of apple bobbing and drinking a dirty pint of vodka, rum, beer, cider, prosecco, absinthe, camel semen, grappa, gin, champagne, whisky, ale, tequila and duck egg. Having enjoyed your dirty pint you and all other members will be given your official BSRC regalia which is a long, hooded white cloak.

Once kitted out, we will do some chanting beginning with: “We all love BSRC”, “BSRC is the best”, “If you love BSRC clap your hands” and finishing with a light-hearted rendition of “I want to brutally murder the members of rival rugby club Students of Bournville Rugby Club.”

After this fun, still in full gear, we will board a bus into Birmingham City Centre for the main set-piece of the celebration. Once in town, we will capture a homeless man and knock him unconscious with some Official BSRC Rohypnol. He will then be transported to the candlelit stone table I have had erected in the middle of Cadbury’s World. I will then plunge a ceremonial, bejewelled dagger into his heart. All present BSRC members will be required to drink a pint of his blood whilst I, your leader, master and dark overlord, will eat his heart.

Thus, the Post-Initiation Ceremony will be brought to a close. I hope we can all enjoy an evening of harmless, relaxed banter!

Week schedule

Once you have become a fully-fledged member of BSRC, there is a weekly schedule to adhere to. It is as follows:

Monday

Group therapy session where we talk about our darkest and most secret feelings.

Tuesday

Mass game of kerplunk. Riotous, rowdy and revered, to have the best possible time don’t bring your girlfriend!

Wednesday

The busiest day of the week, Wednesday begins with a hard-fought victory (fingers and webbed feet crossed!) over a rival Rugby Club. Twice a year we play the SoBRC which are always rambunctious  affairs.

In the evening we go to the zoo and look at all the pretty animals and remind ourselves of the wonder of nature and evolution. We then drink, drink and drink some more, before going to the public toilets in the Bullring, affectionately called Loo Bar, and do some chanting whilst trying to cop-off with the tasty toilet attendants who are known to be right slags.

Thursday

Recovery from last night!

Friday

To celebrate the end of the working week, we get utterly destroyed in a Wetherspoon’s and behave like consummate gentlemen by vomiting, chanting and taking off as many of our clothes as possible.

Saturday

Group trip to the swimming baths and then an early night watching X-Factor.

Sunday

To cap off a hectic week there is a compulsory (topless) group Skype session where we recount the weeks events.

BSRC Official Terminology and phrases

Finally, to ease your integration into the BSRC here are a few handy terms to familiarise yourself with.

Slag – A woman who has ever had sex.

True gent – A man who has ever had sex.

Fag – A homosexual. Anyone suspected of homosexuality will be severely punished by being forced to fellate me which I will not enjoy.

Debauchery – A type of blue cheese.

Poly  Short for polygon.

Knuckles – Things that we drag on the floor.

Conclusion

That is all. I hope you enjoy your year in the BSRC!

When My Friend’s Girlfriend’s Phone Got Stolen

Thursday last week, a rather large group of friends and I went careering down the Kilburn High Road to an establishment that was doing two for one cocktails. It’s a great deal and they taste simply wonderful. At one point in the evening, a balding gentleman sat down on the table next to us  and began repeatedly asking, quite insistently: “Is this seating taken?” We all nodded in approval, too caught up in the warm, fuzzy feeling of tipsiness and atmospheric lighting.

It is the 21st Century after all, so we soon got that irresistible urge to document the evening in case we forgot; or more likely, so we could say crassly to everyone else we know “Hey, look, we have a life! Look how great this is!” As such, we asked the aforementioned gentleman to take a photo of us. He, as most people in that situation would do, obliged. Through a forced smile and that faint feeling of intrusion you have when taking photos of strangers (when they’ve asked of course, not just for the laugh) he snapped a few of us. The poses were mixed, with some going for Pout, others for Having Loads of Fun, and most settling on just Smile. They were, on the whole, nice.

Soon after this glamorous photo shot, it dawned on the girlfriend of my friend that she had lost her phone and that this was an Emergency. As is often the case, we split into two groups: one opting for sitting around and tapping surfaces pretending like they’re looking and the other actually looking. After five minutes of fruitless scurrying the balding fellow sloped off (I imagine you see where this is going) but the looking group were rooting around too intently to notice. Luckily, another friend noticed said suspicious sloping and alerted us all.

“He has it! I saw it in his back pocket.”

At this point, a deathly silence befell the table as it dawned on us what we must do. We had to confront the balding man, who was now transformed into a 6 foot 4 inch, heavily muscled cage fighter.  Three other friends and I looked at each other right in the eye and resolved ourselves to the manly task ahead. We were going to reprimand him; we were going to stop him escaping and we were going to say: “Hey you! You nefarious man, you deadly trickster, our friend wants her phone back and if you don’t give it back then we can’t be held accountable for our actions!”

So, like a pack of highly trained SAS agents, we moved out.

“I have a visual on the suspect” I said.

“What’s the ETA?” a friend replied.

“About two seconds. He’s at the bar.” came my curt, efficient, gruff response.

We got to the man, and for some reason unbeknown to me, I stood slightly in his personal space and said to him: “Erm, excuse me, yeah, hi, do you have my friend’s phone?”

“No I don’t” he said.

There was an uncomfortable silence.

“Yeah you do, we saw it in your back pocket” said another friend.

“I don’t have it” he said. Things were getting tense and  the suspect and I could see the whites of one another’s eyes. As this staring match was taking place, one of the team slipped back behind his back and began to make a phone call gesture. It was an unbelievable bit of quick thinking; he was urging me to call the stolen phone so it would light up and provide us with incriminating evidence. Taking my friend’s advice, I reached for my phone and drew it out quick as a flash. I went into my contacts, found the number and pressed “Dial”. My palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy. Fortunately, seeing as I live away from home, none of my Mum’s spaghetti was on my jumper.

The phone rang and unsurprisingly his back pocket began to vibrate and light up. The team moved in. One of my friends snatched the iPhone cover off the phone, waving it over his head triumphantly like a big bear that has caught a delicious salmon whilst another friend took the actual phone itself. There were, if I remember correctly, four of us and the man knew he was surrounded and as far as he knew any resistance would be futile. Unfortunately for him, little did he know that we were mild mannered fellows and if there had been a fight we would have quite literally soiled ourselves. At this point, I leaned over to the barman and said: “Can you remove him? He stole our friend’s phone and now we have it” and the barman obliged, scooting the man away before we had our revenge (which would’ve consisted of us asking for his address so we could send him an exceptionally long and passive aggressive letter).

We returned to our table victorious; four men who had stared death in the face and death had blinked first. Very surprisingly, hyperbole began to fly around left, right and centre. Quite quickly we were calling ourselves the “A Team” and before we knew it the man had actually had four knives, an Uzi and a grenade. One of the team even had to battle through a pack of rabid dogs to reach him at the bar! Who knew? It was a victory that we all relished, and a story we will take to our graves.

It was also the most painfully British reprimanding that has ever taken place.Image

 

Victory!

Why I’m Rooting For World War Three

As you all well know, or at least should know, there is a serious political crisis engulfing Ukraine at the minute. To compound an already precarious situation, everyone’s favourite implacable, unscrupulous world leader, Vladimir Putin, decided to send the troops into the Crimea region of Ukraine. Whilst everyone around me was baffled, perplexed and worried about what the consequences of this could be, I was rejoicing!

“Go on Vlad, you can do it! Be unreasonable, please be unreasonable. We’ve talked about this Vlad, we’ve talked about this. You can do it!”

Before my dear readers come at me with the pitchforks for being a massive warmonger, please allow me to explain myself, because once I have we’ll all be rooting for War! A very compelling pattern has emerged. In order to write a classic novel, that will be remembered long after my death, I need to go to War and acquire myself some serious psychological scars. Orwell, Bulgakov, Hemingway, Vonnegut, Tolkein all went to war and some, such as Hemingway and Vonnegut were explicitly inspired, whilst in others the shadow of war can be felt in their work. And when it comes to female authors, two of the best, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, had lifelong battles with depression, so knew all about suffering.

So, as you can see World War Three is really quite necessary for me as a would-be-writer, and to deny me this is so selfish. Quite frankly I’m getting sick and tired of all these light skirmishes and suggestive posturing. I need me some war on a global scale; complete and utter turmoil. Of course, I need to survive it, and hopefully heroically. But, World War Three does need to happen, and these bloody politicians, with their talk of reconciliation and “keeping upheaval to a minimum” are getting on my nerves. Channel your inner Adolf Vlad (not that you need to); harness the power of Napoleon Francois; David draw on Winston; Barack be empowered by Truman.

I think the politicians have been so selfish since 1945. If the Cold War had become the Hot War, who knows what amazing literary creations would’ve been spawned from the swamp (is that you Alex Turner?) of world-wide desolation. I’ve tried my hardest to psychologically scar myself for the benefit of my writing, but it’s just not enough. I need to see my friend get blown up in front of me, like Bulgakov, or perhaps hear the mindless slaughter of thousands of people by fire bombing, like Vonnegut. I at least need to have some form of serious, life-threatening (but not terminal) injury that leaves me bedbound and contemplating life and death, like Hemingway. Unfortunately, cracking my head open on my garden steps because I didn’t do my Velcro strap up at the age of four doesn’t count, even if I do tell people my Dad could see my skull (it is with great resignation I confess that this isn’t true).

And so, back to Ukraine. Vladimir, if you have any sort of appreciation for the arts, and the cultural health of humanity, then please do your utmost to make this conflict escalate. Barack, like wise; you follow Vladimir’s lead and retaliate, perhaps militarily, leaving the outcome in no-doubt. Once France, Germany and the UK get involved we’ll finally get what we (I) want: World War Three. At this point I will enlist into some sort of slightly dangerous service, and let the literary genius flow. Yay!

On a more serious note isn’t it one of life’s most haunting and bittersweet ironies, that suffering and pain produces the most beautiful works of art? When humans are hammered, squashed, shot at, and murdered, it is then when some secret, gorgeous parts of their soul creaks open and produces pure lasting beauty. When people are at their lowest ebb, it is then that something truly stunning is created, and something the rest of us benefit from immensely. We benefit from something that wouldn’t have happened without sheer suffering. Read, for example, Mother Night by Vonnegut. A truly moving novel of great scope and invention, but would it have happened without the horrors of World War Two and Dresden? Perhaps not. The politicians can fuck around and endanger millions of life, rest assured that some creative type somewhere is going to attempt to make sense of it all, and probably really movingly. What a beautiful, contradictory, delicious, disgusting irony that is.

A Perfect Day

Yesterday I had a perfect day, a taste of utopia, and I’m going to tell you all about it. Shall we?

It started with a groan; and some sodden underwear and that is the best way to start the day. I hastily put my grundies in the washing machine and scuttled to the shower to wash off the excesses of shame, self-loathing and mini-me’s. After I did this I ambled back to my room and put on my favourite cream suit. Whenever I wear the cream suit, good things happen to me.

Now wearing my cream suit I had a bowl of wheeto’s and psyched myself up for the day. “Come on Fionny, today’s the day the teddy bear’s had their picnic, and you’re a big teddy bear who will be eating from the picnic of success” I said to myself whilst vigorously rubbing my left knee. I put on my favourite feel-good song, Wait and Bleed by Slipknot, to get myself ready for the day. In case you’re wondering I don’t often put my fingers into my eye as I feel pain on a regular basis – like when I stubbed my toe running out of my neighbours back garden after a spot of ‘bird watching’.

I left and shortly arrived at the tube station, hastening onto the tube whilst everyone was still trying to get off and immediately copped an eyeful of some top totty. Oh baby, she had jugs like the Carpathian Mountains. I couldn’t take my eyes off them, and it wasn’t until her boyfriend said to me “Look mate, can you take your roving eyes elsewhere, you’re making my girlfriend feel uncomfortable” to which I responded in parseltongue, forcing another passenger to intervene and usher me off the tube, that I eventually tore my eyes away from the jugs. Oh Daddy like jugs doesn’t he? Yes he does.

On arrival at university I darted to the library and found a nice, secluded spot in a dark corner. It’s so pleasant sitting in the library for extended periods of time as you get to see the absolute conveyor belt of totty that mills through like sexy, vacuous cattle. Whenever some quim sits in my vicinity I enjoy growling softly under my breath and raising and lowering my eyebrows very quickly. Some people have labelled this type of behaviour ‘creepy’ but I think a real man should be able to make his intentions known without feeling bad about it.

Today I was checking out some holiday snaps on Facebook whilst in the library – I believe they were in the album entitled “Thailand ‘13” – and was admiring one particularly succulent piece of meat when said juicy piece of meat has only gone and plonked herself down opposite me! Seizing this opportunity like a crocodile seizes an unsuspecting, but very nutritious wildebeest, I went back to my personal favourite picture (she’s regally resplendent in a red bikini and must’ve been a bit cold which makes the picture all the more eye-catching) and spun my laptop screen into her eye line.

At first she didn’t actually notice my presence (I am unremarkable looking, despite the cream suit) but eventually the incessant clearing of my throat and frantic scratching of my face got her attention. On registering her own voluptuous self, juxtaposed next to my lolling, steak-like tongue she gave me the most inviting look I’ve received. It said: “You are a cretinous piece of shit and if you weren’t so pathetic, flaccid and skinny I’d call the police”. Then she got up and seductively sashayed away, shooting me another one of those looks over her shoulder, clearly inviting me to partake in God knows what activities with her, but unfortunately I had too much work to do so had to let her down.

At about 8 o’clock, after many hours of reading, and many, many unasked for erections, I got the tube home. I put my headphones in full blast and blared out all the lyrics to Blurred Lines by Robin Thick, Candy Shop by 50 Sense(less) and Smack My Bitch Up by Mozart (I think).

Once arriving home I watched four of the latest episodes of backroom casting couch. If you haven’t already seen it, I thoroughly recommend you do so. It’s the suspense and noble deceit of the thoughtful plotline that keeps me coming back. After that I wound myself down by rubbing both my knees. I start off slowly and quite sensually, until I speed it up gradually, eventually reaching a manic crescendo of knee rubbing and parseltongue.  Very relaxing.

It was now getting late, and time was knocking on the door of 11pm so I took my suit off, scrubbed my teeth and got into bed knowing no dream I had could compare to the day I had experienced. It had everything I could want. Image

Heavenly.