Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Just Or Bust / Risk Assessment

I'm in the New Internationalist magazine again! This time in printed, not just audio form (oooh).

I've researched and written a piece about what's likely to be on the table at the climate talks in Copenhagen this December, and how the different proposals shape up in terms of effectiveness and global justice. Its quite a detailed article, with a healthy smattering of bad puns and daft analogies - the best way to check it out is to go to the NI website, sign up for a free trial subscription and wait for the magazine to land in your letterbox!

It's part of a special double edition of the magazine dedicated to Climate Justice, and the whole edition is well worth checking out, so seriously - go do the free trial subscribing thing. It's an independent, cooperatively run, informative, radical magazine and it deserves (and needs) your support.

For those of you who already have a copy, I'll be posting a special extended version of my article up here in the near future. I guess those of you without a copy of the mag might just be allowed to read it too, but it won't have the funky formatting and images and things so you'll be missing out...

In the meantime, here's the text of one of the poems that will be featuring on my upcoming album. It doesn't work quite so well written down, but you should still get the general gist - if you like it, you can hear the audio version on Radio New Internationalist here (scroll down until you find the show called "Enter Stage Left"), and more of my poetry here.

Happy New Everything and stuff,

Danny x


Since September 11th 2001, 70 people in the UK have been killed by terrorists.

In the same period, 400 people in the UK drowned in their own bathtubs, and 500 people were killed whilst doing DIY.

This poem is called:

Risk Assessment.

I used to like bees
I’d watch them bumbling through the leaves
And hum along with their good vibrations
Until I learned that they killed more people last year than THE TERRORISTS did.
Now I write letters to the Daily Mail
Demanding strict border controls on the entrances to hives
And random police raids on patches of lavender.

Which makes about as much sense
As our attempts
At a notional national defence
Against a terrorist threat
About as dangerous as stepping outside in the wet
(Pneumonia is Britain’s fifth biggest killer)

I almost feel a kind of pride
In our innocence and trust as we’re all taken for a ride
On the paranoia bus with the
Bullet-proof windows firmly closed and every steel door secure
Glancing at the dark-skinned people outside.

Mount Snowden kills as many people as terrorism
So let’s drag it down to Belmarsh
Hold it without trial for 42 days
Til it confesses to conspiring to undermine our British way
Of life.
Whatever that is.

More people are killed by taking the wrong pills than by terrorist attacks
Which means the money that’s planned for ID cards, armed guards, putting people behind bars without charge
Would save more lives if spent instead on
Better-labelled jars.

You’re more likely to be killed by a rare disease
Or win the national lottery
You’re more likely to be killed by a hernia
You’re more likely to be killed by your furniture

You’re more likely to be done over by your lover
To meet your end at the hands of a friend
You’re more likely to commit suicide yourself
Than be killed by the suicide of somebody else.

And stress kills thousands every year
So – an ironic twist -
You’re more likely to be killed by the fear of terrorism
Than by a terrorist.

So how to explain this?
Our government’s obsessed
An endless war against a risk
Not properly assessed

For which they need broader state powers to watch you at all hours, CCTV, ID – they don’t mean to intrude, but could you include an ample selection of bodily samples? – longer detention, not to mention the need to obtain evidence mysteriously from overseas but let them explain: it doesn’t count as torture if somebody elsewhere is doing it for ya, same as having your phone tapped by some information vandal isn’t really a scandal because civil liberties must be balanced against the need for greater security, surely you don’t really need that jury, with so many new offences in store there’s bound to be one or more made just for you, even if you only meant to create peaceful dissent against society’s ills, you’ll still find yourself on the line out front in a new witch hunt during open season…

But it’s definitely all about terror and you’d be making a grave error bordering on treason to suggest that they might want these powers for any other reason.


I won’t be gagged, or tagged and numbered
Won’t have my genes and eyeballs plundered
At my own expense for a defence that won’t work against a threat that couldn’t get much smaller,
They won’t get my photograph, my details, my age
(So long as they don’t log onto my Facebook page)
And when they show up for me
I won’t go quietly
I’ll tell them to go out and fight the real enemy
Because sex kills more people than terrorism
And so does pregnancy
So let’s drop the terror cops
And swap
The thought police for the sex police.

I bet they’ll have much better uniforms.


The Poet Laura-eate said...

Is there an online version of the mag Danny? I'm trying to stem the tide of publications through the letterbox in the interests of that selfsame environment, much though I applaud/support the worthy aims/objectives of some of them.

Excellent poems. Quite true how the paranoia of terrorism is being used as an excuse for a Big Brother state rather than 'cos the government genuinely believes we are all at high risk and has all the data to prove that is not so.

Danny said...

Each magazine goes online (www.newint.org) three months after publication, in a web-archive stylee. However, coz NI is uber-scrupulous about who they take advertising money from (practically nobody), they don't make any money from their website - which is why I'm always encouraging people to buy the mag!

My article will be up here soon, though.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I really enjoyed this poem, very clever and you make a very important point.

Anonymous said...

Found your fantastic blog via the NI article - which I loved. And the 'daft puns and analogies' were actually super helpful. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Nice. Small point: the mountain's called Snowdon, not Snowden.