Read After Burnout.
It makes no sense.
Read After Burnout.
Jem was dead.
Harper Lee did not publish after her classic American tale. It was a novel that affected millions and caught the zeitgeist of a nation and a world in transition. It was a novel that our teachers felt needed to be read so, even in the grey climate of sixties’ Northern England, shrouded by soot and smothered by smog, we travelled beyond borders and into different lives.
When I read the reviews of Go Set A Watchman, I was not surprised at how faintly the praise was administered. In their wisdom, knowledge gleaned from the decades that had passed since Lee’s first book was published, these knowing critics were able to damn the first attempt of this wonderful writer. Having bought the book last week, and dipping into it since then, I have been surprised by how much I like it. Mockingbird it is not, but then it is NOT Mockingbird, it is another book altogether.
What I enjoy about this book is its place in the jigsaw that surrounds a novel that defined my opinions and moral compass.
I also enjoyed the fact the author of one of the greatest novels ever written was human. She was capable of producing ‘decent’ stuff.
Last night I got an irate call from a disgruntled Jewish anarchist. Although this is not an unusual occurrence for me, this call was slightly out of the ordinary.
“F**king Jeremy Corbyn is here,” they exclaimed. “Where?” I asked, expecting a thoroughly mundane answer. The response, however, was anything but mundane. “The Jewdas Seder!”
The call came from a close ally; someone I marched with against neo-Nazis when they turned up on the streets of Tottenham. Someone who has never shied away from criticising the Labour leadership’s position on a host of issues from anti-Semitism to Syria, and from Russia to Brexit.
Jewdas you see, have never normally been hesitant to confront left-wing anti-Semitism. They have a long and proud history of it, including attending pro-Palestine demonstrations to hand out literature condemning anti-Semitism. They were one of the few far-left groups calling for Ken Livingstone’s expulsion from Labour, something Jeremy Corbyn himself has refused to do. The picture painted of the group by the Gudio Fawkeswebsite, which broke the story about Corbyn’s attendance, is not only inaccurate, it is also unfair.
In and of itself, attending the Jewdas Seder should not be seen as controversial, and referring to Jewdas as “anti-Semites” is completely off the mark. They certainly aren’t representative of the mainstream, but that’s no reason to misrepresent their positions.
Yes, they are a group that are deliberately satirical and provocative, they are unapologetically radical and openly anti-capitalist. They make no apologies for their explicit condemnation of the State of Israel and their support for a one-state South Africa-type solution to ending the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine. But even if the language they use is needlessly inflammatory, this is no justification for implying that they are extremists.
With all that in mind, those attending the Jewdas Seder, like the wider Jewish community in Britain, cannot be neatly pigeonholed into the bitesize reactionary narrative that Guido Fawkes have attempted to push on the public.
To my friend and many others, Corbyn’s appearance was a disappointment – as was the Jewdas statement that downplayed the severity of the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour party.
As with most political debates in the UK, this nuance is generally thrown out of the window in order to make score political points.
But here’s the thing, those angry at Jeremy Corbyn for attending the Jewdas Seder have a point.
Corbyn’s position on the anti-Semitism crisis engulfing the Labour party has been woeful. It is not just that his response to anti-Semites within the party has been laboured and unconvincing, nor that many of the active anti-Semites in the party claim to be Corbyn supporters, nor his history of referring to reactionary sectarian terrorist organisations as “friends”, nor his habit of ending up sharing platforms with a host of unsavoury figures. It is the combination of these things, coupled with the repeated dismissals of Jewish concerns that have caused alarm amongst the wider British Jewish community.
The decision made by members of the British Jewish community, including the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, to protest the leader of the opposition outside Parliament is entirely unprecedented. It represents a remarkable and startling deterioration in the once unshakable relationship between the Labour party and British Jews.
These are not normal times. It is not normal for Labour to have three holocaust deniers running for local council positions. In fact, it’s an abject disgrace that stains a party that is supposed to pride itself on its anti-racist credentials.
If Jeremy Corbyn was still a Labour backbencher, very few people would bat an eyelid at him spending an evening with a group of joyfully belligerent hard-left activists. But he isn’t.
Corbyn is not a protest politician anymore, his decision to attend the Jewdas Seder will be interpreted by many as a middle finger towards many of the British Jews marching on Parliament in protest of what they see as an unprecedented and unacceptable rise in anti-Semitic views under Jeremy Corbyn’s watch.
Corbyn cannot expect people to find the sincerity in his admissions of failure, if it’s immediately followed by a meeting with a group that have explicitly dismissed many of the allegations he just conceded to.
The Jewish Labour Movement succinctly sums up how this would inevitably be received.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to spend his evening with an organisation that said “F *** you ” to Jews who have serious and well-founded concerns over anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, has truly topped off the worst week on record of awful relations between the Labour Party and the Jewish community,” the group said in a statement. ”When we called on the Leader of our Party to show moral leadership, and take decisive action to stamp out antisemitism, this is not what we had in mind.”
I am sure the Jewdas Seder was a blast, I’m sure the vast majority of those in attendance are good people. But the leader of the opposition should know better than to associate with a group that take pride saying “Burn down parliament” or would release a statement dismissing the issues raised by the Parliament Square protesters as “cynical manipulations”.
It seems that, even after two years, Corbyn has not yet learned the difference between being a protest politician and a potential Prime Minister. More startlingly, he seems to show very little ability to learn from his mistakes, and displays a belligerent stubbornness to adapt, even when his attitude is alienating potentially hundreds of thousands of Jewish voters he hopes to someday represent.
It’s nice to come home to the blog at the end of a working day. It’s good to sit down and see what has been going on. It’s wonderful to enter a world of imagination and self-reflection.
Oh, my lord, I sound like a tree-hugger.
Just got back in from work where I have wrestled the very soul of young humanity for the twin prizes of teaching and learning. The kids have been disruptive, argumentative, and obstructive. The word disobedient no longer holds meaning. I expect a rough time and that helps me to plan for it.
In Japan, they expect earthquakes. In some island states, they expect land-swallowing tides. In the United States they expect Trump to be dismissed from office for being a genetically-developed bullfrog with the mind of a greedy five-year old at a birthday party. The reason why his skin looks so orange is that he ate all the cake and jelly and trifle and drank all the fizzy drinks.
My blog is a stop-valve. It gives me chance to say something without having to announce myself to my fellow man. On readafterburnout.com I am semi-invisible. Having said that, I try to keep my deepest thoughts out of reach as my wife thinks that somebody will get hold of them and use them against me.
“What? Like destroy my teaching career?”
My blog keeps me company in the good and the dark days. I shouldn’t say this, but there are many things that I write that I find to be good work or that actually make me laugh. There are times when I think back to something that I have posted and try to find the part of it that I believed was a specific nugget of humour or wisdom; and then I repost it.
I repost frequently as I have a website that resembles a local authority tip. I just throw everything in there and hope for the best. I am a hoarder. My refuse I can not refuse.
Look at my stuff:
See you later, folks!
Me back then…
Readafterburnout.com came about as a result of me losing my marbles. I had lost a whole collection of them when I was a child, but this time it was serious. The childhood misadventure meant that my mum went around to my erstwhile friend’s family home and explained that I was a little odd; I was prone to losing my marbles.
When I got older, I got a wife. It wasn’t like picking one up from the supermarket or ordering her on line, no this was love. The big LOVE.
I LOVED her the moment that I saw her and that was from my position sitting in a parked car and hers from a car that was passing mine in the opposite direction. One must remember that this was a man who had lost his marbles as a small child. When I lost them again as an older man, I was lucky to have married my wife. She didn’t go around to the place of habitation of the people who had won my marbles, fair and square, but she did suggest that maybe marbles wasn’t my game.
I had been put on a peculiar journey that meant that I had to go on a ride called HELL. This I did. I held on tight, covered my eyes, avoided any personal incontinence brought about by fear or shock and slowly, very, very slowly, pulled through the holiday from Hades. Oh, and then I decided to write about the stuff I was going through in the vain hope that somebody may be interested in reading it.
In reality, I was writing it for myself. I wanted to recover and wished to document my recovery. What I did not envisage was that my writing would sit at the helm of this personal therapy.
So, my recovery book became something of substance. It followed me to different places where I taught, endured the anxiety attacks that came fast and frequently, and helped me compartmentalise a particular part of my life that had threatened complete and utter world domination. There were times, dark times, when I never thought that I would get here.
In a universe of fuck-ups, I believed that I was the ultimate participant, an A star asshole of a fuck-up.
I was wrong, there are lots of us.
Fuck me, even in a fuck-up competition I had to compete with some worthy rivals!
My pilgrimage took me through schools and institutions, through ancient shires, forgotten and neglected coastal towns, and then on into the continent on a dream isle that reminded me, at times, of a colony. I loved it, but was never certain if I was alive or in the world of the recently deceased.
Throughout all of my travels, I had the chance to find lost pieces of me, pieces that I had forgotten, even those that I had not realised had been lost.
My blog became a conduit for for a conversation I was having having with myself. It was a chance to write and to think. It was a regime that I imposed upon myself. It became an obsession, but for all the right reasons. I was writing and quite a lot of you were reading.
And I have loved your responses.
I like a like and I like a comment. And I like a person who appears out of the digital ether and becomes tangible. And I like the fact that I can let my writing do the walking and the talking. It has become more than me and pushes me forward everyday in search of things to write about. When I am stuck, it takes over and writes its own nonsense, but that’s okay because it is only young and needs to venture.
It’s that thing, CREATIVITY, which is pushing me. We have formed a friendship and we are about our work and play.