Monday, December 19, 2005


A Carol Service is planned

Harold Bloom wrote in the Guardian on Saturday

And here we are in the week before Christmas 2005.

Ox and Ass looking benignly down onto a baby in a manger. The smell of fir needles, mandarine oranges and baking mince pies... Forgotten Magic.

Nowadays, like Scrooge, one would much rather not be reminded ("Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?") of the global malaise and grief elsewhere. For the survivors of earthquake-torn Pakistan and Kashmir snow is not a winter wonderland. The people whose communities were torn apart by the tsunami do not inhabit a beach paradise, and on the streets of Hong Kong people trying to do something, anything, to stem the globalised juggernaut of the Haves against the Have-Nots have been "held back" by Chinese police. Chinese police only last week, to make way for a power station, but away from the world's cameras, fired on and killed at least 70 peaceful farmers in Shanwei.

As for the charitable urge that swept through so many last Boxing Day - we hear that much of the money that has not simply disappeared has gone to build luxury hotels in glitzy new resorts that will have no place for the people whose lives were destroyed by the filthy giant waves.

Meanwhile, the Leader of the Free World, the president of Land of the Free, who allows torture, spies on his own people and even makes checks on people's library books, says in a televised address, that the war in Iraq is still being won and asks the people "not to give in to despair". And in England, if you stand within the area desgnated by the Mother of Parliaments and recite the names of the British dead in Iraq you are arrested and charged under Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005 for committing such a serious and organised crime.

It does rather turn the taste of mince pies into ashes, the wrapping paper into sackcloth. But having the blessed and the cursed human ability to turn away from the unbearable, the possibility of a Happy Christmas remains.

A Carol Service is planned for 6pm on Wednesday the 21st of December 2005 in Parliament Square. It will contain both Christian and secular verse, and is expected to last no more than an hour. People are asked not to bring placards, banners or circulars to this event. Candles and song sheets will be made available, with donations going to Medical Aid for Iraqi Children. The details can be found at
Anyone who attends will know they are in danger of being arrested. The police have been invited - but not "notified". So while singing policemen would be a festive addition - the police are as likely to be singing as red-nosed reindeer are to be flying over the Houses of Parliament.

God bless us every one.

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