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Read Craig Simpson

reports and ruminations

The Unbearable Sh**eness of Being … A Newcastle Fan

TO CONTEMPLATE  the unbearable sh**eness of being a Newcastle fan.

I have ripped this title from the stunning 1984 novel by the intimidatingly talented Milan Kundera.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being begins with an abstract philosophical thought, essentially, ‘what do we put on the scales?’ (Mike Ashley is not the answer).

For some ‘being’ is light.  Life is easy, happy-go-lucky: free. For others, it is a weighty affair, full of meaning.  The novel challenges us to ask, ‘which type are we?’, and ‘is it worth it?’  To my continual pain, one I’m sure is shared, so does the beautiful game.

Continue reading “The Unbearable Sh**eness of Being … A Newcastle Fan”

Death Lost in Symbolism.

WE should not rush to reduce tragedy into symbolism, and martyr the dead through media.

Let us mourn before we politicise and make partisan the fact of someone’s murder, remember who has died, before we strive in weakness for a meaning beyond the profundity in any life – in any death.

Continue reading “Death Lost in Symbolism.”

Aporia and the Vote.

OBSERVING the alacrity with which campaigners completely miss the point, I wonder if I’m making an error in attaching such importance to that trifling matter – the vote.

The vote.  Dispensed only after centuries of struggle.  The sacred, blood-soaked democratic right.

Now, as a privileged electorate faces the ballot, in an inferno of irony, no entitlement is more trivialised. Continue reading “Aporia and the Vote.”

Bohemians Rhapsody – a celebration of Czech football.

Fresh off the tram and the boulevard of Vršovická intersects a flat and unpromising quarter, on the boundary of middle-class comfort and working-class expediency, between elegant apartments and the ubiquitous panelák (the kind of tower block seen in the background of any respectable Cold War thriller).  It is winter in Prague.   Orders coming from Moscow are a thing of the past, but my blueing lips tell me the November wind still makes the trip, and I’m growing self-conscious about the din of my dental castanets.  My guide is late.

Prudence trumps fashion here, and padded coat after weathered fleece after dubious fur cap pass by.   Young, old, male, female, sober, stumbling and everything in between are making their way excitably toward an antique loudspeaker’s call.  Continue reading “Bohemians Rhapsody – a celebration of Czech football.”

Festung Europa

The tragedy and desperation of this summer’s Mediterranean human trafficking has slowly drawn blood even from the stone of David Cameron’s largely retiring isolationism, and united an unsteady Europe in sharing the humanitarian responsibility, or the accompanying rhetoric at least. The major parties have been joined in sympathy. There could be no other response. The savagery of Syria, the poverty of the Sahel, civil war and stagnant prospects are potent push factors. The comparative, indeed shockingly contrasting wealth and security of Europe is a justified pull. Yet one need not leave Europe to witness this cruel, international carrot-and-stick migration at work. Less sanguine, but perhaps more insidious, is the enduring maltreatment of the Roma people within the palisades of Festung Europa. Continue reading “Festung Europa”

The Circus

17th November, the anniversary of the beginning of the Velvet Revolution, and solemnity finds its expression in the candles placed beneath the statue of King Wenceslas upon whose square commemorations have been taking place throughout the day.  Looking down from here, perhaps in more ways than one, the foot of the boulevard boasts a more Dionysian spectacle. Continue reading “The Circus”

The Judgement

 

Cliché is as ubiquitous as the weather in certain cities.  Through a process of continual self-portraiture by the curators of cliché (those lacking in particular faculties of imagination), a repetition amounting to the erosion of originality, they shape for us the inexorable stasis of the lauded, and lamented, locale.  Attempt a retreat into the landscape of the Lake District and one is found bound and gagged by the forces of Wordsworth, or venture to look upon the Liffey without Mr Bloom ambling into view.  It is possible the inverse is true, that cliché is the progeny of the city, that perhaps the inanimate is the founder of this dynasty of, well, the inanimate.   Whatever the causal beginnings, we are nevertheless ruled by it.  Amid the spires of Prague, it is Kafka who reigns, he who waits in ambush, he in a dozen cafes and museums and sparrow-faced in advertisement.

Continue reading “The Judgement”

The Who and the When of the Velvet Revolution.

“Kdo, když ne my, kdy, když ne ted!” On 17th November 1989 the slogan announces itself intermittently, taking its turn among the others resounding from the impassioned voices of the marching crowds of Prague: “Who, if not us, when, if not now!”. A call to action, if not to arms. A flag, a marker planted resolutely in the present – renouncing the failures of the past and the potential vacillations of the future. The chanting assembly would no longer be the victims of history. Continue reading “The Who and the When of the Velvet Revolution.”

Patience North of the Parallel.

 

 

 

Jean-Paul Sartre was very much interested in a faculty peculiar to the human imagination, that of creating, before the projector screen of consciousness, that which is not.  A simple thing, one might suspect, child’s play – and it is indeed this fundamental.

Continue reading “Patience North of the Parallel.”

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