• “Liberty” is proportional.
  • A small advance in Syria may be something we may devoutly wish.
  • One in England may be something we can deliver.

Malcolm had to note an unhappy parallax view:

Sub-title: “Images of war come back to visit me when I’m trying to sleep”

Which continues:

Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin, an American, and award-winning French photographer Remi Ochlik died when a shell hit a makeshift media centre in the Baba Amr district.

From the large to the small

Every secondary-school English teacher ought, by now, to have pulled out old teaching notes and class plans, and fired up the Labour-government-financed smart-board for this:

War photographer: Carol Ann Duffy

In his darkroom he is finally alone
with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.
The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a mass.
Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass.
He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays
beneath his hands which did not tremble then
though seem to now. Rural England. Home again
to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel,
to fields which don’t explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat
Something is happening. A stranger’s features
faintly start to twist before his eyes,
a half formed ghost. He remembers the cries
of this man’s wife, how he sought approval
without words to do what someone must
and how the blood stained into foreign dust.
A hundred agonies in black-and-white
from which his editor will pick out five or six
for Sunday’s supplement. The reader’s eyeballs prick
with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers.
From the aeroplane he stares impassively at where
he earns his living and they do not care.

The great Don McCullin

Yes, Carol Ann Duffy’s subject is McCullin (conflated with the late Philip Jones Griffiths).

Where does McCullin contribute to this? —

The cost to ordinary people of decisions made by their rulers has been at the heart of McCullin’s work since he made his name with photographs on the construction of the Berlin Wall before moving on to produce legendary images from the war zones of Indochina, Latin America and the Middle East. After seeing his work, Henri Cartier-Bresson said to McCullin: “I have one word to say to you: Goya.” An admiring John le Carré, with whom McCullin visited Beirut, wrote in an introduction to McCullin’s 1980 book, Hearts of Darkness: “He has known all forms of fear, he’s an expert in it. He has come back from God knows how many brinks, all different. His experience in a Ugandan prison alone would be enough to unhinge another man – like myself, as a matter of fact – for good.”

“I’ve seen my own blood and broken a few bones,” says McCullin, “I’ve been hit, which isn’t an entirely bad thing as at least you have a glimpse of the suffering endured by the people you are photographing. And in a sense, crumbling empires and war have been with me all my life. I’m from England, and like every other great empire who stole bits of the world, there is a price to pay. And I was born in 1935. So since I’ve been conscious of the world I’ve either been in, or been on the periphery of, a war zone.”

Of course, no teacher (circa 2012) dares divert from the “teaching-and-leaning” matrix imposed, line-by-line, even minute-by-minute upon the doings of the week. Such a thing, with an open-ended, unscripted — and unpredictable — discussion among inspired and confident students, couldn’t happen in our pre-digested, ministerially-approved, top-down-modular-processed  National Curriculum. Someone present might have a real, unscheduled moment of personal discovery.

Good grief! Ofsted may stride through that classroom door at any minute, and demand to see the magical/maniacal “five-point class plan”.

There are different degrees of freedom. Homs and Homerton. Damascus and Damgate.


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Filed under BBC, Britain, censorship, education, Goya, Guardian, History, Sunday Times, Tories.

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