Thursday, 1 March 2012

i.m. David Rathband

My first full awareness today, after the shipping forecast, was the news that David Rathband, the policeman blinded by Ralph Moat, had killed himself -- although no one had the strength of character to say that in those words.
In due course, I expect mistakes will be identified and lessons will be learned, and all the other bullshit. David Rathband will still have been blinded and will still be dead.
Saying he was brave, as Ms May has, hardly helps, like much of what Ms May says.
I don't know if he was or wasn't brave. It is not a virtue I rate highly. And being shot in the face does not make you brave, just as being blown up in Afghanistan doesn't make you brave. You may or may not be. Well, some of us are; some less so.
It's like hair colour; and, like that, can be changed chemically.
It is rare for me to think kindly of police, though I would like to be able to. I can do it in particulars; but I lost my general enthusiasm in Trafalgar Sq late one night in my teens. I was on my way home from gigging, trying to find a night bus, carrying a shoulder bag full of poetry books.
A policeman asked me what I had in my bag and I told him.
In reply, he grabbed me and threw me hard against the railings saying "I've had enough smart answers from fucking public school boys."
Then he opened my bag and found I was telling the truth. He arrested me.
After being searched and insulted by him and his mate at the station, they let me go without an apology.
My opinion of the police did not improve one day in the early 1980s when most of my school class were absent, locked up by the police. Earlsfield. (Inadvertently, I did earn the nickname, one of several, some less affectionate, Upton Top Rankin, when I indicated recognition of the students' experiential opinion of the force.)
The plight of David Rathband, however, moved me considerably. I had recently been considering suicide myself. Sorry to drop that in suddenly; it would deal with a few problems; but not when the problem is with dungheads, so I got up to write this and do other things.
Sorry, as I say, but let's not get too het up about it. A lot of us do think of it. It has always seemed to me entirely sensible to kill oneself when one has really had enough; and I have no sympathy with people suffering from incurable belief systems who would seek to impede us in this. They can stay and offer it up as a sacrifice if they want to; but they can stay out of my death.
Constable Rathband did not seem to have had enough until Ralph Moat was allowed to maim him.
I was late up by my own plan as I lay for a long time thinking on this: that he is now "free" of his own suffering and the bullshit which surrounds it.
I was dysfunctional as I bought a take away tea in the bakers and left it behind and went on to the railway station where I bought the wrong ticket, still thinking of Constable Rathband and associated thoughts.
And then there were Ian Tomlinson and Mark Duggan, both dead, those responsible being slowtracked at best through the system.
And de Menezes and Blair Peach.
I remember Bob Dylan's lines about lynching over 4 decades ago -- Two men died neath the Mississippi moon /Somebody'd better investigate soon
And I still think of Kevin Gately. In 1974, I believe. Red Lion Square. Merely showing peaceful opposition by marching only to be kettled and then hit.
I subedited a draft of an account of the investigation of his death and that whole day.
I remember being shown photos. I remember standing at the place he was killed. It was not difficult to work out. I am pretty certain I know the name of the man who struck the blow on that clearly innocent man as they let the NF through jeering their racist chants.
I quote a quote from a friend of mine from my poetry collection Next Door on the fascist undertones of the London Borough of Sutton.
A fine human being, Waclaw Kessling, lots of medals; never pretended to be brave but seemingly died bravely.
"Upton, you have a wonderful country. It is such a pity that the Normans are still in charge."

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