A Year of Fire and Rain

It was a strange year. Not one of the best. Not for me, and not for the world, really. The floods started in Brazil in January, mudslides, buildings and trees and people and animals being washed down hills. And the Arab Spring began with a young seller burning himself alive. And  there was the fire at Chariots sauna in March, at around 6am; I’d been there the night before, and they closed the place for a few weeks and people like me had to go and find warmth and sex elsewhere. It was a year of fire and rain. Floods in Thailand in July, then more floods in Pakistan in September. And the great tsunami and earthquake in Japan in March. Was is that long ago? Was it that recent? I escape to the steam-room. I always escape to the steam-room. Only there I am safe. Only there violence cannot get to me. Only there are we safe from the fire. The revolution. And in February Mubarak resigns, and some of us (not me!) thought that that was it, it’s over, things will get better now. We can celebrate. But nothing is over. Nothing. Not even the war in Iraq. That certainly isn’t over, not for the Iraqis, now that the Americans have pulled out. Officially it all ended on December the 15th. But it continues. It continues in Yemen and in Egypt. In April Laurent Gbagbo was arrested. In May Ratko Mladic was arrested. And they killed Osama bin Laden in May, on the first of May. In Spring. Ai Wei Wei was arrested in China, and we walked around the layers and layers of sunflower seeds at Tate Modern in London. The cash crisis continues. Portugal is bailed out. Who remembers talk about Portugal? Who remembers Portugal? The sexy and silent skinny one in the corner of Europe. January feels like yesterday. Only yesterday the revolution in North Africa began. And now it is almost January and where are we? The rebels took hold of Tripoli in August. That long ago? And a ferry sank in Zanzibar. And the prisoner swap in the Middle East. One scared soldier for over a thousand well-fed ones. That’s what the pictures said. That’s what we saw when the Egyptian interviewer tormented Gilad Shalit with her stupid questions. And the priests pick up their broomsticks to fight each other in Bethlehem. We are in this world. We are part of this. The Syrians are being killed by their own people. A volcano erupts in Chile in June. Flights are disrupted, but not as much, it seems, as they were last year, the year of the Icelandic ash cloud. South Sudan goes it on its own. Southern Somalia is declared a famine zone. And then there was the Royal Wedding in April. Remember that? Who cares? The sister-in-law’s tight arse. Whatever. The flash floods in the Philippines just a few days ago. It was that kind of year. People drowning, burning, being shot, starving. The pornography of disaster. Losing one’s job feels like the easy option, the right end of the stick. It wasn’t such a great year. We had a nice Christmas this year, a gathering of friends from South Africa, Kenya, the US, Germany, Kurdistan, Tunisia, ah, Tunisia, where the year began. We brought food and there was lots of food, a table overflowing with food, and we danced, ya habibi, we danced. And I keep writing, I kept writing, jotting down those moments that made me sing, that made me want to break into song, whether out of joy or pain. And yes, it’s been a year of that, of people not shutting up. And the planet not shutting up. Spewing water on innocent people. The cosmic water canons. But we keep going. We will not shut up. We will record what we can. We greet you with open arms, 2012. Come and get us.

Take it away, JT…


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