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Robert fisk

  1. 1. ColdType THREE SECTIONSW W W . C O L D T Y P E . N E T N U M B E R WRITING WORTH READING FROM AROUND THE WORLD S I X Why does By Robert Fisk John Malkovich Malkovich want to kill me? me?PLUS: Rian Malan / Ian Jack / Denis Beckett / Lesley Riddoch / Michael I. Niman / Warren Gerard / L.E.Baskow
  2. 2. “WE MAKE GOOD THINGS BETTER” SPECIAL THEME THE WORLD AFTER SEPTEMBER 11 – THROUGH THE EYES OF WOMEN ACROSS THE GLOBE F I N D U S O N T H E W E B AT : W W W . W O R L D W O M A N . N E T Worldwoman INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S NEWSPAPER ■ WINTER 2001 MAURITIUS ENGLAND Battered woman ends nightmare Never in the history of Peacebuilding minus women in Afghanistan Mauritius has a suspected murderer received so much sympathy. The Minister of Women’s Rights and ministry officials not only visited Nazma Issah in her prison cell George Bush appears to have decided not to push for women to be involved in any coalition to succeed the Taleban regime in but promised her all legal, Afghanistan. “Right now we have other priorities,” a senior Administration official has said, “We have to be careful not to look like moral and logistic support. we are imposing our values on them.” Women’s groups have demanded the UN intervene after a security council resolution was The woman admitted killing adopted last year which requires women to be involved in peace negotiations. 50 Afghan women will meet in Brussels next month to her husband with a kitchen decide their own agenda – the event is likely to see demands from UN human rights high commissioner Mary Robinson and MEP knife on 2 October 2001. Page 3 Glenys Kinnock for women to be brought in to all peace moves in Afghanistan. Page 3 GHANA ICELAND Saucy campaign What’s in a name? helps reduce AIDS Not a lot, it seems “If It’s Not On, Its Not In,” is It’s one thing to marry a man the saucy strapline that has and make a mistake – it’s become one of the most another to be saddled with his effective family planing name for the rest of your life. messages in Africa. It’s almost With divorce now a fact of life the first image that greets the across the world, women traveller at Accra airport – change their lives, addresses now researchers say it has and appearance when they led to increased condom sales change partners. But millions as part of the government’s stick with an acquired “Stop AIDS Love Life” surname they might prefer to campaign. Using radio, dump. Not in Iceland. Page 2 television, music videos and testimonials from people living with HIV/AIDS, the ZIMBABWE campaign – is much bolder than ads used in other African No condom, no countries – and it seems to be working. Page 5 sex, says Rudo Talking about aids in public usually earns a social boycott. MALAYSIA Trying to force a husband to wear a condom usually earns Law a threat to divorce or violence or both. One Zimbabwean woman has mothers, babies done both - now she helps run A survey by the Royal College the country’s HIV/AIDS of Obstetricians and Gyn- prevention campaign. It aecologists places the cae- started – unlike most political sarean rate in the UK at 21.5 campaigns – in a Harare per cent – much higher than hairdresser. Page 9 the WHO recommendation of SCOTLAND 10 to 15 per cent. But the lives of British women aren’t likely PLUS to be placed in danger by medical intervention. Not so Why Linn was banned from playing rugby with boys LETTERS ON SEPTEMBER 12 .. 8 in Malaysia where the indus- Scots rugby chiefs have blocked a top Swedish player from a Schools international because she might CHANGING FACE OF THE trialised attitude towards get hurt. 17 year old Linn Olforser was selected to play for the Enkoping team in Sweden but banned AFRICAN NEWSROOM ............. 9 childbearing and childbirth from taking to the filed when she arrived in Edinburgh last month. A Scottish official said, “The game WHY I STOPPED DRINKING ......10 has spread with devastating is too physical. There’s no way a guy should have to hold himself back from a full-blooded tackle if a THE SHAME OF FEMALE consequences. Page 5 girl had the ball. It would change the nature of the game. It’s common sense.” Page 4 CIRCUMCISION ........................ 11 Worldwoman, Edinburgh, Scotland Africawoman, Nairobi, Kenya Sunday Times, Johannesburg, South Africa Business Insurance, New York, USA NDA NEWS DESIGN ASSOCIATES I N C O R P O R A T E D E D I TO R I A L A N D P U B L I C AT I O N D E S I G N C O N S U LTA N TS 10469 Sixth Line, RR#3, Georgetown, Ontario L7G 4S6, Canada Tel: (905) 702-8600 / Fax: (905) 702-8527 / E-mail: Website:
  3. 3. Issue 6 ColdType [ 3 ]From The Editor Back again after a five-year break Contents Issue 6 / 2002 COLDTYPE was launched eight years ago to counteract a belief – which still continues – that the best way for newspapers to solve the problem of declining readership is to tinkerwith the design without too much thought to content.The result of this shortsightedness, I pointed out in myfirst editor’s note, was the production of a “generation ofnewspapers that are often bland and lifeless … and that isnot good journalism. An attractive package is desirable,but we should pay as much attention to the quality of thegrey stuff as we do to its packaging.” Trekking through India … Page 10 Things haven’t changed much in the past eight years; infact the speed of redesigns has hotted up while ● SECTION ONEcirculations fall at a concurrent speed. ColdType, resurrected after a hiatus of five years – it 2. LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO EDINBURGH: As weather andtook nearly four years to persuade my former bosses at broken railway lines brought Britain to a standstill at the end of 2000,Thomson Newspapers to give me the title and another Ian Jack boarded a train, gazed at the cows and wondered if the British had15 months to decide what to do with it – will continue become thickwith its original mission: to reprint examples of excellentwriting from around the world in a format that 6. IT’S HER SHOUT: A new survey suggests alcohol consumption byemphasises how a neat and unobtrusive design can British women is likely to soar by 30% by 2004. Does being a woman in the UKenhance, without subsuming, the power of of The Word. drive you to drink? asks Lesley Riddoch That’s the mission, but the point, as always is muchsimpler: Great writing is wonderful and should be 8. WHY DOES JOHN MALKOVICH WANT TO KILL ME?available to as many people as possible – and preferably British journalist Robert Fisk is used to receiving hate mail attackingfree of charge, hence our new pdf format and internet his reporting of various conflicts in the Middle East. It’s getting worse,distribution. I hope you find this new issue interesting, he says, as venomous letters have turned into calls for his deathinformative and amusing. If you do (or if you don’t), let meknow. Your feedback is important. 10. SHIT, SPIT AND SQUALOR: Denis Beckett takes a camera crew Tony Sutton from Johannesburg to India and winds up strangely relieved that he was not, Editor after all, able to run out of it after the third day of his journeySpecial thanks to Ian Jack, Robert Fisk, Denis Beckett,Lesley Riddoch, Rian Malan, Michael I. Niman, Warren ●SECTION TWOGerard and Paul Duchene, writers of the stories in thisissue; L.E. Baskow for his photo essay;and illustrators Rui 13. WRITE OF PASSAGE: Writing an obituary is a delicate art.Ramalheiro and Duˇ Petricic. san Warren Gerard leaves behind some words of advicePRINTING HINTS: ColdType is best read when printed to its full 15. BRANDING CUBA: LA VIDA NIKE: The USA media is11” by 14” proportions, but it can easily be read when reduced wondering what will happen to the communistto 74% of its original on regular printers. Colour printing is best. enclave just a few miles off its coast after Castro’sREADERS’ COMMENTS: Tell us what you think of this issue of reign ends. Too late, says Michael I. Niman – theColdType – content, size, ease of reading, etc. and give us your revolution has already begunsuggestions for future issues. We also welcome articlesubmissions, although we don’t pay for them. Comments 18. HARD MEN, HARD COUNTRY: On the road in Angola South African writer Rian Malan goes on the roadNOTES ON THE TYPEFACES: This issue is the first publication to … Page 28feature – heads and text – Goodchild, a new font designed by Toronto with some of the toughest truckers on the planettype designer Nick Shinn ( sans serif faces in ColdType are various weights of Brown, ● SECTION THREEalso designed by Shinn.COLDTYPE: Edited, designed and produced by Tony Sutton, President, 13. STILL LIFE: Living art. That’s the best phrase to describe what WellsNews Design Associates Inc., 10469 Sixth Line, RR#3, Georgetown, Oviatt III does for a living. If you’re travelled through Portland recently,Ontario L7G 4S6, Canada. you’ve probably seen him – he’s the statue in the square. Photo essay byWEB SITES: L.E. Baskow, words by Paul Duchene
  4. 4. [4 ] ColdType Issue 6ENGLANDAs weather and broken railway lines brought Britain to a standstillat the end of 2000, Ian Jack boarded a train, gazedat the cows and wondered if the British had become thickLong day’s journeyinto EdinburghS omewhere in that mainly flat sent south from Doncaster on that day, Mon- may do), rather that to be interested in rail- stretch of country between Don- Somehow, day, 30 October, 2000, although the time was ways, to believe in them as an effective, reli- caster and Grantham the train we made do after two in the afternoon. At Newark, the able and environmentally necessary mode of stopped again – unwontedly, as the without too last stop, passengers for Grantham had been transport, is to be made sad by the lethal Georgian poem has it. Through the told to get off and on to a special bus. But muddle they have become. I used to becarriage window, I could see fields of water many then, strangely, the train pulled into Gran- angry. How could politicians (Tory) have gotand, on a higher stretch of green pasture that arguments, tham and stopped. I remembered a remark away with such a crazy privatisation, such ahad become an island, a couple of cows ben- of an older colleague on a newspaper 15 or 20 careless and perverse scheme? How couldding into the grass and chewing blankly. The remarking years ago. Didn’t I think that the people of politicians (Labour, and contrary to theircows were pretty, black and brown and to each other Britain were becoming “thick”? He had pledges) have persevered, keeping thewhite, and there was a touch of blue in the noticed that they bumped into each other scheme intact?sky; the water in the fields shone. No human as passengers more, stupidly, like dodg’em cars. This But as I made my way to King’s Cross inbeings and no houses could be seen. The do in a country seemed an odd and even offensive remark at London, I hoped I would be shielded by thetrain’s engine idled. As the poem also has it, the time, but in Grantham, I wondered if he iron of fatalism – adjustment to new condi-no one left and no one came. such as India hadn’t caught some Naipaulian splinter of tions. There may be a train, or there may not. I imagined this scene as one of those mys- that no public the truth. I turned the page of my newspaper If not, then I would try to behave with theterious Victorian story-paintings – The Scape- and read that the railways are so short of dignity of a poor man on a platform in, say,goat, or a new version of The Last of England system can skill that a contracting firm in Scotland is Bihar. I would walk away with my bundle– in which every superficially attractive fea- be relied on, recruiting 14 engineers from Romania. and try again another day.ture suggests something ominous. Stopped A red signal light shone brightly at the I had booked a seat on the four o’clock totrain, flooded fields, a couple of marooned nothing bloody platform’s end. When it turned green, we Edinburgh. I collected my standard saversurvivors from the recent bovine holocaust. I works moved down the plain towards the capital. return (£77) at the ticket office and then wenthave travelled this way on the east coast We would get through. to consult the departures board. The fourmain line many times – by my calculation o’clock was listed with a revised arrival time(there being not much else to do at thispoint), hundreds of times – and this bit ofEngland has always seemed unknowable to L ast weekend I spent, in all, 14 hours on trains. I do not want to describe this as “a in Edinburgh of 21.19 rather than 20.20, the extra time to allow for a detour to avoid the Hatfield crash site and the consequent speedme. One part looks much like the next. I con- nightmare;” that word, along with “cattle restrictions further up the line.tinue to confuse Retford and Newark and trucks,” properly belongs with troop trains There were queues in the concourse,not be quite certain that the large river, brim- and transports bound for destinations in cen- marked with small signs at their head:ming and rippling when we passed it a few tral Europe 60 years ago. I travelled from queues D and C and E for Newcastle, Edin-minutes back, is the Trent. To the east lies London to Fife via Edinburgh late on Friday burgh and Leeds. The 3.30 to Newcastle hadLincolnshire (Skegness, Cleethorpes), where and back again early on Monday. Perhaps I been cancelled. Queue D joined queue C. NoI have never been; to the west, Nottingham, was lucky, but the journey didn’t even reach platform had been announced. At fourwhere I have almost never been. Perhaps this the standards of a bad dream. I had no o’clock, the train to take us out still hadn’tis the real Middle England. Never before had urgent business. I saw my mother. All that come in. The people queuing behavedit seemed so fragile and undependable, or so happened along the way was that I was admirably but also, in a survival-of-the-threatened by the biblical punishments of stuck on trains or stood waiting for them far fittest sense, foolishly. Less obedient peopleplague and flood. longer than I should have been. hang around the entrance to the likeliest Eventually, the train moved on. We passed So what did I feel? I suppose a kind of irri- platform and become the front of the queue,a few broken trees, straddled across the table melancholy. I am interested in railways. if they’ve guessed rightly. By the time plat-opposite line. There were workers in bright It is a sad thing these days to be interested in form number three was announced, theorange coats. One of them was furling a yel- railways. By this, I don’t mean that an inter- crowd around its end was so big that pas-low flag: proceed with caution. This was a est in railways indicates a sad personality, sengers leaving the train were blocked bypioneer train – as far as I could tell, the first repression, infantilism and so on (though it those trying to get on.
  5. 5. Issue 6 ColdType [ 5 ] A voice over the Tannoy said we were not to run – it was dangerous, there would be room on other trains – but still we ran midnight. She is 93. “I wonder,” she said, “why trains have to travel so fast. A hundred miles an hour! That’s surely dangerous.” On my way back, I thought about her question. The little train from Fife was late and crowded, standing room only. On board the nine o’clock to London at Edinburgh, we were advised to get off unless our journey was “really necessary” – shades of 1940 – because the train might get no further than Doncaster. At Newcastle, we were told it would advance no further than York. “Dete- riorating,” or sometimes just “adverse,” wea- ther conditions had cut off southern England from the north. At York, we got off, only to be told that the train would in fact go to Lon- don. Back on, we were told it would go only to Doncaster. At Doncaster, we waited on a windy platform where pleasant officials of the Great North Eastern Railway company (the best of the new railway operators, in my experience, although perhaps I’ve been seduced by the olde-worlde hokum of the name) told us that they were as much in the dark as we were, but with any luck we could expect a train from Leeds. After an hour, one came along, nearly empty. We reached London at half past five, a journey of eight and a half hours from Edin- burgh rather than the advertised four. My mother would have approved, and the truth is that I didn’t mind too much. A warm and empty carriage, work to do, some compensatory free coffee, and time to look at the cows. In 1910 – according to the Bradshaw of that year – the journey time would have been thought satisfactory. Even in the 1960s, the fastest trains took six hours and there were far fewer of them: five a day, slow or fast, from Edinburgh to London, whereas now there are more than twenty. Or would be, were it not for broken rails. But pace my mother’s question, we think Porters, if they are still called porters, attached. Seat B40 had a ticket for A38, going we live in a modern European country. Wecame and cleared a way. Then we began to only as far as York. expect trains to travel fast, motorways to berun down the platform. A voice over the Tan- clear, schools to educate, hospitals to carenoy said we were not to run – it was dan-gerous, there would be room on other trains– but still we ran. Thick, as my old colleague S omehow, we made do without too many arguments, remarking to each other as pas- and cure, food to be safe. This is not so much rising as risen expectations. It may be no more than a brief illusion: this country is bril-might have said; after all, most of us had sengers do in a country such as India that no liant at illusions – new uniforms for thebooked seats. Or perhaps not so thick, given public system can be relied on, nothing Underground, escalators that crack, stationsthe capricious booking arrangements. I had bloody works. that close. All of us, even the thickest, nowseat 38 in coach B, but the seats in coach B The train left late and got later, three know that the underfunded ice we skate onwere ticketed for coach A. And, a thrilling hours later than its original time, two later is very, very thin. ◆double layer of confusion, the seat numbers than its revised time. There were manyon the tickets did not correspond to the apologies – this country has become brilliant This article first appeared Ian Jack is editor of Granta, the internationalnumbers on the seats to which they were at apologising. I was at my mother’s home by in New Statesman literary magazine.
  6. 6. [6 ] ColdType Issue 6SCOTLANDIt’s hershout!A new surveysuggests that alcoholconsumption byBritish women is likelyto soar by 30% by 2004.Does being a womanin the UK drive youto drink? asksLesley Riddoch. Or is thatjust a lazy, outdatedexcuse for New Womenaping Old Lads?T ime was when I could conceive of Whatever a dram for every person who said “it could finally bought the island I was drinking and no greater reward for a job done have been me,” I’d be very ill. dispensing drams to all and sundry until the than a large G&T. The sort you southern Truth is, in Scotland 2002 you can drink or last head hit the kitchen table at Kildonan at pour yourself – bigger than the sophisticates drive yourself to a virtual standstill without about 11am. By 4pm we were all up again for pub measure with an extra little doing serious damage to your social stand- more. And so it went on for several days –kick. No better way of getting out of the dol- say about less ing or self esteem. In fact, in serious drinking that is the Hebridean way. And I was prouddrums than a large dram – preferably an being more, quarters there is no upper limit. that my staying power meant I could witnessisland malt, not cooking whisky. Whatever southern sophisticates say the music, dancing and patter right till the No better way to spend an hour on the the Celts about less being more, the Celts firmly bitter end.shuttle than to sample a wee bottle of wine firmly believe more is more. We are out to have the Looking forward to more of the same on– or two. Well, their little measures are so ultimate experience. Scots, like the Irish, have my birthday, I arrived at the Eigg tearoom tomean. No better way to enjoy the last believe more an almost mystical belief in the possibility of be solemnly handed a birthday card by aepisode of a favourite TV detective series is more. self-discovery through drink. Any brave couple of friends – aged 10. On the front athan alone with a bottle of Chardonnay. No explorer is applauded – even if the journey mini-skirted stickwoman stood legs astridebetter way to explore intimacy than over We are out occasionally ends at base camp. The real with a whip in one hand – spelt wipe but Iwine. No possible way to bond deeply with to have the crime I’ve committed in the eyes of those big got the drift – and a bottle in the other. Thefellow human beings than with a drink in drinkers who have been and still are my best caption: Be a party animal!hand. And another one waiting. ultimate friends is to quit the quest and abandon the I insisted they had got me all wrong. “But Then on August 1, 2000, something chan- experience adventure by stopping drinking. you only ever come here for parties,” saidged and now I don’t drink any more. In fact, young Cailean. “You never just come to seewith a year’s ban for drink-driving in 1998,the penny should have dropped much earli-er. The shock certainly forced a separation of S o what made me change? Well the after- math of my turning 40 was probably a factor. us.” And I realised it did look that way. Other people came to drink tea, ponder the ways of the universe and chat to people without adrinking and driving but if anything that just I celebrated my birthday with a valiant party ceilidh for accompaniment. I always waitedincreased drinking opportunities. of friends who crossed the choppiest Minch for an alcohol-related opportunity. Why? In the country area where I live nobody in (my) living memory for a night of baccha- It set me thinking. Would I even considergave me lectures on the error of my ways – nalian excess on Eigg. I’ve spent most Hog- a night on the isle without a hospitable bot-or even the dirty looks I expected and felt I manays on the Hebridean island since tle of whisky to hand? How much were wedeserved. At first I wondered if they knew I becoming a trustee of their Heritage Trust all overlooking the downside of drink to keepwas only just over the limit and had scaled seven years ago. the image of the incorrigible, dram-swillingtheir reaction down accordingly. But if I had On June 12, 1997, when the community but loveable highlander alive?
  7. 7. Issue 6 ColdType [ 7 ] I started thinking but I kept drinking. Not to ignore. I couldn’t resist. I had no penismassively. I don’t think I was or am an alco- A dietician pal envy, but I did have bar-stool lust. ALPHAVILLEholic. I could lay off when I wanted. Some- working in The writer Kate Atkinson recently put hertimes I would have a rule not to drink on my schools tells finger on the way that women drink now. Inown. For almost a year I didn’t drink during the 1980s, she said, women went beyond bio-the week. For a while I made sure there were me the No 1 logy. Our use of the pill, growing physical A aat least two booze-free days a week. But a question strength and competition with men in almostbig social occasion followed by a piece of every arena impacted on our drinking.Weserious work would mean trying to resched- she gets decided that what was sauce for the ganderule work or skipping the gig rather than asked is: would now be sauce for the goose – even ifgoing but not drinking. I would take two or it was addictive and destructive. And it is.three bottles of wine when visiting friends – Whichjust in case – and they were always finished.I never bought the gadget that removes airfrom an opened bottle – wine didn’t stay alcoholic drink has W omen’s bodies, even robust 5ft 11in ones like mine, cannot handle alcohol as well asaround that long. I do now recall good the fewest men’s. It may not be fair but it is true. Forfriends having to make sure we met on Fri- every drug-related death in Scotland theredays – they always needed a day to recover. calories?” are 10 alcohol-related ones. Women damage I, on the other hand, felt no pain. When their livers far more through drink than menothers had hangovers I felt only a great lift- and there’s an increased risk of breast cancer. No one has lived in the of the logical barriers that keep ideas sep- Drunk women put themselves more at risk No one will live in the future.arated and compartmentalised. I often had of unprotected sex, as well as sexually trans- The present is the only formmy best lateral thinking programmes – I mitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, rape of life. It is a state of existencebelieved – after a night out. While others – and certainly badly damaged self-esteem.were unable to move at 7am, I was up and But we’re soused in the culture of drink- which is indestructible. Time isfunctioning. Friends kept marvelling at my ing. A dietician pal working in schools tells like a circle, endlessly turning.capacity for drink, and I did too, instead of me the No 1 question she gets asked is: The arc that descends is thewondering what real marvels might be in “Which alcoholic drink has the fewest calo- past. That which rises is thestore if I wasn’t wasting time, brain cells and ries?” Another friend toyed with writing a future. All has been said, unlessemotional energy through alcohol. book about the reality of breast cancer treat- Did I get my thirst from my parents? No ment entitled “Can I Still Drink?” – the ques- words change their meaningsway. I saw my dad under the influence once tion most women are too embarrassed to ask and meanings their 35 years – even though he was brought up when the doctor talks them throughin the shadow of a distillery in rural Banff- chemotherapy. The Philosophy of Alpha-60shire. Mum has had four sherries to my cer- Booze unquestionably encourages the Jean-Luc Godard, 1965tain knowledge, and maybe a few glasses of dramatists amongst us to make emotionalwine, in her life. Brought up in Wick, a tem- mountains out of molehills. What we cannot THINperance town, she has always taken a verydim view of her daughter’s “unnecessary” face is failure. And boredom. We cannot bear to manage the day-to-day problems that ABCdefghi01234 THIN OBLIQUEexcesses. afflict everyone. We want excitement but we But then thanks to her encouragement I don’t want to plan for it. Far simpler to abdi- ABCdefghi01234 LIGHThad rather different opportunities and terri- cate responsibility, set no goals, drift along,fying experiences to face in life. I am almost have a drink and moan or dream along with ABCdefghi01234certainly the first female member of the fam- all the other de-motivated creative people in LIGHT OBLIQUEily on either side to go to university. I was the the bar/ceilidh/kitchen/party. ABCdefghi01234first person from my school to go to So what’s happened since the demon REGULAROxbridge and the first family member to drink has stayed in the bottle? I’ve had aleave home for England aged 18. I was the joined-up life and more energy and focus. ABCdefghi01234 OBLIQUEfirst female president of Oxford University And more late night trips as a chauffeur thanStudent Union – the first non-Conservative I can recall. Now I’m relentless. I go to more ABCdefghi01234 MEDIUMpresident at that. Thereafter, I was very often social functions – no matter how awkwardthe only female at meetings, on boards, the time or location, I can drive home – ABCdefghi01234behind lecterns, on platforms and in the pub- though for the first few months I still found MEDIUM OBLIQUElic eye. I thought I took it all in my stride, butas I moved further into the male public world myself racing on a pre-abstinence autopilot for the last train home from Edinburgh. ABCdefghi01234 BOLDI started dealing with the strain like the Am I stuck in an endless and grimlymales around me – by relaxing in the pub earnest drive for self improvement? I’m ABCdefghi01234 BOLD OBLIQUEafterwards. enough of a realist to know I may never tame Others took drugs. I was too wary and my own excessive tendencies sufficiently to ABCdefghi01234northern for that. Moreover, I regarded relax- have even one drink again. But now thating in pubs as an achievement – and in the feels more like a reprieve than a life sentence. Strictly orthogonal, but not cyber-simple. Alphaville’s 37° upstroke adds a scriballate 1970s it was. Women like me were break- No single drink is worth more than the sense touch to the techno genre, and there areing down barriers in the classroom, at the of purpose and genuine confidence I’ve other graces—such as the modulation ofballot box and in the workplace, but were gained. stroke weight over the three major axes,still standing outside pubs in the rain to meet Being sober is habit-forming. ◆ and between caps and lower case; andpals. hoping they wouldn’t be late. the italic forms of a and f. Pubs may have been “public houses” for Lesley Riddoch has a radio programmen, but there was nothing public about with BBC Scotland. She is founder andthem for most women. It was a challenge – a This article first appeared editor of international internet newspapers www.shinntype.comsocial challenge many talented women chose in Worldwoman Worldwoman and Africawoman.
  8. 8. [8 ] ColdType Issue 6 ENGLAND Why does John Malkovich want to kill me?British journalist Robert Fisk is used to receiving hate mail attackinghis reporting of various conflicts in the Middle East. It’s getting worse,he says, as venomous letters have turned into calls for his deathI t used to be just a trickle, a steady drip- Much of this anche of vicious, threatening letters and so many vile and intimidating messages drip of hate mail which arrived once a openly violent statements that we journalists addressed to me. Many now demand my week, castigating me for reporting on disgusting receive today, this was comparatively mild. death. And at the beginning of May, the Hol- the killing of innocent Lebanese under nonsense For the internet seems to have turned those lywood actor John Malkovich did just that, Israeli air raids or for suggesting that who do not like to hear the truth about the telling the Cambridge Union that he wouldArabs – as well as Israelis – wanted peace in comes from Middle East into a community of haters, like to shoot me.the Middle East. men and sending venomous letters not only to myself It began to change in the late 1990s. Typi-cal was the letter which arrived after I wrotemy eyewitness account of the 1996 slaughter women who say they but to any reporter who dares to criticise Israel – or American policy in the Middle East. H ow, I ask myself, did it come to this? Slowly but surely, the hate has turned toby Israeli gunners of 108 refugees sheltering There was always, in the past, a limit to incitement, the incitement into death threats,in the UN base in the Lebanese town of are defending this hatred. Letters would be signed, with the the walls of propriety and legality graduallyQana. “I do not like or admire anti-Semites,” Israel … writer’s address. Or if not, they would be so pulled down so that a reporter can beit began. “Hitler was one of the most famous ill-written as to be illegible. Not any more. In abused, his family defamed, his beating atin recent history.” Yet compared to the aval- 26 years in the Middle East, I have never read the hands of an angry crowd greeted with
  9. 9. Issue 6 ColdType [ 9 ]laughter and insults in the pages of an Amer- Only days Ellen Popper, announced that I was “in Bank, provoked by the Palestinians’ wickedican newspaper, his life cheapened and made cahoots with the arch-terrorist” Bin Laden. suicide bombing, a new theme has emerged.vulnerable by an actor who – without even after Mark Guon labeled me “a total nut-case.” I Reporters who criticise Israel are to blame forsaying why – says he wants to kill me. Malkovich was “psychotic,” according to Lillie and Barry inciting anti-Semites to burn synagogues. Much of this disgusting nonsense comes Weiss. Brandon Heller of San Diego informed Thus it is not Israel’s brutality and occupa-from men and women who say they are announced me that “you are actually supporting evil tion that provokes the sick and cruel peopledefending Israel, although I have to say that that he itself.” who attack Jewish institutions, synagoguesI have never in my life received a rude or It got worse. On an Irish radio show, a and cemeteries. We journalists are to blame.insulting letter from Israel itself. Israelis wanted Harvard professor – infuriated by my asking Almost anyone who criticises US or Israelisometimes express their criticism of my to shoot me, about the motives for the atrocities of 11 Sep- policy in the Middle East is now in this free-reporting – and sometimes their praise – but tember – condemned me as a “liar” and a fire zone. My own colleague in Jerusalem,they have never stooped to the filth and a website “dangerous man” and announced that “anti- Phil Reeves, is one of them. So are two of theobscenities which I now receive. claimed that Americanism” – whatever that is – was the BBC’s reporters in Israel, along with Suzanne “Your mother was Eichmann’s daughter,” same as anti-Semitism. Not only was it Goldenberg of The Guardian. And take Jen-was one of the most recent of these. My the actor’s wicked to suggest that someone might have nifer Loewenstein, a human rights worker inmother Peggy, who died after a long battle words were had reasons, however deranged, to commit Gaza – who is herself Jewish, and who wrotewith Parkinson’s three-and-a-half years ago, the mass slaughter. It was even more a condemnation of those who claim thatwas, in fact, an RAF radio repair operator on “a brazen appalling to suggest what these reasons Palestinians are deliberately sacrificing theirSpitfires at the height of the Battle of Britain attempt at might be. To criticise the United States was children. She swiftly received the following e-in 1940. to be a Jew-hater, a racist, a Nazi. mail: “BITCH. I can smell you from afar. You The events of 11 September turned the queue-jumping” are a bitch and you have Arab blood in you.hate mail white hot. That day, in an airlinerhigh over the Atlantic that had just turnedback from its routing to America, I wrote an A nd so it went on. In early December, I was almost killed by a crowd of Afghan Your mother is a fucking Arab. At least, for God’s sake, change your fucking name. Ben Aviram.”article for The Independent, pointing out that refugees who were enraged by the recent Does this kind of filth have an effect onthere would be an attempt in the coming slaughter of their relatives in American B-52 others? I fear it does. Only days after Mal-days to prevent anyone asking why the air-raids. I wrote an account of my beating, kovich announced that he wanted to shootcrimes against humanity in New York and adding that I could not blame my attackers, me, a website claimed that the actor’s wordsWashington had occurred. Dictating my that if I had suffered their grief, I would have were “a brazen attempt at queue-jumping.”report from the aircraft’s satellite phone, I done the same. There was no end to the The site contained an animation of my ownwrote about the history of deceit in the Mid- abuse that came then. face being violently punched by a fist and adle East, the growing Arab anger at the In The Wall Street Journal, Mark Steyn caption which said: “I understand whydeaths of thousands of Iraqi children under wrote an article under a headline saying that they’re beating the shit out of me.”US-supported sanctions, and the continued a “multiculturalist” – me – had “got his due.” Thus a disgusting remark by an actor inoccupation of Palestinian land in the West Cards arrived bearing the names of London the Cambridge Union led to a website sug-Bank and Gaza by America’s Israeli ally. I “whipping” parlours. The Independent’s web- gesting that others were even more eager todidn’t blame Israel. I suggested that Osama site received an e-mail suggesting that I was kill me. Malkovich was not questioned by thebin Laden was responsible. a paedophile. Among several vicious Christ- police. He might, I suppose, be refused any But the e-mails that poured into The Inde- mas cards was one bearing the legend of the further visas to Britain until he explains orpendent over the next few days bordered on Twelve Days of Christmas and the following apologises for his vile remarks. But the dam-the inflammatory. note inside: “Robert Fiske (sic) – aka Lord age has been done. As journalists, our lives The attacks on America were caused by Haw Haw of the Middle East and a leading are now forfeit to the internet haters. If we“hate itself, of precisely the obsessive and anti-semite & proto-fascist Islamophile pro- want a quiet life, we will just have to toe thedehumanising kind that Fisk and Bin Laden pagandist. Here’s hoping 2002 finds you deep line, stop criticising Israel or America. Or justhave been spreading,” said a letter from a in Gehenna (Hell), Osama bin Laden on your stop writing altogether. ◆Professor Judea Pearl of UCLA. I was, he right, Mullah Omar on your left. Yours, Ish- This article was firstclaimed, “drooling venom” and a profession- published in mael Zetin.” Robert Fisk is the award-winning Middle Eastal “hate peddler.” Another missive, signed The Independent Since Ariel Sharon’s offensive in the West correspondent for The Independent in London. If You Enjoy Reading ColdType, You’ll Love NineOnTen ● Denis Beckett on Cousin Sam; Norman Solomon on Noam Chomsky; Tom Nugent on Frank Sinatra; Del Stone on America’s New War; Robert Fisk on the Failings of Journalism Training; Tony Sutton on Wayward Printers and Missing Editors. ● For free downloads of this and back issues of this engaging tabloid, contact Tony Sutton at: WRITING WORTH READING ABOUT JOURNALISM AND JOURNALISTS
  10. 10. [ 10 ] ColdType Issue 6INDIATelevision trekker Denis Beckett takes a camera crew fromJohannesburg to India and winds up strangely relieved thathe was not, after all, able to run away from it after Day ThreeShit, spit, squalor andlessons for all of us AThe passing fter three days in India I had squashed heap of human excrement has just called “walking” – is to feel perpetually three things in mind: shit, spit flowed over your sandals and is squishing embarrassed at invading somebody’s bath-wheels keep and squalor, each in the dictio- between your toes. As Musa Radebe the room. Naked children scrub, brush teeth, dry,you on your nary definition. That India has sound man said, if you don’t look for it all the oblivious to the maelstrom and evading squalor, everyone knows. But time you step in it. death by Fiat with unconscious deftness. Thetoes – and knowing it is only knowing it. Being in it Mumbai has a nomenclature problem. first day in India my heart stopped twentythank heaven makes the worst we have in South Africa The visitor politely applies the new non- times, at a hasty bumper bearing down upon look cosy. In Mumbai we met the South colonial name and is startled that half the a toddler with apparently inevitable results.for all those African delegation to an International locals fiercely correct him: “Bombay!” He By the end I’d adjusted to Indian life: a misssober drivers Homelessness Conference. The delegates, adjusts and is startled that half the locals by millimetres is still a miss. So? The same shack-dwellers, said repeatedly (a) “how is fiercely correct him right back: “Mumbai!” miss in Johannesburg, never mind Stock-– but there this possible? Our Indians are so organised,” He retreats to “the city,” but with his fingers holm, would leave both parties no thought and (b) “we never knew we were so lucky.” crossed because he doesn’t truthfully see the Respite is depressingly absent. All of The other two S-words, I was even less city as a city, he sees it as a squatter camp Mumbai is the same, a long chaotic sprawl.of attack, prepared for. with severe elephantiasis. South or old Mumbai is supposedly classyassault, guns, Spit: what got to me wasn’t so much the You can travel for hours through undiffer- Mumbai, but the class is back-handed – run- motion of a globule of gob scuttling into the entiated slumland. Pavements do not exist. down colonial leftovers. Half a century ofknives, boots, dust; it was the sound effects. People hawk Where they once were, are now endless independence seems to have delivered theaggression up gluey golfballs of phlegm with such ener- human pigeon-holes, with sides, back, and city nothing inspiring or impressive or even ain any guise gy that the uninitiated think they’re having open front. Unlike the industrial packaging momentary counterpoint to the morass; not seizures. Several times I was ready to catch a and bits of road-sign better known in Africa, as much as a shopping mall. Well, maybe thewhatever passer-by as he fell. But he’d regain equilib- these units are concrete, or they wash away super-class district, Malaba Hill, is an excep- rium, calmly roll the wodge around his in the monsoon. But they’re catacombs. Mid- tion. It’s a drab flatland, with pavements. mouth, and expectorate. Mumbai newspa- dle-class Africans are pained that a squatter pers debated a new rule against spitting on the buses. A letter-writer said it was the peo- ple’s birthright. Another, that if they couldn’t African family can live in a space the size of their kitchen. Squatter Africans, like the Homeless ladies, here felt pain that two W e left Mumbai without tears, for Vara- nasi – fierce correction “Benares!” – holiest spit on the floor they’d spit out the window, Mumbai families live in a space the size of of the holy cities of India. Varanasi is the which from the top deck meant spitting blind their kitchen. A family unit might be two- place on the Ganges that people go to die, so onto innocent pates below. storey. Downstairs a ten-year-old can stand as to short-cut the interim incarnations The faeces factor was more original. In up straight. Upstairs, only a baby can sit up. between this life and heaven. Its principal many countries a degree of public spitting is Washing, weeing, cooking and life takes livelihood is waiting-to-die. Thousands of common. The other thing, not so much. In place in the potholes outside. To walk down people are waiting to die, and vigorously South Africa the segment of the populace a street – if the process of dodging scooters, importuning tourists to keep them alive until that contributes to the irrigation of concrete bicycles, rickshaws and 1960ish Fiats may be the wait is over. They are in competition with walls and tarred alleys draws the line at full- hawkers of anything batteries and cellphone frontal cacation. (Yep, real word, from the kits to shrines and gods. Gods are available Latin cacare.) In India it’s routine to glance in every shape, size and material. around a busy place and find half a dozen Given the sight and smell With ears echoing to “only 100 rupees” and men squatting in quiet contemplation, penis of the water, and the guide-book’s “special price” it becomes awkward to tune to and scrotum dangling imperturbably before the mystical side of affairs, but once we got on the world like turkey-neck and gizzards, assertion that the e-coli count a boat and the din subsided a sense of the steaming pile rising on the ground below. was 250,000 times the safe limit, spiritualism began to make itself felt. I know we children of the millennium are I took it they were keen to hasten Men were bathing in the river. Given the supposed to be sensitive to other people’s sight and smell of the water, and the guide- customs, but this can be difficult when a the route to heaven book’s assertion that the e-coli count was
  11. 11. Issue 6 ColdType [ 11 ]250,000 times the safe limit, I took it they bilised (if his indicator broke he wouldn’t learned that there’s more to India than the To walk downwere keen to hasten the route to heaven. In know), but he didn’t hoot in anger, he hoot- S’s. Delhi for a start was an antidote to Mum-case they failed, their women did the laun- ed to be manly, and nobody got cross. bai. New Delhi is spectacular, if not that new. a street isdry from the shores. On the banks dozens of Its pride of place is Raj Path, with the old to feelsects engaged in prayers involving dramaticphysical contortions. The spiritual impact wore in gradually. A t Varanasi I began to see a plus side to India, though overlain by the Three S’s. Viceregal – now Presidential – palace as its anchor. Under the last Viceroy the palace famously maintained a domestic staff of perpetually embarrassedEverybody was high on the Ganges; bathers Moreover our Prof had placed us in the most 1,000, of whom 60 chased crows off theand laundry-women and all. Not only were off-putting hotel I have ever known (which, lawns. Current employment figures were not at invadingthese people getting something out of this since I’d rather stay where locals stay than available but are presumably not much dif- somebody’sriver and its magical properties but there was stay where tariffs are in dollars, is saying a ferent, given India’s employment habits.a contentment here, a contentment of a kind lot). If I’d left India after two days of Mum- Retrenchment mania hasn’t got here yet. bathroomthat eludes we of more secular persuasion, a bai and one of Varanasi, I’d have left feeling Factories look like refugees from DHcontentment not to be scoffed. solely an almighty relief to be leaving. Lawrence – teeming hordes of manual work- Our local host, a professor at the Hindu That thing nearly happened. Next stop ers and giant black clouds spraying carpetsUniversity of Benares, (its only and official was Delhi, where our connection had of soot. Health & Safety regulations are sci-name) explained the philosophy of content- checked us into a youth hostel (I imagined ence fiction. Status comes from how manyment. You take things as they are, was the them expelling me for false pretences, but the people you employ, not how many you cutbottom line. You accept your lot, and swal- manager laughed: “you can be young at 100 off the payroll. Everyone has an assistant orlow whatever indignities it entails, and bask if you want to.”) I called home and found five – taxi drivers have assistants, portersin the knowledge that however lousy this life that two of my children had been hospi- have assistants, assistants have assistants.might be, if you handle it alright you’ll come talised from two mishaps, one fairly dire. I Many jobs, pathetic pay. I accompany aback next time in a higher life. Much of what was for instant return, but Superwife insist- girl to school, by rickshaw. A mile trip for fivewe were seeing began to make sense. ed that no-one was dying, I should run the rupees, a US dime. In Durban, rickshawmen For example, if South African driving was course. (Next day her mother was under the are protected from such exploitation. Theyhalf as wild as Indian driving, Road Rage surgeon’s knife too, and the day after, one of make fifty times as much for giving a touristwould be our leading cause of death. In India our dogs – more operations in half a week a jaunt down the esplanade. But Durban’stemperatures weren’t raised. True, every dri- than in the preceding quarter century.) rickshaws are down to twenty and its joblessver spent 40 seconds per minute leaning on Despite a suspicion that the cosmic order is up to half a million. Delhi has half a mil-his hooter. If his hooter broke he’d be immo- was sending me a message, I stuck it out and lion rickshaws. 500,000 x 10c = $50,000. 20 x
  12. 12. [ 12 ] ColdType Issue 6$5 = $100. The girl’s rickshaw driver has acareer. He provides a service, which to thegirl’s father is satisfactory – you never waitmore than a minute for a passing rickshaw;she does her homework as she rides; robberyor danger does not enter the equation.T he Taj Mahal is three hours from Delhi ina lusty 4x4 with a double-dose of 4x4 arro-gance: if vehicle ahead failed to notice ourhooter, we nudged him with our bumper.Had we passengers been ECG-wired therewould have been peaks on the graph. Everybody had said that the Taj is inde-scribably bigger and better in real life than inreputation, and I was surprised to agree.European tourist palaces tend to be tackyclose up, with furniture glued up and chan-delier bulbs missing. The Taj is nothing butmarble. There are no accoutrements to wearout. In the pattern of grandeur it has abloody history, with craftsmen press-gangedto build it and rewarded by having digitsamputated to thwart rival tomb-builders. It may not have been fun to live underShah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj Everybody 100 people had been killed two days earlier. ties, along with India’s private speciality,when his wife died giving birth to her 14th [In a crash that bypassed the western media, caste barbarities, but walking the streets ofchild, but he did subsequent generations a had said that which go ballistic about crashes in the west.] an Indian city, Mumbai included, is peculiar-favour. Four centuries later they have an the Taj is The ground-staff person offered solace: “We ly liberating. The passing wheels keep you onimmense focus of Indian pride and prestige, only have a crash once a year so you’ll be your toes – and thank heaven for all thoseas well as continuing income. If kinder and indescribably fine.” Sublime logic but not wholly reassur- sober drivers – but there is no thought ofgentler contemporaries put effort into health bigger and ing. Seat-belted and ready to go, the Indian attack, assault, guns, knives, boots, aggres-and education and community uplift, they Airlines flight was cancelled, surprising no- sion in any guise whatever.did not score total success. The average Indi- better in real one but us. Option two was Jet Airlines. In Udaiphur we took on a concentratedan peasant ploughs the same paddy fields life than in “Sure,” said the Jet lady, “three hundred dose of another thing – majesty. A Britishstanding on the same sled-like contraption dollars, please.” An Indian guy we’d be- immigrant put it nicely. “With respect,” hedrawn by the same oxen as his forebears reputation, friended blew up. “What!? For four? It’s thir- said, very correct, like a lawyer about to zaphave been using for a millennium. and I was ty dollars a seat!” She replied coldly, “for you you, “with respect, as I ride my bicycle to Is that a lesson? I don’t mean slave labour it’s thirty dollars. These people are foreign- work every day I pass a dozen castles, tombsand hacked limbs, but the principle of going surprised to ers.” I re-mulled my formerly phlegmatic tol- and palaces, any one of which, if you had itfor gold, as it were. If an impoverished soci- agree. erance of discriminating against foreigners, in South Africa, would be your most famousety puts all its energy into filling bottomless particularly since “foreign” clearly meant national treasure. Here, they don’t even havepits, the pits stay bottomless. Creating things European “white.” She saw whites and slapped 150% names.”that inspire or ennoble – and are slammed as tourist palaces onto the fare. Clearly, too, we weren’t meantelitist or extravagant – may do more for thepeople than for the proprietor. (The Taj didnot do much for Jahan’s career. He died in tend to be t acky close up, to know. Our Indian ally bollocksed her for racism but she stood her ground – it was pol- icy, that was that – and then broke into B ack at Mumbai airport for the Jo’burg flight the departure hall was thick withjail, imprisoned by his son.) Hindi to bollocks him back for betraying South African businessmen, plugging in to The Taj entrance fee was 5 rupees – for with furniture trade secrets to us. I should have had sound- the opening of India’s economy like they’reIndians. For foreigners, 505 rupees. Four of glued up and man, Zulu Musa, buy the tickets. doing to Africa’s economies. In one lobe I wasthose knocked a hole in the wallet. Still, I In the end that flight also didn’t happen. proud of them and the way they are makingpersuaded myself, that was right. Tough on chandelier We arrived at Udaiphur on the original us as a hub of Third-World commerce. Inbackpackers trying to see India as the Indi- bulbs missing. plane, a day out of time but worth it to hear another lobe I shuddered at all the dollar-a-ans see it, and tough on South Africans the captain’s “bungles and slip-ups” candour. day spade-wielders who are heading fortranslating their ravaged rands via dollars The Taj is Worth it, too, to have hung on in. By now retrenchment under the onslaught of global-back to the as-ravaged rupee. But in princi- nothing but Bombay memory was several days old and ism. But the main lobe revolted at my com-ple there was something just. marble. the nostrils were clear. I was becoming grip- patriots (of diverse complexions) who ped by other sides of India. Like ingestion. The ridiculed and derided everything Indian. AN ext day we got into an airplane tangle.The original cause was a monsoon, about average Indian eating house offers neither meat nor liquor, so the average African adult male experiences blind panic upon arrival. few days earlier I might have kept my lip zipped. Now I argued that it wasn’t one-way; we had to see beyond the easy three S’s towhich I, not being an American tourist, Thirty minutes later he’s apt to change his the subtler arenas where India gave us acouldn’t complain. However the original tune. An Indian veg-and-lassi dinner is as model. They thought I’d been smokingcause became compounded by what eventu- delicious and filling as anything that comes something strange. ◆ally, 15 hours later, the captain cheerfully from butcher shop or bottle store, and muchdescribed over the intercom as “a lot of bun- kinder on the liver. Plus there is a profound Denis Beckett was presenter of the Southgles and slip-ups.” relief in a virtually drunk-free night-life. African TV series Beckett’s Trek for six years. We sought an alternative flight. The first To say nothing of violence-free. There is a His latest book is Jetlag: SA Airways In Theoption was Indian Airlines, at whose hands solid quota of ethnic and religious barbari- Andrews Era.