Wednesday March 2, 2005
I lost a friend last week. These things happen – I’m bad at people, after all – but I can’t say I’m not pissed off. Last week I also talked to a nice lady who was great at describing loss, the details of loss, the amputated future, the lack of company. Because I’m bad at people it took me a long time to remember she was so well-informed because her husband died a while ago. I mean, ages ago, but she hasn’t forgotten him. Which is odd, isn’t it ? She wants to be able to talk to her husband, I want to be able to talk to my friend – but we shouldn’t. We should be over it.
How do I know? Because I should be caring about how a bony tart and a petulant clothes horse choose to christen their spawn. I should be fretting over whether a lack of established royal precedent at Windsor register office will cause Camilla to spontaneously combust. I should want to see more and more and more of Jimmy Carr. Then I would be part of the real world, the things that matter, the questions that deserve every scrap of media attention they get.
Particularly, I should keep away from anything to do with unpleasantness, injury, or loss – they have no place in a modern media environment. Take Lance Corporal Andres Raya. I shouldn’t think about him. He’s dead now. He made it through Iraq, went home to California and couldn’t take it. He committed suicide by cop in a three-hour gun fight. But he doesn’t matter. Or Baha Mousa, he’s never going to get the kind of headlines he might if he’d shagged Jordan, or shat himself in a celebrity detox special. He’s dead now. Our troops killed him. But if that matters at all it’s as an indication of how stressed war can make the modern soldier. His brother Ala’a misses him, but he probably lacks perspective.
Abdul Wali, he’s dead now. He died after being interrogated by a CIA contractor in Afghanistan, but so what? Then there’s Zaydun al-Samarrai. He’s dead now. His cousin Marwan Hassoun is upset about this, but you can be sure he’s overreacting – after all Sgt Tracy Perkins, one of the people who drowned al-Samarrai in the Tigris, was only given a six-month sentence, so it can’t have been a big deal. Hanan Saleh Matrud, she’s dead now. After they shot her in Basra, the British army paid her family £390 compensation, which is fair enough because she was only eight and might not have amounted to much.
Hussain Adbulkadr Youssouf Mustafa says he had a stick shoved up his rectum by US troops at Bagram air base in Afghanistan and he has the gall to complain. Didar Khalan says he was tortured for a week by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan until he finally gave false testimony against Mullah Krekar, testimony that was later presented as a valid basis for prosecution by US authorities. He claims his arm was broken and that he was made to stand in a freezing room without clothing and sit on blocks of ice. Which would have made a terrific reality special, but sadly, no one thought ahead.
Wesam Abdulrahman Ahmed Al Deemawi was at Bagram, where he was threatened with dogs, stripped, photographed in obscene positions and placed in a cage with a hook and a hanging rope. He’s not happy, either, when surely he should just be glad nobody killed him.
If either of them actually wanted the public’s attention they should realise that having Kelly Osbourne shove a stick up their arse would have done it, or having someone, you know, attractive in those obscene photos. Think of how popular Hugh Grant’s arrest snap still remains, and that barely suggests the erotic action that preceded his bust.
Surely, if we’ve learned nothing else from fusiliers Kenyon, Larkin and Cooley, it’s that people really don’t want to look at tubby, petrified Muslims trying to fake sodomy. We like our soft porn nipped and tucked. Or if it has to be ugly, it should involve paparazzi shots of stars that everyone is tired of, such as Mickey Rourke or Dirty Den.
Army specialist James Kiehl, he’s dead now. He was killed in the same attack that won Jessica Lynch so much air time, but that wasn’t enough to make him famous. Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley and Lt Philip Green, they’re dead now. They died for Mr Blair, but that doesn’t mean anyone should have heard of them. Peter Mahoney, he fought for Mr Blair, too. He’s dead now. Killed himself. But that was last year – his wife and four children will be fine.
How do I know? Because that’s the way the real world works. Remember all those poor, dead 9/11 victims we’re supposed to be avenging? Many of their fragmentary remains have been dumped in the Fresh Kills landfill without even a memorial. Because we’re over them. We can get over anything. It’s the only way.