Wednesday, 19 November 2014 – London
Winter in London comes straight after summer. Autumn is just a twilight fragment of time between the two. It is this very moment when leafs die, falling off the trees that live outside my window I am led to believe that today's life is about a momentum. Life here is to be lived day by day - everything else - a big plan, a vision, sudden spiritual enlightenment – anything we believe in is an ideological frame given to us. In reality, life is an opportunity, an exchange, a deal of fortune with the final result inevitably against us. Ideology is there to enable us to put the blame for our misery on someone else; Russians, Americans or Chinese, infidels or Jews – Muslims – Christians.
Hidden beneath, there is a form of life, a principle that predates all ideologies; it consists of the invincible ruling classes that are as old as prostitution but that is rather a broader subject that suits Karl Marx and his Capital.
Being an immigrant in a country with fast growing xenophobia is also a form of life. The immigrants are responsible for all the evil of this world – those are the kind of messages we get more and more often from the front pages of the nation's tabloids or party conferences in the UK nowadays.
Like life itself, the politics of today are about a momentum and the momentum is, if you are an immigrant (like I am), don't make big plans, forget about your vision, be careful with your potential spiritual enlightenment (it could make you look like a terrorist). Instead, try to look like one of the indigenous people or, if you have no capacity to do so, disguise; pretend you are mute so they can't get you by your accent. If asked to write, pay attention to the semiotics, stick with small talk subjects, discuss housing market. Don't mention the idea of social justice, or anything to do with German metaphysics – otherwise you may be mistaken for an alien - pardon me – a foreigner.
“Mark Reckless, the UKIP candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election, has suggested some immigrants from Europe could be asked to leave the country if Nigel Farage's party got into government and took Britain out of the EU.” Rowena Mason, the political correspondent for The Guardian, wrote on Wednesday...
“There is no definitive answer to the question of whether migration since 2004 has been of net fiscal benefit to Britain.” Spectator, 02. August 2014
“Immigrants from Poland and the other nine countries that joined the EU in 2004 have contributed almost £5 billion more to the UK’s economy than they used in benefits and public services.” - Lizzie Dearden, The Independent, 05 November 2014.
Friday, 21 November 2014
“Every year more foreigners arrive in our country with a view to settling: in 2013/14 nearly 600,000 new people turned up. ”
- reports Charles Crawford of The Telegraph on immigration in the UK, Friday 21 November 2014.
Sunday, 23 November 2014
The weather is terrible, the sky is grey, streets wet and slippery today.
Another by-election, another member of UKIP elected to Parliament. The people of Rochester and Strood have spoken, and while it wasn’t as comfortable as many predicted it would be, Nigel Farage’s party have overturned a Conservative majority of over 10,000 to gain their second seat. Granted, it was just a case of the sitting MP effectively being re-elected, but the significance of UKIP winning in an area that was 271st on their list of target seats should not be understated. – Fortitude Magazine today.
“A shock poll shows the march of UKIP is set to continue North with the party’s vote set to increase ten-fold at the General Election. An exclusive Sunday Sun poll - revealed just days after UKIP won its second Westminster seat - shows Nigel Farage’s party will tear chunks out of the Labour and Tory vote in the region.”- Chronicle Live reports on Sunday, 23. November 2014. “David Cameron is set to announce plans to ban European migrants claiming any benefits for two years after moving to Britain, it was reported today. The Prime Minister is expected to use a long-awaited speech on immigration later this week to outline proposals to stop EU workers receiving in-work tax credits. Mr Cameron is also expected to call for a ban on unemployment benefits for new migrants” – Mail Online on Sunday 23 November.
“David Cameron has been accused by Kenneth Clarke, a former cabinet minister, of boosting Ukip by allowing the Tories to imitate Nigel Farage’s stance on Europe and immigration. The Prime Minister is preparing an attempt to regain the political initiative following the Tory defeats at Ukip’s hands in last week’s Rochester and Strood by-election and last month’s Clacton by-election. Within the next week, he will set out proposals to restrict EU workers’ right to come to Britain and limit their entitlement to benefits.” – The independent on Sunday 23 November 2014
Monday 24. November 2014
Another day which, in regards to the EU, reminds me of the last days of Yugoslavia. Is European Union dying? The movements advocating exit of their countries from the EU and its regulatory agencies are growing across the EU (Greece and Spain in particular), with the UK political elite on the top of that list. (Un)limited number of workers migrants from the EU should be able to come to the UK to sell their low paid manual labor without the state being obliged to provide any guarantees for them if they end up in a crisis, asking for help.
Shifting away from the EU direction in a swift move towards free trade agreement is yet another clear sign that the current UK government has no serious intentions of making compromises with the EU. The Human Rights Act, the social policies with tendencies to protect workers’ rights and other legislations from the continent are seen at Westminster as obstacles for “business as usual” approach.
“Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is to call for Britain to leave the EU and negotiate a free trade agreement with the rest of Europe. “He will also say Britain should give notice to quit the EU before negotiations begin ahead of the in/out referendum promised by David Cameron. The PM is under pressure to reduce EU migration and is expected to set out his plans in a speech before Christmas.”
- reported BBC News Politics on Monday 24 November 2014
Most of migrant workers in Britain in the last decade or so come from Poland. Known for their diligence and hard work for low wages, Polish workers contributed to the UK economy, mostly through enriching their English contractors, increasing their profits with the lesser payments they (Polish workers) received for their services.
Poland is, traditionally, an ally of Great Britain throughout the history, as Polish army (General Anders) fought alongside Britain in World War II. That’s why Polish immigration was always welcomed in Britain. But the course is about to change.
Imposing curbs on in-work benefits for EU migrants would be discriminatory and would fail to deter migrants from coming to Britain. - the Polish ambassador in the UK
The ambassador told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“People do not come here for benefits. They come here to work. The vast majority of migrants come to the UK to work. This is what the report says. They have no idea about the benefits.”
Imagine three people working for the BBC, one from Spain, one from Poland and one from the UK. They live here and they pay taxes. When asked whether curbs on in-work benefits on EU migrants would be discriminatory, Sobków added: “Of course. We pay the same taxes, which pay for tax credits, doing the same job. I imagine you have that here. Why should you discriminate against the Spanish and the Polish worker? Give me one reason.” –The Guardian on Monday 24 November 2014.
It was only by chance I had been involved in several art projects with Polish artists - directly as well as indirectly - in Poland and here in the UK. One of the very first such projects was a theatre play I helped to create 10 years ago. While I was directing the play, I could not, until recently, comprehend where did this urge to do this production come from? Many years later I am starting to understand that, at the time, I had been driven by an internal force of my subconsciousness. Through this project, I dealt with my darkest phobias, my own mental hell.
Edinburgh, August 2005
It was at Edinburgh (Fringe) Theatre Festival 2005, The Theatre With Accent presented Helver's Night – a play written by a Polish playwright under the pseudonym of Ingmar Villqist.
“IN an unnamed city, in an anonymous European country, Helver and Carla are hiding. As a civil war rages outside, Carla knows that it is only a matter of time before they are found. But the mentally disturbed Helver is hugely excited by what he can only comprehend as one big game of soldiers. He is inspired by Gilbert, a fascistic paramilitary leader. Although he has been enthusiastically joining in with Gilbert's campaign to rid the country of "filthy scum", he has no concept of the immediate danger that he, himself is in.
This play, by the Polish playwright Ingmar Villqist, deals with how the increasing militarism of a society seeps into even the most domestic of settings. Although the specific setting is ambiguous, it could refer to any country that has seen violent conflict - from Nazi Germany, to the former Yugoslavia or Rwanda. By comparing Helver's obsession with Gilbert to his unthinking abuse of Carla, the show explores how easily people can be manipulated in times of mass hysteria. Whilst the play's ending holds few surprises, and the production does verge on the sentimental at times, it still provides a useful insight into how human beings cope when they have nowhere else to run.”
-the Scotsman, 28 August 2005.
I produced the play in an obsessive manner of belief that this story is of importance to all of us. Although the production and actors did get positive reviews by the critics, the producers lost their investment. Nobody was interested in it here. The fringe was increasingly becoming a platform for stand up comedians. In the continent, to the contrary, very similar fringe productions of the play draw the attention of wide audiences.
-Why is that? - I asked a friend, another artist from the Balkans.
-That's because Helvers and Gilberts will never have the opportunity to march the streets and burn shops of immigrants in this country. So, your story is not real here – he said.
His answer was consolatory to me. - It is just my paranoia, because I come from the Balkans - I thought then - It must be that.
In memoriam: Indira Rizvo
While working on this article, sad news arrived. Indira Rizvo, who significantly contributed to the production of Helver's Night, is no longer with us. She was an immigrant in this country; a single mother, working hard, bringing up her only son, Irfan, who left this world a few years ago, too early, in his twenties, after a terrible illness.
During the filming of Breaking and Entering, late Anthony Minghella's last film, Indira introduced me to Juliette Binoche to whom Indira was adviser and a model, helping her to create the character of a single Bosnian mother, struggling to assimilate, to give her son a chance, to get away from the troubles of the streets of a big city.
Indira convinced and then helped Juliette to sing the Helver's Waltz. Together, Indira and Juliette recorded the song in studio Zound in Soho. The song was recorded exclusively to be used for the play.
During these days, Indira was driving us in her old Fiat Uno around the city. Juliette enjoyed the ride, hanging around with Indira, hiding from her producers, laughing at Indira's jokes, adoring the woman that lived her life with courage and happiness.
Recently, Dado Dzihan, the composer of Helver's Waltz, produced the video of this song (see below).
Tonight, Indira will be going back to her Bosnia for the last time. She will be remembered here, far away from home. Her unbreakable spirit will be missed.