Protempore – Issue 111

Posted by in April's Magazine

Well, spring is definitely on its way. For those of you who have regularly picked up this thunderous rag around this time of year, you’ll know that I have a particular passion for this lovely season. The crocuses poking their heads above the misty grass on the Links; the daffodils splayed across London Road Gardens; the early morning light and the days stretching out and pushing dusk further and further away; and the chance at last, to get outside without digging around in the cupboard for thermal vests and moth-eaten scarves. Okay, it’s not exactly balmy weather (yet) but at least you can get some fresh air without singeing the insides of your nostrils with the icy air of that bloody long winter. And with the onset of an altogether benign but gently bursting season, I set off on a walk.

Now, I’m not one for wearing hats and walking boots and taking off into the hills for a walk. I do however, really enjoy urban walking and last week, at five in the morning, I took off on a very familiar walk which I first did when I went to secondary school. For reasons that I won’t bore you with here, although I lived in Leith, I went to Broughton High School, which is situated on Carrington Road directly opposite Fettes College. (Yes, it’s fair to say that the five years I spent at Broughton had an enormous influence on my feelings about private education – for what it’s worth, I would abolish it as it is one of the most socially divisive and morally repugnant elements of our society. And it perpetuates the myth that if you’re wealthy enough, you’re good enough. Reference – George Osborne). Anyway, to get from Leith to Broughton I used to walk up Leith Walk to Annandale Street where the Annandale Street Mosque is now, and then take a left onto East London Street and head on towards Great King Street – one of the New Town’s most exclusive streets.


Back in the school days, almost every house on Great King Street got their milk delivered in glass bottles and as I had to leave really early to get to school on time, most of those ice-cold beauties were still on the doorsteps of the rich and fatuous which provided me with the breakfast of champions – as Mark Steel always says, it’s all about small victories when you’re a socialist. At the end of Great King Street, I would head downhill to St Stephen Street and on into Stockbridge, and as I always had plenty of time, a quick detour to head through Inverleith Park for a quick shot on the swings.

I took the same route last week and as the weather wasn’t too bad, I took something to read in the park. From the benches next to the cricket square you can see and hear the families in the swing park. Being the school holidays, the park was crowded. As the high-pitched squeals of the kids and the occasional, gentle, parental rebuke drifted above the creaking of the swings and the sound of tiny feet clanging on the steps of the chute, I opened my newspaper.

On Easter Sunday, more than 70 people, many of them children, were killed and 300 wounded in a swing park in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab region. A Taliban splinter group had planted a bomb in the park.
When Marvin Gaye, Al Cleveland and Renaldo Benson wrote What’s Going On in 1971, the song was an anti-war protest against the Vietnam War. It’s a desperate, plaintive song, hoping against hope that love is the answer and that people can come together and talk about what’s going on in order to resolve their differences and stop the fighting. It was one small component of an unstoppable movement that eventually overwhelmed the government in the United States and brought an end to the war.

What happened in Lahore has nothing to do with war and unfortunately, the perpetrators of that attack and others across the globe aren’t up for discussing anything. They’re part of a murderous death cult which is indiscriminate in its targets and unshakeable in its belief that the end of the world, not love is the answer. If they won’t talk to us maybe we should just keep telling them what’s going on?
Children are still playing in parks all over the world.


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