And now congregation, put your hands together and give thanks, for I come bearing Good News. Britain is now the most irreligious country on earth. This island has shed superstition faster and more completely than anywhere else. Some 63 percent of us are non-believers, according to an ICM study, while 82 percent say religion is a cause of harmful division. Now, let us stand and sing our new national hymn: Jerusalem was dismantled here/ in England's green and pleasant land.
Burn the Confederate Flag Day is a protest against the right's exploitation of racial prejudice for political gain. We urge you to burn the Confederate flag, a long-time symbol of racial hatred, on Sept 12, the date when the racially-divisive Tea Party holds its annual hate fest.
I recently read Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History by David Aaronovitch. It’s an interesting book which clearly, though with much sarcasm, lays out the history of several conspiracy theories then debunks them. From the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to (in the revised edition I read) the fuss over Obama’s birth certificate, it takes apart the most popular made up histories of the last century.
One of the theories examined in the book is the “mystery” of the death of David Kelly, a conspiracy theory which has been dug up again by the Daily Mail. The in-depth and considered (“The Mail has a healthy scepticism of conspiracy theories.” insists a related editorial) drags up the same arguments as previous iterations of this tale. “Severing the ulnar artery couldn’t have produced enough blood loss to die from.” But only one mention of the overdose of co-proxamol painkillers Kelly took, enough to be fatal by themselves in most cases, and none of an existing arterial problem. “Kelly didn’t seem suicidal.” To people who knew him in passing and are looking back on the events with the whispers of foul play colouring their opinions. His wife, on the other hand, had noticed how depressed he was about his sudden unwanted notoriety. “The Government stood to gain from his death.” Now I’m no fan of Blair, and opposed the invasion of Iraq, but I can’t see any way that the slimy little bastard could have benefitted from Kelly’s death. If anything, the suicide kept the spotlight on the flimsy reasoning behind the invasion of Iraq far longer than if Kelly hadn’t died.
Of course, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a conspiracy theory wouldn’t die. I bet the Protocols are still considered real in certain circles. And it’s no surprise that the Daily Mail should be so intent on stirring it up. It’s just a shame that so much time is going to be wasted on this when there are more important things to be dealing with.
The identity cards had checked out. The two mystery men watching the apartment block were on the lookout for a group they suspected of claiming benefits under various names. Kay and Irwin had holstered their guns and taken up residence on the rear seat whilst they waited for the confirmation to come through.
“Well I don’t think anyone saw you waving your guns around.” the passenger, Paul, deadpanned. “We may still be able to carry on the watch.”
“What are you recording?” Kay asked.
“Comings and goings. It’s just about ascertaining who visits who could be worth further investigation.”
“Do you keep a log? People and vehicles in and out, that sort of thing.”
“That we do. Jim.”
Jim, the driver, was still brooding over a wet- and overheated if not burnt- crotch, so he wasn’t so talkative. He handed a notepad back to Kay.
There were three pages of notes. Starting at the end Kay found Gloria and then, up the page, Irwin and herself. She flipped to the second page and paused to tap a couple of likely notes- two vans, twenty minutes apart, which had parked in the side alley beside the apartments. The occupants of each vehicle had headed for the canal towpath and returned within ten minutes to put something into the rear of the vehicle then drive off.
Kay phoned the DI. “How’s it going on getting us some uniform?” she asked.
“We’ve got a couple of cars at our disposal, the chopper’s going to do a few circuits of the centre in case we need eyes in the sky and Armed Response are sitting in their Range Rover just waiting to play with guns. If we don’t get a result that can go on the clearup stats I’m going to owe some big favours. What have you got?”
“We’ve got a couple of number plates which might be worth running. Both white Transits.” Kay read the numbers off.
“Okay. Those should take five minutes at most. I’ll put out a call for them to be looked for but not stopped yet. I imagine we’ll want to angle weapons onto them just in case.”
“We’ll go and see if Gloria’s turned anything up.”
“Gloria eh? Say hello to her from me.”
“No sir, I won’t. You’re a married man.”
The Detective Inspector chuckled. “You exist to spoil my fun. Later.” He hung up.
Kay handed the notepad back. “Thanks for your help. And sorry about the guns, but this is that sort of case.” Irwin and she exited the car and walked back to the apartment building as inconspicuously as they could manage.
Other fiction by Ian Pattinson