13 Oct, 2008 Lederhosen !
Is it ever appropriate for us to feel good on receiving news of a death!
I cannot answer that; life is a precious thing after all.
But it is certainly more than understandable in the case of victims of oppression and particularly those poor souls who under the force of something so much more powerful than themselves have been systematically bullied and beaten, resultantly robbed of the feeling of security fundamental to anyone desiring the living of a peaceful life.
As happened to a lowly paid hard working waiter that I got to know while he sweated the nightshift over the many years in the hotel I stayed continuously whenever I was working in London.
It is my nature to talk to people in whatever situation throws us together and no matter their station in life. Hotel cleaners and the doormen are people I would see and greet everyday, therefore it is obvious that over the years I would get to know them a little as they busily go about their duties.
Apart from wishing to gently acknowledge them as more than faceless beings of servitude they too often are taken for, the gain is all mine in that I am genuinely interested in people’s backgrounds and their stories that have unfolded.
That is especially so if they happen to come from different parts of the world from where I was raised, our cultures may differ, but take away the distance that separates our birthplace and the insane dollop of great fortune and comforts that has until now given me more from life than I could ever have wished.
What I then have in common with these people is that I too have lived a life that has continuously taken me thousand of miles away from family and loved ones as I go about my grafting while trying to make the best of myself through my craft. The pain of loneliness has been familiar to me also.
Such was the case with this Kurdish fellow with whom I got to know as a result of our spontaneous chit – chats that usually occurred as he served coffee each morning bang on the dot of 5am.
As expected we would usually put the world to right by discussing the political events of the day as well as the previous night’ football results no less. Occasionally he would ask me about Scotland and Sicily fully knowing that I had lived and spent much time in both places respectively.
Additionally he would get very excited around Oscar time as he loved movies and for some reason fancied himself as a bit of a pundit good enough to confidently suggest I take his advice and place some winning bets that he assured would result in taking money from the bookmakers.
I never did of course, but I should have!
One thing I often did was to ask him about his family back in his homeland. He had a tragic story to tell regarding the abominable treatment that his people had endured from Saddam Hussein, including torture and killings of the type that have since been more than well documented.
Considering it as factual, can you tell me that it was difficult to understand the beaming smile his face and as we some days after the event discussed the humiliating and chilling spectacle of the aforementioned formerly all too powerful Iraqi dictator, as he stood desolately with a noose around his neck?
Putting the world to right is literally what motivated Jorge Haider, the square jawed darling of Austria’s far right who just days ago died in a horror car crash. Known all cross Europe the governor of Carinthia, a son of a Nazi Stormtrooper father and a mother that was no less than the leader of the Hitler Youth, Mr Haider was mostly famous for his anti-immigration and pro – Nazi rhetoric.
A married man with two daughters, the Austrian was considered to be “making an impressive comeback to the world of politics” after some years ago resigning as leader of the Right wing Austrian Freedom Party. Driving to his mothers 90th birthday celebrations last Friday night in foggy conditions, he speedily mowed his government limousine into a concrete pillar.
Leaving me thinking that even with his good friend Jesus coaching him, Lazarus himself would find it difficult to make a comeback after that.
All manner of conspiracy theories began emerging today as shock waves descended on the Austrian nation where just recently one in three has decided to vote in favour of the far right movements, causing deep unease among liberal politicians.
Particularly so as just recently Mr Haider reportedly suggested that the country’s illegal immigrants should be roundly taken into detention and housed in “specifically designed” working camp facilities situated half way up a Tyrolean mountain.
Television footage taken only hours before Mr Haider’s crash, showed the permanently tanned and dapper leader as guest of honour dancing somewhat awkwardly in the middle of two extremely comely shaped Austrian ladies in a room full of men in traditional Austrian dress.
To these images and with the greatest respect for the newly dead I was nevertheless admittedly overcome with a bit of a chuckling fit. Such is the effect always of lederhosen on me and no doubt many others. But who knows exactly what those immigrants and their families of whom George had intended dispatched to labour camps are thinking today.
That said, as one who myself comes from a rather proud immigrant stock I think that I may have some idea.