Home » Archives for March 2003

Month: March 2003

Fashion, war and taste

I have a major interest in women’s fashion.

Now, there’s an incriminating statement. I feel that I should explain further. I have inherited from my father a keen interest in women’s clothes on women. I just want to be clear about that. This means I read fashion magazines far more than my fiancee does and am more likely to suggest an afternoon in the clothes shops than she is. I enjoy men’s clothes as well, but the relative lack of variety available makes them that bit less interesting.

There is a point to this, honest.

This observant eye for the latest in street fashion (as opposed to catwalk fashion, which is a rarified world that translates into the High Street in unpredictable ways) is further aggravated by working in London’s Soho, which is painfully fashion conscious. It’s almost impossible to avoid getting a sense of where fashion is going in any particular season. All the key trends for this spring are already on the street: the miniskirt, the rainbow colours and the returns of camouflage and military fabrics.

It’s the last trend that I have a problem with. It’s been a couple of years since camouflage was a major trend, back before the World Trade Center disaster, in fact. Now, when men and women in the armed forces of the UK, US, Poland, Australia and Iraq are fighting and dying in camouflage it make me uncomfortable seeing ordinary people wearing pseudo-military garb. It seems disrespectful, somehow, both of the people who are fighting and to the gravity of the politics behind the war. Yes, I know it seems odd to link such a trivial matter as fashion with something so important, but these small things do matter.

Whatever view you take of the war in Iraq, there’s no doubt that military intervention is a serious issue. Don’t trivialise it with your clothes.

Busy, busy

You know, I’ve just realised what an insanely bad time this is to be starting a blog. I’m only weeks away from getting married and hence up to my eyes in work. Time for writing is amazingly thin on the ground. Never mind. You’ll all appreciate me that much more when I get back.

Elsewhere: Mugabe is happy to be a Hitler

You know, as a friend remarked last night while we sat drinking Diet Coke and watching cable TV, it’s really easy to forget that things are happening in other parts of the world other than the middle east. The 24-hour news channels are almost entirely devoted to Iraq, as are the mainstream news bulletins. A significant part of both the BBC News site and all the daily papers are given over to the conflict.

Still, things are happening in other parts of the world and it would be remiss of us to ignore them. Take for example, Robert Mugabe, that very model of a good African despot. He’s busy making speeches comparing himself to Hitler (I kid you not. Check the link above.) and then launching waves of violence on the opposition party. Nice guy. Hussain may be the dictator of choice at the moment, but he’s far from the only complete bastard with his hands firmly on the reins, rifles and mobs of power.

Bombs Fall Like Rain

Waking up to the news that we’re bombing Iraq (well, more than we usually do) is not exactly the best way to start the day. I have to stop using Radio 4 as my morning alarm. I cope with war news much better after coffee and toast.

A response, of sorts

All over the web, you’ll find people posting that they don’t know anyone who supports the War on Iraq. This recent opinion poll seems to indicate that this is far from the truth in the UK.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, though. Those in opposition to the prevalent policy of the day always shout louder than those in agreement with the government of the day. Equally, people tend to surround themselves with self-reinforcing (and justifying) groups of like-minded people. In essence, you surround yourself with people who think like you naturally, and then assume that everyone thinks like you, simply because that’s your experience of the world. However, it shouldn’t take long to realise that there are newspapers out there promoting views in opposition to your own. Here’s a newsflash: those papers are selling and many of the readers agree with the views espoused.

I think it’s fair to say that opinion is sharply divided in the UK over war. I also think it’s fair to say that those opposed to it are not in the majority they assume they are.

However, I am heartened to see that both sides seem to respect Robin Cook for his stand, and look down on Claire Short for her display of abject cowardice. Politicians of principle are all too rare right now. I might not agree with you, Mr Cook, but I applaud your courage. Well done, sir.

The journalists who stayed in Baghdad, and those who left

Here’s an interesting titbit from today’s Snowmail, a useful little daily e-mail that Channel 4 news sends out every afternoon. This is from Lindsey Hilsum, their reporter in Baghdad.

I don’t know the exact numbers, but I think about half the journalists have left so there are about 100 of us remaining. All the major British broadcasters – ITV, Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News, the BBC and Sky – have
stayed, whereas most American networks have gone. A small team from CBS (neither of them American nationals) remain, and CNN is here too.

Many European TV channels are sticking it out. I’m sure we’ll all get to know each other very well in the coming days!

If you want real, on the ground reporting, turn to the British and European stations, folks.

Oh, and remember those brave reporters in your prayers. Our democracies would be much poorer if not for them.