Kit Napier gets back among the scorers

The Goldstone Wrap

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Kit Napier is rightly considered an Albion legend. He was a ball-playing attacker, skilful with both feet, and with tremendous talent for goalscoring. At the Goldstone, Napier’s class and quick-witted play endeared him to the crowds. After being top scorer for the Albion in four of the previous five campaigns, Napier again was having a prolific season in 1971/72 as the Albion flew high in the Third Division.

From Goal magazine on 18th March 1972:

While Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Notts County have been stealing the promotion headlines this season, Brighton, strugglers for part of last term, have slid quietly into a threatening position and are poised for a takeover bid that could shoot them into the Second Division.

Much of the credit for the Hove team’s confident aspirations must go to manager Pat Saward, the former Coventry coach. Saward worked himself to a standstill last season to make the…

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Songs and Poems: the never-ending journey

TODAY I finished my 32nd song/poem towards my second book – working title: Just Another Hill.

Most of these songs and poems flow easily while others can be like extracting teeth… but they all follow an inner sense of need. A personal catharsis and journey of discovery, if you like.

Meanwhile I have now uploaded almost 90 of my songs and poems to a public Facebook page Songs and Poems of Nicolas Clare at: https://www.facebook.com/nicolasclarepoems?fref=ts

If anyone would like a song or poem written for them or for a loved one I would gladly do so for an agreeable rate.

The work can be revised and subbed until you are happy with it and either sent by email or printed on high quality paper and framed it desired.

Meanwhile my first poetry book: The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light is available for order directly from my Web Store at www.writeahead.co.uk or contact me at nicoutterside@writeahead.co.uk

I accept payments by debit and credit cards or PayPal through this store. Order your copy now for just £3.99 plus £1.80 P&P (Europe: £3.70 P&P, Australia: £5.05 P&P and USA: £4.75 P&P with discounts on postage for multiple orders).

The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light is 100 pages of angst, joy, reflection and opinion. I will personally sign your copy upon request, and your book will be dispatched immediately upon cleared payment.

Thank you and best wishes

Nic

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Poison: Chapter 12

The Adventures of Nathan Sunnybank and Joe Greenfield

Book 1: Poison

Chapter Twelve

THE sun rose orange over the trees by the parked camper van. Inside, Amy and the two boys slept soundly, exhausted by the events of the previous 24 hours.

Blue sniffed at the double side door and scratched at his ruff with a hind leg. All was still. It was just past 5am and for the humans there was more sleeping to do. But the wolf was wide awake and hungry. He sniffed again, this time in the direction of the partly opened rear window.

Suddenly and with effortless ease, he jumped up onto the rear cabinet and eased his head and front legs through the window. In another movement he was free, leapt onto the tarmac and sloped into the bushes alongside the van. Nathan blinked at the slight noise, but his tired eyes refused to focus and he drifted off to sleep.

Outside, Blue was sidling along the fence of the neighbouring field, eyeing curiously some sheep grazing on the dew covered grass 200 metres away. The wolf had started to stalk the young ewe at the edge of the flock when a buck rabbit suddenly darted out of the undergrowth next to him. With a pounce, he was upon the hapless creature and his jaws locked around its neck. He dragged the dead rabbit into the bushes and began to enjoy his breakfast.

Some 70 miles away, a red Porsche Boxster was parked at a service station on the southbound M40. Inside its occupants were also sleeping, cramped on the black leather seats of the smart sports car. Exhaustion had taken its toll. Empty crisp packets and a half eaten chicken sandwich were strewn on the floor of the passenger side by Clara’s feet.

It was now just past 6am and the service area was waking up to early risers filling their cars with fuel. The driver of an articulated truck walked sleepily to the washrooms in the main foyer.

Tony blinked his eyes, dazzled by the morning sun shining through the driver’s side window. He glimpsed the figure of a man walking across the car park. He quietly cursed at the fact they had not managed to secure a motel room for the night… or was it the morning? he asked himself. He looked across at Clara who was still sleeping soundly and silently opened the car door. He stepped out into the warm morning air, closed the door and followed the steps of the trucker he had seen a minute earlier.

Five minutes later, refreshed by a quick wash, Tony ambled to the coffee bar next to the main foyer. He ordered two flat whites and carried the steaming cardboard mugs back towards the car.

He stepped out onto the forecourt and gasped loudly as a black BMW flashed by towards the filling station.

“You stupid blighter!” Tony shouted at the driver.

But inside the black car, Klaus was oblivious to the anger of the man he had almost hit and knew he needed fuel and a black coffee to keep himself awake. The two hours’ sleep he had managed to grab back in Shrewsbury had taken the edge off his tiredness, but disposing of Klaus’s body had added its own burden of weariness.

He stopped the BMW next to a fuel pump and glanced around for any sign of police cars. There was none, just a few trucks and a red Porsche parked 200 metres away.

He noticed a solitary man, who appeared to be carrying a couple of cartons, glance his way and wondered why he was looking at him.

Tony again glared at the driver of the black BMW and muttered another expletive in his direction.

As he opened the driver’s door of his Porsche, Clara woke with a huge yawn and smiled as she saw Tony’s face. She breathed in the morning air and said: “Ah, coffee, how lovely of you.”

Tony sat next to her, and still fuming, he answered: “Thought we both needed something strong to keep us going.” He handed Clara one of the coffees and kissed her right cheek.

“See that blinkin’ black BMW over there by the pumps? Well, its driver almost ran me over and I think he didn’t even realise it,” Tony added grumpily.

Clara shot a look in the direction of the filling station. With her left hand, she wiped some sleep from her eyes and looked again.

“Flipping hell,” she said suddenly, “I recognise that man and that car!”

Back at the service area on the M54, Blue had digested his first breakfast and was now sniffing at left overs in the bins by the burger bar. The wolf licked its lips at a half-eaten double cheeseburger and sat on the grass to devour it in one bite.

Around him cars, vans and trucks were busying about and the car park was starting to fill up.

Commuters, lorry drivers and holidaymakers were grabbing a quick breakfast or filling their vehicles with fuel.

A few yards away a young girl suddenly shouted: “Look, mummy, look at that big doggy!”

A fair-haired woman peered in the direction of the ‘big doggy’.

“Wow, that’s the biggest German Shepherd I’ve ever seen,” she said aloud. “Hold my hand, darling, and don’t try to stroke it, it may bite. Now let’s get some breakfast, darling, it is still a long drive to our holiday cottage.”

The girl grabbed hold of her mother’s hand.

“Nasty doggy,” she shouted at Blue.

The wolf sniffed the air and slinked back to the cover of the hedges.

Inside the burger bar, an older man was watching though the window as he finished his cup of tea and egg muffin. His grey eyes looked towards the young girl and then at the large animal disappearing into the bushes.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” he muttered to himself, “That’s a blinkin’ wolf if ever I saw one!”

He took a last sip of tea and walked into the passage by the burger bar, towards the blue telephone booth.

Inside the booth he lifted the handset and quickly dialled 999. When prompted he asked to be put through to the police.

Back at Greenfield Mansion, Nicolas was waking from a deep sleep and familiarising himself with the unfamiliar room. Sunlight was peeping through the gap in the dark green velvet curtains.

Nicolas yawned and stretched his arms wide as he glanced at the clock on the bedside table.

“Blimey, It’s past seven-thirty,” he gasped.

At that moment, there was a knock on his bedroom door.

“Yes, come in, I am decent,” Nicolas replied.

The ruddy face of Bob the butler peered round the door.

“Good morning, Sir,” he said brightly.

“Let me draw back the curtains for you. Her ladyship wanted me to ask you whether kippers, porridge and some poached eggs would suit you for breakfast, sir?”

“Wow, that would be lovely, thank you, Bob,” Nicolas answered.

“Oh don’t thank me, Sir, thank Mrs Wills, she is quite the finest cook this side of the border,” Bob breezed, as he drew back the curtains.

“I have also packed the Rolls as I think her ladyship wants to leave before nine,” he added.

Indeed, Felicity was already dressed and in the kitchen, demanding to know why Joy wasn’t already about her chores.

“Oh Mrs Wills, do we have fresh kippers, they are quite scrummy?” she asked the cook.

“Yes, madam, they were fresh in yesterday afternoon and I have kept them chilled in the fridge,” the cook replied.

“Good, and do you mind putting together a hamper of sandwiches and coffee, as I think we may have a bit of driving to do today,” added Felicity.

In the corner of the kitchen, a small TV was switched to the 24 hour news channel.

Felicity took in the round-up of the morning’s news and determined to telephone the local police station again as soon as it was open for business.

“And Clara still hasn’t replied to my text,” she snapped quietly.

Suddenly, she froze as the news reel at the bottom of the TV screen reported: “Motorway service station evacuated after wolf attacks child.”

Back at the M54 service station, the truth was far from that.

But over 40 frightened faces looked out nervously from the sanctuary of the burger bar and the filling station shop.

Six police cars circled the parking area and four uniformed officers armed with high powered rifles combed the bushes near where the old man and a waitress had both claimed they had seen the wolf.

Just over 150 metres away across the car park, Blue was crouched at the side door of the VW Camper van scratching quietly at the brown paintwork. The wolf knew that humans with guns were big trouble and his animal sense told him that they were looking for him.

His green eyes darted between the men with the guns, instantly computing where each one was walking next.

He stared at one marksman approaching the van, and snarled.

The face of innate racism

“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.”Elie Wiesel

THE subjugation of one human being by another is something which has eaten at me for as long as I can remember, and is the main reason why I am a socialist and a pacifist.

That abuse of power shows itself in so many ways in our ever expanding world and not least by the innate racism that exists in white Western society.

Here in the UK, UKIP and many Conservative politicians seem determined to make the current General Election campaign revolve around the issue of immigration and fear of foreigners.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has singled out Romanians, and immigrants from other former Warsaw Pact countries, as “scroungers” and “criminals” who are taking “British jobs from British people” and putting pressure on our NHS and housing supply.

It is the sort of racist scapegoating we have witnessed time and again in this country since end of World War 2.

Racism is the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others.

Racism and discrimination have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and during economic downturns.

You only need to look at the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s or the atrocities meted out today by Zionist Israel to Palestinians, to see the dire consequences if racism is left unchallenged.

But here I am not talking about the overt racism exhibited by Bibi Netanyahu or Nigel Farage, or even the so-called ‘institutional racism’ within some of our national institutions, such as the police. But I am looking at a deeper racism which exists within almost all of us born white and British.

It exists due to 800 years of our collective history as a colonial and Christian power, hell-bent on exporting our values, religion and control on other nations.

And it exists because our collective media does nothing to challenge it.

In 2001, I was working as chief investigative reporter on The Chronicle – a daily tabloid newspaper in Newcastle upon Tyne. On 11 September, I returned from a routine job in the town to watch in horror – on the newsroom TV – the atrocities of 9/11 unfold in front of our eyes, some 3,000 miles away in New York and Virginia.

The next day, the newspaper’s senior management determined that all employees should stand and observe two minutes silence for the innocent victims of the terror attack.

I refused.

Not because I did not feel pain or sympathy for those victims, but because my company had never observed even one minute’s silence for the hundreds of thousands killed by Allied military action in Iraq in 1991, the one million murdered in Rwanda, or the thousands killed in Bosnia, just a few years earlier.

Instead I went to the newsroom toilet, sat in a cubicle and cried.

The newspaper’s reaction to 9/11 – and the wall to wall media coverage over the ensuing months – typified everything I had witnessed in my previous 16 years in journalism.

Now, almost 14 years later, nothing has changed.

If I take Bosnia, Iraq and Rwanda out of the equation, a few other examples may clarify what I mean:

  • Three French skiers are lost in an avalanche in the Alps. The next day there are lengthy reports in most UK national newspapers. Each of the victims is named and in-depth family stories are written.
  • A lone gunman goes berserk and kills children in a US high school. The next day it is front page news in almost every newspaper in the UK and Europe. In depth analysis of the gunman and tributes to each of the victims and their families ensues.
  • A mad man kills hostages in an Australian restaurant. It is front pages news in every newspaper in the UK, USA and Europe. Extensive coverage about the killer and each of his victims finds itself across western media.
  • An earthquake in Northern Pakistan kills thousands of inhabitants. Over the ensuing weeks there is barely a mention in any UK or western newspapers.
  • Tens of thousands of innocent civilians are murdered by US and UK bombing in Afghanistan. But there are few reports of these atrocities in UK and western newspapers.
  • Flooding in Bangladesh kills thousands of people. Over the following weeks there are just a few lines in UK broadsheet newspapers.
  • Currently we are reading reports about 700 African migrants who drowned when a boat they were in capsized off the Libyan coast. There has been plenty of news about how the accident happened and who is to “blame”, but no attempt by any British newspaper to name the migrants or find out a little about who they were and the grieving families they leave behind.

You don’t need a microscope to see the differences in the reaction and news reporting. It has nothing to do with distance from our shores. It is all to do with white western values.

So our news media – even enlightened newspapers like the Independent and The Guardian – value the life and story of an English speaking suited, white, Western person quite differently to that of an African black or Urdu speaking Asian person.

We give ‘ours’ names, identities and lives, but the ‘others’ just nationality, religion and race. It is so much easier to avoid reporting the lives and deaths of these people if we don’t identify them as human beings the same as us.

This innate racism runs deep and has been entrenched more deeply with the Islamophobia which has perpetuated within Western society since 2001.

The white mass murderer, Norwegian, Anders Brevik is reported simply as a ‘madman killer’ – despite the fact he was a zealot Christian with a white supremacist agenda.

In contrast any killing carried out by a person of even dubious Muslim faith is reported as the act of an Islamist Extremist!

Sorry for the pun, but it is clear black and white racism.

But we have 800 years to overcome.

Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Portugal have been colonialists since the so-called Holy Crusades to Jerusalem in the 13th century, the colonial exploitation of the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries, to the dissection of Africa, South America and Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Our imperialist ancestors conquered peaceful countries, imposed western values and Christianity upon them, murdered millions and took millions more into slavery.

And over the past 100 years we have been joined by our ‘allies’ the USA, which since the end of World War 2 has bombed: China 1945-46, Korea 1950-53, China 1950-53, Guatemala 1954, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959-60, Guatemala 1960, Belgian Congo 1964, Guatemala 1964, Dominican Republic 1965-66, Peru 1965, Laos 1964-73, Vietnam 1961-73, Cambodia 1969-70, Guatemala 1967-69, Lebanon 1982-84, Grenada 1983-84, Libya 1986, El Salvador 1981-92, Nicaragua 1981-90, Iran 1987-88, Libya 1989, Panama 1989-90, Iraq 1991, Kuwait 1991, Somalia 1992-94, Bosnia 1995, Iran 1998, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia – Serbia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003, Libya 2011 and Syria 2014.

Our nations have sown war and hatred all over the world – now there is a heavy harvest.

As a white English father I despair for the future for my children and the children of Palestine, Africa, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen and anywhere that is deemed by a Western government to be a target.

At the core of any working definition of racism is the unspoken ingredient of fear.

People around the world all belong to the same human race; they share the same tendencies to fear, domination, and subjugation.

We need to let everyone know, we are the same, no matter what language we speak, whatever the colour of our skin or the religion we follow.

Maybe, I am lucky.

I live in Wolverhampton in the English West Midlands. It is a city which basks in multi-culturism. It was the bed of much Afro Caribbean immigration in the 1950s. This was followed by immigration from Pakistan and India in the 1960s and 1970s.

Now decades later, those with black, brown and coffee coloured skin mix, work, play and even marry those with white skin.

Currently there are 22,000 Sikhs, 11,000 Muslims and 7,000 Hindis in Wolverhampton. But there is no racial or religious tension.

Within a mile of my house there is a Hindi temple, a Buddhist temple, two Sikh temples, a central Mosque and at least seven Christian churches of various denominations.

Most of those with Asian or African ancestry are now third or even fourth generation immigrants and speak English as their first language, often with a thick Wolves’ accent, that Noddy Holder would recognise as his own.

But, I am not pretending it has always been like this.

I live in the parliamentary constituency which was once the seat of overt Conservative racist MP Enoch Powell (1950-74), and there has been a later history of National Front and BNP activity in the area.

But most of their racial fear, or as Powell put it: “the rivers of blood” of immigration, has now passed.

Now most inhabitants of our city realise that under the skin and religion, we are all the same… we are all human beings struggling to make a living and make sense of our lives.

Maybe Mr Farage needs to live in Wolverhampton for a year… he may even grow to like the amazing Asian restaurants and wonderful grocery shops which can be found in many side streets.

But to breakthrough this fear and innate racism we need to start regarding the inhabitants of Asian, African and even Eastern European countries in the same was we view Americans, French people or Italians.

I’ll make a start with five dear friends…

  • Komal, 20, is a young trainee doctor, currently studying at medical college in northern Pakistan, near the Afghan border.

She is so much like my own daughter Rhia, who is also studying medicine in Edinburgh.

Like Rhia, Komal gets homesick for her parents, some 150 miles away, and suffers other problems that students in their first year away from home at university all have to endure: revision overload, boring weekends, moody room-mates, dodgy showers and equally dodgy food!

Komal is the most western of all my Asian friends both in her dress sense, her passion for nail varnish and make-up, and her wacky sense of humour.

Although Urdu and Punjabi are her first languages, she was taught English at a very early age and speaks it fluently.

Komal longs to visit her brother, who is at university in the UK and see more of the world.

She may live 4,000 miles away – close to where the US bombed the shit out of villages murdering thousands of similar young girls – but she could equally live next door.

Komal is a very dear friend, full of laughter and mischief, and in so many ways is the daughter I never had.

  • Daniyal, 21, is an electrical engineer and lives in the Punjab region of north Pakistan.

He is an amazing and highly intelligent young man. As a devout Muslim he holds strong religious and political opinions about the state of the world. He says: “Religion is very important in my life. It is the primary criteria guiding judgements in all spheres of my life.”

And like many people, both in Asia and the UK, he holds the US to blame for its carpet bombing of Afghanistan and the rise of Islamic extremists.

He describes himself as an “Islamic Revolutionary Activist”.

But behind that serious façade, Daniyal revels in computer programing.  He also loves reading about history and western novels and cites Harry Potter and Dan Brown among his favourites.

He may not drink beer (it’s against his religion) but in every other way he is much like many British 21 year-old guys.

  • Hannah, 33, is a teacher of primary-aged children and a mother of two. She lives and works in a small town in Bhutan in the foothills of the Himalayas.

She is a bubbly person and is devoted to her husband and family. She is a Hindu – which is a minority religion in her native country (most are Buddhists) and admits she is not as active within her religious community as she would like to be. She loves western culture and politics and is currently following the UK general election via the internet.

“This Mr Farage does not seem to be a very nice fellow, and seems wrapped up in his own little white world,” she says, “But I like your Mr Miliband, he always seems cheerful and has a lovely smile.”

Hannah’s other big passion are Hollywood movies. “I like so many of your movies I can’t count, but I do love the Twilight Saga and the Hunger Games especially,” she says, “Anything with Will Smith or Robert Pattinson does it for me!”

She adds: “I have never tasted popcorn, so my wish is to visit the UK, go to a cinema, watch a great movie and eat popcorn!”

  • I have been close friends with Monika and Gigi, who live in northern Romania for almost 25 years, since my mum and my aunt visited their local orphanages following the fall of the Communist dictatorship of Ceaușescu in 1989.

Monika is a laboratory technician and Gigi an engineer – both highly skilled within their professions. But they live on a meagre wage and still work an allotment on the outskirts of town, so they have enough vegetables to survive each winter.

They adore the UK and even have a room in their home with a huge Union Flag and a picture of our queen on the wall. They are the most loving and adorable family I have ever known and although they have the chance to move to the UK for a much better standard of living, they have stayed in their home country.

“Things are slowly improving here,” says Monika, “There is still a lot of poverty, but we see more choice and more prospects around us, particularly for our son’s generation.”

Yet these are the same people that Nigel Farage and his UKIP cronies demonise as “criminals” and “scroungers”!

  • Another good friend is Shabbu, a 25 year-old dentist who lives and works in a small town in sub-tropical south east India.

Shabbu is a devout Urdu-speaking Muslim and wears a hijab, which she says make her feel secure at work and in everyday life. Her faith is the corner-stone to her life, but that doesn’t stop her having a quirky ‘Western’ sense-of-humour and a delight in Cadbury’s chocolate, photography, beautiful natural landscapes and breathtaking quotations. She still lives at home with her mum and dad and looks brightly to the future and the day when she will have a family of her own.

She is the same as most other twenty-something British women.

I will close with one of my favourite passages of text:

“Once upon a time they was two girls,” I say. “One girl had black skin, one girl had white.” Mae Mobley look up at me. She listening. “Little coloured girl say to little white girl, ‘How come your skin be so pale?’ White girl say, ‘I don’t know. How come your skin be so black? What you think that mean?’ “But neither one a them little girls knew. So little white girl say, ‘Well, let’s see. You got hair, I got hair.'”I gives Mae Mobley a little tousle on her head. “Little coloured girl say ‘I got a nose, you got a nose.'”I gives her little snout a tweak. She got to reach up and do the same to me. “Little white girl say, ‘I got toes, you got toes.’ And I do the little thing with her toes, but she can’t get to mine cause I got my white work shoes on. “‘So we’s the same. Just a different colour’, say that little coloured girl. The little white girl she agreed and they was friends. The End.”

Kathryn Stockett