Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

For once, Boris is right.

Much to the delight of everyone, not least himself, Boris has put his foot in it again. His glib comments opposing the Danish burqa ban have caused offence and created a media storm in a teacup.

Although none appear to have come forward to express their outrage, his (mildly) offensive comments about letter boxes and bank robbers may well have upset some (very sensitive) women who choose to voluntarily wear the burqa. This hardly matters, of course, because politicians of all parties and persuasions have rushed to defend their absolute right in a liberal society to dress as they please.

But in all the outrage, the claims of Islamophobia and the calls for Boris to apologise  we seem to have lost sight of the real issue. The burqa is not as ridiculous as Boris claims in his Telegraph column.

Anyone who has visited Afghanistan, as Boris and I both have, will know the burqa is a symbol of the appalling injustice and oppression inflicted on women in that country and elsewhere. It is inconceivable that anyone in the UK (or Denmark) who chooses to wear the burqa of their own free will does so in ignorance of this incontrovertible fact. And that’s why Boris is right to rebuke them (however mildly).

I have risked my life in the defence of liberty and would willingly do so again. I will defend your right to freely express yourself, however distasteful I might find your views. But in return, I demand the right to question the motives of anyone who chooses to wear symbols of oppression or discrimination.

Swastikas or burqas, they’re equally repugnant to me.

Foreign policy ‘entirely based on 70s war comics’

According to the Daily Mash, Boris Johnson gets guidance on international affairs from 1970s adventure comics including Commando, Battle and Warlord.

It’s not such a terrible idea:

‘THE SWAYING OF the maize plants in the field on the opposite bank of the irrigation ditch betrays their forward movement before they break cover about 25 metres away from me.

Even before they reveal themselves I know it won’t be the 7th Cavalry – all the friendly forces in the area are on my side of the ditch. I adjust my firing position slightly, raising the optical gunsight to my right eye while simultaneously adjusting the change lever from single shot to full auto with the thumb of my left hand and depressing the safety lever to fire with the index finger of my right.

Two men dressed in khaki coloured dishdashes emerge from the field in front of me. Both wear loosely tied turbans on their heads, one black, the other a brown check material. Both carry AK47s with folding stocks. I note that neither weapon is fitted with a rear sight. Even at 25 metres this improves my odds markedly. Unable to shoulder their weapons properly with the stock folded and without an effective sighting system they will be firing in my general direction from a standing position, whereas I will be taking aimed shots from a stable prone platform. My rate of fire will be more accurate. And I will be presenting a much smaller target for them to hit.

I take up first pressure on the trigger. The difference between life and death may now be measured as 3.12kg, the precise amount of additional resistance I will need to apply to the trigger in order to release the firing mechanism.

By the way both men carry their AKs it would appear that neither is aware of my presence. For the time being at least it seems my MTP camouflage combat uniform is doing its job. This also means that I have the tactical advantage of surprise.

Despite being outnumbered 2:1 the odds are now stacked in my favour.

Through the x6 magnification of the gunsight I can see that the younger of the two, whom I’ve identified as Talib#1, wears on his left hand an ostentatious ring set with a large red ruby. I wonder if this could be a wedding band. If so, I am about to become a widowmaker.

Judging by his grey‑flecked beard, Talib#2 is not only at least a decade older than Talib#1, but will also live a little longer. It takes one to know one and I reckon the older man’s reaction times will be slower than his colleague. In practical terms this means simply that he will witness his friend’s death and have just time to register that he is himself in mortal danger before I switch fire.

I minutely adjust my position so that the orange cross‑hair of the gunsight rests on the third button of Talib#1’s dishdash. I’m going for an M or Mobility Kill rather than a K or Catastrophic Kill. A K Kill, usually a head shot, kills the target instantly. An M Kill renders the target immobile but doesn’t necessarily kill them immediately – it may take some time for them to bleed out or otherwise succumb to their wounds.

My decision is made not out of a cruel desire to inflict pain and suffering on my enemy, but a realistic appraisal of my own marksmanship skills. Outnumbered, I simply can’t risk a head shot. Even at this range I might miss. The body mass is the bigger target and will do the job I need done.

At this moment my plan does not extend beyond killing the two men in my sights. It’s enough to know that if I am going to die today, I’m not going to die alone.

I slowly exhale, and hold my breath.

It turns out that taking life, even the life of someone intent on killing you, is not as simple as the application of 3.12kg of pressure. I hesitate. At this range I will be both architect of and intimate witness to their deaths and I already know how this will play out.

From the moment I realised I was Man Away I’ve been mentally preparing for my imminent demise, at my own hand if necessary. The Talib, unaware of my presence just a few metres away, have had no time to make the same mental adjustment from hunter to hunted. The sudden shock at their change in circumstances will be replaced by a realisation that they will initially resist with each ragged, pink‑misted breath. Finally, in their last few moments of consciousness, they will reluctantly accept their fate as hopes, dreams and ambitions all slip away and their eyes dull forever.

As I waver, both men turn away from me to scan the irrigation ditch in the other direction. It doesn’t say as much in our Rules of Engagement, but I’ve read enough Battle comics as a kid to know I can’t shoot them in the back.

I have a brief vision of Harry and Alfie asking me what I’ve done in the war and admitting that I killed two men while they were looking the other way.

I know they’d both be disappointed in me.

Without breathing I wait for the men to turn back in my direction but after just a few moments they head back into the maize, returning the way they came. I continue to track their progress through the swaying field as they force their way through the giant crop until all is still.

Only then do I draw another breath.

Neither man will ever know that they owe their lives to a 1970s comic book and the moral judgement of two young boys.’

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.




Ten reasons why you should read SPIN ZHIRA.

Why do I find myself arguing in favour of leaving the EU when I’m going to vote to Remain?

EU referendum

I keep seeing lists on social media. Lists of people who think leaving Europe is a bad idea and lists of those who don’t. The ‘remain’ list is impressive, containing as it does a diverse mix of world leaders, high profile businessmen and foremost economists. They have two things in common. Firstly, they all predict that leaving the EU will be economically disastrous for Britain and second – and this is the reason why we can trust their judgement on this – they all failed to predict the global economic crisis.

The list of those in favour of leaving the EU is less impressive and includes ‘that bloke who heads up ISIS’. We don’t know his name but that doesn’t matter. We know he wants the UK to vote leave because David Cameron told us and therefore it must be true – just like his pre-election pledge not to cut child tax-credits.

Also on the vote leave list are Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. These two are becoming so politically indivisible it can only be a matter of time before they are rebranded ‘DonBo’. But, inexplicably, it excludes self-made billionaire Sir James Dyson and all of the other 299 British CEOs who think leaving Europe would be good for business. No prizes then for guessing which side of the argument has a penchant for compiling lists.

However, it seems rather obvious to me that if the primary consideration in the referendum is economic then there will be winners and losers whichever way you vote. Sir James Dyson will be freed from the European bureaucracy be believes constrains his business, Lloyds of London and the £60 billion London Insurance market thinks losing its unfettered access to the EU single market will be disastrous. Home owners may find themselves in negative equity; aspiring home buyers may finally be able to own a house.

Personally, I’ve never been terribly motivated by economics. It’s probably why I’m broke, unemployed and of no fixed abode. On the other hand I am happy and I’d rather be happy than rich. The United Nations’s 2016 World Happiness report lists Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway as the top four happiest states in the world. At number one is Denmark with more opt-outs than any other EU member state and in its own referendum in December last year rejected any further integration. The other podium positions go to Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, countries that, despite their geography, have all declined to join the Union. So if you want to be happy then independence from the EU, with all the extra happiness this seems to bring, might be a good place to start. Cast your vote accordingly.

And there it is. In my quest for happiness I now find myself in the DonBo camp along with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (yes, that’s his name). Except, of course, that I’m not.

The best, and as far as I’m concerned, the only reason to remain part of the corrupt and dysfunctional Economic Union is humanity. The current trend on both sides of the English speaking Atlantic to retreat behind borders, to put up walls and impose quotas – the politics of fear – is inhumane and will only lead to more trouble and more conflict. Our ability to love, be creative and above all to have compassion requires us to stick together, to unite rather than to divide even if this is sometimes difficult, frustrating or personally disadvantageous.

It’s not an easy choice, I don’t like the bureaucratic travelling circus that is the European Parliament, it doesn’t deserve my vote but I’d rather live in hope than in fear. I’d rather be human than happy.