Update on the Raytheon 9 & Hich

They’ve had a very busy week and of course they still have lives to lead, families to look after. The site Raytheon9.org should get updated over the weekend. A helpful person has sent me a quick email report:-

Basically, things are going very well indeed and Raytheon have shown themselves up in front of the jury as the heartless capitalist bastards that we knew they were. We had one of the UK Board of Directors in the witness box on Thurs and Fri. He was so arrogant and sleazy that I suspect he will have won us the case single handed. He ended up saying that he ‘didn’t know’ whether it would be lawful for Raytheon to continue to sell weapons to someone/country that had been shown to be committing war crimes. He also said that they saw ‘no point in engaging with’ those who oppose the arms trade, even if elected politicians. Once the trial is over, we will try to write his evidence up so we can share it.

Best of all, the judge showed a minute of news footage of the aftermath of the Qana bombing when this guy was in the witness box. It was great to see him forced to look at their handiwork, but he didn’t seem to have a heart and just looked away with a kind of sneer on his face….the jury was not impressed. “David and Goliath” was mentioned by one of the barristers…

The defence is starting on Monday with Eamonn McCann in the witness box. The trial may be over by Thursday, definitely by Friday of this week.

Thank you for all your solidarity. We really appreciate it.

Meanwhile the Borders & Immigration Agency and the figures behind the treatment of Hicham Yezza show they are sore losers, press release from freehichamyezza.wordpress.com

Following the cancellation order on his deportation and despite being unjustly incarcerated for over two weeks, Hicham Yezza has received news that he is to be transported to a fifth detention centre. He released this statement today from Colnbrook immigration removal centre:

“I have just been informed that I am to be moved to a detention centre in Dover. This would be the fifth movement in 9 days and is therefore unacceptable. It is deeply saddening for both myself and my visitors; it is also a great source of distress at this time and an affront to human dignity and my human right to be treated with respect and consideration. I am thus categorically refusing to go.

I am not a piece of luggage but a human being, and deserve to be treated as such.”

Despite the existence of a long term facility adjacent to Hicham’s current location he is once more being transported. Hicham’s dignity should not come second to the interests of private sector detention centres whose main aim is to delay release procedures and maximise profits. Given that the outcome of his bail application is imminent further transportation is unnecessary, such disruption would not only violate Hicham’s right to private life through contact with visitors and the outside world, but also places a needless burden on the tax payer.

Also the BIA never rest-

Hich’s case has attracted an unusual amount of attention due to the nature of his original arrest, but, in a political climate increasingly hostile to migrants, the horrific way he has been treated by the immigration authorities is all too common. This week alone, two asylum seekers living in Nottingham, Mary-Jane Mutetsi and Amdani Juma have been detained.

More details.

Friday! Curtis Mayfield- Move On UP

Just a still frame but worth it ‘cos this is the full 8min+ version, always uplifting, great as encouragement and also as celebration and we did win one tonight (one small step but nevertheless, move on up!). Plus it’s a cracking early summer evening here so the music suits, Enjoy!

Posted in Music. Tags: , . 5 Comments »

Hich Deportation Cancelled!

At 12.30 hours today, an application to the High Court in London was issued seeking a judicial review of the decisions of the Home Office in this matter.
The removal directions set for Sunday 1st June have now been cancelled by the Home Office, and an application will be made to them this afternoon for Mr Yezza to be released while his case is reconsidered.
David Smith, of Cartwright King solicitors in Nottingham, says “We hope and trust that the Home Office will now release Mr Yezza and reconsider his case properly and in accordance with the law; we will proceed vigorously with the High Court action unless they agree to do so.”

Woohoo! Now release him you authoritarian dolts!

Free Hich e-petition- www.ipetitions.com/petition/freehich/

BA Passes Buck

To Whom It May Concern

Re: Mr Hicham Yezza

I am sure that you understand that for Data Protection reasons, British Airways cannot comment on any passenger’s travel arrangements to a third party.

British Airways has a legal obligation to remove passengers from the United Kingdom if instructed to by the Home Office. We contravene the Immigration Act 1971 if we refuse to do so and could be prosecuted. Any objections that you may have relating to deportations should be taken up with either the Home Office or the UK Border Agency. The concerns raised in your correspondence have been passed to the UK Border Agency at Heathrow.

I am sorry that British Airways cannot take any further action.

British Airways e-mail: willie.walsh@ba.com & adminhq@ba.com

Posted in Media. Tags: . Comments Off on BA Passes Buck

Hich Flight Booked *UPDATED**

**UPDATE2: The campaign blog has removed the call for faxing probably due to the concerns raised that busy fax lines could prevent essential legal documents getting through at this crucial stage. As I understand it the Border and Immigration Agency & Colnbrook detention Centre need to be contactable. But you can still contact your MP and let British Airways know how dimly you view their cooperation.

Update: A commenter adds this caution-We need to be able to ensure that Hich gets a faxed copy of his, hopefully, successful Judicial Review Application and the important Crown reference Number on it, so that, if the application is successful, and if Immigration claims not to have received notification it is important that we can get a copy of this document faxed to him.

**So perhaps concentrate on:-

Willie Walsh, CEO British Airways British Airways e-mail: willie.walsh@ba.com & adminhq@ba.com Fax: 020 8759 4314 Tel: 0844 493 0787

Your MP-  www.theyworkforyou.com

nb. Webusers sign up at http://www.interfax.net/en/ no obligation and introductory free faxes from email. [nb. the sign up can be slow and could require an overnight wait, that still leaves all of Friday]

From Indymedia

Also Hicham is now back in Colnbrook removal centre at Heathrow and the removal
flight no. is now known:
BA894 at Gatwick Airport (destination Algiers) on Sunday 1st June at 9.45am.

Report on demo at freehichamyezza.wordpress.com

Today at the University of Nottingham academic staff gave a public reading from an Al-Qaeda training manual, outside the Hallward Library, University Park Campus. The demonstration expressed the outrage amongst staff and students after two innocent members of the academic community were arrested under ‘terror’ legislation in connection with this document, downloaded from an official US government website.

Also at freehichamyezza.wordpress.com

Model Letter to the Home Office

Model Letter to British Airways

Given there is just today and Friday as working days they are clearly hoping to get out of the office on Friday evening without answering for their actions then let the procedures of deportation take over for the weekend. So phone calls, emails and faxing are at this point the best means of delivery-

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

and/or smithjj@parliament.uk
Fax: 0208 760 3132


Donate to Hicham’s legal fund….
Donations should be transferred to the account on the name of Camille Herreman (sort code: 400205, account no: 81474715). If you think that you can help, contact Camille Herreman on this number 07961925788 to ask about any related information.
sort code: 400205
account number:81474715
iban number: gb44midl40020581474715
internation swift code: midlgb2140c

Send a message of support/solidarity to Hich. Please consider faxing, writing or calling in your messages of support. Hich says: “Messages of support have been truly humbling and have sustained me through this difficult and harrowing time. Keep them coming!”
Colnbrook IRC
Colnbrook by Pass
West Drayton
Phone: 020 8607 5200
Fax:020 8759 7996

Free Hich Protest

{photos via Stop the Deportation of Hicham Yezza here & Facebook Group Global Support to Stop The Deporation of Hicham Yezza here, click for full size}

And (ht2 Guy C in comments) the Guardian today-

Lecturers voted today to try to stop the fast-track deportation of Hicham Yezza, the Nottingham University staff member detained on May 14 under anti-terrorism laws before being released without charge. Nottingham University called in police when Yezza, a former student working in an administrative role, was found to have a copy of the al-Qaida training manual.

On his release, Yezza was re-arrested and transferred to an immigration detention centre. He is due to be deported to Algeria on June 1. A last-minute motion put to the University and College Union annual congress in Manchester today said: “Hicham has lived in Britain for 13 years. The Home Office is attempting to deport him next week, leaving lawyers little time to prepare his case and preventing a proper hearing of Hicham’s case.”

Nottingham University released a statement you can read in that article they are basically doing the least possible they can. As a commenter wrote here

I was considering going back to Notts for my Masters, but there’s no way in hell that I will do that now. If the university considered the topic of Al-Qaeda that sensitive, then they shouldn’t have approved the dissertation in the first place! What an incompetent bunch they are!

The University will lose students and thus revenue if they do not robustly defend their staff, students and academic freedom. I’m sure it could get along as some glorified toytown further education college but when your idea of academia is whatever the domestic security forces tell you it is, you are not a serious contender.

And CrimeWatch style here’s your chance to re-enact the crime he is being persecuted for-

  1. Download the ‘Al Qaeda’ manual from US ‘Department of Justice’ (y’know the people who defend torture as not remotely criminal) government website http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/manualpart1_1.pdf
  2. Now print some of it.
  3. Guilty!

PS. According to cryptome which also hosts the ‘manual’ (as does the Federation of American Scientists, or buy it at Amazon)-

1. This document should not be identified as an “Al Qaeda” manual. This identification was applied falsely by the US Department of Justice as public relations gambit after 9/11 to promote the Global War on Terrorism. The term “Al Qaeda” does not appear in the document.
2. The genuine Al Qaeda training manual is much longer, about 5,000 pages (compared to 180 pages for this document), contains far more detailed and superior information than this derivative product, is now in its third edition, and is offered on a variety of web sites, which change over time, and all of which appear to be password restricted.


A reader suggests comparing with manuals of the School of the Americas:

http://www.soaw.org/soam.html [dead link; material available through Archive.org:] http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.soaw.org/soam.html

Working link: http://www.soaw.org/article.php?id=98

Britain Finally Signs Up To Cluster Munitions Treaty

More than 100 nations have reached an agreement on a treaty which would ban current designs of cluster bombs. Diplomats meeting in Dublin agreed to back an international ban on the use of the controversial weapons following 10 days of talks. But some of the world’s main producers and stockpilers – including the US, Russia and China – oppose the move. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it a “big step forward to make the world a safer place”. He announced earlier that Britain would be taking cluster bombs out of service.

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office had said one of the sticking points was expected to be the issue of interoperability. This involves deciding how to deal with a situation where troops from a country that has signed the treaty are involved in coalition operations with forces from a country that has not. Another point of contention was the degree of obligation that should be placed on signatories to clear unexploded sub-munitions.

The BBC’s Paul Adams said he understood the agreement would effectively outlaw the two cluster munitions currently held by UK forces, but would not prevent countries from developing future generations of weapons based on the concept of sub-munitions. He said it appeared the UK was seeking a deal which other countries not present in Dublin, notably the US, might be persuaded to accept later.

The United States has not sent an envoy to the conference, but the UK’s involvement may increase pressure on the US to become involved. The US says that the proposed convention would hinder humanitarian activities because its military has such weapons on its inventories. Stephen Mull, an assistant secretary of state, said: “Any country that signs the convention in effect would make it impossible for the United States or any of our other allies who rely on these weapons to participate in these humanitarian exercises.”

Israel, Pakistan, China and Russia, along with the US, are among the main producers and stockpilers of the weapon. They all oppose any ban. Britain did not initially express support for the ban, but appears to have changed tack.

“The US says that the proposed convention would hinder humanitarian activities“, war really is peace to the Empire. See the list of users, producers and stockpilers. During the Lebanon offensive in ’06 the UK refused to back the ban, so assuming there is not overwhelming small print and this is not a big load of spin this is a significant change of policy. So bye bye to-

the lsraeli-designed M85 artillery weapon used during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in attacks on Lebanon two years ago; and the M73, part of a weapons system for Apache helicopters.

But lots of work to do, the Empire and its zionist chum are still cluster crazy and these countries need massive clean ups-

Areas with significant unexploded cluster bomb submunitions:
Nagorno Karabakh
Indochina, especially in Laos and central Vietnam’s former demilitarized zone.
Western Sahara
Countries that have been affected by cluster munitions include:
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Russia (Chechnya)
Saudi Arabia
Serbia (including Kosovo)
Sierra Leone
Western Sahara

Criminal Regime & State Sponsor of Terror Expand Nuclear Ambitions

Gordon Brown has said the UK needs to increase its nuclear power capacity – raising the prospect of plants being built in new locations. The prime minister said that with oil prices soaring, it was time to be “more ambitious” for nuclear plans.

Posted in Imperialism, War Criminals. Tags: , . Comments Off on Criminal Regime & State Sponsor of Terror Expand Nuclear Ambitions

Always Enough Troops To Keep Aung San Suu Kyi Contained

At the start of her current period of house arrest in 2003 her detention was for six months at a time. The regime is once again breaking its own laws by extending her detention for a total of more than five years. The State Protection Law 1975 under which she is held only allows the regime to detain her for a maximum of five years.

This being the anniversary of the 1990 elections the military lost yet oddly in 2008 they have been in power for 46 years. APPPB briefing says Aid Access Still in Limbo. It’s clear what the junta’s priorities are, control- About 20 police vehicles and military trucks have been deployed with personnel in uniform near the NLD headquarters. And repression- Eighteen members of the National League for Democracy have been detained in Rangoon on their way to the house of detained NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The UN and ASEAN push on with trying to assess relief needs, Nargis hit 25 days ago.

  • left 134,000 people dead or missing and another 2.4m clinging to survival. Donors pledged nearly $50m (£25m) in aid at a landmark summit in Rangoon on Sunday.
  • Rice prices have spiraled out of control in Northern Burma which is partly dependant on rice transported from Southern Burma following the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis in Irrawaddy River Delta, the rice-bowl of Burma, local sources said. A sack of ordinary rice called Chin-tong has increased to over 24,000 Kyat (est. US $ 21.3) from about 10,000 Kyat (US $ 9) in January.
  • Conditions Ripe for Disease in Irrawaddy Delta– Relief group Church World Service has reported finding elderly and child survivors of the cyclone dying from dysentery in some areas because many have no choice but to drink dirty water. Other groups have detected a number of ailments including pneumonia, malaria, cholera and diarrhea. Save the Children UK has warned that some 30,000 children in the delta were severely malnourished before Cyclone Nargis struck, with thousands facing starvation in the next two or three weeks. The monsoon season, which begins next month, adds yet another challenge.
  • Tensions have been raised between cyclone refugees and government authorities in Irrawaddy divisions, as officials have continued to force storm victims back to their villages. In Bogalay, where women from the central National League for Democracy went on Sunday to give help, only one tenth of the cyclone victims who came seeking refuge remain, the rest having been forcibly relocated to other areas.

You can make a donation through the Mae Tao Clinic donation page. Please put “Cylcone Nargis Disaster Relief” in the ‘Purpose’ field.

Posted in Burma. Tags: . Comments Off on Always Enough Troops To Keep Aung San Suu Kyi Contained

Don’t Know What You’ve Got ’til It’s Gone

“…you can take a coffee can and turn it into a rocket ship, you see? You create the story. If you have the story and you want act out, and then you create the object to act it out. Television turns that around backwards and says you can’t have this story unless you buy the object—the exact opposite of what we’re born to do…”

Posted in Capitalism, Culture(!), Media. Tags: . Comments Off on Don’t Know What You’ve Got ’til It’s Gone


Guidelines on commercial sector donations of health equipment should be clarified after concerns were raised over a two-tier NHS, an MSP has urged. It follows the gifting of one of the world’s best CT scanners to Edinburgh by the Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS staff will have access to the machine for 25% of the time but NHS Lothian said it would not be a problem.

Professor Allyson Pollock of Edinburgh University said the move undermined the NHS principle of equal access for all. Prof Pollock – head of the University’s Centre for International Public Health Policy – called it “philanthropy with conditions”.

Prof Pollock told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “The whole point is that we have equal access on the basis of need. Introducing this system of public private partnership actually undermines that because some people are going to have better access with lesser needs than others.”

She called it a “disturbing” development and questioned whether there was a commercial contract underpinning the gift. NHS Lothian medical director Charles Swainson said there was no contract, but simply an agreement about how the scanner would be used and dismissed Prof Pollock’s concerns as “nonsense”.

Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said: “We should be thanking RBS for this generous donation”.

Yes you obsequious buffoon, bow and scrape and thank the great corporation for scraps off the table [RBS profits £10.3bn /$20.4bn]. I’m right with you Prof. Pollock. Yet she is alone, the health authority, the political parties all love it to bits, a corporation not actually giving, but simply allowing others to use its machine three quarters of the time. That’s generous but it is not a donation. This is how the Mushroom Soup works, after decades of neoliberal privatisation under both parties it has not become acceptable, we are acclimatised, acculturated to private capital have domain in the NHS. They should take the scanner, tell RBS to fuck off, patients get access on need-period- what are RBS gonna do? Take it back, look like right bastards to all? Except in the slowly changed culture people are led to think this private infection is ok, the corporate apparatchiks of RBS should have preferential access, they paid for it. They are in the RBS tribe, they are better looked after than you, with corporate collaboration comes great benefits. Once upon a time such cheek would not even be considered, if you were to help out a hospital the most you would feel entitled to ask for is the thing be named after you. Now though in our Church of the Free Market theocracy- push those peasants out the way, superior corporate citizen’s want their treatment!

Luckily I have a much cheaper piece of equipment that can allow you to examine the insides of a banker’s body. Ya feel me?

Posted in Church Of The Free Market, Class War, Corporatism. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Infection

Academics For Hicham Yezza

From freehichamyezza.wordpress.com

As concerned academics at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham who have been involved in the campaign for academic freedom and the release of Hicham Yezza in the wake of the false terror arrests at our university last week, we request that the Registrar, Dr. Paul Greatrix, amends the statement that he is currently circulating in response to letters of concern sent by academics from across the world to the University of Nottingham. The statement contains a number of inconsistencies, and we feel it necessary to point these out, both to Dr. Greatrix, and to the wider public.

Firstly, Dr. Greatrix seeks to label the coverage of the incident in the media, and in the Times Higher Education supplement in particular as inaccurate. However, all the evidence he provides for this claim are the two minor points that the administrative member of staff involved in this case was not working at the Department of Engineering, and that there was no armed response by the police during the arrests at the university. These facts, however, are in themselves irrelevant when compared to the fact that the academic freedom and civil liberties of a student and a member of staff have been grossly violated. Indeed, it should be noted that the Times Higher Education supplement was substantially correct in its coverage of the case. Finally, it should also be noted that the claim that there was an armed police response to the campus stems from the BBC news reports on the incident last week, which do not seem to have attracted a correction from the university.

Secondly, Dr. Greatrix claims that this was a low-level investigation. This claim, however, does not stand up to scrutiny. Students had their bags searched by uniformed police before entering the Trent Building the day after the arrests. The student and member of staff that was arrested was held from Wednesday May 14 until Tuesday, May 20 without charge, in spite of the fact that Rizwaan Sabir’s supervisor and personal tutor both confirmed to the police that the document they had downloaded and printed was legitimate research material on Friday, May 16. The homes of the two men were raided; they had their computers impounded and they have still not been returned; the family of Rizwaan Sabir was ejected from their home during the police’s search; several colleagues in the School of politics were interviewed for hours by the police. A low-key investigation would have resolved this matter within hours by contacting the relevant members of staff at the School of Politics and International Relations; indeed, a low-key investigation, to use Dr. Greatrix’s term, would have been conducted by the university itself, without any police involvement at all.

Thirdly, Dr. Greatrix claims that the university has contacted those involved in this matter to offer support and discuss the incident that took place. In fact, none of the staff members interviewed by the police have been contacted by the university with the offer of support. Moreover, the university has offered nothing in terms of official support or counsel to Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza, thus neglecting the welfare and well-being of its staff and students. To the extent that Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza have received support it has been from the members of staff and the students that Dr. Greatrix’s statement appear to be slurring.

Fourthly, the claim that the Times Higher Education supplement is wrong in its claim that the university does not deem the document that led to the arrests to be relevant research material is unconvincing. The university did in fact state that it deemed the document illegitimate, and only at a later stage retracted this and replaced with the modified statement that it was appropriate for academic members of staff to be in possession of such materials. This is of course in itself a deeply problematic argument, due to the simple fact that the material is available to the general public via perfectly respectable web-sites. We find it surprising that a university would express such disregard of the rights of engaged citizens to educate themselves on issues of public concern.

The conduct of the university in this matter stands in stark contrast to Dr. Greatrix’s claim that the university is committed to ensuring that its staff and students “are free to study and work in a safe, secure and tolerant environment” and that the university works towards ensuring “that everyone at Nottingham is able to enjoy freedom of speech and expression within the law”. In fact, the university has been deeply reluctant to enter into any kind of dialogue with students and staff that are concerned about the status of academic freedom and civil liberties.

It is clear to us, therefore, that the University of Nottingham will not be an “open and free arena for debate and dissent” until an apology is offered to Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza, and until the university guarantees the academic freedom, civil liberties and human rights of its staff and students.

Alf Nilsen
Bettina Renz
Vanessa Pupavac

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Academics For Hicham Yezza

Free Hich Latest

“Hicham has lived in Nottingham for 13 years while he studied for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and worked at the university, where he has built up a large network of close friends. The huge campaign to prevent his deportation is a testament to this. He served as a member of the University Senate for two terms (2004-5) and on the Student’s Union Executive Committee, was President of the Arabic Society, was the editor of the influential Voice magazine for international students, and is the long-time editor of Ceasefire magazine , a political journal. He was a prominent member of the artistic group ‘Al-Zaytouna’, and weeks before his arrest performed the leading role in a feature play at Nottingham Arts Theatre. Numerous references have been collected from reputable professors and prominent members of the local and national community that testify to his integrity and strong roots in the city. He lives and works in Nottingham and has shown every intention of fighting his case, as he thinks he has excellent grounds to remain in the U.K.

It is clear from Hicham’s legal documentation that there could be no reason to disallow him bail and push for his removal before his set trial date, except that the immigration services are determined to remove him without allowing him due process. The fact that his initial arrest sparked widespread protest from students and academics, and extensive critical media coverage, suggests that the removal proceedings are a hasty, desperate attempt to divert attention from the disastrous handling of his initial detention. Even more tellingly, the significant focus of the police investigation on Hicham’s editorship of the political journal Ceasefire, his committed intellectual positions, and his extensive experience of grassroots activism, suggest that both his re-arrest and the subsequent attempts for swift removal are highly political decisions. This shameful charade is an affront to the very notions of justice and respect for fundamental human rights, which the U.K. government claims to champion. This should be resisted at all costs.

MPs Alan Simpson and Nick Palmer are pressuring the Home Office to stop the deportation immediately and allow Hicham due process.”

Contact your MP-


From freehichamyezza.wordpress.com

1. Protest this Wednesday 28/05/08 at the Hallward Library, University Park, Nottingham at 14.00. See here for the poster.

2. Write to those individuals in positions of power who have a say over Hicham’s fate and let them know that we will not tolerate this extrajudicial punishment of an innocent man.

Contact the University Registrar: mailto:registrars@nottingham.ac.uk

Contact Liam Byrne, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration: byrnel@parliament.uk

Contact the Home Secretary: Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk (for a draft letter, see the resources page)

3. Donate to Hicham’s legal fund….

Donations should be transferred to the account on the name of Camille Herreman ( sort code: 400205, account no: 81474715). If you think that you can help, contact Camille Herreman on this number 07961925788 to ask about any related information.

sort code: 400205
account number:81474715
iban number: gb44midl40020581474715
internation swift code: midlgb2140c

Press release Monday 26/5/08

University of Nottingham Graduate and Employee Facing Imminent Deportation Without Hearing

Hicham Yezza, a popular and active member of the academic community at the University of Nottingham, was recently arrested along with another student. After six days of detention, both were released without charge [1]. Hicham was re-arrested on immigration grounds. He now faces imminent deportation to Algeria wihtout due process [2]. There is widespread concern at the proposed, imminent deportation.

Hicham Yezza, know to his many friends as ‘Hich’, has lived, worked and studied in Nottingham for the past 13 years. He won a scholarship to study for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and was later employed by the University of Nottingham [3]. During this time, Hicham has built up a broad social network and developed strong links within the University and the local community. Read the rest of this entry »

Culture For ‘Em: Ikea!

(Hey it’s a bank holiday weekend so while it’s Monday it’s still the weekend…sort of) Well at last the slowly disintegrating chest of drawers collapsed thus fermenting the idea of replacement and as I had brilliantly repaired my chair (jubilee clips on the shaft, take that gas lift failure!) thus preventing waste and not increasing consumption it was permissible. And after much prevarication (probably really a couple of years) teeth were gritted and a solution researched, after no luck in the second-hand sphere I eventually settled on a combination of drawers and shelves that would both be strong and cheap compared to any other option. But alas it meant a 5 hour plus round trip to…Ikea!

An Ethnographic Survey of Globalised Northern European Furniture Retail Superstores in the Warrington Area.

i. The idealised iconography of the furniture buying couple.
The attractive affluent couple touring Ikea together (sometimes with newborn in pushchair) is surely western civilisations ideal- sex, love, consuming, this is what it is meant to be about, you work, you meet someone, you get a place together, you furnish it! Nirvana is achieved. Is it wrong that the only way to keep the waves of smugness these people project back is to imagine at least one of them is cheating or that child isn’t really his, they will break up within a few months, they have a family member captive in their cellars! Ok yes, that’s probably wrong, but…

ii. The Refugee Discourse of Commodities
Wandering along the proscribed path (hey it took 2 ½ hours to get here, I’m getting my expensive fuel’s worth) you go among and past many staged living areas, suggestions on how to furnish your home, fake bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms. It made me think that this was a refugee centre, an emergency camp where instead of people, all the furniture had been saved and then arranged back into how it was in the evacuated homes (or a new combination based on a rigorous determination of the owners taste or lack thereof). At last we have done away with valuing human life and consumer society has got its neoliberal priorities right and is rescuing objects not puny humans. Or perhaps less drastically this was a refugee centre for upper middle class people, who pay private insurance for just such an eventuality. Cover that includes saving the bourgeois family’s furnishings as well as them. There’d be three levels of cover Bronze, Silver and Gold (maybe even a fourth, Platinum! Where they just airlift out the house whole with huge cargo helicopters) which explains why you get fake cardboard computers and TV’s, that’s the Bronze level. At Silver you get real ones provided for you (but a bit old and manky), at Gold they bring yours with you and set them up in the Ikea camp and have a dedicated IT support team on 24 hour call- I say Darling I want to email Imelda and tell her how many poor people died in the slums when the flood came but I can’t remember my password, oh the stress!

iii. Warehousing Expectations
It really all comes down to- is there still stock on the warehouse shelf? While pre-checking stock will save you some misery you still might be trumped in shop by a rush on the items you came for. Is it paranoid to think that every person ahead of you has come for exactly the same items you have and they will snatch them all up? Erm yes, it is, but…couldn’t hurt to race ahead, and maybe kick a few over as you pass. So after the Disney-esque ride through the showroom the realities of life step in, dream all you like, but you need cash and the items being in stock to even get entry to the Ikea dream! So in dark shelves the struggle to realise your flatpack enabled fantasises is made or broken. The façade of the showroom is untenable without the hard reality of warehouse work, workers of the world unite! For my paltry items (chest of drawers and some Ivar shelving) all was well.

iv. The Rise of the Machines
Frankly after the sweaty (it was a very sultry day) trip and heavy items there is nothing better than the Ikea ice cream, now the staff only sell you a cone, then you go to a machine where you place the cone in a little round metal holder and press a button, the machine then raises the cone towards the nozzle and excretes softy ice cream type substance. The shop staff have to be eyeing that and seeing their future, a future where they are not needed yet where will they get the money to buy softy ice cream? Oh the automation dilemma of labour. Also people go a bit mad with the free refills on soft drinks, then wander around with a bloated bladder all fizzy sugariness like doped zeppelins full of piss.

v. Transitory Logistics
They used to not allow you to take the trolley thing to your car, you had to bring the car to the load dock, but in Warrington to increase parking space they have abandoned that and you can wheel over to your automobile (a fine Peugeot 406 saloon [diesel/vegoil], oh yes that’s how I roll). Then figure out a cunning way to get 226cm long uprights inside and shut the boot. It may be a negligible skill but frankly I am really good at loading things and making the best use of space. On a location shoot I once got two transit’s worth of gear into just one van, largely to avoid having to come back, do another load and thus end up working about 20 hours that day instead of the meagre 17.

vi. The Journey as Flight
Not on this occasion but once before helping a friend buy and transport two bed frames we had them tied to a Fiesta roof, but in such a way and they were of such shape that they acting like wings and as we drove they wanted to take flight. So we stopped inverted them (didn’t really help, more like sails maybe), re-roped and with hands stuck out the windows holding on we slowly made out way home.

vii. Creative Destruction
Before you build your new piney nirvana you must remove what is there, much heavy lifting and ultimately hacking the crappy old stuff apart and chucking out the door. Then- a blank space, a quick vacuuming later and- a clean blank space. You have furnishally cleansed the region!

viii. Play Roles in Construction
I think the best toy is Lego, I loved it as a kid and it’s possibly the only reason to have children, so you can buy them big Lego kits and build them under the guise of ‘helping’. Putting together Ikea furniture is like a big real Lego kit and almost as enjoyable. Now with Lego there are two types of user, the dullard who buys the kit and builds it. That’s pretty well much it, they are not creative or questioning. The second type is the creative anarchist, you eye kits not for what they are meant to be, but what they could contribute in parts to your own creations. Yes when you first buy it you build the manufacturers design, you also do the suggested-in-picture ones (more just to keep your hand in, see what the latest thinking form Lego HQ was), but really after that the real creation begins, that curvy bit, that transparent bit, the angled bricks, the wheels etc etc! You combine them with your other Lego and you achieve your vision, a wholly original and fantastic creation made of many disparate sets. Sadly this is not so easy (or advisable) with Ikea stuff unless you have- a. loads of money and b. a huge house. So mostly it’s building to their plan and some alterations to fit your space if needed (some were) and contrary to hack stand up comedians ancient material the instructions are not hard to follow (it might be they are a basic intelligence tests, those who self identify as mystified by them helpfully out themselves as stupid) and generally there are not bits missing. Now some copyists of Ikea do fall prey to these clichés but with Ikea I have never had a problem, maybe I’ve just been lucky. Also always scan through the whole instructions, sometimes the steps are better in a different order, always get an overview before reducing to discrete construction sequences, always see the forest not just the (pine) trees.

ix. Tool Use
Apart from the basic screwdrivers (crosshead, Philips, pozidrive in a variety of sizes are good. A flathead, Stanley knife and Allen keys) always have a mallet. If you’re whacking wood with a metal hammer (but do also have a small steel hammer for light nailing, no good whaling on a tack with a sledgehammer) it will knacker the wood, use a wooden or rubber mallet and if on a visible surface consider a cloth to protect the finish. Also consider spicing the construction up with some glue or doing the building naked save for a butt plug and some body glitter!

x. End Stage Aesthetics
So if you have overcome the myriad challenges to acquiring your new furniture (measuring, choosing, saving, buying, transporting, building) you now have some new stuff and if you have done it correctly it- a. works and b. looks right. It is always pleasing to increase your spatial efficiency while retaining or increasing functionality. Pure form or pure function are useless abstracts in some shelves or some drawers, they must do both. Can you keep your socks in them and do they look better than the decrepit white laminated 70’s chipboard monstrosity you made do with before? If yes, you have now achieved your woody goal. Enjoy!


Because it is sometimes useful I did open a Facebook account last year (primarily for reasons related to Burma protests), but since then have maybe logged on twice since! But now I have joined the Hicham Yezza group to keep abreast of any breaking news. If you wish to find me there I am-

RickB TenPercent

However I prefer the informal (and ad free) networking of blogs and the fine people who read and even sometimes comment on them (thinks: must run a de-lurking drive, c’mon don’t be shy, comment already!). It seems more an anarchistic realm than the social networking factions. More pioneering perhaps.