#SoldOut Raising Funds and Awareness

I recall many years ago standing on the terraces at Hampden Park, Glasgow with 145,000 other rabid fans, waiting for the teams to come out of the tunnel to begin the annual Scotland v England ‘Home International’ football,(soccer), game. There would always be 140,000 Scots and about 5,000 English fans in attendance. As a Scot, born and bred, I was brought up, just like the majority of others who were standing around me, to ‘hate’ the English with a vengeance. It was just part of our parochial culture at that time, and probably still is today, although I have not lived in Scotland for 40 years and with the demise of Scottish football and an awareness that political correctness is now the order of the day, perhaps the ferocity of that hatred has mellowed. The two teams, now standing in the center of the field, would face the main stand, where all the dignitaries were seated, and the British national anthem would begin, God Save the Queen. This was before the Scots were allowed to sing their own anthem, a change in protocol that occurred some years later. The band, yes, a real brass or bagpipe band, would strike up the first chord and immediately there would be a wall of noise emanating from the Scottish support just booing as loud as possible at the UK anthem. It completely drowned out the band and any semblance they had in mind of being heard as a unit. We hated that anthem, supposedly, and we all gave it little or indeed no respect. Within seconds, our vocal distaste of everything that the British Monarchy stood for was demonstrated by this blasphemous howling and booing which seemed to last an eternity, but which in fact lasted only about 120 seconds, the length of the British national anthem being quite short. Once over, the game began and the fact that 140,000 Scottish football fanatics had remonstrated vocally against our forced inclusion under the monarchy we all loved, or at least some of us loved, was soon forgotten as the football took over and blood and guts was then spilled on the field of play rather than on the streets of Glasgow. It should also be noted that while the anthem was sung by the players on the field from the England team, all the Scottish team just stood in silence, some smiling, some not, but to a tee, not one of the Scottish team would sing along. It was an unwritten rule, followed religiously. Silent protests against supposed oppression, acceptable and respected throughout the world. No harm done, no one to cry foul. Until now!

When Colin Kaepernick knelt down for the Star Spangled Banner whilst playing for the San Francisco 49rs some two years ago, the whole world, at least the world that surrounded American Football and Donald Trump, went berserk, and for what reason? Well as far as I can tell, the National Anthem was never played at any sporting event before the end of the second world war. And even after that, there were sports events in the USA where the anthem remained just a figment of everyone’s imagination, laying silent as battle commenced on the field of play. So why, all of a sudden, after Kaepernick and some of his fellow Pro’s decided to protest, quite justifiably in silence to make what has turned out to be a very relevant point on an issue that has haunted this country for generations, has the President of the United States and the owners of some of the football teams where protests have been continual and well publicized, lost the plot by telling players they will be fired if they continue to ‘abuse their privilege’? There is not one reason on earth why anyone should be forced to alter their beliefs, especially those who feel threatened or abused and more especially inside a country that not only preaches pure democracy and a right to free speech to the whole planet, but a country that encourages its populous to be vocal in the form of protest when under threat of unjustifiable racism. Racism is rife in America. You can smell it in the streets, it’s a pollution that has become silent in its poisoning of its population. Racism cannot be tolerated, hatred of anyone, any race, any creed and any color has to be kicked out, but, unfortunately, and in the opinion of this author, it’s just being swept under an already filthy carpet, where, when the dust is uncovered, it becomes a mountain of trash that is becoming ever worse and unstoppable, fueled by a President and government that just turns a blind eye and looks the other way whilst telling us all, quite disingenuously that there is absolutely nothing wrong! Well, not much!

My guitar teacher Tony, remember him from the first article I wrote last week, inspired me to make the lapel pins you see in the image above. The players protesting and following in the footsteps of Kaepernick, have a right to do so. It’s not disrespectful, it’s poignant, it’s their human right, it’s peaceful and most importantly, it’s something they believe in. However, it seems if these protests carry on players will be fired or, and I say this with the utmost respect, the President will have to intervene personally, something not one of us would like to see happen.

With all of this in mind, I have this idea, not only to raise the awareness to a very great cause, but to raise money for charities associated with racism and the profound effect that racism still holds on our society. The #SOLDOUT will soon display the pins pictured above for sale, to make people aware that there is genuine suffering out there, whether it be in the murdering of Jews in Pittsburgh, or the simplicity of daily senseless traffic stops on innocent African Americans, it matters not. We have a right to protest, so by wearing this pin, our protests shall be seen, and by the money we raise, out protests shall be heard.

Keep reading this blog for more updates and check out our Instagram #soldout to get your pin.

If there are any athletes, well known or otherwise and or charities, who would like to be considered as spokes people for this idea, please get in touch. Colin Kaepernick, if you read this please know that I have tried in many different ways to contact you because I believe you should lead this movement, but to date, no response.

Thank you everyone.

#Sold Out

I have a music teacher, his name is Tony. Tony is black and adopted. He is 25. His mother and father are white. His real mother and father are no longer alive. He comes from Texas, lives now in California and was educated at Julliard in New York. Tony is a fine upstanding citizen, a musical genius and a pleasure to be around. I’ve known him for two years, and not once in that time had we ever discussed race, or the place it plays in US society. Not once, until last year, when all the American Football players began to kneel during the national anthem before their games began. We were sitting playing guitars, strumming away to AC/DC Back in Black, when suddenly I turned round to him and asked this very question.

“Tony, be honest with me, very honest, no BS. You’re black, you’re African-American, and you’ve seen what’s going on in this country for the past months with all the athletes kneeling during the national anthem. You’ve seen what Black Lives Matter have been saying and doing, you’ve witnessed at first hand how this country is so divided, but have you personally ever suffered any kind of racial abuse, either growing up or since you moved to CA a few years ago?”

When I asked this question I was somewhat convinced that just like everything else we read or see on TV, the bias towards sensationalism in our media far in a way outweighed the reality of life. I fully expected Tony to turn round and tell me that most of what we were looking at on TV was stage-managed to drum up support for factions in society that had nothing better to do than create issues that really didn’t assist in the harmonic bliss I seemed to live with on a daily basis. How wrong and how naive was I. This is what Tony said to me.

” Alan, I have lived 25 years, in Texas, New York and now CA. In all 3 States I lived in nice middle class suburban areas, other than in NY where Manhattan is as diverse as it comes and everyone seems very wealthy. Let me tell you how life really is if you’re black. Let me also tell you how I have seen it, living with white parents, white students and now in a predominantly white middle class area here in Orange County. Let me also tell you that what I am about to say is not at all exaggerated. It’s the truth. After you listen, you can then decide who is embellishing the truth.” He looked at me straight in the eye and then he began.

“I drive a great car, a Ford Mustang Shelby. I drive it everywhere because there’s no public transportation down here in OC. Do you know I get stopped by the cops at least twice a week? Do you know why I get stopped? I don’t speed, I don’t do anything illegal, I just get pulled over. It doesn’t matter if I am here in Laguna, or in long Beach or up in LA. I get stopped, and every time it’s the same nonsense.

” You’re joking?” I said, not quite believing what he was saying.

He continued.

” I am a music teacher, I drive to schools, I drive to people’s homes, white people, Chinese people, brown people, black people. It doesn’t matter. If I pass a cop, especially where schools are located, they will come from nowhere, lights flashing, pull me over and ask me why I am where I am. It happens so regularly now that I know the drill off pat. I stop, put my hands where they can be seen, wait for the cops to come to my window and I stay silent until they ask me the very same question every single time.”

“What question Tony?” I asked.

“What are you doing here son?”

“Son??” I laughed

“Yes. SON!. No respect. As soon as I tell them I am a music teacher with clients in the neighborhood, as soon as they see my guitar, my books and my other instruments, they very quickly and impolitely step away and wave me off as if I’m a piece of dirt they’d just happened to get stuck on the side of their highly polished shoes, and without apology, send me on my way”

Well Tony’s story blew me away. It got me thinking that I really knew nothing about the racism that people were going through on a daily basis and that being closeted, very comfortably, in a predominantly white are with predominantly white friends and a very white attitude, was so far from reality, that I had to take action. I had to find a vehicle to show my support for the black community and all the black friends I had. It was time to do something to raise awareness, time to react and time to make a statement that will never be forgotten.

At the top of this page you’ll find a lapel pin design. In my next post, later this week, I will send out more information on a campaign I am going to run in conjunction with some major athletes in the USA to raise awareness for a cause that most of you know is already rife in our society. A cause that millions of people suffer from each and every day in a country where everyone is supposedly equal but as I have come to find out, where no one actually is.

#SOLDOUT

Yep, Here They Come

One by one now they will answer that call. The call of insincerity, the call to power, a call to govern and be remembered as the one and only President of the United States. The question is, who are they and why should we believe they will be any better that the lame duck we have at this present time? We all know who Hillary is, and bar an international incident where she shoves her private Blackberry up Putin’s arse, (we all live in hope), we know she will run in 2016. But what about the other side, the good guys with all the bad ideas? They think they know better, they think Obama’s inconsistent government has given them an opportunity to reform our once proud country. Are they right? Only time will tell, but if Jeb or Rand or Chris, et al, decide this job is for them, will they too end up grey, battered and bruised and also lame? Of course they will. That’s the unfortunate way this country runs. Get in, get out, build your library and walk into a sunset, often clouded with the pollution of poor decision-making and bad judgement, to make over $100,000 per speech at dinners and fund-raisers. Oh how stupid we all are.

They say downloadmore than 6 will throw their hats in for the Republican nomination, and I really think it will be 8 or more. The problem is, are any of them truly worthy of that nomination? If we look back in anger at those who we have voted for in the past, other than Clinton, perhaps Reagan, have we at all been impressed with anything to have come out of such closely fought elections over the past 50 years? Not me. I think each President has brought about his own demise through insincerity, inaction and a great inability to communicate with modern society. Look at Sen. Cruz for example. He’s led off the flurry that is sure to follow with his right-wing Christian beliefs, all wrapped up in a nice bow called elitism. The man who stood for 21 hours reading Green Eggs and Ham now wants to negotiate Middle East peace? Come on Sen. Cruz, get a grip. Go back to Texas or where ever it is you are from and get a proper job. Then you have Gov Christie. Surely, and I mean this sincerely and without bias, his obesity and his desire to kiss Jerry Jones at every opportunity will lead to an instant demise should he win the country over? The fact of the matter is, there is no outstanding candidate on the Republican side who would stand a chance against Hillary or any of her cohorts.

So here we go, it’s March 2015, we have 18 months to sit and listen to all this crap, to watch billions of dollars get washed down a drain called popular misconception and at the end of the day what happens? We get a man or a woman, (and I pray this time we get someone who can make a decision), who will take office, become older and grayer, do very little outside of raising more money for the next time an election comes round and then, as I so eloquently put it, fuck off from whence he or she came. Do me a favor, don’t watch, don’t listen, don’t vote and then don’t complain, because if you do, you are just pandering to their every desire and their very inflated alter ego’s, an ego which is turbo charged until they too end up in a gutter like the rest of us, complaining that it wasn’t their fault defeat landed right bang smack in the middle of their total inadequacy to relate to what is really going on in the United States of America. They have no fucking clue, they never will have and the sad thing is, they don’t care, none of them, not one. We are alone people. Not one of our current or future politicians care about you or me. They are all self-centered, power grabbing ego maniacs who are so out of touch with modern-day society that if a solution stared them right in their own face they’s ignore it in favor of deferring to another non answer.

The time is now. Let’s change America. Let’s not give any of this moronic crowd the benefit of the doubt. They are all wankers, each and every one. Let’s try to find someone, anyone, who can stand up and say quite honestly, “I am one of you!” I know it’s an unlikely scenario, but we have to try. Fill the position with normality for once or I’m telling you, in four years, eight years and even sixteen years from now, we will be so much worse of then we are today.

Rant over! I am off to watch Obama play golf yet again!

Give Me My Money Back -Part 5

Melvin Stewart sat behind a screen at the end of the line marked “New Immigrants Only” as I made my way back into the USA through SFO. Mel, as I would come to call him after our friendship blossomed, was about 5’9″, African American, stout and knurly. He had a beard, mustache and wicked sense of humor. I obviously was tired after spending 11 hours at the ‘back of the bus’ coming in from London and by the time a family of 6 who were lined up in front of me finished at the counter with Melvin, I just wanted in and wanted to go home. I sauntered up, big brown envelope at the ready, smiling and full of the joys of springtime.

“Good afternoon Sir” Melvin began, “and you are coming into the United States because…?’ he stopped dead in his speech.

I looked at the illuminated red sign directly above his head which read, “NEW IMMIGRANTS ONLY” and then I looked back at Melvin. I did it again, just for effect. His poker face never wavered. I knew then that this wasn’t going to be easy and even though I wanted to say something like “what the fuck do you think I’m coming into the country for you asshole”, I said to him very politely, “I just got the paperwork for my green card in London and was directed to this line by that sign up there” smiling again as I pointed to the red neon above his head. His interrogation began in earnest. I’d heard it all before and was frustrated that yet again I was being subjected to further investigation.

“Where have you been, how long were you there, who did you see in London, what do you do, are you married, do you have kids etc, etc”

So tedious, so unnecessary, and so frustrating.

When Melvin was done with his standard questioning, we began chatting, as normal people would, about life, love and other great mysteries that couldn’t be solved in the 5 minutes we spent together. By the time he was ready to stamp my passport allowing me entry into the US with a Visa that would last 180 days, ample time to obtain my green card in the mail one would have thought, Mel and I were best buddies and arranging to go for dinner that very next week. We turned out to be the greatest friends, a friendship that lasted for too few years unfortunately, but friends we were and with my new freshly inked stamp inside my British passport, I exited into the customs hall to reclaim my bags.

One would think that would be the end of my immigration woes, just like it will be for the 5 million or so who will receive and amnesty from Obama in the coming months. No, unfortunately it wasn’t. It was just the beginning, and when I think back now to the aggravation I was about to receive, it pisses me of greatly that the 5 million who will receive this amnesty from our President will not have to go through the grief, financial hardship, verbal abuse, and most of all the sincere dislike of anything governmental or ‘red tape’ appropriate, that I had to endure. Maybe it doesn’t piss me off, perhaps it just infuriates me that I did the right thing, went the right way, spent more than the right kind of money, received less than the right degree of acceptance, and I did it the way it was supposed to be done. So why shouldn’t they? I know there are plenty of you out there saying, ‘well that’s exactly right, the system is broke to let’s let them all in and the system will be fixed’ NONSENSE! The system is broken because those who have abused it, broke it! Politicians tend to feed off the weak in this case and are desperate to become ‘do-gooders’ . Although not everyone in the House supports the idea of this amnesty, the issue goes much deeper that just telling someone, “come into the country now, you’re going to be made very welcome”  The situation is made worse by the fact there’s one rule for one and one for another. It took me 9 years and a ton of cash to get a green card, but if I’d been Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indian or come from another ‘persecuted’ nation or sect, I would have received my documentation in the drop of a hat. There would have been fewer interviews, no cash outlay, and certainly no 9 year wait. Unfortunately it’s one rule for some and one for the others. There’s even a third rule for those in the know, as my next blog will point out. No matter what, the system is entirely flawed. From start to finish, there is NO system, as proven by this ‘amnesty’, and that’s what I find so frustrating.

I was told my green card would arrive in 3 months max. 5 months later, still no green card and my concern then became one of visa renewal to ensure I could keep traveling in and out of the US. This my friends is where the story became rather silly.

I’d tried calling, writing, emailing, and going in person to the Immigration building at 444 Washington St, San Fransisco. It was becoming a real issue. My visa was running out, my green card hadn’t shown up and my life was about to get very difficult if it didn’t make the transition. I needed that card. I’d tried everything, I’d even spoke to Errol my attorney, but no one could help. I was in the hands of that great unknown called the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, aka, the government! I was about two weeks out from losing all foreign travel privileges when one afternoon my phone rang. It was Melvin.

“I’m out of SFO, and I was promoted to INS in Washington St”

“No way!!!” I shouted. “I need you! When do you start?”

“Next Monday” he said.

Well that turned out to be a complete lifesaver. Melvin started his new job on Monday and I went to meet him for lunch on Tuesday, the day after he’d begun. I explained my issue and hey presto! Within 20 minutes I had my new visa! He’d walked into a room and updated it to last another 6 months. If he hadn’t done that I would have had to go to my local INS office in San Jose, take a number and sit all day in the hope that someone would see me. I was home and dry, or so I thought. It never works out that way though, does it?

The day Melvin died, I was in my office thinking that I had to call him when my phone rang. His wife gave me the news and as suddenly as she was there, she was gone and the line went dead. No Melvin, no green card, no friendship anymore. He passed of cancer. No waiting around, dead within weeks of diagnosis. Poor Mel. not only had he met my family, my kids and my friends, he’d been a huge influence in obtaining assistance for me when all seemed lost. I still miss him.

5 more months passed, no green card. I needed to go to the INS office on Monterey Rd San Jose. I had no other options this time.

To describe this INS office as a ‘shithole’ would be an understatement. This is the system, or at least it was when I was going through all my trials and tribulations. You show up ay 5 am. They don’t open until 8. There have been people sleeping outside all night. You join the line. People, probably illegals, go up and down the line selling drinks and food. You cannot leave that line. The first time you arrive you don’t know that you need a seat to make the 3 hour wait until opening time bearable. It’s a zoo, the car park is huge but old and waterlogged, even though it never rains here. People come from all walks of life, but the majority of those waiting are Hispanic. By 7 AM the line is at least 300 yards long. By 8 Am there’s a man who comes from inside the building and begins walking down the line counting bodies and determining who won’t be seen that day. The numbers are obviously calculated from years of experience and the shut off number can mean the difference between being seen around 4 PM or not at all and therefore having to come back the next day. The first time I showed up it was 3 PM in the afternoon and after some discussion with the security guard, I was educated on what not to do and how not to do it, enabling me to show up at a set time and be seen. This office works on a numbers system. You come, you take a number and you wait and wait and wait some more. I ended up going there more than three times, each time I arrived at 5 AM and each time I never left until after 4 PM. My honest opinion about this place is reflected very kindly in that one word description above, but my true feelings towards this office and the people who ran it, are just too hard to explain. My blood still boils even today, some 14 years later, when I sit down to write this.

At 8 AM the doors opened and in we filed. I took a number and sat, and sat and sat. I read, I read some more and eventually, just after lunch I was called. I got to the window and explained to the officer my predicament. His words were astounding.

“You are at the wrong place, you need to go upstairs, which is appointment only, and they will sort this issue for you.”

“Upstairs?” I was flabbergasted. “What’s upstairs?” He passed me a form, told me to call, make the appointment and then come back. What a waste of a day.

I went outside, called the number from my cell phone and was immediately placed on hold. Surprise, surprise! They never did answer. I held for over an hour, put the phone down and headed home defeated. Where was Mel when I needed him. Heaven I suppose, probably sitting behind a desk turning back all those who’d arrived illegally and should be sent back to Hell!

After two days I finally spoke to a human being, although I use that term loosely.

Appointment made, I returned, this time at 7 AM for an appointment that was at 10 AM. Yes, you read that correctly. The system didn’t allow anyone inside that INS building after 8 AM. As I mentioned, they counted them off to avoid not only congestion, but also disappointment. Even with an appointment I had to be there early, just not that early!

I was sent upstairs where I waited, then I waited some more. I was seen at 10 AM prompt. To the best of my memory, here’s the conversation.

Me, “I need a Visa renewal on my green card”

Him “Where’s your green card?”

Me “Hasn’t shown up yet”

Him “Well I can’t extend that visa, just be patient it will show”

Me “No, it’s been a year, I’ve had this renewed once already and I travel a lot, I need to have it renewed again”

Him “You’re in the wrong department. You have to come back tomorrow, take a number downstairs and wait in line”

Me “I did that already, they sent me to you”

Him “No one sends you to me, you need to make an appointment”

I was beginning to see what the intelligence required was to stay in this job!

Me “Can I see your boss?”

Him “Why?”

Me “Because you have no idea what you are doing!”

Him “Please leave sir. NOW!”

Two days later I came back at 5 AM and took a number and at 4 PM when I got to the front of the line they told me I had to make an appointment to go upstairs. I was very unhappy, quite dejected and definitely annoyed to the point where I wanted to burn the place down. Surrounded by sweat, BO, ignorance and frustration, no one could get me to the right person, AND not only that, I spent three days of my life doing this to get absolutely nowhere. And then, just as I was about to give up, my savior arrived! In all its Green glory, when I returned home that night, there is was, shiny, perfect, beautiful although it was PINK not fucking green! My card!!!

I was half way to citizenship. Green card followed by US passport is the order of events, but you need to be a green card holder for between 3 to 5 years before you can even apply for a passport and I was some way off being able to do that. Obtaining a passport would be yet another ordeal, probably as great if not greater that the story I just told you, but that’s for another day.

My heart goes out to those who are here by default, but come on, let’s face it, to let them all in for free and without penalty of process is, in my opinion, so very wrong. They SHOULD have to go through what every other immigrant has to go through. Legal and biding are the results and even though it was painful and elongated, the process is rewarding. Obama you are the fraud, not those who you’ve reprieved. You never had to go through this to get your passport but perhaps you should have do so just to see how difficult it is and how frustrating the whole system is. I want you, Mr. President, to return my money, the money I spent becoming part of the process. If 5 million are to get an amnesty, what about the previous 100 million from the past 150 years? What about us, the one’s who did it the right way, the legal way, the only way we knew?

 

Give Me My Money Back -Part 4

Three of us shared a ride back to the embassy. We were admitted through a side gate and ushered into an anti-room where we sat until the rest of the group showed up. It took about half an hour and several more panic attacks before we were all reunited. Then the fun began.

My briefcase had become a burden. I’d not opened it all day and I’d schlepped it all over London pending inspection by the US authorities. It seemed that all my best efforts retrieving documents from marriage, previous divorce, current living situation, banks, lawyers etc, had been for nothing. No one wanted to see it. I’d heard nothing but horror stories all day about friends of some of the applicants in my group who’d married US citizens and been visited regularly by the INS,(Immigration and Naturalization Service), just to see if they were still living with one another. This hadn’t happened to me just yet and I was hopeful it wouldn’t. Of course mine wasn’t a ‘marriage of convenience’ as some of the other’s had been.

The roll call began. 3 at a time they began calling applicants towards the very same desks we’d stood some 6 hours earlier. One by one they received yellow papers, X-ray’s and a large brown envelope. Sweaty palms became sweaty bums as the countdown to my calling got closer. I could see that so far everyone was smiling. No one had been refused on medical grounds. Then it arrived, that call, MY call. I was stunned at first, woken from my thoughts, but within milliseconds I was at the desk and being told I’d passed. Relief, total relief was the only feeling that came to mind, but before I’d had a chance to celebrate I was forced to concentrate for several minutes more as the officer explained the next procedure. He ran through the do’s and don’ts and then handed me an envelope, the same brown envelope everyone else had received. As he handed it over he shook my hand and said “Welcome to the United States.” Happiness!

The do’s were simple. I had to return to the US within 6 months. I had to enter through a special channel, even though I lived there, had a house and business there, and even though I paid tax there, I still had to comply. I was told that my green card would become permanent within 6 months and that the stamp they’d placed in my British passport would suffice until the card arrived by mail. I was free to go in and out of the country as often as I liked and as long as I returned within 6 months of each departure, paid my taxes and remained a good boy, I would be able to keep my green card for ten years without renewal.

The don’ts,well, they were simple. Don’t commit any crime. Don’t screw the IRS. Don’t get divorced before two years of marriage were completed. Don’t piss off the US government and don’t, whatever you do, lose the damn card!

With all said and done, I left, sorry, we ALL left the embassy. Time to celebrate. It was 4PM and I was going home, not to the US quite yet, but home to my place in the London suburb of Epsom. I would call my wife, see my son and generally have a very happy evening. The trials and tribulations of not only that day but the days and years prior to that had really been exhausting. It was so hard to explain to anyone how difficult this process had been and now how worthwhile it had become. The elation and relief of that moment went hand in hand with the disappointment of the length of time required to do this properly and more importantly, legally! I could never go through that again, or so I believed, but I certainly didn’t have to. I could never have gone through the illegal channel for fear of being caught and then deported leaving me with no chance to recover and try again. I felt a belonging, an affinity to those millions who’d come through Ellis Island, to those who’d come the right way, not the wrong way, and most of all I felt I’d fulfilled a dream or at least part of.

My next task was to return home to America. I booked a flight that night and with my HIV free certificate in my hand, I went to sleep knowing part of my journey was now complete.

Give Me My Money Back -Part 3

“Where are you from?” he asked.

“Glasgow, and you?”

“Bannff”

“I have an aunt who lives in Bannff, Lena McClaren.”

“She lives right next door to my mum and dad!”

“No f…g way!”

And with that we became inmates for the day. We were tied together by both nervousness and determination. If you thought my experiences with attorney’s were bad, you should have heard his. I’d been waiting almost 9 years, he’d been waiting longer. Both of us had married an American citizen, (not the same one!), both had invested into business’s and both of us had lost tens of thousands to get to where we now stood. With all that said, so had the other’s who joined us that day.

At around 10AM, we were rounded up and given a pink slip to go to a Harley St doctors office for our chest X-ray and HIV test. We were told that we had to make our own way there and then return at 3 PM to the embassy for the results. I was still clinging to my top-heavy briefcase wondering when they were going to go through its contents to prove that I was who I said I was. So far, nothing, and no one had asked to examine one iota of evidence, and that seemed to be the case for all of us except one woman, who was grilled for at least an hour before they let her join the rest of us on our trip to the doctor’s office.

The embassy didn’t provide any transportation to Harley St and with rain poring down, we all decided to get on the nearest tube train and go cattle class all the way to this dreaded date with reality. We arrived, and were once again herded into an office where music played quietly in the background and where you could cut the tension we were all feeling with a blunt knife. It was frustrating. Not one of us ever imagined having to take this test. After all, did it really matter? Yes, of course it did, and when I thought through the consequences of allowing anyone carrying the AIDS virus into the USA, I could see clearly the paranoia of screening every new immigrant to the nth degree. We all sat a joked, all be it half heartedly about what we would do if we were HIV positive. You have to realize that at that point in time, no one really knew the extent of this epidemic and it was affecting not only the Gay community but heterosexuals too. The authorities had also released figures and studies suggesting that the virus could incubate in anyone’s body for as long as ten yeas before being found. I’d gone over and over in my mind who I’d slept with, praying that each one was OK and that today was just a formality. “please, please, don’t let this be the day my dreams are shattered” I kept repeating.

“Zoltie!” came the shout that broke the tension. I was up first. Reverse alphabetical order! Yeah baby, get me in there and then let’s do lunch!

One prick, no not me, and it was over. Then came the chest X-ray. One hour and I was done, and so was my new best buddy Tom, from Scotland. We hit the pub, or rather the pub hit us. I actually had a beer, or three. We sat, chatted, sweaty, nervous, fearful like conversation. Nothing helped. I wanted to know, and I wanted to know right there and then, as did everyone. We tried to eat, we talked about what we were going to do when we got to America, all the time knowing that it might never happen. Everyone knew someone who lived in the States illegally. Everyone! The sad thing was, if you were illegal, and that could be for many reasons, you were stuck in a country of 300 million people and were unable to go anywhere outside that country and perhaps even the town you lived in. Being illegal wasn’t seen as being criminal, even though it was, it was really something that came to most by accident and not by choice. Some had come to make a better life in a country more prosperous than the one in which they lived. Some had come in on a visitors visa and decided never to go back. Some were just plain stupid and done both. No matter what, none of them had gone through the right channels, the right methodology and the correct legal process to assist them in their plight in becoming a citizen of the United States of America. Not a good idea unless you’re seriously happy about doing jail time or being deported. I had little sympathy for such people, mainly because of the trials and tribulations that I and millions of others had been through following the system to the letter of the law in order to achieve or goal and not cheating or short cutting what had been made clear for a hundred years or more. If you want to join us, follow the planed route!

We had another drink and then it was 2PM and time to leave. Taxi!!!!!

Ferguson, What’s Wrong With America.

download“Let’s go burn a few buildings, police cars and stores to the ground” The battle cry that seemed to ring round the small town of Ferguson last night as the Grand Jury announced their verdict. I was watching it all unfold live on CNN, and frankly it made for compelling viewing from the moment Bob McCulloch took to the podium some 15 minutes late, until the first canister of tear gas rolled into the CNN crew who were in the streets covering that inevitable aftermath. I thought I was watching the beginning of a return to the 1960’s, a kind of Back To the Future, played out live in 2014. But then I thought about it, and realized, with a certain amount of foreboding, that the United States of America hasn’t ever actually left the torrid 1960’s and this ‘excuse’ for stupid and often ignorant people to make trouble at the drop of a hat or in this case, drop of a verdict, is nothing more than an easy way to obtain a materialistic advantage during chaos and unrest while most of us sit at home watching in disbelief. After all, free booze, free TV’s and the opportunity to burn buildings, police cars and attack innocent people, doesn’t come along every day! Or does it?

Was the carnage observed last night, today and in the past few months, a ploy, orchestrated by those in authority or was it simply a frustration built up over time by the perpetrators who walked freely, unchallenged and with so much confidence through Ferguson, ready and willing to destroy everything in front of them? Well, let’s think about that.

The verdict came down yesterday morning, or so we are told? If indeed that’s accurate, then why did the whole country have to wait until it was dark and well into the witching hour, 8PM to be precise, to hear what that verdict was? Wouldn’t it have been much easier to release the news during the day when most people, and I include those who created the troubles, are at work or have much better things to do than run through pitch black streets relentlessly carving up the society in which they belong? The nighttime, as we all know, seems to bring out the worst in people dead set in causing trouble, whether they be sober, drunk, horny, greedy or just plainly moronic. Therefore my question is, was this a deliberate ploy by the authorities to make themselves look whiter than white by announcing at 8PM what they knew would be a damaging and disrespectful verdict to at least half the populous, knowing full well that their subsequent actions would lead to rioting and enable them to stand up and say,”I told you so, these people are nothing but thugs and their actions are what triggered this situation for our Police department in the first place?”

Don’t discount the other facts. Although there were over 1000 police and national guard representatives on the streets last night, they were conspicuous in their absence. Where were they? I could see some at the police station, some at the courthouse, but where were they when the Dollar Tree was being looted, the Metro PCS store being burned down and the liquor store emptied? Nowhere to be seen.  When the CNN reported was hit on her head by a rock and then pelted by the crowd nearby as she filmed, where was the protection those officers had sworn to give? Nowhere to be seen! When Obama and the Brown family came on live TV to plead for calm, why was their plea ignored? The answer is simple. We have a government that is led by a lame duck President who has the lowest popularity rating of any President in living memory and even though he’s black, black and white alike, both despise his lack of leadership therefore his plea was completely ignored. You also have to take a look at the rioting demographic. A lot of those involved came from out of State. So what, I hear you say? The so-called experts on CNN made the comment, “what does it matter where they come from? An injustice can be felt anywhere in this country and people are free to come and protest wherever they want” WRONG!!!! Why would anyone drive 800 miles from Chicago to stand in Ferguson unless they have prior intent to make nothing but trouble? People in Chicago also protested and didn’t feel the need to make that long journey just to steel TV’s and booze in Ferguson!

There is so much more to all of this than meets they eye and so much racial tension in this country that everyone just wants to ignore until something like this shooting allows that tension to raise its ugly head yet again. Just when you think things are going smoothly and that everyone in this country can sit down and be brother and sister, as 9/11 proved we can, it all goes to Hell in 5 minutes, and just for the sake of making Hell watchable, live on national TV. And then there are the celebrities. Check out some of their Tweets, although why anyone Tweets at all is completely beyond my comprehension. From Katie Perry to LeBron, all chiming in with their ten cents worth. Stay out of it morons, this is not your fight. This is a situation that is highly charged, highly political and absolutely disgusting. I don’t care that you are directing your ‘prayers’ all the way from CA to Ferguson Katie P, go sing something nice and then go back to your mansion and live your life. When have you ever had to want for anything let alone be involved in a riot brought on by ingrained racial extremities and tension?

People who create chaos and trouble should be punished. Why are we innocent bystanders, the ones who suffer in the long run by feeling insanely helpless by not being able to instill our calm, non racial personalities upon those who seem only to have a chip on their shoulders, intent on bringing anarchy to our streets and and making us think that we should be with them and NOT against them? The Police officer shot a man who he believed was a criminal. Rightly or wrongly, if you took away his gun and the guns of those who want to commit crime, perhaps, just perhaps, Ferguson would not have burned down last night because no one would have died? But, as we all know, that’s a completely different discussion!

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