" Madam Miaow Says

Saturday, 2 August 2014

New memorial commemorates World War I Chinese Labour Corps

The Chinese in Britain Forum
1st August 2014
Steve Lau writes:

Ensuring We Remember the men of the Chinese Labour Corps

Britain recruited 96,000 Chinese workers during the First World War who worked on everything from road building to recovering the dead. After the war the contribution of these men was simply forgotten, and none of Britain’s 43,000 First World War memorials commemorates them. The Chinese community in Britain are about to change all this.

After the crushing casualties of the first days of the Somme both the French and British realised that the war was going to be a protracted one, and be as much about maintaining numbers on the battlefield as it would anything else. Both Britain and France turned to China for the solution, jointly recruiting about 140,000 Chinese labourers that in turn would release their own men to fight. Told that they would not be placed anywhere near the fighting, Britain did in fact send almost all her recruits to the Western Front, digging trenches, building roads, railways lines, unloading ships and trains. About 1,000 maintained tanks in the tank workshops. After the war they were retained to fill in trenches, clear the battlefields of live ordnance, exhume the dead and rebury them in the new Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries.

“It is sadly ironic that they undertook the most appalling tasks to help create the iconic places of remembrance that the Commonwealth War Grave Cemeteries have become, and yet they themselves have been forgotten.” Said Steven Lau, Chair of the Chinese in Britain Forum,  “We believe our nation’s promise, never to forget, applies to them, as to any other.”

The Ensuring We Remember campaign launches on the 14th August 2014, the 97th anniversary of China declaring War on Germany. With the Chinese in Britain Forum of as the Lead Body, the campaign begins with seven Strategic Partners representing the largest ever coalition of Chinese community organisations, and representing the broadest cross section of the Chinese community. The aim is to unveil a national memorial to the Chinese Labour Corps on 14th August 2017 – the centenary of China joining the war as an ally.

Steve Lau,
Chair, The Chinese in Britain Forum

Friday, 1 August 2014

Ricky Rouse Has a Gun: new graphic novel

I hope to be reviewing this.

The publisher writes:
SelfMadeHero are delighted to announce the UK release of RICKY ROUSE HAS A GUN, an action-packed comical satire on US-China cultural relations, written by London-based Jörg Tittel and illustrated by John Haggs. The book is published in paperback on 5th September, rrp £14.99

Monday, 21 July 2014

Windows to the past - China in Liverpool: South China Morning Post City Scope column


My City Scope column for the South China Morning Post magazine 20th July 2014.

City scope: Windows to the past
Anna Chen in Liverpool

Liverpool, home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe, is hosting the International Festival for Business (IFB) this summer. And if you thought Britain was a country that didn't "make" anything any more, the IFB's emphasis on hi-tech industries serves as a reminder of what the nation does so well: the manufacturing, advanced engineering, automotive and aerospace sectors are all thriving.

Having been booked to read poetry for the festival's China Day, I discovered the city has had a wash and a brush-up in the decade since I last visited. The first thing you notice on emerging from the swanky new curved roof of Lime Street Station is the acreage of glass and steel springing up alongside the old iconic architecture.

The building of the Tate Liverpool art gallery in 1988 spearheaded a revival of interest in the visual arts, but it's only now that the visitor can see it exploding from the town's every pore.

Opposite the Il Forno restaurant, in Duke Street, where I was due to give my talk on the Chinese diaspora and read poetry, a grim Georgian terrace has been magically transformed into "Opera for Chinatown", an art installation dedicated to early Chinese immigrants. Once a boarding house, it's now a key piece of history for the Chinese in Britain.

A palette of scarlet, black, yellow and ocean blue against red brickwork frames enlarged black and white photographs of bygone inhabitants gazing out from the windows at the modern world. Descendants of these subjects have been moved to tears on seeing a forgotten generation made visible.

Some of those early boarding-house residents were sailors who'd served in the British merchant navy during the second world war, but were secretly and forcibly repatriated to China after risking their lives for the Allied cause. Many left behind families who never learnt of their fate.

In The Curious Disappearance of Mr Foo, a remarkable play about this shameful episode, which premiered at the festival, Simon Wan and Tina Malone play lovers torn apart by the Clement Attlee government's betrayal.

Writers Moira Kenny and John Campbell based the dialogue on verbatim testimony from their Sound Agents oral history project to create a powerful and illuminating drama which, alongside their invaluable preservation of the story of Liverpool's Chinese population, places the city centre stage in the rich chronicle of the diaspora.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Verse That Stings: Copper Comes A Cropper

Political satire in poetry still knocking around.

Ian Hislop throws down the gauntlet in The Verse That Stings, his BBC Rado 4 programme on a literary hero of mine, Alexander Pope. (Yes, we did read him in Hackney.)

The Private Eye editor and Armando Iannucci bemoan the lack of satirical poetry, so I'm getting mine in now.

Here's one from my collection, Reaching for my Gnu (pub Aaaargh! Press).

Copper Comes A Cropper

A little bit of sympathy at the back, there,
Puh-leaze. Let's be 'avin’ yew.
At the Leveson inquiry
The cruellest moment is when
Sir Paul Stephenson,
The poor put-upon former chief Bill,
Hobbles in on crutches and drops a pill,
Cutting such a pathetic sight
Under the assembled legal might.
So small for a tall man,
Bespectacled nerd,
Pinched lips, he can barely cope.
Only a thug like a lawyer
Would punch well-honed words
At a man on the ropes.

He says:
I may be public watchdog eyes and ears
but I wasn't there, never heard a thing,
Couldn't see, except for what the reptiles did to Lord Ian Blair,
Stripped bare in the glare of the Sun
And that wasn't going to happen to me.

A loose-lipped minority gossiped
In a distracting dialogue of disharmony,
Dysfunctional, too close for my liking,
But I couldn't do a thing, not a thing.

Ever so humbly, I suggest you are
Crediting me with a level of analysis I don't have,
I didn't give it any particular thought,
No conclusions can be wrought,
It was just something that happened,
Like the Sun coming up in the morning,
Shedding light on the scum we turned over.
I am not fawning but we don't investigate someone
We know socially and with whom we are friends.
Except when we did the police officers.
A big boy done it and ran away
And stopped us realising there was anything wrong
When he told us there was no new hack sore.
We adopted a defensive mindset instead of a challenging stance,
I can see that now.
It was a cursory glance,
Not wide, not deep,
We were asleep.
If only we had the wisdom of hindsight and weren't caught out
It would all be all right.

I'm not throwing my colleague out of the back of the sleigh and
I can't answer for him but
It would have been wiser presentationally
For him to have done it different.
However, he is away in Bahrain and you aren't getting him back in Old Blighty
Until the heat is off,
Until you call off the dogs,
Until the trail has chilled like the champagne we quaffed as we doffed.
Defending and not challenging,
That was the error of our ways.
We are brave and did not back off, guv,
Just because it was News International.

We were logical and needed the polaroids
'Cause the tapes and diaries in Glenn's black bags were not enough.
It was the Bahrain runaway who did not reopen the enquiry.
He failed, it is regrettable. That's tough.
Fear of taking on a powerful enterprise is not the case.
I did not put the frighteners on the Guardian editor,
Or spray him with Mace,
Or rough him up too much.
Politics over substance,
I merely turned up to understand.
But there was no meeting of minds,
My pulse did not race,
You could not get off your face with him
Unlike the real press, proper gents we could have a laugh with
Over drinksand a nice dinner.
Call it folly but Mr Wallis was generous with the Bolly
And Yates of the Yard was fond of his jollies.
I just did not get it and wasn't keeping tally,
The Met caught Chamy Media off Wallis by getting too pally
But we gave him Cressida Dick.

A lack of evidence beyond the lone rogue reporter
Meant rationed resources and an underfunded force
Would not be put on the job as a matter of course.
Please give us more dosh if you wish us to wield the cosh.
I was overworked with anti-terrorism,
The Olympics,
Not my decision,
A junior did it and is sunning himself in sandy climes.
I am an ill man, I need a week in a spa.
Can you recommend one?

And so they adjourn for another time.
But spare a thought for the thin blue line.
Poor Raisa, disappeared, turned to glue,
Currently starring in a pet-food can near you
To stop her singing like a canary,
Squealing like a pig at an inquiry.
Take the porkers she carried;
She knew Cameron's arse inside and out,
Blue heart and stout,
Fullsome about Coulson,
He put it about,
Withdrew when the thin blue sphincter tightened,
Purged the toad and found his load lightened.
Raisa rode bravely into the student throngs they harried,
Righting a wrong for the right,
Got the stomach for a fight when protesters say neigh
And you weigh as much as ten of them
With a bobby on your back.
Truncheoned before luncheon
Unfree by tea,
Scuppered before supper.
A hack for the hacks,
The sack for the lax
When they find out
Her hooves are all over this
and her head is in some mogul's bed.

Anna Chen March 2012

More facts emerge about Cameron, Rebekah Brooks and Raisa.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

THIS AFFECTS YOU: EU & US feeding us to corporations with planned TTIP legislation

Video of Cameron handing us to the corporations like fatted cattle. Cannibalised by Morlocks.

Is everyone aware what the EU and US are planning to do?

No TTIP Day of Action Saturday 12th July 2014

More info on https://www.facebook.com/events/231572717052962">Facebook

Behind closed doors, the EU and US are planning the biggest corporate power grab in a decade. Join us in central London on 12 July to say: hands off!

If agreed, the EU-US Trade Deal (TTIP) would grant corporations the power to sue governments, threatening to lock-in the privatisation of our schools and NHS. Rules that protect workers, the environment, food safety, digital rights and privacy would be undermined, with harmful industries like fracking encouraged.

But we can defeat this agreement. On Saturday 12 July, people in towns and cities across the UK and Ireland will be taking action together.

Take to the streets with us in central London on 12 July. Meet 12 noon outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for a creative action with a few surprises.

Together we will raise our voices in the heart of Whitehall, transforming a space with art, theatre, workshops and music -- and kick-starting a new movement with the power to win.

See you on 12 July.

Twitter: #NoTTIP and #SayNo2TTIP


Part of the #NoTTIP day of action, supported by: 15MLondon, 350.org, An Taisce, ATTAC Ireland, Biofuelwatch, Campaign Against Climate Change, Centre for Global Education, Christian Ecology Link, Comhlámh Trade Justice Group, Community Food Growers Network, Corporate Watch, Disabled People Against Cuts, Environmental Pillar, European Greens in London, Frack Free Sussex, Frack Off London, Friends of the Earth, Fuel Poverty Action, Globalise Resistance, GMB, Green Party London, Green Party of England and Wales, GreenNet, IOPS, Jubilee Debt Campaign, Keep Our NHS Public, Left Unity, Lewisham People Before Profit, London Federation of Green Parties, Occupy London, Open Rights Group, OurNHS, People & Planet, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Pirate Party UK, Platform, Presentation Justice Network, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Reclaim the Power, Red Pepper, Roj Women's Association, STOPAIDS, Student Stop Aids Campaign, SumOfUs, Tax-payers Against Poverty, Trocaire, UK Food Group, UK Uncut, Unison, University and College Union (UCU), War on Want, We Own It, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Development Movement, Young Friends of the Earth, Young Greens.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Photo of me with my band years ago: The Snow Leopards

Just found this archive curiosity from years back, way before Apple OSX was twinkle in Steve Jobs's eye. A pic of me with my band, The Snow Leopards.