The Ghost of Tom Joad : Bosnian War Refugees at Heathrow : London

jezcbosnian-refugees-1

I am flying …….. long haul ……… in that kind of dream world of memory and loss ……….. the constant low level white noise rumble of the aircraft ………… the vagueness of direction and of time ……. the artificially forced purpose and specific mission …… combined with complete vagueness of present merged into a remembered past …. the way it always seems to be for me these days on long haul flights.

Bruce Sprinsteen is playing in my ears from Delta’s selection of albums ………. : “Waitin for when The last shall be first and the first shall be last ….In a cardboard box ‘neath the underpass ” ……….. “waiting here in the campfire light” ………… ” for the ghost of Tom Joad” ………… “Tom said” ………. “Where ever a hungry newborn baby cries …… Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air” …………… “Look for me Mom I’ll be there “………. ” Where there’s somebody fightin for a place to stand ” ………. ” Or a decent job or a helpin’ hand” ……. “Where ever somebody’s struggling to free ” ………… “Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me” …….

The homeless folks “in the campfire light ‘neath the underpass” …….. something I have seen only yesterday in Honolulu …… in my thoughts this merges with the first time I ever heard mention of the name of Tom Joad.

When I was 17 my girlfriend at the time told me I should read …….. ‘Grapes of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck…….. the story of Tom Joad ……. it was her favorite novel of the ones that she was studying for ‘A level’ English ………. I was at the time a big supporter of ‘The Peoples March for Jobs’ and other anti-poverty and social justice campaigns ……. I was involved in anti-fascist and anti-rascist street organisations ………… I would try and persaude my girlfriend of the importance of action against all sorts issues of injustice …… she seemed to think any of this kind of injustice was all inevitable and inexorable …….. I guess her interest in Tom Joad was really that of a literary observer ………… but she understood I should be interested because I was an activist motivated by the same causes ……… Back then our home city of Birmingham UK had mass unemployment as did other traditional manufacturing cities of Britain under the national government led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ………… I found it amazing that my girlfriend was not more motivated by the plight of our fellow youth falling into poverty in our city …….. and the conditions of the unemployed generally in the Midlands ……. and places beyond ………

I guess it was inevitable our relationship was not to be …………. probably good news for both of us …….. especially her ……… that we broke up ……… :-/ 🙂 🙂 🙂 ……..

My involvement in all that street protest and campaigning in the end fused with my interest in photography and a desire to travel, a desire to actually be there as a witness to history in person, ……… All that made me into a photojournalist.

I heard as I was driving to the international airport at Honolulu this morning that it is “World Refugee Day” …….. Refugees fleeing violence, war, and affliction constitute perhaps the most pressing issues of justice of our day …….. combine them with economic migration of people fleeing poverty and economic injustice ….. these migrations of people, their stories define in a river of humanity the conflict, economics, identity and politics of our world.

In recent weeks and over the years I have spent much time with people fleeing poverty and violence and a combination of both ………

I am not so different now to the person I was back then at 17 …….. when I first heard about Tom Joad ………… I am still not unlike him interested in social justice ………… specifically jobs for the unemployed, access to education and health care for all, some kind of reasonable equity in the distribution of wealth ……….. and the fight against fascism, totalitarianism and fundamentalism ………….. solidarity with those fleeing injustice and persecution ……….. the search for justice and decency in society ………….. and yet still …………. I have never read ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ …………

Cheers Jez XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

www.jezblog.com

[ 13 ] comments

  • Come on Jez get it together your old girlfriend is right just read some of the old literary classics get yourself some culture and education 🙂

    Maria Varney @ June 27, 2014, 2:41 pm

  • She was too good for me too cultured too intellectual …. Hehehe…. Still I always liked girls like that … I have a soft spot for them still …. Hehehehe….. :-))) XXX

    Jezblog CA :-))) XX @ June 27, 2014, 6:09 pm

  • Yes never read Grapes of Wrath? Dear me I expect you have never even read Waretship Down or Goofy gets his first Camera…….? Come on these are the classic tomes of literature Why would anyone not read them? And then adit it in print?

    W.Shakespear @ June 27, 2014, 2:45 pm

  • Look come on … I have read all the serious literary classics about rabbits…. I mean come on… Everyone reads floppy mops eh and cotton tail …. Then progresses to the literary heights of Watership Down … And what photographer does not treasure his copy of Goofy gets his first camera ? Then go on to model their life on how Goofy rolls with his camera … No it’s only John Steinbeck ..shakespear, that I am lacking hehehehe……

    Jezblog CA :-))) XX @ June 27, 2014, 6:21 pm

  • There’s not many of us who aren’t a step or two away from homelessness as a result of some disaster or another, whether personal, mental, economic, political or social. A sobering thought when you’re watching Glastonbury on your comfy sofa, sipping Prosecco and munching pretzels. ( What time are Metallica on again?)

    Lee @ June 28, 2014, 3:51 pm

  • U R right Homelessness can strike anyone…. i am always struck by the range of people who r homeless when i speak with them…. Going to Glastenbury is sometimes like hardcore training for homelessness … When I went last it was a foot deep in mud… Living there is hardcore if it starts raining …. Well at least u get to hear Metalica this time …. ‘Nothing else matters’ … Hehehehe… I’ve been feeling like I am suffering a tiny bit of hardcore outdoors today although nothing like homelessness … On Pismo beach CA … The incredible wind is blowing sand in my eyes and buggering up the cameras…… It’s incredible …:-))) XX

    Jezblog CA :-))) XX @ June 28, 2014, 10:49 pm

  • And the ragged trousered philanthropist! Jh x

    John harris @ July 1, 2014, 6:53 pm

  • It’s true John another classic everyone ought to have read and something I have only ever skimmed…. U already know by reading this slightly bizarrely written blog that anything literary is not really my department John but hey it’s no excuse really … Right now I am in the heartland of Steinbeck country in Califoriia … I have now bought a copy of The grapes of Wrath… I’m tethering on the edge of getting more literary and cultured but I have put off reading this book for 30 years I’m not sure I’m about to break the habit of a lifetime…. Hehehehe….. Cheers bro Jez XXX

    Jezblog CA :-))) XX @ July 3, 2014, 4:33 am

  • Testing testing 123 testing 1 and 2 and 3 testing 123…

    Jezblog CA :-))) XX @ July 2, 2014, 1:54 am

  • Hello… Is there anybody there?…One,two,one,two…

    PaulS @ July 2, 2014, 2:19 pm

  • One and one … One one one … Testing testing… One two three…. Year the blog is not letting even me comment… It’s gone a bit rubbish bro … Bit like me … Hehehe…. Hope all is good… Cheers matey jez XX

    Jezblog CA :-))) XX @ July 3, 2014, 4:38 am

  • Fast forward thirty years, now you work for the big, wealthy corporations and take pride in flying first class or in private jets. I wonder how your ex-girlfriend turned out.

    N. Owens @ July 2, 2014, 8:05 pm

  • It’s fun to fly in a private jet once in a blue moon … Whatever she is doin now I have no doubt she is hugely better read than me :-)) XX

    Jezblog CA :-))) XX @ July 3, 2014, 4:15 am

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