Watch This: Urban Ghost Story (1998)

I do love me some supernatural horror -not werewolves, vampires, and the like but I do like a good ghost story. I love ghost stories, I think, because I am such a rationalist and the presence of ghosts is probably the greatest of the ruptures with the real that we see in the supernatural horror canon -certainly more so than the other traditional monsters that we see stalking the pages and screens of the genre.

There is however one thing that has repeatedly bugged me about ghost stories and films and that is the class of the people who are, usually, affected by the supernatural events. It isn’t true in 100% of cases but there does seem to be a preponderance of upper middle class people affected by things that go bump in the night. It is almost as if regular working class people are immune to the attentions of the dearly no-quite departed. I know that there are exceptions to this but they are exceptions and exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis eh?

What confuses me about the lack of working people in supernatural horror films is that the economic situation of working class people is such that fleeing from the horror isn’t even remotely an option -or is at least going to be far more difficult that it is an automatic source of tension and conflict.

I’m not sure how much of this is a hangover from the Gothic tale and the works of M.R. James but I do much prefer a story where I can relate somewhat to the life experiences of the characters and to the non-supernatural troubles that they face.

As I said, there are some exceptions to this. One exceptional exception is the 1998 BBC film Urban Ghost Story.

The story follows the events following the joy riding accident that nearly kills the 12 year old protagonist and does kill her equally young friend. Twelve year old Lizzie lives with her Mum and younger brother in a small flat in a Glaswegian high rise. After the accident strange things start happening and Lizzie’s mother, Kate, does her best to try and protect her daughter from events but she is hampered by her economic position and all the generally shitty things that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

It is a beautifully bleak film which does a great job of capturing at least some of the reality of life for working people in the UK and uses that reality to further problematise the supernatural troubles that beset the family. There are one or two problems with the film -the reinforcing of the myth of young working class women getting pregnant simply to get a council flat is a glaring one- but on the whole it is a brilliant example of a working class ghost story.

It hasn’t been on television for about five years -which is no surprise as it looks like it was filmed on video and so maybe wouldn’t appeal to those who expect everything in HD- but it is available on DVD and, I’m sure, it will be available somewhere like the Pirate Bay. If you get the chance to watch this I highly recommend doing so. 🙂

Ben Farrell

My very good pal Ben Farrell(Facebook Link) is a strange chap. He’s a very strange chap and he has a record available on Band Camp via Different Circle Records.

Ben Farrell is an Irish immigrant living and working in the harder parts of Glasgow for over a decade. A late developer to the music scene, he finally found some drive and has managed to creep onto the musical radar of those with curious obsessions.

His music has echoes of the past mixed with issues of the present. Melodic picking characterises many of his songs that often describe our darker thought processes which are relieved by moments of the absurd.

So how would you describe Farrell’s music?

Imagine The Smiths bumping into Syd Barrett at an anti nuclear demo before heading off to an opium den, strange lyrics complemented by intricate melodies.

 

Laibach

tanz-mit

A couple of nights ago C and I went to see Laibach at the Classic Grand in Glasgow. Laibach are a Slovenian art group / industrial music group that have been performing as dadaist interlocutors in culture and politics. Their détournements of popular songs -taking pop songs and subtly altering them to change their meaning or to expose hidden aspects of the pieces. A great example of this is Gebert Einer Nation their cover of Queen’s awful rock ditty One Vision.

They are, without a doubt, one of the most creative musical acts performing today -in my never so humble opinion. The show on Tuesday was absolutely amazing and reinforced my opinion of the band ever so slightly. They are the first band in a very long time where their show has felt life watching a piece of performance art rather than merely musicians playing on a stage. Everything from the demeanour enacted by the performers through to the spectacular visuals projected across the back of the stage. The entire show, from start to finish, was a work of audio-visual art.

They are currently touring their new album Spectre which is one of the most overtly political albums in the band’s long history. With no opening act the band started early performing the entirety of the new album before taking a short intermission, which added to the theatrical feel of the show no end, and returning to play some of their classics. Throughout the show we were cajoled and mocked by a pre-recorded emotionless voice telling us we were the best audience ever and reassuring us that the band loved us. A nice twist on the bullshit that touring band’s tell to audiences throughout their tours.

They still have a whole raft of gigs to play on this tour, click here for details, and I highly recommend that all of you go and buy tickets right away. You do not want to miss this show. Go, go and tanz mit Laibach!

In Laws and Old Stuff

The In Laws have been up visiting this week and so we yesterday took them to see the Hunterian museum at the University of Glasgow. I was rather miffed that the Pictish carved stone balls seem to have been removed from display as I think they are probably the most enigmatic artefact in the museum’s collection. 😦
As C’s mam is a nurse we also went to see the anatomy museum but I’m not going to share the pictures I took there (a two headed baby and the testes of an “imbecilic dwarf”), don’t worry. 😀

NaNoBustMo

Well I never made my NaNoWriMo target; which was set at 35,000 words rather than 50,000 as that’s the ballpark figure for where I see my novella heading. I did get about 15,000 words of it written though. I also managed to get a few thousand words down on a few short stories I’m working on. I know that having a few different projects on the go isn’t exactly the best working practice but I have so many bloody ideas I have to get them at least partially written down so that I can come back to them later.

The short story I have done the most work on is provisionally titled Schemes of Grey and Yellow and riffs off Chambers’ King in Yellow mythos. It’s set on a nameless housing scheme (that’s a council estate for people down south or a project for my occasional American reader) in the west of Scotland. Dolorosa, I’m actually rather firm on that title, is set in Glasgow and follows the tragic events that beset a young working class Glaswegian woman after her family has a chance encounter with the unknown. You can read brief excerpts from the first drafts below. I expect them both to change rather considerably in the rewrite.

One thing that I have managed to do though is come up with a couple of cover designs for Dolorosa. Productive procrastination for the win eh? I’m not sure which one I prefer though, which is a pain. I may put it up for a vote when the book is ready to be released.

Dolorosa-Cover-Working-File Dolorosa-Black-and-White-Cover-Working-File

Dolorosa(Excerpt)

Soft greys and whites bleed across the sky. The world below is awash with greens, purples and cold serrated granite scratching at the clouds. The mountains are emblazoned with flashes of green grass and the purple of the heather, their slopes both sheer and gentle sink into the wide flat bottom of the glen. Two veins of water, sparkling silver below the washed out sky, merge into a wide river tracing its way through landscape. At the far end of the glen, beside the wide river, sits a small town – little more than a village really. A flat topped church steeple looks over the town, the old winding streets and the newer, more linear and regimented, housing developments giving the town a patchwork look. The glen is dotted with small collections of farm buildings and everywhere the signs of an industrial agriculture winding down in the autumn months.

Higher up the sides of the valley are sheep worn meadows, heather, gorse. In a well shorn meadow stands a woman. She stands by herself, not quite in the middle of the meadow. She is dressed unsuitably for both the time of year and the environment in which she stands. Her jacket looks better suited to dashing between the shelter of shops on a Saturday afternoon in a town somewhere. It is so completely soaked that it appears almost black where, when dry, it is grey. Her hair, shoulder length and brown, has been whipped around her face as though by a storm and stuck there by the rain. Yet the air here is still. Still and, but for the soft hum of the ever present insects, quiet. There is no wind to carry the sob. The deep gulping of air is swallowed by the silence spread between land and sky.

Her head is thrown back. Her eyes closed but her mouth open. A dark O set against her sickly pale skin. Her arms hang at her sides. Her hands opening and closing, opening and closing. Clenching. Grasping at nothing. She sinks to her knees. Her head bowing as she gulps and releases another sob. Slowly she folds herself over her legs, her head pushing into the cold grass. Her arms stretch out before her. Hands clutching handfuls of emerald blades. Fingers digging into the soft brown earth. Clawing at it. She sobs again and begins to tremble. Her back heaves as sob after sob escapes her convulsing body. Louder and louder, faster and faster until she is crying uncontrollably. She lifts her head and screams. Rage and sadness shatter the silence of the glen. Her scream crosses the vastness between earth and sky. If it could, her scream, would sunder the world; set the heavens aflame til naught remained but ash. Ash and sorrow.

Schemes of Grey and Yellow(Excerpt)

The scheme was grey. Everywhere. Every house, every shop and commercial unit, every block of flats. Grey. The uniform grey of the Scottish housing scheme. Low cost housing that mirrored the perpetual slate sky above. The choice of colour scheme, ubiquitous around the country, seemed a cruel joke played by the powers that be on the powers that don’t. The most dreichit country on earth and it mirrors the miserable bastard weather in its miserable bastard housing.
Leon waited outside Satish the Paki’s shop for Black Martin. Satish wasn’t a Paki, his parents had come to Scotland from India long before Leon was born. Still didn’t stop his shop being called the Paki shop. People aren’t always blessed with the greatest amount of either intelligence or originality at times thought Leon.
Black Martin wasn’t black either. He had just gone through a goth period in school, listening to the Cure and Joy Division, dressing all in black, and in doing so had earned himself the now redundant, and wholly unimaginative, nickname.

Black Martin came out of the shop laughing and waving back at Satish of whom Leon could see slices between the posters advertising fizzy drinks and loaves of bread which were spread haphazardly across the windows of the store. Martin waved him over and tossed a can of juice at him as he approached.

“Satish gave us ’em on tick til tomorrow, giro day innit?”

“Nice one!” Leon waved back through the glass at Satish.

“He gave us some baccy an’ aw. Want one?”

Martin stripped the small green pouch of its plastic wrapping and began to roll a cigarette before passing the pouch and the slim blue packet of rolling papers across.

“Where d’you fancy going then?”

“I dunno, Weird Malky’s?”

“The paedo?”

“Aye, well he’s always got booze in and, for the record, he ain’t a paedo. That’s just shite talked by folk ‘cos he’s a bit odd is all.”

#

Just behind Satish’s shop lay Fairmount Park, a sad looking stretch of patchy yellowing grass with a square of concrete littered with broken glass which used to hold climbing frames and slides. The sign beside the sorry looking grey square proudly proclaimed a new park opening soon funded by some company or other in partnership with Glasgow City Council. The sign looked as sorry as the rest of park; it having stood out in the elements for the best part of five years. Leon and Martin had still been in high school when they had pulled down the old play equipment citing “safety concerns” and promising to replace the equipment with modern, up to date “safe” equipment for the children of the Scheme. Now all that remained was an old bench which, for reasons unknown, had escaped the attentions of the supossedly safety conscious city council. Upon that bench now sat Cameron Wiley, one of the local drunks, his head bent low so that from behind he appeared to have been the victim of an amazingly bloodless decapitation. Sat beside him were two large yellow labelled green glass bottles.

“Check it.” Leon gestured towards the old drunk. “Shall we go keep the auld cunt company?”

“Aye, why no?”

Leon had always had a soft spot for Cameron Wiley. Before he had screwed himself up on the booze he had been a decent guy. He was only in his late 40s but looked far older. Once, when Leon and Martin had been wains Wiley had saved them from getting collared by the cops when they were playing truant. He had done so by picking a fight with himself outside the shop causing the cops to lose interest in the young lads trying desperately to hide bottles of tonic wine in their jackets. As soon as the cops went to deal with the screaming and shouting drunk the boys had fled. Leon had glanced back as they rounded the corner away from the cops and as he did so he saw Wiley wink at him and smile.

“Afternoon auld yin.” Martin and Leon stood over the derelict. He smelled like he had spilled more booze over himself than he had drank since the last time he changed his clothes, which may well have been some time ago. “Whit ye on wi’ Cam’?”

Cameron Wiley jumped as though wakened from a deep sleep. A thin black booklet slipped from his hands as he looked up at the boys. His eyes paler than Leon remembered, the colour washed out.

“Wha? Who? Is it? Naw!” Cameron slurred the words and wobbled as though unsteady on his feet, despite being sat down. Placing one grubby hand on the back of the bench he pushed himself up and on to his feet.

“Is that you? Naw, naw, naw. You’re lads, no lassies. Are you here?”

Martin, grinning, slapped his hand onto Leon’s shoulder. “Auld yin’s wrecked. Surprise!”

Wiley glanced at Martin, then at Leon, his eyes narrowed as though trying to focus on the boys.

“You’re, you’re no, um, you’re no him or her. You’re no even here.” And with that he staggered off back the way the boys had walked.

“Don’t think I’ve ever seen the old pissheid so wasted before.” Leon watched as Cameron Wiley wove his way along the cracked and overgrown path. Snatching occasionally at invisible insects in the air about his head.

“Never mind that” Martin lifted the two, unopened, bottles of Buckfast Tonic Wine in either hand. “Score! Screw going tae the paedo’s house the now. Let’s have these first.”

Leon sat in the spot that Cameron had just vacated and took a bottle from Martin. “One fer you, and one fer me!”. Leon opened his bottle and took an enormous swallow. An heroic swig as Martin may have put it.

They sat awhile watching the empty park; the occasional ray of light bursting through the clouds and dashing across the park as though the light itself was in a rush to get away from this place and its grey hopelessness. Leon said as much to Martin.

“If there’s a bright centre to the universe, my dear Leon, you’re on the scheme it’s furthest fuckin’ from.” Martin cackled to himself. “I’m away for a piss.” He stood, taking his mostly empty bottle of wine with him. “And I’ll be takin’ this. I’m no havin’ you tanning it whilst I’m at me most vulnerable.”

With that he swaggered in the direction of some nearby sickly looking bushes. Leon had once been playing with James Donaldson in the park, when they were 10 or 11 years old, and they had found a huge stack of porno magazines in those same bushes. By the looks of the bushes the wages of sin did not pay well. They had paid Leon and James Donaldson well enough when they had sold the magazines to the highest bidders at school the next day.

Glancing at the floor between his feet he noticed the black booklet that Cameron Wiley had dropped. It had the pattern of the sole of his trainers stamped on the cover in dirt now but was otherwise fine. He picked it up.

Le Roi en Jaune. Leon didn’t remember much in the way of French from school but he recognised the word for yellow. Flipping it open he saw that the words inside were in English.

“What’s that then?” Martin dropped himself down next to Leon on the bench.

“Fuck knows. Cam’ dropped it. Look like a play or something.” He passed it to Martin who looked at the cover and passed it right back.

“I can’t read French man, can youse?”

“Naw, it’s in English inside. Just called something about yellow in French on the cover. Anyway,” he rolled the booklet up and stuffed it into his back pocket, “shall we head over to drink some of Malky’s booze?” With that he drained the last of his bottle, dropped it on the floor and got to his feet.

“Aye, come on then.” Martin stood finishing his wine in a single gulp. “Though if he starts touching me I’m calling Child Line!”

“He’s not a paedo! And besides, if he was I think you would be safe from him. You’re ugly as fuck an ‘aw. I wouldn’t nonce you up if were a paedo.”

With that they headed across the park towards Malky’s flat in the high rise blocks.

#

Leon awoke lying on the floor of Malky’s flat. The sun, bereft of heat but blinding nonetheless, streaming through his curtainless windows and punching holes of screaming agony straight through his eyes and deep into his brain.

“Aw, my fucking God.”

He rolled over and flung his arm across his face to protect himself from the golden needles of fire that were trying to embed themselves deeper and deeper into his head. After laying there for ten minutes groaning and praying to anyone that would listen for either the pain to go away or for someone to kill him outright Leon sat up.

Malky the Paedo’s flat was in an even worse state than it normally was. Things appeared to have gotten especially messy last night. Their visit to Malky the not-a-paedo had been well timed as he had, that morning, gotten his sick money and so Martin and Leon had generously offered to go to Satish’s for him, thus saving him the effort of walking all the way across the park to pick up booze. Of course they paid themselves a purple can of Tennants Super for the effort and drank that on the way back. After which there had been vodka. Lots, and lots of vodka. Followed by another trip to Satish’s just before 10 o’clock for yet more vodka. Then Martin had pulled the booklet Cameron had dropped from Leon’s pocket and started reading aloud from it in a pompous faux English accent. Because, so far as Martin was concerned, only English people liked plays – posh English people at that. He had then passed it to Malky who continued reading, and even sang some of it. Leon had taken a turn and then the bottle was passed around again and after that things just went black.

Slowly, very slowly lest he throw up, Leon got to his feet and went for a piss. After he had finished, and assured himself that he wasn’t going to throw up, he went back to the living room and checked all the vodka bottles for hair of the dog. Empty, every last one of them. He poked his head into Malky’s bedroom and there were Malky and Martin sleeping top and tail in Malky’s bed. He tried to take a photograph to send around to everybody but the battery on his phone was completely dead. “Piece of shit”, he put it back in his pocket and pulled out a ten pound note. Malky’s change from the final trip to Satish’s last night. He put it back in his pocket, grabbed his coat and Cam’s weird black book and quietly let himself out of the flat.

Leon shut the door quietly behind himself, put his coat on and walked towards the door to the lifts, his trainers squeaking on the cheap tiled flooring. Pulling open the heavy green fire door the stench of piss and stale alcohol hit him bodily and made him retch, bend double, and almost vomit. Standing on the landing, staring directly at him, was Cameron Wiley. A black moth the size of his face fluttering about his head.

“You got here then, aye?”

Leon’s hand slipped from the door as his body reeled and he threw up the remnants of the previous night’s excess. His mouth and eyes burning from the vodka, tonic wine, and God knows what else that now lay splashed about the floor before him Leon dry heaved once more and then stood straight -his head swimming. He pulled the door open. The landing was empty.

“Cam?” He poked his head through the door. There was no Cameron, no bloody big moth. Not even the smell that had set his stomach churning. Cautiously, one hand on the door frame the other holding the door open, he walked out onto the lifts landing. There was no one there. Opposite the lift doors was the drying area, used more for people storing crap they didn’t want to have to take down 14 floors to throw away than for the drying of clothes, into which Cameron could have ducked. The door to the drying area hung slightly ajar.

“Cameron?” Leon reached out and gently pushed the door with the tips of his fingers letting it swing open under its own weight. Stepping into the half light of the drying area he could see that there was no Cameron Wiley in there. Just a worn out sofa, a broken pushchair and a few mouldering cardboard boxes.

Confused and trying to remember if he done anything besides drink too much the previous night Leon backed out onto the landing and called the lift.

Leon leaned against the tarnished checkerplate of the lift wall and closed his eyes, blotches of technicolour static swam in the darkness behind his lids. Each small side to side movement of the lift felt like the carriage was swinging wildly free of the confines of the enclosing lift shaft. Grateful that he had already thrown up his stomach contents Leon opened his eyes. The lift had already reached the ground floor and the doors had opened without him realising. Beyond the doors the entrance hallway was dark, the normally harsh neon strip light in the ceiling was dimmed to a sickly orange-yellow colour and beyond the hallway, through the reinforced glass window of the heavy green metal door Leon could see that the world beyond was dim.

“Fuck this.” He hit the door close button and the doors juddered back together. The lift shook for a moment and the doors opened once more onto the dim hallway. Once, twice, three times he tried the door close button and each time the same result. The lift juddered and the doors opened. He backed up to the rear wall of the lift and slid down until he was sat on the floor staring disbelievingly at the tepidly illuminated hallway and the greyer than usual world beyond.

Remembering the staircase Leon rose cautiously to his feet. He may not like the thought of walking up 14 floors, 28 flights of stairs – two per floor, back to Malky’s flat but he liked the thought of venturing beyond the confines of the tower block even less. Placing one hand on the door jam he leaned slowly out from the lift looking first to his left and then to his right, the hall was deserted, the door to the staircase was a mere fifteen feet to his right and beyond that the climb to safety, if not sanity, fourteen floors above.

Leon stepped from the lift, the carriage juddered as he stepped onto the the tiled floor of the hall and the doors creaked closed once more. From beyond the closed doors he heard the sound of the lift beginning its ascent.

“Oh, for fucks sake man!” Leon threw his hands to his head before hurriedly pressing the lift call button. He hammered on the button but to no effect. The lift continued its climb and the doors remained closed. Considering whether to wait for the lift or begin his ascent a glance behind him at the unnatural twilight beyond the main door made his mind up for him. He would climb.

Hope you like what you read. 🙂

 

NaNoWriMo

Shouldn’t it be InaNoWriMo really?

I’ve decided to give NaNoWriMo a go this year and use it as a bit of a fun way to drive myself through the first draft of a story idea I’ve been kicking around for a year or so now. The story is, mostly, set in Glasgow and focusses on a young, working class, single mother. She experiences a tragic encounter with the supernatural and finds herself struggling both with the aftermath of the tragedy, the supernatural forces behind it and her own position as a proletarian woman. Kinda like a blend of traditional Cosmic Horror, New Weird and just a dash of Social(ist) Realism. 🙂

I’ve been thinking of it as a series of three novellas which can either stand alone or be stitched together as a longer narrative. This will be part one of Marie’s Story.

I’ve set up a word count tracker in the left hand sidebar to try and egg me on to get my daily count done. Should be fun.

nanowrimo-nov03-2012

Saor|Aura

Today has been a somewhat metallic one 🙂 I do like to listen to music when I work and so was trawling the internets for something new to play today. I discovered this guy when I was going through the ‘atmospheric black metal’ tag on Bandcamp(don’t judge me! 😡 ) and blimey, he’s really good. Well, if you like atmospheric celtic black metal that is. 😀 Plus he’s from Weegie Land just up the road which is always nice. His name’s Andy Marshall and the band name, Saor, is Gaelic for “free”.

Aw B******s

Well, that went well didn’t it? I’m referring, of course, to the vote for Scottish independence that happened last Thursday. For months I had refused to allow myself to become optimistic but as we entered the final week before the vote it seemed like thing might go the way I hoped. 97% of people registered to vote which I took to be a good sign surely people weren’t going to go to such an effort to maintain the status quo? Especially when that status quo is responsible for devastating poverty, people starving to death or killing themselves as a direct result of the attacks carried out by the state upon the poorest and most vulnerable in our society rather than simply a large number of 3 chord pop-rock songs. It seems that I was wrong about that.

It’s saddening, it really is. There is some hope though. 45%(ish) voted yes to independence and that’s a hell of a result considering that the full weight of the British media and state was behind Project Fear, the No Campaign, in spreading lies and misinformation.

The other really saddening thing is that the optimism and joy of the yes campaign has been trumped by the mean, cold, and horrible ugliness of British Loyalism. Compare the scenes below.

YES-George-Sq YES-George-Sq-2 No-George Sq No-George Sq-2

 

In the top two images we see people involved in the Yes campaign on the day of the vote. Partying and celebrating. Below we see the ugly scenes as British loyalists came to ‘celebrate’ the No campaign victory with violence and bigotry. Look at these fuds abusing a Glaswegian councillor outside the council offices on Friday as they flocked to George Square to cause trouble. Rule Britannia, Britons always, always, always will be slaves.

Still, at least there is the possibility of another referendum at some point in the future. Though I’m certain that Westminster will have stitched things up by then to ensure Scotland’s continued poverty either way. I love Scotland, I really do. I’ve lived here for over a decade and I’ve been, for the most part, happy as larry. Now however I’m seriously considering leaving. Not just Scotland but the UK entirely. There are far better places to live and raise a family, we just have to decide which one to flee to. Operation Sinking Ship starts now.

The Vandermeers are Coming to Town!

So this is probably the most exciting local news I’ve heard for a bit. Glaswegian author Neil Williamson has organised with Waterstones on Argyll Street to host an evening with Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. Not only that but they will be joined by Glasgow’s own Hal Duncan and Amal el-Mohtar. Excited? I think I am. 😀

The event is on the 21st of August(the day before my birthday – how perfect is that?) at 7pm. Tickets are free but need to be booked in advance by calling the store.

WATERSTONE’S GLASGOW ARGYLE ST
Thursday, 21 August 2014, 7:00PM – 8:30PM
Tickets are free, call to reserve

We are pleased to announce an evening with the talented Ann and Jeff VanderMeer who will be in conversation with Glasgow’s masters of the fantastic: Amal El-Mohtar, Hal Duncan and Neil Williamson. Join us in a celebration of the weird and wonderful world of science fiction and fantasy with some of the genre’s most talented authors.

Further Details: 0141 248 4814

The Weird comes to Glasgow, at last! 😀

URGENT: Please help Aziz and Gemma!

*URGENT: Please help Aziz and Gemma!*

**Aziz Hussini (Home Office Ref: *H1206065*) is currently in detention
and is due to be forcibly removed from the UK to Afghanistan on *Monday
12^rd March*, on charter flight *PVT081* to Kabul at *23:10.*

**

**

The UK Borders Agency arrested 18 year old Aziz on his wedding day,
bursting into the Registry Office and dragging him away. Waiting to walk
down the aisle, Gemma, his distraught fiancé, who is a British citizen,
did not know what was happening until 2 UKBA officials in their stab
proof vests came out to tell her that her wedding could not happen
because they had detained her fiancé.

**

/Aziz and Gemma Gemma on the morning of her wedding/

Aziz and Gemma have been together for over a year, and were planning a
life together before they were torn apart by Border Agency officials.
Gemma is beside herself with worry, and hasn’t eaten or slept properly
since Monday, when she was supposed to get married.Gemma first met Aziz
in February last year, and says that /“When I first saw him, the
connection was there straight away, we’ve been together ever
since”./This is not a ‘sham marriage’, Gemma has had an ‘/A’/ tattood
behind her ear at Christmas as a symbol of her commitment to Aziz, and
is learning Dari, Aziz’s native language.She says she will fly to
Afghanistan to live with Aziz if necessary.

Their relationship has never been properly considered by the UKBA even
though they clearly knew he was due to get married on the day that he
was detained at the Registry Office.

Aziz arrived in the UK 2009 as an unaccompanied minor. Despite a
difficult start, Aziz is flourishing in Glasgow.When he first arrived in
the UK, he couldn’t speak a word of English, but is now hoping to study
at University and has many close friends who he has met through
collage.After first studying English, Aziz is now working for an HNC in
Computing, where Gemma says he worked twice as hard as everyone else.In
Glasgow, he was completed a voluntary work placement as textiles artist
with Little Persia,a Persian rug shop in Glasgow.He has also received
awards from the John Muir Environmental Award, and an accreditation from
the ASDAN charitable foundation, illustrating his commitment to his
local community.

Forcibly removing Aziz to Afghanistan would be a devastating violation
of his Right to a Family and Private Life (Article 8 of the European
Convention of Human Rights, 1998 Human Rights Act).The UKBA didn’t even
bother to consider Gemma when they refused to allow Aziz to continue
with his life in the UK, claiming that /“There is no evidence that the
appellant has any close family in the UK”./Now that they’ve ruined Gemma
and Aziz’s wedding, they must know that this isn’t the case.

However, Aziz is also terrified that if he is returned, he will never be
reunited with Gemma.His life is in danger in Afghanistan, which he fled
after being commissioned to make satirical depictions of a
fundamentalist party leader on a carpet.Aziz has lost contact with his
family, so will have no-one to support or protect him, and would be left
alone and afraid in an impoverished and dangerous country he has had no
contact with for the three years he has been in the UK.

Aziz is due to be forcibly removed on one of the infamous charter
flights used by the UKBA for mass deportations of people to the same
country. Flight number PVT 081 is scheduled to depart at 23.10 to Kabul
on Monday evening.

These charter flights have been regularly criticised. In particular,
guards accompanying the detainees have been criticised for using
excessive force as there are not any other passengers to act as
witnesses. Similarly concern has been expressed about the UKBA’s
practise of substituting people at the last minute without warning to
fill spaces on the flight left by people whose lawyers managed to
successfully get them off the flight.

**

*Please urgently contact the Home Secretary, Theresa May, your MP, and
Aziz’s MP, Ann McKechin, to ask them to halt the forced removal of Aziz,
and allow him to stay in Glasgow, with Gemma, where he belongs.*

**

*Contact the Home Secretary:***

Theresa May, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office
2 Marsham Street

London

SW1 4DF

email: mayt@parliament.uk <mailto:mayt@parliament.uk>

UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk
<mailto:UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk>

CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk <mailto:CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk>

Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
<mailto:Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk>

Contact Aziz’s MP too

Ann McKechin MP,

154-156 Raeberry Street

Glasgow

G20 6EA

tel:0141 946 1300 or 020 7219 8239

fax:0141 946 1412 or 020 7219 1770

email:anne.mckechin.mp@parliament.uk
<mailto:anne.mckechin.mp@parliament.uk> /

http://annmckechinmp.net/contact-ann/email-ann

The UNITY Centre
30 Ibrox Street
Glasgow
G51 1AQ

0141 427 7992
www.unitycentreglasgow.org <http://www.unitycentreglasgow.org>
PLEASE NOTE NEW EMAIL ADDRESS: info@unitycentreglasgow.org
<mailto:info@unitycentreglasgow.org>

The UNITY Centre is run entirely by volunteers and funded completely by
donations from our supporters. We need your help! If you would like to
help by making a donation or by volunteering you can find more details
on our website. Thank you! UNITY!

Template Letter Aziz & Gemma (.doc)