The Space Mosque: The Future of Religious Architecture

Religious architecture is often seen in the UK as something of a bygone era, however this is simply not the case in other areas of the world…

When you think of Istanbul you think of towering masterpieces of Ottoman Architecture from ages past. Giant baroque buildings like the Blue Mosque and the magnificent Byzantine former Church Ia Sofia. Many of Istanbul’s newer mosques seem like cheap copies of the Blue Mosque. It very much looks like a copy/paste situation a lot of the time.

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However not the Marmara Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Cami (In English: Marmara University Faculty of Theology Mosque), or as I have dubbed it: the Space Mosque

I remember the curiosity surrounding this strange new mosque as it was being built. I 20161228_152041remember going past on a bus and someone saying “Saruman gibi”- “it looks like something of Saruman’s”. Of course referring to the minarets that look more like the spires of Isengard from Lord of the Rings! From the outside it at first seems utterly bizarre, looking more like it would belong in a star trek film than in a modern Muslim city. It might even look a little soviet!

The spiraling dome seems extremely odd. It hardly even looks like one! It’s all so geometric! It looks 20161228_152240more like a weird ice cream cone than a mosque. The minarets really do look like they should sending transmissions to distant alien civilisations. There is nonetheless something radical about the prominent use of triangular shapes as opposed to the very rounded forms seen in most other Turkish mosques. Almost organic Ottoman cathedrals give way to a new interpretation of mosque design.

It’s pure white architecture seems relatively minimalist compared to the average local Cami. However on closer inspection there is much continuity with Islamic tradition. The pattern of the mesh over the windows is reminiscent of the Ottoman love of foliage in architectural form. The green streak across the dome pays homage to the tradition of green as the colour of paradise in Islam. A mosque that is white all over, but the only other colour in it’s pallette is full of meaning…

However, as soon as you step inside, the atmosphere changes. Gone is the noise of the teeming traffic and building projects. Gone is the biting cold of an Istanbul winter.

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It’s like stepping into a hot spring. The air is warm and silent. Only the sound of a small fountain in the centre of the prayer hall and the whispering of prayers to the Lord can be heard. Beautiful calligraphy lines the walls. White and gold become almost one as you stare around the beauty of the prayer hall. The Mihrab (the archway at the front of the prayer hall that points towards Mecca) is delicately and intricately beautiful. The soft glow of the lights behind the gold seems to fill you with a knowledge of God’s tenderness. Many mosques are a filled with a flurry of colour, however this pallete just glows with warmth.

The inside of the mosque seems at first to be far more traditional that outside. However the unique design is evident in the sheer expanse of the prayer hall and it’s geometric organisation. The design of the fountain and calligraphy lining the walls can be found in many other mosques

But then you look up…

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I don’t know why people don’t compare mosques to cathedrals more because this is awe inspiring. You can finally see why it is so oddly shaped on the outside. Light streams in through the gorgeous skylight and the green windows seem like giant emeralds pointed towards heaven. The spiraling geometric shapes give the illusion of roundess and organicness. The eye cannot help but marvel at it.

Religious architecture in Turkey is dynamic and fresh, far from the tired old churches that dot the UK. If anything this mosque teaches us that religion and regression do not go hand in hand. Creativity and innovation are charged by ideas and Islam is no different from the rest in the sheer creativity of it’s adherents.

If you are reading from Turkey, I want to see more of this innovation. If you are in Britain, think what we could do to revamp our own tired old religious buildings if we put our mind to it…

International Women’s Day And Eden

What Happens When You Just Really Hate Those Bloomin’ Conservatives/Liberals?

You may notice I have been quite quiet on the blogging front in the past few months. Why? Because the news is thoroughly depressing, for me at least. Why would you want to read 170129105148-donald-trump-extreme-vetting-executive-order-01-27-2017-large-169the news when more war is happening, more horrible things are being said by different people, more chaos… What is the point of even having my voice out there if it can’t do anything to help the ocean of human suffering that’s already out there?

A few weeks ago, when our good friend Donald Trump instituted his travel ban I nearly blew my top. I like to think of myself as a not-hateful person who is pretty chill with everyone to a certain degree. If you disagree with me on something, to be honest I won’t really mind if your views differ from mine as long as you’re a good person. I know it’s jargon and something that every flipping person in the world says ALL THE TIME:

“We should respect all people’s beliefs! *three days later* ”

But I’ll be honest, most people don’t have control over government policy so if you disagree with me over the NHS or something I don’t really mind that much.

But…

travel20ban20gfx_1485837640076_7967119_ver1-0These last few months I really felt that the rubber was hitting the road. We have squabbled, we have had our petty little arguments, people everywhere have been belittled by someone or other. Liberals (people of a left-leaning perspective, aka Guardian readers) seem to have been in a state of shocked disbelief about the state of the world. I remember thinking that Britain could never possibly vote for Brexit. I remember thinking that Trump could never possibly get elected. Well here we are and the liberal establishment has no idea what to do.

But now the rubber hits the road. These things are actually happening. Now your money has to go where your mouth is. No one can sit back and hope everything just works out.

However…

The important thing though, is never slip into hate. I find it increasingly difficult not to just spew venom and people saying things I disagree with. But no one is evil. Most people have good and honest intentions. Once you get into the territory of smear campaigns you become no better than a certain orange person I shan’t name.

Many of my close friends are Trump supporters. They are not stupid, they are not ignorant or hateful people. Yet I know so many people who think they are. A friend of mine went to an anti-trump rally in central London a few weeks ago and told me that many of the posters were personally attacking trump rather than his travel ban. Once we start to hate certain individuals or vague ideas of what they represent rather than what they actually do then we are becoming needlessly bitter and hateful. If you have something to be angry about, then be specific.

I have no personal vendetta against any Brexiters I know or even for the idea of Brexit itself. In all honesty I don’t know enough to have authority on the situation and I doubt anyone does really. However I do have a problem with Nigel Farage. I would be inclined to spew venom on his personality (I’m really holding myself back here) but I should not personally hate anyone. I strongly dislike his claim that the 350 million pounds that we pay to the EU every year could be rerouted into the NHS because he disowned it after the vote. So, basically, he lied. A yearning in our country to fix the wounded master piece that is the NHS was exploited by this man. People’s votes were influenced by a lie.

Certain words that I am too polite to say come to mind. However, railing at Farage because he looks like a racist frog will solve nothing. Just because I really really don’t like him as a person, it probably doesn’t mean anything will happen. If anything it’ll make it worse as I don’t be the better person.

I saw a video of our dear friend Piers Morgan who said that Trump’s Travel Ban was not a piers-morgan-jim-jefferiesmuslim ban. Personally I disagree with him and I will say this, I do not like him as a person. However I do think that the way he was treated by comedian Jim Jefferies did not help the debate.

F–k off! Oh f–k off, it’s a f–king Muslim ban,” Jefferies exclaimed. “He said there would be a Muslim ban, there’s a Muslim ban…. This is what you do, Piers, you say, ‘He hasn’t done this, he hasn’t done that, he’s not going to do that.’ Give him a f–king chance, mate! Hitler didn’t kill the Jews on the first day; he worked up to it.”

Fair enough. Tensions were high. Morgan lends himself to being…frustrating. However Jefferies fitted directly into Morgan’s argument. He was shouting expletives, insulting him, and making Nazi comparisons. Fortunately for Jefferies he was in a crowd of like minded people but how would that argument stand up to a wider audience? Does it actually give help to refugees? Does it actually solve any problems? No. It widens the gap.

Teasing Trump for his small hands and his orange tan will do very little. I dare say accusing 170109125844-02-meryl-streep-golden-globes-2017-super-teasehim of sexism will do very little either. Bless you Meryl Streep but your speech at the Golden Globes is a textbook example of someone that can be transformed into the leftie-liberal lovies that we all seem to have so much now. Good for you, you really tore into the president there, you really destroyed him. Woohoo.

The point is that our camp is no longer our facebook bubble or our place to vent about things that don’t really affect us. Things will affect you and those around you. Study up on the reasons why you believe things. Actually look at the economics behind leaving the EU, understand why people hold certain views, and understand that the members of the other camp are not all idiots.

Focus on real issues. The refugee crisis and Trump’s attempt at the Travel Ban are examples of real world things. The NHS crisis is about people’s lives. It’s got nothing to do with Trump’s small hands or Theresa May looking like Margaret Thatcher.

Once disagreement turns into animosity and once that turns into hate, rational argument is useless. Don’t be the petty one.

Left-Wing Orientalism and Communism

artist_93586Of all the celebrities to die this year, Fidel Castro has to be the most controversial. Why am I calling Castro a celebrity? For all the coverage in much of the western press he might as well have been. In this post-cold war age of re-evaluating an American bias towards history, Castro can often be seen as a sort of David to America’s Goliath. On the day of his death several people not least British Labour Party leader (lol) Jeremy Corbyn came out and named him a great figure of social justice in the world.

Ah yes brilliant. What an excellent way to make that socialist pill easier for the general public to swallow. We think Castro was a pretty swell guy! Ignoring all the totalitarianism, political executions, censorship, and of course the million or so Cubans that left the Island. I will admit there is a certain mystique around his character that many of find attractive, however when you strip away all the mythology I wouldn’t want him running my country.

And this is the problem. Figures such as Castro are viewed with a left-wing brand of Orientalism. He is this mysterious left-wing hero who somehow makes communism work in far off tropical lands. Where is the left going? Is it so out of touch that it admires the theory and ideas behind someone like Castro but ignores the human cost?

I have seen first hand what it is to live in a communist state.

As a child in China I attended a Chinese state school for a few years. The Chinese education system was very rigorous and heavily based upon the memorization of facts. One figure 1487455855_fc4aebb9f6_bloomed over the whole thing. Mao Ze Dong (or Mao Tse Tung depending on how you pronounce it). His picture was in every classroom and the red and yellow of the Chinese flag flew over every school and public place. In the centre of the town where I lived there was a giant statue of the great Leader himself, proclaiming hope and glory over the city. Vast and imposing, he was there, a statement of the power and authority of the Chinese Government in the region.

Guess what? Mao was a pretty awesome socialist leader too! John McDonnell, a high ranking Labour minister, produced his own copy of Mao’s Little Red Book (quotations from Mao Tse Dong, a symbol of the cultural revolution) earlier this year in parliament. The Great Leap Forward? Oh yea that great work of socialist engineering! What an awesome guy. Never mind the tens of millions of people who died! Mao was a pretty decent chap!

Every Monday morning at my old school we would have to dress up in school uniform and line up in the playground. We would face the flag flying high and salute as the Chinese national anthem was sung by all the students. The children of Communist Party leaders were of course the ones at the front doing the honours of the flag raising. When that was done, a student would read out a speech about which class had done the best at their me and dan.pngstudies and who was to receive a red ribbon for their efforts. They might as well have been awarding factory workers for producing more coal.

A system of informing was ingrained into kids early on. Telling on kids who did not do their homework or grassing on a naughty child was encouraged. Being a general tattle tale was not something that was viewed as socially unacceptable, in fact it could make you climb the ranks of social status in the school. It took me a while to get out of this mentality myself after I left.

My point is this, be very careful who or what we trivialize. To all our liberal leaders: understand what exactly communism is before you evoke it in some way. Bashing American political figures over cold war propaganda is fine, but lets remember the Soviet Union wasn’t exactly a paradise. The west seems to have a strange fascination for North Korea like one would have for a weird caged animal, of course ignoring the medieval regime. Albeit relatively benign, I’ve had a little taste of a communist state myself. It is not something to be trivialised.

Figures such as Castro and Mao should not be treated lightly. The left needs to be very careful with who it chooses as it’s main figures. Castro and Mao are not celebrities. They are not trivial stock characters.

The reason I say this is because of this…

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Some figurines of the Chairman in an oriental curiosity shop in North London. Little figurines of a great socialist leader for every North London household. Perfect for all the family. A little symbol of oppression for your own living room.

The Mao statues are surrounded by skulls, Buddhas, and crocodiles, left-wing Orientalism indeed.

Liberals and socialists… we need to tread very carefully…

How to Sort Your Life Out

turkish-pilaf

Seriously?

For goodness sake what is this? You’re doing it wrong again.

I apologise whole heartedly to all of you from the mediterranean world but heres the thing. Your pilav (rice) is wrong. Just wrong. So wrong. Wronger than wrong.

Honestly what do you think you’re doing????

Sigh.

Ok here’s what to do. I’m going to tell you how to make Polo (p-Uh-lo, not polo as in the china-central-asia-800-080512sport) another life saving dish from Central Asia. Sometimes called Plov in Kyrgyztan or Uzbekistan but in Xinjiang, China, it’s called Polo. And it’s the real deal.

Get lots of rice. I mean lots.

Get yourself some mutton. Not lamb, mutton. I’ve already told you this but I just have to keep telling you. However, don’t just get normal mutton. Make sure it has plenty of fat and gristle on it. Be sure to get really nice wads of meat, but also some of the most fatty bits of sheep you can find.

Get some carrots. Get some onions. Get a whole blooming clove of garlic. Also get some raisins if you’re brave enough. Finally you’ve got to get your cumin. cuminseeds

CUMIN IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SPICE IN THE WORLD. IF YOU AREN’T USING CUMIN JUST GENERALLY IN YOUR FOOD YOU REALLY NEED TO RECONSIDER YOUR COOKING.

Also none of this chickpea rubbish. Ugh. Why would you put chickpeas in this dish?

Ok… you’ve get the stuff you need. Let me show you what you will be making….

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I know right? Isn’t she beautiful? Wonderful rice dripping with a red gold grease from the succulent mutton. As the dish cooks all of the juices from the meat are absorbed into the rice and carrots, creating a dish that is endless in succulence and deliciousness. The sweetness of the carrots slightly offsets the saltiness of the dish, creating a wonderful combination. The mutton itself should be tender and juicy, best eaten with the hands if you can. A topping of spinach is ideal for this dish.

a053As a side I would recommend bansantze, a light, vinegary, salad like dish that goes very well with the heaviness of the Polo.

It is eaten usually on a large plate that is shared between several people. The rice is heaped onto the platter and each person will hollow out an area of the mound for themselves. The mutton tops the lovely pile and can be eaten at any point in the hollowing out process.

What you have here is another example of perfection. A delightfully tasty dish that is full of surprisingly subtle flavours along with the pure glory of greasy stodge. When done just right the dish does not appear stodgy or fatty at all, but bursting with all round ready_4deliciousness.

Central Asia knows where it’s at. For goodness sake mediterranean cuisine (and everyone else) sort your rice dishes out.

Try doing so at Food.com or BBC good food

Adulting: The Sanctity of Adulthood

“Millennials are all crybabies, all superficial selfie takers who stay at home all the time and feel they deserve a reward for getting a loaf of bread from the cornershop…”

“All millennials want to be treated like special snowflakes, well, they should just get on with life and stop asking for special treatment!”

Non-millennials hating on millennials, in my own words.

I disagree, obviously. The path to adulthood is much less clear cut than it was in the second half of the 20th century. Now we are in the 21st, where economies are squeezed and jobs are scarce for many people. Millennials, the young, the netflix generation, whatever, are at the bottom of the pile. A friend of mine who recently graduated from university said she couldn’t even get a cafe job because she had no experience. How then will any of us get something more than a cafe job if we have no experience?

Housing is squashed and rents are rising. Benefits are harder to get, global warming and economic difficulty looms over our futures.

I would ask of those in their ivory towers of age not to judge us then. Fair enough, everyone has lived through hard times and hard work should not be shied away from. However no one should judge another. Telling millennials to shut up, get off their phones and out of their safe spaces will only create more animosity.

However…

What is a millennial? It’s difficult to tell. Some people say they are those born between 1980 and 1994; other times in conversation the phrase is used to refer to those born AFTER the year 2000. Others have said it is the generation who is coming into young adulthood in the 2010s. It’s all very confusing. However I hope my words will be of help to those between the ages of 18 and 31. I may be wildly inaccurate in my definition of millennial but, to be honest, there is no widely accepted definition.

Anyway, ‘adulting’…

It is a term that we millennials have started using to describe the new (to us) concept of being an adult. It is a tongue in cheek phrase used to explain the doing of ‘adult’ things that are usually not 636028451881153836-1170072345_6358425115121491022038595759_110-750x400particularly fun. It can range from doing your washing on the same day each week to having your career entirely sorted out for the next 10 years. The phrase “ugh I have to adult tomorrow” is a classic use of this word. It is a way of venting about coping with a new form of life away from the comforts of childhood.

Seems irritating, right? When did ‘adulting’ become a thing? It’s surely just young whippersnappers complaining about being away from the cushy, spoiled environment of their parents homes.

I disagree.

The term is a coping mechanism with our future. As I’ve already described, most millennials are not particularly hopeful about the future. A slightly fatalistic attitude seems to pervade most of us who have just entered the world of adulthood. Our situation is not the same as it was for those 20 years ago.

However, I want to posit something new.

Millennials, we need to embrace adulthood. We need to do away with the idea of adulthood as being something that we have spent our whole lives up till now trying to avoid. The weight attached to the ‘university experience’ is a large part of this. The idea that university will be the best times of your life and that everything after that is doom and gloom is monumentally depressing for many millennials. The same could be said for school, but I’m fairly certain most sane groups of humanity agree that school wasn’t heaven for most of us.

In a world that worships youth and pleasure, let’s not be deluded into thinking that the first stage of life is all there is.

Beyond ‘adulting’ our language is full of positivity surrounding the concept of adulthood. Why is ‘maturity’ considered a good thing? Why is ‘coming of age’ a good thing? ‘Growing up’ implies the positivity of development. Similarly, ‘When I grow up’ points to the freedom and potential of being in charge of your own life.

To be ‘asleep’ is generally a bad thing in our language as well. This seems odd, considering most of my colleagues think of sleep as a good thing, the desire for ‘nap time’ is a common theme among many millennials. The idea of being ‘asleep at the wheel’ has negative connotations of not being aware of what you are doing. The idea of armies of zombies tied to smartphones is so horrifying to us because it implies we are ignoring the world around us…and it’s not far from the truth.

Millennials, let’s not be the zombies that society thinks we are. I know it’s hard. It’s so easy to drown our worries in social media, computer games, and netflix. Let’s not be in our own bubble. Look at the world outside; we need to become part of it. If your elders scoff at you, don’t turn away and ignore them, engage with them. Let’s be the better people by engaging with our world. Take pride in taking control: becoming an adult is a good thing. You are coming into your own, becoming a self-sufficient person, in control of your own destiny. No other generation has been so tolerant of others, no other generation is as aware of the environment, and no other generation is as unified as ours.

We are just coming of age. The world will one day be ours. Let’s make sure we are ready for it, we will seize it by the throat.

But only as adults.

 

 

‘Experts’ Need to Embrace The Politics of Emotion

2016 has very much been the year where experts have been proven wrong, first in the case of Brexit and now in the man himself Trump. I hate to quote the lizard Michael Gove but “I think people have had enough of experts”. The idea that experts and academics are thoroughly divorced from reality seems to be everywhere.

In his letter to New Zealand the esteemed scientist and writer Richard Dawkins said “There are top scientists in America and Britain – talented, creative people, desperate to escape the redneck bigotry of their home countries”. He also points out “Science in both Professor Richard Dawkins Promotes His New Book "Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist"countries (the UK and US) will be hit extremely hard: in the one case, by the xenophobically inspired severing of painstakingly built-up relationships with European partners; in the other case by the election of an unqualified, narcissistic, misogynistic sick joke as president.”

I’ll be honest, his last sentence seems a bit rich given that he has stirred up controversy himself with his comments on Down’s Syndrome and date rape. His comments do not cast academia in a good light.

I can see his point about the decline of science. I don’t really see science as a whole benefitting from recent events. However I object to how he proposes to fix this, by making scientists flee to more ‘progressive’ countries.

It would seem that Dawkins is suggesting that scientists should retreat to the ivory tower of New Zealand. This only increases the image of experts as snobs who look down on the rest of the world.

This banging on in the liberal media about “post-truth politics” is yet another brand of
this deeply belittling worldview. I understand what they are getting at, considering donald-trump-got-only-8-words-into-his-campaign-before-we-found-a-seriously-questionable-factTrumps comments on global warming as a Chinese plot. However the language they use is
ridiculously patronising. If the Left is to win converts it must be sensitive and wise with how it uses it’s words. The brushing aside of millions of people as ‘bigots’ or ‘rednecks’ will not help anybody.

The rise of the new politics of emotion is dangerous. Things like Nigel Farage’s promise for 350 million extra spending money to be channeled into the NHS show the extent to which no one really knows whats going on. The grasping for for vague but comforting ideas seems to be the norm.

The Left needs more emotion.

Hang on. I don’t mean we need a leftie Trump. However liberals need to worth consider how to reconnect with people.

Where do liberals come from then? How do we make a start? Much of the liberal intelligentsia finds its roots in academia, universities and colleges. Surely this is a good place to start? A brilliant place to start if we are to deal with the likes of Dawkins.

In my own experience of the academic world I was often struck by the specificity of the things we studied. It depended on the seniority of the professor but case studies and specialties were the norm. The concept of a grand narrative spanning a nation’s history was not particularly fashionable. No single person could possibly know enough to authoritatively tell the story of an entire peoples history.

And surely that’s what everyone longs for? A story. A story in which your family and the places you love feature.

winston_churchill_statue_parliament_square_london_croppedI for one was fascinated by Winston Churchill as a child, a biting wit and stoic attitude I thought he was an example of Britishness. “We shall fight them on the beaches…” is slightly cliched now but I found it very inspiring as a child. My grandfather regaled me with stories of the blitz and then Mr. Churchill’s voice would come on the wireless. The bomb ravaged streets suddenly seemed safer, his voice was immensely encouraging to my young grandfather. A fantastic and haunting statue of Churchill stands outside the Houses of Parliament Surely a great British hero?

Academia taught me a different story. As I studied History at university a new, aggressive, upper class, drunk, and imperialist vision of Churchill entered my mind. He was not the hero of my childhood. His white mans burden attitudes were shocking to me and immediately I disowned him. How could a hero of mine hold such views I found offensive to my own?

My hero, and part of my story, was dead.

Now what my university taught me was true. Part of academics job is to argue about what the truth is. This is vitally important to our world since a huge amount of problems are caused by peoples lack of knowledge. So much prejudice would go away if everyone was on good terms with some people from another country.

But academia and the intelligentsia it produces need something more than truth. Experts need to embrace emotion.

The way people feel is a truth. It is not the whole truth but it is a neglected part of it.

For all of Churchill’s views and ideas, I am thankful that he comforted my grandfather in his time of need. My grandparents and their generation had their minds of rest because of his speeches. I have a deep respect for my grandparents and even though I don’t agree with them on many things, I respect their story. Because its part of my own.

I have used history as an example because it is my field. However the likes of Dawkins would do well to understand human emotion in their work and how best to appeal to it.

Embracing emotion will be a slippery slope, every story has its heroes and villains. Academics must be sure to maintain balance. However what people want to hear is a story. Trump is, Farage is.

Experts must captivate us once again.

Patriotism Is Not Enough

Well it’s happened hasn’t it? Do I really need to say more?

In all honesty I don’t know what to say. I’ve had friends telling me to add my voice into the mix. However I think thats the problem, the mix is so vast. How can anyone possibly have something unique to say? How can anyone really make a difference in this world of clickbait and self-reinforcement?

Multiple people on the internet have come to realise in the past year that social media is an echo chamber. On Facebook, the people you are friends with are most likely very similar to you. In my case most of them were born in the 90s or 2000s and most are fairly liberal. Zuckerberg knows this and thus his delightful program panders to my likes and desires and feeds me and my friends material that we enjoy looking at. I have touched on this slightly in a previous article.

The British newspaper the Independent is a perfect example of this. Recently it has taken on board a very click-baity and buzzfeed style of reporting with articles like “Nine Times Trump Has Already Betrayed the US Voters Who Put Their Faith in Him“. Of course the Independent remains a fairly prestigious newspaper but it’s slide towards click-bait has seen a noticeable decrease in recent quality. This is no more true than on it’s Indy100 platform which has headlines like “Jeremy Corbyn just made his most scathing criticism of Theresa May yet – by comparing her to Donald Trump“.

Brilliant.

maxresdefaultSo what? Honestly so what? What has Corbyn really done? Will that headline translate into anything serious in the real world? Will the noble and righteous forces of the left go over to America and ‘destroy’ Donald Trump? There have already been multiple times where Obama has apparently “destroyed Donald Trump”, there have been so many points where we have seen Farage made fun of or Republicans been humiliated by Obama’s smooth delivery. And what has that got us?

Nowhere.

What have Corbyn’s impassioned speeches about the welfare state done for us? What have Obama’s mic drops done for us?

Nothing.

As in the UK after Brexit, racist attacks have started to increase in the USA. What is going on here? Who knows? If it is a ‘whitewash’ what do we do with that?

What can I do?

What can you do in the face of so much hatred from both sides? What can we do when people are dehumanised at every turn, be you black or white?

Protect your friends and family from hate and violence as best you can. All this psychoanalysing of every group in the world that is not part of the Liberal Intelligentsia makes me sick. Start from the ground up. Be welcoming to one another, be kind to the stranger and forgive your enemy.

Get out of your echo chamber. Stop reading the scum that is “9 Ways Trump Is the Devil Incarnate” or “15 Ways Michelle Obama Will Be the Messiah”. People are not intrinsically evil. Yes there are plenty of bad people out there and Trump may be one of them, but most of us are not.

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This is might seem cheesy but I’ll say it anyway. On the Wednesday after the election result I was in Trafalgar square. I felt like I could see signs of doom everywhere as I walked around. But then I saw this statue.

Edith Cavell was a British nurse in the First World War who was famous for helping soldiers from both sides of the conflict. She was executed by a German firing squad despite the fact that British, French, Belgian, and German people pleaded for her pardon. Slightly unrelated to the current situation but the quote on her memorial seems more apt than ever.

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On her memorial lies the phrase “Humanity”. Lets not lose sight of that.

You’ve Heard of Marmitegate but Worse is To Come

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I remember the night of the Brexit vote. It was a truly frightening time for me. I had no idea what was going to happen, I had no idea what my future would be like or what the country would be like. David Cameron was busy yammering on about something and Boris was too.

“What am I going to do?” I said, “Surely if we leave the EU I will be doomed!”

Then the next fateful day and my greatest fear came to being. Our nation’s finest product, our nation’s most wonderful invention, conceived of in London’s Brixton area, was cut off from its main production area.

Reggae Reggae Sauce is not produced in the UK but in a factory in Poland. Lord protect us. The lifeblood of chorizo pastas and barbecues everywhere is at risk. With Brexit Reggae Reggae Sauce will surely become extinct from our shelves.

How will we get hold of Reggae Reggae Sauce now? How much will the prices rise? How much uncertainty do I really need in my life? How will we survive without this product? How will we possible be able to have that sweet blend of Caribbean flavours in our food? How will we do what it says on the bottle?

150px-reggae_reggae_sauce
“Put Some Music in Your Food”

Oh silence is not golden it is dark!

For the un-itiated I will let Levi Roots site do most of the talking but once again I need to educate you. Reggae Reggae Sauce is a sauce created by Levi Roots, a Reggae musician and entrepenureal chef who made his name on the TV series Dragon’s Den in 2007. His unique blend of spices created a sweet, tangy, yet slightly peppery product that is ideal for Caribbean dishes but is extremely multi-purpose as a condiment and a staple sauce.

spicychorizopennepas_84044_16x9Of my own experience and recipes I can tell you life won’t be the same. Here’s one thing I’ll tell you won’t be the same without it. Chorizo pasta. How will we possibly be able to add that crowning glory to this already beautiful dish? The sourness of the tomatoes and the sweetness of the sauce along with the meatier taste of the chorizo are accentuated beautifully by Reggae Reggae Sauce. Alternatively it’s a superb addition to barbecued chicken. How will barbecues ever be the same Theresa May? Have you declared war on barbecues?

Oh cry beloved country! This is what we have reduced ourselves to, a Reggae Reggae Sauce-less world! First the great marmite scare of 2016, who knows? A greater catastrophe may yet be looming over the horizon. I am already panic buying, creating an ark of Reggae Reggae Sauce lest we be thrown into darkness.

I have experienced much hate over the years for my love of Reggae Reggae Sauce. I attempt to sing it’s praises and I am shot down, I attempt to tell the world of this joyful product and I am left in the dust. The unfaithful do not have eyes to see so they are worthless to me! Yet soon they may yet see their folly. Repent all ye who do not appreciate putting music into your food! Don’t be one of the unbelievers when judgement comes and all Reggae Reggae Sauce is abolished from Britain!

We may yet live in a reggae reggae sauceless Britain. Silence will reign, no longer shall we be able to put a little music in our food.

You’re Most Likely An Idiot and Here’s Why

lagman
Courtesy of Ottawa Uzbek Cook

You’re all idiots. You’re all ignorant fools. Your lives are just missing that one ingredient, and you know why?

No lagman.

This is a thing that you need in your life.

I completely understand if you don’t have it in your life. Innocent sheeple who have no idea what they’re doing are not to blame for their misgivings. I completely understand if you haven’t even heard of it. How could anyone know about an obscure dish from a tucked away corner of the world?

Well don’t worry. I will tell you about what it is, why you need it, and also how to get it.

Lagman is love. lagman is life. It is the food of the gods, the sustenance of the wise, and the joy of Central Asia. It is a simple yet amazing dish found (to my knowledge) in Northwest China and Kyrgyzstan, an every day dish made by the Uyghur people, a Turkic people from Central Asia.

Imagine your bog standard pot noodle and those thin wiry noodles. Now completely forget those you idiot. Standard dry egg noodles are as shower clogging clumps of hair are to laces of purest gold.

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Real noodles are little short of purest gold. They are much fatter than fake noodles, probably similar round surface area to a plastic straw but twice as long. They are much more smooth as well and if prepared well are moist and succulent. To feel one’s teeth sink into such a delicacy is nothing short of heaven. By far better than the worthless contents of plastic packets lining supermarket shelves. Homemade with the loving care fit for raising the sweetest puppy or a precious child, these noodles are a work of art. Forget actual silk, this is what the silk road was really about.

Now imagine, the human mind may find such loveliness hard to comprehend, a whole pile of these. Yes a whole pile. A bowl full to be exact. I know what you’re thinking, how could such pure wonder be concentrated into such a small space? Believe me it’s possible.

Oh but it doesn’t end there. Imagine these noodles covered in the stir fry of heaven. Tomatoes, green beens, Chinese cabbage, potatoes, peppers, onions and garlic, all the most sacred of vegetables are lovingly added to the best stew on the planet, nigh in all existence. All fried in oil until succulent. However as if these vegetables aren’t enough for sheer perfection, picture another thing for me.

Mutton. Not lamb. Mutton. The meat of a sheep. A sheep. Not a lamb a sheep. You can get much more meat off a sheep than a lamb, any idiot knows this. And you want the good stuff, all the fatty bits and the most tender bits of mutton from the carcass. In Britain our obsession with lamb robs us of so much goodness. Having access to cheap mutton should be the law in this country but that’s for later.

The mutton in lagman is marinaded in cumin and chilli powder for a few hours before cooking, infusing the already beautiful meat with the true essence of divinity. The blessed stuff is the first thing one adds to the stir fry after the onions, setting the pan ablaze with a rich muttony, cuminy taste. Then all the aforementioned vegetables are added and simmered.

Take this time to reflect on your life and meditate over your previous culinary experiences…. and confess that they are all a foolish waste of your time. Then repent of your sins so that you might be worthy to accept the coming feast.

The stew is done, heavens door is ajar a few inches away from you. You get a ladle and plunge it into the pan. Then you apply it to the noodles, waiting patiently in a bowl nearby.

Your work is done.

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Heaven is before you.

I am reminded of a verse from Isaiah about the Year of the Lords Favour. Here is the first glimpse of that.

The perfect blend of spice and stodge sits before you. You will never again feel satisfied by any other meal you eat. It sits in your stomach, providing weight and satisfaction like no other dish in the entire world. Think of it as your firm rock and foundation, the thing that keeps you rooted to the good earth.

Ok.

I hope I’ve made myself clear then. Hopefully you will all educate yourselves now and seek out this goodness. Follow this link to receive the good news straight into your own kitchen, or make a pilgrimage towards this restaurant so that your life may be whole again.

Bless you all.

P.s. I’m ashamed to say it, but packeted Udon noodles are the closest thing I can come to to get these noodles without hours of painstaking labour

(Sources for the last two photos are Bois De Jasmin and Uyghur Bread respectively)