Monday, December 12, 2016

The refugee kids who fled terror in Syria and Iraq, now facing a fresh hell in Lesbos detention camps

Forgotten families plucked from the sea after fleeing death and destruction in Syria and Iraq face a miserable Christmas in limbo on the island of Lesbos.
Extras and Ugly Betty star Ashley Jensen has just returned from a mercy mission to the Greek island where thousands of people are being detained after fleeing their homes and heading to Europe.
She was especially struck by the young mothers forced to bring up their traumatised children in bleak and unhelpful surroundings more akin to ‘a prisoner of war camp’.
Ashley, who has a seven-year-old son Francis, told Metro: ‘The whole atmosphere is desperate and desolate. 
‘These people have the impression they’ve just been forgotten about - it feel like very little’s being done to help them.’
She was visiting in her role as an ambassador for Save The Children, the charity which this Friday holds its annual ‘Christmas Jumper Day’ - encouraging people to donate £2 apiece while wearing festive woolly tops.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ditching of Human Rights Act 'betrays Hillsborough dead'

Families of football fans killed in the Hillsborough disaster are urging Theresa May not to ‘betray’ them by scrapping the Human Rights Act.
‘Justice for the 96’ campaigners are backing a new Amnesty International defence of the act, which proved crucial in securing a second inquest into how and why their loved ones died.
They told Metro how the government’s readiness to repeat the Act could prevent similar disasters from being properly investigated - and instead protect corrupt police and authorities.
They today backed Amnesty International’s new ‘Save The Act’ campaign - launching on Tuesday - to keep the Human Rights Act, which came into force in Britain in 2000.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

"Just let me hear some of that rock and Bowl music..."

"The next song we're gonna sing is an oldie, some of you older people might remember - it's from last year, and it's called She Loves You..."

If John Lennon's tongue was not necessarily always embedded in his cheek then his speaking-voice could invariably give the impression it was at least jabbing towards that general direction.

His She Loves You intro, approaching the end of the melded set making up The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl - newly-reinvigorated at Abbey Road and given a first CD/digital release - is not quite up there with that "and the rest of you, if you'd just rattle your jewellery" crack at the Palladium.

In fact, it may be that to hear more of his habitually sarky drawl in this is to underestimate even the most cynical Beatle's authentic wonder: look at just how much had been done in those few months between '63 Beatlemania erupting and '64 Beatlemania not so much consolidating as surging even further.

Few can have imagined packing, let alone actually go on to cram, just so many careers into mere years as the Fab Four had already done and would continue. Count 'em: singles, albums, films, gig-a-day tours, TV and radio factory lines, and the little matter of prolifically, inventively not-so-simply songwriting throughout.

This "new" album might well prompt mere shrugs from many outside that (hefty enough) Beatle-obsessive demographic.

And yet after the Anthology bootleg rounds-ups of the Nineties, the sweeping Mono and Stereo remasters of the past decade along with the mixed pleasures of Let It Be Naked, Love and Yellow Submarine Songtrack, the too-much-unloved live album sneaked out in 1977 now gets its belated turn.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Humanity remains washed ashore, for all too many more...

A year ago today: an emotive photo of one tragic child among so many, yet special in being the one to prompt a horrified world to act - or, at least, piously promise so.
Yet 12 gruelling months since three-year-old Alan Kurdi died, drowned - and those harrowing images emerged of the poor boy, face-forward on a Turkish beach - that same world stands accused of letting him down. And many thousands, potentially millions, more.
Gasping politicians' vows to better protect those fleeing Daesh and Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war have not been met with sufficient help in the region nor safe havens elsewhere, exasperated aid workers say.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

"... 'cause I remember ..."

Not all England team-members came away empty-handed when (wait for it) football (almost) came home at Euro 96.
Twenty years ago this month, and some 16 years before London 2012’s 70,000 selfless and tireless ‘Games Makers’ became the world’s most acclaimed ‘under-rated heroes’, a volunteer army ten times as small played their part in another summer of now-nostalgia-drowned sporting glory.
Or, of course, and indeed agonisingly, near-glory.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Some comfort for refugees - amid grim suffering and warnings of worse storms ahead

Stricken refugees rescued from the Aegean Sea will be looked after better and more safely thanks to generous Metro readers.
A fresh batch of supplies has just been delivered to the beleaguered Greek island of Lesbos, funded by thousands of pounds’ worth of readers’ donations.
But actor Hugo Speer, who delivered specially-designed beds which can accommodate almost 100 people, warned that a new ‘storm’ looms of many more migrant boats bringing misery to the shoreline.
He was most touched by one Syrian youngster holding up a placard, pleading: ‘I survived war but you make me wish I didn’t.’
Metro told in March how The Full Monty star Speer and Men Behaving Badly and The Night Manager actor Neil Morrissey had just spent a week in Lesbos helping the rescue efforts.

Monday, May 09, 2016

All those Afghan interpreters, Britain's crucial unarmed forces, merit grateful refuge not dismissive neglect

A young girl brings a letter home from school from her parents. So far, so everyday, anywhere.
Except it’s from the Taliban, vowing execution for her ‘infidel’ father.
His crime? Risking his life – and those of his family and friends – for British forces. Only to find that ‘help for heroes’ only apparently goes so far.
Whether morally – after putting themselves in danger not only as targets but ‘traitors’ – or merely pragmatically – why should any conflict-zone local help help-denying Britain in future? – the Afghan interpreters’ case (raised way back when by Metro) should seem open-and-shut.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

One year on from Nepal quake, the child victims sold as sex slaves - and the thousands still waiting for help

Girls as young as three are being sold by their families into the sex trade for less than £400 after Nepal’s ‘forgotten’ earthquake a year ago this Monday.
The number of children and young people at risk of abuse and slavery is surging amid chaos and desperation caused by the 7.8-magnitude disaster that killed almost 9,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
As many as 20,000 children are feared to have been trafficked since the quake last April 25, dismayed campaigners have told Metro - and they accuse senior politicians and police of being in league with child-abusers and people-smugglers.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Syria crisis, five years on - a nation set back decades

‘If you dare give those to Bashar al-Assad, I swear I’ll find you and beat you up.’
Back then the threat seemed jarringly unlikely and would have been laughable had the situation not been so bleak - in retrospect it reflects somehow a relatively simpler time.
The words were not growled by an AK47-toting militant nor patrolling soldier but a knee-high four-year-old anxious not to be caught in an aid worker’s photos beside Lebanon’s Syrian border.
Fear and even desperate aggression from a child were expressed in the context of bogeyman Bashar al-Assad, the man behind an onslaught by rockets, barrel bombs, chemical weapons and shoot-to-kill street thugs.
Since that encounter in Akkar in September 2013, Syrians’ plight has been exacerbated still further - and more convolutedly - by bloodthirsty emergency and surge of Daesh, Russian air-strikes and chaotic ‘peace talks’.
And still the Arab Spring revolt that became a government crackdown that became a gruelling civil war that become a global crisis displays few signs of hope or progress, only the promise of decades more misery...

"These memories keep coming back - and I'm glad they do": Michael Sheen on Syria's lost generation

They could be kids running carefree in Port Talbot or on the streets of London - or even the teenage offspring of Hollywood stars.
Instead, they are the civil war-scarred, homeless, helpless and forced-old-before-their-time children cast adrift by five years and counting of carnage in Syria and spreading beyond.
Children as young as seven are being forced by armed groups to fight in Syria’s civil war which reaches its five-year anniversary on Tuesday, a Unicef study has found.
And as many as 8.4million children are now thought to have been harmed by the civil war which began in March 2011 with Bashar al-Assad’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Among those confronted by such enveloping despair - and the odd glimmer of hope - has been The Damned United, Frost/Nixon, The Queen and The Passion actor Michael Sheen, also a Unicef UK ambassador who spent last week in neighbouring Lebanon and Jordan.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mercy mission: the expats, holidaymakers and actors fishing refugees from the sea

Distraught and bedraggled families are being fished from the Aegean Sea by holidaymakers, retired expats and star actors - while officials look on.
Men Behaving Badly’s Neil Morrissey and The Full Monty’s Hugo Speer have told Metro of their experiences helping desperate refugees arriving off the Greek island of Lesbos.
They found despair among the hundreds fleeing civil war, poverty and persecution back home, defiance from local volunteers - yet some impotence from authorities meant to help and protect.
Razor-wire-surrounded reception centres are often the refugees’ first official sights on European Union land - ‘more like prison camps’, Speer said.
And official agencies have to hang back unless a boat is actually sinking, for fear of being accused of people-smuggling themselves for helping people across international borders.
Other volunteers have felt less constrained, with Morrissey telling: ‘You feel you have to do whatever you can to help - you can’t just stand by and watch.’

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

"Love These Goon Shows!"

‘Take it away, wanna hear you play ‘til the lights go down...’

Ah, RIP Sir George Martin. 

In an uncharacteristic blip of a Queen’s English slip, the Holloway-born, Bromley-schooled producer said in advance of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: ‘It’s going to be a stonching [sic] record.’
They all were. He did so much to make them so.
The Beatles provided the tunes - whatever David Cameron might have, inevitably clunkily, claimed - and the genius flights of fancy, but their producer was necessary to give them studio reality.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

No hope for migrants 'left to rot in new Jungle'

Some bunch around flickering fires amid freezing chill winds, others bunch up trying to protect their shivering babies under flimsy canvas sheets.
What some deem a ‘swarm’ of migrants must now trudge through swamps of mud at a refugee wasteland near Dunkirk dubbed the new ‘Jungle’, after the Calais camp now turning many away.
Parents of young children stuck at Grande-Synthe in northern France told Metro of their desperation to escape - and fears for survival.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"Oh, look out - you rock'n'rollers..."

A pleasure and a privilege as ever to chat to 77-year-old bass maestro Herbie Flowers, who played not only on Bowie’s breakthrough Space Oddity single and album in 1969, but also the Diamond Dogs LP and tour of 1974. Oh, and he also played on the sessions for Lou Reed’s classic Transformer LP of 1972, produced by Bowie - but with Flowers coming up with the defining bass riff to 'Can I Kick It?', sorry, 'Walk On The Wild Side'.

Ah, anyway - felt it best to simply transcribe the insights from the man himself Musician, 77, from Ditchling in East Sussex tells his Bowie tale - ah, a different floral tribute...

"We go way back - even before Space Oddity, to the first BBC sessions which were quite remarkable. I don’t know if records of those could be purchased?

I think he was a total genius and the world will miss him. To me, he’s up there with Shakespeare. Everything David did, he did himself - and everything about his career was what he wanted to do.