Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

It's The Jewel In The Mud Award

Squall 9, Jan/Feb 1995, pg. 23.

For this issue’s accolade, The Jewel in the Mud Award panel decided to leave their newspapers languishing in the press cutting files. Instead they picked up a novel - [what a luxury- Ed] and what did they find? A political diagnosis putting many media commentators to shame. The astute observations that win the first SQUALL Jewel in the Mud Award of ’95 come from Jeanette Winterson, author of ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’, ‘Sexing The Cherry’ and ‘Passion’. The particular passages are from ‘Art and Lies’, her last book published in 1994 and due for paperback publication in 1995.

The Second City is political. Politics of slums, apartments, mansions. The correct balance must be maintained. On no account should there be too many mansions or too few slums. Apartments hold the balance; the rich are terrified of being reduced to one, the poor dream of owning their own. The political city thrives on fear. Fear of never owning an apartment. Fear of owning merely an apartment.

Homelessness is illegal. In my city no-one is homeless although there are an increasing number of criminals living on the street. It was smart to turn an abandoned class into a criminal class, sometimes people feel sorry for down and outs, they never feel sorry for criminals, it has been a great stabiliser.

A few days later, as I intended, I went back to the house. On the opposite side of the street a bunch of squatters were watching the security patrol welding a steel door over the slumped entrance. I walked up to the patrol and asked one of them what had happened to the people who had been living there. He shrugged and carried on with his work. I realised that, like all security men, he had long since lost the power of speech, he pointed his oxyacetylene torch at a closed blue van.

There were two men in the front of the cab, feet on the dashboard, bodies sagging into the sagged seats. They stared unblinkingly through the filthy windscreen, the radio on full volume, they were both about twenty-five. They appeared to be dead. I tapped on the window and one of them turned his head slowly, slowly and looked down at me as though I were a human being. I flashed my medical card and slowly, slowly, he wound down the window.

‘I wonder if you can help me? I’m trying to find the people who used to live in that house.’
‘Got nothing to do with me.’
‘Do you know where they are?’
He raised the window, but then his mate said something to him, without moving his lips, and the window was speedily lowered again.
‘You from Pest Destruction Office? Were they an ‘Elf Azzad?’
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘Did they have the fucking pox?’
‘No, but one of them had a baby.’

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The Jewel in the Mud Award - Words of wisdom in times of crisis from Edward de Bono. Squall 8 - Autumn 1994.