Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Life is Short
And for that reason - as well as many others - I am overjoyed to note that 'No Lipstick in Lebanon' is fully funded and can now move onto the publication stage. WOO-HOO!
In the year 2000, a speeding London Transport bus almost finished me off as I paused mid-stride, mid-Mare Street, outside Hackney Town Hall (a sorry end for anyone) and this prompted massive changes in my hitherto mundane life (as described in 'Perune Juice', available on Amazon at a very reasonable price). Since then, the cliche that 'life is short' has remained on my shoulder like a red double-deckered parrot ready to peck my head if I ever hesitate in Hackney again, or anywhere else for that matter. How lucky then that I have stumbled upon a small but select crowd to 'crowdfund' my book in less than two months. Anything more would be hesitation, and we know what that means.
If my life is short, the life expectancy for Ethiopian domestic workers is sadly much briefer in comparison. Almost every day, Lebanon's antiracismmovement.com and sodere.com (Ethiopian newsfeed) send me tragic or near-tragic stories from the pavements of Beirut, often together with gruesome photos of young women's lives physically shattered. There are many brave campaigners out there, constantly chipping away at the warped justice system that allows certain workers to be treated like slaves, but campaigning is not enough. I seriously believe that a decent well-told story can also make a difference, as long as a large number of people read it.
Fortunately, the destiny of 'No Lipstick' has now passed from your generous pledging hands into the hands of a great publisher, Unbound, in whom we trust to make the most of this book both as a good story and as an alternative way to press for change. The lives of desperate, downtrodden women in the Middle East do not have to be catastrophically short or tortured. And let's not forget the similar problems endured by migrant workers hired to build World Cup venues in Qatar. The root cause is the same: a medieval cultural mindset. The buildings are fantastically modern but the mentality of employers and authorities is not. So, let's get this baby out there and help move things along.
Three cheers for you (the ones who pledged!), for Unbound (for what they are about to publish), and for my wife, who not only endured years as a mistreated maid in Beirut but also has survived three years married to a writer (and which ordeal is worse?). And now that we've got the funding, I've just noticed something... I've got two kids... where the hell did they get bussed in from? If I write another book, I'll discover that I'm suddenly a grandfather. And the book after that will probably kill me. You see? Life is short.