Author Archives | Ali

Film Review: Son of Babylon

It tends to be frustratingly hard to describe pre-2003 Iraq to non-Iraqis as my portrayal always seems inadequate. The lived and shared experience relayed through friends and family over the years is rich in absurdity, suffering and sorrow but I struggle to put all this into words. So I felt a good deal of gratitude […]

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Gas was Mubarak’s gift and downfall

There’s a certain time in the evening of any social gathering, normally between one or two o’clock, where the most important focus of any conversation is damage limitation. Having put up with most people with grace, time starts to wear away our cloak of civility. Nodding politely inevitably makes way for honest observation and mischief […]

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Revenge of the ruminants

“It was definitely not a moo.” I asserted “Oh it certainly was a moo.” My wife replied “So now I’ve transformed into farmyard animal or something?” I asked, growing slightly irritated. I got up, feeling not exactly a hundred percent with a certain heaviness in my chest.  On my way down, I surmised that it […]

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Book review: Saddam City

Amidst the turmoil of post-war Iraq, it’s unsurprising that many chose not to mull over the demise of the previous regime as real and present challenges they faced quickly put pay to any initial euphoria. However given the duration and barbarity of Saddam’s rule it is surprising that there have been few books that have […]

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Do as I say, not as I do

The UK’s government’s insistence in continuing its deportation of failed Iraqi asylum seekers leaves me uncomfortable on many levels. Acknowledging the significantly improved security situation but also the fact that bombings, assassinations and kidnappings  still occur does not make it an easy issue. However the hurried manner in which the UK government is handling these […]

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Time travel in Willesden

His claim was certainly ludicrous, yet at the same time intriguing. The chance to travel across space and time for a modest fee was tempting indeed. The problem was that I was on a residential side-street in Willesden and the balding Arab-looking fat bloke in a tatty leather jacket making the offer did not exactly fit the […]

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Last day lunacy

Extract from classified communication that took place on 10.09.2010 11:13 am CJ:       Good morning sir, sorry for disturbing you on your day off PT:       Well we can’t do anything about it now, but what you can do is keep it brief – something tells me my golf handicap isn’t going to improve subsequent to […]

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I have never killed. Nor have I saved

“Shlonek dektoor?” my local Iraqi barber lazily enquires as I hurry past him on the high street. “how many people have you saved today?” Was that a mocking tone? I wondered to myself through the heat and exhaustion of a sweltering working day.  I try not to rise to the bait but ask in turn […]

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The inescapable colonial legacy

I have despairingly tried to remain optimistic about the new Tory regime in Whitehall. Positive thoughts such as the coalition failing, a new Lib Dem rent-boy saga, George Osborne squeaking himself to suffocation or chain-smoking Ken Clark as new health minister occupy the recesses of my mind as I muddle through the new Cameronite dawn. […]

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Exorcising our paranoia

So there we were, sat in a house whose owner I vaguely knew, a group strung together through no obvious logic but united by the same lack of awareness about the clandestine meeting’s ultimate purpose. The host sat across us, furtively looking at the clock as well as the door behind us, half-expecting the mukhabarat […]

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