The swans on the left were on the River Shannon at Limerick, which reminds me of a less than golden moment on a previous trip to the Emerald Isle - Dublin to be exact. Intending to impress an ex-girlfriend and 18 month old son, yer man here tried to get close - very close - to a swan and her brood (in order to feed it, not feed on it you understand) when it (quite justifiably) started to attack me. How anyone is supposed to catch one to eat is beyond me. Ever seen Animal Rescue programmes where the RSPCA try to collar a cygnet? Nigh impossible. The Pen is mightier than the sword (sorry) as suggested here.
I got my comeuppance when I slipped on bird shit and my mobile phone fell into Phoenix Park lake. Oh how we laughed. Yes they did, didn't they!
Limerick becomes interesting because there was a story in The Limerick Post by Lorraine Carey, which I am trying to locate but is alluded to here.
- by Lorraine Carey A CURIOUS rumour is going around Limerick that our Polish community is eating our swans.Swan feeding is a familiar custom in Limerick but anyone Polish throwing bread to the birds is now being eyed with suspicion as a rumour circulates that swan is a Polish delicacy. [...]Limerick Post [Ireland]18 June 2006
Anyway, as I mentioned in an earlier swan-related post, the Sun and Mail's obsession with so-called swan-bakers needs to be looked at in the context of how it treats other stories about cruelty to these regal birds. In October, The Times reported that a workman had found 28 dead swans buried in Bedfordshire. Bedfordshire, significantly, was the area mentioned in The Sun lasy year in relation to East Europeans. Yesterday, it reported that 3 men (who appear not to have Polish names) have been charged over this and have been bailed until August. It was buried in a small piece in the Murdoch-owned Times and I could not find it online.
Surprise, surprise there appears to be no mention of this in the Mail. Suffice to say, it would not be given the same prominence as it would if the accused had been called Tomasz, for instance. At least here, a crime has been committed; in the other cases it is uncertain as to whether there has been any human intervention. Remember the dolt who said that it did not appear to have been killed by an animal but couldn't be sure if humans had done so. Beam me up, Scotty seems apt given that it another urban myth.
This leads me to the news that the Federation of Poles in Great Britain has complained to the PCC over coverage in the Mail. The toothless tiger says it wants clarification. Read the fucking paper FFS! ( 5CC has numerous examples here, having already got on the case whilst I was drinking my Cheltenham winnings, and apropos of nothing noticing the supreme joy on the faces of working class people when the racing was interrupted by news of Shannon)
- Jan Mokrzycki, the chair of the FPGB, told Polish media: "It was the headlines which were the most offensive, using emotive anti-Polish language.
"Poles seem to be unable to please the Daily Mail whatever they do.
"On one day you get a headline 'Poles flood into England' implying the country is drowning in immigrants, and the next day you get 'Poles desert England' as if we are abandoning them.
"Poles are not totally innocent, no society is totally innocent, and if a Pole does something wrong then he or she should have to face the music.
"But when you get a series of articles and none of the headlines shed a positive light, and all shed a negative light by using this sort of terminology then it is fair to say we can complain about bias.
This comes at a time when attacks on Poles seems to be rising.
As the Federation points out:
- Local newspapers, mainly outside the big cities, are increasingly reporting cases of violence and abuse against the community, the Federation of Poles in Great Britain said.
"What is particularly worrying is the rise in hate crimes against Poles," said Wiktor Moszczynski, research officer for the federation.
"Local media have written ... reports about Poles being beaten up, fire-bombed or abused -- both physically and verbally.
Without doubt if you write such vile drivel each day then eventually it will stick. We see how urban myth quickly becomes fact; how mis-quotes become catchphrases. Violence is occurring. In Polish Ireland blogger, MacKozer's site, he outlines that there have been attacks in Dublin, which brings us full circle. Although it cannot be proved that such attacks are xenophobia-linked, it is hard not to take such a view.
I'm off to Poland next month and looking forward to it. If I see any swans being mistreated I'll report it. And I promise not to try to impress women by getting too close (to the swans that is).
Another important piece on the swan stories can be found at Five Chinese Crackers here.