About Ingeborg van Teeseling and Jacqueline de Gier

Ingeborg van Teeseling emigrated from Holland ten years ago and being warned by the Immigration Department against doing her job as a journalist, she became a historian instead. Jacqueline de Gier is a journalist and author with an allergy for pot-noodle journalism. She has written extensively on Turkey, Iran and the Middle East.

World moves on from Jo, UK moves to Glastonbury: The personal cost of the Brexit – Part six

Approx Reading Time-10Four days on from the slaying of Jo Cox, the world has seemingly moved on. This has confused Ingeborg, but en route to Glastonbury, Jacqueline has the answer.




June 21

Dear Jacqueline,

I have to admit I am very confused.

I noticed that Jo Cox’ murder only seemed to make the headlines in Britain itself. Here in Australia, it was a sideline story, number two or three on the news on the day and now mostly gone. That made me go online and check: same in Holland, France, and Germany. The New York Times had it on the front page, but as a small piece to the left-hand side. That made me wonder. If it is a non-white person doing the killing, all the landmark buildings in the world change colour. Paris, Brussels, Orlando: five minutes later the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House lit up like a rainbow or the Belgian or French flag.

Not this time. Why not?

Is it less disturbing when a white, middle-aged male shoots, stabs and kicks a white woman to death? Are we fine with that? Do we accept that as normal, or maybe even his right? It seems that white males are the new victims now, did you know that? Poor things, they are getting such a raw deal these days, with feminism and multiculturalism and a black President of the USA. They are losing their rightful place in the world, so of course, they go out and kill. Best thing for them, completely understandable.

Do you know what I think the problem is? White men (in particular) are losing the cool kid competition and that is what they are railing against. I was watching Barack Obama ‘slow jam the news’ on YouTube the other day. Man, that was something. Yes, it was self-serving and more PR than anything else, but it was also very, very cool. Can’t see any other world leader do that. Hillary would look ridiculous and so would the Donald (and Cameron, Boris, Turnbull, Shorten, and whoever else you can come up with). The day after the YouTube clip I saw Obama in a greasy spoon having a beer (straight out of the bottle!) with grumpy cat Anthony Bourdain. Two very tall men, stretching their legs beside a very small table and hanging in their chairs just right. Cool. I know the guy is white, but a New Yorker, and married to an Italian mixed martial arts fighter. And he eats pigs’ trotters with bone marrow. How much cooler can you get?

That is the problem with capitalism. It can get you a job and money and even a big house and a pool, but it can’t make you cool. The issue now is that a lot of the “Others” are much cooler than the old hands. Your Ridha is a stone mason from Iraq, who speaks a number of languages and has a real story to tell. Cool. Jo Cox was a woman who managed to make it, from daughter of a toothpaste factory worker to an MP who lived on a barge. Cool. David Cameron and Boris Johnson are toffs who have gone from upper middle-class to upper middle-class. Boring and not cool. The Donald is rich, but so was his daddy, and apart from screwing people over, he has done nothing constructive with his money. Definitely not cool. See what I mean? Paraphrasing Kermit the Frog: It’s not easy being cool. And that is what causes the hatred and the fear. Schoolyard politics, realising that you are not part of the in crowd. And lashing out because of that. I think that must be the issue with migrants and refugees as well. What Nigel Farage is railing against is not illiterate dole bludgers, but people who have the potential to be much cooler than he is. That, of course, has to be stopped. What do you think? Ridiculous idea?

Also on The Big Smoke

June 22

Dear Ingeborg,

“Don’t you worry about a thing”, as the great Stevie Wonder sings.

The Glastonbury festival starts this week and both Prince and Jo Cox will be remembered on the Pyramid Stage. Now that is cool. I have it from a more than reliable source, that the late great Mohammed Ali may be there too.

My To Do list for Glastonbury is getting longer. Usually, it is getting everybody else ‘festival ready’, but this year it includes me. I have never been, so I have no idea about the protocol – and believe me, there is one. I do have Hunters, the gumboots, but more the kind you wear for the hunt or in your Scottish Castle. Hunters do a Festival Range, but I hear that Dolce & Gabbana have a signature boot as well. That’s me sorted.

What I will not buy is a pop-up festival tent (I am staying in a Country House Hotel). Instead, I am going to thank people who gave their tents for passing on to refugees. There is a fashion in festival tents too…Last year’s Glastonbury is this year’s refugee tent. Ridha came up with this ‘crazy good’ idea, as New Yorkers say. He told people to add a picture of themselves. “The British adopt hungry African children and abused donkeys, why not adopt a refugee.”

Michael Eaves, the founder and the farmer on whose estate the festival is, worried that Glastonbury had lost ‘the politics’. In fact, that it had become too much a day out. “Don’t you worry about a thing.” Michael Eaves dropped Tony Blair and the Labour Party because of the war in Iraq, so he is back in form.

Stevie Wonder was at Glastonbury, but this year there will be Adele, Cold Play, Christine and the Queens, Madness, and The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians. There are parallel worlds that do care, and they are not grey people.

No Eiffel Tower, or Sydney and London Bridges and any famous global land marks lit up in the colours of the British Union flag. And, may I add, no candles lit in gay bars either – nowhere. When it comes to hate crimes the mourning and outcry is highly selective. One British gay man in a TV news program was rather agitated when he said that the killing in the nightclub in Orlando, was “not just another terrorist attack”. I have to assume that this means that my in-laws in Iraq, who fell victim to car bombs and suicide bombers, fit the ‘ordinary’ category.

It does not surprise me, and neither should we care. There is no doubt some wise saying in Tibet or among the Beduin in the desert and Native Americans, – or from Tony Bourdain – that bullshit tends to bullshit itself into oblivion.

I do not swear but I learned a nice one: “wit prick”, courtesy of your Adam Hills (the presenter of The Last Leg, a deliciously juvenile comedy talk show), who used it for Donald Trump. Who needs wit pricks wrapped in flags? The colour is purple. Before I forget: Earth Wind & Fire are on stage.


I may well do a little shuffle on my D&G boots.


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