10/04/2003
 

:claudia's column:

the gamine regime

 

   
       
Whatever next? The American army have invaded my
palace in Baghdad and are, as we speak, traipsing their muddy boots all over my shiny marble floors. It seems the American military are under the impression that this luxurious and, admittedly, opulent palace belongs to the ex-leader of the Iraqi regime, but actually it is mine; that is why it is deserted, because I am here in England.
   
       
  Gamine decided that once we had achieved fame and fortune in the world and the universe, it would be best to have our own residences in some of its most important places, rather then stay in cheap hotels. Iraq, being the cradle of civilization (let's not forget the word 'music' itself derives from the arabic 'musiqi'*), was an obvious location for a Gamine palace.    
       

Although, I cannot deny, it has been hard breaking into the Iraqi market. I blame this on the lack of songs with the words "Saddam, you are the ruler of my heart", or with titles like "Sweet Saddam". The Iraqi music industry, we found, is deeply competitive, and without changing our lyrics to things like "I wanna be your madam, Saddam" it has been harder than hard to be given any Iraqi airplay or television time. (As I write, the breaking news is that Gamine have been given the prestigious contract for the reconstruction of music in this battered country. This is a big task, but with the legendary Jamila's efforts in the 7th Century as an inspiration, I'm sure we will succeed.)    
       

I have to admit that this palace is not my favourite amongst our collection - in the past we have used it as a holiday home when we felt like some archeological sight-seeing, though really, I hardly ever find time to visit it - but this is beside the point, it is the principle of being invaded and having the American flag pinned up on my gold lamé walls that I object to. If they had simply asked, I may have let them come and stay, but now I am incensed and inclined to retaliate. I have been considering joining protestors from other Arabic nations to fight against the British and American so-called 'coalition forces', but this might lead to out and out war, my ranches in America and mansions in England would then be under threat of invasion or bombing, not that they are not already with the current fad for friendly fire. It is a real dilemma.

   
       
More worrying than the abuse my property in Baghdad is receiving is the declared intention of the White House to impose their regime change on others after Iraq. They seem to be under the rather arrogant misapprehension that they are some kind of super-power when everybody knows that Gamine is the only super-power around here. Without nuclear or chemical weapons some might say we do not pose much of a threat, but we have always found better things to spend our money on. It makes no sense to me to buy things you would never make use of, or enjoy, and most, I think, feel the same way about their weapons of mass destruction, apart from America, of course, the only one to have unwrapped a nuclear bomb and had a go with it.    
       
However, Gamine's most powerful nerve agents, my voice and Ian's piano, have the ability to reduce grown men to tears in minutes, without the use of poison gas. Imagine the destruction if we were let loose in the midst of a battlefield - none of the soldiers would be able to see where they were firing (not that this is would change much in American military tactics), everyone would be sobbing and dropping their weapons and hugging each other. It would be a military mess. So you see why I am concerned about what would happen when the American "intelligence community" (can we still call it that?) cotton on to the potentially devastating power of the Gamine Regime. If the Pentagon is truly concerned with the world's emotional stability then Gamine is bound to be the next world power to come under attack. However, rest assured that they will be sorry as we will make them all cry like babies. And maybe it will do them good.    
   

*Musiqi seems to derive from a contraction of 'ya musa sqi' (Hey, Moses, give them a drink!), which is what Gabriel allegedly said to Moses after the latter had created twelve springs whose different sounds formed the basis of the twelve classical musical modes, the Maqamat.

Naturally, if like me, you are curious about these things, I suggest you further your education by reading Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani's Kitab al-Aghani (The Book of Songs). Unfortunately, it has no chapter on Gamine, since it was written in the 10th Century, but there will be plenty of other interesting artists for you to explore.