Notes From the Northern Colony


On Wednesday I was forced to pay money to enter my country.

I was travelling home from France, where I had been for six days and had won the Prix Marianne at the Pau literary festival Un aller-retour dans le noir. I flew from Paris to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam to Glasgow. When I tried to board the flight to Glasgow, I was told I had to pay, in advance, to Rainbow Labs, a private company, £54 for two Covid tests that would be mailed to me. I had to pay by card, not cash, and if I did not then I would not be allowed on the plane.

Never mind that I had lateral flow tests awaiting me at home. Never mind that I could get tested by the NHS. Never mind that France has far lower infection rates than Scotland, which last month had the highest in the world. Never mind that I could legally go straight from Glasgow airport to a crowded club and dance unmasked.

I asked one of the airline officials what would happen if a person did not have a credit or debit card, or enough money in their account to pay. The answer: “Hmmm… that’s a good question.”

I was tempted to ask what would happen if I refused to pay and was not allowed on the plane. Would I be stranded in Amsterdam? As I am no longer a European citizen, would the Netherlands deport me home, where I was trying to go anyway? I only refrained from asking because the official, a young black woman, was being shouted at and argued with by white male passengers who seemed to think she was responsible for the UK’s stupid, classist rules, and I did not want to add to her stress. She helped me and others fill out the required forms on our phones (it took nearly an hour), and I wondered what people who do not own smart phones are supposed to do.

My first of two tests is to be delivered today, and I feel tempted to refuse to share the result, but I do not want to cause the NHS any hassle. But the UK government’s business deal with a profiteer is another form of sickness.

#RainbowLabs #UKCovidProfiteering #PlagueDiary #classism #exploitation




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As I have recently written about the 20th Century’s attempt to invade the 21st, it would be remiss of me not to mention another emissary from that period, George Galloway, former socialist and former MP, who now represents reactionaries who want Scotland to stay in the UK, against reactionaries who want Scotland to be independent.


Laura Henderson Photo: Cube Housing Association

Dear Landlords,

I remarked today to a fellow tenant (or “customer,” as you call us) that communicating with Cube is a bit like praying. But then I corrected myself, because when praying we do not know for certain that no one is listening or that our supplications will be ignored — which we can be certain of when communicating with you.


While any help for people in hardship is a good thing, this BBC report on an “alternative giving scheme” in Glasgow reeks of classist arrogance.