I was there last summer.
To enter, we walked over the border where our passports received a cursory inspection from the British agents. Then we crossed the runway of the airport which cuts perpendicular across the rock. We were told we could cross at any time, just to watch out for landing passenger jets.
And then we were in, immediately confronted by guy with a barely controlled pit bull that was savaging a plastic road bollard, much to his amusement. Ah, a taste of England.
We were thirsty. We found the least objectionable bar beside the dock where the casino-hotel boat is permanently moored and navigated our way through the crowds of touts offering boat tours to see the dolphins. (The strait is a migratory route.)
And we sat and drank cheap beer and stared at a menu that without irony offered beans on toast and listened to the English news and the English football chatter and the quips of the English barman with his dour, self-deprecating humour and we could have closed our eyes and been on the Thames.
There are other pubs around the rock. They are cut-and-paste copies of the sort of beer stained, urine scented, dilapidated, lackadaisically tended drinking holes you'll find in the East of London except unencumbered by the attentive, enthusiastic staff that operate London pubs thanks to a healthy immigrant community. They serve beer, and chips, and scotch eggs.
The old town is a bit like a seaside village, except filled with jewellery shops, electronics goods stores and off-licenses. It's a huge shopping mecca, thanks to the tax breaks. We walked the town for a couple of hours and had seen it all by then.
I had to be there for an appointment later in the week so we decided to tour. You can tour best in the tiny buses that leave from one central point and take around twenty minutes to reach anywhere on the island.
There's one reasonable beach in the north, which serves a hotel. The water is greasy and laps at the shore with apathy. The view is of the shipping lanes. We got into a conversation with a couple who were planning to move there. He was in IT, she was a nurse. They cited the financial incentives, the weather, the smart money that had established financial trading businesses there. He pointed out that huge international gambling businesses operated out of Gibraltar. He was German, she was English. They seemed like a nice couple.
We like walking. We tried walking along the coast from the beach, despite various military notices warning us not to. After five minutes we found we'd reached the impassable tunnel that allows traffic through the north of the rock. There's no way for pedestrians to pass. We turned back.
We thought we should have high tea. We made our way to the colonial hotel, all painted white, perched overlooking the industrial docks. The interior was sumptuous, subdued, staffed by impeccably dressed elder waiters who treated us with the reverence one expects of an establishment found in 1930's india or any fading colonial outpost upheld by a misty-eyed reverence for the past. We had our high tea. Scones, tiny sandwiches, tea in a silver pot. We rounded it off with gin and tonics.
Then the rock. I'm sure you know the history and the military significance and so on. Perhaps you're aware of the modern business models that house financial trading hardware in parts of it. Archeologically it was the last stronghold of the Neanderthal. That's all interesting reading. We took the funicular to the top, in order to make the "breathtaking" descent down the "historically significant" walking paths and we came to know litter, drifting in the wind, catching in the branches of this purported UNESCO world heritage centre. We came to know the plastic bottles tossed beside the path, the piss-reeking military ruins, the unevocative suchness of the place.
And the apes. The poor apes, blinking at the tourists being shuttled up the narrow, switchback roads in taxis which didn't park but just sat, engines burbling, coughing out leaden fumes, as their passengers rolled out and took selfies, and offered the apes the lumps of food under the dozens of signs asking them not to. They're smart, apes. We watched a feckless couple park beside the road, open their trunk to take out a bit of picnic and offer it to the cute ape making eyes at them as several other, powerful members of the troupe concealed in the trees edged closer, sizing up the situation, stalking the open car.
Three days of this, as I waited for my meeting.
In the end, all done, we walked out, alongside the Spanish workers who commute in by foot every day to run the jewellery shops and staff the hotels, alongside the cars of tourists bringing back as much cheap alcohol as they can pack into the trunks of their cars, waved through by the Spanish border control who took more care examining our passports.
It was as if it had never happened. A strange dream of a capsule of the past. It's worth your visiting if only for someone to tell me I misapprehended the place.
This is all well and good. However if you really want to create a financially viable proposition to pitch to supporters, you will need to focus on smaller, more digestible texts. Or transition to video.
Very few in your target demographic will have the patience to make their way through large blocks of dense text. If you want to plug into the outrage dollar, you'll need to make your message clear, concise and copyable.
Focus on short, attractive titles that inspire both curiosity and anger in your target demographic. The title for this post, for example, is reasonably engaging but could be improved by turning it from a declarative statement (which at best will provoke in your demographic agreement) into an implied question/answer proposition: "Why Leftist Fascists... etc". That simple change will also provoke in your customer-base a desire to click through in order to discover the secret.
You might try the "Ten Reasons Why..." formula, which is almost overplayed these days, yet still provokes a visceral reaction in completists, but this often locks you into generating actual content.
I would suggest you bring your text down both in length and reading comprehension. Shorter texts are a better proposition for sharing and lower grade comprehension targets will get your message across quickly.
You can use tools like these to double check reading comprehension and edit down: https://readability-score.com/
I would tend to offer a strong title, a three paragraph text, and then a strong call to action (i.e. where to send you financial support) and that call should relate to the point you addressed in the text. Rather than the generic "Like what I write" which offers the option for a reader to answer "No", instead have a a double-bind or move forward call. For this article, you could try: "Help Fight Socialist Fascism For $1". Anchor that number in the call to action, then link to a spread of support options which offer higher value. "For only $5 you can..." This is all pretty basic marketing, you can research it yourself.
However the greatest cross-marketing shift you can make is to begin producing video content. I would keep these short, too. Aim in the first instance to produce brief videos that are both single message and echo in sentiment your demographic's emotional pitch. You will be able to calibrate your message by measuring something very simple, say, the thumbs up/thumbs down ratio on the video.
You need to aim for parity - this should indicate your demographic support on one hand and the outrage of others' reactions to your message on the other. Inspiring an irrational emotional response in others will of course have them spread your content in order to revile it. This will eventually bring it back to your target demographic. The more active your Youtube comments section, the more squabbling and infighting you generate, the more buzz you'll have online. There's no such thing as bad publicity, only unused publicity. Think about creating a few puppet accounts to attack yourself, share the content elsewhere and ridicule yourself.
Do remember that in a video you can have a much clearer and more emotive call to action. I'm presuming your main call is to have those whose views you echo send you money. Don't be coy about this part. Hundreds of entirely insincere televangelists have made enormous coin by spending at least half of their allotted broadcast soliciting funding.
The leap into video is tricky. On the one hand you don't want to appear too polished, for fear of alienating the common man from whom you're siphoning funds. On the other hand you don't want to appear completely insane, for fear of people accusing you of post-modern profiteering. It's a fine line and a practiced skill. Study successful televangelists, reality show stars, unconvicted banking magnates etc.
It's great to see enterprise in turbulent times. With a little careful planning you will be able to secure a better revenue stream for yourself within a few months.
STEP ONE – Music
Hubski is demographically US-centric site so I thought I'd tip a hat to the influence Jamaican history has had on the UK. For this, I will need to make a classic Jamaican dish.
Youth and youth, don't be rude It's time to eat some good food For the poor underwealthy Need to be healthy You know
PEAS AND RICE!
Play the music.
STEP TWO – Procure Ingredients
In order to be the inception of the Grubski challenge, I want to do this in eight steps for EightBit but also use only eight ingredients, e'ight?
Here are my eight: Rice, Black Beans (what Jamaicans call peas in peas and rice), Onion, Scallions, Coconut Milk, Garlic, Chilli, Chives.
The music you are listening to is One Step by Max Romeo (Maxwell Livingston Smith) one of the artists that brought reggae to Britain in one of the waves of cultural immigration that introduced a Jamaican diaspora to London. He was banned by the BBC for suggestive lyrics in his hit Wet Dream (which he insisted was a song about a leaky roof – suuuure it was Maxwell) and founded The Upsetters who worked with Lee Scratch Perry and went on to form the Wailers, so he's surely worth a listen. Born in 1944 he left home at 14 and worked on a sugar plantation before being spotted in a talent contest at 18.
Sadly, refined sugar has historically been intertwined with the slave trade and huge fortunes (Tate & Lyle) were built on the labour of slaves. Apart from the karmic debt of pain on your plate implied by sugar, it's terrible for your health. No sugar was used in the creation of this dish.
STEP THREE – Prepare Ingredients
We're going to finely chop our onion and grate or dice our ginger (I prefer fine dicing as I like the crunch of ginger root on the tooth). Drain your black beans, measure your rice, slice your scallions, crush your garlic, shiver your timbers and pass the doobie.
STEP FOUR – The Fry
In a little oil, brown your onions and ginger for a few minutes – cover the raas clart dish, we've talked about this before, it keeps your onions moist– and then add your dry rice and fry in, allowing it to be covered in oil and flavour. Add your black beans and allow to heat through. Throw in some salt and pepper and your chilli.
STEP FIVE – The Simmer
Now you can measure your cup of coconut milk and a cup of water, stir through, cover and allow to simmer
STEP SIX – Rum
While we're waiting for the rice to cook through, let's pour ourselves a shot of rum; of course. For this particular dish let's use La Negrita, often considered little better than a cooking rum but shut up.
Jamaica was getting along quite happily before the Spanish in 1509 and then the British around 1670 settled there and implicated it in the Atlantic slave trade. Due to its fabled beauty it became a favourite place to jump ship for privateers; meanwhile the 18th century slave-powered cultivation of sugar and coffee made it a valuable jewel in the British crown. It wasn't all plain sailing for the Brits, though, there were over a dozen slave uprisings which saw self-liberated communities establish themselves in the interior of the island.
In the 19th century, some of these 10,000 black freemen were employed in militias to keep the enslaved population in check; for example in the widespread revolt known as the Baptist War. A post-mortem review of this uprising was part of the impetus in the 1830's for an abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire. Thereafter for Jamaica it was a slow struggle towards increasing independence marked 100 years later by the founding of the PNP, the socialist People's National Party, which Max Romeo endorsed and in support of whom he wrote songs. The PNP themselves chose his single Let The Power Fall as their theme song for their 1972 election campaign. (They won.)
How's the rice doing? Looking good? Nice, nice.
As part of the West India Regiment, Jamaicans fought for Britain in WWI making up around 10 of 15 thousand troops. They settled in small numbers in Britain thereafter and went on to fight in WWII, but the largest influx was post-war. Trigged by a hurricane in 1944 but most by the promise of post-war jobs, a wave of immigration through to the late 60's (continuing in smaller numbers thereafter) led to a thriving and vibrant community establishing itself and bringing with it culture, cuisine and music.
One hugely popular genre which took off in the UK was ska. Here's the outrageously attractive Millie Small singing My Boy Lollipop, probably the first breakthrough ska hit in the UK in 1964.
STEP SEVEN – Stir In The Fresh
By now your rice and peas will be fluffy and cooked through, so you can throw in your chopped scallions, your garlic, your chives and any other cheeky spices you have to hand (cumin for me). Stir through a little more, keep the heat low, you're almost ready to serve.
Hugely influential in the UK, Jamaican music brought reggae, influenced Indian bhangra, and fused punk and reggae to produce two-tone – the soundtrack to my eighties – and thereafter trip-hop, jungle, dub-n-bass. All my jams, yo.
What's that, you don't know what two-tone sounds like? Why, here, brave reader, have an earful of this hour-long mix you can enjoy while you're eating your modern peas and rice.
STEP EIGHT - Youth and youth, don't be rude, It's time to eat some good food
Now your rice is ready, I suggest you serve it with something cold and dark; perhaps a Mahon Negra; and some hot sauce for extra kick.
Meanwhile you can wander through the history of Jamaica and the UK on Wikipedia. The influences are profound.
In this dish: one can of black beans, one cup of long grain rice (with one cup of coconut milk and one cup of water), one small onion, a tablespoon of fresh ginger root, a handful of chives, one garlic clove, one scallion (spring onion), one chilli. Serves 2 - 4 MAYBE.
No sugar was harmed in the making of this dish; and know what else? It's totally vegan.