For those of you blissfully unaware, COBRA stands for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, and despite first appearances the acronym has nothing to do with James Bond.
COBRA meetings are convened by the Prime Minister in times of special crisis. AndÂ in the UK we tend to lurch from crisis to crisis; this in no way impedes COBRAâ€™s evil-sounding mystique.
But since 2013, whenever the great minds in the Cabinet have got together for a COBRA sesh, an ad hoc group of artists and writers has got together to respond to the response.
This ongoing project, COBRA RES, is asÂ shadowy than its inspiration, although artist Theo Price has curated seven editions. The latest is 1.9, a response to the refugee crisis in Calais.
It launched in East London last night, inÂ the form of a book of flash fiction (ie; stories under 1,500 words). The prelude to this was a walking tour about the history of migration in East London.
Our guide was David RosenbergÂ (pictured), who knowsÂ all there is to know about radical politics in this part of town. He told us about the 1936 Battle of Cable Street as if it was yesterday.
In this part of town, former synagogues serve as mosques. Church of England schools observe Islamic holidays. And blue chipÂ artists keep it real with townhouse mansionsÂ in Fournier Street.
He also filled us inÂ on the Huguenots, French protestants who fled here in the 17thÂ century to escape persecution and bring us the word, refugee, from the French refugiÃ©.
We got to Spitalfields with its faux bohemian bars and eateries. With names like vagabond and vintage, these throw into stark relief the historic trials of local Jews, Irish and Bangladeshis.
As David made clear: refugee and economic migrants are one and the same; incoming communities have brought us net gains; migrantsÂ in Calais haveÂ plenty to offer us here. So, whyÂ the crisis?
COBRA RES 1.9 contains 20 stories and the half dozen I have already perused are great. But perhaps I should declare an interest.Â I was a contributor; still, you can buy the book here!