........................................................................................ - a weBlog by Snowy and me.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Friday, 29 November 2013


is a hall of mirrors that children
are spun through at speed in the hope
that afterwards they might vaguely
see themselves in the distortions
they were exposed to. And even more
that they recognise behind the twisted images
their sponsors-their families, driven beyond despair.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

When Power Equals Forgetfulness

I recently saw the film 'Philomena' and enjoyed it
at many levels. It was much more than 'an entertainment'.
One thought it left me with was how records are kept
of people's lives;the longer and deeper a person
is institutionalised the more complex the records
of their 'being kept' become, the less the kept know
of what their keepers write about them. All to keep
to the rules, until finally the inmate is bound by
the opacity of the rules by which they are looked after.

With a lot of help some people get better, and some
help comes from the place that hindered them into ill health
in the first place. One condition of their relative wholeness
is how the now enlightened institution still does all it can
to stop the former patient from asking 'Can I see
what you wrote about me?'. They are fobbed off
with polite resolve that won't be broken by comments
like 'Not that much was written', and 'It stopped being
relevant after you left' or 'We threw most of it away,
what there is left would not make sense to you. But the letter
of your admission was saved, it says 'It was all for the best'.
Their former life is made to seem as if it just never happened.
This leaves the ex-cared for relatively whole in the present day,
but now more fully aware that they have a past full of holes
that they know test of other people's ability to accept them.

Any authority can write away somebody's life,
religious or secular, authorities are all alike
in their arrogance, opacity, and selective amnesia.

Technology Is Only Ever A Means

never an end, the end point is always the use the end user puts it to.
 Thinking a little harder about what we do often helps. 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Limits Of Modern Charity

Every time I go into my nearest town
I see The Big Issue being sold. When
I see the sellers I give them a pound
in return for which they cheerfully ask
after my welfare. The last time I gave
I looked at the coin and looked at the lady.
I recalled the sobriquet by which the coin
was known-'a Margaret Thatcher'-the size,
hardiness and metallic nature of the coin
and the person were comparable. I answered
her enquiry and felt mortified by the memory
she raised as I offered her the coin. Is money,
however much it is shared and whatever we give
or have, always so inherently mean as to keep those
that have the least on the lowest possible social rung?

I Am Worth Only As Much As My Next 'Thankyou'

Work is over-hyped, except as a route
to the cheap grace of financial indebtedness,
which in turn raises The Protestant Work Ethic
to new highs in legal but legalistic tax avoidance
and the avoidance of all social responsibility.
Surely life is much more accountable when a person
is honestly beholden to the state through the constraints
of 'A life on welfare'. There any currency of repayment
is through personal thrift, small but daily acts of kindness,
and finally a gracious manner toward a neighbour.
Because after that there is little else left to argue over.

Monday, 25 November 2013

No Need For Jealousy

I never particularly cared about the origins
of the phrase 'nuclear family', I was educated
to ask less about what words meant, just as long
as they meant what adults wanted them to mean
when they said them, and they were not angry.
But my teachers could only bind so much ignorance
into me without being seen to do so. Later I learnt
that 'the nuclear family' referred to a household
of two generations, respectfully related by blood,
no bastardy*. The nucleus being the working male
owning the property. Older models were sustainable,
the extended family, living alone with family nearby.
Life in a caravan or on a barge+. Homelessness
too-if life was charitable enough and there are a series
of safe places to stay and do casual work (all this
was long before The Big Issue). I wish the proponents
of exclusively nuclear families understood clearer
that they don't need to hijack the media and exclude
all other models of family to defend their values.
The more the media is hijacked by nuclear family values
supported by (male) home ownership the weaker
every other family type social structure becomes.

*The fear of bastardy (children conceived out wedlock)
was a pet fear of my mother, and for all I know still may be.
It was undoubtedly a cause for fear for thousands, if
not millions, of single young women before the advent
of 'the pill'. That fear was the cause of many of the
genealogy (should that be gene-eology?) section to ripped
from the front of A3 size ornate covered Family Bibles.

+My great great grandmother on my mother's side
was a bargee, she travelled the canals transporting goods,
and according to my mother she was 'a wise woman',
meaning that she had a knowledge of healing herbs
and was probably a self trained midwife. Grandma Clifton
as Mother knew her died in 1956, five years before
I was born. She also wrote herself a recipe book
in mirror writing which was not treasured after she died.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Friday, 22 November 2013

In The Beginning

was happiness, and it was whole,
and all the life that there was was
imbued with an inexpressable joy.
Out of the joy, light invented itself,
and the light begat the dark
and severely diluted the joy by night.
Then the day was reassigned for labour
the night was for rest, thus the world
was divided and lost it's ease. By day
work made man a tool, and as a tool
he begat a hierarchy of stewardship,
but the ease of night did not truly calm him,
or his mate whom he ceased to see as his equal.
Nor did rest come to all they had dominion
/responsibility for, though they knew not why.
All they could see was that their troubles
came from the skies. Then Life was breathed
upon them and gifted man and his help-mate
with an unexpected insight; Man and his mate
were given a soul (not that he thought she was given
one like his if she got one at all) Truly this started
'The Fall'. This extra gift of Life that they received
helped them focus on their divisions; increased work
and rest, and their greater awareness, gave no ease.
Contrarily, it further separated them all, the stewards
and all he had stewardship over. The gift magnified
their division until unease was openly spread
over the whole of the earth. Even now,
we sowing and reap within this process.

The moral of this piece is that if you wish
to believe you have a soul then don't put faith
in work, make your life more play than duty;
split the difference through a vocation. If you trust
in work alone, and not in the soul, then you truly
have your life cut out and cut up by your work.
Your life is in your hands. When they stop, it will.
'Legacy' and similar ideas are pointless non-issues.

If Karl Marx

had ever written about organised sport
would he have been remembered for writing
'Cricket is the soporific of the people'?

But Marx would have met his match with beards.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

No Comment


The History Of Deference Is A History Of Quackery

One strand of British television documentary
that I half admire is 'exposing royal cover ups of the past'.
British royals have been breeding deference
towards them since the year dot, and always sweetening
their dirty laundry for the public.
Their confinement to projecting themselves
solely via the media is very new.
George II was the last British king to lead an army in 1743.
As documentary strands go,
it quite an interesting peep show.
The royal Achilles Heel, is medical mishaps.
Commoners deferred to royalty by command,
but doctors were universally deferred to, by those
who could afford one and even more by those
who could not who deferred to to money and land.
'How much was wealth the surety of health?'
was the nub of the question, even when doctors
openly failed. Only now, because in some newly rich
countries research is done into correlating
wealth to health, does it seem a safe enquiry.
hindsight is scary when all of it is declared and written,
our knowledge and wealth are only a measure
of our war against nature.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Double Bluff

When The Rolling Stones entitled their 1971 record 'Sticky Fingers'
the title appeared to be about the mild rudeness of the Andy Warhol sleeve,
though he missed a trick. A scratch and sniff version that cover that smelt of piss*,
would have rapidly become a most celebrated collectors item. What the title is actually
about was them disguising their corporate theft, their bleaching of the history of The Blues.

Smells wonderful......

Monday, 18 November 2013

At My Local Job Centre

the build is truly grand, because the market for long term unemployment
 is well maintained by making it absolutely impossible for anyone to leave
 when any staff member proves accidentally helpful towards clients
 who get somewhere close to something that merely could develop
 into profitable employment for the would-be employee.

The Truest

and most enduring anti-natalism
will come when women see rearing children
as the largest part of their carbon footprint,
and choose to reduce their imprint on the planet
by simply not having them. And if in the process
they find a more mature mutuality in their adult
life, through consensually choosing to be content
with less, well, that is that is an added  bonus.
If we are to free the future from ourselves,
and lighten up, then we have to do it slowly.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Man And Superman

Both of these gentleman were born in Graz, Austria,
but which of them has had the greatest influence upon the world?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, sports personality

Alfred Brendel musician.

Writing personally, I prefer men with glasses,
who are merely functional in their physique.
Those I know tend to be good company
in their dry humour, which looses and eases me
in some deeper place and makes them sexy.
 But what do I know of the world for other people?


My Second Christmas Card of 2013

Sarah Morris, Big Ben, 2012,
Household gloss paint on canvas
 with thanks to 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The Overloaded Elevator Of Life

From when we are growing up the end of our sentience,
when we are helped the question we have to ask ourselves
is 'Is this leg up or a kick down?'
The young are easily flattered-the younger they are
the more everything they are offered is helpful.
We are slow to see when the help we receive
is a bigger leg up for them than it is for us.
If you are small enough, then a leg up seems
the only way to go. But the bigger we get
the more we are programmed to seek gain,
and the more we have to lose.

The more competitive the society
the greater the distance there will be to fall,
the more likely we are to find people
hiding how they want to push us down.
The wider awareness starts with how we can
resist all this and make being the same as others,
and try to reach for greater commensality.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Cleanliness Is The Height Of Insincerity

In 1967 Senator Ronald Reagan,
a man who knew how to project an image
on his way up from leading The Actor's Union
to American President, defined a hippy thus
'A man who looks like Jane and smells like Tarzan'.
I am no prude but with the mass advertising of male grooming,
the advent of 'the new man', and post modern
feminism we have a strange new mix and match
to confuse each other. Tarzan wants be pampered like Jane,
Jane wants to be a designer Tarzan, Jane likes her new man,
but neither of them would survive for long in a real jungle.

The Black Madonna Of The Kitchen

I found my inner housewife today.
She was at the bottom of the oven,
covered in a thin layer of carbonised,
therefore sterile, vegetable matter.
She wasn't really dirty. So I cleaned
her up, and all around her. Then My Lady
of The Oven shone brightly. Now she,
the oven and I are more happy, cleaner
and nearer the daily forgiveness of each other.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Always Blame Somebody Else

Why does Google Chrome, when it is slow to load,
say 'The following pages are unresponsive'?
The page is the page-it is out there somewhere
and it is neither responsive nor unresponsive.
It is the programme, Google Chrome, as loaded
on to my laptop, and backed up by super-computers
elsewhere in America, that is seeking to deny
that it is slow, the better for my corporate reassurance.

I Have Been Looking For My Inner Dog

all of my life, though occasionally we have met. He
 does not need a lead, and responds well to cupboard love. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Practical Spirituality*

I like walking on my own in the country.
Every time I go I take a bag with me
to collect the rubbish I see in the verges,
the plastic bottles and chip containers
and drink cans strewn in the hedges.
Every time I pick one up there are
two voices in my head, one of them
says "How dirty is that? Put it down!
Did I rear you so that you would not
keep yourself clean?" and I disobey it.
The other voice comes from the planet, 
on which I try, and fail, to walk lightly
it says "Thank you for leaving me more tidy".

*the only time I am at ease with the word
'spiritual' is with the word practical before it. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

J. G. Ballard Is Alive And Well,

but is mostly in hiding. The last time his ghost was confirmed as present
was the 11/10/2012. He spoke through our esteemed prime minister,
who was speaking at the Imperial War Museum, unconscious of irony,
Mr Cameron said of the centenary of what up to 1939 was known
as The Great War, after that as The 1914-18 war or WW1
- 'Our ambition is to have a truly national commemoration...
  ...that captures our national spirit....   ....like the Diamond Jubilee
 celebrated this year'*. He linked the ease and luxury of life today
with the catastrophic losses and hardship of life a century ago,
which was very affecting after listing those losses at length.

This was so true to Mr Ballard's deadpan jet black
bone dry sense of humour that nobody recognised his
humour speaking through the prime minister at the time.

*the link is to the speech that was made and you will
find the full quote in the 26th paragraph, of the 37 total
in the speech with an added Q & A session.

My First Christmas Card Of 2013

Size Matters

The first world war was called 'great'
for the same reason that the word
is put behind the word 'Britain'-magnitude.
The 'great' was added to the country
to distinguish it from the French province
of Brittany, once a protectorate of English kings.
But the name change came long after that.
It happened under the successor to Elizabeth I,
King James VI of Scotland as he assumed the English throne.

Whether country, war, or both-combined in history-
the greater the magnitude the greater the ignoblility.

Monday, 11 November 2013

'Combat Suicide'

is a phrase I will never understand.
I have been close to suicide a few times,
and I contemplate it often, and with humour.
I like to think it is a friend who does not
need to see me, but might send a postcard.
Anyone who takes up arms against the sea
of their troubles, to oppose them, needs to see
that arms (and legs) are best for swimming with-
in the direction of the tide, but a little faster.
We have to know the flow we are in, to follow it,
and resist the reversing undertow underneath.
We can't do that through any metaphorical 'fighting
for our soul, against the will to live'. We did not make
our souls, any more that our bodies. They are a gift,
not ours to keep, much less to maintain in conflict.
Successful militarism, even against the lack of will
to live, means keeping close to your true self,
and keeping it's enemies even closer.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Marie Antionnette

is famous for saying 'Qu'ils mangent da la brioche'            
malignly misquoted in English as 'Let them eat cake'.
Soon the popular media will be attributing the phrase
'Let them watch television' with equal malignity
to Venezuela's President Maduro. Foodie that I am,
I would find brioche has more taste then advertising.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

How Do Governments Create New Monopolies?

And move to strengthen old ones?
They do it by telling the public
'We want to reform 'the market',
and then pass weak legislation,
which rich middle men then abuse,
thus the invisible hand appears
to open, before squeezing tighter.

The Shadow On The Face Of Modern Charity

Once upon a time the world was poorer,
and discomfort was normal for the masses
(they didn't vote so what did it matter?).
But there were a lot of private charities.
which applied some sort of Christianity
to soften the dis-ease of absolute poverty.
In 1921 Earl Hague formed The Legion.
With no British welfare state, they took up
the aim of supporting demobbed soldiers
and sailors, which back then seemed patriotic,
and vital for 'building the peace'.
The 'Royal' was added to their name in 1971,
when finally they were chartered.
It is a universal given that all charities drift
from their starting mission,
time dictates that they reinvent themselves,
their brand and activities,or die a quiet death.
And with reinvention comes dilution of aim.
What I have to say won't matter a jot,
nor do I want to decide how to separate
need from want (who would? who could?).
But where The Legion,
like others, once met basic needs,
with modern materialism they now serve Luxuria.

Friday, 8 November 2013

One Of My Lesser Vices

is not just watching television
(which for homes that have one
is the vice du jour) but leaving it
on the channel that shows videos
of popular music, with the sound muted.
As if my home were a public bar
where it is standard that the drinkers
need to be distracted by visions
of other peoples faking mis-spent youths
to make their visit more of a pleasure.
With all the scene changes and  micro-
edits every three seconds in a pop video
they are more visual than they are musical,
like the lowest level of infotainment.
As if the patron saint of television and remote controls
is St Vitus, and like Andy Warhol (who when young
suffered with St Vitus dance) it is not quite
in control of itself, or it's rampant creativity.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Is That Man Paid To Say That?

The BBC reported today that 'Parents are not prudes,
but feared for their children and the amount of media
they consume e.g. popular music videos where, unsupervised,
their children repeatedly exposed their minds to violent and sexual images'.
1500 parents were surveyed and 82% of parents
said that 'The children repeated the sexualised lyrics
of the videos without knowing what they mean'.
Many parents tried to stop their children watching
said 'entertainments'. I would never take the Gradgrind approach
and reduce children's vocabulary and knowledge to their understanding.
I love language too much for that, and how can anyone understand more
except by openness? And I trulIy abhor the idea of the weak and poor
and passive being prostituted to the wealthy, and information rich,
by some sort of utilitarian controlled and role based determinist education.

Rather I would wish parents to follow the example of Mr Frank Zappa,
who from an interview I read in the 1980s that was done in 1967 for Rolling Stone
watched television with his children and taught Dweezil, then aged 7,
about advertising-what could be believed and what should not be-
by teaching his son to ask of the adverts,'Is that man paid to say that?'.
If only more parents would teach their children to critically ask
 a similar question of Rhiana, Eminem and the corporate interests behind them.

The Odour Of Heaven

The first time I went into a specialist cheese shop, in Edinburgh,
I thought that with the rich blend of smells that wafted
from the doorway was an olfactory metaphor for Heaven.
I nearly fainted, but then I am quite sensitive.
Now I read about belief but am never sure what to believe,
because the labels for different beliefs multiply and divide
with the least amount of open discussion. But if any deity
were to listen to how through prescriptive descriptions
we flail and flop toward the art of communication,
and end up dividing from each other, becoming selectively deaf,
such a god would recall the humour of General Charles De Gaulle,
on becoming President;'How can anyone run a nation
that has two hundred and forty six* different kinds of cheese?'.

*the actual number of cheeses in France is nearer four hundred.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


It is very difficult to play life
with a straight bat and deliver
with a clean drive if your grip
is broken when other people's
will to win triumphs over you
simply enjoying playing well.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Death Is A Piece Of Cake

The aspect of life that continually surprises me
is the middle class appetite for endless polite
(for which read evasive) conversations over bland food.
They like to see this as therapeutic,
when their lives are already so much
more comfortable than the closer-
to-the-knuckle existence of the billions
of humans and trillions of non-humans
on the planet, who get by with far less,
without invoking stoicism,
and who say nothing about it,
though we wail sentimentally
over their butchered remains.

Sometimes I think trained therapists
are aliens, who want their clients to be
as blind as possible to genuine otherness,
to disguise their foreignness of their origins.  

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Time And Motion In The Next Life

Whether your expectation is an afterlife
of which we can know nothing from here,
or whether it is some restful absence,
deeply longed for in this life
where the depth of our longing is the proof,
the measure, that we are not there thank goodness
that there is no time and motion study we can access
in advance of our arrival. Perhaps one small joy of life
for some is that they will write their own time and motion study,
and quietly keep rewriting it, whilst they are waiting.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Who Changed The Labels?

Whoever it was did the right thing
and helped capitalism become more honest with the public.

On This All Souls Day,

a mere seven years and half years
after my father died, I would like
here to wish him well in his after life,
where ever it is. And even more
to wish him greater warmth in his grave
than ever he shared with everyone
who knew him when he was alive.

Friday, 1 November 2013