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

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Why Is Education Like Voting?

because even as knowledge might be power
the further it spreads the less rewarding it gets,
and the greatest gain will always be
where they are in their greatest quantity.  

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Pizza Effect

is the name for how much an idea changes
as it changes location, as long as the ingredients
remain the same. What gets a thing accepted
is a lack of discernment because of reduced choice.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

My Last Christmas Card Of 2015

Even as it arrived late it added a certain frosty cheer to the celebrations.

Turning Boredom With The World Into Bad Science

One of the more depressing phrases
in the English language is the journalese
of 'A study finds....  ' near the start
of what purports to be a news item.
It means that the newspaper
(insert your choice of Press here)
has lost interest in what is actually happening,
and to tickle our jaded palates
has sent one of its lesser reporters
to find a science story the paper can inflate
the hoped for result of with false headlines.
Leaving the research as a-work-in-progress
which won't be compete for a long time to come. 

Monday, 28 December 2015

Blacking Up

Domestic politics is the pot telling the kettle
that the kettle is blacker than the pot
without providing the proof to black it up.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Thought For The New Year Sales

Because organization will always beat disorganization and crime never loses in the long run, mostly it changes the law to give itself cover, as the present public debate about tax evasion/avoidance proves.

Titles And Talents

We have to be a jacks of many trades
to make modern life work for us,
in ways that we are often shy about counting.
This was even truer for those housewives
whose skills in organizing households
went uncredited by everyone
who was so well kept in the past.

But queens and kings
can rarely do anything
without help from servants.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Even Hypocricy Needs To be Refreshed

When newspapers write
in tones of synthetic outrage
of 'political correctness gone mad',
at some fresh scandal, or scam,
you can be sure it is some old humbug
being critical of Hypocrisy for renewing itself.

Friday, 25 December 2015


Christmas is so much better
without all those 'old traditions'...

When Brevity Is The Soul Of Humour

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally Conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious Persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the Religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2016, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make (name of country) great and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical disability, religious faith, choice of computer platform,or sexual preference of the wishee.

Legal Disclaimer: By accepting this agreement, you are accepting these terms.

This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited bylaw, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.

This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting,whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Sincerely, (Name withheld for legal, social and cultural considerations.).

Happiness Through Accidents?

Through sheer consistency
man passes misery onto man
in ways that go beyond measure.
If we accept other peoples weakness
through a reliable knowledge
of our own inconsistencies
would we be happier by accident or intent?

I don't know which it would be,
but it would be an improvement.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

My Fifth Christmas Card Of 2015

'Abstracts' by Gerhard Richter.

Political Post Modernism

It seems that there is not one democracy
worthy of the name in any nation state
in the world today. But there is choice
-in 'developed countries', we can choose
which corporate oligarchy fronted by
its own tame puppet politician to vote for.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Narcissim Inc

In the competition to find the country's biggest narcissist
the rules were set at who, through artifice of personality,
could take the least notice of those around around them
without having to acknowledge those they inevitably offended.

Since the biggest narcissists always offer themselves the biggest prizes,
e.g. Donald Trump standing for President on grounds of merit,
the competition standards were impossibly high.

It was soon found that for the award to be accepted
by anyone it had to be renamed as an honour
for charitable works-the better to help those near and dear
to the narcissist of the year to accept the prize
as a modest consolation for mirroring their keeper.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

In The Beginning

All was calm and open awareness
until fight and flight broke out
and banished self control to oblivion,
little realizing that by banishing awareness
through the ensuing violence and chaos
they would also create a frozen state.
And in the frozen-ness would rest
the future unconscious of the world.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Putting Scientific Logic Into Politics

Because if there were no logic in Party Politics it would be too clear it is nonsense....

Sunday, 20 December 2015


We are all shadows fighting ourselves,
and battling each other to the last
-as if those who live longest are best-
whilst waiting for the light behind us
that gives us life to die
 - and take us all with it.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Education Scmeducation, Medication

In my youth, and well away from 'the family home',
one of the pastimes I enjoyed was board games.
Partly because they were put there for us to use
and also because they were a quiet way of engaging
with boys my own age and disposition who were
as maladaptive about competitive sport as I was.
With a family like mine, all chaos and noise
in confined spaces, what I needed above all
was something logical which had clear rules,
the best of which was that the concentration
of other players was as important as my own
if the game, and my life, was to mean anything in future,
if I was to be weaned off the need for anti-psychotic meds
which I had to take stop my mind being shredded by my family.  

Friday, 18 December 2015

Clothes Maketh The Man

I'd love to think that if Heaven is real
then everyone present there will wear pyjamas.
Perhaps those who were best behaved in this life
will have dressing gowns too. We will all lounge
about the way we did at home, in our former lives.
Such clothing denotes a suitably Heavenly sense
of ease about time, and a well being in the space that we inhabit,
where we don't have to work at dressing ourselves to impress other people.

Thursday, 17 December 2015


The most aggressive in this life are the most self incentivized
-they will always grab the most, and the motivation of those with less drive,
and an apparently weaker will to keep their peace, is to bear witness
to where greed replaced need more than any of us thought it could.


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Coming To A Cinema Nowhere Near You Soon

Join the jollity as a French man, a German, a Pole and a Slovenian ruin each others Christmas day and ruin your life forever with their terribly long winded jokes with no punchlines about the sadness of life now,  the difficulties of the past, and the horrors of the future.....    

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Good Timing

The difficulty of being a scapegoat
is that whilst they might know
that their exit will be permanent
they never know when to take their leave. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Keeping Cold Callers Entertained

Caller: “Thank you. May I ask which age bracket you fall into?”

Me: “50-60, but I’ve been told I’m not likely to make it into the next bracket.”

Caller: “Oh. Can I ask, are you married?”

Me: “I was married. Up until two weeks ago. My wife left me for my best friend, Malcolm.”

Caller: “Do you own your own home?”

Me: “I did. But my wife wants me out. Her and Malcolm are moving in on Tuesday week.”

Caller: “Do you own a car?”

Me: “Repossessed. Couldn’t pay. I own a bike. I say, ‘own’. It’s Malcolm’s
 – he’s going to want it back any time soon, I suppose.”

Caller: “Any pets?”

Me: “A cat. Wilf.”

Caller: “Pet insurance?”

Me: “No need. I’m looking at Wilf’s freshly dug grave. Dug it myself two days ago. Rest in peace, Wilf.”

Caller: (pause). “Have you had an accident in the past three months that wasn’t your fault?”

Me: “Yes. No.”

Caller: “What type of accident was it, please?”

Me: “It was my own fault, actually. No one to blame. I lost my left leg just below the knee.
I’m having a new fitting tomorrow morning.”

Caller: “Okay, well, that concludes all of the questions I have for you today.”

Me: “Do you have to go? I can answer more questions if you like. I haven’t spoken to a soul in three days.”

Caller: “Thank you for co-operation...”

Me: “Please don’t leave...    "

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Weather Envy

I never understood why people went on holiday
-for many years I was too poor to think.
My life was about enduring cheapness.
My travels were on short bus journeys
or hitching local lifts. I made many 'friends'
temporarily with generous people who had drove
when I could not. But now I get it. I surely do,
when others wander abroad from colder climes
to warmer places they are inspired by Weather Envy.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The Politics Of Trauma

We call it 'Politics' when we petrify
the suffering of The Worthy Few from the past
into a drive to transform present day society,
and to this add the paradox of our countries rich
trading with 'our enemies' whilst the popular press
proclaim the nation's hatreds in lurid headlines.

But patriotic anger always burns out
-reinventing itself as anger and exhaustion
and we surprise ourselves with the novelty
of how we create a new 'unworthy poor'.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

A Prayer Of Humility

I thank thee Lord I am not a fundamentalist.
I thank thee that I don't know The Holy Book
of my country from back to front, and back again.
I thank thee that for not knowing such material
there is little I can quote to hide my insecurities.
I thank thee Lord that I cannot become defensive
via theologically illiteracy for being self-miseducated.
I thank thee that for having few excuses to hide behind
I have had to learn to know myself in all my fragilities
and learn it all quite carefully-from the inside. Amen.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


Humans have many means of exchange
with which to raise each other up
or pull each other down
and the most powerful
of all of them has to be guilt.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Urbane Dystopias

The world has never been short of torturers 
and 'the home' is where they endure
the best, to make inevitable the futures
that we least aspire to-or think possible.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Friday, 4 December 2015

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Watching The Rolling News

is like listening to several old jokes
being told nearly simultaneously,
all of them being told badly.

To hide the poverty of humour
and the teller having no rythm
s/he constantly pulls the punchline
before it can be told-the better
to make The News seem fresher
-and go on forever......

Most cope with this by turning off the sound,
which make the half digestged reports less distracting,
and more like a midly noisy moving wallpaper,
which is best turned off when there are real people around. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Proof Of Immaturity

Heterosexuals tend to think
that 'homosexuality the problem',
and what they breed is wholesome.
This is partially true, what is absolute
is how much men turn family values
into hierarchies of ownership
driven by their appetite for unease
which is well disguised,
made invisible through 'normality'.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


are common enough as part of life.
The best advice is to make our own
and discreetly disown other peoples.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Between Life And Death

nobody knows which way to turn,
particuarly when both make what we have
seem like masks that are fixed, and burn.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Looking Out Of My Window

I realised that Black Friday
was less a one day increase
in cheaper consumer choice,
and more a day of winter weather.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Toy Town Dystopias

Security cameras never need to lie
to entrap customers in shops-
slick advertising slack consumer law
and scammers do all that work for them.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Under Construction

 It is being built by a government near you,
and you had better not ask too much about how it works.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Present Conditional

A life 'on hold' is very different
to a life that is held as if valued.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Money Is Like Guilt

-both are inventions
which empower their inventors
to make other people dependent
in ways which dependents lose choice
even as their needs are defined and met.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Why? Indeed....

Perhaps it is the arms industry, but as ethical living goes, killing seems repetitive....

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Who's Happiness?

'Take these pills' the nice lady doctor said,
'They will make you happier than you are now',
'I am glad you put that in qualified terms'
I replied, knowing but not saying
that I no longer knew what happiness was,
-in either relative or absolute terms.
Nor did I know calm or rest,
becuause of how I was 'cared for' either.

But if my taking the pills made me good
for other people in all their restlessness,
neediness, gainfulness, and with the outright lies
they always told and never acknowledged,
then for their sake I will take the medication.
What 'self' I have has no power to command
that others modify their behavior for my benefit,
but politely accepts demands that I be 'normal'. 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Marrakech In The1930's......

'As the corpse went past the flies left the restaurant table in a cloud and rushed after it, but they came back a few minutes later.

The little crowd of mourners-all men and boys, no women–threaded their way across the market-place between the piles of pomegranates and the taxis and the camels, wailing a short chant over and over again. What really appeals to the flies is that the corpses here are never put into coffins, they are merely wrapped in a piece of rag and carried on a rough wooden bier on the shoulders of four friends. When the friends get to the burying-ground they hack an oblong hole a foot or two deep, dump the body in it and fling over it a little of the dried-up, lumpy earth, which is like broken brick. No gravestone, no name, no identifying mark of any kind. The burying-ground is merely a huge waste of hummocky earth, like a derelict building-lot. After a month or two no one can even be certain where his own relatives are buried.

When you walk through a town like this–two hundred thousand inhabitants, of whom at least twenty thousand own literally nothing except the ragsthey stand up in–when you see how the people live, and still more how easily they die, it is always difficult to believe that you are walking among human beings. All colonial empires are in reality founded upon that fact. The people have brown faces–besides, there are so many of them! Are they really the same flesh as yourself? Do they even have names? Or are they merely a kind of undifferentiated brown stuff, about as individual as bees or coral insects? They rise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years, and then they sink back into the nameless mounds of the graveyard and nobody notices that they are gone. And even the graves themselves soon fade back into the soil. Sometimes, out for a walk, as you break your way through the prickly pear, you notice that it is rather bumpy underfoot, and only a certain regularity in the bumps tells you that you are walking over skeletons.

I was feeding one of the gazelles in the public gardens.

Gazelles are almost the only animals that look good to eat when they are still alive, in fact, one can hardly look at their hindquarters without thinking of mint sauce. The gazelle I was feeding seemed to know that this thought was in my mind, for though it took the piece of bread I was holding out it obviously did not like me. It nibbled rapidly at the bread, then lowered its head and tried to butt me, then took another nibble and then butted again. Probably its idea was that if it could drive me away the bread would somehow remain hanging in mid-air.

An Arab navvy working on the path nearby lowered his heavy hoe and sidled towards us. He looked from the gazelle to the bread and from the bread to the gazelle, with a sort of quiet amazement, as though he had never seen anything quite like this before. Finally he said shyly in French:

“_I_ could eat some of that bread."

I tore off a piece and he stowed it gratefully in some secret place under his rags. This man is an employee of the Municipality.

When you go through the Jewish quarters you gather some idea of what the medieval ghettoes were probably like. Under their Moorish rulers the Jews were only allowed to own land in certain restricted areas, and after centuries of this kind of treatment they have ceased to bother about overcrowding. Many of the streets are a good deal less than six feet wide, the houses are completely windowless, and sore-eyed children cluster everywhere in unbelievable numbers, like clouds of flies. Down the centre of the street there is generally running a little river of urine.

In the bazaar huge families of Jews, all dressed in the long black robe and little black skull-cap, are working in dark fly-infested booths that look like caves. A carpenter sits cross-legged at a prehistoric lathe, turning chair-legs at lightning speed. He works the lathe with a bow in his right hand and guides the chisel with his left foot, and thanks to a lifetime of sitting in this position his left leg is warped out of shape. At his side his grandson, aged six, is already starting on the simpler parts of the job.

I was just passing the coppersmiths’ booths when somebody noticed that I was lighting a cigarette. Instantly, from the dark holes all round, there was a frenzied rush of Jews, many of them old grandfathers with flowing grey beards, all clamoring for a cigarette. Even a blind man somewhere at the back of one of the booths heard a rumor of cigarettes and came crawling out, groping in the air with his hand. In about a minute I had used up the whole packet. None of these people, I suppose, works less than twelve hours a day, and every one of them looks on a cigarette as a more or less impossible luxury.

As the Jews live in self-contained communities they follow the same trades as the Arabs, except for agriculture. Fruit-sellers, potters, silversmiths, blacksmiths, butchers, leather-workers, tailors, water-carriers, beggars, porters–whichever way you look you see nothing but Jews. As a matter of fact there are thirteen thousand of them, all living in the space of a few acres. A good job Hitler isn’t here. Perhaps he is on his way, however. You hear the usual dark rumours about the Jews, not only from the Arabs but from the poorer Europeans.

"Yes, MON VIEUX, they took my job away from me and gave it to a Jew. The Jews! They’re the real rulers of this country, you know. They’ve got all the money. They control the banks, finance–everything."

"But,” I said, “isn’t it a fact that the average Jew is a labourer working for about a penny an hour?"

"Ah, that’s only for show! They’re all money-lenders really. They're cunning, the Jews."

In just the same way, a couple of hundred years ago, poor old women used to be burned for witchcraft when they could not even work enough magic to get themselves a square meal.

All people who work with their hands are partly invisible, and the more important the work they do, the less visible they are. Still, a white skin is always fairly conspicuous. In northern Europe, when you see a labourer ploughing a field, you probably give him a second glance. In a hot country, anywhere south of Gibraltar or east of Suez, the chances are that you don’t even see him. I have noticed this again and again. In a tropical landscape one’s eye takes in everything except the human beings. It takes in the dried-up soil, the prickly pear, the palm-tree and the distant mountain, but it always misses the peasant hoeing at his patch. He is the same colour as the earth, and a great deal less interesting to look at.

It is only because of this that the starved countries of Asia and Africa are accepted as tourist resorts. No one would think of running cheap trips to the Distressed Areas. But where the human beings have brown skins their poverty is simply not noticed. What does Morocco mean to a Frenchman? An orange-grove or a job in government service. Or to an Englishman? Camels, castles, palm-trees, Foreign Legionnaires, brass trays  reality of life is an endless, back-breaking struggle to wring a little food out of an eroded soil.

Most of Morocco is so desolate that no wild animal bigger than a hare can live on it. Huge areas which were once covered with forest have turned into a treeless waste where the soil is exactly like broken-up brick. Nevertheless a good deal of it is cultivated, with frightful labour. Everything is done by hand. Long lines of women, bent double like inverted capital Ls, work their way slowly across the fields, tearing up the prickly weeds with their hands, and the peasant gathering lucerne for fodder pulls it up stalk by stalk instead of reaping it, thus saving an inch or two on each stalk. The plough is a wretched wooden thing, so frail that one can easily carry it on one’s shoulder, and fitted underneath with a rough iron spike which stirs the soil to a depth of about four inches. This is as much as the strength of the animals is equal to. It is usual to plough with a cow and a donkey yoked together. Two donkeys would not be quite strong enough, but on the other hand two cows would cost a little more to feed. The peasants possess no harrows, they merely plough the soil several times over in different directions, finally leaving it in rough furrows, after which the whole field has to be shaped with hoes into small oblong patches, to conserve water. Except for a day or two after the rare rainstorms there is never enough water. Along the edges of the fields channels are hacked out to a depth of thirty or forty feet to get at the tiny trickles which run through the subsoil.

Every afternoon a file of very old women passes down the road outside my house, each carrying a load of firewood. All of them are mummified with age and the sun, and all of them are tiny. It seems to be generally the case in primitive communities that the women, when they get beyond a certain age, shrink to the size of children. One day a poor old creature who could not have been more than four feet tall crept past me under a vast load of wood. I stopped her and put a five-sou piece (a little more than a farthing) into her hand. She answered with a shrill wail, almost a scream, which was partly gratitude but mainly surprise. I suppose that from her point of view, by taking any notice of her, I seemed almost to be violating a law of nature. She accepted her status as an old woman, that is to say as a beast of burden. When a family is travelling it is quite usual to see a father and a grown-up son riding ahead on donkeys, and an old woman following on foot, carrying the baggage.

But what is strange about these people is their invisibility. For several weeks, always at about the same time of day, the file of old women had hobbled past the house with their firewood, and though they had registered themselves on my eyeballs I cannot truly say that I had seen them. Firewood was passing–that was how I saw it. It was only that one day I happened to be walking behind them, and the curious up-and-down motion of a load of wood drew my attention to the human being underneath it. Then for the first time I noticed the poor old earth-coloured bodies, bodies reduced to bones and leathery skin, bent double under the crushing weight. Yet I suppose I had not been five minutes on Moroccan soil before I noticed the overloading of the donkeys and was infuriated by it. There is no question that the donkeys are damnably treated. The Moroccan donkey is hardly bigger than a St Bernard dog, it carries a load which in the British army would be considered too much for a fifteen-hands mule, and very often its pack-saddle is not taken off its back for weeks together. But what is peculiarly pitiful is that it is the most willing creature on earth, it follows its master like a dog and does not need either bridle or halter. After a dozen years of devoted work it suddenly drops dead, whereupon its master tips it into the ditch and the village dogs have torn its guts out before it is cold.

This kind of thing makes one’s blood boil, whereas–on the whole–the plight of the human beings does not. I am not commenting, merely pointing to a fact. People with brown skins are next door to invisible. Anyone can be sorry for the donkey with its galled back, but it is generally owing to some kind of accident if one even notices the old woman under her load of sticks.

As the storks flew northward the Negroes were marching southward–a long, dusty column, infantry, screw-gun batteries and then more infantry, four or five thousand men in all, winding up the road with a clumping of boots and a clatter of iron wheels.

They were Senegalese, the blackest Negroes in Africa, so black that sometimes it is difficult to see whereabouts on their necks the hair begins. Their splendid bodies were hidden in reach-me-down khaki uniforms, their feet squashed into boots that looked like blocks of wood, and every tin hat seemed to be a couple of sizes too small. It was very hot and the men had marched a long way. They slumped under the weight of their packs and the curiously sensitive black faces were glistening with sweat.

As they went past a tall, very young Negro turned and caught my eye. But the look he gave me was not in the least the kind of look you might expect. Not hostile, not contemptuous, not sullen, not even inquisitive. It was the shy, wide-eyed Negro look, which actually is a look of profound respect. I saw how it was. This wretched boy, who is a French citizen and has therefore been dragged from the forest to scrub floors and catch syphilis in garrison towns, actually has feelings of reverence before a white skin. He has been taught that the white race are his masters, and he still believes it.

But there is one thought which every white man (and in this connection it doesn’t matter twopence if he calls himself a Socialist) thinks when he sees a black army marching past. "How much longer can we go on kidding these people? How long before they tum their guns in the other direction?"

It was curious, really. Every white man there has this thought stowed somewhere or other in his mind. I had it, so had the other onlookers, so had the officers on their sweating chargers and the white NCOs marching in the ranks. It was a kind of secret which we all knew and were too clever to tell; only the Negroes didn’t know it. And really it was almost like watching a flock of cattle to see the long column, a mile or two miles of armed men, flowing peacefully up the road, while the great white birds drifted over them in the opposite direction, glittering like scraps of paper'-George Orwell

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

My Mind

often wonders at what the ear
that aurally feeds it hears
from the mouth that issues
forth it's thoughts, when they occour.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The White Death

Nowadays cancer is all the rage
for writers of a certain age
who have outlived the will
to waste their youth to folly,
for great comfort and profit.
Writers were poorer I was young
and the best I read were long dead.
They had died young, well middle aged,
and not from cancer, but from tuberculosis.

Friday, 6 November 2015

I Am Used To My Own Life Being Pointless

After all in any hierarchy
-particularly in families-
the bottom must be selfless
to give the top it's 'character'
-it's fitness to decide and rule.
But I have never quite adjusted
to how my actions might make
the live of others quite as pointless
as my own sometimes seems to me.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Liquid Politics

Kenneth J Galbraith prepared a speech
for U.S. President, Lyndon Johnson.
After reading the speech Johnson asked Galbraith:
“Did y’ever think, Ken, that making a speech
on ee-conomics is a lot like pissing down your leg?
It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else".

There is more than one quote by President Johnson
which used passing urine as metaphor for politics....  

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

My Proof Of Non-Conformism

The more the more I tried to fit the more I stood out as being odd.

Sixty Five years Ago, Today....


Shaw is dead. The great dark gates of death that have been locked against him for so long swung open for a moment at dawn yesterday and the lean derisive Sage looked over his shoulder for a final twinkling trice - and was gone.
GBS, who has said most things worth saying in the past century and who has had the world by the ears and tail for longer than any writer in history, finally learned the most difficult and most simple of tricks - how to die.The frozen field-mouse stiff and cold under the hedgerow knew it before him ; the fledgling in the cats paw understood it and the poor weighted mongrel in the canal beat him to it in having an earlier glimpse of the last sombre secret of how to leave this life.
Only this glittering Jack Frost of a man, whose contemporaries began to die at the turn of the century and who has pierced and exposed most of the follies and foibles of mankind had not, until the birth of yesterday, achieved that final shattering achievement, the ending of life, and in this case the ultimate awesome passing of George Bernard Shaw.
The mould is broken. There was none like him before him, none like him when he was alive - and there will be none to match him now he has gone. Shaw in love seems almost grotesque - though there is much evidence that in his time many women did not think it so. How for instance could any girl in his arms deal with this sort of stuff? :
'When you loved me I gave you the whole suns and stars to play with. I gave you eternity in a single moment, strength of the mountains in one clasp of your arms, and the volume of all the seas in one impulse of your soul. We possessed all the universe together - and you ask me to give you my scanty wages as well!'
Mr Churchill, who know a golden intellect and a diamond-bright pen when he sees one, has paid his profound respects GBS. But he has also recorded his censure at some of the gaucheries of the sage in his antics.
'If truth must be told, our our British island has not had much help in its trouble from Mr Bernard Shaw. When nations are fighting for life, when the palace in which the Jester dwells not uncomfortably is itself assailed, and everyone from prince to groom is fighting on the battlements, the Jesters jokes echo through deserted halls, and his witticisms, distributed evenly between friend and foe, jar the ears of hurrying messengers, and mourning women and wounded men. The titter ill accords with the tocsin*, or the motley with the bandages.'
GBS died after a fall when reaching out to prune an old and dying bough with secateurs. The symbolism would not have been lost on him. he was almost certainly a happy man for a very long long time. But even on that he had the last paradoxical word. Said Mr Shaw 'A life time of happiness? No man could bear it : it would be hell on earth.'

Daily Mirror Columnist Sir William Connor, who wrote under the name Cassandra on the death of George Bernard Shaw, November 3rd 1950. 

*funeral bell             

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Monday, 2 November 2015

On Home Ownership

As the richest people in the world
increasingly detach themselves
from the poor, through their wealth,
the more the rich few reinforce
the private ownership of everything
whilst redefining the value of care
to only what is valuable to them.

What each of us needs is very simple
- a door we can close against the world
when it presses us to be who we are not
-behind which we can be at ease in ourselves.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Watching Television Alone

Watching television used to be sold
as 'an activity for all the family'
-something to bind family members
each to the other via the values
presented on the screen.

Where does this leave the person
who lives and watches alone?
If, well more likely when, they disagree
with the presenter will they let it wash over them?
Or swear at the screen repeatedly, get angry,
and have to turn it off if they want some calm?

Whether they agree or swear at the screen
on their own there nobody with whom
to share affirmation through agreement.
No shared joy at being positively surprised.
No feedback through spontaneity.

Just freshly minted inertia
which blocks out the silence
that would speak a lot clearer
to all about how to make true rest.     

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Friday, 30 October 2015

2 x 2 = ?

Does every couple lead a double life
-one with and one without each other?
Does each have a life apart,
of thoughts unshared and hopes unmet,
which get filed under 'fantasies'
and then masked off
for them being seen by others as 'an item'?

The partner who dies first
at least allows the other
room to live the dreams denied
denied reality in the masking.  

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Ennui Is Us

I understand work now;
the more pointless the task
the more rewarding the hierarchy
that has to be built around it will be.
And the nearer you are to the top
the greater the reward detachment gives,
as ennui holds us all, together.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Wither The Poet?

On the eve the first publication of 'Leaves of Grass',
in 1855 Walt Whitman wrote 'The proof of a poet
is that his country absorbs him as affectionately
as he has absorbed it.'. That absorption
was surely meant to be whole, complete, both ways.

I doubt he was thinking of the fifteen nation states
who employ poet laureates today,
including North Korea which has six
-all busily essaying the life of Kim Jong un
with a breathless patriotic fervor which competes
with the media hyperbole of his country's past.

Poetry is so compressed a form
that whatever is written today
will always seem far too rushed,
too keen to impress, for it's own good.
So whatever is published now,
will be like the nation it is meant to reflect.

Any wisdom in it will be future conditional.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Habit Is Not Commitment

On Sundays male believers
sit in pews with their families,
booted, suited and tied to the nines.
Their wives stop the children fidgeting
by giving them sweets every so often.
The wives are competitively dressed up,
in formal pastel colours, like witnesses
at the wedding of a distant relative
rather than alive as part of the Bride Of Heaven
-who according to professed belief,
lives by looking for the groom
in the lives of everyone around them.

If ever they reach their destination
their Sunday itself will be consumed
in the never ending present,
and their once-best clothing
will seem like a faded joke
where they forget how their lives
once fed into the punch-line. 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Only Ever Half In Love

How disappointing,
to go to bed each night
hoping for a natural death
from a surfeit of dreams of ease.

Only to wake up the next morning....  

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Oppression Will Expand When Disguised as Choice

The richer the society
the more it will divide.
The rules will expand
and vary to enrich the rich
at the expense of the poor
-who when faced with rules
which imply a choice
which they know is false
and are actually designed
to close down their options
then they learn to work around
how they have no chance of winning.

For not knowing what to trust
to avoid being scammed
the poor will lose the relatively little
that they have-to arrogance and greed,
well disguised as 'intelligence'.  

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Existentialist Dilemma

We make mistakes
through other people,
and we and they know it.
We have to leave them
to recover themselves.
Who can we expect them
to be able to turn to,
for their recovery?

Friday, 23 October 2015

Picture Post Special; Mental Health Edition

These pictures are apparently taken from a long abandoned
 Italian lunatic asylum. Abandoned by the patients and staff, for sure.
But not by graffiti artists, who for being sensitive to the ghosts,
the former residents and staff who gave their lives to the place
 represented the former staff etc, gave new life to the place.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

When Our Sense Of What Kindness Is Cuts To The Quick

In the course of parenting
many adults both forget their childhoods,
and mercilessly mine/recycle them-
the better to distance their newer selves
from their former dependence on family.

What parents know, and bury,
is when and how children learn empathy.
Mostly this comes most with attachments
to the living animals immediate to them.
When something soft and friendly dies
that they used to stroke a sense of loss ensues.

I remember being six and at the butchers
with Mother, when she was buying
a rabbit for dinner. They were lined up
in attractive display above our heads
as we went through the shop door.
The distinction between life and death
came to me very sharply
as I followed the conversation;

Butcher; 'Do you want the rabbit skinned?'

Mother, 'No thanks, I'll skin it myself.'

and I knew the same could happen to me.
Only when Mother came skin me
there would nobody asking after me,
and there would be nothing of me
to make the bedside rugs with.
She had made curing rabbit furs
her hobby-to provide for the house
in a vehement bid for self sufficiency.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Towards A More Self Aware Long Term Unemployment

From my twenties onwards
I had a beard, and I liked hats
for the change in my appearance
that they gave me. Without knowing
what one was I wanted to be a dandy.

My family always asked me
what was I disguising myself as?
They never listened for the answer.
But even as they had trained themselves
to not listen they needed some reply.
So I made myself funny but forgettable,
the better to help them laugh
and then repeat the question.

What I should have realized
at the time was that they were
preparing me for all the interviews
for jobs that I was never going to get
but I was still duty bound to apply for
-where the employer would observe me
for everything except what I said I was.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

More Or Less?

The more I see the more life reduces,
to a single qualified two part question;
Suffering is inevitable-in so far as we think
we can foresee the times ahead of us
do we suffer to reduce future suffering?
Or do we suffer to increase how painful
life is going to be for our descendents?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Positivity About Disability Is Not What it Used To Be

This is a picture of Black John Of Tetcott. Black John was dwarf and  a hunchback, being under four foot tall. I am sure he would be seen as 'disabled' in the 21st century. But in his time he many party tricks in his role as jester which included swallowing and retrieving strings of live mice and mumbling sparrows - removing their feathers with his teeth while the sparrow was in his mouth. Also known as James Northcote, he was a painter, was born in Plymouth, the son of a watchmaker and optician. Disability awareness has shifted somewhat since 1770s and 1780s-and not as often as we'd like for the better. From here.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Disguising Avoidance

From my twenties onwards
I had a beard, and I liked hats.
My family always asked me
what was I disguising myself as?
Not that they listened for the answer.
But even as they had trained themselves
to not listen they needed some reply.
So I made what I said funny but forgettable,
the better to help them laugh
and then repeat the question.

This was one of the milder
'gold fish bowl conversations',
where we went round in circles
knowing we'd been there before
and were likely to go there again
until something within us broke
which it did eventually..... 

Never to let repetition continue.

Friday, 16 October 2015


'Love' is a difficult word,
at best it is shown by actions
which linked by attentiveness
to the task in hand on the day.
My attention span is something
I will always feel awkward about-
if my attention span is on form
and my actions prove right today
then how long
before they prove wrong?

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Maths And English Of Party Politics

The Political Party Conference season
has come and gone, like it always does.

Through their speeches
leaders lead/push their parties
until what they say goes through
the media mincing machine
popularly known as 'the commentariat',
whose comments the parties will strive to ignore,
buy off, bully, or otherwise mute/redirect.

Accountants and treasury officials
will make the chancellor talk
in accountancy-speak, a language
the public can't make plain in its intent
until it is way too late to counter
what he (it is usually a he) has said.
When the press apply their logic
to the combined effect of the speech
and the stats he quotes they will expose
the emptiness of the aspirational language.
This vacuum will set up next years debts.

But by then the process has moved on
to the legisature to be ratified. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Heavenly Pyjamas

I'd love to think that if Heaven is real
then everyone present there will wear pyjamas.
Perhaps some of us will even have dressing gowns
in which to lounge about the same way we used to,
at home in our former lives. The ease of such clothing
denotes a suitable Heavenly sense of ease about time,
and the well being natural to the space we inhabit
when we don't have to impress other people.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Freedom Of Speech

Why is it that when I hear politicians
bigging themselves up through praise
for the country which they say they run,
when they know they are covering up
how they are puppets on strings of money 
it always brings me out the tourettes in me?

Perhaps that is the effect of democracy....

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Not So Long Ago,

and not so far away, good health
was best found through inherited wealth. 
And poverty was just as inherited,
and far more widespread, but despised.
Poverty was hidden in plain sight
and was effective in making life miserable.
Doctors were often far from helpful.
So the rural poor had wise women for births
and self medicated on herbs and tonics
with many a worldly townie turning to alcohol,
for seeing doctors and hospitals as being like Bedlam.
Both were designed to make them ill
by denying them their liberty and Nosocomephobia-
the fear of doctors and hospitals respectively
was the logical corollary of a rough life.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Beyond Value?

One of the oddities of modern life
is how rich families in rich countries
become minor media celebrities
-particularly when they prove
dysfunctional because of their wealth,
which is when said families
portray an agenda of 'We can buy
our way out of trouble and the public
will find it entertaining to pay to watch'.

Buying their way past how they don't listen to each other
by employing multiples of therapists and lawyers
to help make decisions then it does seem
as if emotional well being were an extension
of the mangerialism of Parkinsons Law,
where the more the money that is spent
the less is achieved with it, thus devalueing,
all money and all effort, and bankrupting creativity.

Were such dysfunction dealt with
more cheaply, and with greater warmth,
we might never learn about it, but if we did
I am sure we woud find it healthier
than the avoidance of wealth based solutions.


Friday, 9 October 2015

How To Deal With Cold Callers

When they ask who you are,
which they always do to claim your attention,
quietly tell them 'I'd like to to talk to you
but there isn't a phone in the house'.
Then quietly put the phone down.
You will have ended the call calmly,
and faster than it takes them to realise
the illigocality of your answer. 


are like swear words
-the less we know about either
the better off we feel we are.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

When Verbal Versatility Decieves Us

Due to my limited education
I rarely measure how words travel.
Language often leaves me behind
-though less so than it used to.
For instance, until I checked
I didn't realise how far
the word 'market' has shifted.

It now has six basic meanings
which in a society built on money
-and credit at that-rather than barter
or any other system of trade,
incorporating every choice we make.

It is used to describe

1-a place for the transfer of goods.
2-the trade in goods.
3-the group that is sold goods to.
4-individuals who are sold goods to.

And of money at its most abstract
the word incorporates
5-a stock market-the sale of bonds
and other theoretical economic instruments.
6-economic systems which vary
between command, mixed and 'free',
as in 'unregulated', though this extends
the market for secrecy, hypocricy and vice.

Tellingly it does not describe the sellers,
only the goods sold and people sold to,
this helps create the sense of  invisibility
'the hand of the market' relies upon.

After that there the behemoth called marketing
-the promotion of goods through advertising
or otherwise making known the availability thereof,
which like stock markets and economic systems
dwarfs the individual in this age of mass media,
-defining the individual the same way
that a maze defines a rat when it curious.....

What to do when one word describes too much?
This is something proponents of markets won't discuss
for fear of the risk of the language expanding,
which might well legitamise customers saying 'No'
in such a way that might make marketeers listen.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


for the effects of nuclear radiation-
when it evacuates human population
then the wild life will thrive again.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Who Censors The Censors?

In countries with overtly strong state security
what is presented in the public media
is often taken with a large pinch of salt.
This is not to give it flavour, but to remove
possible impurities in the presentation
when people know to not take at face value
what their governments tells them.

And who can blame them
when we are told our media is 'free'
by spokesmen for media moguls
who see the denial of ownership
of their media properties
as being good for paying less tax
and promoting commercial secrecy?   

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Scent Of History

Gods Piss on each others shrines,
the places where they are worshipped.
And with each fresh scent they create new followers.
The latest to piss resets the date
and moves human history forward a notch,
erasing the old labels and updating the technology,
but leaving the practice of everyday life
as near the past as they bring themselves to leave it. 

No worshipper knows who will be the last,
or the character of who it is they worship,
but they all yearn for when there will no more re-scenting.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

An Incorrect Politcal Opinion

Newspapers love the cliched headlines
of 'Politcal correctness gone mad',
which imply that being mis-spoken for
in the past was the height of sanity.

The press are the universal masters
of recycled petty bourgeois outrage,
and can never resist repeating their past.

For myself I see political correctness
is the cultural equal of Munchausens-by-proxy.
This a condition where one person mugs another
and denies the mugged the freedom of speech
or thought through which to resist their attacker.
Families are the most accepted location for it,
Since it is a sickness that thrives on the nature
of accepted authority it has often been accepted, unnoticed.
But the press have expressed the idea of speaking for others
for far longer than any wacky local authority which, for instance
'Bans christmas trees because they offend atheists and muslims'.
With every recycled and false headline they expose their fears
of a potential loss of profit because the new competition. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Practical Spirituality

If ever you want to raise money for a charity
then please read the followings suggestions.
They will make your gift seem natural to life
and improve your awareness of langauge.

Next time you install or update
some serious software on your computer
which requires multiple processes
with an attention span which seems
to be a rather awkward stretch for you
keep a swear box next to your mouse
and set a tariff on the different expletives
so that with each experession of exasperation
you stop, put the money in the box,
think of the charity that is going to gain,
and then return calmer to the online process.

The more you swear the more you pay
and the money raised will be authentic
to your sense of self awareness,
and if for you having been calm
you have been less generous
to your charity than you expected,
then you can always top it up,
in a fit of smug self satisfaction......    

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Golf On Mars

The end of the world will not come through war,
though millions will die from advanced weaponry
being used against them, and the stress caused
will be filmed for mass consumption
to exonerate the guilty and imply it were avoidable.

The end will come from the plethora of golf courses
being built all around the world by/for the super rich.
These sterile landscapes will support no wildlife
and soak up water at unprecedented rates.

The real reason NASA is investigating Mars
for its water is less to callibrate the chances
of alien life forms and more to send billionaire astronauts
and their followers there to create costly golf courses
which will destroy less life than they do on earth,
whilst will coincidentally double as tax havens.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Towards An Improved Sense Of Resignation

I left England behind when I started to grow up.
Every so often I used to look back, well beyond
who I used to be, and the more often I looked
the more 'the old country' shrank to nothing.
The past appeared as if it were a false memory
of television shows watched which I could remember
when prompted, but any bonds I attempted to form
through shared activities foundered in circumstances
that outwardly changed so rapidly that no relationship
ever held, or stuck to me, in the way I hoped it would.

It was like life was meant to be both oversold
and highly discouraging. Between the overselling
and the quiet wish to die the conflict was tough.

Now I live in 'backward' Northern Ireland,
and I 'get' the politics here, because late in life
I live deep in the country, and from a distance
I appreciate now how the peace walls in Belfast
protect vital false fronts and one-sided histories
when the alternative would be much worse.

These walls are like the television of my youth,
they stop people who have no real history
or character of their own, in opposition or together,
from dissapearing for having no identity atall.

So that is is why nothing happens here
though a more thorough nothingness
would be much more truthful,
but would not attract as many tourists. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


"An idiot is an idiot
Two idiots are two idiots
Ten thousand idiots are a political party."
- Franz Kafka

Monday, 28 September 2015

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Change Always Has It's Limits

It is in the nature of being a catylist
that what you catylise will overtake you
and eventually make you seem redundant. 

Freedom Of Speech?

Why is it that when I hear politicians
bigging themselves up through praise
for the country which they say they run,
when they are covering up how they are puppets 
it always brings me out the tourettes in me?

Perhaps that is the effect of democracy....

Saturday, 26 September 2015


I can't be alone in finding that we get between the sheets
to get deep enough to get under each others skin
to realise it friendship, not sex, that we wanted
from the other person in the first place.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Heaven Is Other People?

Ulster folk like nothing more
than making minor complaints
in order to gain a sympathy
which they think they are owed,
whilst saying they live The Gospels.
The Afterlife might be a wonderful place
but many of them might think twice
about eternity if they took stock
of the choices; at one extreme
all needs met/nothing to complain about
at the other plenty of genuine anguish
which is compounded for it being ignored.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Hawthorne Effect

was the name given to what happened
in Hawthorne Illinois when the owner
of a light bulb factory got social scientists in
and varied the lighting to test  for for the level
of light made for greatest productivity.
With every observed change in the lighting
the effect was the same. Improved output
when watched, which fell flat again
once the observers had gone.

This proved that lighting levels
had no effect in themselves
but being observed by social scientists
did wonders for factory output.

Is there some similar sense of false projection
or cause and effect when rich western countries
forcilby examine their divided weaker neighbours
for evidence of nuclear proliferation
and state sponsored terrorism?
Does the mere act of investigating mean
that the 'guests' will always find something
with which to incriminate their 'hosts'?
Will this evidence be found
because the poor country will have a state
which is both too weak to do much good
for citizens, and highly ineffective in stopping evil?     

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

In The Present Recession

and with work being 'incentivised'
by lower wages and reduced choice
the supply that dries up the fastest
will be the milk of human kindness.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Re-Writing History

Being Politically Correct is like being Catholic.
Both divide history into lists of 'approved'
and 'denied, never to be mentioned'.
Both divide via the power of langauge,
and make a powerful use of shame
to prevent a proper sense of choice.

Other faiths are just as impure
-they all exist to hide dirt,
some of them better than others.
The best faiths hide it in plain sight-
for all to see and none to recognise.
Were we honest we would all admit
'It is integral to life to like dirt, but hide it'. 

We create taboo through disapproval.
Whereas Science takes a longer view.
Human history is a short litany of governments
who have all done the same, swept the shame
into little piles of facts in nearly lost documents
for us to trip over when we rediscover them.

I don't mind tripping over something hidden
as long as I can examine what made me trip
and raise myself up to get past it-however slowly.

Monday, 21 September 2015


is the vice that ensures
that any revenge against it
will always be served cold. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Goodbye Mr Sewell

and thank you for your deeply barbed way with words
which raised the bar with public speech when it was falling.
It was this which enabled you to be yourself as a critic of art,
and gave you a means to explain, as best anyone could,
the twisted life you were pushed into living-for all to read.

You found truth to be like art-complex
-and you let both be, with vigour.


Saturday, 19 September 2015

Mild Modern Dystopias (2)

I can't mind that nearly all online public information
gets there because it is 'paid for' by adverts
but why so many ads for hair care products
that I, and millions of others, will never use?
These short films before what get what I click for
on youtube etc are awash with a glossy images
where adult women seek to appear more youthful,
as manufacturers persuade us we are vain
to help us empty our pockets.

I does not matter to me- these mousses
and shampoos are something I can't use,
I don't have the hair for them,
but the material they support matters.

I wonder, given a choice of public message
to subsidise to our 'entertainments', is there nothing better?
More morally uplifitng? Perhaps there is no choice,
but if there were then shampoo adverts might still be
the best thing is going. To be depressed by the idea
of beauty being so misused seems all too familiar.