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

Sunday, 16 May 2021

The More Things Change.....

 ....the more will they stay the same.

Ask any Jew celebrating today,
the day that history says is when Moses
was given the ten commandments,
with the festival of Shavout
a/k/a 'The Feast of Weeks'.

How many of those commands
that they were given then
are kept as they were given?

Presently 'Thou Shalt not Kill'
'Thou shalt not Steal'
and 'Thou shalt not lie
are undergoing significant revision
as the co-ownership of land
is proving to be of such oblivion.

That said when a command is broken
it is never just one command that breaks;
other commands get broken simultaneously
and more break with the hiding of the facts.

Human beings are like that.
  

Friday, 14 May 2021

The Catch With Safety

is two fold and contradictory;
on the one hand safety is never what it appears to be,
true safety is deeply layered and hides how it works
from who it protects, as if it it's safety
partly lay in how it operates incognito.

On the other hand we never have enough of it,
however much we are aware that our security
pushes poorer people into living by risks
that we would not begin to dare to calculate,
much less contemplate accepting as an everyday reality.

Bob Dylan was wealthy when he wrote the lyric
'When you got nothing, you've got nothing to lose,
you're invisible, you've go no secrets to conceal.'*
berating an unknown young and shallow socialite
but logically he was right,
though such poverty is like death
-anyone who has been there
finds it hard to want to report
to those who have not been there
how they survived it.



 *from the song 'Like A Rolling Stone',
which like every song Bob Dylan has written
in the past 60 years is now the intellectual property
of the Universal Music Publishing Group,
he reportedly sold the songs to the company
for a nine figure sum, in December 2020.
Maybe he was more generous than usual
with his Christmas gifts that year,,,,,, 

Thursday, 13 May 2021

When The New Less Is The New Enough

And less has been most of what there has been
on offer between people this last fifteen months.

 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Does Time Fly Faster For The Self-Important?

I can remember the analogue world,
and I know it is still out there, somewhere.
It was very slow and it consisted of
long letters hand written to friends,
time to reflect, and non-vocational classes
where folk who were more curious met together
to aspire to some physical real-time life skill.

Nowadays that world is fractured
and it hides in plain sight
whilst the internet morphs
into being the medium
which becomes it's own message,
eliminating all other sense of time
and every other media in history.

What I remember being told  most
before the internet took off in the 1990s 
was how self important every message
that anyone ever made was going to be,
now that world wastes peoples lives
whilst seeming to be endless frivolity.

It is as if mis-selling never existed
in a world where most have less to say
and we are all forced to use
the most self important means of saying it.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Great Indecisions

are at least as much the reasons
for what happened in history
as the supposedly great decisions
which mediocre men use to make
themselves seem larger than they are
as they proclaim what is important.

When the chance for consensus
makes itself known to people,
that is where a shared indecision
becomes the starting point
for finding out what they did not realise
they did not know about each other.   
                          

Monday, 10 May 2021

Maya Love

is tough and enduring, beyond all suffering
it always comes back again. Maya Angelou.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Alone Again, Naturally...

My country has just ended it's latest round of elections,
a round in which the party that had the the most empathy
with the underdog, and those with the least in society,
made the biggest losses any party of recent times could make.

Where the voting system was 'first the pass the post',
a system in which the candidate with most votes
wins once and for always, they lost the most.
The only reason that other candidates ran
was to become also-rans who would have
been better off doing anything but standing. 

For all I think about how to share out
the good things in life in a way that seems fair
I have clearly have been slow to learn
about how well the politics of selfishness
are packaged and sold to an electorate
that cannot resist the deceptions
of the advertising that conceals
the impulse that it wants people to act upon.

But what do I know? In the 40 odd years
of my being entitled to vote
I have been voting for the party,
and argument, that has lost that often
that they seem to exist to get spoken over.

In the 11 national elections
and over 20 elections for local government
I have had the luxury of helping choose
the opposition that I wish to keep standing
whilst they never gain office.

All I can say about voting for the losers
is 'Somebody has to do it, to keep then standing
and for the winners to win in elections
where the illusion of choice matters,
for there to be the appearance of open competition.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Signs Of Greater Age (50)

1-You still like books as you get older,
but as you age you can't get your head
around how young people call reading
'Biblio-Therapy' as if there was no history
of reading or writing for instruction,
and they have just discovered
how valuable reading books is.

2-Falling asleep when you read,
and not quite getting the hang
of repurposing the process
so as to make reading a mechanism
for choosing when you sleep.  

Friday, 7 May 2021

Creatively Unwaged

For the length of my adult life
I have been used to having to do
what I wanted to do for free;
nobody would pay me
for what they wanted done
when it might have been
to my financial advantage.

I was in my thirties when I volunteered
take telephone calls on a helpline
that supported the queer and depressed
across all of Northern Ireland.

I stayed until the phones stopped ringing
because the internet had become the in thing.

I was forty when I volunteered
to refurbish hand tools 
that would otherwise go to waste
for them to be sent to countries
where electricity is scarce
and they were bound to be valued.

It was remarkable
that I stayed for a decade
with that charity, even though
I was not very good at what I did.
Still, as 'a poof', I was useful proof
of their policy of inclusivity.

Finally there is this blog,
started 1st of Feb, 2011.
I was so caught up in writing it
that I never noticed the decade date
when it passed. 

All I can hope
is that between this blog
and the prose blogs I have written
my writing style has improve
since I started-if it is not 'there' yet
there something I can do about it-keep going.....

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Sex

Sex
Never repress it
Never be against it.
Rather, go deeply into it
with great clarity,
with great love.
Go like an explorer.
Search all the nooks and corners
of all your sexuality,
and you will
be surprised and
enriched and benefited.
Knowing your sexuality,
one day you will
stumble upon your
spirituality.

Then you will become free.
The future will have
a totally different
vision of sex.
It will be
more fun, more joy,
more friendship,
more play than
a serious affair,
as it has been
in the past.
Sex is just
the beginning,
not the end.
But if you
miss the beginning
you will miss
the end also.

I used to have this in writing
on my living room wall,
until the writing fell apart.
Now I leave it to the world. 
 

 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

The Language Virus


































I was in my teens when I first read the 1970 book 'Future Shock' by Alvin Toffler which concerned itself with how soon computers were predicted to discomfort the old who would never 'get the hang of them'. From it I learnt that this new world would prove advantageous to the young, for whom their use would become second nature.

I was young enough to feel  that in 1980 I might be one of those who would feel quite comfortable with what the author wrote about it all. I was ready to study computers at 'O' level standard in the subject which was closer than most people of any age would get to computers where I lived. No matter that the way the class approached the subject was at the teacher's level, slow, methodical, very technical, utterly without reference to any future our studies had, and utterly without any sense of the practical or commercial application of the subject. 

I did not mind that; it became like some some sort of game or a study done for it's own sake rather than for the future it was once meant to directly offer. I was in an exam factory and the subject was interesting, if somewhat laborious, to get an exam pass in. The morality of the use of computers to misinform the public was not part of what we studied, though with hindsight I wish it had been.

I thought the exam result might still be useful. This was before exam inflation, where to get anywhere with qualifications that once seemed adequate my exam results had to be more numerous, gained more rapidly, and with better grades than I might have thought before there were over three million people, mostly men, who were unemployed, where work experience was that valuable many employers were no longer giving it out, they expected other employers to provide it for them.

Decades later I learned to make computers work sufficiently well that I felt that I could call myself a writer, for the want of a more useful label. I discovered that the obverse of Alvin Toffler's predictions were the word worlds conjured up in the worrying prose of William Burroughs, of which very little was usually enough. In his work a scabrous immorality, deep mistrust, and hostile confusion all found their maximum entertainment value.

Now I am older I live simply, and rather well on less. I live well out of the way of the great majority. Alvin Toffler's predictions have returned to me like old ghosts who have supped well on human troubles and become refreshed by the new situations which have given them greater powers to haunt than ever I would have thought. I must be one of many to feel this way. 

Government websites on Covid 19 are my case in point. They speak in a self referring technical language and work though circular links between this page to that page and back, and that there are no phone numbers given with live human beings at the end from which to get a live explanation, or breakdown of what words on the screen actually mean. When that happens the words and the screen become the verbal equivalent of mazes that seem designed to confuse and not elucidate. When the links on the page link to another page. it is a mirror site which does exactually the same as the site that got you there, but in reverse.

That the evasive jargon would multiply with it being put into new, more impenetrable, forms which are even impossible to process was surely part of Alvin Toffler's warning, 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Boredom-The Final Frontier

The quietest fear that has stalked
the financially secure
in this year plus of Covid 
is the fear of boredom,
the fear of having nothing to organise
and nothing to dress up and be on show for.

The wealthy are used to spending their way
out the fear if inactivity,
and calling it 'creativity'
when it is a self indulgence
that is proven by how the poor go without it.

Covid has limited this 'creativity'
to the super-rich for whom money
has long ceased to limit how they think,
actual wealth is just insensate numbers.

At the drop of an email sent by a secretary
they can buy historic estates worth millions
in rich countries and 'self isolate' in them,
though their wealth made them self isolated, anyway.

For the rest of us with the normal fears
the way out of boredom is to find more pleasure
in the smaller victories in life;
there are no other victories are left.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Impersonally Yours?

One of my most overused phrases
is with regard to advice on phones
-when talking informally to friends
who I feel free to ask suggestions
from as to who might advise me further,
because we have both been there, I ask
'Do you think there be a live human being
at the other end of the line?'.

There is a quite serious point
behind my question, though.
Some telephonists that I have
encountered were so controlled
by the caller-handling script
dictated to them on the screen
in front of them, a screen I can't see
-but from the way they give out 
so little information with so little care
I can tell that the script is guiding them.

They are not 'live' in any accepted use
of the word-they have no autonomy.

Another point hides in plain sight
behind my much overused sarcasm
-how much does automation make
personal service seem impersonal?
How much does automation devalue
the very idea of service to others
by making what one person does for another
'One more action, among too many to value'?

Sunday, 2 May 2021

'Lord Give Me Chastity, But Not Yet.....'*

As an occasional pursuer of porn
and a serial reader of detective fiction
of the type where it's selling point
is how much it lacks elegance
I was recently surprised when I realised
how alike these two interests I had were.

Both cut to the chase with indecent haste,
both make a lack character development
their chief virtue and both keep you seeking
by never giving their pursuer/reader
what they actually want; a truly satisfying ending.


*the youthful prayer of St Augustine of Hippo
as recalled in his forties in his 'Confessions',
written circa 400 A.D. in Latin. It is a book
that I read all the way through, once. But,
like the works of Kierkegaard, it is a book
that I would now find had too many words in it
and its ideas are presented in the wrong order
-but then again what is modern man meant to do
with history, beyond argue against it? That is
what St Augustine and Kierkegaard did.....


Saturday, 1 May 2021

Picture Set Of The Month - May - Bright Skies

Because where I live 

has so many fields around it

with such epic skies above

 
that living anywhere else would be silly.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Great Turn Offs Of Our Time (28)

When an entertainer says
of one of their better entertainments,
one that has earned them plenty of money
and kept their name in the headlines
long after it was first shared with the public,
'It is in our DNA' you can be assured
that it might be a meme but it is not in anyone's DNA,
and that the idea of the language of science
being used in unscientific settings
is the biggest and most paradoxical meme in it all.   

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Synthetic Worlds

In a world where it is normal
for governments to foment synthetic feelings
in it's citizens through their presence in the media 
and through the choreographed public actions,
designed to be easy for citizens to mimic and repeat,
we should be no more surprised
when a member of the government dies
and we don't feel grief, we don't feel anything,
even as we predict being told to display grief with conviction.

We did not feel joy when the state taught us to display joy either,
constructs that outlast human life have no human life in them.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Where Knowledge Is Power

not knowing becomes weakness
just as stupidity when combined
with arrogance becomes pride,
whilst sharing what we know
becomes wilfully undermining
the hierarchies that have got us 
where we are, so far.



Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Communal Pride

Comes when one community
or country looks past itself,
sees further it's own self interest
and looks out for other nations
whose sense of self is poorer
and it needs to be uplifted.

Such engagements are costly
and where they work well
can rarely be described
on the language of statecraft.

 

Monday, 26 April 2021

The Megasonic Chapel


 'Another album I very happy with is 'Megasonic Chapel' which is an improvised recording that fuses traditional Korean court music, Shamanic music and the Morton Feldman school of 20th century classical music. It happened after Willie Winant and I went on a scholarship to South Korea. Gugak, the Korean classical music institute in Seoul had several people tach us the rudiments of different instruments. Soo-Yeon Lyuh the haegum teacher said that she was coming to the U.S. and I suggested that we should make a record. We really enjoyed working with her and thought we could make a great record.

I always felt that Morton Feldman and Korean court music go together. So I took a solo recording of Soo Yeon and played it over a Feldman piano piece. I asked her 'Can you play like play no matter what is going on in the background?'. She said 'No problem'. So I said 'Let us get some musicians together and we will play a gig and record. Willy Winant, the cellist Danielle de Gruttolla, and the pianist Tania Chen all knew the work of Feldman really well. So that was our jumping off point. Gravity would pull the group in other directions occasionally and Soo-Yeon would always rise to the occasion and fit in. Shen never got flustered even when I started doing my screaming guitar stuff. It was all done at the dynamic level of her instrument so it was not loud in the room.

It was a great experience. We went into the studio and all of a sudden there was this eighty minute piece and we all go 'Whoa where did that come from?'. Soo-Yeon really liked how the album came out. It was about having remarkable musicians interact and collaborate. Willy is probably the best new music percussionist in the country. Tania is an incredibly good improviser and interpreter of John Cage and Feldman. Danielle is one of the best improvisers in the Bay Area. It was a really great group of people.' - Henry Kaiser, from a much longer interview which includes statements on many other subjects which is to be found here.      

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Take It Back

Because to take it back before it might be let out
is to show a measure of self control,
and self control is older than Christianity
as much as it is now a key part of Christianity.  

 

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Thought, Words, And Deeds

The first problem I have with censorship
is that when it shuts down a conversation
it shuts down all the conversations
that might have followed the first one,
with nobody knowing that it will be the case.

My second problem with censorship
is that it does not stop evil deeds,
but rather it becomes the perfect cover
for such deeds being allowed to continue,
well disguised by the lack of language
with which to describe them.

Add to that the false virtue
that comes from 'virtuous speech'
which helps people lie by omission
both to themselves and each other
whilst appearing to be moral and good
and we have the perfect recipe
for normalised perversity, forever.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Anti-Intellectual Elites

are just as elitist as the intellectual elites
who have a genuine vision, and the means
of delivering who they lead in that direction.

But the lesser elites have far less to be elitist about,
such that their biggest virtue is how much
their pose makes them look like people
with a genuine vision, whilst they practice
their cheap bully-boy rhetoric
upon an unsuspecting public.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Human Memory Is A Malleable Thing

What we remember we can recall
partly because of the conjunction
between time, experience, and language.

When we find the words
to classify and describe an experience
then they in themselves become the memory
we use to share what happened,
so that others might understand.

Thus life becomes a series of reviews
of events where first we were the actor
who then became the critic in the describing,
to the point where when much later our summaries
become us so we forget which we were most,
and wonder who it was who was actually there. 



Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Tighter Scripts Please

I was quite taken aback when my vicar
dropped into the light conversation
that I was having with him
a question about 'binge television',
the serials now transmitted online
and sold boxed, multiple disc, sets.
'Had I ever watched it?' 'No.'. I replied.

I had not had television 'on tap'
for several years when workmen came
and they disturbed some wire
between the satellite dish,
and the decoder box decided it did not like it.

I liked the silence of the television being off,
or at least the quiet of what it could have been
but for the intervention of BBC Radio 4.

I should have been more honest with the man
and said that I am a binge consumer, but of radio.

Many television programmes are padded out
with visual non-information, without which
producers think their product looks incomplete
when actually they should have had a better shooting script.

And afterwards it is always too late to change it.

On speech radio having nothing to say
means submitting to the silence,
the words have to be right for programme to go out.   

 

Monday, 19 April 2021

Natural And Unnatural Rates Of Decay

Nobody knows when the first measurements
of time were introduced, who introduced them,
and to whom they were introduced. What was clear
is that soon after time was measured the idea of eternity
for the virtuous few was made to seem normal.

But the idea of eternity is as new in human history
as human history is within the history of the world.

Eternity is an idea that all too easily
detaches from what it is part of,
and where it came from,
as any great disbeliever
of what other people believe
will give you chapter and verse on.

I have yet to hear
from the moral materialist,
or the clear eyed atheist
who believes that the world
is only the sum of the material
it is made from, and even more
about the differing rates
of natural, and unnatural, return
of materials to their original state of matter.

A human body takes 80-100 years
to be reduced to dry bleached bones,
maximum. It will take less time
if life on earth hastens the process.

Only since the industrial revolution,
a nanosecond ago in historical terms,
have humanly developed materials
been made that take longer to decay
than humans will reduce to, also.

Rubber can take 50 years to decay
Plastic food containers can take 80 years,
plastic shopping bags 200-1000 years,
plastic water bottles 450 years,
aluminium cans 200-500 years
commercial strength fishing nets 600 years
and dirty 'disposable' nappies 550 years
and I have not even thought about the bombs
and iron ships from our many wars
that drift on the sea bed of the oceans.

Perhaps the truest measure of eternity
is the measure of the incontinence
of human want and then wastage
that changes the landscapes it litters
which is beyond all human measure.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Argumentative Pastries

When I was too young to cook or bake
Mother did it all. Her kitchen was small,
so I was kept out. But I was pleased enough
back then to play and simply enjoy her baking.
I was 'just' a growing boy; no reason to worry.

But when her birth family came for tea 
out came the mince pies from their tins
and the jam tarts made with home made jam,
which often displeased her family

Not long after them there would follow
the repeated preemtive complaint
'Fresh baking disagrees with me',
as if her pastries had the power of speech.

Mother would then have to disclose
when the batch of  baking was done,
which made her feel smaller than she was
-between being pastries being 'too fresh'
and potentially stale there was no sweet spot
where the visiting relative felt that Mother's pastries
were not being argumentative.

The curious point was how often
these relatives had to eat the pastries
to prove how they disagreed with their maker,
as if disagreement was all they had in common, 

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Great Turn Offs Of Our Time (27)

 One phrase that disinclines me
to believe a given writer or speaker
is 'I have always....  '.

I disbelieve that anyone could be so consistent,
in their habits from the distant past to the present day
and in the process they still be accepted by others as alive,
particularly when changes so much around them.

Friday, 16 April 2021

The Never Ending War The World Has With Itself

Recently War on Want asked to send a letter
to my MP in the House of Commons
to tell them to tell the government to stop
selling arms to repressive regimes,
as if instead the government might try harder
to sell more arms to enlightened liberal regimes,
who having bought the arms would then
have them dismantled and the steel recycled
to make sharp knives for chopping food with.

I signed it anyway, though my MP
is of the only UK party that will never enter
the House of Commons; they will never swear
the required oath of loyalty to The British Crown.   

There seemed to be something faintly rhetorical
about the phrase 'repressive regime'.
If the many 21st century political regimes
are not about root to branch political repression,
then what why did they form and grab power?
They were never going to become democracies.

Finally, I wondered why these regimes
don't make more of the arms that they use,
abroad and against their own populations?
It would do their balance of trade good
and repression seem the more efficient
mode of government, better than democracy.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Character

Other people's character is only briefly proven to us
by how we know them when we can do nothing more for them
which is usually when we get dismissed from their company.

 

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The Hole That Consumed Itself

The Culture that cancelled itself
didn't realise that before it left
it would cancel so much besides
that nobody and nothing remained
who knew what it once was,
and the greater whole that it was once part of.


Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Natural and Artificial Labour?

After some recent disruptive times
with the machine
on which these blogs get written.
I was forced to muse
whilst the laptop was 'processing'
and I could not write. What came to me
how far the words 'computer'
and 'robot' have travelled over this last century.

In reports from elections in the local press
from the early 1900's the paper would say
'The count for the vote is being completed
by computers', and these were live humans
whose job it was to count things, like ballots
but other things too. One of the most boring
but lucrative short term jobs I did was one
counting Boots vouchers that had been spent
in their shops across the country.

I spent all my breaks on my own,
reading the diaries of Soren Kierkegaard,
I hated the job and the company that much
that Kierkegaard seemed like good company.

'Robot' was the Hungarian word for 'slave'
though long before the times it was coined
there were many legal forms of bonded
or indentured labour around the world.
There the labour of slaves was a currency
owned and depreciated by their masters
such that they had to top up the supply often.

In the nineteenth century the English ruling classes
used to call the English and Irish working classes
'niggers' even though they were white.
The name got used so that the Upper Classes
could set themselves apart from all they disliked
whilst being of the same skin tone.

If the upper classes had believed in evolution
they would have called the white working classes
monkeys and worse, to make out
that those who they exploited and disliked
was justified by them being a different species.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Signs Of Greater Age (49)

When I look at the videos
of the music that was made
between fifty and sixty yeas ago
I love the rich sounds I hear,
and it pleases me even more
to both see and hear the notes
being plucked from the instruments
that the bands played and to survey
the keenness of the young audiences
of the time, I wish I had flares like they had
and there were concerts for me to go to.

But with age I find myself distracted
as I wondered, who were the seamstresses
who designed and made the stage clothes
that made them stand out so whilst on stage?

Who were the army of hairdressers
who washed the lustrous locks
of all those peacock rock stars?

And at the scuzzy end of the scale,
who were the groupies who were masseurs
to the egos of stars they found hard to resist?

In other words the music was serviced
as it was presented by an entourage
without which none of it would have happened.

These people, the roadies and crew etc, matter
and they should be remembered when the music plays.  

Sunday, 11 April 2021

I Blame Edward Bernays

As the media in my country
defers to the commonplace
and wallows in unnecessary obituaries
to a well kept 99 year old Greek prince
and consort who led a peripatetic early life,
after which he married into wealth and luxury
beyond the dreams of an older Greek, Croesus.

As the media maunders on before his funeral
I cannot avoid noticing 
when he was born;1921.

This was a few short years after Edward Bernays
made opera singer Enrico Caruso the first million seller,
Bernays was the man who reinvented deference to the wealthy
via 'Public Relations', and told the public pleasing lies 
about the Treaty of Versailles, which the press perpetuated.

Ever since then wealthy nobodies
have made themselves famous
by applying Bernays' methods
to package themselves as public figures
who worthy deeds should occupy the time
of those busy being poor, below them.

The only difference between those
whose time is taken up
and those who take other peoples time
is the size of their income.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Compatible Seeks Similar?

When people say they seek love,
as opposed to friendship or sex,
what they mean is that they are
looing for that personal chemistry
with someone else that renews itself
without them being over effortful. 

This chemistry may well be sought
but it can only be found by accident.

Once it is kindled, it is a thing of joy
that feels like forever for those in it.

But the sting in the tail
for those who enjoy the otherness
that their choice of company brings
-they have to quietly enjoy
being themselves first.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Great Turn Off's Of Our Time (26)

When ever radio presenters
talk about the death of anyone
they always put the word 'sadly'
before the word 'died'
as if every death was a sad death
both for those the departed left behind
and the departed themselves.

The breath-taking depth of assumption
behind this constantly use linkage
never fails to remind me
of those who I know have died
who I wished I'd never met
and wished I'd never been beholden to.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

The Drug Of Lack Of Choice

When telling the truth
becomes the latest tactic
because all the lies
we were taught to believe
are now past their tell by date,
then it is clear and official;
they were a waste of time,
and a was of the life it took
to tell them and have them believed.

After all that waste
do not expect their replacement
to serve any great intent
if we have the energy to listen
we will be too worn down
to act with grit and integrity.


 

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Safety Through Self Doubt

It is better to be confused
about male sexuality,
than it is to be consumed
by it's potential for toxicity,
which by the time it is done
will leave the typical man
not knowing who he was
or who he was meant to be 
amid the chaos that panned out
from his unplanned lack of planning.

  

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

The 'R' Rate

 Is presently short for 'the reproduction rate'.

It is a term applied to the Covid virus,
though other viruses might like their own census.

But I would like 'The R rate' to refer
to how racist different countries are,
with defined units of measurement
based on what one country's citizens
 would do to another, hinted at,
but never asked directly,
in the name of schadenfraude
on behalf of their own country.

Surprise surprise, the research has been done
with the unit measurement provided by
proposals tabled or passed by the United Nations,
and forty page report (that's short!) produced about it.
Here it is for you to mark, read, and inwardly digest,
indigestible as any proper account of racism should be. 
  

Monday, 5 April 2021

Stuck In The Middle With Myself

When we lose the narrative thread
for losing the sense of purpose
to what we thought we were doing
-such as seems common
with life amid a pandemic-
then our only way through
is to look back to where we began
to rediscover where it took us,
in the middle, for us to imagine
how life might 'go forward' again. 

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Happy Easter Ukrainian Style

Or happy whatever else you would like to name this date
as it is celebrated around a world that is vibrantly rich
in variety and experience.

 

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Collective Absurdities

My church closed for lent;
it had to rest from the sinners
who went to refuse to repent.

They stopped giving their money
whilst showing off to each other
over tea, after every service.

I was more engaged with personal change
I felt apart when we said the liturgy.
I sang the hymns like everyone else
but with my voice like a corncrake
my silence, or even better absence,
would have made other folk safer.

I was just too bad at showing off,
I missed the friendliness of the vicar, 
who when he was not wearing his surplice,
in just his God-collar, was rather nice.

As I observed the absurdity
of other people's behaviour
I saw that 
accepting myself
as being different to others
was as near to salvation
as I was likely to get.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Truth And Relativity

How fast time goes for us will vary.

If we are the ones to tell more lies,
and procrastinate to disguise
the lies we told before,
then time flies for us-it must
if we are to prevaricate our way
past accusations of prevarication.

But if we the people being lied to
and we know it, but we can't see the lies
for what they are, among the truths,
then time slows as we live out being set up
to be a genuine audience for continued falseness.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Picture Set Of The Month - April - Easter Special

Apocalypse Chapel by Ernst Fuchs.
This fully decorated underground chamber
is an immersive experience
that leaves the viewer not knowing where to look

All the above pictures are from here.

 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Self Realisation In A Supermarket

When I last went to a supermarket
my list was in my head and it was clear;
whatever the infinite choice on offer
I was there for what I needed, no more.

There was no point in buying
what I could not carry home
and what I could not store there.

As I saw the 'sell by' dates
I realised I had one of my own.
I had better do something useful
before I reached that time,
or at least learn how to quietly
live within my income.    

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Countdown To Recovery ?

Across the world
the human sperm count
is 'going down'.

According to new research
all the plastics and chemicals
that we poison the planet with
also poison us; our micro plastics
are making male humans infertile.

The sperm count is expected
to drop to zero by 2045.
This gives our planet 
who knows how many millennia
to return to a more balanced life, after.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Interest And Guilt

are similar to each other.

Both are harder to compute
when they are compound
than when they are when simple,
as people have often found out
when they are riven
between duty and joy.

They betray themselves
and the authority they serve
when without joy they obey orders
and the order was for them to enjoy
the work they were given to do,
until disobedience became the point
from which there was no escape,
it became all there was more, more more, of.

 

Sunday, 28 March 2021

This Is What I Watched Forty Years Ago Today


And after I listened to all three hours of the gig at the time I compulsively listened to a copy of the tape of the gig on my walkman until the walkman wore out, then the tapes sounded worn, by which time it was on the internet. There were two other albums that I listened to on rotation on the walkman one was 'Tubular Bells' and the other was 'Dark Side of The Moon'. My ears never tired of all three of these items and many more besides. I even memorised the sound of the audience between songs and the incoherent messages that chanted with the Grateful Dead tape.

According to the BBC schedules for that day, The Who performed first and left the stage for The Grateful Dead who were performing from 11.50 pm. The first set was broadcast on BBC 2 and BBC Radio 1 FM as part of 'Tommy Vance presents 'The Who and The Grateful Dead live'.  BBC 2 ended broadcasting at around 1.30 am Sunday morning, at the end of the first Grateful Dead set (view above). BBC Radio 1 FM broadcast the band's second set, the drums solo set that was the intermission and the encores, until near 3 am. My closest friend Graham in his patience taped all of the broadcast on BBC radio 1 FM. We would have been up until nearer 4 am, monitoring the tape recording. He cut out the drums/intermission in his recording to leave room for the encores we expected. 

I was still living under my parents, though I was not very settled there. I had no idea what they thought of me consistently coming and going at strange hours and being obsessed with types of music which they had no interest in and no desire to comprehend. They had zero interest in music. From those days to now, I have no idea what they thought about me being restless and passionate about something that they heard as noise. We lived in different worlds whilst sharing the same house, and there was a strong 'Don't ask, don't tell' ethos to give the appearance of unity and shared goals. Like The Grateful Dead themselves, my family had their enigmatic silences where there should have been conversations. But where the band had the music to communicate with each other through, the silences my family kept had no compensatory mechanisms, like unity and empathy of playing music together, to make up for what could not be declared between us.

Thank you Graham for the tape that you made for me of the BBC Radio 1 FM broadcast, and thank you too for the party we surely had at your house that night. If ever there anything you had that I wanted my own copy of it was the Hi-Fi and recording set up you had, which when played complex music loud made listening an immersive experience. We surely both felt the buzz as the BBC pulled out all the stops they could for bringing this landmark gig to life in British viewers and listeners homes at the unearthly hour at which it was performed. Finally thank you for how that gig, the tape of it, fuelled a positivity in my life until other, better, fuel arrived. There were times when it was easier to believe in music than people, and the audio tape of the above gig gave me comfort for so long afterwards, when apparently real people (not you) let me down and I let you and them down through my inconsistency.

Nine years later I did see the band live. The dream-come-true-event was only slightly marred by the death of their third keyboard player some weeks before they arrived in London to play at the Empire Pool, Wembley. Brent Mydland was missed, but the band played around his absence, as they had to, to please themselves and their followers. In the programme the comment on his death was 'He will be sharply missed' and if he was then there was still plenty of euphoria.

As The Grateful Dead sang the night of the television broadcast in their first encore, after the second set and the intermission/drums, 

'Love is real, Not fade away....  '. 

True love does not fade away though it will weave and waver down the years....

Saturday, 27 March 2021

How Far Beyond Fear Can We Get?

Because of the ways
that governments use Covid,
where if they genuinely 'obey The Science'
they have little choice in how they respond, 
then we are all living as if we are in
a reluctantly totalitarian regime;
everyone is a danger to us,
we are a potential danger to others. 

What is more we can't be sure
how reluctant the totalitarianism is,
as governments give themselves power
and reduce to nearly nothing
the scrutiny of their polices.

Populist governance is like that;
politicians talk in shiny quotes
which they think have a ring to them
but sound hollow on second listening. 

With so many days by ourselves,
at home not making many journeys,
we have to decide what sort of luck
it seems to be, with our living on our own.
 

Friday, 26 March 2021

We are All Just The Dust

That make up the bricks in the wall
where we consistently separate from each other...

Thursday, 25 March 2021

File Under Absurd Suggestions

Recently I heard it suggested
that schools should teach pupils
about how to engage with politics
the same way that pupils get taught
about the many and varied religions.

The idea being that politics
needs an injection of new blood,
new young people to take it up
-people who will imbue the country
with a fresher energy and idealism. 

So far, so fine, so idealistic.
But I can't stop seeing
how civics and politics 
will get kicked around the syllabus
and used as a make weight subject
by an exam system that denies it is failing.

And just as teaching children about religion
when they are least able to focus clearly
on what it might have been supposed to mean
which often results in faith and culture
becoming a no go area for far too long,
so, far from refreshing politics,
teaching what politics and civics are
could put children off voting for life.
  

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Viral Diplomacy?

When Trump called Covid 'The China virus'
he was playing a very old political trope,
a trope far older than could be admitted
in the land of the ahistorical and the free
where some people's idea of democracy
is restricting the rights for others to vote
to maintain the hegemony of the wealthy.

An older disease that for many centuries
remained both unnamed and unidentified
was the disease now called Syphilis.

Then it was identified, and it did not have a name
but everywhere it was found it stigmatised
every individual and the country it was found in,
more deeply than the usual links between shame
and disease, because it's transmission was sexual.

The Muslim Turks called it 'The Christian disease',
Italy, Germany and Britain called it 'The French Disease',
The French called it 'The Neapolitan Disease',
The Russians called it 'The Polish Disease'
The Poles called it 'The German Disease',
The Danish, North Africans and Portuguese
called it 'The Spanish/Castilian Disease'.
In India the Muslims blamed the Hindus
for the disease and vice blamed versa
until vice and versa combined to blame
their colonisers, whilst still wanting
to have empires and colonies of their own.

Meanwhile before Syphilis was understood
some of it's more obvious symptoms resembled
those of leprosy, for more about that read here.

But the bigger disease was of the imagination.
It was the nation state, which begat empires
as multiplying vectors of diseases,
which has been a curse indigenous peoples
everywhere they have struggled to live,
more sustainably, than their overlords, ever since. 

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

How Long Does It Take To Decompose?

The one item I see that is not on the list
which I already know 'should be burnt'
is the disposable Covid protection mask.

 

Monday, 22 March 2021

I Have Never Bought A Big Mac

but if I did I would respect the staff
who served me. Whoever works there
does so out of a lack of freedom of choice
and smiling that much cannot be easy. 

The food they have to serve
is what I would look down on,
all that sugar and fat that hides
in different combinations,
with mayonaise to match,
and a feeble flavourless salad.

I am with Robert Robinson on this.
He toured America with a BBC camera
and looked at the restaurant food en route,
he concluded; 'The flavour went into to menu'.    

Sunday, 21 March 2021

If It Were Not For The Trees

that grow so high
around where I live,
my isolation, due to Covid,
would be complete
beyond my ability
to cope with it.

How do I show my thanks and appreciation
to them in a way in which they will know it?

By taking a leaf
out of their living book;
the life beyond language
which 
they represent.

And treasuring the silence. 


Saturday, 20 March 2021

The Don't/Do Conundrum

Is a human contrariness that proves
more consist the more it is tested,
and recently it has been tested a lot.

How it works is simple enough
A minister will prohibit something
and ban all talk of it in the media.

Then the minister will be asked 
by a journalist who will raise the point
and the negativity of the minister
will be all the encouragement
the public to want do the opposite.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Cueless

Nowadays I don't watch television
because I dislike what is broadcast
being practically infinite and on tap.  

What mainstream media that I enjoy
I enjoy as part of my daily digital diet.

It is up to me to be careful about what cues that I follow. 

The emails, the radio and podcasts
that I listen to, the messages, the music
and the photos that I take, well processed.

But I remember the life I had
when dad got his first television,
and for two decades after.
I recall how his favourite channels
were the channels also favoured
in the bars that he frequented
when he was with his mates
and not with his family. 

It was as if his taste
required the addition of alcohol
to make it entertaining
and as the head of the house
he made sure he was the only one
allowed to drink that much.

He made sure only he among us
could pay to be that far off his rocker
and still be deferred to
by those, who for having to be sober,
were not entitled to the choice
of an opinion on the effects of alcohol.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Healing Through Sleep?

For some who endure isolation,
the times on their own
that will seem most complete
will be when they are asleep.

In their dreams they can meet
whoever they wish to.
With no social restrictions
or bar on any seat
where they can meet.

As long as they are asleep
when they and their friends meet 
 

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The Present Is A Country That Will Pass

How to misread the past;
apply today's clich
és
to pasts where there was
no such idea or language,
where the people that lived there
had different ways of working out
their present tense lives.

Even if back then
they did what we do now,
they would have wanted
the future to be different.
 

 

Great Turn Offs Of Our Time (26)

One phrase that makes me disinclined
to believe a given writer or speaker
is 'I have always....  '. Beyond breathing
I disbelieve that anyone could be so consistent,
in their habits from the past to the present day
and for them to still be accepted by others as alive,
particularly when changes so much around them.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Evolutionary Reasoning

Fear does not need reason to thrive;
it is happy enough to multiply
through humans synapses.

Would that faith had the same inventiveness. 

Friday, 12 March 2021

The Free Gift

That is neither free nor a gift
is the phone that is advertised
as a prize in many an advert
enticing punters into a competition
where most will get nothing.

Even if I won the phone
I would still be the loser
I don't want just a phone
I want a friend to talk to me
and who will listen as well.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Financial Folly A Deux

If ever anyone with poor health
sought private mental health insurance
because they saw that their state's
mental health care was uncaring
I for one would not blame them. 

But given the premiums
they will be asked to pay
I would say 
they had more money than sense
when they made the application.

 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Of Viruses And Humans

One of the phrases that is on repeat
in these fear-of-Covid laden times
is the phrase 'getting the R rate down
where R stands for reproduction'.

If we had applied this to ourselves,
consistently and a long time ago, 
then the virus might not have had
to do the task it has been given
itself to do, now. Quietly remind us
of our role in the over-consumption
of our planet and it's resources. 

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

The 'R' Rate

Is presently short for 'the reproduction rate'.
It is a term applied to the Covid virus,
though other viruses might like their own census.

But I would like 'The R rate' to refer
to how racist different countries are,
with defined units of measurement
based on what one country's citizens
 would do to another, hinted at,
but never asked directly,
in the name of schadenfraude
on behalf of their own country.

Surprise surprise, the research has been done
with the unit measurement provided by
proposals tabled or passed by the United Nations,
and forty page report (that's short!) produced about it.
Here it is for you to mark, read, and inwardly digest,
indigestible as any proper account of racism should be. 
  

Nationalise Stupidity

The act of nationalising a product
or an industry is the process
where a government buys up
all the available stocks/supplies
of this or that asset on behalf
of what they perceive
will be a grateful nation.

In their confidence, governments
like to create deference towards them
a sort 'yes man' subservient voter
who will approve of the self interest
of those in power, over his own interests.

Furthermore, governments like to conflate
'yes man' deference with reasoned gratitude
to the point where the public can't distinguish
between being thankful with good reason
and being broken down, mental decrepitude.

That is why I want my government
to nationalise one of most abundant
human resources we have left,
in their own deep self interest
I want them to nationalise stupidity.

Think of the infinite unity
supported by us collectively
making bad decisions-
not realising how bad they are.....
 

Monday, 8 March 2021

Word Soup

In a world where being inarticulate
means you know that what you said
was not at all what you meant,
which you would never say, anyway,
it is wisest to never apologise
for all the slips of tongue and brain
that so caused offence,
assume your forgiveness instead.

And if you knew
who to apologise to
you have forgotten
what you were meant
to apologise for. 

The solution that is for best,
Is the one that takes the matter
out of your hands
-it is the have friends 
who forgive you, unasked,
and don't ever mention it.


Sunday, 7 March 2021

A Colour Blind Politics

is only as possible as a colour blind history,
which is to say it is not just impossible,
it is also absurd.  

Any history where sight
is it's witness and informant
will always be a history of colour
whilst being a register of social class.

In the USA citizens vote for flawed Utopias,
in elections where they accept 
that the flaws will never be fixed
but may be made 'manageable',
if the right president achieves office.

No president has ever taken on the history
where non-citizenship for the many
was part of the constitution, then it wasn't.
When the government broadened citizenship
it divided the country in a war
in which the losing side denied defeat
and saw no need for reconciliation,
no president has taken on all of this and won.

Now it seems to be too late
to expect such a person.

  

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Why I Won't Do Zoom

or Skype, or any of that tripe;
they present to me a non-corporeal life,
where the mind thinks, the eye sees,
the ear hears and the voice will speak,
using words that suit the occasion.
But they will do it at such a remove
from what is in front of me
that I get no sense of intimacy.

It might as well be my afterlife.
I have no intent of going there early.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Don't Drop

Stop shopping,
when you don't need what's sold.

Help yourself to a quieter life
and a larder and appetite
that is quietly under control.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Stupidity Is A Philosophy

If you don't believe me,
look around you, at where
self interest meets duplicity
and tell me that those people
who are double dealing
for whatever intent
multiply the effect 
-by denying to themselves
that they are doing it.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

When Classification Is The Problem

Recently I relearned the story
of the downfall of Oscar Wilde,
about how he was the fall guy
for what Victorian society
refused to accept that it did
as vehemently as it refused
to do anything about it.

Oscar endured what we now call
'a mid-life crisis' when he met
the youth known as Bosie,
who was an unwilling member 
a dysfunctional aristocratic family.

Before Oscar and Bosie met
Bosie knew more that Oscar did
about what we now call 'being gay'
and the life of boys 'On the game',
the youths whose attractiveness
got them barred from better occupations.

Men who were corrupted by their wealth
always knew how to misuse a boy was poor,
better than the boy himself could acknowledge. 

This was one side of  'The double life',
or how one life could be seen two ways
which was the great Victorian fascination.
 

Victorian society wanted to be viewed
as 'moral' whilst benefiting the few
and blaming the poor majority
for 'the immorality their poverty'. 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Danger; Normality At Work

 We all seem normal 
to folks who don't know us.

If we remain that way
after becoming friends 
and saying we know each other
then our being known 
should be reason for worry.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Picture Set Of The Month - March - Safer Sanitation For Women

Agnes said 'I am very happy because I don't have to
collect grass every morning to put on the roof'. 
Athanasia's toilet constructed under a eucalyptus tree
was built for her by her community.
It has a view of Gitwa.
  

Marie Pierrette's toilet is the chance for her
to be creative 'It is quite small' she said
'I wash and clean it every day. I try to do my best'.

Marie Lydia's toilet was built when nearly everybody
else in the village had theirs. Marie said
'We paid for our first toilet by ploughing 
other people's land'. 
All photos taken by Elena Heatherwick for Wateraid.

 

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Notes In Lieu Of A Relationship

In the online world few questions
get more personal, or harder to ask,  
than that of 'relationship status'.

Online we are singular and alone,
we are our own 'avatars',
regardless of who we volunteer
to be attached to in our analogue life.

Saying 'It's complicated'
seems more more transparent
than saying 'It's personal',
both words add up to the same thing.

Full relationships are complex.
The fuller the relationship
the more it requires respect,
which is hard to find online.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

The Panglossian Times

Advertising has always justified itself
not merely by the products it promotes
but through the reasoning it employs
as it manipulates symbol and image
for and to whoever will pay it to.

To liberals advertising boasts
of 'promotes social change', 
and 'empowering minorities' 
through selling them things.

How would feminism 
ever have advanced without it? 

To social conservatives 
advertising 'promotes individuality' 
by giving us singular examples
of heroism-remember the Milk Tray man?
How romantic was that? 
and he was always ultra tidy too
-unlike most women's husbands.

It was surely advertising that created
that sign of the 80's, 'the new man'.

It improves everyone's lives,
and it feeds the muse
by changing what is manufactured.
On television it pay for the news
like nothing else is willing to
even as it undermines 
objectivity
via mass manipulation.

Finally advertising now justifies
the repeats of millions of old programmes
which are shown on ropy nostalgia channels,
where the content is television's history
on repeat, as if it were the history of life
because life before film never happened.

How else would we remember the Nazis?

Friday, 26 February 2021

Majoritarianism

is the lunatics
taking over the asylum
and redefining sanity
by what pleases them.

Populist majoritarianism
is insanity with a higher approval rating.
 

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Stupid Seeks Cupid (It Never Ends)

When the people with the greatest wealth
make out that people who get by far less
are laden with an unacceptable envy,
for wanting greater financial security,
without ever asking how this envy arose
then it is clear that blindly seeking wealth
is the height of stupidity embracing cupidity
in the pursuit of a blind self interest
that does not even recognise itself.

 

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

There Was No Pride In My Community

Every generation in every country
has it's dividing lines, it's splits,
it's dived-them-to-rule-them politics
and those who were organised and anti.....

The politics that engaged with me,
that got me by the gut and went to the brain,
were those of being anti nuclear weapons.

We were a hardy bunch, we had to be
There were so few of us and the forces
against us had better media and defences.

One of my bigger errors of my ways
was that half of me was in lock down
-I was gay, ashamed, and in the closet
and my companions barely half knew it
and know nothing of how to help me out.

Nonetheless I did all I could 
as an under-educated secretary,
in an organisation in which
nobody wanted to hold office.

Recently I saw the film Pride and I cried
as the film showed me the brio with which
protest and change should be done
if it is to engage and cause a chain reaction.

I later realised that the energy in that story
came from it starting in the capital of my country
where there were far greater resources
and a better sense of rights and choices
than I could ever imagine might exist
in my low energy/low engagement life
that strove against and failed to defeat,
with the life I had in North Lincolnshire.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Untidy Minds

have always existed, hiding in plain sight
among the chaos they create to live with,
and among the false distinctions they make.

The easiest false distinction to spot
is the sober untidy mind vs the drunk.

The sober untidy mind will find beer cans
at some sight of great natural beauty
and say to themselves 'Drunken louts'
and 'They should know better than to do this'.

Not realising that drunken untidiness
is merely the drinkers untidy mind
unloading itself away from sobriety.
And sober untidy minds
operate just as much
from their unconscious.

Many a passenger in a fast car
throws cartons out the window
after enjoying the snacks
that were once in the packaging,
not knowing which hedgerow
the packet will land in. 
Not knowing which prior fast flung
piece of rubbish their package will join
in the high speed fly tipping competition.

There, there is no winner declared,
though the loser is the landscape
where the rubbish does not decay,
even slightly, and is waiting
for that conscientious 
human being
who will not pass by, but pick it up.
 
 

Monday, 22 February 2021

Sight, And Life In The Present Tense

The 'now' that the blind live in
complete with all their aids and helpers
is much more in the present
than any tense that the sighted see,
where the visual of the now
is forever triggering
memories of different pasts
and speculation about the future.

And when did you last hear
of a blind person who had adapted
to life around the sighted being racist? 

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Let Us Avoid All Talk About The Ex-President

Many of the conversations I had with friends
ended in stalemate when the subject
became the latest events surrounding
the 45th President of the United States.

Nothing in the friendship
that we shared in private
had any bearing on anything he said or did.

And when he was the subject,
whatever we said,
it always ended in disagreement.

When I realised this I made it a point
between us that we stick to subjects
where our discussions might lead
to something that we could change.

The 45th President of the USA
is now a disgraced private citizen.
He did it himself with what he said
before he silently fled from office.

Whilst many folk are surprised
at how willingly he went,
they should read the letterhead
on legal letters from his new office.
There there is no 46th president 
the presidency stops at the 45th
and not go on to anyone after.

The man may have left The Whitehouse
but he is not letting The Presidency
go very far from him.