Charon

October 1, 2017

She had not expected to see a river,
shining brightness or sweet song
perhaps, instead a serpentine sliver
of water wound its way along
a deep, cavernous ravine,
its looming craggy walls
crouching over the torpid stream,
dwarfing the sepulchral craft with its tall
sail gliding through the mist
towards the shoreline.
Powerless to resist,
she knew she must resign
herself to whatever Fate had in store.
Slipping a coin into the boatman’s hand
she stepped aboard, noticing more
people waiting patiently on the strand
apparently unaware of each other,
silently gazing as the barge
sailed further and further
across the river, the large
vertiginous cliffs closing in
as it slowly disappeared from view,
feeling a finger of unease begin
to spread through her being, a new
frisson of fear preceding a sense
of slow fragmentation
as her brain began to dispense
with memories, a dispersion
of self that continued
until she disembarked on the other side,
her previous life reviewed
and removed, she had died,
Charon, for that was the boatman’s name,
informed her, as his sail unfurled
ready to return, she was not the same,
she now belonged to the Underworld.

Doreen Hopwood

An Atheist on a Date

September 16, 2017

go back to school and think

September 3, 2017

We must do away with the notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery…So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

Buckminster Fuller
Interview with Elizabeth Barlow
New York Magazine 30th March 1970

Sound bites from the dark

August 30, 2017

Tanith Lee’s garden – a statue waiting

Tanith Lee’s Garden – face in the trees

Tanith Lee’s Garden – a pathway to infinity

Tanith Lee's house - stained glass

Tanith Lee’s house – stained glass

30th August

Donald Trump is frequently vilified by the mass media. Social media, too, is not exempt from this trend: electronic graffiti condemns the man’s actions or lack of same on a daily basis. And yet the question needs to be asked, is the real problem the American President or America itself?

Donald Trump did not seize power. He was elected by a majority – democratically. Faced with a choice between a woman and a billionaire television personality, the US electorate chose the television personality – And, yes, it is inspirational to see what democratic nations can do when they think the chips are down.

The American people awarded the imperial purple to a man who has succeeded in lowering the issues of the day to the level of triviality. To sound bites. A promise of government by twitter feed. American politics has become, under Trump’s presidency, as thrilling, and almost as much fun, as an appendectomy performed without benefit of anaesthetic.

And with regard to the media they seem distracted by each fresh utterance this president makes. Which, of course, is exactly what he wants. Major issues degenerate into a name-calling contest, while a procession of minor celebrities and wannabes appear, and as rapidly disappear, as presidential aides and advisors. Movement signifies progress – even when that movement is perfectly static or backwards! America run as a corporation by a businessman used to having his own way.

Should we be surprised? No we should not. Donald Trump exists in a world that demands twenty-four-hour rolling self-obsession. And he is there to fill this almost ecological niche in the American psyche. He is president because of hostility towards those pesky interfering liberal do-gooders who force “political correctness” on everybody; he will clean house, rid the country of all those undesirables who have slipped surreptitiously across America’s borders; he will end Muslim migration! He will make America great again!

It’s almost as if a majority of the American electorate woke up one morning with a cloying, skin-tight rage, a need to lash out at something, anything, and change the face of their society. Sick to death of fatuous, self-absorbed politicians who all seemed mired in minutia and an age old mantra of consumer democracy so inescapable, yet so reliant on carefully-marketed kitsch, that they voted for Trump.

And they got him.

#

Really good weather at the end of last week. Mowed both lawns. Caught the sun. Working in the garden my thoughts drifted to the late Tanith Lee’s incredible house and garden in Hastings where she lived with her partner John Kaiine.

Tanith’s home was so like a wild fantasy, a journey beyond commonplace reality. There, it was easy to imagine a place “more poignant than the plumage of the spring.” There, indeed, could be heard “music played by the reflection of a swan as it passes over the strings of a moonlit lake.” Dusk in that garden and the leaves on the trees seem to form strange shapes and faces. A place of irregular stones and inconsistencies…

Sam

July 23, 2017

you are a new
kind of monster
you sure do look awful
good when you’re naked
I dare you to hide
underneath my bed
I dare you to follow me
home from the bus stop
late at night
until we get to my front door
& you reach your monster hand
into my chest
rip out my heart
& replace it with a hummingbird
I think that’s the most romantic thing
a monster could do

Nate Slawson

19th July

“Roses are red
Violets are blue
Vodka is cheaper
Than dinner for two…”

Sitting here, a solitude surrounded by humanity. All I can do is recite…nonsense!

But thank God, the new Doctor Who is a woman. Perhaps she’ll visit Inter Minor, that planet rich in technological innovation visited once before by the doc? It’s a deeply insular plant with a paranoid population; it severed all links with other worlds after the Great Space Plague, didn’t it? Yes, a planet ruled by grey-skinned humanoids, referred to as ‘the official species’. Each one a potential Philip Hammond look-a-like, they are bureaucratic, officious, without humour or true humanity. And they rule over the ‘underclass’, the workers called ‘functionaries’ who are little more than slaves.

‘Oh, if only,’ sighs Mrs Maybe. ‘But where do they get these stupid ideas from?’

And the inhabitants of Inter Minor positively hate ‘outsiders’: see them as a threat to their lifestyle and culture where art, especially drama and comedy, are outlawed –

#

She has always had her head in a book, ever since we first met.

#

Hospital again today to discuss percentages and dates –

2nd July

You can’t be careful with money if you don’t have any. Fact.

Things that piss me off:

Politicians who compare the economy of the United Kingdom to your personal home finance. One might as well compare the complexities of international finance and banking to little Jimmy’s pink plastic piggy-bank. Yes, they’re idiots for making such a comparison, but worse – we’re bigger idiots for listening to them!

In March 2015 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne confirmed he had redeemed £1.9 billion from an outstanding bond issued in 1932 by Chancellor Neville Chamberlain as part of a campaign to reduce the costs of servicing the national debt. It was issued as an exchange for the previous five per cent War Loan 1929-47, which had originally come out in 1917 as part of a campaign to raise money for the First World War.

Mr Osborne said: “This is a moment for Britain to be proud of. We can, at last, pay off the debts Britain incurred to fight the First World War!”

And I can confirm, Yes, Mr Osborne, Britain is proud.

Almost one hundred years on, the UK paid off its First World War debts. Fantastic. Not at all like Aunt Mabel’s mortgage spread over 25-years, though, is it?

In fact during 2015 the UK paid off a number of gilt and bond loans some of which dated back to the 18th century!! Almost to the Napoleonic wars!!

So perhaps you can understand why, when I hear a politician say, ‘We don’t want to leave a huge burden of debt for future generations’, that I feel it’s the equivalent of him or her standing on my shoulders, peeing on my head and telling me, ‘It’s raining.’

The UK owes more than £1.6 trillion to its creditors. It has struggled since the world baking crises to get its finances under control – in fact bailing out the banks cost the UK government and its taxpayers dearly, record borrowing to underpin the banks led to record high levels of debt (56.8% of GDP by July 2009).

Yet the fact remains for all the hullabaloo about fiscal austerity in the UK, a good portion of the reduction in our annual deficit has been due simply to growth in the economy. That and little else.

To promote more growth, the spending power of consumers needs to increase. We also need to improve productivity, and sell more goods and services abroad; it’d also be helpful if those who should know better, stopped repeating fairy-stories and outright porkies simply to justify a desire to downsize the existing welfare state.

#

While Peedeel is not a great one for joining things, political parties, cricket teams, etc. He did consider joining the Conservative party prior to the last election. Unfortunately, he failed to do so, because he found he was unable to fit his head far enough up his own arse.

Talking of the last election, the Conservative party was on course to win perhaps an hundred seat majority in Parliament. Then they published their manifesto –

A document without even a glimmer of hope. Austerity, austerity, and more austerity. A brand new Alzheimer’s tax, the jewel in Maybe’s crown. Oh, yes, and a chance of lifting the current fox hunting legislation! Theresa Maybe, bless her, apparently said she, ‘Has always been in favour of fox hunting – ’

Mrs Maybe not only shot off both her feet with that little bombshell, she reloaded the shotgun and rammed it in her mouth!

Now, in the 21st century, it seems incredible that anyone should take enjoyment from watching a pack of hounds dismember a fox? Scotland banned fox hunting, hare coursing and other forms of chasing wild animals with dogs (the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002). England and Wales followed suit in2004. The act banning fox hunting is flawed and needs to be strengthened (not revoked!). England’s green and pleasant land needs to be freed of these scarlet-coated monsters once and for all.

17th June

Love suffers no natural death. It dies because we take it for granted. It dies of blindness and mistakes and betrayals. It dies of self-inflicted wounds, of exhaustion, of lack of imagination. It dies because we lose sight of its source and importance.

#

Does Theresa May(be) have any principals at all, I wonder? A difficult question to answer given her behavior before, during and since the general election campaign. Don’t get me wrong, it’s simply grand to see a woman in the roll of Prime Minister (the US electorate faced with the choice of a female President or a buffoon, elected the buffoon!), but our Mrs May(be) seems totally absorbed by her own personal ambition. As Home Secretary she weathered a string of Passport Office and border control fiascos; she pledged to reduce net migration into the UK by tens of thousands but failed to do so. Close colleagues described her as “very closed, very controlling, very untrusting” when she was Home Secretary. As Prime Minister she hasn’t changed. She is the Tin Woman in search of a heart. Evasive, deliberately vague on the major issues, seemingly lacking in empathy; everything about her is ‘smoke & mirrors’! And Friday’s interview on Newsnight was another exercise in failing to give a single straight answer on the Grenfell Tower disaster.

12th to 15th June

Past couple of days, glorious sunshine. The waterlogged moor thankful for it. Mornings misty, muggy and mysterious. Me, a little sun-tanned; a little stupid.

The proliferation of pornography around us, may, as Jim Ballard once joyfully suggested, be mankind’s way of stimulating a flagging birth rate across the western world: the internet acting as a conduit channeling all imaginable forms of erotica into our homes – this to encourage procreation.

Ummmm.

I feel poor Jim was wrong (after all he was wrong in so much else, wasn’t he?), and that the glut of pornography we experience currently simply encourages more solitary pursuits, especially amongst the male of the species. It tends to divide and isolate, not combine.

Jimbo was a strange one (but then aren’t we all?), with his head full of surrealism, ‘the People’s Guro’ and patron saint of grunge simultaneously, his writing this sallow wash of light exposing multiple futures that would have been equally at home on Green Party election posters or within the manifesto for the ‘Born Again Nihilist Party’.

In my mind’s eye I see him smoking a hookah or three in Zanzibar surrounded by fleshy sensualists.

Jim loved women – correction – he enjoyed casual sex with numerous women, and drank often to excess, he created a fetish of automobile accidents and mutilation – no mean feat in itself! And his writing was (and still is) an unexpected diet of loco weed, peyote cactus and magic mushrooms – yes, truly, Jimbo was ‘the Benign Catastrophist’; he saw the in-built self-destructiveness of what was to become New Labour and Cameron’s Conservatism and a new moneyed-society where the creation of wealth is far more important than the individual.

‘Civilised life,’ he told Susie Mackenzie in an interview, ‘you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.’

#

It strikes me that over recent years our politicians have looked on social dependency as an evil. A social evil. It should be eliminated because it is ‘evil’; and ‘austerity’ was (is) seen as the ideal way to eradicate it – in the same way as insecticide eliminates vermin from the world. Oh, if only there were a simple pharmacological answer. A chemical that would act on the brain to either a) drop all these unfortunate people with their various mental and physical disabilities into the wastebin (unnoticed); or b) cause them all to ‘man up’ and become real ‘go-getters’. Any poor bastard who happens to be out of work is a scrounger – the only thing worse than a scrounger, is a foreign scrounger! An immigrant! Social evils to be removed. Hence Brexit and a national election without winners. Balzac, you may recall, depicted the world of his own time in ‘The Human Comedy’. We, boys and girls, are now living in that world. But I don’t hear any laughter.