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Division is to Avoided

There is an idea that a second referendum would be deeply divisive to the national psyche. Far better to make the best of things and remain united.

This is by far the daftest idea I have yet read in the debate on Brexit.

In the first instance this country is already deeply divided on this issue and there will be a second referendum in two years or twenty but at some stage a wiser generation will rejoin the EU because working together and binding ourselves to each other prevents war and enriches all the citizens.

Secondly what sane person allows a series of lies and the resurgence of nationalism go unchallenged? The brightest future every country has is to become inextricably linked to every other country. Alone they are like starving wolves trying to pick each other off at the slightest show of weakness.

Not a Rainbow

Colour makes all the difference. I am painting the house ready to sell. The hint of rose in the white outside paint, the white and cream and straw colours inside which give the effect of clean, open rooms without stopping new people seeing their own preferred colours clearly on the walls.

It would be almost impossible to live without colours. The experts may be unsure why colour appeared in plant life but the evolution of the human mind on this planet is inextricably linked to colours. They tell us who we are, they follow us in our designs and in our habitations, they guide us, encircle us, inform us.

City life would never work without colours and rural life would be empty.

All Roads are One

Many people talk about Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and love the myths, the elves, the dark evil lurking in the midst of time stopping humanity becoming what we are. They love myths of all kinds for the creatures and the fights and above all, the spells that make things happen.

But the backbone of all great stories like this, is a single idea, a philosophy. Countless readers have said the books are about the journey, but it is not the core. The idea Tolkien uses is akin to every journey starts with a single step, but he sees more clearly. He says every road leads to another road so all roads are one.

This is a succinct, well crafted and beautiful analogy of life as well as true about roads.

Just Talking

There is a discussion to be had concerning allowing racists to talk.

The liberals who want them silenced think that talking in public legitimises their views, hurts those against whom they hold prejudice, influences children and so propagates their bigotry.

The liberals who want them to speak take freedom of speech as an overriding principle, say that racist views are better expressed as, like boils, they can then be punctured and drained, that children influenced by bigoted language have not been given the principled counter-ideas that would make them immune to it, and that if racists speak in public everyone knows who they are, and it is not kept hidden where it can propagate in the darkness to raise its vicious head at a later date.

Racism exists in every nation. Whenever you hear someone say their’s is the best country to live in, that their women are the most beautiful, their language the best and so forth. The language of exclusivity is everywhere and it births prejudice.

China Just Keeps Winning

Empires have fallen throughout history. Looking at what we know and what we can dig up there are numerous reasons from invasion to degeneration. The latter is what we are witnessing today, although some people say ‘American Empire’ is not the right description as they have not gone around the world invading other countries and staying there. Others say it is still an Empire in all but name.

Degeneration comes in many guises but mainly you can pinpoint weak leaders and infighting. Rome lost its Republic to Octavian and the citizens from that moment onward were ‘managed’ – usually with free food and lots of games and all that corrupted Rome started with his later years. Judah fell as much from a bitter civil war as invasion from Rome. European empires fell because the countries became too poor not – lets be honest – because there was nothing left to take from the countries they rules.

The USA has lost its footing, its philosophy has been degraded by its very strength – commerce. The new Empire – China – is rising at its own pace. Its movies are as jingoistic as any that came out of Hollywood in the 1930s – 1950s. Its military grows, its citizens travel and invest and its history is becoming more known in the West.

When Everything Falls on the Floor

I don’t know if you have ever sold a house, or want to. I am trying to get mine ready and decided to paint every room that needed painting. That’s three rooms and a hallway. It was also a useful way of using up all the paint I have and not have to cart that with me to wherever I go.

That my childhood desk tipped over as I was working and everything fell out of it as I grabbed it and stopped it toppling over was one thing. That I had to pick all the papers up was another and then the next half hour was spent finding things I had forgotten all about and reading stuff I didn’t remember ever having.

Then cleaning the dusty desk and getting everything back.

A Failure to Understand

There is an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality abroad in governments. They talk about the lessons of history before and after bombing Muslims but they fail to make the connection between what Muslims are doing today and what Europe was doing five hundred years ago.

In those days Counts needed nothing more than a request from the Pope to threaten anyone the Pope wanted threatened. Monarchs had to show due respect to the church and hate anyone the church hated. Armies roamed Europe laying waste villages and besieging towns on a continuous basis. How did they get out of it? How did they get from there to where we are today?

They didn’t stop being hypocrites and they didn’t stop making weapons. They made more terrifying ones and in WW2 got to the stage where entire countries could be laid waste and the whole Continent was effected by one war. We stopped because we got sick of what we were doing.

Islam is nowhere near sick of the sight of blood.

A Passion for Counting

We are as we think we are.

I actually like mathematics although I would never claim to be any good at it, equations seem to me to be fun things but I have never been exactly sure what lies behind them or why they work. That said I do understand that counting is the basis of our entire way of thinking.

We count time, we count countries, we count each other, we use statistics as if they were meaning, we count our own time alive, we count so much that one can almost say if you cannot put a number next to it it doesn’t exist for us and if anything has a magnitude we cannot count we cease to be able to comprehend it.

Surely that is a limitation. There has to be a moment when, without counting, we understand.


Do I dare speak?
How shall I begin?
Soaring from some great height
An exalted fl ight –
Sweeping you off your feet
As I usually do.
Or shall I begin softly
With tenderness, on tiptoe
With my head covered in white silk –
Shall I come tall as an Alpine day
With huge mountains blocking
My way to your heart –
Or shall I be small
And perfectly untouchable
In my beauty –
Or shall I stumble,
Lurch into mistakes and fright –
Leaving you to weep
Such sad weepings –
Shall I be buoyant
And fl oat into you
Like an ocean would –
Filling your being with enough
Power to surmount every problem
Trying to force me out –
Or shall I not come at all –
And leave you free to cast yourselves
Into the seas of circumstance,
Where you will sink
And never know about me –
Would that be fair?
For although I do not offer fi delity
Only a promise of a kiss –
You should not miss my lottery tickets
Five for two-shillings on a hot day
For you might win.
I have always been a gamble –
But you might win!

Shänne Sands, Grass (extract) ‘Fragments of Desire’ – FootSteps Press



One of the great experiences in this world is to listen to someone who speaks fluently and knows a good deal about the subject they are discussing. Some lecturers become famous for the their excellent style, but even just listening to someone you know ‘knows’ is fascinating.

Every line is a revelation even when you know what they are saying because they put it in a new way and phrase the emphasis differently to any way you have heard before. It is a form of music to listen to someone who is eloquent.

Much eloquence has vanished from public life. People bluster, hesitate, become formulaic and boring. Clone speak.

What is a Comedian?

I have heard a lot of modern comedians say that their job is partly to give offence. I heard one say half the audience should be laughing and half should be stone face and outraged, then he was doing his job. Many agreed with him. There will always be comedians who do this and always be people who are amused but it is the wrong emphasis.

We all learned at school that the jester tradition started with the Triumphs in Rome where a man was employed to stand by a general as the crowds applauded him and whisper in his ear the entire time ‘remember you are only human.’ The work of the jester was the speak truth to power.

A comedian should, outside of silly jokes, be speaking the truth and it is that truth that offends, thereby showing up hypocrisy in those offended.

Learn To Love The Bomb

The level of hypocrisy around the Syrian conflict is equaled only by that of the First World War, which Upton Sinclair laid bare revealing the international arms trade, the agreements between generals not to bomb each others arms factories with this ‘new’ weapon the aeroplane and the callous use of other people’s lives for the cause of nationalism.

Eight years children have been dying and there is no difference to them whether they were murdered by a rocket, a bullet or a gas. No one rushed to their aid and, just as the marsh Arabs sided with George Bush in the first Iraq War and were then abandoned to Hussein’s retribution, so the rebels fighting a  man everyone wanted gone have been sent a few weapons and left to their own devices.

Putin took advantage as demagogues always do. People died in their thousands but they are not voters so…who cares? As Louis MacNiece put it so brilliantly about us all:

‘Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.’ (Bagpipe Music 1938)

Love and Age

I PLAY’D with you ’mid cowslips blowing,
When I was six and you were four;
When garlands weaving, flower-balls throwing,
Were pleasures soon to please no more.
Through groves and meads, o’er grass and heather,
With little playmates, to and fro,
We wander’d hand in hand together;
But that was sixty years ago.

You grew a lovely roseate maiden,
And still our early love was strong;
Still with no care our days were laden,
They glided joyously along;
And I did love you very dearly,
How dearly words want power to show;
I thought your heart was touch’d as nearly;
But that was fifty years ago.

Then other lovers came around you,
Your beauty grew from year to year,
And many a splendid circle found you
The centre of its glittering sphere.
I saw you then, first vows forsaking,
On rank and wealth your hand bestow;
O, then I thought my heart was breaking!—
But that was forty years ago.

And I lived on, to wed another:
No cause she gave me to repine;
And when I heard you were a mother,
I did not wish the children mine.
My own young flock, in fair progression,
Made up a pleasant Christmas row:
My joy in them was past expression;
But that was thirty years ago.

You grew a matron plump and comely,
You dwelt in fashion’s brightest blaze;
My earthly lot was far more homely;
But I too had my festal days.
No merrier eyes have ever glisten’d
Around the hearth-stone’s wintry glow,
Than when my youngest child was christen’d;
But that was twenty years ago.

Time pass’d. My eldest girl was married,
And I am now a grandsire gray;
One pet of four years old I’ve carried
Among the wild-flower’d meads to play.
In our old fields of childish pleasure,
Where now, as then, the cowslips blow,
She fills her basket’s ample measure;
And that is not ten years ago.

But though first love’s impassion’d blindness
Has pass’d away in colder light,
I still have thought of you with kindness,
And shall do, till our last good-night.
The ever-rolling silent hours
Will bring a time we shall not know,
When our young days of gathering flowers
Will be an hundred years ago.


Thomas Love Peacock

In Your Face

I just read a friend of mine’s post on Facebook in which he, an American, was spoken to by a British man when he holidayed in the UK and told he should be back in America fighting for Black rights rather than taking a holiday.

I rather like the modern way of strangers mingling and chatting about just about anything and sharing a joke. My friends are brilliant at putting people at ease and smiling and laughing for five minutes before walking on or engaging with people on journeys.

But the racist feels they can insult anyone with impunity. It’s about time we could record these people on a phone, send the record to a department of the police force and have them immediately fined. It won’t shut them up but the money can be given to minority communities and that will make the bigots mad as hell.

The Modern

I have a CD in my car named ‘modern music’ and my friends think it is hilarious as the songs on it date from the 1980s onward – actually some from the 60s and the Everly Brothers are on there.

I argue, perhaps incorrectly, that it is modern music because if you look at the harmonies and rhythms most electronic music has not changed much in the last 70 years and keeps reinventing itself and interlacing with itself. I tell them that they mistake fashion for modern if they only think modern music is say, the last three years. Not that we have ever put a figure to it.

It is a CD I play on rare occasions. All the other CDs are from the classical music canon which at home and in the car, is my preferred listening.

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