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London Lights

I am staying with my great cousin Simon and being enlightened about the way in which scientists are in the pay of politicians and feeding us nonsense about a round earth and the planet not being in the centre of our universe.

It’s all fund stuff which I have come down to a few principles of my own;

Science is a series of theories to be proven, each one can build on others, but we still know less than there is to be known.

Politicians and those in power want to keep the masses under control in many ways but scientific expression seems to me to one pace where they have no power.

There are many ways of lying to people but good mathematics cannot lie. If it is mistaken it will be shown to be at some stage.

Names Are Easy,

but they betray true content. I listened briefly today to two young students talking, one espousing capitalism the other communism. The conversation was brief given it was a news programme and just a three minute filler, but the idea that our societies can be summed up in one word, hides vital facts about the way in which human beings interact.

Capitalism thrives off free gifts. The gift of time given by families to each other. No mother is paid to be a mother, nor a father to be a father. If they were paid society would be bankrupt. Equally no communist society was ever created that did not deal in and with money. Our relationship to what we do for free and what we do for pay is deeply confused because the conversation on how we should deal with each other never gets past first base: lets be fair to each other.

No system yet has been equal to this challenge.

What Makes A Thief?

In one key area we are all thieves. There is no country left in the world that has not been fought over and taken from peoples who previously thought it was their own. Especially those who did not realise this ‘ownership’ tribal tradition was growing among the human community.

Given that it is in us to steal, why do you think, Michel Segard, Michael Ramstedt, Tom Mullaney and Thomas Feldhacker are thieves? Why would they take the New Art Examiner and put their names on the official registration papers leaving Derek Guthrie’s, the co-founder, out? These men want status in Chicago and that city, like many another, teaches thievery.

I don’t know what will happen to this cabal of nobodies but I would ask people not to support them. Derek Guthrie is alive, still publishing, and his magazine is far better financed and supported than the cabal’s.


This is a life,
Where poet, writer, painter,
Heat their hands from flames
Burning from the brain’s fire –
Earth’s very sky is held still
As they turn sea to words –
Rock to paint –
Wine and beer wash throats
With song and conversation –
In a bodily exchange for art –
Where to belong you climb a broken ladder
And give to words, paint, music, dance
A fire-washed agonised-pure soul –
Creation banged out of marble
Poems burning from a special womb –
Covering every last thought
With chalk-white burnt-out dust –
Until a huge soft pile smothers you
Into a deep and grateful sleep –

(after an early lunch one
Sunday, Nov 1963 with poets
painter, journalist. Lamorna
Cove, Cornwall . Much talk
much wine.)


Shänne Sands, Moonlight on Words published by FootSteps Press.

Oh Why!

Learning about computers is long, arduous and, often, not very rewarding. There was an old saying ‘RTFM’ – which was a polite way of suggesting one reads the instructions before asking questions. I cannot code – and have little wish to learn – but I did not want to be wholly ruled by machines other people had designed. It was as if I were being forced to think along someone else’s rules. The double hash in internet addresses for example, was just something the original writer thought up, it has no other value.

So I read and learned how to install an OS, how to modify it to better suit my character, how to plug the holes in Windows and secure what I could. I even learned  a little about web design and all-in-all found out after ten years I didn’t know anything.

But many of my friends know even less so they ask me to sort out their problems. Let me tell you, in our civilised world, nothing is more daunting or boring than sitting in front of someone else’s computer and sorting out a problem they could sort out but for the fact they won’t RTFM. You forget everything you know. You worry about destroying their data. And quietly you wish the computer would just die and leave you alone.

Modern British Comics

“I went to my doctor and asked for something for persistent wind. He gave me a kite.”
Les Dawson

“There are only two conditions where you’re allowed to wake up a woman on a lie-in: it’s snowing or the death of a celebrity.”
Michael McIntyre

“Why did the chicken commit suicide? To get to the other side.”
Sara Pascoe

“What do you call an alsatian in a grey jumper? A plain-clothes police dog.”
Harry Hill

“A bit of advice: never read a pop-up book about giraffes.”
Sean Lock

“I said, ‘It’s serious doctor, I’ve broken my arm in 20 places.’ He said: ‘Well stop going to those places.’
Tommy Cooper

“Snooker is the best. Snooker is basically tidying up disguised as sport.”
Jon Richardson

“My wedding was like a fairy tale. It wasn’t magical; it’s just that I’ve got an ugly sister.”
Ellie Taylor, at the Edinburgh Fringe 2015

“I got a package in the post last week, and on it it said, ‘Please don’t bend.’ So how was I supposed to pick it up?”
Lee Mack

“A cement mixer has ­collided with a prison van. Motorists are asked to look out for 16 hardened criminals.”
Ronnie Corbett

“When my wife and I argue, we’re like a band in concert: we start with some new stuff, and then we roll out our greatest hits.”
Frank Skinner

Blueskin Saves America

I am delighted that Gabriela Sepulveda has agreed to illustrate the third and fourth books in the series Blueskin.

Blueskin was a real highwayman who was hanged in 1747 and I imaged him being reincarnated as a cat, with all that ensues. The story took him to America where he saved the fabled City of the Cats (Little Wolf) and now he is reincarnated again in the Revolutionary War when America was seeking independence from the the British.

Its a fun story as he has become famous among horses, and he finds once again a Native America who can talk to him and with a band of friends they try to stop the British taking George Washington prisoner. But how can animals successfully interfere in human history?

And when will it stop raining?



Let’s All Lie Together

I don’t know when, or if there was a specific time, we all came to accept a low degree of honesty in politics. Across the board, in all ages that we have records for, people in power have lied to the people they rule. And the people they rule, in the majority, don’t seem to care.

Maybe we would all lie in the same situation. Maybe we feel if you have political enemies you cannot tell the whole truth because that would give them power over you. Gandhi always told the facts as he saw them and we respect his name above many, many others.

The fact is politicians were liars long before they went into politics and they were lied to by everyone all their lives, as we all are. Human beings are not truthful animals and that, sadly, is the foundation on all the problems we face in the world. It underpins our economics, our politics, are society for what you see around you – that is what you get when millions of people lie to each other every day.

Hello I Must Be Going

It was an amusing song by Graucho Marks which sounds like it was from a film in the early days of sound. But it is the perfect song to accompany the careers of politicians. I am quite surprised the British people accept with demur, the appointment of politicians to key posts where they stay for 18 months or less, sometimes but rarely for more, have their pet projects, their way of doing things all put into motion and are then replaced for another set of priorities from another politician.

This is no way to run Education or Health or anything. But it is the way we run the UK and it produces a fractured even disconnected series of systems that cannot support 70 million people.

I really think we need to improve on our expectations and have better manifestos, more rounded and thought through, with people expected to run with them for the whole five years of a Government.

It’s an Old Adage

Years ago I used to say that if you travelled through India into rural villages, in each one you would find one overweight man sitting on a verandah doing nothing while everyone else was busy and thin. That man was the one to whom all the others were indentured from birth – or a slave owner in common parlance.

I am sure in some places they still bond their children to pay debts but it isn’t as widespread as it used to be, I hope. But this whole continuous story of young girls being enslaved to provide sex for men is still embedded in our society – as long as the girls are runaways, with no one to care much about them, and / or foreigners.

It is long past the time when men should be held responsible for this. The men who pimp these girls should be imprisoned and the men who buy them should be criminalized and publicly shamed. Slavery has many debased forms but none of them should exist in European society.

Oprah for President

Back in the eighties when Oprah Winfrey first reached the screen on British TV my mother had a TV (unusually) and she called me saying I had to watch this ‘unusual black woman’. From that moment for several years we watched her often, opening up the true lives of real Americans, and what a revelation it all was. Then she got very, very Hollywood and a lot of the appeal vanished.

That she is intelligent and heartfelt in her approach is undeniable, but President? It doesn’t matter, I suppose, that her long term partner Steadman had a lot to do with the antisemitic black groups but  we had a movie star as President and his fiscal policies have led directly the the financial crisis.

She would do the required reading and find the countries on the atlas, but everyone knows she could not stand to send men and women to war. Which would give licence to warlords across the globe. She would also never resist going to Hollywood gatherings, so really, not a very serious contender.

However, there is no doubt, if she ran, she would win.

It Jumps

Progress doesn’t march. Unless you think armies bring progress, or Empires. And what with 24 hour news telling us what armies really do when they fight, and the long overdue re-assessment of the British Empire by those who suffered under its colonialism, I think we can do without any marching.

No, progress jumps and leaps. It can stagnate for decades and then suddenly be unleashed. Imagine, we have been around 200,000 years with the same size brain but we only got into agriculture 10,000 years ago. 190,000 years without a field or farm gate, what were we doing? Somewhere we invented fire and could finally eat dead animals without killing ourselves. Sometime we invented the wheel. 2,000 years ago we go to get a clock.

In the last fifty years it hasn’t leapt as much as done the 100 metre dash. Now progress is taking us to  nano-machines, DNA rewriting of the human being and Artificial Intelligence that will rival the human mind.

How much faster can progress go?


The sun is shining. It was a cold night and the frost is all over the garden, The birds are fed, my dog is walked and I am preparing to drive to Penzance.

And I think of past generations who did not have peace, did not have the expectation of living through the day, did not know what it is to eat every day, have warm clothes unless they made them, were hardened to a life of ‘drudgery and distress’.

We are spoiled in our manicured society where we think everything is done for our benefit when actually, nothing is. We are sleep walkers who do not see the precarious nature of the liberties and scientific achievements we have all come to rely upon.

One order and an army turns upon the people it is there to protect. One switch and entire communities would be without electricity.  One vote and a whole country loses itself.

If Smells are Insipid

If smells are insipid –
Then the landlady’s cooked supper
Lacks frankincense –
A pole-cat scent touches the ceiling;
The room is redolent with sour pork –

If streets are named after saints –
This crabbed avenue wears no halo –
After sunset the council-house tenants
Wear a wish-washed frown –
The children mostly look like pickled peppers
And the mothers are ill-flavoured lollipops –

If sounds mean sometimes melody
The ice-cream van gives me a concert
Per minute of discordant flats –
Jarring bells help sell a thousand icy treats
The driver-musician plays road minstrel
From morning into night –
As cheap cars and motor-bikes
Add noise to noise –

If idealism comes from an intellectual mind –
Only the ghost of my dream now walks –
I cannot view this scene with intelligence –
Only a troubled stare takes in the crowd –
My reverie is cornered like the fool –
And held in chains that no-one can undo –

If the pulse-beat of the city is its people
Alas, the heart of this city is flickering to death –
Only the sea snatches the wind
And blows it across the grey cement –
Only a restless gull shrieks discontent –

Occasionally the day seems
In possession of itself
Until the newsreader tells the time –
And I feel all the seconds lost –
The whole city is up-for-sale –
There’s an economy in selling cities
And tucked inside the Treasurer’s pocket
Are press-cuttings from the local press
Telling of the merchandise of souls –

If cheapness speaks of poverty and debt –
This booty is the grand prize –
A million untidy, unemployed people –
Walking in the rain –
Their resistance and my own –
To adversity in cities like this…
Is to enjoy the rain –
Receiving it from Heaven, then
Washing our hands of affection and favourite spots –
We are divorced from life –
Seclusion in our walk is all
I now respect!

Shänne Sands, Fidelity is for Swan (FootSteps Press 2010)

Nothing is New, Everything is Brilliant

I recently had the opportunity to walk around the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Among the many objects there, I saw an Egyptian bowl some 3,700 years old. Displayed top facing the eye, it was carefully painted, the entire side of the inside being a square pattern design of alternating black and white with perspective perfectly caught as the edge squares curved and formed diamond shapes. Why did this catch my eye? Because the Dutch painters of the 17th century caught the interiors of their houses with the same archetype black and white square tiled floors.

The aesthetics of the eye has not changed, and, most likely, until we take an optical evolutionary step, it never will. For there is also a pavement from the time of Nefertiti’s daughter which is two birds flying above the reeds, which could be painted today. It is unlike any of the ornate, sideways figures on their temples and tombs. The birds are really flying, the reeds are bent by the wind.


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