Is Politics Necessary

I heard someone ask once why we needed politicians, surely we would be able to get along without them and stem the tide of arrogance and corruption that seems to flood from political seats of power. It is an interesting question to ask why we need to be lead? Why will a thousand men do something one man tells them too without questioning? Or at least are persuaded to all think in the same way.

We are great tradionalists and love the fact that we are doing what our ancestors did only with a certain degree more sophistication because we know more. We believe what they believe or try to manipulate what they believed to fit new criteria. Somehow if it is old, it comes from a time when we did not need to learn but we knew things by feeling them.

As if feelings are more ‘truthful’ in some way than knowledge gained through learning. It isn’t so much knowledge we seek, but depth of understanding. And depth of understanding seems to require we agree to tradition because it worked in the past it must be good for us? It is interesting that this is not intellectual as much as animal. It is learning by rote.

It has its place but that plaqce may well be in the past.


When I was younger it was said that one is lucky to find one person to love in one’s lifetime and equally lucky to have two good friends to trust. it is few and in I was struck by the way friendships are working on the Internet and how social network sites promote ‘friends’, which are actually little more than networking.

But the little more is so interesting. the sharing of life’s small experiences. One does not expect the depths of close friends in terms of time spent with each other face-to-face but one learns na good deal about someone on the other side of the world or even in a distant city or town whom one might not have expected to meet in one’s daily routine.

We share pictures, names of family, knowledge of foreign politics, lifestyles: it is all a little bit like reality TV without the hype. And some of these meetings do become good friends, they visit and call, send birthday cards and enjoy our company.

There is after all no set path to how we find friends. Sometimes people will tell you good freinds do not even have to be human. They just have to be there.

The Exalted Gate

Many years ago when I first met Annie Ovenden I asked her if I could write some fairy stores inspired by her paintings. I didn’t think anything would come of the letter I sent and was genuinely surprised when she appeared at the door of the place I was working with transparencies and pictures of many of her paintings.

I wrote six and sent them to publishers who thought it was a lovely idea, and indeed one publisher stole the idea, but the book itself was too expensive to print because of the quality of the paintings. Not sure I believe that either.

However due to the wonders of digital printing we have been able to take what is now ten stories with ten paintings,   and design a book for children. The stories are not more than a thousand words each and come Christmas people will be able to



If art is there to prove that people may
Attempt to prove they can create in time
A universe within the mind that sways
The heart as surely as the stars sway mine,
That makes the blood a river longing for
The sea, makes a microbe, stand for something,
Makes a tree a bone rooted to the core
Of ever existence and every thing;
Then I have found that some Artists create
A greater world than money ever made –
For living for living’s sake is a State
And loving because you can, is a trade.

Art’s truly not a rarified pursuit
But humanities intimate tribute.

Horse Riding

The first time I ever rode a horse it was spooked and I pulled on the rein to keep it steady and felt the power of its head and my own muscles tugging at the animal. I had  already realised just how high up a horse really places one when mounting onto the saddle and now I realised that this was not horse riding. This was domination. I thought the pull on the reins probably hurt or reminded it of the times it first had bits put in its mouth and how it did not like the feel of it.

My friendship with animals was probably already there but now it was cemented into a state of being with them, to allow them to show who they are, their character, their sense of life and go with their flow. Because I can.  To me the perfect situation would be for a horse to allow me to sit or lie on its back for a while and for it to take me where it wants to go (making sure I wasn’t on its back long enough to break its skin). To share a sense of what is in the horse’s mind.

I know I can rule the horse, I choose not too. That is true dominion.

Morning Walk

The grass is almost always wet and where the animals have not been grazing it grows through the summer to thigh height, drenching any clothes depute the wellington boots (galoshes). The summer sun is always there, so hot sometimes it is best to walk the fields under the ash, hazel and sycamore tree shadows. Storms pass and break off twigs and branches which make for a ready supply of sticks to throw for the dogs, if one had normal dogs. Momo, rescued as a stray seven years ago, has never chased sticks not shown any interest in them. Queenie-Colleen being a collie, a lady and more intelligent than most didn’t have the slightest interest in them for months, until I stopped throwing them and tapped her back with them and danced around, then she grabbed at my hand as all collies tend to do and I had to teach her to only go for the stick.

She still prefers just to dance with me and not run after them, and she won’t do even that if she hears a loud noise or gets too close to the horses and other animals. They scare her. They scare me sometimes.

We often see the hawks waiting for the dozens of rabbits who skip across the fields at the slightest movement to gain their burrows. A few neighbours walking their dogs. A car now and then which the dogs skirt to one side much to the amusement of city drivers who have never seen dogs trained with cars.

This is peace.

Love Makes Things Harder

It is very tough. Even though one is tired and even though the Government recognises this and had instituted a programme of respite care, giving both the cared for and the carer two weeks away from each other every two months, it is still very hard. When one’s mother doesn’t wish to go, says she wants to die at home, doesn’t like being with other people and is genuinely scared and all one wants to do is sleep and not have the stresses of her illness on your shoulders for a while, it is crippling.

The intervention of a third party to explain the situation and try to coax her into respite care for two weeks helps and doesn’t help. For though she agreed, on the drive to the nursing home she said she only agreed because she did not want to lose her son. And that is not emotional blackmail, she means it. Everyone she loved betrayed or left her and life has left her with a broken body, and one other human being to make her tea. And despite all the arguing it is nowhere simple to leave one’s mother lying in a bed in a large room by a window with two caring, friendly strangers and know she will wake up in the morning and she won’t see the one person she really wants to see with her one good eye, nor hear the one voice she most treasure through her her partially deaf ears.

Ruining Imperfection

My mother is a perfectionist when it comes to her work. She will edit a poem in her head for days before writing it down and once written it is never altered, it doesn’t have to be all the editing has been done. She is like that with everything she does, the depth of thought that goes into her actions so that the actions are fluid – and her house is always spotless. Me I am hopeless, my desk alone shows my state of mind and the pile of papers has everything I need for my work . . . somewhere.

Human beings strive to make pretty patterns out of the world but there is a huge principle of imperfection in nature so much so that nature has perfected imperfection. The variety of lumps and bumps makes for different inhabitable regions; the lack of perfect balance in physiognomy makes for beauty, shades of clarity in the atmosphere (greatly admired by painters) add character; dis-chord in music has immense value.

There is a certain amount of chaos in imperfection, a certain amount of inbuilt struggle, because, after all, patterns are easier to understand when they cohere. But we live in all those cracks created by imperfection and it make sense to accept them and to stop seeking perfection in our societies. Straight roads are unnatural, city blocks are easy to navigate and  ultimately depressing,  endless sand might seem like a perfect beach but it is actually a desert by the sea.

Neither perfection nor imperfection should rule the other. Both are vital.

Oh, For The Right Word

It is interesting that academics often create new words (usually from Greek roots in English academics) to explain a concept or train of thought. Nearly always these are an amalgam of two words that bring together two disciplines – it replaces the old hyphened words we used to find a great deal of in academic essays and books, pseudo-this and psycho-that. It may be Theology is more prone to this than other studies, I am not sure.

Choosing that precise word that gets over the exact meaning, is of course, what a lot of writing is about, but not all. Sometimes it isn’t the words but the feeling that is important. Sometimes they come together as in the brilliant opening thirty pages of Durrell’s Alexandrian Quartet. Of course the exact word makes all the difference in translating into and from other languages.

The language of nature through DNA is proving to be incredibly intricate and precise. The fact that, as I learned today, individual cells contribute to our memories gives one a sense of mind greater than any we have had to date. A long time ago I heard it said that through us the universe can know itself, and only now do I begin to see how heady with meaning that phrase really is. How we are analogous to the cells of our bodies, within the universe itself.

Comedians everywhere are going to enjoy telling audiences to which parts of the Universes’ body they think we belong:)

Soothing Hands

My dogs love to be groomed, which is really funny since the small one who came to us seven years ago as a stray has really short hair but you try and leave her out of a brush when she sees the collie being groomed. They both raise their heads and often I have seen a bluish tint come into a dog’s eyes as they are brushed. I have always assumed that is the moment when they feel that frisson we all feel when someone does something for us, that delicious tingle on the skin that someone cares enough to make our lives a little smoother.

And humans love to be groomed, it is one of the perks of being rich to ‘be dressed’ by someone else and have choices made that fit the bill so much so that there are morning, afternoon and evening clothes both so one is always clean and so one can enjoy the feeling three times a day.

It’s the same kind of feeling one gets when one is told someone has been thinking about us, or shows concern. At once an affirmation of one’s existence and a surprise. Sometimes only ruined when the person gets shampoo in your eyes. But it is interesting that mammals all feel this sense, and touch and groom each other in their groups with even deer eating flies and flees of each other’s backs.

The senses are the fundamentals of relationships.

Motivations and Deviations

I spent a good deal of time as a teenager trying to fathom out why people believed what they believed and how they came to those beliefs. Really I suppose trying to understand what thinking was about. At university I spent some time working out what truth in language is, (something to do with meaning) and what religious philosophy was all about. Sounds grand but basically boils down to ‘You think what? Why?’ – in bold and capitals depending on how astonished one is.

The real question is why do people believe different things? Its a fascinating journey through culture, derived wisdom, education, ignorance and the chaos that is life. We have developed a science because we are not given any answers (we had divine holy writ given too because we needed answers and guidance), and the main conclusion is that the brain is trying to understand the Universe and what do you know, it can be understood. Isn’t that amazing?

I do subscribe to the description that people believe what they want to believe,  and there is a huge underlying psychology to how we use our brains and how rigorous or not we are about discerning value in what we learn. We can keep an antique because it becomes more and more valuable but an old idea can become more and more worthless. The idea that women are second class citizens is one such. There are many more.

Whenever I hear people espousing facts I am more interested in their psychology than in what they are actually saying, because who they are is not in what they say but in why they say it.

Which is true of my musings as well.

Def Poetry

You don’t have to mind that the world is unrefined; In places skewed like a puppet with too many strings incapable of dancing for itself; You don’t have to mind the few who devour everything and curse the poor for being poor or too sore to work for the rich bitch with the Palm Beach villa and the warm, wet Pacific for a lover; You don’t have to mind if the rage within screams for justice in an age of lawyers wary of their thoughts outside their courts where injustice squats on every street like the whore she is; You don’t have to mind if women get beaten and children get wasted on glue because they can’t afford the booze the adults choose to close their doors on the realities they do not choose to  believe in, like shoes that fit but are out of style; You don’t have to mind the lies and bitter plans that expands an industry into tortured lands filled with willing but enslaved hands and butterflies no one counts; You don’t have to mind birth; You don’t have to mind death; You don’t have to mind the life between where laughter is bought and hatred is taught and somewhere between the sheets in a shabby bedroom in an old motel someone says something about hell.

You don’t have to mind but if you do your human mind is working, no shirking, but raw and red and real and loud and your morality isn’t built on similarity to the crowd. You mind because you’re proud of having seen what might have been.

And God Made Computers Possible

Though I am beginning to ask myself why. There always seems to be something I should be doing to this machine besides actually working. Whether it is updating drivers to make my hardware care about my software; or updating my software because what was sold to me to begin with was not quite right or whether it is updating my Operating System which was sold with a hundred faults.

And I find myself  hoping that one day I will have a HAL because even a psychotic computer would be an improvement on a locked, crashed, slow, add infected burnt out modern pc. And this is all from binary code feeding through electronics. I fear for my grandchildren (if I ever have any) and what the brilliant minds of this generation will invent to improve their working lives.

It is wonderful when these things work.  It is awful when they don’t and you spend a whole day trying trying to find out why, and if it is not some thirteen year old who put a virus on your computer that got into the Bios it is a conflict between your cherished software package that actually helps you, and the sturdy, most robust Operating System ever without which there is DOS.

In a way it reminds me of nature. Take away the most insignificant insect you can find, and guaranteed you will discover after six months it was vital for keeping down aphids, or its dung helped keep spores thriving that killed off honey bee viruses. My whole career rests on code I do not understand and suddenly cannot live without.

It is so much easier to make a cup of tea.


Hobbyists are not always amateurs, in fact as someone said to me, do anything for fifty years you get reasonably good at it. The importance of hobbies is to have something you enjoy that takes your mind away from other things, to have that time when you concentrate on something ‘else’. Or when in doing something with your hands you are able to think about things more calmly.

Many years ago I heard a UK politician extolling the first Elizabethan Age for a time when politicians and all learned people wrote poetry. When, he said, Walter Raleigh was sacking Cadiz no one told him to go home and write poetry, and when he was writing poetry no one told him to get on a ship and sack Cadiz. The point being that modern politicians do not write enough poetry, do not take on the intellectual challenge, and there is a reason. In todays’ world people would read it with derision because they are not writing it and they would criticise a politician saying he should concentrate on more serious matters.

Actually politics and poetry are two sides of the same coin: the thoughts that preoccupy our greatest poets: the human condition, are the daily fare of politicians. I would welcome knowing our politicians write poetry on occasions to look at their world from a different perspective, the keep in contact with their inner feelings and of course to make sure they were not sacking Cadiz because that is one hobby we can do without.

When War Is An Answer

In the long and bloody battles of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, when half the male population o the UK of fighting age stretching over near twenty years, were slaughtered on land and sea all over Europe, the outcome was a final victory over the French and her Allies for the British and her Allies (allies being a movable feast as at Waterloo no one knew until they charged just who the Prussians were going to fight alongside.)

The outcome was the British Empire’s gold age when for the rest of the century she ruled the seas and had the strongest army in the world. In similar fashion the generals of Muhammed used his army to invade the world and over five hundred years created a huge Empire, which was more than doubled when the Mongols converted without a sword being lifted. That Empire today though fragmented into autonomous countries, still exists.

Quin pulled warring states together two thousand years ago and created one of the largest countries in the world, China, and the whole world looks upon her renaissance with both wonder and fear. Feelings than Quin may not have appreciated as much as we may think because like all tyrants he didn’t like the outside world very much.

We may hate the idea but much of the world’s difficulties today, and those that will face our grandchildren, stem from our willingness to war on each other. Every border of every country has been drawn through conflict. When we pronounce upon peace we would do well to remember that and speak humbly and kindly of the mountains of dead we stand upon.

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