Blueskin

Blueskin the Cat is my mother’s favourite story. It follows the adventures of a man reincarnated as a cat as he journeys with two brothers from England the America.

I am trying to make this into an animation, of what kind I have no idea, but to raise the money for it I need to gather around me people who like the story and will budget with me their time and skills so we can go forward to get grants and investors.

I need a range of skills from animation to marketing, story boarding to distribution. If you think you like the idea I would like to hear from you. Initially we may try to create 1 minute to promote to others.

Hartbeespoort

I spent two and a half weeks visiting rescue centres for monkeys, Cheetah’s, dogs, owls and trekking up a mountain to watch vultures rise from their nests.

I was delighted that at my age the young people I was with accepted me and we all got on well from many different countries, even the one who voted for Trump. The house we stayed in was comfortable and roomy and the couple who run the residencies and volunteers were a pleasure to be around.

Of course I was still mourning but when I came home I had found it was a healing experience. But that is no real surprise as being around animals is often healing. We even walked a cheetah outside its enclosure down the road to another enclosure. Who knew they could be even that tame. having said that we were at a distance.

The dryness and barren look to the land would vanish in the rains. It is a country I did not understand for a week and then I began to see its seduction. I will go back one day.

To be great again

We can make Britain great again.

I read and listened to the thinkers who rule us as they squirmed their way to the lousiest, most retrograde step taken by this country in a thousand years. We were more honest when we just invaded Europe and as dishonest when we vied with the other empires for dominance of seas and lands across the globe.

I have often thought politicians when they retires suddenly become interesting and I listened to William Hague recently talk of the UK as the ‘hinge’ between mainland Europe and the USA, A hinge that Brexit has made unhinged as all we can think about it how to leave in stead of doing the thing that made us able to call ourselves great – to be the conduit of political might between the USA and the rest of Europe. An interesting word.

Now the thinkers and trained minds of the UK will leave to take up careers in other countries who can supply them not just with a salary – most rich countries can do that – but with a liberal access to the world not based on trade but on building one world together. Which is, of course, the liberal agenda.

England has given way to tribalism of the worse kind. The shackles she take son now are of Queen and country, and they are no less burdensome than Brussels.

The Power of One Over Another

I have often wondered why one hundred thousands men will do exactly what one man tells them. Then I learned about psychology and realised a leader, whoever they are, is most often the one who permits another person to do what they want to do.

Being in an army is a disciplined affair and the best soldiers are very regulated so much so, they cannot shake off the training when they retire. But in the past and even in major conflicts, the general purpose man joins up and his discipline is far less assured.

Men do what they are ordered to do because they have an interest in being part of a machine that makes them feel they can do anything. No matter the dangers, and in some respects because of them, they live in a way they have never lived before. Then comes realisation. Loss. Pain. Suffering.

Then men tend to divide between those that enjoy it and those that want to go home as soon as possible. But both still do what they are told to do. Because by the time realisation hits the indoctrination of taking orders is sealed.

You Are Not The River

You are not the river
I am not the mountain
We are flesh, we are blood.

You are not the universe
I am not the infinite
We are life, we are death –

You are not the rain
I am not the ocean
We are skin, we are bone.

I take your flesh
You taste my blood
Our bones and skin
Our life and death touch.

Then an ocean fills with rain –
Infinite is the river
And a mountain grows from us.

Shänne Sands, Fidelity is for Swans published by FootSteps Press

Hollywood

I have always loved stage theatre. the audience lead to believe what you can make them believe and holding their attention for two hours. I have always thought this was real acting, whereas film making is not.

Famously they said Cary Grant couldn’t act and all his performances were made in the cutting room, a place that many movie actors can be thankful exists. I heard a cameraman once saying he had a theory that every actor ‘finds their part’. What he didn’t realise is that is exactly the difference between between movies and the stage.

On the stage the finest acting creates a belief that the actor is who they are predetermining to be. In movies the finest performances come when the part is so aligned with the personality and ability of the actors they are effectively not acting at all for most of it.

Sport

Sports traditionally have had nothing to do with the taking part and everything to do with gaining respect.

They started as part of the martial training of men and developed into a way for many people with poor outlooks but a natural talent, to become well known within their communities. Just as fine soldiers used to be feted so too were athletes of prowess.

It is also a way of gaining respect for oneself if one has few other talents. The idea though that sport makes one a better person, more adept and able, is a nonsense. The natural communication and experiences of life do not go away just because one is a sportsperson and the challenges and problems though different in character are not different in nature, to anyone else. Whatever one chooses to do in life will change you and make you into the person you become. Sport has no pre-eminence in this regard over any of other activity.

Sport is also a cure for nothing. It is a channel for talent and often anger, to mold a person into a sportsman or woman. Whatever that means.

Murder is Murder

Hypatia was slaughtered by a Christian mob in Egypt. They thought they were doing god’s work as she was a scientist and a woman who taught student. We can look back with horror and argue they were wrong without, I think, looking at ourselves.

Plato talks about essences and attributes. Attributes are things that change about something in our world, the colour, size, shape of a thing (in his example a table.) We all have trouble thinking about essences, what makes a table a table that doesn’t change from one to another.

So we put men in uniform and we don’t call what they do murder. We herd cattle into farms and into slaughter houses and we don’t call it murder. Our enemies blow people up and we call it murder but they don’t.

We can always find excuses to miss the essence of sheathing we do because attributes blind us with their reasoned traditional acceptance.

Human beings murder, we do it without regard and we are all invested in it to some extent. Every abattoir is an Auschwitz and the thought and processes that make them a reality can be turned in an instant to murder people instead of animals.

We have been trying to reason ourselves out of this for generations but if we took a journey across the world we would conclude we are far distant from stopping murder. So far distant that we would not be in error to conclude part of the essence of being human is to kill things.

South Africa

Is a fascinating country for someone from the temperate West.

I understood what I was told about the animals we helped and why they were not free but it is still horrible to see elephants giving rides to people for money otherwise they would be dead. Not so much the monkeys who we were not allowed to touch because release back into the wild is the keepers’ aim.

The Cheetahs are not as beautiful an animals close up as one thinks but being able to stoke one and just feel the warmth of another mamas is always a great experience.

I wasn’t expecting see bush-babies, vultures and the chameleons but the weekend I spent on safari was ridiculous – I mean the amount of food on tap all weekend I am surprised anyone had the strength to get into the land cruisers to go looking for lions.

But in the end I still feel I want to actually go out with those who know and camp and look and learn. I would always help rescue centres but when I need rescuing I need open spaces.

That and my first bungee jump.

A Certain kind of Church

A rural community is a religion of its own.

It has its own traditions, it possesses a kind of moving hierarchy with families settled generations and new families coming in. It has its eccentrics and still in the UK, its idiot.

The rural religion discourses heavily on and in the village hall and all matters effecting the day-to-day expectations of the community.

Everyone has a favourite place to sit.

Everyone knows everything about everyone else.

Eyes are everywhere.

Some people are kind, some are not, some are generous.

There is actually another church in the community, which may or may not be a thousand years old and may or may not have things worth seeing for their rarity.

But the god of the rural community is not the god they speak of but the god they accept. It isn’t the one who is going to look after their immortality and into whose earth they are buried.

It’s the weather.

The changing face of the day, the seasons and their limitations. They rule the rural church in every way, far more than for city folk.

Don Quixote

I read the translation when I was 26, immediately after reading the Fairie Queen. I remember two things about that very clearly. I remember being very aware of exactly what Cervantes was satirizing as well as feeling that in part two, which he was forced tow rite because of the success of part one, he went all out to satirize the expectations of the reader.

In part two every woman we meet is more beautiful than the last one. Quixote also dies which is a necessary ending both for the story and the writer who was fed up with the whole thing.

I love the book. I love the idea of someone who heads out to do something with nothing more than dreams in their head of people who have done things in the past with no more than a code of honour to guide them.

We lack honour, his kind of honour. We think honour lies in the personal but it doesn’t. It lies in treating people as if they are all kings and queens. Something we cannot do.

The Complexities of Having an Opinion

So interconnected is the world we live within that almost everything we do has a tinge of hypocrisy upon it. Just as the environment is something that crosses national borders and includes us all, so taking a stance will always show we are standing upon quicksand.

From fighting for animal rights – as long as it is just some animals – or being angry at ‘foreign’ cultural traditions without critiquing our own – to foods, how we choose to travel in a global warming world, how we choose to vote for self-interest while attending all-inclusive churches…and so forth.

The good side of this is we are all hypocrites so we can take comfort in the fact no one can point too strong a finger at anyone else, the down side right now is no one actually believes the good side of this. We are so ready to lie to ourselves so as to see ourselves as essentially good that we lose sight of the fact we are all low to middling.

We have hope though of one day achieving the heights of average.

Inspirational Quotes

I have a problem with people who make quotes that sound brilliant – for the most part (except for anonymous) they are all said by famous people. Celebrities stand behind microphones and tell everyone not to give up, military generals tell us men are not made to be defeated, feminists who have become successful tell every woman to strive as they have.

It is all nonsense.

If you give up you cannot succeed but just because you don’t ever give up doesn’t mean you will succeed. None of us has the right to say great talent is never lost, because obviously, how would we know? And no amount of struggle from someone who eventually becomes well known, means that struggles will end for us all if we just keep going.

There are some people who sweep floors and will always sweep floors. There are some who win prizes and some who will never win. It isn’t just about luck it is about what the system wants the systems we are talking about are those that trade on our wishes as mass consumers of culture. You see if all our talents were recognised, who would ever be world famous? Part of the trade-off we have with the famous is that they are unique.

So next time you hear someone with millions in the bank telling you, you could have millions too, just say to yourself, ‘Yes I could if you weren’t there’, and move on.

Don’t ever give up but don’t expect a thing.

The Broken Clown

Really it was my child’s toy
Thrown on the floor –
With a grin knocked off in fun –
A leg half torn with stuffing
Weakly coming out –
A bright red nose bashed in –
A broken fool dim-sighted –
Shallow with absurdity –
Tomfoolery left on the bedroom floor –
Clown’s intellect was only to laugh –
Nothing astute could ever touch
That wide red gap of mouth –
Or straighten those hideous legs –
Bent with colour –
Broken in jest by my son’s rough hand –

Really it was you; There
On the grey lino –
You as a doltish clot –
Childish with silly pranks –
All your stuffing mere wool
To keep together heart and soul –
Inconsistent and dull –
From old sentiment
I’ll sew the broken leg up –
Replace the stuffing –
But its impossible to do
Anything with that gaping mouth
And those wide sad eyes –
Filled with mirth.

Shänne Sands, from her selection Fidelity is for Swans published by FootSteps Press www.footsteps.co

Charlottesville

I am of Hebraic Dravidian extraction. I have seen the scenes in Charlottesville  and actually have colleagues in Virginia.

It was a strange lesson but many people go through as they mature, to realise at the point of my birth about a billion people existed on the earth who would have stomped my head into the ground and thought they had done a good day’s work. Too big a figure? I ask you to consider the relevance of millions of people who today are doing exactly what they did yesterday instead of picketing the houses of the members of the alt-right in their millions. Liberal outrage is never enough, action has to be taken.

Fascism has always existed in the USA. It was built of extremely fascist principles. So, actually, has every country. Everyone has killed other people, and each other, to build the countries we now have and the killing still proceeds. In this we are worse than animals. But we have history behind us, we know where this leads. War.

It never leads anywhere else. Plato warned that societies don’t level out into a political consensus but that left and right politics flow into each other like waves. The right is flowing in. It isn’t challenging the political left, it is drowning it.

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