Do You Want To Know?

Decisions have always been taken by rich people who influence public policy and therefore, change the way society as a whole functions. Ford and his cabal enforced the use of oil on the motor industry because it would make them richer and alcohol was banned because those who knew could run their engines on it. The Enclosures in England served the will of the King and his friends but divested the population of rights to walk and use huge stretches of land.

Political Parties across the West are acting in similar ways, prepared to advertise their way into power instead of persuading by reason, and putting into place objectives they did not share with the voters and ones they did have in the manifesto sometimes never appear. Never have political parties acted more like cabals than now.

Yet the population gets hung up on sport, on the fashionable movie of the day, on emotional roller coasters designed to keep them eating popcorn while their society is wrecked and nature denuded. And there is why. God taught people everything had its place and they could not change things but it was alright, he as on their side in Heaven. Money teaches people it can be no other way.

Apathy rules us.

Extinction Events

When you go about your day, designed for you by the economic environment and the society that creates, as well as your hormones driving you to create a family, think about the world. It is your lifeblood. Without fresh air you are dead. Without clean water you are dead. Without wholesome food you are dead. Degrade any of these and you have a lifetime of illness.

75% of winged insects have vanished. Farming methods and unrestricted human exploitation of the environment for living accommodation and money have destroyed 75% of the most populace animal family in the world – insects.

Insects keep the land going. They eat each other which is a boon when you think what damage aphids can do to crops. They pollinate, they clean up, they actually ensure mammals can exist.

Your day, your desires, your hopes and dreams are killing life on Earth. Even I, using the internet to write this, am part of the system that is destroying everything.

Guns and America

The development and sale of guns into the general community is not only an American problem. When muskets and hand pistols were first invented across England individuals bought them or stole them and became highwaymen. Farmers always took to having guns and, I believe, a Prime Minister was shot at crossing a field (William Pitt). Members of the armed forces have always had guns though they are supposed to leave them on base today and guns are in select police buildings around the country.

What America does not have is the controls that came into force down the years in Europe. And unlike Europe which had its fill finally of violence in World War 2 after thousands of years of killing, America still glorifies violence done in the American way. But what people don’t realise is that those who make these guns that kill children, they use the police data of the shootings to see how efficient they are, see if they worked well, see if they could have done better in killing.

They do this because they are weapons of war. Guns are not just an American problem, but America is not yet at peace within itself. I would suggest owning up to the slaughter of millions of native Americans as a first, vital step, to understanding how violence has become endemic to the culture. I would look at how guns are portrayed on TV and movies. But I am not American and the powerful don’t wish to look.

For My Poor Sick Brother Allan Edwin

I have not seen an angel
Or heard an holy voice –
Or witnessed a miracle –

Nor seen a saint –
But I have felt a peace –
A tenderness –

A token-wind of faith –
I have known a place –
Where a spirit played
Deep on my heart –
Played in my brain –

A touch of joy sped me along –
A path leading upward to His Cross –
And on my knees or standing
Near his church – I have felt
The nearness of a truth –
Confl ict is banished into ash –
And high above reason, time or year
His precious call repeats
The message of a world to come –
‘My people hear, oh! Hear’

Shänne Sands, Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press

Allen Edwin had a schizophrenic episode in his thirties and, when on his medication, became a devout missionary. He died in his early seventies, alone in Cheltenham, England.

What is Tragedy?

I have been reading about Modigliani. The writers all say how tragic his life was and they pinpoint his illnesses and his early death at 35. We all die, some artists died on battlefields down the ages and we don’t even know who they are or what they may have become. Many people are killed young by illness and few have the chance to liberate themselves from society the way Modigliani did. His life was sad, possibly incredibly sad, but there are some people who call themselves artists who live to be ninety and that’s a real tragedy for culture.

The tragedy in his life was his long term love, Hébuterne, who killed herself two days after he died. I can understand the extreme of sadness, having to go back to her family and seeing her stultifying life with them in start contrast to what her life had been in Modigliani’s circle. But when she killed herself she killed their unborn child.

Not to say who that child would have been, but that is the tragedy of Modigliani’s  and Hébuterne’s existence.


Out of us all
That make rhymes,
Will you choose
Sometimes –
As the winds use
A crack in the wall
Or a drain,
Their joy or their pain
To whistle through –
Choose me,
You English words?

I know you:
You are light as dreams,
Tough as oak,
Precious as gold,
As poppies and corn,
Or an old cloak:
Sweet as our birds
To the ear,
As the burnet rose
In the heat
Of Midsummer:
Strange as the races
Of dead and unborn:
Strange and sweet,
And familiar,
To the eye,
As the dearest faces
That a man knows,
And as lost homes are:
But though older far
Than oldest yew, –
As our hills are, old, –
Worn new
Again and again:
Young as our streams
After rain:
And as dear
As the earth which you prove
That we love.

Make me content
With some sweetness
From Wales
Whose nightingales
Have no wings, –
From Wiltshire and Kent
And Herefordshire,
And the villages there, –
From the names, and the things
No less.
Let me sometimes dance
With you,
Or climb,
Or stand perchance
In ecstasy,
Fixed and free
In a rhyme,
As poets do

Edward Thomas

So Many Lies

A new proxy war between Russia and America in Syria, the first major one we know about since Afghanistan – and that one turned out brilliantly for the Americans. Another mass shooting in a school which proves, obviously, that teenagers should not have easy access to guns as they get frustrated and angry way too easily. And Johnson, who learned to speak in front of boys at Eton, where majority opinion is always Conservative, telling everyone how to save his political career for another fifteen years until he can retire and tell the news programmes of the world how he steered the UK brilliantly in to the 1950s.

Elon sends a car into space, a man who really needs publicity? A space already filled with junk. I hope he brings it and some of that, back. Or is he trying to get to a geodesic on Mars where the billionaires will hang out in 80 years time when the Earth is uninhabitable if you want to sun yourself in the Pacific and whore in the Mediterranean.

Somewhere in all this, a blog carries the words of a poet. Shänne Sands, a rare voice of truth.

The Old World

When societies shift it is always a dangerous time. Old themes are lost, old certainties broken, shared order defied and in these times the need for ethical leadership is vital. Lose the faith the people have in their leaders and you lose everything.

The UK has had two of the weakest leaders in my memory – Cameron and May – and extreme right wing tendencies, suppressed for two generations, have reared their head. Worse still a successor to Mussolini now runs the Whitehouse and many more liberal thinking leaders have to fight strong, right-wing sentiments in their nations.

The art world broke the consensus of what art was long ago, but in making anything art they saturated the culture with uncertainty and through that uncertainty celebrity, money, loose thinking and vanity have gained supremacy. Art and politics have always been conjoined but never  before this jointly corrupt.

What Is Real Anymore?

We make up gods, we look for miracles, we believe anything said about ourselves that magnifies our brilliance from being chosen, special to the most intelligent to perhaps being the only life in the Universe. We believe in adverts which should tell you all you need to know about gullibility.

Yet this gullible self,obsessed animal that we are slaughters without cease. Everything and everyone we can.

This is the animal we will take into space with us – this tribal, the follower who gets into psychological difficulties if we are not loved, if we are left out of the group, if we feel unheard. Human beings are far from sane.

A Little Snow

I was at Tim Shaw’s exhibition in the Exchange Gallery last Thursday. A vision of oppression and abuse with a huge recreation of the restaurant where he was sitting with his mother when he was 7 years old in Belfast when a bomb exploded beneath them. It is atmospheric as the lights are blue, shadows run in panic all around the walls and the trays are hovering in the air slowly moving as you look at the possessions left behind, chairs upturned, life fractured.

And then I looked at the people who were there to see him. Tim is deeply feeling, I am sure many of those there were too, with their wine glasses full, talking about the show and other things, being seen, doing the ‘art’ bit.

And on Friday every one of them went on with their lives, their daily routine probably unchanged. Their investment in the art, just that, for each evening of the year they go to private views and listen to the artists. The world outside, where the events happen and the nature exists that art reflects, is dying. Routine is everything.

Why We All Have Names

There is an urge to name things. Everything. We cannot escape it, it is part of how we organise the world around us and our place in it. The names encapsulate everything we know about something and as philosophers have told us for centuries, all we don’t know. We think because something has a name and we can attach ideas of that thing to the name, that we understand what a table is, what a chair is, want an aunt is. But we only get a workable understanding.

Since everything changes, and since words can be infinitely defined because we all possess our own, unique understanding of anything, what we are doing is working in a shorthand that enables us to get along together in something resembling concerted effort. Until we don’t.

Then we find out how differently we all view each other. Then we discover we have all been using the same words to mean slightly different things. And worse, words we use have been chosen for us to conjure up specific understanding. Brainwashing if you like.

So we name each other but we don’t understand each other and we name the things around us but we still have a long way to go to understand the material world.

Hollywood Isn’t Acting

Making a film can be a bit-by-bit experience where it is difficult for a performer to be in character every time. In fact one cameraman from the golden age said in his experience actors sometimes found ‘their part’ for which they became famous. What he was observing was that the best performances on film have been giving by people acting close to their own character with very little if any, diversion from the way they ‘are’.

This is, of course, wonderful for them and makes signature performances many people have loved for years but it is not acting. They are playing themselves.

To truly act you need to be on stage for two hours and bring the audience with you, changing your voice, your walk, your manner until you are not recognizable as who you are but become your part. And you can do this for many parts …

To Make and then Exhibit

I understand anyone who wants to play with their art form. To expand, expound and test their methods, their materials, their own thoughts and in the main to deconstruct all they have been taught and then build up again from the bottom. Or if not the bottom from a place where they are surrounded with the pieces that have traditionally been their  art form.

What I don’t understand is then showing those pieces as finished works of art. To put three words together and pretend you have written a poem, fill a frame with nothing and pretend you have a work of art, play silence. You may create some sort of deeper appreciation for the real thing but you have not proven you are an artist to be taken seriously.

Unless it is by the funding institution that gives the money for you to do these things.

Somebody Asked Me

Somebody asked me
The other day about you, saying
With that knowing look in their dim eyes,
‘You can’t still love him
After everything that’s happened’
My thoughts left the conversation and went ahead –
Could they really know ‘everything’ that happened –
Oh not the quick insult
Or the vapid lie –
Or the ‘others’’ taken in a fit of sex –
Or the endless separation built
On my calendar like huge ugly steps
Higher and higher into my life –
No they didn’t have a clue
About what really happened –
How one day in April ‘61 in England –
By the Thames –
From some obscure patch of darkness
You came into my life –
A torch flared not easy to put out –
When our bodies touched
That same torch, became
A dazzle cast about our bed –
How the back of your head slightly bent
Moved me beyond words –
Or how your sour face
Cross or tired suddenly made me chuckle –
How in a fit of white-hot love
You’d strip me bare and throw
My body across a fitted carpet –
Better than any mattress on the pretty bed.
Could they know how we laughed
At life’s grim ‘handouts’, because our
Love was massive in a small untidy
World of petty shadows –
And that my heart could carry
Your soul along every problem,
Every sad mistake –
Because we had sung a song my love,
Across a wooden table; piled with
Plates and flowers turned to a fable
That was us.
And when they ask me silly questions
I want to yell,
‘What do you know of love?’
But I turn my head away
And slowly think of you –
And wonder in this rather lonely minute
If you remember April ‘61 and that river too!


Shänne Sands, from Night Song, a selection of her poems published by FootSteps Press

Who Dares Choose?

Every day around the world people are dying in wars. One would think this would be the starter piece for every news cast. After all what could be worse? Well apparently the drop in  a gambling den known as the Dow Jones was more important for two days. Indeed it led the news here in the UK this morning as the Stock Markets around the world ‘bounced back’. Wish the chemical weapons and bombs used this week also bounced back.

The editors of the news broadcasts around the world have an unenviable task – of all the hundreds of stories coming in every day what to run and not run, and in what order. After all war was headlines yesterday how can we make it headlines again and still be interesting?

I am afraid the victims will have to find new ways of dying and await the next atrocity before they are remembered. This is how news has become the drug of choice for those who actually want to feel good but do nothing. Feel informed and yet be allowed to forget.

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