Too Much

I remember when I was around eleven years old I used to come in from school and put on the TV and watch the young children’s programmes, then mine, and not get up until the news came on. I was a year away from exams and I came home one day and the TV had been put away. My mother decided I was watching it too much and not working hard enough.

When I was at my main school a friend of mine who was highly intelligent kept getting into trouble with the headmaster and one day was caught sitting in the middle of a sports fields in a poncho smoking marijuana and they decided enough was enough and expelled him from the school. Something I told one of our teachers was ridiculous but the teacher said he had gone too far.

There are times when we are forming our minds that we are told we have overstepped the boundaries, and when we are adults in many places those people in charge above us do the same, and the legal system sets boundaries and penalties though not because of excess in its own kind (though it includes that) but simply to maintain a certain behaviour pattern.

But no one tells the species when it goes too far. No one comments because there is no one to comment. There comes a time when self-rule is all there is and that is what humanity lacks.

What Makes A Difference

When I was about fifteen I remember sitting on a beach near where we lived with my uncle who was reading me something he had written about the universe being anti-gravitational (don’t ask! He had a friend whose PhD was on ‘the eleven dimensions’) and I noted that he was frightened of the sea. He said it was very dark. I remember being surprised because I had always thought of the sea as a wondrous place one merely had to respect because it was dangerous.

It made me think about childhood experiences and how they shape our adult lives no matter how rational we are.  I was scared for years of stormy weather and felt as if the ground was going to start moving until I learned from my mother that at ten months old I was at sea in a ship in a force ten gale. What she was doing on a ship when she was scared of water having been thrown into a pool by her father when she was five to teach her to swim, is a whole other story.

Our ways of thinking can be very structured but the foundations and assumption we base our thinking upon may often be nothing of the sort. Understanding those assumptions and questioning them may actually be the foundation for a less fractured society because nothing is so fixed we need to believe it all our lives.

Change, after all, is the great strength of nature.

Unintended Consequences

I am not a huge fan of conspiracy theories. That conspiracies and cabals exist I am certain sure, and there are plenty of Star Chamber moments in every nation’s history. But the idea of some hidden group manipulating world history, that terrible events were the consequence of secret plots designed to propagate one political philosophy over another, don’t hold any water. Mostly because of the sheer numbers of people that need to be ‘in the loop’ in order for them to work.

It is very seductive to look back at events and see a path that leads to them quite clearly, and then to suggest that path was manipulated. But that is not how history works that is just how looking back works. History, for all its worth, works by going forward. The decisions we make, the events we participate in, all make history as we live our lives and it is impossible to co-ordinate those experiences so exactly that you can dictate the outcomes for hundreds of people. It is pretty difficult to predict the outcomes for a dozen or so people.

That doesn’t mean people do not try, but the ones who try, try to steer a pathway through events rather than dictate those events. They will throw a few events and personnel into the mix to try to help their agendas, that is as close to conspiracy as human beings can get.

History is only predictable when you look over past events, it is wholly unpredictable when you are living it.

Henry 5th and Barbarella

They don’t go together do they. When I was twelve and reaching what the Catholics euphemistically (and ironically) call ‘the age of reason’ we had a small black and white Bush TV and Olivier’s Henry 5th was on one side and Barbarella was on the other. They crossed over and I wanted to see  this sexy space adventure but mum won and we watched Henry 5th, with me deciding to follow it in the text and call out ‘they cut a bit there’, every so often.

When it finished and we all went to bed I sneaked out and put the TV back on and watched the last half of Barbarella. I never thought Jane Fonda was a beautiful woman but I think I enjoyed it. I did not know for years mum heard me and decided to let me watch it anyway.

Of course when I went to school I had the best of both worlds because I could pretend to be salacious about the film and yet I did not find it so difficult to read the modern text of Shakespeare. Today I wouldn’t even think of watching Barbarella. I have seen Henry 5th in several forms and would be in the play in an instant if someone was putting it on nearby.

I am guessing the unexpected moment when one really chooses one’s path in life probably comes and goes without us noticing that much. I am not sure at all it was my Barbarella moment, but then none of us might be.

Theme And Substance

I did my interview with Lars Larson, a very popular radio show host in America. I understand these ‘one theme’ shows are common but it came as a culture shock to me that a radio show would try to steer every conversation and every guest into denigration of one political faction.

I did suggest to him that we were both children of adversarial politics but this table-thumping goes beyond just being adversaries because there is no way at all some of these people would ever modify their thinking; you know exactly who they would have been a hundred years ago, what they would have been saying and what they would have believed.

However I wonder if I cannot say the same about me. The interview was pleasant enough and I side-stepped domestic American politics because I don’t know enough about it, and I would never run any discussion that was not balanced. It is just somehow I distrust anyone whose mind you could never change. However intelligent they are it strikes me as somehow ignorant.

I have come to live in a great deal of ‘chaos’ with much unresolved and I do not mind. I do not look for absolutes or certainties. Those people who do I feel, limit their vision because they will always find them.

That is the trap.


The thrust of business (free market or otherwise) is to make the greatest number of people buy the greatest number of the same things. The business system is also deigned to ensure we keep buying by depriving people of the means to grow their own food (which it seems to me most people are reluctant to do these days anyway) and making the ‘things’ we buy of a quality that always breaks down.

In a way that is like nature because we break down and are replaced too but the old burger  restaurant in the Amazon quote haunts me: why are we all doing so many of the same things? Do we think we are vying with each other to be able to wear jeans better, look smarter with our brand of mobile phone, be on the mark with a new car. What is also odd is how we treat people who don’t want or have these things – they are outside, old fashion, a bit strange.

Is it really about freedoms? I wonder if we are not comforted that other people do what we do. A state which reinforces our idea of ourselves by being mirrored by millions of other people. Not a matter of keeping up with the Joneses but being a Jones.

The artist as an ‘outsider’  is becoming an ever more important point of reference. There is a certain blindness in uniformity that is always to be held in high suspicion.

Moving With The Seasons

Birds migrate for warmth and breeding. Vast herds cross snow, ice and rivers across whole continents in time with seasons. Human beings have inhabited the whole Earth but we are not naturally a migratory species. We can make almost any place an all-year-round home. Yet in the past there have been huge tribal migrations as geneticists have begun to see, though the reasons are unclear. Probably the same causes as those we do know about in recent history such as invasion and loss of habitat.

We do love to move. We love to travel. Though many human beings are stay-at-home, not-too-bothered about seeing the world types. They have hit their comfort zone. And I don’t suppose they even migrate the way other people do in the modern world – in their minds.

All my friends and I myself am an exemplar of this, spend a good deal of fantasy time somewhere else. Our minds wandering from the hum-drum of the everyday, or looking to the next peak in our every climbing idea of where our life should ‘go’. We are never still. Our imaginations cross other worlds. We carry with us all manner of things, all manner of people, but most of all these dreams, these targets, carry with them our idea of ourself.

We don’t wait for the seasons to migrate, we don’t even need to be awake.


So many knights; so many stories of better times. Well no, not better just easier to fathom. You have a deadly dragon and you are a knight who has taken an oath and off you go. Evil this, good that. The world is not like that there are very few instances of good and very few instances of evil. But there is an awful lot of grey around.

Perhaps that is why people are motivated to world views that do not permit of any or very little lassitude from the accepted permissions. It is much easier in an ethically foggy situation to default to a world-view that is so rigid grey actually becomes black and white. It doesn’t matter that those of us who live in the grey think those who makes such a colour change are themselves ethically suspect, because to them we are outside the given permissions. In fact we come up as bright scarlet markers in this black and white world.

We don’t have any knights anymore and just as well. The stories are not the reality for we now know there never were any dragons, or trolls or wizen hags in the marsh eating children. There were just people. There are always just people and just as we have become colour-blind for the betterment of society and ourselves, we need to allow our ethics to live in the grey, as Excalibur did because ethics is all about choices and choices have millions of colours.

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January 2019
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