Saturday, 23 January 2016

Why does society continue to ask the wrong questions?

Why is society so fixated with quick fix solutions to failed outcomes, rather than truly questioning the diverse root causes of a particular problem? Things can only ever be improved if we are brave enough to think things through in greater detail than most people do now. Nothing is ever black and white. Answers are rarely simple, and on the odd occasion that they are society won’t accept them. Society doesn’t like the unpalatable ‘truth’. Society would rather blame a scapegoat than get to root causes.

All discrimination is evil. It only serves to divide society. Trying to right wrongs with other wrongs is wrong. It doesn’t work. Initially it might apply a superficial gloss and appear to be a solution but deep down, bubbling away will be the seeds of discontent, slowly seething and growing. Positive discrimination isn’t. It’s an oxymoron. Whilst the human race continues its fixation with competition there will always be discrimination in one form or another. Competition ensures that there are always winners and losers. Should we really label people losers? I don’t think so. Nobody should be considered a loser.

That brings me onto the over-hyped nonsense known as the Oscars. The recent comments and complaints about the racist nature of the Oscars along with Charlotte Rampling's reported opinions on the matter are all ignoring the obvious. Why is society not questioning the misguided need to have competitions right across the arts? The ‘best of’ label applied to any art form is totally without any validity. Appreciation of the arts can only ever be subjective. Popularity is never a measure of quality. There are no quality standards in the arts and any attempt to apply them is pure artifice. ‘Good’ or ‘bad’ can’t be applied to the vocabulary that describes the arts. Unfortunately many people can’t seem to cope with abstracts. They bizarrely have to categorise and objectivise the arts. But it doesn’t have to be this way. So rather than this smoke-screen of great debate about who said what and the possible nature of the alleged inherent racism within the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences why is nobody questioning the need for the Oscars in the first place?

Let’s eradicate arts competitions as they have no place in a civilised society!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The great art giveaway

Well not really a great giveaway, but I am trying to shout a bit louder about my art; up until now I've been quite passive about promoting it. I'm hoping to change that. I have a number of things in the pipeline for this year which I will tell the world about once I'm able.

I've started a mailing list to help keep people informed about what I'm up to with my work. I'm very keen for people to sign up. I won't bombard with masses of emails, but from time to time there may be giveaways and unique offers.

Those on my mailing list will be put into a free prize draw and every quarter one lucky person will receive a limited edition print (signed and numbered).

What are you waiting for?
Please sign up today.

Monday, 28 December 2015

My top 10 list of 2015

At this time of year people like to review the previous 12 months and make lists about their favourite things, their least favourite things or things or events they believe to be significant. Why?
Newspapers and periodicals are full of them. They are easy; they fill space with very little effort. They are cheap, and in so many ways.

I don’t have a top ten list. It’s all arse!

Time is essentially a manmade constraint and calendars are just a tool to falsely measure it in a very arbitrary way. We don’t live our lives like chapters in a book so why pretend otherwise? In my opinion it’s all to make things tidy in our minds. Filing for those that can’t cope with the fluid nature of existence. It’s laziness.

Lists of favourite things would seem to be the worst of the genre; trying to measure stuff that can only ever be subjective is worthless, anal and crass. If I like something it doesn’t make it important to anyone else. Someone else might also like it, but popularity is just what it says on the box, it’s popular, which doesn’t make it better or worse than stuff that’s not as popular.

If chaos theory is to be believed, and I have no reason not to believe it, then a butterfly flapping its wings is a significant and therefore warrants a place on any list of important world events, but I doubt you’ll ever see it.

So come on people, lets shun this lists nonsense and accept the fractal reality of being. Break free from your filing. Get a life!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The veneer of the red poppy fascists

Remembrance, what a perfect example of Orwellian newspeak that is!

Remembrance is to forget; to forget the sheer folly of war, and the mistakes mankind* makes over and over again. To forget the mistakes that continually lead to war. To forget the sheer folly and futility of war, of war that is death, destruction, waste, terror, tragedy and trauma. The horrors that are glossed over with pomp, costume, medals, trinkets, weapon ‘salutes’ and concentrated jingoism in a pantomime that not once emphasises how evil and pointless war is, or even considers how to end war.

All war is murder, and there is nothing heroic about murder. Who dies in wars? Why the middle, working and peasant classes of course; both civilian and service people. No surprises there. War is waged by the establishment. War is the sport of the ruling classes. The one percent never suffer; they thrive and profit from war. They are the manipulators. They control us with their relentless propaganda; it’s how the few can keep the many ‘in their place’. They use tools like patriotism and xenophobia. Patriotism is the opposite of what it is purported to be. It’s all lies. Establishment lies. Red poppies are a marker. A marker to check that we are toeing the line. Think about it, and I mean really think about it; analyse.

All war is murder; to those of you that are of a religious** disposition it is the ultimate blasphemy, and to those of us that are atheist it is totally unjust and a moral outrage!

We are all pawns in the establishment’s game.

Now then! If any of you Daily Mail types have got thus far in my blog post you’re probably fuming. You’re probably thinking that I’m being disrespectful to all of those who fought and died for my so called freedom. But I am certainly not. I have the greatest respect for them, and for those that have suffered and been maimed by war. To me all human life is sacred. As a pacifist I want to end all war; surely it is the greatest respect one can offer to those who have experienced the unimaginable horror that war must be. The disrespectful ones are the elite, the ruling classes, the ones that will today be dressed in their finery and brandishing their blood red poppies. They don’t give a shit about the likes of you, me and the rest of the hoi polloi. And they certainly don’t give a shit about those past and present members of the armed forces. To those in charge the armed forces are just cannon fodder. The UK is the 9th richest country in the world yet we still have poverty and homelessness; that shows you how much those that rule over us, the richest 1%, care about the rest of us. And, a sizeable proportion of the homeless, the drink and drug dependant, those with mental health issues and the prison population will be ex-service people. That’s how much they, the establishment, respect those that have ‘fought for their country’. Think about it! Wake up! Then remember that!

And finally, don’t forget that in the world today, war is ever present. We all need to say enough is enough. Think about all those poor people fleeing from war, the refugees that precariously take to the high seas or trek large inhospitable distances across land to escape the carnage. They will be the middle, working and peasant classes of their respective countries. They won’t be the rich. Money is a passport to go anywhere, and to flee from anywhere. If you are filthy rich you have free movement. Think about that too!

*I make no apologies for using the word mankind as it is men that control the world and it is men that wage war

**Religion – another tool that the establishment use to keep large sections of populations under control

This post builds on a previous one from a few years back. Pacifism has a constant in my adult life.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

JC, Elvis and Clive

I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to getting around to going to the Burston School Strike Rally but this year I finally managed it.

For the uninitiated the Burston School Strike was the longest strike in British history and it took place in Norfolk. You can read about it here and here.

Clive Lewis MP

In September every year a rally is held to commemorate the event and guest speakers from the labour movement turn up to 'entertain' the comrades. Tony Benn often spoke there. This year though it was Jeremy Corbyn who was the main speaker and of course he'd drawn quite a crowd. Introduced enthusiastically by my MP Clive Lewis. I still can't get over the novelty of electing an MP. Jeremy spoke in similar vein to his speech in Norwich; inclusive and emphasising the need to listen to party members and involve as many as possible in policy making; you know that alien concept called democracy. But for democracy to work there has to be mass involvement. If it's left to a few it won't work.

Jeremy Corbyn MP

The poet Elvis McGonagall had the unenviable task of following on from Jeremy's speech. Unenviable as many left as he came on, which was a pity because he was very good. I listened to his set and enjoyed it muchly.

Elvis McGonagall non-MP

And, the sun shone as well.

Saturday, 5 September 2015


Friends lovers mothers fathers sisters brothers daughters sons grandparents cousins nieces nephews aunts uncles wives husbands just because we are victims of geography doesn't make us different. We are all human we are all connected we all bleed. To be civilised is to be compassionate to be civilised is to offer our brethren shelter from the storm to be civilised is to welcome.

on a wall in Amsterdam

Monday, 31 August 2015

Wearing my heart on my sleeve

“I am the message”

Sounds very corny and very American I’m sure you’ll agree. That’s because it is. I borrowed it from the corporate bullshit of my former employer. It might sound like nonsense but it kind of needs to be a necessity for those of us on the centre left. If the progressive left is going to progress then we need to get our message out there to as many people as possible.

Given that most of the mainstream media (including the BBC) is either owned by or controlled by the right wing, we are left with very few outlets in which to broadcast our positive ideas and policies. The alternative is to do it ourselves. In reality it’s our only choice. Social Media is the obvious first step but that doesn’t embrace everyone. There are large numbers of people out there who either through personal choice or circumstance don’t want to or aren’t able to access social media. We need to take our message onto the streets. Explain it to people we meet. We need to wear our message and leave it in strategic places.

As Billy Bragg sings, possibly tongue in cheek, in Waiting for the great leap forward:
“So join the struggle while you may
The Revolution is just a t-shirt away”
...and how true that is. If we are going to convince people that there is a better way. A way that doesn’t favour the few over the many, then we need to shout about it. At every opportunity the left wing viewpoint needs to be aired. One by one we can change minds. Go forth sisters and brothers and spread the word.

I see nothing wrong with graffiti particularly if plastered on the property and the tools of the oppressors. Sticking posters over ads for the likes of Sky television might be a useful exercise. So might sticking stickers on the Daily Mail, the Sun and other reactionary newspapers; ‘Warning! This rag contains fascist lies!’ might seem appropriate.

In my own subtle and wimpy way I’ve made a first start. I carry a rucksack to work. I walk through the city and then get on a bus. There is space on the face of my rucksack doing nothing constructive. Or it wasn’t until now. Now it's sporting a nice red 3” badge proclaiming that AUSTERITY IS A LIE, and truly it is. A lie invented by the Tories to enable the rich to become even richer and the poor to become even poorer. And so many people have fallen for their lie. My badge is just the beginning; from small acorns etc etc.

I urge you to do the same. Get out there. Word up!

Today I read this article by Owen Jones in which he makes some very valid points. If Jeremy Corbyn wins the Labour leadership vote then it's not mission accomplished, it is just the beginning of a very long and, what will need to be, determined struggle. The prize could be a just and equal society if we don't waiver.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

It's my party and...

@Corbyn4Leader  #corbyn
Tonight I witnessed something quite remarkable. And something that five months ago I would have thought was not possible; enthusiastic, smiley happy people attending a political meeting. Labour party people mostly, plus labour supporters, and no doubt, the odd curious reactionary as well. But for the good part the audience were party members, including myself. We had to queue at Open in Norwich, a venue that is normally host to music acts, for about an hour just to get in. The queue was long, very long. Several hundred yards long. Blimey I thought, you don't even get queues this long for popular beat combos.

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Why the queues? Well. JC was in town. No, not that JC, but, Jeremy Corbyn; conviction politician extraordinaire. And hoards of ordinary people like me had turned up to hear him speak. Sadly the meeting was so popular that not everyone could get in. Apparently about two hundred people were denied access as the venue had reached capacity. So what did Jeremy do? He went and addressed the people outside first. How cool is that?

Anyone who thinks that Jeremy Corbyn's popularity is bolstered by infiltrators and Tory sympathisers hoping that Labour will elect a leader who will not be popular with the electorate at large is very much mistaken. I would wager that the majority of his support comes from genuine committed labour supporters who want a leader that puts equality and policy before personality, and believes in opportunity for the many rather than for just a few. What the New Labour Blairites don't get is that we want our party back and we want it back now! We don't want to be told what we can and can't do by Oxbridge suits. We want a people's party with policies that benefit the whole of society. A party that will oppose the Tories rather than mimic them. 'Tory Light' has no place in the Labour Party.

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If I was in any doubt about which leadership candidate I was going to vote for before tonight I'm not now. Jeremy Corbyn gets my vote. A vote for JC is a vote for REAL LABOUR.

I really hope that this time we can make a difference. That we can start to affect real political change. Political change that will challenge the evil Tories and the austerity lie.

You too can join the Labour Party. Be part of a growing movement. Now is the time. Do so here, please. And to find out about the policies and ideas that Jeremy stands for please visit here.

Life could be a lot better for us all if we are prepared to play our part!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Changing my opinion of someone

It happens. 

I used to think he was a complete tit but this week Will Gompertz has gone up in my estimation, and for two reasons. Firstly for an article I saw in the week promoting a book he has out, claiming that, "We are all artists. We just have to believe it. That’s what artists do", sentiments that I whole-heartedly agree with. I don't care for some of the people he socialises with or his adoration of Damian Hurst, whom I consider to be a charlatan, but I applaud his acknowledgement that we are all/can be artists.

As if that wasn't enough, quite by accident, yesterday a caught a programme he's done on Radio4 called Will Gompertz Gets Creative. Yesterday's programme was about spoken word and I was totally mesmerised by it. It is a beautiful programme. Catch it on iPlayer before it disappears.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

In print

Yesterday I did something I've wanted to do most of my adult life. Finally I got the chance to try screen printing. I went on an induction day course with those really nice people at Print To The People in Norwich. And, oh what fun it was.

It was very much a last minute decision to go on the course, and I am so glad I did. I hurriedly took a pen and ink drawing I'd done back in 1983, scanned it, and then made some alterations in Photoshop Elements including adding some blocks of colour to make my template design.

There were eight of us on the course and I think it's fair to say we all had a good time. We were playing with a new toy, and we were having such a good time. Experimentation was encouraged and we all went for it. As a consequence we all produced some wonderful prints. If you live within striking distant of the fine city of Norwich I'd recommend that you go on one of Print To The People's courses. You don't need to be 'artistic', just enthusiastic. I came away with a big grin on my face and some very pleasing prints.

As soon as I get the chance I'm going to work on an image or two with a view to using their open access facilities to print some mores. It's a medium that offers loads of creative possibilities and I'm keen to go down that road.

Here are a few of the prints; I'll put some more on my Facebook page.