Monday, 22 December 2014

Tory 'values'

Conservative 'values' are built on greed, oppression and inequality. Tories, whatever their hue, be it blue or purple, are the bully boys of British politics. And people are gullible enough to believe them and vote for them.

If you repeat a lie often enough people will start to believe it. It's how the rich remain in control and maintain their supremacy.

A Tories raison d'être is to ensure that blame is always assigned down the socio-economic scale; divide, conquer and exploit. Tory politics is nothing but evil.


Sunday, 21 December 2014

The real meaning of Christmas


Today is the reason why we have Christmas. The fact that we've now ended up with the wrong day shows the true ability of the ruling classes to fool the masses. Any other reason for this festive season is just a con.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The U word

I firmly believe that there's no such thing as ugly. Although as a spotty youth I would never have agreed with that statement. At the time I firmly believed that I was the ugliest soul in Christendom; in fact I was convinced of it. After all it was why girls never fancied me. It didn't seem to occur to me that the real reason was because I was a shy, charmless nurk.

Ugly is a state of mind, an unnecessary state of mind. No one is ugly, there is beauty in everyone. The secret is to liberate that inner beauty and learn to love yourself. There are no benchmarks for beauty. Beauty cannot be dictated by the media. Beauty, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. If you look in the mirror and see yourself as ugly then you are not looking the right way. Instead imagine you are someone else looking over your shoulder. See yourself in a new light. As others see you. There will always be many who see you as beautiful. Trust that majority and not you the minority.


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Abrogation

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."*
George Orwell

It's almost a year since I was told that the site I worked at was closing and I was being made redundant. When I first heard the news, which came as very little surprise, I felt a sense of relief. But as the saying goes 'be careful what you wish for'. As the days and weeks passed my future seemed very uncertain. I had everything planned and the rug was pulled from beneath me, or that's how it felt.

Rejection is a terrible thing. It's something that I've feared and had to deal with the fear all my life. Over the last year rejection seems to have been with me most of the time. There are little rays of hope then the way forward is covered up and all goes dark again; the pain in the black moments is unbearable. The constant question rings out 'what have I done to deserve this?'

Rejection wears you down. It saps your strength and will to carry on. I try never to judge, and equally I don't care for being judged by others. You never get over rejection but to survive you have to learn to put it behind you and get on with life. I bear no malice to those that have rejected me.

Thankfully I now have a job, which affords me some stability. It is a job I enjoy. It's been a very long time since I've had a job I enjoyed. I count my blessings. Sometimes we need to do that. It helps to soothe the scars and the residual pain. Forward, there is only forward.

*It's a nightmare, fear on a loop. A bad dream that you never wake up from. A door slamming in your face over and over again. That's rejection.
Me

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Quote unquote

"Written in pain, written in awe
By a puzzled man who questioned
What we were here for"
David Bowie (Oh You Pretty Things)


"There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See":
• According to the ‘Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings’ this proverb has been traced back to 1546 (John Heywood),


jealousy is the mother of invention


"We do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world. Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God's continuing creation." Advices and Queries - 42 (Quakers in Britain)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Poetry in motion

When I find myself in times of trouble it is not mother Mary who comes to me, but poetry.

I can't remember a time when I didn't like poetry. I blame being weaned on popular music. Of course the influence of enlightened teachers helped as well. Ever since I was able to read properly, which I think was around about the age of eight, because of being a late developer, I've been reading poetry and not just when I was required to, but for fun as well. Yes, I have always willingly read poetry. How cool is that?

As a child born into the rock 'n' roll decade popular music has always been a great influence on my thinking and my creativity. And I've long been of the opinion that if you can't say something in two minutes fifty then it's probably not worth saying. I'm not rubbishing great songs that are longer or great works of literature. Mighty tomes have their place. It's just that often being succinctly salient is the best way to say all that needs to be said; bare bones writing. Brevity. Carrying no passengers. People that know me know that I'm not the chattiest sort. There are times when I say very little. I could rarely be accused of having verbal diarrhoea. I can't understand these people who would rather use ten words when one will do. Then there are those verbose individuals who are permanently glued to their mobile phones, chatting away for hours on end to people they see every day. Wasted energy in my opinion. I also like the irony of what I've just written.

To repeat myself; one of the reasons I like poetry is because in the main, although not exclusively, it has a tendency to be concise. Brevity in art in my opinion is a good thing. The minimal is to be praised. Poetry very often says a lot with very little. As with any interesting and exciting art it's the gaps that are the best bits, what's left out. Left out for the beholder to fill in. "Between the girls are worlds that only lovers see..." Bill Nelson (Between the worlds - Be Bop Deluxe)

At school poetry was often present in English lessons. But I didn't need English lessons to read poetry. I would read it anyway. I liked it. I suppose to begin with it was fairly simple stuff or humorous offerings like Lear, De La Mare or Carroll, then a bit later Spike Milligan but it was all poetry and you have to start somewhere. As with appreciation of any art form there's nothing wrong with your toe in at the shallow end as long as eventually you pluck up courage to wade further in. Eventually pushing yourself to go into parts deeper than you feel you dare.

I still have a little anthology of poems I liked and wrote out at school in an exercise book. A treasure from my childhood.

As a spotty teenager I hid away in my bedroom, in misery and alone, writing reams of hormone-fuelled bad poetry. Some of which (unexpurgated and unedited) I have started to put on my 'If you feel it' blog. I don't make any great claims about the stuff. Most of it is immature and pretty dire, but it conveys my thoughts of the time. Those thoughts have made me who I am.
Today I continue to enjoy poetry it helps me during troubled times; it soothes, amuses, consoles, lifts and commiserates.

Poetry is life. Poetry is love. Poetry is.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Lest we forget

It was supposed to be the war to end all wars. How wrong they were. We forget that.



Monday, 28 July 2014

Never say never

I’d always seen opera as elitist nonsense; at best musicals for rich knob heads and at worst the equivalent to the emperor’s new clothes. Arrogance fuelled stupidity on my part I kind of think. But I’m trying to open up my mind and take it to places that it’s not previously been. In April during my sojourn to Sheffield I went to a modern dance production of Kes. I enjoyed it immensely. Buoyed by this new found enthusiasm for cultural adventure I notice as I walked past Norwich’s Theatre Royal a week or so ago that they were having a mini Wagner fest. Funny I fought, funny. And then as I wended my way home I mulled over the concept of going to an opera.

I felt that I was on pretty safe territory when back home I went on line to check ticket availability. Surely it must have sold out. But no. There were tickets available. So yesterday I found myself watching Tannhäuser performed by Theater Freiburg, and bloody good it was too. Right from my early teens I’ve been a fan of the music of Richard Wagner. Like the works of Elgar I like to bath in its stirring majesty. And like Elgar I care not for the jingoistic/nationalistic wasters that have attempted to use the music for their own evil purposes. The music stands on its own and mindless baggage that sometimes surrounds it isn’t even worth getting irritated over. Ignoring it is best. So right from the start I thought, ‘wow this is wonderful stuff’. The first act, and certainly the opening scene, before the signing started, reminded me a bit of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. It was the Teutonic mime and jerky movements that did I guess. And as so as the singing started I was relieved to discover that it wasn’t painful in any way. The plot is a bit lame. Singing competitions, seduction by Venus and going to Rome on penitence. Oh and a death of course. But it was lively and colourful. I love live entertainment and I certainly loved this. Speaking to some opera purists during the second interval I was surprised to learn that it was a bit too modern and ‘impure’ for their liking, so being the perverse bugger I am this made it all the more endearing to me. I can well put up with a bit of modernism. In my humble opinion cultural conservatives are mentally moribund.

No fat ladies appeared to be harmed in the performance of this opera. In fact there were no fat ladies to be seen on stage. So technically, presumably, it ain’t over yet!
And I suppose it isn’t as I intend to go to an opera again.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

V for victory?

I've never been a fan of wrestling even though I know it's only play acting. And don't get me started on boxing! Blokes beating the shit out of each other isn't entertaining, or sport, or right! Peace and love, peace and love. Having said that I love the photo below. I saw it as part of Jeremy Deller's exhibition of last year, 'All That Is Solid Melts Into Air'. It's of a 'superstar' wrestler called Adrian Street who escaped from a Welsh pit town for the bright lights. He went back to the pit where his father worked (also in the picture) to show them how successful he was.



In our creative writing course last week we were asked by Andrea our tutor to write a piece on a picture in front of us. But it wasn't to be about the picture itself. It had to be about what happened just before the picture was 'captured' or just after. It had to be written in a matter of minutes. I chose to write about what happened after. Here is my piece:

Adrian returned to the pit of his father. In essence it was a two fingered exercise. But afterwards, after the photo shoot they all went down to the local, the pub. The prodigal son had returned. All the old men order their pints of Red Barrel. The star pays. He's done well for himself, 'is on the telly'. They are happy to let him pay. Dressed in his finery, the peacock crows, 'look at me' he seems to be saying, but none of them hear. They talk of wrestling, of money and inevitably of rugby football. Everyone's talking but no one listening. Adrian's body is his temple. Real men don't normally order orange juice. Well except at the weekend, for the wife you understand. Real men drink their pints and conform to the natural order of things. 'What's it like being famous?' A voice like all other voices asks but doesn't wait for the answer. The answer is never heard. Chalk and cheese it is. There's lovely!

Wham bam thank you mam!


Monday, 23 June 2014

Visual Verse

Visual Verse is a website that publishes a picture and asks writers to write a short piece inspired by that picture. It's ekphrasis again! I submitted a contribution which you will find here. I hope you like it.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The art of getting one's kit off

As an artist I've never been an admirer of the naked human form as subject matter. I don't think it has anything to do with any repression or hang-ups. I have no fear of the naked human bodily form in any of its shapes and sizes. In fact I'm quite relaxed about it. It's just that so far I've never felt the need to express myself in my art via the nude. Although I'd happily pose nude for another artist or photographer. I suppose it is the paradox of the nude being both liberating and oppressing that disturbs me. I've always been troubled by the possible exploitative nature of it. If you attach the label of 'art' to something, does that make it more respectable than say pornography? And, who determines what is art and what is pornography? I've never understood the true meaning of erotic either. So perhaps it's me? I'm no prude; if people want to take their clothes of let them I say. If there was more nudity about amongst the general populace perhaps we might be less shocked by it and perhaps exploitation might be reduced considerably. Who knows? 


Due to my ambiguous feelings it's rare that I appreciate the art-form that is the nude. There are one or two exceptions however, Tamara de Lempicka's work being an obvious one, but for me one painting that is outstanding for its form, humanity and love is this portrait of Patricia Preece by Stanley Spencer:




I wrote this blog posting in rough form a couple of weeks ago but was inspired to finish it and post it after my creative writing course of last week.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Ekphrasis

At the creative writing course I attended today I learned a new word; ekphrasis. It is a piece of writing that comments on or is about another art form. I don't ever remember coming across it before but it is a technique I have employed occasionally over on my other blog 'if you feel it, it's real'.

I'll leave that with you to ponder upon and to contemplate how best to drop it in to everyday conversation. Perhaps it could even be utilised to break the ice at parties.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Revolution

Violence achieves nothing. There are no winners in war. When I talk of revolution I can only contemplate it in terms of peaceful means. Only true revolution is non-violent.



You for coffee?

The rise of the coffee shop is an interesting phenomenon and as a nation our love affair with coffee seems to go from strength to strength. Why? I suppose that the availability of good coffee has helped. As someone weaned on and scared by Camp Coffee, a disgusting tincture like abomination (with chicory), in my formative years and then brown but grey Maxwell House instant coffee powder I find our appreciation of good coffee a welcome and remarkable transformation.

I've sat in one or two coffee shops in recent times and pondered on their success. I think I'm starting to understand their appeal. Obviously one of the big attractions is good coffee, but it's more than that, although many people do now appear to be addicted to the stuff, it is a drug after all. I suppose the advantage coffee has over alcohol is that it gives you a buzz without impairing one’s senses. For me and I'm sure many like me alcohol dulls the senses and generally has a soporific effect whereas coffee at least short term heightens the senses. Teenagers can drink it without being challenged about their age. For teetotallers it offers a social drinking experience without the fear of being enticed or exposed to the demon drink. I’m a big real ale fan and I will often cite the rise of the coffee shop as a good example of why pubs are closing. Pubs aren’t closing because of the rise of the coffee shop or because of cheap booze being sold by supermarkets. Pubs are closing because all too often they are shit at marketing; the rise of the coffee shop has come about because the concept has been well marketed. They have given customers, by and large, an experience that customers like. Compared with the cost of good coffee bought in a supermarket and consumed at home the prices in a coffee shop are very high, but people are prepared to pay. And they are prepared to pay for it because they get that it's about the overall experience and not just about a vessel of brown liquid.


From the frontispiece of Ned Ward’s satirical poem Vulgus Brittanicus (1710)

Sadly today's coffee shops are a far cry from the London coffee houses of the 17th and 18th centuries when people went there not only for coffee and the social side but to get the news of the day and to debate the politics and concerns of the day. Coffee houses were often a hotbed of discontent and talk of revolution. Sadly in today's coffee chains you rarely hear of sedition with a skinny latte or a rebellious ristretto! We can only live in hope that the revolution is only a double espresso away. Costa la vista baby!



Sunday, 15 June 2014

Mind over matter

Last week I spent two days on a Mental Health First Aid course. I must say the more contact I have with the mental health charity Mind the more respect I have for them. Their two day First Aid course is most helpful, but there were one or two things that shocked me. First up, out of the twelve of us that attended, I was the only man. The person delivering the course was a man and another man came along to share his experiences but apart from that it was all women. Secondly when we came to the section on suicide I was very shocked to discover that the suicide rate for males is three times that of females. I don't think it's just that men are more successful at it. They just don't want to talk.

Men have an issue with health and as for mental health it's a definite no no. It seems to me that a lot of men are dying because they just won't talk about stuff. How to get men to talk? I have no idea. All I know is men need to chill a bit and give in to their feminine side. Do that and there's hope. Macho is a terminal disease. It consigns men to an early grave one way or another. So come on chaps let's talk. It's not cissy to have problems of stress or depression or prostate problems or libido problems. It's perfectly natural. Talking helps. So come on guys next time you're sharing a beer, sod the football, get chatting about touchy feely stuff like feelings and bodily functions. You'll feel a shed load better about it I promise.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Letter to an unknown art teacher

At the afore mentioned Creative Writing class we were asked to write a letter, just a paragraph, to someone in our past. I chose to write my letter to an art teacher who only taught me for about a year at secondary school and whose name sadly I can't remember. All I know is he had quite a marked effect on my way of thinking. Here's my letter:


Dear Sir,
As a curious, but accepting of the world order, twelve year old you challenged me not only to think about art, but to think about life and the collective beliefs of society. That must be one of the greatest gifts anyone can give. Yes it's true that I had thoughts and questions before but you helped me to re-order my thinking, my perspective, my outlook. Life was never the same again after your art classes. You sowed the seeds for me to be, at least in a creative way, the person that I am today. I can no longer remember your name, sadly, but your influence lives on. I have a lot to thank you for; my atheism, my willingness to challenge accepted norms and my open approach to creativity. Little could you have known what fruit those discussions would bear, or could you? Perhaps you did, as after all it was the 1960s
Yours gratefully,
Paul.

Education, education, education

This week I started a three week course in Creative Writing with the WEA. It's taster sessions really but none the less very interesting, and more importantly it has made me think. Someone asked me why I was doing it and my reply was, because it's there. It's sad but true that in this day and age the majority of people seem to think that one needs a reason to want to learn; an end goal usually based on some carrot of hopeful financial gain. The concept of education purely for the sake of education is an abstract that most find hard to grasp. It's very sad that, to many, our only reason for being is to make money, and that anything that doesn't actually further that cycle is worthless. I kind of think that's why as a country we are in the state that we are. Any society that puts greed before intellect is truly bankrupt.

In 2010 I wrote this blog posting that started with these words, which sum up how in my opinion education should be viewed:

"It is my belief that education should exist for the enlightenment, enrichment and stimulation of all. It should not be confused with training and it should not be considered the domain solely of the young. Education should be a life-long experience. That doesn’t mean that you have to permanently on a course or always studying for exams. Education is much broader than that. It can be studying for a degree but equally it can just be reading a book. Education should be for education’s sake and not be about producing candidates for jobs."

Friday, 6 June 2014

#FF on Twitter

A big thank you to all those that #FF me from time to time.

In my bio for Social Media I make it quite clear that I don’t do ‘#FFs’. What are ‘#FFs’? I hear you cry. Well I think they stand for Follow Friday. In other words they are recommendations of people to follow on Twitter. My reasons for not doing it are clear; I have no wish to single any of my followers out as I’m very grateful to anyone and everyone who follows me, (well apart from spammers who I block immediately), and secondly if I’m being honest I’m not sure I can be arsed.

Having said that I am always very grateful when someone mentions me. So a big high five to all my cyber friends and cyber acquaintances!


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Mr 85%


For a while now I’ve been working on a website called Tuppenny Rainbow. It’s a shop for my art. It’s early days as there are only a few prints and t-shirts available at the moment. But it’ll grow over time hopefully. Please take a look and feel free to offer constructive comments.

Until the 10/6/14 there is a 15% discount on my t-shirts, so don’t delay, order one today!


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Parquet Courts - Black And White

This track came on the wireless earlier today, It was the first time I'd heard it and it stopped me dead in my tracks. Quality tuneage. The title is great to given I'm very fond of saying 'nothing is ever black and white'.


I know nothing of the Parquet Courts but I'm going to make it my business to find a bit more out about them.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Ex Libris

On another positive note I’ve started to read again. It’s mostly poetry and books of essays etc. Short reads. But it’s a start. It feels good.

I’ve returned to borrowing books from the library. I’d forgotten how I like the serendipitous nature of, what I imagine to be, other peoples bookmarks that one comes across from time to time in library books. On borrowing books from our library one gets a printed receipt. It contains the book title and the date it is due back. I tend to use these receipts as my bookmark and it seems that others do too judging by how often I find them tucked in books. It’s wonderful seeing what, often incongruous selections people have made; a bit like looking in other people’s trolleys at supermarkets and contemplating their lifestyles.



I currently have on loan an interesting book which is predominantly about the R&B music scene on the legendary Eel Pie Island, a collection of essays entitled, The British Beat Explosion/Rock ‘N’ Roll Island. It’s a damned fine read, I’d recommend it. In it I found the receipt below:



What kind of person reads stuff about Mexican drug cartels, British R&B and Chas & Dave? I’d love to meet such a person. Perhaps only once. But they are intriguing indeed!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Dear Diary Nº6

Ground control to Major Tom – The defrag mix



You know something is wrong when you have no desire to listen to music. When music just doesn’t enter into your consciousness and you don’t even care. Not a hint of a note. No beats to beat with your heart. A dark and silenced mind; a moribund mind. Zombie silence.

Oh to be at peace with myself, at one with who I am, comfortable in my skin and comfortable with my achievements. Positively negative and optimistically pessimistic; the glass being half full of half emptiness. Spinning wildly in a circle Dervish like as the plughole beckons. A cloud of torment hangs over me. I have this constant feeling that my finger is hovering over a self destruct button.

That was how I felt about six or eight weeks ago. Over those recent weeks it could be said that I’ve gone through a defrag, a refresh and then a reboot. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to stop the world, get off think about me and my situation. I took myself off on my own and spent some time working through my thoughts and feelings. I made notes, I created a mind map of my thoughts to try and make some sense of it all. And then got back on again and quite honestly I feel quite refreshed by the whole experience. It hasn’t been easy, and at times it’s been downright painful as I wrestled with my own feelings of self-doubt, self-esteem, self-worth and what I perceived to be my inadequacies.

I’ve struggled all my life with low self esteem but I decided to struggle no more. I’ve now come to the conclusion that there are some things I’m good at and some things I’m not quite so good at, and few things that I’m just not suited to at all, and that’s okay. I have also recognised that others see value in things that I do when I don’t. I’m now prepared to accept that, as they are often in the majority, it could be that they are actually right! I have mixed feelings about loving myself though that has to be said. I continue with that struggle.

I have in the past feared the person I wanted to be. The person I am. The real me. But I fear that no longer. I’m not there yet but I truly am becoming me.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Braless and bible slack

Sometimes…
I want to go gently into that good night,
I am old and I rage and burn at close of day;
My, rage hopes for the dying of my light.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Oranges and lemons

I've uploaded a new t-shirt design.


Be the first on your street to wear this t-shirt. Buy one today!



Thursday, 1 May 2014

Paul models a little white number...



...or is it Mr Gumby?
It's probably very vain of me but i love seeing images i've created in print and today it was extra thrilling because i took delivery of this t-shirt with one of my designs on. I'm very pleased indeed. So much so that i will be uploading more designs for printing.

If you would like to order one for yourself you can find details here.

Friday, 11 April 2014

"And I'm spacebound again,

I need the money
And I can't see the stars, it's so funny,"


Some visit Lucifer, some may be crucified,
I'm goin' to Mars
Some talk to celluloid, some talk to shiny cars,
I talk to stars
"


Be-Bop Deluxe - Rocket Cathedrals

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Peaceful thoughts


I’m in Sheffield at the moment having a wee break and ‘figuring out shit’ as I believe the pseudo-groovy might say. When I arrived the other day I had a wander around to get my bearings so to speak. On my meandering of the streets I came across the Friends Meeting House. A relatively modern building, unusual as many Quaker establishments go. I thought it would be nice to go to meeting whilst I was here. So this morning I did.

It was a short meeting, half an hour, due to a business meeting afterwards, so I just stayed for the half hour. I rarely go to meeting for worship now, but that’s another story. This morning there was some ministry about the first world war and reference was made to the Quaker Peace Testimony. It inspired me to write this blog and create the graphic above.

War can never ever be justified. War is wrong, plain and simple! There is no such thing as a just war and there is nothing brave, heroic or virtuous about being prepared to take the life of another.There’s nothing honourable about war. It hosts no valour. War is murder. Murder that panders to the greed, whims and perversions of the ruling classes. War is about keeping the oppressed classes in their place. Those in charge use evil means to get the rest of us to fight their wars; they put labels like nationalism and patriotism on them or they will stir up xenophobic or religious hatred. Being different isn’t a reason to want to fight someone. If you are one of those people that feel the need to believe in a god then killing is the ultimate blasphemy. If like me you don’t subscribe to superstition then war can only reinforce one’s view that there is no god.

War can be over if we want it. But until it is over humankind can never call itself civilised.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Is art important to life?


I happen to think that it is. A society that does not value art is baseless, crass, and vacuous. Even the cave dwellers of early human kind knew the importance of art; to be is to create and to create is to be.

Now when I talk of society valuing art I don’t mean putting a high monetary price tag on it. The value should be about enriching life in a cerebral way. Art is about enjoyment, being challenged and inspiring thought. Looking at art as some kind of investment commodity is the mindset of the fool. Art should be for all to enjoy and not just the filthy rich.

Go out there and embrace the creative now!



Saturday, 8 March 2014

What’s the word on the street?

I’ve always been fascinated by graffiti although I’ve never felt inclined to pick up the spray can in anger myself. My artistic endeavours tend to be much more sedate and law abiding but I appreciate the work of a fellow artist. I’m also partial to the odd bit of dissent and philosophy. When the two are combined and you get a slightly aggrieved graffiti philosopher and words of wisdom on the street.

Just recently these two offerings have appeared down my street. You can’t fault it!






One of the few good things about local government cuts is that street art seems to be removed less often making it a little less ephemeral.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Jobcentre plus

I’ve just completed four weeks of unemployment. It continues to be very emotional. But I do think that I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Today I went to a jobs fair. I went mainly on the suggestion of the nice man at the job centre. I can’t knock what the jobs fair was about because if it helps just one person find employment then I think that it could be measured as a success. Many of the stalls were promoting jobs or volunteering in the care/service sector. Sadly there was nothing to help the recently redundant Materials Manager from the engineering sector. Although, I was tempted to apply for a job with M&S (nice uniforms) who seemed to be recruiting (avoids cheap joke about working in ladies underwear). Failing that there’s always Morrison’s who were also there looking for staff.

I had big plans for when I was made redundant but so far none of them have come to fruition. Things seem to take longer to happen than I’d hoped and also I think I was born with a yellow streak down my back as I too often plump for playing it safe. I have ambitions but seem powerless or lacking in the courage to take the risks that could enable me to prosper. Imagine someone standing on the edge of a high diving board over a swimming pool. I’m the one that turns around and goes back down the steps. Perhaps one day I will have the courage to jump.


I feel I must speak out in praise of the Jobcentre Plus staff. It can’t be easy working under the yoke of the sadistic Tory government with the culture of fear that they have engendered. The Tory bastards have created that climate of fear to oppress hard working government employees. But despite all that all the staff at my local Jobcentre in Norwich have been friendly, polite and as helpful as they are able to be. I kind of think that there is only one thing worse, in the jobs market, than being unemployed, and that’s working at Jobcentre Plus. So under the circumstances they do a good job and are, in my experience, nice people.

The morons who subscribe to and repeat Tory propaganda ad nauseam would do well to get from behind their Daily Mails and experience the full effects of the Conservative parties own peculiar brand of fascism first hand as I have done.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Last night Wilko Johnson played down our street

How blimmin’ cool is that?

Norwich Blues Festival happened yesterday at the waterfront, and what a damned fine event it was. It was a fairly loose interpretation of the blues for some acts but it was mostly enjoyable all the same. The first act on was a duo from Doncaster called Rita Payne. Great music/singing and witty repartee between songs. I need to investigate them a bit more. I kind of think they’ll blossom and grow. Check them out as they are well worth a listen!

Rita Payne

Another act I was well impressed with was Connie Lush and Blues Shouter who came on just before Wilko. Connie I think in musical terms comes under the category of ‘good time gal’. There’s no way you can stand still when Connie and the band are on. In stage presence and giving it her all she reminds one of George Melly. I mean that in a very flattering way I might add. Connie is a true blues diva. She can’t ‘alf belt them out. It was a fantastic set, great musicians and proper blues!

Connie Lush giving it what for

The Waterfront was heaving. It must have been a capacity crowd; certainly I’ve never seen it so full. Then the moment we’d all been waiting for, and a moment I never thought I’d see Wilko Johnson and his band took to the stage. The great man looked tired, which is hardly surprising, but as soon as he started playing he changed instantly; attacking his guitar like a thing possessed; a highly animated aficionado of rocking R&B. He ripped into much of his own work plus a few classics one after another. There was no let up. This man has a stage presence that is like no other. He still does his trademark walk back and forth. He still has the staring wide eyes. He still plays a mean and furious guitar. He even mimicked Chuck Berry on one of his songs. It’s a glib and easy remark to make because it’s so often been said but that really was one of the best performances by anyone that I’ve ever seen. Wilko Johnson is a rare talent. A guitar genius. And it was a concert that I’ll never forget. Thank you Wilko. You made a lot of people very happy last night.






Wednesday, 26 February 2014

This morning III

Snowdrops


This morning II

Cow Tower, Norwich.
From my walk this morning.


This morning I

Most weekday mornings I try to start the day with a walk, often by the river. It was such a lovely bright morning this morning so I took my camera, just in case. I love the shadows the trees cast. I likes trees.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Job Centre Plus. But plus what?

I’ve been to the job centre again today. Had my first work search review. If I’d have blink I could easily have missed it. So far on two visits I’ve spent more time sitting around waiting than your actually being interviewed and ting. They seem to specialise in keeping people hanging around. It’s a waiting game.

Architecturally they through the rule book out when they built this excuse of a public building in the eighties/nineties. It has windows. But those windows are large but next to useless; one side looks out to a shear concrete wall of another building literally a few feet away; the other side brick and concrete with a hint of daylight. It must be horrible to work in. And that’s without having to deal with the clientele!

There can only surely be one thing worse in the employment stakes than being unemployed and that’s working in a job centre. God that really must be soul-destroying. Apart from a few bewildered folk like myself, who sit wondering what to make of it all and what they have done in a previous life to deserve this, most of the punters are either clinically obese or malnourished and radiating varying shades of miasma/effluvia. A lot of these people seem to have given up all hope of a meaningful life, with or without gainful employment. It makes you want to weep. But it would seem that rather than helping them this evil government of ours just wants to beat people with a stick and generally grind them down.

As far as my future is concerned I feel very up and down about it. Today I feel quite upbeat but Monday and Tuesday I felt very down. What’s changed? I don’t really know. My employment prospects haven’t greatly changed but my attitude towards dealing with it is currently realistic but upbeat. And that’s how it is; you win some you lose some. The emotional roller coaster continues its white knuckle ride. Deep joy!

Tory politics - beating the masses with a big stick!

The raison d’être of the Tory party seems to be to make shed loads of money for themselves and their mates and beating the shit out of the 99% of the population that aren’t wealthy. And working-class* people vote for them!





*you can call yourself middle-class if you like, but if you don’t own the means of production you are working-class!

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Avant Gardener


A name dear to the hearts of music lovers who have been grooving at least since the seventies is Rough Trade. They were a lifeline in 1977 when this spotty Herbert was desperate to acquire hard to come by and much needed punk platters. They put on low key performances in their Rough Trade East shop from time to time and last Saturday they came to my rescue again; a promotional concert by Courtney Barnett. Yay!



We arrived in good time on Saturday lunchtime enabling us to get quite close to the front. It’s an intimate gig in what is a long thin record shop. Courtney Barnett and band took to the stage looking slightly surprised at how many people had turned up. The record shop was packed. She also commented how surprised she was that people had travelled from quite some distance to come and see them. A two hour train ride for us along with walking at either end. But why wouldn’t you to see something that good?


If you’ve never heard of Courtney Barnett then why not? What’s wrong with you? Wake up! Consider David Bowie meets PJ Harvey meets Neil Young and they invite the US Nirvana* along for good measure. She writes clever, witty songs, is a great guitarist and together with the two guy rhythm section forms a really tight and most excellent band. They make a full and round sound; post modern folk grunge. Courtney’s dulcet Australian vocals enhance the lyrics making the sound enchanting with a natural edge. It’s a voice of galvanising honey. Nothing forced or false about the songs she sings.



The three-piece played an exciting, action packed set lasting almost an hour consisting of many of the songs from their ‘double EP’: A Sea Of Split Peas plus a new number possibly called DePreston (?) Great sound quality and a jolly good time seemed to have been had by all!





If you’ve never heard her music then you need to. She is the next big thing! Catch her on tour in the UK in a few months time.

Check these out:








*you probably know them as Nirvana (those of the teen spirit smelling) but they weren’t the original band with that name. That accolade goes to a British band; check out Rainbow Chaser by Nirvana.


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

100% Unemployment

Day two of unemployment. Going well so far. Yesterday I went out for a celebratory breakfast. The full English. I considered it a rite of passage. I also realised that if I am to survive this ordeal I need some structure to my day. So last night I set the alarm. First task of the day is a brisk walk for an hour. I need to keep up with my exercise levels. Don’t want to turn into a slob. Then I’ve spent the day searching for jobs. Trying to get to grips with the DirectGov website which is actually a pile of piss and very user unfriendly. A bit like the ConDem government so no surprises there then!

Tomorrow I have my initial ‘Job Seeker’s’ interview. Wish me luck. I think I may need it and a nosegay apparently.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Banking for the future


Today I made an investment in my future; a deposit at a nearby clothing bank. Pretty soon someone in Eastern Europe or the Third World could possibly be wearing my ex-work corporate clothing.

I finished work yesterday although my official leaving day is today. As of now, and for the first time in my working life of 42 years, I am redundant; unemployed; no longer required; on the scrapheap!

As I didn’t have to work today my first task was to ceremonially remove my work clothes from my life; hence the contribution to the clothing bank.


I have no idea what might lie in store for me work wise. Given that there aren’t enough jobs to go round and given my age it’s going to be very difficult to get any kind of employment I suspect. I’d be more than happy to do a series of temporary jobs or contract work if I can get something as I just really need enough to pay the bills and not much more. If at least the hint of an opportunity doesn’t present itself in the next week or two I have decided to take myself off to an industrial city and absorb myself in my art and attempt to get any job, even a minimum wage one, just to get by. I need to move forward.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The darkest hour is just before dawn

You can’t help but absorb some of the bad vibes from around yourself, unless you are a person of iron will. I am not a person of iron will.

I have a month left to work for my current employer. On the whole I’m pleased that I’m being made redundant. Yes it means that I’m losing my income and I know not when and if I’ll be able to get another job but I loathe my job with a passion. It’s a hateful soul-destroying job that apart from a wage in no way fulfils me; so a result. Unfortunately many of my co-workers (also losing their livelihoods) are not quite as philosophical and sanguine about it. Their stress and general unhappiness manifests itself in many different forms and it rubs off. As a result I soak up some of their pain, like blotting paper.

The whole of the branch of the company I work for is being closed down, eventually. Our redundancies are staggered. Different people going at different times depending on the job that they do. I am reminded of pictures from World War One of blinded soldiers from the front shuffling along in single file one after the other a hand on the one in front and a sighted person leading the way. Hardly the same thing I know and I have no intention of playing down the horrors of war but the whole process does upset people profoundly.

We are in a queue waiting to be pushed off the edge. It’s the waiting that is the most upsetting. People want to move on.

N.E.X.T.
 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year my arse!

The New Years Eve celebrations are as meaningless as the Christmas ones the week before. It’s all very arbitrary. People make resolutions that they rarely keep. Companies like Weight Watchers and Fitness First (other weight-loss and gymnasium companies are available) scoop up lashings of money from well intentioned punters who really haven’t thought things through. People sign up and part with their hard-earned cash expecting to lose weight and get fit by proxy; it ain't that simple. It turns out to be as much of a sham as the celebrations themselves.

So much of modern life is built on smoke and mirrors. Often just for the benefit of our masters. Distractions for the masses allow them to continue to rule and exploit.

And don’t criticise me for being an old stick in the mud and defend something that you feel to be traditional, because tradition is a very moveable feast. Until 1751 the New Year started on 25th March. Cope with that one traditional knob heads!