Tuesday, 31 December 2019

The Silvery Tay



A little piece of music inspired by my spiritual home of Dundee, and in particular the Firth of Tay whose banks it sits on. The video is made from clips I took on my last visit. Happy Hogmanay.

Eureka!

Or is it an epiphany?

I retired at the end of June this year and so far I’m enjoying it. For the first few months it all felt like a very long holiday and then I started to feel like I was wasting a lot of time. I’d been doing art but that didn’t feel like enough. One needs an active and interesting life to be able to draw inspiration for creating. The older I get the more aware I am of my days being numbered, of time running out. I had just started to look around for something to do when the election was called. Whilst I thought it was a pretty stupid time to call an election I was keen to do my bit. It was quite pleasurable going, what felt like, back to work. Despite it often being monotonous in its process the conversations were interesting and mostly good humoured, and I enjoyed the taking part as part of a team again. Obviously I was gutted by the result but the key now is to go forward.


I don’t really celebrate Christmas, so no obscenely oversized meal for me, just an ordinary sized light snack for me at lunchtime. It was accompanied by a little light reading; I happened upon an article on the openDemocracy website entitled Labour should focus on building a new co-operative economy from the ground up. A very interesting read. It seemed to be saying things that chimed with me. Ideas that equated to the way I had been thinking for quite some time. It’s always pleasing when you come across people that think the same as you, especially when it’s around ideas that perhaps deviate from the orthordox.

One disadvantage that the left has in politics is that the right wing have all the infrastructure, the mainstream media outlets and money. We can be well organised and have a large membership, but if we can’t get our message across we can’t make progress. We also need to challenge many of our traditional ways of thinking. Given that it’s going to be five years before the next general election we have to perhaps consider that there are other ways of radically changing this country. Centralised control and planning might not be the way forward. We need to think this unthinkable thought. Perhaps the way forward is to develop an alternative economy. This Tory government doesn’t give a shit about the working classes. Do we just drop to our knees and let them do their worst or do we fight back? If they won’t help the working classes then we should just blinking well help ourselves. The Labour movement needs to reorganise, modernise and rebuild its network and reach out to people. We need to restore trust in our movement, we need to help people to improve their lives; co-operation is the key.

An alternative economy, a new commonwealth, will enable us to take back control, build in sustainability, reinvest in local economies, establish co-operatives to tender for local and national government contracts, starve traditional capitalist businesses of custom and generally shift the balance of power. Also if we shift the power base away from London and develop a network of co-operative economic cells it will make it much more difficult for the right to divide us. Economic and political devolution needs to be strived for. Public ownership doesn't necessarily mean government ownership.

We also need to help educate people. Take over the running of schools. Set up colleges. A highly educated working class would be a powerful force. Now when I say educated I don’t mean trained as in the current tick box regime, I mean educated with the power of critical thinking and able to apply logic. As a movement we definitely need to take the moral high ground. We also need to present a more positive approach; less of a protest group more of can do organisation for change. We all need to moderate our language. It's okay to be angry but it's not acceptable to be aggressive, to wish people ill etc. That's fascism. We need to be smart. We need to prove we are better than the right. Robustly arguing our beliefs but politely. Aggression prevents equality. Aggression is oppression.

For me starting to work on some of these initiatives is far more important than who our next party leader is. Not that it’s not important. The real power of the party is in its members and that’s how it needs to stay. Yes it’s important to win back power on a national level, because that way we can put so many beneficial changes into place, but in the meantime there is much we can do to show the world that we are a credible political movement and that we practice what we preach. We need to take back control from the elite and enable a transition of power to the people in a way that no government can take it away again.

These arguments need to be refined but for me they form the basis of something I can work on and discuss with other people.I for one have found my occupation, my cause célèbre, and something I can dedicate time to in a bid to try and help others.





Thursday, 26 December 2019

The decade doesn’t end here!

The current decade ends on 31/12/20.

To distort* slightly Goebbels’ quote “If you tell a lie… ...keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” and that’s just what has happened in terms of how we classify what a decade is, thanks to the media. They peddled the lie that the millennium ended on the 31st December 1999 (when obviously it ended a year later of 31/12/2000) and they continue to end decades a year too early. The Victorians knew when decades, centuries and millennia ended why don’t we?

There's enough lazy thinking and illogical behaviour in the world without adding to it unnecessarily. The last year of a decade, a century or a millennium always ends in a zero. It's very simple maths. It has nothing to do with Gregorian or Julian calendars. People that even mention that in a conversation about this stupidity are going off on a pointless tangent. It’s all about logic. Whatever calendar you work to, if you use numbers as the measurement, the first year of the calendar will always be one. You wouldn’t have a year zero. Zero represents nothing. Having a year zero would be like saying this is a year but really it isn’t as it’s a year without value. So by applying logic the first year is always 1, and therefore the last year of the first decade will be year 10, and thus the pattern will continue. If you can’t grasp that then there is no hope for you quite frankly.

Now you're probably saying, so what? In the great scheme of things does it really matter? Well on one level it really doesn't, but it's an indicator of what a poor state we are in if people can't grasp a simple maths concept. If people aren’t capable of understanding simple maths how the hell are they going to grasp even the basics of economics, and therefore be able to make political/voting decisions?

Of course you could argue that you can re-calibrate the calendar and start decades, centuries and millennia at 0. Which you could do, but you could also take 14.5 years and decide to call it a Doris! I'm not sure how useful it would be but there's nothing to stop anyone doing it. The whole point of measurement surely is that it's a communication tool. A way of telling someone how much of something you have got etc. If we're all using different measurements how do we communicate what we really mean?

So people, please stop this gross stupidity and start measuring things properly again.




*I like the irony of that.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Season's greetings

Season's greetings to all my readers. I don't really celebrate Christmas. I've mostly removed that pain from my life but there are certain aspects of what I prefer to call Yuletide that I don't mind, music and lights being two of them. So combining the two here a little festive tune I wrote along a video featuring some of the lights of Norwich. Enjoy.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Unity is strength

Ask ten Labour party members why we lost the election and you'd get at least eleven different answers. I have no idea (apart from Brexit) as to why we lost the election in such devastating fashion. I hope when the dust has settled all will become clear. But until that time arrives it would be useful to stop the blame game. To one degree or another all party members are responsible for what happened. You cannot blame one person or group of people.

I’m a remainer but I feared all along that calling an election before the dreadful deed was done was asking for trouble. The opposition parties should have stood firm. But of course they didn’t. The cowardly LibDems capitulated yet again. Anyway what is done is done and we can’t go back.

One thing as a party that we need to realise is that we are still a broad church. We need to accommodate as many views as we can. I say this as someone on the left of the party. There is room for both socialists and social democrats in the Labour party. We can’t have one side or the other throwing their toys out of the pram if they don’t get all their own way. If we don’t appeal to as wide an electorate as possible we can never hope to regain power. And not only that. We need to at least be talking with other parties on the left of the Tories. Whilst we don’t necessarily want to mimic their policies we need to at least have some understanding. Looking at the overall numbers of votes cast and where they went it would appear that a large proportion went to the Greens and the LibDems; divided, they (the Tories) conquered. We have to at least discuss some kind of cooperation. Don’t we?

But problems don’t just lie with the Labour party. There are a lot of very vulnerable people in our society. People that will be at the mercy of the bullying, uncaring, vindictive Tories. How do we protect them? Can we assemble a broad coalition of resistance? Can we form our own alternative economy? Can we opt out of as much of the mainstream, the part that the neoliberals control, as we can? We need to try and as much as possible hit the neoliberals where it hurts. Break free from many of the bonds they control us with? We need a rebel alliance made up of left of centre organisations, societies and charities. A large well coordinated resistance movement. Our far from perfect democracy is about to be destroyed. We need to hold on to as much as we can.

I don’t have many answers yet. But I do have a lot of questions. Some of those questions are difficult, but we shouldn’t shy away from them. We must ask them. Divided we will fall again, united we can win at every opportunity going forward.


Thursday, 12 December 2019

Great Britain, the end is nigh

I'm posting this just before the polls close on the day of the General election. I'm not planning on staying up to watch the results. I'm not sure I can stand the pain. I'm expecting to wake up tomorrow to find that most sane persons' worst nightmare has been realised.

I fear that the Tories will win enough seats to destroy the UK. They will implement Brexit. England will become an even more hateful place to live and the Union will start to fall apart. By this time next year I fully expect the Scots to have voted for independence. I wouldn't like to guess at the dynamics of the journey that Northern Ireland will make but I don't doubt that it will result in a united Ireland at some point in the not too distant future.

England is fucked and a lot of poor people are going to suffer more and more. There will be blood on the hands of anyone who has ever voted Tory.

When Scotland leaves the Union it will make it impossible for England to vote in a Labour government with the first past the post voting system. England will be damned. I can see civil unrest and bloodshed coming it's way. I hope I'm wrong.


Sunday, 24 November 2019

Election memes

Here's a series of political memes I've created for use in the General Election campaign. If anyone would like to use them please feel free to copy and distribute:









Friday, 22 November 2019

We're all doomed. Here's why.

Are we all doomed? Is the end is nigh?

The only way that the human race will survive is by cooperation. So there you go, we are all fucked!

It's probably about a minute to midnight on the clock of human existence. We don't have long before the endangered species known as the human race starts to die out. For all we know it might have already started.

Pretty soon there’ll be no more people left on Earth. That, I don’t think we can doubt. I would imagine very little can be done to stop our extinction. But what can be done is to delay our demise for as long as possible. But that won't be easy. It won't happen if we carry on doing business as usual. We can all try and do our bit and some can do it better than others. It's not easy to lower the impact one has on our environment as we are pulled this way and that purely in order to survive. The biggest effect will be if governments take action.

Extreme wealth is killing our environment. Neoliberalist capitalism is the enemy of the people, the enemy of the human race, and until we can eradicate it we are on a downward spiral of death and destruction. There will no doubt be many that won't be able to grasp this concept. They won't see that capitalism is a cancer that's now quite rapidly killing us all.

We need a new form of economics. One not driven by growth. But by sustainability. Not by capital but by need. The market won’t sort the problems with our environment. Competition and the push for growing consumption only quickens the pace of our destruction. It’s not in capitalism’s interest to claw back on it’s continued abuse of our life-support system. Selfishness and greed will kill us all.

When I wrote this post a little while back I knew nothing of Extinction Rebellion. I may have heard a reference or two but hadn't really registered what it was all about. Obviously I’ve heard of them now. Their message is a bold one, and one I mostly agree with.

All the recycling by well meaning bike riders who knit their own jumpers is but a drop in the ocean. There’s no reason not to do it as it all helps but alone the conscientious people can't compensate for the nerdowells . We can also help by not having children, stop owning pets, stop flying and stop eating meat in any great quantity (I will turn to this subject in a subsequent post). But it still wouldn’t be enough. Governments need to change things to make any real impact.But not just our government, all governments. Cooperation is the key to our survival.

I'm not the best example of an environmentally friendly human. I know I could do better, and many others could too. But not all of us. Yes our environment is important but if you’re living in poverty, struggling to make ends meet, waiting in the ever extending queue for NHS healthcare quite frankly the aims and ambitions of Extinction Rebellion are not going to figure on your radar much at all. It’s more of an issue for those a little further up the socio-economic scale. If you’re living in poverty you are going to be more worried about where your next meal is coming from or how to pay the next bill that comes in. You’re not going to be worrying about what’s going to be happening in ten or fifteen years time. And quite understandably so. But in reality the solution to lifting people out of poverty is going to be the same as slowing down the climate catastrophe.

We live on a planet of finite resources which we are squandering at an alarming rate. We obviously need to cut right back on overall consumption. But if those resources are not shared out equitably we are doomed to failure. We can only save our environment if we cooperate, rather than competing with each other. That means we need to change the way we govern ourselves, because if we don’t we can change nothing. It’s all very well shouting about how we are killing our planet but unless we’re all prepared to become less greedy, less selfish and vote for change, our days are numbered. Now you can call the new equitable, co-operative form of government that will be needed to address these issues what you like, as labels really aren’t that important, but what you’ll end up with is socialism. It is the only system that can do the job. Pure democracy. Pure co-operation.

So the first priority for people across the world is to establish true socialist governments. Their priority would be to lift people out of poverty whilst at the same time reducing overall consumption of those elements which are the cause of the climate catastrophe.

We can't adopt a siege mentality either. There is only one world and we can't live in isolation, hoping that the problems will go away because they won't. We are going to see mass migration, and on a scale that we’ve never seen before. If we don’t welcome environmental refugees then that will be our loss, and they will come anyway. We won’t be able to stop them. After all, they will have nothing to lose.

If we don't act soon it will be too late. Technology isn't going to save us. It'll be too late for that.

My own personal view is that we will not be able to slow the speed of our destruction as quite frankly we are too stupid to do such a thing. I'm not a pessimist. I'm not an optimist. I consider myself a realist.



Sunday, 3 November 2019

War is ignorance

I’ve been a pacifist all of my adult life. How could anyone not be? I will never understand. The taking of someone’s life is morally indefensible. Wars are rich mens’ games. Rich men play, and poor men, women and children die. Rich men invent tribalist and sectarian nonsense to trick poor men into fighting their battles. Patriotism is a con. It’s a fabrication. Patriots are fools. And don’t get me started on the Red Poppy Fascists! When the British Legion campaigns against war I will wear a red poppy. Not until.



War serves no purpose but to make rich men richer

War is ignorance
War is evil
War is hate
War is grotesque
War is pointless
War is stupidity
War is waste

Dead
Bodies
Vile
Vile bodies

No one wins in war

Civilians die in wars
Children die in wars
Pets die in wars
You could die in a war
Private C Read died in a war.

"War is over if you want it"

Wars can only ever end with peace
Peace, peace is the only way forward

Friday, 25 October 2019

Johnson is a terrible leader

In fact he's no leader at all.

Our inglorious prime minister is just a bully.

Bullies aren't leaders.
Bullying or cajoling people doesn't make you a leader.
Rolling up your shirt-sleeves doesn't make you a leader.
Shouting, swearing, lying or a sense of entitlement doesn't make you a leader.
Bigotry and racism doesn’t make you a leader.
Antagonising and causing division doesn't make you a leader.
Throwing your toys out of the pram doesn't make you a leader.

To lead is to compromise, empathise, help to reach consensus and bring people with you. This is what leadership is.




Friday, 18 October 2019

Purely Piano

My latest offering of music is a composition based on the piano. Probably one of the most versatile instruments of all. It does what is says on the label; it is purely piano. Music is meant to be felt. If you feel it, it's real. I hope you like it.















Thursday, 17 October 2019

There is still black

There are still black hours. Sometimes. But not that often. thankfully. Occasionally. Black hours turn to black days. I lie low riding the pain. It's less over more now. Once. Black inspired creativity. Creativity produced doubt and destruction. Self-doubting back to black. Now. Now I cope. Now I hope. Now I create prolifically. I believe in my creativity. Black still visits. Black will always visit. It lurks. Skulking. Stage right. I wait. It takes its unwelcome curtain call. I exit stage left. Cringing. Crying. Cursing. Every dog has its day. One day black will be no more. For me. For. Forward. Falling on deaf ears. Undulations.





There is still music. Music, art and poetry. But no buttered scones for tea.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Just give me some of that avant-garde music

I love music. I've been in love with it all my life. I never ever thought I would end up making it, or let alone composing it though. But that's now where I've ended up and it's very satisfying.

I don't consider that I'm a performer, but who knows what the future holds? I'm certainly no musician. That's not what I'm about. First and foremost I'm an artist and I approach composing in a similar way to my art. Well, actually music is just another artistic strand. Music composing for me is a process of collage. I've produced a few vaguely dance-like tracks and one lush piece (which I'm very proud of) called Banana Blush. With those under my belt I started experimenting.

Anyway, I'm currently working on an album of what I would call avant-garde music. Perhaps it's not avant-garde anymore, perhaps it's a bit more mainstream. I'm not sure I know about these things now. The album is called 'If...   ...McGonagall made music'. So far I've only released two tracks, Devil's Advocaat and Cacophony Nº1 but more are in the pipeline. The album is here.

You can find all my published music on my SoundCloud account here.


Sunday, 29 September 2019

Bumbling amateur

I don't make any money from my art; so from that sense I've never been a professional artist. I happen to like it like that. If someone likes my work and would like a copy then that pleases me, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it if they don't. I don't create for an audience. If there is an audience, well that's a bonus. I create because I feel the need to create. Some might argue that to make a living from art is to sell out because you are then creating for a market. But if you feel that your work isn't compromised and you can make a living then I say good luck to you. I wish you no ill. For me, my position as a free agent allows me to create the art that I truly want to produce because I have absolutely no pressure on me at all to produce anything other than that.

For as long as I can remember I've been a non-conformist. Seems to me that it is those who refuse to conform and those that challenge are the ones who encourage and facilitate change. As an artist I think it is important to challenge. Challenge orthodox thinking when you think that it may be flawed. Just because the zeitgeist suggests one thing it doesn't mean that you have to accept it, and that you can't challenge it. It's healthy to challenge. Creativity thrives when one, to use a phrase I dislike, thinks out of the box. Conservative thinking isn't really thinking, it's just a displacement activity. If creativity isn't radical is it really creativity? I'm not going to answer that particular question. You decide.

I think that judging art is just a ruse to monetise it, to turn it into a commodity. People who do this have no interest in art itself just how much money they can make from it. Sponsorship, brand aligning and art competitions all damage art. 

Competition doesn't produce excellence it produces an outcome that is of sufficient criteria to be measured or judged to be better than the ‘rivals’. All art is only ever in the eye of the beholder. It can only ever be subjective. Therefore art can neither be good nor bad. Just what you like and what you don't like. Art cannot be judged.

I recently posted in an art group on Facebook about my opposition to competition in art. Quite a lot of lively discussion ensued. Quite a number of artists grasped what I was saying. Sadly, quite an aggressive small number couldn’t. I had challenged something in their tiny little comfortable world and they couldn’t cope with it. They were being asked to think and it made their brains hurt. Show me a reactionary and I'll show you an idiot.

Popularity is no measure of quality. Chicken, lager and milk chocolate are all very popular even though they all taste like shite. What do the masses know?

Art has no quality standards. Art is beyond judgement.




Sunday, 22 September 2019

I am an atheist

I shouldn’t need to say that. Being an atheist should be the default human condition. It would be like announcing constantly that you haven’t got the lurgy. Religion is something you catch. It’s effectively a disease.

By the way, and for the record, i haven’t to my knowledge happen to currently be afflicted by the afore mention lurgy.

If you don’t feel that you can get through life without the crutch that is religion then that’s fine with me. Go ahead, but please keep it to yourself. I don’t need to know about it and please don’t indoctrinate others with your strange ideas.

Now I’m very fond of saying that nothing is ever black and white, which is truly the case, but I will try and keep this as simplistic as I can. Mainly because religion seems to be followed by mostly simplistic people. Okay, when I say ‘there is no god’ the god-botherers normally respond with something along the lines of ‘how do you know there isn’t a god?’ or ‘prove that there isn’t a god’. Why? Why do I have to prove the non-existence of something when there’s clearly no evidence for its existence? That’s like saying, ‘prove that Elvis isn’t alive and living on a double-decker bus on the moon’. The onus is on those who subscribe to the superstition to bring forth the facts. To date there is no evidence.

Beware people who quote the writings of Thomas Acquinas, they are some of the most narrow-minded of them all. They use it as ‘evidence’ to validate their superstitious beliefs. There is no evidence. The same applies to those who quote the bible, et al. The bible is a collection of contradictory writings by any number of ancient people’s trying to either explain their existence and or to keep others in line (oppress). This certainly applies to all other writings connected with the Abrahamic religions.

If there was a god, that god would be able to prove their own existence so that we were all beyond doubt. God hasn’t done that. I and millions of others are living proof of that. If there was a god that god wouldn’t want to be worshipped, that would make it needy. For a god to be needy is a flaw. For a god not to be able to prove its existence is a flaw. A god would be perfect, a god would be infallible. I could go on and on but I won’t. There is no god.

Religion exists to control people. Nothing more, nothing less. It is the opiate of the people.

If you’re happy with following a religion that’s fine but please don’t think it’s a normal thing to do. Question yourself, and I mean genuinely question yourself. Look for evidence. I guarantee you will find none. Have a nice day!


Thursday, 12 September 2019

The Self-Portrait

All works of art from one degree to another are self-portraits even if there is no literal image of the artist to be found in it. The artist will be present in the work. The artist will have put their heart and soul into it.

The literal self-portrait is paradoxically both a lie and the purest truth. The artist will project the image that we want the viewer to see but at the same time will, because we are human, convey our innermost feelings and our vulnerabilities.

Just over a couple of years ago I started a blog, Autoritratto, to showcase my self-portraits (in drawing form, painted form and photographs) when they came along. I do hope you can pay it a visit.

I have a membership subscription to the Art Fund. With it you get a National Art Pass which either gets you into exhibitions for free or at reduced prices. If you gawp a lot at art it’s worth considering joining. I think it offers great value for money. You also get a quarterly magazine which is very informative as well as printing some very interesting stuff. I was very pleased to see that the current issue, Autumn 2019, has an article on the self-portrait. Like a lot of writing about art it’s a bit pretentious but it’s well written. Entitled The Power of the Self-Portrait it says that:
"Artists’ depictions of themselves can be complex expressions of the self. With several upcoming exhibitions featuring self-portraits of prominent artists, Ben Street explores what lies behind their enduring appeal, to both artist and viewer."

They certainly can be 'complex expressions of the self''.

Check out The Art Fund and please check out my art.


Tuesday, 10 September 2019

George Orwell - Notes on Nationalism

Notes on Nationalism by George Orwell (Penguin Modern)

'The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs'
Biting and timeless reflections on patriotism, prejudice and power, from the man who wrote about his nation better than anyone.
MORE



Wednesday, 28 August 2019

I laugh in the face of tragedy - Why we laugh when we know it’s wrong

I wrote this blog post a few years ago about my ability to laugh at inappropriate times:
It's an embarrassing thing to do. But throughout my life, although thankfully not on every occasion, I have sometimes managed to laugh at really bad news. I don't know when it's going to happen and I have no control over it. It just happens. Likewise I will also say inappropriate things on odd occasions. Words will come out of my mouth that either I wouldn't dream of saying ever or would never dream of saying in the particular situation that I find myself in at that time. Often this sort of thing happens at social gatherings. I think because I'm never comfortable in largish social groups its some kind of reaction to the situation in which I find myself. It's probably a nerves thing. The trouble is I will say something that is out of place...
...read more

I have recently discovered an article that goes some way to possibly explain the reasons:

Why we laugh when we know it’s wrong

shutterstock.

For the Batek people of the Malaysian peninsula rainforest, laughter can be dangerous. Within the system of taboos of these egalitarian hunter-gatherers, laughing in certain situations can cause storms, illness or even death. And yet sometimes, Batek people – like anyone else – laugh when they know they shouldn’t. In fact, laughter can be especially pleasurable when it’s forbidden.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Rainbow thinking - the only way ahead

I’ve written on this blog a number of times about nothing ever being black and white. I’m convinced that the western world is in the state that it is because of lazy thinking. Fundamentalism, political or religious, is the greatest philosophical danger to humankind; there are no one-word answers to the problems that beset our world. There are rarely simple solutions. Life is much more complicated than a tabloid headline. Unfortunately ‘public debate’ all too often sinks into polarised, lowest common denominator, narrow mindedness. Creating the Promised Land is not as easy as a political sound-bite or any religious teaching might suggest. Economics and indeed life itself are complicated webs. We are in the state that we are in because too many people think in black and white instead of all the colours of the rainbow.

Okay this one is not for the faint-hearted. This video has been at least a year and a half in the making, with some of the content dating back over the last ten years. It’s a slightly surreal video that I hope encapsulates my philosophy of ‘Nothing is ever black and white’. If you only think in black and white then you won't get this video. Even if you don't think in black and white you still might not get it. I've tried to convey a sense of the complexity of life and our existence. I hope I've at least partially achieved that. But of course it might be a load of old tosh and I'm a complete charlatan. If you're looking for the meaning of life you might find this helpful; I think humankind is a long way off finding a reason for life and I suspect a meaning might not even exist. Doubt is the beginning and not the end of wisdom. Scratch beneath the surface to see further than what you might think of as the obvious. Remove your blinkers!

Friday, 19 July 2019

You can never have equality in a world where competition exists

You can never have equality in a world where competition exists. Any competition is a process of grading people by criteria determined by another person or group of people; a form of segregation, a form of elitism.

Competition is the antithesis of equality. Having winners and losers destroys any pretence of equality. Now I’m not saying that we all have to be considered of equal ability in certain skills or attributes. But we don’t need to shout about it, keep league tables on it, award prizes or suggest that some peoples’ achievement makes them better than others. We need to accept, embrace and celebrate our differences. What I'm saying is we all have equal value, equal worth. Just because you have more money than me, you can kick a bag of wind around or just because you have more qualifications than me it doesn’t make you a better person. Competition has infected our whole social structure. It won't be an easy trait to shake off. It governs commerce, education and leisure. But we can do it differently. We just need to use a little imagination. We need to break free from our conditioning.

I realise that a lot of you will be shouting at me saying, ‘you’ve got to have competition otherwise how can you decide things?’, but I say to you, ‘try thinking out of the box’. It doesn’t have to be that way. Of course there will be areas of life where what could be seen as competition will manifest itself. And if the pedantic amongst you (and I might include myself in that number) want to call it competition well I accept that. In the end much of it is semantics. One of the obvious examples in current life where competition exists and might be hard to change is in the job selection process. But if you think of it more as a jigsaw puzzle rather than a game of snakes and ladders then I think you can eradicate the competitive element from it.

If you really desire equality, and I certainly do, we will need to remove competition from all walks of life. You can't say we are all equal and then start measuring people or groups of people and saying some are better than others. That just creates Animal Farm.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

St George


I took this photo in the William Morris gallery in Walthamstow last month. I love the work of William and his contemporaries but this is actually a pretty ridiculous image. Whilst I'm not big on realism, this sort of impression paints a very wrong image that simpletons love to feed on.

I'm an atheist so I don't approve of religious symbols either but if you are going to feature a historic figure in a picture then it is quite offensive to change that figure's ethnic identity. The geezer that was George came from the Middle East therefore would have had a much darker complexion. The above Northern European looking person is just plain wrong.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Dosh-hogs

Dosh-hogs are the enemy of the people. They are the 1%, the filthy rich capitalists, the patriarchy that control our lives. We are oppressed by the monied mafioso, there are very few of them in comparison with the rest of us yet we allow them to control us.

A small number of parasites live off the toil of the majority. It needs to change. It's unsustainable and it really can't be right that a few people have vast wealth, have so much and many many more have so little, and too many do not have enough to even survive

Dosh-hogs are greedy, evil, selfish, bastards that have no right to the power that they wield. Neo-liberalism needs to die.

The time has come to push the button.



Tuesday, 9 April 2019

If you fear socialism…

...you don’t really understand it.

I’ve been a socialist all my adult life. For me socialism is the purest form of democracy that any group of people, any collective can have. It is the most equitable form of government you can have.

Just recently the label ‘Marxist’ has been used when referring to Jeremy Corbyn as if it were an insult. The thing is that there is nothing insulting about being a Marxist. I don’t claim to be over knowledgeable about politics but I like to think I know quite a bit more about it than the average person on the Clapham Omnibus.If only we didn’t have a politically illiterate electorate.

To help people out a nice person tweeted a link to a website that houses an explanation of Marxism in 800 words. I read it and thought, ‘yep that pretty much is how I understand it’.

A word of warning if you trot out some tired, worn out old cliche about Socialism and/or Marxism having something to do with deformed one-party states then you’re a complete knob who probably knows fuck all about politics and have no doubt found yourself agreeing with headlines in The Daily Mail (the paper that supported Hitler) on more than one occasion. So do yourself a favour. Educate yourself.




Sunday, 24 March 2019

Taking back control

I thought this seemed appropriate for a #SocialistSunday.

If you really want to take back control there's only one way to do it, and that's to 'get involved’. If you believe in democracy then you need to play your part as best you can. And as best you can isn't just turning up to vote at general elections.

If you really want to take back control you really need to do it through the democratic process. As without the democratic process any control you have will be tenuous and limited.

If Brexit was a protest vote against politicians then it was a spectacularly immature and stupid protest vote. We get the politicians we deserve and if we are ambivalent, ignorant and/or disinterested in politics then we end up with the corrupt, the idiots, the gangsters, the bullies and the inbreds in charge.

Never underestimate the stupidity of the English electorate. They consistently vote in governments that do them harm. Large parts of the electorate would sign their own death warrant if handed to them wrapped in a sugar coated lie.

Sadly we don't yet live in a democracy. There are several things that need to change before we can truly call ourselves a democracy. The obvious thing that needs to change is our way of voting. First past the post is undemocratic and needs to go. Secondly we need to educate people. People need to be capable of critical thinking. They need to understand that “nothing is ever black and white”. If you have a blinkered view of the world how can you make informed choices.

People can't help being stupid. They've been condition to be stupid. The whole system is set up to suppress thinking. They are fed lies in the form of easy to digest bigoted soundbites by the capitalists. They fall for it all.

I was brought up on a council estate. I'm working class. I don't remember a time when I wasn't interested in politics even though I didn't always understand what was going on. I became a socialist at the age of seventeen and have never wavered since. I know that we will never achieve a fair, just and equitable socialist society until the working class have been educated so that they are equipped to make informed choices. The state aren't going to do it so as a movement we should. We will never have a socialist society until that happens.

I rarely apologise for my arrogance in calling stupid people stupid. Sometimes one has to tell it like it is. The trouble with stupid people is they don't realise that they are stupid because, yes you guessed it, they are stupid. The working class will only ever free themselves when they learn how to do so.




Friday, 22 March 2019

The Cornish Bakery Cheese and Sugar Scones

What kind of weirdo adds sugar when making cheese scones? Sugar?

Well The Cornish Bakery think it’s acceptable.

A little while ago we had a couple of cheese scones from The Cornish Bakery in Southwold. We didn’t eat them in Southwold but ‘ate’ them later at home in Norwich. I say ate but in reality very little was consumed. On first biting into them you could tell that they had an awful lot of sugar in them. They would have been very sweet even for sweet scones. But high sugar content with cheese just tasted vile. Utterly vile. My partner took one bite and said ‘they’ve got sugar in them’ and being a diabetic didn’t eat any more. I got a bit further. I don’t like to waste food so ate several bites but in the end I just had to give up. It was hardly practical to take them back to the shop so I complained via Twitter. Apart from gleaning that they do actually have sugar in their recipe, a brief apology and them asking for my email address I have heard no more. No offer to refund our money. Very poor customer service.

I’ve consulted several recipes to make sure it is not me that’s out of step, but none of them suggest putting sugar in them. No wonder we have a problem with obesity, type two diabetes and other sugar related problems when companies do this sort of thing.


Sunday, 17 March 2019

Art competitions

I know I bang on about competition a lot but I really do feel it is the essence of what is wrong with society.

If you're an artist then entering an art competition is the equivalent of sleeping with the enemy or selling your soul to the devil.

You can't judge art. There is no such thing as good or bad art.It's not a measurable thing, but by entering a competition you are helping to perpetuate the myth that you can. You are just adding fuel to the art as a commodity industry. Those that buy and sell art for large sums have no appreciation of aesthetics. For all they care a piece of art could just be a gold plated dog turd. They are only interested in its perceived value and money making potential.

Those in power remain so by dividing a society. The art 'elite’ do exactly the same by creating judgements and notions about what constitutes good, not quite as good and bad art. They have absolutely no authority to so.

Art and the desire to create are very healthy human traits. Competition is the opposite. Competition stifles creativity. Competition is about ‘getting one over on someone else’. All competition divides people.

Like is not a value judgement. Art is in the eye of the beholder. Art is subjective.Trying to judge art is as morally wrong as the holding of beauty contests or boxing matches, etc. etc. Collaborating with those that organise them is a betrayal!



Monday, 4 March 2019

Shameless self-promotion

The trouble is it rarely is shameless. As a self-effacing introvert, promoting my art and the artist is never an easy task. It always seems wrong somehow. It's very difficult to shout, “look at me, look at my stuff”. It makes me feel sordid or unclean. But I force myself to do it. I suppose because if I don't who the hell will?

Something that took me almost sixty years to acquire is a self belief in my art. Still don't have a self belief in me, but my belief in my art is now unshakeable. Which is why I persist with trying to tell people about my work.

I would also like to thank all those that share my work on social media in the way of reposts etc. I am eternally grateful for all the kind people who take the trouble to pass my art on. I probably don’t thank those people enough, to my everlasting shame.



Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Competition

All of humankind's problems can be directly attributable to one cause, competition. I'm sure many would question this and some would say 'what about avarice?’ It is true that greed appears to drive so much of the ills we experience but I would argue that even greed is driven by what is intrinsically the essence of competition. The desire to triumph over the next person. Competition is about categorising people as winners or losers. Victors and also rans. It divides people. It creates a lot of waste.

The various forms of competition (including war, capitalism, nationalism, sport, awards, honours etc etc) all create division. Think of all the energy that goes into competing/fighting with each other, and for what?

You don't need competition to create or innovate. You just need capacity of thought. Imagination.

Competition forces people to have a very narrow field of vision, focusing on narrow, narrow-minded goals rather seeing the bigger picture.

The long term survival of the human race will require understanding, harmony, solidarity, compromise and most importantly cooperation.



Saturday, 23 February 2019

That metaphor

I'm sure that this type of picture must have been done hundreds of times before but I just couldn't resist this:


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Saving the planet, my arse!

I really wish people would stop talking about saving the planet when they do a bit of recycling or start to cut down on waste. You may even be an eco-warrior but you won’t be saving the planet. Don't get me wrong as I'm no climate change denier. I do try very hard to keep my footprint as low as I feel able (these things are never enough). I'm firmly of the opinion that we as a species are heading for our own personalised environmental disaster. But if you want to do your bit to slow down our certain demise, please don't do it under the slogan of 'saving the planet’. You're not saving the planet and you are not even saving the environment. Let's be honest about this, what is really meant when talking about saving the planet is perpetuating the survival of the human race, for as long as possible.

The human race will die out eventually, but the planet will still be here long after we are gone. The planet doesn't need saving and there will still be an environment. An environment that will probably sustain some forms of life. Just not human life, or that of many of the animals that we are hell bent on taking down with us. Let's face it we've fucked things up big time. We've created an environmental avalanche and we're trying to stop it with a seaside bucket and spade.

We've effectively shat on our own collective doorstep and we're continuing to shit everywhere else too. Big time. So please don't talk nonsense about saving the planet, it's self preservation we're talking about here. Let's talk about it for what it is. The human race is self destructing. We can't stop it's eventual demise but we can try and make it as comfortable as possible for us and those that follow on if we're sensible about things. If we're careful with the resources that sustain human life and we start to cooperate rather than compete then our future will be prolonged. But if we carry on down the path of capitalism and tribalism then collectively we are well and truly fucked!



Saturday, 2 February 2019

Potentially we are all refugees

Imagine if we let the thick of neck, knuckle dragging, beer bellied, spotty, low IQ, shouty white blokes take over. Think about that. Think it couldn’t happen? Think again. The Brexit vote happened because filthy rich white blokes exploited the intellectually challenged members of society. Those simple souls who can only think in black and white. The filthy rich could take back even more control! Think!

If that were ever to happen what would you do?

Under fascism no one is safe. Not even the fascists. Fascism rules through fear. Fear breeds distrust. Distrust creates purges. People, yes real human beings, are vapourised. A knock on the door in the dead of night, a scuffle, and you are spirited away. Your name erased from history. Think!

Imagine this happening, then imagine having to get out of your house as quickly as possible and fleeing in fear of your life. What would you take with you? What of your most prized possessions would you love into your single solitary suitcase? This is the dilemma that hundreds of thousands have to face each year. Your life in a suitcase.Think!

What would I take? I really couldn't say. A change or two of clothes I guess. But what else? Important financial records/papers perhaps, a small momento or two, relevant medication, travel kettle, iPod and perhaps a travel radio might fit in two. I guess it would also be useful to take small things of high monetary value like jewellery. Things that could be sold to raise some cash. Have I forgotten anything? Probably. Think!

What would you pack in a solitary suitcase? Could you cope with that? You'd have to. It would be cope or die. Think about that!

Being a refugee as far as I can see is no fun. You don't upsticks just because you fancy a change of scenery. Refugees are people. People fleeing persecution. Put yourself in their shoes; you've escaped persecution or death, wouldn't you hope to be welcomed when you reach a safe haven? What if there were no safe havens? Where would you go if you needed to?

We all have a responsibility to help refugees.

Think!


Friday, 1 February 2019

Poetry

Poetry is for everyone


As long as I can remember I've liked poetry. In a way it's hardly surprising as being born into the rock and roll age I was weaned on what is essentially poetry set to music. The earliest poetry I remember was stuff by Edward Lear, Walter de la Mare, Lewis Carroll and Spike Milligan. As a kid I loved rhyme, and if humour was involved then a double bonus. The works of Lewis Carroll have always stayed with me but later I learned to love the war poets, especially Siegfried Sassoon, and then at school I was introduced to Dylan Thomas. Well! That was it. It opened up my world and my understanding of poetry. His poetry was like molasses, black treacle, rich, sweet and fruity. And then when he read it in that lugubrious voice it took on an even more magical quality. I felt and still do feel truly enriched by his work.

Next I discovered William McGonagall. The poor chap is often cited as the worst poet ever but I think that's rather unfair. His work has something. Yes it's challenging at times, and not to most people's liking but that's the nature of art; there is no good or bad, just personal preference. McGonagall was ahead of his time. The original punk poet.

John Betjeman was always there during my childhood. In the background. Later the poet laureate. The poet of the establishment. Abuser of Slough. But he released what was the rap of the day in his blockbuster Betjeman's Banana Blush. Poetry set to music. But in such a way that it was both comfortable and radical at the same time.

Punk, which changed my life totally, brought forth a whole heap of fantastic poets. Across all the arts the rule book was torn up. Linton Kwesi Johnson was the first poet of that era that I really got into. I'd never heard anything like it before. Naturally that lead to John Cooper Clarke and then Benjamin Zephaniah. Poetry had become exciting!

Poetry is exciting!

Of course in my youth I wrote shed loads of dire poetry. It was my way of dealing with the deep depressions that I went through. It helped. It stopped me from topping myself. So it wasn't all bad. Very little of it has seen the light of day even though I still have loads of note and exercise books full of the stuff. I'm not sure the public would ever be ready for it.

Since the days of punk my interest in poetry has blossomed and grown. I appreciate such a diverse spread of work and am constantly coming across new stuff that fires my imagination.

In my art I've always been inspired by pop/rock music but recently I've turned my attention to poetry as a source of inspiration for my pictures and videos. First in that series is a very short poem by W.B. Yeats, The Great Day. You will find it here. A video is to follow.

Friday, 11 January 2019

There is no such thing as the middle-class

There is no such thing as the middle-class. It is artifice. Something manufactured by the elite (the filthy rich) as a kind of buffer between them and the poorer members of society. It drives a wedge in to society, engendering delusions of grandeur amongst the better off working-class.

Now here’s the shocker for those that think they are middle-class; you are not! Unless you own ‘the means of production’ then you are working-class. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, where you live or what car you drive you are still working-class if you don’t own the means of production, i.e. someone else pays your wages, you are working-class. You could be the managing director of a company but without a shareholding you’re working-class.

Obviously there are the self-employed and the petit bourgeoisie, small business owners etc. etc. but on the whole it’s us against the 1%. The Bourgeoisie, the rich fuckers who exploit the rest of us to increase their wealth. Then use their money, patronage and political power to maintain their dominance. The one thing they fear is an educated working-class.Key to that education is grasping that, no matter what you think you are, you are probably working-class. And, the good news is that there is no shame in that. Being working-class is something to be celebrated. Accepting it is a freeing experience. From that point you will truly begin to learn.With knowledge comes power. If you want to ‘take back control’ you will need that knowledge.



Sunday, 6 January 2019

Traditional values

I am firmly of the opinion that tradition stifles creativity and progression. Tradition is for those who are moribund of thought and can’t or won’t cope with progression. Unfortunately there are far too many people in England who seem to want to return politically to a mythical bygone era. A perceived golden age. Such thinking is dangerous. The reactionary is a person to be feared and challenged. Reactionary politics is destroying the entire economic fabric of the country; we have high levels of poverty, poor health, homelessness, illiteracy, stupidity and crime. But hey ho we mustn’t complain as we’ll be getting blue passports soon. Hip fucking hooray!

I suppose it could be argued that using the word reactionary now is reactionary in itself. It’s not a word that is bandied about much these days. A bit of a blast from the past. But I can’t actually think of a better word to describe those sort of people that hold political beliefs based on nostalgia rather than reality. The sort that only see things in black and white, concrete thinkers who are incapable of abstract or critical thought and tend not to be particularly creative. Concrete thinkers and other narrow-minded sorts tend to fear change. They don’t adapt easily to new or different ways of doing things

If you’re a Tory, a Brexiteer or a Neoliberal then you’re a reactionary. Perhaps for a brief period the Tories were modern enough to just try and maintain the status quo, but that sort of Tory ‘thinking’ has long been despatched to the dustbin of history. Reactionaries fear progression. They yearn for the ‘good old days’, which of course weren’t good at all. They’re the sort of person that thinks in a very rigid way. If they’d been around when the wheel was invented they’d have been dead against it; no good would come of such a revolutionary idea (excuse the pun). That is why there is no deep and meaningful philosophy behind conservatism and why those that voted brexit couldn’t actually explain in sound philosophical or practical terms how it would actually benefit the average person in the street. Right wing politics is all about maintaining the position and wealth of the elite. Its about obscurantism, oppression, coercion and indoctrination of the majority using propaganda and the age old tactic of divide and rule. It's never about improvement or equality. Those concepts are totally alien to the reactionary Tory.

The reactionary elite are kept in office by the chimerical middle-class; an example of artifice in the extreme. There is no middle-class. Start thinking people. The greatest resource you possess is your mind. Please start using it.