Sunday, 15 November 2015

And They Screwed Us

And they screwed our national health service, and they screwed our schools, and they screwed our university students, and they screwed our privacy, and they screwed our rail service, and they screwed the forestry commission, and they screwed local government, and they screwed the national park service, and they screwed the environment agency, and they screwed alternative energy, and they screwed the social services, and they screwed the civil service, and they screwed the fire service, and they screwed the cops, and they screwed the armed services...
And they screwed you.
And they screwed your granny.
And they screwed your children.
All so that they, the utter bastards of the One Percent, can privatise and make money off the mess that's left.
And we let them.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Moine House

Drive along the top edge of mainland Scotland and at 58.503333, -4.544389 you will see this abandoned house, Moine House.

You can expand the images to 1366 pixels.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Bla Bheinn

This is now, but once in the early 1950s when everything was black and white, or even sepia, my parents were holidaying on Skye, "And we weren't even engaged then", says my mother, adding, "Do you still have our painting of Bla Bheinn?" (I think I could find it).

"It was a Saturday", says my dad, "And we were hammering down a long hill to catch the last ferry with seven spokes broken in the back wheel", (of the tandem), "And we missed it", says my mother, "And we had to stop in an unmanned" (you could say that in the '50s) "youth hostel" (at Armadale), "And", says my mum, "We had no food, but we bought some from a mobile shop and the man had no change, but he said, 'It's alright, pay me on Monday morning'", (because back then on a Sunday everything stopped for godness sake), "And we did".

Friday, 13 February 2015

Boarding School at an Early Age is Child Abuse.

My dad was sent away, aged seven, to Wycliffe Preparatory School, then known as Ryeford, and on to Wycliffe College. His two older brothers had been too. I don't know if my own parents could have afforded it, they certainly hinted that affording it would be difficult, but at ten I was given the opportunity to go to Wycliffe and I turned it down!

Such schooling in most cases leads to unfounded confidence and a significant void in the empathy department, which is why, of course, most, or far too many, of our politicians, business leaders and royalty behave like the inadequate, desensitized fuckwits we know them to be.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Fuckwits and Farridges

George Galloway has been asking, Why can't we all oppose both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia? It seems to me that a better question would be, Why aren't we kind to Everyone? (Closely followed by, Why aren't we kind to every sentient being?). An answer *might* be, Because we are nasty. 

I wonder if we will ever conclude that almost all violence, aggression and nastiness, originates from fear, whether that fear be affecting still a violent 30yr old criminal who was beaten or similarly humiliated as a child, or affecting as now our increasingly poorly educated and unequal and mean-spirited island nation who have been told repeatedly that foreign people are going to steal our sweets, our females, our holiday money, our jobs, etc.

And come to think of it, aren't all nations island nations? And what reasonably could be considered kind or helpful about the process, and the result, of determining that we are us, and you are not? We are humans and you are animals; we are Catholics and you are Protestants; we are Christians and you are Jews / Muslims / Jains / Atheists; we are white-skinned, but your skin is of any other colour?

I don't think we are inherently nasty, by the way, but I do think we have acquired a long lasting and often non-specific distrust of strangers. And I'm pretty confident that ignorance is what causes most of our distrust. 

Why? Because generally a stranger about whom we gain adequate knowledge can no longer be considered a stranger. Can they.

Recently I've read that a significant number of anthropologists now consider that human nature is not to be nasty, but to work for the common good, to be kind, to be helpful. When we are misled and ill-informed we fail in this, and then we produce and follow an excess of freaks, weirdos, Hitlers, fuckwits and Farridges.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

And Yew and Yew

On BBC Winterwatch they've just been talking about yew trees and I was reminded so suddenly and strongly of Miss Toomey, the dinner lady at my 2nd primary school (in Highnam, Glos). Very old but agile, woolly beret'd, fluffy coated, speccy, and thin as a stick, she'd have climbed up the bank from the dell and would suddenly appear from behind the trunk I'd repeatedly climbed to an enormous height and in an old-lady screech she'd shout,

Get down, Stewart, them berries is poisonous! [No-one else has ever called me Stewart, but realising quickly that it'd help me avoid further trouble, I didn't complain].

And again I remember - it'd be probably 7-8 years later - clouds of gnats dancing in the glare of the setting sun when one late autumn evening my dad and I were voluntarily doing surgery on the old yew trees in the churchyard at Cantref. And the chainsaw blunted so quickly on the steely branches. And we'd forgotten the sharpening file. So we left the job in a bit of a mess. And next evening it was raining and we had to come back to finish off.

And because we like things in threes

I'm wondering why it was that my dad, ostensibly a peaceful man, then a Liberal but nowadays Green-voting, a fourth generation vegetarian, chapel-going but later a Quaker, should enjoy so much and so often telling me about the bloodthirsty Battle of Crécy (and others), in which much killing of the French was done by the English armed with longbows of yew, when after all it was 280 years since the Norman Conquest and WTF were we doing being a bloody nuisance in someone else's back yard? Again.