Monthly Archives: December 2014

The estate of the nation

Estalely homes760

I’m not entirely sure I know which of these two houses says the most about a facet of the nation’s current thinking. On one side we have an attempt to hark back to perceived good old days of a Tudor merry England, and on the other the defiant display of the Union flag insists we still live in a Great Britain. UKIP undoubtedly will do well in this street!  2015 will be a pivotal moment for the nation as the sureties of two party politics disappear over the horizon. We have a Tory party intent on paring the state to it’s bare bones, an unconvincing and dithery Labour party, a confident SNP, UKIP who will sweep up votes from those in England who feel forgotten, then there are, the Greens, Liberals, various nationalist parties and of course add in Russell Brand’s ‘agit’  politics. Personally none of them grab me, and the thought of being governed from Brussels/ Berlin is not appealing either. My predictions for 2015 are, we will have an indecisive first election followed by another in the Autumn resulting in a slim Tory win by means of pandering to UKIP voters, Charlie will be on the throne by the end of the year, Boris will be Prime Minister, and Nick Clegg will be history. Whatever happens it’s not going to be business as usual.




The angel that fell to earth

Fallen Angel227

Yesterday our workshop tea break conversation ambled around to the subject of whether there are those who arrive in this world with a predisposition to be evil…. yes you’ve guessed it,the good old ‘nature or nurture’ debate… we all have it at some time or other. Is it the question of the seed being the problem or the earth in which it grows , John nudged towards  the nurture side, I nose dived for nature, whereas the reality it is a bit of both. The converse and less discussed side of that debate is whether there a those who are hot wired to be altruistic and do good in the world, but as in the newspapers it is only the bad news that makes the headlines. The individuals that I find incomprehensible are those who do evil under the guise that by doing so they themselves will reach a ‘higher place’ (call it what you will, heaven or paradise,) and that their own misdeeds will somehow benefit the world, the “we have to destroy them to save them” rationale the Americans used in the Vietnam and fanatical Islamists use today across the mainly Muslim world. Oh dear I’m beginning to sound like a sub standard Radio 4 ‘Thought for the day’ Vicar’ I’ll leave it there and go and make myself a cup of tea.

Happy Christmas everybody, even all you wonderful spammers out there.

The photograph was taken  in Brighton two years ago, I’m not sure if it’s an angel or a fairy, you can make your own mind up, but anyway you probably have one on top of your Christmas tree , I hope it doesn’t fall like this one did.






Stonehenge , the winter solstice.


The first time I visited Stonehenge  was back in the summer of 1983 en route back to Oxford from Cornwall, the then notorious festival was in full swing and comprised of a rebellious mix of hippies, punks, Hell’s Angels , New Agers and druids, in fact the full gamut of British outsider culture, I have been a frequent visitor to the winter and summer solstices ever since. Compared to now, back then  existed as fairly anarchic and edgy event and cocked a snook at the ‘powers that be’ which  all ended acrimoniously with the infamous Battle of the Bean Field, in effect a heavy handed assault by police under orders from above (a.k.a. the Tory government). Sadly to my mind what we are left with is a twice yearly inconvenience to English Heritage, high viz over organisation and zealous stewardship that has sucked much of the life and joy from an ancient celebration.This coming Monday 22nd at sunrise, a day later than usual, there will be as many tourists attending as there are serious solstice celebrants, not that I find that a problem but it is just indicates the way the world is now a smaller place and full of seekers  searching for the authentic and by so doing diluting the genuine experience they seek.

David Devant and his Spirit Wife – England’s most haunted band


If you have a spare evening tomorrow Friday the 19th, head along to The Lexington in Islington and treat yourself to a rare evening with one of the finest and relatively undiscovered bands that England has produced. Belinda and I first saw David Devant and his Spirit Wife back in 1992 when they played a Halloween concert at our local cinema, the Duke of York’s in Brighton we’ve been Devant devotees ever since.  Witty, intelligent lyrics mixed with catchy tunes, visually rich and tongue in cheek on stage,  a perfect fusion of art school and pop, how they never became huge is beyond me, but in a selfish way I’m pleased.  The image is of a comic they handed out at gigs. Check them out.

Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll (the workshop party)



Organising and preparing for the workshop party has taken over much of this past week which seems an inordinate amount of time for a knees up  which only lasts five or six hours, and to me becomes a  beery blur by 10 o clock. The man hours spent preparing invites, music , lights , sound system, props, beer, food, removing the dangerous bits of machinery, sweeping away this years accumulation of dust and wood shavings, is not far short of organising a mini festival, but the adage of ‘what you put in is what you get out’ holds true and I for one extract a years worth of good vibe. The workshop ‘do’ has become a firm fixture in the annual social calendar and queries about the date and the theme for it start to emerge around the beginning of the September, and each year it becomes a more elaborate and a more crowded event. The photograph above was taken at  Glastonbury  back in 1988 at a time when you could just about  buy a ticket on the day,  it had not yet evolved into the huge and hyped monster we see now,but even back then in the 80’s to many veterans of the 70’s the festival had already relinquished it’s  early ideals and sold out to commercial gain and the pursuit of bigger and better. Needless to say we in the workshop are not yet victims of our own success and shall not be expecting a crowd of 150,000 to rock up, This years theme is mockney London, anyway you are all invited.

WSPFront v2



Queen of the Pearly Jungle

Postcard from London508

The current “I’m a celebrity get me out of here” is a hot topic of conversation in our household, with three family members, wife, teenage daughter and nine year old son glued to what is happening in the Australian jungle studio. By permeation I find myself knowing the characters involved and which ones seem to be claiming the nation’s heart, much the same I find with ‘The Archers’,  I have a grasp of the story line even though  the first few notes of the theme tune has me scuttling off to audio sanctuary. As a fifty five year old bloke/git  I don’t  ‘do’ popular culture, I rarely watch TV or football, I don’t ‘do’ Facebook , ‘twitter’ seems driven by egotistical self publicists, and X factor is  for those who enjoy over produced karaoke. OK that maybe a little derisive as I appreciate there are millions who do get pleasure from these things so I’ll willingly tolerate them on that basis, I just don’t feel the need to partake. Last night in a moment of father-son bonding I did sit down with Barney  to watch half an hour of ‘I’m a celeb’, and if Edwina Currie does not emerge Queen of the Jungle I for one will be a little surprised, like her (John Major did) or not she has that rare and mystical quality known as charisma. Whilst on the matter of royalty, one of the other other cornerstones of popular British life I could happily live without is the monarchy. Politically and culturally they are a benign vestige and have learnt after their various mishaps to keep their mouths shut on anything contentious, keep your head down and metaphorically it doesn’t get shot off, a tactic which is also used by some in the Oz jungle. Again, as with the other previously mentioned facets of pop culture I’ll tolerate the Windsors because they generally seem to do no harm and provide plenty of people with escape from the mundanities of their own lives. Apart from any political misgivings, I rather pity  them as I would an animal that is born in captivity and will never experience the wild. To have every aspect of your life controlled, prescribed and scrutinised then to only say what is expected of you, and have that mantra of ‘born to serve’ hanging over you must sometimes be hellish, though I expect the odd palace and a bevy of servants softens the blow!  I wonder if some of them would prefer to take the Edward V111 route and say “I’m a celebrity get me out of here”.