Monday, 26 March 2012

Cruddas and crud

The resignation speech of the Conservative Treasurer Cruddas uses a technique fashionable among the PR and customer care community

He apologises for an "impression of impropriety".

It is the same formula used by those who write and say "We are sorry that you found our service less than satisfactory"

In both cases it restates the specifics of a charge into an abstraction (e.g. "late train" becomes "service below the standard you had expected" just as "selling access to the Prime Minister" becomes "an impropriety" AND it seems to apologise, because it uses some of the diction of apology, but is in fact expressing regret for the complainant's state of mind.

It distracts you from the crime and from the culprit. The expression of concern for the complainant -- I am sorry that you found our service to be below standard -- is just a mild form of locking up dissenters in the asylum: you disagree with us, therefore you are wrong / mad.

It is a further dishonesty.

Francis Maude's suggestion on Sunday -- some or other radio programme -- that Cruddas resigned because he had boasted and said things were not true is a further dishonesty. He resigned because he was recorded being perfectly honest, though we might well consider his proposal, that about which he spoke with candour, to be dishonest.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

George Osborne

I dislike George Osborne

Monday, 19 March 2012

Dungheads at ASDA

Five days on, I have just been emailed


but nothing else


I've noticed this word coming back in the last few days. It means or meant, as far as I can tell, using the same money over and over so that it bubbles and persuades you that it is worth much more than it is, beyond all standard, even the shit standard. Jugoslavia did that through the eighties -- Serbia lent to Croatia who lent to -- all the way round, till say Slovenia lent to Serbia who lent to Croatia.

Then the USA did it in a much more er leveraged way.

Now it is being used widely, a very fashionable idiocy.

One gets letters that initiate discussion with the words "I can confirm" though nothing has been mentioned before; because confirm is thought posher and more impressive than tell you.

And many other words. That one just occurs to me.

Now it's leveraging.

On Today (R4) today it was leveraging the costs of improving roads by tolls and other scams. Leveraging? Like what brought about the collapse of faith in the money system? But what does it mean here?

None of the famous Today interviewers asked.

Nor did they challenge an assertion that improved roads will get us out of the recession.

I thought the recession  was a product of loss of faith in money due to leveraging, not because the roads are so narrow they need leveraging.

Oh and the Post Office needs modernising. That'll be good, won't it. Well... it depends what modernising means. No one asked.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The story of my misfortunes 5

The first thing that happened was that all sorts of demands arrived via my solicitor while  "friends" passed on the information that she was still trying to think about what to do, after all this was a very serious matter and she had a duty to other women to protect them. Clear blackmail.
When I didn't respond, it went quiet for a while and then the police arrived and arrested me. They had a photograph of her covered with bruises. They were impressed by that.
They didn't tell me it was taken about a month after the attack.
My difficulty was that I didn't know where she had gone that night. One possibility was that she had gone to the man with whom she had hoped to live; and it seemed entirely possible to me that he had beaten her up. I knew that he was wearying of her. Most people did. I told her he would.
Later, at the trial that followed he said she had turned up and he wasn't best pleased because he did not want to be involved in anything any more.
That was one of her witnesses. The pekinese, asked to clarify an answer, shouted "Don't you call me a liar!"
Her doctor, when pressed, admitted that she had not actually carried out an examination and unfortunately couldn't find any notes; but she was sure that her report saying that MW was the victim of domestic violence was accurate.
The MW herself responded to questions with "How can you do this to me, as a woman" and then turned her back on the court and refused to speak.
Among the things she was declining to comment on were copies of correspondence between her and me which contradicted her evidence and a map of the house showing the impossibility of her account -- the police had not thought it necessary to visit the scene of the crime.
Before that, though, came my police interrogation. Off the record they virtually said they thought she was making it up. The sergeant explained that he couldn't be seen to be doubting a woman accusing a man and was greatly offended when I told him what I thought of him ethically for charging a  man he thought innocent. He didn't quite say "but what about my pension". Then they drove me home in case she was there and told me to take care.
CPS decided to prosecute and increased the charge to ABH, thereby guaranteeing a jury trial.
In the interrogation, they kept waving their photo of MW covered in bruises. I explained that I did not consider that to be  evidence against me and I am sure they were genuinely confused. "But look at the photo."
If her new man had hit her, he was hardly likely to say so. I was in trouble.
In fact, when the forensic scientist testified, he said that none of the injuries was serious and none inflicted by another; and that those which were not the kind of accidental injuries we all incur were self-inflicted. She seemed to have hurled herself against a vertical surface that night, he said; and indeed she had, as I had testified; and the rest she had done to herself a couple of weeks later.
No one had punched her in the stomach though she said I had. No one had karate chopped her, though she said I had.
And thus I was acquitted. An estimate of 50000 pounds cost to the public was made. She was not charged with perjury.
On the way to that situation I changed solicitors. The first ones had told me to plead guilty and that forensic evidence was not available. The police refused to release the tapes of my interview saying the law wouldnt let them. When I complained to the Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, he referred it to the local plods; and the local plods wrote to me "I advise you not to write aggressive letters to the police".... and then sent me the tapes.
The first item in the defence testimony was a playing of those tapes i.e. the tapes that had decided CPS to prosecute me were the first evidence offered of my innocence.
Perhaps the CPS were impressed by the photograph; they certainly fought tooth and nail to stop them being examined forensically.
When the police admitted how long it had taken them to take their photographs and were asked why they said "I don't know" and that seems to have been considered adequate.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Wealth creation

Wealth creation is what I intended to write about this morning.

It is a technical term in much the same way that Liberalism is. "Liberalism" is good, people think.

Uh no.

But even in its technical use it's barking.

Creation is something out of nothing. In Pauline Christianity, God thinks the universe into existence.

No one else can do that. Nothing else. The rest of us, the creatures, can only copy.

So "creation" and "creative" are metaphors, at best a suspicion that the "creative person" participates in some way with God's work.

And then we are told that x is created by y, to give it a sound of class. Hogwash created by Laboratoire Clochemerle for you.

Nowadays, of course, this is lost behind careerism and charlatanism, the resultant philosophy being best summed up by an advertisement for some kind of programmed knitting system a few years back: IT'S SIMPLE TO BE CREATIVE

Simple if you hope to live by it.

The words are not thought about. Like "inspiration". How many are really inspired? None? Anyone saying yes must explain the mechanism implied by the etymology.

Now "wealth". This is a slippery one in its use. I'll keep it simple.

Rome became wealthy when it had stolen a lot of stuff from other people. Britain too. USA etc. Methodologies may have changed a bit; but not much. China now. India. Ethical problems may have been hidden by exceptionalist claims. But wealth means basically a lot of stuff grabbed. Include in this the money people pay for crap.

So wealth is stolen from other people, making the thieves wealthy; and economics is the sum of the set of the stories told as the thieves explain away their crimes or others doing the task on their behalf: wealth, they say, is created from nothing by the abilities of exceptional people like us. Hence the Americas and Australia being empty because the first peoples didn't count cf Palestine in the twentieth century ongoing.

But the ab nihilo bit of creation is no such thing because it came from God. There always has to be something there. You just take it. The Greeks' creation consisted of doing a bit of improvement work on what pre-existed. One of the pre-Colombian systems, I forget which, had everything arising from some deity's semen. (And what does "banker" rime with?)

So wealth creation is nicking something and conning somebody. But most of it is nothing to do with making anything useful. It is -- sorry to repeat -- like Douglas Adams' fools who put themselves on the leaf standard to become rich in the spring. At best.

Idiots certainly

I just tried to leave a comment on Steve Hanson's blog. It's something I have done without difficulty.

I finished and pressed the key. It THREW AWAY what I had typed and said "That email address is associated with an existing account, please log in to use it."

There is an answer to that


Download in Progress
( SUPERAntiSpyware.exe (13.8MB), Version: 5.0.1146 )

If the download does not begin shortly, please click here.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The story of my misfortunes - 4

I made a mistake in #2.
I did step over her and phone a friend, told him that she was lying on the floor, clutching her stomach, saying I had hit her.
He said "I'll be right there" -- he'd already had her on the phone at odd hours, screaming at him that his friend was a devious villain (my words)
Then I went and wrote my diary; or tried to.
At that point, she got up and phoned her friend -- described later by the chap I had phoned as responding to her like a male pekinese on heat -- saying that I had hit her; then she went back into the dining room.
My friend, who arrived first, found her in the living room, where I had left her. I let him in but didn't go into see her and hadn't been in to see her. I knew there was nothing physically wrong with her. Not that had just happened.
At the time I had thought the groaning was a bit melodramatic as we both knew, at least at the beginning, that there was nothing wrong with her. Later and now I think she was thinking her way into the role, perhaps even then wondering if she had done the right thing.
The Pekinese arrived and took her away, accompanied to the door by my friend, who stayed a while and then left too; he had his own life.
I went to work the next morning.
The Mad Woman had a different problem to me. She had said she had been beaten up.
I imagined, and subsequent testimony confirmed, that her account was so worrying no one would stand by while she said "No I can't report him".
But there was no evidence on her side apart from what she had said.
I didn't ,mean to end there; but must. I  shall continue in due course."

Sutton blind traps

A new blind trap has become operative in the London Borough of Sutton. I call them "blind traps" but they are nearly as effective against the old and infirm.

Of course, the worthy administrators  (slogan: Strength through blagging) cannot admit to a eugenics programme; so they disguise their trap as a bollard or other street furniture. And then, in what is almost now a natural process, some inept driver mounts the pavement and collides with that furniture.

It is made of such flimsy material that it snaps off readily, leaving, in this case, a hole in the ground, with a raised lip around it, just right for tripping the unwary and frail, especially if it can last into autumn leaves or winter snow.

Other strategies are used -- collapsing benches, pretending to grit ice and so on -- but this is the most complex.

That is only part of it.

The next stage is to ignore reports of the error. I think I am right in saying that it once took them 15 months to repair. Well, it needs that time to get maximum return on their investment. Even when they repair them, of course, the driving fraternity activates them again. Clever.

Well, I wrote on Tuesday (13th) when I noticed the activation, so I am on the trouble-maker list again; and record it here. Hopefully, there'll be a few less drains on society in the borough shortly.

Email to the dungheads at ASDA

I just tried to buy some t-shirts from you online – you emailed me.

It took a long time to plough through the inappropriate items.

Although I clicked on menswear it took me to women's clothes and I had to navigate to menswear – the site fell over twice.

When finally I found an item I wanted, £2 t-shirts, I was disappointed that only 2 were available.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps these were bin ends and I could use an “adjacent” size.

This proved to be the case, but it would have been helpful if that had been made clear; you know, if you had communicated.

All sorts of problems followed – being asked to select when there was nothing to select when there was only one datum– but eventually I worked out what you were trying to say.

I had forgotten my password.

When I went to “forgotten your password”, it asked me for my email even though I had already typed that in – use of a simple variable would have dealt with that.

When I went back to the order, I was confused for some time until I realised that your system had reset all my “collect in store” to “home delivery” without me asking.

When I came to select my store, the system offered a map which completely covered the store selection page and it took a long time for me to outwit the automatic idiot you offer in order to make the selection.

I typed in my details – I remembered the extra security code you demanded; and then it said:

We're really sorry, an unexpected technical error occurred and your order could't be submitted. To place your order, please call our customer service team on 0800 952 3003

20 – 25 minutes wasted by your abuse of the invention of the internet and incompetence

I think the technical error is your selection of foolish and ignorant program designers and coders; and your thoughtless unwillingness to see the point of view of the user. I do not have a phone with me. I am not near a phone. If I had wanted to phone, I would have phoned.

I can almost imagine the anodyne, evasive, cynical nonsense you will send back; so I am going to put this email on the web as well. It is all I can do.

You really believe, I am sure, that you are doing a good job. You are wrong.


Dungy reply:

Thanks for taking the time to contact us.

Your feedback is important to us, as it allows us to keep improving our products and
services to ensure we are getting it right.

We aim to respond to all emails within 2-3 working days.

Asda Customer Services

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Water and fools

Congratulations to the inhabitants of the Sutton & East Surrey Water Company area

for as long as I can remember they have been having an excessive number of baths,  hosing their gardens which they then encourage to dry up by removing all the ground cover, digging up the trees, treading on and driving over the grass, using their cars when there is good public transport, voting for people who will not improve public transport, washing their cars with hosepipes, paying the council to pick up their compostable material and  deliver it as compost -- vehicle moved both ways -- and so on

and they have been rewarded -- we now have the  worst drought anyone can remember; a hosepipe ban in before the winter's done

definite growth in something, thank god

and where I live certainly the word is that anthropogenic global warming is a very doubtful idea and there's really no evidence -- anyway, I must go, I must put on the washing machine

people as hotspots

Monday, 12 March 2012

The story of my misfortunes - 3

I am wondering to what degree I am getting my chronology right. During cross-examination -- and by God was she cross -- in the trial that all this stuff led to, the prosecuting council when I said that I had turned up the radio once to drown the  MW's attacks because I had said it was twice to the police; or it may have been the other way round. I could be wrong. It was twenty years ago.
What I said then was after over two years, I might have misremembered but that what I said to the police was accurate.
I kept a diary of this matter for some years. It is something that I recommended trades union members do when I was counselling them for any kind of unreasonable behaviour against them. I told them to go into detail, even if it seemed trivial. I was giving such advice to a friend only a few days ago.
One thing that came out of the exercise was an awareness of how misleading the memory can be. MW would say something had happened in a particular way and I would doubt it, often correctly, but sometimes she was absolutely right.
This was nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of what either of us was doing; but the way that the memory tells itself stories. There is a lot of research literature on the subject.
I find it relatively easy to diarise adverse events, if only I can get the energy and the time; and if I can handle saying objectively what nasty things are being done to me. Those who are not so fluent in writing are at a disadvantage.
Pleasant events, unless they're breaks in nasty events, do not interest me to write about in the same documentary way. I am relatively happy for my brain to tell itself stories with them.
In this case, I could go back to the original diary that I kept. I could dump the whole file into this blog, I suppose; but what for?
It needs editing for almost any purpose. Its evidential function seems to have ceased although I intend it should exist at least until either MW or I die; and I may include it with my version of "my papers" to let other people decide.
I don't any more want to buttonhole MW as an identifiable person to the world at large. And when she first said to me, way back in the late 1970s, you won't put me in a book, will you? the truthful answer would have been I have already, if a book can be said to exist before it exists. I had already written about her to a considerable extent; as I am already poeticising the work I did in the garden this morning and the astonishingly brightly coloured spider I found among some ivy. Everything that happens to someone who makes art is potential material. It's never bothered me when I have been with another artist; we have to trust the people we love or perhaps we do not love them.
Nor do I want to tell the story of my life.
I started writing this account because aspects of MW's lies are affecting me again and I want to blog that in a context.
The process has taught me that while I can remember most of the right notes I am a little unsure that they are in the right order; and that's interesting.
I think I shall continue and then see where I have gone wrong. In terms of MW's attempted fraud and perjury and the light it throws on official corruption I am not making mistakes.
The only other thing to say, that I can think of at the moment, is that this blog may be an inappropriate context, given its title.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The story of my misfortunes - 2

The story of my misfortunes 2

Let's see if I can do this...
The counter offer I made was accepted but I was being told by those who spoke to us both that she was saying I couldn't afford it. Quite how she was supposed to know my finances is not clear. She couldn't add up two cups of tea. I could and did.
I had done the household accounts for years, giving her the money and she paid the bills because everything was in her name. It was childishly trusting of me.
When we split I refused to go on bailing her out as I had in the past. She would be hundreds of pounds short at the end of the month though we were paid well and the mortgage was low. But she had lots of nice clothes. In that year she borrowed money. (Sometimes I would be sitting quietly upstairs writing, as is my way on my own, and she'd crash in, call out asking if I was in – to which I rarely made reply after she insulted me as a matter of course – and went on the phone to sister or friends, telling them, and me, many things I would not have known.
It was tempting to say I had heard; but I never did; and she never seems to have suspected. It was childishly trusting of her.
Other times, she would phone me up and moan about money and how I was costing her money, how I had always cheated her. If I didn't answer she would just keep ringing. It was an oldfashioned phone you couldn't switch off. Her daughter, who was as barking as she, by this time would phone every 15 minutes in the middle of the night some times. It's strange what you can get used to.
The daughter had been looking for free lodgings. Our break up threatened to wreck that.
The daughter turned up one day with a bloke I'd never seen in toe to get some stuff, unquote. Inside the house she announced “this is my house”. I said not in law it wasn't and she said “fuck the law” and that she was coming back with ten people to stay and party. She went away and I have never seen her since though I believe she has been in the house since.
And her son... Both the kids had left home. Early on in the breakup she told me, as she often did, that everyone agreed with her, no one liked me and so on. Even her son didnt like me now, she said.
I checked that out and we spent the evening in the pub, he and I.
I don't know what he got out of it. I wasn't in a good frame of mind; but he was a kind-hearted person. We were going to meet again.
A few days later, she told me again that no one liked me, including her son. Foolishly, I let slip that I had seen him and a look that would sink a thousand ships went across her face. She put a stop to that.
She was a powerful person.
Therapy cost her. Solicitors cost her. But she needed them for fantasy. She had done marriage and when I first knew her she would begin sentences “when I had my breakdown”. Then she did divorce and introduced herself as a single parent. Now she had moved on to being a battered woman. That no one had battered her was a small point which she made up for by invention. She wanted a full life.
I should also say that she was intelligent, funny... and attractive. Very attractive. Just self-centered, rapacious and barking.
It turned out that she was inviting herself to see or stay with various people I knew to some extent and telling them the story of her sufferings at my hands. Somehow she managed to get them to say nothing to me. The gist of it, that I know, was that I could not handle her leaving me and she was kind of desperate to be free of my clutches
Meanwhile, I was asking her why we couldn't settle and complete the separation
Occasionally, there would be a gleeful phone call saying “I have just spent the weekend with NAME and now they know all about you.
She would yell at anyone thinking of booking me to read, tell them my supposed crimes and demand that poets stand up for battered women.
And so we trundled along.
In the summer of 1992, she got wind that I was not in the house. I heard later that she rang someone she thought would know where I was and said “No water has come out of the waste pipe for three days” and he later reflected what that piece of knowledge indicated of her state of mind. I had locked the front door so that it could not be opened from outside and put a new lock on the garden door to enable me to leave that way.
She later complained I had changed the lock. There never had been a lock there; but she was that inattentive.
He told her he knew I was away and not in the house. She seems to have got out of him that I was not alone and that knowledge and the jealousy it seems to have induced pushed her over an edge. She rang the police and said she feared that in my grief at her leaving me I must have killed myself.
They broke in and of course did not find me. She knew they would not. But it was a new experience for her at public expense.
They left her there.
I had left a pile of clean clothes on the ironing board, ready for my first week's teaching. She rearranged them much more neatly than I had made them, with little pieces of the glass from the police break in, folded in among each item. Two of my suits she stained with tea and threw in the dustbin. She poured oil and sauces over the kitchen counter with a note saying “This is dirty. Clean it up.” It was in the form of a memorandum: From, with initials; to, with my initials.
I came back to that from a week away.
I went to work the next morning from where I phoned her and demanded she arrange for a glazier to fix the window. To my astonishment, she did.
The harassment continued.
I tried to take on the mortgage and increase it to cover what I was going to pay. A form was sent to her because the mortgage was in her name.
She rang them up and said that we had changed our minds. She did not tell me. She complained that I did not seem to be doing anything to raise the money. I wasn't serious.
When I chased the company and they told me, I assured the company that I was serious and wanted the money. A form was sent to her. She scrawled across it, “my name is” and her name, but nothing else. It was not a signed agreement; more a baby's self-expression.
The company basically told me to go to hell after that.
Imagine a few more examples like that.
Then I got a personal financial advisor or some such and she arranged a mortgage about 50 miles away. That company wrote to me at work and to my solicitor. My solicitor assured her solicitor that I had a mortgage but would not say where.
She wasn't having that. She didn't believe it. Et cetera.
By now the people who were putting her up had clearly had enough. She was up in the middle of the night, banging on the window at me when I went in or out, if I didn't do it very quietly, and yelling down the phone if I made the mistake of answering her calls – no caller ID then.
I also had her sister and various of her hangers on telling me over the phone to be reasonable.
I'll skip quite a bit.
Comes a night she is asked to leave her shelter within days and faces selling the house a few weeks later. She can hardly come back, though in law she had the right; she had to stick with her story of mortal terror.
It occurred to me later that she had left home at 19 to get married and had never actually kept house on her own. By now, the man she had arranged to substitute for me, as she had once substituted me for her husband, had largely given up on her.
A phone call to her sister had given me the information that she and he were in his car one night when his wife appeared and lay on the road in front, rolling around, screaming Come back to me! Leave that protestant whore.
Of course she may have been inventing that.
Otherwise that convincing argument won him over.
So she was more or less alone and possibly terrified.
She turned up at the door and said “I have come to tell you how evil you are.”
I had been told not to refuse her entry.
She did the evil routine for a while while I asked her to go away and then she changed utterly and said it was such a pity after so much time together to end that way. She hoped we could be friends. She was so happy that I quote found someone new. That had been the problem. I shouldn't be alone; no one should. Perhaps now I could forget her.
I assured her that I wanted to forget her and maybe if she just went away I would manage it.
She invited me upstairs for old times' sake. Unquote.
It only occurred to me later that this was to provide evidence of rape. At the time I found her so repulsive, overwhelmingly so, that I pushed her away. Again and again for a very long time. I left the kitchen and went into the dining room. She tried to barge in.
That went on.
It went quiet. I worried she was going to try to lay claim to the house. I came out. She reappeared like Alien.
At some point we were in the living room and she's just chanting evil evil...
Then if I didn't do exactly as she wanted then she would tell the police I had beaten her up...
I suspect that this was to intimidate me. She knew I did not think highly of the police, shall we say, and it offended her Surrey suburban sensibilities.
The threat struck me as outrageous.
I did not know that she had been popping round to the local copshop for around 5 years telling them I beat her up but no she couldnt face me being prosecuted. Well, it helped her pass the time in between telling me how much she loved me. Assuming it is true she she had been doing that.
So I said go to hell.
She grabbed her stomach and said Oh dear, he's hit me. Oh – and fell on the floor. I stepped over her and went into the dining room to update the diary of these events that I had been keeping.
Cue theme music

Friday, 9 March 2012

Suffering of animals

And a postman has been jailed for six months for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
It was a cat.
When he arrived at the cat's house, the animal jumped on his trolley. He beat it repeatedly and threw what remained into its own garden and told everyone who had been witness to fuck off.  The cat died later.  The child of the family was particularly upset, it being her birthday.
It's good he has been punished; but it is inadequate, or shall I say unbalanced. There is the harm he has done the child and the rest of the family; and the cat has lost its life. That's on top of its suffering.
I do not see why one should get less for hurting an animal than for hurting a human; and this was a murder.
The punishment reflects a general view that animals are less important than us.
Some years ago I heard an interview with a terribly important man. I forget his name; but you could tell from how he spoke that he was important. Maybe he was called Tiddles. It doesn't matter; they answer to anything as long as you defer.
He experimented on animals. That was his profession.
I have a bit of trouble with that. And the declarative argument "but it helps people" is one that I find less than persuasive.
This chap said "and anyway animals aren't like us; they're just machines; when you sacrifice them it's just like switching them off"
I remember thinking that if an ethics committee would ok it then I would be happy to demonstrate how easy he would be to turn off, especially if I were armed with a hypodermic full of poison and he unsuspecting.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

I'm with the cockerels

It is reported that a man has been fined because his cockerel crows in the  morning.
In general, I hate the rhetorical question “Well, what am I supposed to do?”;  but that is because it is often asked when the person, usually an official or  other nuisance, has got themselves into a silly position and been criticised.
The question often demonstrates that they do not know what they are doing  and perhaps that they have been irresponsible. They have had one daft  solution to a problem and no idea how to get to a second when the first fails,  like a cat banging its head on a locked catflap.
It could have been an opportunity for them to learn; but that is rejected.
It's related to the officialese “we apologise” which is followed by incomprehension if it is rejected on the grounds of insincerity. You hear the bad tempered child in them saying “but I said sorry”.
However, in this case, where the law is interpreted to require a man to silence  a cockerel, I think it is reasonable of the man to ask just how he is supposed  to silence a cockerel. (The answer by the way is to deprive it of the dawn with  a cloth over its cage, interfering with its rights so that humans it does not know or care about lie in bed after the sun is up.)
Crowing is what cockerels do. They do not seem to have much grasp of  human expectation. They do not seem to reason.

Recently, I admonished a woman because her child was, in a public place,  apparently imitating a very loud parrot. (I rarely do speak up, only when it is unbearable and unavoidable.)
It's what children do, she said.
Not all of them do, I replied.
Mine do, moving away from a suspect general theory to a personal rebuttal.
Well, again, crowing is what cockerels do.

Are we seriously suggesting that we need children more than cockerels?
We have a superfluity of children. They're everywhere; and many of them are  growing up sociopaths.
The mother I just spoke of had been leaning back in her chair, talking on her  phone, not paying any attention to her child. That child pretending it had become a parrot, if that is what it was doing, was a creative response to the  selfish rejection.
When I suggested to the woman that her children were behaving unusually,  she shifted her ground: all children do it, she said.
When I denied that, she asked me if I was saying that she was not raising her child properly.
I suppose that is just what I was saying.
A baby is for always, not just as a by-product of fucking that helps you label  yourself as normal; and it should be dissuaded from learning that making a  dreadful noise is in order to impose its will. The best way may be to give it some recognition. In this situation, being totally selfish and managing to survive were rendered identical.
That child will make us want to hang it.
The question (Are you saying that I am not raising my child properly?) may  well be thought decisive. After all, parenthood is sacred. Like the right to drive;  and the right to defraud.
I was asked the question once before, on a train in Cornwall. I suggested to a  woman that she exercise some control over her child which had been making  the whole carriage unhappy while she watched it with a benign smile.
She told me her convenient-to-her lore of child behaviour.
When I told her I did not accept her terms, she told me to go back to England if I didn't like Cornish parenting.
How did she know I wasn't Cornish?
My accent, she told me. I asked her when her family had arrived in Cornwall.
What did I mean?
Well, I said, I regard myself as Cornish and can trace my  family there back a long way, including names which are Cornish beyond doubt. It’s an accident I was born in London.  What about you?
The conversation was at an end, my position declared stupid.
It's not that we need many children. Population growth may level off but it's  already way too high; and the demands that the existing population make  already means that our ability to feed ourselves will decline with resultant desertification.
We may be able to grow scum in vats; but I would prefer fresh eggs and  chicken.
If we are to have so many children, it must be on the basis of livestock  farming. That way is sustainable and a means towards providing them with a decent upbringing
I know nothing of the community in which the condemned man lives; but it is  unlikely that it is benign. I expect it to be destructive. Most communities are.
In the few benign communities I know, there are cockerels yelling their heads off at all times. I suppose that's because, in a benign community, people tend  to be sane.
The magistrate said that people are entitled to a night's rest.
The first time I became aware of one of my nearer neighbours, she had  poisoned a fox. It had barked in the night; and that, she said, disturbed her.  She was told that it would only be for a few nights; but she would bring the  universe to heel at once and put out rat poison, in a dose suitable for a rat; so  that the fox died slowly, screaming. I am told that this screaming was referred  to as evidence in support of her action. She saw it as further evidence that  the fox was imposing its will on her maliciously.
Cockerels and foxes have a right to life without interference from self justifying morons. They tend to be nicer people, just doing their thing, not  trying to subdue the planet.
The woman who killed a fox plays loud music, slams car doors, slams house doors, shouts in her garden and so on. She’s often noisy.
Of course, that’s something completely different.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Unintended consequences

There's a lot of talk about the law of unintended consequences.
I worry about the word law in that collocation. I think it's the wrong word. It's not a law in science; it's not a law in law.
We already have sod's law; and I am persuaded we all experience that; we can all be prats from time to time.
But to speak of a law of unintended consequences seems to give some people comfort. It allows them to persuade themselves that whatever they did it would have happened; and, therefore, that they are not responsible.
A little while ago, Councillor Jayne McCoy, Sutton Council's executive member for planning, economic development and housing, commenting on a woman who had been injured when a new public bench had collapsed said: "While there have been the inevitable issues with a project of this size, we hope the revamped town centre will serve to provide a better retail experience." [Sutton Guardian, October 2010]
I pass over the concept of not being injured by incompetent design as "a better retail experience" and draw your attention to "inevitable issues with a project this size". Inevitable issues? Inevitable? So they go ahead accepting that it is inevitable someone will design a bench that falls down if you sit on it?
There is nothing inevitable about it. That is not an unintended consequence of anything.
That is "Good enough for the plebs" and "I can't be arsed"

And that isn't quite what I started out to write about; but it's just as important.

Fashionable idiocies as belief systems

I'd been meaning to write something on beliefs and then stumbled on this while I was waiting for a train -- and that's another post I may write after

"Together with relabel, repackage and rebrand, [relaunch] smacks of market tradecraft, diligent attention to focus groups, flipcharts and that ritual called the presentation which is conducted by young men from advertising agencies who, tieless, crop-headed and sermonizing, might easily be priests [...]and if you accept their sacraments the product is born again, which is to say that it looks dramatically different to convey a change of substance, though substantially it remains the same

Ian Jack
Granta 62, Summer 1998"

I'd want to go further. I am not happy with limiting it to people who look like priests. It's the belief itself, usually invented or inherited as an assertion of what the person wants to be true or which he / she thinks will give them power over another that I want to nail.

And the oppressed and suppressed, anxious to keep the bully off them, try to anticipate. They pick up quickly on the new thing. I have often quote the mild satire of one aspect of this in C S Lewis's That hideous strength -- there's a new science of Pragmatometry invented by someone who wasn't actually very good academically. We hear an opinion that the inventor of Pragmatometry is academically a bit of a joke and barely deserved his third class degree. (I often think of this when I hear a particular person pontificating about ideas on R4 though she did manage a 2.2.Better not say the name.)

Joke or not the nasty people take up the idea.

"Up to now, everything has been haphazard. This is going to put science itself on a scientific basis. There are to be forty interlocking committees sitting every day and they've got a wonderful gadget - I was shown the model last time I was in town - by which the findings of each committee print themselves off in their own little compartment on the Analytical Notice-Board every half hour. Then, that report slides itself into the right position where it's connected up by little arrows with all the relevant parts of the other reports. A glance at the Board shows you the policy of the whole Institute actually taking shape under your own eyes. There'll be a staff of at least twenty experts at the top of the building working this Notice-Board in a room rather like the Tube control rooms. It's a marvellous gadget. The different kinds of business all come out in the Board in different coloured lights. It must have cost half a million. They call it a Pragmatometer." [...]  "Pragmatometry is going to be a big thing. Hundreds of people are going in for it. Why, this Analytical Notice-Board will probably be out of date before the building is finished!"

[C S Lewis That hideous strength 1946 (probably)]

Now I think that's spot on anyway. What is even better though is the way that here and there more recently people have read it and said "This is the internet! He foresaw the internet"

No, Sir or Madam, he observed and listened to airheads; and then he sent them up. He used a daft futuristic idea boith because he knew about sf and many daft ideas are futuristic. It is the standard ploy and defence of the fool to claim they are ready for the future and you are not, that they have the new idea and you do not.

I apologise to those who know me and groan "Oh he's quoting Pragmatometry again"

But I just want to say (again): what is to be done when we have people who cannot see the innate idiocy of that idea as it's offered? The myth of doing everything quickly.

I also used to have an acquaintance who seemed to deny the validity of the satire here because C S Lewis was a deeply-believing Christian. I dropped the acquaintanceship for another reason but also because the chap couldn't pick out the relevant from the irrelevant. Whatever Lewis got right or wrong, he clearly had a good crap detector in some ways. And an idea can be sound even if the person having it also believes in fairies.

And from that to all the people who say that there is no money in this country. As a cow recently voxpopped: The farmer told me hisself. He said "4756327," he said, "I may not be able to feed you cows fresh stuff no more; you'll have to eat each other." And I said, "Well, Farmer Osborne, I wouldn't like that at all; but if you say it's got to be, then I dare say there's a deal of truth in it. Just tell me when and who to bite and I'll make a start. We're all in this together. And tell me about any extremists getting in the way and I'll roll on them."


I continue to keep an eye on how we are being wired up for the future. It is of course being led by the private sector insentivised by profit.
Today's example is wifi_paragon.
It took a long time to load itself and then invited me to enter. I clicked and nothing happened. I clicked again, waiting for some time. After 15 attempts, I gave up.
I was ready to give up. The operating system had sent me messages amounting to: you are going to load that!? Do you know how insecure it is?!
In the few minutes in which I got sod all from wifi_paragon my computer gained a great deal of nasty spying software I could have done without.
I went somewhere else.
In theory this will be noted by the market. In practice my fellows will sit there thinking it's not so bad, what can you expect? and who got out of bed the wrong side?

NHS privatisation

This, below, from 38 degrees

(Late yesterday afternoon outside New Cross Gate Station there was a jolly bunch handing out leaflets and shouting No to NHS privatisation

Good stuff

"Dear Mr Cameron: You're making a big mistake with the NHS. Please, please listen to
us." Dr Brigid Sheppard. Our massive billboard campaign launches today. Click to
order your own free NHS poster and leaflets to take the campaign to your street.

Dear Lawrence,

It's happening today. More than 130 huge billboards are going up in London, with
more to follow in high streets across the country. More than 20,000 38 Degrees
members have chipped in over £300,000 to make this happen. Thank you so much.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Homo Yahoo

Steve Hanson picked up positively on my The Olympics are sacred blog, including my use of the term Homo Yahoo.

I want to be clear what I mean by that, aware that there are some who do not know the reference to Dean Swift and think that Gulliver's Travels is an animated cartoon they once saw.

I mean Swift's Yahoos, whom he meets in the country of the Houyhnhnms, to a considerable degree.

I read a commentary on that recently where it was claimed that Yahoos look like human beings but are actually deformed and degenerate. That is not Swift. It is not Lemuel Gulliver. Yahoos are human beings and Gulliver is of them.

I would take issue, however, with Swift. I dislike his revulsion at the human body and the implicit idea that sex should be left alone apart from eugenic reproduction. Idiot.

So I am taking his word but ignoring some of the association. He is funny, though. I am just thinking of the section where Lemuel says he is sure he could persuade  the Houyhnhnms that our race is not the dirtiest and most disgusting if only he could let them see a pig. Very good, Dean Swift.

But I am happy if my term Homo Yahoo also includes users and collaborators with the company Yahoo and most of its work.

It certainly includes Paul Crave (see my previous post)

Without wishing to suggest a golden age, I want to indicate the 7 billion pushing and shoving bipeds some of whom I like a few of whom I desire are getting a bit undesirable in their actions and attitudes.

We have had maybe 100000 years of extraordinary mental evolution; but something has gone wrong. Just as we have been able to extend active and healthy life, build a machine to fly a few of us to the moon, and so on... just then... we turn into a bunch of dungheads or develop a previously latent capacity.

And after us, the deluge of shit.


Date: Tue, March 6, 2012 10:09

Dear Mr Crave

Thank you for your request that I provide you with my personal
information to an aol address in return for a promise of money in the

 I knew that I did not know you and couldn't work out why you would invite me to be a mystery shopper.

I noted that you wrote from gmail.

 Spam, I thought. A particularly lazy and / or stupid form of spam given that the address you sent to is an art publisher.

 More, the offer of a _uk job opportunity_ indicated you are not in UK; and indeed you sent the message via a us isp. Not proof, but perhaps indicative.

And then a quick search of the web brought up many people in the states who would like the money you promised them.

You're a crook, Mr Crave. Anyone who would fall for your inept lies really deserves not to be targeted by a pathogen like you. You dishonour your country and the species you pretend to belong to

You are my CROOK OF THE MONTH, a fact I shall now blog.
Take me off your list.
Then, please, go to your nearest waste disposal facility and turn yourself in.

----- Original Message -----
Sent:Fri, 2 Mar 2012 17:48:02 -0500
Subject:UK Job Offer!!

Get 200 Cash For Free To Be a Mystery or Secret Shopper In Your Home
Area! We need you to shop at the store we locate for you in your area
and report back to our sponsor your shopping experience via email,if
you are interested Kindly provide the below information.

*Full Name :
*Address :
*City :
*County :
*Post Code:
*Mobile # :
*Age :

Thank you,
Paul Crave

Monday, 5 March 2012

The story of my misfortunes - 1

I'll jump to 1992, at least to start. I may have to go back. I'm fighting tyranny in the local council at the moment; and I am remembering fighting tyranny 20 years ago. It does not make for recollection in tranquility . It does not make for orderly composition.

By this time, my lover was living next door. [It strikes me this moment that this was not a meaning of the phrase that occurred to me when I was writing my set Next door about incipient Fascism in Carshalton Beeches. I think it is there. How odd. I am disinclined to autobiography*.]

She had gone to those people saying she feared violence from me. She may have feared ridicule from me; but I think her purpose was to put pressure by other people on me. I may come back to that if it becomes relevant.

After many months, I received a final offer from her solicitors. It was their first offer. It was an offer of way below what I was due and I rejected it; but I rejected it with a counter offer which used her figures.

Now there was a really long silence. It may have meant nothing but it may have been her not wanting to accept the offer but being in no position to dispute the fabricated figures.

For the first few months, I had been asking her the reason for her anger and antipathy towards me. And she would just respond: "You know what you've done."

I separate that from her claim that she did not love me. I was prepared to believe it. I have lost interest in people I have loved. I suppose we all know that feeling: no, I don't like you as much as I thought. However, after twelve years, I was outside of my personal experience of falling out of love; but when she forced me this way to think about it, then I was ready to accept that my love of her had cooled.

I remember writing (in Messages to silence) something like “One cannot be ecstatic all a life”; and so it is. That was to do with people living in a beautiful town by the sea and almost taking it for granted; and I can think of several places I now know where I can be knocked sideways by the place and yet to a great extent take it for granted. It gets like that with people maybe.

We were, at her request, in separate beds – we had a spare room – but she kept making occasional sexual advances to me, which was strange given that she had said she did not want to live with me because she didn't love me. But from the beginning of October 1991 until maybe the middle of January 1992, maybe 10 weeks, we went to bed five times. (It's almost teenage, isn't it, that I have the count; but it was singular. It separated love and sex, which was a bit of a throwback.) It wasn't much of a sex life but it suggested something was askew: I don't love you; come to bed with me. Nor did we see each other much. She was off seeing the new man in her life.

Then she said that her counsellor had told her she was being used by me and should resist that. I wasn't quite sure how a woman I had lived with saying “Do you want a fuck?” – we didn't mess around linguistically – and me saying ok was me using her; but that was that. Within a few months, I was quite besotted by someone else whom I shall not mention further, not to identify her anyway, and began to see The Mad Woman as less than desirable.

During those first months, we also went to Marriage Guidance. That was interesting. Her first response, when I suggested it, was that I had spoken against it in the past so I was not serious. I said that I had and maybe I was wrong. I was certainly happy to find that I had been wrong if we could find a way through with their help.

She agreed eventually but insisted that she make the arrangements “because you have never let me arrange anything”. And I'll come back to that.

Interestingly, on the way there, she said she couldn't understand why I wanted to try to stay with her after the way she had treated me. I had to agree it was odd though I am not sure that the detail of what she did matters much now. As I think this through, I can come back to that. But it was an interesting admission; as was the proposal that we meet in McDonalds. I lived with her all those years and never glimpsed the junk food eater in her. When we could afford it, we used, in those days, to eat at The Gay Hussar in Soho. For instance. Money. Quality... if you like it. I did like it. I thought she did.

But that morning I wondered if she were just taking on new roles. (Once, a couple of years before, I called her in to the living room, to forget the housework for a bit and watch James Mason on TV in Madam Bovary. No answer. “Don't you like Madam Bovary?” I had always assumed she did...

Enter hurricane: How dare you say I am like Emma Bovary. I am nothing like Emma Bovary.

When she stopped shouting, I told her what I had said and she said “Oh” and went away a little shakily. So, I thought, you're worried that you are like Emma Bovary.

The way she had introduced the forename seemed to clinch it. It was something that had not occurred to me then; but it fitted very well in some ways.)

When we got there, to Marriage Guidance, it turned out that she had demanded they help us to reach a financial settlement; although as she was resisting that I think she wanted them on her side. They said they had told her that they couldn't do that separately, I think – I wasn't listening properly by then – but could help us towards being ready to reach one.

She spoke first and called me a fascist; and more; shouting andhectoring; and I lost interest.

The session came to an end and we went downstairs. She announced she had no money and I would have to pay her share. I declined and we left having paid 50% of what was due... or maybe it was a suggested figure. We left with her shouting at me again that something was typical of me, that I was so tight-fisted; and how embarrassing I was; how dreadful; and outside she changed and said “I think we have a very good counsellor there.” as if all the rest, her vitriolic attack upon me and the kerfuffle over money hadn't happened.

I thought about that when I recovered my balance; and that was when I had put some distance between us.

If it was her counsellor then they would be good. She wanted only the best, the best by popular acclaim, and blagged it by declaration if she didn't have it.

I remember an acquaintance taking me to Blooms, where I had never been, and saying “This is the best salt beef in London”. For some reason I repeated this to someone who knew him better than I; and they said “Oh if he goes somewhere then he'll tell you it's the best; because he only eats the best; qed.” My ex-mrs was like that.

Then she said: “Come on, and I'll buy you lunch.”

How could she do that, without money? I asked. I don't remember the answer. Some waffle. I left her there.

What about making another appointment? she asked. (As if we could have easily gone in again to make one.) I said there was no point if she was just going to harangue me. And she said she had known I wasn't serious.

Right. This is not where I expected to be.

I wonder if anyone will ever read this far.

I intend to go to the end of this anyway.

But not now. Not yet. More soon.

* All writing is autobiographical to some extent, of course. I wrote a long sequence, Messages to silence, between 1986 and 1993, which went very close to autobiography; but it varied from it; and I was quite consciously seeing what it is like, what the problems are etc. I remember posing in some kind of (my) mode of William Blake, quoting him "My name is Wm Blake and I have died several times". It was an unpleasant experience.

FOREST -- works in progress

Rough old snapshots and a few notes

Only resist

Returning a compliment, I recommend Steve Hanson's blog

When I started up blogging here, towards the end of February, I think I said it was Steve's blog that had given me the energy

What was it E M Forster said?

Only resist...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Forest of Sutton Bulletin 3

Just had an offer from a fellow artist that, if the Sutton Foresters cause me to chop down my "untidy tree", he will come with his chain saw and video camera, to help me; and for us to make an artwork of it.

By the way. Here is the tree...

I am sure you can see all that nasty blossom. That attracts insects. And the branches provide habitat for birds. Nasty. Noisy. It has to come down. It is untidy. U N T I D Y.

The Sutton Foresters do what they can. Just when anything overwintering would be poking its nose out, they send insect bailiffs out to blow through the public grass to kill off any survivors.

And to ensure that there can be no dispute over their decisions, they have nothing written down by way of criteria and guidance of the management of private land. They tell you to work it out for yourself under threat of criminal action: that ensures that people are sufficiently thorough in their destruction of the natural world.

The Complaints Procedure has been suspended; but it is a secret that this is the case.

Complaints are just ignored and the Procedure continues to be advertised, in order to give the more pliable a sense of security whilst ensuring that our Dear Leaders are not opposed.

To make sure that you  understand the problem, I give you here a picture of a tidy tree.

As you can see, if you know what's good for you -- the Sutton Forest is a dangerous place  and you wouldn't want to get in trouble -- there's no comparison; and the owners have had the basic human decency to cover up the bare earth for ever.

Anyone with that amount of tree (first example) in their front garden -- and there were more trees there before the owner repented his grievous sins -- cannot hear the noise of sound systems and cars 24 / 7. It means that person isn't participating fully in society and has to be brought in by force for their own good. In the second picture, a civilised compromise has been reached, apparently.

Also, the first tree inhibits the desire and ability of people passing  to peer in to the house and assess the desirability of sharing the Forest of Sutton with that person. The London Borough of Sutton employs staff who compile files on people for this very purposes. The results are available to any licensed bigot and distributed by gossip. But it isn't enough and people want a choice of information sources.

The police have warned us, nationally, that anyone who does not cooperate all the time with constant surveillance by keeping themselves permanently visible is probably a terrorist; and the police are experts.

Few people of the Sutton Forest ever face such a dilemma, not with their famous cry of "Yes to Forest! No to trees" which superseded the earlier "Yes to Choice but no to Freedom." They acquire very wide digital screens and want to be able to show them off, glowing, to the street without any impedance. That's enough for most of us.  Most people in Sutton are rightly proud of the light pollution they cause. They have put trees behind them, except as exhibits in a zoo.

I'll do a bulletin on the Sutton Forest Tree Zoo very shortly.

I have confessed to people how light my ecological footprint is; and this has caused understandable fear. It's my own fault.

As someone said the other day: "You're the kind of person who wouldn't go to a public hanging. You're not Christian."

Anyway, I must go out soon into the anthropogenic bad weather [chorus: Don't be so damn stupid; how ridiculous]

I have thanked my friend but am not sure I want a video. I can think of other approaches.

The Forest of Sutton Bulletin 2

Take a look at the London Borough of Sutton logo.

It is an image of a single tree. I just photographed it in Sutton High Street. It's everywhere in the borough, though it's preferable to images of a Dear Leader. It performs the same function if much more mildly.
I remember when the logo came in. The old letter-heads had to be trashed, by order, because the environmental message was so important.
It is not, you will notice, a realistic image of a tree: it is an image of a tree made by someone who does not look at trees; and I have been wondering what the message, the understory, is.
I think now that I know what the logo message is.
It says the aim of London Borough of Sutton is to get to the situation where there is only one tree in the borough. Trees make Society look untidy. We must forget our animal origins. As we have forgotten our intelligence.
The New Sutton Foresters cover their tracks. They plant some and they destroy some. They destroy more than they plant.
Now look at the logo again. It shows the trunk of that tree severed, in the stylised act of falling.
They are going to get down to one tree and then chop the hated thing down. (When the police in West Cornwall had mobile masts everywhere but at Gurnard's Head, they changed their argument from need – which some resisted – to “but everyone else has got them.”)
In Tomorrow's Sutton, the argument will be that trees are outdated, unsuited to the competitive market – look there is only one. Or else you are old-fashioned.
In the meantime, the remaining trees are generally stunted, but not all, to help people not notice. And to get people into the way of hating trees.
Whenever holes are dug in the ground for some other purpose, roots can be severed. Little by little.
In the high street, the trees are surrounded by bricks and concrete and any remaining soil is covered with an odd permeable substance so that sensitive humans do not actually have to see real earth.

Olympics are sacred

General outrage at Len McClusky's suggestion of civil disobedience against and / or during the Olympics.

The argument against him seems to be: but they're the Olympics.

That might carry weight with those who find competitive athletics interesting or even those who find something ineffably rousing about the Olympics, as happened with Barrenness Warsi on R4 the other night, though she ran out of words and said little more than “but they're the Olympics” from the end of her political vocabulary. (Later, she gave a list of the many uses for numeracy, citing home, work... and then back to home again for #3 using slightly different words.)

Enough of her. The general response is a special plea and an implicit assertion that we are speaking of something sacred and the matter is not up for discussion. Thus, the apparent mindless repetition of an assertion is in fact an advertisement that the speaker means to have their own way because to disagree is a sign of your mindlessness and unacceptability.

When I was about 14, the pope came on tv, a picture of him, probably giving his blessing; and I found him insufferable. To demonstrate this to myself, I muttered “Oh shutup” and snuggled more deeply into the armchair I was occupying.

My father, who had not quite abandoned faith at that point, asked “What did you say? That's the pope!”

He clearly found that a clinching argument and I backed off; but I can't remember it much beyond the realisation that I had drawn fire when I was in the open and argumentatively defenceless from his point of view; and he had all the power. I still sometimes forget that a good argument rarely succeeds with Homo Yahoo, and those, like my father, whom it has subjugated.

One cannot fight that kind of supposedly clinching argument. There was a Mayall and Edmondson, I think, comedy routine in which one won't eat sprouts and the other says “But it's Christmas!”. And that just goes on and on. Spot on; slightly funny.

But strip away the Olympics from it and look at what is said, the equations of argument underneath, and how they might be transposed: then there might be consensus without much outrage if one were to reformulate it. And that is that everyone has a right to their opinion, informed or otherwise, scientific or otherwise. Few dispute that because it's so inane.

In certain strictly-delimited circumstances there is a right to demonstrate and / or strike, as long as it doesn't change anything. Many will agree with that; it's similar to the claimed need for the young unemployed to give them something to do to stop them not getting cross.

It will then be said: “peaceful democratic protest and the right to strike is part of what makes Britain great”. The Barrenness said something of that sort.

It follows therefore that not only these rights but also the injustices which give rise to the necessity to exercise the rights must be preserved at all costs: strikes, protests, ravens at the Tower of London, economic disadvantage and so on. Like Ted Hughes' Crow which is going to “keep things like this”

Len McClusky was proposing that civil disobedience and industrial action should be conducted to win and therefore change things. That is clearly unacceptable. The workers must always lose or Britain just won't be Britain any more.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Forest of Sutton Bulletin 1

Those who know the London Borough of Sutton may be surprised by my title.

I am stretching the meaning of the word forest a little. The part of Sutton I live in was chalk downland until the beginning of the last century. It is really part of the S E conurbation.

Some delude themselves, perhaps a mental continuity from the sheep who used to be here, and have been known to call the newsagent, barber's, nail studio, fish and chip shop and various restaurants at the bottom of the hill I live on, “the village”.

But there is an article on Wikipedia which makes an associative connection: “As with cities, depending on various cultural definitions, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have different classifications according to how and what of the forest is composed.

I propose here, as part of my larger FOREST project to consider the diversity of objects and processes that we find in the unacknowledged Forest of Sutton.

No drunk moose wandering but plenty of dangerous motor cars. It's a dangerous area over all. (See references in my Wire Sculptures (1995, 2003).

It's a nasty area (see references in my Next door (2010)). And getting nastier.

I propose to examine the management of this forest, management policies and so on.

How long I shall have the enthusiasm for this is another matter; it's something most of us try to forget and only a few bleat; but whatever I get done will be background reading at least for the larger project.

I welcome comments, especially from anyone who knows this area.

As Wikipedia tells us: “A typical forest is composed of the overstory and the understory.” I shall consider both to some extent. (I have made a start on the understory with Next Door.

Conversation in the agora

Scene 1 of 1 
Caffe Nero

A new customer approaches a table. As he does so, the couple on the next table pile their prolific collection of cups, mugs and plates on that table, grabbing their coats

New Customer: Oh thanks for that. [No reply] You could have left them where they were.
Departing customer 1: It's untidy.
New customer: Well you could have taken them to the counter.
Departing customer 2: [Mildly affronted] Why should we?
New customer: Ah, yes. Well, I quite see your point of view. And it's your democratic right --
Departing customer 2: It is. Yes.
New customer: to be a thoughtless waste of a human body.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Last on Gulliver's Travels

I haven't been able to the give a "good rereading" to Gulliver's Travels but a lot of the words have gone through my eyes and I have jumped around quite a bit in pursuit of my worries about what I have recently heard. The BBC have played merry hell with it.
One scene in particular had bothered me. When Gulliver is sexually attacked by a female Yahoo, he responds. That's not in the book. Not at all.
I think now that it is no longer available to listen to; so this is just by way of tidying up my own thread.
It's hardly useful to worry away at everything now; I just note I am disappointed that they did so much violence to the text. The narrative seemed to have been chopped up and pulled from a bag, Cabaret Voltaire-style, in pursuit of a shortened story.
Some of it seemed pointless -- like the radio versions of French novels where people speak, in English, with peculiar French akSENTS to other French people. (John Keats gets a Kings English voice of course)
Why dramatise it? It's not a dramatic book. It needs a straight reading. Now that would be something.
I could say that to the BBC; but they write back saying they're right.

Network Rail and the variable

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Google and my information

Just had an email from google

a no reply address

but it does have a link which, when I get there, suggests I give them my private phone number; lots of other things, some perhaps innocent, but I noticed that

well, this space, I believe, comes from google, so they can have my comments even if they don't want to receive them; their wonderful system can inject them with my opinions via the back passage

I am rather worried by what I hear from EU about your invasion of privacy

and if you don't want me to reply then don't write to me

don't TELL me what I may or may not say

especially if you are then going to talk about freedom and choice, and I just bet you are

A meeting in the Agora
Act 1 of 1 – the reduced shelves at Morrison's Supermarket

Member of the electorate: What you doing!
Victim: I'm sorry?
Member of the electorate: You just got in my way!
Victim: Did I? I'm sorry.I didn't realise. [Returns to looking at the shelves]
Member of the electorate: Why d'you do that? You got right in my way.
Victim: I didn't know I did. As I have said, I am sorry.[Returns to looking at the shelves]
Member of the electorate: You did. You went like this. [Performs an elaborate and ugly ballet, his backside sticking out behind him, his belly hanging forward, his face showing intense concentration, like a dog defecating, and slides and twists over many square feet in front of the small cabinet of shelves] That's you. That's what you did.
Victim: Well, I find it hard to believe all that was me; but I have said that I am sorry for getting in your way.
Member of the electorate: But why did you do do it?
Victim: I don't think I did actually. Anyway, I am very sorry to have caused you so much stress.
Member of the electorate: You must be retarded.
Victim: [After a long silence] What if I were retarded?
Member of the electorate: What?
Victim: If I were retarded... Would that be an appropriate way to speak to me?
Member of the electorate: [Slight perhaps confused pause] Oh fuck off
Victim: Don't you have any compassion for people you call retarded? They're often a lot more polite than you are.
Member of the electorate: Fuck off.
Victim: Is “fuck off” all you can say?
Member of the electorate: Fuck off.
Victim: [Leaning towards the other] Perhaps you're worried it is you who is retarded, Sir; and you can't handle it.
Member of the electorate: Don't you come near me! Don't you touch me!

i.m. David Rathband

My first full awareness today, after the shipping forecast, was the news that David Rathband, the policeman blinded by Ralph Moat, had killed himself -- although no one had the strength of character to say that in those words.
In due course, I expect mistakes will be identified and lessons will be learned, and all the other bullshit. David Rathband will still have been blinded and will still be dead.
Saying he was brave, as Ms May has, hardly helps, like much of what Ms May says.
I don't know if he was or wasn't brave. It is not a virtue I rate highly. And being shot in the face does not make you brave, just as being blown up in Afghanistan doesn't make you brave. You may or may not be. Well, some of us are; some less so.
It's like hair colour; and, like that, can be changed chemically.
It is rare for me to think kindly of police, though I would like to be able to. I can do it in particulars; but I lost my general enthusiasm in Trafalgar Sq late one night in my teens. I was on my way home from gigging, trying to find a night bus, carrying a shoulder bag full of poetry books.
A policeman asked me what I had in my bag and I told him.
In reply, he grabbed me and threw me hard against the railings saying "I've had enough smart answers from fucking public school boys."
Then he opened my bag and found I was telling the truth. He arrested me.
After being searched and insulted by him and his mate at the station, they let me go without an apology.
My opinion of the police did not improve one day in the early 1980s when most of my school class were absent, locked up by the police. Earlsfield. (Inadvertently, I did earn the nickname, one of several, some less affectionate, Upton Top Rankin, when I indicated recognition of the students' experiential opinion of the force.)
The plight of David Rathband, however, moved me considerably. I had recently been considering suicide myself. Sorry to drop that in suddenly; it would deal with a few problems; but not when the problem is with dungheads, so I got up to write this and do other things.
Sorry, as I say, but let's not get too het up about it. A lot of us do think of it. It has always seemed to me entirely sensible to kill oneself when one has really had enough; and I have no sympathy with people suffering from incurable belief systems who would seek to impede us in this. They can stay and offer it up as a sacrifice if they want to; but they can stay out of my death.
Constable Rathband did not seem to have had enough until Ralph Moat was allowed to maim him.
I was late up by my own plan as I lay for a long time thinking on this: that he is now "free" of his own suffering and the bullshit which surrounds it.
I was dysfunctional as I bought a take away tea in the bakers and left it behind and went on to the railway station where I bought the wrong ticket, still thinking of Constable Rathband and associated thoughts.
And then there were Ian Tomlinson and Mark Duggan, both dead, those responsible being slowtracked at best through the system.
And de Menezes and Blair Peach.
I remember Bob Dylan's lines about lynching over 4 decades ago -- Two men died neath the Mississippi moon /Somebody'd better investigate soon
And I still think of Kevin Gately. In 1974, I believe. Red Lion Square. Merely showing peaceful opposition by marching only to be kettled and then hit.
I subedited a draft of an account of the investigation of his death and that whole day.
I remember being shown photos. I remember standing at the place he was killed. It was not difficult to work out. I am pretty certain I know the name of the man who struck the blow on that clearly innocent man as they let the NF through jeering their racist chants.
I quote a quote from a friend of mine from my poetry collection Next Door on the fascist undertones of the London Borough of Sutton.
A fine human being, Waclaw Kessling, lots of medals; never pretended to be brave but seemingly died bravely.
"Upton, you have a wonderful country. It is such a pity that the Normans are still in charge."

On collaboration etc

Surfacing after a horrible couple of days and writing to a friend / collaborator, I referred to a talk I gave went looking for it and was still quite pleased On collaboration in art and in research into art Well, the link doesn't work here. I'll look at it later. It is