Egypt – from a coach window – photos

Travelling from Karnak we headed off for lunch. The destination was the Hilton situated on the Nile.

As we went through town I took some shots to show a little of the life of the city.

I wanted to capture something of a different culture.

It is always strange to me to see people carrying things on their heads – yet it is a common sight in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Do the women really walk paces behind the men? And are those heavy black robes comfortable in this heat?

A roundabout with a difference.

Christian churches. That is a little unexpected.

Friendly people.

Musicians awaiting an audience.

Responsibility starts early.

Overseen by religion.

Hong Kong – Acrobats, Music and Dancers.

While in Hong Kong we attended an evening of music, dance and acrobatics. They were all amazing. Of course, I had to try all the acrobatics but somehow my body would not bend quite the same for the contortionist bits and I seemed to lack the balance or strength to do the other things! I might learn to play those strange Chinese instruments instead.

Poetry – My Culture – a poem about the struggle for freedom and equality.

Poetry – My Culture – a poem about the struggle for freedom and equality.

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My Culture

The society we live in did not come about by chance; it was fought for every inch of the way by people with vision and aspiration. The peasants and serfs were kept in poverty but they were not stupid. The robber barons stole the land from under their feet and they were powerless. The wealthy businessmen stole their products through guile. The State enacted laws to protect the establishment and keep the poor in their place.

With the coming of the industrial revolution ordinary people were kept down. They were paid a pittance in order to keep the profits high. The bosses creamed off huge wealth while the workers slaved. The owners and aristocrats lived in mansions and palaces with servants while the producers of the wealth lived in poverty and working conditions that were scandalous.

Gradually the ordinary people fought for representation, fair reward for labour given and justice. Ever so gradually the work conditions improved and the wages rose. Each step on the way was met with bleating and violence. The establishment was loath to give up its luxury; they feared the result of suffrage for ordinary people. They believed we might change the laws to create fairness.

They give us as little as they think they can buy us off with. Only through the unions was a living wage grudgingly conceded. Their fear is revolution.

This society we live in is the result of struggle. The freedoms we have are tenuous. The establishment claw back all they can. The wealth still sticks with the elite. The trickle down is as meagre as required to keep us docile. Zero hours contracts, austerity, unemployment and pay freezes are deployed while the rich get richer. We are all in it together is a lie. Information is biased and distorted – the Daily Mail and the rest of the press, even the BBC are all part of an establishment. He who tells the story controls the minds. The media moguls have a vested interest.

Democracy is a fragile thing and bought with blood – lots of blood.


My Culture

This is my culture – the wisdom of my ways.

Suppression and oppression – the order of past days.

Freed into the sunlight – on a democratic wave.

Released from penury – and the status of a slave.

 

The blood of my forebears sinks heavy in this soil

They paid dear for a share of the profits from their toil.

They fought for their rights and freedoms against a selfish few

Who garnered all the wealth away and propped up many a pew.

 

This is my culture – the result of battles fought.

Standing up for rights – against a great onslaught.

Liberty and equality – to stand tall and not in fear.

Freedom from King and God – is a right that we hold dear.

 

From the wealthy, the bishops and the kings

We wrested back our freedoms, among a host of things.

They grudgingly relented to give the very least

And we seized the goods on offer from the Baron and the Priest.

 

This is now my culture – value it we must!

If once our eyes do stray away – they’ll fling it in the dust.

Rights and freedoms – are febrile in the light.

They’ll rip them away – they have the power and the might.

 

I give thanks to the Levellers, the Chartists and rebels all,

Without all their struggles we would not have a life at all.

The suffragettes and Wilberforce struck blows for equality.

They chipped away at oppression and left us democracy.

 

This is that culture – worthy of a fight!

Free of church and monarchy – valiant and bright!

A culture to be proud of in which I take delight.

Proud to be an Englishman and put the world to right!

 

Not as an exploiter, a victor or an owner with his fee

But as a friend, a fellow traveller, a champion of the free.

Together we could stand to create justice without tyranny

Take the best from all our cultures and live in harmony.

 

I offer the hand of friendship

But keep a wary eye.

Freedom is a very rare thing,

But seize it we must try!

 

Opher 18.8.2015

Consumerism – the stupidest religion of all.

We are taught to be good consumers. All the world is a smorgasbord from which we are brainwashed into participating. There is always some new wonder that we are convinced we need.

Be good consumers – support your economy.

Goods are manufactured and sold to us. The profits are reinvested in producing more goods. People go into debt to purchase things they do not need. Growth is the mantra – produce more goods, consume more.

Advertising cons you into needing it.

We buy too much food because our appetites are ignited by the advertising. Then we spend a fortune on health farms, health products and dieting products.

We buy beauty products, lotions, deodorants, anti-wrinkle cream, hair dye, make-up, and health products by the ton. It makes me wonder what people did a couple of hundred years ago when they didn’t have any of it. Most of it is snake-oil.

Everything has a built in obsolescence and needs replacing regularly. Nothing is built to last. Every trend creates a new irresistible need.

When I was young we had nothing much in the way of electrical goods. We did not have a phone. We had a radio, one black and white TV, a radiogram, and my Dansette record player. In the kitchen there was an oven, a fridge and a twintub washing machine.

My present house has a huge TV, four or five radios, DVD player, A hi-fi system, record deck, tape deck, a CD player, 5 computers, 3 freezers, 2 fridges, gas hobs, oven, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, clothes dryer, food mixer, 3 landline phones, 2 mobiles, 2 cameras, and probably a lot of other stuff I can’t even remember without looking. It is all absolutely indispensable.

At school I used to get the kids to itemise their stuff. One kid said there were 10 TVs in the house including ones in all the bedrooms, the kitchen and bathroom. One kid had a dozen working cell phones shoved in a drawer. He was only fifteen. It seems that every Christmas and Birthday he got an upgrade because the old model didn’t take photos, or videos, or connect with the web, or wake him up in the morning. He had to had the latest one with the latest gimmick. Nowadays your phone can do the job of everything – music, photography, films, internet, recording – but you still need the rest of the stuff.

I resist a lot of the stupidities of consuming. But I do collect vinyl and CDS. I have done since I was a kid. It’s nuts. There is no end to the great music that I must have. More is issued every day. I now have many times more than I can possibly play.

The same goes for books. I have a vast library.

We have to have big houses to store and house the stuff we purchase.

They even sell us experiences when we have no more room for more stuff. They sell us storage to keep it in.

It is a sickness. It is called the religion of consumerism.

You can’t take it all with you when you die. But that doesn’t stop us.

We destroy the planet, use up the room, chop down the forests and claw out the natural resources to make things we really do not need, to satisfy the god of consumerism, to keep the profits flowing, so that some, a small minority, can live a life of luxury.

Heaven comes with your next essential purpose.

Sri Lanka – Dance – Photos

My wife is a dancer hence I get taken to a lot of dance productions. I’ve been Tangoed, Sambaed, Waltzed, Balleted and regaled with a hundred ethnic dances.

These were some of the latest as various troupes of Sri Lankan dancers took us through a series of traditional routines.

All very colourful, athletic, acrobatic and fun. Shame it’s reduced to a performance.

The British are European. We are mongrels and proud of it!

I hear all this rubbish about us being Anglo-Saxon as if we are an homogenous race apart from Europe and the rest of the world. What garbage. They don’t know what they are talking about.

We are a mixture of races – mainly European but also with genetic input from all over the world.

A short look at our evolution starkly demonstrates that.

  1. The Iron Age inhabitants were the Celts who probably originated in India and came to Britain from France and Germany
  2. The Angles and Saxons (Jutes and Frisians) came from Germany and Denmark
  3. The Romans came from Italy
  4. The Normans came from France
  5. The Vikings came from Sweden, Norway and Denmark
  6. Through trade and Empire we took in immigrants from China, Africa, Arabia and Indonesia.
  7. The waves of immigration from the Huguenots, Jews, Sikhs, Jamaicans, Turkish, Pakistanis, Indians, Ugandans and so on – all enriched our culture

Genetically we have mixtures of all these races. There is nothing ‘pure’ or homogenous about the British. We are full of hybrid vigour.

Our language reflects our genes. It is basically German/Danish with many French, Italian and other smatterings. That is what makes it so rich, colourful and expressive. We draw on so many cultures and have such great nuance. Our language is as much a mongrel as we are and all the better for it.

So basically the British are German with incorporations from all across Europe and sprinklings from the rest of the world.

Anglo-Saxons – you must be joking. I’m thoroughly European with a heavy dose of the rest of the world. I’m British.

What have I got in common with America? Two nations separated by a common language. Who said that? George Bernard Shaw.