More is so much less!

We live in an age of instant gratification where everything is available at the click of a mouse – yet nothing is cherished.

I think this is the same in all areas, but particularly in music.

I have spent much of my life searching through record shops, hunting for albums, for particular artists and bands, rarities, and long-sought LPs. There was always the thrill of expectation every time you set out to do a tour around. You never knew what you would unearth. Then, when you finally discovered something you had been searching for there was a great euphoria. You rushed home to play it, studied the cover, read the liner notes and absorbed it all. It was special.

Now you can go online and find anything – rarities you did not even know existed – rarities that would previously have sent you swooning in delirium. But the thrill has gone.

It is the same with food. Food used to be seasonal. When the season came around it was like a rediscovery and it tasted brilliant. Now you can get anything all year round and that magic has gone.

It’s the same with sport. There was anticipation. Every now and then there was a match on TV.  You were hooked. Now it’s there continuously and the magic has gone.

More is definitely a lot less.

Friends who are gone – extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

What’s the rudest word in the World? Could it be ‘don’t!’

26.10.01

 

And I sometimes think of Jeff who jumped into that train, and Pete on the motorbike, Jane who died of the brain tumour at the age of eighteen, and Loveridge, whose first name I’ve forgotten, who fell off the stack at the plastics factory and fractured his skull. I think of Shaun who was so full of life and would have done so much. I think of Mocy, who I only knew briefly. I think of my good friends Danny and Tony who I shared so much with. I think of how many others of my old friends have gone without me even knowing. I think of Jason who was with my sister for such a short time and was so brave and gentle, so bright and cheerful. All the ones I knew and are now gone. I talk of them to my students. I weave them into my lessons. I get them to illustrate my tales of life. They live in my stories and they live in my mind.

I think of my Dad.

I think about the universe expanding, the Big Bang, religion and politics, beauty and getting old.

I think about the pleasures and the pains.

I think about the travels and the meetings, the books and music, the doings and the things I missed doing.

The drugs and the drunks, the parties and the sex.

I think about Liz and our life together, our love, and the home and life we’ve built with all its myriad compromises.

I think about my mum and all the things she did for me. All that love that was lavished on me.

I think about my kids and I wonder about the lives and experiences they will have.

I dream about all the grandchildren. I hope I will be alive to see them grow. I hope they will know me.

I think about how life is so long, packed full of so much, and yet it is so very short.

These days I smile wistfully a lot and have great hopes for the world, the future and humanity.

I think about my stupid writing and wonder what other uses I could have put to all this time. What else could I have done? What else could any of us do?

Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get civilised and leave these dark ages behind, maybe one day we’ll understand a little bit more and be better people for it.

One day!

26.10.01

Cynicism in the right proportion.

I think that having a healthy cynicism towards our politicians, religious leaders and experts is a good thing. They need to be questioned. Their motives need to be explored. We need to view what they are doing with a critical eye and be prepared to speak out if they are doing it wrong.

Cynicism can be healthy.

When it goes too far and all our scientists and experts are rubbished I believe we move into dangerous ground. If we do not believe our experts and scientists who do we believe? Do we turn to superstition? To religious extremism? To internet conspiracy theories? To populist leaders? Seemingly so.

Personally, I would prefer to be operated on by an expert brain surgeon rather than have Donald Trump messing with my brain. I would rather have an aeroplane I was flying in designed and built by engineers than have Bolsonaro throwing it together. I would rather we listened to the experts and take action to prevent global warming and the terrible impact we are having on biodiversity than listen to the politicians and oil industry who are only interested in profit.

I know that vaccines and antibiotics have saved millions (if not billions) of lives and transformed the world for the better. I know that no coronavirus has ever been defeated by a TV evangelist who asks you to place your hands on the TV screen, pray to Jesus and send him a cheque.

I believe that the anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists, the Deep State believers and religious fundamentalists are dragging us back to a very dark place where superstition rules, crackpot remedies are sold by snake-oil salesmen and the likes of Trump. Bolsonaro and Johnson are elected.

If I had to choose between scientists and experts and populist leaders or religious leaders I’ll go for the experts any day – and I want the freedom to question them and hold them to account.

What I particularly want clarity on is who is doing the bankrolling?

The Serious Issues we have to address.

There are a large number of issues that we as a species need to deal with. These issues are not possible for countries to tackle on their own. There needs to be a unified approach. Some of these are so big that politicians do not want to tackle them. Many of them affect some regions more than others so it is easy for some politicians to ignore them – or even refute that they exist.

If we do not tackle these issues then, further down the line, I believe they are going to become huge issues.

All of these issues are solvable – though they would require quite a unified effort. How do we reduce population without imposing draconian policies on fertility? There are many solutions involving welfare and female education.

Here are the issues I think we should focus our minds on:

  1. Overpopulation

I think this is the biggest issue and one that underpins most of the others. The amount of pollution and use of resources is in proportion to the number of people. This leads to deforestations, overfishing, habitat loss etc.

2. Global Warming and Climate Change

The climate we have now is ideal for us. If it was to get colder or warmer that would be a disaster for us. Sea level rises would be devastating. Major weather events, desertification, droughts, floods, forest fires, melting ice, bleaching coral…….. It would lead to areas becoming uninhabitable and mass migration. It could lead to wars.

Whatever is causing global warming (and I do not think that is open to debate) if it is in our power to prevent it then we should put our energies into doing that.

3. Species extinctions and population crashes

All across the globe, we have major crashes in populations of insects, fish and mammals.

As insects form the basic diet of many food webs the decimation of insects leads to the crashes in populations of other animals. As we are part of these food webs we have a direct interest. If we value nature (as has been a feature of this lockdown) and want to see the swallows, hedgehogs and wild birds, we have to protect our insects. Insects are pollinators. For our crops and wildflowers, we need insects.

The loss of fish is due to overfishing and pollution.

The loss of mammals is due to habitat destruction, deforestation, desertification, loss of insects, hunting, poaching and fires.

4. Gross inequality and poverty

Increasingly, wealth is being accumulated into a small elite. With the advent of A/I this is likely to become a lot worse. There is more than enough to go around, yet we see millions still starving and living in abject poverty.

This poverty leads to the type of mass migrations we have been seeing in recent times.

The good news is that poverty levels have come down. We could eradicate poverty completely if we wanted to.

5. Pollution

We have seen the terrible impact of plastics in our environment. They are one of many pollutants. Our air is unbreathable in many cities. Our soil and water is full of chemicals. Habitats are destroyed. Animals are killed and we are poisoning ourselves.

We need stringent controls on industry to prevent this pollution.

6. War

As resources become rare, populations increase and tensions rise there is an increased risk of war. We have seen the repercussions of this with the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. While some people have literally made a killing, the rest of us have shouldered the economic burden and loss of life. We have seen uprising of religious fundamentalism, terrorism and political extremism. We have seen more refugees, populism, nationalism and isolationism and extreme political thinking.

Nobody ever wins a war. It costs us all. This vying for power between nations is plain stupid.

7. Pandemics

We are in the midst of a global pandemic which has devastated the world economy and caused immense disruption. This is just one of many we have had in recent times. We’ve dodged many a bullet – MERS, SARS, Ebola, Bird Flu, Swine Flu……..

These are not a new phenomenon but the numbers of pandemics are increasing and we know why. Our numbers and practices – such as hunting and logging – are opening up remote areas and bringing us into contact with animals that have viruses we have never encountered before. This is not a good idea. We should conserve those wild areas.

Catching and butchering wild animals in ‘wet’ markets is creating this problem.

We need to ban wet markets and the importation of wild animals. We need to control hunting, mining and logging.

8. Tax evasion and the Multinationals

The multinationals and wealthy elite have found numerous loopholes to avoid paying taxes. Trump won’t reveal his taxes because he knows he has been cheating and will be caught out. Multinationals are so powerful they simply play one country off against another and use powerful lobbying, bribes and corruption to weigh the rules in their favour. They buy off governments, pollute and do not pay their share.

The end result is that the rest of us have to pay more, that more people live in poverty, education and healthcare is worse, infrastructure is worse and local services are worse.

We need a global power capable of curbing the activities of the multinationals and wealthy elite. We need a fairer world and more accountability.

These people control the media, buy off political parties and dictate policy in their favour. They are getting away with murder. They ravage the planet and pollute for profit. They need stopping.

9. Asteroids

We know the earth regular gets hit by large asteroids which cause mass devastation (as wiped out the dinosaurs). A big one could wipe out all life on this planet. It could happen tomorrow or in a million years time. We have no way of knowing.

A sensible, intelligent people would use their science to provide early detection and a means of dealing with such an event.

10. Education and Science

The world is a complex place. Far too many people live in ignorance and superstition which holds us back. Science does not have all the answers (yet) but it can provide us with a lot of the solutions. Having a good education and understanding science and the world can dispel a lot of our problems. We could have functioning democracies, wise decision-making and better choices. We could have less suspicion and fear, less racism and xenophobia, less tyranny and a smaller population.

11. Racism, Sexism and Xenophobia

Black Lives Matter has illustrated the kind of world we live in. It is based on patriarchal institutionalised racism. That has to stop. We are one species. All cultures, races and people need valuing equally. There should not be a valuing of one gender over another or one race over another.  This artificial division is primitive, cultural, tribal and is holding us back.

Enough.

I believe that human nature is good. Most people are compassionate and caring. It is the minority who are a problem – and that minority includes many of our political and religious leaders.

We could live on a planet in harmony with one another and nature, without extremes and with everyone have a good life with freedoms, work, creativity, pleasure and comfort. There could be plenty of adventure.

If we wanted.

I’m open to a debate!

We can!! – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’

So where are all those Punk kids that came round my house that day? Are they all boring adults? Are they still out on the edge? Have they still got the passion? Did they burn out and drop in?

Is there any purpose to this youthful rebellion and angst? Is it inevitable that we grow up and become boring adults caught up in the rut of making a living?

Where’s the wonder?

Where’s the awe?

Where’s the drive to grab it by the ears and wrench life’s head off?

Where’s the fury?

Where’s the desire?

Where’s the spirit that says ‘Fuck It’ every time you see something wrong!

Where’s the will to believe that all us human beings are not fuck-ups, we can learn, we can get better, we can put it right!

We don’t have to be vicious, superstitious greedy bastards!

We can share!

We can learn to live with each other!

 

FOR FUCK’S SAKE!

WE CAN LIVE ON THIS PLANET WITHOUT DESTROYING IT, EVERY LIVING THING THAT BREATHES (AND OURSELVES IN THE PROCESS)!

WE CAN!

 

I KNOW WE CAN!

11.11.01

We never learn – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

I was a little boy running around in a playground and falling over and scraping my knees. She was the headmistress that made the new rule that we were no longer allowed to run around because we might hurt ourselves. We had to play games such as statues because it was deemed safe.

I was the little boy made to memorise and recite poetry, and who fucked up because he was out climbing trees and running around putting scabs on his knees, so he didn’t memorise his lines, consequently he was made to stay in while the others did P.E. I was the boy who sadly watched out of the classroom the window while the others threw a ball around in the sunshine. But I never learned. I always ended up enviously peering out of the window and not learning the fucking poetry.

I was the young boy made to wear a uniform and politely touch my cap, who instantly became the dirtiest, scruffiest, snotty-nosed kid going as soon as I got home.

I was the adult who never grew up.

3.11.01

 

Happiness is birth.

3.11.01

Facing death – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

Happiness is cheating death.

3.11.01

 

I went to the mass X-ray unit. I wasn’t sleeping. The pain was worse and I kept breaking out in sweats. I wasn’t feeling good. Something was definitely wrong. I wanted to know what it was.

It was a simple procedure, they took a few snapshots and it was over in five minutes flat. The worst thing was the wait. It took over a week for the results to come through.

I had to pick them up from the doctor’s surgery.

I waited in the waiting room in a cold sweat. I was convinced that it was going to be bad news. I could feel the pain continuously now. Sometimes it was really painful. I was convinced I could feel it in the shape of a round tumour. There was no doubt. I tensed myself for the bad news. There was Liz to consider and the kids. I had to fight it. Who knows whether that was possible? Maybe something could be done! I was trying to be philosophical, but I did not want to die. I was too young! I DID NOT WANT TO DIE!!

I was eaten up with anxiety.

The results were clear. There was no tumour. There was nothing untoward.

The diagnosis was that my symptoms were psychosomatic caused by the death of my father the previous year. I had bottled it up. Although, there was a chance that it could be a gastric or bowel problem.

26.10.01

 

Happiness is fulfilment, satiation and love. Ah, to be in love!

3.11.01

 

The diagnosis did not allay my fears. It merely meant that my lungs were clear. There were other organs that a tumour could be gestating in.

The pain did not go away. I went back in for further consultation. The doctor could see I was suffering. He booked an appointment with a specialist.

The consultant examined me. He thought that it was probably psychosomatic but there was a chance that it could be a gastrointestinal problem and talked about displacement pain. He explained that such problems often manifested in the lower chest region. Maybe I had an ulcer. He arranged an endoscopic examination.

I was still convinced that I had cancer. Perhaps the tumour was in my stomach. I thought it was more likely in the liver where my father’s had been. The liver was situated under the rib cage. I reasoned that I would very likely feel it there – just where I was experiencing it.

I arrived at the hospital and undressed. I sat in the waiting room with a sorry bunch of individuals all waiting for the same procedure. We all wore those silly gowns that go on backwards and do not do up at the back so that your arse hangs out of them. What is that all about? I really could not see the practical reason. It certainly did nothing to ease your anxiety.

They wanted to give me an anaesthetic. An anaesthetic? I was quite shocked. I had thought that it was only a little tube down the throat. I didn’t want an anaesthetic. I asked if I could do it without needing a general anaesthetic. That was fine with the doctor.

It was also fine with me, up until I saw the size of the massive tube they were after shoving down my throat. Too late by then!

They sprayed the back of my throat with some local anaesthetic to stop the gagging process, and shoved the gigantic tube down my throat. They prodded and probed as I gasped and gagged. It was uncomfortable, it hurt and it made you feel panicky, but I began to relax and I could watch it on the TV screen which was fascinating and almost made it worthwhile. Once I had become used to it I was OK and the surgeon talked me through what he was looking for and what he was finding. My submucosa was healthy. Even I could not see any sign of a tumour. Neither could the doctor. There was no ulceration, no lumps or abnormalities.

“Looks healthy enough”, he said breezily, “no sign of problems.”

I was back to square one. I suppose I had been hoping for an ulcer. That would explain the pain but was treatable. Now I still had the pain but no explanation. Lungs and stomach/duodenum had been ruled out.

I still worried.

26.10.01

 

We are the biggest disaster that has ever hit this planet! By the time we have run our course we will have killed off a greater percentage of life here than any comet or natural disaster since the beginning of time.

Our priority is to ensure that we change and become less destructive; to ensure that my prophesy of our terrible effect on the rest of life does not come true; to ensure that the destruction we are wreaking is halted and we learn to live in harmony with each other and the world.

There’s nothing daft or soppy about that!

If we don’t learn how to do that we are, along with every other living thing, completely screwed!

11.11.01

 

The major problem is that we are too greedy. We are consuming too much of the world’s resources.

Try telling that to a meathead hell bent on owning the world and consuming it all. “Hey, look how important I am, yah! I own a castle, twenty Rolls Royces and a fleet of Lear Jets!”

But then we are all guilty.

How many tellies do you have?

Crazy isn’t it?

11.11.01

 

Happiness is when your endorphins flood your brain and tingle all your synapses.

3.11.01

Naïve and innocent – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

I don’t mind being considered naïve and innocent. I don’t mind being considered idealistic and over-ambitious. As human beings increase in numbers to swamp the planet their effluent and pollution threaten the entire biosphere; as hundreds of species become extinct each day; as areas of natural habitat are destroyed; as millions of human beings starve; as wars and conflict rage out of control and threaten the destruction of the entire planet; as religions and nations spawn terrorists and war – surely someone has to offer a more sane answer?

I believe the vast majority of people are good and do not want to cause such damage. So who is responsible?

Those smug rich bastards who run things, who look down their nose at do-gooders and environmental scum like me, who think that their way of life – snouts in the trough – has no end and that the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ are part of the natural way of the world, are the ones creating the problem – a tiny minority. We are surely not going to allow them to have the last say?

The human race is not going to be guided by such an arrogant, supercilious, ignorant, blind set of intelligent morons forever?

Is it?

That way is death.

21.9.01

How do you create a world that works for everybody and not just those at the top?  

How do you create a world that works for everybody and not just those at the top?

 

The system we have is run by the wealthy elite for the benefit of the wealthy elite (the establishment). It is extremely resilient and difficult to change.

They use their wealth, power and influence, via corruption, bribery, sponsorship and lobbying, to control the political systems.

The establishment seeks to exploit and control. They give as little, in the way of wages and rights, as they can manage to get away with. The name of the game is to maximise profits from their investments.

The Tory Party (Republicans – and to a lesser extent Democrats) was initiated to protect the interests of the establishment. That is what it has been effectively doing for hundreds of years.

The Labour Party evolved out of the Trade Union movement to represent the working people. It is a socialist anti-establishment party.

When ordinary people forced a democratic process with first ‘one man one vote’, and then the inclusion of women, the establishment were terrified that their unfair system would collapse. So they developed tactics to prevent that happening. They controlled the media to pump propaganda into the homes of the people, used a range of diversionary tactics – wars, threats, race, immigration, foreigners etc. – and deployed the money markets to castrate any potential opposition.

Any socialist (anti-establishment) agenda which might pose a threat to the establishment is vilified in the media with horror stories of the potential collapse of civilisation (see the campaign against Corbyn).

If a socialist government did attain power the establishment rallies against it. Money is withdrawn, trade is restricted. In foreign countries there have been embargoes, funding of internal agitators, direct dirty tricks and even invasion. This is not helped by socialist/communist countries rapidly descending into totalitarian tyrannies riddled with corruption.

The average IQ in the country is 100. By definition 50% of the population have an IQ below 100. The establishment knows that – hence people are bombarded with threats, scare stories, distractions, lies and crass slogans – £350 million a week, oven-ready, world-beating.

The Labour Party, in order to be electable, has to be no threat to the establishment. Hence it jettisons its radical, socialist principles and moves to the centre. It effectively becomes a watered-down Tory party. When in power (as with Blair) it adopts Tory policies with some more caring socialist fringe benefits.

In order to create a world that works for the many and not just the few, we need to create a fairer, more caring society.

That is not easy.

Protest is good. It shows that there is strength of feeling sufficient to motivate people to take to the street, sign petitions, express their displeasure.

But peaceful protest is ignored – see the Brexit protests and mass demos.

Taking direct action can be effective – as seen through Greenpeace  – but does not solve anything. The pollution, deforestation and species extinctions still continue. Extinction rebellion used this with some success – but it is difficult to keep the momentum, you need mass involvement, it is rapidly infiltrated and the leaders are open to being picked off (one way or another).

Using violence or damaging property plays right into their hands. They are able to portray the movement as extremist and turn public opinion against them. They have the power to use draconian force to quell any level of rioting or public disorder (as was seen with the riots a few years back).

It seems to me that the only way to create long-term change is through educating the population, raising awareness, and countering the propaganda put out by the media.

This may have to take place through a number of stages.

I fear there are no easy solutions (and A/I is going to make the situation worse!).

The right have always been good at unifying themselves. The left is its own worst enemy. It forms into warring factions that attack each other instead of the enemy (see the Spanish civil war).

In Britain the Corbyn socialist alternative was derailed through the media. The constant propaganda convinced the electorate that he was unelectable. The result is Brexit and the most incompetent right-wing government we’ve ever had. We will have 14 years of Tory rule. In the States they voted Trump in and Bernie Sanders stood no chance.

You can see what we are up against.

The question is not whether to protest, or in what form, but how to convince the electorate that they are being taken for a ride and that there is a viable alternative. These are the people who gave this clown Johnson an 80 seat majority, voted for Brexit (cutting their own throats), love royalty, and believe what they are told by the Express, Sun and Mail.

Until the people wake up to what is being done to them, how unfair the system is, we are wasting our time.

So how do you change the system?

I haven’t seen any pragmatic solution yet!

Most people are fairly content with what they have. They might not be very happy but they can’t be bothered.

Some people strive to become part of that wealthy elite.

Some people try to live outside the system through their own creativity.

A small minority want to actively change it.

Until the majority become motivated nothing will change. That is what the establishment are so good at – giving the majority just enough to stop them getting off their backside.