Poetry – Laughter as the ship goes down – a poem of despair

Poetry – Laughter as the ship goes down – a poem of despair


Laughter as the ship goes down


If you want to be popular you produce fun things for people to read and avoid anything with gravity. If you want to attract a following you avoid all subjects that can cause division or distress. No mention of death, politics, war, environmental destruction or social conditions. No hint of trouble in paradise.

You keep things uncontentious.

We can produce nice humour-filled pieces of fun.

We can report on entertaining films and books.

We can write about everyday life.

We can do safe fashion and style, or perhaps cookery and meals.

We can write about inconsequential trivia and pop culture.


Meanwhile, just over the hill, they are strip-mining the wilderness, pouring effluent into the river, skinning dogs alive, bombing hospitals, burning people in cages, indoctrinating children to hate, poaching elephants and rhinos, slaughtering chimps, producing more children than can be kept alive, playing in sewage, dying in droves and filling the torture chambers.


But I see that Doom has just been released on PlayStation.


Laughter as the ship goes down



As the ship goes down;


To distract.

No need for thought

As everyday

We pay

Our income tax.


As forests burn;

Flesh fries;

Guns crash

And creatures die.


The chauffeur

Is greed.

The mantra

Is fun.


As long as we are Ok

For now

There is no need to fear.

Everything is alright

In Eden

Isn’t it?


There is nothing we can do;

Nothing we can say.

So let the avaricious fools

Get on with it

As we play the day away.


Opher – 9.5.2016

Poetry – Light and warmth from many summers given and gone – ode to a cherry fire

Poetry – Light and warmth from many summers given and gone – ode to a cherry fire

BookCoverImage61xmXHYgJpL__AA160_ 61U89AzgoAL__AA160_ 61qDTq70unL__AA160_51QC-PE-PZL__AA160_Prose Cons and poetry cover

Light and warmth from many summers given and gone

I still look sadly at the large empty space where the cherry tree once stood. Instead of a huge pink mound of ice-cream between my house and the houses beyond, there is now a vacuum and nothing is masked.

There will be no new leaves to seek the sun or fruit for the birds this year.

The tree became sick and, as with any suffering creature, I had to decide its fate. With buzzing saws it was reduced to mere timber.

I chopped and hacked that wood and stored it in a pile behind the wall, sheltering it from the elements.

Through this winter I have brought those logs into the house and on a cold winter’s evening it has heartened our room with its stored light and heat and brought much pleasure into our lives.

Today I collected the last of it and scrounged around for the last small twigs with which to last the evening.

Tonight we will enjoy the cherry tree for the very last time and I will gaze into the flames, and think of it in all its pomp, and celebrate its long and wonder filled life, and thank it for its gifts.


Light and warmth from many summers given and gone


Today I collected the last of the twigs,

Sufficient for one more evening.

I scavenged the ground for enough

To provide one final fire.


Tonight I will stare at the flame

As it releases the work

Of many decades of labour.

The wood will shine one last time.


In beauty it stood proud

And would now have been

In blossom like a pink

Wedding of bloom.


In summer its green leaves

Would have sighed under blue skies

And hidden the ugliness

Of brick and tile beyond.


Its fruit would have

Briefly hung in rich profusion

Before providing rich pickings

For the birds and ne’er a one for me.


And as it releases the

Light and warmth of all those

Years of sun into my home,

I will think of it once more,

And in my heart

I will thank it

For the joy

That it so freely gave.


Opher 24.4.2016

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Poetry – We are at war!

We are at war!


We are at war!

At war with the elite

Who would ravage the land!

At war with inequality

Which robs us of our fairness!

At war with fake news

That robs us of the truth!


This is the war of reason

Not guns.

The war of ethics

Not weapons.

The war for the future of the world.


We are at war!

Never has so much been at stake!

We are rebelling

Against extinction!


Opher – 26.11.2019



Perhaps now the deniers who are witnessing the drying up of the Victoria Falls, the shrinking of ice-caps, heatwaves, floods and hurricanes, will start to wake up. No longer in thrall to the greed of Trump – for whom nothing matters except money.

The world is pivoting. It totters.

We should use our intelligence.

The wealthy will sell the planet for profit. They peddle fake news. Their greed and selfishness is endangering species after species and putting us in the firing line.

There is a war. It is a war fought with words and votes. It is a war we need to win.

This is the battle of the ballot box.

Forget Brexit. Think planet.

Poetry – Robots for good!

Robots for good!


Let us bring in robots!

Do away with work!

Then quarter the population

A new age of fairness and prosperity!


Let us have a new age

Of unity with nature,

Of reverence for all,

Of oneness with respect and dignity!


Opher 26.11.2019



The world is being ravaged by mankind. We are destroyed nature. Our greed and numbers are killing everything in our path.

Time to change.

Maybe AI can be a force for great good – if we harness it for the good of all and not just the wealthy few we can all become prosperous. We can work less.

But we will need to bring our numbers down so that our impact is less. Nature cannot stand the strain. We are changing the climate; we are causing extinctions on a catastrophic level.

Time to change.

AI could be the solution (or it could be the final straw).



Anthropocene Apolcalypse – Environmental destruction – the slow, relentless creep!

Environmental destruction – the slow, relentless creep!


I’ve just come back from Holland. My daughter is moving into a new house. I was talking to the neighbours. They had lived there for ten years. They told me that their house use to be the last one in the row; that across the road was woodland and that beyond that was nothing but fields. I looked down the road at the long row of houses, across at the tram line and over to the new town.

In my village there are new houses springing up on waste land, the odd tree being chopped down, ditches culvetted, ponds filled in. Hedges disappear, gardens are concreted.

Across from my school there was a spring which was designated as a site of scientific interest. I used to take my classes across in the summer to see the water voles, frogs, newts and tadpoles. We even found grass-snakes and slow worms. It is now a new housing estate.

All over the country there are new roads, houses and buildings. There are hedgerows, streams, ponds and trees being eradicated.

It is slow, steady and relentless. Nature is fought back, habitat destroyed. A slow creep.

It is the same story all over the world.

It is not just about the graphic deforestation. The steady creep is wiping out wild animals even more effectively.

This is a passionate and always readable book conceived in love, gestated over a lifetime of travel and naturalism, born in a burst of anger and hope. There are many vivid accounts of places visited, focusing on their flora and fauna, with plenty to celebrate and much to fear. Pointers for the future are given and I’d like to have had even more detail of these. But this is a book to inspire social change. The message is that we all need to work on the solutions. This is a valuable and timely book which throws down the gauntlet in our desperate search for survival and sustainability.

Poetry – They are armed!

They are armed!


They have a lot of weapons in their armoury.

They have the money to employ the best.

They use unemployment as a threat

And deploy it as a warning,

To demonstrate their power and control.

They use the media to disperse their lies,

To provide the spin, spread the fog and obfuscate

The issues.

They use the media to undermine, to destroy

And ridicule.

They use the media for propaganda.

The tactic is to divide and rule.

They use their privilege to gain advantage.

They buy people.

They subvert rebellion by incorporating it.

They rely on deference.

Their lies are deployed in volleys –

A bombardment of fear.

They had established an establishment,

Set in concrete.

The police are in their pockets.

The army follow their instructions.

They use their power to confuse and subjugate.

They are not restricted by nation.

Theirs is network spread throughout the world.

They know who they are.


Opher – 20.11.2019



Every election, every law, every representative, every move, is subject to their interference.

Their fingers are in every pie.

Through lobbying, bribes, corruption, donations and threats they control the world.

Money doesn’t speak – it shouts!

Who are they?

Hope – I thought it was worth circulating this. We all need a bit of hope.

Hope – I thought it was worth circulating this. We all need a bit of hope.

Dear amazing Avaazers,If you ever doubt that our efforts together are worth it, or if you’re just needing a bit of hope and light in your day, read on.

Bet you won’t be able to stop :).

Avaaz Movement Wins 

Fin whales swim free

For years, Icelandic millionaire badboy Kristjan Loftsson has massacred hundreds of endangered giant fin whales. But no more!! Working with allies, a million of us pressed the Dutch government to close their ports to him, then German Avaazers helped to block ports there too. Then we caused a media and political storm in the Caribbean where Loftsson’s ship was registered. After years of pressure, he’s called off the hunt!

“The global pressure brought by the Avaaz community has no doubt played a big role in Loftsson’s welcome decision.”
– Vanessa Williams-Grey, Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
Saudi Arabia: No More Weapons For You

Saudi Arabia is a human rights nightmare, but after they bombed schools and hospitals in Yemen, calls rose in Europe for an arms embargo. When EU politicians started to waver under the pressure of powerful Saudi lobbyists, 740,000 Avaazers weighed in, flooding members of parliament with messages and calls. And we won — for the first time in history, a Western parliament voted to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia! Now the pressure is on for governments to follow the European lead.

“We’ve received calls from Scotland to France to Yemen calling for action, Avaaz played a major role to bring this message to the European Parliament.”
– Alyn Smith, Member of European Parliament
Blocking Monsanto's most profitable poison

Monsanto’s glyphosate weedkiller is everywhere, providing much of the mega-corporation’s revenue. So when UN experts said it likely causes cancer, 1.5 million of us called to ban it! With Europe set to re-approve its licence for 15 years, Avaaz delivered our petition and thousands of us sent urgent messages to our governments. In the final hour, support collapsed, and the EU commission was forced to postpone the vote! We’ll keep the pressure up until we get the ban our planet needs.

“The Avaaz campaign helped to raise awareness and concern of the general public about glyphosate. This helped me as a parliamentarian to work on this issue… Stay with us in this fight”
– Pavel Poc, MEP and Vice Chair of the Environment, Health and Food Safety Committee for the European Parliament.
Winning for Palestine

After horrendous civilian death in Gaza, almost 2 million of us called on 6 major companies to stop profiting from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. Our movement sent messages to CEOs, held rallies from London to Ramallah, met with government and corporate officials, and lobbied other countries to cut ties with those companies. And as of last month, 3 of the 6 have pulled out!! It’s a tactic that’s having impact in the struggle for freedom and peace.

“The 1.8 million signature Avaaz petition was powerful, and we hope that Avaaz members will continue campaigning.”
– Mahmoud Nawajaa, BDS Civil Society Coordinator in Palestine
Saving the lost Refugee Children

Thousands of Syrian children seeking refuge are lost in Europe, without their parents and preyed upon by child traffickers. That’s why 40,000 of us donated to fund lawyers to find them, provide legal support, and get them to safety. Dozens of children are already being helped. And just this week, three boys arrived in London and were reunited with their families for the first time in months!

“Nothing I could say could convey how grateful I truly am to all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
– One of the boys on arriving in the UK
Somalia ban FGM

The Prime Minister of Somalia just joined over a million of us by signing our petition to support a full ban on female genital mutilation! Somali women’s rights experts told us that global pressure could help them outlaw female genital mutilation — but we never imagined that the Somali Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and dynamic Minister for Women and Human Rights would respond by signing the petition, too! Working with these leaders, UNICEF and survivors, it’s now likely that FGM, done to 98% of Somali women, will become illegal!

“I am committed to outlaw FGM in Somalia through legislation, advocacy, education, and community engagement.”
– Somali Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmark, as he signed our petition.

Shining Our Light in 2016

These battles are part of deeper struggles — between forces of love and fear, hope and despair, ignorance and understanding. Sometimes Avaaz campaigns are about shining our movement’s light into these struggles, to help shift our culture and politics. Here’s some awesome light-shining examples from the last few months:

Celebrating Greek Heros

Inspired by Greek fishermen and pensioners who have saved and cared for thousands of desperate refugee families, Avaaz member, Alkmini, started a petition to nominate these unsung heroes for the Nobel Peace Prize. Then more than 600,000 of us backed the request, and Desmond Tutu endorsed an official submission by 230 academics to the Nobel Committee.This moving story of humanity triumphing over fear captured the world’s media from CNN to the BBC.

“In times when fear and racism are threatening our societies and Europe is raising fences, the big mobilisation of Avaaz members made the voice of humanity echo loudly around the world.”
– Co-Founder of the Leros Solidarity Network, Matina Katsiveli
Guatemala Slavery

After decades of silence, 14 brave women just went to court to confront the Guatemalan generals who kept them as sex slaves. As they entered the courtroom we surrounded them with love, delivering messages from over 40,000 Avaaz members across Latin America. The women’s courage prevailed and for the first time ever these generals were convicted of crimes against humanity!

“I was happy to hear the messages of support. I know I’m not alone, and I wanted to uncover my face when I heard that there are people all around the world that support me.”
– One of the women, Doña Rosa

After women were attacked on New Year’s Eve in Germany, a flood of racism and xenophobia spread. Refugee men responded by handing out flowers to women on the streets as a show of respect. To return the gesture and show solidarity and welcome, a hundred female Avaaz members went out to hand flowers back to refugees in Cologne, the site of the attacks. Their video went viral!

“Refugee men handed out flowers to women as a sign of peace. As Avaaz members we wanted to reciprocate this courageous gesture to show that we counter hate with humanity.”
– Maresa, Avaaz member

Achh, that stuff just lifts your heart doesn’t it?

The really crazy part is, those stories are a small fraction of our movement’s work together over the last few months!

What we’re doing matters, we’re winning, and we’re winning in a way that is building the kind of world we dream of for our children. There is much to do, but this is a moment for gratitude for the 43 million scrumptiously wonderful people in this beautiful movement. What a joy it is to do this together.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

With love and gratitude,

Ricken, Alice, Ben, Maria Paz, Emily, Risalat, Mike, Lisa, and the whole Avaaz team.

PS — a big reason Avaaz can do all this is we are 100% funded by small individual donations — no corporate, government, foundation, or large donor money. To keep it all going, click here:

Anecdote – Hunting Lizards, Slow Worms and Snakes

Anecdote – Hunting Lizards, Slow Worms and Snakes



Hunting Lizards, Slow Worms and Snakes

It takes knowledge, skill and agility to hunt reptiles. Tony and I were experts. We had a series of sites that we would make our way around. In the early morning we’d often arrange to meet up on our bikes, complete with aluminium milk churn with lid to put our catch in, and we’d happily spend our day hunting.

The heathland was the place for lizards. We’d creep stealthily through the dried vegetation with eyes and ears alert to any rustle or movement and body poised. At the slightest movement we launched ourselves, fine-tuning our hands as we sprang. We’d bring our hands down and try to trap the unfortunate lizards. We were very good at it and often went back with a haul of lively lizards.

Slow worms and snakes required slightly different tactics. We rarely found them out in the open. They liked to sleep in the warmth and darkness under corrugated iron where they were safe from predators. But that did not save them for us. Corrugated iron was a common building material. It was used for roofing on huts and fencing. We knew where all the discarded corrugated iron was in the whole area and made our rounds.

To catch animals hiding under corrugated iron there was a well worked plan. We would take it in turn to quietly approach the sheet of iron, so not to disturb anything underneath it, and then fling it back and dive. As I flew through the air I’d look to see what was there and make a grab for it. We caught a variety of creatures this way. The easiest were the slow worms. There were legless lizards and as the name suggestion none too fast. They would be coiled up under the iron and easy to grab hold of. The snakes were faster. They would react as you dived and you had to be quick to get hold of them. There weren’t many snakes but we caught both grass snakes and adders.

The adders were very distinctive with their black zig-zag line down their back. They were a bit scary because we knew they were poisonous. But they tended to be small. The grass snakes were a lot bigger.

The hardest creatures to capture were the voles. They were quick. But I once caught a whole family of voles in a nest under the tin. I grabbed them with both hands and transferred them to the milk churn. I kept that family of voles in a big aquarium for weeks until the babies were fully grown and then I released them.

On one occasion I jerked back the sheet of tin and dived. As I flew I saw a big slow worm and one hand reached for that and then a huge grass snake reared up at me like a cobra and I instinctively grabbed that round the neck. It was so big that when I stood up and held it up at shoulder height its tail reached the ground.

That snake was big and strong. He writhed about and threshed to break my grip but I clung on. He tried to twist his head round to deploy his fangs but I was having none of that and gripped his neck even tighter. Then he started to exude this foul smelling excrement that he smeared on me. But that didn’t deter someone as mad as me. I was excited. Even when he let out these huge hisses it did not put me off.

The usual thing for us to do was to take our booty back to Tony’s house. He had a big enamel bath in his back garden. We’d empty our churn into it and divvy up the catch. I transferred most of mine to the big pit I’d dug in the back garden. It was three feet deep with a pond I’d created out of a huge old sink. I’d planted grass and shrubs and put plenty of rock to supply cover. It was full of my frogs, newts (both palmate and crested), toads, lizards and slow worms.

I kept them happy by digging up lots of worms and buying meal worms from the pet shop. I used to enjoy feeding time. I’d dump in a wriggling handful of meal worms and watch as the frogs, toads and lizards all came out of their hidey-holes to feast.

I put my king grass snake straight in there. Once he’d settled he must have thought he was in paradise. I hadn’t reckoned with the fact that he was big and powerful enough to get out of that pit. He only stayed a few days and polished off my entire stock of frogs before leaving. But I did enjoy marvelling at him slithering around flicking his tongue out and checking out that place. He was a wonder to behold.

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Global Warming and a punch on the nose!

Global Warming and a punch on the nose!


The next time I bump into a global warming denier I am going to punch them very hard on the nose.

I have just completed mowing my lawn. It was luxuriant, damp and muddy. I had to do that because the grass had become so long.

Mowing grass in November is bad enough but I had to do it in December last year – in the North of England!!!   That is absurd!!  The only time I’ve ever done that before was when I was living in Los Angeles!

Perhaps the deniers will start to believe now? One too many ‘once in a hundred years’ events. Perhaps they have to be flooded, blown away or burnt out before they start to see the obvious!

The Paris Climate Talks – A few random thoughts.


Firstly – well done to Prince Charles! Being an antimonarchist does not stop me from congratulating the man when he uses his power and position to do something good. I believe he does care. He wants to protect rainforest and natural habitat around the world.

Secondly – Is it possible for a bunch of capitalists, with all their vested interests, wish for perpetual growth, lust for power, and greed, to find a way forward? How bad does it have to be for the prospects of the planet before people like this see there is more money to be made out of preserving nature rather than destroying it?

Thirdly – are we in the process of preserving wild-life and jungle merely as a tourist attraction? Is the whole world a theme-park akin to Disneyland? Are the only reasons to preserve gorillas, elephants, rhinos and chimps so that rich westerners will spend money to see them? Surely they are more important than that?

Fourthly – are even the rabid industrialists beginning to realise that global warming will create more problems than they can cope with? Will the cost of warming the world prove too much? Will it be cheaper to stop it warming?

Fifthly – Are they planning to do something about the real cause of all the problems? The problems are being caused by the huge population increases. That is priority number one!

Sixthly – Issues such as deforestation, burning of jungles, pesticides, pollution, trade in wild animals, loss of natural habitat, cruel poaching of wild animals, whaling, and a hundred and one other pressing environmental issues cannot wait. They are too in need of attention to wait. It isn’t a question of money. It is a fact that we are destroying species at an unprecedented rate. We can’t afford to wait. They need protecting now!

50% of the world for humans! 50% for everything else!

The animals and plants deserve to live too!