In case you were wondering why I have been quieter lately and haven’t answered your emails or replied on your posts – it’s because I’ve been away for six weeks!
I’ve been on a boat going up the Amazon and the Caribbean and the Azores!!
It’s been amazing!
Wildlife, trees, people, places, volcanoes, canoes, motorbikes, fish, birds, iguanas, piranhas, caiman, sun, heat, taxis, adventures, and life!!
Now we are back with a ton of washing, fatigue and a head full of wonder!!
I shall tell you all about it! (unfortunately my blog has reached the limit – so I will have to reduce the number of photos – but I shall spend an hour or two taking out past photos to make room!!
So apologies for not answering you! I’ll do my best to get through the hundreds of emails in the next few days!!
All the best!!
PS – I wrote a new Sci-fi novel while I was away!! It needs a rewrite or two!
Have you ever had one of those truly incredible strokes of complete coincidence? I did with Burra. I’d never heard of the guy. Then, back in the seventies, I was browsing in a book shop and pulled out this art book from among this big stack. I started glancing through and was immediately taken with these fabulous stylised paintings of Harlem in the thirties. The paintings were incredible – the colours, the images – very original. It was almost Picasso-like, almost surreal. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it. So I bought the book.
That night I put the telly on and lo and behold (there were only 3 channels back then – I don’t think Channel 4 had been invented) on BBC 2 was a documentary about Edward Burra which I watched with great enthusiasm. It was brilliant. At the end of the programme it mentioned that he had an exhibition at the Tate which I went to the very next day.
How amazing was that?
If I hadn’t have pulled that book out from that heap I’d have never known about him. In the space of two days I had discovered him, bought a book, watched a documentary and visited an exhibition. I’ve never seen anything more about him again. But I reckon he was a really important artist in the development of modern art.
Check him out:
2400 year ago Britain was inhabited by the Celtic tribes who came across from Europe in 300 BC. So the first Britons were European.
The Angles and Saxons came across from Germany, Netherlands and Denmark to displace the Celts.
Then the Romans came across from Italy, the Vikings (mainly in the north) from Norway, Denmark and Sweden and the Normans from France.
Then there were the major mass immigrations – the Huguenots from France and Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe.
The trade links of the British Empire opened up trade routes and there was an influx of people from further afield – Arabs, Indians, Africans, Chinese and hosts of others.
In the 20th century we had further waves of immigration from Jamaica, Pakistan, India, Africa, Turkey, Greece and the Middle East.
The stand out thing about the British is that we are mongrels, full of hybrid vigour. All these people have contributed greatly to our culture. Our language is the best example. It is basically German/Danish but with much French, Italian, Indian, Jewish, Arabic and Dutch imports. This provides the richness of language that enables nuance and an array of subtleties that most other languages do not have. It is this richness that gives us writers like Shakespeare.
To be British is truly to be European in every sense of the word.
Schools run scared of teaching politics because they might be accused of being partisan. That is ridiculous. It never stops them when it comes to religion.
We have generations of adults who have limited understanding of what political parties stand for, how they were founded, who they represent, the history of the social struggles that took place and the value of democracy.
I believe this is wrong.
The teaching of politics is fundamental to the education of all adults. If you do not understand what philosophy lies behind a political view you are not in a position to understand the glib propaganda put out by the political parties to get you to vote for them.
In a democracy it is essential that people are well informed, educated and knowledgeable. Otherwise they become cynically manipulated.
For this reason I would have a clear and unbiased syllabus that clarifies the philosophy of the parties, their formation, history and raison d’etre. I would ensure every child leaves school knowing what the parties represent and able to see which fits with their own philosophy.
They should be fully aware of all the major events that have led to our one person/one vote democracy and the major events in our struggle for social equality, rights, freedoms and justice.
I have a good grasp on all that.
My overriding philosophy has always been freedom, justice and equality. I believe in fairness.
That is why I vote Labour. It is also why I will vote for Jeremy Corbyn and not for the psuedoTories who have taken over the Labour Party. I do not want watered down toryism.
If the Sex Pistols were the battering ram used to knock the doors down then the Clash were the style and substance. Where the Sex Pistols were brash the Clash were cool. Where the Sex Pistols were blatant the Clash were more subtle. They took the energy and vibe of Punk and used it to harness a philosophy of political and social change.
At the time they were described as the intelligentsia of Punk. I’m not sure about that. They didn’t always get it right. There was an element of lauding yobbish behaviour, bank robbery and crime as if it was all part of some planned rebellion against the establishment that would bring about social change. As far as I could see robbing banks was not a career path to encourage and it wasn’t a victimless crime. Putting that aside we do find the Clash taking a stance. Unlike some of the other Punk bands they sought to ally themselves to the Blacks who they identified with as a victimised minority. This put them right at the forefront of Rock against Racism.
This also fostered a liking for Reggae and to a lesser extent Soul which they saw as musical forms that expressed the same defiant lyrical content and rebellious attitude. It meant that they introduced reggae rhythms into their music which was unique among the new Punk bands. They even got Lee Scratch Perry to co-produce a number.
With numbers like ‘White Riot’ which incited young White kids to get out and protest the way the Blacks had done, ‘London’s Burning’, ‘Tommy Gun’, ‘Career Opportunities’, ‘Police and Thieves’ and ‘Garageland’ they set out both their Punk credentials and a desire for direct action. The track ‘I’m so bored with the USA’ was a protest about the dire American crap we were being bombarded with as culture. They might be inspired by the likes of the Ramones and New York Dolls but this was a British Band living in the austerity and class war of Thatcher’s Britain. They were giving a voice to all those disenfranchised kids in British cities and didn’t give a damn about what America thought.
It was the third album – ‘London Calling’ that really sealed them as a great Rock band. It rose above being a mere Punk album with its clear and more sophisticated production, range of styles and songs and yet kept the Punk ethos. They even adopted Rockabilly as an authentic Punk expression. ‘Guns of Brixton’ reaffirmed that identification with Black culture and ‘London Calling’ with its distinctive guitar sound was mainstream Rock. The cover, which was a pastiche of Elvis’s first album with shades of the Who’s smashing guitars, was a move away from the cut and paste of Punk. The Clash had a different look, style and range. The idea of a Punk double album was strange for the new wave. That was more the realm of the despised progressive bands. However the move away from fast snappy songs to variety and complexity was a sign of development.
There was talk as to whether the Clash could still be thought of as a genuine Punk Band anymore. Yet the attitude was there one hundred percent. It was just that they’d moved up a league and matured. The fire was still there. Also, unlike the Pistols, they had broken into America.
If ‘London Calling’ was controversial for a Punk Band then the triple album Sandanista was even more so. There was an even greater range of styles. Yet once again even the title of the album affirmed the revolutionary nature of the band. Combat Rock with its two singles that proved very commercially viable.
The internal strains began to manifest between Strummer and Jones. Jones got kicked out and after a last effort the band broke up.
What a pity that such a great band should succumb to that ignominous end. They were not merely a top Punk band they were one of the top bands in the world.
This modern world is not a pleasant place to have sweet thoughts – not while there are people around.
Everything is an opportunity for profit.
There are 8 billion people to exploit.
They would (and are) selling the planet.
To distract us from this game, they use religion, TV, sport and alcohol.
Greed, escalation, progress and profit. It is killing us. It is killing everything.
Greed is the killer.
Greed is the killer –
Divvying it up
Religion the sop –
Faces in the shit
Sport the distraction –
Trying it on
Nature the loser –
If you wish to buy one of my poetry books you can purchase them here:
This is a hit song
I am always amazed by the tendency of human beings to shut themselves off from reality and live in a nice little bubble. They fill the bubble with froth in a shallow, unchallenging mindlessness. They do not want to involve themselves with the real issues. They would rather live in a world of gossip and celebrity.
Pop music is created for the mass market. It takes care to not make any waves. It is sanitised and vacuous.
If you want to sell lots of ‘unit’ you take care not to upset anyone.
It’s a background nothing. It is pointless consumerism.
I want something that involves my brain and feelings.
Pop music doesn’t have to be drivel. It can be art. It can have substance.
This is a hit song
This is a hit song –
Two and a half minutes long;
Nothing contentious ,
This is a hit song
Won’t offend anyone;
In a sharp way,
This is a hit song;
Set for I-tunes.
To tweek the ears
Racing up the charts
Straight to number one
Charging into I-pods
Selling a million and one.
This is a hit song.
I love Leon Rosselson. I think he is one of Britain’s greatest song writers, perceptive, astute and intelligent.
In this age where the Tories are intent on bringing their dogma to bear and using austerity as an excuse to slash public services (While giving tax hand-outs to the rich) we desperately need people like Leon to point out the inequality and what it means.
Leon and I stand for fairness.
I saw what the Tory cuts did to education first hand as both a teacher and Headteacher.
They are heartless and uncaring when it comes to ordinary people. As far as they are concerned the money could be better spent on larger profits for business.
Their own sons and daughters have the privilege of Public schools, private health-care and gated communities. They have no need for the public services and despise the majority who do. They resent every penny spent on them. If they had to use the same public services the rest of us do there would be a miraculous improvement.
Leon says it better in his song.
Palaces of Gold
If the sons of company directors,
And judges’ private daughters,
Had to got to school in a slum school,
Dumped by some joker in a damp back alley,
Had to herd into classrooms cramped with worry,
With a view onto slagheaps and stagnant pools,
Had to file through corridors grey with age,
And play in a crackpot concrete cage.
Chorus (after each verse):Buttons would be pressed,
Rules would be broken.
Strings would be pulled
And magic words spoken.
Invisible fingers would mould
Palaces of gold.
If prime ministers and advertising executives,
Royal personages and bank managers’ wives
Had to live out their lives in dank rooms,
Blinded by smoke and the foul air of sewers.
Rot on the walls and rats in the cellars,
In rows of dumb houses like mouldering tombs.
Had to bring up their children and watch them grow
In a wasteland of dead streets where nothing will grow.
I’m not suggesting any kind of a plot,
Everyone knows there’s not,
But you unborn millions might like to be warned
That if you don’t want to be buried alive by slagheaps,
Pit-falls and damp walls and rat-traps and dead streets,
Arrange to be democratically born
The son of a company director
Or a judge’s fine and private daughter.