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First step up the ladder,
is the hardest they say, as we sit and sigh
in meeting after meeting where the rooms look good,
photos look even better, another rat hole, small pit,
infested, full of tits, nothing wrong
but the size of the picture.

Review after review after review, each dangling
the same beautiful bait: an affordable home.

Each set their trap in their own way, despondent
resplendent resident, a land owner, herds us round,
but he ain’t nothing but ground down by the strangers feet that,
day after day, trudge through their home, second home,
third best, first worst.

It’s the safest financial asset that you’ll ever make –
banker checks his purse and smiles, pushes across the table
how much we can just afford, give or take a decade or two,
it’s a dice throw, a chance shot in the dark for a stable home,
a sweet Rome, a capital for two.

We’ll get there I know it, though it’s just another view, another chance remark
that’ll throw me off the scent of this time well spent.

Electric

I’ll pleasure pain as pain is pleasured, only by my hand alone can I bring the misery that the thousands seek!

D calm down, please take a moment to reflect on what you are saying.

Fuck you and your medicine, your magic stick is nothing but a staff of false promises, you blaspheme even as you breath!

Do not spit on me D, please! Get off that table and come and sit by my side you errant child, let me listen to your troubles – let me smooth your ruffled hair.

I’ll stamp and I’ll cry as much as I feel I should, your words hold no meaning to me!  Only the dragon that can be tamed will calm me, and we both know they do not exist!

What…what are you on about?  Take a minute to breath in deeply, let that breath invigorate your body and calm that vibrant mind of yours!  Please, for heavens sake, do you not know I run a place of peace and tranquility?  You are ruining that not just for yourself but also for the others around you, for your nearest and dearest.  Your mother and father seek the beautiful son that they once knew, they hold your love in their garden of peace.

Oh please, hold your pity in wild abandon you insufferable dog, do my parents know how much you are paid by the hour?  It’s bullshit and you know it!  There is naught so fine nor fair as you ripping people off, stealing their life savings by pretending to bring families together, families that should stay long apart and grow anew if you ask my opinion!

I am NOT asking your opinion!  You will listen to me and to me only D, you have one last chance before I call for help.  You know what will happen when I call for help, there is no coming back from that – it is a black mark on your record, one that will deny you jobs, stable employment, benefits and care.  I do not take that decision lightly but please do not push me.

Ha, a curse on you and your profession!  You think you hold such sanctions above my head, er as I sit in your office?  Please,  hold back your vanities and delusions of power.  I know MY rights, I know my place.

Well, if you think that is so then please I will let you go and it will not rupture my heart so.  Begone you foul wicked person, take your jest elsewhere, to a place where it can affect man nor woman,  where the cold dry walls are your only audience.

On Anarchism

Whatever its future success as a historical movement, anarchism will remain a fundamental part of the human experience, for the drive for freedom is one of our deepest needs and the vision of a free society is one of our oldest dreams.  Neither can be ever fully repressed ; both will outlive all rulers and their States.

– Peter Marshall, in Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism.

The above book is a fine companion to The Rebel by Camus, another book which I have nearly completed.  Again both of the above are books that I am reading slowly, letting the words and ideas from history slowly tumble down and impregnate themselves as my mind wrestles with their concepts.  In this day and age of mass state surveillance, corruption and rank greed, it is hard to think of what one should hold a loyalty to and to why.  This is not just the state but also the social, the personal.

Kneecapped By The Government

The UK government have managed to pass a pretty horrendous bill for the democracy of the country.  It is hoped, or at least I hope, that the bill will be changed again shortly, but I do not hold out much hope.  At times it seems as if this country is sleep walking to a place I dare not think about.  I am intensely aware of the many freedoms we have in the UK, of our beautiful country, but I do fear for the future.  The civilian population must remain vigilant and hold our politicians to account over their links with big business.  It is easy to get carried away with these kind of things, but we must make a stand for moral democracy and the right of the everyman.

Scriptonite Daily has done a particularly effective blog post on the ins and outs of the effects of the bill which is highlighted below.

From the Scriptonite Daily website:

“Last night, the UK government passed the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.  A bill gagging charities, NGO’s, bloggers, community groups and most attempts at organised opposition to the government in the year prior to a general election…and just in time for the General Election next year.

What is the Gagging Law?

 The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, or Gagging Law, was hailed as the UK government’s answer to the issue of commercial lobbying.

But, this bill does not take on the political power of wealthy corporate lobbyists.  Instead, it kneecaps any attempts at organised local and national opposition by civil society, so as not to influence the outcome of general elections.  It is a gagging law.  The law puts in place a range of bureaucratic and financial barriers amounting to a gag on free speech and effective opposition.  These include:

  • The maximum that can be spent before groups have to be registered with the Electoral Commission £20,000 in England and £10,000 in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
  • Reduce the overall UK-wide spending limit before elections from £988,500 at present to a new limit of £450,000.  To put this in perspective – campaign group 38Degrees has 1.7m members, this would mean neutering their spending power on posters, staff, adverts and ancillary costs to just 26p per member.
  • Putting in place a spending cap of just £9,750 in a particular constituency, in the year running up to a general election – while the local MP can spend as much as they like until just 4 months from the election.

The new spending limits will come into effect on 19th September this year.”

Read the full post here.

As bloggers we must raise our voices.  To stand idly by is to legitimise the actions of those that lead us.

A Wander

I lost my way today.

I prowled the aisles seeking neither comfort nor nutrition.

The harsh light reflected off the heated glass, the avian carcasses slowly turning for the adulation of the masses.

The thunder of the cars passing by outside could just be heard above the clattering of feet and the chattering of the masses.

I thought that every aisle looked the same, the same vacant stares and the same senseless hands caressing the same old produce.  I felt a faint tremor, a flutter in my belly, as I walked slowly up the main arterial corridor.

I caught myself.  Was I so cast adrift in my own thoughts and feelings that I could not at least emphasise with these people?

Further up the store, mid section in fact, I saw a crowd gather.  The closer I got the thicker it became.  A single cry went up and quickly another individual answered in reply and then yet more answered in turn.

I distinguished the quick flick of silver amongst the dour greys and greens of winter jackets.

Then I saw it.  The recently much oxidised blood contrasted greatly to the clean glisten of the tiled floor and the harsh white light.  A single man had taken to slicing his body open in protestation of life itself.  Aiming only for his lower body he scythed at himself and writhed in reply.

Some of the shoppers stopped and tried to help the man, others passed with barely a flicker of their eyes in his direction and yet still more continued on with their shopping, determined not to become a part of this sad sorry scene.

The pools of blood that littered the shop floor snaked from the middle to the exit in irregular lakes, each one representing an individual pump of his heart.  The police had apprehended him, calmed him down and led his outside without further incident.

The bloody prints became sectioned off although at least one shopper had absent-mindedly wheeled her cart into the blood and left a trail from one aisle to the next.

I stood rooted to the spot.  My legs became iron pillars and a small tear formed at the edge of my right eye as I looked at the trail that the man had left behind.

I walked out of the store, neglecting to purchase the item what I had evidently thought I needed.

CNV00072

Photograph taken by the author with a Pentax S1a camera, please credit and use CC if reproduced elsewhere.

The Conference

The conference, everyone agreed, was a massive success.  Ground breaking research and novel ideas were exchanged, numbers noted and contacts made.  The only problem was that no-one could remember the exact details of the lectures or posters presented after the 3 day extravaganza.  Sure there was a round-about idea noted for each talk and each project, but there was no concrete theory or material proof.  It was a conference for, and of, lost souls, of ideas and theories never quite fully formulated or realised in the labs and departments.

Over time the conference gained a certain note of notoriety for the lack of details.  Researchers who had attended joshed with other researchers amid the miasma of forgetfulness, departments struggled to bury the conference notes among the piles of departmental paper output and tenured professors disregarded thoughts of the sessions attended.  However it niggled the attendees as much as they tried to forget it, leaving a certain feeling of unease and worry buried in their minds to pop out at the most importune moments, during lectures, in PhD vivas or during tense talks with funding bodies, but the feelings themselves were never discussed openly, each organisation fearing ridicule and each researcher fearing discredit in their field.  It was agreed then that the conference was a success as communication after the event heralded it, but it was never alluded to after that and the papers were never published in a conference volume.

In time it became an academic legend of the lost, little white lies grew of the value of the research presented, of the wonderful new ideas aired and theories expounded.  It was spoke of in hushed airs in quiet academic pubs, across clusters of pint glasses and gnarled clothing.  A certain ghastly smile became associated with the mentioning of the ghost conference, a knowing look of horror at the loss of hard-earned and shabbily funded research evaporating in a mist of forgetfulness, a wrought slumped feeling of the heart penetrated PhD researchers and tenured professors alike when the conference was alluded to.  By words for it became keywords became little uttered but dreaded words on the lips of academia.

Many years later a new wave of researchers examined the paper trail for the build up to the conference, gathering numerous amounts of data, of research published pertaining to, and referencing, the conference.  The data was examined and added to a growing database for analysis.  Yet upon each and every view key intrinsic details were missing, blurred, it seemed, with a magic marker.  No sense could be made of the notes as a body of work, yet no paper could be understood by itself.  Try as they might the researchers could not contact or find any surviving attendees to interview for cross-examination.  It remained an academic malaise, causing unfiltered discomfort in the ranks of the current crop of researchers who had not dared think that knowledge could be lost, could be cast aside, or could be forgotten.

The Grey Zone

Make no mistake, Guantanamo Bay is a stain on the sullen face of democracy.  For 11 years a  joint British and Saudi Arabian citizen has been held at this American base without being charged.  Despite the protestations of the British government, a lack of critical evidence and numerous protests, Shaker Aamer remains locked up in Guantanamo Bay, deprived of his basic human rights and subject to degrading torture.

Despite the hope of President Obama calling for the closure of the prison, based on Cuban ground, the prison is still operational, still torturing and still being run in defiance of basic human rights.  Amnesty International has repeated called the prison a ‘human rights scandal‘, The International Committee of the Red Cross found repeated detainee abuses when it inspected the camp in 2004, and Human Rights Watch has stated that ‘(the US) has refused to apply the Genevea Conventions to prisoners of war from Afghanistan, and has misused the designation of ‘illegal combatant’ to apply to criminal suspects on U.S. soil” in a 2003 report.

The world is currently in turmoil, thousands are dying in a vicious and bloody war in Syria, protests are on-going in Turkey, Brazil has had numerous large scale demonstrations de-crying the state for its lack of improving social issues, and Greece is under the boot of austerity, with the rise of the Golden Dawn party becoming a worry for Greece’s citizens and Europe.  It is time for a strong moral and ethical backbone.  Guantanamo Bay exists to facilitate the prisoners of war carried out in the wake of the horrific 9/11 terrorist attack in the US.  I believe that prisoners should be treated fairly and equally, that they should face legal justice where guilt is in evidence.  I do not believe torture and the de-basing of human rights is the correct, moral or ethical approach.

Shaker Aamer is currently on hunger strike, as are many of his fellow prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who protest their ill treatment, torture and abuse.

When you dehumanise the enemy, you dehumanise yourself.

Northern Lands

The sun beat down mercilessly on the small battered train station.  “The only people who will want that job are the people who have lived here all their lives and have family rooted here”, stated the businessman.  “Yup, and nobody is going to move here to start a new career whilst their friends and family are elsewhere, but the person who works here probably won’t move from this region”, agreed the other businessman.  Both did not fancy the surroundings, not for a permanent job here.  It was in the middle of a wasteland, a chaotic ruin of half demolished brick walled buildings fighting for a place amongst the weeds and the flowers.

And Slowly The River Flows

It was, he said, a matter of corporate vandalism that the building had been left an empty shell, slowly rotting from its insides.  Despicable that such a cultural landmark was left to rack and ruin by the winding river.  His dog, loyally and eagerly, bounded after the ball that he threw into the grassy field.  The park was a welcome break from the terraced housing that surrounded the area.  The gently upwardly sloping centre of the park offered treeless views of the city, of the towers of glass and steel, of the hustle and bustle of capital life, and of the four chimney building that stood vacant and listless by the waters edge.  A theme park they said!  How he laughed a hollow spiteful laugh, and now it is to be flats!  Another chuckle at the wanton piecemeal partition of business deals conducted behind closed doors.

The biggest brick building in Europe represents a suitable metaphor for the degradation of the British state, empty and morally bankrupt.  Did he say this?  I am not sure, but I felt he could have.

At night the water laps gently against the sandy shore, against the slowly rotting wooden wharves, and against the beating heart of the city itself.  The chimneys stand silent and majestic against the dark night sky, the starlight shining through the empty and barren windows.

Um, Nein Kapital

The world of work beckons.  Although I had always considered employment a kind of personal anathema, I have, and continue to give, my time and effort willingly for various volunteer causes.  Why is it then that the thought of paid work produces in me a nervous sweat of such mental magnitude that I fall and stumble in my own dreams, horrified at the thought of bonded labour?  Of course it is a juvenile and overgrown thought, as we all need to work to produce capital to sustain life as we know it, for rent, for bills, for the ever increasing price of food.  You may not like the system, of working during the best hours of sunlight and of living during the twilight minutes of a dying day, but it is a necessary state of life at this moment.  I guess education has been the backbone for me then, even during the numerous surgical explorations of my body, and not paid employment as per most of my age group.  So perhaps a shift of the paradigm to encompass the varied world of work will produce wonders for me, make me a tax paying fulfilled member of society.  Perhaps…  But it will not shake the jolt of freedom I feel when I think of running among the verdant grasses and lush green trees I spy as my contained car or train rushes past them.  No, that for me is a dream yet still to come.