“….a snowball’s chance in hell”.

….WHAM!, suddenly, in early March 2017, swinging through the Forest of Mercedes, there was a rumour of Tarzan’s reappearance. He was obviously hell bent on dropping every known ‘r’ in every known alphabet. When he fleetingly appeared, his demeanour as he folded himself into the back of the limo was on a par with the angriest pantomime Weismüller. The ghost of the cack-handed blonde parrot had come home to roost, again. The man who was almost famous for always being the wrong man at the right time is flagged up for being present at the second day of the reading of the European Union (Notification Of Withdrawal) Bill. I followed the whole of the first day with interest. Nothing much happened except that the usual suspects tried their best to pretend that the referendum hadn’t happened, or that there was some kind of a chance that another referendum could be held. And these people are supposed to be seasoned politicians. Perhaps they’ve become marinated.

Hain, who we think well of, and Meddlesome, who I don’t, both tried to push amendments that had obviously nothing to do with triggering Article 50. Both of them doing their best to delay the Act passing the house. Hain in a dutiful manner, but Meddlesome spinning, as per usual, and out of control, viz; “..My Lords, it is not a question of everything being hunky-dory, but of how desperately worse off we would be were we not to remain in the single market.” Spoken in the ‘past continuous’ tense, when 17 million people have already voted in the ‘present perfect’.

Someone else reminded him that “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought”. Actually, I think that was me, and I was quoting Lord Acton. But deep down, I know that I’m wrong to say such things. Yes, Meddlesome is deeply irritating, but almost half the vote was to ‘remain in Europe’, and there are a lot of people who are just as deeply affected by that as I am. A lot of decent liberal people who are desperate not to ‘leave’. I’m conflicted, and I feel it.

What Ashdown and his cronies are unwilling to understand however, is that 1. The Referendum was a very big deal, not just another day in the chattering shop, and 33 million people voted. 2. Everyone was told, and knew, that the vote was final, and 3. You go into any resulting negotiation offering NOTHING except an interest in doing a deal, maybe. The moment you offer something, then motion happens in the opposite direction, so to start with, you don’t offer to give anything. You wait for the other side to make a concession, to lower the price: and you still don’t make a move. Only when you have achieved an acceptable deal on one of your sales/purchases do you then start to negotiate on that or any other item on your list. You continue to say no till that point. This will be as true in a parliament of nations as it is in a Moroccan souk. If you stray from that principle you do not get the best deal. If you keep to it, you find out whether the other side is even interested in doing a deal.. any kind of a deal. If all they’re going to offer you is a bad deal, you’re better off out of there in any case. You’re playing for keeps. To disclose any of your desires, ideals or needs, or your MO, beforehand, is potentially disastrous to your desired outcome.

Personally, I’d thought that adding a clause or maybe two would be the right thing to do, and lawmakers will have to decide during all the stages of this process as to whether any proposed amendments will hobble it rather than enhance it. (However, I now have the thought that good intentions might be used against GB, to really hobble Brexit, by Juncker and the gang. Like capstans and steel bollards to restrict and channel British political direction. Better perhaps to have an open field than one with a couple of untimely placed obstacles. But Tarzan will destroy anything in his way, attempting to stay in Europe, including the House of Lords, which will happen in due course, in any case).

EU citizens already working in the UK obviously have to stay. Whoever says that they cannot will immediately be politically dead. So, for 90 odd percent of registered foreign domiciles there will be no difference in their status. Unless of course, Brussels does not reciprocate, or wants to play hardball with a few million lives. Both sides have stated intentions, but no movement is possible until at least the UK election has happened. No law can be passed until then. BUT, and it can’t be stated in any other way.. The EU has already started playing hardball.. with millions of lives. More of that later.

I DIDN’T VOTE. Please take note.. because I was truly conflicted. I still am. If you want to blame me for that.. fair enough.

More will be written, possibly, in years to come, but a few things have happened since I posted the ‘Hard Breakfast’ blog which have motivated me to submit a few thoughts re the process and perhaps the demographic of this place in time. The first, which actually happened before the Hard Breakfast essay was even thought about, still resonates. Actually it stinks, like a piece of dog dirt that’s been tramped into the house.

I can still smell the contemptuous insanity of the Lib Dem speeches after their win in Richmond Park. I watched it with conflicted interest. The newish Lib Dem poster boy, The Scream caricature Tim Farron spouted on the BBC. Farron for President! I thought, under my breath.. Make Britain Inane Again! But the most incredulous bit for me was when Sky’s Adam Boulton interviewed the winner, Sarah Olney on the night. She said that before she became a candidate that she “would accept” Brexit. She then said,

“We’ve had the (first) High Court verdict about Article 50 since then, so it now does look as though we can have a vote in Parliament that might override the referendum and that, you know, I will be voting to remain because that’s what I’ve always believed.” (What?! Nothing exists north of Watford, except maybe a few suffragettes).

Q. “So as an MP, you see your job as resisting Brexit rather than trying to soften it?”

A. “Absolutely, because now I’ve been given this mandate by the voters of Richmond Park”…

Q. (You’re against the) “…Politics of anger and intolerance that you’ve just talked about, that you’ve called the UKIP vision. Have you seen that.. have you experienced that?”

A. Well, we obviously have to start from somewhere we are..(!) there’s been a leave vote in the referendum, but I still passionately believe that remaining in the EU is the best for Britain, and I still want to fight for that”. (By overturning a vote made by 33 million people with another one in the unqualified House Of Commons! Shades of 1653, and “Take away that fool’s Baubles!!…”) And now she’s an MP.. Incredulous.

I noticed that she was sat next to Farron at Prime Ministers Questions, (HOC 28/3/17) She may now have been told that there are further developments, which possibly represent something more realistic than her speech of December 2nd, but at that moment she mouthed what all remainers believe and are still in denial about. That kind of blind intolerance brands them with the same hot iron they accuse the ex-Labour Brexit North of brandishing. I would very gladly have accepted remaining in the EU, but when the high and mighty hold sway over the majority, just because they’re high and mighty, all they do is prove the point with regard to why so many chose to leave Brussels, Strasburg, Westminster arrogance and perhaps even globilisation-for-the-sake-of-it in general.

Marginalised people who took the one-time opportunity to vote against a government they didn’t like, or want, and had always been estranged from, only wanted their country, their people and their way of life not to be diminished any further. That’s all the majority of them wanted. They didn’t want to continue to live in some demented 70’s daydream holding onto a non-existent, infallible milk and honeyland that never was in any case. (In case you weren’t there, the 70’s were not a walk in the park. It was a very difficult time, with work-to-rule, strikes, electricity cuts, 26% inflation and eventually a ‘Winter Of Discontent’. I was very badly effected by both the ‘Three Day Week’ and the ‘Winter Of Discontent’).

On June 22nd 2016, In their own minds, the majority were already neglected, disregarded, belittled, denigrated and ignored. How on earth were they ever going to understand that they could become any poorer. Many are at the door of poverty right now, and many more are struggling. What the hell! What was the great unequivocal knowledge being handed down to them by which leaders? Where was it? Of course they didn’t want to become gradually poorer for the rest of their lives, with the great ghastly spectre of an even more distant parliament of European ‘lawmakers’ constantly implementing ‘law’ in their own favour. In favour of incessant financial drain and blinding bureaucracy controlled by a glaring plutocracy.

But where was that unequivocal voice instilling them with the inspiration to do the one thing that most of them could never ever do, which was to believe ANYTHING coming out of Westminster? And vote for it! That’s the last thing that most of them would ever have done, You know this, all of you, on whichever ‘side’. I knew it, as can plainly be seen in the letter I wrote on June 20th 2016.

The people of Scotland had done the same thing as 17 million English. They had voted against Westminster. Many of them favoured a separate destiny. They were lauded for it. Roundly lauded. The people of Northern Ireland had largely done the same, though they would probably have been more cognisant of the border problem than anything that might be coming from Westminster. But not the people of Sunderland, who are not that far from the Scottish border. They were not lauded by the same people. A moment of independence was offered, by a self-seeking, tired, remote, out of touch, arrogant and nonchalantly hostile government of largely home counties elite, who’d lost the plot. Didn’t realise the deep ramifications of what they were doing. Were going merrily along in time honoured Eton fashion towards a bomb on the plane, that they didn’t realise they were putting there, before they all got on it. As Lord Dobbs said in the House of Lords debate on the Article 50 Bill, (21st February, 2017) “I recall introducing a bill to the House of Lords calling for a referendum on the EU in 2013. I thought it had a snowball’s chance in hell”.

In plain English, and I never use this word in public: what the fuck did they think they were doing? In 2013, and 2015? And how the hell do they still have the audacity to stand there blaming anyone else but themselves? And how can you blame anyone like me for knowing what was happening, BEFORE it happened? I was just pointing it out to a friend who wasn’t as aware of the chapter and verse as I was. I knew full well that it wouldn’t have been right for me to have voted; or given an opinion; before the result was known.

OK, so the constituency that voted ‘Leave’ is full of disparate parties. People who would ‘normally’ never be bed-fellows, from the practically alt-right back-benchers – to the hard pressed ex-miner – to the disillusioned young techie-to the Welsh sheep farmer. But so is the ‘Remain’ constituency, from Northern Irish priest to City wide boy. This again would illustrate an inept government’s inability to even attempt any form of prior safeguard of their own interests in Europe. Similar foresight gave us Isis. We don’t have just one ‘middle man’ in Europe, we have elements of 27. Plus the bureaucracy.

At Richmond Park, Labour lost their deposit… their knackers and the seat of their pants. On that night I wrote this just before I went to bed. ‘At the start of the referendum I was fairly ambivalent. I’m now motivated on behalf of the marginalised English. 2/12/16 3:30am.

Yes, I live in Ireland, and I love it here. I’ll always have my British passport. There’s no point in changing it for another. If I was required to have an Irish passport to live here, I’d apply for one. I’ve never had a home. I live in No Mans Land, where my only home is in my head. I’ve lived there for seventy odd years. Sometimes it shows. Most of the time I don’t give it a thought. I’ve lived on my wits for about 70 years. I don’t have anything else. I don’t actually need anything else, and I’ve had nothing to lose since about 1975. Time keeps me and I it.

I’ve made a few mistakes, but who hasn’t? The majority of mine are based around thinking of people I regularly speak to as friends, when actually, some have not lived up to that.

When I was forced, economically, to leave England over 27 years ago, I thought I’d be back. I wanted to return, but I couldn’t afford to live in England and record music in the way that I was used to recording it. Ireland gave me that opportunity. I’ll be eternally grateful. Thirty or forty years ago I knew (and said so, publicly), that if you weren’t in the place you wanted to be within ten years, then you wouldn’t get there. I still thought about coming back, but as each year passed it became more impossible. Now it’s a distant pipe dream, and I no longer have a pipe. My own prophecy often haunts me. There’s music here in Ireland, and I’m close to it. My heart is in a good place. Deep inside of me, I long for something that’ll never happen, but it no longer matters that it won’t.

I have to apologise just a little for perhaps seeming to be intolerant in my ‘Hard Breakfast’ post. The intolerance shown in that blog was mainly pricked by the sheer stupidity of organised religion, from which I fled as a young person. Religion is anathema to me. Islam and particularly Christianity appal me. The history of religion is the history of the state, incestuous exploiters of a catalogue of hate, the man of peace was overrun by armies of the lord, who signed their names to any war and sang to praise the sword. I’ll point at the darkness that organised religion represents…. to my dying breath. At its worst, which it now is, it’s a serious disease. A serious mental disease. A scab in the brain that can’t be touched. Yes, perhaps I overstated the Sharia nonsense privately, to a friend, but perhaps I didn’t. Maybe I should have edited it out, but that would have been dishonest. After all, the estimate is that there are only about 80 Sharia courts in Britain. What I do know is that my being, as a young person, was badly affected by how abused I was as a young person in the name of religion.

I could quite easily have written the following myself, but it’s from another source. I’ve been reading for inspiration recently, some poetry, some research, and things like this…

 … Consequently, with the exception of a few subfields of philosophy, no article in any peer-review scientific journal takes God’s existence seriously. Historians don’t argue that the Allies won the Second World War because God was on their side; economists don’t blame God for the 1929 economic crisis; and geologists don’t invoke His will to explain tectonic plate movements.

 The same fate has befallen the soul.. For thousands of years people believed that all our actions and decisions emanate from our souls. Yet in the absence of supporting evidence, and given the evidence of much more detailed alternative theories, the life sciences have ditched the soul. As private individuals, many biologists and doctors may go on believing in souls. Yet they never write about them in serious scientific journals.

To be honest, I’ve only been made to feel uncomfortable by religious people three times in my adult life, and they’re all over ten years ago now. Once was in a Northern English big town, once in a midland city where we chose to eat somewhere we shouldn’t have done, and once abroad. I used to be an intrepid traveller who was generally gregarious in any company. I saw a lot of weird stuff. As a young man I did everything on the thumb, hitching, and got into all kinds of spots. We were once attacked in Greece by a gang of Nazis who badly abused us. Demanded our passports like border guards, and held them while they did their best to frighten us. They obviously had memories of the occupying Teutons that must have been good memories. They were older than us. They’d obviously been older kids during the war. All kinds of things happened in times gone that were in some way acknowledged as de rigeur, but would be very unusual now. Imagine.

In the late 60’s, early 70’s the Sufi cult became attractive to some of the younger folk, and Islam seemed to be a tolerant form of that kind of ‘organised’ worship. People travelled to exotic places like Beirut, to drink in the atmosphere of some dreamy Bogart movie, and think about holiness, but by the mid 70’s things had changed. A friend of mine, Fred Yates, who was ten or fifteen years older than me, fought in Egypt, when Nasser took over the Suez Canal in the 50’s. I say fought, but actually he didn’t. He was an army ambulance driver. He saw devastation, and brought some of the stories home. I knew things then that I’ll never put to the page. Fred was an inspiration to me. He was a jazzer and he’s one of the reasons I got up and went. Miles playing ‘Something Else’ on a long hot summer afternoon. Days never ended, they became aeons…

Today I was really upset, it felt awful to be leaving Europe. They should have seen this coming. They really should. An old idiot who writes poems for a living saw it coming, why didn’t they, the so-called elite? I was fitful…but then I heard what Schrauble had said.. It was a fine day, so I went outside into the yard to get my head out of it… and got shrieked at by some starlings instead. It’s their house at this time of year, nothing to do with me. Five pairs in the wall this year. They’re a nuisance. I should get the wall pointed..  somehow.. tbc…. soon.

 

 

The Ammonia

The recent supreme Court hearing based on whether the Royal Prerogative could be used by the government to trigger Article 50 (to leave the EU) without parliament being involved has given me cause for thought re different issues that are on-going at this moment in time around the world.

The Royal Prerogative was written into law as long ago as the invention of script. At the beginning of recorded history it would just have been recognised as the King’s will. In their own way Nefertiti, Cleopatra, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Boudica would have had the same power, so in effect it would have been the Monarch’s will.

In Britain, The Royal Prerogative began to be called as such post Magna Carta in the 13th and 14th Centuries, as law began to be more thoroughly written and understood. Effectively it disappeared in 1649, along with the King’s head, but was written into law in May of that year. The King had been substituted by his imaginary prerogative. Which still staggers on, from pillar to post, strengthened by The Glorious Revolution of 1688, adapted and used hundreds of times since then as another imaginary instrument of law. It has since travelled with us through 300+ years of legislation; through war, financial hysteria, coronation and abdication. And onward it goes, through post Brexit rulings and into the cyborg future.

It’s been a bit of a rocky road for the prerogative these last months, but there it still stands, the great ethereal simulation of granite stoicism, another invisible Wall in The North. The imaginary spectre of ultimate British authority flitting onward towards Britdoom; being hunted down by purely figurative white papers and threatening little green men. Strange to witness millions of people transfixed by the simple application of an imagined proposition. It is also only by imagination that it can be applied; even though in the same whispering reeds another instance has been found where it can’t be. Another wanton divisible proposition being denied by the indivisible imagination.

So, the King is dead, but he isn’t, because his prerogative travels without him. (I’m not being sexist, I just had no wish to involve the current head of the British state in this text). However, this kind of a democratic reading of lawful values isn’t properly understood outside of the confines of a fairly unimportant island off the coast of North West Europe. There are many places on the planet where the ruler has more or less absolute power. There are currently 50 dictatorships in the world. We think of Vlad the lad, who runs Russia like a fiefdom, Mugabe and 20 other African states. Myanmar and Saudi Arabia, although that looks more like a cartel from the outside. The world just isn’t the sort of place where the political movement towards the ‘prerogative’ could either be understood or applied.

With it’s history of being connected to us, even though Barrack Obama obviously regarded it as ‘back of the queue’ vague, I wouldn’t have thought that the USA fell into that category. I’ve always absolutely enjoyed the USA, from Key West to Seattle. My influences in poetry and song are 50% American, or thereabouts. I appreciate all of it, and love lots of it. I’ve often had misgivings about its politics, but always thought that it’s further ‘right’ than Europe because it’s a new nation, and etc., blah blah. However, the latest political swerve has come with alarms bells attached.

Even though it’s accepted that every new President comes in with executive orders often countermanding his predecessor, very suddenly, there’s a person at the head of the US government who is using his executive power in roughly the same way that Vlad does. He has a lot of people scurrying and saying ‘yes’, even though one or two might be thinking ‘what!?’ He is using the effective ‘prerogative’ of the government of the United States Of America as a personal tool. Some of his ‘executive orders’ sound as though they’ve been written by Kim Jong-un or Robert Mugabe.

Giuliani has admitted that ‘The President’ asked him to find a way to ban Muslims, (effectively the religion, which would be unconstitutional).

As yet there’s nothing to stop the continuous roll of executive commands, (orders), because the right wing Republicans agree with a lot of what he’s doing, and the rest have been wrong-footed by his ‘absolutist’ style. In other words, the constitution has to be re-worked to disable what could become a Goebbels style Haw Haw being delivered by Sean the man from his pressured press secretariat. The problem with rebooting the system is that it’s going to take time for the lumbering monolith of the state to prop its eyes open for long enough to pass something into law that resembles what came into law in Britain in May 1649. Namely, a check on power being exercised by one person, virtually single-handedly.

So, the US is now back in 1649 England. The pilgrims have left, but the ‘Rump Parliament’ is still sitting and could on the spur of any moment fire the members it doesn’t think agree with it. King Donald looks like any other medieval king, except that you can now see him on TV.

It’s going to be some time before what he’s doing can be undone, if ever. After all, it seems that to all intents and purposes, he is acting lawfully. Well, if eventually someone’s able to tell him that he isn’t, then even more toys are coming flying out of that pram. Pronto. And there’ll be lots of stamping, and jumping up and down.

Meanwhile, Rome, or rather the Arctic, is burning, and there’s even less hope of putting the fire out now that King Donald has the wheel. It seems that he doesn’t believe in anything he’s not thought, and things that other people think about do not seem to concern him. Worse still, historical discoveries that have long been understood seem to be automatically registered by his court as unbelievable. It’s quite possible that everything he’s not previously considered has to be untrue. Like the fact of climate change. King Donald wants to burn the world, well, he doesn’t necessarily want to, but he’s too stubborn to be able to see the writing that’s plainly been on the wall for a while now. I.e., 7+ billion creatures burning whole layers of fossilised plants that took 60 million years to lay down, (most of it before 300 million years ago), in decades, driving thousands of species into extinction. Does he see this as unimportant? Apparently.

It is for the people who are employed digging it out of the ground. And there’s the paradox. What’s more important, the planet, it’s diversity of life, or next weeks’ wages? An existential problem faced by at least the last 5 leaders of the ‘free’ world. This is an old one, and because it’s so old, it’s gone onto the shelf now. Into the filing cabinet, to be dealt with after the funeral; maybe.

More importantly, right now, (how can it be?) is that the ipso facto leader of the ‘free’ world is closing his doors to the world he presumes to be less ‘free’. As we know I’m an atheist, and I detest organised religion because of what it’s done to us. For how it’s trapped us in it’s obvious lies, and stopped many of our fellow beings from realising greater freedom of mind. Like many, I regard armed superstition as the most stupid manifestation of belief in fantasy; of belief in the fantasy that organised religion resorts to whenever it can. I don’t care whether it’s Christian, Islamic, Hindu or whatever, it’s the volatile part of this structured myth that’s holding us back. Holding us back from living in the present, among other things.

I fully accept that the Christians have been the worst in the past, but as everyone knows, they are now being rivalled by the Islamists. You don’t have to be a racist to want the whole of violent radical Islam to be wiped from the face of the planet. That has nothing to do with race. Personally, I regard my brothers and sisters as being from every race and creed on the planet. I literally cry for them every day, and even though I am an atheist, in these circumstances I will stick up for the right to peacefully fantasise.

Now that I’ve established that, I have to say that my opinion of what is now happening in terms of border control is that what King Don is now doing at the US border will antagonise the rest of the world, and particularly all of those people who have helped the USA in Iraq and other places. Iraqis, Syrians, Iranians, Peshmerga Kurds, Mexicans and all kinds. They are being insulted. These people are not religious fanatics, they’re people who’ve been existing and sometimes fighting in the front line of the fight against Isis, against armed superstition. What this amounts to is heavy handed gratuitous bullying which will surely backfire on the US if it’s allowed to stand. There are now well established ways of knowing who’s coming in your front door. They don’t need masochistic savagery added to them.

How much hope is there of some recalibration of this, do we think? With the whole US establishment psyche starting to look inward. Not much, we may surmise. Befitting of this are the King’s pronunciations, the tone of which often resemble those of a gangster. His demeanour is cretinous. He’s forcing everyone to look at their navel. And what’s in there. It seems he’s possessed with his own. Homo not very Erectus, the duck, he doesn’t walk, he waddles, his character is unsavoury and his signature is like a dozen chards of glass. He’s incredibly transparent, and everything I can see is undesirable. Whatever he sees in the mirror has obviously no bearing in fact. My imagination tells me that he’s a thug who lives an alternative truth that’s layered with slime. A grim reality, and a big mess.

He’s exposed himself as a tourist in buying an audience with a woman who’s seen it all. She’ll go along with it like any other pragmatist, and there’ll be no need to know what she thinks. There’ll be a big mess in the UK when he comes. O! No! Ugh!!! The ammonia! Christ!

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Reference Notes

  1. Fully sourced at Wikipedia Coal

‘Coal forms when dead plant matter is converted into peat, which in turn is converted into lignite, then sub-bituminous coal, after that bituminous coal, and lastly anthracite. This involves biological and geological processes that take place over time.

In 2013, the head of the UN climate agency advised that most of the world’s coal reserves should be left in the ground to avoid catastrophic global warming.

In Centralia, Pennsylvania (a borough located in the Coal Region of the United States), an exposed vein of anthracite ignited in 1962 due to a trash fire in the borough landfill, located in an abandoned anthracite strip mine pit. Attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, and it continues to burn underground to this day. The Australian Burning Mountain was originally believed to be a volcano, but the smoke and ash come from a coal fire that has been burning for some 6,000 years. There are thousands of such coal fires alight on the planet at any one time.

As of 2012 coal production in the United States was falling at the rate of 7% annually with many power plants using coal shut down or converted to natural gas; however, some of the reduced domestic demand was taken up by increased exports with five coal export terminals being proposed in the Pacific Northwest to export coal from the Powder River Basin to China and other Asian markets; however, as of 2013, environmental opposition was increasing. High-sulfur coal mined in Illinois which was unsaleable in the United States found a ready market in Asia as exports reached 13 million tons in 2012.’

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2. US Energy Information Administration. (eia)

In the IEO2016 Reference case, coal remains the second-largest energy source worldwide—behind petroleum and other liquids—until 2030. From 2030 through 2040, it is the third-largest energy source, behind both liquid fuels and natural gas. World coal consumption increases from 2012 to 2040 at an average rate of 0.6%/year, from 153 quadrillion Btu in 2012 to 169 quadrillion Btu in 2020 and to 180 quadrillion Btu in 2040.’

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3. Scientific American (Powder River Basin coal on the move)

‘The Missouri River became the dominant stream as the Northern Rockies formed, with tributaries like the Yellowstone, Powder and Cheyenne rivers running north and east to meet it. Their erosion eventually left coal seams only a few feet beneath the land surface of what today is called the Powder River Basin.

No other coal seam on the planet is so big, so close to the surface, and so cheap to mine, said Thomas Michael Power, a professor emeritus at the University of Montana who studies energy economics.

Today the massive deposits, enough to light the United States almost into the 23rd century, have become the center of a regional – and increasingly national – debate: Should this resource continue to be developed, how will it get to market and what is that market? The coal is so cheap that companies see profit in shipping it west via vast trains, a half-mile or more long, then clear across the Pacific Ocean to meet Asia’s seemingly insatiable demand.

There is also concern over the role coal plays in global warming and health impacts. Coal is the “dirtiest” fossil fuels, emitting mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur – and 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of ore burned. Natural gas emits about half as much of the greenhouse gas. According to the Energy Information Agency, coal is source of 44 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions.’ (Much more…)

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  1. ‘Countries and their Cultures’(Kurds,5)

‘Many Kurds belong to Sufi (Islam mystic) brotherhoods. They meet to chant and dance together to worship Allah. The Sufi brotherhoods are very important in Kurdish village life. There are about 1 million Kurdish ‘Alawis (a secretive faith based on and distinct from Islam) in Turkey, and 40,000 to 70,000 Yazidis mostly in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Yazidism is a small religion that combines aspects of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. A very few Kurds are Christian.’

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Are/is the following all lies, then? King Don will note that this is research being done by his own countrymen and women.

  1. NASA

‘NASA 16-008 – January 20, 2016 – 2015 Global Temperatures NASA, NOAA ANALYSES REVEAL RECORD-SHATTERING GLOBAL WARM TEMPERATURES IN 2015 IMAGE: http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/16-008.jpeg 2015 was the warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880, according to a new analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The record-breaking year continues a long-term warming trend — 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have now occurred since 2001. VIDEO: https://youtu.be/gGOzHVUQCw0

This visualization illustrates Earth’s long-term warming trend, showing temperature changes from 1880 to 2015 as a rolling five-year average. Orange colors represent temperatures that are warmer than the 1951-80 baseline average, and blues represent temperatures cooler than the baseline. DESCRIPTION: Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much.

The 2015 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York (GISTEMP). NOAA scientists concur with the finding that 2015 was the warmest year on record based on separate, independent analyses of the data. Because weather station locations and measurements change over time, there is some uncertainty in the individual values in the GISTEMP index. Taking this into account, NASA analysis estimates 2015 was the warmest year with 94 percent certainty. “Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and NASA’s vital work on this important issue affects every person on Earth,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Today’s announcement not only underscores how critical NASA’s Earth observation program is, it is a key data point that should make policy makers stand up and take notice – now is the time to act on climate.”

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degree Celsius) since the late-19th century, a change largely driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Last year was the first time the global average temperatures were 1 degree Celsius or more above the 1880-1899 average.

Phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña, which warm or cool the tropical Pacific Ocean, can contribute to short-term variations in global average temperature. A warming El Niño was in effect for most of 2015. “2015 was remarkable even in the context of the ongoing El Niño,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “Last year’s temperatures had an assist from El Niño, but it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing.” Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures, so not every region on Earth experienced record average temperatures last year.

For example, NASA and NOAA found that the 2015 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the second warmest on record. NASA’s analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations. These raw measurements are analyzed using an algorithm that considers the varied spacing of temperature stations around the globe and urban heating effects that could skew the conclusions if left unaccounted for. The result of these calculations is an estimate of the global average temperature difference from a baseline period of 1951 to 1980.

NOAA scientists used much of the same raw temperature data, but a different baseline period, and different methods to analyze Earth’s polar regions and global temperatures. GISS is a NASA laboratory managed by the Earth Sciences Division of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The laboratory is affiliated with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York.

NASA monitors Earth’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites, as well as airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. The agency develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing.

NASA shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet. RELATED LINKS: The full 2015 surface temperature data set and the complete methodology used to make the temperature calculation are available at: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/ The slides for the Wednesday, Jan. 20 news conference are available at: http://go.nasa.gov/2015climate For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earth

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  • File:16-008-NASA-2015RecordWarmGlobalYearSince1880-20160120.png
  • Created: 20 January 2016’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hard Breakfast

Three days before the referendum vote, I wrote to a good friend of mine who is a continental European citizen to inform him of my view of the politics involved in Brexit, and to tell him just how conflicted I was about it. He had previously attended my birthday gathering at a local restaurant (12/6/16, eleven days before the vote took place), where we’d discussed it. In the letter I say a couple of times that what I’ve written should never be published. However, as I think that the world has now significantly moved on, whether it is published or not is irrelevant. It might even be a good way of starting the blog up again after a four year ‘hiatus’. Please note that this letter was written on the 20th June 2016. What follows the letter is a passage on what I’ve thought since then.

20th June 2016

Dear xxxxxx,

I felt your disappointment with my attitude to the Brit referendum on my birthday (12/6/16). I feel that I owe you an apology for some of the language I used and an explanation. I’ve also re-examined my opinions and the reasons for them.

Basically, my position has been ambivalent. Eventually I’ve found myself sitting on the fence. I usually write essays about issues like this, but I haven’t ever really been able to nail down one opinion on it. At least not an opinion I can espouse without referring to the validity of the opposite point of view. I have always thought, in any case, that the ‘remain’ side will win. I still think that.

First off, I’d just like to say that at the beginning of this it seemed like a different proposition entirely to the one that has emerged over the last year. It began about a year before the last British General Election when Cameron, in order to placate the right wing (OUT)-Eurosceptics in his own party (+ UKIP), while also keeping faith with his coalition (IN)-Liberal Democrat partners, muted the idea of an in-out referendum to be held in the forthcoming Parliament. He thought that the likelihood would be that he would again be in a coalition with them. Eventually, to solidify the deal, everyone was promised that there would be a referendum on EU membership.

At that point, everyone quickly calculated that with his c.60 Lib Dem MPs + the europhiles in the Labour opposition, they should easily be able to control the terms and progress of any referendum. After all, in parliament itself the vote would have been approx 60/40 in favour of remaining in the EU. Still is.

Then fate dealt a couple of unexpected hands. The Labour Party, which had effectively been born in Scotland, was seriously undermined in Scotland after it had supported the ‘No’ campaign in the Scottish Referendum, (18th September 2014, in which a ‘no’ vote meant that “no”, you didn’t want Scotland to become independent). Tens of thousands of Scots who had previously been Labour supporters joined the Scottish National Party in the weeks following the victory of the ‘no’ vote: obviously feeling they’d been cheated out of independence by the Westminster based Labour Party.

In the UK General Election, seven or eight months later, The Scottish National Party experienced record swings of over 30% from the Labour Party when they won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats in Westminster. This changed the balance of power in Britain overnight.

The Conservatives won the election outright over a very much weakened Labour Party and no longer had to form a coalition. What this has meant, along with many other things, such as the fact that there is no longer an effective opposition, is that the eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party were suddenly in a position where they could force the promised referendum with no effective questions raised, or effective opposition to it within Parliament. Without fear of being challenged by any parliamentary vote.

The irony is that if the Labour Party had won the election, the referendum would have been buried, instantly.

What has happened since then is that the UKIP Party, with over 4 million votes but only one member of parliament, has found itself virtually without representation. The fact that it is roughly allied to the Tory right wing isn’t as important as the fact that the 3rd biggest Party of voters in the UK is marginalised. Visibly, and completely. Whatever you think of them or their views, this is a long way from being democratic. When 4 million people are virtually disenfranchised, the feedback grows to proportions not experienced since suffrage first became an urgent issue in c.1830.

This feeling has also now spread to the rank and file of the northern working people, a great many of whom feel that they are no longer represented in the way they were only a year ago. The distance between themselves and Westminster was at best tenuous. That gap has lately become as wide as Hadrian’s Wall was from Rome in 420 AD.

For many of them, this vote is their one chance to effect what parliament does. For many, it’s a chance in a lifetime. For a majority in some places, they have a feeling of being overrun. For many of them, their vote will not be about anything other than total disillusionment. Disillusionment with politics, with the system, with Westminster and with Europe. For a lot of them, the perception is that things can’t get any worse. I was out of order on my birthday in disparaging the religious invasion, but we have to stand by the facts. I’d also like to make it clear, however, that we’ve brought it on ourselves, not least by former colonisation and war.

I will never be a racist. That is anathema to me. I have written many anti-racist songs and poems. And for instance, I really enjoy the West Indian contingent in our country. They are special, wonderful people who have brought a lot to us. I’m pro-immigration, and that’s one thing in this morass that makes it even more complex. You have pro-immigration Brexiteers and anti-immigration remainers, and all shades in between, which muddies the waters considerably. I.e., there are a dozen camps and more, with no leaders.

Cameron has been mauled by the press in the last few days because the general and widespread perception of him is that he can’t be trusted. He is constantly undermined in front of millions of TV viewers. Osbourne is a very slippy character, Farage is totally embarrassing, Johnson is a likeable buffoon, Gove is a shy boy geek-cum-zealot, and Corbyn is a closet Brexiteer who is trying to convince himself that ‘remain’ is the best ship to be sailing on. There are NO outstanding leaders with outstanding messages. (That the government of 1948 who founded the Welfare State was much more honourable is without question). The public have their own view, which is often clouded by the facts of their own local reality.

The bureaucratic output from the EU is gigantic. It’s a mass of confusing red tape and directives that are in the main nothing short of dreams, coming from 27 different sets of dreamers. The cacophony is truly amazing. There are mega questions about it’s authenticity, including just how democratic it is.

The sovereignty we’ve been losing for decades follows on from this. This was illustrated for me when I saw some cynical ‘Inners’ in boats on the Thames haranguing some working trawler men who were protesting to get their jobs back. To be allowed to fish waters their forebears had fished for long centuries before sovereignty was removed from their shores and islands. Which could hardly be described as a retrograde step. In effect, the Austrians and Czechs are land locked and are short on cod, but with all due respect, the French trawler fleet has access to the Atlantic while the German trawler fleet has access to the Baltic and beyond.

There are hundreds of different versions of this bound up in expensive red tape. In effect, in my own opinion, we gave away far too much sovereignty far too quickly. Perhaps the other original 6 did too. We needed to move at a pace where adjustments could be gradually accepted as they naturally became facts of life. Please read that sentence twice. In the rush to bury the holocaust, we are stripping the fabric of our culture down to the bone, in the hope that new and more acceptable flesh will grow in place of what has been shredded.

The young can’t wait, I understand that, but the world is different than that. No one can trust those who have played the system for decades and might want to alter the fine print in ways that are partial. In the history of human culture, this is a common thread, and the young are the most vulnerable (to the sharp practice of the state). In the event, no one is being allowed any time in any case, because of the sheer pressure of people.. And I hate to say this, but there’s a cynic in every stride.

With respect to the facts, there were over 300,000 net immigrants into the UK this last year. This figure is roughly split between those from the commonwealth and those from the EU. The UK isn’t the only country in Europe that this has happened to over the last decade. This is the greatest migration of people humanity has yet recorded, including the one post WW2. What this means for the UK is that yes, there’s a decent supply of nurses, doctors and other skilled people, but there is nowhere near the growth in infrastructure needed to accommodate a new city the size of Nottingham arriving every year. Infrastructure is THE most important factor in all of the pressure being put on working people right now. I cannot stress that enough.

When you can’t even see a doctor after you’ve waited all day, or been left on a trolley in a corridor, (in some cases to die), you know that things have changed, and not for the better. Perhaps just as importantly, the new population will work for often much less than the average British worker. The average middle-aged British worker, meanwhile, has many more ‘overheads’, and can’t work for lower wages. In other words, millions of lives are now in the process of being changed, and many will never know the standard of living they had, ever again.

Put that together with the fact that most immigrants are younger, and you have a problem. The UK should be welcoming them, and in many instances, thankfully it does. But they have no idea just how they’re effecting the UK population, even though they help us in many ways, including by paying tax. And it’s the fault of successive governments that the infrastructure and many of its social services, (including the police), are no longer fit for purpose for its indigenous population.

But problems are compounded when large numbers of this new population don’t speak the language. This is again intensified by the fact that they are culturally hundreds of years adrift. So far adrift in fact, that many of them are appalled by our way of life, and seek to keep their children from being any part of it. Many of them are horrified by us. What this means is that there’s a big underclass of people living in the UK who have absolutely no desire to be part of British society.

They have virtually taken whole cities over. They have made some of these cities bright, colourful and desirable, but for different classes of people at different times of the day or night, there are no go areas within them. Plus they contain people being brought up in them who are fifth columners. 5th Columners, some of whom will grow up actively seeking to destroy elements of the original tolerant culture they don’t agree with.

There are undercover schools where no English is spoken. There are courts administering Sharia Law, where British law is absent, meaningless and incomprehensible. Not, in my own recent experience, that it isn’t in any case, but what we have in many instances are lives being lived in circumstances that we grew out of six or seven hundred years ago, and at the very latest haven’t experienced at all since the mid to late 17th Century.

Everything I detest about organised religion has come to haunt me in the twilight of my life. Organised authoritative dogma should now be on the wane. Instead, in a new age of flawed reason, it flourishes. This is indeed a bitter pill to swallow. The propagation of this latest wave of superstition is ensured by the information age. It’s long become the ‘armed superstition’ I’ve had to refer to for at least the last 28 years. (NB. I’ve been anti organized superstition for about 70 years).

We should be welcoming this huge exodus in the traditional human way. The vast majority are not visibly enemies. They need shelter. They have only themselves to give; but what does this really mean for the places they land in/on?

On the other side of all of this, a brilliant young woman was murdered on the street a few days ago by someone calling himself ‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain’. I didn’t know of her beforehand, but she was obviously a shining example of humanity. I would love to have known her. So would millions of others. The knowledge of her and what she did will change minds in this referendum. There’s a great sorrow in this. I’m sure that there are not many in the nation who don’t feel that. What a wonderful soul. A life lived in charity. An example to us all.

So, in summary, it’s not so much that I’m disappointed not to be able to at least live a part of my life in the country I think of as my home, but that that country has truly become a country I no longer recognise. Obviously, things change over a lifetime, but I’m now totally estranged from the country my mother must have known so lovingly. I carry a great sadness of the passing of practically everything I knew. I accept that this is one of the consequences of age, but to be this alienated is truly signal.

When you catch me speaking like I did on my birthday, it’s because some of these things have been shaken and stirred. Disturbed. I know in my heart of hearts that I HAVE to be open to the greater possibilities of union with others, and that feckless nationalism exposes the very worst emotions and delusional mass behaviour. So although I totally side with my overrun northern countrymen, I will stop short of ever publicising my views because I would want to do the best for my grandchildren, (one of whom I know has a different view than my own). In the best of circumstances, the pain being felt by my older contemporaries will be short lived compared with the potential of sunnier uplands that might be experienced by unified generations who may be able to combat climate change, population growth and armed superstition with tools and knowledges we do not yet possess. (Or at the very least, are not yet willing to acknowledge). In my head, I’m a remainer, but in my heart I’m a raging Brexiteer. This information is for you and for you only. It will never be published.

I want to be able to visit jazz cellars in Soho again for pennies. I want to spend days dreaming by the north western sand dunes. Guitar in hand, watching a red sky in the evening. I want to hitch to the Nordcap again and see the cotoneaster on the Arctic Circle. That’s all gone.

The King is dead, long live the King.

Sincerely,

Roy   20th June 2016

………………………………………………………………………….

Since then, because a million old men and women and a million other disaffected and pressured citizens voted to come out of a remote entity that’s irritated them for decades, “A re-vote is necessary. And we’ll fix it just as soon as we god damn can. Right!?” – To paraphrase one young conservative MP.

The EU ‘experiment’ is just that. It isn’t the same as a federation of states that have grown out of nothing, expanded, populated themselves, and communicated in the main in one language for two or three hundred years. It’s a collection of 27 different nationalities, all speaking their own separate languages (23+dialects) and having often hugely different cultural identities, smashed together overnight after warring with each other for time immemorial.

It’s a bold dream built on the ashes of two world wars and an expression of hope engendered by the horrors populations experienced because of those wars. The first of those wars started because A Serb killed an Austrian Prince, the second because in the interlude after the first one, the German people were left to suffer while the rest of Europe drew breath and paid no attention, until it was too late, to an Austrian corporal from the first war who never understood why he should have been on the losing side. The fact that after he grabbed power, he was quite quickly corrupted by it and descended into deep criminality isn’t the point.

The point is that Germany (then West Germany) and France had to end the European civil wars by joining forces in a European block with 4 others, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, where checks and balances would preserve the peace until such time that war was not only a distant memory but also an anathema. That sentiment is well on the way to being established, but we are not quite there yet.

The Euro block has since exploded in numbers since 1975, and is now a very disparate group. The countries which in some way were involved in the Industrial Revolution that began in the 18th Century have the wealth of both industrial culture and resources, while the countries that were still largely rural at the beginning of the 20th Century have comparatively agrarian cultures and fewer resources. There are differing shades in between. They can be put into the obligatory table with Germany on top and Greece at the bottom. The attempt to share wealth between them is fraught with difficulty. Perhaps the wholly natural siesta culture still doesn’t easily equate with the snappy lunch break further north. And the richer north is hard pushed to totally support a perceived slower pace further south. Spain is now producing cars and corporations, but huge swathes of the young are out of work. Italy is a fantastic place. The ideals are lofty and admirable, but suspicion lurks in the reality. Is everyone in the EU pulling their weight? More importantly perhaps, is it even possible for everyone to pull, per capita, anything like the same ‘weight’?

The bureaucracy is huge. Does it have to be? There is cacophony in the great chambers. The ship sails simply because it was put to sea in 1975, but lately 27 times the deckhands are needed to steady it. But are they? Really? It’s an incredibly cumbersome raft, from which directives spring with good intention but often unintended destiny, perhaps. Not always of course. The chambers have honourable purpose, but their elite seem to live in theory, disconnected with the actual act of practice, and life, on the ground.

When I first saw the pictures of Alan Kirdi, the Syrian boy washed up on the Turkish beach, I was horrified to the core. Like most other people, I was very angry and incredibly sad at the same moment. Who could have put him in so much danger? If he’d come to my door, I’d have welcomed him, got to know him, taught him, made him laugh, opened the world for him, or tried to. So would millions of others. We adopted our cat. She came to the door. The second time she came, we let her in. She had no home. That was sixteen years ago. That boy could be growing up with us, but a boy cannot be a temporary guest. He comes with a responsibility to take care of him and all his needs across the long childhood. I’d have passed on before he knew me; and then there are the facts of who he might be attached to, and what other responsibilities I might inherit here in the twilight. But I’ll never forget him.

As I said above, he’s part of the biggest migration of people in the history of humanity. Torn from their homes by poverty, need, war, ambition and hope. So how do we fix it for everyone?

And what is going to happen with Brexit? There have been clues for months now, and the whole world continues to opine, but what kind of things can we begin to assume from these clues, and from the High Court argument in front of their 12 Supreme Court Lordships?

Well, Boris Johnson, David Davies and Liam Fox are big enough clues in themselves. Then there are certain new departments being created, including a ministry of ‘Foreign Affairs’, ministers and civil servants who are in the process of being posted, bolstered or seen scurrying. There are plenty of clues.

I have to make notes these days. I recorded (in sound) and made notes on the Brexit high court procedure/argument. I think that possibly it’s too full of quotations of precedent and etc., to be all that entertaining, and there are reams of it, but there were enlightening moments that opened up vistas or exposed someone’s real opinion, and indeed, finally, it wasn’t hard to surmise that in the end, it will come back to parliament for parliamentary approval. And subsequently that the boys and girls will finally give Brexit the go-ahead, regardless of what most totalitarianist parliamentarians thought they would automatically be able to do to change the verdict of the people six months ago.

Personally, I think that Brexit is the best thing that could have happened to the UK in the circumstances. There will still be business done between the UK and Europe. Lots of it. It might drop for a couple of years after Brexit, but in the long term, both parties will be better off. There’s a lot of hoo-ha. No one will have to leave either jurisdiction because of nationality if they’re already bona fide worker/members. The EU might splinter further, even though the Germans, and maybe even the French, will expend time, energy and cash keeping the status quo in place.

Let’s not be silly though, the EU will not completely splinter. It’ll probably move into a better shape in a couple of generations, when, as above, ‘…we’ve moved at a pace where adjustments have been gradually accepted as they naturally become facts of life’. It was a mess in 1975, when the first GB IN/OUT referendum was held, and it still is. In my song of the time, ‘Referendum’, which was satirical, I said that the average blue-blooded, and perhaps unwitting ‘conservative’ lemming had arrived in Brussels ‘..forgetting what he’d come for and in patronizing tones… gave them all his clothes and bread to stop their moans and groans’. I still think the same thing, although this time the even more conservative population, on both sides, has called the tune.. I’ve given up bothering with ‘left’ and ‘right’. As has been previously noted, equality and personal freedom are mutually exclusive. The goal has to be understanding, and fairness in the moment.

Either way, it’s not going to make much difference. Yes, I’m going to lose some wages for a while, and maybe I’ll have to cut back a bit and work a bit harder, but the opportunities for younger people will soon be manifold. Yes, there were EU advantages, but there was far too much waste, and too much loss. The loss I always felt the most was one of self-determination and self-worth. I have nothing in common with the drones of Brussels. They are here to impose, not just on GB, but on everyone, and they are an imposition. They are a body without a heart. A body that cannot afford to have a heart. Seemingly better for the smaller countries at the present time. In many ways, I wish that I was poor again, and that I knew exactly how many drachmas were in my pocket on the deserted beach in Corfu, but we must look ahead. In 1965, when I began recording, the world population was 3.2 billion people. It’s now 7.3 billion.. more than doubled. The beaches on Corfu…well.. it was a dream. I’m lucky that I’ve had so many.

I didn’t vote. I counted myself out. I’m sorry for the young people that the vote didn’t seem to happen in the way a lot of them wanted it to, but I can tell them all, and with a deal of confidence, that if you have the vision and the energy, it’ll be a great ride. And in the end it won’t really matter. The two sides, (the EU and the UK) will continue to threaten each other with what they will or won’t give each other for the next couple of years. In the end, they’ll both say they did the right thing, and in ten years time it wont have made any difference to anyone. Except perhaps the jockeys on the Forex wall of death. Did we really join? I never fully had that impression.

I’ve regarded politics as entertainment for a long time now. Without Adolf in charge it’s been possible to do that. Just the way that Vladimir walks into a room gives him away. He’s my size, and it’s stage fright jerky. Trump’s a rogue elephant, seemingly without the wit. He often makes me laugh though.. out loud. Preposterous. What fun it’s going to be to watch this circus. Almost as good as Man City. My only real concern is that I hope he has someone umbilically connected to Estonia.

There’s more: leastways there are copious notes. I’ve been hanging around with this for months now. I haven’t heard May’s speech, but I don’t need to. It’ll be more clucking fudge for the clucking newscasters to cluck to. It’ll be the same till 2019. Hope I make the finish line..

We went shopping today. I should make this public on the same day she made the speech, without knowing what she said. What the hell.. sorry, heck?

I’m trying to keep a diary, and doing a lot of reading, but I’ll try to get back soon.

RH Tuesday 17th January 2017 tbc..

PS. I don’t usually have breakfast, unless it’s free in the hotel and someone’s keen enough to drag me out of bed in time for some prunes.

A month away from the first gig…

I’m about a month away from the first gig. O dear! Am I rehearsed? Yes – er.. I don’t know. Am I singing the right songs? – er.. Dear roy, can you please sing songs full of political angst this time? Dear roy, Can you please sing love songs this time, instead of all that loud angry stuff. Dear roy, Can you drop all that boring historical stuff next time you tour? Dear roy, can you please stop thinking about your garden, new songs, your football team, your fish in their pond, your constant fight with the untidiness of your iMac, your poems, your kitchen door, the news, your cricket team, the roof, childhood, your two bit stamp collection, the ivy climbing towards the gutter, Sergio Aguerro, Andy Murray, the chimney, sex, and drugs, and rock and roll, jazz, food and research, and shopping.. and.. Can you just put all of that junk out of your mind? Please!

No, I can’t. Soon enough it’ll be time for Mo Farah, and I’d like to do some recreational reading. War And Peace maybe.. Actually, I’d like to read ‘Kim’, but there are other things to attend to, like one of the important players can’t make one of the rehearsals, and another can’t make one of the gigs! ..and where are we going to rehearse?, and two of the guys have to take a 6am flight from one gig to play another at 2pm the same afternoon in a different country; and I’d like to get some music written for a new song that I don’t even know I’m going to play yet. I want to; but will I get there. I have the ideas, but is that too ambitious? Then there’ll be the questions about who plays what instrument. Oh yes, and there’s the question of guitar accompaniment.

Thankfully, that’s sorted, and can be added to the above ongoing to do list, along with another name. Bill Shanley is local to me, and he’s a world renowned guitarist. The last time I saw Bill playing was in Shanley’s, in Clonakilty. Some time before that I saw him playing with Ray Davies when we both played at the Sage in Gateshead on the same night. He played wonderfully on my last album, Man And Myth. Playing with Bill is the bit I’m really looking forward to.

I’ll be playing a combination of my old favourites. In my mind, there may be some attempt to pace myself, but knowing the beast as well as I do, I’ll also be testing myself to the limits again. Catch me while you can. Really hope to see you there.

Tickets are still available for all venues as I type.

See here for venue and ticket information…

http://www.billshanley.ie/

James Edgar – The passing of a presence

When I first went to Blackpool alone, in the mid to late 1950s, there was a character around the town by the name of Jack The Ghost. He was mysterious. He was once described to me as ‘A Jewish cat’ who everyone swore had been in two card games at the same time during a ‘blackout’ in the Second World War. A succession of dogs were named after him at Blackpool greyhound track. I met him a couple of times. He was lean and elegant, but he was somehow shady. An attractive, shadowy figure, and a folk hero.

I’ve been deeply saddened by the loss of my old friend James Edgar this last week or two. He was such a big presence in my life. He was in turns funny, on the edge, assertive, reticent, cryptic, humble, and effing annoying. A character with a host of varying qualities, his major saving grace was always the flash of genius he could enlighten a moment with. Like me, he had glaring faults, but above all, he was perhaps the greatest lost human I ever knew.

I first met him in 1960. He was fresh from Northern Ireland, and he was a rugged-looking young man who was obviously carrying a great inner conflict. He was nervous and very shy at first, but over the years he gradually learned how to hide as much as he could of that. There were stories about why and how he’d left Northern Ireland, but he was always reticent about delving into the details of his childhood. All I really knew was that there’d been a violent episode, and he’d been in a coma for a while and emerged with a steel plate in his head.

He and I were part of a loose collection of a dozen heads that included flat-mate-landlord Jimmy Peglar, jazz base ace Tony Febland and the unforgettable Fred Yates, who knocked around Blackpool at the time. Edgar had the habit of changing his name periodically. It seemed that he was compelled to give life to the several personas he had, and used to wear them like you would a suit of clothes, just to change your appearance for the night-week-month-year. The names ranged between Jimi, ‘Irish’, which was Fred’s name for him, James, Irish Jimmy, James Edgar, which he took from Edgar Allen Poe, to James Edgar Schwartz, the Schwartz being taken from Tony Curtis, whose real name was Bernard Schwartz, and who was at the height of his fame in 1960.

He was also a big Johnny Mathis fan in 1960, and used to hang around the stage door of the old Hippodrome Cinema/theater on Church Street during Johnny’s seasons there to get the word from his hero. In the early 60s, many of us used to populate The Golden Nugget, a coffee bar on Cookson Street run by John Malkin, which was only yards from the Hippodrome.

Occasionally, he became Edgar Schmaltz, but only when he needed a ‘sub’. He usually got a ‘sub’ for a painting or for delivering info from the great outside. I thought about the desecrated encyclopedias he’d ripped sketches out of to present to me on one occasion. They were of gathered tribal humanity in big team fashion; like the whole of the tribes of North America had been gathered in a team photo and sketched. They were on four levels, ascending from those lying/sitting on the floor, to those seated, to those standing, to those standing on a bench behind. They were dressed in colourful tribal regalia. Then there was was a page of Europeans, a page of Africans and etc. I wondered where he’d taken them from, but I gave him the ‘sub’ anyway. For the longest time, I guess, he became Schwartz. Which is German for ‘Black’, of course!

There were also combinations of all the above pseudonyms. He was using Jimi Schwartz at one time. It may even have been me who separated the Edgar from the Jimmy and first called him Edgar. Anyway, he became Edgar in about 1965, and after that Edgar was my name for him. He always told you though, subtly, who he was at any time, and I’m sure he used to use his personas as demarcation points, almost like saying that he was now different than the last time you saw him. To subliminally try to lever you in one direction or another. Alter your mind about him. I once knew his actual family name, but I intentionally forgot it. It would have been insulting of me to have remembered it.

Edgar was one of the fixtures of my life. All my female companions often had to endure this character with megatons of pent-up emotion, hanging around for days on end with seemingly nothing to do except get in their hair. I can hear you laughing now, those of you who knew him. But he’d have wild conversations with me, sketch me while intensely informing me of a new way he’d discovered of making art more efficiently, and then occupy a sofa for the night. And then another night…

Some of them regarded him as a limpet, but he was a great if bizarre sounding board, and a conversation with Edgar took some unexpected twists that only he and I ever had a chance of following. If you were in the room with us it mightn’t have been for long, because we probably didn’t sound as though we were making much sense.

The fact that the space between the speech was loaded with all sorts of emotional information could sometimes lead to excluding some of the party. Speech where coded human feelings were being aired, stamped on, waded into, cried over, and swept under the mat of the next moment. We got stupid, we got deep, we got unimaginably ripped, embarrassed, withdrawn, reticent and then back into fellowship again.

Sometimes it would alternate between jest, childishness, deep rant, love of life and painful humility in the same sentence. It was hard to take for some of the less forgiving brethren. It was hard to take for us too. We’d often become too aware of each others foibles to want to share another moment with each other. And we didn’t, for a hour, or two, or a year or three; but then we did again: and it was the same again; all the way from exhilarating to disagreeable and back. We deserved each other…

He was a peaceful but wild animal who was forced to live outside of society by his restless inability to settle, either mentally or physically. He perhaps saw something of himself in the people he chose to paint. As though he was painting his momentarily desired alter ego all his life.

For me, his most memorable interruption occurred when he handed me a copy of a collage he’d made that featured a portrait of Geronimo with an 18th century pastoral English scene in the background. This background was a copy of a typical etching from a Victorian encyclopedia. He’d tinted it red, and added the same tones of paint to the Geronimo figure. The two together were incongruous, and yet the effect of the combination was to include each other, and to give me a visual account of plans I was already hatching.

How was I going to try to include and combine the whole of human emotion, character, endeavour, and way of life into one song? It was obviously going to be influenced by my own view of history and psychology, but how much of that influence could I honestly attribute to that of being a truly impartial witness? Could anyone ever be an impartial witness to life on Earth? How was I going to try to paint the biggest possible picture of humanity on any kind of a finite canvas? But there it was, on a piece of A4 card in front of me. There was the first step.. The resultant song was something I called ‘The Lords Prayer’. I was being provocative, but I was also humbled by it. And Edgar had been the catalyst.

I quickly saw that the face of Geronimo had two halves. One was full of animal cunning, the other was full of wisdom. Eventually, I had the sleeve designed to shed light on that, to expose a very natural human face. I split the front cover of the LP down the middle, splitting the life mask of myself in half. When the two halves were opened, it was easy to see that you could fold them round the back of the LP so that Geronimo’s face would join to reveal the picture that Edgar had given me together with the vision of how I saw it and the effect it had on me. (see pic of original ‘Lifemask’ LP sleeve in the gallery on the Jimmy Schwartz web page).

In the early twentieth century, when this photo of Geronimo was taken, that kind of revelation would not particularly have been of note, but sixty years later it was exactly the sort of thing that modern social scientists and people watchers were looking for. The character exposed. The thought often occurs to me that Edgar never.. but then again always.. knew what he was doing. Invariably he was actually lighting the blue touch paper just by throwing something onto the scales.

He used to call me ‘Master’, but in the end I wasn’t worthy of that, because as I got older and moved 500 miles away, I lost touch. More fixed in my own selfish headlong dash into the next thing that I’ve got to think about – – the next problem on the agenda. More fool me. I should be treating my oldest friends with the respect and time they deserve, in the way that they deserve it. (In any case, in the moment he believes he is, the master is automatically reduced to servitude).

I read the messages of condolence for a fallen hero on the web page his friends have built, only to discover that in his last years he went back to his Catholic Club. We never discussed religion. My critical views were obvious, and he understood. I had no reason to examine his. The eggshells of shattered adolescence were now powdered and on distant paths grown over. There was no need to walk over them again to test each other. We’d grown up in our separate ways and we both carried that silently in each others’ company. He was a very free spirit, and there was absolutely no need. On occasion, I’d make a joke about it, but the actual archeology remained in place. Not a critical stone was ever turned.

Apparently, in the last couple of years, he’d managed to find his birth certificate, and so, for the first time in his life he had some support in terms of benefit. What no one knew, apparently, was that he’d developed a heart condition, which isn’t a wonder, in view of the hardship of his life. The story goes that at the beginning of July 2012, he was in such pain one day with gout he’d developed as a result of a toe injury that his landlord persuaded him to get an ambulance to hospital. He went, but he’d mislaid the pills he was using for his heart condition that day.

I know what it’s like to arrive unannounced at a hospital. There are no records of you. No one knows what to do, and all the staff take care of business conservatively. He might have known what the pills were, but he was unlikely to have been given them without some sort of executive decision having to be made. They’d probably have taken blood, given him some paracetamol and waited till the morning. They were probably rushed off their feet, as usual. He died that night, at about 1:00 am., slipping quietly off the mortal coil almost unnoticed.

There was no one there for him. No one he knew. Not a friend to bid him farewell. Death comes quickly; especially for those who’ve put it off till the last minute. If I’d have known, I’d have travelled the 500 miles just to speak with him again. I was filming in West Cork with some journalist friends. I had no idea. None of his friends did really. Like one of them said to me, “On reflection, I find some peace in the knowledge that his passing has been rather in keeping with the way he chose to live his life”.

It’s some consolation for me to know that he found some solace towards the end of his days. The means are irrelevant. It’s maybe best that no one knew where he was in those last few days. At a time when all the world might cease to make any of the sense it previously had for some of us, it might not have done for him. We might have been out of place. After all, my memory of him is one of profound vitality. He was the best example of a philosopher-vagrant I ever personally knew.

Some kind of an aesthete of the west, and of the north. His type of presence can be seen as an ancient undercurrent in humanity that regular society ridicules and ignores, but it’s real enough. It’ll always be there to posit the thought of an alternative way of addressing life. Of living without a particularly resource invasive high tech culture, or the present need for the world to be chasing $£€ market fluctuations to bleed spreadsheet skim into offshore wells of habitat impoverishment.

The life of the itinerant artist/creator questions society, questions the mores of accepted normality. Is he/she forced into the margins of society by an innate mentality that was at one time considered a more useful mentality? Going well back into pre-history: before rows of nuclear family hutches were thrown up to house local wage-slave work forces. As far back as ancient Egypt and beyond, high society was always powered by virtual or actual slave labour. Few artists were really funded after Rome until the Renaissance; the real shaman was never ‘paid’.

Mental health is paramount, but still a taboo subject in X-Factor red-top world. Who’s mentally healthy? All of us? None of us? What criteria could we possibly use in order to judge mental health? How many who’ve fought in the front line of a bloody war can be regarded as temperamentally stable? Can a line between compos mentis and non compos mentis ever be precisely drawn? No, not in my opinion.

Edgar fought in a long series of battles to keep himself this side of pure fright. In the end, he won. He was too determined and proud not to. He somehow managed to remain functional in a dislocated world. When younger he was irritatingly needy, but always incredibly generous and strangely dignified by living below the bottom rung all his life. I’m perhaps a more organized version of what Edgar was, a sophisticated beggar.

Edgar will always have a very special place in my heart. His own place, where he and I will remain together for the rest of time. My own place, where he and I can occasionally wander around our own spontaneous folly, our own mystical coherence, at eternal leisure; uninterrupted by a superficial world we always battled with.

His last name for himself was Jimmy The Ghost. It was his last message to all of us who knew him, and a poignant one for me when I discovered that. In that elusive way, he was related to an earlier incarnation we both knew. What an edge he had. At once comedic, uncomfortable and beguiling. I’ll miss him, for all and ever. Well done Edgar. What a life!

James Irish Jimi Edgar Schwartz-Schmaltz, Jimmy The Ghost, artist-shaman, 1939-2012.