I Hate The White Man – Part 1

As most people who are aware of me will know, ‘I Hate The White Man’ was written in 1968, and was released on Flat Baroque And Berserk in 1969? I’ve never really written about how the song came about, historically, or what I was feeling during the time that it was percolating in my mind, between 1955 and 1968. So now’s as good a time as any to write about that history. 

In this last week I’ve seen added interest in it for obvious reasons. The killing of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis was a foul deed enough without actually being witness to it on world television. I watch news all the time, because I like to keep up, so as soon as it was there, so was I. I wondered what I was watching when it first hit the screens, but after a few seconds I was as horrified as I’ve ever been about the general crass attitude of particularly the white cops in the USA. I wanted to reach through the screen and push that cop over, but I was being forced to witness a live execution. It was as horrific a thing as I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of death and destruction. They blurred it out in later transmissions, but “I can’t breathe”.. will be with me for the rest of my life.

This action took me right back to my first realisation of what was happening in the USA with regard to race and race relations. I began to become aware of the situation in 1954-5 when Lonnie Donegan had a hit with songs called ‘John Henry’, which was basically a song about a chain gang, and a song called ‘Rock Island Line’. Both these songs  ……. were about life in the early 20th Century USA. I think that The Rock Island Line was the ‘A’ side, but that was of no consequence. Both songs were dynamite.

By the time that Donegan released his next record, all us kids, (I was 14-15 at the time), were starting to know about conditions that black people faced in the USA. I’d never met a black person at the time. I was intrigued. Here was something I could identify with.

Then the Rosa Parkes incident happened on the Montgomery, Alabama bus, and The Civil Rights Movement kicked off. As we all know, that’s a very long time ago now. So why does it feel like yesterday? Because it’s still going on! Nothing has been resolved in the 65 years since I began to hear about it. NOTHING! There has even been a black President, and a fine President too, and yet resolution seems as far away as ever.

Among Donegan’s releases were one or two Leadbelly songs, so I went off to find out all about this guy called Huddie Leadbetter. Briefly he done time in jail for killing people, and been released because the prison governor had been entertained by his songs!! This fact raised wonder in me. I wondered how the hell a murderer could be released just for singing songs. I spent a whole year at about the age of 16 thinking about this occasionally. Especially when I was singing one of his songs.

Then one day, somewhere in my seventeenth year, it dawned on me that where he came from, in the south of the USA, life was cheap, really cheap. I realised that if you were a white Governor in charge of a jail full of black men, you were not only judge and jury, you were god. I began to really understand the fundamental injustice of what was happening. Basically, Black Lives Didn’t Matter. I’ve never written that down before, but I started to know it in 1956-7.

Leadbelly’s songs changed my life. Goodnight Irene sounds like a love song, and it’s been a hit for a few people, but there’s a verse in it that sings, ‘Sometimes I live in the country, Sometimes I live in the town, Sometimes I have a great notion, To jump in the river and drown’. So there’s more to Goodnight Irene than immediately meets the eye. 

The Blues not only denote a cold colour, they describe the colour of a feeling, and often that feeling easily translates into a knowledge of deep depression. ‘Trouble in mind I’m blue, but I won’t be blue always, gonna let that evenin’ train, ease my worried mind’. It’s a mindset. A mindset that’s really difficult to get any release from.

I listened to everyone. Josh White and Big Bill Broonsy were obvious geniuses, Robert Johnson was great. When I was into my early twenties I came across Snooks Eaglin’s first record, which was mesmerising. It was never off the turntable for the best part of a year. It contained the best version of ‘Trouble In Mind’ that I ever heard, but the entire record was riveting for me.

I progressed into a love of jazz after my first encounter with the blues. I loved the songs, the music, the melody, the people, the history. I’d become deeply involved in black culture, from afar, on a distant island. I lived in Blackpool, which was ‘the’ northern holiday entertainment centre. I got to know the Clarke Brothers, black dancers who did a season of shows on the North Pier for a couple of years. They were striking characters from another world. They were athletic, with brilliant timing, and very professional, with a worldly intelligence. I was very impressed by them. Superb men. They came up to the flat I shared with Jimmy Peglar a couple of times. We talked about jazz, their roots, and the USA. They were way above my station at the time. It was an honour to be with them.

I had a dozen Charlie Parker records when I was 18, and when I found Miles Davis, my life changed. Davis inspired me more than perhaps anyone else. At the same time that he always seemed to be sullen, he was one of the most expressive people of my time. He seemed to be in command of every moment he lived through, and determined to convey that to a waiting world. After listening to Miles for a few years, I was impelled to improve on the only instrument I knew, and make my own statement. I’d largely put the guitar down in my eighteenth year, but a year or two later I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

I’d had my own tryst with the blues in any case, and I was ready to start the journey into a serious pursuit of poetic expression.

The journey has been a long one. Suffice to say that it began the first day I heard a man from the USA singing about the circumstances of something deeper and more immediate than I’d ever been exposed to earlier in my life. Effectively, I thought that I was trying to bring what I’d discovered in ‘John Henry’ and ‘Trouble In Mind’, into fusion with all of my other cultural experiences. 

I felt confident enough to try to begin to use my other influences, including Keats and Shelley, Beethoven, Kerouac, Stravinsky, Leadbelly, Shakespeare, Whitman, Robert Service and anyone who had ever inspired this hard fought progress through a youth I was too old for into an adulthood I wasn’t ready for. And I was obviously stupid enough to try. 

So I began to invent a kind of blues of my own making. Some of the songs were actually called blues, like ‘MCP Blues’ and ‘McGoohan’s Blues’, and others should have been, like ‘October 12th’ and, o yes, ‘I Hate The White Man’. ‘I Hate The White Man’ was a song that wrote itself in 1968. To cut a long story short, I’d been involved in the tumult of that year. 

Among other events that Spring, I’d agreed with my friend, photographer Stefan Tyszko to meet in Grosvenor Square for the demonstration against the Vietnam War. I was up late as per usual, so when I got there I couldn’t get into the Square. I tried, but there were thousands crushed in there. The noise was like being in a pitched battle momentarily, and the cops were blocking the streets off, so people were piling up everywhere and being trapped.

I tried to get between people, in my usual manner. I used to think that I was lithe enough to get through anything, but the crowd was completely pressing, and dangerous. Then I got trapped, along with others, against the black painted railings in the street leading into the Square. I was almost injured, so I slowly worked my way out.

I thought that Stefan would have been up there at the business end of the violence, taking photos, but I’ll have to check on that. It was a good lesson in what to try to avoid in the future. It was a riot, and completely out of control when I got there. I’ve never been that concerned about personal safety, but I was reminded that day that the force of a moving crowd is overwhelming.

Then the following month, Martin Luther King was killed. As people might know, I was never a friend of religion. I’ve always felt alienated by religion, and by any thought of a reliance on anything that looked or felt like dippy superstition, but the killing of Martin Luther King was something different altogether. It was an affront to the civilised world, and a crime against humanity, against us all. Civil Rights were the single most important thing we fought to preserve in that moment, and this was amplified when he was killed.

I’d read Black Elk Speaks, along with other accounts of the treatment of indigenous ‘Americans’ by white planet creep. The stories of Red Cloud and Sitting Bull. Of Crazy Horse and Geronimo. The song was beginning to write itself. There was anger in my heart. I was dripping with my own blood.

I thought that I had to own up. Everything in my heart was telling me that I had to speak, because I knew first hand that there were millions of black people in the world who were more gifted than I was, and in particular, as humans. I’d met some of them, and read about countless others.

I thought at first that it might be a song like ‘We Shall Overcome’, but then I thought that that song was owned by the wet and wheedling white middle class. The song was a bit of a puff-ball. I then knew where I was. I knew that I had to deliver a statement. The treatment of Caryl Chessman, who was executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin jail in May 1960, reminded me about how institutionally cynical white justice really was. Chessman was no saint, and he wasn’t black, but he fought for his life for about twelve years before the California Supreme Court apparently !unwittingly!, filled the execution chamber with gas while his latest stay of execution was ‘on its way’! I went for it, I transferred the hate I had for the countless betrayals of ‘due course’ I’d witnessed over the years. It was going to have venom.

The record was reviewed by the Joan Bakewell in one of the broadsheets, at the end of her review she said, “It is to be hoped that he doesn’t believe in some of the things he’s singing about”. I’ve never trusted her opinion since that day.

Ten years later, I began to realise that the song was far too long, that for best effect it should be cut down to the two verses in which the real meat of the song is to the fore. So a little later than that, I was singing just the first verse and the last verse. The long version edges on esoteric/trance because of my overuse of coded prose/rhyme. Every line in the second and third verses has a direct relation to the ethic/meaning, but perhaps it’s too flowery for the later roy. The point needs to be made succinctly, and quickly.

With the murder of George Floyd, the song has relevance again. Not that it didn’t, ever, but it’s again witness to the fact that this principle, this truth, that all humans are born equal, is a torch that needs to continue to be carried by all of us who have been aware of the injustice meted out to people who have a different colour of skin than Cecil Rhodes. Actually, a different colour of mind.

We had someone at my old school who won a ‘Rhodes Scholarship’ to Oxford. I’d have been about fourteen at the time, and about as close to that kind of an achievement as I would have been to Pluto. I’m very lucky. I’ve been guided by my heart, all my life, to put the underdog first; and I Hate The White Man is part of that. But I had to go further than that, and I knew as much at the time of writing the song.

I knew that writing another ‘We Shall Overcome’ type of drone was just useless. The word that follows ‘Overcome’ in that song is ‘someday’, and someday was too late, even 51 years ago. So as you can imagine, my intent at the time was to cut through ‘someday’. ‘Someday’ is cynical, and the worst way to be trying to educate people. How much notice of ‘someday’ are you going to take?

I almost understand black frustration at not being understood AT ALL, perhaps because I fall into that bag for some of the same reasons. At the age of four I was continually put down, and it became a recurring theme. But I can’t put myself in the same class as being racially repressed, even before you get up in the morning.

I’ve gone through racial abuse. I was spat on twice in France in 1959 for having blue eyes and blonde hair. I was threatened with a knife in New York in 1969 for being English, by an Irish American ‘patriot’. I had to stand my ground. He had to be pulled away. In San Antonio, Texas, where I sang I Hate The White Man on the radio in 1969, they received a phone call which was handed to me. It was a guy who said, 

“Are you Roy Harper?” I answered him in the affirmative. Then he asked me whether I’d written the song. Again I said ‘yes’, to which he said,

“Man, I’ve got a gun here.. I’m gonna come down there an’ put you out your misery”… in a Texan drawl.

I was raced out of the door within a minute. The radio guys drove me back to my hotel. We were there in what seemed like seconds. From talking to interested people about writing and music one minute, to being rushed back to a hotel room the next is a headless human moment. I still had the momentum being generated by the interview in my mind and body, but in the next moment, I’d suddenly been teleported into a silent hotel room. I was still in the middle of a sentence.. that was never delivered. Off the cliff, but never landing.

I’ve had a thousand of such moments, but that’s not in the same class as being dulled every day by a glance into the mirror. Knowing that the alien culture/society sneaking through into that mirror, the mirror that’s telling you, with every breath, that you’d like to be someone else, somewhere else, must be soul-destroying. To want to be someone other than the person that you are, or worse still, other than the one that you ‘could’ be, has to be a living nightmare. Ignorance is bliss, but not a lot of black people are ignorant.

In some ways, at times, we all want to be someone else. I wanted to be a fighter pilot, but I was twenty years too late. But that’s a white boy talking about a youthful fantasy of his own, in his own culture.

In the real world, institutional racism is everywhere. It’s written subliminally into the law, sometimes by mindlessly not recognising that law has to be re-written to be inclusive. Society is lazy about itself, especially in ‘good’ times. And the law is more often a sloth than an ass. And it’s absolutely no good using a by-law about damaging public works, to stall the removal of a public work, when it’s been clearly obvious for a long time that this particular ‘work’ is well past its use by date. It should have been put into a museum an age ago, and not become the focus of social unrest. Or for a clandestine attempt to discover whether a virus is as virulent as the last time the young public were all shouting in the streets together.

It’ll now go into the local museum, bashed and battered by its recent dive off the dock. It’ll be in a case with banners and memorabilia from the demo. And all the locals will go to see themselves now and then, and they’ll wonder at what times were like in the early 21st Century. Or perhaps the museum will be under water in fifty years time…

But it’s wrong of me to be taking my focus off the job in hand, which is to try to make this count a lot more than it did last time round. It’s a shame that Rentamob turned up to loot and burn, as they usually do, but this  time must be made to count. There are a lot of young black people who will change this society for the better if real change is now put in motion. 

They might help us all to help ourselves. Society is only as good as it’s weakest constituent, so let’s begin to try to allow the perceived weaker to begin to enjoy the strength they have. There is no other way. There is no alternative. 

An Anonymous Thought

At the beginning of April, I began to realise that if this lockdown lasted throughout the Spring, then the conditions for wildlife to prosper would be better than in any year I’ve experienced since I was a child. 

A month later, it’s beginning to look really good. We have greenfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches, goldcrests, a song thrush, a chiff chaff; blue tits, coal tits and great tits in the walls, collared doves in a tree next the house, a Siskin in the vicinity, a heron!, at least 3 lots of blackbirds, wrens, a dunnock, a robin or two, pesky Jackdaws and even more irritating starlings. 

Then there are gulls and buzzards overhead, and an owl, probably long eared, who leaves pellets under our bedroom window. I hear pheasants down the hill, and partridges used to nest here, though I haven’t seen them for a few years now. I haven’t seen a bullfinch yet this year either, but a lot of buds have gone missing.

The jackdaws begin to surround the house in February. I try to shoo them off every day, but it never works. They used to build nests in the chimney, and we were regularly having to open the access to the old wood burner to let one of the young out. They’d fall out of the nest and possibly down an adjacent chimney pot. Either that or the whole nest would come clattering down the chimney with young “jack” in tow. What a mess. It was always a black mess, because of all the soot that came down and out with the young bird.

The danger they present is that there’s a threat of a chimney fire with half a nest a quarter of the way down a chimney. But a real annoyance is the fact that they’ll try to build a nest on the sloping roof. They always fail because the roof is too steep, but sticks fall into the gutter and clog the flow of water into the drain. And lie in great stick-piles on the ground beneath the gutter. Which is out of reach, twenty five feet above the ground.. So they’re a liability, and the March air is often filled with the loud voice of an ancient ape shouting into the mist.

They watch him. They know that he’s an ape. They can hear it. He’s got a very old pellet gun that he goes into the house for, in order to make a bigger sound. In 30 years he’s never hit one of them. Actually, the damn thing wouldn’t hit a barn door five yards away, but it does provide the sanctuary of getting them to take off for a few seconds. They retort. Six or eight of them will shout “jack”, all at once. It’s a ritual. It doesn’t happen more than once these days. We just share looks of suspicion. Stare at each other.

Every year, half way through these exhaustive attempts to try to build on a sloping surface, I find smashed eggs on the ground. He doesn’t have much of a clue actually, he’s just the giddy activating tool, but the egg forming inside her must alert her to the fact that it’s got to go somewhere. Maybe not! Since she has no nest to drop it into, she goes into what we must assume is jackdaw labour on a ridge tile, and pops it out onto the roof.. and it just rolls off and smashes 30 feet below. Life is cheap among the daws. I’ve seen three eggs laid from 30 feet into the ground like this in one season..

I’ve never actually seen her do it, so I’ve not been able to look into her face at the time to see whether or not it could be classed as a tragic event.. or just a minor cursory excretion.

They flutter when I come out. Perched on the edge of the gutter to see what I’ll do this time. The idiot. Look at him, down there, idiot! The wall belongs to them from February to May. It’s a cliff edge to them, in a universe of cliff edges with holes in them. I should have put the scaffolding up when I had it, and filled all the holes with cement and stone, but I never managed to do it. Most of the holes are old wooden scaffold pole holes. When I first came to the house there was still wood in a couple of them. Wood from 1827, when it was built. I wish that I’d taken that wood out now, and kept it as a souvenir of the house thirty years ago. I miss those 1827 pieces of wood.

The house has retained the look it had when I first saw it. It was like something out of a Bronte novel. Did I have a secret longing to become Heathcliff? Perhaps I’d be willing to court that kind of silent, desperate rage; but… no, I just needed a warm fire to stare into, to encourage the latest vision, to labour over a thought, before letting it go without knowing, without even making a record of it. An anonymous thought.

Tracy has described a bird to me that sounds like a snipe, that’s flown out in front of her somewhere down the hill, but I have no proof.

The list above is all common stuff. I haven’t seen anything rare yet, but this is the first Spring for a long time without business somewhere in the distance. It’s really quiet. I can usually catch long scars of aircraft exhaust across the sky on a clear day. Scores of them. We’re 35,000 ft below the route to the east coast of the USA. They’d be audible on a still sunny day, but they’re not there, they’re not anywhere. It’s not been like this since 1960. 

Actually, this year there’s been a bit of confusion. Covid looks and sounds very similar to Corvid, which is a word that I’ve used since I was a kid to describe the crows as a related family. Corvidae in Latin. The corvids in these islands are ravens, carrion crows, hooded crows, rooks, jackdaws, magpies, jays, and choughs. So sometimes I refer to the disease as corvid-19, because I’ve used that word all my life. I couldn’t help it at first. I quickly grew out of it, but the association in my mind is still there. Four weeks ago, I’d have just got up and daydreamed through my morning cleaning ritual; gone downstairs into the kitchen with the radio on: and one of the first words I would have heard would have been ‘covid’. Wham! A picture of a magpie flashes into my head. So that in February I was seeing magpies all day!? With the occasional jackdaw thrown in.

Last year a hooded crow nested in the tallest tree in the garden. The tree is about 50ft tall. We noticed, possibly before the crows did, that the tree was dead at the top. So that instead of the nest being hidden by the spring growth, it was still naked after the eggs had been laid. Hooded crows are notoriously shy, but there they were, in full view during the entire nesting period. Their behaviour was interesting. The pair of them would fall like stones out of the other side of the nest until they were about ten or fifteen feet from the ground, probably in the hope that they wouldn’t easily be seen. It became something I’d see happening every day for 2 or 3 months this time last year. They’ve wised up, and they’re not back this year. Shame; I enjoyed them. 

There was a huge tree at the gate that was taken down in the storm of October 2017. The ravens used to nest in it. We’d hear them croak and bark throughout the day. It was like listening to tuneful dogs. It was fantastic to have them here, but they’ve lost their cover now, and I’ve only heard them a couple of times this year. They suited the house, and it was surrealistically mutual for the human in me.

Even though some of the crows are majestic, and very intelligent, they’re all flying rodents. None more sly than the magpies. I usually work in the studio in the spring and summer with the studio door open. So I’m sometimes sitting with a guitar, but more often at the computer. I face north into the screen, as the sun slowly comes into the door to the south west, which is on my left. So that I glance to my left and see that the shadow has moved, and just after midday in mid summer, the sun breaches the roof to the south and starts to shine in through the studio door.  

On a nice day in June last year, I was in situ when an awful row burst out in the yard. The swallows were angry and shrieking, and a couple of magpies were cackling like they do. I sprung up immediately. It wasn’t difficult to know what was happening. The magpies were attacking the swallow fledglings. I jumped out of the door and headed for them. I shouted and they squawked and scattered. 

“HEY, HEY!” I shouted loudly. I went over to the wood shed to see whether or not they’d pulled the nest off the beam. I really enjoy the swallows, they’re really good fun and they’re endearing. They know that they are, so they have a symbiotic relationship with us where they provide company and we provide some kind of shelter. By the time I’d got to the shed, Tracy was already out of the house, and we found the head of a young swallow. Just the head. Probably the body had gone down in one gulp.

The dinosaurs had been. They were dinosaurs with brains. They knew when to pillage. They could easily have taken the eggs, but it’s just possible that they’d waited until more energy had been stored in the young birds before they could no longer wait. The meal was ready. Sod all these slugs, and bits and pieces of dead stuff.. Get the fillet steak out, slap it down in one gulp, and chase it with a Champaign of rattling laughter. In reality, they could just have been alerted to the chicks by the constant flow of traffic to the nest by the parent swallows. There are times when I’d really like to have a proper gun, but that’s not the way I should ever intervene. My presence and my voice have to be enough. Always.

The swallows were edgy for the rest of the day, but the magpies weren’t going to return, especially to be greeted by the apes. Their instinct tells them that the apes can endanger life. They’re not really going to be that willing to strike again on the off chance. I played outside that evening, until dusk. I sang out. They didn’t come back.

But the worst of our neighbours are the starlings. From February to late May, it’s the earthlings versus the starlings. It’s my fault, because I’ve always prioritised other things rather than the smaller holes in the walls… which belong to them for a whole three months at this time of the year. And I have to raise my voice, because if I don’t they’ll be back to start a second brood. It’s like having ten unwanted sergeant majors move in at once. Keeping them out is virtually impossible. They WILL find a way. 

Up close, they’re spectacularly decorated birds, but sadly, they’re vermin, and their arrogance is absolute, and confrontational. For a creature of that size, they’re unbelievably aggressive. Their will to breed in exactly the place they want to is astounding. You can throw the kitchen sink at them and they’ll still come back. Really, we should be killing them, because they really are flying rats. A two hundred pound starling would rule the world. They seem to have everything except size.. Intelligence, flight, character, communication, stamina and cunning.

As each year goes by, I ask our neighbour Brian, who’s good at fixing most things, about putting up scaffolding to finally plug the holes. In the past, we’ve blocked one or two by just putting stones into them from a ladder. This year, before all the spring noise started to happen, I asked him would he put some scaffolding up, but then I started to think about it. There are nine outside walls on the house. All of them represent nesting sites. Putting nine lots of scaffolding up just isn’t going to work. The expense, just to keep the starlings out, would challenge the national debt, and that’s before any of the actual work begins… So then we thought that we’d hire the mobile bucket crane from the local tool hire, and we’d get it done.

He came back to report that they were now charging €250 a day for it! So it was going to take at least a week to get around the house, find them all and block them. There are at least five pairs nesting in the wall as I write, but there are probably 200 holes, so you can see the problem. It’s much easier for them to choose an alternative hole than it is for Brian to find them all. 

So the bucket crane would have to be hired again, and maybe again… and.. the hire price is a rip off. We know that, but if they can get that much a day, and they obviously can, then that’s the going rate. Before I say anything else, I must tell you that the walls are two feet thick, so the birds mostly don’t get into the house through the wall..

As I was about to suggest a compromise, Brian was dragged off to England for a family bereavement… and Covid arrived. I’d missed my chance again.

So the starlings are still with us. Largely because I’m not going to dump cash into a bottomless anti-starling slush fund. Even so, it’s now become a choice. Do I get rid of them or not? Is it a priority? There are other priorities. A floor needs to be put down in the dining room. It was half done just before Covid struck. The old floor has had it. It would be done now but for this lockdown. And that’s not all that needs to be refreshed. And there’s a budget.

I think that I have to go for it, and there’s one overriding thought. I want to have sparrows back in my life. I grew up with them. I know them. They’re really sociable in a different way than starlings are. Let me just drift for a moment and make a couple of wildly speculative comparisons. For me, starlings represent middle class soldier/civil servant officers. Their arrogance befits their nature. They are ‘in command’. They’re snotty, and they boss and dictate. They have a social rigidity that would seem to be law-bound. You do this.. this happens.. You do Not deviate! They live in Gilead. And they’re shite filled peeves.

Sparrows are totally different. Their society is much more integrated. They live in an actual commune. They squabble about stuff, very regularly. At least three times a day someone has run off with someone else’s Mrs for a quick one, or someone else’s beak has been put out of joint by some odd remark. So that their society is much more socially integrated than that of the starling, whose social life, at least in the nesting season, seems to be about more order and less contact among couples. In the autumn, there are massive flocks of starlings, whereas the sparrows just chirp along, day by day. Starling flight is strong and quite fast, whereas sparrow flight is a brief flutter from A to B. The starlings largely disappear in the winter. The sparrows stay put.

Now. Can I intervene? Do I want to bring a little bit of chirpy disorder back to my own environment? Mm, can I single handedly replace one species with another? Can I be god? Could I do it in mutant stages? I’m starting to read through de-extinction papers, but gene-editing wouldn’t be my strong suit, so I might have to do a bit of plain old cut and paste. If I was, by some chance, able to fill all the holes in the two walls at the studio entrance, and put sparrow-size open nest boxes up on the wall in the autumn.. then something else might arrive into them in the spring.

I’d have to put a few nest boxes high on the wall, with entrances smaller than a starling could comfortably get into. So, who might come if that was the case? There are only a few that would use a house wall nest box. Swallows might, but they don’t arrive until April 26th. It would be occupied by then, and probably by great tits. Cheeky birds with a lot of character. No chance! The Stasi would already know, and would already have found a hole nearby that the apes had missed, and the tits would be stared down, psychologically overcome, and hounded out.  

Back at ‘The Big Stone Tent’, the drama will continue into another season. It should be on the History Channel actually, along with ‘Mountain Men’, or The Discovery Channel, along with ‘Alaska The Last Frontier’. Will raymundo ever be able to get up at dawn in February to outflank the starlings with a pea shooter and mud pies? 

A fox screams in the chill night air.

The next series will begin in the Autumn. 

4:01 AM

I’m tempted to throw the iMac out of the studio door and kick it in the teeth! But actually I’d just be committing metaphorical GBH again, right here in Paradise.. imagine that! 

Man Lurches Into Internet With Intent!! Brandishing Axe!! Says that he was ground into the virtual AstroTurf on Safari, and Google, both of which repeatedly changed and hid his access codes, and refused to recognise him: so that he quickly developed a savage urge to stick them right up their own system preferences! 

Man Couldn’t Get Away! Was stalked into paradise and forced into blinkers with matchsticks holding his eyes open, on his second bottle of Boots Dry Eyes, to read ‘Logic For Junkies’, which he found interrupted his buzz. It then collapsed into the ether, and refused to be found. He tried to pull a few levers, but they were trying to pull him further into the abyss. Just when he thought he was getting somewhere he was enraged, at 4 0’clock in the morning. Alone. In the middle of nowhere. NJAAAA!!!!

PS. St. Thomas’ Hospital

Like everyone else, I’m very unhappy with what’s happening around the world at present with regard to the virus. I’m finding that every day there are devastating losses that I can’t allow myself to get used to. Again, like everyone else, I’m moved a few times every day. Right now it can be by anything, but mostly by people being human.

By adversaries agreeing, by the intelligent resolve the Spanish medics are handling what is a national disaster, by the Italian doctors in Naples totally sealed off in impregnable plastic suits who’ve had zero infections among their number since the emergency started, and are making complete sense. By the people singing to themselves in Rome.

Remembering walking around in Rome in the heat of the July day, and spending 2 or 3 hours in the Leonardo museum across the piazza from where we were staying a couple of years ago. And my five stays at St Thomas’ Hospital, Lambeth over the years. Getting better one time, and walking to the end of the ward and staring at the Houses of Parliament just across the river when I was 31. Sister Chapman and nurse Kate. All the death in the ward at the time. “Yes, it has been a little much this last week or two Roy”.

And the most dedicated doctor I’m ever likely to meet in my life, Michael W-P. A pure missionary who’s largely responsible for me still being here. Then all the rushing; a team would come flying in as the curtain was quickly pulled around someone. The frantic atmosphere from behind the curtain, with a lot of movement, but hardly anything being said. 

And then, after about ten minutes, as a still begins to come from behind the curtain, white coats emerge, slowly walking out silently from behind it; and washing their hands in the sinks in the middle the ward. Some walking away quickly, others just strolling disconsolately. 48 years ago. Then again, just over twenty years ago, the same doctor, in the same place, and two procedures later, over a period of 3 months, giving me another 20 years, and counting..

Funny slightly aged building now, seeing it on tv, parts of the decor have fallen off the front of it. The first time I was in there, the ward had about 25 beds. The second time, it had been divided up a bit more. There were more wards, and they all had four beds. It looked like it was easier for the nurses to work in. They didn’t have to walk all day. It’s a huge warren, but it’s also a regular, very busy, ordinary hospital in there, always in some state of re-reparation, with all the staff working tirelessly around everything else.

Inside the entrance on the north east side there’s a statue of the young king, Edward V1, son of Henry V111 and Jane Seymour, who died as a teenager. I remember reading the inscriptions on it and thinking that he must have been a bright young man. I rarely think about privilege when I’m reading something like that, I always think about the human, and the time. He signed a charter for the refounding of the hospital in 1551. He died a couple of years later. His privilege couldn’t save him. Both his sisters succeeded him. What a different world it might have been without Elizabeth 1, and Walsingham..

In Ireland, we got the disease later than the UK, which made a big difference. We were better forewarned, and didn’t change course. We had a week or two’s grace to get ready, and closed some amenities, pubs and gatherings, just four days after the UK. It could be said that we’re more protected in Ireland, but it’s not finished yet.

A local nurse lives near us, and the messages from there are not that different than they would be from the UK. Everywhere in Europe, it’s the same story. They’re all going to get PPE tomorrow, but it never comes, and the medical staff work in danger.

 In France, Macron has finally admitted that there’s a problem getting hold of PPE worldwide. The world delegated China in their spare time, and it’s not working. New York has now told people to wear masks. It’s a no-brainer. We knew that weeks ago, but we also knew that the medics needed all of them.

I don’t know why the NHS don’t let that be known in England. The government surely has to tell them to. Just be honest. We can all take that. I saw Vallance prevaricating today. Raab has to say something. We can all see it on their faces.

I’ll be writing. It’ll probably be a song. It’s already started in my head. I’ve got to be extremely careful. No meaningless words. Got to observe with grace. And write with charity.



CA Party Justice Department


Good morning Comrades,

Instructions with regard to the probable charges and arraignment of the former leader of the opposition. 

A note came through from The High Spymaster today, stating that Citizen Johnson, Boris, had been arraigned on charges of Mass Murder, False Opinion and Class Betrayal. About time too. He will be tried by COPO within the week. A guilty verdict is expected, and COPO Director, Howard Windows, has muted that he’ll be going for the maximum sentence. In the event of the charges being secured, followed by the guilty verdict the Justice Secretary, the Rt Hon Mike Wardrobe assures us will be made, Johnson has far more than the most basic ritual hanging to look forward to.

He is to receive the Death Penalty, by way of being Hung, Drawn and Quartered. The punishment Wardrobe requested involves being caned on the naked buttocks and genitals until he bleeds profusely. Hanging will follow this, performed until the traitor is almost dead. At this point he will be resuscitated, and tied to the board which is to be drawn through the streets by horses.

NB. The precise rule for the old second act, (which is now of course the third act), that of being ‘Drawn by horses’ for a mile, as you know, replaced the old rule in 1976. (see 3rd Amendment to the precise rules which were first laid down in The 1351 Treason Act). It was found, as we all remember, that on too many occasions, being ‘drawn by horses’ across the ground was being used, possibly by sympathizers of the condemned, as a device to render some prisoners unconscious or even dead before they could be made to experience the entire punishment. So, take care in securing the prisoner to the board, leaving plenty of headroom to make sure he arrives at the place of final execution in a conscious state.

He will then be totally resuscitated with a bucket of cold water, while still being upright and bound. He will then be disembowelled, and be made to watch his own bowels burning on a fire close-by. This will take an enormous weight off his mind. He will then be hung again, his body quartered and sent to four quarters of the kingdom to eventually be used in the local Whiskas factories.

This will be done to avoid sending his remains to the actual four corners, like St Ives, Carlisle, Berwick, or Dover, and the middle, for instance Bassetlaw, where he is still quite popular. Important. The fact that he used to have six people of colour in his cabinet must be played down. At all costs, we must maintain that he is a racist.

Repeat. None of his remains must be sent to these areas for fear of even the most minor of minor disorder. We realise that the four quarters used to be sent to these kinds of towns, and hung in prominent places, but his old support in those places might lead to some unrest. The execution must take place in an as yet unnamed part of London, where his former popularity is now at it’s lowest. His head is to be stuck on Westminster Bridge, where his support was likewise almost always comparatively low.

Further to today’s business, Jendrick, Robert, has recently been found guilty of traveling home to be with his wife and children, and to have left food on the doorstep of his aging parents in a distant town in the west. As we know, this is punishable by media death, so he will have to be excluded from all mention in the media, and be discredited at every opportunity. He must become the subject of extreme dishonour. Reports of him or his family doing any good in any community must be suppressed at all costs, and I will forward the request to have him smeared and insulted on his Dikipedia page. He must be excluded from all public notice for at least ten years, or until he converts to the true faith.

After all, as we know, it isn’t possible for these educated liberal right wing types to be re-educated in the natural laws of being subjected to the poverty and helplessness of the ‘silent majority’. At all costs, the said ‘silent majority’ must continue to be forced into this hapless position. The King wishes to keep the whole of the said ‘silent majority’ in bondage to The Party. We need absolute control. We need optical enhancement in every social space to maintain the status quo, and in order to reveal any un-proscribed behaviour. We cannot afford generosity. Generosity of spirit leads to all kinds of social ills and can even result in happiness, which might lead to euphoria, which must be put down.

Next week’s trials involving lesser criminals will be held in the open on Shepherds Bush green. They will include minor celebrities, and other insignificant anti-government figures such as fake poet Roy Harper, who has offended the regime by writing an allegedly anti-government pamphlet, which was, obviously in our view, intended to invite the government of King Jeremiah1 to study evidence suggesting that some in the opposition might be considered to be human. This is rubbish and must be resisted.

His attorney, Dr Brumbaugh, is said to be intending to offer up Harper’s interminable treatise as being based largely on unbiased pragmatic thinking, which, as I’m sure we all agree, is a feeble defence. The jury will comprise anyone who wants to show up on the day, and the verdict will be agreed on a show of hands.

However, he is likely to be found guilty before any evidence is considered, especially as evidence is not required since the innovation of the internet. He is likely to be ordered to spend the rest of his miserable life in complete obscurity.

Rotten eggs, fish, fruit and vegetables will be distributed at the Theatre end of the Green. Anyone found holding eggs or fruit ten minutes after the verdict has been read out will be led to the stocks and stoned by the rest of the mob. Hear Ye. Hear Ye.

Home Secretary, Rt. Hon Johannes Twert. Party member #2020999  

The Constructive Ambiguity Party – Make Britain Groan Again. Tel. Whitehall 1212 for further information.