When In Rome

Before I have a further thought, I would just like to make it clear that I am fanatically against the Taliban, and given half a chance I would put an end to the idea within a second. I think that I made this clear in the Royal Festival Hall programme in June 2001, three months before the New York attack. I just don’t want any more innocent Afghanis to join the innocent New Yorkers. It will be as bad, if not worse, to kill any more……….the problem is.. that it’s very much harder to kill an idea, than it is to kill the person who may be carrying it …….. However…….

As I was re-reading my rant on globalization, I realised that although I knew what I meant, that it was too general of a statement… and that to trash the whole concept isn’t real. After all, it’s here, and it’s here for as long as we can maintain this scale of ‘organised’ habitation on the planet. The most serious question that can be asked in the present context is whether or not, or how much, ‘globalization’ has contributed to conditions which precipitated the events of Sept 11th.

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The Morning After


How much was understood by the average FBI agent who torched Waco? About religious fanaticism? And how easy it is for the unsuspecting to fall into the false comfort which that type of fantasy worship encourages?

I’d had good stabs at it beforehand. In earlier poems. On the first record it was mentioned in Sophisticated Beggar, the title track, which is now 36 years old, and a year or two later in McGoohans Blues, etc, but I really got to grips with a poetic treatment of where I wanted to be with regard to organised religion when I wrote ‘The Same Old Rock’ on ‘Stormcock’ in 1969. Joan Bakewell, (described at the time as ‘the thinking man’s crumpet’) reviewed it in some rag saying, “One hopes that he doesn’t believe in what he’s singing about” ! ! I thought that I had really done well, but the record met with ignorance from the record company and apathy from the critics. I was very frustrated with that at the time. Some people didn’t understand it. Most didn’t want to. It has been my second best selling record for the last twenty years.

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No One Is Unarmed


I have been disturbed by a couple of mails I have received in the last few days. First off, I would just like to say that the attack on New York was easily the most shocking act of barbaric cruelty we have seen for many years. It is also obvious that it is going to be far reaching in it’s effects.

I also have to say that the American people are very largely innocent and as such did not deserve to be dealt such a terrible blow. I have to agree as well that Mayor Guiliani has been a pillar of strength for everyone in the city and for that matter, in the world. He has been everything you would want in a public official. He has been calm, informative, caring, thoughtful, articulate, and a pure gentleman. And our hearts have gone out to all the brave people we have seen toiling in such adverse conditions and emotional nightmares.

It has been inspiring for me to see, yet again, that when the chips are down, people will put their lives in serious danger in order to be in a position to rescue other people of whom they know nothing. This is a snapshot of the human being at it’s very best. The pure altruist.

Outside of that, there are a few other observations which all of us should be making. If we want to have any chance of stopping this kind of thing again, then there are certain things which we must encourage each other to be doing. We must ask SERIOUS questions of each other before we declare war on ANYONE… We all have a very good picture now of the nature of the people involved in committing this atrocity, but it is almost for certain that they don’t belong to anywhere we could indiscriminately bomb. Tomorrow.

Afghanistan is a place I dreamed of going to 20 years ago, precisely because it was a culture and an experience so completely removed from my own that it would have been like visiting a different planet. Right now it’s become a different galaxy. But hopefully not for the rest of my life.

I wrote ‘the black cloud of islam’ when it became obvious to me that islam had evolved into the same instrument of modern mass murder which christianity has been for so long. And in the name of virtually the same tin pot god. I would like to be far more profane at this point than I am being here and now but I feel the need to preserve as much dignity as I can in the present circumstance.

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The Waiting Room


I must start this entry by apologising to all of you who have tried to contact me over this past while, for not being in touch with any of you, and for not keeping up with the diary. I must also apologise to many of you for not visiting many of the towns I usually get round to on this particular tour. However, as you may understand from the following passages, life isn’t always that easy, as things like travelling by car have become very painful.

I’ve been working hard at stuff, but not the kind of stuff I would have been working on a year or so ago. As some of you have noticed, I have needed to have a couple of cushions to sit on in order to play for this past year. I have been in quite a lot of pain. At first we thought that it was prostate related, and indeed that may still be relevant, but just recently we have managed to discover more.

I have seen four specialists and I am on my way to a fifth. The one I have just seen listened to me list my symptoms and then told me what I had suspected for a long time, that it sounded spine related. I had known that, but I hadn’t really put it together with the pain. So off I went for the ct scan. I am not able to have an MRI scan, which would possibly tell us more, because that utilizes electro magnetic gear, and I have the steel coils in my lungs!

The scan has revealed some trouble at the lower end of the lumbar spine. Along with the pain that I’ve been experiencing there has also been a progression of neurological symptoms such as pain and sensation changes in my feet and legs. The scan requires some further investigation and I am awaiting a full neurological assessment. The pain has been with me for fourteen months now. It’s difficult to live with, but I’m making out, or trying to. The most difficult thing is sitting down. The pain is roughly at the back of my coccyx, but in all probability emanates from further up my back. This means that the only way I am able to sit is to have the coccyx in mid air, i.e. Not touching anything. This doesn’t alter the pressure on my back, but it does stop the pain from becoming too intense to remain seated.

It’s very difficult to sit for longer than minutes, and so the things that I used to do, like sit and think whilst I was writing, or indeed, just sit and write, are now consigned to the past, indeed, I now look upon that sort of thing as past luxury. I have a certain amount of renewed hope at present, because if it is just a question of manipulation then I might very well be able to live a more normal life again. Hope hope. But I can still laugh as loud as ever. And as usual I’m very happy to be on earth.

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The End Of An Era

April. And it’s very crazy here. There were several moments on Tuesday when I was forced to go into that little hermit shell that I built for myself when I was about 3, where I stand apart and alone for an everlasting moment while the cogs of the world click round in slow motion. First off I got a call from the courier company to say that the new desk furniture was on the way. He was half way to me from Cork. I hadn’t expected him; in fact I’d told the supplier to hold off until I could be sure of getting some help… and because I still wanted to use the old desk until the moment that the new one got here.

So; I was put in a position. This was the day after another guy had actually arrived with it in a big truck but said he couldn’t get down our lane, blah ..blah, being overprotective of his truck, when I’ve seen bigger trucks get round the corner. He wouldn’t leave any of the smaller pieces because he said that the whole delivery must remain as one. And just the two of us had no chance of unloading an item that heavy. Blah.

So I watched the desk drive away.

Back to the future. So I’m being held to ransom by the next guy, who’s in a van, and half way to me.. asking me whether I can get some locals to help me with the unloading. I tell him I’ll ring him back if I can get anyone. I have a quick think… and I ring my friend Johnny Fitzgerald, who is 24 and a brilliant pianist and general all round good guy. He tells me he’ll come; I ring the courier back and tell him to proceed.

Johnny arrives with FOUR mates, all well known Klonites, but that’s another story. Shortly after, the van arrives. He backs up to the studio door and we begin to unload. With six of us it’s easy. Then Johnny suggests that we should set it up there and then. In position. . . . I look at the old desk. In it’s place. Sat there, where it’s been for 10 years now. My old friend of half a dozen records and many moments of meditation and solitude and fun. I stop. I think for a moment. I am conscious of everyone stopping.

I tell Johnny that I’ve got something on the D-160 that I’m learning and that I’ll have to just take off there. We all realise that I’ve made the decision. To tear my dear old studio apart. There and then. I turn the masterlink on. And half a dozen effects. My hands move slowly as I turn the old mixer on for the last time in my space/life. Slow motion. I clear the bar at 7 feet. The crowd is silent. As usual…

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