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a day with no desire to say anything

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I have just returned from a very lively and satisfying weekend in London as you have read. For the last 345 days I have been inspired almost on a daily basis to write something. Today is different. I’m letting all the information become part of me and incorporating new ideas into my subconscious. In a way, I’m halfway between London and here in Somerset, almost anaesthetised.

You cannot breathe in and breathe out at the same time so today is a breathing in day. I believe that reflecting on something is working on something. This is not necessarily a situation that can be described in words. I feel that no time is being wasted. I wonder what Jesus did in his 40 days in the wilderness. I’m sure he was very busy but he didn’t make any phone calls, see anybody, write anything to our knowledge, worry about anything he was just being himself. He was probably reflecting on what he was going to have to do in the future so I suppose that’s work but not that you could spot it.

I suppose the left brain keeps on telling you that you should be doing something. I recall at this point some verses from St Luke’s Gospel “consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these

So there is a good precedent. We don’t have to run around like chickens with no heads to serve the greater purpose.

So you see, I did write something after all. ha ha

Very little television today and early to bed. What an enormous full moon. It is supposed to be a blood red moon , but I could not see that.

What community spiritedness is all about

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I went along to my local church, the one I have written about, which is in Paulton. I attended morning coffee which takes place from about 10 o’clock until 11:30 AM every Tuesday. Coffee and home-made cakes are offered. Since I have just started attending the church, not many people know me but nevertheless I was welcomed. I’m very used to social occasions large and small inter-alia because I ran a large organisation London Village about which I have written before. I had no hesitation in walking in to the place where I don’t know anyone. This morning I arrived shortly after 10 and I was the first customer so to speak. We spent the first 20 minutes talking about this and that, the weather, the state of the heating system in the church, and other churchy topics but then a woman came in whose name I still don’t know and we started chatting.

She seemed quite comfortable talking about herself and the husband who assists a funeral director and is not remotely interested in gardening but collects model trams and trolleybuses. The conversation came up because her mother lived in Clapham, London and I was able to update her with information from my recent visit. She went to school very near where I went to school (Tooting Bec Grammar) and also the era of the trolley buses going up and down Streatham high road as I also recalled, and the time when Clapham North tube station was called Clapham Road. So, we had a good old nostalgia chat but I was also able to give her an update.

She also talked about the effect of medicines one upon another and how they interfere with the healing process which reminded me once more that we should try and avoiding taking pills whenever possible and return to natural medicine which for the most part was a satisfactory answer to many of the aches and pains of people have. She talked of a woman who continually complains about things, claiming she had various viruses and so on and I said she has an unhappiness virus. I wonder how many illnesses and conditions are caused by bitterness and loneliness, I suspect quite a number.

The general lesson I draw from this is that many people are afraid to go to something new because no one will talk to them. The fact of the matter is that everyone comes for social reasons. The community spirit is hard wired within us and if you go along somewhere with a genuine interest in other people you will always find someone to talk to. This applies to young people, old people, men, women, single, divorced. Once you get the hang of this, you will never want for friends. It is such a pity that the church has an image that is outdated. It is untrue that if you enter the church people will ask you about your faith and so on. Many of the social activities that take place in churches or on church property are not Christian as such but caring and community minded in their nature. I say this to people of faith or no faith, if you want to meet people, go along to your local church and introduce yourself, perhaps to the verger or sidesman, perhaps to someone sitting next to you and the odds are that you will be introduced around.

You will think to yourself after the event, why didn’t I do this before? I’m convinced that most of the loneliness that exists is unnecessary and if I had more scope to exercise my enthusiasms in my mind, I would create a national scheme for the sharing of ideas and spend some public relations money changing the image of the church.  I have not quite got my head around the attitude of Catholics but I know that the Church of England and the Methodist Church are very keen to demonstrate the love of Christ in the form of welcome and greeting people as human beings. I think the saving in money from hospital bills, medications etc could be huge and could well exceed the cost of providing the service of communication.

I would like to devote more time to the evangelical church which is very much focused on saving souls and giving life to Jesus to avoid the attentions of the devil when you eventually pass over. I know that evangelical Christianity is not everybody’s cup of tea, but I will have to wait for a future tranche of inspiration before I can say something on this matter. If I’m not inspired and I try to force something it never works. It’s a bit like painting a picture. If you’re not in the mood then you might as well not bother. Do something else and wait for the magic moment.

Meanwhile, I must finish my diary for the weekend with the added bonus of enjoying the delightful blue sky and sunshine. Okay it’s only 3°C at the moment but with no wind it is ideal for walking and looking forward to the spring.

London seems far away as I occupy myself with local matters. I wrote to the manager of the hotel, a chap called George, to say that I was looking forward to returning.

London visit Pt. 5 – back to Tate Britain

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We rose at 8:30 AM, had a shower, and went to breakfast. Our effervescent Irish friend James was in the breakfast room , about to go off to the hospital for a check on his broken ankle. We found him forever positive and enthusiastic about life. There were three other people people from the Middle East also having breakfast. They ate almost furtively and whispered to each other. They avoided the ham that was offered and stuck to cheese, bread and jam. The impression they gave was that they had been recently traumatised.

We left the hotel about 10 AM after promising George, the owner, that when we return we would ask for room four as according to him this is the best one for value. We shall be dealing direct with him in future to avoid the charges of the booking company.  Back to Tate Britain again. I bought a paper by George Orwell entitled “politics and the English language”. I mildly complained to the membership lady that the conditions at the Modigliani exhibition in Tate modern were so uncomfortable because of the crowds that you could hardly contemplate the work. That caused me to wonder about the whole value of paying £20 to see something which to be quite frank with you I didn’t really enjoy. The artist has a certain style which is easily recognisable. I reckon if you want to know more, the best idea is to buy an exploratory volume and study it at your leisure. I suppose there is a certain excitement in seeing the originals but with modern reproduction quality these days, there’s not so much point.

Youngsters having a go

I was very pleased to see that people are being encouraged by means of easels left around to have a go at painting and drawing. I saw a mother with her young daughter and her father with his young son who can’t have been more than 18 months. Parties of schoolchildren were also earnestly engaged.

past and present number one

This is a work by Augustus Leopold Egg, 1816 to 1883 and shows a husband holding a note from someone telling him about the infidelity of his wife whilst his children look on innocently. There are many symbols in the picture including the tower of cards that’s about to collapse.

This is by John Everett Millias 1829 to 1896

It is called “Christ in the House of his Parents (the carpenter’s shop). I find this work helps me get the whole religious thing in proportion when you see how modest and unpretentious Jesus’ upbringing was.

this is the stairway from the ground floor to the first floor

Tate Britain as a whole is very well designed and whereas we get headaches when we go to the Tate modern we find this a very restful place even on busy days. I think the Tate modern is a victim of its own success. If anyone reading this is a member, it is worth going upstairs to the members section where there is a very spacious coffee and  refreshment area and a side room where the tables are spaced very well apart so you can meet in private. The cup of coffee I had was small for £2.75 but I suppose you pay a bit over the odds for being in a membership environment.

To Victoria coach Station and instantly mixing with Italians, Hungarians, Poles, Romanians, people of indeterminate origin, and a few Brits. thrown into the mix. How National Express manage to send off so many coaches from such a small, one might also say cramped, forecourt area on time and keep everyone good-humoured is amazing to me. However, the fact is they don’t have anywhere to expand to so they have to make the best of it. I reflected as I departed from London that my job is to sow seeds and it’s up to other people how they react. The Sun and the rain enable the seeds to grow not the sower.  I was thinking of the many conversations I have had both with my old friends and with strangers in the street.

On that reflection I conclude this account.

London visit Pt. 4 – order out of chaos?

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I do not normally get up early on a Sunday morning but I have a business meeting to attend By “business” I mean I want to discuss a matter of some importance which is my potential contribution to a philanthropic community-based organisation which started in one country and has now spread to many countries.  I met my friend at Marylebone station and after a brief sojourn at a local restaurant where we had a poor quality breakfast we decided to walk round Regent’s Park away from the noise and the traffic and see what we could do.

Victor Marie Hugo 1802 to 1885 was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the romantic movement, widely esteemed as one of the greatest of French writers and poets

When someone has an idea, you never know what it’s going to turn into. Most ideas do not turn into anything significant but others have – unbeknown to the person who is inspired – arrived on the planet at the right time and so the universe supplies the fuel to grow the organisation. As we say, there is nothing so powerful as an idea that has reached its time.  This quote was made by Victor Hugo who actually said no one can resist an idea whose time has come nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. Armies cannot stop an idea whose time has come. No army can stop an idea whose time has come. Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come… and so on with various re-phrasings and combinations. I think we get the idea.

The venture that I was asked to participate in this morning started in one country in about 2005 and rapidly spread to others. The founder of this particular venture had a problem. He was a good visionary, researcher, anthropologist, but a bad administrator and hopeless with money and I’m afraid rather a large ego. There is a very great temptation to try and hold on to the reigns but if it is not accompanied by expertise and professional humility, it is something that is doomed to failure. In his defence, he had no idea how the thing will grow. It’s a bit like trying to hold onto a dozen balloons filled with helium and in reality asking too much of one person.

The second problem with an organisation that relies on voluntary labour, no matter what form it takes, is that it can order someone to do something when you are not compensating them. Basically, the organiser or founder has to take the people who offer and the trouble is or can be that the volunteers are those who want the world to be a better place but are essentially using the potential glory and notoriety of working for big organisations to escape from matters that impinge on a personal level. I regret to have to give such a massive generalisation here but that’s often the way it is. With this particular venture, I found a common denominator of people who volunteer but who are already stressed through giving of themselves without the financial backup and thus are unable to provide a stable reference point for those who will be making demands of them.  I hope you get the picture.

The third problem is the temptation to build castles in the sky. This means that before you make plans for expanding you need to make sure that the existing workers know and trust each other. Without this essential stage, the organisation will  sooner or later fall apart or at the very best fragment into factions. I have recently come across the venture at a point where there are three or four websites controlled by different people, mailing lists which lack intellectual integrity, and people doing things without discussing it with others. On the face of it, a hopeless situation. However, I feel that there is hope because the people involved are such a nice bunch, well motivated if unrealistic and keen to move forward together to make the world a better place.

I shall be offering my services as an editor of a homely fortnightly or monthly newsletter which would introduce the personalities from various parts of the world and allow everyone to see how other people are thinking. The good thing about using a client such as Mailchimp is that the first 12,000 or so mailouts are free per month so it is possible to do useful work without actually spending any money. The problem is of course time which many people do not have. In order for me to offer my services we are not going to jump in and try and tell people what to do but simply to state the conditions under which I can work albeit on a voluntary level. I’m not expecting any sort of recompense on the financial level.

The conditions are that everyone agrees that a homely newsletter is a good thing in the cause of building a community spirit and that the existing communications are altered to run happily side-by-side with the normal websites which described the growth of the organisation, various events, the philosophy, and so on. If I don’t get the alignment, I will not even start. it is I who after all have to live with my decision.

So, never mind the detail of the above which I agree will not be of gripping interest of everyone this applies to all voluntary work. If you want to volunteer for something I need to know exactly what is involved and if possible meet the people who are the organisers. Go along with certain specific questions such as if travel expenses are paid or indeed any form of payment is given. The National Trust could not exist without volunteers so the system has to be clear I admire them enormously and I’m sure without volunteers the National Trust annual membership will double at least. It is the same with many other organisations today. I could go on at great length about how to treat volunteers. Basically, many of them are not kept in the loop and just regarded as workers to be taken for granted. Secondly, continual training is necessary at which they can meet other volunteers. Thirdly, there must be a way of expressing concerns and complaints. overall, there are an estimated 15 million people volunteering at least once a month in the United Kingdom so this is a precious resource without which the country could not work.

In my particular case and at my age, I don’t have much to prove except myself of course, and I don’t want to take on a voluntary job that will grind me down and make me frustrated. The key thing when problem-solving is to look at the job from the outside and not to be overwhelmed by one dissatisfied person or another or to be over impressed by people who say that the organisation is the best thing since sliced bread. It is a great challenge to the maturity to say no outright but I’m not going to follow that course, I just have a list of things that I require before even offering my services because in my view once you start something you don’t back off at a whim but do the job in such a way as to bring joy to other people and changing the personnel every 5 minutes is of no help to man or beast.

There are few things in life better than this.

Off to Tate Modern. It is now so vast, having doubled in size in the last year that there is no way you can cover everything in one visit. Apart from the images, there are many movies and documentaries about various topics and you can easily be detained for an hour in one gallery. The new section, the Switch House opened on 17 June 2016 is much less crowded than the original Boilerhouse. Claustrophobic visitors beware.

Finally, the feet have had enough so off we go to our grand hotel.

 

 

London visit Pt. 3 – a day for visiting friends

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unique view of London, but where is it taken from?

I will give you a clue. It is from south London. It is the only steep hill facing directly towards the city and it is the only road where this applies. A small prize will be given for those who can recognise the road.

how to make a tree stump attractive

We went to visit to friends in East Dulwich near the Horniman Museum, which so far as I’m concerned is a gem of educational value unparalleled in south London. My wife worked with one of the friends in the Science Photo Library and they parted company in the mid-90s when the friend left. The friend worked in London and had seen my wife on West Dulwich station and only recognised her vaguely. A second time she saw her and this is extraordinary because my wife seldom visits the station. Still, she had a feeling of recollection but it was not strong enough to cause her to speak. The third time she saw my wife and the feeling was stronger but again she said nothing. However, they both alighted at Victoria station and the friend found herself next to my wife on the down escalator  to the Circle line and this time a voice within her said, ‘you really must speak’ and then they recognised each other and have been friends ever since. The point with synchronicity is that it defies all reason.

Our friend’s husband is a local historian and writer and knows the rich history of East Dulwich which was the Hamstead of its day. Luminaries include John Ruskin who actually lived in Herne Hill, Enid Blyton who lived in Lordship Lane, Boris Karloff who lived in Forest Hill Road, Phyllis Pearsall the mapmaker lived in Court Lane, C S Forrester lived in Underhill Road, Anne Shelton the singer lived in court Lane, Alexander Parkes the scientist lived in Park Hall Road and so on.

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In the evening I met my friend of 50 years, Greg, in a trendy Chinese restaurant on the Finchley Road. There were seven of us in the party graciously paid for by the host. It is quite a rare experience to meet someone who has known you for 50 years. I remember our first meeting which was when I was working for the Post Office over Christmas as a student. A voice spoke to me through the grill. We discovered that we had things in common.

It is fascinating that these events can be recalled in great detail when I cannot even remember the name of someone I was introduced to yesterday.  I realised at the meal how much I value having dialogues with cosmopolitan people who are aware of the world situation. It is easy to be a big fish in a small pond but what if the other inhabitants of the pond do not recognise you or relate to you for who you are. That is the situation which pertains where I live in Somerset. However, the friendship offered is of a different order, homely and traditional if restricted. I know that the whole of life is a compromise so I am not complaining.

London visit Pt. 2 – Saatchi and Saatchi

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Nudes by Philip Pearlstein, see comment below. The quality is less than perfect, apologies.

We awoke and went to breakfast as usual. To say that their breakfast arrangements are laid-back is to understate the situation. There is a choice of hard-boiled eggs, cheese, ham slices, bread, cornflakes, fruit juice of two types. The only catch is you have to find out where the crockery is and if the supplies run out you have to do your own washing-up. At first I was a bit upset by this but realised that this was just pure programming on my part and for the price we were paying, a princely £35 a night, we should just get on with it.

Crystal Lodge hotel is a bit like a hostel so if you adjust your mindset then everything is fine. It was also like a hostel in that people talk to each other and there is a feeling of comradeship absent in the chains.  However, we did ask that our room be changed because it was too small for four nights so we were generously given a big family room consisting of one double bed and three single beds so plenty of room to spread out our stuff. It was a front room abutting on the street but even without double glazing the passing traffic did not disturb.

Brigstock Road in Thornton Heath is very busy day and night including the wonderful 250 bus which goes from Brixton to Croydon, 24-hours a day. I love these new buses which are battery-powered so when they stop you think the vehicle has broken down when in fact the engine that supplies the batteries does not need to work any more. So when you move off, you move off very quickly and silently which does add to the travel experience considerably.

Anyway, today my wife is going off to see friends in her old stamping ground of Haverstock Hill so I have the day to myself more or less. Half the fun is riding the buses and seeing what’s going on. If you are a newcomer to London – as a general rule, remember that buses are half the price but take twice the time especially in rush hour. It will pay the visitor to have a bus map because you can be sure that wherever you want to go to there is a connecting bus. There is no need to panic and hail the nearest black Taxi because you could easily pay £30 or £40. There are three tariffs for taxis so a four-mile journey during the day  will cost you about £20 and the nightly rate could be £25. it is more when the traffic is heavy because the charge is distance and time. Oh, if you’re thinking of coming from Heathrow by black cab, you will probably pay about £80. The Piccadilly line will take longer but will take you to London for a fraction of the price.

Backs to buses again: at worst you may have to change once but most places are within two buses. London is moving towards a cashless society so it pays to get an Oyster card or bus pass. This was the case with my journey from Brixton to Kensington with a stop on the Kings road, famed for its 1960s image of excess and freedom. I duly alighted.

you won’t get better quality than these cakes at one of the patisseries.
An estate agent, very well decked out but for the autumn???
now that’s what I call an upmarket advertisement
Even the announcements from 02 are posh

Kings Road is as always very trendy and as an exercise you might want to peer into the windows of the estate agents and see what sort of place you can buy for £1 million and the answer is a two-bedroom flat if you’re lucky (there is a two bedroom flat for £1,295,000 which is modernised and has a well fitted kitchen and a garden). As for houses, the sky’s the limit.  Do not despair. You could always get a houseboat if you wanted. I see that there is a two bedroom one available for £300,000. You just have to get used to the effect of the tides coming up and down, tilting the bedroom a bit.

After a very pleasurable 20 min walk up the Kings road I entered the famous Saatchi Gallery. How many surnames do you know that have two ‘aa’s together? Such words are unusual in the English language. I can think of aardvark, bazaar, and that’s about it.  The surname of the man himself, Charles Saatchi, originates from the Turkish meaning ‘watchmaker’. He was born in Baghdad, would you believe?

Upon entry, the laid-back attitude is clear. Admission is free. They don’t put barriers around the works asking you instead to respect the situation accordingly. The exhibition is frequently changed and the images are not overcrowded unlike other galleries I could mention. The worst culprit for overcrowding is the annual exhibition at the Royal Academy where works from unknown artists are stacked from floor-to-ceiling. On the one occasion I went it gave me indigestion. London has hundreds of art galleries so no one can ever complain of a paucity in this aspect of London life.

So, on to the gallery  content itself.

two bored nudes

Philip Perlstein the artist, 93, has had an active career in the US and abroad since the 1950s. He thinks of his work as post-abstract realism. In the 1980s, he began to surround his sitters with objects from his personal collection to further engage the viewer and challenge himself. This exhibition highlights his stead fast commitment to dynamic compositions – a commitment which is as evident in his early work as it is today. His works maintain a sense of complete detachment which is both alluring and disconcerting.

I talked with a lady who was doing a sketch of this work. She did not like the objectiveisation of  women in general and was doing her sketches without including the actual women since she found the symbolic representations more interesting. I found the ladies quite unerotic. It is difficult to get enthusiastic about two people who look so bored and are completely indifferent to people’s reaction to them. Mind you, I find the same un-erotic effect when young women are exposing their breasts in scanty costumes and pouting themselves to look more sexy including sticking out their bottoms and putting too much make-up on.

an unwitting art installation. for some reason my photos are not so sharp
Our Frida

I must not make this page indecently long so no more photographs reproduced here. I depart out of the gallery to the nearby Taschen bookshop with a lovely 70s poster. Below.

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And now off to the Southbank Centre.
I love the typography used in this Arts Council advertisement. You can kill a poster with the wrong typeface. This one informs without shouting.

the skateboarding area underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall

This is the famous and unique skateboarding centre as a homage to all people who don’t want to come in the hall for music but appreciate its presence. I think it has quasi- listed status.

So, night has fallen, and I go along to an overcrowded National Portrait Gallery if only to use the toilet. They have increased the paid useage on the ground floor for special exhibitions for which you pay the best part of £20; the free exhibitions are upstairs. I suppose this is a result of the need to respond to a cut in grants. Sometimes they are cuts; sometimes they are slashes. Not to increase pay because of a cost of living increase is a cut. Geddit?

London visit Pt. 1 – David Bowie and Brixton

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You are going to join us on our exciting journey to Londinium (the old name for London), the place where I spent 50 years of my life. We now visit it two or three times a year. since we have no free places to stay now I decided to use booking.com and see what I could find. I simply wasn’t going to pay £100+  a night upwards which would stress my budget so I thought I’d have a look at the much less fashionable areas of this fine multilingual international city which keeps on inventing itself, and is the source of endless entertainment and stimulus.

We always start our journeys whether to various parts of the world or locally at the Methodist Centre in the middle of Bath where we have coffee and cake. We normally take the 11:15 AM National express bus to Victoria for the grand sum of five pounds per single journey per person. If I wanted to go by train that would be 10 times the amount but since I see no point in wasting money, the bus it is. To anyone who is either snobby or paranoid about buses, the service is safe, on-time, comfortable, and not too long. I did once take a bus to Prague with an overall elapsed time of 24 hours and I must admit that was a bit much but three hours to London is nothing. let’s face it, a coach is not made for sleeping but sleep comes fitfully and you can go into a trance state so just think of all the money you are saving going by coach.

We arrived at about 2.15 pm after a lovely event free journey on the motorway with blue sky and sunshine and walked without cases rattling along the street to Tate Britain. When I was working many years ago for the National Coal Board on the Albert embankment I used to sneak over to the Tate Gallery every lunchtime and admire the latest works. There must have been about 50 years ago. The Tate can only show a fraction of its work so it’s lovely to go along knowing that you will always be surprised.

this image was in one of the black-and-white exhibitions Canon is entitled Carol X, well Street, East London March 1982 to 2015
this is called Trial and Error 1939

The notes say: many of the objects in this carefully contrived still life refer to the art of painting: the head of a lay figure – used in place of the model in the studio – for instance. In keeping with tradition of the still – life genre, other items evoke the in permanence of life, such as the urn or the white carnation flowers. Visual rhyming between eclectic objects alongside Frampton’s precise draughtsmanship and smooth brushwork all lend the work an enigmatic, surrealist quality.

Gerald Brocklehurst 1890 to 1978 Portrait of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll 1931

The notes read: in the 1930s Brocklehurst became a sought-after portrait painter. Painting such as this represented a fashionable assimilation of past and present, a modern expression of traditional artistic value. Combining rich decoration with subtle assessment of character, brokers specialise in painting rich, famous and often highly independent within. This is a portrait of the socialite Margaret Sweeney, Duchess of Argyll.

I’m fascinated by how much nobility and other qualities can be best viewed in the face. They say that the eyes are the windows of the soul but what about the face I don’t think that comes a bad second.

the one and only David Bowie who has a permanent memorial on one of the side streets just opposite Brixton underground station

I took the tube (subway) to my favourite cosmopolitan place, Brixton. for some reason I was very attracted to the Memorial Wall for the late great David Bowie followed by a walk round the ever fascinating ever-changing Brixton market with its multitude of restaurants, pop-up and otherwise, representing countries which never even heard of.

is this a Durian, the smelliest fruit in the world
these phrases are highlighted at intervals encouraging people to face their prejudices
visceral fish
a pedestrian crossing with a difference

So at this juncture it was getting dark so we decided to go and check into our booked hotel in Thornton Heath. The nice thing about Booking.com is that you can change your mind at any time and if you don’t turn up at all you only pay the first night which in my view is there enough. Many parts of London have become a minority areas as far as white English people are concerned; as an example the area around Thornton Heath station is completely different in character, more about that anon.

We arrived at our hotel to find a room I would say about 6′ x 9′ which allowed us room for the bed and a small area for laying your clothes. There were no actual hangers or draws but there was a separate bathroom and shower which did not work. The room was clean, the mattress just right, the pillows perfect and the whole was very quiet so we slept very well. Anyway we survived the first night and wondered what we had landed ourselves in. The only plus point at this stage was that it was £140 for four nights. Those of you that know London prices will realise that this is cheap indeed. Was it worth it, and would do it again. Read on for the next dramatic installment.

 

sympathy versus empathy

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One of our English Parliamentarians, Tessa Jowell, has been ‘battling’ a brain tumour for the last year or so. It is a peculiarity that we use the term ‘battle’ for something which implies brute force. Do we battle broken legs or arthritis or kidney failure? No, we deal with them, we address them, we treat them, we examine the causes. The word ‘battle’ is part of the fear-based campaign by the pharmaceutical industry to make sure we buy expensive medication and get bombarded by radiation rather than look for natural remedies. Cancer did not just come out of the blue, it came because we provided unwittingly or otherwise the conditions for it. <Blinding inspiration here> – Why not change the conditions and perhaps the enthusiastic growth of cells aka cancer will slow down.

I write about this topic because at 08.55 am today I heard the last segment of BBC Radio Four’s ‘Today’ discussion of people who are too embarrassed to talk to a person with cancer. Great harm can be done, so we learn, by some unthinking friend or relative saying “oh I know someone who had the same cancer, and they died”. Thanks for the information. I’m sure it makes people feel better. How’s that for  programming. Damage can also be done by not saying anything at all because people will think you don’t care. Do not repeat old wives tales such as “drink plenty of water and it will flash it away!”

Even worse is to say “have a positive attitude and you will get through it”. Of all the stupid and bland things to say this about takes the biscuit. It may be implying that if you get away from your normal negative attitude you will overcome this nonsense. Cancer is nobody’s fault, it is an opportunistic condition, sometimes genetic but mostly I suspect environmental.

The sufferer was saying ‘don’t sympathise just empathise’. I think it’s worth looking at this distinction a little bit more. Sympathy is thinking oh I’m terribly sorry, how I feel for you, how I pity you in your condition. Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of the other person. We have a big big problem here. Most people have not dealt with the matter of death never mind life after death and they are simply not up to the job of being objective. In other words, hearing about a life challenging event makes them scared so how in heaven’s name are you supposed to be supportive when you’re quaking in your boots?

I’ve been talking about a physical condition, cancer, but what about mental conditions when people want to say something but it doesn’t come out in the right way, or they have downs syndrome, or some condition that causes aberrant behaviour?  It is no help if you speak slowly and clearly, or do the now infamous ‘does he take tea?’ syndrome. Why not speak normally, look at the person directly, and remember that body language speaks as loudly as words if not more so. In such cases, your own biases will pop up whether you like it or not so it is good long-term homework to clean up your own attitudes, for example that people who cannot speak without a stammer are somehow less intelligent. No one knows what is going on underneath the surface.

Also with any type of person, why not tell a story to them. It’s very good to establish common ground and if they don’t appear to understand they appreciate the effort. Tell them what you’ve been doing today but of course don’t mention mountain climbing to a paraplegic in other words a modicum of tact is quite a good thing. When there is a group of you, always include a person by looking at them from time to time even if they don’t look as if they’re responding they are listening to you in some way.

Thinking about empathy for a bit, if you are lucky enough to be on the same wavelength as the person who is afflicted, you don’t need to say anything. Whereas sympathy can lead to inappropriate closeness or distancing, empathy when coupled with compassion will look after that problem very nicely. You will be at the optimum distance to make the biggest positive effect. You do not have to think about it.

How to give birth to an idea

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Sir Mark Tully

Spiritual programs are marginalised by the BBC to antisocial hours such as 6:30 AM on Sunday morning, repeat at 11:30 PM. In these days of catch up I suppose the timing doesn’t matter in the way it used to, but there is something about listening to a program ‘fresh’ when other people are listening to it. Such a program is “Something Understood” which was introduced for many years by Mark Tully, whom I believe later became disillusioned with the BBC for reasons that I can’t possibly imagine. Sir Mark lives in New Delhi. A  Daily Telegraph article said in 2010 “Despite his age and infirmity, he remains one of Britain’s most popular broadcasters – is the Radio Four show “Something Understood” which focuses on matters of faith, has (had?) more than 1 million listeners.

Sunday’s programme, given by writer and priest Malcolm Doney,  was about rumination which is the process that sheep and cows use to digest food; the analogy was drawn with the way we digest ideas. I would like to use this inspiring program as a basis for my thoughts today. The kicker was at the end of the programme with a lovely quote “I saw that there is room in me for a second and huge timeless life”. That caused me to jump out of bed and write it down lest I forgot.

Although inspiration may occur suddenly, it can take many years of preparation rather like an ‘overnight success’ with the public. We do not see the early struggles of artists, entertainers, and writers. Think of JK Rowling.  I regard inspiration as a natural state which correlates with a person being true to themselves, learning to listen, and being in harmony with nature. May I draw your attention to the fact that it is called inspiration not expiration. The origin of the word inspiration is from the Latin inspirare, to breathe in. Much as we would like produce inspiration to order, this is not the way it works.

First I think we need the desire for something, the will, the focus, the intent. We then give notice to our subconscious mind that we are looking for a result and our mind / brain keeps instruction on its files and is always on the alert for information which may be relevant for it. Alas, it is frequently the case that we are so busy rushing around putting out fires that we don’t have time to sit down and meditate or as some would say to be in the alpha state.  It should be noted that the word inspiration is ethically neutral. Hitler was inspired, Genghis Khan was inspired, Archimedes was inspired, Steve jobs was inspired, Gandhi was inspired, the latter case by inter-alia frequent correspondence with Leo Tolstoy.

I do not think an idea can be forced into life. I think it comes when it is ready and when the circumstances are right. I have noticed that inspiration comes mainly when you’re thinking of something else and not fretting and worrying about the normal ups and downs of your life. I have had a look at quite a number of people who have been inspired and they seem characterised by a lively and enquiring mind, and an interest in other people.  I don’t think we should expect something to happen to us but see inspiration like a bird that lands on our shoulder when we are doing something else.

Sometimes an idea can come from combining two ideas. I understand that the tablet devices were inspired by at least two existing ideas: clay tablets used 3000 years ago and the modern laptop. The huge one ton capacity bags that are used to transport stone and sand could have been developed from combining objects like a handbag or plastic bag, and the pallets used for carrying heavy material. I think the more sources of input you have, the more variety of stimuli you experience, the more your desire to change the world, the more likely you are to be visited even inspired.

No doubt I will have further thoughts on the matter which I will share with you but meanwhile Manchester city is playing Bristol so I will be rooting for the emergence of the giant killers (take that however you want).

Political Correctness cannot go mad, it is already

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I sit in front of my computer at home far more than the average person, not that I have any desire at all to be average. I subscribe to many websites and I just received my daily news e-zine from Forbidden Knowledge TV which is one of the most consistent and stable sources of real knowledge. Alex, who runs the site, has had her Youtube channel de-monetised on more than one occasion but she fights back. She must be doing something right. The aforementioned David Icke is now back online with his YouTube channel after a week of being cut off. The pathetic apology by Youtube was that there had been an ‘error’. This would not have occurred if there had not been thousands of people protesting at the removal of the channel.

Anyway, I have developed the art of very quickly reading an e-mail to evaluate its worth. There are certain expectations when I don’t even bother to read the second line. These are when yet another SEO company from India offers to do my website and help me obtain number one ratings. One of the last ones I received was from a firm who offered a service – lite – for $500 US. By Indian or Pakistani or Sri Lankan standards there is a huge amount so it seems that some of these firms have just gone greedy and are desperately fishing to find some poor soul to con. Potential customers are not necessarily aware that they work for a fraction of the salaries that people do in the US.

The second annoying thing about these firms is that you always get an anonymous type Gmail or Hotmail e-mail account and never any mention of the website of the firm. I would never deal with a firm that has no website and I don’t think they’ve quite got this message that you need to be respectable and have a profile.

Appellation is also a giveaway. Hello Mr Brian, or dearest Sir Mr Snellgrove, or beloved dear customer.  This doesn’t give a supreme amount of confidence about their grasp of the English language. Even if I were to engage them, although they may know English they don’t think English and the sentences they put together lack a certain flow. It is very subtle. When here in the UK I get a reminder of my dental appointment the words are “please remember your appointment”. This is clearly software written by a non-English speaker. If they were English they would say “we would just like to remind you of your appointment” or ” don’t forget your appointment”.

Prof Jordan Peterson

Let me finally try and get back to my subject. The newsletter drew my attention to one Jordan  Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. This man is another version of David Icke except that David Icke takes on the whole field of deception and mind programming. Jordan’s campaign is about the craziness of PC or political correctness. If I went on in full about what his contribution is, this blog would be much longer than the average 1200 words I write per day. Let us say that he exposes all aspects of this absurdity, this Marxist idea created in 1923. this includes lively discussion on the  legislature enacted in New York that is mandating 31 different appellations for sexuality.  Virtually any and every descritptor could now be considered as ‘hate crime’ if you get it wrong,  deliberately or unwittingly.

Here they are.

Bi-gendered, Cross-dresser, Drag King, Drag Queen, Femme Queen, Female-to-Male, FTM, Gender Bender, Genderqueer Male-to-Female, MTF, Non-Op, HIJRA, Pangender,  Transexual/Transsexual,Trans Person, Woman, Man, Butch, Two-Spirit, Trans, Agender, Third Sex, Gender Fluid, Non-Binary Transgender, Androgyne, Gender Gifted, Gender Blender, Femme, Person of Transgender Experience and finally – Androgynous

As if children in the USA are not growing up with enough disadvantages such as 46 vaccines by the age of six, fluoride in the water, the dreaded education system, antidepressants etc. they now have to figure out what these funny classifications mean which at the age of five or six I would think is pretty much impossible. What sort of mindset do you require to accept all the above as normal even if you understand what they mean. The situation seems well beyond the stage of being a question of straight or gay men and women. According to the so-called liberal people, your sexuality is based on your perception and there is no biological basis to it, apparently.

I love this guy Jordan Peterson. This is him talking about how you cannot force someone to respect you.

I was so happy to come across this man because it shows what can be done if a person actually has the courage of their convictions. Do watch it here. For the last 25 years or so, David Icke has taken abuse after abuse from people who understand little of what he stands for and who have not even bothered to read his books. I think the population is now becoming so deranged that they are beyond thinking. I think David calls us the ‘post-fact generation’ or some such term.

At its worst, PC can turn people into babies, into people who are afraid to say anything for fear of giving offence. I’ve just had a letter from the lady who runs my writing group to say that I have to get permission to write something of my experience of the group even though the other people in the group and the place and any identifiers have not been mentioned. How is that for paranoia? There will come a time when anyone who disobeys the herd mentality is regarded as mentally ill. David Icke has been warning about this for years. Fortunately, more and more people are listening to his sold-out shows in Europe and elsewhere.

These extreme manifestations are particularly bad in American campuses where people almost yearn to be victims so they can feel important and campaign for something. Where is the respect for the uniqueness of the human being? If you want really get mad, or get angry, (if you’re reading this in the UK), just type in the name of the man above in Youtube and watch.

This ‘best moments’ one is another good example.

Finally here is another  of his ‘straight from the shoulder’ quotes:

…don’t be fixing up the economy, 18-year-olds. You don’t know anything about the economy. It’s a massive complex machine beyond anyone’s understanding and you mess with at your peril. So can you even clean up your own room? No. Well you think about that. You should think about that, because if you can’t even clean up your own room, who the hell are you to give advice to the world.

My first Communion for goodness knows how many years

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Enthusiastic followers of my diary will note that I reported gleefully that I went to church for the first time for years last Sunday and decided to repeat the process today for what turned out to be a combined service with the adjacent parishes. I entered the church at 10 minutes to the hour to find an enthusiastic crowd of about 20 people talking animatedly amongst themselves. And why not say I.  I remember earlier in my life when people came in, knelt and prayed, and there was dead silence.

I sat in my preferred pew which is to the back and to the right to be greeted by a woman behind me who was complaining about her mobile phone, being unable to turn it off. She told me she was on a pay as you go tariff and she did not spend much.  I noticed she wore a hair wig; nothing wrong with that of course. However her enthusiasm to discuss mobile phone tariffs did not engage me as that was not the reason that I came, so I politely terminated the conversation.

As a previous churchgoer of many years – I should confess at this point that I am a vicar’s son-  I can’t help looking through the service sheet or booklet in this case and figuring out how long the whole thing is going to last. Fortunately, the vicar used the sheet as a framework from which he picked the main elements. My concentration span is not very great at the best of times but I’m sure with meditation or possibly with Valium this would be improved but maybe not. Meditation is a form of torture for me  because while I’m supposed to be in the alpha state thinking of love, the universe and everything, I make a list of all the things that I need to do when I finish the meditation and that ruins the whole thing. The rebellious side of me says that I actually enjoy thinking of many things at once. Whether this is productive or not is another question.

There were periodic sighs from the mobile phone lady behind me who also made a noise with her papers. She is very active but I wonder if she is happy. There are so many single women around here who have lost their husbands and let’s face it, Paulton is not the centre of the social universe, though it has a pub and a library with a coffee bar attached. That is certainly better than being stuck in the middle of the country and being a widow and there are many buses to Midsomer Norton nearby so back to our topic of loneliness a couple of days ago.

The service was a combined matins and communion celebration. The gospel was about Jesus turning water into wine as a marriage in Canaan in Galilee. Marriages are for the whole community, the whole village, not just for the bride and groom and invited guests so for the wind to run out as a complete disaster, something which would be used as gossip material for years to come. Guy, the affable vicar, attempted a pun saying it’s a ‘no wine situation’. People did not even groan but everybody forgave him because the topic of wine is of interest to everyone and the possibility of finding a reason to justify our consumption intrigued the congregation in a twisted sort of way.

Jesus performing his miracle – notice the index finger of the right hand

According to information in the Bible, about 454 litres of wine was produced by the miracle turning water into wine, the first that Jesus performed at the wedding in Cana. I note the fact that the event happened in local surroundings and not as it would be in the present day of self-seeking instant fame mentality of someone doing it on TV or inviting the media around. Jesus just did it because it was part of his nature and he wanted to make a point, possibly a symbol of the available of abundance should you believe.

The Old and New Testament warns us against abuse of alcohol but there is slightly amusing episode with St. Peter remonstrated with the crowd who said that the disciples were not drunk as it was only “the third hour of the day”. The disciples were manifesting the joy of the holy spirit. Jews were not supposed to eat or drink until the fourth hour, an hour after their prayer time.

There is plenty to say about wine or shall we say drinking  in the Bible as a whole. “Wine mocks those who use it” as it says in Proverbs, “and rewards them with world, sorrow, strife and wounds without cause. In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a Viper”. Wine was recommended as a substitute for water in the case of medical conditions but that is a weak argument have with the Bible reminding us that our bodies are temples of the living God via the agent of the holy spirit. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit who is in you whom you have received of God?… therefore honour God with your body”.  That is pretty strong stuff I think.

I think the best sort of tonic for depression or stress is a good conversation with someone who cares for you and the benefits of this compared with the effect of alcohol, often consumed in lonely circumstances, causes alcohol to be seen as the charlatan it is. I do admit that alcohol tends to stultifying our powers of reason so in the long-term, moderation or abstinence is probably a good ploy. Anyway, I better stop this Trainer sought before I hang myself.

There were 40 of us in the church of which 32 were congregants, and after some mild misgivings I decided to go up with the rest to receive communion which to remind the non-Christians among my readers consists of taking a wafer which tastes very much like plastic, symbolic of the body of Christ and then some wine, often fruit juice or very weak wine symbolising the blood of Christ. This is a bonding mechanism, or a  blessing shall we say, to remind us that we are part of the body of Christ. Catholics would say that it is a sacrament and becomes with the blessing of the priest the actual blood and body of Jesus. This is possibly going a bit far.

After the service I announced to Guy, the vicar, that I was intending to become a part of the congregation. I also offered my services to read the Gospel partly because the lady who read it currently had difficulty in reading and did not appear to have read the piece beforehand to familiarise herself with it. Please see my diary of yesterday to see further comments on delivery of the written word. She also, bless her, had some difficulty anyway and was unfamiliar with the word grim and said “grime” instead. Only a pedant like me would notice things like that enough to comment; I’m sure no one else noticed.

We had a merry time in  room at the back of the church complete with its own toilet, a serving table and seats which serve as a social area where tea and coffee and on this occasion chocolate rolls were on offer.  Lingering in the pews was a lady called Caroline who was a priest and evidently was due to leave the area to go to Westbury where she had a remix of service to younger people. I immediately detected that she was a ‘people person’ and I did my little campaign about the importance of listening, which I don’t think she needed to hear  because she was a natural listener.

Nevertheless, I don’t think it does any harm to remind people and indeed myself the benefits of just shutting up and letting people speak. Sometimes I find that if I have a problem the only way I can figure out what it is to articulate it and in the process of so doing my mind can work creatively and I see what I’m talking about. I have always said that we have 95% of useful information unprocessed, sitting around in files, and the stimulus of having to say something draws it all together. The brain after all is the ultimate relational database.

Anyway, back to Caroline.  The husband works in Bath so as Westbury is on the train line he will still be able to continue to work for that firm but they have kindly offered to let him work from home on one or two days which in some measure shows the respect in which he is held. There was no question however that he was the more introvert of the two, a more thoughtful and possibly more introspective version and she was the one who bounced around introducing herself to people.  I thought it was a rather nice mix actually.

I returned to Caroline with my cup of coffee to congratulate her in advance that I was strongly convinced that her work would go well, commenting that the area was very friendly and she would make lots of useful contacts, and instead of having a plan, just go there and listen and they will love her for it.

This is our main alternative cinema in Bath. The main one in the area is the Watershed in Bristol, a subsidised affair I think because the prices are lower, but this is the nearest

I’m very happy to report that Guy, the aforementioned vicar, is a film buff. My wife and I would have gone to see ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’, which has been well spoken of, yesterday evening but we had finished all we had to do at four o’clock.

The idea of hanging around for over two hours in the rain until the movie started at 6:30 PM was too much so we will catch it possibly this Wednesday.

As we approached the bus station, we mourned the closing of Jimmy’s, the wonderful buffet restaurant that we have used so often. Evidently they owed £114,000 in business rates to the local authority.

My writing course – diary part 2

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It is nice to walk into this particular workshop on a cold morning because there is a real living wood fire to welcome you, comfortable seating and a view over the valley in which Bath is situated. Today, the view was mainly of mist but a very high quality mist because it’s Bath.

This was a private workshop so for reasons of confidentiality I cannot name names and so I will mainly focus on telling you what I wrote and what I got out of it. There were eight of us altogether sat round a large table and this is absolutely right for me. I find that up to about 10 people you have a cohesive unit. Above this level, the dynamics change and the psychology becomes more like that of a crowd. I find myself slipping into the background whereas I can relate to a small group where everyone has a go at reading their work. It has the family feel.

The theme of today’s workshop was “Home”. We were invited to give our memories. I related a time in my early life when I lived in a garret or attic with four other people. One was an encyclopaedia salesman, one was a fence erector called Hammer and another one a bon viveur who insisted on bringing his girlfriend back from time to time and locking the door of a bedroom. I had to learn the hard way to live in intimate circumstances and one thing I soon came to realise was that I did not like it one little bit.

We eventually all drifted apart in our various ways without resentment but I always remember being the one left to do the washing up in the morning and contemplating an impossibly small sink containing mountains of takeaway food remnants and dirty plates. All I had to heat the water was a gas ascot which proved temperamental at the best of times. Needless to say, the flat had no central heating. The front door had been kicked in more than once by someone who forgot their keys and returned home late and drunk.

Others at the workshop recall that living on their own for the first time gave them a sense of freedom which they had not experienced before; another person who had been in the same home for 40 years watched an oak tree in their garden grow and grow by the year.

We discussed what it meant to have a home. I commented that the really advanced souls carry their home around with them rather like a tortoise carries its shell. I reported that when I stay in a hotel I do not feel at home until I have laid out all my toiletries and clothes in a certain order. Other people had very strong memories when children had fruit trees in their garden producing an accompanying sense of privacy and innocence which allowed them to let their imagination run free in a private almost a secret place.

We were then asked to say a number of words that we associated with home. I being me decided to rebel, as I normally do, and did a word association exercise which I eventually realised made up an ideal verbal test for a budding actor who has to get into the spirit of every word. To read the following meaningfully is actually quite difficult because you have to live the part, several parts actually, mainly consisting of one word. Every word is important and must be given the space due to it with the right tone of voice.

Try it sometime.

Here was my list:

HOME  homely > homeo> homeostasis >  stasis > jump > shock > trauma > need for security > aloneness > black sheep > misunderstood > withdrawal > more stasis > sleep > dreams > nightmares > another day cycling to school > alienation. * stasis = a period or state of inactivity or equilibrium.

I realise that this pretty much summed up my teenage years. I made no particular effort with this exercise and just let the images and feelings roll on one by one. I think this is the best way of preventing the left brain from interfering with its so-called rational thought which is actually a big handicap on most occasions.

We discussed many techniques and technicalities of writing and declaiming including the difficulty of proofreading something you have written; the need to rehearse what you’re going to read beforehand and get in the part; the need to pause between paragraphs when there is a new theme; in general the need to avoid reading whatever the material is in a mechanical way like reading a shopping list. In other words to read with the heart.

We did not discuss whether you should stand or sit if declaiming anything, the use of the breath and the importance of preparation. I have always been told that declaiming or singing should start at the bottom of the stomach or as a lady friend of mine so tactfully said ‘you sing from your fanny upwards’.

We were then asked to write a story about an imaginary house, its occupants, what they did, the comings and goings, and who visited. When my turn came to read, I told everyone that I was able to write only a short story in the time allowed  because if I wrote fast I cannot read my writing.

Here is my effort:

There were two of us. We had been introduced only minutes before. Our home room was bathed in a dark, almost metallic blue. It was completely silent. We could even hear our hearts beat. We stared into the distance, sightlessly.
Outside there were no features save a myriad of stars.  They did not twinkle as there was no atmosphere which produces turbulence rather like the mirages on the road on a hot day.
Ten years, we were told on the telescreen, 10 years of just being, of existing, in an environment where nothing changes. Character training, they told us. I turned towards my companion. The radio chips that had been implanted in our necks allowed us some freedom but reptilian thoughts, anything resembling rebellion, was not permitted.
Our thought circuits have been enhanced and amplified. Because of this, our thought is simultaneous. We act as one yet we are separate. After the initial phrase we will forget what “time” is and go into long-term hibernation.

I wanted the audience to do the work. I wanted to figure out gradually that we are not talking about normal people on planet Earth but people elsewhere on some unknown mission where they clearly did not know what was going to happen to them and were almost deceived into being in the situation that they were. This is dystopian indeed. I think there is a very valuable role of science-fiction which is to make people think and be less complacent about the conditions under which they live noting that robotisation and trans-humanism is already being spoken about more and more.

The workshop is always three hours from 10 AM to 1 PM. The time flies because we are working all the time and we enjoy each other’s company. There is quite a lot of banter and teasing but all done in a good spirit. I’m the only male person but being with a lot of women together doesn’t bother me at all but I must say if I had a real choice there would be another man there. For some reason creative writing appeals more to women. I have absolutely no idea why and frankly I don’t care so long as I get on with them. They can be old, young, of a certain age, male, female, trans etc. and you either get on with them or you don’t.

 

A rainy day in Bath – diary part 1

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I rose early this morning to get to my writing group and battled through a succession of fog, mist and rain to the park and ride in my trusty Volvo. I was feeling thoroughly positive so the inclement weather did not bother me one little bit. I like to carry my own little bubble of positivity around with me and normally I manage this quite well. Early in the morning, the only people to be seen were mysterious single men looking straight ahead walking to some mission or other and joggers in their bright translucent suits doing their morning jog. I can think of no better way of damaging my knee cartilages than by going clonk clonk clonk on a pavement.

Before I move on to part two, the writing workshop, I enclose a few pictures from a dismal day in Bath.

King of all they survey
blame the foxes
there are many beautiful Georgian buildings in Bath worth a visit for that alone
an interesting community scheme, though difficult to evaluate it at this time of year
this is a converted telephone cable box
another little community scheme, facing on to a side street
aware and up-to-date people. Ctrl and + to read
very lovely photography here
yet another community scheme to brighten up a derelict area Ctrl and + to read
this must be a microclimate to have flowers in full bloom in the middle of January

So you see, however dreadful the weather, there are always points of interest. That is Bath for you. If you have never visited before may I give you a word of advice; you will never escape the hordes of tourists but try and come out of season if you can. July and August are hopelessly overcrowded. This is important because the centre of Bath is very small and sometimes there are so many tourists it is physically impossible or at least difficult to walk freely.

The next part of my diary will talk about my writing class.

How much money is enough?

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I read an interesting article in the press today about David and Victoria Beckham which I will quote in full. ” David and Victoria Beckham are worth a combined £339 million, yet David suggests that the couple are on an economy drive these days. The footballer tells the Evening Standard magazine “we used to be very extravagant in what we would buy for each other but we are obviously saving the pennies now because we have too many children to be extravagant“.
It’s an unconvincing argument, however, because the Beckhams clearly still enjoy drinking lavish bottles of wine on nights out. The couple have been flashing the maples bottles of Screaming Eagle at £2750 and chateaux Margaux Grand Vin, 1995 for £716 on their Instagram accounts. David says he is relieved that his wife’s tastes have improved. He adds: “she went through a stage of drinking a nice Blue Nun and a little bit of Lambrusco, but now it’s changed”.

To say that I was slightly taken aback would be an understatement. I remember George Clooney planning to live in London and noticing how the price of Day Travelcards had increased. The day he condescends to travel on the tube will be when I eat my proverbial hat.

I do wonder if people like the Beckhams or indeed any rich couple are slightly paranoid. Of course you can trust people, relatively speaking, that are in your trade namely footballing or fashion and you have known for a long time. But how do you deal with or what attitude do you have to a person who you do not know who approaches you, apparently pleasant enough, with a business proposition. Is it you they want to get to know or your money?

If famous people go anywhere in public, they will be spotted and asked for the inevitable selfie. Since David is known worldwide not to mention his wife, privacy is impossible except if you go on a desert island all to yourself. David Beckham is known for being polite and for this I do admire him. He could tell people to get lost but his neighbours say that he is polite and considerate of them and would not want to upset them in any way.

Having said all this, are they still concerned that their money pot will be insufficient? You can’t take it when you go. It would be easy to dismiss this as reliance on materialism and yet I would have thought that David is well beyond this. In a way you are at the mercy of the press who will say anything they like about your relationships all your lifestyle and if you defend yourself it looks like there’s something to the rumour or accusation. It must not be particularly easy for the children to be asked all sorts of questions about their famous dad.

Clay Cockrell, founder/director of Walk and Talk therapy, in Central Park, New York.

Does David feel embarrassed about being in the top 1% of the world’s population financial wise? Does he ever feel guilty about what he has accumulated? Are such people able to find therapists skilled in the art of advising the super rich? I wonder if there is a bond between the super rich themselves or whether there is a competitive element which precludes this.

To answer the original question of this article, no money is enough if you are paranoid, lonely, afraid of being kidnapped, afraid of being burgled, and afraid of not being able to make contact with people through things in common. For example, the everyday person in the street would probably have financial concerns of one sort or another and there’s no way such people would share their woes with a person perceived to be rich since it might be considered a form of begging.

I think the concern about money is nothing to do with money as such but the fragility and vulnerability of the lifestyle . If you are depressed, how many people will be sympathetic to you? if I had a lot of money I would go around in disguise so to speak and engage people with them on their level where they are, and find people whose interests you have in common. I do know that in USA, people are very much more relaxed about how much money you’ve got and in a way they don’t care. People who are stars in this country and would get mobbed here like to escape to America because no one recognises them or if they do, are not particularly interested.

So, really, everyone needs therapy of some sort. If you’re poor and need to go to the citizens advice bureau, if you’re rich need wealth therapy. I can only wonder how people who have suddenly become wealthy through for example winning the lotto manage their lives. I know that a lot of them crash and burn due to immaturity. I know many of them lose their relationships. However, there are glorious exceptions. I read about a couple in Scotland who won £150 million and they did it properly by forming a trust which was philanthropic in nature.  If I was fortunate enough to to win money I would give myself a salary, so much a year, stick to my faithful old Volvo, and give to good causes to somehow stem the tide of increasing materialism and decreasing community spirit.

I say that easily but things might turn out entirely differently. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say “this won’t change my life” but come on, it must do. I like family minded winners who say they’re going to divide their lotto winnings equally between their family and make sure everybody is all right.

Viv Nicholson

We can remember the earliest winner of note Viv Nicholson, a Yorkshire housewife, who in 1961 won £152,319 in the football pools. Her motto was “spend spend spend”. A rags to riches to rags again story takes us through five husbands, expensive sport cars, fur coats, and jewellery plus a battle with alcohol and then bankruptcy.

….Fun while it lasted then.

May be, the answer to any insecurity would be to squirrel away your assets in safe places and not be greedy for that extra few percent but also to become a philanthropist and have a planned system of giving, bringing happiness to others. You could leave the world a better place when you left it there when you arrived. Finally, if you realise that we’re not a physical body and our spirit would live on eternally that would be a luxurious belief indeed.

Now that would be a result.

Further thoughts on loneliness

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I was reminded again on the subject of loneliness by the “Thought for the Day” on the Radio Four TODAY programme and I thought it was worth a little bit more examination. I have done about 30 years of counselling on and off. I can slightly laugh at myself by saying I can give good advice to others but cannot give such advice to myself. As a general observation, I think we all know more than we realise consciously. It all goes in to our heads somewhere and only when something is demanded of us can we rise to the occasion.

There are three states that I would like to discuss. Being alone, being lonely, being alienated. These are three different mindsets that I suggest need treating in three different ways.

Alone.   First of all, some people love being alone. It is a physically descriptive statement of your condition for example there is no one else present. There is no comment about inadequacy, lack, misery any other quality that you can think it is just a statement. Very often, it’s the way a particular person has always been. It’s the way they like it, the way they can be most creative. I saw a film of a chap who lives on his own close to a lake in Canada and spends his time carving wood and fishing, selling the results to the odd passerby. His wife died a few years ago and he discovers now he is quite happy on his own. This does not apply so much to children who have been left alone and of course the film “Home Alone” is the prime example. I’m talking about adults not vulnerable people where and when entirely different set of implications applies.

Alienation. I am going to cover this one second because I think it is often mistaken for loneliness.  Karl Marx described alienation as “an ends enstrangement of people from aspects of their essence, sometimes as a consequence of living in a society of stratified social classes”. In other words, if you are an artist and you are required to coexist with people who are computer programmers or electricians, you will feel alienated. If you have a particular spiritual belief that you would like to share and everyone else is atheistic you will feel alienated. It is really about the lack of people on your wavelength. Age does not come into it. A spiritual person is a spiritual person, and that spirit has no age.

We can speak about alienating someone by displaying a symptom or symptoms or behaviour patterns which are offensive to them. “He alienated me by his behaviour”. That sort of thing is in the minority but it must still be taken into consideration.

Loneliness – we can say that this is an unpleasant emotional response to being alone. It never feels good to be lonely. The feelgood chemicals can not fire off. The sufferer cannot escape by going sideways or by looking ahead to something better. The sufferer is in a cul-de-sac. Loneliness means that you haven’t found people that make you feel wanted, valued and important. It does not indicate permanency. I feel lonely in the bar, and a friend comes along and recognises me and we have a chat.  Because the mind wants to make up for what it doesn’t get by way of emotional and intellectual responses it plays its own games, which can include elements of self-pity and lack of purpose, even wanting to leave the planet (not recommended)

However, loneliness can happen within a relationship and that can be far worse. You can be physically close to someone and you don’t feel any resonance or sympathy with them. After a time, antipathy builds up. It almost makes it worse to be or have to be physically close to someone for example in bed with whom you have no empathy. Because you may be bound by the mortgage that you spent on a dwelling, this could be akin to a prison sentence.

People who are in a dysfunctional relationship sometimes remain in it although there is no longer any reason to do so and no love. This is because they are afraid that they will feel more lonely when they release themselves from the relationship becoming what we have called above “alone”. In my long experience, I can say that the opposite is true. The person in the unsuitable relationship has adapted themselves more than was good for them to the demands and the nature of the other person and now they find living on their own they can express themselves in their own way, go out, have fun and enjoy themselves.

There are other people who are lonely because of some physical disfigurement, great psychological damage suffered when they were young which they feel they cannot share, or some other mental or physical condition that prevents them from communicating with their fellow people. This is where the many agencies, many of them voluntary, should be sought out for help. There are others who have become single parents and because of the age of the children are not able to get out and about and meet other people. They then, quite understandably, feel lonely.

Last night, I watched a film about young people in South Korea and we were told that 50% of them between the ages of 20 and 30 have considered cosmetic surgery. These were people who both you and I would consider perfectly attractive but as we are not eastern people, some nuances will escape us. Apparently, eyes that are too narrow considered ugly. We were told that when you apply for a job in South Korea, you must include your photograph. I can see that the lack of cosmetic attractiveness, or even the perception of it, could indeed make people alienated, lonely, and alone. On the other hand, if you buy into the system without thinking about it I believe you deserve all you get. Where is the recognition of the human spirit?

I have noticed that some of the most cosmetically attractive people are the most insecure. They are always trying to compete with other people. And yet there are people that I will call ‘Plain Janes’ who are happy and contented and loved by their husbands and friends. I think it is a positive disadvantage to be attractive because you know people are fancying you and are leering at your breasts and so on. it must be degrading.  Intriguingly, the origin of the phrase ‘plain Jane’ may have arisen from the novel Jane Eyre, published in 1847, where the protagonist, Jane, is constantly referred to in the story as plain.

My overall observation is that people are far more critical of themselves that they need be. I respectfully suggest that trying to evaluate yourself from the point of view of how interesting you are or how attractive you are is a complete waste of time and energy. The person who takes a real interest in other people has the Queen, the King and the Ace of cards. The person who sees every other person they meet as an opportunity to encourage and get to know them will never be lonely.

Self-pity is a real pest and can be selfishness in disguise.

*****

There is another way round this whole thing and that is to get a pet. I was reminded of this this evening when we went to the Old Down Inn. There was a chap accompanied by a very bouncy cocker spaniel. He evidently comes in twice a day and has 2 pints at lunchtime and two points in the evening. It would appear that he lives alone because the dog sleeps on his bed every night. I think this is a wonderful compromise because if you have no human being to cuddle up to, an animal is capable of unconditional love like no human being. Not so sure about cats though.

Dogs have masters, cats have staff.

A minister for loneliness – Tracey Crouch

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Tracey Crouch MP

Finally, the government has formally acknowledged that loneliness is a problem which costs us dearly not only from the impoverishment of society viewpooint but also on consequential costs of depression in terms of hospital beds and so-called painkillers or antidepressants which let’s face it only makes us psychotic. <small rant> The list of side effects is a mile long. Let’s not go there. On the other hand, research has shown that hugging  is very effective at healing or shall we say lessening the effects of sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress, I’m not talking about notional robotic hugs but real heart-to-heart hugs. How can you be hugged by a pill? It is a very poor substitute.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, has been appointed Minister for Loneliness. I suspect that part of the driving force for this was the commission on loneliness catalysed by the death by murder of Jo Cox. The report which I will not repeat here, click on the link,  is a very finely gauged estimation of what people will actually read. Reports are normally regarded as boring but no one can say this in this case with Jo’s report. The layout, the fresh air (perhaps a bit too much), the design, as well as the content, is exemplary. It has been put together with great dedication and love. Some of the diagrams are a little bit ambitious but clearly somewhere behind-the-scenes someone is asking us to take the vision of what causes what.  You really have to work at the one shown here. I don’t find it entirely clear and perhaps it is my poor old brain or perhaps an attempt to introduce too many elements into one diagram but the whole report is certainly worth a read.

Way back in the 70s, I started a social organisation London Village ( not the London Village Ltd which met under the arches at Charing Cross) but one that I ran from a small office in Fulham. The idea was that newcomers to London would use the meetings and the opportunities as an easier method for meeting people and feeling at home. In reality, it’s mostly as a re-starting point for those who had got divorced or finished a relationship. This was in the days before the Internet when computer databases had just got started ( anyone remember punch cards?) so if I had tried to start this type of face to face venture now now I wouldn’t have stood a chance.

London Village was a great success. At its peak, it had over 3 1/2 thousand members. Most of the meetings took place in people’s homes where there were parties and discussions and so on. Other meetings took place is in pubs and yet other meetings in public places such as art galleries and going for walks. This was the era before mobile phones when people actually spoke to each other. It is paradoxical that in this time of technological connectedness, there is more loneliness or appears to be than ever before. I think we will find an increase in depression among  teenagers when they discover too late that their brains have been rewired away from the human being and towards small shops of dopamine when something they write on their device is liked.

far too many people in this condition

Nowadays, it has never made me feel entirely comfortable that while eating my Christmas lunch in the company of others,I’m always aware somewhere that there are many people particularly older ones sitting on their own watching television and perhaps eating a heated up meal from the microwave. The point is it’s nobody’s fault. Is normally a combination of circumstances. For example: my spouse predeceases me and I feel lost without him or her, plus I had a bad fall recently so I can’t get around the way I used to plus the fact that my flat is damp and that makes me depressed and gives me a bad chest. The doctors pills do not help.

who has not felt like banging their head against a brick wall

I can understand why people feel stressed and indeed suicidal. We are told this morning that over 30,000 nurses left the NHS last year and as one of them was suggesting it’s not the work with the patients that is stressing it is the demands of management, being treated like an object, being undervalued, having an endless list of things to do with the result that the initial enthusiasm for making a difference fades out. It is paradoxical one can be surrounded by people in yet feel lonely.

I don’t want to go into a big discussion about what loneliness is, but a part of it is not having someone to talk to you and listen to you and respond to you. We are built to share, we are social animals, and if this channel is cut off we diminish as human beings. That is why solitary confinement is so cruel and dehumanising. It is possible to be lonely when surrounded by people who feel they are not on your wavelength in which case I would use the term ‘alienated’.

We can all make a start with this problem. As it says in the Jo Cox website ‘start a conversation’.  As regular readers of my diary will be aware, I make it a rule, when walking abroad, to speak to anyone with a pulse who gives out the slightest body signal of being an interactive human being. I do it at all times but particularly on occasions where people are under stress such as yesterday when I was in the RUH Bath eye clinic. There was a couple who were obviously a bit under stress. I made a joke, inane you might say, but it brought a smile to their face and I think if everyone did this, the atmosphere of our society would be better. If you walk down a high road where 80% people miserable, the atmosphere will not be very good. If you walk down the same high road with only 20% of people being miserable and so 80% of people being happy then the atmosphere will be very much better.

This does happen quite naturally on certain occasions when enthusiasts are drawn together through an interest in a certain subject. It also happens naturally in country areas by the way (plug for living in the country).  I cite the regular Christian/pagan events at Chalice Well in Glastonbury. Everyone is on the same wavelength and talks to each other without any problem. That is how society should be. We can all play a part, starting here and now, and you will be surprised what a difference it makes to your day. The difference it makes to the day of other people only the Good Lord knows but we can make an inspired guess. Positive?

Oh, if you want another take on this checkout Jim Corbett’s website video. The relevant bits starts at 11 min 12 seconds

*****

Real human beings – in the zone vs not in the zone

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I tend to turn on the TV when I get up whilst making my coffee. Nothing happens speech wise until I’ve had the precious liquid.  Coffee making is a ritual which I have performed for as long as I can remember. With the TV it’s a choice of BBC1 breakfast (Sky News is too much for me with the background military the music) or Transworld International which this morning was devoted to a sermon on giving money to God. I agree that tithing is good but this is something I didn’t want to listen to first thing in the morning. BBC was talking about late assessments for people with special needs and how most Local Authorities were missing their deadlines but then something came on that really caught my eye.

Stephen talking about what he loves doing

I only started to concentrate halfway through but there was this young man bouncing out of the screen at me, and I thought to myself “here is a non-programmed person” who turned out to be none other than Stephen Manderson AKA Professor Green, a rapper and documentary maker. I slowly came to realise that this man was free of restrictions, enormously enjoying living, and those eyes communicate like few others and it reminded me how so many people mortgage their real selves to take on some robotic role defending some position or another making themselves pretty boring in the process.

They say that the eyes are the windows of the soul and it is clear that the picture above is Stephen in his comfort zone. If you compare it with the picture below where he is being invaded without necessarily getting his permission then we have another picture entirely. I would say that Stephen feels alienated; the joy has gone out of his face. Defensive mode we could say.  I think we are all sensitive to context and it reminds me how important it is when seeing anyone on an important matter to choose the right place. If someone wants to talk about a private matter such as a relationship it would be unwise to choose a public place such as a pub where the noise levels are higher than you would only imagine until you actually start attempting to talk privately.

Dolores singing from the heart

Back to image again, I wonder how many of us know the people in the public eye. Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the Cranberries, left this life on 15 January 2018, much  lamented by her friends and admirers including the President of Ireland Michael Higgins.  I love the title of her debut album “Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we”. She was the youngest of seven children and produced three children of her own. The words of her songs are very much related to social projects, about being respected and valued and about being listened to. I must listen to the words of her songs with greater attention. 36,200,000 other people obviously did for that was the number of albums she sold.

a much less cosmetic picture

Here is another struggling human being, evidently prone to depression. I will take a guess that she was so busy that she did not have time to attend to her own matters and the divorce from her husband cannot have helped very much. It must have been difficult – being the richest woman in Ireland – to know to whom you can talk without the gossip spreading. Who do you trust? Everyone has their price, unfortunately.

*****

Anyway, it’s 09.54 in the morning and I haven’t even had breakfast never mind getting dressed so having started the day with a creative blast I must now get back to addressing more conventional matters. My monthly visit to the eye department is but one.

The decline of the English language

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No, this is not just a rant. It’s more like a lament (a passionate expression of grief or sorrow). Lament even has a book in the Old Testament named after it. Anyway, I digress.

About six years ago I was working in a garden in south London, near Bexley if I recall. A woman of colour was instructing me what she wanted. Every so often she said a word like “Jameen” That is the phonetic spelling as well as I can do it. At first, I thought it was a name of a friend but after a time I figured out what she was trying to say. It was an actual sentence. The original was ” do you know what I mean?”.  If you can speak the English language properly and have the slightest talent for communicating, you know that there is a 90% chance that the other person understands what you are saying. Why on earth do people insult the other person by speaking and then saying, “do you understand what I’ve been saying”

The second object of my anger are people who say, when being faced with any situation even slightly out of the ordinary, they parenthasize the phrase. “I’m like – you mean I have to do all this?”. It is a type of exaggerated reportage which involves emphasising your shock or horror or disgust or whatever.  We could try some real genuine English – even going to the extent of a full sentence containing subject, object, and verb and my goodness some prepositions and adverbs as well. I will now take a deep breath and give an example.       “You will not believe this, but when I was given the task I could scarcely imagine why it was given to me and not to someone else”. Unfortunately, this requires the listener concentrating for at least five seconds which these days is asking quite a lot.

The third object of my anger and possibly the most irritating is the use of “sort of”.  I honestly believe it’s part of the Political Correctness movement when you apologise for absolutely everything.
“Shall we sort of go out now”. Either we go out or do we not. Does sort of going out involve walking like a crab or going out a little bit, coming back and then going out again?
At a lecture by an architect – “Sort of 39 homes were built on this estate”. Are you telling me you are not sure? Does sort of 39 mean 41 or 37 or are you telling me just don’t know.
“I was sort of puzzled when he said this”. If you say I was puzzled we will understand. Are you saying that being sort of puzzled was actually  something different in which case why not find another word such as confused or do you mean that you were embarrassed about being puzzled or was it a small puzzlement hardly worth of attention.

In public, please be careful how you apologise for something. For example, someone is giving a lecture and they didn’t bother to check if the projector was working properly and they spent the first 5 min fiddling around. Please do not say, “sorry about that”. Instead, make sure the wretched thing is working then you won’t have to give this fake apology.

I was called one Saturday evening by someone who said “sorry I’m calling you on a Saturday evening”. I think it was one of the people who had a plot or wanted a plot on my allotment. I felt like telling her that if she was that sorry she wouldn’t have called. Straightaway she lost 10 brownie points and I dealt with her briefly  but politely.

I have complained before about the receptionist who says in response to my query, I will just double check something when she hasn’t even checked it in the first place and people who say ‘sorry excuse me’ when they bump into you. Here is one of my soundcloud audios if you want to hear the the full sordid tale. It will be painful to listen to, so if you are a compulsive apologise listen with caution.

When I hear the use of the word “just” in connection with price I never trust the person. People are trying to kid you that the item they are selling is good value. Just £50 Sir and if you are mug enough to pay that money you are mug enough to do anything. We are selling these at just £20 for three items (because we want to get rid of them and they’re not selling). You will never get a Rolls-Royce salesman saying something like that. This is a cheap and nasty trick.

George Orwell talked about newspeak where all descriptive and rich overtones of the English language were to be destroyed or marginalised. This is happening all too quickly. One of these days when I have a lot of energy I will talk about the dreadful effect of Political Correctness on the minds of students the so-called leaders of tomorrow we are robbing all the ability to think. Long live Frank Furedi, one of the few college professors who has the courage to speak out against what is going on. If you want a real tonic, go to Amazon and order some of his books.

I think the use of the F word is another abuse of the language. Another psychic friend of mine told me that the vibration of the word is chaotic. In other words you can degrade your vibration and your ability to think at a higher level by the use of certain words. If you want the alternative to the F word here are some prime examples: dreadful, huge, appalling, humongous, out of this world, staggering, extremely – you get the idea?

I am also intensely irritated by false familiarity in greeting particularly via e-mail or social media. I get spam messages, complete strangers saying ‘hi Brian’ or even worse ‘hey’. It’s a bit like someone trying to attract my attention in the street and really puts my back up. On the other hand, good morning or good afternoon is a bit formal and I find myself saying to people particularly young people ” what’s going on” or ” what’s up” or ” how you doing?” I find this appellation to be moderate and nonoffensive. Excuse me is acceptable provided your tone of voice goes with it. Even say a dozen different things by this brief two word call for attention. You group or stick with the traditional “dear Brian, or dear reader”

It is a mistake to answer the question “how are you” by giving a detailed commentary on your life: physical, mental and emotional not to mention spiritual. I would only do so with someone who I knew genuinely cared about me and even then I would pick and choose. Most people use this as a meaningless pleasantry. I noticed first when I went to the United States. I have been there 41 times believe it or not mostly in the 70s and 80s. People in response to a query would inevitably say that they are “fine”. You have to listen to the way they use that word. It could mean one step away from death in which case they would say “fairly fine”. Your job is to say mindlessly “I’m fine”

The distinction between describing ourselves as well, or good is another area of degradation. ‘Well’ is basically about functionality and ‘good’ is a moral evaluation as in “he’s a good person”. When people say with a grin “I am good” that tells me they are fairly brainless and lazy. How is that for chauvinism. I didn’t get where I am today without being a chauvinist but at least it is more controlled and done with a sense of humour and if people mind then they need to deal with it.

People being offended by something will be the subject of another chapter. It is almost impossible to open your mouth on anything without being accused of giving offense. All I can say is, there are a lot of babies around. If you have muscular or robust speech you will wake people up; lazy and asleep people will take offense. As in the paragraph above I would say “deal with it”.

One of the best videos I have ever seen on self-discipline is by Bob Newhart who performed before most of my readers were born but it is absolutely first class relating to any form of counselling and bad habits. People these days have excuses that everything. For example, I am antisocial because my mother did not love me enough or dropped me on my head when I was two. If you know it then you have the power to stop it.

Why not enjoy this amazing video by a genuis.

 

 

 

My first church service for years – the baptism of Casey John

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Well, this was indeed a special morning. I have been half-halfheartedly looking around for years for a church which I can actually relate to. I need a decent standard of preaching, not too long or pompous , an informal atmosphere and above all not conventional and – for the cream on the cake – a tad eccentric.

I’m glad to say that at this early stage I seem to have found the place for me. Today’s service was different, it was a baptism but more of that anon. The vicar, Guy Edwards, has a natural informal style and he explained the service as he went along and tried to demystify it as far as he could. There is no way that he tries to convey holiness which is a great relief nor does he try to dominate the proceedings with a military style or false distancing. He started off by giving notices including a local event, a version of Ready Steady Cook which was going to happen on 9 February and which was promised to be a lot of fun.

I was quite happy just to stroll into the church on my own not knowing a single soul but I don’t know how I would have felt if my father had not been a vicar and how for a number years I did attend church. When I entered I was warmly greeted by George the sides man who saw fit to apologise for the lack of heating although the heating had been on since 7 AM whereupon I commented that the heating rises. He joked that the only beneficiaries were the spiders.

Before the service, the congregation was very chatty. There was a group of four ladies at the back who continued chatting until the choir and vicar were established in their seats in the chancel. We had the usual assembly of hymns and prayers but curiously the gospel was read by a lady in the congregation who delivered the holy words from a normal sitting position. There was none of this business of standing and facing the front which is phenomenon I am used to  of old.   In retrospect, I find this rather distancing and belittling of myself as a person in whom the spirit of God dwells as it does with everybody.

Proud parents Adam and Holly with a very secure and observant Casey

And so we come to the baptism of Casey John, the son of Adam and Holly. The bouncing boy made his presence known by whimpering and making expressions of noise at certain times. There was no element of anxiety in his crying and it was quite clear to me that his mother Holly was a very good mum. She seems caring without being smothering and I feel the child was look forward to and loved. The father is just plain proud. The baptism service itself is interesting. A lot of people are involved including the parents and the godparents (the names of the latter I’ve not been communicated to the vicar or perhaps they had and he had forgotten). It made no difference but the point I’m trying to make is that the parents and godparents had to stand in front of everyone and promise to care for the child and help it to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s church. They had to respond by saying “with the help of God we will”.

I was writing yesterday about being put on the spot and today’s experiences was a case in point. Further to the above, they had to undertake to reject the devil and all rebellion against God, to renounce the deceit and corruption of evil, to repent of the sins that separates us from God and neighbour, to turn to Christ as saviour, to submit to Christ as Lord and to come to Christ the way the truth and the life. They had to respond to everyone in the congregation in the affirmative. If that isn’t putting someone on the spot I don’t know what is but they rose to the occasion.

It was a good and brief sermon talking about the importance of names. I know that what is meant for me will jump out and Guy talked about Christianity helping you to be the best you can be. There is something very self-respecting about this sentiment and I will take it away and adopt it as you see from the fact that I’m writing it down now.

As regards the couple in general, sometimes you look at people and you know they are going to be good parents probably because they already are. I further felt that the father, Adam, was an independent and a rock-like figure who will be reliable and faithful.

The service ended about 10 minutes to the hour with an informal blessing and I chatted to a few people at the tea and coffee servery that was at the back of the church. The organist by the name of Kevin Kevin was talking to me about the need to raise £30,000 to clean and renew the organ but was saying that it is difficult to find fundraising agencies that give money for organ repair. I commented that the subject matter was not very sexy and glamorous so hopefully the money will be found. They have until 2025 to get it so I think they will achieve their target.

So will I return? Most definitely. As my readers know, I’m what is called a body psychic and I can detect thoughts and atmospheres by a reaction in my body and the high point of the event was the joining with the audience to support the parents and godparents in their efforts to bring up the child.

Next week, there is a service where three churches combined, it’s called a Joint Covenant Service and it starts at 10 o’clock so I must set my alarm to be in good time. They do tea and coffee every Tuesday morning as you see from the sign so I might pop along there if I feel like it.

*****

Nine-Year-Old Yogamaatha went to a “third eye awakening” course in India and is now demonstrating the unique ability to see with her third eye. With her eyes covered by three blindfolds, she claims to be able to read pieces of paper and play games as though her eyes

So I do wonder what the average Church of England person would think about this young lady who can demonstrably ‘read’ without using her physical eyes. Would they feel threatened or ignore it? I am wide open to both these people and Jesus who must have been the most psychic person on the planet. I am a total fan of Jesus and believe he has the answer to the mess we are in.

Being put on the spot – Soundcloud

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I have limited reserves of energy this evening as I have just discovered and been watching Arte.TV, a free and on- demand cultural TV station run by two European countries. Alas it is not on Sky. I am totally amazed by the quality of the programming which makes British TV, even BBC4, superficial in comparison. As if I haven’t got enough to do what with unread books and articles,  articles to write, a huge stack of TV programmes to watch on Catch Up, here comes another demand on my time. If I had to work full time we just give up.

I had almost forgotten, but I used to be a regular contributor to Soundcloud.com and for some reason stopped about three years ago. Over the last seven days I’ve had 358 listeners to my words of philosophy. To my further delight and amazement I find that I’ve had over 275,000 visits and 44,000 followers. I put up pithy three-minute thoughts on various common problems, rather like Thought for the Day on radio four BBC. I am not even sure that they still do it. The BBC have an anti-Christian bias as they are so frightened of upsetting Muslims. Pathetic and cowardly you might say and I would agree. Anyway if you want to have a listen, here is my soundcloud channel.

At my Men’s group this morning the question was discussed, is it right to put people on the spot. We are so hopelessly Politically Correct these days that we are averse to putting anyone on the spot except if it is a complaint to a travel company for a service we have not received. Putting people on the spot could be one of the most valuable things we could do because most of us are rather complacent and even lazy and if we are forced to take a stance or think about something that we don’t normally do that could give us a valuable lesson. I like the illustration from the Collins Directory “He put me on the spot a bit because he invited me right in front of his mum and I didn’t particularly want to go. Even clever people are not terribly clever when put on the spot.”

A pointed question  may well make people embarrassed but if the matter is legitimate then why not? We are not babies. The people that you are speaking to know that you have respect for them and are generally polite. We are not snowflakes at University who ban debates on the grounds that people might be hurt. What a dreadful preparation for life in the real world.

Tomorrow, I look forward to going to church, an actual church service, which I haven’t done for a few years, and then we go to lunch with a dear friend from South Africa.

 

Biggest time wasters in the world – part one

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I wrote yesterday about how I filled my day when I had no obligations. Today is similar save a visit to buy some glass for the front of my stove. I think it cracked because I allowed a log to rest against the glass and it was too much.

I read the rather sad story about the YouTube pop Idol Logan Paul who has been banned from monetizing his sites because he featured a place that was popular amongst people committing suicide. It was in China somewhere or was it Japan but it was in rather bad taste, a bit like making a film about Bristol suspension bridge suicides or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (the most notorious place in the world for this activity).

*****

Off we go to Shepton Mallet. First stop, to pick up the frontal glass for my living room stove. This is a store absolutely full of stoves of numerous types as well as outdoor bubble baths of varying degrees of sophistication. The salesperson was helpful enough and gave me what I required. However, the guy whose shop it was barely glanced at me being much more interested in exchanging gossip then looking at the customers. I can say there was no eye contact apart from the moment when I came in. The basic mistake he made was to assume I was limited by the £19 I spent on the glass. For all he knew, I was about to buy another model, upgrade, and the determining factor is whether I as the customer have enough confidence in the interest and enthusiasm of the person who might do further business with me , bearing in mind it’s a few thousand pounds. Surely that possibility is worth a smile?

I should not have to say this but when you are involved in sales whatever it is, Fish and chips or Lamborghinis, you should take an interest in absolutely everybody who walks through the door because although they may spend a trifling sum, they may have a friend who will be quite glad to spend more. People gossip. You cannot tell from the way that customers dress or talk how much money they have got. If you are so grumpy that you cannot bring yourself to look at the customers naturally then find another profession which is not customer facing, a backroom job perhaps.

*****

a newly discovered gem called the Mad Hatter. I will ignore the possessive apostrophe

On to Shepton Mallet High Street which was at one time the main road between London and Exeter. We were looking for a place to have lunch but did not find anything to our liking. However, we were about to pass a cafe which I have done about 30 times. I’m a great believer in traditional cafes where the chef is probably the owner and takes a personal interest in his customers. We stepped in with some caution.  However, the cafe, the Madhatter, ideally suited our needs. I had cod, peas and chips for £4 and my partner had a quiche with salad for £3.40 . I had a fruit crumble for £2.40  including custard. Together with 2 cups of tea, the bill was less than £10.

I took the trouble to complement all the staff including the chef saying how much I enjoyed the visit. While we were eating, people who were obviously regulars came in and out and were warmly greeted. This makes a pleasant atmosphere completely lacking in the modern franchise places where people are working for an impersonal organisation for the minimum wage, relying on tips.

*****

very interesting erosion effect of wind and rain on some north facing brickwork

We went to Aldi to buy some bubbly for a luncheon party the following Sunday. A man waiting in the checkout line was very chatty and asked me if I’d had a good Christmas. I responded in the affirmative and he started telling me about his attempt at stock exchange dealings and recommendations. He is an adviser to a company and he had recommended they put £2 million in a particular company having figured out that it would appreciate by 10%. Two days later it did. The company however did not take his advice. I realised this man was a genius and all he required was a few million of capital to make himself and the investors a few more million. This reinforces my point that you never know who you are going to meet, when and where.

*****

And now to the main point of my story today which is about time wasting activities.  In a way, I don’t think we can truly waste time. If we are waiting for a train, we can pace up and down the platform or sit still and meditate so it’s not what the body does it’s mainly what the mind is doing that determines the’ waste’ element.  So far as the spirit is concerned, at the the two-dimensional levels time does not exist. There are philosophies that say that we live our past present and future at the same time and our actions are but a symptom of the whole.  So, I would rather call it the misappropriation of time.

In case some of you have been living on another planet, or who are technophobes, YouTube analyses everything you watch and presents choices based on your previous preferences. When you see “recommended for you” you know that the algorithms have been up to their tricks again. It should go without saying that the idea is to make money by getting you to click on certain sites which are monetised. They are not doing it because they love you but because they want to make money, fractions of a penny at a time. They see the YouTube videos as lots of little cash machines being converted into profit which they squirrel away in some tax haven or another.

*****

it started innocently enough when I clicked on the video recommended by one of my regular newsletters, www.forbiddenknowledge.com to watch a brief film on “The age of Graphene: Samsung’s revolutionary battery technology“. This metal is an amazing game changing substance, only atoms thick, stronger than steel, a substance that can be incorporated into mobile phone battery chargers which can make the charging 15 times more efficient. Now, here is a potential addiction that puts alcoholism into the shade. As I watch more and more videos, the algorithms get better and better at working out what I would like to see.

On the right-hand side of the screen ,I have the choice of the following videos “what is 5G? And how 5G will change the world”, secondly, “if you like railroad dramas this is for you”. Thirdly, “place two nails beside your plants and see what happens”. Fourthly, having detected my interest in machines, we have a video entitled “amazing and powerful machines – modern technology”.  The Powers That Be know that the likelihood is that I’m going to click on at least one and this is where they make their fractions of a penny on my click, the majority going to them the advertiser or filmmaker and some going to the originator of the video itself.

I felt like watching large and powerful machines and so I clicked on the ‘amazing powerful machines’ video. before watching the video I have to suffer an advertisement about ‘grammarly’, which is a grammar and syntax correction item of software that I signed up to about six months ago and resigned from shortly after but ‘they’ have not forgotten.  It is a wretched piece of software because everything that you type keystroke by keystroke goes up to the cloud to be examined and it slows the whole computer down quite considerably unless you have ultra fast Internet speed and 8Gb of RAM.

If I want to get to the matter in hand, I have to skip the ad but I have to watch it for four seconds to be able to click the skip button effectively. The number of seconds you have to wait varies. Check it out next time.  Most are not accompanied by human voices to make sure that people from any country can derive benefit from it. Alternatively, a text version appears which can be adjusted according to which country a person is enquiring from.

As if that were not enough, while you watch, advertising bars appear towards the bottom of the the video ensuring that they have at least two sources of income. So you see, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The company is quite happy to allow people to put something on for ‘free’ knowing that they are the origins or the excuse for Clickbait, as it is cynically called in the trade. if you click on the top right-hand button called “autoplay” the videos will continue to be churned out video after video until you run out of time or interest, or until the world ends whichever is the longer.

Up next on the ever-changing list on the right, knowing my interest of gardening and my searches for gardening tools we have a video entitled “Tree Stump Removal” by no less a person than Pete B that has been viewed over 898,687 times. After a few seconds I get a little message box saying “try advertising on Google. Find out more and claim your £75 free credit”. It then gives an adwords website. So, they want to turn you from a member of the public who merely clicks on videos and ads to someone who makes videos for others to click on. This is called “viral marketing”. At the end of the video I’m invited to ‘like’ by clicking the thumbs up icon or subscribing, which means that similar videos will come up in my own personalised list more frequently.

With auto play on, the next video will roll and the moment it does, the preference list on the right hand side changes automatically. The next video is “monster stump removal in high speed”  Before I watched this one, I have to watch  an advert called “The Term Paper”which I can skip in four seconds. Amazingly, it is another advertisement for ‘Grammarly”. Perhaps they have noticed my writing efforts on Word Press and my consequent quite high ratings on Google and put two and two together and conclude that someone who writes could probably benefit from a little bit of help. Are you getting the idea now? This is one massive moneymaking machine albeit very entertaining and informative . This is the deal. You make a video with your own efforts. The company will monetise it if you want. They get most of the money, you get a little bit.

On the third screen another stump removal video starts but scrolling down on the right-hand list I get an advert saying “Recommended for you” which is a video about an iceberg explosion by Greg Snider whoever he is. How strange, I love looking at icebergs, floods, natural disasters and beloved Google has found another interest of little ol’ me so I better watch it I guess. While this is playing I get titles including “a super volcano waking up in the USA”, “amazing best massive icebergs ever caught”, and another recommended for you “funniest coincidences that will blow your mind” followed by “top 10 most massive landslides in the world”.

I don’t think I need to labour the point but you see how you can be enticed to watch hour after hour. Yes, it is entertaining once in a while but every day? That is a bit sad. Maybe I am a bit sad but on the other hand, Youtube would come in rather useful if I wanted to advertise my own services.

Ooops, they got me!!!!!

*****

I’m watching David Icke video called ” Internet giants and the psychological malignancy destroying human society”. This is pretty much going along with Mark Zuckerman, owner or Facebook who admits the deleterious effect of social media sites. David was talking about how his Facebook channel was taken off the air for seven days. Suddenly, someone phoned him up and said there had been ‘an error’ and it has since been restored. David is commenting on how few people have the power over so many and this is really a reflection of the way this world is run.

*****

David Bowie RIP 1947-2016

David Bowie appeared on the scene when I was at a very impressionable phase of my life. I love the soul/rock/dance style of “let’s dance” and of course Ziggy Stardust. What I didn’t know was that he was asked to stand in for the Elephant Man in a play in London. He performed the whole thing without make up to great effect. I miss him and Michael Jackson, Prince and all the other great creative people. Who is replacing them now?

*****

All day to do exactly as I like

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“Nature abhors a vacuum”. This well-known phrase was originally spoken by Aristotle.  This morning, with no particular worries on my mind, I could write my own ticket for what I did during the day. I was quite pleased by my ability to do things slower and more deliberately but at 10 o’clock my semi-somnambulance was jolted by a particular raison d’être. I had offered a young lady who was in emotional distress an appraisal of the situation. She said that she would be interested to hear what I have to say. I let my imagination roam free and wrote about 1000 words.

Many people have an excessively self critical state of mind and it seems to me that some of them find this comfortable in a strange sort of way. The lady concerned blamed herself for the inability of her son to trust anyone following a divorce. I tried to point out in my reply that it was partly the situation that damaged the child of which she was a part. She did not deliberately with malice aforethought do on to her son. Due to ignorance, lack of experience, and fear she did not manage the situation of her relationships as well she might have done. If we all went around beating ourselves up for what we had done then we wouldn’t have time or energy for anything else. The question is, did we learn from our experience.  I have a feeling that this lady is going to take a long time to stop blaming herself and learn to forgive herself for a situation which was a life changing but hopefully not life damaging in the long run anyway.

*****

“The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”
William Colby – Former CIA Director
“We’ll know our disinformation is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
William Colby – Former CIA Director
I have reached page 350 of David Icke’s latest book “Everything you need to know but have never been told”. His writing on the selective exclusions of so-called fake news material from Facebook was prescient because at the time of writing his own Facebook page has been excluded because of ‘unsuitable material and violation of conditions’. In other words, he’s saying things that the mainstream media do not wish to have in the consciousness of people who actually think. David Icke has more courage in his little finger than most people have their whole bodies and I do applaud his consistent effort over the last 25 years or so.
*****
I took a trip down to the allotment which as you may know I run as I’m chairman and secretary. It is satisfying to know that we have 100 % occupancy rate. I hope to build up a small waiting list so that I can have more leverage with people who do not maintain their plots. Today was a delightful day without rain but the plots are so soggy that you might as well try and dig wet concrete.
*****
I have had time to think about the feasibility of helping the organisation which I have mentioned yesterday and the day before which is a nationwide venture to do with the assisting people to raise the consciousness. I suppose it’s a sort of New Age thing. My conclusion today is that if there is more than a certain amount of chaos, division or rivalry you are just putting your head into a wasps nest and are more likely to get stung than anything else. I am willing to give good amounts of energy to an individual or a scheme but if I have to play politics at the same time, or take part in political games, then it is not worth it. Order out of Chaos is the moniker of the Freemasons and goodness knows who else as well. Order is one thing, but harmony is quite something else.  We could spend a happy hour discussing the difference between the two. On another track, we could say that chaos and music cannot coexist.
The problem with my profession as someone who attempts to give advice is that people come to me for help mainly at an advanced stage in their condition or situation. They wait until every other avenue has been exhausted and then come along for professional help. I’m sure the legal profession find this as well. The later you come along to seek help from an adviser, the more complicated and urgent the affairs, and the more expensive in time and energy it is. I’m sure the lawyers do not mind.
From my personal point of view it should be a joy to give help and I don’t want to exhaust myself in the process. I’m glad from the selfish point of view that  I can pick and choose my clients unlike the General Practitioner or anyone working in Social Services who have to take what they are given.
*****
A pleasant evening at our gardening group making plans for the year and paying our annual subscriptions. We all sit around in a little room in the pub, we will talk so much that we can scarcely hear what the other people are saying and we always order a splendid plate of sandwiches consumed enthusiastically by all. I have no idea what’s going to be planned but we will visit a variety of gardens as we normally do. Our active group is about 18 and in a way that’s the way I would like it to stay. Jesus had 12 Apostles –  chosen from his many disciples by the way. That must have been a hard choice for him to make. He must have known his destiny otherwise he would not have chosen Judas Iscariot.
*****
The frost makes amazing patterns on the windscreen of the car. The new floor mats I had bought from Lidl today do not fit and I must return them.

The world is not as we see it

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The sun shines, the sky is blue and it is the perfect winter day for walking. It is most certainly not the day for dystopian reflections. Do you remember all the fires a month or so ago in various parts of California? When I first saw clips, I thought it strange that the houses had been demolished by fire but around them, trees were unscorched. I’ve just been watching a video by the American website Forbidden Knowledge showing how high powered lasers giving a blue beam actually started the fires. These are lasers from space. Does that surprise you? Well it shouldn’t. We have a normal world as it is presented to us and then the behind-the-scenes world where things are entirely different. Have a look at this video if you want. It is only a few minutes long but seeing is believing you might say. You might like to look at agenda 21 which is the plan for a complete rezoning and depopulation of America – again only if you want to. There are only 171 million references on Google two agenda 21 so nothing much to worry about.

I spent a lot of time today listening to my favourite religious radio station. If I was a betting man, I would bet against the continuation of the human being on this planet.  I wish on a daily basis to lay out my treasure where my heart is which is in eternal values and if I don’t have time to fully express my creativity this time around and I need to come back in some other incarnation then that’s what I will do. These days, the age of 73 is not particularly significant and I find myself being quite willing to start a new venture. Part of me feels a teenager. I see people of my age hobbling around with a stick and near to death’s door. I do not identify myself with these people. Only the good Lord knows when our time has come but until that day I intend to be fully active.

I do not understand the word “retire”. I need to be doing something in order to justify my existence though I know this is bad theology. “to be or not to the, that is the question“. This was Shakespeare’s thought when his Hamlet character was thinking of committing suicide. I like to be active for example doing gardening for myself or for others and earning my daily crust this way. Each and every day I need new ideas to feed on. Without these ideas I feel that life is aimless. Ideas, or brain activity we can say is what keeps me going. Visualisation, imagination, rehearsals of speeches that I might make, things that I could do and making plans, are all necessary life components for me.

*****

A marathon 90 minute conversation with the new contact who is UK representative of a group of people trying to bring about peace and harmony. He seems to find my input or my wisdom helpful. I don’t see it as wisdom actually just me being me but if that helps then let’s do it. We discuss the tendency that human evolutionary groups have for attracting people who are very much in need, as well as those who really do want to make a good contribution to mankind. The vulnerable ones are those that need encouragement and support because one day they might become valuable contributors. You never know at what stage someone is from their behaviour. People can present badly but might have a heart of gold or they can be immaculately polite, well-dressed, well presented, and yet have a heart of stone.

What I do know is that everyone has a human being inside them wanting to get out and that gives me the incentive to do the work I do in small or large measure to encourage people to move onward and forward. Sometimes, when speaking to people, pictures come in to my mind which make no sense but they seem to make sense to the recipient so who am I to activate my left brain and stand in the way of what appears on reflection to be a reasonably efficient functioning intuitional source.

*****

Oh, and if you want another really way out example or examples of why I say the world is not what it seems, check this out.

The Universe’s balancing act

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Yesterday night manifested a quite horrendous committee meeting, the worst I have experienced in many years. The problem for those who want to hide things is that people are more sensitive than they realise. The speaker can express all the most pleasant and attractive sentiments under the sun and yet if there is an undercurrent of anger or fear or insecurity, this will stand out a mile. Thus it was with the unnamed individual who led the meeting last night. I needed a shower when I got home to get over the effect of the anger. Whose fault it was is not the point; the fact is that during the meeting I became viscerally more and more angry and from subtle insults and implications which were being delivered to individuals. I started out with 100% goodwill.

So guess what happens today. I go along to an event at a local church. Every Tuesday morning between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM they have a coffee morning to which anyone is invited. On entering, I was introduced to a group of men sitting down one end of the social area where coffee and cake is served.  There was the vicar, in mufti, talking to a number of other people about films. This was a down-to-earth, unpretentious, man-to-man chat as opposed to the pretentiousness and ridiculousness of the events the previous evening. I felt immediately at home and was indeed welcomed and introduced to the other people in the group. I introduced myself by talking about the diary that you are reading and said that I would certainly like to come to a service.

Apparently the baptism service which is held on the second Sunday of each month is slightly different from the normal run of services so I have decided to write a piece comparing the two. I found this simple meeting of coffee an enormously healing experience.  It reminded me of the phrase in the Bible “when two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them”. It does not say “when two or three are gathered together talking earnestly about Jesus….” It refers to the universality of the spirit of Jesus, or as some people would call it the Holy Spirit.

Since I arrived in Midsomer Norton five years ago, I have not found a church suitable for my needs and temperament and I’m encouraged to think that this could be part of the solution. I will definitely give it a go anyway.

A tongue in cheek look at religions

I was also introduced to a website called “Ship Of Fools” where people go around anonymously and give sermons a rating. It is a splendid ‘don’t take yourself too seriously’ site and I look forward to getting to know it more. “Ship of Fools was first launched in 1977 as a studenty print magazine, but sank in 1983 after ten issues. It was raised again on April Fool’s Day 1998 as a website, and quickly grew into an online community as well as a webzine.
“We’re here for people who prefer their religion disorganized,” says the Ship’s editor and designer, Simon Jenkins. “Our aim is to help Christians be self-critical and honest about the failings of Christianity, as we believe honesty can only strengthen faith.”
   
Well said that man.

*****

For lunch, and to celebrate the garden job, I went to my favorite high-class bakery, Bread and Beyond, in Chewton Mendip. They do not have a website but relevant Trip Advisor reviews are more than sufficient. Both of us had baked quiche and salad plus the yummiest cakes you would ever imagine. Good food satisfies without filling you up and this was certainly in this category. If anyone is driving this part of the world I suggest you put in BA3 4LJ to your trusty Sat Nav and enjoy a light lunch or cakes or tea. Bread and Beyond is on the A39. You can park right outside. I cannot recommend above 10 out of 10, so 10 will have to do for this place.

*****

A further good bit of news when we were invited unexpectedly to lunch with somebody next Sunday, and then the opening of a very interesting discussion with someone who runs an international peace organisation from South Africa. I was speaking with the UK representative and we were discussing how an organisation depending on essentially voluntary labour could proceed as a coherent whole without political and ego based separators. Many organisations are a mishmash of new and old and this applies both to the attitudes of the personnel involved, and the nature of the design of the various websites created by various people with different levels of expertise and staying power.

In general, we do not treat our organisers with the respect we should do. We expect them to work like pack animals without involving them in without keeping them up to date with what is going on. I once worked for a company that specialised in recording books for the Blind. They were very very cost conscious and although we were volunteers the compensations were pretty much zero. The decision was made from on high that for every hundred books the volunteer recorded they would actually get A FREE BOOK. bearing in mind that each book takes an average of 40 hours to record that offer is really an insult.

My wife who works for age UK is invited once a year to a so-called celebration lunch.The ‘preparation’ consisted of one of the juniors going along to supermarket and buying some mince pies, cakes, biscuits, small sausage rolls, a Christmas cake, cheap cordial and the like, unpacking them and putting them on a table with some plates Plastic glasses. My wife works every Monday without pay from 10 AM till 3 PM which I calculate makes 300 hours making allowances for holidays. If age UK had to pay the going rate or shall we say the minimum wage the compensation would be about £4000. The only time the managers turn up is to check that the rules are being adhered to. Volunteers need TLC just as much as anyone else. In Egypt’s we read that donkeys are worked until they drop. I think we can do better than that.

*****

Monty Python’s flying Circus – I MISS IT

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Wonderful surreal landscapes by Terry Gilliam

I can hardly believe that this truly inspired series came out in 1969, that’s nearly 50 years ago. I remember watching it when I was in a particularly anarchistic stage in my life and for reasons that I still do not fully  understand it made a deep impression on me. I remember every word, every picture, every nuance and every joke. The recall is for me in the same class as Basil and Manuel and Cy-bil in Fawlty Towers. Only 13 programs were ever made of the latter but I never tire of watching them. That was the golden age of the BBC when creativity was allowed to flow, before the age of micro management, consultants, bureaucracy and internal marketing.

Are they dated? Not in so far as they draw attention to our natures, our tendency to apologise, our occasional loss of temper, our desire to laugh at others. In a way, the Lumberjack Song is prescient on our attitudes today. How many people remember that this followed on from the famous Dead  parrot sketch where the salesman did not want to be an animal salesman but a Lumberjack. I love the way that one sketch integrates with the rest in an unexpected way.

John Cleese explaining that the parrot was dead
the salesman telling him that he only wanted to be a lumberjack
the famous Lumberjack Song. As it progresses you realise he confessed to being gay and wearing women’s clothes
the aptly named Carol Cleveland seducing a milkman into a room where there are many other milkman who have also been seduced
Germans being killed by the funniest joke in the world
the killer cat who saves people from the killer car, but at a price because the cat eats buildings
John cheese breaks into a lingerie shop that he thinks is a bank, and decides to compromise by buying a pair of pants
a re-enactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbour by Women’s Institute group
a film producer who objects to being called “Eddie baby” or “sweetie pie”
Mayhem caused when a customer complaints about a dirty fork
And now for something completely different

*****

So, our grand gardening job came to an end. I wanted our customer to come along the lane with us and see our handiwork but she was unable to walk more than a few steps but we managed to get her to come up her garden path from the wonderful listed building that she occupies; she was suitably impressed and thankful. I budgeted 50 man-hours for the job and it turned out to be 51. I would love to include the time taken going to and from but for most people the job starts when you arrive.

*****

This evening, I went to one of the most unpleasant and dis-harmonious committee meetings I have ever been to in my life, all the more so because it was supposed to be a Christian group. The chap who was running the group had more or less decided what he wanted to do and wanted us to rubberstamp it. When we refuse to do so, or queried him, he threw his toys out of the cot and said “okay, we won’t do the task then”. I roundly told him off, and said that he got angry too quickly, that he went on the defensive when he didn’t need to and I also said that if you want a corporation from people it was a much better ploy to ask them how they feel the group should go and then discuss various options rather than making plans unilaterally.

I told him point blank that he made me more and more angry and that he couldn’t listen to save his life. I then got up cringing grovelling response asking for a second chance and saying that he is on a learning curve. If a person of 50 years of age has to say that, I’m sorry, that’s unacceptable.

However, I will continue with this group because I enjoy the other men and their company. I offered to write articles for the local paper but my companionship with the so-called leader of the group or should I say dictator, is close to zero. I feel sorry for people who have to work for such people day in and day out. It must be a bit like being in prison. But at least I could get up and walk out. Anyway, I got a good lead  from one of the other attendees to an excellent vicar who has just been inducted to local church in Paulton, so the evening was not wasted.

I shall now have a shower and get rid of the horrible vibe I had to put up with for two hours, and then watch a grisly programme on BBC2 about surgeons’ operations.

 

 

Far more goes on in the country than you might think

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domestic step ladder in the distance, one of those folding up ladders in the foreground plus a huge tarpaulin that we use to drag branches from A to B. Much quicker than stuffing branches into a large bag. Tip : if you want to take a lot of branches to the recycle, cover the back of your car with a tarpaulin then at the destination you can pull the whole lot out in one go

So, here we are the three of us, working away on a lovely bright Sunday morning. I never work on Sundays save dire emergencies but for some reason it does not feel like Sunday. I think it is because I haven’t yet got back to the rhythm of Monday to Friday. In the far distance, a book about Donald Trump has excoriated him; he in his turn ridicules the book as nonsense. North America is suffering from -40° temperatures, Theresa May, our Prime Minister is going to reshuffle her Cabinet tomorrow, two planes touched each other on the tarmac at Toronto airport and one of them caught fire, we are about to lose the final cricket test in Sydney where the temperature is at 47°C. The weather in the UK will soon be subject to a northerly air stream

Such is “news”. Do I need it today? No.

I find myself completely disinterested or at best mildly curious in people’s ability to lie, to attempt self-aggrandisement, to make war, to make mistakes, to be arrested for a heinous crime and just get a suspended sentence. Here we are in a lovely lane, the sun shining,  working for this delightful lady who is so grateful that we are finally making some difference to her garden on a hill. I can understand a little bit how a surgeon or a dentist functions. You would think hedge cutting is a very simple process consisting of – well – cutting -but what about when you have various types of growth at various stages of their life intertwined, sometimes hopelessly, with each other then it becomes quite technical.

I have been using the following instruments: chainsaw of the electric variety on a long pole, and ordinary manual saw, secateurs, clippers, electric hedge cutters with a long blade, a picker used for picking up litter, a long branch cutter. Hedge cutting is a very skilled operation never mind hedge laying which takes years of practice. We have a competition round here once a year in about November and if you want to see a craftsman at work, look no further.

Horses have continued to come along this well used but narrow lane. There was one horse who took one look at us, turned round and disappeared again. I grant you that the sound of a chainsaw when you’re not used to it is a little unusual especially on a Sunday morning so what happened? The same horse returned but preceded by what I could almost call a heavy horse. Stable as they come, completely ignoring us and plodding  on its way. The nervous horse walked in the wake of its heavy companion.

My wife was talking about wanting to ride a horse. She last learnt 50 years ago and she thinks that like riding a bike you would never forget. Blow me down, what happens? An affable chap called Tony with his horse called Merlin, aged 16 stopped to have a talk with us.

Tony with Merlin (16y)

He was from the nearby stables and rented out his horse because it had such a good character. He informed us that newcomers’ lessons were available at the Wellow Horse stables / trecking centre and all we had to do was to go along and enquire.

a nervous horse examining this strange thing called a car

Today was the penultimate day of our great work. Our dear customer is finally realising that we mean what we say one was a good job. I think old  people are vulnerable to opportunists and therefore very mistrusting we had to gain her trust through a number of conversations and I wrote her a couple of letters outlining my proposals. Because she is unable to walk, I said I would make a video of our work so she could see what we have done. This will happen hopefully tomorrow afternoon when we have finished. I’m looking forward to making a huge bonfire of the wood cuttings and hope that in this time of winter, with the prevailing damp, we can build up enough heat to burn the wood without sitting around for hours.

It is the custom in the country to say good morning to strangers. Four or five couples passed us with a cheery good morning. Then there was a man exercising his dog, or was it the dog exercising him I’m not sure. He stood to admire our work and said that his hedge needed doing so if we wanted we could pop down we could have a look. I keep on forgetting to have a proper sign where I’m working because some people don’t want to make a telephone call to a stranger about getting some garden work done but they will actually speak to someone if they like the look of them. We have only been working here for three days but we notice the same cars passing up and down and they recognise us with a friendly wave and we them.

a more experienced horse encouraging a nervous one

I don’t expect everyone to be riveted by description of people walking down lanes but if anyone is tempted to move to this part of the country or particularly to move out of town do remember that people are actually quite friendly if conservative. They do not normally wear their hearts on their sleeve but you can pass some civil moments with them and exchange sentiments and information of value in a very pleasant way. This phenomenon will not be known or shall we say seldom experienced, by someone living in bigger cities such as London. There is more rush rush rush, people staring into their mobile phones, walking fast to get to the next appointment, either cursing or apologising when they actually bump into someone else or even touch them and so on. After a few years of this, the Londoner’s brain has been reprogrammed and they consider this as normal. This is definitely damage of the psychological variety akin to children’s brains being reprogrammed by excessive reliance on mobile messaging.

***** the

As we drove home, the enormous setting sun was shining right into my eyes and I had to stop the car. It was just at the right or perhaps we should say the wrong angle where the sun appeared to be setting fire to the road. I wish I could have stopped the car and made a photograph but I don’t think the drivers behind me would have appreciated it.

For some reason, a nice warm bath with Epsom salts takes away stiffness so I enjoyed myself thus and then busied myself cooking a meal. We are starting early morning because I do want to finish tomorrow afternoon.

Driving with Daisy – Cape Town drought

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No matter how cold the day, no matter how much frost you wake up to, once you get working the body generates its own heat. And thus, we were today occupied with a grand hedge cutting operation, 84 m of hedgerow with a total height of 4 m. It is about 2m in width so it is impossible to reach the further higher branches even when standing on steps because your arms are only so long. I reckon no one had touched it for at least five years. The very nice lady customer thinks it was two years but I think when you’re 85, the memory for certain things is not what it was.

We did four hours working up and down a quiet country lane. From time to time, horses and their riders would approach. The nearby riding school were exercising their horses. When a horse rounded the corner and saw us, unfamiliar alien objects, they paused uncertain what to do. We had to stand very still and let them get used to us. Some of the horses wanted to turn around, some animals walked sideways, some just stood and stared until the urging of their riders forced them forward. We did have to stand very still and my wife made encouraging noises. I am too ignorant of horses to know what noises they would find encouraging so I just stood and stared.

On the way back we passed a National Health – private operating hospital, one of the Circle group, set back anonymously and discreetly behind a VW car showroom along the Peasedown bypass. This is a unit for a variety of surgeries including hip replacements, knee surgery, eye operations, gastroenterology. Although we were hardly dressed to the nines, I decided that this was the time to visit and see what’s going on. As readers of this journal will know, when I trust my intuition and I don’t know why, there is always a reason as we were to find out.

The reception area was deserted save a lone receptionist. The atmosphere was very strange, a bit like being on another planet, and I attribute that to the excellent design by a leading company of architects. I leveled with the receptionist and told her that we came out of curiosity never having been before. She turned out to be a very bright young lady of about 22 years of age, at Bath Uni, and delighted in explaining what specialities the hospital undertook. I asked for a cup of coffee whereupon she walked down to the cafe area and made me a cup of Americano and Francoise a cup of tea.   Since there was no one else around she was quite happy to sit down with us and have a chat. From the moment we started talking, it was quite clear that this was not an average receptionist but someone with more than their fair share of confidence and extrovertness.

She was studying criminology at Bath University but found it boring and in reality wanted to go into fashion buying. In this connection and to gain experience, she wanted to visit Paris, Prague, Venice, New York. She had already visited Rome and found it exciting though expensive. There was no way that this was your average local girl so we queried her about where she got her positive global attitude from. Evidently she had a charismatic Indian mother or was it grandmother. I told her that I thought she had what I call a lucky star. People with such stars, I observe, always fall on their feet and get lead in the right direction.

Both Francoise and myself got an immediate positive impression and my image of younger people was somewhat restored, it being rather jaundiced at this moment in time. She was called Daisy, so we found out when we were on the point of leaving her. My goodness does the name suit her. She works at the hospital each Saturday to earn money because she plans to go to New York next December. Brave girl, good on you. She was attractive that in a very un selfconscious and innocent way you could say. She also commented on the number of people who are rude, and demanding of her attention. I rather half-heartedly said that they are probably under stress but there is no excuse for such rudeness especially in a place like the hospital where people are trying to help. I knew it was a phoney excuse as soon as I open my mouth but I said it anyway.

*****

Back home to heat up some leftovers, and then watch NHK TV which is the international television channel for Japan. The programs are of unfailingly high quality, mercifully free of advertisements and feature people walking or cycling or traveling by train around this amazing island of order and harmony. Everyone is so polite in Japan, if I came into a lot of money I would spend two or three weeks there. Even cheap trips would not come in less than £3000 per head so I need to save money in my piggy bank for this.

*****

I talked with my old and good friend Barbara  who lives in Pissouri, Cyprus. The pound is a bit pathetic compared with the Euro, I think it is about €1.12 the pound which even at bargain basement hotel rates doesn’t get you that much at least not in season. A neighbour of Barbara rents out their flat and fortunately it is available during the month when we were hoping to stay there. I can’t wait to have consistent warmth. I love the way that particularly in small villages everyone sits round the village square, mostly wearing black and passing the time of day. What a wonderful solid community there is that everyone can draw strength from.

I want to go to South Africa in general and Cape Town in particular but they have a disastrous drought and in three months time the water supply will be turned off and everyone will have to go along to 200 water collection points to get essential supplies of water .There is water rationing as I type.  North of Johannesburg is another matter where there are  thunderstorms and rain almost every day. It’s just bad luck that the Cape has been much drier than normal for the last three years.

*****

Up early this morning reading David Icke’s latest book, all 600 pages of it. I am familiar with most of the material but it is always good to refresh ourselves and remind ourselves what a world of lies and deceit we are living in. Coincidentally, at about 9.45 am all subscribers of which I am one got an E-mail from him saying that due to the violation of the terms of Facebook (unspecified) David’s page had been removed. David’s immediate reaction was, ” I must be doing something right” but he was nonetheless annoyed and will be seeking redress as soon as possible. Good luck dealing with such a faceless behemoth as Facebook is ( no pun intended). Most Americans including Californians do not even know where England is never mind paying attention to some small – to them – body of people complaining about being left out. To say that USA is ethnocentric is to put it mildly and when you add that to the tendency to be a policeman of the world it makes the whole thing pretty unsavoury.

Being served by a really kind person

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The etymology of the word “kind” is interesting. It’s about someone’s nature, someone with natural feelings, someone who is well disposed, someone who is benign, compassionate, loving, full of tenderness. This definition goes back to 1300 A.D.

Norton Garden Machinery

“Kindness” is different from say the quality of generosity or the quality of friendship. It is a whole basket of things which can include generosity of friendship but it is more than this.

it was with these thoughts that I left my mower repair station in Kilmersdon, Norton Garden Machinery no less. Mike, the owner, is the epitome of kindness. (I hope it doesn’t read this otherwise is going to be big headed). First of all, he’s a decent and caring chap who is always polite and never raises his voice or gets irritated. Secondly, he cares very much about the service that he gives which means supplying people with moweers and various strimmers and cutters, and servicing when they go wrong. Thirdly, he genuinely likes his job and will unfailingly do his best for his customers even if he doesn’t know them very well. Fourthly, he knows his products inside out and can give very good advices some paid, some given for free.

I do not think Mike tries to be friendly, he just loves his job and this comes across. You cannot fake friendliness by putting on a plastic smile and asking if there is anything else I can do for you and all these dreadful phrases. He never wishes me a good weekend, good day, good evening, and any of the other dreadful American imports that we have to suffer.

pride of place to an antique mower

On this occasion, I went to get a new chain for my chainsaw for my current job and we chatted about the advantages of taking on work that no one else will touch. I would say this difficult and unattractive jobs are the norm for myself and my partner plus my latest team member, my friend Will who is built like a house and is very strong. He comes from a farming background and understands the countryside through and through plus what the client needs or should I say what the landscape needs.

The point is that you never know when these kindly human beings are going to pop up. It could be the bus driver, someone selling vegetables, someone behind the post office till or someone you just meet in the street. It is nice to be prepared for such things.

*****

We had fish pie for lunch made by my wife and also a delightful salad which I felt was pretty enough to photograph. The food was good too.

home-made salad by my ever loving Other Half

First day back at work – social media

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Although I love gardening dearly, it was very nice to have a break. I’m now prompted to start a job that was not particularly urgent as our current account has inconveniently hopped into the minus. This has nothing to do with the fact that I spent significantly more than I normally do over Christmas but all things pass.

I miscalculated the quotation for my famous hedge cutting job – an 84 m length of disheveled hedge – by quite a substantial margin. My problem is that I want to please people and give good value for money but sometimes I go over the top in my enthusiasm and I did so on this occasion.  I had to go in and tell the customer that the original quote I gave was unrealistically low. She listened to what I had to say and had the decency to comment that my quote had seemed a little bit low.  I told her what I thought it would cost and said that because it was my fault I would happily donate the time I had already spent and she would therefore be free to find someone that could do it for a better price.

Before seeing her, I stopped a chap who was driving down the street, and gardening maintenance person, and asked him if he wanted to quote for the job. He said that he knew some farmers who could bring along hedge cutting instruments and could do the job in a couple of hours. I offered this to the client as an alternative but she said no, the quality of the work done by the machines was not good enough in that the branches were shredded and she would much prefer manual work the like of which we were doing.

So, I gave her the offer that we would walk away and not charge for work we have done or she could accept quite a substantial uplift in the price. She chose the latter. The worst thing you can do is to surprise a customer at the last moment by a big overcharge and I think that is very unfair. The best thing tradesman can do is to come up front and tell the customer the way things are before spending the time and energy on the work.

*****

I notice from the press that children coming on to secondary school find it a considerable shock to be faced by so many demands on social media. They feel they need to establish themselves by showing how brilliant they are, and how many “friends” they have and how many times they have been ‘liked’. I hope I don’t have to go into this but I find this state of mind the least conducive to learning how to form relationships when you become an adult. On the technical side, the mobile phone which everyone above the age of five seems to have these days is a receiving device but also a transmitter. It must inform the base station where it is and the worse the signal a more it has to work hard to reach the station. The wavelengths used by the phone company are the same as the wavelengths used in the human brain and every minute or so the phone gives a blast of electromagnetic radiation to say hello to its base station.

Not only does the brain heat up by 1° after even 20 min being held close to the ear but electromagnetic effects which in the long-term are carcinogenic particularly affect the very young child. The cancer will take at least a decade to appear in most cases but the chances are much higher amongst the population that is in close proximity to the devices. Research is available aplenty on the Internet. If you want an introduction to the subject, type in ‘electric sense’ and Lloyd Burrell” for a down-to-earth discussion on this effect. I admire David Dees for the reproduction below, an acerbic cartoon highlighting this slow motion killing machine.

You will not want to know that frequencies from 5G and 4G masts can actually affect the wavelengths of the brain and cause us to feel certain emotions such as fear or anger. Compared with this technology which is springing up all over America and also UK, atomic bombs are primitive, untidy and unnecessary  wipe out of a population when you can modify their brainwaves to become fear filled slaves.

 

 

 

Eleanor blows her way through the UK – UBUNTU

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Had the high tide at Weston-super-Mare been in the afternoon I would definitely have driven off to see the waves in all their glory. As high tide occurred at 7:30 AM there was not much point so we are contenting ourselves with watching the gusts of wind blowing the contents of the neighbour’s recycle container across our garden.

*****

I have been following the activities of UBUNTU which is not only the name for an open source operating system for computers – made for sharing – but a liberation movement of unity and higher consciousness. Michael, the writer of the following article, is the founder.

As I look forward t0 2018 (actually I can’t say I am completely looking forward to it) I should say ‘as I direct my gaze forward’ I could not write a better open letter then was sent to me by Michael today so after getting permission from him I reproduce it.

“A Message to the UBUNTU family around the world and conscious beings everywhere. From Michael Tellinger
2 Jan 2018

Please read this when you have some time to absorb the message and truly digest it.

Imagine growing up in a family where one day your parents tell you that they love you, and the next day they tell you that they hate you, and that you are ugly and bad. This results in serious mental emotional trauma and psychological disturbances in your personality. There are many people who experience this kind of trauma for long periods of their lives. It is unimaginable to me – that someone could be exposed to such torture.

On a larger scale, all of humanity is treated in the same way by our leaders and the global elite who run the world. It is critical to recognise how humanity has been manipulated and lied to for millennia by the royal-political elite. Because of these lies and deceptions, humanity is deeply scarred, and traumatised and divided. And because the lies are cunningly mixed in with pinches of truth throughout all our lives, and all of history, it becomes very difficult to separate the lies from the truth. This is a perfect tool of psychological warfare and control over the people.

Most of us beautiful, loving, and trusting humans, cannot imagine that anyone, especially our governments, could be so brutal and manipulative. This has become our biggest weakness and we become our own prison guards, keeping us enslaved in an induced hypnotic state of unconsciousness. Perfectly primed for ongoing lies and manipulation. These lies penetrate every crack and crevice of our existence. And the bigger the lie, the more we are inclined to believe it.

From our origins, to religion, history, nature of reality, space, the cosmos, and even the fundamentals of science. Because most of us cannot figure out WHY someone would want to lie to us, and because we cannot imagine that such a big lie could be controlled without leaking, we brush it aside and assume that it cannot be a lie and that our leaders cannot be lying to us. In that moment we use our uninformed, innocent, ignorant, and naive powers of logic to hand the control right back to the elite slave masters, and once again we become the prison guards of our own state of unconsciousness.

But, consciousness never sleeps, it never stops resonating throughout all of creation, even inside the most disconnected and unconscious among us. It never stops activating our DNA inside every cell, allowing us to start thinking higher thoughts, waking up from our deep unconscious sleep and recognising the lies and manipulation imposed on humanity. Even the elite that are causing so much trauma and misery are not immune to it.

This rapid rise in unity consciousness and awakening of humanity is a huge problem for the elite. This is why it seems that things are getting worse and governments are doing insane things that destroy our freedom and liberty. More draconian laws are created weekly, restricting our rights and more financial hardships imposed by those who control the supply of money.

While these may seem as deeply depressing times and very few can imagine a way out of this mess, it is critical that we recognise these actions as the undeniable behaviour of those who are in a deep state of panic and fear. The global elite are panicking – they know that they are in deep trouble – that their time is almost up – that the new age of enlightenment and higher consciousness is upon us – and that they cannot fight the unifying resonance of the consciousness field of creation, or as some may call it, GOD.

If we do not learn from our experiences, we become stagnant and a perfect target for ongoing exploitation. I urge all my fellow humans to realise that we are rising rapidly out of the state of unconsciousness. There are hundreds of millions of enlightened people in the world that know there is a better way for all of us.

Unfortunately, these conscious people often feel alone and marginalised, not realising that they are part of a large group of activators. Because we are so deeply divided, most of us do not realise the influence we hold, and what we can manifest if only we spoke with one voice. The more extreme the actions of our governments and banking elite, the closer we are to a new world of absolute liberty and freedom from economic slavery.

Over the past 12 years, since 2005, the UBUNTU Movement and our message has evolved and spread to millions. Our strategy has grown and evolved itself to the simple ONE SMALL TOWN, Will Change the World strategy. This simple plan is so powerful and self-driven, that once implemented successfully, it will become unstoppable. We are not only talking about it, we are doing it.

In November 2017, the first UBUNTU One Small Town was initiated by Mayor Ron Higgins in North Frontenac, Canada, and immediately captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. Mayor Higgins is on a roll – receiving thousands of emails of support, and even contact from investors who want to invest in North Frontenac because of the attractive investment opportunity.

All of this came from our 12-year journey of discovery, learning from our mistakes and experiences and realising that we can no longer oppose anything. The energy of opposition or resistance is part of the old paradigm. Even our opposition to the money slavery system was misguided. Our activity in politics also created a situation where we became an opposing party.

But the moment when we adopted the philosophy of “using the tools of enslavement as tools of liberation” everything shifted almost overnight. Just like in martial arts, we have learned to use the flow of energy, and not to oppose such energy. By simply using the powerful flow of energy which is used to enslave us, and turning it around to serve us, we will create abundance and prosperity for everyone, on every level of our existence, without any violence opposition or conflict.

While 2017 may have been the darkest year for many, it is ending on the highest possible note imaginable. We are making contact with numerous mayors in Canada, South Africa, USA, UK, Australia, and even Madagascar. We cannot imagine what will happen in 2018, whatever it is, it will take us by surprise and transcend our current state of consciousness and invite us in to resonate with our own creation.

Many prophets and teachers throughout the ages have told us that we are one with God, and that God is within each and every one of us. And since we are all infinite souls, one with the creator, having a human physical experience, I urge you to embrace this knowing without any fears or reservation. We are the ones we have been waiting for, and we are the creators of our own reality, it is up to us to create the kind of world we would like to live in.

https://youtu.be/RXY8Rbx3fwI

So, let us think beautiful thoughts, speak beautiful words, share beautiful moments, and dream beautiful dreams of prosperity, abundance, and true freedom for all of humanity. Let 2018 be the year in which UBUNTU becomes the unifying resonance for everyone.

In unity & resonance
Michael Tellinger”