I have not got too much to report this evening, other than the fact that we spent a very enjoyable late afternoon with Darryl. He’s over once again for the ISAAC conference – an event which I really do have to get my arse to one year – and, since it was he who brought me and Lyn together in the first place, we always invite him to ours. It is always good to see him: he is a top guy, and his independence, success and ability to travel mean he is sort of a role model for me. We had a good chat, and he bought us a damn good curry; he told us about Womadelade, a music festival in Australia with the Cat Empire, so I think a visit to his place is definitely on the cards. Good company, good curry: all in all a very good evening.
It would be very poor indeed of me not to post an entry whishing my mum a very happy birthday. We don’t see much of eachother these days, except on Skype, but I still think I have the best mum in the world. We have a couple of family events coming up, so I’ll be able to cuddle her then, but for now I’ll just say I hope she has a great day. Love you Mum!
Dear sir. I have just watched prime minister’s questions, and I am appalled by your performance. It was a disgusting display of lying, dissembling and twisting of facts. Your attitude to the leader of the opposition was utterly patronising; your stance on inclusive education, for instance, shows a lack of understanding of the subject. Most serious, though, is the way in which you perpetuate the blatant lie that our country’s economic woes were caused by the profligacy of the previous government: history records that this crisis was caused by the greed and ineptitude of the banking sector, and would indeed have turned into a depression had not action been taken by the then government. The way you misrepresent this fact is a sign that either you do not understand the situation properly, or are twisting history for your own gain. Either way, these are not the actions of a Prime Minister. I therefore write to demand your immediate resignation. It seems to me that you had no clear mandate in the first place, yet are pushing through savage, ideological cuts and trying to blame the previous government.
Sir, I am frankly tired of your weasel-words and lies. You are not fit to lead this country, and your government is doing untold damage to many people’s lives. You will therefore stand down and call a general election immediately.
I must admit I am in two minds about the subject of assisted suicide. Ad you will probably already know, there was a programme on it last night by terry pratchett, in which he argues quite forcefully that he has a right to choose the time and manner of his own death. I cannot disagree with him there: if we are indeed a liberal, tolerant society, we must also tolerate such things. As I said to Lyn last night,, he has a right to chose to die, but I have a right to think he’s a fucking coward. But and this is a huge but – once we go down that path we open a huge, extremely dangerous can of worms. As Dennis Queen eloquently points out here, the implications for people with disabilities are very worrying indeed. The prospect that some vulnerable people may be coerced into choosing to die comes up; indeed, the whole notion kind of makes it seem that we all lead second class lives and can’t wait to top ourselves. I can’t really say too much on the subject, as I don’t think I can fully make my mind up; I’m glad last night’s programme was broadcast, but it did leave a nasty taste in my mouth.
I had another interesting night out yesterday evening, but not as interesting as it might have been, which is a good thing. At about four yesterday afternoon, I decided to go out for a walk. My friend chopper had been unwell, so I thought I’d swing round his to see how he was. He invited me inn, as usual, and then, to my surprise, asked if I wanted to go to Deptford. I hesitated to begin with – frankly, I had planned to have a long, lazy Sunday evening in front of the TV – but Deptford has a reputation which both scares and intrigues me. Besides, I was going with one of the hardest men in south London, or so he says.
So, my Walter Benjamin hat on, at about six yesterday evening we set off. It seemed quite a way, and the busses caused us a bit of trouble, but eventually we got to a pub called the black horse. My friend had made this place sound like a den of rogues and villains, but it seemed friendly enough. chopper said he’d been going there a long time, and he certainly seemed to be well known there. For my part, I was fascinated by the place: it seemed ancient – I guessed it had not been refitted in a century or so. People probably drank there to celebrate victory over napoleon, and I daresay probably used the same bar stools.
After we’d had a couple in the pub, we made for new cross through what seemed to be a very large housing estate. Now, I’m still pretty much a good little cripple from a fairly affluent part of a sleepy town in rural Cheshire, and I found that walk, in the half-light and drizzle, rather scary. Even chopper seemed somewhat on edge. The buildings looked new, and I think there had been recent attempts to renovate it, but something told me I definitely wasn’t in Kansas any more. The estate had the feeling of foreboding and menace, although it may just have been the half-light playing tricks on my imagination. Chopper popped in on his cousin who lived in one of the houses, and then we made our way home.
Clearly there is a lot of this city I have yet to see; Chopper says we will go to many more places, and, to be sure I can’t wait. But, as much as I now love London, it still feels ominous to me sometimes in a way I cannot really describe.
It has been quite some time since I posted a link with very little comment as an entry – this is, after all, a blog not a twitter account – but this story is simply too funny not to link to. It covers Leicester city council’s apparent unpreparedness for a zombie attack. If you ask me, it’s a pretty important situation: I mean, what if a group of marauding zombies attacked the city? And what about other town’s and cities? What if a group of nazgul came up from Kent and attacked London? I blame the cuts!
Okay, that’s enough silliness. That article was simply too absurd not to draw your attention to, and besides there isn’t much else going on today. I think we’re off out to enjoy what there is of the sunshine.
It is not often that I agree with members of the clergy, so I just have to say how odd it is to find myself in complete agreement with the archbishop of Canterbury yesterday. As we probably all know by now, this week he guest edited the new statesman, and used his editorial to openly attack the government. While I haven’t read the article myself – I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has – he reportedly questioned the governments mandate, and called CaMoron’s big society idea ”stale”. As one of my friends on facebook put it ”Go, Rowan, Go!” It seems to me that he has said what everyone else knows to be true: this government has no mandate for such radical, ideologically-inspired cuts and the reforms to health and education it is pushing through. What surprises me, though, is that these comments came from the archbishop of Canterbury: I usually associate the church with the right, with supporting governments and so on. To be honest these comments came from the last person I expected to make them, apart from the queen. Although it does raise questions about the relationship between church and state – I usually prefer the clergy to keep out of politics, as, after all, they believe in great big invisible sky-fairies – it’s good to see the clergy can still stand up for the oppressed.
Mind you, less surprising, and far more irritating, was the way in which CaMoron simply dismissed the archbishop’s article. I found it quite patronising and arrogant, sort of brushing it aside as if to say ”You can say what you like, but I don’t care. You’re wrong and I’m right.” How much more evidence do you want that these cuts are ideological, and CaMoron will proceed with them no matter what anyone else thinks, clergy or otherwise?
I went to bed late last night with a smile on my face, remembering the glorious day that had just ended, completely knackered, and, quite pleasingly, totally sober. It was the first day Lyn and I went outside the M25 in ages, and that alone felt good. We took a day-trip too Brighton: last week, as I got back from Kilburn, Lyn informed me that we were going to Brighton for a day, and that was it: I am seldom one to turn down an adventure. So, yesterday morning we set off: I went first, taking the bus to the o2 then the jubilee line to London Bridge. There I waited for Lyn to catch up, as we have to take separate busses. We also met Laura there, and Dominick’s friend Dominica, who were coming with us, and we caught the train together.
The journey down was a bit crampt, and felt somewhat slow, but I enjoyed catching sight of the fields through the window. I rather miss the sight of rolling green landscapes, so yesterday’s journey made me happy. When we got to Brighton, however, I was immediately taken by it: this place certainly made a change to London. It has amazing Victorian architecture, windy little streets and some cool little shops which sold almost anything, it seemed. I’d been told about these, however, and had my eye out for some funky clothing. It has been ages since I bought anything particularly special, like my cat outfit or big pink tutu, so I was after something awesome. I soon realised, however, that everything is expensive in Brighton, so quickly gave up the task. Besides, by then I needed something to eat.
Dominica had bumped into a few friends of hers, it seemed, and we all ate outside a vegetarian caf in a small street among the shops. The food was delicious, and I felt much better for it. Along the street, I thought I caught sight of a friend of a friend who I’d seen on facebook, which reminded me: I have friends in Brighton too. I asked Laura to text charlotte to ask her for Holly’s number. When the reply came back, though, it turned out holly was busy. I really must learn to plan things ahead of time.
After our rather late lunch, my mind turned to the beach. I had not seen the sea in years, and it was time to put that right. We headed off, by then quite a large group, through the winding little streets, looking at all the funkily-dressed people. There’s sort of an oppressive vibe to London which one gets used to, but which is not there in places like Brighton, so you notice its absence with a relief. It felt good to breathe fresher air, and once again smell the sea. When we got to the beach, my heart filled with joy: the English channel was pure blue, and the sky was just speckled with light cloud. I had expected a seafront like Blackpool’s, to be honest, but what I found was decidedly less crass and much more pleasant. It was made up of basket ball courts and skate parks; we found a grassy area where we could sit and watch the sea. The guys had bought some drums and other percussion instruments so they could have a jam, so, with Lyn using her Ipad, they drummed as the sun set to the west.
I don’t know how long we were there, but it was getting cold, #and about half eight we decided to head home. The train back was much more quiet, and, buying a cheese sandwich each for tea in London Bridge, we got home just before twelve. It had been a wonderful day, and I think we need to take many mire such trips. Usually such things end up involving alcohol at some stage, but this one didn’t, and I think it was all the better for it. Best of all, however, is the fact I went with Lyn: I’ve been out and about quite a bit recently, either alone or with chopper or Charlie, a fact which I was beginning to feel guilty about, so it felt very good to be able to share such an awesome trip with her.
As we were walking back to the train station, I turned and noticed a billboard: ”Brighton Rocks!” it read. ”You know,” I thought, ”That would make a great title for a blog entry.”
Continuing the vein of my recent ‘what I did yesterday / last night / today’ entries, I want to write a bit about the events of yesterday afternoon. We didn’t go far this time – indeed just to the park down the road – but what happened there was pretty incredible. Lyn and I were invited by our PA, Dominic, to go with him to watch his friends play some music. I thought they were just going to have a jam, and muck around in the park; but I can only describe what I saw yesterday as a pseudoreligious ceremony.
First we found a space under a tall oak, then cleared the ground. Incense was lit and wafted around with a feather, as I’ve seen native Americans do. There were about twelve of us sat in a semi-circle. First Dominick played the didgeridoo, then they put resonating bowls out, and a gong. Two people played these, hitting them not quite in a tune but melodically, for I know not how long. The effect was one of complete calm – it seemed to put everyone in a trance. I can’t really describe it; I can only say it was one off the most interesting events of my life. I wasn’t sure what I’d just seen – it had a deeply therapeutic, calming, almost mystical power to it. I try to see such things in scientific, rational terms, but I can easily see how such events induce experiences some call sacred.
Lyn and I were talking earlier, and, if you think about it, it has been quite a cool, if somewhat hectic, couple of weeks. At this moment I don’t think I’ve ever been so independent – a fact which charlotte noted on Tuesday. I now go on busses, the tube, and overground trains, and think nothing of it. I know that’s not particularly special, but there was a time, not long ago, when such things seemed very risky indeed, and totally out of bounds for little old me. I have had chance to pause this evening, and reflect on my recent little adventures to central London, Kilburn and so on, and, if I may be so bold, I daresay I’ve come a long way from the boy who never wanted to leave home. It’s not really blog worthy, but tonight I just wanted to note how vast that contrast seems, now I have chance to reflect on it. Mind you, the bigger question is, what adventures will tomorrow bring?