Tickety Boo-Hoo


KC Jones and Junior wouldn’t touch a replacement bus service

The Rail Delivery Group [want to call it travel midwifery] announced today the rise in train fares would average at 3.4% in 2018. Delays, cancellations, upgrade closures, filthy conditions: it is amazing that Commuter says No is not blazoned across foreheads of beleaguered rail users.

The highest rise for five years would be conscionable were it justified as rail has so many happy consequences. Direct, minimally polluting, theoretically simple to organize and could be mapped to every girth of wallet.

To quote a former administrator, they’re ‘avin’ a laugh.

When I was gairl, commuters would sail past ticket collectors at the station exit, waving their chits in the thin, musty air. I daresay a proportion went up and down to Town every day for nothing. Now, those impossibly brisk machines ensure payment is made from which it follows train operating companies receive a higher proportion of income than once was the case.

In those days the same lamentable conditions obtained, alas, but fares were appropriately priced. How then, is it possible to justify such above-inflation increase with no reflection in the quality of service?

How do the French get train travel so right? Double-decker, spacious, punctual, heavenly sleepers with crisp cotton sheets … I could go on. In some countries, the train is the ultimate in civilized travel: tempo of change before the eye an uplifting reward for the mind and evidence the body works best at a leisured pace. In short, as it is such a gorgeous way to travel, shouldn’t it be enabled to achieve that height in the UK?

Unless passengers make their voices heard, there will be no end to enduring woeful conditions of transportation. If not in tears, should we not all be steamin’ and a-rollin’?


Sloe to catch on


Image                                                                       Frosties. They’re great

Sloes fruited early this year, mebbie in virtue of a soggy-ish summer? Blackthorn berries plumped themselves by mid-September perhaps sensing first frosts would come too late for creating a Warmer in time for Midnight Mass returners?

[You know suggestions for making sloe gin involve notions of waiting for the first frost before picking and pricking?  Course you do.]            Well now, thems were the days before temperatures began their inexorable rise. A last Saturday in November dawns on the first hard frost I’ve seen which, had purists stuck to the recipe, would leave insufficient time for the sloes to transform the Gin into gorgeously fruitful liquor.

It’s bound to be a different story beyond the Capital but still, it does seem late and points to something, drattedly, beyond capture.

How does the animal world accommodate the radical changes the human world causes? How do animals comprehend interference with their networks – whales getting lost, birds displacing themselves, jellyfish sunning themselves in Ireland? For a catalogue of cases of animals confused by radio/satellite technology, refer to your newspaper/radio/device-thing.

It not possible to confuse a thing which lacks the equipment to be confused.

The inter-connectedness of creation mandates acting with respectful, compassionate responsibility in what we produce, use and its disposal. Why is that so difficult to grasp? If we can’t stretch our minds to understand Life is consciousness and consciousness is sentient, then we don’t deserve Earth’s bounteous fruits.

Food and pharming


                                                 Belted Galloway                                                        illustrating another of nature’s glory not in need of chemical pharming

Perhaps you need to emerge into each morning to the moo of Farming Today to know that often the first item to be covered after news and weather at Six pertains to the horrors of quackery and witchcraft espoused by those who promote using earth’s unmediated harvest?

This unofficial slot for denigrating all things non-pharmaceutical suggests the laddy doth protest too much (who funds such puzzling impropaganda?)

In a recent Abacus programme we called What in Earth? there was talk about the role contemporary methods of farming have on gut health along with the intriguing impact pharmaceuticals gimlet into the economy. Not as shareholder dividends but the cost of NHS provision to those afflicted by their use. [At some stage I’m sure I’ll grasp the logic of damaging one part of the body to benefit another ~ lamentable consequences of popping pills.]

This matters, in case you were wondering, in light of Mugabe’s exiting the world’s stage. Yes, let me finish. If we don’t speak truth to power, power morphs into a malign, corrosive form that shapes what we do and how we think. No-one stopped him though it was clear his skills were exhausted by 1981.

Zimbabwe, as fertile and productive an Eden as Africa contained, had for decades enjoyed buoyant plenty in virtue of well-ordered farms. When the farmers were murdered, land decayed lacking ordered cultivation.

At the time of writing, the monstrous Mugabe continues to resist displacement perhaps to wring from his removers immunity from prosecution for his family?

What are we doing in allowing such people power, in swallowing all that pharmaceutical companies tell us, ignorantly condoning use of agrichemicals and poor welfare practises to produce cheap food? Have we all gone raving mad or are we only now waking from a torpor whose grip rendered positive evolution inert?

Reformation: how we Listen when victims speak


© Ross Hoddinott                                                                Belief is everything

Trumpets blew, there went up a great clammering and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

That, happily, is as nothing to th’unfurling consequences of The Weinstein Effect. The question commentors keep asking is “if it was happening, why did no-one speak up?”

How long have you got? And how do we reform?

When unjustifiable, abhorrent abuse of power takes place it is triply low. The abuser believes their victim will not dare speak up either for fear of the impact it will have on their own credibility or be believed. And when a victim is not believed, it doubly reinforces the horrific impact of the abuse because it is silenced, trapping them within it.

Abusers have been right in their assumption: afterall, it’s much easier not to believe ill of someone with whom you socialize or do business or to whom you’re related. If you take seriously what’s alleged, it means reassessing your connection with the perpetrator. As this will impact on many things you value, most decide it’s just easier to let it go/pretend you didn’t hear/assume it’s untrue.


It means we’re all complicit in allowing this abuse of power to have been part of our lives. The #MeToo yell reveals inappropriate, unwanted attention has soiled at least a quarter of the population. And if it is not sexual, then equal abuse is metered out by coercive controllers who’ve had it great-and-with-impunity for as long as this writer can remember.

Today marks five hundred years since Martin Luther nailed a set of 95 theses to his contemporaneous notice board objecting, inter alia, to notions of selling salvation. It is a timely moment to reform how we respond to those who misuse their power to buy salvation.

Doreen Lawrence wrote in And still I rise that ‘injustice is a second bereavement’. Not being believed is a second X [where X = cause of trauma inflicted]. For those who recognize the idea, Belief is everything.


Ah haaaaaarrrrrrrrr


© SpikeTV          Darryl Hannah being all evil and piratey

An interesting consequence of wearing an eye-patch is that it polarizes people you pass.

Either they look straight at you with an expression of frank, alarm-tinged curiosity or avert their gaze with an exaggeratedly set jaw to watch their feet quicken pace.

This second group out-number the first ten to one, I reckon. The first is largely comprised of children who turn mouths towards their responsible adult but keep eyes fixed on the patch and wail “Muuuuuuum, hasn’t that lady got an eye; has she got a hole there?” or some such sensible-if-equally-unanswerable question.

But occasionally you pass a fellow pirate and the grin of wicked, empathic comprehension that passes between you is simply joyous.

Such was the case earlier. Swaying along the canal, waterways a-waterwayin’, moor hens hooting, fishermen muttering over tangled lines, there came chugging up-stream a narrow boat whose piratical cap’n caught one blink of me and grinned an ear to ear grin which might have split a gizzard at fifty paces. It was clear he was a pirate: on the water, breeze wafting a thin pony-tail, hand on the tiller and although he wasn’t sporting a patch, that I was, was meaningful to him. 

There was in that suspended TARDIS of connection more joy-in-living than in all of Kate Aldridge’s ambitions [Archer’s reference, sorry] of teleological nirvana. Rapture.

I strongly encourage all who should don a patch to do so and revel in what transpires. [The wooden leg thing’d take faithfulness a step too far: but a parrot? Kinda appeals.]

Spacial awareness


© NASA                                                                                                        Yonder

You’ll know, viscerally, your response to this. Do you find the word space hopelessly inadequate?

We’ll proceed on the basis I do.

Space would suggest an absence, a gap, emptiness. Yet plays are rehearsed in a space. That which exists beyond the ionosphere is space. The gap between objects, space.

Occupying the location would suggest it is an active setting, heaving with potential yet the word seems to me to carry a sense of the inert.

Gnawing nails to a perplexingly exaggerated extent about this word has brought me to reasoning fresh morphemes and nouns are needed. It’d be marvellous interesting to listen to your favoured descriptions.

Currently, there is hitherness to refer to this place here now; yonder referencing the universe with space minding the gap.

What think: likely to gain traction?

Moments: a blink of history


© The Korda Estate                                                                 The event was a memorial for victims of the explosion on board La Coubre as its munitions cargo was unloaded in Havana harbour the day before, on 4.iii.60. Guevara had tended to multiple casualties as both medic and revolutionary.

It is exactly fifty years since Argentinian doctor and revolutionary Ernesto Guevara – Che to his amigos – was executed in Bolivia having been captured the day before. Co-incidentally, it’s a hundred years since the October Revolution catapulted the Bolsheviks to power.
Such historic symmetry must have meant something at the time. At an exhibition in 2006 the V&A devoted to that star-capped image [3,2], Alberto Korda’s original, March 1960 contact sheet was shown. 

Eleven frames feature Castro, three of six clearly show Simone de Beauvoir & Jean-Paul Satre [4,4; 5,4; 6,4] while two, taken nano-seconds apart are Guevara [3,2; 4,2].

The most reproduced image on the planet resulted from chance, milliseconds in time. Eleven years on from that V&A show and the astounding significance of those moments continue to ricochet around the memory of it.

He trained as a doctor and portraits of him in earlier, civilian times demonstrate the radical alteration in him by virtue of the revolving of his perspective.

What happened to his mind to transform a gentle, idealistic soul into the grated rind of desiccated idealist?

Events, dear boy. Events. But what is it that has the power to harden a man and remove all the light and kindness?

Whatever it is, avoid it.

Image 1950’s: Che in more carefree days?