Saturday, 26 December 2020

Find the quiet. Stay safe.


I wish I could be out in the world of water and wilderness. I am inside with my medicine drum, singing bowls and flute and a range of tech trickery that offers escape to the geography in my thoughts. I’ve sorted my fishing stuff to the point where after years and years I know where it all is. This is some achievement because I leave a rod and bits of gear in other peoples houses who tolerate this old fishing fool. 

It’s  good to be engaged and to not worry about the things I can’t change. I could think of myself as a prisoner of covid in my own home but I choose to be on a quest, taking a very belated “gap year”, albeit in a small physical space. I don’t have a garden so I tend to the flowers in my digital music recording system while hopefully, digging out the weeds. I’ve chosen to use the time to try to be more positive and creative because of covid. I don’t care what the politicians say I am living by my own rules of survival and have done so since this first began. The best way to win a fight is to not be there if you can’t choose your battlefield and stratagem. So I choose to not be there. I go no where at this time. That’s the down side or one of them. How ever Ive found these strange times can have all sorts of unexpected upsides that offer unique opportunities to invest time in new ways of seeing and doing things differently. 

I’m not going to comment on any of the machinations of our leaders or their minions. Now is not the time for me to add to the poisoned feast of things to worry or be depressed about. Today I’m not going to be concerned with the things beyond my control or capacity. The things “I can’t do any thing about” are in “ their box”. There are several “boxes” in my mind. One is “Things to worry about” but it has clear priority over other boxes so that I can act more easily on the things I must and can do some thing about. It’s quite simple until contents spill out and into other boxes. But if I practice managing the system regularly and don’t neglect the necessary rituals involved, then depression and anxiety are knocking at the wrong door. It’s not fool proof and I have to use a variety of acquired tools to make it work. Positive and absorbing distraction is a good friend. 

These are very difficult times for many of us and some of us are more affected by worry and depression than others. I don’t want to minimise this or claim there are easy solutions for all. How ever it was astonishing to me to find that I could have much more control over how I respond to a crisis be it small or large. 

It’s good to share and ask for help. I find I’m talking on the phone more these days sharing good and bad stuff with my friends and colleagues. We often find small ways to help and support each other. Men are getting better at this but in my experience, generally speaking women are still better at listening and offering reasoned, empathetic input. I’m always grateful for this. 

The issue of our mental well being could be said to be trending. It’s a good trend. As a result people might speak up and ask for help and guidance and we should be on the look out for them and also for those who might still suffer in silence. Let’s not be ruled by archaic norms and useless conventions. Time to look after ourselves and each other with ever more care. Time to get used to new thinking as the planet increasingly continues to sign post the changes we all need to make. 

Stay strong. Stay safe. 


Monday, 25 May 2020

hunker in my bunker

I hope you are all well and coping with the times we find ourselves in. I have listened to the government fools who continue to disappoint with errors of judgement compounded by their lies. I have decided to ignore their confusing offerings and hunker in my bunker. I will have no contact with my fellows or ever be outside when they are. I will hope that my reclusive life style will not deprive any one and that when there is a vaccine we can all get together to discuss the plan of action to over turn the values of the old brigade on a massive scale. 

We can surely see the damage caused to the very fabric of all that serves and protects us by government's economically driven obsessions and their evil off spring Austerity. This dishonourable and deceitful government has still not fixed the tower blocks at risk from fire and yet there are millions available to fight cover 19. It simple isn't it? The virus kills freaks like Jacob Rees Mogg as well as poor people and Cummings doesn't live in a tower block. Its not entirely their fault. The national aspirations and objectives are poor and mistaken and the culture of Westminster is toxic. It doesn't work any more.  

I thought that the polarisation and subsequent resentments caused by Brexit would be the big one and similar, in some respects, to the rifts caused by the miners strike. I was wrong the significant polarisation and rift might well be between people who participate in getting rid of this unworkable political structure of ours and those who continue to simply ask, "well what can you do"?
If you can't march you can sign the petitions that are rocking the whole of Westminster. Hundreds of thousands of people are signing dozens of petitions that high light the tragedy of errors that this government has wrought on us. I remember the first 38 degrees petition that really worked. It was very early in their illustrious history The petition was aimed at preventing the Tories from selling our forests to speculators from over seas. This would have denied access to the UK public in almost all of the forest land that we can still enjoy. The petition garnered thousands of signatures in days. The government backed down and completely abandoned the planned sell off. It works so please join in.

I have decided that during this period of lock down I am going to learn some new things. I have done a four part email course around yoking, the Sami vocalising. Its some thing I love. 
After dabbling for some time I have been learning to cook authentic Japanese food with the help of NHK tv and great on line food suppliers.

pork ramen with pickled celery, spring onion, 
wakame sea weed and soft boiled egg

I have bought a Native American styled A chant flute. It has two air chambers side by side at the mouth end. One is a continuous drone and the other side of the flute is for melody. It was made by a guy in Wales who makes all kinds of flutes and shamanic drums. I thought it would be very nice to play the flute during a quiet fishing spell where a fast Norwegian salmon river is running rapidly, through a forested ravine. I dream.

I have also bought a new drum and a beater / shaker. Good medicine. Good vibes. Out demons out. 
I'm knocking it out on Thursday for NHS and front line workers. The snake beaters are made by a guy in Ukraine. His work is very special. He also makes drums. I'm talking to some folk in Hungary who make beautiful sounding framed shamanic drums with a very special feature. They are tuneable with a small bicycle pump. I want one.
Ok these are tools of my trade but do I need them? Actually I think, with the exception of the snake beaters, indulgent and possibly an heirloom, I think I do need them. I have a plan. I also think there is merit and some personal satisfaction from buying functional art from the maker, especially right now.

drum with beater shaker

snake beater and shaker

So that's me for now. Got to get back to the recording. Its going especially well and I have lots of time to experiment and finish and re mix stuff to my hearts content. I work when I want to at any hour of day or night. Considering what is going on out there Im managing quite well in here and thankful for each day. Stay safe.


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

the silent enemy

Here I am self isolating in London the epicentre of covid 19 in the UK. I haven't been posting here for some time and to be honest I have enjoyed the break. I have been writing and recording my new opus and it creeps ever nearer towards completion.

Like most of us I have lots to say about this strange time we are living in. This lack lustre leadership has shown their contempt for us through the whole of their enforced austerity. If a small percentage of the money being spent now had been allocated to the welfare system and the NHS, we would be infinitely better off than we are today. We were told there was no money tree by Cameron and May so where are the billions needed now coming from? People might be forgiven for thinking that as soon as it was clear that the pandemic could and would infect the rich then billions could be found to fight it. Remember how Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto was reviled by the Tories as ridiculously expensive. If it had been actualised ten or more years ago we would not be in this mess of low capacity. Corbyn's manifesto was a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of fighting covid 19.

Some time ago the government was subjected to a test to see how a pandemic would be dealt with. It failed miserably and according to an ex Tory MP no steps were taken to address the issues high lighted by the test. Of course the most damning indicator is the lack of protection for NHS staff. A week ago the govt promised a heightened level of tests for NHS staff. The test kits are still unavailable. Yesterday the govt spokes person declared that testing kits were dependent on chemicals in scare supply. Today several companies have said that they have plenty of the chemicals required.

The UK Department of health wanted the UK to stay in The EU Early Warning and Response System to combat pandemics. No 10 has refused to stay signed up because they don't want this to impact on a clean break from the European Union.  

There is the possibility that farm produce will be difficult to buy if crops of vegetables and fruit cannot be harvested. Most of the Europeans that picked our food for us have gone home and most will not return. Many will not be allowed to return. So are all the Brexiteers who "wanted their country back" and the cessation of free movement of people, willing to get stuck in on the farm? 

Visas of foreign NHS staff, that are about to expire, will be automatically renewed. I guess even the Brexiteers don't want to die through lack of NHS staff so principals can be suspended, due to self interest, when it suits. Of course such consideration did not apply to the Wind rush victims of the government’s so called Hostile Environment policy. 

So we can all see the lack of transparency from our English government. The Scots seem to have a much clearer, honest way of communicating with out much back tracking. A more European attitude perhaps. I believe we should all be wary of the new powers that govt have afforded themselves. I fear that increased authoritarianism might undermine our basic rights still further. The Tories have stealthily whittled away many employment and civic rights long before this emergency. 

So what is good today? Still we are here. We love and breathe.
My local shop keeper has offered to deliver food for no extra charge. He even offered to keep a tab until I had cash. I’m not keen to visit an ATM yet. There is plenty of this unsolicited good will pouring out of people but there will always be a percentage of folk who are destructive and dangerous. They are ignorant and damaged and life has made them selfish and greedy or needy depending on how charitable you feel towards them. No amount of pleas to get in line, to save lives, will register with them enough for them to change course. At the same time the best of folk are working day and night to save our lives at great risk to them selves.

I hope there will be a great deal of new thinking after this. Some of us will be reluctant to spend money with the countless profiteers who see this as a commercial opportunity. I hope it is the end for companies such as Sports Direct, JD Sports and Witherspoons who only changed step when they were embarrassed into it. We don't really need what they sell. 

Actually this applies to much of the stuff in High St Stores. It isn't just the online competition hitting sales but I think it is also an underlying but growing lack of desire for what is on offer. In the same chain of shops in any town you can buy exactly the same offerings. A  great deal of the crap on sale is extremely detrimental to the health of the planet. Most of the shops will soon be flogging 5G phones. 5G technology and High definition streaming is adding to the carbon foot print of the world in a massive way. Apparently streaming produces the same carbon foot print as all air travel. So we have to make choices and this crisis across the world might focus all of us to choose more carefully and more safely in the future. 

NASA have announced that their satellites can film the earth more clearly than for thirty years. Can we halve air travel at a stroke when things return to a new normal born of a new reality? Do we need to drive a car so far, so often and with no passengers? Can we better care for our poorest and most vulnerable? We stand together now so can we stand together for a more meaningful and worth while existence for every one? We need to restore public services to a workable level and re evaluate who are the most important members in society. If we are to pay the top money to the best of us then who should get it? After this is all over I think many of us will have new ideas about that and the way this free market world has let us all down. 

With time to think I hope we might all challenge our own ideas about what is our status quo. I hope we can find new ways to be more effective with out doing so much damage to the possibility of a future for the youngest of us. I hope we can find some new happiness in the new reality forced upon us by the silent enemy and that our personal victories will encourage and sustain us towards a better place for every one.

Be safe.