dec 30 2016

in a pub on the north east coast a group of people met today. they have done for some years. they shared stories and beer. they remembered those no longer able to meet. some of them didn’t even know the man whose birthday they are celebrating.

and he would have loved that.

a pub he said he first frequented over 60 years ago and which we rediscovered together in a new incarnation when we chatted and disagreed over pints some 30 years ago. where he had that new-fangled ‘real ale’ stuff and jimmy deuchars replaced fed special as his brew of choice.

he loved the place.

but he loved even more the group of men who met again this year and those who didn’t but were toasted. he loved sharing those stories and that beer with them. they were true, as friends should be, to the end – though the end doesn’t seem to have happened yet…

so once again, happy 30 december to all his friends, his boys – they were … they are … all his boys.

and from his boy, happy birthday dad and my thanks, now and forever. i raise my glass to you (and yes, it does have something bloody nice in it – i am my father’s son, you know).

simplychristmas 2016

dear readers (hah!)

the fire crackles in the boathouse, radio 4 is on softly in the background for me to ignore, i have (unusually) a gin – a frankly massive slug of tanqueray, squeezed lime, lots of ice and (because we must all buy into the fad brands) fever tree tonic (it does taste nice though…). ahhhh.

and i write knowing you have all gone.

well no, not gone of course but merely that you are somewhere which doesn’t necessarily involve reading here. fickle buggers – it’s a only a year since last i wrote. i write as i have always written – largely for, and to, myself. when readers were kind enough to enjoy and share it, that was a bonus. a lovely bonus.

as i say, it’s only a year since i last wrote.


and without much originality.

oh ok – fair enough.

you are all wherever you are in time and space, but as the father of a teenager (yes the boy in the picture is now a teenager – still perfect, still achingly beautiful but now the platonic ideal of grunting impenetrable teenager) i shout out (am i allowed to use it as a verb any more or has it forever been converted to a noun? oh bugger that, it’s christmas/yule/saturnalia/the winter solstice but so not ‘holidays’ (gakgakgak)) here to my lovely internet mum ms woo (The Witch – please note use of upper case), her grumpy friend (but thanks for the jaffa cakes), sparkle, the lover of humankind ehj, daisy and the awesome violet socks doctor of bloody good sense and simple humanity. after a year when little good seems to have happened in the wider world, i send my love to you all as representatives of everyperson. and yes, i am aware of the irony of that term when the (former) readership of this blog would struggle to fill a ford fiesta.

and yes (a second time) – i do realise my addiction to the parenthesis (if not parentheses) persists.

and no – i’m not getting ‘help’ with that.

dammit where was i? ah yes – putting myself outside a gin in the boathouse. oh and writing. as christmas day and the birth of the summer king approach.

so why write now when there are enough people around the world having what would be a vast understatement to call a thoroughly lousy christmas? when i could devote my energies to … well any of the multitude of things worldwide that need sorting … when i could concentrate on emptying that ocean one spoonful at a time (as a wise woman put it).

well maybe i can tip my teaspoonful of love into the global container. i can send my love and thanks to those here and gone. those who have been kind enough to impact on my life; those i knew intimately and who walked with me for years but will walk with me forever; those i was privileged to spend a little time with and who managed to make me better almost without trying; those i may have seen or heard but who never knew what they gave me; those i encountered only through the intertoobs but still gave me joy or learning or a momentary smile. you are many – and many of you don’t even know you are part of the ‘many’. but i thank you all; i bless the world that sent me those years or seconds that have built whatever i now am.

so friends here, gone and yet to come – my love to you as the bells call out christmas and tell the story of where we are and where we will go. whatever you may believe, whatever name you put on your belief, know that i believe in you. whoever you choose to give your thanks to, know that i thank you. and whoever you love, know that i love you.

in a world so much at war, i wish you peace.

in a world where so many are sad, i wish you joy.

in an uncertain future i wish you .. the glory of uncertainty.

but above all … love – love from those you love; love to those who love you. i tip my tiny spoon of love into the vast cup of the universe and believe it is fuller.

happy christmas


the end

today is the end of coal mining in britain. some people have questioned as a middle-class indulgence the coverage which has mourned the end of that time. some have said ‘the greens and the lefties keep telling us we can’t burn coal’ ‘the miners complained about the danger and the conditions – why do they expect us to mourn this? the hypocrites!’


not ‘why?’ ‘what’

you have to know what we are mourning. we aren’t mourning the dirt, the smoke, the pollution. we aren’t mourning the blood, the broken bones, the history of men crushed deep underground or coughing their lungs up to pneumoconiosis (a word i learned young), the lines of women and children at the pithead waiting silent, grim-faced to see if fathers brothers husbands sons will walk out or be carried out to be washed and laid out one last time by mothers sisters wives daughters – women built that world as much as men did. we aren’t mourning the centuries of exploitation, the creaking of the pit props that gave some warning of collapse, the tommy shops where the men paid in tokens spent their pay on goods sold to them by the mine owner who wasn’t making enough capital on their blood already.

what i’m mourning is the loss of community – community above ground where they supported each other through strikes, through poverty, through the loss of breadwinners with little or no compensation, through every working day when the pit bell rang; community below ground where marrers spoke their own language, sweated together, looked out for each other, dug each other out and manged to survive in the earth’s dark places where men were never designed to go.

but they went there.

if you’re from a pit family, you know. you remember. and today we mourn. but more than that we respect what those men and women have done. i hope we move on – nobody should have to do the job the pitmen did, but it was a job; it was a job that lay at the heart of a community and many of those who walk out of kellingley for the last time today will never have another job; many of their communities have already been destroyed. today i want to celebrate the community, the job and the courage of the men who did it. it was a filthy job that killed too many; some quickly, many slowly, spitting the black out of their lungs for years after they came back up into the light.

just because we move on, doesn’t mean we have to forget.

i remember. i respect. i move on – but i will carry it with me; it’s where i came from. it’s home.


close the coalhouse door, lad, there’s blood inside.

2013 in review

i got an email from wordpress about my amazingly busy blog. it is fascinating.

well, no it isn’t, but you have to make these people feel appreciated somehow. the results are below. they are truly underwhelming. love to all and blessings on all those you love in 2014.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 570 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 10 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

for those hardy souls who do indeed click on the summary (do you have no life at all???) you may be delighted to find – as i was – that my fifth most prolific commenter was a spam site. excellent. but daisy was the diehard. bless you.

the witch – an apology

this blog wishes to apologise to its readers.

to one reader in particular.

and to witches in general.

i realise it’s a pollution of the term; that witches are benign strivers for wisdom. apologies.

and to ‘the witch’ (she knows who she is) nothing but respect, mum.

we apologise that by using the term we may have given the impression that these people are even the same species as the late baroness you know who. (as someone once said ‘even sharing a planet is more related than i want to be’) don’t want her name on here more than i have to.

love to you all.

it’s that day at last

for a long time i thought i would be elated today. when the witch was finally gone i would celebrate for and with all my people. and yet…

how can you celebrate the release of a baffled old woman from dementia? punishment enough for most sins. if that wasn’t enough, perhaps it was fitting that she was punished by becoming an irrelevance and knowing it.

i hope that what i felt as hatred has now changed. but this post isn’t about her; i will try to keep this space free of all that nonsense a little longer. this is about compassion.

gone are the days when i stood on the picket line. that all feels a long time ago. i haven’t been to a march or demonstration since the invasion of iraq. these days i can try and fight for my clients but i wonder if the bigger picture tends to escape me.

but on a day when the minister for persecuting the disabled introduces changes that makes one woman say ”genuine people with genuine disabilities are terrified’ (and i assume she wasn’t sitting in that wheelchair just to amuse herself) if there is one thing that can save us it’s compassion. active and powerful, a real feeling for and with the needs and lives of those around us – the opposite of everything the cult of the now late thatcher glorified. a simple human feeling that joins us all. if anything can dance – maybe not on her grave, but at least on her legacy of despair – it’s compassion.

i hope i can find in myself some of that compassion for her and the human suffering of her demise. i hope that love and care for my fellow humans will keep driving me forward now that my hatred has fizzled out. and i hope that if enough of us realise that compassion is power not weakness we can fight for fairness and make changes that will erase her legacy as completely as if she had never existed.

great thing, hope.

i’m being followed

it’s true it’s official and it’s hellish exciting (for me at least).

this sad and lame excuse for a blog (sneezes from the dust that has accumulated since last he posted) is being followed.

so exciting for me that i want to put a link to the following blog – but i’ll ask them first and then if they are good with it, i will add them to the bogroll.

how honoured they must feel!

how ‘about to get scores of extra readers’ they must be!

how do they live with the thrill?

we shall see.

occupy london – what was it all about?

so occupy london has moved on. and people are asking what it was all about? me too.

well for me, it represented people with different (though related) agendas. it showed them coming together. it became a space where they spoke, put forth their ideas and shared them. above all it was a place WHERE PEOPLE LISTENED. there are many voices in society and not enough ears. we are all guilty of it, being so busy shouting our opinion we have no time to listen to anyone else’s.

if you visited, you would have seen people listening to each other; listening to opinions, hopes, wishes, concerns. and because they listened they were able to consider whether they agreed and their own opinions could be modified. nothing will start to change without people listening. because people listened in this space and respected views they may or may not share, the debate was able to move forward.

of course it didn’t answer questions or solve the problems of society. do its critics really think that could happen simply because some people went and camped outside a building? it never pretended it had the answer – unlike politicians and those omniscient voices from the right. but it did say ‘this is wrong and it must change’.

it posed questions. it showed anyone who was uneasy about the never-hope, never-believe, never-question death grip capitalism exerts on all of us and our desire for something more human, that we weren’t the only ones thinking like that. it was the putney debates of the 21st century. it may well achieve as much – and as little – as they did. like all umbrella organisations, it came, had its moment and then went. but it shoved a crowbar into the door marked ‘no entry’ and opened it a tiny crack to let us see just how blinding and beautiful the light can be on the other side. it begged us to open the door a bit further and see what happens.

where do we go from here? well, where do we want to go?

and to the everlasting fury of those who close their ears and will not hear of anything better or different; those whose own dreams have been denied so long they cannot bear to see anyone else dreaming; those who wish everyone else to fail the way they have, it was achieved without violence. how pissed off were they about that?

critical acclaim for this blog

regular readers (reader) ( err…. anyway) will be unsurprised to hear that there’s a place for us has been recognised internationally as a place of great writing. it seems a latvian by the name of neekid bouncygirls (apparently that’s much like john smith over there in the baltic)(not the beer, obviously, i don’t think they have that kind of thing) has been preeee-ty taken with my, admittedly, damn fine product. he was kind enough to comment as follows:

Hi there, just turned into alert to your blog thru Google, and located that it is really informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I will appreciate in case you proceed this in future. A lot of folks will likely be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

now it’s fair to assume english isn’t this chap’s first language, indeed on this evidence he may not be aware it is a language. but even with these shortcomings he knows quality when he sees it.

and a man who is ‘careful for brussels’ doesn’t just visit blogs at random to leave accolades like this; if he ‘turned into alert to [my] blog’, that must say something (though i’m not quite sure what). he also kindly left a link to his own fascinating website, from which i deduce he is a medical man, quite likely a proctologist. sadly i just don’t have the technical resources here at the blog to reproduce it, but it too ‘will likely be benefited’ … ‘a lot of folks’. i’m certainly not the only one with a ‘really informative’ blog. there are things over a neekid’s site that you definitely don’t see every day.

so cheers to you too and thanks a million for the visit, neekid; i will look you up next time i’m in riga and i can assure you that i, like you, ‘will appreciate  in case you proceed this in the future’. after all, prose like yours doesn’t just write itself!

ah! the old aspirin gag… (yawn)

some chap called foster friess, a backer of one of the republican presidential hopefuls (i forget which; they are after all, all totally the same) has rolled out the old chestnut about aspirin being a good contraceptive …  (get ready to spit your tea down your nose onto the keyboard in uncontrollable mirth) … when held between the woman’s knees.


okay. everyone back and concentrating? keyboards wiped down? ribs bound up with stout tape?

now my grandma would have had no time for such nonsense. living in ‘the north’ long, long ago when times were tough and they had to eat cardboard (probably), they couldn’t afford aspirin. she told me they developed an alternative method of contraception, which was to take a couple of half-bricks and bring them together smartly on the amorous gentleman’s nuts. she said it worked rather well. the sportier girls could even lob them from a distance, simultaneously getting some exercise and developing their aim. it was a hard world my grandma inhabited.

this may also have explained the rise in birth rate during the war. you couldn’t get the half-bricks.


with the benefit of time, i, of course, identified the flaw in this method. it has the age-old problem of laying sole responsibility for contraception at the woman’s door. or wall.


note 1: after the first paragraph, the rest of the post contains very few facts.

note 2: you’ll find a post noting this ‘joke’ and a number of other really really nasty things going on in the states at reclusive leftist. as usual violet socks hits the nail firmly in the knackers. she’d be a dab hand with a half brick too, i reckon.