Monday, December 31, 2012

Posted on the net by a Fellow Worker and lifted by your humble servant.
A Scottish toast, "Here's tae the next yin, ah'm sure o' this yin". It refers to the drink in hand, but I refer to the years, incoming and outgoing.
A light-hearted poem by the renowned scientist J.B.S. Haldane about the disease that was to kill him eventually. You have to admire the fellow's equanimity.

(J.B.S. Haldane)

I wish I had the voice of Homer
To sing of rectal carcinoma,
Which kills a lot more chaps, in fact,
Than were bumped off when Troy was sacked.

Yet, thanks to modern surgeon’s skills,
It can be killed before it kills
Upon a scientific basis
In nineteen out of twenty cases.

I noticed I was passing blood
(Only a few drops, not a flood).
So pausing on my homeward way
From Tallahassee to Bombay
I asked a doctor, now my friend,
To peer into my hinder end,
To prove or to disprove the rumour
That I had a malignant tumour.

They pumped in BaS04.
Till I could really stand no more,
And, when sufficient had been pressed in,
They photographed my large intestine,
In order to decide the issue
They next scraped out some bits of tissue.
(Before they did so, some good pal
Had knocked me out with pentothal,
Whose action is extremely quick,
And does not leave me feeling sick.)
The microscope returned the answer
That I had certainly got cancer,
So I was wheeled into the theatre
Where holes were made to make me better.
One set is in my perineum
Where I can feel, but can’t yet see ‘em.
Another made me like a kipper
Or female prey of Jack the Ripper,
Through this incision, I don’t doubt,
The neoplasm was taken out,
Along with colon, and lymph nodes
Where cancer cells might find abodes.
A third much smaller hole is meant
To function as a ventral vent:
So now I am like two-faced Janus
The only* god who sees his anus.

(*In India there are several more
With extra faces, up to four,
But both in Brahma and in Shiva
I own myself an unbeliever.)

I’ll swear, without the risk of perjury,
It was a snappy bit of surgery.
My rectum is a serious loss to me,
But I’ve a very neat colostomy,
And hope, as soon as I am able,
To make it keep a fixed time-table.
So do not wait for aches and pains
To have a surgeon mend your drains;
If he says “cancer” you’re a dunce
Unless you have it out at once,
For if you wait it’s sure to swell,
And may have progeny as well.
My final word, before I’m done,
Is “Cancer can be rather fun”.
Thanks to the nurses and Nye Bevan
The NHS is quite like heaven
Provided one confronts the tumour
With a sufficient sense of humour.

I know that cancer often kills,
But so do cars and sleeping pills;
And it can hurt one till one sweats,
So can bad teeth and unpaid debts.
A spot of laughter, I am sure,
Often accelerates one’s cure;
So let us patients do our bit
To help the surgeons make us fit.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I quote my four-year-old grandson -
"You know my Dad? He knows everything. But, you know my Mam? She knows more."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A poem by Edwin Morgan as if penned by James Macfarlan (1832-64), 'the pedlar poet'. The attitude to Robert Burns in Morgan's poem does not reflect Macfarlan's attitude as expressed in the second poem, or in other poems of his that referred to Burns. So what was Morgan up to, depicting Burns as a poseur and a social climber? Was he calling for a reassessment of Burns' image, (though not his work)?

(Edwin Morgan)

'A man's a man for a' that' – how does he know?
Traipsing with his plough, the rural hero,
Swaggering down the lea-rigs, talking to mice,
Sweating his sickly verses to entice
Lassies he'd never see again, strutting
Through the salons in his best breeches, rutting
In a cloud of claret, buttonholing
Lord This, sweet-talking Doctor That, bowling
His wit down levees, bosoms, siller quaichs –
D'ye think he's ever heard the groans and skraighs
Of city gutters, or marked the shapes that wrap
Fog and smoke about them as if they could hap
Homelessness or keep hunger at bay? What,
Not heard or seen, but has he even thought
How some, and many, and more than many, survive,
Or don't survive, on factory floors, or thrive
Or fail to thrive by foundry fires, or try
To find the words – sparks scatter and bolts fly –
That's feeble – to show the new age its dark face?
The Carron Ironworks – how he laughed at the place,
Made a joke of our misery, passed on
To window-scratch his diamond-trivia, and swan
Through country-house and customs-post, servile
To the very gods from which he ought to resile!
'Liberty's a glorious feast,' you said.
Is that right? Wouldn't the poor rather have bread?
Burns man, I'm hard on you, I'm sorry for it.
I think such poetry is dangerous, that's all.
Poetry must pierce the filthy wall
With cries that die on country ways. The glow
Of bonhomie will not let the future grow.

(James Macfarlan)

PROUD was the morn old Scotland saw
The highest heaven of genius spread
A halo-crown of glorious light
Above yon humble shed.
The spirit of her ancient song
Again assumed the mountain lyre,
Till trembling o'er the witching chords
She found it strung with fire.

As Morning lifts her vapoury veil
To show the blessed face of Day,
That spell revealed a smiling love
Beside the humblest way.
Weird echoes floated o'er the fields,
Strange music melted o'er the hills,
Till wilder beauty tinged our flowers
And lit our wandering rills.

O stirring spirit! by our hearths,
When mad'ning winter scares the night,
With thee we chase the gloom and walk
A paradise of light.
And still that glorious spirit sings
By haunted heath and crumbling cairn,
And in each wailing sough that sweeps
Across the lonely fern.

It thrills the plumed and plaided band
When buried in the mists of fight:
Writes "Glory" on war's face of fire,
And gilds the haggard height.
All proud they climb the cliffs of death,
And dare the burning battle day,
Till Victory wreathes the heart that throbb'd
To sound of "Scots wha hae."

O mighty minstrel! still while e'er
A daisy decks thy native sward
The Scottish heart shall proudly hold
Its own immortal bard:
While virgin Spring, through glen and shaw,
Her thousand notes of love shall tune;
While Summers in their Eden sleep
Lie dreaming on the Doon.

Wherever Deity hath set
His signet on our human clay;
Wherever honour, truth, and love
Shall hold united sway:
Wherever Independance stern
The spangled minion spurns,
There—find embalmed in every breast
The name of ROBERT BURNS!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas in Porvoo, Finland. Photograph by my friend Katriina who lives there.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem"; but not if you're a Palestinian Christian.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"If this can happen to a senior government minister, then what chance would a youth in Brixton or Wandsworth have?" (Andrew Mitchell, MP and paid up member of the patriciate).
The question is rhetorical, of course. Mitchell knows the answer and, to be frank, doesn't really give a shit about the youth of Brixton or Wandsworth. He's just got it in for the police. Once he's back where he thinks he belongs it'll be "Carry on, constable!".
The dispute about what Mitchell said to the coppers goes on. But I've been assured that he has never uttered the following -

"I'll sing you a song
and it won't take long
... (etc).

"I was done up like a kipper."

"Straight up, gov., I was verballed."

"Old Bill felt me collar, 'ad me dahn the factory on me toes, and fitted me up good and proper. Do you fink I'll do bird for this?"

Saturday, December 22, 2012


It has recently been discovered that the Co-Op Bank and group of companies
have had a 4 year occupational health contract with Atos.
Atos make huge profits carrying out work capability assessments on sick
and disabled people on behalf of the Government.
As was exposed by a Channel 4 documentary they automatically pass 7 out of
8 people as fit for work - to comply with Government targets for benefit
Their decisions are not based on objective medical opinion. The Government
are cutting benefits as part of their austerity measures aimed mainly at
the poor, while those responsible for the public debt continue to get
Despite the media headlines about one or two bankers losing their bonuses,
generally bankers' bonuses and those of company directors continue to
grow. Sales in luxury goods are also rising.
Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland have received 24,000 complaints about
Atos. CAB win 80% of appeals against Atos finding people fit for work.
The Daily Record reported on a Government survey that showed half of those
found fit for work by Atos end up destitute.
The Co-Op sells itself as an ethical company, but what ethical standards
are they maintaining by not publicly ruling out awarding a new contract
that gives millions to a company that cuts the benefits of sick and
disabled people?
Hundreds of people have already complained about the contract on The
Cooperative Facebook page and by tweeting @TheCo-operative.
Why not join them and tell the Co-Op that you will stop shopping at their
supermarkets or that you will close your Co-Op bank account unless they
publicly state they will not be renewing their contact with Atos? You can
also email
Charles Mackay nineteenth century author and journalist, born Perthshire. One of his works was an attempt to prove that all the languages of Europe derived from the Scots Gaelic. I wonder how he fared with that?

You have no enemies, you say?
Alas, my friend, the boast is poor,
For those who have mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes.
If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from purjured lip,
You’ve never set the wrong to right.
You’ve been a coward in the fight.

I've left the spelling 'purjured' unchanged. For all I know it could be an acceptable alternative to the usual one.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thinking about my other blog, redundant since I'm learning to live with the arrogant behaviour of this vehicle.
I have long nursed the idea of a website dedicated to an interest of mine, onomastics, especially the study of surnames. Being a technomoron I see all the problems that a website would heap on my head. Setting it up - should that be building? - would be the first obstacle, and probably the last; website a non-starter.
So here, lying fallow, is a website of sorts. What is to stop me posting up notes on local surnames that I've collected? Nothing but my inability to get on with the damned blog. I shall make a tentative start.
Heroic Israeli soldiers, unflinching in the face of Palestinian terrorism.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Elsewhere on the net someone was asking for a translation into Latin of a couple of sentences. I advised google translate, which Chris H. directed me to some time back.
Then I had a thought - what if it doesn't work? I went to the site and typed the two sentences in and a load of nonsense appeared. It seems that google has the Latin vocabulary, but not the grammar. So most of the words were there but making no sense.
Translation always worries me. Is it correct? Could it be expressed more accurately? Has something been left out? Has something been added? I remember at school one of our language teachers uttering an Italian proverb, Traduttore, traditore. It would be treacherous of me to translate that phrase, but it has hung round my neck like an albatross ever since (well, maybe I exaggerate for effect).
In my current poetry season I posted a translation of Egan O'Rahilly's sneer at Cromwell and his Irish fans, and harked back to an earlier posting of the same poem by John Montague. The original Irish, as found, had three veres, as did the Leerssen translation. But Montague's version has four verses. Is the fourth verse his own?
So the following poem is on the theme of translation. It is another of Marvell's, dedicated to a Hull medical man, Dr. Robert Witty. Same Witty had translated a medical treatise from the Latin of Dr. James Primrose. Primrose is a person of interest to me as I can count kin with him. Although he was born in France and died in Hull his family origins lay in the parish of Culross, in Scotland, where the Primrose family grew, rose fell, and eventually moved on. The great genealogical chart of more than a thousand related Primroses features Doctor James as well as less illustrious ancestors of mine, tenant farmers, seafarers, etc.
The good doctor's medical work was an attack on some of the cranky ideas of his fellow professionals, but it seems that he could compete with his peers in the field of crankiness.
So to the poem. Who was Celia? A very smart lady, we learn, but that cut no ice with our Andrew. A woman should know her place and not try competing with men. Or was he holding up contemporary prejudice for inspection?


(Andrew Marvell)

Sit further, and make room for thine own fame,
Where just desert enrolles thy honour'd Name
The good Interpreter. Some in this task
Take of the Cypress vail, but leave a mask,
Changing the Latine, but do more obscure
That sence in English which was bright and pure.
So of Translators they are Authors grown,
For ill Translators make the Book their own.
Others do strive with words and forced phrase
To add such lustre, and so many rayes,
That but to make the Vessel shining, they
Much of the precious Metal rub away.
He is Translations thief that addeth more,
As much as he that taketh from the Store
Of the first Author. Here he maketh blots
That mends; and added beauties are but spots.
Caelia whose English doth more richly flow
Then Tagus, purer then dissolved snow,
And sweet as are her lips that speak it, she
Now learns the tongues of France and Italy;
But she is Caelia still: no other grace
But her own smiles commend that lovely face;
Her native beauty's not Italianated,
Nor her chast mind into the French translated:
Her thoughts are English, though her sparkling wit
With other Language doth them fitly fit.
Translators learn of her: but stay I slide
Down into Error with the Vulgar tide;
Women must not teach here: the Doctor doth
Stint them to Cawdles Almond-milk, and Broth.
Now I reform, and surely so will all
Whose happy Eyes on thy Translation fall,
I see the people hastning to thy Book,
Liking themselves the worse the more they look,
And so disliking, that they nothing see
Now worth the liking, but thy Book and thee.
And (if I Judgement have) I censure right;
For something guides my hand that I must write.
You have Translations statutes best fulfil'd.
That handling neither sully nor would guild.

Monday, December 17, 2012

America’s Teachers: Heroes or Greedy Moochers at the Public Trough?
(T-Bone Slim)

I pray dear Lord for Jesus' sake,
Give us this day a T-Bone Steak,
Hallowed be thy Holy name,
But don’t forget to send the same.
Oh, hear my humble cry, Oh Lord,
And send us down some decent board,
Brown gravy and some German fried,
With sliced tomatoes on the side.
Observe me on my bended legs,
I’m asking you for Ham and Eggs,
And if thou havest custard pies,
I like, dear Lord, the largest size.
Oh, hear my cry, All Mighty Host,
I quite forgot the Quail on Toast,
Let your kindly heart be stirred,
And stuff some oysters in that bird.
Dear Lord, we know your holy wish,
On Friday we must have a fish,
Our flesh is weak and spirit stale,
You better make that fish a whale.
Oh, hear me Lord, remove these “Dogs,”
These sausages of powder’d logs,
Your bull beef hash and bearded Snouts.
Take them to hell or thereabouts.
With Alum bread and Pressed-Beef butts,
Dear Lord you damn near ruin’d my guts,
Your white-wash milk and Oleorine,
I wish to Christ I’d never seen.
Oh, hear me Lord, I am praying still,
But if you won’t, our union will,
Put pork chops on the bill of fare,
And starve no workers anywhere.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


"That caused two Senators who are steadfast loyalists of the CIA - Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein and Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin - to issue statements definitively debunking this assertion. Even the CIA's then-Director, Leon Panetta, made clear that those techniques played no role in finding bin Laden. An FBI agent central to the bin Laden hunt said the same.
"What this film does, then, is uncritically presents as fact the highly self-serving, and factually false, claims by the CIA that its torture techniques were crucial in finding bin Laden. Put another way, it propagandizes the public to favorably view clear war crimes by the US government, based on pure falsehoods.
All six teachers killed in the Newtown massacre (USA) were members of the American Federation of Teachers, or 'union thugs' as some American perverts call. Gun loving perverts who make sneering remarks about photographs of dead Palestinian children.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Once, while deploring my home town's obsession with the racist poet Philip Larkin, I wondered how many statues of poets graced the Hull scene.
I'd forgotten one. Andrew Marvell (1621-1678), born near Hull, educated in Hull - "among Boatswains and Cabin boys" - and Member of Parliament for Hull in the 1660s; diplomat, linguist.
His best known poem is probably the one addressed "To His Coy Mistress", so I suppose I'd better give that an outing. It does mention the River Humber, so important to Hull, but also the Ganges, so as not to be too parochial.
I may publish one of more interest to me later, but for now -


Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Marvell* is always described as a 'metaphysical poet'. I must demonstrate my ignorance and admit that I'm damned if I know why. Metaphysical, "beyond the physical"?

*In Hull we say Marvel, literary types say MarVELL. For English names my rule is, when in doubt stress the first syllable.

I just got a telephone call from my son with the news that the Tour de France 1914 will kick off as a petit tour de Yorkshire. Le Grand Départ will take place in my home county. No details of the route yet but rumours in the past have mentioned a crossing of the Humber Bridge just outside of Hull.
WayHAY! Here's hoping I live to see it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Crossing Monument Bridge in town on Saturday I heard these lads giving it hell on acoustic guitars. The music they were making was great, to me a cross between Flamenco guitar and the manouche jazz style of Django Reinhart and his many Sinti imitators. I thought of buying their CDs on the spot, but, ever cautious, I decided to look for their music online first and give it a listen.
I'm now a fan, and in pursuit of their recorded output.
They're also on facebook and twitter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In the course of an earlier poetry season I posted an English language version, by John Montague, of a poem addressed to Oliver Cromwell. I could not find the Irish original at the time, but I have since. Here it is with (first) another translation by Joseph Theodoor Leerssen -

(Aogán Ó Rathaille)

More power to you Cromwell
you king in rustics' chronicles;
during your reign we got peace,
honey, cream and honour.

Just as Patrick removed murrain
from the race of Adam in Ireland,
so you removed our one-day -a-week service
and many unjust ordinances.

I pray that no Kavanagh, O'Byrne,
O'Nolan, Kinsella,
Rice nor Roche
may get a sod of his ancestral land.

Treise leat a Chromuil
a righ chroinic na sculóg'
as red linn fuaireamar suaimhneas,
mil, uachtar agus onóir.

Mar do choisg Pádruig an bó-ár
do chloinn Ádhaimh an Éirinn
do choisg tú dhínne lá seachtmhuine
is mórán dliosdionuis éigirt.

Iarruim gan Caomhánach ná Branach,
Nuallánach ná Cinnsiolach,
Raoisioch ná Róisteach
d'fhagháil fóid do chuid a sinnsior.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quote -
"Prank calls are the new lowest form of wit." John Lloyd, comedy impresario, in today's 'i' (silly name).
If they can be be styled 'wit'. To me they are a form of bullying. They are the instrument of the irresponsible used in the main against people who have no defence mechanism and no means of redress. Only a sadist would regard such invasions as a form of entertainment.
Meanwhile, Scotland's Man of the Year has been named as Michael Forbes, steadfast opponent of Donald Trump's attempt to take over North-East Scotland. The billionaire bully and stranger to the truth has harassed and persecuted Mr. Forbes, cutting off his water and building on his land. He has also slandered Mr. Forbes to any journalistic toady willing to publish his lies. His allies in this dirty work are the local police force and the local MSP who is also Scotland's First Minister. Vote for devolution and Donald Trump.
The Scots, we learn, don't like a bully. Now Trump has turned his firepower on the sponsors of the award, the makers of Glenfiddich malt whisky. He has ordered his subjects to boycott that product. Let's see if the distillers stick to their guns over this. If they do it's Glenfiddich for me this festive season.
(This plug does not signal a change of policy on advertising and product placement)

Friday, December 07, 2012

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

François Villon (1431-1466?)was a strange fellow, a brilliant poet and a low criminal. He was once sentenced to death for the murder of a priest and wrote a poem "Ballad of the Hanged Men", about that experience. While his fellow truands were topped François appears to have claimed Benefit of Clergy and been reprieved. Anybody who could rattle off a line or two of Latin had a fair chance of avoiding the ultimate sanction. This is the origin of the term "patter" in English; if you could say the Paternoster, you had the patter. Later François left Paris and disappeared from history.
This poem takes the form of a prayer to the Mother of Jesus as it would be recited by a woman. It was said to have been written for his mother at her request. The envoi has an acrostic of the name Villon, plus an E which may be added as a feminine ending. It's in medieval French, which is tough, because I can't translate it, and I've never seen an English language version. But it is to me a beautiful poem, regardless of my opinion of religions.

(François Villon)

Dame des cieulx, régente terrienne
Empérière des infernaux paluz,
Recevez moy, vostre humble chrestienne,
Que comprinse soye entre vos esleuz,
Ce non obstant qu’oncques rien ne valuz.
Les biens de vous, ma dame et ma maistresse
Sont trop plus grans que ne suis pécheresse,
Sans lesquels biens ame ne peut mérir
N’avoir les cieulx, je n’en suis jengleresse.
En ceste foy je vueil vivre et mourir.

À vostre Filz dictes que je suis sienne;
De luy soyent mes péchiez absoluz:
Pardonne moy comme a l’Egipcienne,
Ou comme il feist au clerc Théophilus,
Lequel par vous fut quitte et absoluz,
Combien qu’il eust au diable fait promesse.
Préservez moy, que ne face jamais ce,
Vierge portant, sans rompure encourir,
Le sacrement qu’on célèbre a la messe
En ceste foy je vueil vivre et mourir.

Femme je suis, povrette et ancienne,
Qui rien ne sçay ; oncques lettre ne leuz;
Au moustier voy dont suis paroissienne
Pâradis painct, où sont harpes et luz,
Et ung enfer où damnez sont boulluz:
L’ung me fait paour, l’autre joye et liesse.
La joye avoir fais moy, haulte Déesse,
A qui pécheurs doivent tous recourir,
Comblez de foy, sans faincte ne paresse.
En ceste foy je vueil vivre et mourir.


Vous portastes, digne Vierge, princesse,
Iésus régnant, qui n’a ne fin ne cesse.
Le Tout-Puissant, prenant nostre foiblesse,
Laissa les cieulx et nous vint secourir,
Offrir à mort sa très chière jeunesse.
Nostre Seigneur tel est, tel le confesse.
En ceste foy je vueil vivre et mourir.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

(copyleft, Miko Peled)

Just thinking.
The ubiquitous Gary Barlow - do I detect a pattern?
Cosying up to royalty; Crony of bullying right-wing Prime Minister; collector (incipient) of honours.
Could this be the new Jimmy Savile?

Monday, December 03, 2012



Disabled campaigners have declared International Disabled People's Day a 'national day of remembrance for those killed by Atos' claiming government welfare reform is destroying lives. As part of a national day of action supported by disabled campaigning groups and almost thirty MPs, campaigners will gather at the statue of Aneurin Bevan, founder of the NHS, for a candelight vigil at 5 pm on Monday 3 December.
ATOS, the French IT company that carries out the controversial Work Capability Assessments for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has been the subject of widespread condemnation from disability charities and the British Medical Assocation who call for the assesments to be scrapped completely. The firm has been accused of target chasing for cutting the amount of people found eligible for benefits.Earlier this year a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary revealed the DWP requires ATOS to reject the benefit claims of 7 out of 8 disabled claimants without any reference to medical evidence.

A spokeswoman for Disabled People Against Cuts Cardiff said,

'ATOS make money implementing the UK Government’s cuts to social security. Last year they callously struck thousands of vulnerable and disabled people off the welfare roll with their bizarre “work capability assessments" that find cancer patients, heart transplant patients, the terminally ill, the mortally sick - even someone in a coma ‘fit for work'.
This government has sent too many of us to an early grave, and forced thousands of others to spend their last living days penniless and starving, fearful of losing the roof over their head. There is no greater symbol of everything wrong with this country than what is being done to kick the crutches away from the poor, the disabled and the dying.

Our campaign is part of a national campaign that goes by the name "Atos Kills". This is based on well-documented evidence that approximately 32 disabled people a week died last year after their Atos Work Capability Assessments deemed them "fit to work" and stopped benefits. This year the figure may have risen to 73 deaths per week including suicides'

Four Welsh MPs, Martin Caton, Anne Clwyd, Jonathan Edwards and Albert Owen, have signed an early day motion in support of the day of remembrance stating,

'That this House wishes to record the case of Mr Brian McArdle who, having suffered a blood clot on his brain, was left paralysed on one side, unable to speak properly and blind in one eye and yet was summoned to an Atos work capacity assessment, before which he suffered a further stroke and was eventually informed he was to lose his disability benefits; notes with sadness that Mr McArdle died from a heart attack the day after his benefits were stopped and that his 13 year old son Kieran wrote to Atos to tell the company that their assessments `are killing genuine people like my dad'; and appreciates why disability campaigners like Susan Archibald are calling for the suspension of Atos assessments, and why Jim Moore and other campaigners are calling for 3 December to be a day of remembrance for all Atos victims'
According to an FOI (Freedom of Information) response publicised by the Daily Mail journalist Sonia Poulton on October 7, the current weekly average Atos/DWP death toll of people found fit for work after an ESA work capability assessment now stands at 73 people per week.

A FOI in April revealed in 2011 an average of 32 dying a week after failing test for new incapacity benefit. More than a thousand ­sickness benefit claimants died last year after being told to get a job.

There have been numerous horror stories in the media of people with terminal illnesses (in one infamous case even someone in a coma) being declared fit for work by ATOS and having their benefits cut.

Recent Stories:

'A GRIEVING boy of 13 has accused Atos of killing his disabled dad. Kieran McArdle told the Daily Record in a harrowing letter how his father Brian, 57, collapsed and died the day after his disability benefits were stopped. He had been assessed by Atos and deemed “fit for work”'

'A cancer sufferer, who had her benefits cut by government officials who said she was fit to work, has died'.

'I sought this debate in order to raise the case of one of my constituents, Colin Traynor, who was epileptic. He was assessed as fit for work, yet died less than four months later' (Michael Meacher MP)

Sunday, December 02, 2012

(Mariko Sakurai)

A nation is dying in front of our eyes
You can close your eyes and choose not to see it
You can walk away and forget about it
But this nation closes its eyes to die
when we close our eyes not to see it

The world's largest prison with innocent people dying
The world's largest prison with children starving

A nation is dying in front of our eyes
You can close your eyes and choose not to see it
You can click and go to other videos
But this nation cannot even shout
when we drive the last nail to the coffin of Gaza

The world's largest prison with innocent people dying
The world's largest prison with children starving.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Branches: San Francisco Bay Area GMB
Campaigns: Food & Retail Workers Organizing
Union News: Foodstuff Workers Industrial Union 460

Domino’s Pizza sucks. Not just in the sense that it treats its workers heinously, the pizza itself is of a low quality. Eating a slice of Domino’s pizza is a similar experience to swallowing a salt shaker. So its not surprising that on a Saturday night in Berkeley, the Domino’s storefront was dead. A delivery car would run out the back every 15 minutes or so, but business was not booming.

Us Wobblies posted up at a Chinese restaurant next door, waiting for 6 PM, when our demonstration was set to begin. We had committed to stage an action in solidarity with Domino’s Delivery Drivers in Australia, who have received an arbitrary wage cut of 19%, a punishment for the 23 delivery drivers who raised complaints over a trend of paychecks that came up short of their promised salaries.

The consensus in the Chinese restaurant was that this was going to be a git ’er done and out kind of deal. Walk around with signs in front of the location for a couple hours, chant some angry chants, and flyer passersby. Hopefully, by the end of the night, we’d cost Domino’s a few customers, get the workers thinking about the stability of their own wages, and bother the boss enough that they’d give corporate management a call.

But we got so much more.

The first step we took was to enter the Domino’s, tell the workers what was happening, give them flyers for informational purposes, and make it clear that we were on their side. But one of the workers at the front end wasn’t having it. She ran to the back, screaming for her boss like we were trying to rob the place.

Her boss came out in a ridiculous fury, charging us with disrupting the operation of some sort of mom n’ pop shop.

“I treat my people well here!” she said. “And you’re trying to mess that up! This is a franchise! I’m a small business owner! YOU DAMN WOBBLIES!”

It’s strange to think that someone would have the nerve to argue that a store with the Domino’s logo on it had no relationship whatsoever with the Domino’s Pizza Corporation.

So at first there were 4 of us, marching in a circle. Then a veteran wob showed up and we had 5. Then 3 comrades from the WSA appeared, followed by two more fellow workers, and we had quite a mass rally going on. Some guy I’d never met before was walking down the street, saw what was going on, thought it made sense, and joined in.

It was nice, but not very exhilarating. The cops had been called, but Berkeley PD doesn’t exactly make small demos on the sidewalk a high priority. Eventually a cop did show up, but he only stuck around for a few minutes, told us our rights, and left. He was almost sarcastic in how little he seemed to care about what was going on. There was a quality of excitement lacking from the whole affair.

Fortunately, the boss changed that in a bigger way than we could have ever hoped.

Suddenly, workers started running outside with flyers and pizzas, and started passing them out to anyone that seemed interested. A fellow worker who had been passing out flyers at the corner asked what the deal was, and ran back to us with an big grin on his face:

“That idiot is giving free pizza away to everyone. She thinks it’s gonna convince people that Domino’s isn’t so bad.”

That’s right, the boss’ response to our attempt to cost Domino’s money was… to cost Domino’s way more money than we could have ever anticipated.

Not wanting anyone to miss out on this opportunity, 3 of us split up and ran to the busiest intersections in Berkeley, telling everyone that they could get free pizza just by asking for it. Most folks were skeptical, but hordes of hungry teenagers were willing to take the risk that we might be pulling a fast one. Within minutes, twitter was crackling with the news. From Telegraph to Shattuck, crowds of Berkeley’s nightlife were descending upon Domino’s.

By the time I had returned to the pizza joint, a dense line was stretching out the door and down to the corner. Domino’s workers were passing out free sodas to everyone waiting. As we observed the people coming out the door, it was obvious that they weren’t just getting free slices, the boss was throwing away full pies. Some even had the gall to ask for sides… and got them.

Wobblies soapboxed to the crowd waiting in line, educating them on what had happened in Australia. People who had came just wanting to take advantage of the situation left shocked at the contempt with which Domino’s treats its workers. We were congratulated on our ability to help people by hurting profits.

By this time, the boss had clearly realized that her clever plan was a disaster, but there was nothing she could do but wait it out. The people were too many and too hungry. Delivery drivers were rolling in laughter at the spectacle, thanking us for also getting all the workers inside free pizzas, apparently out of the boss’ fear that our demonstration would get them to think about organizing. The bribe didn’t seem to work at all.

Eventually it was decided that we should leave, figuring that if a riot ensued when Domino’s ran out of commodities, we didn’t want the IWW banner across it. We had done our part. But after our demo had dissipated, we drove past the storefront one more time, only to behold the sight of a line just as long as we had left it, the costs to the corporation still spiraling even in the absence of our presence.

Someone estimated the damage we did that night puts the cost to Domino’s somewhere between $2,000 to $4,000.

Just out of curiosity, I called the location several hours later to see how they were handling the fallout:

Domino’s Worker: “Thank you for choosing Domino’s, how can I help you?”

Me: “Hey, I heard y’all are giving away free pizza. What’s going on?”

Domino’s Worker: “No, no, that just ended, we ran out of… no that just ended.”

Me: “Oh, ok. So what’s the deal with that? Is it a Saturday thing, or just a random event, or what?”

Domino’s Worker: “No, we just did that to get rid of… I mean, that was a… spur-of-the-moment customer appreciation thing.”

Domino’s obviously won’t tell the real story, so it falls to us. If anyone asks what went down in Berkeley that night, just tell them that the biggest pizza company in the world was thrown into such a panic by the sight of Wobblies at the door that they threw a couple grand worth of surplus value down the drain.

(Lifted from

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Francis studied at Hull University. Need I add that the phrase "A Terrible Beauty" is from a poem of Yeats?

(Francis Devine, May Day 1999)

They were beating him,
the black man,
on a side street in Dolphin's Barn,
Tuesday afternoon about half three,
they were beating him.

Four young men were kicking him,
not knowing when to stop,
jackals at some other beast's kill,
they were beating him,
a passive, stuffing-less rag doll,
slouched against a wall,
offering no resistance,
they were beating him.

As I slowed the car
they stopped, swore at me,
threw things then ran off
shouting back racist abuse,
'Effing nigger lover,
we'll burst yous,
you effing banana man'.

As I helped him stand
I saw he was West African,
Nigerian maybe, a broad face,
two tribal nicks at his temples,
his teeth trembling, oozing blood
as if he had been guzzling cherries.

He clutched his stomach,
stumbled but shook off my hand,
his eyebrows slit like Dick Tiger
somewhere in the fourteenth round.
He said nothing as I suggested assistance,
that I would bring him to James's
that I would bring him home.

They had beaten him
the black man, cold and curious
in Dublin 8, flotsam or jetsam,
in need of a welcome, a smiling face,
in need of the sun, the smell of red earth.

'This is a terrible country' he said
and I thought of the 1960s
looking for digs in Brixton
with their printed signs
'No Wogs, No Dogs, No Irish'.
I wondered would Nelson
give back his freedom to a city
that could savagely beat
a man on the street
because he was black,
a vulnerable, wondering stranger,
an easy target.

Is this the terrible beauty
we have reared?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Governments don't rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world." (Alessio Rastani)

I see that the next governor of the Bank of England is a Goldman Sachs alumnus. He has informed the nation of his priorities, "It's very important for the global economy that the UK does well, that it succeeds in this rebalancing of their economy, that the reform of the British financial system is completed." What reform is that, I wonder?
So, what's good for "the global economy" will have to be good enough for the British people. Sir Mark (the knighthood follows the British citizenship) was also involved in Goldman Sachs' fixing of the Russian economy.

"Senior Goldman executives expressed regret that Russia's economic program collapsed and that the deals that bear Goldman's imprimatur did not always work as intended. But they defended the firm's role there as 'very constructive' and attributed the country's troubles to problems that had little to do with investment banking."
"When the Government defaulted, Goldman said its losses were 'absolutely minimal'."
(New York Times, 18 October 1998)

Sir Mark should get on well with the President of the European Central Bank, Cavaliere Mario Draghi (ex-Goldman Sachs); and the unelected Italian Prime Minister, Cavaliere Mario Monti (ex-guess who). Pity the unelected Prime Minister of Greece, Loukas Papademos (ex-guess who) resigned so quickly. Apparently Goldmann Sachs has big money riding on Greece quitting the Eurozone.

Monday, November 26, 2012

(Oodgeroo Noonuccal)

Black ADVANCE, not white ascendant;
Make us equals, not dependents.
We need help, not exploitation.
We want FREEDOM, NOT frustration;
Not control, but self-reliance.
Independence, not compliance.
Not rebuff, but education.
Self-respect, not resignation.
Free us from a mean subjugation.
From a bureaucratic protection.
Let's forget the old time slavers;
Give us fellowship, not favours;
Encouragement not prohibitions.
Homes, not settlements and missions.
We need love not over-lordship,
Grip of hand, not whip-hand wardship:
Opportunity that places
White and black on equal basis.
You dishearten, not defend us,
Circumscribe, who should befriend us.
Give us welcome, not aversion.
Give us choice not cold coercion,
Status, not discrimination.
HUMAN RIGHTS, not segregation.
You the law, like Roman Pontius,
Make us proud, not colour-conscious:
Give good will not bigot bias;
Give ambition, not prevention.
Confidence not condescension
Give incentive, not restriction.
Give us Christ, not crucifixion.
Though baptized and blessed and Bibled
We are still taboo and libeled.
You devout salvation sellers.
Make us neighbours, not fringe-dwellers:
Make us mates not poor relations,
Citizens not serfs on stations.
Must we native Old Australians
In our own land rank as aliens?
Banish bans and conquer caste,
Then we'll win our own at last.
"... the Israeli state has successfully intimidated the BBC into presenting the theft of Palestinian land and the caging, torturing and killing of its people as an intractable "conflict" between equals. Standing in the rubble from an Israeli attack, one BBC journalist went further and referred to "Gaza's strong culture of martyrdom". So great is this distortion that young viewers of BBC News have told Glasgow University researchers they are left with the impression that Palestinians are the illegal colonisers of their own country. The current BBC "coverage" of Gaza's genocidal misery reinforces this."
(John Pilger)

I've been wondering; as the BBC does all in its power to cover up the atrocities and to lay the blame for the conflict at the victims' door, could it be laying itself open to the charge of being an accessory to war crimes?
William Hague, our Foreign Secretary who can't tell his Libya from his Venezuela, has pronounced on the Leveson Enqiry into the criminal activities of the press.
"We must err on the side of Murdoch" he said. At least that's what I think he said.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My father-in-law's war was fought in Mediterranean with the 8th Army, known as the 'Desert Rats'. He was at el Alamein in North Africa, and at Monte Cassino in Italy.
Here's a poem by a cavalryman of the Royal Tank Regiment of the 8th Army. Not much about ducking the bullets, but strong on other drawbacks to a life in arms.

(M. Rawlinson)

There's some who say the Medi-
Terranean is heady;
While others who have stayed there
Are very much afraid there's
A lot more to be said
About the highly vaunted Med.

For instance there's malaria
In the Mare Nostrum area;
and pox in many a guise
Small and cow and otherwise
Can easily be caught
Doing things you didn't ought.

Then there's flies and fleas and
Lice and crabs that tease and
Make themselves a pest
Always hanging round the test-
Icles playing hide and seek
In the ballroom, so to speak.

And many more afflictions
That cause a lot of restrictions;
The brothers 'dyer' and 'gonner'
Are active winter and summer.
And dysentery's a damned in-
Convenience notwithstanding.

So I think that you'll agree,
That those who say the sea
Is nearly always blue,
(which is nearly always true)
Are deliberately misleading
The folks who judge by reading
That the Med for sure and certain
Is the place to do some flirting.
But you and I know better
And you can bet an old French letter-
Box, that when the war is over
I'll count myself in clover
As long as I've a bed
That is nowhere near the Med.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Israel-based journalist Jonathan Cook noted via Facebook on November 15:

'Here, according to the BBC, are the five most important stories relating to Israel's attack on Gaza. (Screengrab via Nour Bakr):

'Gaza missiles fired at Tel Aviv

'Israel's Gaza rocket problem

'"Hamas targets our children"

"'Determined to follow the path of jihad"

'UK's Hague criticises Hamas'
My Old Man served in the 14th Army in Burma during World War II. We never got on, though we managed a truce during his last, invalid, years.
He was no militarist, but he retained a spirit of comradeship with his fellow conscripts of "the Forgotten Army". At his funeral his coffin was carried by Burma campaign veterans and was draped with the banner of the Burma Star Association.
So here's one for the old sweats of the 14th Army, the quick and the dead.

14th ARMY
(Steven Bracher)

Men say the echoes the gun-fire woke
Round Palu peaks and Pegu sleep once more
And by the weary Irrawaddy shore
Only the fisherman sends up his smoke,
Far-seen and lonely on the silent stream
Where death was once the substance, life the dream.

The stir and rumour of ten thousand men
Moved in those forests once, and shook the leaves, Sudden and secret, as the hot wind breathes
Tossing the jungle, and is still again.
Silence has taken all, the runways fade,
The jungle marches where our camps were made.

_ _ _

Beneath the monsoon cloud-wrack and the rain
The steaming valleys of the Kabaw sleep,
And all the jungles of the Chindwin keep
Their savage silence rendered back again.
The busybodies who police this blog left me a message that I should follow some other blogs and suggested that I make a list.
Well the last time I looked I had a list of half-a-dozen blogs that I follow. Now I find that my list has disappeared.
Why don't they absent themselves in a copulatory fashion (if I may be less than blunt)?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Here it comes, my third poetry season.

(Francis Kerr Young 1990)

A thousand bombers bombed Berlin
on the night that I was born,
and roaring guns met my cry
in a world split and torn.

All the fighting, and the anger,
and all the hatred and pain,
has not changed in sixty years
nor since the days of Cain.

A decade past then came Korea,
and shells began to whine
then soldiers died both North and South
so they could draw a line,

The brink was reached in '61
when poker was the game,
a nuclear bluff over Cuba's soil
was called in Freedom's name.

All the fighting, and the anger,
and all the hatred and pain,
has not changed in sixty years
nor since the days of Cain.

Vietnam brought Agent Orange
and poisons by the ton
to kill brave men by evil ways:
This war was never won.

The Middle East, Afghanistan,
pollution, drugs, and crime . . .
Horror--death just multiplies
time after time after time.

All the fighting, and the anger,
and all the hatred and pain,
has not changed in sixty years
nor since the days of Cain.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IWW John Lewis Cleaners Win Pay Rise

Outsourced John Lewis cleaners have won an immediate and backdated 9% pay rise following their pledge of industrial action. The increase, backdated 5 months, takes their pay to £6.72 per hour at three central London sites, and £6.50 at one outer London site. Supervisors will now get £8.00 per hour and £7.84 respectively.
United in the IWW trade union, the cleaners notified their employer, ICM, last week of the trade dispute and impending ballot for industrial action. This ballot could have seen visible and noisy industrial action by cleaners at four John Lewis sites in London in the run up to Christmas.
John Lewis has seen pre-Christmas profits increase on last year already. The company are proud of their partnership structure, where all staff are ‘partners’ who share in the company’s profits.
But John Lewis’ cleaning contract is outsourced to MML, who outsource it again to ICM. The cleaners have seen their hours reduce and workload increase, while they were paid minimum wage of £6.19 – and they don’t share in the profits.
This increase, including a backdated lump sum just before Christmas, will make a real difference to our members’ lives. ICM further pledged to look at the potential to pay a Living Wage of £8.55 as they enter contract talks early in 2013.
IWW National Secretary Frank Syratt said:
“It is our members’ unity, solidarity and courageous stance that has won this increase. They are an inspiration and a lesson to other workers”
“There is still work to do. John Lewis needs to ensure all their workers – whether partners or outsourced - take home a Living Wage of £8.55 and receive full sick pay, lifting them out of poverty and insecurity. IWW pledges to continue organising and campaigning to make this happen”.

Contact: south[at] for more information.
(Press Release)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

So the long skein of genealogy is spun
that ends in me. So is the history unrolled
that chronicles quiet, far from famous, lives,
each to itself important, as mine to me.
They are my people, blood-linked by marriage nets
spread across families of diverse kinds.
Their varied backgrounds, traits, abilities,
merge in my temperament as, within this earth,
by right of legacy, winters and summers lie -
the contrasts and the complements of life.
This is the last verse of a poem, "Scottish Legacy", by Katherine Sorley Walker. I think it's a fair description of the fascinations of genealogy, and explains its importance to some, myself for instance.
Now that I can write once more in a manner that doesn't resemble stream of consciousness I'll have another poetry season.
The whole of the above poem can be found, along with much else that is entertaining and thought-provoking, in "Modern Scottish Women Poets"(Dorthy McMillan and Michel Byrne, editors, 2003).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lawrence Wilkerson: " Y eah, we ' re talking about a state that is looking more and more like South Africa . Carter called it an "A partheid State ' . And he used the appropriate adjective. A state like that simply cannot survive, not as a Jewish state and a D emocracy. Many would argue that it ' s not a D emocracy anymore. This is a state after all that, it was formed by a Socialists. This is a state that was formed largely by atheists, and this is a state that has become captured by the U ltra - Right - Wing Orthodox Jewish element within it, who constitute most of the settlers. This is a state whom one in five of it ' s citizens now is a settler. This is a state run by a man who is largely owned by these U ltra - Orthodox people, who, incidentally like the N eocons in this country , want to defeat all their enemies with other peoples ' blood. In other words, they don ' t serve in the Armed Forces. So there are a lot of similarities between what Israel has become and what we have become. It ' s rather ironic, as Andrew points out in his piece , how similar the two situations are. But Israel ' s long term security, as I said, is certainly not assured by the policy she ' s pursuing right now. In fact, I would argue that her long term security is in great peril because of the policies she ' s pursuing right now. And our security, following Israel as if we were her lapdog, is absolutely in jeopardy , particularly in that region of the world, where things are not so hunky - dory right now. Whether you call it the " Arab awakening ' or the " Arab Spring ' , or the " Arab Winter ' , or whatever, things aren ' t looking too good for U.S. interests in th e region right now. Israel ' s position within that turmoil, and our position supporting Isr ael within that turmoil, is adding to that turmoil. Adding to the number of suicide bombers in the world, for example, who would like to do damage to us .

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Yet another test. If the lyrics aren't familiar, Carl Orff's music will be. Think aftershave, infant Antichrist. Verses are numbered in case of lack of indication of verse beginning and ending.

O Fortuna,
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis,
et velata
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria,
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria.
hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

dissolvit ut glaciem"

(Melt my poverty, Fortuna, melt their power)
When BBC ignores Israeli murder of its own cameraman’s baby, what hope for other Palestinians?

[The 'Solidarity message is copyleft Memoria del Fuego]

Monday, November 12, 2012


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Here's a link to my other blog, if it works. [Addendum: it does.]

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I've just learned of the death,on the 25th October, of Terry Callier, singer, guitatist, songwriter. His Ordinary Joe is particular favourite of mine. I'm also partial to Jazz, My Rhythm and Blues, and the Love Theme from Spartacus. For some reason he was often described as a folksinger; a bit folky maybe, but jazz, blues, soul were all in the mix. He was different. If the vita is brevis, we can be grateful for the ars longa.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Few of us would have the grace and humility to support a movement, then sell fighter jets to their most bitter opponents, but Cameron’s so full of Christian virtue he must believe the best weapon he has is to shower the Saudi royal family with love. Then, when they feel wanted, they’ll let everyone have the vote, and say sorry for all the people they’ve upset by stoning them to death, and turn over a new leaf.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

ABU SURRENDER - The self-appointed president of something or other in occupied Palestine, as seen by Carlos Latuff and most other observers.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Herbert and Keiser moved to London a year ago. "Because this is the world capital of banking fraud. Pretty much every financial scandal of the past 20 years has had its main component in London, because it has the least regulated banking environment. This is very important for the US, because America outsources its own fraud to London, just as it outsources its labour to China." The JP Morgan and UBS traders who lost billions, he points out, were both London-based. "And Lehman Brothers went through the UK. As did AIG." (The latter, a multinational insurance corporation, has been troubled by many controversies including its 2008 government bailout, subsequent executive bonus payments estimated at between $165m and $450m – some say more – and charges relating to accounting fraud, settled out of court in 2006.)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Have you read the small print? "Terms and conditions apply. Freedom and Liberty do not, respectively, constitute actual Freedom or Liberty. Definitions of "Free", "Freedom", "Liberal" and "Liberty" may vary. Service provider retains right to fundamentally and unfairly change these terms of service to ruling class' full advantage at any time without forewarning, consultation, or informing service user. Use of service conditional upon full bilking of service user's surplus product by service provider. Use of service conditional upon full, non-negotiable alienation of service users' very soul and being. Full service may not be available at all time. Full service only theoretically available for capital-owning white middle- and upper-class males over the age of 30 (hereinafter referred to as 'The Patriarchy'). Service does not apply, under any circumstances, to sphere of economic production, where fascist oppression and unjust authoritarianism has free reign, unless service user falls under 'The Patriarchy' category, can provide evidence of well-placed connections, and can afford extra service fees. Service provider retains right to arbitrarily refuse service to any service user, especially but not limited to service-users that are working-class, unemployed, female, coloured, queer, mentally ill, disabled, under-thirty, third-world, politically-dissident, unionised, or crushed under insolvable debt (herinafter collectively referred to as 'Second Class Citizens', 'precariat' or 'proles'), regardless of breach or non-breach of terms and conditions by service user. Service user retains all legal or physical liabilities that may be incurred from use of this product, including but not limited to theft and sale of personal information for private gain to third parties; unwinnable civil liability cases filed by corporations backed by armies of demonic, overpaid lawyers bent on crushing recalcitrant, non-compliant service users; all-pervasive state surveillance; arbitrary and unwarranted wire tapping; police intimidation; tear and/or pepper gasing and/or full frontal assault and battery by militarised riot police; prosecution; incarceration and/or lobotomy by psychotropic medication and/or torture and/or rape and/or loss of limb and/or death by licensed and/or unlicensed agents of state violence. Use of service may entail aiding and abetting in reinforcement of structural violence, class war on the working class and poor, and soul-crushing imperialism. Batteries not included except where "battery" refers to military or police artillery equipment." [London Wobblies]

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

STS Bulletin no.45 "Welfare visit" means Police raid

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Some photographs of the village (burgh) of Culross, Fife, Scotland, for comparison with the Dieppe painting of James Proudfoot here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Here's another bloody test. I begin to despair of this blogging game.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Zionist heroism in the face of Palestinian terrorism. (That nearly rhymes) Compare link below.
WOWEE! - It looks like the faecal matter has hit the fan and government is trying to pretend that brown is this season's colour. All the Cameron clique's attacks on the BBC have been a diversion - but how effective? Now it's the biddable mainstream media versus the muckraking social media. Prepare the roost for incoming chickens.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Poor Lance Armstrong, now they want the prize money back. Don't they know that the Yellow Jersey gives all the prize money to his team mates to share, the sponsorship deals being his stairway to the stars? Nike has dumped Lance too, saying that he let them down. Does this mean that the story that they bunged a UCI official $500,000 to overlook a positive dope test in 2004 are untrue? They say that for the years Lance won there will now be no recognised winner. I reckon that the hiatus will be like an empty throne, with many claimants.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I watched the BBC2 documentary, "You've Been Trumped", with incredulity last night. It turns out that the American billionaire and epitome of bad taste, Donald Trump, owns Alex Salmond and the Aberdeenshire police force. He has carte blanche from the Scottish government to ride roughshod over the people in the vicinity of his assault on the environment, and to steal their land. The parliamentary representative of Trump's victims is ... Alex Salmond. Altogether now, "O Flower of Scotland ..."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another test - THE LAMENTATION OF THE OLD PENSIONER (William Butler Yeats) Although I shelter from the rain Under a broken tree My chair was nearest to the fire In every company That talked of love or politics, Ere Time transfigured me. Though lads are making pikes again For some conspiracy, And crazy rascals rage their fill At human tyranny, My contemplations are of Time That has transfigured me. There's not a woman turns her face Upon a broken tree, And yet the beauties that I loved Are in my memory; I spit into the face of Time That has transfigured me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I know that Sir Jimmy Savile, OBE, Knight of St. Gregory*, didn't have a computer - but didn't he have a mobile phone? Is he the only person person in the UK who wasn't hacked by the News International crime family? *Friend of royalty, friend of Prime Ministers, much loved adherent of the church that is the refuge of paedophiles.
"Walmart workers, as a group, are the largest food stamp recipients in the country totaling $2.66 billion annually. That’s right, Walmart, a company that makes more than $400,000,000,000 a year is taking more than $2,660,000,000 out of tax payers pockets annually because they have refused to pay their workers a living wage. Not only has Walmart callously expected the taxpayers to pick up the slack, but the government has allowed them to get away with it! In fact, reports say Walmart has direct knowledge of this and directly assist employees in applications for both food stamps and Medicaid. And that is not all. Walmart also takes millions, perhaps billions in tax breaks, free land and other government subsidies." (Hayley Rose at Can't even add links now.
The term 'Freudian Slip' illustrated.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

At the moment I'm in blog Limbo. I can't work with this blog that won't allow me to order my posts in paragraphs. I'm trying to set up a replacement on WordPress, but this is proving to be problematic for a technomoron. Here Scylla, there Charybdis. Meanwhile, I suppose I must confine my self to short bursts of shapeless text, or pictorial posts.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Reading a review of a biography of Patrick Leigh Fermour I appreciated a description of the man by Somerset Maugham, "A middle-class gigolo for upper-class women".

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Où sont les empires d'antan? Better viewing here, perhaps.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Stop further archive destruction at Ruskin College, Oxford Background: Ruskin College, the trade union and labour movement college, founded in Oxford in 1899, has just moved from its central location to the outskirts of the city. In the course of this move much archival material representing the history of this pioneering College has been destroyed. This includes unique records of the working-class students who attended Ruskin in its first decades.

Friday, October 05, 2012

I'm sick of this useless blogging system since they forced an "upgrade" on me. So I'm going to have another look at wordpress. Stuff 'em!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Monday, October 01, 2012

How the BBC betrayed the NHS: an exclusive report on two years of censorship and distortion Oliver Huitson (via Martin Deane)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From Megan Reif via AngryArab2

Monday, September 17, 2012

A couple of quotes, first from Hugh Grant:

"Their power is daunting. They have the front pages, editorials and opinion pieces, the hatchet jobs and the editorialised news reporting."
"They have people of influence who owe them favours or are paid by them, or might in the future (if they toe the line) be paid by them,"
"After the [Millie] Dowler revelations, these politicians all talked a good game, but last June, pre-Dowler, a lot of them were sipping champagne on Rupert Murdoch's lawn."

From Stewart Lee:

"My shelves creak with music, but I didn't know any Cage, beyond Sonic Youth's interpretation of his piece Six on their Goodbye 20th Century album. As ever, I access the Temple of Culture by the tradesmen's entrance."

I like Lee's idea of a sitcom starring Ant and Dec, Cat Deeley, and the works of John Cage. I don't think I'd be able to watch A&D for too long though. Come to think of it I've never watched them. And Sonic Youth? The word 'youth' puts me off, so I'm not likely to experience their product.

Somebody called George Entwistle is the new Director General of the BBC. He has the requisite bald pate, but what other qualifications?

I don't think I'll be far wrong in assuming that -
a) he is a paid up member of the Conservative Party
b) he is a fervent zionist, and
c) he thinks that the city of Derry is called Londonderry.

Friday, September 14, 2012

I love this story. Morris Sadek is a right-wing Copt, involved in the production of the film that kills.
According to Copts Today, an Arabic news outlet focusing on Coptic affairs, Sadek was seen taking a leisurely stroll down Washington's M Street on September 11, soaking in the sun on a perfect autumn day. All of a sudden, he found himself surrounded by four angry Coptic women. Berating Sadek for fueling the flames of sectarian violence, the women took off their heels and began beating him over the head.
"If anything happens to a Christian in Egypt," one of them shouted at him, "you'll be the reason!"

(Max Blumenthal, the Guardian)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

...Mr MacKenzie issued a statement explaining the paper's actions and apologising that the story was "so wrong".
But the famously abrasive journalist stopped short of taking personal responsibility for publishing false claims, saying he was "totally misled" by a "concerted plot" by police to deflect blame on to Liverpool fans.
Trevor Hicks, a campaigner who lost two daughters in the disaster, dismissed the former editor's words, saying they were "too little, too late" and describing him as "low life, clever low life, but low life".

Admirable restraint on the part of Mr. Hicks. After all he could have called our home-grown Julius Streicher "Right wing, racist scum, in bed with bent coppers; a complete stranger to the truth who got rich publishing mendacious hatchet jobs on the enemies of Rupert Murdoch and the Conservative Party."

We now know that Thatcher was made aware of the South Yorkshire Police Force's wholesale perversion of the course of justice, but the police were her stormtroopers. She had turned them loose on the miners and they had helped her to destroy whole communities, smash the unions, and wipe out an industry. They were well rewarded, and given free rein. Let's not forget the Police Federation official standing up at that organisation's annual conference and declaring that the police would never again cooperate with a Labour government.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Calgary Fancy Pigeon, as depicted at ... Oh-oh! Blog won't accept the link, but it's a site dedicated to the breed.
Identified by Chris H.
The lads were right, I was wrong. I really hate that!

A couple more pictures of our unidentified flying object. The majority opinion in the family is that it's a pigeon of some sort. I can't argue, but that stingy little beak bothers me.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A strange visitor came to rest on our patch for a few hours yesterday. A bird the size of a pigeon, black and white with a tiny beak. Black face and bib - a sort of iridescent bluey-green sheen on close-up - and black tail feathers forming a broad tail. Covering the whole of the back of the head and neck was a white ruff which rose slightly above the top of the head. Red legs and feet.
The photographs aren't very clear, and the presence of a white piece of rock alongside the bird could be mistaken for a white tail. I did get fairly close, but too close and it made a noise like a growl and moved away, making no attempt at flight.I thought it was injured in some way and unable to fly. Realising that it would let me get closer, I went back inside for the camera, but when I returned there were two feral pigeons feeding alongside the stranger on the seeds we'd given it. As I approached the two pigeons took flight and panicked the stranger into taking off. So no close-up.
I'm hoping that, if it's still in the neighbourhood, it will return to a known food source, and I can renew our acquaintance, but no sign yet.
I've checked in a couple of bird recognition books I have but could see nothing like this fellow. I've tried a net search but, without knowing what family(?) it belongs to it's too big a field.

UPDATE, 9.9.12 The stranger returned today. More photographs tomorrow.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Reminds one of South Africa.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Today I had a hunt among my souvenirs for an old document obtained back in the early 1960s. It's a copy of the Freedom Charter of the African National Congress. It dates back to 1955, long before globalisation had achieved complete control of national economies.
Here are a few extracts -

The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth!
The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people;
The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;
All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people;
All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.

Unused housing space to be made available to the people;
Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no-one shall go hungry;
A preventive health scheme shall be run by the state;
Free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all, with special care for mothers and young children;
Slums shall be demolished, and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads, lighting, playing fields, creches and social centres;
The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the state;
Rest, leisure and recreation shall be the right of all:
Fenced locations and ghettoes shall be abolished, and laws which break up families shall be repealed.

The police force and army shall be open to all on an equal basis and shall be the helpers and protectors of the people;

There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers;

All people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security.

Here is an open letter from Jay Naidoo to the Congress of South African Trade Unions:

(Jay Naidoo is founding General Secretary of Cosatu, former Minister in Mandela Government and Chair of a GAIN a Global Foundation Fighting malnutrition in the World. You can also visit his Facebook Page or

4 September 2012 01:42 (South Africa)
“Government violence can only breed counter-violence. Ultimately, if there is no dawning of sanity on the part of the government, the dispute between the government and my people will be settled by force,” said Nelson Mandela. And his words still apply today.

To my colleagues at Cosatu,

I have no authority to tell you what you must do, I know. But my conscience as one of your founding leaders begs me to reflect on the state of our country and nation.

The Marikana massacre is a deadly body blow to the democratic social fabric, and it leaves my heart heavy with sadness. The weight of the disappointment is staggering as I think back to my political initiation as a teenager, listening to the powerful political narrative of Steve Biko. “We have nothing to lose but our chains.” He presented a bold, courageous and impossible vision of a free South Africa. We were inspired as a generation to stand up and be counted irrespective of the cost.

So where are the courageous leaders of today?

The 1976, the Soweto student uprisings were our Tahrir Square. We were smashed, but we came back and kept building on the foundations of the sacrifices of Nelson Mandela and his generation. We painstakingly nurtured a mass movement. The eighties saw the flourishing of internal mass struggles led by COSATU and the UDF that pitched us into battle with a brutal Apartheid state. It took us 18 years to make our liberation movement, the ANC, the majority party in our Parliament and place Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first democratically elected president.

Now, 18 years later, we commemorate a new massacre under the watch of the supposedly democratic government we elected. I, like many South Africans, am devastated.

Yet it can’t be denied that the writing has been on the wall for some time. Why did we choose to ignore the facts staring us in the face?

I was part of the leadership that led COSATU into an alliance with the ANC and SACP. It had a clear objective. We were making a commitment to a profound transformation that struck at the heart of Apartheid – the cheap labour system and its attendant diseases of joblessness, poverty, gender violence and inequality.

But those same diseases remain, and we desperately need a frank, no-holds-barred clinical analysis of our condition. It goes something like this: inequality has grown. Formal employment has shrunk. A single breadwinner supports up to eight dependants. The content of migrant labour remains as deeply entrenched as ever, as subcontracted labour and casualisation continue to marginalise the workers' families.

The education system hopelessly fails the poorest in our townships as half of our children, mainly of the working poor, are left with almost no skills to speak of even after 12 years of school. They can’t get jobs and many of them are unlikely to do so at all in their lifetime. Our schools have become havens to sexual predators: perverted teachers or male pupils robbing our girl children of their innocence. The growing majority of this dispossessed youth cannot see anyone representing their interests.

That’s what I’ve gathered from conversations I’ve held with young people throughout South Africa. All they see is the arrogance of a ‘blue light brigade’ that believes it has some divine right to rule. They see a criminal ‘Breitling brigade’ that grows fat on looting the public coffers, stealing tenders and licences, and pocketing public funds budgeted for textbooks, toilets and libraries.

This is not the programme of transformation for which our leaders – beacons such as Elijah Barayi and Emma Mashinini – sacrificed so much. This is not the future for which Neil Aggett was murdered by Apartheid police. This is not the future for which Phineas Sibiya, an outstanding shop steward, died a fiery death in a burning car at the hands of Inkatha vigilantes in Howick.

Now is the time for fearless debate. Power has to be confronted with the truth. The Marikana massacre shows all the hallmarks of our Apartheid past. Violence from any side is inexcusable, but deadly force from a democratic state is a cardinal sin. It strikes at the heart of democracy.

The COSATU Congress is important for many reasons, but mainly because it will draw a line in the sand between justice and injustice. But it needs leaders with the courage to hold up the mirror. And it needs to ask the critical question: whether leaders have lost touch with the membership and the poorest in our country.

I am reminded of our visit to the Soviet Union in 1990. We wanted to understand how a powerful state claiming to represent the working class could fall prey to the crass corruption that represented the worst excesses of crony capitalism.

It was obvious to us. There was no democratic participation. The nationalised economy and state enterprises were simply the feeding troughs of the voracious elite. The past symbols of socialist solidarity and social justice were a sham, appropriated by a rapacious class of party apparatchiks. The labour movement was emasculated. It had been reduced to a conveyor belt of the political and predatory party elite. They were the 'yellow unions'.

I realised then that, had I been a militant unionist in the Soviet Union, I would have died a miserable death in a Siberian labour camp. There were no real unions in the Soviet Union. There were just obedient lieutenants who enforced the orders of their political masters and enjoyed the minor perks of financial hand-outs. It’s a slippery slope, and one we can’t afford to send South Africa down.

So today, let us ask ourselves if splinter unions are just the work of opportunists. Are we saying that seasoned trade unionists are so weak, pliant and intellectually inferior that they will risk losing their jobs and their lives – and for what?

I cannot believe that. Of course there is the Breitling Brigade, who will use workers and the poor as cannon fodder, given half a choice. But the fact is that there is a deep and growing mistrust of leaders in our country, and the expanding underclass feels it has no voice through legitimate formal structures. Violence becomes the only viable language.

So yes, there has to be trust. I remember more than 30 years ago when, as a naïve student activist entering the labour movement as a volunteer, I spent a day handing out pamphlets. That is, I spent the day trying to hand out pamphlets. I was outside the factory gates for the whole day and nobody took a pamphlet until an old SACTU activist took me aside and said, “Sonny boy. You look very committed. But no-one understands all your rhetoric. Workers cannot eat promises and political slogans. And if they talk to you here they will be photographed and victimised. So come home and I will arrange for some of the leaders to meet you.”

I understood then that the co-creation of a vision and ownership lies in winning the trust of the workers, especially the poor. Their trust has to be won every day. I am comforted that COSATU has done a labour force survey of its members’ perceptions of their union leaders, but it is a striking finding that many of the grassroots members are alienated from their leadership. This should be the core of the debates at the upcoming Congress. These perceptions need to be answered.

COSATU has a proud history. You stood firm when our government, in its insane denialism, condemned to death so many people living with HIV and AIDS, or remained silent on the human rights abuses of Zimbabwean and Swaziland workers. You mobilised amazing organisations such as the Treatment Action Campaign to make government accountable.

But where has the social activism gone to in our country? Has it also submerged below the morass of that the bureaucratic development industry breeds? You cannot escape your responsibility any longer – our society is fragmenting and our state becoming increasingly dysfunctional.

Our Constitution demands an effective government that is transparent and accountable. Our Constitution has laid the proud traditions of social justice, human dignity and social solidarity as the foundation of our democracy. Public institutions are there to serve the interests of the citizenry and not the narrow often corrupt interests of a predatory elite.

That is what we fought for. We need to stop being subjects and become active citizens. It is now incumbent on us all to stand up and bring our country back to the path of reconstruction and development. We promised a better life in 1994, and we need to deliver it.

As our founding father, Nelson Mandela, said, “Poverty, like Apartheid, is not an accident. Like slavery, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”

The key, now, is for those human beings to take the appropriate action.