A Good Weekend

It was a good weekend. I was quiet, saw the Carnival, heard the fireworks,   watched TV in the evening when I should have been mixing in with the local festivities. Never mind – the BBC had two programmes supporting anarchy. Very well done.

Fun ahead next week at the Peace News Summer Camp at Diss, Suffolk. See you there. Good food, interesting discussions, be part of a growing movement.

Sizewell C: first thoughts

I wrote about the new Sizewell way back in the year. There was a Consultation Document – since then – nothing. What is happening now? It’s time to ask.

Two reactors in Suffolk, planned.

Consultation document allows us to respond until 3rd February 2017. It is produced by EDF the chosen contractor, which is an unusual step for a building project. I’ve not seen any information from the client.

Theresa found the money

Theresa MayAusterity? Who said that? Our hunched skeleton has found the £6.5 billion needed to give away for a new railway. The contractors chosen are hardly suitable, the British ones have problems but I’m sure variations to contract will remove some of those. The Transport Minister has put his reputation at risk by saying there will be no increase in costs. Clearly he’s not been hanging around with builders lately. Such optimism is heartening.

Our Prime Minister has been even cleverer and will be ordering super new fighting jet planes from her friend Donald. We have shared the costs of these expensive toys with our European friends in the past, but that’s all over. Trump is now her new man, and these planes will cost about £150 million each. She doesn’t know where to put them yet, but they will look nice parked alongside Trident.

Over 750 bombing raids by the RAF on Mosul, in Syria. How clever. We are assured that there’s no evidence that any civilians were killed with these bomb and rockets. Some rockets cost upwards of a million pounds each, then there’s the planes, the pilots and their support staff. Our PM has plenty of money when it’s needed.

There is a nagging worry in the  back of my mind. A while ago our Minister for Defence (when did we last defend our shores?) said, ‘within two years we will be ready for war with Russia’. A chilling statement. That doesn’t seem to have been challenged by the media. Don’t ask me why we should suddenly hate Putin and his people. We’ve fought alongside each other against common enemies, OK Germany and Italy, but they are doing well these days, and have been very friendly over recent years. Maybe that will not last.

Keeping up with politics is not easy.

Mrs May’s picture comes from The Independent taken during the election when she said Corbyn would become Prime Minister if she lost six seats. Not sure she can add up.

Chances for older men

medical robotThink of this as a business opportunity for old gits. Get to a certain age and at least 35% of old men can no longer perform. There’s no need to fully describe what’s happened: it just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny any more.

Talking to female friends I sense that they are secretly pleased. All that testosterone pumping and wild abandon no longer appeals to many older ladies. In fact they tend to give up altogether. Why not? They have ruined their bodies producing kids, blown their minds accommodating the needs of a moronic man. They look forward to a little time for themselves. In any case most men have little time left. How many old men do you see in retirement homes?

That leaves the impotent older man in a dilemma. His sexual partner is no longer satisfied by him (if she ever was). She realises that he will not improve, certainly not if she keeps feeding him food that contains chemical residues. It is now just being understood that our water supply is polluted. Fifty years of ‘the pill’ has seen to that. It is not removed by our normal s sewerage systems. Men are becoming more feminine as a result. Impotence is directly related.

One solution could work. Men should admit that they are no longer capable. They are not ‘real men’. Many women will be pleased to hear that news. The man should now offer suitable ‘services’ to his partner.

It could be something simple like more cuddles, more sympathy, or that he just listened to her occasionally. She should also be offered more freedom. He has no right to demand that she cooks, cleans and obeys him. He must understand the role change, perhaps even the role reversal.

As usual sexual problems are seen as only affecting men. The industry is now providing a range of sex toys for men who cannot get satisfaction. Why they don’t just relax is, apparently, not a question to ask.

Should I now prepare a nationwide team who can offer a range of romantic services for women: ranging from a smile to erotic massage, but not ever considering full sexual penetration? Let me know if I’ve struck a gold mine!


The Creative Process

“Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist as a grown up”

Pablo Picasso

Painfully addictive and yet beautiful, the creative process is different for everybody.

As Picasso says, we are all artists. I know I was born to write but those who come to it late in life soon become drawn into its powerful ‘otherness’.

“The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.” George Bernard Shaw

Writing adds a dimension to your life that you cannot always see until you do it. Brain to pen, thoughts in your hand, concepts on paper or screen and translated back to become real. It’s magic. Some people say it’s miraculous, that it is God at work, that writing or painting or creating is a spiritual experience.

A Big Responsibility

The thought is frightening. It’s frightening enough to make you stop short of ever making a start. But make a start you must, you know it. There will be no peace in your mind until you’ve attempted to express something, even if you don’t know what to say, or whether to write it, paint it, sing it or play it to an audience.

“How can I know what I think until I see what I say?” E.M. Forster

It doesn’t help to hear so-called experts talking highly of painters and writers and playwrights who’ve “got something to say” and you look at their masterpiece and wonder quite what. You see the artwork of great painters like Jackson Pollock or Piet Mondrian, installations by Tracy Emin or Damien Hirst – only to look upon them and say “What?”

Believe me – you’ve got things to say and by getting that pen moving you’ll start to find out what they are. You have to find your way of working, whether it’s with a pen, a typewriter, pencil, computer; the side of the phone book, the back of a shopping list, a pristine new notepad or a perfect white screen with a spell-check and thesaurus at the click of a mouse. It won’t be easy, but you can make it easier for yourself – if you’ll accept that pampering your creativity is a worthy cause.

Brought Home and Privately Yours

You can write in weird and wonderful ways, observe the world and quietly write what you see. It might be fictionalised reality, but seen from your standpoint, with your unique eye and in your own words, it will say something to your readers that’ll give them one more viewpoint from which to understand.

“I wish I were more at home with writing. I can go a year or two or three without picking up my pen and I’m perfectly content. The minute I have to write I become neurotic and grouchy and ill; I become like a little wet, drenched bird, and I put a blanket over my shoulders and I try to write and I hate myself and I hate what I’m writing.” said Edmund White, American novelist and author of the acclaimed A Boy’s Own Story (1982).

I was lucky enough to be brought up by an artist and learned to understand the necessity to accommodate the neurotic, grouchy and ill side of the temperament. The only time it would surface was when life and circumstances stood in the way of my parent’s Creative Process. Unfortunately for me and for the rest of the family, that was quite often.

Accommodate Your Destiny

You either grow up to do as your parents did, or you do the opposite. I hope I do the opposite – I recognise my need to create and try to engineer everything to ensure my Creative Process takes precedence. Lack of confidence and lack of being accepted by the art establishment curtailed my parent’s artistic focus.

“I don’t believe for a moment that creativity is a neurotic symptom. On the contrary, the neurotic who succeeds as an artist has had to overcome a tremendous handicap. He creates in spite of his neurosis, not because of it,” said Aldous Huxley.

This man may well be famous for his experiments with drugs but he created numerous stories, poems, novels, plays, travel works, historical studies and academic essays.

“I loathe writing,” says Muriel Gray. “It’s hard, hard work, like digging the roads… ” she says in her interview with David Mathew in The Third Alternative, no. 27.

You’ll probably know her as a TV and BBC Radio presenter but of writing she says, “There’s no comparison to broadcasting work which is basically money for old rope.” Writing is her passion and, it seems, her reason for living.

Pain is no barrier

“A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people,” said Thomas Mann.

James Baldwin said he does a lot of rewriting. “It’s very painful.”

All writers and artists talk of the pain but if you’re wise you’ll accept that it’s going to be painful. It has so often been compared to giving birth that it’s hardly worth mentioning – but when you’re pregnant, you know, it’s a hell of a relief to experience that pain; and look at the beautiful reward!

It isn’t funny to have to put up with any pain at all, and to have writers’ block when you know you want to do it; but there are so many jokes about it. This one sums it up for me:

1ST WRITER (at a cocktail party): I’m working on my new novel.

2ND WRITER: Neither am I.

Quoted from Private Eye in The Writer’s Chapbook, ed. George Plimpton.

Find a Way

How do you accommodate your need to create? How do you make it least painful? If it’s ideas or a starting point you need then go to the Triggers chapter, or Therapy, or find your voice in Write with Style, or even in the zany Experimental ideas.

Perhaps it’s the place and the company you keep that curtails your outflow? Teachers of old who stood behind you to pounce on your mistakes have a lot to answer for. But you’re free of that now and only have to be wary of imposing your own inhibitions.

  • J.K. Rowling sat in a café to write the Harry Potter books. Maybe it was to keep warm and topped up with coffee but your reason might be different: if it works for you, do it.

  • Brenda Crowe wrote ‘Play is a Feeling’ and ‘Living with a Toddler’ sitting up in bed: not because she was ill or working at night, but because it was the best way to keep her feet warm.

  • Julian Stockwin writes the Kydd series at his desk accompanied by an ancient piece of mariner’s rope, which wafts the subtle fragrance of the deep sea.

  • Jack Kerouac would kneel to pray before starting to write his novels (On the Road, 1957; The Subterraneans,1958 et al) and in essays he outlined a philosophy of writing that refused all revision and was akin to improvisational jazz.

  • The poet Philip Larkin would say he never went out, while Nadine Gordimer thinks writers should do plenty of ordinary things to keep in touch with life. She says, “The solitude of writing is also quite frightening. It’s quite close sometimes to madness, one just disappears for a day and loses touch.”

Love It or Hate It

“I love writing,” said P.G. Wodehouse. “I never feel comfortable unless I am either actually writing or have a story going. I could not stop writing.”

He was the author of the Jeeves Series and very successful in musical comedy, theatre, and Hollywood.

This quote is encouraging for me personally. At a recent workshop I found myself – in an automatic writing exercise – writing and then reading aloud: “I only feel well when I’m writing.” This produced gasps from a quarter of the other students. They were people who were still hoping to find out why or how writing can change their lives for the better.

Now before I make the mistake of offering the creative process as a religion, I think I will assume that my readers know they do want to write, but haven’t yet decided on their niche. We look at this with some general ideas in Genres.

Do Your Own Thing

There is nothing unusual in wanting to do your own thing.

Lawrence Durrell says this: “It doesn’t really matter whether you’re first rate, second rate, or third rate, but it’s of vital importance that the water finds its own level and that you do the very best you can with the powers that are given you.”

Lawrence Durrell was a poet, travel writer and prolific novelist; and not to be confused with his brother Gerald who wrote of animal life and owned a zoo at Jersey.

Reading the candid comments of other writers is an eminently useful way of endorsing your urge to write.

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.” Ernest Hemingway said.

He was one of the greatest short story writers of America and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. This is bestowed for ‘the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency’ and was awarded for The Old Man and the Sea, first published in 1952. “I learn as much from painters about how to write as from writers,” he said. Have a go with Creative Frolics and see if you can see what he means. I think I can: you’ll see I have a tendency to cross the paths of painters in some suggestions on the Experimental page.

Finding your niche, your style, your way of working, can only be done through time and experience. Writing a diary and writing vignettes gives you a body of work that will be an endless supply of material to adapt or rewrite – along with many embellishments and an ever-strong urge to extend your vocabulary.

What of the Process, once Established?

I regard myself as an organic writer. I encourage my students to write organically – as if the first sentence is a stem, and from that will grow roots and shoots, flowers and seeds. It is sure to grow if you plant it as words on paper or screen.

I write stories and plays (including tv scripts and screenplays), and the odd poem, in between the mainstay of creative non-fiction, which you’re reading now. All can be written in an organic way.

For the record: what are my writing habits? I write words and half-sentences in notebooks, between doing other things; I start early, in solitude at the computer or just at a table. I break to make myself tea (eight cups a day). I do housework and cooking between paragraphs, and scribble beginnings, usually, in bed in the dark.

I think the creative process is all about making connections, and building upon them. (See Visualise for more on this.) There’s the ‘What If – ?’ game; but by building simple tentative connections into something bigger, there’s a worthy point to be made. I rely on dreams and on the half-sleep images that dwell in my head. They conveniently solve problems for me. Yesterday I was wondering how to explain my difficulties with defining Visualisation for this text. Overnight I dreamt about the picture that I tried to paint, long ago, called Rhapsody in Black. Today I’ve used it to illustrate the problem: my memory, my connection, was already there and I had to find the right place to use it.

Try any and all ways, methods, outlets and keep at it. Experimental; Vignettes; Genres. The creative process that suits you will make itself known and you’ll come to respect it. This way, your writing will command respect as well.

Relax wth a Suffolk

Vee with foalWhen it all gets too much I return to my roots, to the comforting parts of my childhood. The world has changed and I miss the security I had as a child. In those days I lived with my parents in a small cottage on the top of a hill. It was the last house on the road out of town. The land dropped away to form a long valley, with a small stream at its base giving just a hint of its history.

On the opposite side of this valley was a small village. Facing us on their side of the valley was a large brewery, a successful local brewery, which was eventually taken over by a large chain, and closed. During my youth they had a team of Suffolk Punch horses that pulled the drays around town, delivering beer.

During the winter these lovely giants were kept on a field beside my house. As a child, with an orchard of apple trees in the garden, I became good friends with these lovely creatures. It was a daily task to take them an apple. They would stand patiently beside a five-barred gate, watching the world go by, occasionally flicking their tails or nodding their heads to push the flies away.

By the time I was six I had courage. I could do anything. I stood on the top bar as one of the horses approached the gate. As it swung round I jumped on its back, hanging on to its flowing mane. It was fine for a minute or two as the horse munched away at the apple I’d obliging left on the top of the gate. That didn’t take long and I was shocked when the horse moved away towards the centre of the field.

There I was, high in the air. These shire horses were huge. The ground was a long way down. Slowly I overcame my fear, as my mother came into the field with more apples. We had a small pony at that time, which my mother hitched up to a trap and went off to market on Saturday, with Elsie, our neighbour. We’d had a few scrapes with this flighty creature, which although small had shown me how powerful (and skitty when handled badly – sorry Mum) horses could be.

It became a regular jaunt, and we’d plod around the field. It could never be called riding. The horse was in control. Most of the time its head was down as it munched grass, and I held on the mane until tired of it all I’d slide down its neck to the ground. Wonderful placid creatures.

There’s a Young Offenders Prison near me. At one time they had a stable of Suffolk Punch and young prisoners, many from towns and cities, aggressive and abusive, were encouraged to look after these horses. It was wonderful training. The horses quietly told them they were in charge. They could not be bullied or threatened but, at the same time, they were helpless. They needed the boys to clean them, to feed them, prepare their tack if they were to work together. It was a fantastic training facility.

So it was closed, by the government, to save money. A tragedy.

It was taken over by the Suffolk Punch Trust http://suffolkpunchtrust.org/ who were then faced with looking after these magnificent animals but there was now a bigger threat, With less than 300 breeding mares in the world this shire horse, as a breed, could become extinct.

Thankfully the trust, with others, is ensuring that numbers are now improving. They are also providing a great day out. Deep in the Suffolk countryside you can see the horses, and other animals: rare breed black pigs, red poll cattle, Ixworth white chickens and much more are to be found on this 200-acre site.

Find time to visit.

My youngest grand-child has adopted ‘Vee’ the mare shown above. Both her great-grandmothers were called Vera, often shortened to ‘Vee’ so it maintains a sentimental link.

Positive Money

Positive MoneyDemocracy is a fragile concept.Expecting the majority to agree is probably impossible. Expecting any group to be vigilant against those who would exploit the system for their personal gain is a malaise of the modern age. We have lost our sense of community,

Money is the root of all evil, so it is said. It need not be that way. Money after all is worthless, of tself. It does however given power to those who control it.

The biggest weakness we now have is that the banks (all now multi-nationally controlled) control the issue of cash. Not helped by the Bank of England who created hundreds of millions, which they then handed this huge sum to the banks as  quantitative easing (a simple way of reducing the value of the pound in your pocket) (watch the videos at http://positivemoney.org/how-money-works/banking-101-video-course/ which explain how the banks control your money.

I joined up with local people, here in the depths of Suffolk, to see if there was any way we could help. It was a successful initial meeting, and we were alll in agreement with the aims and objectives of Positive Money. It is clear that many people shared our concerns about the monetary system.

What now seems apparent is that change is needed. We raised several issues, and talked about solutions that have been suggested. One of the biggest is the Robin Hood Tax https://www.robinhoodtax.org.uk Also known as a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT), a Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax of about 0.05% on transactions like stocks, bonds, foreign currency and derivatives, which could raise up to £250 billion a year globally. FTTs are well-tested, cheap to implement and hard to avoid.

Another option is to award everyone a basic income; a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement. That need not be expensive as the money will be recorculated .http://basicincome.org

A few years ago I started Iceni Bank – one of my many failed initiatives (think the world is waiting for me to die!). I want to create small,locally-based, banks.The system works well in Germany, where the Sparkasse https://www.sparkasse.de/. These banks offer a range of financial services. There are about 600 separate banks, all independent, that cannot be taken over. The system handles about 60% of Germany’s GDP.

We need to change. With our banks controlling our financial systems we are being used as cash cows, but getting back only a small portion of our resources. It must be changed, particularly as we are about to leave Europe, and will be alone. Too much control has been handed over to those who do not have our best interests at heart.

Hopefully our local group will grow. If you want to know more, contact me.