July 31, 2005


Why is it that as soon as human beings gather together in large numbers in some kind of hierarchy, under headings like "Government", "Committee", "Institute", "Organisation", "Foundation", "Society" and so on, they frequently lose that vital quality called Common Sense? Why does it become impossible for them to see how to get from A to B without having to go through the entire alphabet?

Take starvation for example: a large number of people in a certain part of the world need large quantities of food immediately, not next week or next month but right now because for every minute of delay, thousands of them will die, have died. What would Common Sense suggest in this situation? Put the problem on an Agenda? On a Things To Do list? Have a conference about it? Organise benefit dinners and pop concerts? Have a government summit meeting? I don't think so.

Too liitle, too late

Bob Geldof, bless his stubbly chin and his Irish hutzpah, talks the common sense talk but still gets caught up in committee-itis. Why not go straight to the point?
We have the food.
They need it.
Get it to them now.
How many tons of food are required until their crops grow again and a longer term plan can be worked out?
How many tons of food will fit in a jet?
How many private jets are owned by celebrities, executives, royalty etc.?
Ask enough jet-owning people to lend their transport (they cannot refuse) to carry the quantities of food needed.
Ask food producers/retailers (they cannot refuse) to donate whatever food is most urgent .
Load up the jets, helicopters, lorries, all privately loaned.
Deliver the food where it's needed (they cannot refuse).

A team of common sense volunteers, ordinary members of the public could, I believe, carry out such an operation within 48 hours, under no official heading or hierarchy whatsoever.

Yes, I know there are all sorts of objections and that this is not the Big Answer to famine in Africa (or anywhere else). But when people are starving before your eyes you feed them first and discuss the big issues later. Tick tock tick tock...another thousand dead babies while I write this, while you read it.


July 27, 2005


I seem to have misplaced my funny bone. Maybe I lost it on my latest trip to Paris during which this normally sharp sense of humour was seriously blunted by reality. A strong dose of reality doesn't encourage seeing the funny side of the street. So a few days after I got home, coughing like a chimney sweep, I wandered the bookshops, lonely as a cloud looking for the sun. And all at once I saw it: a small, thin, green, yellow and red paperback with a large and promising title: 48 HOUR DETOX - Two Days To a New You! Of course. Exactly. A mind/body/spirit detox. Only two days and I'll be laughing again.

I made a list of items required (compulsory) before starting the rehab:
Sage stick (Marks & Sparks pack of sage leaves), sweet grass (?), two medium stones (have lots of stones) or Tibetan bells (nope), a fan (have 2 electric ones), a piece of paper folded into a fan shape (oh that kind of fan), a bunch of leaves tied together (I'm not cutting up my houseplants), natural sea salt (yes), flower petals (mmm?), fresh fruit (yes), two old towels (all my towels are old), old sheet (ditto), paper, coloured pens, glue (no problem), any items from around the house (any items?) or garden (don't have a garden). Plus a selection of essential oils. And various foods. I gathered most of the things specified and then set about the preparatory task of cleaning the home. This seemed an eminently sensible idea since I hadn't done any housecleaning for, um, quite a while.

Brief digression: can anyone explain how hair gets into places where no human or animal head has ever gone? For example: behind certain books never removed from bookshelves; inside drawers; on top of high cupboards; behind radiators, and so on. Inexplicable strands and/or balls of human hair. I have no animal pets of any kind and only a few toy animals and they're not hairy. I myself have short, fine, thin hair. Somehow it detaches from my scalp and goes into hiding in inexplicable places.

Anyway, having vacuumed, dusted, polished and mopped the flat I was exhausted and couldn't face the full Negativity-Clearing process which involves burning sage leaves, scattering flower petals and banging stones together in every corner where the negativity might be hiding (along with the hair?). I thought I'd leave this procedure for later. I skipped a few pages and read about the Fruit Drench: strawberries, papaya, mango, peaches, mashed together in a bowl; after showering hot & cold repeatedly, you stand on the old towel and paste the fruit pulp all over your body then wrap yourself up in the old sheet. I decided to watch the news on TV before Doing the Drench.

Starvation in Niger. Skeletal babies dying in their mothers' arms, flies crawling in the corners of their eyes and mouths. Skeletal grandmothers and fathers weeping, pleading for food.

Let them eat Fruit Drench? Reality is back. Who can laugh?

Starving children, Niger


22 July, 2005


Is truth news?Explosions and distruptions in London again today but not as bad as the last ones. By now everyone will have seen and heard today's news reports so there's no point in repeating them. However, there is something about the July 7 attack on London that, as far as I know, has not been given any media attention whatsoever and in the interests of public information I am about to post it. Can you believe that a news item of such importance would be buried on the letters-to-the-editor section of a free local paper? Well it is. And it's only because I read this villagey and informative weekly rag from cover to cover while I eat my dinner that I noticed this particular letter at all. It's long but I'm copying the whole thing because, whatever inaccuracies it may contain, its premise deserves to be more widely reported and investigated.

"Do you think we are being told the truth over these bombings? There are so many unanswered questions that just don't make any sense. I haven't found any answers in the press or TV news. Why are they not pursuing this with strenuous concern for truth, other than the "Islamic suicide-bomber" myth?
Firstly, a consultancy agency with government and police connections was running an exercise for an unnamed company that revolved around the Underground being bombed at the exact same times and locations as happened. On a BBC Radio 5 interview that aired on the evening of July 7, the host interviewed Peter Power, managing director of Visor Consultants, which bills itself as a crisis management advice company. Mr. Power was a former Scotland yard official working at one time with the Anti-Terrorist Branch. He told the host that at the exact time the bombings were taking place, his company was running a 1000 person exercise with the Underground being bombed at the same locations, at the same times, as happened in real life. The transcript is as follows:

POWER: At 9:30am we were running an exercise for a company of over 1000 people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now.
HOST: To get this quite straight, you were running an exercise to see how you would cope with this and it happened while you were running the exercise?
POWER: Precisely, and it was about 9:30am, we planned this for a company and for obvious reasons I don't want to reveal their name but they're listening and they'll know it. And we had a room full of crisis managers for the first time they'd met and so within five minutes we made a pretty rapid decision that this is the real one and so we went through the correct drills of activating crisis management procedures to jump from slow time to quick time thinking and so on.

Note: precisely at the railway stations where it happened. What are the chances of this being coincidence? And who are "they"? I have also tried to access information on what times these trains left King's Cross through the police Transport for London and BBC News websites. You would think this would be essential information if you are appealing for eye witnesses. It would also allow for CCTV images of them boarding the trains from the platforms, which would surely jolt memories. The only information the Met seems to be pursuing is the person on the bus, Hasib Hussain, to the extent of releasing all the times and stops of the 30 bus from Marble Arch. Why? The idea that ID was found that led them so quickly to identify these four (previously unknown to the police) persons is similar to the passport found of one of the hijackers on 9/11. Are these forms of ID indestructible, whereas a bus and Tube are not? It has taken so long to identify the victims and they would have been further from the centre of the explosion.
When we have seen previous "terrorist" drills take place in London, rescue workers wear bio-chemical suits yet I saw no sign of this in London, Luton or Leeds. How would the rescue services know chemicals weren't present? They have since arrested a bio-chemist in Egypt.
Why do I feel so strongly that we're being duped, and that this is some kind of cover-up? Do others feel the same as me?" Bridget Dunne, Lymington Road, NW6
(Page 15, Letters, Camden New Journal, 21 July 2005)

Update: This website is one of the many (see Google) with further information and discussion on the above puzzle. Peter Power's credentials are here, in case anybody thinks he's a fantasist who made it all up.


July 20, 2005


A movie, maybe?This is a little QuickTime movie of people moving around in the station. You may or may not be able to see it. I haven't been very successful in inserting movies into this blog so far but maybe it'll work this time. I am really fascinated by these captured moments of time and could look at it on a loop for hours.

PS: It works! For me anyway. Click on the picture and you get the QuickTime window then click on the middle arrow and it starts to play.Really it does.


July 17, 2005


I've put the recent Paris photos here, including the one of a homeless man well-known and liked in my sister's neighbourhood. The locals stop to talk to him and give him books as well as coins and food. Apparently he is quite a philosopher, currently Siddhartha is his pavement companion. He is a real Parisian person but also fits a universal archetype - the wise hobo, the one who finds what most people have lost. He may not really be all that wise but his stillness and simplicity amidst the crowds busily swirling around him has an enviable dignity. He reminds me of Grayson Harper's (apologies for earlier error; I had written Carter instead of Harper) homeless buddy, Jack Rafter, over at Copeland's insightful Tholos of Athena. And also of Dave's cartoon hobo who pops up now and then unexpectedly to offer his "Words on the street".


July 15, 2005


Dave (Via Negativa) wrote about home altars and Rachel (Velveteen Rabbi) took up the theme and it's being expanded by others. At first I thought: no, I don't have a home altar. Then I remembered that some time ago I actually did make a portable altar. It was an artist's book, called Pater Noster and Dave and Rachel and all their commenters inspired me to think about it again. I had taken the Latin words of the Lord's Prayer and built a structure around them, wanting to create something celebratory, a gift package that a child might offer to God. The words of the prayer are embossed on the square pages which grow proportionally larger, forming a stepped pyramid that can be pulled out. The whole thing is held in a brightly painted wrapper which in turn goes into a red and gold box.

Artists book,"Pater Noster"

The subject of altars is inevitably linked to that of sacrifice - human, animal, symbolic or real - and here's where things start getting really dangerous.The suicide bombers offering themselves up as sacrifice for their Cause, taking as many other lives as possible with them: is this so different from ancient Aztec ritual human sacrifice? Or from modern group-suicide cults? Or from so many other examples of deranged behaviour in human beings under the banner of religiosity? Well I'm sorry but the God I believe in isn't a god that demands humans be killed and offered up to him to placate his anger or to honour him. And I'm sorry but I also refuse to believe that the cross is the key message left to us by Christ. In focusing on the sacrificial lamb, we forget that this is what we do or allow to be done: we crucify the innocent, over and over again throughout our history. The fanatics - of whatever religion or culture or country, Eastern or Western, right, left or centre - who continue to brainwash the gullible and impressionable into believing that human sacrifice is not only acceptable but essential should be stopped, and tried, and shown to be insane (however powerful and influential and famous they may be) and put away. Forever.

And to those equally deranged "members of the public" or the press currently spouting abuse and threatening violence against the majority of Muslims leading sane, peaceable, hard-working lives, I say: look in the mirror - there's your enemy.


July 12, 2005


I like the state of being on the way to somewhere, not having arrived yet - probably because that's how my life feels most of the time. So I'm comfortable in departure lounges of trains and boat and planes. I always get there early so I'll have plenty of time to sit and walk around, have a snack, watch people. There's a freedom about it, a stillness in the midst of movement. My purpose, for once, is clear and unequivocal. All I have to do is be at the right gate at the right time and there are plenty of signs and reminders to look after me. Where I've come from is behind me, where I'm going isn't yet a problem: bliss. But people in departure lounges rarely look blissful. And there's always the burden of baggage. My dream is to travel entirely baggage-free, metaphorically and literally, but I've never yet achieved it.

I took these pictures in the Eurostar departure lounge on June 27th when I was leaving London and then in the Gare du Nord on the day I returned, July 7th, the day of the bombs. The streaming cold I came home with turned into a wracking cough which has kept me in bed for the past week but I'll get over it and hopefully there'll be some artwork here again.

Ma petite tante continues to move slowly through her own final departure lounge. Please continue to keep your eyes and thoughts on her, as well as on all the others on their last journey.


July 9, 2005


ma petite tante in hospital

I'm not sure I should post this picture but somehow I want it to be here. First, to ask those of you who pray or meditate or in other ways connect to what is beyond understanding to send some of those kindly waves towards this tiny frail person, my aunt, lying in this particular hospital bed in France, perhaps not for very much longer. And also because at this moment, at every moment, there are so many others everywhere on earth hovering between life and death through illness or old age or the violent acts of others and for many of them there is no one to take their picture or their hand or to remember their lives. They are the unsung, the unseen, the anonymous, the little people. Maybe if I publicly post this very private picture those who pass by here will take a moment to go, via imagination, to the side of all the little people and stroke their foreheads, hold their hands.


They tell themselves that sacrificing innocent lives is their heroic duty, revenge for innocent lives taken in their part of the world. Like every other example of mass murderers' justification for their actions, this is clinical insanity. The lone killer who hears voices commanding him to slaughter his family: is he more insane than those who are persuaded or persuade themselves to become killers for the sake of their ideology, their patriotism or their religion? Somewhere at this very moment, those responsible for the London bombs are rejoicing, insanely convinced of their success, their rightness. "War on Terrorism" is a meaningless slogan: it's insanity we're up against, the most dangerous enemy of all. We don't even recognise it when it's in ourselves. Why isn't there a campaign to eradicate insanity from human affairs, from ideology, from nationalism, from religion?

For those locked in grief and pain as a result of Thursday's appalling crime, may there be inextinguishable candle flames of comfort and hope in a future when the light of reason will illuminate us all.

I'm back and will resume communication anon.