Friday, 13 November 2015

13/11/15 Paris Attacks

Paris 13/11/15

As the people of Paris die, the world watches horrified. Parisians are slaughtered on their streets in both theatre and stadium, Les Halles, and all over the city.

At the same time in Greece volunteers without leaders have travelled from as far away as Spain to help save refugees' lives, desperate people who flee to stay alive, and die in the sea daily. There is no coordination and no leadership. Greece is completely impoverished.

I am tired of our future being destroyed by all this misery.

War is not a brilliant success is it! In fact it's failure on a grand scale.
We can either let the wars and weapons and terror and greed win, as the time to save the world from climate change runs out. And there will be more and more terrorist attacks.

Or we can say NO, NO MORE.

The world can determine to get together, talk and work out a plan to deal with this situation. It is not beyond the wit of men and women to get together and sort this out. We all have children; we all love this planet. That's the only starting point we need.



The world must agree to deal with climate change at the Paris summit.We have a choice : a peaceful future and a saved planet. Or no future at all. Please let's choose a peaceful future.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

15/10/15 Hamlet Live NT performance --at cineworld.

Lindsey Turner's outstanding production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a live performance beamed to cimemas across the UK and the world tonight. The first great feminist Hamlet --director and producer both women. A huge critique and demolition of the evils of patriarchy, its rules, its laws its corruptions, its religious pettinesses, its useless politicians. How it destroys our present and our future with its massive business and war machinery, its noise and explosions. How its kills both our sons and our daughters. Stops our line, kills us all.
At first strange because there's no male charisma, the idea of male genius is out, it seems flat --and of course the Telegraph cannot understand it at all -- but as the critique and power build up you learn its language, see its psychological and nasty truths. Its world of excess and opulence begins to fall apart. We see how Hamlet, a decent man, is infantilised and internalises sexism to the extent that he lashes out at Ophelia in his pain. He acts the madman to plot revenge; she suffers madness as his horrors are heaped on her. But even he and his friends cannot survive, except a bespeckled, heavily tattoed, Horatio, left reluctantly to tell the awful tale.
And it's so true to Shakespeare himself --in a kind of modern dress, but a bit like Mervyn Peake's world, you see the16th C as never before, the real fears of the dark night with its malevolent spirits and ghosts; the religious ideas --incest according to church law; the concept of purgatory as it was then; laws on suicide; the moral demand for revenge. And the metaphysical ideas, how grief and betrayal poison all love, how worthless the world is without decent values ; the morality, the earthiness of the real Shakespeare who littered plays with bawdy puns for the pit.
And at the end, when we are left breathless and weeping, Cumberbatch comes out, reads a Somalian poem about refugees, and asks the world to support the millions of refugees fleeing from the world's wars, and especially Syria. The most innovative experience since The Piano where real loving making was shown. And I think both Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders would love it!
Benedict Cumberbatch urges Hamlet audience to donate for refugees

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

14 October, 2015

Went to see Alan Jenkins read from his new pamphlet, Paper Money Lyrics at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop, Oxford.

Very impressed with these poems. His usual honesty and lyricism matched by a lacerating look back at his past, and a reflective understanding tone that impressed me. I was also taken by his use of rhyme, something which I use and enjoy myself and which builds to a tour de force in his final poem, 'Inshore', which expresses the probably poor opinion our honourable,  hard-working and serious ancestors must have of the easy and lax life of our affluent post-war generation.

Actually I think he's too hard on himself (and all of us). We baby boomers, brought up by people who were both traumatised and survived  WW2, also grew up in a terrifying Cold War, with accompanying deadly proxy wars all over, and lived our way through two major revolutions --the technological revolution into the computer age, and the sexual revolution begun by birth control.

It was not all love and flower power -in fact very little of it was. It was bloody hard and confusing for most. And there were a lot of hurt and broken people, a lot of experimentation that didn't work, as well as those great steps forward that did, and changed humanity.

These poems show how we learned, understood, grew wiser, moved on. And the formal structures and rhyme suit that metaphysical movement in us all.

A good and enjoyable event.

Sunday, 13 September 2015


The way it goes in the UK, is that the Tories bully and threaten our BBC until it nearly rolls over and plays dead. Tells it to stick to heritage dramas.

So what does the BBC do? It does what any wonderful creative thing does in the face of acute oppression. It puts on a series of literary heritage dramas, as 'told' to, and tonight we have had An Inspector Calls, by J B Priestly, the most moving and damning exposure and indictment of the whole careless lot of them ever written!

And this the first day of our new politics with just elected Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Another three cheers for our treasured BBC.  And well done and good luck to Jeremy!

Thursday, 13 August 2015


The Hide --by Angela France​, Nine Arches Press. 2011

I have been meaning to read this book for a long time --its been on a special shelf containing books I must read. I forgot about the shelf and had to hunt the book out this morning. I expected to be attracted to the sensibility of this poet, but never dreamed of what I'd find here.

A Hide is a secret place where you can watch creatures in their habitats,be a part of their lives without disturbing them. It is also the secret places we go to protect ourselves from notice, our own camouflage, our own survival often.

'Cunning' is the word used most often in this wonderful book --the craft knowledge we share with animals, our folk and heritage of practical skills, of courage it escaping from prowlers of autocrats, our hoard of women's secrets, of men's ways of making do and mending. This was and is the strength of our ancestors, my Mother as well as my grandmothers and grandfather. What we brought to the womens' movement, the quiet intelligence that roots us and that we can take into negotiations, into leadership.

This book is full of poems about this --in lists, mainly, and lovely slant rhymes --I sat mesmerised while the English and Welsh life I come from appeared in pictures before me -- the food, the rooms, the clothes, the wisdom, the superstitions, the knowledge, the kindness, the roots we sent across the world and share with every person and creature across the world, the unifying life that is united not just with bark but the quick and pulp of trees --is at one with our natural world. Refuses to leave it nurtures and heals it.

But its also dark --dark with mischief and laughter, with the fear that will keep you alive and on your toes, and sometimes in the scapegoat's life. And magic with spiritual lift--like the poem about the 'Scapula' (shoulder blade) that ends on the wonderful line 'how they quietly hold the potential of wings'.

 I loved this book -it brought back a whole world to me --a world I'd ignored until recently because of pain--my female side -- which includes both my Mother and my grandfather, with all their knowledge and wisdom and skills and talents. This closeness to the world, this intimacy and empathy with each hedgerow plant, each insect, (or in Ann​ie Drysale's case, even insect poo) is what we'll need again to build a sustainable society and an easy-breathing world. I'm going to order Angela's other books today.  

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Jeremy Corbyn is up to speed on climate change --and is also a good history teacher. A natural creator of solidly good narratives --unflashy but gripping. Also a unifier. He so far avoids traps. Honesty, knowing who you are, and knowing your stuff is a great help!

Will pay up as a supporter tomorrow.
I want to vote for him.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

28. 7.15

I am going on record as saying I think the Jeremy Corbyn campaign for Leadership of the Labour Party is the most exciting thing to happen in English politics for a very long time.The man is a proven dedicated and honest polician. He is a social democrat. I hope he wins and his campaign galvanises the Labour Party to become social democratic again and move forward.

The other three candidates are not social democrats --they are party clones with no new ideas. It's like listening to two Stepford Wives and one Stepford husband. Even the smiles are fixed!

I say in poetry, if you have the feelings and passion underneath your work, you can build on that. I call it emotional muscle. Without it no amount of language of music will make a good poem -- it's simply a necessary condition.  It's the same in politics -- honesty and passion are essentials. Corbyn can get the Labour party to help him update his policies to suit today. In a sense those policies are timeless anyway  --it's a matter of new examples of how to be progressive, new instances and technologies, new methods and approaches. Or working out what is a service and needs cooperation but not collusion, and what is business and thrives on a mix of non-hostile competition and working together.
On what needs regulating and who takes responsibility for what. On what is contemporary democracy.

To those who say this campaign is a suicide note for Labour, I say this is life-support for Labour and might lead to recovery. Blair and New Labour wrecked havoc on the soul of the Labour Party --they are shameful because they betrayed our trust and turned us into unwitting accomplices to torture and  mass murder. Ed Miliband's policies were also NOT socially democratic but tory-lite. Austerity is a scientifically proven failure.

For those who say Corbyn is too old at 66, I shout 'ageist, how dare you!' Churchill became Prime Minister for the second time at nearly 77, and was only 66 the first time-- and this is decades ago. We all live much longer now.

For those who warn about the eighties and Militant --I was in the Labour Party then. The Militants (Trotskyites) were a constant irritant but we defeated them. What scuppered us numerically in General Elections were the people who split and abandoned the Party to form the SDP, later the Lib Dems.

The model to think of here is Scotland, which is run very sucessfully by a social democratic Party, the SNP. And we could link up with them, the Greens and Plaid Cymru. This might in time develop into the federal model we all need so badly. And in time for us to get down to serious work to save us all from climate change!

I will not, however, be paying up £3 to Labour to get a vote on this. New Labour broke my heart -- I remember how thrilled I was when Blair got in. How we sat up all night. How embarrassingly despicable he became, crawling around George Bush, so eager to please him. I also tried to get Ed Miliband to come out with policies for years -- any policies -- in letter after Guardian letter.

Now I am cautious. I want to know what Labour and Jeremy Corbyn will do on climate change. I support the Greens on this issue. Caroline Lucas has also been very honourable and personally brave. A lot of good research has already been done. I don't agree with the Greens on copyright issues, but to me sustainability is the most important issue for us all.

However, I wish Jeremy Corbyn's campaign all the best wishes possible. I will watch it with interest. And if he wins, I'll begin to get hopeful. Even now, a tiny bit of hope stirs. 8--)