Writings, photos, politics and rants... *Original content - may not be reproduced without my consent.*

Sunday, 6 November 2016

In this episode Debra Torrance talks about what emancipation means to her, Matt Geraghty asks if democracy in the UK and USA is shit or shite, and Ruth McAteer speaks about independence for disabled people.
With Victoria Pearson talking about remembrance, Red Raiph on Halloween, and Matt Carr from One Day Without Us talking about the planned day of action on February 20th in protest of the dangerous rhetoric surrounding the migration debate.
We'll also hear from Chuck HamiltonEric Joyce, and John McHarg and have some poetry from Steve McAuliffe.
With thanks to Neil Anderson for his work with the sound on Red Raiph and Steve McAuliffe's pieces, and Neil Scott for pulling everything together. Backing music in Red Raiph's piece used with permission from bensound.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The American Presidency Election... Ungagged...!


(A piece I've submitted to the "Ungagged!" website which will be launched next week).
Lots of people are in to "Mindfullness." I don't see it as a particularly bad thing at all. Yoga helped rid me of my aches and pains after all. Thinking about what I eat has changed my shape and given me energy- and my frazzled tastebuds back, so self help, in my opinion CAN help change society. Some little changes to your lifestyle can impact on how you see the world and interact with people. Eating reasonably healthily, not smoking and quitting drink has made me feel happier, more energetic and able to meet the world. Surprisingly, when I ate shite I felt shite. Which is a pity- because shite tasted good. A quick fix. A burger or a spicy chicken something or some other piece of dead, chemical pumped, pig fat filled flesh in a bit of fat injected pastry.

At present, British society is being dragged to the proto-fascist right. I read words of hate and hear reasonable, lovely people say the most unreasonable things about "Muslims" and "foreigners." A wee bit of self help can help with this swing towards a KKK style, burning cross on the lawns of the semi-detached lower middle class majority. And the thing is, I recognise the words they spit when they speak about the outsiders they have met only in one place... Well, not met exactly- but read about or listen to fat rich fuckers on tv and radio cleverly demonise using references that on cross examination they can deny are racist- but are cues that can be picked up by people like us- cues that direct us to the great white telephone of racist boaking Huey.

I have a self help guide. How to rid yourself of the stodge that bloats your mind with hatred and fear and deflecting blame. It isn't your fault that you have been targeted by these billionaires as their bastion against anyone taking their power from them. Your fat postuled mind, poisoned by their video, needs a work out.

Back in 1983, Debbie Harry starred in a film I probably wouldn't have watched only for the fact Debbie Harry was in it.

David Cronenberg's Videodrome.

At the time, across the world, the press were worrying and deflecting us with stories of depraved snuff videos, chess matches and horror, the USSR arms build up, Samantha Fox and Sylvester Stallone, while the billionaires and the Tories raped the country of its industry and stockpiled enough profit bleeding weapons to pulverise the world into a puff of smoke. The press deflected us from the robbery of our working class heritage- snatched by Thatcher, her pals and Reagan- while we blamed the Ruskies, the Argies, and Holywood for the terrible youths standing on street corners, dancing to Too Rye Aye and dangerous boys in eyeliner.

Videodrome, Cronenberg's biggest hit at that time, predicted a world of reality t.v. gone mad and corporatise control of our heads.

Of course, people cite research they haven't read, but have been "told about," to argue against their having been manipulated or that young people don't become violent or sexist or racist or hydrogenated fat filled because of messages on their many screens. The same people can also cite research they have never read (but believe they have as it was in the Sun or on daytime TV or radio) that says global warming is not real, or that the fucking illuminati control everyone's ass except their fat one. And that smoking, regardless of it being a criminal industry that targets children in developing countries and is re- glamourising nicotine in this country, as almost like some sort of herbal remedy (or the £20 a pack every few days habit as being "my only pleasure sitting reading the Kentucky fried Sun and the Daily Heil, while glancing at poor people fighting each other on early morning TV).

I was that person. I read, drank, are and spewed that shite into the faces of other trapped, propaganda filled to bursting fat fuckers, until one day I found myself weighing up some now long ditched media god's fucking tattoo and his fiery, violent and drunken relationship with Janet-Street Look at Me, I'm famous... What does this fucking Skateboarding, long haired clown matter when the factory I'm working in is now sending its work overseas to be stitched by a seven year olds bleeding fingers? I watched all the pulp the bbc, itv and channel four could throw at me. But did I stop? Did I fuck. But over the years that initial realisation built into recognising  damage the distraction and their lies had on the world around me.

The miners begged and they fought, and they starved and sang and marched while the press demonised them for a whole year. And the police baton charged them and Thatcher and her nasties rubbed their hands as they smashed "the enemy within," us. And distracted us with tales of Boy George and Marilyn and Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Morrissey. Thatcher murdered retreating young Argentinians, while we were entertained by Jim'll Fix It and fucking Rolf Harris. And our industries were smashed, our protective unions stamped on by the Tebbit Jack boot while we sang -a long-a Kylie and are they or aren't they Jason.

 One of the protagonists in Videodrome says about the dodgy TV show the population in its world has become addicted to;

“It has something that you don’t have, Max. It has a philosophy. And that’s what makes it dangerous”.

That to me is the fucking rub- ideologies are stamped on- the working class are sold half truths and pretendy science and non-science by billionaires protecting their Cayman Island stores of rotting riches gained by starving people, murdering them and blinding them daily. Education is slowly becoming something only for a selected (self selected) elite as fees that didn't exist in the eighties now soar, ensuring working class young people head for the telephones, Kwikfit McJobs that offer no security, and ensuring they are profit squeezing fodder for those educated only in how to squeeze the proles harder.  Be fucking grateful they give you crumbs and quit grumbling. Robbed of the education our unions in our communities and workers clubs gave, we are their fodder- their targets - with little critical skills beyond weighing up what one fascist rich shit says against another.

The lies Geobals told- the lies the German people lapped up after their defeat and impoverishment post WW1- are being spun in a new way. The world's economy was again, smashed by war mongering greedy bastards- yet the press -the propaganda organs subtly invading your Facebook pages, Twitter, tv and Titbit magazines have a huge proportion of people believing it was the Muslims; the foreigner; the immigrant; the disabled; the homeless; the gypsy and the refugee fleeing from the profit building rain of high explosives, phosphorous, gas and irradiated warheads who have meant your teenaged daughter is on a council house list as long as David "Pinocchio" Cameron's fat piggy nose. In 1983, Cronenberg's weird, at times funny, but very scary film teenaged me watched by mistake because Debbie Harry was in it, predicted the rise of propaganda- or at the very least- how far insidious -invidious- propaganda was going.

In my opinion, if you believed the Project Fear of the rich Brexiteers or the panicking London elites who thought they were losing cash cow Scotland, you've been Videodromed. Videodromed by Murdoch, the Mail, Sky TV, the establishment within the BBC and the fear and distraction they very carefully create. They ensure your ideology of fairness and peace is stripped and ridiculed and tortured in their Abu Ghraib like pages and magazines and quips and asides as you watch or read them castigate people fighting for you- or fighting for their lives.

Why the fuck would you want a free NHS/education/ mass council house building and service industries ran by your taxes when everyone knows Corbyn loves terrorists and dresses badly-their panel of experts say so. He lies, as does Sturgeon and the lefties in the Yes/remain campaigns who hate our boys and our Queen who works her knuckles to the bone at tea parties meeting plebs who wave wee flags. It must be gruelling. Question the elites place in the world and the Sun will come after you- just ask Gary Lineker who has suddenly become the voice of political reason in a world of Tories calling themselves Labour; and Labour Party members in Scotland voting to keep us shackled to a UK Parliament so corrupt, they can't allow investigation of child rape until all of the rapist bastards peacefully pass away.

Instant therapy: Yoga of the mind.  A friend has told me he buys the Sun because of its football coverage. My tip to that friend is STOP BUYING THE Sun. Yet he wouldn't eat shite. Instead he crams it into his festering, increasingly racist brain. As another friend said to me - if he read the weather forecast in the Super Soaring Shitebag Sun, he'd walk outside to check. The Sun lies. Over and over again it's been caught- not least recently when it was proved to have lied regarding the Liverpool 96. Liverpool is a wonderful place to visit. Liverpool does not read the Sun. Liverpool knows.

Do not read the Daily Mail. The Mail was, before WW2, a champion for Hitler and his British supports. The Mail hates anything beyond the Queens blue eyed white biscuit tin stare. The Mail lies. Dump it, you'll feel better.

Be selective in what you watch on telly- Sky TV is partly (and very influentially) owned by Rupert Murdoch- the billionaire who travels the world without thought or barriers , who approves of poor people being housed in regions unable to move beyond their town of birth. He loves the wall around Gaza. It may be a wall around Liverpool next for the old Digger.

Question everything. War, economics, Brexit, disaster.

And just start accepting these words... There are shitebags who are white, brown, black, beige, able bodied, disabled, employed, Christian, Muslim, Jewish atheist and unemployed. And a huge proportion of those shitebags only care about how to ensure you keep your head down and don't question how they broke the world's economy or why they started wars.

Shitebags start wars, order young people to shoot/blow up/ other young people. And shitebags will ensure in the coming years, no champions of the working class will be allowed to rise from its decreasingly educated and increasingly indentured ranks. And we'll allow them if we are more interested in talking Chelsea, Geordie Shore or the Beverley Hills Housewives than TTIP, war and justice.

Mindfulness is great- but concentrate on what they are telling you- what they don't want you to know and what is churned out -for profit- to distract you.

Debbie Harry's character got distracted in Videodrome -and it killed her. The ideology of profit and hate was driven by distracting viewers with gore and sex. No questions- just "look at this shite- be shocked and get a hard on, and we'll merrily stock up in the Cayman isles while you wank in between your two McJobs."

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Podcast: The Fasci... Tory Party conference...

This is an unscheduled, bonus podcast, because here at Ungagged we couldn't just let the vile rhetoric pumping out of the Tory party conference go unanswered or unchallenged.

Featuring Matt Geraghty, Debra TorranceVictoria Pearson, Eric Joyce,  Steve McAuliffe, Amber Daniels and pulled together, as always by the inimitable Neil Scott.

With music by
Thee Faction with Conservative Friend
Vodun with Bloodstones
Dream Nails with DIY.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Two Furra Pound - Podcast two!

Our new podcast!

Over caffeinated conversation on IndependenceLive.net HERE (mentioned by @nwsocialist and Chuck Hamilton on thepodcast)
Music by:

Hand of Dog
The Blackheart Orchestra
The Unholy A-Men
The Tuts
Joe Solo
Steve White and the Protest Family
The Wakes
The Hurriers
The Cundeez

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

My perfect body...

East Dunbartonshire Council have it wrong...

We are having a new bathroom hammered and scraped and crowbarred into the house at the moment. Besides the fact it's painful - only having a toilet that is flushed by a bucket, no door on the room and no shower or bath for a week- it has changed my life in other ways- for a week. Or who knows- more? We'll see.

 I hate not being clean, so rather than booking into a hotel (we couldn't afford to), we've been using the local leisure centre for our morning ablutions.

And what a revelation! I swim for 15-20 minutes, slowly, managing around 15-20 lengths of the pool. At 50, I'm no longer racing anyone! We use the showers and quickly get dressed.

My wife takes a little longer than I do to dry her hair. She has hair, which is nice for her. I towel dry my beard and shine my baldy heid. And as I wait for her in the reception area of the Allander Leisure Centre in Bearsden, I notice the glossy adverts created to attract people to use the wonderful facilities- facilities always under threat from Tories who feel health and wellbeing are a market to exploit and squeeze profits from. And I think, "One day I will have a body like that 20 something, active looking bloke in that shiny, well taken photo..."

I'm a bit taken aback by the adverts, in all honestly.

Buffed, tanned, perfect bodies don the walls, urging us to change our lives by joining the gym or coming for a swim. But after over forty years of worrying about how I look -a lifetime of putting off working hard to achieve the perfect body, I see these adverts as a really negative thing. Who are they aimed at? Me? They can't be. My 19 year old son? I hope he really doesn't pay any attention to them.

I look around the reception area. And in the queue are pensioners, children, harassed parents, middle aged women and men in all shapes and sizes. And I think of who I shared the pool with a few minutes before. None of them looked at all like these professional models- people whose lives are dedicated to looking this fit and tanned in order to make money from lenses that tweak, deceive and retouch their poses into the sculpted visions of perfect humanity, torturing the rest of us.

Yes- torturing. Creating mental blocks to health.

East Dunbartonshire Council don't seem to have heard of social marketing- the latest craze in the high street and on the catwalk.

Social marketing is about persuading people to buy/do something by showing them that other people like them, buy it/do it. It is a way to show that ordinary folk with bodies like me or other people who have lifestyles that mean they are working 9-5 NOT feeding a camera lens; people who have reached that golden time called retirement; people who need sticks to walk; people with the real imperfections that everyone has that are never shown in GQ or Vogue; people with bumps lumps, smiles and resilience through the onslaught of the media scrum that seeks out youth and holds it above reality- an unhealthy obsession with youth going back to the turn of the 20th century and under aged model, Evelyn Nesbitt and the IT girl and resulting in the dreadful diseases of self hatred, harm and nihilistic eating, drinking and smoking some of us resort to! The unattainable as an ambition. A reality divorced from the streets and the coffee shops and the pubs and the supermarkets where real bodies slouch and run hurriedly to their work.

Of course, this social marketing is beg used at present by really unhealthy brands. Ordinary people- with ordinary bodies and faces and habits- are showing us that fast food and fizzy drinks and tv channel hopping as a lifestyle choice are for them.

But the counter to that really is not what East Dunbartonshire Council seem to think it is- presenting what is unattainable for most of us as "health."

My revelation has been this. I don't look like that model. I'll never look like that model. I don't have the time or the narcissistic tendency to spend my time, money or mental health in achieving the perfection of the East Dunbartonshire Leisure Centre photo models. But I feel good! The necessity of having to go to the Allander this week and having a swim has made me FEEL good.

As a young person, I used to run, cycle and I did my time sweating in a gym. And even though, for a short time, I was addicted to the reshaping of my 20 something year old body- it was in vain- I did not become Adonis. I was still a 6 foot 1, slightly stooped, bandy legged, buck tooth *me.* Just a fitter, healthier me. Well, physically healthy- not altogether mentally fitter as the unattainable just seemed to become more and more unattainable as I strived to attain it. The high and happiness I got from exercise was negated by the presentation of perfection the media, Holywood and advertising presented to me.

And at times when I realised the Adonis me was unattainable, I gave up. I over ate; I over drank; I smoked and I slumped in front of the telly (not always as a reaction to my imperfections- I enjoyed these things, and the alcohol marketing man or woman showed me another way to attain the photo model/movie star look through a cigarette balanced between my lips and a drink in my hand!) All the time, though, knowing that I didn't feel that good. And all of these unattainable images telling me; torturing me; taunting me.

Now, after a few years of casting off things that make me feel bad, I think I am going in the right direction. I don't drink- and after four years of being alcohol free, I feel confident enough in situations where alcohol is the social driver, to drink non alcoholic beer or sparkling water and still have a good time. I don't eat meat and am transitioning to vegan- and this makes me feel good in that I am not supporting the torture and slaughter of other beings on the planet I share with them. I stopped smoking many years ago; and the only drug I take is caffeine in coffee and green tea. And I feel good!

Swimming this week has made me feel good as well.

I dipped my toe in the pool for the first time last Tuesday. And it was with trepidation. Embarrassment. Embarrassed at my shape and lumps, bumps and imperfections. I wasn't the model that they used to advertise their facilities.

But no longer. Because the reality of the Allander pool is not the perfect bodies on their adverts. The reality is that those sharing the pool with me are all shapes, sizes, weights and ages. And they look happy and healthy.

Social marketing - reflecting reality..?
Of course there are a few people in the pool, in the lanes, powering up and down the pool; gliding through the water -being almost perfect. They are noticeable, only because at the start of the week they showed me how unfit I had become. There was a time when I could swim fast, with a perfect stroke. But they no longer put me off. I no longer focus on that perfection. And I think, "are the same things goading them that goaded me when I was twenty?"

I look to the other people-the people like me- the majority of us of different ages, shapes and lives- and I am comforted that real health is about feeling good. Looking good is for those who are blessed with faces and bodies that magazine editors and marketing women and men (who are probably imperfect like the rest of us), seek to create in art that the photographer and her lens presents as perfection.

The models East Dunbartonshire Council have donned the place with, make the place look good, like the pages of a glossy fashion/unattainable lifestyle magazine- but their perfection honed in a studio is off putting. It is damaging. It does not promote the reality of good health.

Good health is not feeling shame walking from the changing rooms to poolside. Good health is knowing the short swim I do is protecting me from our societal diseases -diseases our marketing people have a huge responsibility in raising to the dreadful heights they are at.

But I am feeling a bit more confident despite their photos. I am feeling more energised by the exercise, and I am happy with some of my imperfections. And that's where I am.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Imagine we weren't lied to?

Don't be lied to. That's the advice I'll give to young people. That is the lesson every child should learn- and then the skills that will ensure they will question everything, should be painstakingly related, experienced, written and learned.

Take one small lie told to me- and told to generations before me. One that is still painfully being unraveled and slowly rubbished.

The political map. The "British" map of the world.

Populations used to be measured in "white people living in an area."

When I was little, at primary school in the seventies, the walls of my class were a strange mixture. The alphabet, Dick and Dora, numbers, Egyptian Gods, Roman gladiators, Norman invaders, animals, fauna, flora and that map. The one that showed the empire. The one that showed the white domination of the world. The one that minimised the brown peoples of the world's place in our planet.

All of the history I was taught was the history of white tribes who conquered each other by brute force and lies, some of those lies persisting to this day (The Royal Family and the inevitability of the class system being what we have been bequeathed by white warlords and power seekers).

As a teacher, I am equipped to and it is much easier to, perpetuate the accepted compartmentalised history I was taught- with a little tweaking to take in more recent politically correct interpretations. But to re-examine and to teach power structures and to explain to children their privileges and their oppression is much more difficult (especially as we must, as teachers, hit targets that our lying -or just lied to- societal leaders have set).

The worst lies we are still working through, lies created by people wanting to solidify their power, are those that mean that white men still dominate our world's  culture- from our law makers, doctors, planners and political plotters through to our architecture, art, farming, marketing and clothes design.

The innocence of political lies...

And unpicking those lies- the hidden rest of the world, the women, black and brown people, glossed over history of the Americas, Australia, Africa, Asia and the Middle East -and the "aryanisation" of religion and value, is dreadfully difficult.

My degree was in Film and Media. As part of that, the almost hidden world of how power is perpetuated by those who inherit of are able to buy it, was revealed. Our modern day media and who owns it and how it works, is an important thing to unpick. But history- the history of how Govan, Easterhouse, Drumchapel, Stevenston, The Falls, The Shankhill etc were impoverished; how slavery and the dispossessed became the engines on which those who own the world became our rulers; is a really complex thing to impart.

Inclusion, equity, fairness and truth are what we should have as the mainstays of our curriculum. Instead, the lies of the powerful are maintained.

We don't have the big, political map on the walls of classrooms anymore. But we do perpetuate the history of the oppressors. We do perpetuate the myth that the history of the aboriginal people of Australia; the history of women; the native Americans and the dispossessed peoples of Easterhouse, Govan etc are unimportant and nothing to do with modern day life. And that is the lie. It is a lie that perpetuates racism, division, homophobia, transphobia and grinding poverty.

Our curriculum has been politicised. We have been told that there is one way to teach The Normans, World War 1 and 2, The Stuarts, business, finance, science and we are told not to, perhaps not directly, teach children in Easterhouse, Govan and The Falls WHY they are in those places. Why they are trapped in the grind of poverty. Why they have to work harder than any other "class" in order to escape the social engineering, torture and whims of those who rule them. We don't teach our immigrants that they are important- their history is our history more than Mary Queen of Scots final resting place.

The Norman"Harrying of the North," A stability the White West still bestows on countries across the globe.

Phillip Green - and others - command this kind of capitalist respect.  Only for them we would all be barbarians...

Thirteen years ago a primary seven pupil in my class, on our way home on the bus from a trip to the countryside said to me through tears, "Mr Scott, why can't Glasgow be like the countryside?" I asked her what she meant. She said, "It feels so light and clean. Glasgow is so dirty and it makes me scared."

Another young boy from another part of Glasgow said to me (about ten years ago), "You are from Bearsden. My da' says that's where people from come from to tell us how to speak."

The clearances - how the countryside was stolen from those now in Govan, Easterhouse, etc...

And in those two children's words, the lie is perpetuated. The division of what is ours and theirs and out of reach, and who holds power and whose culture and history is important in our society is plainly present.

As I type this, on TV, a man tells me that a man has committed another murder. This is news. There is no examination as to what lies have created so many male murderers. Let's be clear- there will be tens of thousands of people who lose their lives today. Those who are murdered or die needlessly of hunger or poverty related disease will do so because of the perpetuation of that political map and the White history and power we are taught through school, our media, our culture and our new media.

Literature, education and the democratisation of knowledge over the past thousand or so years has been incredible- especially in the rapid growth of the Internet and its availability in the past five years alone. And I fully believe that the education system we have is running to catch up on the availability of truth.  Far enough behind to ensure those in power can control what we see, learn and know.

Gandhi strived in his life for truth. He used what he could to find that truth- his senses, religious and philosophical teachings and literature. His truth led to the semi- freedom of a nation. Though in the "freedom" of India, compromises were made with the lie that had been imposed on them for generations by the British Empire. And on leaving, the British ensured the Indian people remained divided.

Gandhi seeking the truth landed him in jail at the hands of those who perpetuated the lie...

The education of the people of the world, and in particular the dreadfully divided, fooled, misdirected people of the British Isles must be through finding truth. Learning about the clearances, slavery, power, political lies and the interfaces between us and the powerful that perpetuate our place in a system created to ensure thieves and murderers like the corporate CEOs of the world remain our hidden Kings.

The history of our world today- what people will look back to, is the waste of talent and productive enjoyable lives by the "new Royals" floating around the Mediterranean and Caribbean on their million pound yachts; living gated and protected on their walled estates and islands and how their robbery of Govan, Easterhouse, Milngavie, Warrington, Drumchapel, The Falls, The Shankill, the reservations for Native Americans, the Aboriginal people of Australia, the many tribes and peoples of Africa, etc meant huge swathes of people were consigned to dirty, oppressive lives. How others were indebted and fearful. And how many died at the thumb press of a salaried drone pilot or a fooled, impoverished, hopeless suicide bomber.

On my class wall this year will be the words of a flawed working class white man from Liverpool.

"Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer."

But I'm not. I just want the truth.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Miami Showband -murder is never in my name

42 years ago, this band played my home town. On their way home, they were stopped by loyalist murderers (the word "terrorists," in those days, meant mass murdering, public scaring bastards-White OR brown,- Nowadays the term is almost a racist term) posing as army and three of them were executed - the others left for dead.

Terrorists and killers have always operated in my perceived political position. I'm perceived to be "the west," and Bush, Blair, Obama, Brown, Cameron, Thatcher or May order death on my behalf every day. I'm perceived to be socialist- and some who self identify as that kill and maim for the liberation of mankind. Im perceived to be a consumer and people and animals are killed for my "needs" and wants and must haves. And when in Northern Ireland, either all Ireland'rs, or British Nationalists killed and maimed in my perceived name.

None of it is. No death, no injury to support ANY cause is in my name.

When the Miami Showband were massacred, it was in the name of "Britishness." I don't accept that. Those who carried this out, those still living, were no soldiers on the side of right. And they are in a living hell, knowing what they did. I am not freer or happier because of the deaths of these musicians who shared their joy in Banbridge that night 42 years ago.

And I am ashamed to say, Banbridge has no memorial to these and other innocents killed in the name of some sort of perceived freedom. No place of contemplation for the musicians, music lovers, daughters, sons -lives- extinguished agonisingly and with dreadful consequence, in the name of perceived freedom, soul, borders and flags.

Murder tacked on to any ideology is not in my name, every bit as much as murder by men for their sexual gratification; murder by a drone guiding soldier for his pay cheque or murder ordered by those either I voted for to bring equality and equity closer- never mind those in power I would never vote for.

If ever there was a symbol for needless, shameful murderous madness, it is the deaths of the Miami Showband- and the excuses made by people afterwards to justify the slaughter of young men, sons, husbands,friends who loved to play musical instruments and sing.

Friday, 29 July 2016

The Band is Back thegither...

A wee podcast I produce... Lefty, pro-independence - and totally free of interference... UNGAGGED!!!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

My Pen Pal

Back in the seventies, opinionated working class people did not have spaces in which they could rant, or reminisce or ruminate. As someone who became a teenager in 1979, the Internet wasn't even a dream. No one I had ever read or listened to predicted a social "space" in which individuals could learn, be abnoxious, post penis pictures or work collaboratively with others to help bring about change. Representatives- heroes- keyboard warriors - did that for us from the newspaper columns and music press and comics we bought. And to learn about the world, we had pen pals.

Before I turned teenager, A friend of mine, Clark, had a pen pal. Clark had a lot of things I didn't have. Guitar lessons, straight hair, a tent, a pink panther car, a telephone in his house and his house had the number of my favourite Disney Character, Herbie- number 53.

His pen pal was from South Africa, the other place apart from Northern Ireland, where I was from, that was in the news every night. Clark told me about his pen pal having a swimming pool, a huge car and brilliant, sunny weather all the time. 


West belfast - on the news 1976

I wanted a pen pal.

And then came my opportunity. Clark's pen pal had a friend who wanted a pen pal. He had sent his Durban address and a photo for Clark to give to one of his pals- and Clark gave it to me.

This guy, at the age I was- around 10, was who I wanted to be. He had straight blonde hair, a tan and a bright straight smile.

"First things first," I thought. "I'll have to get a photo."

In those days the only way we knew how to get a selfie was to pay in the Photobooth in Wellworth's (across the road from Woolworth's). So, with my pocket money, I went off to have the pictures taken.

Each strip of "selfies" was made up of six photos- each one individually taken by the automatic camera. I only needed one, smiley, ordinary pic, so the other five were for me to make a comedy book mark.

I hated the strip of pics. They were the opposite of everything that was good about HIS picture. I closed my mouth to hide my huge rabbit teeth and I had TRIED to clamp down my unruly hair. And those fucking freckles... "Anyway," I thought, "maybe he'll like me as I am. Maybe like my friends, he'll not really judge me by how I look," which was daft as we all ad Nick-names for each other based on how we looked...

I cut the pic from the strip and went about writing my letter. My P6 teacher and now my P7 teacher both encouraged my writing. Both made me feel good about what I wrote. And I always had my stuff read out to the class- or was asked to read it out. So I thought the writing would be the easiest thing to do. 

To be formal, "Dear..." Or less so, "Hi!"

To describe were I lived, "lots of fields, we play on bikes, my best friend is ...erm, Clark (Mickey); my dad is a builder, my mum a cleaner." Or to avoid talking about my mundane, working class life?

It sounded a bit boring, unlike the imagined description of the swimming pool and servants and Savannah land with elephants he lived on.

But I told him about the games we played- "pretend road blocks," where we stopped cars in the street and asked the drivers for their licenses, and throwing stones at the earth removers building the local bypass.

I told him about Mickey, who had explained to me what "bigoted" was. I told him about Mark, who had come off his bike going down the hill and banged his head and forgot who he was, and I told him about my sisters, one a pain, and the other one who was into Saturday Night Fever.

And then I thought, I have to ask him about where he is from.

I asked.

"How come some white people are so nasty to black people?"

(I would dread to see the original letter- the language I was brought up on to describe black people-none of whom lived near me - and gay people- and disabled people, all perpetuated by the media and repeated by us, was awful).

I asked, "How come black people were forced to be servants and why they weren't allowed to have the same things white people have?" I asked him, "Do you agree with apartheid?" I told him that I hated the idiots in my country who thought Catholics weren't equal to Protestants (a distinction between people I was, at the time, struggling to understand) because Mickey and his family were brilliant people and didn't have horns or anything.

I signed the letter with my newly perfected signature, stuck it in a business envelope stolen from my mums work and decorated the envelope with Suzuki and Kawasaki signs, stuck stamps on it and posted it on my way to school.

I think most people want to communicate who they are- how they look, what they do, how they feel, their opinions on the world around them- all done in different ways and using different media. From buying a fancy car, through to wearing a teeshirt with some sort of message on it, through sculpture, painting, writing or sticking a few bulbs in their garden. It is a need- so I never judge anyone who expresses themselves in different ways than me, unless it is harmful to others and other animals etc. Express yourself! And use all the media you feel comfortable on and using. And as a teacher, that's what I aim to teach children. Be yourself. Don't worry about what others think of who you are, and collaborate on things that can make the world better, brighter, happier, fairer. The free internet goes a very long way to helping with these things- we have spaces and devices available nowadays 10 year old me could not imagine. We make films, we speak face to face from thousands of miles away from each other. We publish spiels of words, telling the world, "I am here- these things are me." And we argue and we fight and we take selfies and we have pocket TV's and communicators that even the original Star Trek creators could not imagine.

And I think, in the early days of this new way of being- this new way of discussion, collaboration and fighting, eventually the world is finding out about itself. It doesn't really matter if you have light or dark skin, feel different from how people perceive you or have curly hair. We are rapidly changing from a distrustful, bigoted, segregated race to an open and more understanding one. The old are kicking out, thrashing and lashing out in their death throes, Brexit, monarchism, Britishness, The Daily Mail, The Sun and Trump- all looking and sounding like something from a different era. 

Get connected and rant...
The fact I waited and waited and never received a letter from this blonde haired, blue eyed Afrikaner devastated me at the time. He hated my freckles, my woollen jumper, my curly hair and my obviously "hidden" buck teeth. That's how I interpreted his silence.

As I got older, and involved peripherally, with the anti-apartheid movement, I wondered had he taken offence at my questions? And I hoped so. Maybe this person was racist. And then as I got older I thought, "how could this person ignore me because of any of those things?"

Anyway- I write. Some people read. Some people write to me and tell me I'm a prick. Some people agree with me.

But the Internet, and art and writing and using capitals on forums to show how right I am are my right.

And I still have those over large front teeth and I wonder is his smile still as straight and white? I wonder did his family lose out when Mandela was freed? I wonder is that blonde straight hair long gone?

Or, did I not put enough stamps on the envelope?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Image, learning, self indulgence, addiction. Me.

Identity. What creates it? Is it who you are; is it who you think you are; is it who others think you are, and what makes these things?

Addiction. My definition (and definitions, like experiences and like language can be personal): something that a body experiences and either psychologically or physically craves and consumes or experiences to the point of damage to that body and its community.

I'm sure plenty of people reading that will disagree or correct me. So I'll explain what those sentences mean.

Identity is tied up in so much. How you identify yourself; how others interpret your identity; how your community identifies you and your relationship with your community. And how your identity is part of what is sold to you- how those who own the media/run society sell back your identity to you and how you engage with that.

This self indulgent post will create an image of me, in your head, if you can read the whole thing.

2011 - in need of a change.. I have been Elvis....
What is learned cannot be unlearned. Yet sometimes it takes years to learn things. And at 50, I know that. Or in the scheme of things, compared to my older friends, beginning to anyway. Or began to, at first almost imperceptibly, when I was in the pram.

Some lessons take years- generations- millennia. And in our limited time, our relationship, our interface with the world-our identity, in my opinion, at this moment in my life; is ever changing. At times imperceptibly; or at times change comes quickly, to do with circumstance, health, relationships, and your geographical position, family and other outside influences change you. But there are somethings we cling to, whether they be music, clothes, words or addictions. Addictions we poison ourselves with or addictions our society, economy or our class -or other classes- impose on us- force on us.

The political image I wanted to convey... but me?

When I was younger, I knew more than the slow, boring old men and women around me. I ruled the world around me, yet didn't control anything only my wild nihilism... Sometimes...

Me (centre) - beer, smoke and peace... or something... (1994-ish)
Yet some looked wise and content. Propped up in bars, retired from work and seemingly retired from responsibility and the madness surrounding them. A slow nihilism.

But slowly they died. And from my thirties onwards, so did quite a few of my peers who filled their lives in the ways we working class people were conditioned to believe we should.

I smoked, I drank, I longed for a good steak, a Chinese and a fish supper. And sugar and drugs and fast food and pizza and Coca Cola and vodka and meat twice a day (at least).

Nursing a working class hangover at the G8, 2005.

And I learned. I learned that smoking would kill me. Not through reading about it or on the packets- I learned through watching people die, losing limbs, hacking coughs, leathered skin, yellowed eyes. And I didn't want that, so I fought my working class want to socialise during work with other smokers. I kidded myself for a while, that some tobacco was healthier than others, roll ups and low tar, white tipped pure looking boxes. I was persuaded by corporations their product would be less fatal and persuaded over drinks that I was a woose for smoking nothing but the full fat fags. "you'll die of something- you may as well enjoy yourself." Then my coughing doubled me over and I watched as around me my contemporaries wheezed and slowly, slowly ground to a halt "enjoying themselves," unable to run, walk and in the end live. I learned. And I quit.

Circa 1985? A few months of health to train for a few runs...

I lectured and machine gun-like quoted facts, philosophy's and ideology. I shouted about being the change I want to see in the world, yet comfortably slipped on the cloak of "the system." The system we can't change unless we all rise up- I'll justify my next Big Mac because that's the world I live in. I'll justify my primark teeshirts produced by children in a factory at a machine where they can't leave to piss when they need to. My coffees and chocolate produced by the bleeding hands of farmers forced to live in debt as they are exploited by the corporations we can't bring down until we all hoist the red flag over the White House. I shouted about change, but consume "as a victim of capitalism; a rat in a race; a health time bomb created by a class unable to break the chains of the crap being forced down our throats - consent of our imminent early graves manufactured by fit, rich, tanned Gods on Necker Island or on floating palaces in the Caribbean."

image in food...

...and coffee...

...And vegan Scandinavian "Herring" meals...

And all of those holding their fists up, all of the comrades unable to act -unable to create change because we have trapped ourselves in our working class cages.

Unable, not wanting, to change. Stuffing dead, fattened, tortured animals down our throats, wearing clothing created by kids chained to desks for our sartorial pleasure, smoking tobacco made by companies that grew in power and wealth using kidnapped people from Africa, Scotland, Ireland... Digesting sugar harvested by modern day slaves...

We are killing them. They are killing us.

And someone lights a Cuban Cigar on their yacht, toasting the media they own for telling us how working class people should behave. What cheaply processed "foodstuffs" we should identify with and clog up our bodies with.

Image in music...

Image in comics...

How we rebel, nihilistically- how we consume and rant about capitalism and die its victims, taking many thousands with us.

You can't unlearn. But you can break the circle of consuming. You can stop your consuming. You can do without the "working class" football tops and the sugary fizzy drink. You can do without the addictive substances, and you can live and give the finger to the yacht. The "viccy" to the billionaire owned media. You can find people to work with- on equal terms- and share your fun, healthy, alternatives to this packaged working class mortality rate.

I told my pal, "if you make us a salad I'll throw it at you." It was his turn to cook for those of us who had signed up to one night a week feeding each other. It meant we only slaved over a cooker one evening a week-and it worked out cheaper. Students needed every penny they could get. That was over twenty years ago. I don't eat meat now. At all. I learned and couldn't unlearn- about health and about environmental destruction and then finally about the fact that animals I ate loved their young - and their friends and life every bit as much as I do.

Image in teeshirts...

On Friday nights during the seventies, we ate sweet after sweet given to us by both sets of grandparents and I buzzed and sometimes felt ill. So I knew sweets, those shiny, scrummy, brightly packaged things aimed at children; aimed to addict us, made me feel ill.

When I was in my teens and twenties, I

ran and cycled and during short bursts of training lasting a few months, I would quit sweets, crisps and crap and eat as healthily as I could. I rarely felt ill or tired during those times. My skin cleared up. I was not short tempered.

I realised that crap made me feel bad, short tempered, tired, sluggish.

So I had periods of my life in which I gave things up for a year- sugar, alcohol, meat. And I felt good, but socially excluded. Like when I no longer shared the conspirital , cool, sarcastic, sardonic, nihilistic smoke break. Or the laugh at the bar. Or the speed of the burger or the chippy or KFC... So inevitably, sugary foods bought by someone to share, were shared. A pie or a McDonalds was quick, easy. A pint with pals felt good- and I would push my healthy lifestyle change to somewhere in the future.

But then photos of me made me think "heart attack," stroke," "cancer," early death. And my mood and coping mechanism was shot. Drudgery, work, chores, bed, -- look forward to that booze on a Friday night after work; Thursday after work, Friday after work, Saturday because it is Saturday... Wednesday because it is the turn of the week; beer every night on a holiday from the drudge... Drink the free bar dry; wheeze and sweat my way to the bar... My identity- my working class health nihilism; food on the go from Greggs, full fat everything and victory in volume... was killing me. One more beer- it's only water and grains... And then you realise it is sugar; it is storing around your internal organs; it is pushing sugar levels to huge heights; it is making you sweat and it is in control as you run to the shop to ensure you get there before 10pm to get three more litres of fizzy lager...

My identity was, both from my point of view and the point of view of others, tied up in alcohol.

Roll us another one, Kev. Make it a good one. He laughs and looks at me through his lank, long greasy hair as he sprinkles the tarry substance amongst the tobacco from the Marlboro.

We smoke all day from waking at midday;

people visit and join us for joint after joint as day turns to night and eventually we all head back to our rooms. I'm last out; first there tomorrow.

For a few years, my identity was tied up with my long, dyed hair, shaved up the sides; my colourful clothes; my not give a fuck, lefty, Irish hippy, charity shop and "man" flecked sentences; chill... Roll another one. My identity. Days wasted, but not wasted - learning.

Calimotxo, metaxa, Czech beer at source, ricard, stroh rum, Havana rum... Necked at source in all those countries.

Alcohol, nihilism, drugs, all part of my identity- an identity found at 17- drinking beer outside with my mates before hitting the pub or club. An identity with its roots in my high school- my rebellion- my statement to a friend that I wanted to find out all the secrets. An identity hard to shake.

But what is learned cannot be unlearned and as community crumbles; body function begins to fail- addictions need to be faced. And the person I want to be rather than expected to be as a working class baldy pasty, fat white bloke, must be faced. The future embraced. A new identity formed from better informed me.

I don't drink, I don't smoke, what do I do?

I learn.

I be. The vegan, clean living, very, very flawed, husband, dad, cycling, dog walking, coffee drinking, comic/novel/biography reading, political 50 year old me.

Constructed image- what is real?

Friday, 15 July 2016

Je Suis... Redux.

All my life, it seems, little armies have been taking their grievances out on ordinary people eating, drinking, shopping, celebrating, singing, sleeping, walking, working, playing, crying.

Growing up in Northern Ireland, our news was almost daily filled with atrocities carried out on crushed families, carrying their fathers, mothers and children to cemeteries across the six counties. And far from preserving or helping a cause, all these acts have done is divide and aide bitterness that still lives on in Ireland. Although time is healing some wounds, bitterness against those who used families as their causes machine gun fodder still poisons many a heart. Though of course, as I say, time is healing, as are words spoken in the media, to neighbours and in courtrooms and hearings. Voices of victims and oppressed people are being heard and divisions -slowly- and as peacefully as possible, are being bridged.

Little armies smash, kill, maim, causing desperate, unquenchable grief, all the time negating their cause- sometimes just- sometimes a cry for help- sometimes a last resort, by tearing the life out of people far removed from their cause by the gulf created by the media, language, cultural difference, years.

Terrorism, whether it comes from a little army or one paid by taxes, is never going to bring justice. It will always bring repercussions that are bloody or full of hate and revenge.

And terrorism makes victims of us all- from the plotters, their families, their cause- through to the victims, their families and their mediated solutions.

There is something badly wrong with the world when someone feels their voice can only be heard through horror meted out on innocent people. Something badly wrong when oppressed people's causes are represented by a tiny army of angry, desperate, murderous thugs. The only voices we hear are the explosion of bloody terror and the cries and sobs of the victims and their families.

The world is wrong when a Peace Envoy is the man who enabled and armed extremist thugs to carry out explosions in cities that kill over 200 innocent people; enabled and enraged people enough to bomb buses and railways; enabled and gave encouragement to people enough to massacre people eating and laughing in restaurants; enabled and gave excuse to murder to untreated psychotics who mow people down in the street who were celebrating freedom.

And the world is wrong when the poor are taught to scapegoat by millionaire newspaper and media outlets, taking out their anger on people who have fled from towns and cities targeted by little armies and huge armies, as a result of what a peace envoy did along with a religious maniac of a President, back at the dawn of a new millennia.

In Ireland, will everyone forgive those who took their grievances out on their loved ones? Mostly not. But will these people call for revenge killings of a perceived "other" to quench their grief? No. That idiocy is over.

The present international fora for talking are not up to the mark. The voices of the oppressed people of Palestine, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the North African and middle eastern countries blighted by the worlds thirst for oil and religious answers of the ancient world must be heard- and when they are, the dreadful cacophony of death, grief and bloody revenge will be drowned out.

War is not an answer. Air strikes, drone strikes, land strikes and tit for tat leads to more innocent families grieving and calls for vengeance.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Where everybody forgets your name... Derek, Paul and me.

Derek grabbed the microphone. He smiled a gap toothed smile, his skinny frame enveloped by his teddy boy drape coat, a black curl from his black Ducks Arse hairstyle falling down his leathery, wrinkled, skeletal forehead.

We all watched. The bar was only half full. Young people did their partying in town. Jamie's was on the outskirts- built in a small industrial estate- a bar the locals came to from the Housing Executive estate across the way. We called it, "Cheers," because it had that kind of vibe. Regulars propping up the bar and discussing lives and scandals and minutiae the rest of the world would not see as important; offering solutions to world problems we saw as obvious- others might have isms or analysis that would box us into a container to be placed on their "unforgivable" shelf. Who was going out with who; Who had been seen pissing into the orange hall letter box, who was found sleeping it off in the church;  Banter, slagging, singing, laughing.

The bar snacks, made by the owner for the clientele to make us thirstier than we already were, had come down from the kitchen earlier. We hungrily ate from the trough, cheap sausage rolls, ham sandwiches, cocktail sausages. Derek had been at the end of the bar, a place he stood every week when he drew his dole. A shadow of a man known; famous; for his drinking. Someone who didn't mind being laughed at as long as someone bought him a drink or two.

Paul said, "watch this."

He picked up a handful of cocktail sausages.

He turned towards the other end of the bar and quickly flicked a sausage. I watched as it skewed across the room, through the small crowd and hit Derek squarely on the nose. He flinched and looked down at where the sausage landed. He looked around, smiled and bent down to pick it up. Paul nudged me and laughed as Derek pocketed the snack.

Paul repeated the flick. Derek again watched where it fell and pocketed it.

It was difficult to hold the laughter in. In my head I thought this was dreadful- Paul was laughing openly at this man who was obviously ill. Derek was obviously an alcoholic. Obviously drinking himself to death. Obviously drinking himself into further poverty.

None of us in the bar were well off- except for the owner. All of us liked a drink. All of us slagged each other off, found vulnerabilities in others around us and stuck the verbal boot in, but there was something poignant about Derek. This was the late 1980's and Derek was still dressing in his teenaged years clothing- all well kept, ironed, cleaned. He took pride in this image of a teenaged rebel- but the once weightlifter, soldier, father, boxer was a pitiful figure, still living that rebellion, that want for exotic late 1950's America, from the straight jacket the world around him in mid-Ulster had been. His rebellion now looking like nothing more than a drunken defeat to anyone looking in.

He was actually a very quiet man, but liked a laugh, and when he drank he was really difficult to understand. He mumbled. But everyone knew him. Like they knew Cecil, who had what we now know as post traumatic stress and who walked from morning to night around the town, covering every street and a lot of the country roads surrounding it, shaking his hands rhythmically by his side. And who, when we were teenagers, when we spotted him we would suck the last draw from a cigarette, and throw it in a bin to watch him rummage for it. Or Sweet, who twice stood in front of speeding trucks because he believed he was a God who could never die. And twice ended up in intensive care, now walking, in his late twenties, with the aid of a walking stick. And like "Darkie," the only Pakistani drinker in the town. Or The Meg, who was just known for her poverty, her smell and her place at the end of the bar in town. Or Sammy who was apparently very rich, but who wore the same suit day in day out- stuffing it with newspapers and hay during the winter.

By the time the karaoke came on, Paul and I were well oiled. His wife and my girlfriend were back in his house, probably livid by now- but we were contactless- back in the days without mobiles, texting, messenger, Facebook or any other social media we can use to buzz someone's pocket.

But the craic was 90. We all laughed and bantered and slagged and felt like Monday morning and the factory was far, far away in the future. A different world from here, from this dimly lit place where everybody forgot your name and went for your weak spot. This place in which if women came in, we fell silent like wee boys.

"You can sing," Paul said to me. I could hardly talk after the vodkas and pints we'd necked in the couple of hours we'd stood there laughing at Derek, putting the boot into those not as quick at the insults and verbal stick poking.

"Na!" I smiled and shook my head.

Paul ambled to the stage and said something to Eddie the karaoke man, and took the mic. The bar hushed and Paul, all 19 stone, 5' 5" of him, sang the most beautiful rendition of "Daniel" an ex-biker, full of beer and vodka has ever sang. The bar clapped and back slapped the big man.

"A bit of Elvis, now, we hope!" Eddie shouted down the echoing mic.

Derek set his golden short on the bar, as the other domestic escapees, some who were drinking the childer's dinner money; some who could only find solace from whatever pain life had thrown at them; some of whom whose glory days were, in their years young, hopeless heads, behind them; and some, like me, who loved the wisdom and the togetherness and the confidence and the paradise found in smokey, alcohol washed floors, and stories of self abuse dressed up as heroic deeds told by gravel rinsed throats laughing, shouting and whistling as Derek took to the stage.

"Elvis! Elvis! Elvis!" We shouted.

He took the mic with one hand, the head fell down, he wobbled into an Elvis pose with his other hand aloft,  finger pointing into the air, a knee thrust forward and his skeletal figure lost in his blue coat.

Where do you GET brothel creepers nowadays, I thought?

I look back on Derek, and nowadays I see many Derek's, old punks, Morrissey fans, Goths and people just lost in the past they didn't escape from and I don't judge anymore. My youthful feeling about these old people stuck in their past was informed by my years- my feeling I would never get old- my feeling that I would grow older much more "coolly" in my post punk style; my wiser ways and much more modern indie music... What had they seen in their lives, encountered, suffered that had/has them using a bar as their living room, their rebellious youth as their present? There-  only by way of my choices, my odd choices supported by a great network of family, - could be my present. My love for alcohol and in fact it being a huge part of my identity for many years could have trapped me easily in a world of my past. At times I still escape into my past, in my head; in what I wear; in the music I listen to. But I love the new. I wanted to experience beyond the smokey walls were I left some of my friends who still sport the hairstyles (some of the lucky bastards still HAVE hair!), who still have the love of the banter driven by the booze and the poverty and the camaraderie of "Cheers," where now empty stools sit were other comrades left empty, early in lives full of the goings on of a small town I still love, but only visit. From the position of a better life? I don't know. Certainly a more sober one. Certainly one bereft of the laughter alcohol can bring. And the pain. But not painless; not without its misspent hours and selfish days.

The jangling opening bars of "That's alright mama," rang out around the bar. Derek missed his cue. We laughed. Eddie rewinded and counted him in.

And when this time the melody was to begin, Derek did his all time best Elvis impression. The hero who he loved and lived, possessed him. The exotic world this shadow of a former weightlifter and joiner and ex-soldier had yearned for, seen only in technicolor in the Iveagh Cinema, he curled his cracked lips and from deep in his chest came the best Elvis "Uhuhuh!" we had heard. We roared and cheered and laughed and Derek looked up and smiled and for the next two and a half minutes he was that star, on stage, rattling those bones and "Uhuhuh-ing," from deep, deep in his chest; from deep, deep in his mind and soul and being.

And the drinks were on the rest of us escapees until we had to go back to, as Paul said, "broken tellies- all picture and no sound."

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Another Scotland/ Europe/ World is Possible- the Villa Vegana table...

Or why I joined the SNP...

So... I joined the SNP last Friday. Something I thought I would never do. I had to. After the Brexit vote, I felt it was my only option.

The Scottish micro-left, so buoyant after Indyref1, committed hari-kiri last year and the microphone grabbers so reliant on their small group of followers, but so dismissive of their views, are making a dash for the stage again.

Indyref 2 is on its way- and I have to help- even more than I did last time. I won't be a local "Yes" leader by way of my political party this time- but I'll be free to deliver whatever leaflets etc I feel will persuade those around me.

I admire those who have decided to go back home to Labour to help the Corbanista fight. But I believe it is a fight that will ultimately drain energy and not help the place of Scotland in the EU or the world. Corbyn and his circle are British Unionists. I feel the Labour Party in Scotland, even with the extra bodies from the left joining it, will not be the power it once was and be able to influence the wider party into letting it set Scottish policy (ie Independence), and as a matter of fact, the power in the party north of the border will still be difficult to wrestle from the cold, dead hands of the twitching body of Blairism.

I am very much to the left of the main body of the SNP, but I feel there are enough of us to ensure we move the civic and national conversation to independence, the citizens/basic income, against nuclear weapons and power and extending children's rights. I believe at present, as a socialist, I must try to calmly influence those who feel change comes slow to recognise that revolutions such as that the Brexit can bring to the UK and Europe can happen not just in the lives of the elite power struggles, but setting aside the weak and factional "revolutionary" left, we can overturn years of inequity, lies, scapegoating and factional Tory power squabbles.

(360 degree view)

I write this in a £2 million mansion on the hills outside Palma- rented for relative peanuts by a German couple who in their small way are changing the world by subletting to people seeking a different world. They host dinner parties every night with people from across Europe, eating freedom foods- vegan, sustainable and affordable- their ultimate goal to find someone to fund an Eco -vegan not for profit village. Speaking to small groups of people as they pass through the doors of Villa Vegana.

The £2 million pound villa would be sitting empty, the owner unable to sell because of the financial crash in property- but wanting to hold on to ensure ultimately his investment pays off. Which could take years as Capitalism has crashed and could well burn in the coming years.

These wonderful people, Miriam and Jens, are patiently along with friends who lend a hand in cooking, cleaning, conversing and being the change they want to see in the world, creating a new world.

Around the table this week we have agreed and disagreed with Germans, Italians, Swiss, Americans, Austrians... Yet all of them want a better world. A kinder world- a more equal world. And all of them-us- have the starting point of animal welfare. From that our conversations went to the Citizens income, a better Europe, the chastising of children, education and the Antithesis of poetic, media word warping elites of Berlusconi, Murdoch, the London/Westminster/Banker elites etc... And we found other points to agree on. All here in a millionaires mansion- none of us millionaires (nurses, teachers, tattooists, cameramen, shop assistants, doctors, artists, factory workers...) but all with our starting points of different experiences; none negating the other, all loving the food and the agreeable company and the wish for a better world. And all totally gobsmacked at the idiocy of the Brexiteers who voted to isolate us from the world of discussion, agreement to disagree and synthesis.

We met Podemos people in a polling station. They were full of hope. They were, unlike those in control of my old party (the SSP) and my new party- confident that the Citizens income at a "good" level, could free people. They were confident that overturning the PP (Tories) will happen soon. They were confident another world -another Europe- is possible. And my experience of Podemos as a REAL alliance was not of the false demarcations of power in Rise/SSP, but as the alliance for change the SNP is- faulty and imperfect as it is. And certainly not a party like the struggle between the dying "New Labour" Neo-liberal project and the less shrill, power to the people's front of Corbyn/McDonnell.

Nicola Sturgeon, Jeremy Corbyn, Patrick Harvie and others can change some of the conditions on which we can build- with our help. But we must create our calm, equal, accepting, ecological, loving new world by what we do.

The politics of old should not be allowed to return. We didn't create a new world by ignoring the fact that power still remained with the rich. We ignored who controlled the media for too long and we allowed the conditions that ensure those born with more privileges can prosper while those born into struggle, remain struggling- boxed in to a world of violence, insecurity, health inequality and poverty of both body and soul. Poverty of needs and experiences and beauty.

Bread and Roses is what we struggled for in the early days of our movement. Our movement then decided to struggle amongst itself for the last word.

Scotland needs the SNP, the Greens, Corbyn's Labour, the SSP and it needs a place we can set down our swords outside and honestly debate, discuss and agree to disagree.  Do I urge you to join the SNP? No. But I urge people to join the conversation outside the false parameters of the press and media. The skeletal rotting corpse of lies, deceit and false flags should be stabbed with a stake fashioned from logic, love and a bright future.

Do I think the SNP will change Scotland? Yes. Do I think it will do it alone? No. Do I agree with everything the SNP have in their manifesto? Certainly not- but I am going to discuss and argue and listen. The synthesis may not be my full programme-- but ultimately we will have the mansion and ultimately at the table will be sitting voices who agree, disagree, persuade and enjoy equity with all who want the best for their children and the world.

The beauty, love and damned hard work of Miriam and Jens here in Villa Vegana is inspirational. No one sitting around the table, prepared with care and thought for everything it has touched- from the producer, to the body and bodies of people eating, laughing, debating and not always agreeing- no one- will walk away unchanged. A world as beautiful, accepting and as fair as this is possible.

The ecological, organic, equitable seeds can be sown in Scotland as they are here in a very divided Spain (and Mallorca).

Brexit, though awful for all, can be the beginning of the end of inequality in the UK. Scotland can work with the others around the table and welcome England and others back when they have rid themselves of the divisive, elitist, racist, destructive power of capital.

Will my new party, the SNP do that alone? No.

The table is extendable and has enough for everyone to enjoy and prosper.

Now, I am going to share the pool with the rest of my European sisters and brothers...