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

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.