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

Saturday, 26 December 2020

We dont need no thought control... 1979

I'm nostalgic at times. I was always so. Facebook makes me look like I am always looking back... I'm not, but I suppose this place is a bit of an outlet (as it is for politics ... Another thing I really don't constantly talk about- nowadays- in real life).

As a teenager, I reminisced about a brilliant childhood (always leaving out the shitty bits in school, like primary teachers who wailed, flailed, and beat and like peers damaged by a less than idyllic upbringing who wailed, flailed and beat). When I was older, when I drank (and shared a, wee toke), I reminisced about teenaged years, and when I was older still, reminisced about those days. There are precious days I dont share here... The past 23 years with my wee family being one- that'll be for the grandkids (though I annoy my family with photos... But only because I know they will be valuable to the family in the future ).

Pink Floyd's Brick in the Wall pt 2 HERE


This year has been a year of reminiscing. Especially about dad, who I think about every single day. And about good times, when I think I did ok... But I know I overthink times, when I didn't do so well. In my head I have hundreds apologies for people I treated badly as I was learning to be me... Just as old me will have thought of apologies for these days, months, and years of this period of my life (sorry, in advance πŸ™‚) . I think people who go about their lives pretending they have no regrets really are creating problem after problem for themselves. I think reassessing everything, from your very core, to the very brief and inane, is important.

Apologies are important, and I really have thought about contacting people who where in my sometimes awful, seering, burning and explosive orbit in the past, and telling them I'm sorry. Having said that, I then of course realise that they really couldnt give two hoots about how I misspoke, or what a flake I was, or that I was just a selfish idiot. Life moves on.

Nostalgia can be fun. And "What ifs" fun, too. What if I had have worked harder at school? What if I had have enjoyed my first job and grovelled and scraped a bit more with that unreasonable boss? What if I hadn't volunteered for redundancy when I was 25? What if I had have went to Exeter rather than Stirling Uni..? What if the UK had have voted Labour, rather than Thatcher..? What if I didnt overthink things..? What if I wasnt so nostalgic?

Living in the now, is very difficult at the moment, during this seasonal storm, during covid, during the needy end months of my dog's life, so sitting watching telly, tired, eating badly really does need to be punctuated by nostalgia. Living in the now was something I did very well between the age of 17 to 30 (and older), especially on Friday and Saturday nights... But alcohol had that freeing effect.

Music really is one of the most magical things. It reminds you of smells, foods, events, people, emotions. Every song I've loved reminds me of great times, regrets, loves, decisions. And I really could choose from a thousand songs to illustrate this. At present, I'm listening to Japan, Quiet Life... And I've just listened to Life in Tokyo... Two songs from my early teenaged years when life, was about waiting, wondering what adulthood would be like. So I'm reminiscing about the on the cusp time. The time before big decisions, big nights out, clubbing, relationships, children and worry.

1979 was the cusp of everything... And really seemed like the beginning of the future. I was reading 2000ad and listening to punk, post punk, new wave, Abba, my sisters music, and watching Kenny Everett and Not the Nine O'clock news...

The Jam, Going Underground HERE


Sunday, 20 December 2020

Two un-Christmas Songs...

REM... 

Its not quite the end of the world... But in one short year, the UK has been transformed forever. A rogue state. Broken. A country now being internationally shunned. And its about to hit hard. The disaster capitalists greatest feat. Billionaires will rake it in, and anyone left standing will be feeding starving children. Its already started.

I dont feel particularly fine. But, the country I'm in within the UK, Scotland, really needs to saddle up and go. Idiots who luV BruTiAN an a BrutISh can of course, find loads of empty accomodation in London at the moment.

But it'll do, save yourself, serve yourself.
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched

Click HERE for REM, It's the end of the world as we know it.. 

INXS... 

Ive just come, across an Inxs concert from 1991 (BBC IPlayer) . That year was life changing for me. Watching this, it really was a different era in many ways. Very male , big stadium sounds, end of eighties fashion, the troubles still raging, etc.

I wasn't a fan of Inxs... But they definately had some decent tunes, of their time. I don't think I ever met an Inxs fan. But they did exist, because Wembley is absolutely stowed out in this. I don't think of an Inxs era, like an Oasis era, or a U2 era, or a New Order, The Smiths, The Cure era. Or was there and it just passed me by? 

The Hutcheons story is surely ripe for  making into a movie. These guys must have felt on top of the world at the time. How awful it ended in awful tragedy and how it brought much more down with it afterwards. 

This really is a top choon. I don't know what the story is behind it, but it always makes me think of Paula Yates, and their daughter.

We all have wings, but some of us don't know why... 

Click HERE for INXS, Never Tear Us Apart... 

Murderous "Common Sense."

Hancock, the "Health" minister, has been on TV berating those travelling last night after his pal, the Plague PM announced the Christmas lockdown yesterday. Of course, none of this can be the fault of ultra liberal capitalists and right wing libertarians. 

The reaction by Government here in the UK has been piecemeal, to be kind. The message of "we need to be responsible for ourselves," during a pandemic that effects one section of our communities more than others (the vulnerable and the old) is dreadful. Simple "guidelines," when opening schools - opening schools with primary class sizes in the same, pre covid sizes and rooms and young people *expected* to act like robots rather than young people, pubs, gyms and expecting people just to act safely, was/is madness.

"Common sense" really is a murderous term. This was a time for leaders, science, clarity. We got donkeys neighing, acting, pretending, career and bank balance building. 

Add to all of this, a tory ten years of deciding things; public services operating on the edge of the precipice; and the factors layed out in the, article below- the British Government seems to be on a path of destruction, death and economic failure.

We have idealist capitalists in power. It was just like having leaders saying, "The only leader. we need is the great Aten! Our fates are in his hands! Praise him and he'll guide you!" Faith capitalists. The worst kind. Capitalism is bad enough... But Faith Captalists have, thoughout history, created genocidal poverty. This time, as well as generating awful poverty, they have exacerbated death throughout the UK, incredibly.

Why they are in power, is another question.

 Money creates marketing so powerful, nowadays, that it goes straight to your pocket, in front of your face whether or not you buy a, paper or switch on the telly or not. In fact as a teacher, i know very few children who watch telly anymore. All of them having political and corporate propaganda pumped into their heads. Billionaire propaganda brought us the Donkeys who have killed our loved ones, and took your jobs, and starved our children. 

Two final words... New Zealand.

Click HERE for excellent blogpiece.

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Let's be a little more Francis Bacon...

I was thinking of Francis Bacon the other day. I really am interested in the process of creativity. In schools, we teach stages... We teach instructions - in order - for creating a piece of writing, a piece of art or music. 
Most adults I know who do these things do not think linearly. They think messily. They are messy. Creativity is really messy. And artists studios usually are messy. The pages writers write on are usually messy. Creation IS messy, and that's more than ok. We don't teach that though, so how many messy creatives are boxed into the perfect world of in/ out trays and numbered structure? How many ideas a squashed because creatives are told from the outset... THIS is how this is done... No other way , and are marked on those stages (eg teaching writing... We mark the broken down stages someone came up with. Kids are expected to come up with characters or a setting from a story, and describe them , without creating the story... And are tick box marked on that. The Ford version of writing. Writing Time and Motion stylee. Writing by numbers). 

Chris Stein, of Blondie, posts really interesting pics, screen grabs, snaps, on his "story" thingmy on facebook. His pics reflect creativity in him and sometimes in others he has met, witnessed or just stumbled upon on Facebook. He posted a pic of the aging London Soho artist Francis Bacon in his studio, which was weird because I'd been thinking of posting a pic of him and other artists in their messy studios, during the week last week. I wrote on Stein's message board...

"Creativity really needs room. It can be messy. This is what school should be [more] like.

[nb... Schools, are used for more than creativity, of course, so children need to learn how to properly tidy and clean after their creative processes].

I'm a Primary teacher here in the UK. I "allow" mess during creativity and fun. Eg on Friday, we tipped up the paper recycling bin and had a "snowball fight." 
{me amidst the mayhem... I replenished their stocks of "snowballs" as they flung them across the class at each other from behind overturned desks...} 

[We tidied after (recycling is important). By 3pm, the floor was incredibly clean after a competition of "who can pick up 30 things from the floor..." with 25 children in the classroom, the pieces went down to the very, very minute.] 

The kids had a ball. It gave them much needed release during these quite tense covid days. Who needs hours of the extra pressure of "needed" tidy desks, and perfect robotic, lined up behaviour, these days? We all need mess, wildness, explosions of colour, noise and release. 

Let's be a little more Francis Bacon.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Teacher stresses, December 2020

As a primary teacher, I think the lack of real engagement from a Government expecting teachers to keep the economy going, is creating a stressed workforce.

Society at large, including parents, have no idea what is going on in schools, (the safety measures have created an almost victorian militaristic (though of course, as always, kind) regime.

Social distancing, rules about toilets, masks, walking in corridors, staying apart, staffrooms etc, and the constant drip of children being taken from classes as their families are forced to isolate, teachers off (some, because of exposure at home, and then again in school, for over a month) and the stress management are undergoing doing trace and track, and stressed parents taking their frustrations out on what they see as the nearest authority to them... Us.

And the Government tell us, we are safe.
I understand we are relatively safe, because my wife, a Public Health Consultant, explains the figures to me. I have that privilege. 

But.

What the figures do not show are teachers shielding vulnerable family members and the incredible stress of the large wider community centred on the schools.

It really is up to the Government and local authorities to engage directly with teachers and school communities. Sporadic new rules and announcements in letters given out to kids, really is not enough- and add to the stress.

If the government think that schools open right up to just a few days before families are allowed to party, and opening them again a week and a half later, are SAFE, they need to show us their evidence.

We are prepared to do our jobs, and have been doing so without question, keeping children happy, as well as teaching them through their stress and their being upset about this new world. But we need clarity, and something more than diktats.

Pants

Cody, our wee 15 1/2 year old dog, has mobility difficulties. Besides that, he's brilliant. Intelligent, loving, alert.

Cody, for most of his life, slept with us upstairs. At night, when he became tired, he'd become vocal, telling us it was time for bed, and if we stayed up, he'd head up the stairs himself. Just over a year and a half ago, as the Canine degenerative myelopathy took hold, Cody decided to start sleeping down stairs (which is a blessing, as he now has continence problems, and trying to rush him down the stairs in order for him to get to the garden was a superhuman effort!) 

So... Nowadays, one of us sits with him until he falls asleep (he hates sleeping on his own!) and then he lets us know, with a moan if he needs out. We take this in turns. 

Cody's walks are short, and becoming less and less as he gets bored with walking along our road. I drive him to a local park once a day, where he walks a loop through trees that, when he was fit, would have taken five minutes, but now takes twenty as he staggers sniffing from tree to tree.

This morning was Sonya's turn to have a lie in. I heard his moans and rushed down to let him out (at 7.45am... After sitting with him until 1.15am - actually not a bad nights sleep on my watch!). I let him out into the garden, where he deposited his gifts, and then fed him freshly cooked shredded chicken, potatoes, asparagus and carrots, I made my porridge and my near litre (or so) of ground coffee and lit the log burner and now I sit here reading the online newspapers, playing new music from Loud Women, reading Facebook posts and plotting the downfall of the aristocratic, land grabbing capitalist system that has ensured children are going hungry a couple of miles away from my house. 
I sit  in my teeshirt and boxers, waiting for the household to wake up. Its worth it though. Cody has given us a lot in his short, wee sped up life. 

Saturday, 12 December 2020

RIP Charley Pride

I grew up in the '70's to the sound of my dad and mum's music taste (and later my older sister, Karen's) ... Mum had the radio on in the kitchen while she cooked the tea or served me lunch in the break in the school day. I played their records, and some they bought me, over and over on the record player behind the couch. Dad's music dominated the car- Charlie Pride, and Jim Reeves, Tammy Wynette, Big Tom and the Mainliners, Philomena Begley, Susan McCann, as well as Glenn Campbell, Johnny Cash, The Dubliners, and others (including Abba!).

It is sad to see Charlie Pride has gone (Guardian article announcing his death HERE). As a child, I knew most of his songs off by heart, listening them on loop on the car eight track.
When I was younger, as a teenager and older, I rejected country music... For my own age groups music, I suppose. In fact a lot of what I listened to seemed to be a total rejection of the music my dad introduced us to. But actually, my love of melody, and meaningful words or a story, was born in my dad's favourites.

Thankyou for the music, mum and dad. I'll be singing along with Charley tomorrow, thinking about you, the kitchen radio, the Volkswagon Beetle trips across the Irish Sea to Blackpool, the wee Renault with the go faster stripe and you listening to your country music radio programme on Sunday night in the kitchen.

Friday, 4 December 2020

Three Stars and a Wish...

In my time as a teacher, there is nothing that sums up the failure of a system to understand mental health than this:

🌟 Lovely handwriting, Sue!
🌟 Interesting title!
πŸ’«Next time, could you remember you need to punctuate more than once when you have written three pages of story?

It seems harmless enough, eh?

Exams, school, the stress of peers and doing the right thing according to the great random powers of adults around you etc, were bad enough when I was little. But the extra stress of "two stars and a wish," following you through life, to interviews, work appraisals, shit sandwiches (some without the bread), is absolutely incredible. Children and adults, are taught, "you never succeed, because the power above you in the chain of command will find something about you that you must work on. And when you overcome that, something else not quite right will be highlighted." The absolute tenterhooks every professional interaction brings when this is the case, does nothing to help those of us who find interactions hard enough, and whose confidence has had lifetimes of knock backs.

Resilience is NOT repeating the mantra I hear a lot from adults, "oh they need to learn to fail."

My god have they learned to fail... Smilng through; biting their lip through, shaking through, crying through, stressing through  every two star and a wish and shit sandwich they are fed. Add to the list of mental knock backs, poverty, stressed homelivesmental health issues in the home, and parents brought up in this absolutely mad system of constant criticism , and we have a generation of uncertain, unhappy, stressed children.

Children need real nurturing in schools, as do the teachers, and as do parents . I feel a priority for Scottish Government should be propper mentoring for teachers by a prifessional whose soul job it is to do that; a real application of nurture throughout schools-with training from mental health specialists; a rethink by government regarding appraisals, and recommendations as to how these happen - not only in the public sector, but the private.

I wrote this piece a few years ago, based on real stories, and my annoyance at how "Resilience" is applied at times. (voiced by "Wee Raiph" for Ungagged)

Video HERE 


alt-pop anon

I started off a thread on THIS JOY DIVISION GROUP on facebook. It has led to some interesting conversations, (if you are in to these kind of things) some of which I have copied below. 

My post: "One of the things that appealed to me about JD, and then in turn, NO, was the band's anonymity. Despite Curtis' tragic death , the members, for years, didnt do publicity. There was no "frontman." No glossy photos of any of them on their own. The images associated with the band were the U. P. album cover, and the Closer cover. Few, if any, other bands did this. It completely fitted with me. "No more heroes."
{photo: Anton Corbijn

 None of them pushed for the limelight.

They just experimented with sound and it was the sound (and in the case of JD, also the lyrics) that reigned supreme. After their silly dabble with nazi imagry (as many pre punk and punk bands stupidly, "ironically," did), their image was almost a non-image. No fashion, no hair do's, no outrageous appearances on music programmes or in popular magazines. (The fans dressed, ironically, in long coats we nabbed from our fathers, grandfathers and from charity shops (nb. In Belfast, we had a super second hand shop called American Madness, where I bought a few))."

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

He's on the phone...

So... 15 hours, after it stopped working, my phone has had enough sleep and has, just out of the blue, come back, fully functional. And after me rebooting an old, glitchy crappy phone that refused to play music, type the letter Y, and which tries to fill in the pass key loads of times, occasionally leading me to be locked out of it.
{Click HERE for St Etienne} 

So glad this one, with its less frustrating glitches, has come back. I really need its entertainment when I get home from work and have to cook, walk and feed dog, clean kitchen, dishes, and other stuff. I borrowed my wife's phone tonight to blast JaMC's Psychocandy and Darklands at full tilt while cooking breaded Tofu Katsu Curry and rustling up a salad (and cooking Cody's chicken for the next two days, plus potatoes, asparagus and carrots ...). That's going to muck up her automatic selection playlist thing ...

This phone really has been a lockdown lifeline, much in the way our new computer was, when my son was wee, and I was stay at home dad. We got all internetted up circa 1998.. Dial up... And I immediately got involved in political and geneological groups, and in file sharing (remember, Napster? Boy did I spend long hours, downloading music... Each song taking painstakingly long to arrive , and then burning them on to cd). We had moved to a place where we knew noone, and the company of political, lovely people on Freepobal kept me sane. I was also able to reconnect with people, which is still hugely valuable. And I have online friends who I have never met, but have known for years, and value immensely... massively.

I love this little machine ... I use it to read the news outlets, facebook posts that entertain, inform and enrage. Those of you who have entertained me, informed me, exasperated me and enraged me are really valuable to me. I really hope over the next few weeks you all have a well earned escape from the stalag covid 19 2020 worries, stresses and confinements. I hope you all get what you desire, that is, if it isn't some politically awful thing... Those who haven't listened to ME have imposed brexit, Trump, awful decisions re covid, and political dead ends (basically, if Santa is delivering, he's delivering MY political outcomes for next year...it'll be good. Honest. Trust me.). 

I am fokkin knackered today. I was up late with the pooing, peeing, whining wee dog last night, and up at six this morning. Tuesdays are a difficult day in work... Though weirdly , I've always found Tuesdays to be the day when I'm most knackered . I used to put it down to the effects of alcohol at the weekends, and its effect on my sleeping pattern. I can't blame that now. I think its just the sleep interupting 15+ year old dog. My wee, old, infirm, pal. And before my son was a teen, he was a terrible sleeper, so latter life Cody is, really, just a continuance of that. Sleep deprivation. For 24 years. 

I think there will be a major decision to be had about Cody the wonder dog in 2021 as his legs are really quickly deteriorating... And he's definitely much more doddery. He'll most definately be our last dog for a long time. 
I'm glad this space aged communication device that noone but Iain M Banks predicted (any sci fi folk know if there was anything other than Banks Culture novels and, I suppose Ziggy from Quantum Leap, that predicted an all knowledgeable, interlinked hand held that placed all human knowledge at your fingertips?) is back because I've been practising my writing, and blogging SOME of it here. I've blogged for around fifteen years (an old blog was lost when the platform I was using was discontinued). It's a good outlet. As is Facebook. Sometimes.

As is YOUR company, even if its just to disagree with you in capitals. :)