Monday, 27 February 2017

Peter Kropotkin (9/12/1843-8/2/21) - On Mutual Aid

Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist prince, was one of a handful of prominent theoreticians of liberty over the last two centuries.
His viewpoint is firmly rooted  in the anarcho-Communist camp and can be summarised briefly in classical terms  "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.'
Most of his thinking on the nature of society was formed when he was observing the behaviour of animals in Siberia. While assigned to a Siberian regiment of the Russian military, Kropotkin did innovative and original work on geography and geologyand stages of animal behaviour. His experiences in Siberia also led him away from a confidence in the ability of the state to do anything useful for people.
His experiences also laid  the foundations of Mutual Aid  probably his most famous work, which was also written as a specific responce to Thomas Henry Huxley's The Struggle for Existence in Human Society , from 1888.
What follows is a wonderful passage from Kropotkin's seminal work which remains as relevant today as to when it was originally written :-

" It is not love to my neighbour - whom I often do not know at all - which induces me to seize a pail of water and rush towards his house when I see it on fire, it is a far wider, even though more vague feeling or instinct of human solidarity and sociability which moves me . . . . It is not love, and not even sympathy which induces a herd of ruminants or of horses to form a ring in order to resist an attack of wolve; not love which induces wolves to form a pack for hunting; not love which induces kittens or lambs to play, or a dozen of species of young birds to spend their day together in autumn. It is a feeling infinitely wider than love or personal sympathy - an instict that has been slowly developed among animals and men in the course of an extremely long evolution, and which has taught animals and men alike the foce they can borrow from the practice of mutual aid and support, and the joys they can find in  social life . . . .
  Love, sympathy and self-sacrifice certainly play an immense part in the progressive development of our moral feelings. But it is not Love  and not even sympathy upon which Society is based in mankind. It is the  conscience - be it only at the stage of an instict - of human solidarity. It is the unconscious recognition of . . . the close dependency of every one's happiness upon the happiness of all; and of the sense of justice, or equity, which brings the individual to consider the rights of every other individual an equal to his own."

Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, 1902

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Israeli Apartheid Week


Israeli Apartheid Week, (now in its 13th year) is an annual international series of events held in 200 cities and campuses across across the globe over the next two months.IAW 2017 also marks 100 years of Palestinian resistance against settler-colonialism, since the inception of the Balfour Declaration. It hopes to educate people about the nature of Israel. Demanding full equality for Arab citizens of Israel and an end to what is known as the occupation and the dismantling of the apartheid wall, with the protection of Palestinians, and their right to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N resolution 194. It will be launched in London next Tuesday.There will be exciting discussions, concerts, panels, film screenings and creative actions to raise awareness about Israel’s illegal settler-colonial project, military occupation and apartheid system over the Palestinian people, and to build support for the growing BDS movement for Palestinian rights.Check out the program, or build and register your own, and attend:
Calling the Israeli regime as one of apartheid is not rhetoric, nor is it an exaggeration or a propaganda tool. This is the reality in modern day Palestine, where the Israeli regime is based on discrimination, through laws,practices and most aspects of life and the policies instituted by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people meets the UN definition of Apartheid. This apartheid regime is not only imposed on the people in Palestine, but also on millions of Palestinian refugees denied their right to return to their homes and lands.
In effect, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory constitute one territorial unit under full Israeli control. As of 2015, of the total population of people that live in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, around 6.6 million are Jewish Israelis and about 6.4 million are Palestinians.Under Israeli law, and in practice, Jewish Israelis and Palestinians are treated differently in almost every aspect of life including freedom of movement, family, housing, education, employment and other basic human rights. Dozens of Israeli laws and policies institutionalise this prevailing system of racial discrimination and domination.
The occupation Wall is also another element of the wider system of severe restrictions on the freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli authorities on Palestinian residents of the West Bank. There are over 600 closure obstacles blocking Palestinian movement within the West Bank. In addition, the system of roads is segregated: travel on hundreds of kilometres in the West Bank is restricted or prohibited outright for Palestinians, whereby Israelis are able to travel about freely. About one third of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, is completely prohibited to Palestinians without a special permit issued by the Israeli military.
These severe restrictions violate not only the right to freedom of movement,they also effectively prevent Palestinian residents from exercising a wide range of fundamental human rights because of their identity, including their right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living. Farmers are stopped from assessing their fields and thus from exercising their right to sustain their livelihood. Many Palestinians are also prevented from seeking work outside their locality. Children are prevented from accessing schools and students face restrictions in choosing their university of choice. Patients are prevented from assessing hospitals, blocking them from exercising their right to the highest sustainable standard of health.  Israel has in effect created a system of seperation in the West Bank which fits the textbook definition of apartheid. Segregation is also carried out by implementing separate legal regimes for Jewish Israelis and Palestinians living in the same area. For example, Jewish Israeli settlers living in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli civil law, while Palestinians also living in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli military law.All this combined  with murder, torture, unlawful imprisonment and other severe deprivation of physical liberty, especially of Palestinians living in Gaza, and the ongoing persecution of Palestinians because of their opposition to Apartheid.
As awareness across the world of all of this continues to increase  campaigns to boycott, divest and sanction this regime provide a very effective and natural response. The world witnessed a similar response transpire and bare fruit in the case of South Africa, and there are very good reasons to believe that it will do the same in the case of Palestine.

 “One has to keep telling the Palestinian story in as many ways as possible, as insistently as possible, and in as compelling a way as possible, to keep attention to it, because there is always the fear that it might just disappear.” ( Edward Said, 2003).

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Threads ( An attempt at a sonnet)

When the dawn tumbles towards us
Is the glass half empty or half full?
Frightened of the daily news
People grow fierce, poets keep vigil,
Reciting incantations stitched with diversity
Hungry eyes stop us from falling,
Yearning for something different
Continue  building something new,
We are all related, all carrying different stories
Dreamers and risk takers passing through,
Holding together various points of view
Twisting and contorting like free birds,
In our various struggles try to renew
a new sense of human possibility

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Songs are like rivers - John Berger (5/11/26 - 2/1/16)

'Songs connect, collect and bring together. Even when not being sung they are attendant assembly-points.
The words of songs are different from the words that make prose. In prose, words are independent agents; in songs, they are first and foremost the intimate sounds of their mother tongue. They signify what they signify, and at the same time they address or flow toward all the words that exist in that language.
Songs are like rivers: each follows its own course, yet all flow to the sea, from which everything came. The fact that in many languages the place where a river enters the sea is called the river’s mouth emphasizes the comparison. The waters that flow out of a river’s mouth have come from an immense elsewhere. And something similar happens with what comes out of the mouth of a song.

John Berger -  'Confabulations’

 John Berger - About Song and Laughter

Sukhdev Sandhu introduces a rare radio-minded feature by the late celebrated critic, novelist and thinker John Berger.  Berger talks about the songs in his life and about Charlie Chaplin's radical power. Featuring Katya Berger and the music of Woody Guthrie, Cesaria Evora and Yasmin Hamdam among others. Producer: Tim Dee.

an earlier tribute of mine to the man can  be found here:-

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Gunnar Ekelöf (15/9/07 -16/3/68) - Everyone is a World

 Gunnar Ekelöf , was a Swedish poet, a socialist, born in Stockholm. His first collection Late Arrival on Earth, 1932, established his reputation as Swedens most outstanding modern poet. His work draws attention to the immediacy of life rather than to the presence of the past.He was influenced by the French poets Baudelaire and Rimbaud. His collection Sent på jorden (Late Arrival on Earth), 1932, introduced surrealism into Swedish poetry. He often used an 'invisible hinge; between opposites, acknowledging the immediate counterpart of his statements. After his death in 1968 in Sigtuna, his ashes were scattered in the tiver Sardis, near the cult of Artemis. He remains a true alchemist of words.

Everyone is a World

Everyone is a world, peopled
by blind beings in dark commotion
against the self the king who rules them.
In every soul thousands of souls are trapped,
in every world thousands of worlds are hidden
by blind beings in dark commotion
against the self the King who rules them.
In every soul thousands of souls are trapped,
in every world thousands of worlds are hidden
and these blind, these underworlds
are real and living, though incomplete,
as true as I am real. And we kings
and princes of the thousand possibilities in us
are ourselves servants trapped
in some greater creature, whose self and being
we grasp as little as our own superior
his superior. Our own feelings have taken
the color of their love and death.

As when a mighty steamship passes
far out, under the horizon, lying
in the evening glitter - And we don't know about it
until the swell reaches us on the shore,
first one, then another, and then many
which strike and bloom until everything has become
as before, - Yet everything is different.

So we shades are troubled by a strange unease
When something tells us that others have gone ahead,
That some of the possibilities have been released.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Audre Lorde (18/2/34 - 17/11/ 92) - Litany for Survival / Love Poem

On this date in 1934, Audre Lorde was born in Harlem.  Feminist, Womanist.Poet. Civil rights activist. Anti-war activist. Gay rights activist. Novelist. Librarian. Harlemite. In her own words, she was: "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet."  Audre Lorde dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing the injustices of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Her poetry, and “indeed all of her writing,” according to contributor Joan Martin in Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation, “rings with passion, sincerity, perception, and depth of feeling.” Concerned with modern society’s tendency to categorize groups of people, Lorde fought the marginalization of such categories as “lesbian” and “black woman,” thereby empowering her readers to react to the prejudice in their own lives.
Starting to write at an early age, Lorde was first published in Seventeen magazine while in high school.As society progressed with the anti-war, feminist and civil rights movements, Audre moved from themes of love to more political and personal matters. She used her platform as a writer to spread ideas and experiences about the intersecting oppressions faced by many people.  Her poetry developed an angry aura as she became more involved in activism but developed into an emotionally-supportive outlet and connected her to the world of politics with well-known figures like Langston Hughes. Lorde shaped the Black Arts Movment with her powerful writings on  racism, sexism, homophobia and police violence.
Author of the controversial essay "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House." In 1980 she co-founded (with Barbara Smith and Cherrie Moraga) a feminist publishing company called "Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press," the first publisher for women of color in the United States.
After battling with cancer for more than a decade, Lorde died in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, at the age of 58 in 1992. She was cremated and her ashes scattered at sea. Throughout her battle, she found inspiration through her struggle as she documented in the 1980 special edition issue of the Cancer Journals. Her story included a feminist analysis of her experience with the disease and mastectomy. Before passing away, Audre changed her name to Gambda Adisa which means “Warrior” or “she who makes her meaning known.” Her writings have become increasingly influential since her death.

" There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives " - Audre Lorde

Poetry is not only a dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.”- Audre Lorde 

Litany for Survival  - Audre Lorde

'For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive

Audre Lorde - Love Poem

Speak earth and bless me with what is richest
make sky flow honey out of my hips
rigis mountains
spread over a valley
carved out by the mouth of rain.

And I knew when I entered her I was
high wind in her forests hollow
fingers whispering sound
honey flowed
from the split cup
impaled on a lance of tongues
on the tips of her breasts on her navel
and my breath
howling into her entrances
through lungs of pain.

Greedy as herring-gulls
or a child
I swing out over the earth
over and over

Friday, 17 February 2017

THE CLASH - Julies been working for the drug squad

This song based on actual events, that took  place over  forty years ago 17th February 1976, Operation Julie was launched  at a meeting in Brecon, involving a number of chief constables and  senior  drug squad officers. It eventually resulted  in the break-up   of one of the largest LSD manufacturing operations in the world. And thus started the rather sad  war on drugs, that  in my humble opinion can never ever be won.
The subsequent drug raid  in 1977 on an LSD factory in  West Wales  discovered  6 million  tabs and the largest stash of illegal drugs ever found. A force  of over 800 police officers were involved. A total of 120 people were arrested and tablets with a street value of £100 million was found. Small villages like Carno, Llandewi Brefi and Tregaron suddenly found themselves under the worlds spotlight.
And incidentally  the production of LSD in the area would not have been successful if it had not had received the tacit approval of the locals. Lyn Ebenezer, author of Operation Julie: The World's greatest LSD Bust, who was working as a freelance journalist in the area at the time, recalled:"Cardiganshire was at the time the counter-cultural capital. The likes of the Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix had all made pilgrimages to the area , so perhaps its no surprise that it became the centre of LSD production. But we didn't have a clue what was going on with these strange groups who'd moved in.To be honest, if anyone seemed more likely to be drug dealers it was the police acting as hippies, as the actual dealers were all educated professional people who stood their round and blended in really well into the community. The dealers and the police would all be drinking in the pub together, getting  up to all sorts of daft capers, so when the raids finally came we all had one hell of a shock."
 In a mission which sometimes bordered on the comical, undercover police officers, spent most of 1976 in the wilds of Wales disguised as hippies.

Local police were largely unaware of this new influx of hippies new identity.On one occasion they were left listening to Radio Cymru for an entire day, while sheep gnawed through the bugging devices they had planted in the home of Tregaron home of one of the ringleader Richard Kemp. Down the road in Llandewi Brefi another group of male officers garnered unwelcome attention when were suspected of being a gay cult. This necessitated the introduction of female officers, including Sgt Julie Taylor, after whom the operation would eventually take its name, and who was immortalised in the above song by the Clash ' Julies Been Working for the Drug Squad.
Operation Julie ushered in a new era of policing that remains the blueprint for cross-force operations to this day. It also arguably represented the final death throes of the 1960's counterculture, shattering the idealism with which many had once viewed the drugs scene and marked the start of a harsher, more brutal era for the narcotics underworld. The traditional view of the dealers who were eventually given lengthy  jail sentences is that they were idealists on a mission to change the world, rather than in it to making a fast buck.
Everytime I hear the  song by the Clash now I am also reminded of my dear departed friend Chas who was born in 1977 and was bought up  in  a pub frequented in the history pages of this story in Llandewi Brefi.
I often wonder too, where all the acid has gone, I have not seen or tasted any for years.

The Clash - Julie been working for the drug squad

" it's  lucy in the sky and all kinds of apple pie
she giggles at the screen 'cos it looks so green
there's carpets on the pavements
and feathers in her eye
but sooner or later, her new friends will realise
that Julie's been working for the drug squad

well it seemed  like a dream, too good to be true
stash it in the bank while the tablets grow high
in their millions

and everybodys's high ( hi, man)
but there's  someone looking down
from that mountainside
'cos julies's been working for the drug squad

and it' ten years for  you
nineteen for you
and you can get out in twenty -five
that is if you're still alive

an' there came the night of the greatest ever raid
they arrested every drug that had ever been made
they took eighty-two laws
through eighty-two doors
and they didn't  halt the pull
till the cells were all full
'cos Julie was working for the drug squad

they put him in  a cell, they said you wait here
you've got the time to count all of your hair
you've got fifteen years
a mighty long time
you could have been a physicist
but now your name is on the mailbag list
Julie's been working for the drug squad


Operation Julie UK - LSD and the Brotherhood

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Radiohead Don't Play Apartheid Israel

Radiohead are a band I have long admired,because of their awesome inspiring music along with their  social conscience,I have all their records and a poster in spare bedroom,their third album, “OK Computer” (1997), elevated the band to almost godlike status among my peers, and since then their work has been marked by an experimental streak and intelligence of spirit that  has set them apart from the mainstream, and  they have long been recognised as  being consistently among the most vociferous proponents for a variety of causes. Radiohead’s lead vocalist, Thom Yorke, maybe best known for his environmentalist work, but is also a very strong supporter of human rights and anti-war causes. He has been involved in Amnesty International causes as well as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
So I was shocked and disturbed and extremely disappointed  recently to have discovered that they  have reportedly signed on to give a performance this summer in Israel. The show will come at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv on July 19 and may have some political spin, as many bands have boycotted playing in Israel in protest of the country’s occupation of Palestinian land. I would have expected more from as astute progressive politically aware band.
I have recently discovered though that Radiohead have long had a strong connection with Israel, the first place where their iconic single Creep became a hit was Israel, and their first gig abroad was in the Roxanne club in Tel Aviv.Guitarist  Johnny Greenwood is also  married to celebrated Israeli artist named Sharona Katan and he recently released ‘Junun’, a collaborative album with Israeli composer/singer Shye Ben Tzur and he also has a house in Nahariya .
What I'd like to say to say to Radiohead is that  that we need to be breaking down walls, not propping them up. Israel has a long history of marginalisation persecution, imprisonment and assassination of indigenous Palestinian artists. While they plan to play on an Israeli stage, Palestinian artists languish in Israel's prisons, where they are subjected to systemic abuse and torture.Art is not separate from politics, even when basically each artist who has broken the cultural picket line to appear in Israel has made this claim. Look at any oppressive regime in human history and you see that art has always been part of each regime's public out loudly and clearly about Israel's disgusting treatment of Palestinians,
One activist group called Artists For Palestine UK  has already called on fans to boycott the show:
"Tel Aviv's hipster vibe is a bubble on the surface of a very deep security state that drove out half the indigenous Palestinian population in 1948 and has no intention of letting their descendants back in," they wrote. "If you go to Tel Aviv, your presence will be used by the Israeli authorities to reassure their citizens that all's right with the world and nobody really cares that the Palestinians are suffering… Please don't go." 
For more than 70 years now Israel has been ethnically cleansing Palestine. with the denial of basic rights to millions of human beings combined with illegal land theft. In the eyes of international law.Apartheid is defined as "a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race. Or segregation on grounds other than race. Israel both segregates and discriminates by law on the basis of religion. It is therefor by definition an "apartheid state". So playing in Israel  would be akin to playing Sun City in the days of apartheid South Africa. I really hope that Radiohead respect the call for boycott and like other respected artists do not cross the Palestinian picket line. Many others after pressure from fans have been forced to have a change of heart.
In the meantime please consider signing the following petition by Jewish Voices for Peace, Radiohead Don't Play Apartheid Israel , it might make them to reconsider and come out of this with a bit of integrity.

Here are two further links that might be of interest :-  

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Love cries

Screaming sky releases steaming tears
as old memories return to caress,
I am lost under the  heavy weight of absence
nostalgic for a beautiful scent,
a power that moves me greatly
I continue to crave  her presence,
a kindness that I can no longer touch
but keeps calling me through dreams,
offering protection and so much hope
somewhere else now, I guess,
but returns though to touch me deeply
to hold me and  comfort my tired old soul

A Love Song #ShowTheLove


Time is precious, but we can and we must continue to # ShowTheLove for all that we want to protect. Please take a minute to watch this stunning film from The Climate Coalition.
This is a love song like you've never heard before. Watch, and share. Sharing a short film may not feel like much, but this small act makes a huge difference. together we can protect the life we love from climate change.
A unique collaboration with Ridley Scott Associates, our powerful short film features a specially written poem by award winning writer Anthony Anaxagorou and is brought to life by Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson, David Gyasi and Jason Isaacs. With a specially produced soundtrack by Elbow, including choral arrangement by Phil Mitchell and vocals from the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir.
With love in our hearts lets hope we all start to appreciate this planet of ours and its beautiful nature.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Well done Ken Loach

Big ups Ken Loach. BAFTA award for outstanding British film. True Hero. Fantastic acceptance speech! It needs to be watched again and again ...big respect to him. His film that has  helped expose our Governments conscious state sponsored cruelty and absolute betrayal of people in need.
Scooping the prize, the veteran filmmaker criticised the “callous brutality” of the current Government and its attitude towards “the most vulnerable and the poorest people.” Not done there, Loach also brought up the government’s approach to the Syrian crisis, claiming the Tories’ disgraceful cruelty” now “extends to keeping out refugee children”.
Drawing hearty applause from the crowd, Loach also talked about the power of film - “they can entertain, they can terrify, they can take us to worlds of the imagination, they can make us laugh, and they can tell us about the world we live in” – and then issued a stern warning that worse times are to come: “in that world it’s getting darker, as we know, and in the struggle that’s coming between the rich and the powerful, the wealth and the privilege, and the big corporations, and the politicians who speak to them.”
Ironically Ken Loach's speech and Bafta win for I, Daniel Blake were completely ignored by BBC News, despite the programme following the ceremony in the schedule.The BBC is a disgrace ,a propaganda machine for the Establishment that we suckers,  are still forced to pay for.
While the eyes of the world are on Donald Trump we should not forget  that  the Conservatives, under the direction of Theresa May  carry on with their ideolological destruction of our society , and simply carry on regardless, with their mission of punishing the poor and those most vulnerable, we need to continue to stand up like  Ken  Loach and loudly say enough is enough.

Sunday, 12 February 2017


From award-winning director Phil Grabsky comes this fresh new look at arguably the world’s favourite artist – through his own words.Whose life and work I have long admired.
This new film tells his moving story, crafted from over 2,500 letters and featuring his most loved works of art,narrated by Henry Goodman, I, Claude Monet reveals  a  new insight into the man who not only painted the picture that gave birth to impressionism but who was perhaps the most influential and successful painter of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Claude Monet  (November 14, 1840 – December 5, 1926) was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise.
After his devoted companion  and first wife Camille Doncieux  died  he went to live with Ernest and Alice Hoschede and their six children. He grew closer to Alice, and the two eventually became romantically involved. Ernest spent much of his time in Paris, and he and Alice never divorced. Monet and Alice moved with their respective children in 1883 to Giverny, a place that would serve as a source of great inspiration for the artist and prove to be his final home. After Ernest's death, Monet and Alice married in 1892.
In 1911, Monet became depressed again  after after the death yet again  of  another beloved  companion  in this case Alice. Then in 1912, he developed cataracts in his right eye. This crushing news  led to a bout of depression, and thoughts of suicide  tell me about it, that kept him from painting  but ,Monet  found at least solace in his garden and purpose in his work and managed to at least  somehow to overcome his grief. Over the next decade, Monet worked on an unprecedented scale creating canvases roughly six and a half feet high and 14 feet wide. In 1916, he built a new studio to house the epic images of his water lilies, and, in 1918, to honor the Armistice of the First World War, he promised the paintings as a gift to the nation. He painted more than 40 panels for his Grandes Decorations, and, in the spring of 1925, he selected 22 of them to be installed in two oval rooms in Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris. He imagined the effect as being surrounded by the natural beauty of his  water garden soothing the nerves and calming the spirit.
Claude Monet died of  cancer on December 3, 1926, at the age of 86. He left instructions for a simple funeral, and the only tribute on his coffin was a sheaf of wheat. He had created his own legacy in painting the "restful sight of those still waters" that preserved the experience of his long and productive life, spent pursuing the fleeting impressions of nature through the testament of his brush.
Monet left a vast body of work to be admired and cherished.
Discover who Claude Monet really was, in this in this revealing new biography  that is in cinemas across the UK  from February 21st.

Friday, 10 February 2017

"What I saw, What I heard..." - Mark Williams MP reflecting on his visit to Israel and the reality of life for Palestinian Communities

"What I saw, What I heard..." is the title of an evening with Mark Williams MP on

Friday, 17th February at 7.30. - 9.30pm
Small World Theatre, Cardigan, 

when he will be reflecting on his recent visit as part of a Parliamentary delegation to the West Bank in Israel.

He met with the British Consul, the UN and many NGOs and unofficial organisations, saw illegal (under international law) Israeli settlements and the separation barrier ("the Wall") and the impact of forced evictions on Palestinian communities. He visited a refugee camp, and saw trials of Palestinian minors at the Military Court in Ofer. 

His visit made him look at things differently...

Kate Sherringer of West Wales Friends of Palestine (WWFP) who also visited recently and saw the kindergarten canopy in Rummanah paid for by WWFP will also say a few words. So PLEASE go along and spread the word - the evening is open to everyone, and there will be refreshments and time for discussion. 

The evening is being hosted by Cardigan and North Pembs. Amnesty International Group.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Brendan Behan ( 9/2/23 -20/3/64) - Irish Rebel heart


Brendan Francis Behan  was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both English and Irish. who was born on this day who became one of the most successful Irish dramatists of the 20th century and remains a firm literary favourite of mine. He also happened to be a committed Irish Republican. He was born in inner city Dublin into an educated working class family. At the age of thirteen, he left school to become a house painter, like his father Stephen Behan,  who had been active in the Irish War of Independence,who  read classic literature to the children at bedtime from diverse sources such as Zola, Galsworthy and Maupassant; while his mother Kathleen took them on literary tours of the city.This meant he was steeped in literature and patriotic ballads from a young age. If Brendan Behan’s interest in literature came from his father, then his political beliefs were injected by his mother. She remained politically active all her life, and was a personal friend of the famed Irish republican Michael Collins, hero of Ireland’s 1919-1921 war of independence against Britain,who was assassinated. Brendan Behan wrote  the following wonderful lament to Collins: “The Laughing Boy,” at the age of thirteen.
The laughing boy - Brendan Behan 

T'was on an August morning, all in the dawning hours,
I went to take the warming air, all in the Mouth of Flowers,
And there I saw a maiden, and mournful was her cry,
'Ah what will mend my broken heart, I've lost my Laughing Boy.
So strong, so wild, and brave he was, I'll mourn his loss too sore,
When thinking that I'll hear the laugh or springing step no more.
Ah, curse the times and sad the loss my heart to crucify,
That an Irish son with a rebel gun shot down my Laughing Boy.
Oh had he died by Pearse's side or in the GPO,
Killed by an English bullet from the rifle of the foe,
Or forcibly fed with Ashe lay dead in the dungeons of Mountjoy,
I'd have cried with pride for the way he died, my own dear Laughing Boy.
My princely love, can ageless love do more than tell to you,
Go raibh mile maith agat for all you tried to do,
For all you did, and would have done, my enemies to destroy,
I'll mourn your name and praise your fame, forever, my Laughing Boy.'
Behan's uncle Peadar Kearney wrote the Irish national anthem A Soldier’s Song. His brother, Dominic Behan, was also a renowned songwriter most famous for the song The Patriot Game, while another sibling, Brian Behan, was a prominent radical political activist and public speaker, actor, author and playwright. ’.
 In 1937, the family moved to a new local authority housing scheme in Crumlin, Dublin. Here he became a member of Fianna Eireann, the youth wing of the IRA at the age of 14 and published his first poems and prose in the organization's magazine Fianna: the Voice of Young Ireland.He eventually joined the IRA at sixteen
In 1939 he was arrested in Liverpool with a suitcase full of explosives after an unauthorised mission to blow up the docks. He was sentenced to three years in Borstal Prison (Kent) and did not return to Ireland until 1941. In 1942, he was tried for the attempted murder of two gardai while at a commemoration ceremony for Wolfe Tone, the father of Irish Republicanism and sentenced to fourteen years in prison. He was sent to Mountjoy Prison and later to the Curragh Internment Camp. He was released in 1946 as part of a general amnesty of republican prisoners.  His prison experiences were central to his future writing career. He wrote about these years in his autobiographical novel 'Borstal Boy'. and “Confessions of an Irish Rebel.”  Aside from a short prison sentence that he received in 1947 for his part in trying to break a fellow republican out from a Manchester jail, he effectively left the IRA, though he remained great friends with the future Chief-Of-Staff Cathal Goulding.
While in Mountjoy Prison he wrote his first play, The Landlady, and also began to write short stories and other prose. Some of this work was published in The Bell, the leading Irish literary magazine of the time. He also learned Irish in prison and, after his release in 1946, he spent some time in the Gaeltacht areas of Galway and Kerry, where he started writing poetry in Irish. By the early 1950s he was earning a living as a writer for radio and newspapers and had gained a reputation as something of a character on the streets and in literary circles in Dublin known for his sharp wit and his gift as a raconteur.
His major breakthrough came in 1954 when his play The Quare Fellow, which was based on his experiences in jail, Set in an Irish prison in the 1950s on the day before and the morning of an execution, The Quare Fellow uses music, wit and a keen observation of human behaviour to explore the question of capital punishment. the play ran for six months in the Pike Theatre, Dublin. This was followed by a run at the Theatre Royal, Stafford East, in a production by Joan Littlewood, before moving to the West End, before a trumph on Broadway bought  international fame to the author. In 1957, his Irish language play, An Giall (The Hostage) opened in the Damer Theatre and his autobiographical novel, The Borstal Boy, was published. He was now established as one of the leading Irish writers of his generation.
He found fame difficult to deal with however. He had long been a heavy drinker (describing himself, on one occasion, as "a drinker with a writing problem",) and became known for his drinking as much as for his undoubted literary talents ,this combination resulted in a series of notoriously drunken public appearances, both on stage and television. Behan got notorious publicity after appearing drunk on Malcolm Muggeridge’s Panorama programme on the BBC in 1956. Most of what he said was incoherent, other than a crude remarking about needing “to take a leak”
.Behan was obviously drunk too when he went on Edward R Morrow’s television show Small World on November 8, 1959. He was yanked off the show at the halfway point. He tended to attract attention anywhere he went. On arriving in Spain, he was asked what he would most like to see in the country. “Franco’s funeral,” he replied. Making a spectacle added to his notoriety, because it was what people had come to expect.  “One drink is too many for me,” Behan once lamented, “and a thousand not enough.” and “I only drink on two occasions-when I’m thirsty and when I’m not He was diagnosed with diabetes in the 1960's and his favourite drink of sherry and champagne certainly did not aid him, his health consequently suffered terribly, with diabetic comas and seizures occurring with frightening regularity aggravated by his alcoholism. He found it difficult to write. When the Guinness company commissioned him to write a slogan for them, he sat around for months, drank all the free beer they sent him, and came up with the slogan 'Guinness makes you drunk'.While his faculties may have dimmed a little, and towards the end became the caricature of the drunken Irishman, publicans flinging him out of their premises, his intellect,wit and passion always managed to shine through.and he remained an Irish Republican and a socialist.
He died in the Meath Hospital, Dublin 1964  aged  only 41, his last words were ' Thank you Sister, and may all your sons be bishops'. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery where he received a Republican funeral.The IRA, which Behan had once invited to 'shoot him in absentia', accorded him an honour guard, although they waited until the officials from the State funeral had left before firing the traditional farewell salute over his grave. En route to the graveyard, thousands lined the streets.
His wife the painter Beatrice french-Salkeld, his most stabilising influence gave birth to their only child, a daughter, later the same year. His gravestone features the inscription 'Breándan Ó Beacháin File Fiáin Fearúil Feadánach which roughly translates as 'Brendan Behan, wild, manly poet and piper'.
His legacy remains one of tolerance and respect for the humanity in others, and of caring and concern for the plight of those who are victims of history, not its makers. As he once said, 'I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer'..His wit and humor still shines through in the books that he wrote and his stories about the human condition still engage and fortunately the oeuvre Behan managed to produce will be around for years to come. Cheers Brendan Behan.

Brendan Behan sings his brother Dominic's song ; The Auld Triangle

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower- Dylan Thomas ( 27/10/14 - 9/11/53)

It is a month today that I lost Jane, my soul has been raining hard,memories of better days,but my faithful departed  is still flying around,fluttering from tree to tree,ever so free,I forever dream of her, and her gorgeous smile ignites,and as spring returns  I still feel her presence. Here is a poem from the mercurial hand of the late great  Dylan Thomas that we both appreciated .

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Still Searching

( another  one for Jane, my muse , 9/5/60 - 8/1/17,nearly a month gone)

I shall continue to search the stars for you 
Beyond every torrid bed of tears,
Leaping from the darkness
Towards your magnificent light,
I will follow you always
No matter where, no matter how,
Because I saw your love in your eyes for me
Over time you gave so much encouragement,
That I will never forget, never surrender
Forever grateful for the joys you bought,
Alcohol is nice , but it is you that is most intoxicating
I am drunk now with my thoughts of you,
But your presence stops me falling over
As spring returns releasing all its colors and scents,
Your gift of inspiration , thankfully keeps on giving.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Artists pledge for Palestine

Over 1,200 UK artists  have now pledged to heed the Palestinian people's call to boycott apartheid Israel.The pledge, which was launched on 14 February 2015 with a letter in The Guardian newspaper and a new website, reads: 

We support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. In response to the call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.
The Guardian letter went on to  add that:

Israel’s wars are fought on the cultural front too. Its army targets Palestinian cultural institutions for attack, and prevents the free movement of cultural workers. Its own theater companies perform to settler audiences on the West Bank – and those same companies tour the globe as cultural diplomats, in support of “Brand Israel.” During South African apartheid, musicians announced they weren’t going to “play Sun City.” Now we are saying, in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Ashkelon or Ariel, we won’t play music, accept awards, attend exhibitions, festivals or conferences, run masterclasses or workshops, until Israel respects international law and ends its colonial oppression of the Palestinians.
The list of signatories includes many high-profile artists based in the UK, including:

Writers Tariq Ali, William Dalrymple, Aminatta Forna, Bonnie Greer, Mark Haddon, Hari Kunzru, Liz Lochhead, Jimmy McGovern, China Mieville, Andrew O’Hagan, Michael Rosen, Kamila Shamsie, Hanan al-Shaykh, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif, Marina Warner, Benjamin Zephaniah

Film directors Mike Hodges, Asif Kapadia, Peter Kosminsky, Mike Leigh, Phyllida Lloyd, Ken Loach, Roger Michell, Michael Radford, Julien Temple

Comedians Jeremy Hardy, Alexei Sayle, Mark Thomas

Musicians Richard Ashcroft, Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno, Kate Tempest, Roger Waters, Robert Wyatt

Actors Rizwan Ahmed, Anna Carteret, David Calder, Simon McBurney, Miriam Margolyes

Theater writers/directors Caryl Churchill, David Edgar, Dominic Cooke CBE, Sir Jonathan Miller, Mark Ravenhill

Visual artists Phyllida Barlow, John Berger, Jeremy Deller, Mona Hatoum

Architects Peter Ahrends, Will Alsop

Many of those participating added moving statements to their signatures, outlining the reasons why they felt the need, as creatives, to take this step. Director and screenwriter Michael Radford’s sentiment was:

As the son of a Jewish refugee, the anger and despair I feel can only faintly echo that of the people of Gaza. Art is a celebration of humanity, and the symbolic gesture of refusing any artistic collaboration with a state which values its own contribution to the arts so highly is the least we can do to protest against the horrifying inhumanity of its actions.

The full range of artists’ statements can be found on the pledge website.

I have added my name, will you?

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Do not feed the Trolls

( a poem written after  an encounter with an internet troll)

They simply do not give a damn

especially when on social media

where everything makes them angry

but without the gift of articulation

every time they open their gob

release a torrent of abuse and profanity

do not try not to feed them

or massage their twisted egos

they will just carry on mocking

poking aggressively with idiocy

spreading messages of hate and prejudice

poisonous voices of this new world disorder

who will try to destroy your compassion

your sensitivity and reason 

leave them alone they have no allure

let them to continue making fools of themselves

am sure one day soon they'll get their due.

The above can now also be found here :- 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Pop Group - War Inc.


All proceeds of this single will be donated to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)

to help with the incredible work they do in war zones throughout the world. In 2015 they provided over a million consultations across war torn regions of Asia and Africa, and also provide nutrition and psychological help to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable, innocent civilians.

The Pop Group set out their stall for 2017 with the release of their single War Inc. from their vital new album Honeymoon On Mars.

War Inc sees The Pop Group formidably mobilized by the heavyweight maximalism of Public Enemy architect Hank Shocklee. Befitting the song’s theme of warfare and the avarice of those who stand to profit from it, the track coalesces around a punishing crossfire of industrial brunt and volatile noise, as driven, explosive and audacious as anything The Pop Group or Shocklee have put their name to. With Mark Stewart’s vociferous loudspeaker tirades and Gareth Sager’s acutely distressed guitar distortions punctuated by a recurrent vocal cut-up that alludes to iconic ragga and 90s Bristolian jungle, the track maintains the band’s capacity for adventurous admixtures of influence, whilst delivering a much-needed message of savage, perceptive fury.

‘This is a warning...’

War Inc. is taken from the ten track album, produced by dub titan Dennis Bovell, who worked on their seminal Y album debut, and Hank Shocklee, producer of Public Enemy’s iconic first three albums as a member of the Bomb Squad. Honeymoon On Mars was released through Freaks R Us on Friday October 28th 2016.


Friday 3 February 17 - Belgium Antwerp Het Bos
Saturday 4 February 17 - Belgium Eeklo Muziekclub N9
Sunday 5 February 17 - Germany Frankfurt Das Bett
Tuesday 7 February 17 - Italy Turin Spazio 211
Wednesday 8 February 17 - Italy Ravenna Bronson
Thursday 9 February 17 - Italy Milan Circolo Magnolia
Friday 10 February 17 - Switzerland Bern Dampfzentrale*
(*w. Andrew Weatherall DJ Set)
Wednesday 15 February 17 - UK Cambridge The Portland Arms
Thursday 16 February 17 - UK Brighton Komedia