Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ode to a Gossip and Wuddled Murds

On my travels in the last week and fifty years, I've become acutely aware of volume of misinformation to confuse and muddle us all. The tiniest slip of the tongue can change the meaning of any sentence so that a words become murd-erous things. It may seem wrong to many the day after yet another memorial service commemorating millions dying that I should speak of silence, but really it is often the first way we best show respect. It is also prudent to take due care not to share the wrong information in even our simplest of tasks. It's bad enough that gossips enter into a game of Chinese whispers whereby the original facts get distorted without analysts adding to the mayhem by doing the same.

However, I have enjoyed the curiosity of children and animals in response. What with squirrels being photographed taking photographs these days and children inventing new words that perfectly encapsulate the state of us all I feel things are about as 'normal' as can be reasonably be expected considering the level of threats and concerns that abound at this time. While we still each have need to talk and share how things go wrong to avert troubles, what we do not need to do is share fears unsubstantiated by any facts. Opinions and hearsay are mere suppositions and theories and only one possible outcome. Our history as a species overall has proved to be far more positive when we take better care of what we say and when we choose to say it as well as when and where.

Personally, despite having learnt to be outspoken I have always preferred quiet conversations with small groups of people. I can perform in front of a audience well enough but I don't much enjoy either the adulation if it goes down well, nor the criticism from cynics when it does not. When we express ourselves, we are merely sharing our own experiences and those experiences are forever changing so that our opinions too ought to be adapting and moving with the times and the events that we encounter. The second we veer toward being hostile toward others we ourselves start to become dangerous to not only our adversaries but also our loved ones and, most of all, ourselves.

Sometimes it is far better not to respond at all to anything at least until a fuller picture of what is happening emerges. A jigsaw with a thousand pieces is not complete because you have found two of them. You might only have one piece each of two separate jigsaws but won't know it until more pieces are gathered in.

As a person who has always preferred quieter communication and few questions (ideally relevant to my priorities instead of that of other peoples) my ambition is to return to that mode which is how I started my life. Life always moves in cycles and I think it time for others to learn what I already know their own way with little input from me at all. It is their right to do so. I can only hope they make as few mistakes as I have and cause as little harm too.

For me this can only happen if words become less wuddled and the meaning of those we choose to use is much better understood and agreed by all. That is no easy challenge at a time when words like 'evil' and 'wicked' now mean quite the opposite of their original definition. Even the word rapture has come to mean death, destruction, annihilation instead of delight and joy. The answer to me is simple... you choose your own meaning, but be careful others know what you mean and never distort their intentions in return for them never doing that to you. That is and has always been one of our greatest challenges as chatterbox human beings and it is thanks to our tendency to speak more that we end up meaning less which is not the cleverest of things to do especially in dangerous times.

So here is another poem of mine, which interestingly to me at least was written early on in my life prior to entering adulthood and all the responsibilities that necessarily entails. Yes I shall continue to speak and write, just less often; and as far as I am able to, I will endeavour to choose my words and the timing of them far more carefully than ever before. Such is the effect of so many profound experiences among them, far too many avoidable losses of good people.

Ode To A Gossip

Voices murmur, mutter, chatter,
A constant droning, groaning sound,
Yet what they speak of does not matter,
“Keep on talking all day round.”

Yet if a silence fell upon them,
Would they strive to kill the pause?
Is it something forced upon them,
To speak, when there’s so little cause?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

A Phoenix Rising

The mythological creatures of our collective ancestry are extremely potent symbols. I have heard tell that an English professor has recently photographed real fairies which tickles me. Anyone who has used social media will know that trolls definitely exist and ask a toddler if Santa does and the answer comes back with a deafening "YES!" I'm looking forward to any and all world leaders agreeing that fairies exist for the same reasons. We adults don't always know for sure, but there is something about the confidence of a young child that always persuades us there might be something in it, because once upon a time, we were children too.

The phoenix, as any Harry Potter fan in recent times will tell you is a bird that rises from an inferno while it is still ablaze. There are in fact many metaphors for that process in nature. At present we are in winter in the UK. It is often perceived as a dark time, eerily spooky and dangerous, which it can be. In reality is no more or less dangerous than any other season of the year for each has it's perils to avoid; especially if you are a gardener regardless of whether you grow your own fruit and vegetables; and of course both arable and livestock farmers know nothing but dangers in every season.

It is often the case that in the midst of our darkest days, bright lights shine more brightly or can seem to due to the chiaroscuro effect (sharp contrast of light and dark). It is far more pronounced and obvious when things seem so bleak. Things are not bleak though as nature is busy, as we are, for the arrival of spring, A time for renewal. If we have been kind to nature, she rewards us as per her promise. She is rather vague at times as to how though, I must admit. It can take a lot of figuring out especially down my allotment.

When archiving my old photos I came across a few I took of Luton right at the start of it's renewal. Since then it has resembled a bomb site but thankfully thus far without the bloody corpses, bomb craters and walls peppered with bullets and all kinds of shrapnel. I remember at school a Lebanese girl shocking us all by bringing in a 3 inch bullet that had narrowly missed her head while she had been sleeping. She dug it out the wall as a reminder for all time of how close she came to death that night without fully knowing it. Back then kids did not have phones with cameras which is probably just as well for her. It kept her safe so that she and her family could find a safe haven here in the UK.

Adults too were far more responsible with their cameras, as was the media. People were asked permission and general photographs of school plays were not a problem for anyone. When I first produced this last picture I didn't see the angel figure that others saw but, with a bit of photo manipulation I was able to bring it to more obvious prominence, so we never know quite what might emerge by accident. Others have seen all manner of wonders in the picture ranging from body guards to naked women (of course!). I will leave you to your vivid and hopefully positive imaginations for the rest.

Winter as a season gives us time to reflect on many things. It is the season in which we experience our deepest yearnings and when we renew our vows and recharge our batteries to go forward to rekindle brighter beacons of lost hopes and dreams of peace, love, freedom and unity. With that regard, I believe in magical fairies and I believe a phoenix lives in all of us, don't you?

(With thanks to Hugh for his inspiration and encouragement)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A few quiet words

We used to be a nation that would willingly give up our place in any queue for anyone we felt to be in greater need. Now we seldom do so when the need is visibly greater. What happened?

With news of our beloved NHS in crisis along with concerns on how one can safely report abuse or any crime; it is little wonder that we in the United Kingdom are confused and still panicking.

We should remember that our sufferings are as nothing to many other nations around the globe. There are nations that have longer histories of turmoil as both governments and people alike wrestle, like us, for a compromise solution that is workable and acceptable for the majority. In the West we remain baffled that Communist nations can and do largely coexist in some state of harmony because it is a necessity in order to function at all. Democracy, just like Communism, is but tyranny when it is forced on anyone. If we are to retain our respect from other nations we have to demonstrate patience, tolerance and above all fortitude.
"Discretion is the better part of valour"


For our own judiciary systems to review laws and make changes for the better requires discreet reports through the proper channels and not via the media. EVERY media report risks prejudicing the jury prior and during a trial. However it is extremely difficult for genuine victims of abuse to have the confidence to come forward unless such things are reported. Why though can we not go back to reporting retrospectively once a jury has made it's decision? 

The difficulty is made more complex when investigators of the suspected crime (whatever it is - it need not be abuse) has to appeal to the public for witness statements. Again, while appeals can be done via the media, sadly it constantly also acts as a trigger for some who see it as an opportunity to harm innocent people by falsely accusing them of crimes they did not commit. Personally I always work on the premise that if the investigation team and the judiciary want more evidence, they will not slow in asking for it. There will no doubt be more debates on whether both or neither party are named prior to trial. Personally I would think it would be better to name neither unless more witness statements are needed. Then in most cases both parties should be named as a general rule.

There must always be caveats (exceptions) for the most extreme cases where victims are so traumatised that they would rather be dead than ever be forced to name and shame anyone. I have felt that way myself thanks to interference from many and not just the media throughout my life, but I have never stopped reporting serious life threatening crime or serious levels of bullying of any kind. Reporting of any crime or indeed any fault in health, police or the judicial system itself has to be started in a private way without reference to anyone else and always needs to continue that way regardless of barriers. Just because one person does not believe you it does not follow that no one will, so long as you are not lying. 


To date no one has ever perfected lying totally. All that has happened is that people have been too afraid to stand up to major liars, cheats and bullies. As but another species on the planet, when we hear our own instincts we know a liar instantly. With all this noise though our natural senses and sense of reason often gets sidetracked and all but forgotten as something to draw upon to guide us.

Throughout the Christmas period I regrettably had to call upon a medical crisis team on several occasions. I myself cannot be objective enough to determine with that much accuracy how critical my own condition is due to the news in the media which disturbs me constantly. If I avoid the media then I am swamped with the same when out shopping more often than not. 

As a former health care worker I at least was able to ease matters a little by being the first responder at a RTA (car crash) but the effect on my own health has been profound. I witnessed first hand the toll it was taking on the paramedic and police officer that attended. The elderly casualty had been in the medical profession too, ironically in mental health. They had not been drinking and was not in anyway under the influence of anything that would normally deem them unfit to drive. They were extremely lucky this time - only their car died. 

The brutal truth is that the more we listen and watch scenes that disturb us, the more we will become disturbed and put added pressure on all our lifesaving services and on the judiciary system too. We have a duty of care to everyone. It comes with adulthood and it starts with ensuring we take full responsibility for our own conduct at all times. Pretending we cannot do so 99% of the time is a lie. We can all do so to a much higher level when we have to. We have to now. All of us, including me. 

It takes practise but I know my fellow Brits well enough - I know we can and will succeed. We just have to constantly remind ourselves to be calm to be able to function better not least in making more of an effort in not doing anything at all to excess when it is avoidable. The exceptions are to rest and laugh often to retain mental well being. Regular exercise and the right diet for our own metabolisms will aid in the stamina we all need to see our way clear of these crazy and highly dangerous times. We might well need that extreme energy for something far worse that what we are witnessing now. Better to pace ourselves I think. Wiser to do so. 
The victors of both World Wars did so because they were able to be discreet when required. It would seem we have need to deploy that method once more. Other nations take note... if they wish to. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Art for Old; Old Art for New!

It doesn't seem to matter how hard I try, my archives are always out of date when it comes to my own artworks. Just to photograph works to keep a record takes time - especially if you want to do them justice. 2014 leaves my computer to make way for 2015 - all are backed-up somewhere - twice! The second backup is always categorised according to different priorities. Just as a CEO needs access to different files instantly more than others, so too do frontline staff and so do I for different projects and plans I have for this year.

Like many people who are lumbered with the tidying up after festivities (and before them), I came across many old memories and took the opportunity to organise what I would keep and what it was time to let go of and not just artwork wise. That is a creative and productive process in itself and many industries take advantage of a slow start to any new year to do a bit of tidying and house keeping.

Some work sectors find it their busiest time and it is made all the worse for everyone else slowing up. I find it nothing short of a miracle that healthcare keeps going each and every winter regardless of whatever else is going on in the world. People being too swamped with work cause as many problems as hardly anyone being about. Such is their 'artistry' and all artists need to retain most of their secrets so as not to destroy the magic and miraculous moments that stem from them.

I am not even sure any single person or group of people can work out how some systems do work any more or indeed if any ever has; All things need to be a team effort because nothing can work without the right response to any action undertaken. It is therefore best, I think just to be grateful and enjoy that things work at all.

All things work in cycles -
creative thinking is no exception. 

As for these old works of mine, sure I'll keep them but for any artist it is with the passage of time that we learn the most from. It helps us recall techniques that have lapsed and rekindles ideas that we'd forgotten about with a fresh perspective and a renewed energy. All too often we find that old tastes and fashions, processes and techniques get a new lease of life as they become just the solution we were looking for all along.

Few artists are anything other than addicts to exploring and discovering. The beauty being that most of us do so without disturbing anyone else until people impose their own opinions on OUR work which is something no one should ever do to anyone else... unless it is in their work remit to do so professionally. Outside of work though... it is best never to enter into such practices really or at least to tread extremely lightly.

A wise artist is one who smiles wryly when
others impose their opinions on their work.

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