Tuesday, 31 January 2012


i was half-expecting this
i plod down livery street past snow hill station
and the tempting doors of the old contemptibles
hat pulled down over my ears and collar up against the wind
only to find that city music has closed down
around the corner
under the railway arches
musical exchanges has gone too
on the spur of the moment
i decide to take a walk through hockley
up constitution hill
in search of the lord clifden
half a mile on i stumble upon it
just before the hockley pelican
a welcoming oasis in a desert of inner-city dereliction
i suddenly spot a sign for hall street
and double back into the jewellery quarter
past the brown lion
venue for my forthcoming gig
on through st paul's square
and up newhall street past the telephone exchange building
where i once worked as an office courier
a poster in the wellington alerts me to the post office vaults
a new pub down a flight of steep steps in new street
some good ales on tap!
new street seems dead
so many places with 'to let' signs in the windows
i check out a couple of possible busking pitches
the arcade by house of fraser
opposite the great western arcade
st philip's cathedral square
the little square next to the entrance to oasis clothes emporium
perhaps i will be back tomorrow with guitar in hand
to reclaim the streets!

Monday, 30 January 2012


from babyhood
parents start training their children to identify with this perverse culture
that's you and me, folks
a triumph of perversity!
then the schoolteachers
the lecturers
the priests
the writers
the advertisers
the mass media propagandists
(masquerading under the titles of journalists and broadcasters)
gradually take over
hammering home the same message
again and again
'thou shalt identify with this culture
thou shalt not identify with the other'
the other is the wild
the untamed
the unneutered
the unmarketed
that which cannot be bought or sold
extracted or killed and converted into 'production' (money)
this process reached its personal nadir for me
around the time of my early twenties
when i took full advantage of the opportunities for cheap long-distance travel
globe-trotting across three continents
even then i could appreciate some of the devastation that the civilised had wrought
that i, unknowingly, was wreaking
the mundane grinding poverty of calcutta
the bleak inner city ghettos of los angeles and chicago
the gross unfairness of the monetary exchange rates
which made me wealthy and most south asians poor
since then i see that i have been undergoing a slow-motion reverse process
like a man running backwards on a rewound video tape
refusing to identify with factory farming
the rape of the oceans
the warmongering
the grand globalisation project whereby the few immiserate the many
gradually this reverse process has been accelerating within me
to the point that at times i observe this culture
with a kind of half-fascinated, half-disturbed detachment
the sense of entitlement to plunder, consume and discard at will
the blatant coercion of children and the weak
the thoughtless scapegoating of the weak and impoverished
the 'unpeople'
the need for instant gratification by means of a million trivialities
the suppression of real emotions
the total surrender to the great machine
the all-pervading numbness of disconnection
the alienation and ennui
all inevitable products of this totalitarian culture
which will allow no threat of an alternative good example
oh to be certain this culture still has its claws deep in me
the comfort of central heating and hot showers
the luxuries of coffee, sugar and alcohol
the technology required to manufacture guitars, pick-ups, strings
microphones, cds, sound recording equipment
oh it's got me by the short and curlies alright
my obsession with rock music trumps so many other issues
'you're my obsession and i can't let go'
how would stone-age rock music sound?
a bit heavy - ha! ha!
at night i pace the suburban streets
staring through living room windows
as the flickering images play across giant orwellian screens
it scares me profoundly that long ago
when i was too naive to know better
i used to identify with that very same flickering image
which passed for entertainment
i was so much older then
i'm younger than that now

Sunday, 29 January 2012


as time passes
i come more and more to loathe the e-word
the 'environment'
along with its derivative 'environmentalist'
words that evoke dull kill-joys
bleating on about climate change
and carbon emissions targets
the word has developed an irritating dry technocratic nuance
and as if that wasn't enough
the world and his wife have usurped the term
which has been co-opted into 'environmental services'
encompassing anything from pest control to rubbish collection and incineration
it is the other
something separate from us
to be subjugated
converted into money
or at best used for human recreation
thus 'nature' might perhaps be a better word
even though its derivative 'naturalist' is problematic for obvious reasons
nature seems to me to evoke more connection
more intimacy
less separateness
a view of humanity in relationship with other species
'mother nature'
another word that springs to mind is 'wilderness'
here the connotation is different again
the concept that there are places and creatures worth protecting
in an unsullied pristeen state
spaces that should remain untouched by the human hand
or the cult of modernity
which sees so much virtue in the shiny, the new, the technological
the jungle habitat of the great apes
the temperate forests of southern chile
the mountain haunts of the snow leopard
these places are long gone from england
few and far between across the globe
as modernity encroaches further and further
spreading like an epidemic
fed by its billions of advocates and acolytes
who care more for its ephemeral shiny new toys
which make their tamed existences meaningful
than for the world's last wildernesses

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


looking at this artwork again a few years on
i see it with new eyes
i am immediately struck by the missing layer
what happened to all the other species of flora and fauna we share the earth with?
where do they fit into the great machine?
we all know the answer of course
and they aren't sitting atop the bulging bag of riches
it illustrates an important insight
that social justice should not be confused with environmental justice


who do you identify with?
is it the great machine?
of which we all became a part
without our consent
as small infants
which paves over the flowers with its concrete
which clogs river deltas with oil
which lays waste to virgin rainforest
which poisons the air with carbon monoxide
which exterminates all other species
and many of our own
which will go on and on abusing
like a pschycopath
unless we stand in its way
or is it the earth?
in all its spine-tingling beauty
with its incredible cornucopia of flora and fauna
its life-giving and life-sustaining power
i ask again
who do you identify with?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


i am a wild animal
and i have lived most of my life in captivity
a prisoner of the great machine
which denies me my animal nature
blunts my claws
dulls my instincts
and renders me impotent
a form-filler
a number-cruncher
a slave to technology
a mere fumbler at a keyboard
occasionally i stare through the bars of my cage
and for a moment glimpse
a golden glow of light illuminating the clouds
for a second hear the burble of birdsong
and then it is gone again
and i am left to patrol the concrete yard

Saturday, 21 January 2012


who is your god?
who do you believe in?
who do you worship?
to who do you bow down?
is it a cosmic deity floating on a cloud?
the buddha?
is it money?
the cult of celebrity?
is it television?
food or alcohol?
or rock and roll?
is it windows?
facebook or google?
apple or blackberry?
is it real estate?
is it the beatles?
michael jackson?
lady gaga?
is it marital bliss?
the thrill of the chase?
is it a lifestyle choice?
is it politics?
the left?
the right?
the centre ground?
is it employment?
economic growth?
a good buying environment?
is it personal growth?
a change of consciousness?
compassion for others?
what do you believe in?
as we stare into this dark dark abyss

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Street executive
What are you selling today?
Street executive
Can you show us the way?
You must be awfully bold
You must feel awfully cold

Street executive
What does it say on your sign?
Street executive
How do you pass the time?
You must feel awfully ignored
You must get awfully bored
Standing there all day

Do you talk to the pigeons?
Or do you watch the world go by?
Do you write street poetry?
As the minutes creep by

Street executive
What are you thinking about?
Street executive
Is it time to bail out?
You must feel awfully sad
You must get awfully mad
Living this way

Sunday, 15 January 2012


Category: Conservative
Identifies with: The dominant culture
Aim: Preserve the status quo
Attitude to authority: Accept institutional authority
View of how change happens: Through dominant institutions
Allegiance: Individual
Age group: Multi-generational
Likely future scenario: Massive global disruption

Category: Liberal
Identifies with: Alternative culture
Aim: Change of consciousness
Attitude to authority: Reject institutional authority
View of how change happens: By personal example
Allegiance: Individual
Age group: Predominantly youth
Likely future scenario: Failure to prevent massive global disruption

Category: Radical
Identifies with: Oppositional culture
Aim: Dismantle ‘civilised’ institutions
Attitude to authority: Accept legitimate authority
View of how change happens: By organised resistance
Allegiance: Group (including non-humans)
Age group: Multi-generational
Likely future scenario: Avoid worst aspects of global disruption