Tuesday, 27 March 2012


such a harmless sounding word
a word with positive connotations
despite its rather dry and abstract feel
a thesaurus might bring up these synonyms
'advancement', 'progress' or 'improvement'
i once began a part-time masters degree
in something called 'global development management'
encouraged by the belief that the insights i gained might empower me
to making some kind of positive contribution to alleviating global poverty
but masters degrees don't sit very well with full-time jobs
or with fatherhood and new-born babies
on friday night in the prince of wales
i meet up with a university lecturer in international development
curiosity piqued
i ask him for his definition of 'development'
he's an intelligent, thoughtful and reflective chap
even so it takes him a surprisingly long time to come up with an answer
eventually he settles on this
'equality of opportunity'
this surprises me
it's not exactly what i was expecting
so my next question is
equality of opportunity to do what?
again a long pause
the answer is again an interesting one
'equality of opportunity to attain comfort'
i establish that 'comfort' denotes shelter, food, clothing, relationships
my next question should have been
for whom?
for humanity?
or for other species?
or for both?
this strikes me as an important point
as it can be argued that development
in cahoots with the global industrial capitalist system
has brought about an awful lot of inequality of opportunity for humanity
and as for other species
as they disappear at a rate of two hundred per day
i think the horrors speak for themselves
or perhaps i'm missing the point...

Monday, 26 March 2012


A good German follows orders
A good German never falters
A good German does things by the book
A good German knows which way to look

A good German is reliable
A good German is pliable
A good German defers to authority
A good German pulls no seniority

A good German loves his Dear Leader
A good German will fight for his Fatherland

He is used and abused
He is dazed and confused
It’s so hard to be good but he tries
He is tricked, he’s corrupted, he’s manipulated
Until one day the scales fall from his eyes

A good German asks awkward questions
A good German knows his threshold
A good German joins the resistance
A good German makes it his business

A good German loves all God’s creatures
Fellow humanity and other species
A good German knows what must be done
A good German will fight for his Mother Earth

Saturday, 24 March 2012


fireseed waiting at a pedestrian crossing
on his merry way to an evening rendezvous at the silly park tavern
two couples approach
heading for the local curry house
one of the blokes pulls out a gadget
(i suspect it was an eye phone
but i wouldn't be too sure of such things)
and points it up at the sky for his friends' benefit
'hey look at this
that's jupiter, that one's venus and that's mercury'
'oooh!' his friends chorus
his eye-whatsit has an 'app'(?)
which identifies every planetary body and star in the firmament
but the friends have quickly lost interest
as we cross the road
they reset their sights on the curry house
their left-brains having named the planets
their right-brains having been not the slightest bit moved
by the awe and wonder of the night sky

Friday, 23 March 2012


words dominate
they spew from mass media outlets
they assault us from billboards
they shout at us from a thousand emails
men and women of speech and of letters
win our respect
i was once a child of few words
somehow i have grown into a man of many
some might say far too many
blog posts
what an empty vessel i have become!
but words cannot do justice
words can console
words can harm and offend
words can sketch or even paint pictures
but words can only symbolise
they cannot convey the breadth and the depth
the raw power and emotion
and they are not a substitute for action
words will not heal and repair this wounded planet of ours
words will not stop the civilised from tearing it to pieces
in this our deeds will be the measure of us

Thursday, 22 March 2012



it is a beautiful spring morning
and i am glad to be alive
the sun evaporates the tiny droplets of dew
which cling stubbornly to the swaying grassy stems
the daffodils are in bloom
their little faces smiling gratefully at the sun
and some small ground-hugging purplish flowers that i cannot name
have come into bloom quietly and understatedly
then as i near the lilac tree my heart jumps with excitement
all winter i have been feeling lilac-scented pangs of guilt and sorrow
since back in november
when i cut the lilac and its neighbour the forsythia back savagely
to stop them shading the neighbours' garden
to be truthful they had been out of control for years
without me noticing
and they were in need of a good prune
the problem was that i should have done this in early summer
after the trees had blossomed
to give them enough time
to put on some growth for this spring's flowers
at any rate
despite my poor husbandry
the lilac has miraculously sprouted lots of little buds
which are already unfurling into tiny leaves
will they have time to grow into the wonderfully-scented candles
which have brought joy and magic
to our previous spring times in this garden?
i wouldn't bet against it!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


a natural cycle
the slow turning of the elemental wheel
the earth hangs momentarily in balance
a planet caught in perfect symmetry
equal night and equal day
the curves of the sinusoidal snake cross paths
now day by day in our northern climes
the sun's golden arc will widen
its zenith will rise
its rays will warm and nurture us
catalysing miraculous growth
as plantlife bursts into leaf and flower
and fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
magic themselves into existence

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


i go into the woodle's bedroom to wish her good morning
and shake her out of her golden slumbers
'what's the time?'
these are the first words she utters as i draw back the curtains
but today this perfectly normal and logical question startles me
i look out on a beautiful sunny spring morning
across the road a magnolia tree is sporting new buds
which will soon blossom into magnificent pink flowers
the pair of great tits nesting in a hollow of our rowan tree
fly to and forth to provide for their brood
the sky is a wonderful clear blue
but all that is on the woodle's mind is time
that anthropogenic measure of freedom and slavery
already my little 8-year-old
is sufficiently aware of its mechanical tyranny
that it is the first waking thought that crosses her mind
meanwhile she is already becoming blinded to the natural cycles
which have governed the lives of humanity and other species
over countless millennia
for her society teaches her to value
the measurable over the non-measurable
to count and to assign numerical value
to things that are priceless, nebulous and beyond words

Monday, 19 March 2012


the man shows the young boy two heavy encyclopedias
magnificent colour photographs of wild animals
adorn the covers of these beautiful books
a pride of wrestling lions
a very human-like orang-utan staring straight at the camera
a herd of elephants
rainbow-coloured macaws
clown fish circling a sea anenome in the ocean deep
the teacher asks the boy what kind of animals he expects to find in the book
the boy seems uncertain
are they pets?
would you keep them in your house?
the boy scoffs at the suggestion
so where would they be found?
finally the answer comes
in a zoo

Sunday, 18 March 2012



like a divine miracle
it hangs there suspended from the heavens
as fine drizzle falls in the mid-afternoon sun
i reach quickly for my camera
but in the moment elapsed
almost in a flash
the rainbow swiftly fades
like youth
like memory
like the passion of a dead love affair
like a fallen god


Remnants of the forests that carpeted the land
Remnants of the glaciers that carved with a steady hand
Remnants of the bison herds that roamed across the plains
Remnants of the pigeon flocks that darkened skies for days

We fight and we scramble
We crawl on our knees
We cry and we panic
We stumble blindly

We search for remnants of what we used to be
Remnants of a language that we used to speak
Remnants of emotions that we used to feel
Remnants of a consciousness that we cannot perceive

Remnants of the turtles that crawled upon the shore
Remnants of the salmon shoals that choked the river’s roar
Remnants of amphibian, of pachyderm and ape
Remnants of crustacean, of reptile and invertebrate

We fight and we scramble
We crawl on our knees
We cry and we panic
We stumble blindly

We search for remnants of what we used to be
Remnants of a language that we used to speak
Remnants of emotions that we used to feel
Remnants of a consciousness that we cannot perceive

Saturday, 17 March 2012


i emerge onto the wide porch of my place of work
and do a swift double-take
something has grabbed my attention by virtue its absence
like spotting a hole in a garment
for where once there stood a mature horse chestnut tree
overhanging the wide grey asphalt of the car park
all that now remains is a forlorn-looking stump
it is like suddenly taking in the death of a friend
in fact that horse chestnut was my friend
many was the time i admired this tree's graceful trunk and branches
while i waited for the security guards to come and open up the building
songbirds sometimes kept me company
as i waited outside on cold winter mornings
in the autumn i picked up the fallen conkers
or offered a half-opened case to a surprised student
watching her amazement as it yielded in her hand
and a shiny new conker rolled out
"you're the first person ever to see that conker!" i would say
what the horse chestnut's crime was i do not know
perhaps it was unstable and represented a health and safety risk
or it shaded light from the office windows
(it overlooked the south facade of the house)
perhaps its roots were undermining the asphalt
or the staff didn't appreciate the tiny dents
when conkers fell onto the roofs of their cars
perhaps i will never find out
why my old friend was murdered

Thursday, 15 March 2012


"Thought-provoking but ultimately frustrating
liberal critique of unfettered capitalism,
which balks at pushing truly radical solutions
commensurate with the scale of the problem"


i fight a belated departure and delayed trains
to undertake a 10-mile round trip
to the basement of the bmi in margaret street
i am there to catch a free preview of 'the four horsemen'
courtesy of the birmingham film co-op
beyond the aerobic exercise of biking to and from stations
was it worth my while?
well, yes and no
yes because there is some interesting and insightful analysis
from at least some of the talking heads
who prop up the rather lame narration
there's dear old chomsky
cutting laconically through solid steel like a laser beam:
"terrorism is what they do to us, not what we do to them"
there's another smart talking head who shines a spotlight
on the role of deliberately cultivated public apathy
a manufactured consent which condones the evils of entrenched power
there's a compelling critique of the decadence of western society
as it reaches the final stage in the inevitable cycle
of the rise and fall of empire
the bread and circuses of ancient rome
reinvented as celebrity chefs and multi-millionaire sporting icons
but there is more than one problem with the four horsemen
maybe it's just me
but i'm left unsure of exactly who they are meant to be
at the beginning i mentally jot down:
famine, poverty, war and death
by the end ninety odd minutes later
this list seems to have morphed into:
financial greed, violence, poverty and resource depletion
should there be room for doubt?
and the core point?
the take-home from watching the film?
well, having spent the best part of the evening
criticising the workings of capitalism
the talking heads ultimately reveal their true allegiances:
reform the parasitic financial and fiscal systems
which have become corrupted by (bad) neoclassical theory
using the insights from (good) classical economic theory
and all will be hunky dory
that's it! problem solved!
no mention of who might undertake these reforms
no consideration of the likelihood of a voluntary transformation
to a fairer, more democratic system
whereby the powerful surrender their ill-gotten gains
no recognition of the inevitable end point of a system
that rewards ruthless competiton and penalises altruistic cooperation
funnelling resources to the most reckless and ruthless
and starving the rest
barely a mention of the mainstream media propaganda offensive
which normalises the unthinkable
of course no consideration of the other species we share this planet with
which are relegated to mere 'resources' to be consumed by humanity
no hint of a more radical critique
which screams for the system and its institutions
to be confronted and dismantled
only a wildly optimistic parting shot
extolling the virtues of taking the trouble to educate oneself
about the workings of the system
positing the internet as a powerful tool for such a process
and declaring the possibility of a "bloodless revolution"
("to understand something is to be liberated by it"
yeah, try convincing a third world freedom fighter
try selling that one to a resident of homs!)
as for the apocalypse
we are left to guess at the unpleasant details
although we are told by a former aide to colon powell
that royal dutch shell strategists envisage a 'messy' denouement
as we scramble for fast dwindling resources
thank you for that insight
and welcome to camp bastion, folks!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


there was once a ring of oak trees in a local park
in its centre stood a grandmother oak
350 years worth of resilience
against the elements
against disease
against time itself
this is what it looked like to take a walk there

the ring of oaks nurtured a rich ecosystem
of plants, animals and fungi
generations of fledglings were raised in the trees' boughs
tiny beetles made their home in the bark
children escaped the narrow confines of the local housing estate
to make hideaways and dens in this arboreal refuge
walkers took respite from the hot summer sun under the shady boughs
or sheltered there when the spring rains or autumn winds blew in
and now the trees are gone
sacrificed at the altar of human civilisation
sacrificed for a new housing development called 'parkgate'
except that this park has lost its heart
its ring of oaks has been levelled
to make way for tarmac and paved drives
to enable vehicular access
to bring piped services
cable and satellite tv
hardcore and concrete foundations
the trees murdered
so that human civilisation can encroach that little bit further
with its death wish
leaf by leaf
twig by twig
branch by branch
trunk by sturdy trunk
another little piece of nature dies
it wasn't asked
it wasn't consulted
and it will not forgive us

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


farm = domesticated animal prison
zoo = wild animal prison
school/college = children's prison
workplace = adult prison
jobcentre = open prison
"good luck with your job search!" = open prison officer's glib rejoinder
television / supermarket / shopping centre = misc. forms of voluntary prison
prison = place of incarceration, esp. for those at the bottom of the hierarchy


five orangutans were slaughtered today in the indonesian rainforest
but not to worry
sales of energy-saving lightbulbs are up by 10% this year
a hundred women are thought to have been raped in england today
but not to worry
the government is installing a battered woman's tzar to oversee the problem
an estimated fifty thousand serbian children are currently suffering from cancer
caused by depleted uranium shells dropped on the country by nato in 1999
but not to worry
the who is monitoring the situation
two hundred species went instinct today
but not to worry
rspb membership is bearing up despite the recession
unknown numbers of civilians are being maimed or killed every day in syria
but not to worry
the un has sent its special envoy to beg mr assad to stop the carnage
not to worry
sleep easy
everything will be alright
what's on the telly tonight?


"mr cameraman has just this minute landed in the united states
he is there to meet mr o'barmy
who will take him to a baseball game
however the main purpose of the three-day visit
is to discuss british troop withdrawals from aghast-istan"

[bulletin kindly brought to you courtesy of tv licence-payers money
at least that's one bill i don't have to pay
unlike the tab for the transatlantic jolly]

Monday, 12 March 2012


i confess
i'm scared
scared for the past
scared for the present
and scared for the future
scared by the horrors that civilisation is inflicting on our planet
scared by the misery that it is bringing to the world's people
scared by the havoc it is wreaking on all the beautiful plants and creatures
fearful of the future for those i love
in particular
my precious daughter
and my tiny nephew
too young to understand what is happening
or what is coming
this predicament holds humanity in its pincers
it pushes us between a rock and a hard place
it crushes us like a vice
we lack the wisdom to understand
we lack the courage to be face the truth
and we lack the heart to care
i confess that i am in despair
and yet i know that despair is a necessary precursor
to an effective response


...are only a click away
on other websites...
so why do you ignore
the mounds of patiently photoshopped pixellated flesh?
the copious other distractions of both the real and virtual worlds
to visit Death Of A God?
what brings you here, my faithful friend?
if you are in search of levity
you will more than likely be disappointed
the occasional bad pun aside
levity has been in short supply on here for quite some time
though who knows when it may resurface
like a dolphin coming up for air
insightful analysis?
i flatter myself
i doubt it, although i do my best
google search gone wrong?
most probably
they are most of what i have to give
sheer curiosity?
i'm just curious
whatever it is
my visitors are a select band of brothers and sisters
and i humbly and gratefully welcome you into my peculiar world
with thanks for your companionship
for your patience
and for your bonhomie

Saturday, 10 March 2012


I wrapped myself up
In the warmth of the blankets
I turned out the light
And I tucked myself in
I buried my face
In the black of the pillow
To banish the nightmares
That fought to creep in

I slept fitfully
Tossed and turned restlessly
There in the darkness
Alone with my fears
As the moonlight
Spread his cold fingers
As the dew
Shed her soft tears

Asleep to reality
Asleep to possibility
Asleep to my destiny
Fast asleep

I stirred from my dreams
Distant voices were calling
The cry of a stranger
The howl of a wolf
I awoke from my slumbers
To the cold light of morning
A sense of great danger
A moment of truth

I drew back the curtains
Threw open the window
I drank in the birdsong
Breathed in the cool air
I danced round the garden
I scrambled through hedges
I tumbled through meadows
Without any care

Awake to reality
Awake to possibility
Awake to my destiny
Wide awake

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


a student sneers at my description of 'a person i admire'
a brave man who catalogues the problem of civilization with great eloquence
"how can an american citizen complain about his country?"
admittedly the student in question hails from a middle-eastern dictatorship
with an even less subtle approach to authoritarianism than in the us-uk
but it gets me thinking
should we really be grateful for this culture?
thankful for belonging to a culture of abusers
rather than bearing the burden of the abused?
the 'wretched of the earth'?
what is it that i'm protesting about?
how fortunate i am to live in a liberal democra$y
what more could my heart possibly desire?


one thing i think i need to get straight in my head
and on this here blog too
the problem is not people per se
it's the prevailing culture
it's easy to come over all misanthropic but that would be wrong
i don't want to make it so easy
for the civilised to dismiss me out of hand
there are the abusers and the abused
the natural world falling into the latter category
but when a person is born into this abusive culture
a brand new stone-age baby
the opt-in is pretty much automatic
no-one asks the baby whether it buys into the great machine
the uncontested religion
the god of consumption
no one asks baby if it approves of decimating the planet
systematically cutting off its life-support systems
for the sake of profit and greed
just so that we in the 'rich world' can all go on driving around in our jeeps
or consuming the latest i-pads and kindles
or taking hot showers
or putting on our central heating
or whatever level of unsustainable technology you wanna propose
so what about opting out?
well that's the difficult bit
because to survive in this culture
opting out is a pretty tough business
most of the avenues have long since been blocked
how to opt out of the water authority
that pipes stolen water from a welsh reservoir
in a dammed (damned) mountain valley
to a large conurbation
where the local landbase's supply of fresh water
has long ago been sullied and poisoned?
i dunno
a complete opt-out is practically impossible
unless you're ray mears
but a partial withdrawal is not
to take a few examples off the top of my barnet
rejecting car ownership is a form of withdrawal
it says: "i refuse to buy into the car-manufacturing and owning culture"
tearing up loyalty cards is another
it says: "i refuse to be a slave to your brand and boost your profits
to supply you with free data about my purchasing habits
all for the sake of a few measly crumbs from your table"
cancelling direct debits is a third kind
it says "i refuse to give up my right to settle my bills myself
when - and not until - i am good and ready"
these may be more or less trivial examples
(i'm sure you can think of better ones)
but they show that there are degrees of opting in and out
that there are choices to be made
so this is what i'm wrestling with right now
how far can i opt out?
and to what degree do i still opt in?

Sunday, 4 March 2012


two media buzzphrases of the moment:
'job snobbery'
'anti-business snobbery'
cynical inventions of cleggameron's marketing drones
specious low-grade propaganda
classic examples of the abuser blaming the victim
for those without jobs
cannot serve
or are perhaps unwilling to serve
their masters
unable or unwilling to labour
to be employed
profited from
capitalised upon
worn out
and discarded
as for business
what is money-making
if not converting the living
into the dead?

Saturday, 3 March 2012


love for the natural world
for the innocent
the weak
the vulnerable
the defenceless
the pristeen
the beautiful
the sacred
love for life

rage against the machine
against the aggressors
the abusers
the capitalists
the civilised
the psychopaths
the murderers
the ugly and the twisted
against those who would concrete over
every last inch of this planet
rage against entitlement
and other false gods