remembering St John Fisher and the monstrous King Henry VIII

Posted in humbug alert, opinion on June 22nd, 2011 by george

On this day in 1535, the great John Fisher was beheaded at Tower Hill in London. He shares this feast day with his friend and fellow martyr, Thomas More.  They both forfeited their human lives for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII’s claim to be Supreme Head of the Church in England and for upholding the Catholic Church‘s dogma of papal primacy.

Henry VIII is often popularly viewed as a lovable rogue, a champion of wine, women and song. In fact he was a monster, who set a precedent for the sort of self centred greedy bastards who have been running this country ever since. Marrying 6 times, he pioneered a complete disregard for the sanctity of marriage.

Central to his Reformation manoeuvres was the dissolution of the monasteries, who until then had provided for the impoverished in the form of land for them to cultivate and live on. This land was taken away and given to his cronies, creating a new landed gentry beholden to the crown. It is claimed that a fifth of England’s landed wealth was redistributed in this way. Suddenly there were tens of thousands of dispossessed poor with nowhere to go, and no means of support.

Henry had created a new underclass. This alienated much of the population outside London and led to a northern uprising, the Pilgrimage of Grace comprising some 30,000 rebels. Their leader Robert Aske was arrested, charged with treason, and executed along with some 200 of the rebels. This put an end to the disturbances.

How was such a fiend allowed to wield such absolute power? To this day the English are accomplished at murmuring and complaining, but have little enthusiasm for revolutionary action. So the prevailing bullies go about their nasty business, encouraging the population to drink up and forget about it. Cheers mate…..

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to drink or not to drink

Posted in journal, opinion on June 10th, 2010 by george

Throughout my life, it is music that has been my number one preoccupation. However during some periods of my life, drink has run a close second. Since I was a teenager, I have had a long and turbulent relationship with the demon alcohol.

My family moved to Cambridge in 1967, the summer of love(!). At seventeen and fresh out of boarding school into a student town full of pubs, my drinking career took off without a hitch. For the next several years, despite passionate affairs with most of the available recreational drugs, drink remained the undisputed protagonist in my hedonistic heart.

I moved to London, then the streets of Paris, where hours of playing music every day began in earnest. Still a drink of some kind was never far away. Life’s essentials were reduced to a minimum as all surplus funds were offered up at the altar of Bacchus. Fortified with ‘Dutch courage’, I embarked on one adventure after another throughout my 20s. Having lived to tell the tale, I cannot honestly say I regret my alcoholic exuberance. Without the booze, I may never summoned up the nerve to do many of the things I did. Read more »

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vying for position

Posted in humbug alert, opinion, rants on May 7th, 2010 by george

UK Election synopsis….government closes up shop and for weeks and at great expense, professional liars bombard us with empty promises, at the end of which a bamboozled nation is unable to decide conclusively, probably because the choices are so poor…the result leaves the state more bankrupt than ever, with no honest men able to effectively steer us toward something better, leaving ordinary British people more angry, confused, frustrated and miserable than ever….can we learn anything from this fiasco?….probably not….we have been perpetuating the same crock of s#*t for so long we dont know where else to turn…
in a  nation driven to drink a long time ago, the winners are probably the pubs, who will be busier than ever, filled with those drowning their sorrows, and those who have washed their hands of the whole sorry charade….

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vote with your heart

Posted in humbug alert, opinion, rants on April 30th, 2010 by george

Poor old UK. Whatever happened to us? What used to be a haven of soft edges, a little run down and shabby, like your favourite old armchair, has evolved over 30 years into a shiny, brittle, trashy landscape of concrete and glass and plastic. Where benign eccentrics once lived quiet, extraordinary lives of their own devising; there now predominates an army of media junkies wondering who they are and what they are supposed to do next.

I hold Margaret Thatcher and every jackass that followed responsible. Now in 2010 a fresh but frighteningly similar bunch of goons are asking that we elect them into power. They speak blithely of ‘change’ and ‘the common good’ and ‘a brighter future’ in tones that wouldn’t convince an 8 year old. In fact all they can honestly promise is that the will more or less perpetuate the stagnant, diseased behemoth their predecessors so cynically threw together.

They keep insisting that a vote for anyone other than one of them(the 3 main parties) is a wasted vote. Can we wake up now please? What’s on offer is a media-savvy slew of snake oil salesmen. Its all about what you are being seen to be rather than what you are. Who are they? They barely know themselves. All they are qualified to do is appear at ease among TV people and journalists. The real world? I don’t think so. You wouldn’t want Jonathan Ross to run the country would you?

The only thing worse than voting for one of them is not voting. Make a little effort. Its not too late to go out and form a personal opinion about one of the alternative party candidates. You will probably find that you like them much better. They probably wont win this time round. But every vote the same old greedy bastards don’t get is a nail in their coffin. They have to go. Lets make it sooner rather than later.

Dont be afraid. Vote with your heart.

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fear of flying

Posted in journal, opinion on April 23rd, 2010 by george

Recent events have seen an Icelandic volcano bring much of the world’s air traffic to a standstill. For six days the skies above Europe have been quiet. It has given us a glimpse of how the world might be if or when the planes stop flying altogether.

As the aviation industry lurches tentatively back into action, its future seems more than ever suspended between desire and reality. How much longer can we expect to zip around the world with such ease? Read more »

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wasted votes

Posted in opinion, rants on April 11th, 2010 by george

Conservative, Labour, and even Liberal Democrat pundits are fond of saying that a vote for anyone other than a major party candidate is a wasted vote. I’d like to suggest that the exact opposite is true. Voting for any of these dinosaurs is helping perpetuate the miserable mess they have made of our country, and by association, our world. It is a lazy, spineless option.

How many of us are truly passionate supporters of these gangs of greedy bastards? This is a time when the Australian voting system would serve us well. Australians are required by law to vote, but there is an extra box on the ballot paper enabling voters to register there dislike of all the available candidates. Were we given that option in the UK, and we voted honestly, it would make for some interesting arithmetic.

If we are to have fresh blood taking over the reins of government, we have to vote for them. Yes they may lose at first, but the more people that vote for minority candidates, the more others with similar convictions will be inspired to do the same. And the more the incumbent fat cats will tremble in their custom made loafers. Instead of allowing the status quo to discourage potential future alternatives from running, we can positively encourage new candidates to step forward.

The only wasted vote is not voting at all. Don’t let the big boys fool you. They don’t care about you. Vote for someone who does.

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Not all ideas are good ones

Posted in journal, opinion on April 1st, 2010 by george

I remember when I first found myself attracted to creative people, how the best of them seemed unstoppable fountains of ideas. And I quickly realised that quality control was not part of the equation. That would impede the flow. I marvelled at how someone could come up with remarkable, inspiring trains of thought one minute, and blindly stupid, asinine rubbish the next.

As a callow youth, I was quick to make this judgement of the genii I encountered, but never for a moment considered that I did the same thing. I liked to think that I applied a filter to what occurred in my fevered brain, sparing anyone nearby from my direst imaginings. The brainwaves that I made public were good and pure, immaculate conceptions all. I-yi-yi…

Once again, music saved me. Once I started playing music for real, jamming for hours on end with friends, it slowly dawned on me that only by letting it all out could I begin to express myself. As a musician I am still learning to think, play and filter simultaneously. How else can I expect to keep it fresh? Read more »

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make babies

Posted in how about?, journal, opinion on March 27th, 2010 by george

This morning, in the early Saturday quiet, I saw a young father, carrying his very young child in a snuggly, wrapped inside his coat. Instantly I remembered how it felt carrying my own child in this way. From there my mind went to young people I know who have recently had babies, and in particular to dear friends who are expecting their first child in July.

How blessed we parents are! Over the years I have heard all kinds of reasons put forward for not having children….’the world is overcrowded’…..’we haven’t the money’…..’its downright irresponsible’….’I don’t think I’m ready’…’my work will suffer’….’its not for everyone’….and so on. If you are lucky enough to become a parent, in an instant, all these things become utterly meaningless.

I recall, in the flush of fresh parenthood, wanting to persuade everyone to make babies of their own. How insensitive and foolish this was. We are all blessed in different ways. Years ago, with the great Mumbo Gumbo, I recorded a song that light heartedly addressed this.

The saddest thing in our world is orphaned or unwanted children. If you have the means, please consider supporting SOS Children’s Villages, perhaps the most effective international organisation today caring worldwide for abandoned children. Johnny Cash, Angelina Jolie, and Nelson Mandela are just some of the distinguished believers in the SOS Children’s Villages mission.

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suspending judgement indefinitely

Posted in opinion on February 23rd, 2010 by george

I’m as guilty as anyone of making ill considered judgements about people. I tell myself its a human weakness, but that’s a cop out. The truth is I’m guilty of allowing fleeting impressions, assumptions and imagination to make up for the lack of evidence. Someone will say something, or do something, or even just appear to be a certain way that sits uncomfortably with my expectations, and without a thought to where they are coming from, or what pressure they may be under at that moment, I paint them into a corner. “That’s what you’re like, and that’s that.” And there goes any chance of getting to know that person.

There is a distinction between judging actions, and judging the person who performed them based on those actions. Therein lies the hypocrisy. From time to time we all behave in ways we subsequently regret. We have little trouble making light of our own shortcomings,  so why is it that much more difficult to cut others the same slack?

We are most inclined to judge those about whom we know the least. When we truly love someone, not only do we admire and revere them, and delight in their company, but we also forgive them for their weaknesses, which we recognise as being not unlike our own.

As we get to know people better, we are less and less inclined to pass judgement, and eventually we are obliged to suspend judgement indefinitely.

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true heroes

Posted in opinion on February 18th, 2010 by george

‘real heroes take no credit…they do their thing and move on’ I remember reading something along these lines in the Tao Te Ching years ago, and thinking, ‘that sounds right!’

When speaking of heroes, often our first thought is of soldiers and battle. Warriors overcome their natural fear, risking and often losing their lives for the greater good. When we hear such accounts of supreme courage, and the ultimate sacrifice, we are humbled indeed. ‘Greater love hath no man…..’ Faced with such choices, how would we respond? Read more »

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