Halloween

halloween is a shortening,if not a corruption of all hallows eve,the day or rather night of the dead.it is my view that no-one needs to be a follower of a religion or spiritual path for this to have some significance.it is said that this is the time of year when the divide between this very “concrete”,material and often banal world is at one of its narrowest or thinnest points.there may be some psychological truth to that even if it is not as expressed,or not scientific nor rational.i observe that soem at least of the most militant atheists still carry around in their consciousness or psychologies,elements of superstitions or earlier ways of looking at the world.i remain a heretical believer in a spritiual path,and would acknowledge some of this for myself.that said i don’t read or believe in astrology,but have seen miltant rationalists,atheists,secularists do exactly that.how many of us in marking deaths of people important to us or their anniversaries write RIP,without believing in what that literally means.it can of course have alternative meanings.then i observe how even in a secularised cosumer dominated culture many people mark the departure of others.there are for example the remains of flowers and cards and tokens at the place on kilburn high road where a young black woman was shot dead duing the summer  just gone.we all have a culture,we give things,people and events meanings,we tell each other stories….

my own spiritual path contains a lot of paradoxes.whilst it has less of a fixation on the dead than some other more orthodox forms of christianity,it does acknowledge the psychological importance of”passing”,and indeed had a spiritual form in the past,the consolamentum,which we might claim was highjacked by the orthodox for their own purposes and which included some increased exercise of  control over other humans thought.

but some kind of marking of passing originated in the early christian churches variously known as the “day of the dead”,or as “all saints”and”all souls”.those were the days when the churches would have been unlikely to have established a social hierarchy,not in their own governance but in their outlook on the world.all saints was a time of prayer,remembrance and protection of believers,and all souls was for all human kind,where effectively the only difference was that an individual was a believer or not and that no particular value went with either status-it was simply that one person might be a believer and another not.it was only later,possibly under the development of and overt catholicism that it became about saints and sinners,where the meaning of saint shifted from simple believer to special,holy person and humanity,but especially the non believers labelled as pagans,heathens or sinners-not even just refusers of god,or the right god,but cast out into the outer darkness of sin,evil wrong doing,wickedness.that in itself has a particlar western association-it is the western,catholic and indeed protestant churches which have very overdeveloped notions of original sin,laid at the feet or rather the womb of women,from which mary,mother of god,at least for the catholic tradition is to blame for everything and forms a strong part of the divison of women into the virgin/whore dichotomy,and for me is a powerful,negative element in the psychology of mysognyny.

i admit that whilst i am neither clever,nor special and would not necessarilly have expressed it when young i was clearly a heretic from being quite young as i rejected the”original sin”explanation as simply not right,and not an explanation from when i was quite young.i would have lined up with Pelagius,and early english monk who rejected said”original sin”.

i guess i went down hill all  the way after that,but that is another story,except to say i remain a heretical believer today.i still reject”original sin”,and indeed much else,though sometimes for different reasons to when i was a child or youth,and i would hope with greater understanding.

i still feel ambivalent about”halloween”,and often have a”bah!humbug!”response to what might be seen as another trivialised,americanised,consumerised”even”stripped of anything except superficial meanings.this year i decided on a different approach.i have bought bags of wrapped sweets to give away and have asked the children not to scare themselves with spooks and ghosts but to think about the children who will not be able to go”trick or treating”tonight because they don’t have someone to care for them or about them,or who are homeless or too poor,or oppressed or exploited here or elsewhere in the world.i do not want or mean to be self righteous but it does seem to me as both a revolutionary socialist and as agnostic christian that we do have to share the message in the real world-to care for and about each other.i hope perhaps an adult will go away,not remembering me but a few words intended with my effort at kindness or that a child might remember that funny old bloke who asked them to think of someone else.and of course they go away with some sweets…

we are after all social beings.there is not enough love or kindness in the world,unless we try to make it so.even if prayer counts for nothing,then in some respects good intentions must.unless someone has a better idea,that,at this moment is the best i can do.

d1/311013

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Fragments-Lost

i am lost

but i do not look for myself

i look for you

d2/03092013

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Fragments-Lost

i’m lost

but i don’t look for me

i look for you

d1/02092013

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Activists Journal-August bank Holiday Weekend

The main feature of the week before the bank holiday at the end of the week,is the weekend.

I think i’ve reached that stage in life where in some ways it easier to remember what i was doing 40 years ago than yesterday.

so lets start there:40 years ago on August Bank Holiday was Windsor Free Festival 1973,I was very much there.i was definitely a part of it,and i both remember it in some detail and remain affected by it 40 years later,not just with the force and centrality of the memory but because of the events,that have given me important experiences to live by and learn from and apply.I detail that account elsewhere.

My recollection of the weather in 1973 is that it was perfect late summer,bank holiday weather.2013 was not quite the same

Friday was awful weather-with a touch of wind and rain.Saturday,i set off to meet my friend and comrade Joe to distribute leaflets on the South Kilburn Estate,with 3 large and intimidating blocks to visit.We finished about 10 floors of one of them,which was about 60 apartments.On visiting the two others we discover that both,of about 80 apartments each possibly are empty apart from 2 tenants remaining in each.We decide not to go looking for them-the odds are stacked very firmly against us,but it does set us wondering where have all these people been”decanted”to-there is no completed development going on in this borough which means they will have been”deported”to hastings or Luton or Birmingham or anywhere…

So we leave the estate and walk back to Kilburn Square where we visit our favourite cafe before we get rained off in a few minutes trying to give out leaflets in the square,which is  a location known to locals but not identified on any map.As they say,it is best hidden in plain sight.We don’t mind getting wet,but the leaflet’s won’t survive.We may have gone on trying but no-one wants to stop in this rain anyway.So home we head.

A couple of blocks away my progress is halted by a police cordon which blocks the path of everything,and its not until later that i find out why,although perhaps i should have recognised a situation i have been in before.So a big detour,and eventually i get home pretty exhausted.I wrote a brief report on our campaign page on facebook-and its only later that the police blockade was at the murder scene of a young black woman murdered in error as a result of not even mistaken identity.i rage when i hear police describe her as in the  wrong place at the wrong time.No!That is not the case:she was going about her own business.Her murderers and no-one else are in the wrong-wrong about everything.

On Sunday i set off to a little village in Buckinghamshire,following on the heels of my partner who went to visit another location first,which included a visit to a community library.the local authority had planned to shut the library down completely but somehow were persuaded otherwise,and have made the building available,i believe,rent free,to be run by volunteers.This is not as good as a local authority fully funded library but in a Tory borough,its much better than in another Tory borough where the Community Library exists as the front line of defence against a local authority determined to take the austerity axe to everything,and better still than in our own borough which is run by a Labour Council who have completely axed 7 out of 12 libraries and can’t even open the new civic centre on the day promised,or fill it with books,nor even find this new”listening attitude”to the community…

On Monday we visit the local village fete which had for a number of years become a regular feature of my and indeed our family life.An all too brief conversation with an old friend of mine in the local pub over lunch.A quick stroll round the stall,and i come away with a pile of interesting and very cheap books from the bookstall before taking a break for coffee and cake and an interesting conversation or two.Tuesday its back to London,and an important evening meeting about the Counihan-Sanchez Family Housing Campaign,but more of that later.

d1/02092013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Activists Journal-The Silly Season

August is supposed to be high summer,late summer.The media name for it used to be the silly season,when in the”old days”even  they admitted they would make it up if they could not scrape the  barrel for some kind of story at every level in the media.Now the media manage and make it up the time,that label seems itself to be sillier than  it ever was.Activity on the left,in the movement rarely makes it into the media even when we fight to change that,although amongst ourselves August was as chock full as ever of multiple activities virtually every day.When all is said and done my health/disability o longer enables me to run on endlessly,let alone run on empty,so much of August i stayed at home..not to do nothing but to attend to the things in life that often get set aside in favour of more interesting campaigning activity,and indeed to do the work-the networking,writing,organising that must support the more public activity.Nevertheless,i still end up writing this about 10 days to a week behind……and there is now,still,more to catch up on here.

d1/02092013

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The Repair Kit

Earlier in the  year i was sorting through some of my clothes.As i did so i wondered about my clothes repair kit,which i had obviously mislaid.It may have made the propsect of teurning to repair some of my own clothes more likely.

It was only a few days ago,i located it somewhere else entirely.In one sense its too late because i had found another way to do the repairs.Yet finding the repair kit provoked the return of all kinds of memories.

One is simply about my own past and upbringing.I think i was born during a period of quite sharp transition in social etiquette and expectation.Whilst i was of course aware of notion of gender based division of labour in my family and the wider community,amongst my closest family it seemed in some ways an easy, trouble free transition.There seemed to be few lines of division written in stone at home.I picked up bits and pieces of “domestic”skills both at home and at school.My mum intoduced me to bits of”sewing”as indeed,did primary and junior school.Eventually i learned some rudimentary ability to do some repairs.The hippie counter-culture could in some respects be just as sexist adn rigid as the wider society,but part of the bright colours culture included learning to patch my own clothes,so that torn jeans might inlude patches of velvet or Tom and Jerry pictures.I remeber meeting one man who one morning decided to turn his curtains into trousers and di just that.i  think i managed once or twice to sew inserts into jeans so that they became flared or bell bottoms.Then years later,when i was living in a collective(shared)household-we did not call ourselves a commune as that seemed far too profound-a then close friend gave me this neat little bag with the needles,pins,cotton and a few other things as my repair kit.Meticulously,carefully and lovingly made and given-it has i admit become important for both its use value and sentimental value.

The gift must go back at least 30 year.It is still in pristine condition.I have lost touch with the giver.When she left our household,she indicated little wilingness to remain in contact with each other,due i think to profound changes in her ideas and outlook.It must be over 20 years since i last saw her,in passing.I regret not being able to catch her eye,let alone catch up with her.As memory flood backs what was manageable regret turns into something more difficult,if only for a few moments,although i know that feeling will repeat each time i catch  amemory with her in it,and may never be resolved or closed.Not that it stops me getting on with life,although if i focus even for a moment on those thoughts,there will be an empty silence around me,if not only inside my own head.

By the time i had found this kit,i had in fact had at least 15 pairs of jeans and trousers repaired professionally,and actually in some cases that is both better and would have been impossible for me with my limited meagre skills.This is not a matter of excuses-i would have been able only to do it by hand and my needles and hands would not have been strong enough to go through multiple levels of denim material.Besides which my health problems which affect my blood circulation mean that i have less sensation and dexterity in my fingers amongst other places.The details of the actual repairs in this case are another story for another time.

Indeed,it reminds me that there are not just memories and stories about my local community here,but also stories about politics and communal living and the culture i inhabit.Those anecdotes are for another time

d1/02092013

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Bad Day

I won’t roar with rage,despair or frustration

it is after all,only when you awaken that you see the prison bars

on the road to gnosis

 

d2/15082013

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