HAPPY NEW YEAR! Goodbye 2017, hello 2018!

Well here we are at the year end once more.  It is significant because it is the last day.  2018 starts tomorrow so we have a point from which to look both reviewingly backwards and anticipatingly forwards.
This blog has been a tad more intermittent than I hoped.  But I am avoiding resolutions to be more of a hardcore blogger or anything else.  I'll look back and see what was good about events and people who offered generosity, wisdom and kindness, and try and get more of that and them and less of what was not so good or just plain horrible.  I'm going to try and keep it simple.

And for me I will try to be generous and kind and grateful for what I have.  I will try to be a better father, friend and life partner.  I will try to be a better person.

This year, personally, a business plan crashed and burned through insufficient planning and awareness or recognition of complexity. It was a chronic failure to recognise marketing, partnerships and networks as absolutely key to success.  A huge disappointment but also a massive learning.
Someone once said those who never fail never succeed at anything either.  We have to keep trying.  We have to bounce back.  Fail once, fail better next time.

Looking back on the three dimensions of this blog; the cultural, the political and the developmental, 2017 was something of a mixed bag.  Politics remains a horrorshow of dark farce due to two elements.  One is quite localised to the UK which is the vote to leave the European Community whose unbelievably complex unfolding has occupied the British Government almost to the exclusion of everything else.  It remains one of the most disastrous events in recent British history and one of the most glaring political blunders of anytime, anywhere.


The 2016 vote to leave the EU marked a watershed moment in the history of the United Kingdom. When all votes had been counted 52% of the electorate had opted to leave the EU, a figure that increased to almost 54% in England. The figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland varied, at 38, 52.5 and 44%, respectively. Across 393 local authorities, support for leave surpassed 70% in eight authorities, 60% in 102 and 50% in 263. In England the share of the vote for leaving ranged from nearly 76% in Boston, Lincolnshire to 21% in Lambeth, London.  (The Brexit Vote Explained:  Poverty, low skills and lack of opportunities  (Goodwin, Heath. 2016)  Joseph Rowntree Foundation)

I found myself in Scunthorpe for a period of time from 2016 into early 2017.  North Lincolnshire was a clear brexit area and at dinner one evening with my local hosts I queried where they stood on the question of Brexit.  They remarked, quite vociferously, how they despised the EU and all that it stood for.  I asked for some detail and they remarked upon two aspects that they held to be the responsibility of the EU.  One was immigration which they described as  a major disgrace .  ‘The immigrants are swamping us.  They’re taking our housing, our jobs, they’re destroying our schools.  They don’t want to be part of this country, in fact they hate us.’  I asked if they were referring specifically to Muslims but they argued that they were sick of being described as racist and felt as strongly about the influx from Eastern Europe.
‘So what else prompted you to vote to leave?’  I asked.
’Sovereignty’ they replied.
Chambers Dictionary of Etymology refers to Sovereignty as ‘Great, superior, mighty.’  We might say the Power in the land.  I was interested though in what they meant and pressed them for an insight into what they understood by the term and they said ‘the right to make our own laws’.  I referred to Parliament as our law making institution and asked if they meant that-they somewhat reluctantly agreed they did.
My response was to ask if they seriously thought that the ruling party in Westminster gave so much as a shit about the folk in North Lincs.  Then in an act of frustration I produced my laptop and downloaded the last five years investment in North Lincs by the EU.  Everything from repairing Church roofs to creating bypasses to children’s play areas to community spaces.  There was an uncomfortable silence and I realised I had crossed a boundary of courtesy.
The point is that the Brexit vote arises out of a negative perception of being ignored, disinvested in, having no say, feeling left behind.  It emerges also out of a fractured nation and out of growing inequality of both wealth and opportunity.
It was also some kind of dishonest scam, for reasons that escape me.
To be clear I consider that the Conservative Coalition Government that succeeded Gordon Brown’s Labour was, and remains in its present incarnation under Theresa May, as the most blunderingly incompetent of any I have known.  David Cameron agreed the EU referendum for no other reason than to throw a scrap for the right wing of his party, never imagining that a leave vote would be the result.  And that ludicrously incompetent decision is what he will always be remembered for-the most deliciously incompetent Tory PM in history.  An old Etonian, a Bullingham member, an upper class twit, an idiot.  And with his Etonian mates, Johnson and Osborne he has left a legacy of potential disaster.  Doesn't seem to stop them getting jobs though!  The insipid Osborne's meteoric rise appears almost mythic, as if Count Dracula had been welcomed at the harbour by Whitby Council and given the freedom of the town.  Regarding Johnson the less said the better.


The second matter is the manchild currently residing at the American White House.  I have attempted both a half hearted defense of him against what I thought were the sexist and brutal attacks on him due to his physical appearance (the hair and the small hands etc) by some very well known feminists and an analysis of his first hundred days which I doubted he would long survive.  How wrong I was!  Almost daily Trump commits some fresh outrage against basic decency, morality, and common sense.  Far from barely surviving he thrives.  The Good Old Party is revealed as a hotbed of moral idiots.  And American democracy is revealed as a thin disguise for what seems to be the most cruel capitalist system in the World as seen in its treatment of the poor, of young men of colour and its jails full to bursting with the disenfranchised poor.
When I look at Trump and his bombastic, greedy, self serving behaviour I am reminded of another manchild from history-Kaiser Wilhelm the Second of Germany.  And look where that led!
Right now it feels like anything can happen and it feels unsafe.

However it is when the chips are down and backs against the wall that humans can dig deep into almost superhuman reserves of courage and generosity.  I see no evidence that the human spirit is down and out and much evidence that it is very much here.  I hope so because when leadership is so inept it comes down to all of us to take responsibility.

May I wish you and your families, peace and tranquility through the Yule period and beyond.  And may you find the courage and generosity to do all that needs to be done.




Just one of the Songs in The heart of the Human-WORK!

Then the song that rides men all their lives
When they have reached the right weight of years.
The song of WORK springs into their bright souls
To punch the broken clock of all their days.
To labour for some bastard in a tower
Who leaks their light with every passing hour.
Those corporate donkeys snuffling in their trough
Are fearful of that thing that sets men free.
The endless driving of the gritted wheel
Grinds the gilded amber of their dreams
And hollows out their core.  Their souls
Are frozen like some fearful glacier;
Or river silted with limitless greed,
Grabbing in its gaping maw all
that is wild and mad and on the budding
Spur.  Those that love their work are few,
Perhaps one or two, while millions slave
Like cattle, herded to an early grave.

They work; they save; they work; they save; they work.


Just one of the songs in the hearts of the human

Evening Twilight over the South Downs  Dec 2017
Just one of the songs in the hearts of humans

Then, there is the quiet song of EARTH,
Almost the steady beating of a drum.
A song that drives us home-an Odyssey!
A song that sings of warmth and nourishment,
Whispers in the ripples on the rivers,
Echoes in the shimmer of the leaves.
The poetry of forest’s boundless trees;
The murmur of the worker bees;
The stop and chuckle of the bouncing streams
Decanting into endless seas.
The stopped-up silence of ice-age valleys;
The stacked-up mossy grooves of silent peaks
Riven with sheep-tracks and booted trails.
Fuller’s spaceship-earth hanging like a blue
Eye in the immensity of space.
The breathing land-the earth beneath;
The dark and fecund soil that rustles
With the promise of new life.
The patient song that drove Odysseus home
To Ithaki.
To slaughter the suitors of Penelope
And then sit down to home-made cakes and tea.
We climb into her caves to be renewed.
We cross her seven seas to be revealed.

We climb her sacred mountains to be healed.