Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Building the New Jerusalem

Composed this entry yesterday. Had a few technical difficulties posting it.

My empathy, compassion and solidarity, for what it’s worth, for all the casualties of the Indian Ocean Seismic Wave. Including Dickie Attenborough.



My home improvements are off to a slow start. It has taken me over 2 years to borrow a drill. Still, finally drill hit wall today. Then headed into town for more screws and some DIY advice. Was going to buy some curtain rails but I seriously underestimated the price. Don’t worry, I am not Scrooge, and I will cough up the wonga when I have slept on it.

Anyway, was listening to State Controlled Radio when what should be on at 1330 hundred hours but a programme called “And Did Those Feet” it being 200 years since the immortal William Blake wrote Jerusalem – the Glastonbury Hymn, England’s national anthem.

OK, a bit of a long blog this one but it will be worth it.

So yes, I forget which commentator/interviewee said it but Blake was part of English Dissent as shown by the fact that if you visit Bunhill Fields Burial Ground in London you will find his grave there along with those of Daniel Defoe and John Bunyan (as well as Cromwells, and Wesleys, and the chap who invented life assurance). Alas, I have not yet scanned my pictures of John and Daniel’s graves, but here I am at the Blake’s memorial.

flowering passion throughout all the ages

Many thanks to Nikki for making said visit possible, and for the picture.

Anyway, I am beginning to ramble. There seems to be a conservative theory of history that dissent is very un English. I funnily enough dissent from such a theory. What could be more English than Dissent? And of course Blake was a Republican as all right thinking Englishmen and Englishwomen are (oops yes this is a touch rhetorical, I do have royalist friends, or at least I hope I still do LOL! But hey! this is my blog and please allow some venting of my roaring passions). Indeed he was vehement in his attacks on warmongering Prime Ministers (ahem are you listening Tony?) and the established “church”.

Again, one conservative contributor seemed to be saying that “Jerusalem” would be fine for a national anthem but “would you want a revolutionary to write your national anthem? Well, this is England, and a revolutionary did. Again, ironically for a country not unknown for squalid imperialism and xenophobia, Jerusalem is entirely devoid of imperialism, jingoism, xenophobia or narrow nationalism of any kind.

Maybe this is not quite the entry I had planned. And yes, my ringtone on my mobile phone is….. Jerusalem.

Of course, the words by Blake are only part of the story. Charles H H Parry was justly proud of the music he composed for it. Parry was described as socialist leaning in the programme, perhaps left of centre would be a bit safer. Not again quite a card carrying conservative, even if an old Etonian. George Orwell went to Eton as well. And to his credit again, Parry was unequivocal in his support for votes for women.

OK. I will come clean. I am a fan of Blake. I am for my sins, which are multiplied, oh lord they are multiplied (Prayer of Manassas verse 9 if you must) English. I am an English Republican, Internationalist, moderate anarchist and moderate pacifist. Something stirs inside me every time I hear Blake’s Jerusalem.

Something else. I profess not to be a nationalist. Was M K Ghandi a nationalist? I remember Dickie Attenborough being interviewed in a programme about Humphrey Jennings, the maker of propaganda films in the last unpleasantness (not counting the Gulf wars and all the other unpleasantnesses since the last unpleasantness, when will we ever learn…..). Dickie said that Jennings was a great patriot, “……but of course being left wing you are not supposed to say that”.

Here’s to the eternal memory of William Blake!


Taken in an alehouse near Bunhill Fields. Cheers Nikki!

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand!

yes that is stonehenge!  Blake had a fascination with it

Till we have built! Jerusalem!

Right, to bed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Happy Solstice!

It is that time of year again. Winter solstice was at about 12:40 universal time today, so tonight is the night.

Will do a solitary ritual including the sacrifice of a can of special brew to Odin.

Our summer! will come again!

Happy hippy Yule one and all. Blessed Be!

Saturday, December 18, 2004


The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what makes you ache for and if you dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me to know how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow. If you have been opened by love’s betrayals, or if you have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own. If you can dance with the wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without conditioning us to be realistic, be careful or to remember the limitations of being human. It doesn’t interest me to know if the story you are telling is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself, if you can bear the accusations of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can see the beauty even when it’s not pretty every day and if you can source your life to its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, mine or your own and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon YES! It doesn’t interest me to know how much money you earn or might have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done for the children. It does not interest me to know who you are or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back. It does not interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if your truly like the company you keep, in the empty moments.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Silly Quiz an occasional series no doubt

You know, I never liked the word slut. It sounds negative. Slag at least sounds a bit more positive. If you are a man who likes sleeping with women, should this be viewed in any way negatively? Why is this not a cause for celebration? And likewise if you are a woman who likes sleeping with men? (and yes, goes without saying if you are a man who likes sleeping with other men and so on…. Yes I am a card carrying liberal as stated in this blog passim). And not that sex should ever be seen as something compulsory. Though after 3 months of abstinence I am gnawing at the furniture!

Why do I live in such a sexually repressive society?

Anyway, with a bit of help I could probably get a bit higher than 59% any nubile ladies care to be of assistance? ;)

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Management without fear?

Well. It was nice to receive an invite for the Edward Boyle Memorial Lecture 2004, in the centenary year of the University of Leeds.

It seems that Edward Boyle was a Conservative Secretary of State for Education, who resigned from Politics and became Vice Chancellor of the University of Leeds. Then he died prematurely, so a memorial lecture has been set up in his honour. The said lecture is delivered in alternate years at the University of Leeds and The Royal Society of Arts (or to be an anorak, cheers Greg, The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce.

Anyway, the lecturer this year was given by Greg Dyke, currently unemployed of Peckham. His last job was as director general of the BBC. Prior to that, he had worked in television.

So, likesay, Greg resigned as DG in the wake of the Hutton Report. Amazingly, there was then a walkout at the BBC. So, was there something right about Greg’s style of management? Well tonight he went as far to say, amongst other things that a leader should care about those he or she leads. Sounds rather reminiscent of Robert Greenleaf’s “Servant Leadership”. YAY! In terms of management theory, I don’t think I heard anything new this evening, which is not to knock Greg Dyke, oh contraire! I was impressed by his passion and belief and that he might just have made it happen (anyone working for Auntie care to confirm or deny this?). He described a “climate of fear” in the BBC when he took over, which sounds just a bit like my previous employer Babylon Foods, but let’s not go there.

After the said lecture, delivered in the Great Hall, we adjourned to the Parkinson Court for drinks, YAY! First and no doubt last time I get a drink on the University. And then meeting some members or Union Council and a member of the University Court who used to be on Senate as a student representative and is now back at Uni as a member or the Court of Governors (as representative of the regional TUC), to the Old Bar for a pint. We did indeed neglect to invite Greg Dyke to Fruity, the Friday night at Leeds University Union’s award winning in house night club, but that was not my job it was Mitchell’s’ since he is going to be FCS officer next year. And I am not up for Fruity, I am an ancient relic who finds clubbing a crushing bore and all that.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Here it is folks I been certified yay!

Well, the bidding notice for the presentation of certificates said kick off at 1730 100hrs was milling about with Nikki and her partner Farran from 1705 only to learn that the actual kick off would be at 1800 100hrs. Would you believe it on the list of certificates or certificatees (persons to be presented with a certificate) I at first thought my name was spelled right, something I had worried about as every letter I get from the School of Continuing Education is Mr Bluebell New Jerusal Eikonoklastes or similar. Then I noticed that yes New Jerusalem and Eikonoklastes where spelled right but they had missed the first l in bluebell. Or rather Nikki did. And the nibbles where good, I feel quite full indeed. And there was orange juice, coffee and wine! YAY!

I was number 21, 32 certificates where dished out. A round of applause was given for the friends, family, partners, etceteras of all the students and teachers in the school. Many thanks to Nikki and Farran, and indeed my erstwhile housemates at Cornerstone. Who (cornerstone not Nikki and Farran) when I explained that I was doing an essay on the Spanish Civil War and Spanish Revolution (or more correctly the Great Revolution in the Spanish State of 1936 ce) had never heard of it. Now that’s what I call Anarchy!

Now to put the finishing touches to my workbook. Ah in “Doctor in the House” (the film not the series) there is a lovely quote, viz, “an education can last a lifetime, if you want it to”. But that was then.

Will post the photo when it is developed and all that.

Scarecrow is presented with a certificate by the Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Right. Just got a few administrative tasks before certificate presentations. The School of Continuing Education of the University of Leeds is presenting me with a certificate in historical studies. YAY!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Charity Spectacular!!!

It is that time of the year again. The Cornerstone November party at number 16, except it is December.

Traditionally the number 16 party is fancy dress, arguably it has declined in recent years. Anyway, the theme is “Charity Spectacular”. At last minute, viz this afternoon I was tearing round the charity shops of Headingley. The only thing I could find in anything near “fat bastard” size was a size18 grey skirt covered in silver thingies… I can just about get into it but it shows that the bumps are now firmly in the wrong places, viz that my attack of road protestors sickness (too much special brew) has got out of hand. What the hell, tomorrow I go on a diet. Yes I have had a shot of whiskey before blogging this. No generally charity shops are not a good place to shop if you are outsized….

Anyway, the Cornerstone fancy dress party is my once a year opportunity to wear a skirt so I am up for it. Carpe Diem!

Pleasant weekend one and all! Party on!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

And for a brief moment life seemed more beautiful

Perhaps history is rarely tidy. Perhaps it should be untidy at times. The truth, after all is usually, probably always in fact, paradoxical.

In 1610 in Utrecht there was a disturbance, the militia asked the city council to resign, which they did, funny how the council where unwilling to argue with men with guns. Prior to Emperor Charles V’s “reforms”, the city council had been chosen by the guilds (allowing some popular choice in local government), Charles decided to appoint them instead. So, it was an appointed council which was overthrown, the militia choosing instead a council more in line (at least in the view of the militia) to be acceptable to the citizens of Utrecht. So, the militia are overruled and the old appointed city council is restored.

But I digress. It turns out at the time that there was controversy in the Dutch Reformed Church between highly disciplined orthodox Calvinists and a more tolerant “libertine” group. For a moment, life seemed more beautiful, to know that once there had been “Libertine Calvinists” a most fascinating concept. But no, perhaps I misread my source documents. But oh to have some grim Calvinists drinking, smoking and fornicating. For a moment life seemed more beautiful.

Once walking between Headingley and Chapeltown in Leeds I passed a “Strict and Particular Baptist” church. Went to their Sunday service once. All the sisters where in gothic black, and all the men where dressed as penguins. I am still looking for some Lax and Unfussy Baptists. Let me know if you find any.

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