Street life

Big foot, captured at last…

Today I saw this project – a collection of fascinating Google Street View scenes, some poignant, some funny, some beautiful, some sad.

And it reminded me that I am immortalised in Google’s remorseless digital memory, like a modern day Big Foot, slinking blurrily off into the wildsGoogle street view image of me walking by

Childish things

This is a photo of me, my grandmother and my friend Manu.

You have to love the child you were, and recognise them in the person you are: Because underneath the constructs of age and experience, that vulnerable, playful, beautiful soul is with you for all your life and will always need love.

Happy new year

Happy New Year! is the hopeful refrain, the mantra we repeat each time the planet revolves around the burning star.  This past year has been instructive, but generally very difficult for me, but I have learned at least something worth taking on into the next year.

It is extraordinary (but mundane, of course, really) that a decade has come to an end.  This time last decade (1999) I was painted silver, (unwisely using car paint) and sporting papier mache angel wings, at a friend’s ‘futuristic’ themed house party, surrounded by people I cared about.  I am still friends with a lot of those good people, but sadly some I have lost touch with. In some instances it was fate, in others, my own efforts. So it goes.

Regrets are inevitable in a life filled with decisions, this decade has given me deep regrets, but also great and profound experiences.  I met and connected with some wonderful people. I know that I made the wrong decisions in some instances, but I could not have done otherwise.  Hindsight is never there when you need it, by definition.

I fell in love and I fucked it up, I worked hard doing things I believed in, tried to do some good. Had some seriously close shaves.  Realised that I had a lot of things that had happened to me in my life that I hadn’t ever sorted out. Took steps to sort them out. I gave up smoking.  Learned to like food.  Got fatter.  Got fitter.  Played some music. Essentially, lots of things happened. good and bad.

With the year ahead I hope to make better choices, I hope to be happier, I hope.  That is what we do.

Happy new year! I hope that it is a good one for you.


Snow flake

snow flakes on windowIt is snowing.

A downy grey sky of feather fall.

Heavy in my viscera, memory:

She, rowing opposite me, across
the London skyline.

Upon soft water,  swans.

How happy, how loved. How
could it be
that I erased the slim lines of hope from the page?

Choosing instead
the blankness.

The blankness.

The snow erases the worn lines of the world.

I didn’t know that

Random facts gleaned from here and there:

  • One of the two brothers who founded the Laphroaig distillery, Donald Johnston, died two days after falling into a vat of partially made Whisky.
  • Stewardesses is the longest English word you can type with your left hand only, Lollipops the longest with solely your right.
  • The male Duck Billed Platypus has a venomous spur on its hind leg
  • The Human body on average contains ten trillion cells. In those ten trillion cells, there are seventy five trillion foreign cells. Yes that’s seven and a half times more cells of different creatures living in or on you right now. So how can you call yourself you? (from Weirdimals)
  • Albert Einstein’s last words were lost to posterity as the night nurse attending him did not speak German (from Time magazine, 1955)




One such summer I

sun of nothing

took your hand in mine


upon the smoothed pebbles


down to the sea


and we slipped



Shedding our clothes

our accumulated selves

I loved you

I loved you

That I

was free

Like blood from a vein

Flowing, pulsing with life

and inevitably


Murder is not honourable

‘Honour’ killings are not honorable. They are shameful murders sanctioned by misogynist, archaic and inhumane beliefs.

Cairo mosques A Kurdish Turk has been accused of murduring his daughter in a so called ‘honour killing’.

Honour killing is a misnomer.

It is better named a shame killing. Or just murder.

There is no honour in killing your daughter because she was raped, or because she loves someone not acceptable to your plans.

There is nothing but shame. Ugly, stupid, shame.

There are many examples of horrific honour killings, one more below:

On October 27, Turkish press reported that 15-year-old Naile Erdas from the southeastern city of Van was killed by her family when she gave birth to a child conceived during a rape. The girl, who hid her pregnancy, reportedly begged doctors at a state hospital where she gave birth not to return her to her family, fearing that she would be killed in accordance with the local tradition demanding her family’s honor be cleansed. Doctors informed state authorities, but the prosecutor nevertheless handed the young woman over to her family, which, as Naile feared, killed her. At year’s end, Naile’s uncles and father were under arrest for making the decision to kill her, while her brother, the suspected killer, remained at large. Source: US Department of state 2006 report

It seems to me that shame and religion go hand in hand, much like the Muslim men who wander the streets of (for instance) Tanzania or Saudi Arabia, holding each other’s hands, but to whom it is forbidden to even shake hands with a woman.

In the Qu’uran, a women is plainly stated as being only half the value of a man.  In law as well as in mental aptitude.

In Judaism and hence Christianity, shame is brought upon poor innocent Adam through his spare rib partner, Eve, and her beguilement by a bad, wise, snake.

Woman are basically bad and they bring shame about for men.

In Islam women are asked (in stricter regimes some would say forced) to don the Hijab and to cover themselves and their ‘ornaments’.  In Wahhabist Islam (the form of Islam most prevalent, possibly due to the fact that it is the harsh form Saudi Arabia practices, promotes and exports using her vast material resources) Women must cover up, essentially because if they don’t, men can’t be held accountable for the shameful things they will do.

This topsy-turvy logic is evinced in the abhorrent way Sharia law is sometimes enacted:

In Somalia, 1000 spectators filled a stadium to watch a 13 year old girl be stoned to death for the crime of adultery, she was accused of this crime after reporting that she had been raped by three men.

Some people defend their mediaeval beliefs by saying that the old texts give them a moral structure to adhere to, but I think to anyone who cares about what is ethical, or humane,  these texts are predominantly unsacred products of their barbaric times – often used to excuse terrible acts and ideas.

Honour killing is just one such terrible act.

A shameful and unacceptable practice, dishonourable in the extreme.

Slack history

Gandhi, was he divine, or was he human, and as such did he display human tendencies, such as racism, in his time in South Africa?

I was suprised upon viewing Newham Council’s website that they had chosen to promote ‘Black history month’ with an image of many notable black icons…and Gandhi.


‘Newham’s libraries are holding a series of free events throughout October to celebrate Black History Month.

Highlights include…an exhibition on the life of Gandhi which is touring Stratford Library, East Ham Library and The Gate, Forest Gate throughout October.’

Gandi is an interesting choice for Black History Month. Most obviously because he was not black.

But perhaps more pertinently because in his time in South Africa he appeared to be actively racist with regard to black people. He used the term ‘kaffir’ to refer to them and directed his efforts solely at the plight of the Indians there. He is quoted as saying, for instance:

“Ours is on continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life of indolence and nakedness.”

Source: Guardian

Of course, Gandhi was a great freedom fighter and an heroic practitioner of non-violent protest.

He also absolutely refuted any divinity attributed to him and refused to be called Mahatma. He acknowledged that he was just a man, and he was very honest about his flaws – in his autobiography he reflected that in his youth he was flawed, he beat his wife for instance.

It is other people who have attributed to him a saintliness and perfection that simply is unrealistic. He has become symbolic rather than real and as such the facts of history have been obscured.

The overtly racist caste system of the Hindu faith, where (to simplify) the blacker you are the more lowly you are (the untouchables) and the whiter you are the more divine (Brahmins) was bravely defied by Gandhi, who went on hunger strike to demand its abolition. But Gandhi’s contemporary B.R. Ambedkar points out that the truth is more complicated than this in his book ‘what congress and Ghandi have done to the untouchables’, here Gandhi is quoted as supporting the caste system in 1921, then proposing subtle changes to it, in 1925.

Others, such as Mark Linley show that Gandhi’s ideas developed over time and that he came to see the need to destroy the caste system through intermarriage.

My opinion is that Gandhi was a noble and brave man who did much good. That in his youth and life he was imperfect is no suprise and should not detract from his inspiring actions. But I think there is more value in knowing about him in his entirety rather than reducing him to a saintly charicature. He was a human being, human beings are complex, it is foolish and trite to blind yourself for the sake of simplicity or facility. History is more than just black and white.

Gandhi was a great man, who unified Muslim and Hindu India through his non-violent efforts. I think he was more great for his own acknowledgement of his flaws, which was part of his practising of Ahimsa (do no harm).  That level of honesty is more brave than the clumsy beatification of well meaning ignorance.