Saturday, 28 March 2015

French Alps haiku

who knows what goes on
deep inside the mind of man?
there are no answers
all that remains is
scattered over the mountain
waiting for questions

Friday, 27 March 2015

Parliament of Rooks (All In This Together 2015 dance mix)

Society is broken.
It is our job to fix it.
We can’t go on like this.

We need answers to the social problems we face – answers that will come from big society, not big government.
From social responsibility, not state control.
We are all in this together.

Under the new government, we will redistribute power and control from central state to individuals who can do the job better.

The new government will create the opportunity for people – the right people – to take responsibility.
This approach is in line with the spirit of the age –
the post-bureaucratic age…
the post-governmental age…
the post- political age.

We are all in this together.

The new government will improve our schools.
The new government will improve our health.
We will kick out all the politicians and bureaucrats with the wrong ideas.
We will be tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime.
We will install CCTV cameras inside and outside every building.
We will encourage citizens to spy on their neighbours.
We will give police officers smarter uniforms.
We will condemn a little more, and understand a little less.
We will provide a fast-track two-tiered justice system, where those who can afford it can opt into a judicial process tailored to meet their needs.

The new government will outlaw crime.

The new government will be tough on education, and tough on the causes of education.
We will encourage duty and responsibility.
We will give people more power.
We will not treat people like children.
We will encourage marriage, especially between consenting adults of different sexes.

The new government will shake things up.
The new government will make things happen.
The new government will help everyday people.
The new government will create a big society.
The new government will create One Nation.

We are all in this together.

The new government  will galvanise social renewal.
We will encourage tenants to buy their council houses. Those who are unable to do so will be relocated to Great Yarmouth and the surrounding area.
We will work directly with unaccountable people in order to provide social programmes in communities with the greatest needs.
We will reward hard work and enterprise.
We will give priority to hard working families.

We will provide British jobs for British people.
We will extend the incentive schemes of those working in the financial sector, and amend the tax systems accordingly.
The new government will expect unemployed people to work for their benefits.
The new government will cap the amount of benefits any one family can receive.
The new government will cap the amount of children unemployed families will be allowed to have.

The new government will cap the number of immigrants coming into the county.

We will only allow immigrants into the country who have useful skills, and whose work will benefit society – people such as doctors, nurses, farm labourers, and  restaurant workers.
We will make it easier for British citizens to live and work abroad.
We will extend our influence in Europe by withdrawing from the EU.
We will encourage activists, curtain-twitchers and do-gooders to meet in front rooms to discuss ways to improve the neighbourhood.
We will be all things to all men.
We will pass legislation to ensure that only photogenic people are elected to serve as members of parliament.
We will change the system of voting from the outmoded and unpopular model currently in use, to one based on the systems used in talent and reality TV shows.

The new government will ensure that this country will get the government it deserves.

We are all in this together.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Sunderland AFC - the football managers' graveyard

There used to be an old joke that the Sunderland Empire was the graveyard of comedians. Well, Sunderland AFC's Stadium of Light certainly seems to be the graveyard of football managers, with the club having just sacked their fifth manager in six years. All of them were good managers before they came to Sunderland (perhaps with the exception of Paolo Di Canio), but the fact that not one of them were able to get a grip on the club suggests that there's something rotten about the whole set-up there. Perhaps it's the owner, Ellis Short, who is to blame, along with Lee Congerton, the Director of Football. The players too, need to take their fair share of blame - most of them are nothing more than a bunch of pampered and over-paid show-ponies - because at the minute, it looks like they can't be arsed to break into a sweat.
Dick Advocaat - ex Rangers and Holland national team coach - has just been appointed until the end of the season, in an effort to avoid relegation, and to keep the seat warm for Steve MacClaren, the wally with the brolly.

Things are looking desperate.

(The photograph above is a glove puppet coloured in by Steve Bruce, Sunderland's most successful manager of recent times. It was done for a fund-raising event for Norwich Puppet Theatre)

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Lit & Phil

The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne Library - or the Lit & Phil for short - is an old-fashioned subscription library crammed with books, many of which are old and dusty, like some of the library members themselves. It's a great old place, buzzing with sense of learning, and the whole building seems to resonate with the hum of knowledge. It's more of a social space than anything else - people meet up, study together, even play chess and have a cup of tea and a biscuit - and everything is unstuffy and laid-back.

I just wish more libraries were the same.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ed Miliband and The Absence of War

To the Theatre Royal last night, to see The Absence of War, a play by David Hare about the tribulations of a Labour Party in the run-up to a general election. It was written in the early nineties, and based on the 1992 election campaign, which Labour, led by Neil Kinnock, was expected to win, but ended up (according to many right-wing commentators) in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
As we sat and watched it, it felt as though it could almost have been written yesterday. The parallels between the fictional Labour leader and Ed Miliband were almost uncanny. Both men are decent and principled, both want to do the right thing, both want to modernise the party to make it relevant and electable - and both are useless leaders, unable to command the respect of their party. There's also the hostile and manipulative media to navigate, with elephant traps set, and we watch from behind our fingers as set-piece speeches and interviews are buggered up.

Maybe we expect too much of our political leaders - twenty-four hour rolling news coverage means they've always got to be on their guard, and there's no room for human error, as Natalie Bennett will testify. We expect them to be dynamic, to have the good-news answers that we want to hear for everything, and to be honest without mentioning inconvenient truths over things like the economy and healthcare.

We know we're being lied to by the political parties.

The truth is, we wouldn't want it any other way.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Monday, 16 February 2015

Trowse Pumping Station

A derelict Victorian sewerage pumping station on the outskirts of Norwich.

Photographs taken with an old point and shoot Leica camera, on 400ASA b&w film.