Friday, 27 June 2008

Glastonbury festival 1

Where's Wally?

Selling the regulation Glasto uniform of fairy wings and tutu (and that's just the boys!)

 Classic Glasto couple selling colourful Indian clothes

Day wear at Glastonbury.

First day: Mud. Kate Nash. Mud. They say Amy Winehouse has an oxygen tent ready in case she collapses on stage.
Discussion with the 'sista's' last night as to what to wear...the question was asked: is a leopard skin cardie and a leopard skin skirt too much? Can one over-animal?
Well it is only Thursday evening, one has to build up...myself I'm starting at the top sartorially...mad Gothic Vulcan floor length coat, pearls, little vintage cream and black lace mini dress and of course wellies. Want to buy a top hat for the full festie Victorian look but they are 150 quid. Rule of thumb for Glasto is that nothing is over the top. That kooky brightly coloured poncho you bought in Peru and have never worn? Bring it down! The lurid pink platform yeti boots? Perfect ! Toss away urban subdued style...
The logistics to this event are extraordinary...100,000 people..the size of a largish town. Troops of people milling around military style carrying their loads. Most useful accessory? A wheelbarrow.
Your correspondent in the field...

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Love in the blogosphere


The lizard prince of Mordor contacted me again after an absence of 3 months, on, somewhat appropriately, Friday 13th June. We wrote to each other via our blogs due to a mutual interest in Madeleine Mccann. We first met in February. After some power play by him about me driving all the way to Mordor (the other side of London) whilst I tried to negotiate a central London meeting, he agreed to meet me in a Hampstead pub. We eyed each other, having only communicated non-visually up to this point, and what we found was not bad. I knew him. Already. Not really but somehow. I knew what he was into, sexually. (A bizarre psychic talent of mine). He painted himself as a loser and went to the toilet every 10 minutes. I wondered if he had a disease. He smelt sour, the result of too much fast food and alcohol. In other words, he was gloriously dissolute, a Withnail type character.
On our second meeting, this time at his end of town, he downed Guinness and talked brilliantly, cutting a swathe through topics: the genius of Shane Warne, Mary Magdalene, the Fatima shrine, the beauty of Daniel Day Lewis... Attracted, despite myself, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the glistening trails of snot where he had wiped his nose on the sleeves of his fleece. He boasted of the size of his penis (no idle boast it turns out, the guy is hung like a donkey). We left the pub and walked to my car. There was a parking ticket attached to the windscreen. A portent?
His flat looked new, unlived in, like a show flat. Things were still in boxes. By the window, there were 2 chairs and a strange orange dried flower arrangement (given by his mother, I checked, no doubt in a maternal attempt to add a sense of home to the place) and no toilet paper. Staggering slightly, he then peed in a beer glass. I recoiled and shouted at him. It showed a lack of respect. "I'm a woman in the flat of a man I do not know, and that behaviour scares me." Especially, I thought, when he had two bathrooms in his flat, one en suite. I was about to tell him what I really thought of him when he disarmed me by saying:
"Don't hurt me".
"Why would you care what I think?" I asked.
"Because you are my friend" he pleaded and buried his face in my bosom.
At that point, I have to admit, I melted. His little punk rebellion faded into insignificance. Reader, I slept with him on the second date. We devoured each other.
In the morning I drove away, confused, shocked. As the day wore on, I grew ever more anxious. What's going to happen now?
I wanted to meet him that weekend, to talk face to face. To get to know him, not just his opinions and his learning. He mucked me about. Never saying yes, never saying no. Which is hard when you have to make arrangements so that your child is not around. On Sunday night he called me on Skype, drunk, sexy, commanding, with his gravelly stutter. He lied and I knew it, saying he was at church that morning and then seeing his mother on Mothers day. I did not call him on his lie, for I was embarrassed or scared that I would not see him again.
The lizard prince is half Jewish, half Mormon. An odd combination. His Jewishness is an obsession, part of a love/hate relationship with this side of himself. His Mormonism, I was later to find out, was the result of a thwarted relationship with a 17 year old Mormon girl, and his 'conversion' by her father, was an attempt to get into her good books.
Half getting the come-on and half getting rejected, my natural impatience with any kind of ambiguity led to me driving over to his house a couple of days later, to get clarity. I have a good sense of direction and I remembered where he lived. I even parked in the correct parking spot! I had also previously mentioned that I had good dowsing skills and had once found an ex-boyfriends whereabouts. He was freaked out, he wanted to know if I had found him that way. Although he is interested in the occult, he fears and respects it. I have asked several times for his exact birth time and he refuses, despite his interest in astrology.
As soon as I entered the flat, he pulled me into the bedroom. Which was fine by me. I couldn't stop thinking about the sex with him. But after a couple of hours, he asked me to leave. Upset, I said "Look, was this just a one night stand? I'd be hurt but just tell me, then I know where I stand." "No, but you need to chill out, relax, take it slowly. Don't be childish." he replied. Fair enough, I thought, and I rather liked his paternal style, though he is much younger than me.
He walked me to my car, I felt like crying. I can't do casual. I can't do chilled either. I resolved to try though. Later that day, he emailed me saying 'Look I do want to see you again, so dry your tears'. Happier, I tried to play it his way, but it was agony, holding back. A couple of weeks later, I emailed him to say that I was going to be in his area and did he want to get together? He agreed but then didn't make any specific arrangements. I turned up at his flat, bottle of wine in tow, to be greeted by a sleepy lizard Prince in boxers, he blinks:"I've been asleep, I guess I forgot to make a time and place". We talked on his tiny leather sofa and drank the wine. At one point he grabbed me and we slipped into passion. In his bedroom I noticed a woman's handbag with a Wizard of Oz design upon it. "Who does that belong to?" I asked. "It's a present for this blogger I am going to visit in New York soon".
"Is anything going on between you two?" I asked peering at him. "Well, I've only met her once. And I'm staying in a hotel".
That night he talked about his life, his relationship with his parents, his brothers' problems, his depression and suicidal feelings, his experiences of swinging, gay and trans sex. If he thought he was putting me off then he was wrong. He had mostly gone out with Asian and black women(odd when he also claims to be a racist supporter of the BNP). But in fact he'd never really had a proper relationship. He'd only left home 2 years previously and he was in his 30's. It was Tuppy Owens, who runs the Outsiders club(who I feel should be made a Dame of the Empire, due to her charitable sex work for disabled people), who advised him to leave home. He did seem to have a conflictual and cold relationship with his mother. He blamed his parents for many things but depended on them also. Listening to him talk made me realise how far I had come, that I had in fact grown up somewhat.
At 4am I realised he had left the room and was in his study, at his computer. He jumped a little when I opened the door and covered his computer screen. (I now worry if he was talking to the New York woman.) I got back in bed and read one of his books. He doesn't like people touching his stuff though, and took it off me as soon as he returned, placing it in exactly the same position on the floor again. At 6 am, he said "I'm going to have to kick you out now". As my daughter was staying nearby, I said that there was no way I could pick her up at that time. Feeling terrible, I slept another couple of hours. Then I said "Lets get breakfast in a cafe" for the lizard prince had no food in his flat, and again, no toilet paper.
Looking angry, he got dressed. He snapped "Have you got everything?" Yes I replied meekly. We drove to Mordor, and luckily, on this Sunday morning, there was one cafe open, run by a Chinese couple. We had a disgusting fried breakfast. I looked at myself in my little mirror and I looked a bit tired and puffy. "I must look a wreck" I said. He nodded slightly. I asked if I could take a picture of him with my iPhone. He refused. I wanted his picture in case I never saw him again. I paid for our breakfast.
He then suggested that we go to a UFO conference taking place in two weeks. Excited, I agreed. I'd always wanted to go to one, and it would be even better accompanied by him. I dropped him off back home, but he didn't want me to drive right up to his place, did he fear that I would want to come in again? We exchanged embraces and parted.
After I had picked up my daughter and driven the long way home, I checked his blog. There was a new entry, dedicated to this New York woman. She had commented. It was like a private conversation between them, played out over the Internet, for the world to see. Crest-fallen, it was becoming increasingly obvious where his interests lay.
A few days later, I did some research on the UFO conference and emailed him. He failed to respond. The conference was getting closer and I still didn't hear from him. I talked to one of his friends on skype and casually asked if the lizard prince was still obsessing over the New York woman. "Oh yes, he's completely besotted" he replied. I stared at the screen, at these words on skype chat. I couldn't even reply and changed my status to offline. I asked myself: "Why has he started something with me, when he's into someone else?" Seeing the truth in black and white was hurtful.
A few times during the 3 months of no contact, I emailed and texted the lizard prince. It sounds crazy, considering that I barely knew him, but I missed him. I wanted to talk to him, discuss things, visit places. He has such a perverse, inventive, quirky intellect. He can make connections that wouldn't occur to anyone else. He is a lateral thinker. I left a message saying if nothing else, I would like to be friends. Sometimes I got replies: "Will be in touch shortly" was a favourite. Once he asked me to do a chart for a building in New York. I did the work and he never thanked me or gave me feedback. By this time he'd had his trip to New York to see this woman and his blog was littered with references to her. Something that, jealousy aside, I felt detracted from his writing.
Friday 13th, we meet, we drink Guinness, we exchange gossip and news. It turns out that he has been reading my blog regularly which both pleases and disturbs me. He says that he feared that I am a "bunny boiler", as one of my texts was received 8 times over 6 hours. I feel helpless at the injustice of the accusation and I cannot hold back the tears. It was obviously a problem with the satellites, I splutter, of course I didn't send you the same text 8 times. I hold his hand, he looks at my legs. He makes suggestions about getting my knickers down then apologizes. "But I like getting my knickers down" I say softly. He looks at me directly, saying "I know. That's one of the things I like about you."
We go back to my place (I'm not risking getting kicked out again at his). We eat hummus and carrots. It's good to see him eat, for mostly he just drinks. "This is great" he says "I'm getting my 5 a day". I'd like to mother him, feed him, look after him. He meets my daughter. He looks delighted. He takes her guitar and sings us some of his songs. He is talented, passionate with a great voice. We go to bed. The trouble with being so endowed is that it can make you lazy. He lies back like a tumescent Pan or Shiva beneath a dancing Kali.
Later, he talks about the New York woman. It emerges that she was treating him in rather the same way that he was treating me: blowing hot and cold, long silences, high maintenance behaviour. "She's very highly strung" the lizard prince announces, baffled. She even booked a plane ticket to come and see him in London, but didn't turn up. The lizard prince thought that this was because he told her about his dream in which she would be in a plane crash. My upstairs neighbour, who is Scottish Jamaican, understood her behaviour, saying that she would have cancelled too. This level of superstition, she intoned, is a "black thing". My own opinion is that she's just not that into him. Just like he's not that into me. (For myself, I have in the past literally crossed continents, climbed mountains, waded through snow drifts in the Himalayas clutching a black & white photo asking "have you seen this person?" to see a man I desire).
While at my flat, he checks his emails and his blog on my laptop. A couple of days later he calls. I am pleased thinking, finally, some normal level of communication, whether it be as friends or as lovers or a combination of both. But I am disappointed. He is annoyed with me. Modifications were made to his blog and he thinks it's me. Wrong-footed, I deny it but he is insistent, it can only be me. He is frightened that New York woman might see the changes and further reject him. I am indignant. He only cares about her feelings not mine. After discussing it for an hour and a half, deep into the night, I retire, sleeping badly. I awake very early, my heart sinking. The whole of the next day I spend in bed, trying to sleep off the pain. My daughter has her boyfriend round for the first time and she is ashamed and doesn't know how to explain the fact that I do not emerge from my bedroom. "My mum is depressed" she explains. Our family is like something out of a Jacqueline Wilson novel.
The next day the lizard prince of Mordor apologizes. I ask for more information, what has he found out? He doesn't reply.
I wanted to go away with him for the solstice, to the Avebury Radical Anthropologists camp, something we had discussed on a couple of occasions. I text him, asking to come round and discuss it. I also text him a sexy message, detailing what I would like to do to him. No reply. I went further down into my craziness. Finally he replies and says that he doesn't have enough money to go. No doubt he is saving to go to New York again.
I attend an OTO moot. I text him teasing scraps of information about the talk. Maybe he will come with me to the next one. He is 9th house, I am 3rd. I'm out there, reporting, en direct. He is at home, digesting information and turning it into good writing. We'd make a great team. He said about the New York woman, that it's rare to meet someone into the same things that you are. I know how he feels. That's how I think about him. I wonder if there will ever be the day when Miss Marmite Lover is listed as one of his interests. Sometimes I am comforted by the sight of the green tick of skype next to his name lit up like a lantern at his window. (Now he has taken it off, oh no, please give me authorisation again...)
I don't understand much of my own behaviour. I am starting therapy soon. I will be seeing 'the rapist' as Naked John calls them.
Is what I write of any interest? I have had problems with this blog both technically and emotionally. I feel exposed and yet I also feel compelled to express myself honestly. I am not a writer but I do write. Is that good enough? Shall I continue this blog?
Speaking to my friend Dvd, I once said "The most dominant thing anyone can do to someone else is ignore them" and he replied "No the most dominant thing someone can do to someone else is to make them love you". (I take his point but as someone with six, count 'em, six planets in the third house, lack of communication enrages me...)
Another note on this matter: what American women crave above all is class, just look at our Madonna, who is a perfect case in point. What does this successful New York woman see in the lizard prince? For she is surely made of less darker stuff than myself... Oh, it's gotta be that whole Hugh Grant, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Hitchens, drunken British journalist in Bonfire of the Vanities thing...

Crop Circles


I sleep for a few hours after solstice, have a baby wipe wash and set off for the Silent Circle Cafe in Calne, conspiracy centre and meeting point for 'croppies'; those who investigate, document and chase crop circles. It takes me a while to find it because it is not there anymore! Eventually I am led through twisting country lanes to the new base "The White Horse Inn".
I enter the pub and am cheerfully greeted by the landlady. I order fresh cream of tomato soup and a beer. People chat about how little sleep they have had. "Did you see the Kings drummers last night? Bloody good show."
I'm part of them, I boast. I suddenly become a minor celebrity in the pub. Tourists, locals and croppies want to know everything. Who are we? Where do we come from? (When I tell Lionel Sims at the camp later about this, he says "Don't tell them. Let's retain our mystery and make them think that we emerge each solstice from fissures in the ground having waited all year for this moment")
Next door in the crop circle information centre, there are ordinance survey maps pinned on the wall, with magnetic numbers showing the latest circles and how to find them. It's like a war room with a battle plan. A man working there points out yesterdays' fresh circle. "Damn" he says "I've camped for nights in that particular field cos I had a feeling there would be one there soon. But I missed it."
I talk to a guy with a 4 wheel drive who is visiting all of them, driving over fields and dykes. "So you are into crop circles?" I say "No, I'm into neolithic monuments really".
I follow the instructions to East Kennet, drive through a travellers camp and up onto a dirt track. My van makes a strange sound underneath. I walk the rest of the way. There is a tin box with a plea for donations by the farmer. I walk past a couple of French women into the field. I walk the circle. I don't really know what it looks like from the ground, what shape it is. But I am impressed by the simple beauty of the vegetation and I feel calm, I can think more clearly than I have in days.

Summer Solstice


The Radical Anthropologists Group camp near Avebury every year. They form the Kings Drummers who perform a ritual and a show at Avebury with Terry the Druid and at Stonehenge with King Arthur every year at summer solstice. This year the performance was based on the myth of the bull and the transition from the hunter/gatherer era to farming. I believe that Stonehenge was constructed during the Taurean age.(1) The above Youtube video gives you a little idea of what it was like. Hail King Arthur!
Solstice at Stonehenge has now become the domaine of gap year foreign students and I wonder if they know why they are there...the spiritual significance of this moment. Stonehenge is masculine and Avebury is more feminine...I always prefer the Avebury part of the show.
However wandering around Stonehenge at solstice is an amazingly trippy experience...at one point I was standing alone on a stone, doing as my good friend Laura the astrologer advised me to do... meditating on what I want from a man, my hearts' desire. Just then a man got up on the stone with me and said "Hey gorgeous, give us a snog". I declined (although I was tempted seeing that everybody else was snogging). Ooh could this be my hearts desire? I wondered.That was quick.
The man started to talk: "Well my Mrs is right pissed off with me."
Ok so he's married I thought. "Why?" I asked politely.
"Cos I was snogging men! It was fucking brilliant, tongues 'n all! She got the hump and buggered off".
"Are you gay or bi then?"
"Nah, not at all. But it was great!!!Anyway I hope my Mrs is having a good time and snogging someone else..."
He continued "I"m just out of jail actually."
"Why were you in there?" I say.
"Beating up my Mrs."
I gulp.
"Well she's always hitting me too, so I clocked her one. We are like that me 'n her". He makes a gesture of two fists knocking together "but we love each other, we are meant to be, nothing will ever separate us."
I say to him: "Well I think you ought to go and look for her, don't you?"
"Yeah. Sweet. I'll do that. Go on, give us a snog will ya?"
I peck him lightly on the lips.
He jumps down: "Happy solstice..."
Next some football type hooligans get up on(what I now regard as)my stone. They are rowdy and loud and are spoiling my moment so I push them off.
Later I walk around. The Hari Krishna's are making a fantastic noise. There are drums circles everywhere. People are bobbing to invisible/unheard music. One group of about 50 people are standing back to back in a spiral, holding hands, with their eyes closed. Individuals lay asleep covered in St Johns ambulance lurid pink blankets and bits of polythene, impervious to the rain.
(1) During the Taurean Age ( 4000 BCE ), worship of the Golden Calf was common in the Middle East. During the Arian Age ( circa 2000 BCE ), the Jews indulged in widespread ritual sacrifice of sheep and other animals in the Temple. During the Piscean Age ( 160 BC - 2000 ACE ), many Jews walked away from animal sacrifice and embraced Christianity. And of course there is always the shadow side of each age.The shadow side of the Piscean age was Virgo, the woman, hence 2000 years of repression of The Goddess. The shadow side of the much lauded Aquarian age is Leo. Today's fame fetish is corrosive. Andy Warhol expressed the Aquarian/Leo polarity most prophetically: "In the future, everyone (Aquarian equality) will be famous (Leo limelight) for 15 minutes".

Thursday, 19 June 2008

The moot with no name: science fiction and the occult


As a child, my parents terrified me with stories of Aleister Crowley, "the wickedest man in the world". As an adult, I challenge myself to confront that of which I am terrified, so I have joined OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis). The first meeting or moot, in the parlance, was at Devereux court in London at the meeting of the Strand and the Fleet. Steve Wilson of OTO Albion gave the talk entitled 'Ufo's and the Occult - the forgotten link' in the top room of the Devereux pub. These meetings take place every other week. People were dotted around the room, seemingly unconnected with each other. One man with a beard was eating apple pie and drinking beer, while scattered lone women knitted (spinsters?) strange web-like garments, amidst leather clad chunky boys with long hair and eye patches.
Forgive me if my notes are patchy, I was rather stoned, having mistakenly been given an after-work toke at the end of my chefs stint at Pogos cafe.
Steve begins: "UFOs and the occult are very separate now.
The history of interest in occult and UFO's briefly: 
Salem, Massachussets: Increase Mather was involved, and he was the father of Cotton Mather. All the witches that had been hung were posthumously pardoned.
Air was the property of Satan, he was prince of the air. Joseph Addison began a fight in this very pub(1) which led to prosecution and the witchcraft act. In 1951 it was repealed.
Rosicrucianism began early in the 16th century. There was a spread of freemasonry during the Enlightenment.
Blakes room
Angels are a form of alien life form and William Blake was the most famous follower of angels.
In the 18th century freemasonry has strict observance and was populated by Jacobites. In 1745 James II was defeated by William of Orange, supported by Scottish freemasons.
In the 19th century there were 'instructions' from more interesting characters...dead people...via Theosophy.
Blavatsky and Henry Steele Olcott
Hegel was involved with Rosicrucians. He had mystical visions while still a student. He said that human spirits go through different stages. Hegel was the philosophy behind Stalin and Hitler.
Madame Blavatsky was into racism but this time the race was Lemurian. She said that a new race was being born in California. At this point, still no one was looking into the skies.
Crowley with his Book of the Law wanted the overthrow of Christian thinking.
There were hidden masters in Tibet (Alexander David Neal writes about the astral travelling Tibetan lamas).
However in the 20th century, people actually started to visit Tibet in greater numbers and examine those claims.
In the 1920's, the first World War, Guy Ballard received messages from other planets and channelled St Germain.
HP Lovecraft started to write a new form of horror. He loved New England. He relocated 'Air' in which demons moved, into outer space.
Arthur C Clarke says any creature distinguishable from a human being is a demon.
Then there was Orson Welles War of the Worlds, a spoof in which people in the States genuinely thought that they were being invaded from outer space.
Roswell incident...people ignored it until it had a revival of interest in the 1980's.
George Adamski in the 1950's claimed contact with a Venusian called Orthon. There were the 4 Georges at this time. Another, George King, a London taxi driver, who formed the Aetherius society, said that Jesus was a Venusian.
In the Aetherius society journal 'Cosmic voice' there was correspondence from so-called scientists agreeing with the evidence, however their names suggest another motivation altogether: Dr Eggnspoonrace, Artie Ficial.
Patrick Moore, the astronomer, treated Ufologists with respect, gently questioning them on TV.
Claude Vorilhon/Raƫl- who created the Raelian movement was another example of a UFO believing cult.
Louis Farrakhan was taken "up" by a black liberation spaceship.
1979 Steven Spielberg took the whole movement backwards with his film Close encounters of the Third Kind.
Then aliens started abducting us, inserting things into our bottoms.
There were also suicide cults such as Heavens Gate and the Order of the Solar Temple.
Wilhem Reich developed his theory of primordial cosmic energy, regularly saw UFO's in the United States and even claimed to do battle with them. Trevor James, a scientist and engineer who invented rain control technology, also claimed knowledge of 4th dimensional beings, "critters" and investigated UFO's at Giant Rock.
Andy Collins suggests that aliens are living beings and 'self-transforming machine elves'.
In the 60's people took hallucinogenics which derived from Ergot. This fungus which you find on rye causes mutations in the DNA. LSD causes migraines and schizophrenia. There was a famous Ergot poisoning incident in France, a bakery had infected rye loaves and the whole village started tripping. Some villagers ended up in asylums.
It was misreported that Jung believed in flying saucers.
In the 1970's there was the successful channelled book by Jane Roberts "Seth speaks".
Unarius group in California.Unarius is an acronym which stands for UNiversal ARticulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science. Their founder, Ernest Norman, believed for instance that the Chinese originated from Mars, that some Chinese have returned to Mars and live underground."


There was a break for a raffle. Nobody wanted the book 'The Crystal skull' preferring the alcoholic prizes.
The women continued to knit and give piercing looks to each other.
Afterwards there were questions from the audience. One man talked of needing participants for the 'Beyond belief' Radio 4 programme.
Someone else mentioned Klaatu, an alien believing rock band.
The Carpenters turned the event, created in the 50's "World contact day" into a hit..."Calling occupants of interplanetary craft" was written by Klaatu (more info here).


(Of course in popular music there is also "Rocket Man" by Elton John and "Space Oddity" by David Bowie coming just after the Moon 'landing'. David Bowie built a whole career in fact on his alien type qualities...Ziggy Stardust, the weird different coloured eyes, The Man who fell to Earth).
"The Millerites were the origin of the 7th day Adventists and eventually the Jehovah's Witnesses, following a split in the 30's."
In Britain there are around 40-50 active Raelians. One audience member participated in a talk on the Cosmic Orgasm which the Raelians believe enables you to get in touch with the Elohim. However, when questioned on how you know if you've just had a Cosmic Orgasm as opposed to an terrestrial one (Is that where the expression "the earth moved" came from?) he then admitted he had never had either kind of orgasm.
Steve Wilson sees belief in UFO's as millenarianism, he also thinks 'free love' is more popular at times of great stress in society.
"Both occultists and ufologists are both seen as outsiders/loonies by society but for different reasons.
Occultists are into gods and goddesses, spirits, religion, meditation, etc
Ufologists are into implants, UFOs, abductions, but they believe they are scientists.
None of the Masters who have been channeled have really helped us. Have they cured cancer? The masters tend to utter bland phrases about world peace and everybody love each other..."


I mention the aptly named Dennis Gray who has seen UFOs at Highbury corner and down Islington High St in the last few months...He has bravely gone to the press with these sightings but each article mentions the fact that he is a second hand car dealer, apparently an instant disqualification from any kind of credibility.

(1)The Grecian Coffee House was in Devereux Court, Strand, and named from a Greek, Constantine, who kept it. Close to the Temple, it was a place of resort for the lawyers. Constantine’s Greek had tempted also Greek scholars to the house, learned Professors and Fellows of the Royal Society. Here, it is said, two friends quarrelled so bitterly over a Greek accent that they went out into Devereux Court and fought a duel, in which one was killed on the spot.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Goodbye to Bush...


Yesterday: myself and my band attended the Anti-Bush protest in Parliament square to give him a proper send off from London. Had to listen to boring speeches, particularly by that nutty egotist Brian Haw (yes I admire him but he's such a bore). Frustrated, I was about to leave. Talk is cheap. Action is more my style. Then we led the protesters, pied piper stylee, to the barricades and blood rushing to my ears, tried to push through to Downing Street.
Drumming is war. We can control the tempo of the crowd with it. We can lift them up, push them forward, make them excited, calm them down. I only stopped to reapply my lipstick. Come the revolution I will be in lipstick and heels! Glamour is such an important element in protest. Although author Alice Bailey disagrees, in that it can "bewilder, confuse and contribute to the problems of the world." When I attended the organisatorial meetings for the anti-g8 camp in Stirling, Scotland, we discussed how to get there from London. "I think we should hire a train" I spoke up " because it's more glamorous..." Titters from the crowd, gaping jaws from the crustier elements... John Jordan understood what I meant...he was one of the creators of Tactical Frivolity...the strategy behind the Pink Block, the fluffy, entertainment branch of the protest movement, comprising of clowns, costumes, music, glitter and feathers.
Good film by my mate Rikki Blue at this link: http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/media/2008/06//401259.mp4

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Squatting 101


Notes from a talk at Housmans bookshop Kings X about squatted social centres...led by a guy from the 56a infoshop.
"Many social centres are closing at the moment. The history of 56a Infoshop is that in 1988 it was a food co-op. In the 1991 the back room was taken over by anarcho-squatters for an infoshop. It was inspired by 121 in Brixton and info-shops in Europe.
"What is a social centre? The model comes from Italy where they are very common. There they are aligned to a Marxist tradition. In the UK they tend to be aligned to Anarchism.
56a is no longer a squat, they were given a ten year tenancy by Southwark council, the reasons for which are still a mystery.
56a is very small, basically one room. People come for a cup of tea, to look at books, to have discussions or arguments or to change their minds about things. In 1991 when it started, there was a sectarian aspect to it...if you weren't anarcho-syndicalist they were unfriendly. In London today there is an opening out of ideas. The older generation burn out and come back. The new generation are more open. People used to think that there was a separation between activists and 'normal' people. Nowadays is about breaking down that divide. At 56a there is a bicycle workshop for kids and they try to get involved locally."
"Squatting laws in England are probably the most liberal in the world. In Scotland there is the Law of Enforceable Right.
In France they wanted to copy the Scottish law."
I mention:
"But the French do have the 'treve d'hiver' in which you cannot evict someone between October 15th and March 15th. ( I remember when living in Paris, seeing the streets littered with furniture thrown out by bailiffs mid-march). This was a law brought in after a particularly harsh and cold winter in 1955. "
A guy from the Hackney Social Centre which was recently evicted, spoke:
"This location had long-standing gang issues anyway (it was the notorious Chimes bar) and the owner became violent with us. The eviction was very confrontational and people were standing on the roof wearing balaclavas and waving black flags."
"Which is not such a good idea!" interrupted the guy from 56a.
There was a debate as to whether local people came to the parties there, or whether it was an anarchist ghetto. Personally I did meet there local black teenagers from estates, 'chavs' frankly who would never normally go to that type of event, who clearly enjoyed having a cheap and lively night out with interesting people in their locality.
Another social centre Ramparts, which managed to hang on for 4 years, organised women's meetings run by local Bangladeshi girls. However this created a weird energy with the boys which culminated in every window in the building being broken. Once I went there and there was a Muslim teenager's afternoon disco going on, with girls in veils snogging boys on the stairwell.
Oddly Ramparts was a former Islamic girls school.
The guy from 56a talks more about Black Frog, the Camberwell squatted social centre that 56a helped set up, which involved local people but only lasted 6 months...
Question: "Is this a waste of energy? Spending 6 months setting up something that is eventually destroyed? Could that energy be better used elsewhere?"
The guy from 56a replies:
"Revolutionary politics has died. We try to find ways that promote things as they are now...autonomous and empowering for local people. It was a learning experience setting up that social centre even though it only lasted a short time. But it was exhausting and I felt burnt out afterwards"
A girl asked "Do we have to be really political to come to these social centre meetings?"
"No, we mostly talk about pragmatic stuff such as 'why is this place not clean?
In general though, the authorities don't want us to be on the street. There is an erosion of street culture, of conversations on the street. Everything is virtual now."
The girl again: "I've just come down from Liverpool and I'm impressed by the amount of events that London puts on, free street events.."
Others chip in: "But they are always in commodified spaces and there should be an element of criticality."
"How are these events free? We pay for them out of our council taxes"
Ms Puddleduck interjected:
"Many of these events rely on corporate sponsorship. The recent event in Victoria park, you had to buy Workers Beer Company beer, you couldn't take in your own alcohol and have your own picnic. Ten to twelve years ago, at the same event, you could.. Festivals in general are now so expensive."
The discussion moved onto how the media distorts perception of squatting, making out that if you pop out to buy some chips, evil squatters will move into your house and take it over. Recently the Daily Mail ran an article on squatting and it was discussed whether the rise of media interest in squatting is connected to the end of economic speculation in the property market.
Bowl Court on their opening day set up a Squatters Estate Agency and the media were very interested in this. (Humour and wit are always a great method for attracting positive interest in radical politics). The Wright stuff TV show had a discussion programme on squatting last week, and Ben Rampart put up spirited and rational arguments for squatting (keep watching the The Wright stuff">Youtube clip, he comes on later). Ben makes the salient point that most squatting takes place in commercial property, which are held onto, or even deliberately dilapidated in order to justify demolition by (often foreign) property developers who have no interest in the fabric of the local community.
The land is what the developers want, not the building, even if the architecture is of historical interest, they don't care. Often squatters protect a building, repair it and prevent it from falling down due to neglect. There are several instances of this:
Tolmuth square near Euston which was due for demolition is now social housing. The London fields lido, squatted for 12 years, was mooted to become a car park, and is now revitalised as an open air swimming pool. Bonnington Square in Vauxhall was a squatted street. It's now legal, with a community cafe, and paving stones have been lifted to create a magnificent city jungle (I recommend a visit to this lovely hidden corner of London).
Somebody mentions that the Red Lion pub in London's Soho, where Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto, has been empty for some time...
A lady from Argentina talks about how many Italian anarchists emigrated there in the early part of the 20th century were forced to squat due to poverty. The economic crisis of 2001-2 led to squatted businesses because the owner had left the country. The workers, say in a bakery, jobless, would club together and say if people still want to buy the bread so we'll continue to run it ourselves as a co-op. Then when things improved, the owners would return, wanting their business back...
James from Bowl Court talks:
"We wanted to build a space based on permaculture principles. We have a windmill on the roof, keep our rainwater, have installed solar panels, we wanted it to be sustainable. We want to show a different kind of city living, where you don't need a lot of land or money."
There is also a squatted community garden project near Clissold Park in Stoke Newington...
"The neighbours like us being there, it's better than just wasteland. However we want to get the neighbours more involved but they may be a little intimidated. They have said that it's a nicer place to walk past."
Discussion moved onto forest squatting both abroad and in the UK at places like Tinkers Bubble. There are also long-standing squats such as Kristiana in Denmark. which the state asked the police to clear, but as their eviction of youth social centre went so badly wrong, riots on the streets, they refused...
In Istanbul there are 5 million people who are forced to live in 'overnight built homes' or Gecekondu...
I expressed frustration that all the social centres were either in East or South London, and that nothing was going on in my part of town, North West London. There have always been strong squatting communities in Hackney and Peckham, however, with the Olympics coming to East London and the general push westwards by the speculators of the City of London, opportunities for squatting in those areas will be reduced.
Massimo of Bowl Court replied that he'd recently done a recce of the canal path down to Acton, which is very industrialised, with many empties... c'mon then...

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Sparks


As a kid I drove my mother mad by incessantly playing The Sparks album "Kimono my house". Russell Mael's high pitched falsetto and Ron Maels' repetitive keyboards grated...
Tonight went to see them at the Carling Academy Islington, an intimate venue, one of a series of 21 dates in which they play selected songs from each of their albums. Having missed the "Kimono my house" gig, it was the turn of the "Interior Design" 1988 album.
Ron looked identical but then he looked 50 even when he started in the 70's. Russell has lost his prettiness and his curls but they are both in good shape. The band was tight and the music sounded contemporary...the great thing about being slightly avant-garde is that your music doesn't date so rapidly. The audience were a mix of middle aged men in Saville row suits, rockers, and a surprising amount of young people. Funniest moment of the night was when Ron came out from behind his keyboards, did a stiff little dance and sang on his own. Huge applause and a wag shouted out "Go solo!" to much laughter.
I met Horton Jupiter of They came from the stars, I saw them, a similarly futuristic and keyboard based group who I've been a fan of for some time now.
Afterwards while scoffing the £3.50p all you can eat meal from Indian veg in Chapel Market, Horton explained how Madonna's Like a Prayer is actually about blowjobs...

"When you call my name its like a little prayer
Im down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know Ill take you there"

The best bit in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs was the beginning when they deconstruct Madonna's 'Like a Virgin':

MR. PINK
"Like a Virgin" is all about a
girl who digs a guy with a big
dick. The whole song is a
metaphor for big dicks.
MR. BLUE
No it's not. It's about a girl
who is very vulnerable and she's
been fucked over a few times.
Then she meets some guy who's
really sensitive--
MR. ORANGE
You said "True Blue" was about a
nice girl who finds a sensitive
fella. But "Like a Virgin" was a
metaphor for big dicks.
MR. PINK
Let me tell ya what "Like a
Virgin"'s about. It's about some
cooze who's a regular fuck
machine.
I mean all the time, morning, day,
night, afternoon, dick, dick,
dick, dick, dick,
dick, dick, dick, dick, dick,
dick.
MR. BLUE
How many dicks was that?
MR. WHITE
A lot.
MR. PINK
Then one day she meets a John
Holmes motherfucker, and it's
like, whoa baby. This mother
fucker's like Charles Bronson in
"The Great Escape." He's diggin
tunnels. Now she's gettin this
serious dick action, she's feelin
something she ain't felt since
forever. Pain.
MR. PINK
It hurts. It hurts her. It
shouldn't hurt. Her pussy should
be Bubble-Yum by now. But when
this cat fucks her, it hurts. It
hurts like the first time. The
pain is reminding a fuck machine
what is was like to be a virgin.
Hence, "Like a Virgin."
The fellas crack up.

So are all Madonna's songs basically about sex?

Monday, 2 June 2008

The urban olympics

Everyone knows, of course, that the 2012 Olympics will be held in East London. The squatters were chucked out from the London Fields Lido to make room for the olympic sized swimming pool.
Running alongside London Fields are London Lane and Ellingfort Road, these two parallel streets, tightly filled with Victorian houses, are a punk Coronation Street, for they are populated by ex-squatters (sit it out for 12 years and the property becomes yours) and housing co-ops. Relationships are as complicated as a soap opera, people are in and out each others houses all day and night.
Invited for a Spanish style dinner, drinking as we digested, I discovered that London Lane have decided to rent out the whole street, preferably to a small country, for the duration of the Olympics.
O., a boney vampire drug-addled waif, will be the butler.
That'll open the eyes of the world to the true London.
Brainstorming last night,while watching the punks drift by the window from the annual punx picnic held in London Fields, we became inspired about an alternative Olympics... the urban Olympics, to be held at the same time.
"Blue sky thinking!"
shouted S, the manager of the Marie Lloyd bar. These urban olympics would include competitions such as the 100 metre mugging, the snatch a handbag from an old lady hurdles (garden fences!), the rat stomping competition, the pit bull trials, etc...