Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

I'm on holiday with my amazing family in beautiful Wales!

Happy New Year!



Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Lake Bled, Slovenia



I was too focused on what was happening in my own head to take much notice. It was Ray who pointed out the couple in the room holding tightly onto each other's hands, faces pale and taut. That could be us next time ...


Christmas Eve. We are waiting in the Edward Jenner Clinic at 'The Royal', a hospital in Gloucester. Something a little unusual had turned up in a recent blood sample, and I'm here to 'rule out' cancer. "Bring a family member." The letter from the clinic had advised.


It's my back. Doctor Bray had said "Come and see me again if symptoms persist, "and they had, so I did, and here I am: most unexpectedly. Putting a very brave face on it.


"Does the micro-globulin go in a gold-top phial?" My phlebotomist asked her colleague. She searched for her little 'which top,do you use' book " Yes, it does, " she confirmed. My head's in a whirl. "Why micro-globulin?"

"Why doesn't she know?"


You read dreadful things about the National Health Service. But it was amazing over my back. Here I am, just a few days after the doctor ordered the tests, having waited only a few minutes, trying to work out the gold-topped phial thing.


The results would be available to the consultant in a less than an hour. Not too long to wait. "Go and have a coffee!"


Costa Coffee have the franchise, and it's as good as any. Five minutes after being served, the clinic Receptionist fetched me. "Mr Staid will see you now ... " ( Senior doctors in the UK are never called 'doctor'. Funny that.) "Take your coffee."


Mr Staid was relaxed and kind. He made eye contact and he smiled. I knew everything was going to be OK. "About 1 in 25 older people tested have this anomaly. It's slightly- raised immune activity, it's nothing serious. Let's have a closer look at your back."


My back responded magnificently. Just a twinge. No bumps or swelling in the lymph glands. No weight loss, no sleepless nights ... I'm beginning to feel a bit of a fraud.


"Are you claustrophobic?" I'm startled. Does that come with having a bad back? "No ... " (puzzled). "Good." Then I'll order you an MRI scan. It's thirty minutes in a tube."


Wow! I have watched every episode of House and always wanted an MRI Scan. The TVs ones don't seem to last 30 minutes, though. "We'll find out what's going on!"


Cancer, however, has been ruled out. I am enormously relieved. I didn't know how anxious I'd been until it lifted away. I wanted to sing and ... Back permitting ... Do a jig.


What a gift.




Tuesday, 22 December 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Climate Change

This post is brought to you from my bed, which is hardly surprising, as it's 2:03 am. I am listening to the wind.


Doesn't seem like five minutes since our first storm with a name blew through. It was, I am convinced, named after my granddaughter, Abigail, who frankly, deserves to have a storm named after her, and this is a compliment, as a little further down the alphabet, Storm Mary will breeze in. Thank you, storm namers, I accept the accolade.


I shouldn't be taking this lightly. I doubt I would, had Desmond wreaked the havoc here in the South West, that it did in Cumbria.


Years ago I read reports that the reality of climate change would be extreme events at more frequent intervals. And here we are, Desmond not yet cleaned up after, and Eva whistling in the wings.


Estimates of anywhere between 60 and 200 million refugees from climate change - men women and children forced to leave their homes because of drought or deluge. Where will they go? Will you, or I be among them? It's not beyond the bounds of probability.


In 1988, in London, I was awakened by The Great Storm that flattened forests and raised roofs across much of southern England. I have some enduring memories of that night. Me, checking out the bible, Ray, my husband, eyeing up the insurance policy; the Anglia Windows promotional caravan tipped over onto a Porche; frightened dogs cowering under cars; extortionate prices charged by unscrupulous builders for emergency repairs. Above all, I remember the outbreak of neighbourliness as communities pulled together to help those who suffered most.


We're going to need a whole lot more of good- neighbourliness with that many people to take care of.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

"Let Nothing Disturb You"

Contemplative prayer is about the best tonic I know for a weary soul. Or any kind of spiritual practice that takes you away from yourself for a bit, and puts you in touch with a deeper reality, will do it. I learned long ago that there are many, many ways to find meaning. " Anything that works" is my motto for transcendence.


I have offended you. I'm sorry, but if you're willing to sit with it for a while, the stuff you disagree with, it's far more likely to teach you something than the stuff you don't. If you open yourself to it.


On contemplative prayer. It's my turn to lead at the next meeting of the group I belong to that meets monthly at Llansor Mill away over the border in South Wales. It's a bit scary, because at least two of the group, on any given day, are theologians, which I definitely am not. So, we're doing St Teresa of Avila, who lived a long time ago and set about reforming a church that had become worldly and corrupt.


I discovered I couldn't get my head round her, or her teaching, and was beginning to get a bit desperate, when I had an epiphany! It was my heart that needed to get round her, so I stopped trying to be clever, and wrote poems instead.

 Here's my reflection for Day Seven of the collection of her sayings, "Let Nothing Disturb You":

 Mantra: "Do not be bashful with God"

 Summary: Would you refuse a gift if the queen offered it to you?

Reflection on the text: I had a conversation with God many years ago. I was trying to sort out some difficulty believing that God need not concern himself with it. I don't remember much of the detail, but that I was holding on to some misdemeanour, believing that it was unforgivable.

"Was not my Son's death price enough to pay?"

I realised then that it was not humility that led me to refuse God's gift of forgiveness, but the very worse kind of pride.

Ask with confidence. Don't be shy.



Is a powerful, enlightened soul,

She streams into my life with light

And joy of being. She makes me

Be better than I am,

And she is four years old.

She is as she is, because she never

Needed to fear me

Or please me

She needed, only, to know this:

I love her.


And so it is with God,

And me.

I sweep into his presence as if he belonged to me.

 He taught me with his love.

Not to be shy.


Night Prayer: May I approach you every day Lord, with confidence and joy.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A Year On

I went to an AGM on Thursday night. It was a real sacrifice let me tell you, as I am trying to give meetings up as a reward to myself for leading a good life.


It was the annual reckoning to its supporters of Gloucester City Mission and it was the usual mix of reports and chocolate biscuits. There are now 20 rough sleepers in Gloucester, and many many, more people living in poverty helped by GCM , which means, a little, helped by people like me. 'Grannies for God' I call us, because most of us are: not because we're especially holy, but because we're free during the day to go out on the streets.


On the same point, and by way of conclusion, I found a piece I wrote two years ago for a friend describing a visit to The Day Centre for the homeless before it closed last January:


Mission work was rewarding yesterday. I walked to the Vaughn Centre with Dennis, Ethlyn and Maureen. We had a lot of goodies, so were very popular.

I talked to Abs, an Indian guy in his twenties, a drinker, sent by his parents to India for six years, where he was abused. And more and more... But what impressed me about him was his gentleness, his politeness, and the way he was seeking a way out. Maureen, who is a baptist and a bit more overt than me, took over, and Abs seemed to be earnestly engaged. Funny, I just realised that he has the the name I use for Abigail...

Then there was Dave - indeterminate age, be-stubbled (undesigner), missing teeth, happy, well under the influence... He's just out of prison, has got back with his partner, hence the happy.

'Do you want to see my tattoo?'

Well, what girl could refuse?

He'd seen the text on the wall of the prison chapel, it was, 'God alone is my judge' and it was tattooed down his left calf. ('Now THAT'S irony, Dave,' I didn't say.)

I tried to think of what I would have tattooed, and where, and drew a blank on both counts.

I tell you I came away with a great deal of admiration for prison workers. 'Janice' had really looked after him I could tell, keeping him company, getting him a radio, encouraging him and - not judging him.

Dave wants to be baptised. So, I called over Dennis, who is great with men under the influence, having been one himself once, and he talked about the implications...

There's a great little church in the Docks nearby, the old 'Mariner's' church that had served the sailors and bargees when the docks was more than a Mall on water. The vicar is enthusiastic, and the church is alive to the needs of men like Dave.

Which ALL churches will need to become when the Night Shelter closes and the Vaughn Centre loses its funding next year. We have to get good at doing the real stuff. As I often say to people of faith, the Christ won't judge us on doctrine, theology, or the magnificence of our buildings (not in a GOOD way anyway) but on what we did for the widows, orphans and drunks.

What a witness it would be if the church, in all it's manifestations, spent as much time and energy on the latter as the former! By any criteria, I would say we have failed miserably in what should have been our prime purpose. It's no wonder thinking people don't want to know.

There! It's out! I am bordering on disillusionment. And yet, and yet, I'm not ready to jack it all in. I really don't know why!

The AGM was a reminder that whilst some things get worse, others get better. The street friends mentioned above have moved on, as many do, hopefully to better things, and GCM is now in a position to rent a permanent home. We will share premises with the Homeless Healthcare Team. Christians Against Poverty, and the Food Bank. A Poverty 'One-Stop Shop' which I wish to God we didn't need. At least there will be food and shelter for people who need it this Christmas.



Tuesday, 24 November 2015

#MicroblogMondays:When death comes

A year ago I wrote of the impending death of my dear friend, Margareta Ferguson. ('The Last Mile') Somewhat embarrassingly, and to my joy, Margareta recovered. Not completely, but well enough to do many of the things she wanted to do, and to prepare herself for her final journey. Not that anyone CAN truly do so: If any event may be described as 'a leap in the dark,' this is it.

Also for Margareta, a leap of faith.

Last Friday, Loarne, her son called me to say. "Come now, if you want to say goodbye." I went. My friend was unconscious and her breathing was laboured. I held her awkwardly in my arms, and sang the psalm I had promised her for her last hours:

"How lovely is your dwelling place

Oh Lord of Hosts

My soul longs and yearns for your courts

And my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God ... "

A final hug and my last prayer for her:

"Lord now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace ... "


I left her then, in safer hands than mine.


Monday, 23 November 2015

An Enquiring Mind

The day before terror was unleashed on Paris, it was reported that Jehadi John, a murderous bastard responsible for multiple atrocities, had been vaporised in a drone strike. I felt elated. Joyful. Delighted. Yes, I did. To be truthful, I still do.

I felt something else to: the need to stop and observe the elation, the quickened heartbeat, the rush of pleasure. .. This is new, this is the fruit of months of Buddhist practice. Why, I wonder, is my instinctive reaction so alien to my respect for human life, my abhorrence of violence?

Can't answer that. It's all there in my neuro-biology I expect, the amygdula kicking in, rushing to the defence of the species as represented by me, or somesuch. A rational explanation for an irrational act. I'm not making any judgement or trying to excuse myself: I don't even feel that my instinctive reaction was wrong. I'm just watching it unfold.

It's what happens next that I can work on.

Hate will never conquer hate. An ideology that feeds off fear and stirs up prejudice cannot be bombed out of existence. Perhaps containment is the best that can be hoped for? II have no answers.

The essence of Zen is to 'tend the garden'. I love this metaphor at every level. In my everyday life it is to keep a perpetual watch on the part of me that would vaporise a man and take pleasure in it, and to go about doing what I can in my patch to make the lives of people I meet a little better.


It's not much, but it's a start.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

MicroblogMondays:Seven Symptoms of Evil

So soon after remembering the men and women sacrificed for peace in foreign wars, the visceral horror of conflict was brought home in the scenes from Paris. Ordinary people out to enjoy themselves in a restaurant, concert hall, football stadium, ripped apart in cold blood.

Words of condolence must come as little consolation to families trying to make sense of their loss.

It's hard to get inside the heads of people who want to commit mass murder. Surely they must be evil?

Coincidentally, this week's New Scientist (Nov 14 2015) published an article 'The Seven Symptoms of Evil' that seeks to shed some light on the mindset of IS fighters.

Easy enough to see these traits in others. Perhaps it's pertinent to spend another minute in silence to ponder whether we need to do a bit of work on ourselves.

"Syndrome E: Can Neuroscience Explain The Executioners of ISIS?" (Extract)

Seven symptoms of evil

The idea that evil is a disease is predicated on the observation that mass killers share some common traits:

  • Compulsive repetitive violence
  • Obsessive beliefs
  • Rapid desensitisation to violence
  • Flat emotional state
  • Separation of violence from everyday activities
  • Obedience to an authority
  • Perceiving group members as virtuous

Link to the full article:


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Beware! Left-Winger On The War-Path!

I have been suffering more than somewhat from writer's block. I have a sheaf of poems that, frankly, aren't going to finish themselves, and numerous false starts filed here on Blogsey that won't make it past the starting pistol.

So I'm thinking to myself, "Could this be the end?  Is it time to pop the inkwell back in the stationery cupboard and get back on the garden?" These are rhetorical questions, metaphorical in nature, and not particularly helpful, as it happens, BUT, on the verge of dropping out of the literary race I got caught by Gandhi:

"My life is my message."

He scrawled that on the back of an envelope which he then thrust through the window of a departing train to a devotee who'd asked for a last word for his followers.

"My life is my message."

Now before you give up in disgust thinking I've turned into some egotistical maniac, or driven those of you who are intimate with my life into paroxysms of mirth: it's Jeremy Corbyn I'm talking about.

Yesterday he was pilloried by people who want to do that to him, because he didn't bow low enough at the Remembrance Day ceremonial in London.

So far, so bad. But you will know, because I'm going to tell you, that instead of hoofing off to stick his nose in the trough with the other dignitaries, he then went over to the barriers to applaud the veterans who were kept safely behind them. He then returned to his constituency to read Wilfren Owen's great peace-poem ' Futility' at another Armistice Day service.

"My life is my message."

This is why Jeremy Corbyn stands apart from the bunch of trumped-up, over-spun, nasty little nobodies that comprise the UK government today. They despise him because  his is the power of the heart and the soul:it makes them angry because he calls them out. Just by being who he is.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

#MicroblogMondays:What time do you call this?

There's a knock at the door at 6:30 am. I am shocked awake and immediately thinking something must be wrong.. Terribly wrong. Who knocks on the door at this time of day?

Pulling on the nearest garment to hand - my husband's ancient towelling bathrobe, I fly down the stairs and throw open the front door.

Here stands not a harbinger of misfortune, or a stranger in distress, but the Grocery Delivery Man. I am taken aback, he is totally unphased.

The next time I book my slot, I shall wear my glasses.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Sixty-five Today!

What better to do, on such a lovely day, but go for a walk in the countryside. Be sure that I took you all with me. I am living a wonderful life, and my heartfelt thanks to everyone who plays, or has played, a part it it!








Tuesday, 27 October 2015

#MicroBlogMondays:Interesting Times

When I was studying to be a writer, which as a matter of fact I always have been, but was reluctant to say so, I learned to do this:


When you think you have nothing to say, just freewheel - let your mind go off on its own. Start. Just start and see where you end up. I think it's going to be fun.


So this week I hit 102 followers on Twitter. Not supposed to use punctuation but can't help myself, sorry. 102! Up from 21 on that fateful day when I got curious about Jeremy Corbyn. Oh I thought, looks interesting and then WOW it really was and during his acceptance speech I joined the Labour Party, which might come as no surprise, except to those of you who thought I already HAD.


SO NOW I know lots of things that I never knew before all in 140 characters. Portugal having a bit of a crisis. Canada shows Harper the door, Iceland, now here's the thing, Iceland rescues it's peoples' finances and puts bankers in jail. I LIKE that. Meanwhile in this mean-spirited little Island which was once great, we set about pre-impoverishing the already poor with a vague promise that they'd be better off before the next election, and let's face it you CAN fool some of the people some of the time ... Then, OMG the House of Lords, that the establishment had foolishly left under-stuffed with the elite, kicked THAT can three years down the road, and now the government has a problem because even the thickest of we plebs ain't got time to forget how we were lied to and ripped off . .. No matter, the meanies are about to dig a hole they won't climb out of in a hurry and I'm smiling.


And now I see it's getting on and I have somewhere to be, and that's OK because when you're free-writing, and you have to, you just STOP.



Thursday, 22 October 2015


You have to remember

You're a POET and

Stop rooting about on the

Internet for - oh whatever -


Time, some would say,

To sit with words for a bit

And let them shape themselves into

Metaphors and because,

If you hadn't noticed,

It's Autumn,

I thought I might allow

A pale yellow melon stand in for the Sun

And a fragile veil fall across my garden

Like a mist.

THERE! That'll do.


(With apologies to purists, who will know that the reference to 'mist' is a simile not a metaphor. I know! I love you too!)

Sunday, 18 October 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Last Wednesday

Last Wednesday Tony and I took coffee, sausage rolls, pot noodles, and a little fruit, to a housing complex for recovering addicts in the city. We listen, a lot, and hug and weep as we hear devastating stories of bad lives made worse through drugs and alcohol . What we DON'T do, is judge.

Tony and I are City Missioners. We are responding to the gospel imperative to feed the hungry and bring comfort to those who are suffering. We don't preach. We, as I say, listen.

Nick, Andrew and Sean who sat round the table with us asked what brought us to them. "We're broken too." Tony spoke for both of us. Yup. But mending.

The guys are all believers, and wanted to pray with us before we left. " You do it!" I said, Sean, embarrassed, said,"We don't know how!" This was what I prayed:


"The disciples came to him and said, "Lord, teach us how to pray ..." And he replied:


Creator, You

Who fill the Cosmos

We name you, 'Holy One'

May we be as you are, wherever you are

May we do as you do, here, in this place

Give us today, the means to keep body and soul together

Stand by us when we screw up

So that we, being freed, might free others too

For Yours is our Homeland, our Place of Safety and Our Goal

From now into eternity

Amen. "




Saturday, 17 October 2015

Sunny In Sorrento

My friend Carol and I spent a wonderful week in Sorrento. Here are some of the ways over-sixties holiday:

We sat when everyone queued


Drank a bit



Walked in the rain

Ate Ice Cream

Shopped (a fair bit)

Drove the Amalfi Coast

(No - didn't do that!)

Saw the odd church ...
Appreciated the occasional deserted coastal fortress


And the ruins of Pompeii ... 



Just for starters.


Monday, 5 October 2015

#Microblog Monday's:Getting Away From It All

My friend Carol and I are on holiday in Italy. We met, aged fourteen, somewhere near the back of Mr Robinson's form, fifty years ago. They don't have 'forms' any more. Education has become a lot more serious than in our day: they have 'Years' now. You start in Year One and you progress through the system until you are spewed out 'educated' at the end of Year 13. No more,'Third Form' or 'Upper Sixth'. Boring!

I remember Carol had inked the name of her favourite band into her wooden desk. I think it may have been, 'Small Faces', or maybe, 'Pink Floyd', I am rather hazy on the precise details:I'll ask her in the morning.

I was never tempted to scrawl on my desk. One rarely finds, 'Joan Baez' immortalised in blue ink. Folk singers didn't get that kind of noteriety. Not female ones, anyway.

Reminiscing is our passion now. We grew up on the same vast housing estate on the outskirts of Gloucester. Today we debated with interest the year building commenced up there under Robinswood Hill, devouring Matson village for which it was named. I doubt many remember the remnants of the village: the schoolhouse is long gone, Peacey's Farm now a fashionable Spa ...

'It say's 1955 on the Internet' Carol remarks drawing on the Great Authority. "That can't be right: I moved there when I was three ... Graham Wright and I were toddlers when we buried the keys to the half-built houses opposite ..." I laughed. The dimmest of memories surfacing of mum and Mrs Wright searching frantically with trowels, an irate foreman swearing in the background. Don't recall if they were ever found.

And so on, the sun slipping away behind us, the evening falling around us.


How amazing it is to think that we can sit downing a beer here in Sorrento, when the farthest our parents got was London, and an exotic seaside holiday was a Sunday School outing to Severn Beach.

Before I stop writing and turn in, I'm going to indulge in a moment of unfettered gratitude for a life that has extended boundaries that my grandparents couldn't have dreamed of. Yes, gratitude, and a deep thankfulness for a good friend who sits in the sun with me and remembers what was good about the old days, and how far we have come.



Monday, 28 September 2015

#MicroblogMondays: What I Did At The Weekend

I escaped. In all honesty, I didn't go far. I headed west through Ross on Wye, over the border into Cymru (Wales) skirting Monmouth, weaving my way carefully through Usk, then out into the wilds to Llansoar Mill near Carleon. The journey took just under an hour.

Llansoar Mill is home to a small Christian Community of which I am glad to be a member. "Simplicity, Inclusivity, Paradox" heads up the website, and there we are, sharing the mystery of faith through prayer, music, poetry, literature, film, debate, food, divine love, human virtue... To begin the list ... It's by no means 'church' in a narrow sense, but a faith community in its widest, most expansive and truly exploratory manifestation. I wasn't intending to do the commercial, but I have begun it. For more, if you're interested, there's Google ...

There were 20 of us visiting over the weekend: convening to soak ourselves in the ancient wisdom of the Sufi poet, Rumi.

Duncan, our leader recited poetry, hauntingly accompanied on a stringed instrument that I should have enquiried the name of .. He told stories, humorous and revealing, light-hearted and deeply moving. Amazing.

I stayed, not at the Mill this time, but off-site, with another community member, Ruth. We drew very close over the weekend: the seeming disaster of booking 'too late' turning into a splendid opportunity to share more of our selves.

Here's a taste of Rumi, and the view from my bedroom window in Ruth's beautiful home.




Sunday, 27 September 2015

Sitting With Rumi


Mine me then, O God:


"Tarrah!!" When the treasure that I Am

Reveals itself - and

l, (you know me)

Turn in wonder and say,

"Why, there you are!"



It wasn't that I was waiting for you,

No. Such futility is long past.

So, your kiss, and real enough

To be called, "KISS", surprised me.

Something, I could tell, has broken in you

And I, though not the cause of your disquiet,

Am forgiven.


Monday, 21 September 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Britain 2015

This is Dave. He sits in the arch under the ancient gateway to the Cathedral. Never heard him complain. One picture. Let it tell it's own story.


I was doing ordinary things

I was doing ordinary things today

Dropping Margareta off at the surgery

Spraying the flowers, left in church

Ironically, for a requiem.

Brewing tea, pouring coffee at the Army,

For the homeless,

No special cause, and all done


I recall the gossips on the bus having a laugh

Me, at the back, letting it all

Flow over me. Not yet knowing, quite, why I am sad.


Some time passes. I remember what I am to do,

It's around five, and I light the fat candle on my dresser,

And, because she is another mother to my daughter,

And because she is dying, and it's too soon, too soon,

I weep, and my day is brought back to me

With gratitude for it's ordinariness, for it's

Expectancy, and because I am





Thursday, 17 September 2015

Incontrovertible Truth

I haven't been too well this summer. Nothing serious: a cold in June developed into a cough that wouldn't go away, finally vanquished this week with a course of antibiotics. As a consequence, I didn't get out on the streets with Gloucested City Mission for the whole of August. My weakened state kept me tied to my iPad, and engaging with the campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. Which was a whole lot of fun. However ...

Yesterday, I returned to the streets with renewed vigour and my friend Tom,

Problem: How do you stay friends with someone who holds views that you find unsettling. Tom is a street pastor, a Missioner, and a volunteer at a food bank, so he lacks neither kindness nor compassion. Nevertheless, he saw fit to 'put me right' on the issue of the refugees\migrants attempting to enter Europe. I won't bore you with the 'facts' that Tom had gleaned from the right-wing press. I listened patiently, after all I can neither confim nor deny the tales of corruption and deceit that Tom trotted out.

Finally, I found an incontovertible truth that I could respond with:

"I haven't got it in my heart,Tom, to condemn desperate people fleeing from disaster. How could I, when in their shoes, I'd do the same?"

In the turn of a phrase, I switched Tom from his head to his heart, and he was silent. I pray he stays there.


Monday, 14 September 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Word-Working

She, The Poet
She, the Poet has awoken,
Opens a box for you and out wafts
Such a fragrance! The
Plumeria blossom of Oahu and the
Drift of an ocean
Crashing its momentous waves
Against the black volcanic sands.
In the Botanical Gardens-
Where she always strays-
It's Tuesday
The Orchid Man Comes.
Such splendour!

See, the poet looks about her
And waves you over to
Stare intently into
The deep green woods
On an ancient hillside
Where two lovers,
Who will not notice you,
Are sealing their fate with
More than just a kiss.
Smile! SHE is.

Listen! The poet
Has conjured for you
A song of many delights
Rising and falling
But also, if you are alert to it,
A swelling of sadness that
Is not without meaning, and
Because she dreams it,
Completes her world.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Now The Real Work Begins

So Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour Party by a landslide. All the doom-ranting and nay-saying was to no avai:if anything it probably made the electorate MORE inclined to vote for him, not less.


I am delighted, for Jeremy and for our nation, of course I am, but I am a little bit sorry for myself ... You see, it means I'll have to get off Twitter and out of bed and actually DO something.


I made a start, I joined the Labour Party during Jeremy's victory speech (Yes, in bed, via Twitter ...) now the real work begins.


Jeremy Corbyn isn't going to attract big money for glitzy ads in prominent places, he's going to have to rely on foot-soldiers going out and about sharing the vision of a fairer, kinder society. This feels better to me, doesn't it to you?


This man has the support of poets. You know what, that means a whole lot more than being in the pocket of the Murdoch Empire, or being at the beck and call of minor celebrities ...


A lot of people are smiling right now, a few, I suspect, in spite of themselves. Something new, and slightly dangerous is happening, and I LOVE it!


Fun While It Lasted!

I'm writing this less than an hour before the winner of the contest for the leadership of the Labour Party is announced, and WOW!! What a ride!

As a result of this splendid, chaotic, fabulous contest, I have decided to become a member of the Labour Party. Win or lose, Jeremy Corbyn has electrified politics. Love him or loathe him, it can never again be said that a candidate that incites passion, and doesn't temper his beliefs to the prejudices of a focus group,  is 'unelectable'.

But wait! The fun isn't over yet! Think of the possible scenarios for next Wednesday should Jeremy face that nice Mr Cameron at Prime Minister's Question Time in the House of Commons! Baying Tory MP's (baying is not optional in the Commons, the Grown-Ups are in the House of Lords) dazed Labour MP's, other groupings delicious with anticipation ...

Our nation is split, many of our citizens are suffering hardship, the problems overseas are overwhelming. The time has come for a serious man, not given to baying, to stand up, quietly, and say 'Enough!'




Monday, 7 September 2015

#MicroblogMondays: You Remember!

You remember what it was like to be In Love,

Worlds turned upside down. And every glance

Made you laugh, and persuaded butterflies to dance inside you.


Yes, you remember, because your heart was on fire

And everything was a different hue: brighter somehow,

And deeper, if you know what I mean.


Well, and I know this is going to sound crazy, because, really,

You have to be present to it , but, I swear to you,

It's like finding God.




(I said it was crazy ...)

Sunday, 30 August 2015

I Follow Jez:A Twitter Update

My emergence as a political activist has had a surprising result. I have doubled the number of followers on Twitter!

In the interests of veracity, I have to say this was not hard to do, as I only had twenty-something, but nevertheless, I am heartened by it, and every Follower is welcomed and esteemed.

By the way, I learned a lot about twitter and the fickleness of its adherents the day I was unfollowed by Cheltenham. Imagine that! Unfollowed by a town! Thrown aside by 116,000 people in an instant! That, I reckon is an achievement, and possibly a record.

I often intrigue my husband with my obsession over the epitaph destined to adorn my tombstone. I say, 'intrigue', because 'bore', doesn't quite cut it. Intrigue enters the equation when you factor in the certainty that, at my own request, I will not have a tombstone at all. (I'm heading for a woodland burial, under a beech tree...) My long-standing favourite was, " 'She Made Herself Laugh' Phil 4v4", but I am now leaning towards, "'Unfollowed By Cheltenham" Ecclesiastes 1 v 2".

I digress.

Twitter is proving invaluable as a resource for keeping up with the Corbyn4Leader debate, as I follow several newspapers and some commentators, though I am careful to abide by my own confirmation bias and leave 'The Daily Telegraph' and 'The Daily Mail' to get along without me.

So. My eyes are being opened to the weird world of the newspaper comment columns. I am tempted to dip my toe in, but am reluctant to do so, because everybody is so nasty to one another. I don't do nasty, and I know jolly well that engaging in these debates achieves zilch, unless you enjoy swearing in public and shouting over a fence with your hands over your ears. (Which pretty much explains 'confirmation bias' in case you wondered.)

The piece by former Prime Minister Tony Blair accusing Jeremy Corbyn of living in an 'Alice In Wonderland fantasy world'. really caused the fur to fly. Personally, I would have loved to have known what was in those comments that were withdrawn, as the ones that were left up were pretty eye-watering.

I actually supported Tony Blair: he did some good things, and he made some mistakes, (as my brother, when a communist, once famously said about Joseph Stalin). I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt over the Iraq war, at least until the Chilcot Report is published. Duped by the CIA is my opinion as of now ... Therefore I don't come at this as the hard-left fantasist as my commentator- friends are wont to call me: I am a centre-left Social Democrat, who condemns wildcat strikes and zero-hour contracts in equal measure. (As a for instance ... )

However, I think that Mr Blair has misread the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, and here's why:

The current crop of political leaders have insulated themselves from the lives of people who struggle. Leftish leaders, like Mr Blair have swallowed the 'orthodoxy' (challenged by many top economists) that austerity is the only way to make Britain great again. The problem is that, in terms of human misery, the cost is too high, and people like me, run of the mill soft-lefties, are waking up to this.

It is not OK to redefine child poverty so that the numbers could be massaged down. It is not right to introduce further cuts to benefits, so that more people have to resort to Food Banks. It is not humane to remove benefits in order to punish people with homelessness and starvation. (Think of the outrage if Putin announced something like this!) It is not compassionate to cut the benefits of people who are dying. it is not just that the poorest amongst us should bear the social cost of the banking crisis that they did not create.

Those of us who work with the victims of these policies know this, and this is why I voted for Jeremy.

Whom I now follow on Twitter.

Postscript: I read that this week bankers bonuses returned to pre-2008 levels. Because I don't do nasty, I have nothing to add.