Classic: Desert Island Disx – sp. to annoy my sister

Final set for now. I can play this time as I have not yet listened and have been given no extra info. I expect I will defeat you all as I consider myself the superior one on high art but I will give you some time to flounder before your trouncing. Same rules as before.

Tingly good thoughts and vomit

I think I have managed to a fair impersonation over the last 6 months of a grumpy old man who hates everyone and everything that doesn’t fit into his particular world view. As it is Christmas and Jesus time I thought I had better set the record straight and say I am not really like that or at least I hope not. I don’t even dislike Christmas. I have always liked getting presents and quite like giving them. All my memories of Christmas are happy ones, even going to midnight mass with my mum and dad. So yahoo sucks to you lot that think I am just an angry cynic. Christmas cards annoy me because they feel rather compulsory and they fall over every time you draw the curtains – they are also, with very few exceptions very ugly indeed. However we had one this year that I really liked. It was by one of my great nephews and consisted of a stream of coloured lines in a vaguely festive shape – it seemed to have been done with no regard for any of the traditional symbols just an expression of perfunctory joy that summed up the mood perfectly. Other than that delight my nurse vomited during my chemo yesterday which was a festive role reversal and I found this letter (below) from Rowan Williams the ex Archbishop of Canterbury who I admire very much. I found it very touching if factually flawed.

Another annoyance I won’t subscribe to is wishing people a Merry Christmas. So I won’t and don’t. Instead I will wish all my readers   love and peace and a life as rich as Jimmy Hendrix only longer and without the drugs. Xx Here’s hoping we are all here next year especially  me.

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Gay marriage, silly bishops and @TheTweetOfGod

I am fed up with people of faith making excuses for religious atrocities saying it has nothing to do with religion. The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted that if the Church of England endorses gay marriage (to be honest I thought they had) it will lead to the murder of Christians in Africa because people will think that all Christians are gay and go and kill them. What is this if it isn’t religious ideologies inflaming hatred and justifying murder. I have no gripe with Archbishops, I liked the last one, just so long as their views are taken no more seriously than anybody else’s. Unfortunately we operate in a society where church and state are still wrapped up. 26 bishops sit in the House of Lords. One has to ask why? I digress. The archbishop needs to stand up for humanity as a whole including the right of any section of society to go through some daft ritual if they wish to without the fear of being murdered. I sense the archbishop kowtowing to the religious right. So he’s off my Christmas card list.

The recent atrocities in Sidney and Peshawar were committed by men of a particular faith who want to impose their religion on others. Those of a religious inclination must take responsibility for advocating a world view that gives rise to such actions, just as those with no religious faith need to take responsibility for actions taken in the name of atheism, in many respects a troublesome track record. Let’s stop mucking about – religion is responsible for some very bad stuff and the religious, of any faith need to take responsibility for it.

@TheTweetOfGod: Only one religion is right but I won’t say which one because I want you to figure it out by hating and killing each other while I watch.

Can you really ‘believe’ in several contradictory ‘truths.’

Can you really ‘believe’ in several contradictory ‘truths.’

As you know I am not a great believer in anything. I think belief is a meaningless word – it seems to say something important but doesn’t. If you substitute the word ‘prefer’ then It’s true character is revealed – for example; “I prefer God” sounds pretty drippy but essentially that’s what “I believe in God” amounts to – a statement of your own preference for God over no God. Setting ‘believe’ aside, as well as being meaningless, truth is a very dangerous concept – again I would argue it doesn’t exist other than as a convenient measure of personal preference and an excuse for divisiveness. The truth is no more ‘out there’ than God. Truth is just an individual snapshot of a preference expressed in a moment in time that has already passed. As such it means nothing at all. Still dangerous though – hmm that seems paradoxical. So down to the nitty gritty – if this is the case then it is perfectly ok to believe in several contradictory truths – so here goes with the one that troubles me.

I don’t like bullies but neither do I like bullies being bullied by crowds. Let’s take our local landowner – without doubt a bully and should rightly be guillotined, but were he to be set upon by a braying crowd of local self righteous lefties bearing flaming torches, like me – I would be inclined to whisk him away to a safe place under my woollen cloak. That’s just because braying crowds are often peopled by angry opportunist nits for whom I have no respect. Braying crowds outside the Old Bailey to spit at the latest murderer, rapist, Paedophile being a nauseating case in point. I actually end up despising them more than the perpetrator of the crime.

Personally this view is particularly troublesome when it comes to union campaigns. Naturally I am a member of a Union, naturally I support the workers right to take action including strike action but boy do I resent it when the union starts throwing its weight around and telling me or others what to do. This reminds me of a little boy who wants his friend to come round to play cars but does not want his friend to touch his cars in case he spoils them – that’s me by the way. I cried.

So to sum up – can you believe in the empowerment of the individual over the state while believing in the empowerment of the state over any individual you happen not to like? That really does sound like having your cake and eating it? Sadly it’s the ‘truth’ of my political convictions – oh boy, better start again from scratch.

Tweeting my cancer updates – I am not dead

Fiddled with www.cancerwithoutgod.com this morning to tweet when anything gets posted. Feel free to follow me @gravityisahat.

Bowels much improved, thank you for all your good wishes. Hmmmph! Seems my nerve endings survived the Velcade. – yes that’s the brand name for for one of drugs I take  that /which (someone remind of the rule in Strunk and White) can have some nasty side effects.

In excellent spirits as always – up at 4 .00 am this morning full of bounce. Might give this tweeting thing a try again. Find most tweeters just annoying but do subscribe to a few who keep me entertained/informed. I also happened upon this cafe sign

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which/that (arghh confidence ebbing … ) could only be found on Twitter and I had to re engage to get a copy – hence I am tweeting again. ADNE will be in despair.

Not sure what the right formula is? Tweets that make you feel like you are missing out on a world of exciting things and why aren’t you more connected and interested get binned. Funny things as long as they are funny I might read. ‘I am overlooking the Grand Canyon – it’s 4.oo in the morning and it’s taken a 18 mile hike to get here.’ Binned and abused. ‘Link to my new book’ – binned. ‘Link to my new partner.’ – read – nosey. ‘I am feeling sad and vulnerable – read. ‘My cat fell over’ – read. ‘Mine and other people’s research is cooler  than yours’ – binned. ‘Look at the banoffi pie I just made/am about to eat.’ – binned. ‘Stephen Fry/Russell Brand said this’ -maybe read if I have time. ‘Support my campaign to rid the universe of UKIP and all similar entities’ – read – favourited – retweeted. ‘Chris Newell is just great. – so brave – so intelligent – so sporty – so sexy etc.’ binned (he lied)

Actually I have no sense of the Twitter community at all so everything I have just said is probably nothing like what actually goes on. But since being ill I have felt a constant need to shout about stuff. Never ever felt that before in my life. So as I have said many times before, and I am not apologising, I think it is something to do with losing control through illness then asserting control through mouthiness. So brace yourselves or just possibly as has occurred every other time I have tried to embrace this new medium I will lose interest and delete my Twitter account yet again – at least I don’t do Facebook.

Scrooge, I am not the next big radio drama thing yet, bottoms as usual

News on a local Scrooge, my BBC commission failure, my bottom and the cats bottoms.

Another very early start so I thought I would ramble. This is not the only thing I do in the morning in case you were wondering. I get on with with mini projects and shop. I have been doing a lot of online Christmas shopping and because I have the wonderful but expensive Amazon Prime I get things next day, even Sunday’s.

Recently I have been doing an hour or twos research hunting down facts on our local landowner. I was prompted to do this when chatting to the workers installing a new electricity cable. Because our landowner (80th richest man in the country – under a billion though) refuses to trim the branches from the top of his trees that currently disrupt the supply, we tax payers are picking up the bill for diverting the electricity cables around his land underground – not cheap. This reminded me of an Italian novel ‘Fontamara’ in which the local robber baron re-roots or cuts off the local water supply in order to tax or squeeze out the local peasants. Our landowner has also refused to let the the workers walk over certain bits of land which I had assumed were public. He has a habit of turning public roads into private roads and just hoping no one will notice. His reputation as the ultimate modern day Scrooge/King John is widespread and there are countless anecdotes of his personal cruelty that I won’t repeat here as his hobby is litigation and he employs Blair’s wife’s old legals to fight his cases. Suffice to say he is someone that someone should take on – not me – not the local council they can’t afford it – someone worth a billion upwards who can afford to match his bottomless pockets for seemingly trivial bits of litigation.. As my address book does not have an entry for someone like this I wrote a poem instead – my first overtly political one – not very good at all – sounds a bit like bad Russell Brand but I feel so much better for it. You should note he owns most of the market town of Tadcaster and the Sam Smith Brewery. He patrols his local properties early in the morning maybe to avoid his disgruntled tenants or the vigilantes which I assume exist at least in the fantasies of many. Actually come to think of it that subject might make a better poem. I will post separately after checking with my lawyers – tee hee.

Talking of feeling better the chemo cocktail is doing nicely and I feel great. That is apart from troublesome bowels caused by the nerve damage subjected by my expensive drug. Did you know my chemo is based on mustard gas. After the First World War they found that soldiers that had been gassed had experienced cell damage. They use the same compounds to kill off Cancer cells. Any way this symptom is negligibly disruptive so I am certainly not complaining or worried. Ah the blessed bidet!!!

Other news is I got turned down flat by the BBC for my radio play VENT. It’s better than they think, but worse than I think so fair enough. I am still planning to do it as there are loads of independents who will probably take it if I don’t charge and I have some parts recorded already. I am looking forward to making it myself – that will be a real challenge but fun.

Maria and I have have a missionary zeal about communicating the merits of failure. Both our children were brought up on it and are sick to death of hearing it but Maria and I have had the privilege of failing many, many times. Mainly auditions and job interviews but in my case countless grants and commissions. I don’t exaggerate when I say I must have received at least 100 humiliating put downs in my creative life many shared with my dear friend Paul. I used to be genuinely put down by them – now I honestly don’t care anymore than when I don’t win the lottery on a Sunday. What I have instilled in my children is the notion that if you care enough that it stops you doing something then you don’t deserve to be doing it and go find another profession now cos you are not ready. Authoritative voices that wield power are not always right. By that I mean funding bodies, arts councils, critics etc are people just like us with axes to grind, personal prejudices, good and bad taste, opportunistic tendencies, talents and delusions. We all need to try to jump through their hoops but having jumped and fallen over just get up again and get on. Don’t moan, winge or write blogs on the subject we have heard it all before – whoops..

Other natural history news – Mitch’s head continues to explode- Maria bathes it in salt water and as long as it is warm he loves it. Both cats are doing the worm bottom shuffle so time for a dose. Our rats are dead but have chosen to die between the floorboards wrapped around warm water pipes so our house smells like Sweeney Todd’s. A deer came to visit us and Maria got a picture of its bottom. Heard no more from the stoat. Usual host of mice complete or in bits. For those we may see New Year’ – bring your pomanders – seriously we stop noticing but the Selby Council rat man entered and turned a bit green, of course there is always the risk of the plague (Arthur got bitten on the head while asleep by a mouse) or limes disease from the visiting dear or worms from the cats or cancer from me (only joking) tee hee. See you all soon – do pop in. I bet you want to.

Art’s opus 1

He was asked to do this for a composition exercise for his Guildhall Jazz course – no rehearsals or anything just sightread by the band so lots of wrong notes but even if I am just a proud Dad, I still think it is really well cool! His tutor created the title for him I think. I am transported through lonely subway tunnels with long shadows to a night-time seedy romance in New York with a hooker. Probably not what he intended and he is probably going to make me take this down any minute when he finds out I have uploaded it. Oh oh I hear him coming in – can anyone spot the quotes?

Desert Island Disks – More DID

Desert Island Disks submission 3 – Identify artist in each case for one mark – song title is usually obvious. Extra mark if it is not. GOOD LUCK
Please reply by sending me an e-mail chris@gravityisahat.com not by adding a comment cos everyone will then know your answers.