A shameless act of self-promotion . . .

for which I make only a modest apology. Over the last few years I’ve had a number of small exhibitions, and I have had increasing numbers of visitors asking whether they can buy my images off my website. Well, now they (and you) can, in the form of limited edition prints of some of my favourite pictures, from my Print Store.

Stubble burning, East Anglia 1972

Stubble burning, East Anglia 1972

These are high quality fine art prints on heavyweight paper, in editions strictly limited to 50 at each of the three sizes I am offering. Full information regarding sizes, payment, delivery etc can be found here.

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Winter, Shropshire

New images are being added regularly and prices start at just ¬£50 – I’m sure you’ll find something that will give you pleasure for many years to come. Please contact me if there’s a picture you remember seeing but can’t find on my website.

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Akureyri, Iceland

The Power of Nightmares

Recently the psychotherapist Susie Orbach wrote an interesting article on the Brexit decision, mentioning the psychic harm done to some of those directly affected by the vote. I’m one of the lucky ones; I won’t lose my residency or be thrown out of work, and I’ve already had a lifetime of enjoying the rights and freedoms that EU membership bestows on us. Nonetheless I’ve been aware for some time of a growing sense of a sort of weary sadness perpetually at the back of my mind. Last night it took clearer form in my first indisputably Brexit-related dream.

I was in Windsor, the town where I spent some of my childhood, and somewhere I have scarcely thought about, let alone revisited, for nearly forty years. I was walking along a road I once knew well past long forgotten shops and buildings. Down the street came an endless procession of marching soldiers, squad after squad. And the edge of the pavement was lined with onlookers, many of the men wearing cloth caps and saluting. I knew it wasn’t Remembrance Sunday – just an ordinary day – but when I asked a bystander what was happening, and why, no answer came. Just a middle-aged man, a little shabby, standing silently at the salute.

Ring a Ring o’Roses

And so the endless dance continues, with both our government and the opposition seemingly unaware that, no matter who forms the ring, Brexit remains a circle that cannot be squared. Little has changed since I last posted here over a year ago. Our country is still brutally split. A democracy that ignores the wishes of half the electorate is no democracy. That is true, naturally, on whichever side of the Brexit chasm you stand.

There is a strong sense of injustice, cleverly exploited by those few who stand to gain from Brexit. One cause of this – the huge financial disparities in our society and around the world – is brilliantly analysed in¬†Oliver Bullough’s new book Moneyland. It is a superbly researched account of the incredibly complex ways in which so many of the ultra-wealthy steal and conceal their money. For the slower-witted, such as myself, some of the chapters require reading twice, but it repays the effort. I strongly recommend you buy this book (preferably not from Amazon but from a real bookshop that pays its due taxes in this country).

There will be some kind of a deal, of course, at the last minute. It will satisfy nobody, and is likely to leave the country worse off. Our global influence will wane. Decisions taken in Europe will continue to affect us, but will be made without our involvement. So much for ‘taking back control’.

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What can we do? Keep writing, keep protesting. Make every effort to come to London later this month and let our politicians know that we will be heard. Assemble on Park Lane, north of the Hilton Hotel, on 20 October 2018 from 12pm (midday) and march to Parliament Square. Hundreds of thousands came last year. Let’s make it a million this time. And don’t forget how that playground rhyme ends:

We all fall down

Here We Go Again

Well, here we are again – ‘the most important election in our lifetimes’ – but aren’t they all? I certainly never thought we would see a return of the binary Lab/Con choice. Still, that is what we are left with across most of the country, and it leaves those of us who incline gently leftwards with no choice at all. May and her team of incompetent horrors are clearly unfit to take us through whatever disasters lie ahead – many of which are of their own making. Corbyn has grown throughout the campaign and whatever his faults he has a clear vision of what Britain might become, and offers hope. I disagree with his views on Brexit, of course, as does at least half the country. At least with a Labour government we could hope for civil co-operation in the negotiations to come. Better a rational leader with the country’s interests at heart (and a sense of humour) than a weak and arrogant P.M. whose principal concern appears to be the survival of her party and her own position. Round these parts (Brecon & Radnorshire) it’s a straight fight between the sitting Tory and the Lib Dems, with Labour scarcely to be seen. My own party, the Greens, decided to step down rather than split the progressive vote. I would urge anyone local to vote for the Lib Dem candidate, James Gibson-Watt, as a good constituency MP and a badly needed replacement for the Tory Chris Davies (who has claimed more expenses than any other MP in Wales – more than almost any MP in the country – and has rarely been seen in the constituency).

Little has changed in the country since my last post. The almost universal anger has not subsided. As a remainer, I feel anger at what I see as a profoundly stupid decision that will adversely affect all our lives, and more importantly those of our children. What I do not understand is the seething rage apparently still felt by many of those who voted to leave. Why so furious, when they’ve got what they wanted? I fear that it will never be enough to satisfy them, or heal their wounded souls.

Enough is enough, as somebody or other said recently. We can’t allow this to continue. Follow the link below to vote tactically and deny May the majority she craves.

http://bit.ly/2rsDPWo

Welcome to Ruritania

Well, here it is – the day that most of the country never expected would come; nor would we have seen it, had more of us bothered to vote. As it is, 17 million people ( many of whom are now regretting their decision) have radically changed the future for the whole 64 million of us. Why did they do it? Frustration and a sense of lacking control, certainly. Undoubtedly bigotry and ignorance motivated some. The majority of my generation (and above) chose to leave, heedless of the wishes of their children and grandchildren. Was it nostalgia for the golden mornings of their lives, when half the map was still, just, coloured pink? You might be forgiven for thinking so, when our ridiculous Foreign Secretary is seriously proposing the purchase of a new toy yacht for our toy royal family. In our Houses of Parliament, with their mock-medieval fantasy architecture, our toy MPs (with a number of honourable exceptions, I’m pleased to say) vote dutifully according to the wishes of our toy Prime Minister, herself bobbing up and down at the behest of the Daily Mail. We want to feel important once again? Let’s have some very expensive submarines fitted with nuclear weapons – alas, no toys these. Meanwhile the adults on the other side of the Channel continue to battle against the resurgent forces of neo-fascism and authoritarianism, while trying to cope with an ever rising tide of refugees. But what does that matter? These aren’t our problems any more, are they? For the next two years we shall hold the proud position of Europe’s stupidest country. But none of this matters, so long as the Tory Party can be kept united and in power. We were once a successful manufacturing economy. A previous Tory administration did away with much of that, preferring instead to make London into the financial centre of Europe. Well, that is going to disappear too – to Dublin, to Strasbourg, perhaps even to an independent Scotland – and what will be left to us then? A country that is not so much split as fragmented, however much May pleads for unity.

Along with well over 100,000 others I marched last Saturday to mark the EU’s 60th anniversary and to celebrate the peace it has maintained for over two generations. There was much sympathy from onlookers. We laid flowers and held a minute’s silence in memory of those recently killed and injured by a British-born madman, before hearing a series of passionate speeches. These were not solely by politicians, but also by students, NHS workers, immigrants and representatives from the rest of Europe. This was where true unity lay, among people who could not be more diverse but shared their aspirations for the common good.

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From time to time we hear the Brexiteer’s jeering taunt “you lost – get over it”. The answer is “Yes, we lost – and so did you, so will your children and so has Europe”. We will not ‘get over it’, however. If you haven’t already, join one of these organisations and fight on.

Rough Beasts

I really didn’t want to do another political post – but there are those in positions of power and influence in Britain acting with terrifying irresponsibility and silence does not seem an option. The front pages below say it all.

This foul rag, bigoted, racist and homophobic, spews its poison across our nation. Shame on anyone who works for it, or for its equally repellent if coarser bedfellow, the Daily Express. Paul Dacre, the editor, is not an uneducated man. He knows the power of words and can scarcely be ignorant of the fact that this phrase was regularly used by both Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, as well as Hitler. There are moments when I do not recognise my own country – a popular newspaper using Nazi phraseology to condemn judges for upholding the law, a Lord Chancellor failing in her sworn duty to support the independence of the judiciary, and Farage, a rabble-rousing demagogue threatening violence on the streets if he does not get his way.

I have to remind myself that the vast majority of my fellow citizens are ordinary decent people (though not in Farage’s understanding of the words) who believe in parliamentary democracy, in the primacy of the law, and who would if allowed generously welcome refugees and the dispossessed from other lands. They – we – may or may not support Britain’s membership of the EU; there are valid arguments for both positions. Whatever our feelings on that subject, we are one when we support and display common humanity and basic decency in our words and actions. It may be that a time is coming when we all have to stand up and be counted.

Yeats’ famous poem, The Second Coming, has allegedly been quoted more often in 2016 than in any of the previous thirty years. I make no apologies for adding to this statistic.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

ADDENDUM: Having just heard the appalling election news from America, I would not change a word of the above. We are in a dark place.

A FURTHER UPDATE: Why not stand up for civilisation and sign the world’s letter to Trump? Sign here

That Vote . . .

Many years ago I taught English in a foreign language school. We were told that anything could be discussed except for three topics; religion, politics and sex. Since starting my now very occasional blog I’ve followed the same rule, which I now propose to break. I have nothing to say about religion, except that I find myself increasingly irreligious as the years pass. Politics, though, are inescapable at the moment. I’m British and lucky to be so. Britain is a country – several countries – that I love, in spite of its many failings. I love its landscapes, its architecture, its literature, its art. However it’s not these things, important though they are, that make a society. It’s the people of Britain, whose kindness, generosity and tolerance of strangers have been, and remain, a byword among the dispossessed and desperate of the world. That so many wish to come here is the greatest compliment a nation could receive.

I hadn’t intended to talk about immigration. The refugee crisis is huge, and is only one of many crises facing us all. I do not believe that we can solve these matters in isolation. You’ll correctly deduce from this that I believe we should remain part of the EU. I can’t comment on the economic arguments for doing so, though they seem overwhelmingly in favour of our staying in. More important to me is the hope of continuing peace in Europe. My parents’ generation, and my grandparents’, both fought in appalling wars. My generation has never had to do so, largely because the nations of Europe chose to unite in spite of their differences. I want my children (and one day, their children) to live their lives in peace.

Looking around the political landscape we can all see the resurgence of right-wing parties, gross inequalities of income, unemployment and an aggressively nationalist leader in Russia. We’ve been here before, of course, and we know how that ended. This time there is something different, and it is called the European Union. It was created in the hope of a better world. That hope and ambition still remains at its heart. How can we reject it? I urge you, for my as yet hypothetical grandchildren and for yours, to vote Remain on Thursday.

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Oh, and the third topic – sex, you ask? Any questions – see me afterwards

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