Busman’s holidays.

September 30, 2016

It’s been an odd sort of week. I feel a bit like Al Pacino in The Godfather part three, just when I thought I was out… They pulled me back in! 

This week I was asked to alter some vintage dresses. It’s not something I’ve done for a while now for various reasons. I used to be in the fashion world many moons ago but I found it became increasingly more depressing as I realised just how little appreciated and how transient the skills involved were.  I walked away from that world and used the skills to make handmade bears, using the same skill set but creativing something that would become, in time, a family heirloom. I make bears less frequently now and usually only for very special people. 

It was strange using motor and brain skills that I haven’t for a while. Pinning, darting, letting in, taking out, scooping, all came naturally after years of neglect. Tomorrow, I am having an antique teddy sent to me, a much loved part of a family through generations that has been savaged by a puppy. It takes a lot of skill to do stuff like this and of late I have become more increasingly pissed off by the small number of talentless idiots who live nearby and are constantly puffing themselves up and demanding attention like a toilet training toddler excited at being able to fill up a potty, the end results of both being remarkably similar. 

Maybe I should call this phenomenon, Chris’ law? The level of talent someone shows is inversely proportionate to the amount they show off about it. Obviously, I am totally aware that by making this statement, I am drawing a level of attention to myself and therefore calling down accusations of bitterness and talentlessness upon on myself and I will counter that by sayings here are far more talented people than me about, faaaaaaar more talented. Off the top of my head, I know several glynbourne costumieres and a designer for Pres Du Voyage, one of the most exclusive design houses ever, within walking distance. 

It’s the same for other talents and skills, the really talented just get on and do it.

Which reminds me, I have stuff to do.

Money for old rope.

September 22, 2016

Do you ever wonder where all those phrases come from? All those things we throw out in conversations, safe in the knowledge that the other parties we are talking to will understand exactly what we mean. Money for old rope, money gained through little effort, deriving from a sailing term where short off cut lengths of rope were sold off for domestic use when a boat returned to shore, the making of money from something that is essentially rubbish. The benefit system in the uk is often seen as money for old rope and succesive right wing governments and tame elements of the media have been happy to perpetuate this myth at the expense of the poor and the vulnerable whose support networks have been cut to the bone. But the real correlation is that poverty is a huge industry in the uk as it is elsewhere in the world and there is a vast amount of money to be made if you know where to look and have the wherewithal and contacts to go about getting it. The deeper end of the feeding trough is populated by IT companies and training organisations that specialise in the dubious medicals for the sick and vulnerable, weeding out the dishonest but taking the confused and vulnerable with them as well as those whose health fluctuates. These tests are designed for a version of the world that is at best naive and at worst purposefully created to ignore the realities of finding and holding down a job (let alone having a career) in a time of economic tumoil. The training companies, many ironically  describing themselves as charities have morphed into a confusing mass of fiefdoms, contracting and subcontracting between the public and private sectors, seeing their clients as little more than gambling tokens to be tossed around for the benefit of their shareholders and a distant and disinterested  board of directors. The shallow end of the trough consists of people who do the strangest of things, what can loosely be described as therapeutic activities compelling the poor to jump through hoops at the behest of a well meaning middle class. Whilst money isn’t always a direct motivation, it’s usually in there somewhere, often euphemistically labelled as expenses, allowing those on a jolly to pocket their cash for interacting with the poor with a modicum of guilt. I have seen and experienced all these things myself and I have been other people’s cash cows, instantly put in positions where your vulnerable state makes you malleable and you agree to things of dubious merit out of fear or exhaustion, never really knowing what your rights are. 

Probably the most insidious of these situations are where the poor are encouraged to be involved, often in some well intended way or where the naive middle classes are encouraged to assuage their guilt by mimicking the lifestyles of the poor for a conveniently short and unrealistic period before wandering back to a world full of overpriced organically and ethically sourced goods and settling down to a nice glass of wine in front of the wood burner rather than a plate of oven chips and a tin of special brew whilst your legs burn and your back freezes by a halogen heater. 

I guess many readers will be detecting an edge here and, if not already fully formed in your brain, the word “bitter” will be on its way to your synapses. 

Bitter is the uncomfortable silent fart of those in the upper hand in any situation and it is a word I despise. It releases all that uncomfortable pressure forming that someone might actually be expressing a valid point of view about their situation and the unfairness of it. It masks unacceptable behaviour and allows people who could do something to change things not to, particularly when the vulnerable or underprivileged party speaks. “Please sir, can I have some more” 

I am often expected to bite my lip, smile, and be affable in the face of adversity and there are people who are actually pleased with me when I do this. There is a whole area of mental health therapy in terms of mindfulness and areas of cbt where we are required to accept our lot whilst the people who write the books and develop the initiatives speed off into the distance in their precision engineered hybrid luxury cars. I have to take a deep breath and relax every time I try and photoshop an image on my now antiquated computer, squinting at the tiny screen through failing eyes as I pray that today won’t be the day it dies on me. I’m aware that for every idea I struggle to bring into the world, another twenty slip past me through lack of funds. I also understand that by not squandering what little I have on being down the right pub, turning up at the right dinner party with the right bottle of wine, inviting the right people round to the right property I have failed to aquire and spending two months food money to line the stomachs of people I probably know appalling things about, I shall fail to get the right leg up on the greasy pole. And there it is again,  bitter, bitter, bitter you can hear it’s susurrations at the edges of your mind. Just release the pressure that the working class, self educated, well read and been through enough therapy to know his own mind as well as the Dalai Lama might have a bit of wisdom  and shout bitter! and it will all be ok. Just tell yourself he obviously has a martyrdom complex or something convenient, anything that fits, just don’t let those pesky educated working class poor bite the hand that is feeding them. They are supposed to climb up the ladder, pretend to be middle class themselves , drop their kecks and piss on those below them and not on the table of their new found peers. And once more with feeling….. BITTER!!!

Hastings is now in the run up to its Big Sleep event, probably the most extreme and obscene form of this poverty tourism where people sleep out in a cardboard box for the night for money. There are others though but this is the worst offender, I got into trouble for mentioning it last year and here I go again. Sorry, wasn’t it persistence that is virtue? No? Patience? Oh well! Never mind! I guess this is why I’m extra twitchy about class, position and closed off opportunities today…

There was a darker side to the phrase money for old rope in that one of the worst jobs in Victorian workhouses involved it. If it wasn’t bad enough to be separated from your spouse and to have your children sent off to orphanages where they would then be sold off to work for tradesmen. One of the worst jobs in the work house was to sit out in the yard, in all weathers, and to strip down rope into it original hemp and sisal fibres, shredding your fingers to the bone in the process for it to be spun into rope yet again. The society that esposed morality in one hand exploited the poor mercilessly in the other. And today, really, has anything changed?  Probably not.

Ther vu from bed moun ten. 

April 7, 2016

  Shhhhh! Cris is tryin to rest. His chest is all hurty from trying tu get x plane hoe murch he luft them an woz hin luft wiff them. We is knot sur wot he is talkin abut but it pro bab lee a but shooooz or books or paint of summink. Sew he is lien thayre goin ow anmummblin an mutrin a bit. We lick it wen it gets less cold coz that iz wen he can haf all the cur tins open an look at all the lufly trees an purty howzez an stuff. Ever fink looks all smal an lyke toys  from here. It is nice wen the sun go dan an all fi ree an nice in a funny way wen it reigns an thayre is alllectric an bangs in thur ski coz IT iz like the telleee but big an reel. When Cris is sleeping weee lick to play bed mountain ears when we’d climb over the Cris lump. Thayre used tu be tuuu lumps n Cris woz les sad then but now there is won big lump an  lots of little lumps wer fing with werds in an a fing lick a tellee but little is. Cris jus turn over an muterd summink lick ringim or sumfink. Dos he wan a fence? Huuuuumans mak no cent.  

Coughee blubbin and shoppin

April 4, 2016

 Toeday we hud cris makin this funny sand and all water dropped from his iiiis and they got all red lookin. We loked at him all funnee coz we doughnt rem ber him doin this beeefour. He sayed it won cold crien and it woz wot huuumans did when they  was sad. We doughnt no sad an he sayed it was lick runin out of biscuits but much worse. We felt all wobbly in our tummys an heds at the fort of no biscuits but then he sayed that we had plenty so the wobble went.  gave cris a biscuit butt his wobble was there an wud not go. 

 We fought is woz the form aygain. stu’s denty de furry won but he sayed it woz complicated an best not two arsk an that it felt butter to cry. He said words to the funny talky fing  and he cried sum more and he didn’t look butter he just looked sad.We arsked abut doing more painting but he dint ant sir and he sayed he must go art. We were noughty an weee jumped in hiz bag wen he was knot lookin. Furst he saw the human with a fing on thayre hed an red hare an they whent too this plaice tooooo get coughee with is this brown mucky stuff that Chris lick butt we fink taysts all yuck. It woz weird tough coz where they were they had lots of picktures of us Dweeblings. Lots an lots of them an they were everywer. He talked stuf and then another human cam an got all confused abart table an stuff. It was really funnee! Then Chris sayed he say someone look all cross at him he sayed this human had a stooped name like won of thoughs mushrooms that look like big  yellow ears. We fort this huuuman looked more like a beetroot all red an sulky. Cris says lot of huuumas darnt lick him  coz he tell the trooof toe much butt we say itz coz he is all miserable all the tim butt we sayed wen he carnt here. 

Than weee wen toe a plaice were the mak fings the same cold the pinters it smells all funny and thayre is lots of payper  

 butt weee mustn’t draw on annneeee of it. He gave them plastic money and some paper which is stupid coz he has lot already. They had noe biscuits. Then weee whent toe see a nic ladeee cold tee nah an he had to check he wasn’t mad an she said noe he waz knot. He dint talc toe us though wen she waz thayre coz he sayed it would coz him trubble. 

Then we had biscuits an wen owt aye gain to haf moe coughee an tak toe a nuffer lady who waz nice and wants him toe look after a dragon but it it a pretend dragoon an knot gonna eat us….. Or the biscuits.

Then wee cam home an he fiddle with more paper and made huffy noses wile wee painted an stuff. Then Cris wen shoppin but it woz rubbish coz it woz on a pooter an he got moe paint. He makes funny noises wen he gets paint an when go got won cold opera rose he whent Oooh Ooooh  an got all exited lick when he used to mak us hid in the wardrobe an knot look an then it woz al funny coz I fink thayre woz sum in else like another huuuman but it woz all squeaky oohs as well as opera rose Oooohs. It darnt hap en know an  weee just asked Cris about it an he went all wobbly on the lip an started blubbin a bit moe. Best stop noe.  


Boxing Day Came early this year.

September 26, 2015

beardyhatI’ve not had my eye on the ball much recently. Things keep slipping past me as I’ve dissapeared inside myself but this jerked me back for a moment. W.T.F? What the fucking fuck? Let me get this straight, the Seaview project of St Leonard’s held a charity sleep out in a box event…. I want that to sink in for a moment…. They got people to sleep out, in a box, for charity, for one night.

Little known fact, I actually have been homeless. True it was the “sofa surfing, where the hell do I get that form sent? Slip through the cracks and lose everything I ever owned before finding my feet and slowly rebuilding my life over fifteen years homeless” rather than the “I’ve just been moved on by the old bill for messing up someone’s nice and tidy park bench for the tenth time tonight, maybe if I drink some more special brew my problems will go away for one blissful moment ” homeless but I know that terrifying feeling of touching the void.

I recognise a lot of names on the guest list, there are people who were partying in bottle ally during coastal currents (where the fuck do you think people went when you were having a knees up in their bedroom?) and others who shun and defriend the mentally ill at the drop of a hat. What fucking hypocrites you are! I personally know a few Seaview clients, I have painted a few and am happy to chat for a while. But they are proud people and a lot of them aren’t very well in one way or another.I have even been in there myself a few times for advice. No one wants to end up homeless and it is always much nearer than you think, one lost job, one broke relationship, a death in the family, too much stress and bang! There you are on your arse with your world in pieces.captain black

One question really intrigues me…. Was there a bar? Because if there was then someone really needs their arse kicking. Also, did they get woken up by the police ten times a night? Did anyone piss on them, put the boot in, rummage through their pockets? Did anyone have a go at them for owning a mobile phone, for having a cigarette or doing anything other than grovel and fawn in the dirt like the scum they are assumed to be? You can’t walk away from that sort of poverty back to your nice home, you can’t walk away from the skin diseases, the heart, liver and brain damage either. This is real and nasty and dibilatating. Some dirt never comes off.

Words fail…. What next? How about this! Find some striped pyjamas, scrawl a number on your arm with a marker pen and book a trip to Auschwitz. But Hey! It’s for charity!


September 24, 2015

refugeesmark2Some days the nonsense that is life just gets too much and I just want to stick my head in my hands close my eyes tight and wish that it would all go away. Today has been one of those days. A few weeks back I did a little drawing as part of an ongoing campaign to try and shame (ha if only we’d have known then what we know now, oink!) this shitty Tory government into letting a few more refugees into Britain. It worked, within a given value of ‘working’ and nothing more. It is by no means enough and by no means a victory. Since then my news feed has been barraged with invites to meetings about this, vigils about that, marches, parades and now it seems even the kamikaze bike riders may get involved. It’s all sounding strangely familiar… I.e like every other bloody thing in Hastings and St Leonard’s with the same names and places cropping up yet again. There is a little known story from WWII about how the railings that were taken down all over Britain to make Spitfires for the war effort were used for nothing of the sort.  Aeroplanes need to be light and so they are made from mainly aluminium and in the case of many fighters in WWII wood and canvas. Cast iron is useless and is inefficient to turn into steel so why did anyone go to the trouble of tearing down fences? The whole thing was a moral boosting excercise, nothing more. As I’ve sat back and watched over the last few weeks as events rolled forward, I have seen about three or four “support the refugees” factions coalesce from various quarters.it is all starting to remind me of the scene in the Monty Python film “The Life of Brian” with all the various revolutionary groups squabbling over turf. Some of the  activities are good and practical, clothes, shoes and survival equipment necessary as the winter weather draws in. Surrounding this though is an awful lot of froth. Be it marches, fundraisers or whatever, there is a whole industry of people carving out niches and marking out territory. But for what? Here’s where my synical head gets firmly screwed into place. Charity is a business, funding is a business, fundraising is a business and even if there isn’t any money sloshing around to do with the refugees right now, there will be soon and an awful lot of people will be using their involvement in the current refugee crisis to get themselves a comfy seat on the gravy train. I’m not saying it’s all bad, it certainly isn’t, but be wary.

Once you’ve dug out your smelly old shoes and jeans and dropped them off for processing, it might be worth doing the hard thing and taking a look at the root causes of this crises. For instance,  did you know that there was a massive arms fair in London last weekend? It’s o.k if you didn’t, it wasn’t on the t.v so don’t feel too bad. As I stated in a previous post, we the British are the cause for a lot of the world’s woes and busying ourselves with marches, fundraisers and the like is the equivalent hacking someone’s head off with a chainsaw and then throwing the victim a sticking plaster afterwards.

Be aware, make others aware. Turn off the steady drip of the mainstream media and look a little further. Check out indymedia, head over to schnews, see what is really going on and tell others. But more than anything, learn to think for yourself.

Welcome to Great Britain! (sorry it’s so rubbish!)

September 3, 2015

refugees The British are a right bunch of bastards. Not the people per se but the British on mass and this particular version of Briish under the Tory party are worse than normal. I’m not saying the last lot under Bliar were much better, but the current Conservative government take a sort of twisted pride in what utter bastards they are. They are flogging off the health service, our schools, our public services, anything that can get away with and now that they have a majority government, that means pretty much everything. This is not a new thing though, since the time of the crusades we’ve been off around the world being the biggest bunch of bastards that we can be. At one point near the end of the Victorian age, you could walk into any school (providing that all the local kids were young enough to attend or rich enough not to be up a chimney or down a mine) and there on the wall would be a big map covered in red, showing how much of the world the British ‘owned’. Victoria’s empire was the one on which the sun never sets. We didn’t get to this situation because we were such nice people. We invaded, we robbed, we lied and we cheated and enslaved our way into having possession of a massive portion of the world. We crushed rebellions, forced our goods on nations, created closed markets for trade. It wasn’t til I was in my thirties that I discovered what we did in the opium wars. There isn’t one nasty, seedy, evil thing that the British haven’t been involved in. And it goes on today as a bunch of millionaires in hand tailored suits calmy tell the world’s war torn and repressed that there is no room left in the UK. Er… Hang on…. So what about all those empty buildings owned by offshore investment companies in cities around country and London in particular? Oh! And all the Queen’s swathes of land? There’s a big park out the back of Buckingham palace that could do with a few new buildings chucking on it. Then the palace itself, that’s rather roomy…

We owe these people big time. What’s never reported when you see that turd in a suit Cameron visiting the Middle East, Africa or wherever, that behind him are a gaggle of arms dealers, selling guns, planes, manufacturing licenses to all the worst offenders on amnesty internationals naughty list. We are bastards, selling to bastards. In ways both big and small, those poor sods huddled in Calaise or washing up dead on beaches are there because of our bastardness. I’m sure someone smarter than me can explain this better but please do what you can, sign whatever you can, donate if possible or just put someone straight when they come out with some’ bloody foreigners’ rubbish. Well Britain, on the whole, is full of bastards, British people singular are usually quite lovely. So go on, be lovely! Xxx

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