Pointless

I don’t know what the following is. What you might call it. If I were pushed it’s just a flow. Not worth anything. Just done because I can. Purely selfish. Pointless.

Every time I feel like I’ve found it

I lose it.

Every time I think I’ve discovered the path. My path.

My reason to be. THE POINT.

It disappears. It slips from my grasp like a bank note in a breeze.

And I fall back into a ball of confusion, of need, of definition, of decree. Of mess.

Never quite…happy.

Never quite…satisfied.

Never clear or concise.

Not quite Chaos…but close.

I want to say that this is everybody’s lot but I don’t really know.

Some Do. Some Don’t.

And if it were…So what? They are not me and I am not them.

And even if it were so and we all suffered from the same sickness why should I accept and make it my lot…my map.

I don’t like it. I won’t accept it.

I won’t acknowledge that my life is somehow under the control of other…?

Even if it means being in this state of uncomfortable dissatisfaction until the day I die.

(I wanted to say, ‘Even if it means being in this state of uncomfortable dissatisfaction until the day I am released’.

But of course that is to assume/accept that someone holds the key).

 

 

On being mixed-race.

Just to make things clear and in case there are any objections, in this article ‘On being mixed-race,  ‘mixed-race’ is the term I choose to use, to own, to describe myself.

If you don’t like the term I’m sorry but it’s the one I’ve become used to and feel comfortable with. If ‘mixed heritage is your thing then that’s ok with me but as far as I’m concerned it’s too difficult to say if you’re drunk, which in my experience is when ‘Where are you from?’ type discussions tend to take place.

Anyway, the point is throughout my life as a mixed-race man ‘we’ have been ignored.

NOT, and this is important, ignored as far as insults are concerned. We have always had them and grown used to them. The Great British Public (for it is they) have never made any distinction about shading of skin colour or indeed where you are actually from. No, as far as they are concerned if you are off white you are a **** or even worse a ******. But that is not what I am here to talk about.

I just wanted to make the point that no-one (or at least rarely in my case) has ever asked aloud, what is it like to be mixed-race? Oh sure there has been the odd book about it (I have bought most of them) but nobody seems remotely interested in the experience. So, I thought might express one or two thoughts if you don’t mind.

First of all it ain’t been easy. (Upon saying this, THIS IS NOT A MOAN).

There is, as you might think (don’t forget, this is about me. I am not talking for other mixed-race people) a lot of confusion involving  identity.

Who am I? Where exactly do I belong?

The where do I belong? question I think was my first mistake. It is a question (in my case) based entirely on looks and colouring. The sort of mistake primitive man might make. Visual. Purely visual. Where is the rest of my tribe who should look like me? Mum doesn’t look like me. Dad doesn’t look like me. Thankfully you (ME) soon grow out of this BUT are constantly reminded of your difference by the ignorant.

The answer to the problem of identity is soon countered by making your own space.

Which is actually what everybody should be doing (not just the mixed-race) Leaving tribalism behind and saying this is me, this is my space because I am unique, there is no-one else like me etc, etc. This approach if we all took it would solve a lot of problems. Owning who you are. Important.

There was a moment in my life concerning identity I shall never forget which initially bought me to tears but after much thought I decided it wasn’t as wonderful as I thought.  It happened during the time I was training to be a Priest (CofE).

I happened to have been invited to a Rasta’s Reckoning (meeting) where to cut a long story short, I was embraced as though a long-lost brother and told…’Welcome home’. Perhaps naturally, I was touched and emotionally overcome. It was only after much thought I decided it wasn’t as helpful as I first thought and my ‘positive’ reaction actually a denial of who I was.

Being mixed-race can make you the subject of attention.

People are naturally curious and need their questions answered. ‘I don’t wish to be rude but…Where are you from? Really? I thought you were Spanish/Italian/Chinese? (it’s happened).

When I was a young man I was quite successful in the romance dept purely because of curiosity. This may sound awful, but I know for a fact that some women were only interested in me because of my colour, and they wanted to satisfy er…. Certain theories, (say no more).

Growing up as a mixed-race man has had a major downside. Rejection. Rejection by both sides of the argument which is worse. To be rejected by both black and white is initially devastating.

When that first hits you…that’s when you really feel alone. BUT. It will pass. As you get older and wiser your uniqueness kicks in and you realise you wonderful, beautiful and much-missed mum, was right.

‘You can hold your head up high. You can walk tall. You are different. Unique. Special. Always remember two different races of people came together to make you.’

Thanks mum. x

The (destructive) power of Prayer.

With all the love in the world…wake up and smell the coffee.

Refugee crisis

70 years on the throne

Being Nadhim Zahawi

Happy Birthday to me.

Well here we are then. The 74th Happy birthday to me.

yipee

And as usual, for me there is always the very odd feeling of ‘not being here’.

Is it really me that people (family) are greeting with a ‘happy birthday’ smile, a card (maybe) and sometimes a gift (a sugar bowl???). Why?

I have always found the idea of birthdays if not a little odd, to be honest more than scary. Apart from the strange disconnect described above, the birthday is really a counting down of time. Behind the smiling faces and best wishes is the knowledge that what they are really saying is…’Not long now…’.

Strangely, for me it’s not so much the passing of time, although I do find that difficult enough to handle, but more the feeling that I am, against my will, being slowly poisoned . That something, call it ‘age’, is being at the command of what we know as ‘genes’, being slowly released into my bloodstream.

To be totally honest I feel like an experiment ( lab-rat) that is coming to the end of its time.

That year by year as the poison accumulates another little bit of me breaks off. A piece of me decides that it has done its time and will now let itself be absorbed back into the soup of the decaying body, smug in the knowledge that it has done the work assigned to it and now it can have a well-deserved rest in oblivion until it is returned to its ‘real home’, the earth.

It’s a funny old thing this birthday thing.

Once I suppose ‘a necessary’ insomuch it was a  celebration to acknowledge the fact that you had made it through another year without starving to death. Or being eaten by a wild animal. Or dying painfully at the hands of a disease that usually comprised of pus and very large black spots. Survive all that and I guess I can understand the need for cake, even with candles.

Anyway here I am trying to put a brave face on it.

A recipient of a very nice card (just the one), a sugar bowl (?) some ‘happy birthdays’ (yet to arrive) from Facebook people I don’t really know (and let’s face it they are only doing what they are told by Zuckerberg. They actually and who can blame them, couldn’t care a toss).

And then it will be over. Much of a nothingness, gone. Everybody having performed their duty and interrupted a day when they have much more important things to do.

I think we had the right ideas about birthdays when we were younger. Birthdays were part of that ‘any excuse for a party’ lifestyle. Ignore the fact that you were another year closer to death and get obliterated by alcohol instead.

Happy birthday to me.

WHY don’t Stratfordians protest?

I freely admit that I am one of those people who wander around with a permanent furrowed brow. I’m not in pain nor am I waiting for something awful to happen. I am actually wondering. I am in a permanent state of asking the question…’WHY’.

Because I am only human, the ‘WHY’ question, as you might expect varies from week to week, if not day to day. But lately the ‘WHY’ has stuck with me for some days. Why now (that’s not the ‘WHY’ question by the way) I wonder. Why (nor that) has this particular puzzle began to weigh me down. And then it hit me…

Everybody is protesting.

It’s in the air. People are not happy. In fact, people are angry. They are fit to explode because no-one, (the authorities, the ‘powers that be’ etc) is listening. The environment. The government. The cost of living. You name it. People are fit to burst. And I have a feeling that the next few years are going to ones of protest, and I for one say, HURRAH and about bloody time. But, even this is not my ‘WHY’.

My ‘WHY’ is more localised. My ‘WHY’ is ‘WHY’ is Stratford upon Avon so tame’. So, sheepish. ‘WHY’ for instance, when the town so obviously has a problem with an infestation of traffic has no-one done anything about it?

Every year since I’ve lived here (since 1971) there has been some sort of….what would you call it…a survey? An official look at the state of our streets. And always the same conclusion is reached. Stratford upon Avon has too much traffic flowing through its narrow streets. And then…NOTHING. OK, maybe a few streets are experimentally closed off and then…NOTHING. I remember a time when an electric bus introduced…then…NOTHING. Anyway my point is why have Stratfordians not protested about this literally poisonous situation. Why have whoever is in power at any given time, been allowed to get away with doing…NOTHING?

There will be some who say that protest achieves nothing. But I beg to differ.

Way, way back in the ‘80’s I was part of a group that protested about the presence of the South African Apartheid government being present at the Shakespeare celebration. In fact I got arrested (and yes, I am proud of that fact-I got fined for ‘disturbing the peace’ and the generous actors at the RSC passed the hat and paid it for me. £92 a lot of money in those days). Anyway, it changed things. Suspicious governments were no longer welcome and the Shakespeare celebrations became…………..(fill this in yourself).

My point (at last).

Why don’t Stratfordians protest about the long-term problem of traffic pollution. Especially as the solution has been searched for, for far too long. (The solution – Ban Traffic. There, that was easy wasn’t it).

This is serious stuff. The effects of traffic pollution especially on Children and old folks like me are well known.

Why haven’t they taken to the streets to let their views known? Do Stratfordian’s care? Do they have views? About anything?

(At this point I was going to mention writing to Stratford’s member of Parliament but then I remembered it was Nadhim Zahawi).

Anyway, just to say in anticipation, yes I am willing to take part in a protest and if you agree with me that this is a very important issue…

SOONER RATHER THAN LATER…

On being mixed-race.

How many different types of US there are…

Happy Birthday to me.

Zahawi poised to take throne?

Breaking news from the Stratford upon Avon Herald.

 

The (destructive) power of Prayer.

I guess one of the many reasons my career as a Priest in the Church of England was curtailed was my lack of faith.

Take prayer for instance. I came to realise the destructive power of prayer quite early on.

It didn’t take long for me to reason how unfair it all was. The jubilation and joy in the faces of those who found their requests granted and the sadness and despair in those who got nowhere. It was a bit like winning the lottery. Chance. Luck.

the stratfordian's art
The Last Resort’. 2022.
Oil on canvas. An observation on prayer.

Like a beggar on the streets who adopts a similar pose (kneeling, hands clasped) watching his or her hat fill (or not) with coins of the realm.

The trouble was in a lot of cases the despair was doubled because the failure of the prayer would often be put down to that terrible guilt-inducer ‘Lack of Faith’. And not just by the owner of the failed prayers but by those who felt themselves in favour with God. Of course, all dangerous nonsense.

And I was expected to sit there smiling and offering up ridiculous platitudes that made me want to gag. Crap such as, ‘Well now is obviously not the right time’ or ‘God has obviously decided that that is not the pathway He wants you to follow’ or perhaps worst of all, ‘God obviously has other plans for you’.

This Priest had no real answer but spewed out the nonsense anyway. AND sat there watching the courage of the unanswered as they swallowed their disappointment wondering what they had done to deserve this treatment (something in a past life perhaps?) and…AND amazingly carrying on not only with their lives but with their faith as well.

GO FIGURE.

Counting down the days.

The Stratfordian

I admit I do have a tendency to be a  bit over-dramatic but hey let’s face these are special times. With what’s going on in the world (at least what we know about) it’s a great time to get whatever is bothering you off your chest (before it’s too late).

So what’s bothering me…?

It’s the passage of time. But that’s nothing new. It’s always bothered me since I was a kid. How fast it all goes. One minute you are as I said a kid, the next you are a father with kids of your own. How did that happen?

Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is not only does it go too fast but, before you know it you’re close to the finishing line. Over. Done. And for what?

That’s how I feel right now. Near the end. Now don’t get me wrong this is not necessarily a complaint. I’m a little nervous but not scared. Apprehensive, yes but I’m of the school that thinks this is a journey of different stages so in a strange way I’m curious…even excited. Morbid to some I admit but this part of the journey (the living part) has been everything. Weird, frustrating, pointless (?), revealing, pleasurable (sex) plus a lot of other stuff that seemed to make it all worthwhile and by that I guess I mean, kids, offspring, children. No doubt they are THE THING that’s made it moderately worthwhile.

What’s brought this on?

Well a few years ago after a bout of breathlessness and a suspected heart attack (although that is now in doubt), I had some stents fitted. To cut a long (ish) story short – miraculous. I was back to er ‘normal’.

Cut too today…

The symptoms appear to have returned. Not as bad but they’re back. After a week or so of doing the typical male thing and ignoring them, I have been persuaded by you know who to book an appointment with the doctor.

So here we go again.. More stents? Big heart operation…watch this space.

I’m 73. No complaints.

OK. I’m not in the Ukraine or starving in some sun-scorched desert. I’m in the UK FFS with the only thing to worry about is the toad Boris Johnson (wash my mouth out with soap and water). I guess, like us all I’d like a bit more time. Selfish, I know but I’m trying to be honest. And as that’s the case, to be truthful I am a little scared of being fiddled about with again.

This has been a purely selfish post.

Musical thoughts; An old fart speaks.

So that’s the excitement over for another year. Glastonbury, come and gone in the blinking of an eye. Performers become superheroes and saviours of the world all on the basis of their constructing a simple melody that strikes somewhere deep in our consciousness, enlightening us and for a short magical moment taking us on a trip fuelled not by drugs but by the very vibration of the air around us.

Music would appear to be important in our lives.

Indeed there are some that are convinced that we cannot live without its vibrations. And so we have things like Glastonbury and other festivals and concerts etc that take us away for an hour or two to another place. A place of rest and escape.

Music can and does change the world.

Its vibration, the way it moves the air, its echo can infiltrate even the hardest heart and has the ability to make people stop and think. It excites memories and in between making certain people famous and a lot of money, it can give the listener, hope.

But hey, let’s not get carried away here.

Music is also fashion item and therefore a momentary thing. Once out of fashion its power is gone (until next time around maybe). One only has to look at the various musical campaigns to ‘Feed the World’ to note the short shelf life. People dance and react with fervour and passion until the beats don’t strike home anymore and the dance that they are performing looks suddenly clumsy, old-fashioned and embarrassing. So much for the poor and starving.

For all music’s and musicians’ macabre efforts to combining entertainment and deadly disaster, music cannot be denied its most useful purpose which is the passing on of information.

Music still plays the part that it has always done.

That of the travelling minstrel. The word will get around.

Music, although it does not have the ability in itself to drastically change the world it will always be able to inform and inspire. The other amazing thing about music is it gets to the parts other systems cannot reach and that is because of its ability to float in the air. To penetrate barriers, political systems and of course its magical ability to send coded and secret messages. It can also operate in disguise. Pretending to be one thing when in fact it is another. An iron fist in a velvet glove.

There is something weird/strange/mystical about music’s vibrations that will always make people stop and think…and thereafter…who knows?

Refugee crisis

The arrival today of the giant refugee puppet Amil in Stratford upon Avon today (I forgot) got me wondering about the world’s present day refugee crisis (who’s having the crisis by the way – the refugees or the ‘receiving country’) and the ferocity of feelings against those who for various reasons want to escape, run away call it what you will, from their present location.

I want to say that I don’t understand the anger against these people but of course that’s not true. There’s only one reason certain refugees are not welcome in this country and that’s based around the colour of their skin. All the other stuff about ‘economic refugees’ or ‘there’s not enough room’ etc, etc is all bollocks and designed to cloak and put some sense of respectability around racism.

There’s not even an argument to be had.

The proof of the pudding….as they say is proven by the fact that if you are Ukrainian and want to get your family away from death and destruction (a sensible choice) AND you are white, you are welcome.

If however, you are from a war situation and want to leave for similar reasons BUT are brown or black er…‘hang on a minute my friend while we check that there are no other reasons that you might want to locate in the UK’. Simple as that.

Personally speaking, I believe that ‘wanting to improve One’s life’ is a valid reason for anyone to go anywhere that looks more inviting and could quite possibly stop you from starving or dying.

*Although, I do admit I am baffled as to why anyone of a different hue would want to come to this predominantly racist country and suffer some more at the hands of the ignorant and stupid who seem to be overpopulating this country at this present time.

Mind you, at the moment we are only locking illegal migrants up or sending them to Rwanda. We aren’t using torture er…yet? (OK…locking up and sending people to Rwanda is a kind of torture isn’t it…but it’s a very British torture isn’t it. Subtle torture-polite torture.

I’ve often wondered who’s feeding our black and brown brethren the guff about the welcome to be found in the UK. Why doesn’t the truth ever get through? Unless of course the situation in their own country is so dire that the abuse they’ll receive over here is minor and at the moment won’t blow you or your kids heads off.

* (Probably something to do with our stringent gun laws).

Confession time; Losing his faith (Part I)

CONFESSION TIME.

I have to admit that I get some perverse enjoyment from telling people that I am an ex-priest who has, from day one of holiness, been losing his faith.

One:  I like to see the confused look on their faces when they realise they are confronted with someone who has so easily dismissed something they have been searching for or at least been trying to understand for most of their adult life.

And two: It’s not true.

To cut to the chase.

I have most certainly lost my faith but most certainly not in (for want of a better word), *God.

My faith (if I ever really and truthfully, had any) is totally gone in the C of E.

I have stopped believing in the Church of England.

And if the truth were really to be known, the only reason that they (CofE) became part of my life in the first place is because, they were there.

Like some huge blockade, I had to go through them to get to where I thought I wanted to be. They were/are the self-appointed gatekeepers. Custom Control.

They’re the Ones who led me astray and attempted to clone me. They are the Ones who put their grubby hands upon me, dressed me up in outlandish costume, gave me a script to read and let me go blundering dangerously, like a bad actor into the community.

So I blame them.

I blame them from disallowing true exploration into what was calling me.

I blame them for leading me away from who I truly was/am.

I blame them for supplying me with a false narrative and indoctrinating me day in (especially on Sundays) and day out.

I now realise that organised faith systems are always based on abuse.

And I am ashamed to realise at this at such a late hour.

I am ashamed that I was part of a system that basically told innocent people that they were not good enough and their only chance at something called ‘redemption’ would be to change.

I am ashamed because I could and should been concentrating more on the uniqueness of what each person in their own right had to offer. I should have been building confidence in realities not wishy-washy, pie in the sky when you die remedies.

I should have been pushing ‘WORTH’ not ‘worthlessness’.

I am truly sorry…it won’t happen again.

THEOLOGY FOR ALL

 

*God. This will be in part II (maybe).

I wish I could do that. I wish I could paint

Facing up to it.

70 years on the throne

Short Poem: Happy Days.

Is there a price to comedy?

 

 

I wish I could do that. I wish I could paint

Since I’ve returned to painting (a long story for another time), I’ve had a lot of people say to me, ‘I wish I could do that. I wish I could paint’. This has always amazed me for a number of reasons.

First of all, because it sounds just like I used to be.

Painting (and writing) were the things I wanted to do more than anything in the world but for various and ever-increasing ridiculous reasons and reasoning these activities seemed miles away and ‘not for the likes of me’. A standpoint that I want to make clear came entirely from me. No-one else was to blame. Not mum not dad, not some errant careers’ master, nope just me and an outlook on the world that somehow had me lower down the food chain than was healthy.

At the beginning of my webpage I describe my art as ‘Naïve’. As far as I’m concerned all I am doing here is explaining by use of the word ‘Naïve’ is to say that I have not been trained. No fancy art school for me.

The opportunities to receive that kind of training were a mystery to me. And once again, no-one’s fault just me not paying attention. That’s how it was. That, if I’m honest is how my life has been. A life unplanned. Chaotic some might say. But that’s OK. There’s no going back to change things. And perhaps more importantly, no regrets.

How the desire to create whether writing or painting came to me, I have no idea. Like everything else, it just happened. The odd thing was, it came with a proviso.

If I was to do anything related to those things then, there was no way I could or would take any aspect of writing or painting as a ‘hobby’. No way would it become just a pastime. No way would I use it as just ‘filling in time’. It had in my case to be taken seriously or not at all.

Very commendable you might say but unfortunately that kind of attitude has its hardships, its ups and downs. The worst one to try and get over is the fact that no matter how serious you take yourself, it’s a pain in the arse if no-one else does. Which takes me back to those that say, ‘I wish I could do that. I wish I could paint’.

These days we are obsessed with the official stamp of approval.

And I get that. Letters behind our name tell others that we have spent a period of time ‘training’. Exam qualifications tell people that we have passed some kind of test winning the approval of er…someone else. What those qualifications don’t do is tell anyone if we are any good (whatever that means). And therein lies my point…

We can all create. And what we make is unique BECAUSE there is no-one else like us. We paint, we write…LIKE NO-ONE ELSE.

That’s not to say we aren’t influenced by other artists, writers. Of course we are and that’s no bad thing. That’s how we learn of techniques, styles, methods all of which we can try ourselves. But here’s the thing…

Imagine knowing nothing.

Imagine doing it all for yourselves. Imagine exploring all the above with no guidance. How exciting is that.

Imagine coming up with something of your own pure creation. Imagine no-one ‘queering your pitch’ and telling you ‘that’s wrong’ or ‘that’s right’. Fantastic.

So to all those who say to me ‘I wish I could do that. I wish I could paint’ my answer is always the same. ‘YOU CAN’.

There’s no-one that dare stop you because the only weapons they have are ‘rules’.

Rules that have no strength, no power of their own. And who was it who said ‘rules are meant to be broken’.

An act of creation is art.

And your own personal act of creation overrules any challenge. It stands on its own. Released into the world and never to be repeated.

No matter how it was done. On a whim. Over days, weeks even years. No matter. You did it therefore it is unique. A one off.

And YOU, painter or writer are responsible.

MAGIC.

IFH.

Other stuff to read.

Facing up to it.

70 years on the throne

Short Poem: Happy Days.

Is there a price to comedy?

Guns for Good: The scourge of the firearm.

 

Facing up to it.

Well, I’ve tried everything to put it off. But I’ve finally put my big boy trousers on and begun facing up to it.

It’s my heart.

It’s not Covid. Long ot short. It’s not panic attacks and it’s certainly not some exotic and as of yet unnamed and undiscovered disease. I’ve tried everything I can to not face the truth. But I know in my heart of hearts (see what I did there)…

It’s my heart.

It’s the exact same symptoms that I experienced about three/four years ago when on holiday in Cornwall.

Shortness of breath. Tiredness. Uncomfortable feeling in the throat etc.

The same symptoms I had before being miraculously cured by the insertion of three stents into one of the arteries of my heart…but here we go again.

The Stratfordian

I’ve been to see the doctor and he thinks it can be handled by increasing one of the drugs I’ve been taking since the stents thing. So, following his advice I’ve increased the dosage and so far…nothing has changed.

Nope. It’s my heart and I’m off to see the Heart specialist…

Here we go again.

Wish me luck.

Rising as the cock crows

I must admit that I am not an early riser. Or, let me put that another way. I am intentionally NOT an early riser.

To be honest my days of rising as the cock crows are thankfully over. That was probably my all time hate when I was working. The hour at which you had to get up to go to work. I hated it.

However, do not get the wrong impression. The above confession does not mean in the slightest that I sleep until I wake naturally. Oh happy day.

Around here (Trinity Mead – Stratford upon Avon) although the Cock crow died out years ago, we still have an animal to act as nature’s alarm clock.

I write of course of The Dog. the stratfordian's art

In these parts every other resident appears to have a dog and in most cases a bloody noisy dog.

Let it not be said that I am a pet hater because I am not. I think tortoises are wonderful. But dogs of the barking variety are another thing.

For the life of me I don’t understand why every dog owner around here, at more or less the same time (early morning – are they in cahoots?), opens their back door to let the family beast out to bark in and at, the back garden.

It’s like synchronised barking.

This is how it goes…

Back door opens dog (s) runs out…barking.

Then, and this is the bit that really gets me, the barking commotion is followed by the human owner shouting at the animal…to stop barking.

What we then have is a performance that last for approx 15 minutes coming at ya from various near-by locations. Barking and shouting. Shouting and barking.

As the early hours progress I lie awake, listening to the pattern repeated over and over again, some far away, some close.

All over Trinity Mead, dogs and owners large and small  bark and shout. Shout and bark.

Until they don’t.

But of course by then it is too late. I’m awake and ready for bed.

There is  indeed no no peace for the wicked.

Dark and Light

At home with the Stratfordians

70 years on the throne

Being Nadhim Zahawi

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