It has been a long while since I posted on Forget the Rules. But as life regained a new normal following my recovery from bladder cancer, it seemed repetitive just to describe the routine of daily life.
Of course, there are still occasions when things appear to be not as they should. But for these times I have the ongoing support and advice of the wonderful surgeons and nurses of University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire.
Recently, however, I have been thinking of other aspects of life where the rules are superfluous or serve to hold back the creative force.
In this spirit, my first post back on my blog highlights the music of my good friend Flockham Sisby. So just who is Flockham Sisby? Well I can tell you right now. Flockham is like his music; unconventional and generous hearted with a taste for the unknown.
This piece from the enigmatic artist is a superb ambient composition, reminiscent of the great Brian Eno. Spacious and expansive it draws you into a landscape which is unique, yet somehow familiar. The Stillness at Annstead Sands from Etruscan Rabbit Syndrome.
There comes a point, in fact many points, where you just have to get on with things. I have now reached one such point and it is time to think about travelling back into the office to work. There will never be a right time to do this and I need to just get on and do it.
As a Civic Republican I often think about the nature of our freedom and threats to it. Likewise the balance between our rights and responsibilities as citizens. So the issue of Police Stop and search powers in today’s news is a tricky one. The problem is the suggestion that the need for the police to have reasonable suspicion that a weapon is being carried should be relaxed. There is clearly a danger that individual officers could target certain individuals with impunity and there are particularly sensitive racial issues.
Unchallenged domination by the state or its agents over individuals and groups is called Imperium and is one of the two dangers to our freedom we face in society. The other is between private individuals and groups and is called Dominum. We must be constantly on the alert for both types of domination and call it out when we detect it.
With my renewed freedom I drive myself into Rugby for a haircut – it was last cut the day before my operation! While chatting to the barber I find that he is completely unaware of the Green Party despite having a good knowledge of attempts to repair the Great Barrier Reef in Australia!
I decide that while I am out I will pop down to Halfords to pick up some electrical bits and pieces for my model railway.
In the evening Lesley and myself travel up to the Green Party AGM. In some senses it is a distraction as now is the time for action and not bureaucracy. Nevertheless I still propose changes to our local party constitution which are largely accepted. But a real morale boost came with one of our members stepping up to an officer role.
There is a news report that the Water Cannon bought by Boris Johnson for over £300,000 are being sold for £11,000. The fact that they were illegal on at least two counts when he bought them makes the expenditure an irresponsible waste of public money.
Here is a real problem with democracy. If a politician does not (or cannot) seek re-election then the electorate cannot ‘punish’ him or her by voting for an opponent. What we need is some kind of accountability, maybe in the form of a citizen’s panel for retiring politicians.
Someone online has spotted that there is such a word as ‘betrump’! Apparently it is an archaic word which has fallen into disuse for a very long time (some 3 centuries). It came first in a recent poll of favourite long lost English words. Meanings include to ‘deceive’ or ‘cheat’ and its popularity at the present time is self-evident. But while deception by politicians is nothing new, modern politics has raised it to vastly more refined and dangerous levels.
Disguise and ambiguity in politics was taken to new lheights by Vladimir Putin in Russia acting on the advice of Vladislav Surkov. Surkov was immersed in modern art where such techniques are commonplace, Used expertly they can create an environment of confusion and this approach has been used by politicians in the UK and US culminating in President T as he now styles himself.
Lesley is making the Christmas cake. There was a time when a family Christmas get together meant having not one but three Christmas cakes made by Lesley, Lesley’s mother and Lesley’s grandmother. It was an almost bizzare case of attempted one-upmanship on the part of mother and grandmother. This resulted in a very delicate situation as Lesley’s cake was almost invariably superior! The aroma from the kitchen as it bakes is something else!
I prepare for tomorrow’s Rugby Green Party AGM. Central to these are some changes I am proposing to our local party constitution. While I am very familiar with the tactics used by Putin I think I’ll pass them by in this case!!
It is now 3 months since my bladder removal operation. My goodness!
OK, so here is another comment about going for a walk. This time I am able to walk further, about a mile in fact. Past the farmhouse and along to the end of the tarmac road to where an unmetalled track leads down to the ford. We go out at about 3pm which means that the brilliant sun is low in the sky. It is a beautiful late autumn afternoon, and a favourite time of year for me.
Lacking the energy to walk far over the past few months has made me realise how important it is in politics! From delivering leaflets to knocking on doors, marching and protesting. I watch on in admiration at the thousands of people in London blocking bridges in protest at the lack of action to combat climate change.
Time and time again history has shown that concerted action by many citizens can effect change – it’s just that the influence may be neither immediate nor apparent. Walking and marching is an ancient political activity going back to Roman times and including the thirteenth century Peasants Revolt in England. It carries with it an implied threat, that of raising a mob to threaten anarchy. Unlike much past radical activity the urgency of climate change means we do not have the luxury of waiting years or even decades for change to happen.
I watch a few episodes of MASH on TV. Set during the 1950s Korean War the series was made during the Vietnam War in the 1970s. Its brave mixture of anti-war rhetoric, comedy, tragedy and wit makes it one of my favourite shoes of any kind, not just comedy.
I decide that now I am feeling stronger and my car has passed its MOT I need to start getting out and about. So my first trip is traveling to Hinckley to a Model and Toy Fair. This is a delightful event organised by the regional G Scale Society held at the Methodist church in the town. One model features a working canal lock (with a little help from a giant hand!) The show is not an out and out modelling show but there are many exhibits of interest. For example there is an extensive 3-rail layout from the early days of model railways along with layouts in the hosts G Scale which is associated with large garden railways. It is predominantly a scale used in continental European countries and this fact is reflected in the non-British models on display. I stay for about an hour before heading home.
I get back in time for some lunch and to settle down to the Rugby international on TV – Wales vs Tonga. Some serious nail biting as Wales let a handsome 24 point lead slip through their fingers before pulling away decisively for a comfortable victory. This is an unusual but pleasant experience for Welsh Rugby followers!
Lesley has put herself forward for election as Membership Officer at Tuesday’s Rugby Green Party Annual General Meeting. I am already thinking about how I can help her in this task and increase the number of activists and volunteers in our party.
On Monday (19th) it will be three calendar months since my bladder removal operation. It seems that though the recovery has been long and, at times, gruelling the time seems to have flown by.
Social Media has got itself a bad name with trolling, abuse and death threats frequently reported. But this can hide the fact that there are very many positive interactions every day. This morning I tweeted about my admiration of the Bach Keyboard Concerto’s and got an appreciative response from a few followers and a retweet from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra itself.
Fuelled by Theresa May raising the issue of no Brexit, the media is full of the possibility of a People’s Vote. Some people are arguing that this is betrayal of the 2016 vote in an attempt to ‘undermine the will of the people’. But this is a mistake resulting from a widespread and profound misunderstanding of the nature of democracy itself. A vote in any kind of election tells politicians what to do but not how to do it. This is a much more complex issue and so a People’s Vote, far from subverting the supposed will of the people, is vital so that the population can deliver a verdict on how the Government has gone about the task.
As I have mentioned in earlier blogs I am not a football fan, though I do look out for the results of the teams from my home area, Newport County and Merthyr Town. But this evening I could not resist buying a 24hr .Now TV’ pass so I could watch Wales play Denmark. Once again, however, with Wales falling to a defeat I could have saved my money! The other irony is that I never get much pleasure out of watching any Welsh national team which the game is actually taking place! I always find it too tense. I am not sure what Lao Tzu would have to say about that!
I am planning the most active weekend I’ve undertaken for months, even if it is relaxed by most standards!
Following my bladder removal operation in August the nurses suggested I wear braces rather than a belt on my trousers. I have got used to this arrangement and decided to keep wearing them. In fact I have decided to make a feature of them and have purchased a pair of Welsh flag ones specially for my trip to Cardiff; they arrived today. Not exactly the height of sartorial elegance, but they will most probably not be seen anyway!
I have started posting again from my twitter account. Following the cancer diagnosis way back in June I abandoned social media and I still cannot get up any enthusiasm for resuming my Facebook account.
One thing I will pick up again in my posts is some political stuff. One thing which I found incredible today, for example, was that the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned following the publication of the draft withdrawal agreement. You would have thought that he would have been largely responsible for the creation of the document, having at least an oversight role. But apparently not and it turns out that ‘Brexit Secretary’ is largely cosmetic post! A cynical attempt to extend Government power while spending our money on another ministerial salary. No wonder so many folks are cynical about politics.
6:20pm Rugby St Cross Hospital X-Ray Department. There is a certain informality about evening appointments at St Cross when there are fewer patients around and the admin staff have gone home. Having had two previous scans (not including the scary nuclear one!) the process is now becoming familiar.
10:40am Friends Blood Taking Unit, St Cross Hospital. I go for a blood test ahead of my CT scan tomorrow. Booking an appointment online means that I only have a short wait, following a delay caused by the IT system going down. After the blood test Lesley takes me down to the garage to pick up my car following the repair.
In Parliament an event is organised to mark 50 years of the Royal Navy’s nuclear deterrent. What a truly bizarre thing to do for a pointless and dangerous relic of the cold war. The event is organised by ex-Labour MP John Woodcock and as he represents Barrow in Furness is probably a piece of political opportunism. The fact that it is attended by Labour’s Shadow Defence Minister shows how inconsistent they are on this issue. In many ways the old saying that Generals always try to refight the last war is now true of politicians. But I guess even thermonuclear annihilation is an easier concept to understand than the real frontier of modern conflict which is cyber warfare!
This all masks the fact that, as many journalists including Peter Hitchens have pointed out, the weapon is not independent at all. Navy submarines have to call at US Navy bases to have the missiles loaded and the prospect of using one without US permission is unthinkable. What a pointless waste of money!
Annoyingly the evening brings some broadband instability. Consulting BT’s service status it reports No Problem,’ But they do this every time there is a problem. A website about as useful as Trident then!
My car back to the garage for some work. The front coil springs have started corroding and need replacing before one of them lets go with potentially serious consequences.
I receive a present from Chris at work. This is a tiny violin crafted in Japan and brought back from his holiday. It is an exquisite piece of work and actually a chopstick stand when laid on its back. The sticks then rest on the fingerboard! What a lovely thought by Chris.
Around lunchtime the post brings an envelope clearly packed with a wedge of paper. It is an appointment for a CT scan which is on Thursday at 6:15pm! Before this I must have a blood test at least 24 hours before the scan. Looking closely the letter was dated 7th November but postmarked 12th – FIVE DAYS to leave the hospital!
Fortunately Lesley is free tomorrow morning so can take me to the Blood Taking Unit. The appointment is somewhat of a surprise as I wasn’t expecting it for a few weeks yet.
Listening to the Bert Jansch CD is a peculiarly comforting experience. He has a great gift for melody allied to a talent for moving lyrics. After about 7 or 8 tracks, the guitar part takes a very prominent part. In fact, even allowing for some less than perfect mastering on some tracks, the vocals have become suspiciously inaudible!
I get up to investigate and find that a wire to a speaker has become dislodged on my ancient stereo. Balance restored I can resume listening to the soulful and at times very personal songs.