Showing posts from January, 2009


Since my little turn at work the other day everything has been up in the air. They don't know whether they want me back. They don't know whether they think I'm SAFE to go back, and they want my GP to help them make up their collective mind. I know this because I had to give them my permission to talk to her.

Fine, I said. I've got nothing to hide. No undeclared illnesses (that I'm aware of) or secret drug addictions that I'm being treated for. That's my reputation, mostly because of my long hair and my beard. But I'm clean. Deep down I'm really an ageing choirboy. Just an intellectual hippie, like a lot of people from a comfortable middle class background. Hell, my mother was simultaneously a bourgeois housewife and a practising Wiccan.

I don't think I'd miss the job that much, if I couldn't go back. I've been doing care work for a long time. Fifteen years, more or less. And I'm fairly good at it, I think, (I ought to be by now,eh…


These last two days have been strange ones. I had another seizure on Thursday, at work. It's at least the fourth one I've had in the last year. Now, anybody can have at least one seizure in their lifetime; but only a special sort of person has four--they're called epileptics. (Well, unless you have some sort of undiagnosed brain tumour.)

So it seems I now have epilepsy, which is a little bit difficult to adjust to, after not having it for 44 years. But they did enough tests to diagnose a battalion with epilepsy when I was taken to the hospital after the seizure, so I can only presume they know what they're talking about. I gave my blood pressure, they listened to my pulse, they took blood samples, they listened to my chest through a stethoscope as I said "ninety-nine" over and over again, they made me lift my arms and legs against the resistance of the doctor's fist, they made me walk, turn and walk again; they even wheeled me into another room and took a…


Make no mistake, what's happening in Washington DC today matters. It's important. Historically important. From our perspective, with the short memory of modern life, we may think that Obama's election means nothing much. But it means more than anybody can really say in words, without a concomitant photographic display, appropriate music, a long and detailed lesson in history (how we need that lesson in history).

Look at the video above, while YouTube allows it to be displayed. That's Pete Seeger up there singing. Pete Seeger, who testified before Senator McCarthy's Un-American Activities committee in the 1950s and almost went to jail for his presumed Communist affiliations. Pete Seeger, who sang songs exhorting everybody to join a union and fight the insane greed and violence of the capitalist bosses. And he's singing a song by another radical, Woody Guthrie; a song that reminds people they are free men in a land that belongs to them, not their leaders, who are …


I'm sitting in the bus station, late, waiting for a bus, reading a book of poetry by someone or other, and this bloke spills off the nearest bus. He's older than me, maybe mid-to-late fifties, wearing a leather jacket, jeans, trainers, has a little white goatee, and he's obviously blasted; you can see it by the way he walks--he's staggering like a guy on an old sailing ship riding through a storm. He catches my eye. Here we go, I think, the drunk in the bus station, just what I need at this time of night when I'm tired and tetchy and all I wanna do is sleep. Then he yells "FAIRPORT CONVENTION!"

But drunks don't normally yell Fairport Convention at you,and they're one of my favourite bands, so I'm intrigued, I think that's what I heard him say but I want to make sure. It'll be so funny if he actually did. So I lean foward and shout back, "WHAT?" (Pardon just doesn't seem the right word in the bus station in the middle of t…

Big Boys Don't Read, But Who Cares?

On the radio this morning some nice educated people were wringing their hands about a report that's just come out which says boys don't read anymore and are falling behind girls in standards of literacy. So how were they going to get boys reading again?

I didn't hear the solutions they came up with because I stepped into the shower at that point and by the time I stepped out again they were doing a weather report.

Boys think reading is "boring", apparently, and would rather be watching movies or playing computer games. Girls, according to the experts who compiled this report, were pressing on with their reading and becoming intellectual superbeings, or something.

Well, it's a problem that has been around an awfully long time. Very few boys read when I was at school either. I've always been considered rather quaint and old-fashioned because the only thing I never forget to carry with me is a book.

But are women really reading that much more than boys? If they …