writing from another someone not from where they are

All possible futures

So I’ve been wanting to write this for some time. It’s something to do with all possible futures.

We have been to Cornwall as a family over the recent Easter holidays and on the return journey we stopped in a service station. One of the children had some sort of toasted Italian penny type sandwich in a Costa coffee. There were people queueing to get burgers from some sort of burger bar. The usual shop was there with crisps, bars of chocolate and a variety of drinks and newspapers knickknacks, the usual things. And then we had a couple of lovely bean salads from Waitrose or possibly Marks & Spencer’s.

I was talking about this to my friend Afif and mentioned that the one group of people for whom there was no particular offer were the Muslim population. What struck me was that you could be somebody who wanted a cheap burger, somebody who wanted a coffee shop experience, somebody who wanted to eat organic food. The service station would support all those choices as the market for each of these forms of food commodity was sufficiently powerful that they were now well installed even in roadside service stations. Every body was served.

At the same time in my life my 2nd daughter has announced that she is transgender, transsexual, gender fluid, wishes now to be known by a boys name, referred to with the masculine pronoun and introduced as our son. This whilst we live in an area where such ideas would be anathema to many of the religious believers in our community as well as others of course.

At some point in the conversation my friend Afif said something about how when he had been young it was difficult to imagine that the future would be like this. What this made me realise was that we live in a state where all futures are possible. Each of these choices can be made and each of these choices has a sufficiently large network to support it even broadly in the public domain. You can be a Muslim and everything is there for your requirements. You can be part of a closed Christian community and have a wide support network. You can be an open racist in your life and find support. You can be a transsexual and find support. You can wish to live entirely from organic food resources and live amongst a wide and supportive network. You can wish to eat cheap burgers factory produced. All of the choices, not necessarily tolerant of each other, are possible, are available within a wide support network of similar minded people. All of the possible futures have come to be at the same time and in the same place.

I dream of Alaigne once more

Well after my fieldwork was completed and towards the end of writing this thesis I had a dream. Alaigne was a river and I was to cross the river. The water level was low compared to what I knew it could be and this was good because I wore Wellington boots that came up to just below my knee and I wanted to cross without getting my feet wet. I wanted to cross to show that it was possible to get to the other side without getting my feet wet. I started into the water and found the bottom of the river to be muddy so though the water was low it began to lap the top of my boots. My boots were stuck in the mud and as I struggled to free them wanting to show that I could cross the river without water in my boots yet my boots they sank further into the mud. Yet still my feet stayed dry and I didn’t see the other side.

I dreamed of Alaigne

“John thinks you are not honest – you don’t really care.”

“But I’m here two weeks” I replied, wondering at first who John was at first.

[Two weeks to complete this thesis John]

forgery at Wells

To enter the cathedral of Wells you must first pass through the cloister. The south west tower of the cathedral abut the arcades of the cloister. Entering at the back of the nave to your left are the lower rows of dressed masonry stone forming the base of one of the south west tower. Low down is a full-size face carved into the stonework of the tower. It is certainly very old. It appears that this part of the cloister, known as the West cloister, was not involved in liturgical life. As today, this was the main entrance into the cathedral from the marketplace. At what point and who – somebody found the space, out of sight, to mark the stones this strongly I don’t know. It makes a fine figure for someone forging their identity in the cathedral.

Carving south-west buttress Wells Cathedral

in Wells

As I walked through Wells this evening I saw a man leaning against a car.

Who is that walking through town? He thought. I’ll keep an eye on him.

This town is bloated with money yet nobody is spending enough to keep it happy.

Across the road a figure stands

Like those dry appearing higher branches of an old tree

The greenery clustered below

Issac and Abraham

It came to me when talking about the film interstellar with Melissa. That the moment Abraham does not sacrifice his son Isaac is the very moment at which Isaac’s body becomes substituted by his emotional life. Whilst the sacrifice of the body ended it has been the sacrificial emotional life which took its place.

Interstellar – A Charitable Appeal

Interstellar was made by Christopher Nolan of Batman fame. The film was okay to watch but was too ridden with necessary and partially controlling narrative features and symbolic placements. The film is sentimental in a properly gooey fashion and carries with it a message that does nothing other than make a statement of the current ideology. Technology is the only real saviour for the human race. Love may be the vector for human direction but it is only important because it is active in the survival of the technologist. Whilst he starts the film as a farmer he is a technical food producer. He wishes that he had never left his children behind once he realises that he is not going to be saving them. He saves the world only in the sense that he does eventually save them, or her at least. The rest of the world, which means human beings, dies. So whilst love is this vitally important force, its pursuit does not ensure its survival other than as a part of a technological package. Whilst the audience is sufficiently ironic to recognise the formulaic romantic story being enacted, nevertheless what we are left with is the basic story: love conquers all, machines will lead us out of this. What is the film precisely doing? Making that statement is nothing other than the voice of those people living within the technological world on which the material of the film depends upon. That we might be led out of the darkness does not exist in the material world of those in poverty other than as a religious myth. The poor may well believe in love and the conquering spirit, but they will not be transported to Paradise. Neither will we. Unless we sit in the seat of the spacecraft or pronounce the words Eureka for real. We are the trusting subjects of the space program.

That is the materiality of the programme, it is best understood rather as a charity letter received through the post, appealing for our continued support.

today it is music

I start the car to get to the shops and as is my habit I turn on the radio. It is tuned to radio four. The sound gets on my nerves. I press the preset button for radio three. I enjoy the music. Now on one hand I am lucky perhaps, I find myself listening to a piece of music I recognise by Handel – I do not of course know the name while I listened to it but afterwards learn it is called Zadok the Priest. The importance of this moment for me is that there is a certain frame of mind when what we know as classical music stimulates, no that’s not the right word, when classical music somehow fits into all of the crevices of my thoughts. It doesn’t ride on top of them but it settles, or even forces itself between all the elements and renders the surface and apparently calm.

agony of circular thoughts

I am bereft of belief in the uniqueness of the weft. I was sitting quietly at the back of the meeting looking at the sleeve of my sweatshirt top.The stitches were so fine, I was fascinated and started wondering how fine stitches might be made by hand? Could they be as small as this? Did the King look in rapture at tiny stitching. How small might the needles be to knit stitch such as this? How small the hands? How many hours and days and weeks. Of course the stitching was done by machine and not by handheld needles. So the wonder really quite disappear so common is the cloth. Then I looked at my shirt wondering if it might be woven. I could not even see the weave it is so fine obscured by a printed pattern. It was more as if the cloth had been pressed than woven. So I devalue the machine made knitwear and cloth. Yet did the King do so to? No the King paid. I doubt there was much concern for child labour, sweat shops, the things that invalidate the same today.

We went for a walk in the Mayfield Valley again with some dogs. Beautiful views back towards Sheffield. My landscape here in Pitsmoor is one peopled. People are excluded by both wealth and poverty from the Mayfield Valley. Beautiful views back on to Sheffield. From this frame. Scuttling city scapes within.


Two things I want to write it down concerning ISIS.

Firstly, I don’t find it particularly difficult to understand why young men and young women might choose to travel to fight with ISIS. Despite coming from a privileged background myself I was aggressively favourable towards the IR A in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I fantasised about some heroic context for the red Brigades in Italy. I was brought up on stories of heroic socialist men travelling down to fight with the free brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Its doesn’t seem a great stretch of the imagination to recognise that the young men leaving, the young women leaving to go to Syria are inspired by the same complex of belief and gut emotional reaction as I was. The system under which we live and which is we regulate by our daily choices doesn’t encourage us to admit such things publicly. Isis is the face of evil only overshadowed by the face of Putin.

Secondly, I have been thinking about the families of the fighters, particularly those families who are bereaved but also those who wait for their children to return, who hope their children might return. I was struck earlier in the week about the reporting of a traffic accident in South Yorkshire where at five young people were killed, all of whom were or had been pupils at a particular school. The news journalist was talking with the head teacher of the school who was emphasising that to the school was ensuring that the bereavement and grief of the pupils was addressed. Bereavement counsellors would be present, the school would look for moments in which children would be able to express their feelings. An intense social awareness was manifested that it was important to deal properly with bereavement rather than hide from it.

What happens I started to think, to the parents of the fighters who have gone to Syria? When a Bangladeshi family in Portsmouth hears that their son has died, are they offered counselling? Does the wider community receive attention, a sympathetic ear and an understanding of their bereavement? It appears from the outside that it is more likely the families are withdrawn on themselves. There is no engagement with a public world that might offer them sympathy. They are almost demonised as if in some way they were to blame for something that generations of young men and women have always and already done.