Nine Thousand Evenings

In the evening of the day, all work done, we sit down and we talk.

Maybe it’s because we’re in the dark time of the year, when the evening seems to last for half the day, that’s made me so conscious of evenings? Or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading a book? A bit of both probably.

Anyway, have you ever thought about how many evenings you’ve spent talking with the significant person or people in your life? Or about how much all the conversations you’ve had over all of those evenings with these people have contributed to who you are and the life you’re living? Well I have, and ‘a lot’ is the answer to both of these questions.

Evenings are the focus of my thinking and the title of what I’m writing here because they’re the time my significant person and I mostly spend together, our different jobs of work done for the day. We’ve been together, Sarah and I, for 25 years or so now and, minus time spent away working and on a few separate holidays, sea kayaking for example, that all multiplies up to about nine thousand evenings we’ve spent together.

Nine thousand evening of conversation. Continue reading “Nine Thousand Evenings”

Like you would do for one you love: For Liverpool and Leeds

I’ve been thinking about Liverpool, which probably won’t surprise anyone who knows me. Also thinking of Leeds and Leonard Cohen, which might. The thinking brought on by an early morning Saturday tweet which mentioned how much a friend and I openly love our places, my friend Phil being from Leeds.

This was sent as part of a discussion several Leeds friends turned out to be having about whether and how it’s ok to be critical of where you live and are mostly working. I instinctively replied:

“I always write honestly about Liverpool & as everyone knows, I love it. So any criticism is careful & gentle, as with one you love.”

As soon as I’d sent that it reminded me of Leonard Cohen’s song “Take This Longing” Continue reading “Like you would do for one you love: For Liverpool and Leeds”

In Defense of Free Speech?

Today I was in town keeping an eye on the place. Nothing unusual in that you might think. For some self-appointed reason that’s the kind of thing I do. But today I was there looking for fascists and making sure, in so far as I could, that they did no harm.

Which as you'll see, they didn't.
Which as you’ll see, they didn’t.

All week a particualrly nasty bunch of the species, who I won’t dignify by naming, had been threatening all sorts if they weren’t allowed to do their march. Their ‘right’ they’d been calling it. ‘Free speech’ they’d been calling it. This bunch of racist, Islamophobic, holocaust denying, white supremacist totalitarians who’d apparently written to the City Council threatening “an action-packed weekend of ethnically-enriched chaos and mayhem” if they were denied their rights.

Naturally I was curious to see how it all went. Continue reading “In Defense of Free Speech?”

After a Heavy Defeat

Liz KendallI remember a good few years ago when I used to read such stuff ‘management and leadership’ books were fond of quoting Sun Tzu’s classic Chinese text ‘The Art of War’ when giving modern leaders things to think about. Wisdom like:

“All warfare is based on deception.”

So, the explanation might go:

“Don’t be so foolish as to let your competitors in on all your thought processes if you seriously want to outsmart them.”

Naturally I’ve thought of all this again during the current omnishambles that is the Labour Leadership Show and have returned to Sun Tzu to look for an opinion. Reckoning that the class war the Conservative enemy is now pursuing against the people of the country is certainly the kind of war we wouldn’t want to lose. And other than the above, I’ve found nothing. Undeterred I’ve decided to make up my own Sun Tzu quote, informed by his above real words, but to fit our current situation:

“After a heavy defeat the wise army recovers its strength in its barracks.”

Continue reading “After a Heavy Defeat”

Socialist ’til I die

Lately and increasingly I have resumed writing in long hand when something really matters to me, when something needs working out. The slowness of it, the active thinking, from my heart directly down my left arm to the tip of my pen.Socialist - 6

I’m writing in long hand now, sat on the wall of Sefton Park, the Sunday afternoon before the 2015 General election. Sefton Park where I have come for most of my adult life to walk, reflect and think about all the really big decisions. When to invite, when to leave? When to say yes, when to say no. Today I’m here to keep writing until I can decide who to vote for this Thursday.

As you can tell by the title above, several parties and candidates have already been eliminated by the thinking and experiences of my life up to now. I am a socialist and always have been since, I think, my first ever visit to a public library some time late in the 1950s:

“We’d moved to our new house on a new estate, just North of Liverpool. And in one of our early explorations of the new place, called Maghull, I remember my Dad taking me to the Library there and explaining how it worked. That I could pick the books I wanted and take them home. Then after we, or rather he, had read them to me, we’d bring them back. ‘It’s part of how we’ve decided to run the country. Books are important and this is a good way of making sure everyone can read the books they want,’ he said, gently educating his little son in the gently British version of socialism.”

But as you’ll know from my recent posts about The Big Issue and Borgen the kind of socialist I am at the moment has been up for some degree of consideration. Consideration that continues now, sat on this park wall writing all this down. Continue reading “Socialist ’til I die”

It’s a Big Issue: Election Special

Big Issue - 1Confession time: I don’t often buy The Big Issue. I used to. Early days I would even write for it, the occasional column plus regular art and food reviews. I was a Director of a housing association at the time and when the Big Issue in the North had to set up in Liverpool and Manchester I was ashamed. Because if all our work from the previous 20 years had truly paid off they’d never have had to, was my main feeling.

Anyway, time passed by and I eventually dropped from ‘contributor and regular reader’ status to ‘very occasional.’

Which brings us to today when I noticed that this week’s edition is an Election Special. So I bought it from our polite and, in my case, very patient vendor. And I thought I’d show it to you. Not in any look at me kind of way, but because I think it’s good and want to encourage you to go and buy one too, if you haven’t already. Continue reading “It’s a Big Issue: Election Special”

On knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing

 

Thoughts from 2015.

Who knows where these sayings come from? Anyway, Sarah and I are getting on with our now twenty years long and rising conversation about life and the living of it, when I come out with more or less the title of this piece.

“The trouble is, they seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

‘Did you just make that up?’ asks Sarah, momentarily impressed. Fortunately my reply is that it’s just an old saying that I’ve remembered from somewhere in my childhood. Fortunate indeed, am I, in not taking the credit because without knowing it I’m quoting Oscar Wilde. Continue reading “On knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”

Radicalised? Me too.

Some thoughts on why ‘being radicalised’ is not necessarily a bad thing. Though what happens before or afterwards may very well be.

I had a very conservative religious upbringing and attended single faith primary and secondary schools. In my secondary school I was given special instructions, along with a small group of other boys, in how to help the holy teachers who ran the school in the ceremonies they would run for the faithful on holy days and, as it happens, every Friday.

On Sundays I would attend the same spiritual ceremony with the rest of my family and would also regularly take part in another where I would ask one of the holy men to forgive me for my youthful sins, such as they were.

Over time this small group of boys would be taken to visit other schools of the same faith to see if we too wanted to become particular kinds of holy men as we grew up. Two of us, me and my friend Paul, were also selected to represent our school as altar servers during the opening ceremonies for Liverpool’s new Cathedral in 1967.

May 1967. I have no photographs of the event.
May 1967. I have no photographs of the event.

Yes, I was brought up as a Catholic, like at least half the other people in Liverpool when I was growing up.

And as I became an adolescent I was also radicalised. Continue reading “Radicalised? Me too.”