Wednesday, 28 December 2011

so many weeks ago!

Its been so long. I feel, like stranger in my own world. What happened? Depression happened and this time I only have myself to blame. It may sound peculiar to blame one self on depression never the less warning signs. had been brewing for some time. The question is why did I ignore the signs. This is important. For a person who some professes to have an understanding of the illness this lapse in recognising the slow creep of the downward curve is pretty disastrous. But I'm back and hopefully this time I can keep to my deadlines.
Since the attack I haven't felt the inclination to journey out into the world,even though the purpose of this exercise is to explore walking with depression. Something powerful took over the will to explore,even though it could be argued that depression, by its very existence resembles a journey into an other place,another reality, the need to wander out into the night and sense world though the gaze and sensibility of depression was simply to much to bear.The suffering itself was its own experience.
How can the mind drive a person to edge of life? What mysteries force a person to want self destruction over living?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

some other part of London

Before I start I have to apologise for my spelling mistakes. When depression hits me my mind goes all over the place and Dyslexia becomes a problem.
May be I should post some of my thoughts re Dyslexia and Depression, some other time maybe.
In the meantime I want to suggest the idea about walking into other spaces where walkers don't usually go. Walking is a human activity which appears strange to some people. The car is a second appendage to the body. When we walk we are only doing what nature meant us to do. We walk because we are built to walk.
Walking takes on many different aspects. Some people enjoy walking out into the wild places, some walk in city scape's, some walk across vast deserts and so forth. My attempt at walking with depression leads me into some untouched sites in the Metropolis.Places off the beaten track, but which never the less are home to thousands of people. A mixture of cultures and customs ( are the two inter linked)? Place which where once demeaned to "Suburbia" but have now developed into a vast mish mash of conflicting values and religions.Places walkers dont explore. i will start soon by exploring Edmonton Green in North London.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

walking with moon

The clouds rush across the sky, this is good stuff because I cant feel the wind. Maybe something magical is taking place up in the heavens. The night landscape feels comfortable at the moment. I cant help wondering what people all those eons ago felt when thay saw the night. Their night would have been far more powerful than today's gaze. Then people would have seen the whole sky in all its wonderful depth and uniqueness. I feel sad tonite. A nervous,anxious sadness. How much is our world changing? We are living at the end of an epoch All around me people are enjoying the autumn colours of the the night world. Why cant I be part of this crowd? Tonight the present is not a good place to be. change is sometimes to powerful.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

changing formations

One important fact concerning walking with depression, something which completely escaped my thinking, depression is exhausting. It drags the person down physically, emotionally and mentally. This really extreme state leaves its scare on the "gaze. The power of depression still mystifies me. A continuous onslaught on the joy. Nothing will be the same again. I'm not talking about self pity. Where memory becomes powerful is in its ability to haunt what in the past may have been, a simple expression of fun, suddenly turns into a raw expression of pain, and indeed sorrow. Memory and depression is a terrirtory I will exlplore again. Like walking, depression turns into so many adventures.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

sunday morning

The sky fells thick.One of those gray dull days which always suggest nothing is going on up there in the skies. Of course that's so much wishful thinking. But for walking purposes the idea of confronting the morning is difficult.There's a sense of emotional drift taking place in my mind today. Tensions where there shouldn't be tensions.Motivation to attempt something useful fall flat. Yes that's the feeling "flat".
The super ego isn't trying very hard to lay into me. Must be an ok sign. Never the less have started to develop that guilty sensation and those tense undercurrents which always love to undermine what I want to do.
I have this idea at the moment that the brain is like an uncharted territory. A vast empty mass full with unexplored wanders.Like a magical kingdom with secret wonders,this place is fascinating and dangerous. I find it hard to grasp just how little we really understand about ourselves. How much do we really know about nature? What do we learn and our do we transport our lived experience into a pleasure of co operation.
To walk out on a day like today is to confront that part of the self which doesn't want confrontation at the moment. Think I will go with the flow and simply except the moment and do nothing. Walking is always there.Its a free journey.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

early morning walking

The challenge of winter depression is to understand the reasoning behind its attacks on the territory of the mind, it encloses the brain and swallows the soul in a series of violent encounters with the past present and that mystical dream called the future.Night time brings no hope of sleep. Walking is the encounter I need. To understand depression is rediscover the child lost in the past, who imagines a future with out pain but as no understanding of childhood Why? because child is already being over taken by the monster "other".

Saturday, 29 October 2011

strooling with depression.

Its odd how emotions dictate the way we thing and cope with the external realities. For the past weeks my nerves have been shattered, tension and anger seem to be reaching some kind of fever pitch on my mind. Truth be told the outside world felt a threatening place to be in. My mind attempted to block out any sense of joy. The streets represented a state of mind. Walking became simply a function to arrive at a destination already preplanned. It wasn't meat to be like this.
The tensions inside my mind never ceased to stop,walking slowed down the inner battles, but not for long. Memories or rather 'emotional' attacks with memories attached battled their way in the that territory called the brain.
Last night I couldn't sleep, I've suffered this problem before when depression pushes me into to much sleep. What happens is the night takes the brain, and the brain responds with an endless reworking of dormant emotion's on which images are imprinted and the fragments of these imprints hover around in a menacing aura which then reproduces another round of imprints. Last night I felt the colour GRAY.It had a body. It developed a life. In the darkness Gray became another part of the interior landscape of terror and it felt real.

Monday, 24 October 2011

srrooling with depression

Early morning and the dark closes in. Darkness and depression and bad combination. Last I attempted my first experiment, walking into the night with depression. An idea. How does the mind cope with the darkness after a hard day doing a job which is completely against everything I hold dear. But what can I do. The country is in the grip of an economic depression. It was a wonderful cold night. Shadows and street lights glittering in the darkness. I was already down and felt extremely exhausted. This wasn't a joyful quest. My legs felt heavy and I couldent focus on anything. Strange how the mind doesent rest. Thoughts simply rush through a the brain. and everything seems blank, stuck in a time warp of mental agony. I wont give up.
This is an experiment its the first night and London is going home. The rush hour is still moving in what ever direction rush hours moves. I cant join the crowd, I'm not part of this mass. It worries me.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

strolling with depression

This may appear a strange introduction to yet another idea on a blog full of changing's, shifting ideas. You could say this new adventure is the culmination of all those past explorations. Now the exploration is concerned with a greater challenge. I want to confront one aspect of my depression by walking. So whats so original about this new adventure? Walking is one of the many in things at the moment. And people who suffer from depression understand the importance of exercises and getting out and about, getting out from the enclosed prison of the depressed mind releases the soul. The sense of freedom and simple wanderings satisfies the mind. And maybe helps the brain to take its long deserved from all those powerful tensions which flood the conscious with a wilful power all of its own.
Space and the awareness of a greater emotional outside certainly lefts the mood. My big problem with depression is its ability to imprison all the negative attacks in one space and then unleash these wild negatives into the soul.
Depression doesn't simply attack the mind, it unleashes its spleen into the body.
Its a common assumption these days to suggest some form of psychical endeavour to help counter the onslaught. I don't yet need to delve into the joys of walking. Instead this small introduction is to help me clear my mind and make sense of what this idea hopes to achieve.
Dark times are suggestive of a depressive mindset. Those grim skies and empty sensations bring on a feeling of hopelessness. Suffers of depression usually react to winter with trepidation. I do. But some of my most savage attacks have occurred during The month of July. During the winter months the long dark nights heighten a sense of hopelessness. They bring with them a threat of endless mundanes.Nothing lives in the darkness.
we know that's not true, but feelings are power allies in the war chest of the depressed mind.
Walking into the darkness whilst highlighting vision of depression is a creative challenge.
Its this sense of vision I need to explore. In the dark is an alternative landscape. This is the quest.

Friday, 7 October 2011

small notes 2

Is it he mindlessness of childhood that opens up the world? Today nothing happens in a gas station. I'm eager to leave, to get where I'm going, and the station, like some paper cutout, or a Hollywood set,is simply a facade.But at 13 sitting with my back against the wall,it was marvellous place to be. Thw delicous smell of gasoline, the cars coming and going, the fresh air hose, the half heard voices buzzing in the background-these things hung musically in the air, filling me with a sense of well being. In ten minutes my psyche would be topped up like up like the tanks of the automobiles....FRANK CONROY..

Sunday, 2 October 2011

small notes

This blog keeps morphing into ideas which give the appearance of have no connection with the previous set of ideas. Time in the mental space doesn't leave me to much room to gather my thoughts into a coherent set of worked out arguments. Some weeks ago I was convinced I lost this blog. Was I upset? Yes. Although the absence of the blog gave me the reason to re think what a blog means to the person writing the blog, and, how do other people read the blog?
What is a blog intended to achieve?
I think my original mistake was the view the blog as a steeping stone towards engaging people in some kind of quest. What quest? I keep thinking. One thought leads on to another thought,sometimes without logic. Is this a form of Post Modern mourning in a world where the Post Modern is now mocked.
The Post Modern might be mocked, never the less, aspects of political and economic discourse bears all the all marks of a Post Modern world.This is scary.
So what am I going to explore now?
Simple....culture, walking and making up stories.
Action comes from an over active mind. I will try and post every two days. Its my little note to the world.

Friday, 23 September 2011

whats gone wrong with the left

The left is in retreat. That's the political argument doing the rounds at present. Some shift in the political discourse suggest the left is in a permanent state endless decline. If this is the case, then we in Europe are in for period of awful decline and punishing social disintegration.
Why is the left completely in a state total disarray. I would love to complete this discussion but this lap top is fast disintegrating itself......

Thursday, 15 September 2011

thought I lost my blog

At last I found my blog thoght it had gone away somewhere never to return But I think its back..

Monday, 29 August 2011

walking before returning

This is proving more demanding than I originally excepted.How do i capture that essence which the depressed gaze offers up to an individual who is in the grip of depression.Maybe the only method I can think of is to insure "something " is written down at the exact moment the depression is reaching that point where all life appears lost and worthless. But in order for me to reach that critical tension I have to dig deep into my soul and conjure up some energy in order to meet the depression head on. Of course to do this means digging deeper into an already fragile soul. This is the challenge.

Monday, 15 August 2011

riots and non riots

The day Tottenham took to the streets and the media went moved into hysterical blasts of moral indignation I walked along the South Bank of the river Thames. It was obvious that the end of London hadn't effected this part of the capital. The glorious tackiness which insures the South Banks popularity will not fade way for sometime to come still attracted thousands of people who strolled along in blind oblivion to the coming catastrophe which would spill down from the confines of Tottenham.
Maybe the throng of families, lovers strollers where unawares of the history being played out on the streets of North London.
This got me thinking about the vastness of cities. Tottenham imploded but the South Bank still supplied its sense of chaotic escape.People simply enjoyed the sun. No looting burning or other types urban disasters.
What developed in the North of the capital was alien to this Sunday stroll. As this none involvement always been the fate of Cities? What seemed to be taking place was a sense of disengagement. People simply weren't bothered.The news may have been predicting an explosion of rage,but the sense of fun was at odds with a media interpretation. Some alternative existence was being played out in the Capital. Lives where not connecting, communities live in separate zones whilst the media concentrates on the problems of one area they cant focus on the whole. London was not threatened. Never the less geographical dislocation concerns have always been a fact in the growth of the Urban landscape.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

walking before returning

When I was a kid and lived in Kings Cross the train stations were part of growing up. They took on the role of adventure playgrounds. Underground tunnel linked two stations. Back then Kings Cross Station was the elegant sister to the Gothic Monster which is St Pancres. Steam Trains ruled the landscape in every possible manner Smoke, soot, and noise filled the day and night This is a vanished world of darkness and adventure. The tunnels were mysterious and scary. Dark underground vains which spread out under the the dirty,bustling, travel traps above the ground. Trains appeared like vast metal demons which spat out steam,fire, and thick smoke.
The stations where dark and dirty. Places of departure and returns. Soot was everywhere. Smoke was everywhere. People who worked on the stations didn't appear to bother with the kids running all over the place. We could look after ourselves. And we could and did.
St Pancres was the darkest. The vast glass roof was coated in 100 years of grim,smoke,and darkness. The place became an adventure in survival. We kids imagined becoming lost in the grim and ending up in some far away land.
I remember the oak panelled waiting rooms, dirty and sad, but also mysterious. Throw backs from an old time. The vastness of the station added to its strangeness. It possessed a sense of out of timeliness.
We lids didn't know anything about this strange place being pulled down. It belonged to our dreams. Its filth and emptiness fitted into a landscape of ruins and adventure. Smoke and fire. All those waiting rooms,always empty, deserted but hiding ghost. I was fortunate to have the greatest adventure playground in the whole of London right on my doorstep. A Gothic monster which towerd over the whole landscape. We had no idea of its history but we had a sense of place. It belonged to us. Its dirt was our dirt. We loved it.
Now its a shopping mall devoid of place and meaning. a cleansed spectacle which means nothing. Its cleansed of meaning and adventure.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Myth and the city

Taking a a walkover to St Pancreas Station, that vast, Gothic monstrosity which dominates the landscape of Kings Cross. Back in the distant past this folly was going to be demolished in favour of a modernistic disaster much like Euston Station which must be the most ugly travel trap in the whole world. These buildings represents clash of travel styles which speak volumes about how culture experience the idea of travel. St Pancreas was conceive at a time when to travel meant some different. A statement of England at the time when the confidence in the Empire was on the wane. But the class system still prevailed. The building was/is a monument to the self perception of bombast and imagined power.
When we use our penetrating gaze and focus our attention upon the style of this form of Gothic structure we must question what we are observing. This is a symbol of invented histories which have no meaning what so ever in reality. Its a imagined reality in a landscape of imagined passion. When the building went up it was already out if time with the changing historical reality.
Nothing about the building tells us anything about the times. Monuments which hold onto fairy stories offer up a comfort against the harsh troubles of the times.
The railway station was a microcosm of 19c expectations. It is a space of waiting, the original interior was a net work of waiting rooms. It was a monument to the tedium of waiting and the expectation of new things.
The roof is a master work of engineering.
Everything else is candy land reality. They/the station is,was full of illusions and deceptions which high light the high point of capitalism in the late 19c Its a dreamscape, today it represents the Disney version of pleasure.The big difference being shopping .
Importantly for me the station became my adventure playground way back in my tender years. This is why I am returning back with a different gaze.

Friday, 29 July 2011


This is the title of series of blogs exploring the ideas of re looking at the Urban landscape through the eyes of depression. I want to explore an idea. Does the depressed person develop a different encounter with the city? Does the depressed cultivate some sense of "altered" state of viewing the way engage with the aura of what the city scape presents us? Is the gaze of depression transformed by a state of mind? When I look at the city does my mood inform my response to how the perception of an object/place/person inform my opinion?
The gaze of a depressed person is different from the gaze of a person who does not suffer from depression. Like wise the female gaze is different form the male gaze. Experience informs observation. The gaze of a child is not the same as the gaze of a parent.
My gaze is experience by my "experience". My sense of the past is developed via my lived history. A history unique to me. Likewise your history is unique to you. Your experience is your uniqueness.
What I see is the same as what you see. But how we experience the viewed object is not the same. We see and feel. The same with sound. We live by experience.
When I walk I observe. What I observe is a place in time. A sound caught within a special moment. When I walk along the South Bank of the River Thames in the early hours of a Sunday morning I know the space inside out. Never the less each time I walk that few miles the familiarity is the same, but how my mind embraces the familiarity, will always be altered. Te next blog will be a journey into St Pancras Station. A personal history mixed with some observations about place and time withsome diversions into history which is myth.
Whilst Im on the subject of myth why dont we start creating our own myths? Story teeling needs to make a return.

Monday, 18 July 2011


Once again the idea of walking comes to mind, I keep on attempting to find head space to kick start this project. Iwill write on my face book when this long delayed project will start. Sorry to keep playing about.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

catscradle and politics

It seems the political establishment as reach its zenith. Art and culture is devoid ,cleansed of any political motivation.The liberal mentality stands accused of cowardness. Culture sold out to the corporate society. We have a cleansed culture. Nothing upsets the rule of the state. Resistance is at its lowest point for 50 years. We are content with our lot.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

walking and talking

This is a simple snippet concerning a little piece of of wandering talking. By that I mean just letting the talk lead the way into what ever direction the talking wishes to to take. The conversation came around to walking through the High Lands and I was asked a question. Do I like talking when I'm walking?? And to be honest I haven't a clue. This is the sort of question with multiple possibilities. Does it matter?? Let me think and I will got back latter.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

walking before returning

I'm trying to dig deep into a very tired mind, the past week have been "messy". Times are changing, modernity led us to believe we lived in a time of progress, a path towards the mythical Utopia. One of the more demanding pleasures in walking comes about when we revisited aspects of our historical selves caught in a fleeting shadow. We see what we thought we must have known only to discover a surge of disorientation,intoxication and loss of identity.
I walk along the same path in the knowledge of rediscovering what was, and is lost. We only ever go back in time in our minds. The experience of times past can transform into a lust for nostalgia.
We live in backward times in a space where what was thought buried is back with us.Politically this should become the age of resistance. When I walk I DREAM and seek the answers to questions I never thought I would believed I would need to seek. Nothing integrates on these walks. The sense of alienation only heightens what in reality I already understood. We don't have control over the external madness embedded in a system called Capitalism. There is something of a negation in the role of Capitalism with our physic.... I need to think my mind is tired. Be back very soon.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

the eye begins to see

It was looking at me all the time and I simply failed to connect with a fundamental reality. There I was looking across the River Thames towards St Paul's Cathedral, not only was I looking but a whole lot of other people where looking at the same object as me. My experience of St Paul's is informed by my childhood when I would play amongst the ruins left standing after the second world war. I was looking at part of my history. Not history in the "logical"understanding rather history in the sense of lived experience. What I was experiencing at that time was different from what other people where experiencing,even though we were gazing at the same object. For that one moment in time I realised I was different from "others". And they were different from each other. Each person gazed on the "same" but each individual came from a personal experience. We are alienated from the world by our individual lives. what we see is our truth.,not the others truth. I'm coming to the conclusion that the SOUL is the personal quest in our search for the self.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

the eye begins to see

Walking will take a back seat for a day or two whilst I explore another of my wanders in the minds eye. What is the SOUL? Indeed does it exist or is it simply a poetic invention which helps us understand some deeper romantic attachment to an even great quest that elusive "truth".
Let me start by quoting from RD Laing's THE POLITICS OF EXPERIENCE.
" Few books today are forgivable. Black on canvas, silence, an empty white sheet of paper, are perhaps feasible. There is little conjunction of truth and social "reality". Around us are pseudo-events,to which we adjust with a false consciousness adapted to see these events as true and real, even as beautiful. In the society of men the truth resides now in less in what things are than in what they are not.Our social realities are so ugly if seen in the light of exiled truth, and beauty is almost no longer possible if it is not a lie.
What is to be done?We who are still half alive,living in the often fibrillating heartland of a senescent capitalism-can we do more than reflect the decay around and within us? Can we do more than sing our sad and bitter songs of disillusion and defeat?
The requirement of the present, the failure of the past,is the same: to provide a thoroughly self conscious and self critical human account of man.
No one can begin to think, to feel or act now except from a starting point of his or he own alienation.
We are all murderers and prostitutes-no matter to what culture,class,society,nation one belongs, how normal, moral or mature one takes oneself to be.
Humanity is estranged from its authentic possibilities. This basic vision prevents us from taking any unequivocal view of the sanity of common sense,or of the madness of the so called madman.However,what is required is the more than a passionate outcry of outraged humanity
Our alienation goes to the roots. The realization of this is the essential springboard for any serious reflection of the present inter -human life. Viewed from different perspectives,construed in different idioms, this realisation unites men as diverse as Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche,Freud, Heidegger, Tillich and Sartre.
We aer bemused and crazed creatures, strangers to our true selves, to one another, and to the spiritual and material world.-mad even, from, from an ideal standpoint we can glimpse but not adopt.
We are born into a world where alienation awaits us. We are potentially men, but in an alienated state, and this state is not simply a natural system. Alienation as our present destiny is achieved by outrageous violence perpetuated by human beings on human beings" 1967/84/90

Friday, 3 June 2011

rush hour in the sun

The pleasure in walking against the rush is a rare excitement.Rush hour and excitement surely this cant be right, but if you walk and take your time simply observing and listening you discover little gems of human behaviour and a surprising amount of good humour. The rush hour comes along twice a day morning and evening. Its a totally new human phenomenon. Humans didn't always have to cope with the rush hour,it came about with the advent of modernity coupled with the need to reach a place of work on time. We are obeying some kind of unwritten rule. The rush hour must be obeyed. So we conform to the unwritten rule and join in the strange migration into the crowd and we follow the same routine. Underground over ground a clockwork tapestry of sameness and the strange thing is we do it even though we dislike it. Its a must do exercises in community dislike. But on the whole people go about this daily routine without much hassle and this is where a good sense of the ridiculous comes. Join the rush and open the mind to the sounds of the rush hour . Don't become some arrogant individual by attempting to be above the crowd. The rush is a form of community gathering signifying we are all in this together. Some how it works.
A whole set of industries we take for grant age have grown up around the need of the rush hour. Sandwich bars ans coffee shops, news paper stores, I'm thinking of mega stores like WH Smiths.
The rush should be taken as a different hobby in relaxing and combating those dreary periods when the day starts in a drab monotone dreariness. I will spend the next few blogs talking about the unusual pleasures to be found in the rush.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

long time

Plans keep changing along with the times. Iv seem to have lost my other blog,so what I'm going to be attempting is a blog which mixes different ideas and challenges This is going to centre around the idea of walking with depression and imaging a different landscape from the one we exist with at present.Starts tomorrow.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

theres a problem with thinking

Out there in that vast boundless landscape we think of as the world a unstoppable machine seem stoppable machine is messing up the diversity of what and how we see the place we call culture and by definition the world.A monster invented in America is now running uncontrollable into our minds and therefore our sense of being.America is an invention with a history of destruction.Hollywood is the place where the imagination of the monster is allowed to satisfy its omnipotence.A corporate monster stalks the dreams and is turning us into our imagined selves rather than our real selves.Something nasty is brewing in our minds and we don't understand its hold on our place in the world.
All the old dictators have vanished into the pit of historic forgetfulness. But we still glory in a belief that a world controlled from by invisible forces is a world never to return. Capitalism uncontrollable rise is taking over from the old formula of dictatorships in a manner which hides its troubled sense of "end of history"
Corporate identity is now our identify,America gave us the monster and we except its dreams whilst turning them into our desires.Slavery is back again in a different guise. We are passive slaves who have allowed the new masters to pour shit over our heads whilst daily feeding us a whole series of con tricks. We buy the the lie in order to dream our desires. Something is going wrong in a landscape which appears more and more like a cartoon invention. Do we really now believe there is no alternative?
Dragging ourselves into the lie is what makes us slaves to the new master.Is it possible we have become afraid to think? Does it make sense that our realities are not owned by us any longer?

At last

At last I can start blogging again....something went wrong and now its back on form....Iv missed me blog..

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

walking before returning.

In order to satisfy my angry curiosity I took a walk down along the Mall, up to Buckingham Palace in order to catch a glimpse of the remains of the wedding event. Funny how people still hover about outside that vast,empty structure. A really ugly building more suited to tin pot dictators rather than a modern monarchy. And this is the problem,there can be no such political institution in the modern world which demands that the people are subjects rather than citizens.The aura of utter emptiness which confronted me symbolises the futilely of how we are governed....Back to culture...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

the wedding

It wasn't so much that the wedding took place rather,it was the fact that it represented the same old ritual. Nothing changes. This ritualised event is a fossilised celebration of hyper stupidity. One aspect stands out above all others. The balcony. Old dictators love the power of the balcony.Its a symbolic reference point which signifies power over the subject. We are still subject to the idea of SUBJECT. Some day the belief in citizenship and the role of citizen will prevail. When that day arrives, then a real celebration may take place.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Glasgow and the City of Culture

The news that sectarian violence is still fermenting away beneath the facade of a city which sells its self as a place which after centuries of religious battles is now at the forefront of cultural renewal.We must ask ourselves what this cultural renewal represents. Is it tied to a belief that by cleaning up ifs Docks and over loading city centres with cafes,cloths shops,shopping malls and endless coffee the image of corporate culture will somehow affect the reality of the moment? Glasgow is a City built on violence and class/religious hatred. Note I say hatred. Historically religious violence is played out in Belfast/Dublin, but this convenient historical manipulation as always shrouded the reality. Working class identifies have been subsumed under a media driven obsession concerned with niceness and middle class,suburban sensibilities. Corporate ideologies promotes the city as a place of "cutting edge" vitality. An image feed by the Cultural Industries and if fascination with youth.
The actuality is another reality.Corporate identifies have permeated into all aspects of fantasy realities. Football is now so over loaded with with celebrity values and a strange need to play up the role of family.Forget the fact that corporate power,by its very nature,under values the fabric of family and community. The news that sectarian violence is now coming to the fore in Glasgow should not have hit the media with the force it delivered.
Working class values have been neglected for years. This argument highlights the sense of alienation felt by most communities which co exist within our cities. People and their values have been forgotten. Separate identifies are what made the city the force it became in modernity. The news of the violence bubbling away under the surface of cultural/corporate identity should not have surprised any one with an interest in the development of globalisation and neo capitalist beliefs.We exist in a vacuum of forgetfulness.To speak about hate and power is to disrupt the lie.
Corporate power is about the lie. we exist within its glittering spectacle with out thinking.
Glasgow is only the start of a nightmare returning. Football is the place where factions gather. Violence is always under the surface. Violence never went away we simply forgot its awful power.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

times are changing..could be interresting

Its been a while my friends but the times have been confusing and disorienting. Cut backs came and organisation developed a sort of collective angst which didn't seem to go anywhere. I had no sense of collective anger or concern. Maybe its me. Maybe I wanted to feels that romantic coming together, a sense of anger ,danger even a touch of violence. But,maybe its me.I felt a closing down of the collective and a retreat behind high walls. The cultural industries have forgotten their existence. Maybe its me.What anger there was remained entrapped behind separate boundaries. The Arts Cuts was a non event. That's the problem with this industry it wanders around in a daze of self congratulation not wanting to disrupt the hand that feeds them.It all fells so old and safe.That's the secret and the power of walls. In realty they are deceptive,walls serve a double function,they keep people out and keep people in. Like wise the cultural industries trap themselves behind a false sense of importance the Arts in England are tourist traps and safe traps. In a sense we are living through the times of suburban domination.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Pete and Joan

Always lurking in the shadows of this history is the confusing impact of the Arts Lab movement, a self confessed,radical alternative to the arts scene of the late 1960s early 70s. Just how important this short lived development really was is debatable,never the less the impact on Oval and the thinking of Pete and Joan would have been partially influenced by the arrival of this short lived explosion. But the melting pot was becoming explosive,young people where declaring war on their elders and like the elders declared war on their off springs.Much as been written about those distant years,much of it covered in the glow of nostalgic self delusion .Never the less a "something"was coming together,a fusion of ideas,talents, dramas,dreams, actions.Experimentation mixed with a healthy disregard for the tyranny of the script open the doors into a new dimension. Improvisation was played out in the arts form of demonstrations and street theatre. A glorious sense of being young at the right time began to dominate the aura of alternative thinking. New ideas emerged from the growth of underground news papers and alternative books shops. Truth be told the new ideas where revamped philosophical ideologies from the 20s/30s40s/and 50s. Change was in the air but the change was superficial. What really occurred was the discovery of individuals freedoms at the expense of collective action,The Me Generation, grow out of the alternative explorations of an elite grouping who felt the change in media manipulation and set about exploiting the welcoming maze opening up before them. Capitalism was never the issue with the alternative mind set. Indeed, what happen was a new aggressive dynamism took hold.The alternative became the new "in". But within Oval House there developed a process which embraced change as a means of challenging the ideas which would fossilise within months of taking root. Pete and Joan put young people at the centre of the "club" The young person became a creative force who could explore their frustrations, dreams, ambitions in a place of welcoming and safety. Pete and Joan understood the role of exploration in the psychic of young people.This one simple,demanding,idea allowed for that special spark to ignite the imagination of a group who wanted the chance and the space in which their ideas and ambitions could grow into the seeds of a wonderful garden.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

pet and joan and play

Adventure Playgrounds appear on the scene during the gray days of the 1950s. They where the brain child of a wonderful individual Joe Benjamin.Joe observed the importance of play in the development of young people. He focused on the role of play for the inner city child. After the second world war Britain under went a major social shift with development of the Welfare State. The pre war society was fast vanishing,indeed whole communities where being reshaped under the impact of greater mobility and class fragmentation. Secure communities with their strong historical roots in neighbourhood and family ties secumed to new work practices and greater spending power of the working class who wanted to move into the middle class strata of ambition and security. The ruins of war still scared the city land scape, and out of theses ruins that a new dimension in play arose. Adventure Play. Play for young people always took place away from the household onto the streets.It was on the streets that identifies were formed ,friendship made and broken and exploration took place.But with the advent of the moter car and greater investment in public transport the streets became increasingly unsafe. Indeed whole communities became cut off from each other"kids"had to be careful of the roads otherwise they would be mowed down by cars or lorries. It was in the space left by the bombs that Joe saw the opportunity to allow kids to explore and play.Ruins have always held a fascination for humans and children.On bomb sites all around England children could transform their realities. All those vast derelict spaces created a magical landscape in which creative chaos was given free rain.In the heart of urban communities a forest of wonder sprung into life. Danger and exploration became the norm! Working class children could share in adventures which only middle class or upper class children could explore. In the ruins of war lay the untapped secrets and overwhelming creativity of children's dreams and wild adventures. Jo convinced local Governments to fund schemes where by adults,community workers and artists could work with children, on ruined sites in order to help the child to explore and develop the notion of play and responsibility. Over time the Utopian wonderland run out of steam and became sites of social control. But not before the influx of a new breed of Urban radical came into the picture. Artists and hippies arrived with even weirder ideas than the children could conjure up. Whilst at the same time the cultural scene began to blossom into ideas embracing radical,alternative politics and radical ideas with regards art and its "manufacture" The Arts Labs had arrived. Suddenly everyone could create a dream.Play had moved from children into adults.Creativity shaped a whole rang of social radical philosophy.Politics and play power intertwined into versions of anarchic meanings. Something was shifting but no one knew what or where these chaotic and exciting ideas where really about except fun, danger and exploration. A new force emerged a process which is at the core of play Improvisation had arrived.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

pondering Pete and Joan

Before moving on I want to go over some thoughts re "Youth Clubs".The history of the youth club movement is,in a sense, the history of changing attitudes with the mentality of a conservative England. Youth clubs developed from an idealisation of Edwardian England and the fear of the working classes uniting to over throw an existing class structure. Like the Scout movement, the youth club ideals represented the sense of continuity within the united kingdom and Empire.Youth clubs acted as a buffer between social unrest and social order.It was important to maintain a sense of identity based upon the invented histories of the past.Social distinction existed with the very fabric of the youth club ideology.
This distinction was high lighted by the apartheid attitude towards sex. Girls and boys were to be kept separated by a system of rules club regulations. Sex was a no go field of play.
Post war England began a slow transformation from Empire towards a second tier player in world affairs.If we look at popular culture we begin to notice a shift with the social thinking of the market place.Within music, film and fashion a new market was opening up.But the youth club movement still clung onto pre war notions of class distinctions.
Other developments began to filter into the closed world of a male dominated movement which used masculinity as a by word for preserving the values of a club ethos based upon an unchanged,unblemished code of class distinction. Girls began to appear more and more in the discourse of popular culture.Even within Oval House sexual separation was maintained by insuring activities appropriate to sexual orientation where embedded into the fabric of the club.
Out side the ethos of the youth club other movements were taking hold. Community work/action began to question the ideals of democracy,community engagement, and the very ideas of what is a community. Community democracy under mined the settled notion of a conservative country at ease with it self .
But for me a bigger development took hold.One which affected the course of Oval House and helped formulate the ideals of creativity and the challenge to paternalistic authority.That movement was the Adventure Playground movement....more on this tonite.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

touched by fire and the start of Oval House

The history of Oval House,its transformation from a Youth Club, in the old sense of the description into an educational/community/arts project began with the inspiration of Pete and Joan Oliver.This transformation is important in understanding just how brave these two pioneers where back in those distant days.
Indeed the whole history of the Oval is one of evolution/struggle and sometimes breathtaking luck.Oval House came into being as part of a do gooding project instigated within the privileged surroundings of Christ Church Oxford.
At the turn of the 20th century,privileged young men would descend into areas of poverty and inner city deprivation in order to grasp the meaning of helping the deserving poor.Giving the poor some sort of moral understanding of how the poor could escape their plight.Its a fascinating history which brings to mind the Conservative ideology of the "Big Society".Running along side the ideology of privilege imposing values upon the lower orders, came another imposition, the need to save fallen women,or women who might be in danger of "falling"Settlements where set up with the aim of training the poor in the ways of domestic servitude. These Settlements of privilege helping the unprivileged became a steeping stone into the Anglican tradition and Establishment values of Edwardian England. They also became useful recruiting centres for the killing fields of the first World War.And importantly they where bastions against the fear of working class solidarity and the threat of some imagined socialist uprising. Its important to understand the link between these settlements and the growth of the boys scout movements.
A genuine moral panic existed between the wars.Something akin to a fear of the other within insured a rigid adaptability to Conservative values,and, by implication the invented values of Empire where adhered to.
The settlements where developed within a society of extraordinary class conflict and hierarchical imaginings.
Like the Youth Club developments , Settlements held to the idea that social change was something which could not be contemplated. Satus and respect for ones betters meant a fossilised social order would and should be maintained. Any hint of disruption within the bureaucratic boundaries laid down by committee of elders would be dealt with by various punishments including exclusion from the club/settlement. Social,class difference was dealt with simply by not acknowledging the existence of such deviation from the rules of the establishment.Sport and a heavy reliance on competition and religion allowed for a bullying atmosphere akin to Social Darwinism to develop. Sexual apartheid was the norm and religion was the the tool in which to the teach the rights and wrongs of moral anxieties. This is just a sketch of what Pete and Joan had to confront.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pete and Joan

Before moving on into the recent past I must go back a bit a talk about Pete and Joan Oliver, Pete and Joan started Oval House in the idea we know. Its a fascinating history involving struggle, planning, rebellion and play.
What people seem to forget is Oval House was a Youth Club. Get back latter.

starting another "touched by fire"

Intro into another time.1984.If I'm correct this was the year when deregulation became law. Regan and then Thatcher deregulated the banking system and the world was turned upside down.No one knew the rotten devastation that was about to be unleashed on society and culture.
In this country greed started its long march into the conscious of people minds. Individualism began to eat away at the very foundations of collective/community identity. Something new had arrived and people dident really understand the onslaught gathering on the horizones.
Culture was about to implode, never the less deep in the under growth ideas and talk of equality and sexual identity, gender politics and race played themselves out in the field of confrontational politcs. Back then things were raw to the core. We sesed the arrival of something wicked but we couldent articulate the shadows moving into the focus of ideas.
Back then Roz Price hit upon the concept of creating a Carnival Band within Oval House. Back then Oval House was commited to community arts,creative play,improvisation and experimentation. Back then we attempted to encourage challange. And back then we quistioned the very idea of the cultural industries. After all most of us had grapled with Adorno. Back then we were commited to change. Change dident send shivers down our spines. Back then we saw outselves as some sort of welcoming party to age of insurrection. We had expreiance of street theatre and the concept of destruct and construct. We were not afraid of our own egos.
We knew the value of space and its place in within the evolution of creativity. We did things more different then. We welcomed people. Ideas were a challange. we were never conservative.
Back then we were radical and carring. W dident bother with reputation. We did things in another way back then.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Must be the coming of the New Age

I seem to picking the sponge of unwelcome emotions.In the land of the cultural industries people are unusually tense at first I didn't understand what the anxiety was all about, but late one cold night the truth dawned.Something wicked is coming down the track,something savage and spiteful.Cut backs are a reality creeping ever closer to the front door of most "arts organisations"
Somebody asked me the other day what I thought the Conservatives believed in when the idea of culture crops up in their minds.Its easy to dismiss the Conservative as having no aesthetic values what so ever,they do and they are deep rooted in the culture of mass consumerism which exemplifies middle England. What then is that aesthetic? In its simplistic form you can view it on BBC 4 or BBC 2 or Channel 4 or Radio 4 or the Sunday colour supplements.Its a form of lazy inquisitiveness. A relaxing way to see ones life and hobbies laid out in unworrying formats. Within this comforting spectacle is the values of mass culture for the Sunday morning seekers of identity.
The other Sunday I went over to the Tate Britain to wander around and take in an exhibition. I was in no need of inspiration or challenge, all I wanted to do was wonder and stroll.
Unfortunately I hit middle England in all its damning boringness.On mass they appeared. why?
Maybe the Culture Show recommend something. The Conservatives like their Culture secure and comfortable.To challenge is to awaken some deeper violence. Violence is at the base of middle England's search for security and pleasure.Safety against the unwelcome other lingers at the door way of their homes. Things go bump in the night and this phenomena happens all the time.In order to remain rational Conservative values must have enemies, but these enemies cannot intrude into the reality of a world based on consumption.Middle England consumes and Conservatives wreck.That's the value of the aesthetic which middle England refuses to confront.It must be told what to enjoy.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

is this the start of a new movement.

The events,protests,revolutions coming out of the middle east over the past weeks throws light on the possibilities of people power in our own country.These rebellions taking place in other countries should be a warning to the "democracies" of Western dominated capitalism .I don't fully hold with the argument perpetuated by the West,that thus out pouring of peoples power in about a shift towards democracy.Rather these rebellions,are about fundamental rights to work,education.and equality. If anything they are represent the first stirrings of a fight back against the all powerful greed of the ruling elite.
Suddenly people are not only not afraid of the murderous dictators who have been ruling over them,with the backing of Western Democracies,but they are pulling into focus the role of unelected banks and their off shots in dictating how countries and by implication societies should operate.Out of nowhere people have said enough!!Get out!!
The banks and their greed may find the new order will not play by the rules of the old order.
At last people are fighting back.
In this country,which always talks above its weight,we have an unelected Conservative Coalition who have embarked on the dismantling of society in order to implement the discredited values of the free market. The Trade Union Movement is out dated.A once proud ideal is floundering in the past.Its the young,the students, creative minds who are showing how to launch a fight back against the arrogant greed which for so long as been destroying the moral and social fabric of our culture and society.
But the media is almost silent.It sets a right wing agenda then the PM follows.
The kingdom never voted for this onslaught.We have a Gov making up laws on a daily basis,laws which to all intents a purpose appease the city,there by appeasing the banks and there by appeasing there weak but inflated egos.
Its the young who have taken it upon themselves to show what and how greed as corrupted this kingdom.Everything feels old and cruel but the young are leading the way foreword.
Like the whirlwind sweeping through parts of the world we need to embrace that dynamic energy and may bury the outdated notions of democracy into the dustbin where it belongs.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

a tired mind

Its always the same this time of year,every year its the same,year after year after year I always forget how this season of slow change creeps into my spirits, this is the season of slow rebirth and all the while the Banks stand supreme in their utter contempt for humanity, the whole system is more akin to a cult, something tells me we have been living under some crazy religion, some hysterical idea based on one over riding principle, greed, we have been conned by the oldest con in history,greed,when I walk around I smell greed,what does greed smell like, it smells raw, where is culture in all this/ where is Art in all this/ something is wrong we are losing the will to fight back,art is stagnant/its there and not there/like losing confidence it drags you into a series of misguided criticism of the self/ something is wrong/all the artists have discovered the life of the mortgage/like all of us they sold out to the advertising men and women/we conned ourselves and the seasons are chaging/and still the streets hum with hum.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

been away again

How long now two weeks? Been a while and society is moving in some strange patterns,leaving traces of the past behind whilst culture is heading so far back its difficult trying to capture what we are losing. Some time ago myself and my generation bemoaned the fantasy that the young were not as politically engaged as my own/our generation was.Well that as proved to be a stupid and arrogant assessment. Today the young are leading a fight back against one of the most rotten and weird Government's this country as had to confront in its recent history.We never voted for this arrogance. But at least Class is back on the agenda. More on at a latter date.
Strange ideas emerge from the sleep of the cultural industries. Like a dream coming into life,out of place yet with all the venom of a vipers bite the actuality of aspects of the "industry" is showing signs of fear.The young are not all addicted to becoming instant sickos on a production line entertainment factory,they don't go round blasting themselves out of existence,they don't all live in hopeless apathy declining into states of mental retardation, they don't all rob each other and they are not all wasted out on cheap booze and crazy drugs. They are holding the adult world to account.They haven't yet declared war on their elders,bot something is shifting, the culture world which lived on a false high and false sense of its own fantasy is confronting some kind of anger,some kind of irrational exploration,some kind of self discovery, something out of nowhere is blasting away at all those unsafe foundations put in place by out of touch seekers after self. For to long the conservatives who have colonised the expression and the identify of culture under the guise of "arts" have been able to cloak themselves in a shield of invisibility.
A sense of self deception is now being exposed and what is coming out from the shadows of delusions and fear is a kind of authoritarian absurdity.
I have been speaking to some young people recently about their ideas and need to quest after a self identify away from the recent past. Language and the realty of their culture existence plays a role in uncovering tensions which young people need to confront and hit out at. Language is a way into power, it is also a means of underarming power. young people will always develop codes and signifiers which hold at arms length the suffocating embrace of adults who need to control.
Power resides in language,language is our means of holding onto each other, it is some kind of entrance into a world we know and feel part of,even though we can exclude other people and communities. Language is power no matter who resides over and within that power.
When a small elite start to colonise another person,another group and start to dictate the direction of language we enter the realm of power elites.Authoritarian attitudes dominate the cultural industries.Young people are only welcomed into the embrace of the inner sanctum if and when they are deemed to have conformed to a secret set of unwritten codes.
One such code is don't upset the media.
This was brought home to me the other day when I was informed that a small one off play was criticised by a group of adults who disapproved of some language in some context in some scene.
Theatre should be concerned with the exploration of ideas,first and foremost theatre must be a laboratory of improvisation and challange. If it doesent upset it doesent work. if itdoesent challange and move ones senses it doesent work, if theatre is a comfort zone for preconcieved ideas its enterd the dead zone.
Most theatre is now safe in the grayness of the dead zone.
Its good to be back...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

touched by fire..hospitality

Hospitality,a strange example to bring into the history of Oval House,more so when I'm talking about "resistance". What part did hospitality play in Oval House. It played a pivotal role in the development and concept within which we worked. Making individuals and groups fill welcome formed part of that elusive idea "community" of ideas. How did people felt when they entered the building was of paramount importance. A community of interest embraces diversity and invites an idea of acceptance, not just of the environment, but importantly, it challenges the concept of authority,it welcomes change whilst excepting the problematics engaged in change.We the workers, where placed in a position of being constantly evaluated.We raised expectations within a highly charged creative atmosphere. Hospitality invited conflict of exceptions.People gained a confidence to explore and question. We created a melting pot, boiling atmosphere,which could become explosive and chaotic. We worked in explosive times.
It was a small group of pioneer thinkers who opened the doors to the emerging struggle of Gay politics.I became a target from some groups who felt they had a foothold and position of influence in the direction of the club. Yes CLUB,we were a club first and foremost. The theatre formed part of a creative whole.In fact my concept at the time was to challenge the idea of "the script"and the role of directer.
When I invited Gay Sweatshop into Oval House I understood the challenge coming into the club.
The homophobic backlash took me by surprise, it was a fear which came from a small minority of white liberal groups and the hate they directed at me which I found shocking at that moment,It was the friendship and courage of Judy Knight AND Roz Price,plus the always supportive Pete Freer who helped me through this period of personal abuse.Hospitality is a difficult ideology to hang on to.
The arrival of sexual politics into the melting added fire to the brew.
A whole new political dimension was exploding onto the creative sensibility. Something nasty was coming our way and I still believe we under estimated the share vindictiveness of what we would experience. Not only was creativity under threat but more importantly the whole notion of community,community educational,community identity,community structure where about to be turned upside down.This is what we felt.WE miss under stood the full awfulness of the onslaught.But, luckily some of us had a history of political and community activitasism.We could fall back on the positive aspects of 60s radical idealism.Also we had established ourselves within the local community.Our programming insured we placed a huge importance on community involvement.Oval ran Christmas "kids shows" "Easter kids shows" and a full blown summer programme which embraced the local eastes and playgrounds.
We believed in the idealism of creative play,the ideas of construct and destruct and the right to fail. Play was embedded in the DNA of Oval House.From the days of Pete and Joan Oliver,right through to the mid 90s.Play and hospitality embraced that urge to challenge authority.Part of our weekend workshop programme insured we kept the anarchic elements of play alive and kicking by developing a highly successful Circus School long before such a concept took hold.
We always led the field in exploration and never saw the need to boast.Our ideas stemmed from our membership,it was there ideas and sense of challenge which kept the momentum flowing.
I have already said Oval House was, in those days,never a was a universal home for the imagination.We where known nationally and internationally for what we where. The theatre formed part of a greater whole. And it was this greater whole which helped develop the idealism and radicalism in an age of political attack from a rampant right.
We also ran a dynamic youth educational programme, every thing was integrated in a flexible boldness.Our experience and hospitality set in motion the framework to begin the acts of resistance which are in danger of being written out of history.People to are in danger of being written out. the 70s and 80s where a challenge to the cultural exploration of England, Oval House offered a home to that challenge. That was only one of the many dynamic experiences we offered. A place of safety. A place of experimentation,improvisation,growth,danger,courage,fun,
knowledge, experience,education, a creative volcano.
Importantly,we,the staff where not neurotically concerned with authority.Our role was always to be there and to encourage.We were motivators.

Friday, 14 January 2011

upside down inside out

For the past two days the world of strange communication as been locked in some peculiar battle with the real world, all systems went into a revolutionary mode of non action and cut contact with all other systems the systems in the machine are slowly infiltrating our deeper worlds which means they the systems have realised we the humans have become addicted to the invention of non communication for some people the end of all meaning is about to take on a specific reality which terminates all other realities some moves out there beyond that exterior existantance something fundemetal to our non being what ever it is it will get closer to each and everyone of us.................................................................................................................................................

Sunday, 9 January 2011

on reflection

The sun came out today and London felt a better place.That overwhelming burden of enclosure is gone for a while never the less the mind is creeping into a state of depression,the future gives the impression of a place waiting to destroy me.
This time last year this blog didn't exist,the charity I'm trying to develop,didn't exist,this time last year the first signs of a serious depression began its journey,this time last year nothing existed except the haunting of the past.This time last year was the start of some kind of hell.This time this last year the future held out a poison hand and spat in my face .Now I look into some future and sense fear.
The Thames looks good. The new year appears on the horizon.Its a shadow.
Tomorrow and the months after don't feel good.
Something is going to explode.
The past is calling now start the journey back into the past and into the future.
Where is culture in all this?
Culture is one of the two most complicated words in the English language,its the language of process,do we cultivate in culture?
We are all touched by fire sometime in our lives,today I watched the waves on the surface of the Thames,I watched the sea gulls flying into the wind and diving out of the winds grip. Nature is sometimes invisible. Sea gulls screech the language of the sea. We forget who we are.
Today I realised that all natures predators end up destroyed. All those sea gulls will die soon but the sea gulls will still be screeching at nature when the human race vanishes.
Our dreams will have meant nothing,the ruins we leave behind will mean nothing,the detective who uncover events will have meant nothing and tomorrow I will write about hospitality and Oval House.