Ely Cathedral

I recently paid a visit to Ely.

In the 22 years since I last paid a visit to the city it was
changed a lot for the better.

A major restoration of the cathedral has left it looking like
the magnificent building it is,
rather that the rather neglected place which I remember it as
being.

There is also a stained glass museum within the cathedral
which I would highly recommend anyone to visit.

What I found of particular interest is to be found within the
Lady Chapel,
which is a very fine example of Gothic architecture.

At one stage the windows of this chapel was servery damaged
and there are now just plain glass windows where formally
there would of been magnificent stained glass windows.

Should you visit the Lady Chapel then you might notice
something else which is not ‘bog standard’ in most cathedral
buildings,
for etched in to the bottom of each window is listed one of the
bodies which has help to restore the cathedral,
with with the organisonal symbol or crest placed next to
their name.

The first one of these I noted was that of
Tescos PLC.

I jest not.

The other names include:

– The Marshall of Cambridge.

– The Mercers Company.

– The Kings School.

– British Railway Board.

plus

Barclays, Midland, Lloyds, and Trustee savings banks.

Just how one can justify the inclusion of any references to these corporate bodies as a
part of such an important historical building still needs to be seen.

Cambridge Electronic Instutries also have their own window
within the lady Chapel.

Cambridge Electronic Industries
manufactures electronic interconnection items.

It is owned by Wilson-Mottaz Ltd.

I’d be interested to learn just which companies their products are sold to?

Percentage Figures and Gross Effects.

Last week I saw an advertisement which claims that one in
eight of the people who use the tube are victims of identity
theft.

I just sat there and thought that equates to12.5% of the
population,
which must also mean that 87.5% of the population do not
suffer from any form of identify theft.

The interesting difference between saying 1 in 8
and 87.5%
is that one of them sounds alarmingly high number,
while the other sounds like  a reasonably low percentage.

Perhaps that’s why I always like to see the raw statistics,
rather than any one else’s interpretation of just what they
might mean.

When it comes to any fiscal or population figures then it
makes a lot of sense to do so.

For even 1% of a population can equate to many thousands of
people, which in turn will equate to many thousands of
individual tragedies.

When it comes to percentage cuts in public finances it is not a
question of looking at the figures,
but just what this means to individuals,
and the social impact it will have upon the population as a
whole.

There is a very good argument that all social services should
be protected.

On the other hand there is a conservative argument that
people should not be encouraged to stay within a benefits
reliant culture,
but do something in order to help themselves.

The problem with this comes with a belief that this can be
solved with a totally unrealistic and totally unatonable
‘enterprise culture’.

There is an old socialist saying:
‘ From each according to his abilities
From each according to his means.’

I would agree with the conservatives that we do need to get
away from a benefit reliant culture,
but that must mean setting up more self help projects,
while also establishing more workers & consumer
co-operatives.

Perhaps it is time to look at the figures again,
and see just what will work of the benefit of all.

Talk of cutting public expenditure by 25% may sound very
draconian,
but cutting military expenditure be 100% would be most
welcome indeed.

It might also be worth while if we could all start to think of
public expenditure in terms of encouraging social cooperatives.

If cuts are on the way, then we are going to really need to
money in to those  projects which would benefits us all,
rather than just keep paying out money to the individual.

Failure to do so will mean a lot more poverty stricken
individuals that will need some sort of fiscal help.

It’s not the percentage figures which matter,
but just what those figures mean within the real world.

More Cuts For Older People in the UK?

Having a nasty mind might is one thing,
but some times what one might be able to predict as a result of
having a nasty mind can be very dangerous.

Take for example some of the kind of underhand social cuts
which might be undertaken by the UK government as budget
savings,
but which are such that they just look like changes in the
dates of various eligibility rulings.

This is already happening from this year in terms of the
Freedom Pass,
which will be now kept in line with that of the new state
pension dates for women.

During the next 10 years the state retirement for women is
gradually being increased from 60 to that of men at 65.

My suspicion is that the next move will be a similar change in
the winter fuel allowance,
so that it also gradually moves to being the same as the state
retirement age for women.

Given that there are moves to change the state retirement
year to 67,
then such a change in all the allowances which now kick in a
60 could amount to a major cost saving for the British
Government,
and very few people would work out just what they have done.

Now if such savings might be redirected in to higher pensions,
or an increase in the winter fuel savings,
then great!

Such an increase might help to alleviate the problem of Fuel
poverty which many pensions suffer from.

Yet I doubt if this is currently on the political agenda.

If we didn’t all have to bail out the bankers,
and if military expenditure were to be slashed,
then there would be no fuel poverty,
but good pensions for us all.

It’s all a question of the right kind of spending.

The Season of Gloom and Despondency.

I think that in most ways I’m a happy bunny,
but……….

If there is one thing which really leaves me feeling very
depressed, then it is everything which surrounds the xmas
period.

This is in part because of the way in which the jesus myth is
propagandised,
and in part because of the way in which the unbridled feast of
consumerism is celebrated.

What makes this even worse is to see those who can least
afford it go on an xmas spending spree, and then find that they
land up with enormous personal debts.

What people need to remember is that there is a major
difference between I need and I want.

If I want to give my friends presents,
then I’ll do it when I want to do so though out the year.
and not just because we have reached some speculative
anniversary date.

It’s all about wanting to do something,
rather that feeling a social pressure to do so.

The other thing which gets me is the way in which a lot of
public transport services close down for anything up to 56
hours.

Like great !

– Here we are forced to take some time off work,
and we can not get away from our homes.

– So much for the excuse that we are all having time off work
in order to see ones family and friends.

If only …….. !

The only good thing about the whole situation is that it gives
me some time to catch up with my various projects,
and do some spring cleaning at home.

Oh happy days!

We talk about living within a 24/7 society,
but this only extends to 365 days minus one week in the year.

I look forward to the time when the whole xmas holiday
season is something which is confined to the history books.

Roll on !

Assumptions, or Ask A Silly Question.

I’m always amazed at the way in which people will poss a
question to one, and add a set of unsaid assumptions to the
asking.

Here is an example of just what I mean:-
Did you see ( such & such television program ) last night?

The assumption being that one would have a television
machine.

– I don’t own one.
– I don’t want to own one.

Just throw in the line that you don’t have a television,
or a television licence,
and just listen to the kind of nonsense I have had to endure
for many years back.

Ditto the assumption that one should have an extensive
knowledge about so called celebs.

What needs to be kept in mind by those who make such
assumptions,
is that being famous is no indication as to whether they have
might have anything interesting to say,
or have done anything that might be of real social worth.

Another assumption I keep hearing is that I should buy rather
than rent a flat.
Yet the very same people will tell me just difficult it is to pay
their mortgage, even though they may be earning a lot more
than anyone in libraries will ever be able to earn. Continue reading Assumptions, or Ask A Silly Question.

Let’s Celebrate!

There are many reason why we should all celebrate,
and many of these should become bank holidays.

Here are some of the days I would like to see become the Bank
Holidays of the Future.

– Good Atheist Values Day.

– Peace Veterans Day.

– Peace Movement Activists Day.

– Animal Rights Day
( Also known as Vegie Day ).

&

– Pedestrian Liberation Day

In the meanwhile it would be good if Europe Day,
May 9th,
became a bank holiday throughout Europe.

What would you like to add to this list of mine?

Things Can Change, But Not By Me Living In the Past.

Things can change,
but it might take some time for radical social changes to
become really noticeable.

I was thinking about this the other day as I reflected upon just
how few people smoke these days.

One of the things that I have always noted about politics is
that a lot of what goes on is very much based in terms of
debating the struggles the past.

Now it might all be very fascinating to a debate what we ( I ) did
in the past, but you just can’t keep doing this and expect to
maintain a clear view upon just what the current issues or
political problems might be.

Having been involved within the peace movement for over 40
years I recognise this danger within myself, but the question is
just how do I get rid of the kind of historical baggage which
comes with a long history of activism?

One of the reasons that I gave my own archive to IISH in
Amsterdam, was so that it might free me from this kind of
looking back on the past,
and thus free myself up in order to get on with some new
projects.

By and large this seems to of worked for me,
but it would still be worth while if I could do a couple of oral
history recordings within the next year or so.

That way I wouldn’t be tempted to start playing the grand old
veteran in about 20 years time,
but still get to record what I’ve done in the past.

What I don’t want to do is write up my own autobiography.

Now I might like us to note various dates in my own history,
but I would not like to write them all up.

Writing up ones own history is very much like trying to proof
read ones own work:
It’s best left for someone else to do it for one.

So now I’m looking for someone to sit down for a few hours
with me in front of a microphone.

After that it will be time for me to really concentrate upon
something new.

I’ve seen too many activists surrounded by their old paper
documents, which can hold them to thinking about the past.

I’ve also noted just how nice it is to live in a place which is not
ones own political archive.

I know just which of these two lifestyles I want to enjoy in my
old age.

Just FYI :-
What sparked me to write this has been some of the recent
work I have been doing in terms of changes with some of the
projects in which I am currently involved,
but more on them at some other stage.

Renaming and Rethinking the world.

I have a small undated J Bartholomew atlas of the world,
which must of been published around the start of World War
one.

Looking at the maps in this work is a lesson in history,
for within this atlas you will find the following places: –

Galicia,
Bohemia,
East and West Prussia,
Schleswig-holstein,
Christiania,
Siam,
Nubia,
Ceylon,
Manchuria,
Austria-Hungary,
Servia,
Peking,
St Petersburg,
Annam,
Persia,
Rhodesia,
Silesia,
Moravia,
German South West Africa,
German East Africa,
&
The Belgium Congo.

Though the more knowledgable of you may be able to place
these counties, regions, or towns upon the map,
it might prove be very difficult for those individuals who are a
product of our modern education system to be able to do so.

The point being that many of those places have changed their
names since the publication of this atlas,
much in the same way as national boarders have oscillated
over the centuries.

This is turn might be a very good starting point for a lesson in
linguistics.

Even a fleeting glance at this atlas will confirm just how
much the political map of the world has changed over the last
100 years.

It all goes to show that there is nothing static about politics,
or just how we see and name the world about us.

Yet while the Russian, Japanese, Dutch, Austro-Hungarian,
French, Spanish, British, and German Empires
of the last century have long gone,
we are still exploiting the world in the very same way.

We need to start thinking about the world in global terms,
and not via the names of states which will continue to come
and go.

Only then will we be able to start dealing with global issues
at a local level,
and not be bound to thinking about the short term shifting
needs of the nation state.

There Was Once A Saying.

During the 1960s there used to be a saying:
‘We are the people our parents warned us against’.

Now we might just of turned this saying in to:-

We Are the People We Warned Our Parents Against.

Both of these sayings are warnings about both change for the
sake of change, and not having a fluidity of mind to change
things as they need to be changed.

The problem being that as a lot of people become older they
become more conservative.

Yet this is not so much a conservatism,
as a reaction to all of those new dangers that abound,
or it could just be a very human inability to adapt to the
changes in the world around one. Continue reading There Was Once A Saying.

Words.

I’ve been thinking about the use of various words of late.

One of the reasons for doing so is because I spent a couple of days during this month at a language school to the South of Madrid:

I was talking to some of the students about Cockney Rhyming slang,
and aspects of the everyday use of the various languages which one hears within London.

Now I discover that the British Local Government Association
has produced a list of:
200 words and phrases
that all public sector bodies should avoid when talking to people about the work they do and the services they provide.

Here is an example of just what is to be found within this list:

– Baseline – starting point

– Customer – people/person

– Outsourced – privatised

– Rationalisation – cut

– Revenue Streams – money.

– Slippage – delay.

– Thinking outside of the box – Why use at all?

It’s refreshing to read that at long last there is an attempt to curtail the use of so many of these detested corporate terms.