An Au Revoir, with reblog.

Back here, briefly…. Monday night’s storm was right overhead…I felt like the attached cartoon….Leunig, not the dog


and then, at 7.30 a.m., there was an almighty CRACK! and I thought the house was hit. Pantomime panic as I ran round in me jammys, (barefoot…. Ouch!), checking cats, chimneys, and cardiac arrest potential.

Nuttin’ obviously struck so back to bed, clutching Rasta the cat.
Came down at Dawn (Dawn being a state of mind, it was 8.30 a.m.), to no electricity, and an exploded inbox for broadband. The lid was a charred lump of plastic, 12 foot away from it’s wall. The landline was shot, too.
One of the lessons from 24 hours without broadband, was to always print out your ferry ticket for imminent journey as soon as ye get it….
There were other lessons, maybe for a future blog;  however, for now,  I am looking forward to quite a long spell off line, off on a roadtrip to visit dear auld women friends, and dearly beloved  second son, … and happy that on coming into ‘puter before I leave gave me this gem of a blog to repost…enjoy!

Cunning Hired Knaves

I took great satisfaction in watching Russell Brand wiping the floor with the egregious Evan Davis in the above video. One of the things I liked most was the way Brand supplemented his habitual mateyness with a certain edge: he refers to Davis as “mate” and pats him repeatedly on the knee, but at the same time, warns Davis not to patronise him. It is a moment of subtle sharpness. Davis doubtless lacks the self-awareness to know he is being patronising.

Brand isn’t to everyone’s taste. He has a chequered history, some questionable acquaintances, and has said and done some grossly sexist things. This, believe it or not, is not that uncommon in men. You wouldn’t put him in charge of anything. At times he can say dubious things, but here he was quite sound. He voiced solidarity with the Fire Brigades Union, the Focus E15 Mothers, and rebutted Davis’s…

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Ireland, Water Wars, Human Rights, and some Big Questions…

crowd, 1

A Press photo that I can’t credit.

On Saturday I took the train down to Dublin for a Right2Water Demonstration, without any particular thought of being a photographer…or else I’d have taken more batteries! There had been talk of maybe 15,000 people attending; the last demo that I went on in Dublin was on a day of worldwide protests about GMO crops, and all of 300 people turned up…… I seriously thought my demonstrating days might be over!

When I arrived, Dublin was at a standstill, and at the end of the day it was estimated that there was at least 100,000 people there….certainly, when I went to catch my train home, after three hours, with batteries dead and me exhausted too, the last of the march had only recently left the Start place, and the beginning of the march was yet to arrive back.


crowd at R2W

Not my photograph, and sadly can’t credit it.

There were professional banners made by a whole range of left wing political parties, Unions, and Campaign groups, campaigns against Fracking, and against mandatory fluoride in our water, (a crime! No other country in Europe adds fluoride, though I believe some American States do.), but what captivated me was the home-made signs folk had brought.
when God....


Some of the humour may be lost on non-Irish…a jax is a toilet!


Careful now


Sadly out of focus, but I did like "Keep calm and have a bubble bath!". Not so funny for mothers wondering how they will protect their children's health if they can't afford water.

Sadly out of focus, but I did like “Keep calm and take a bubble bath!”. Not so funny for mothers wondering how they will protect their children’s health if they can’t afford water for baths, or to flush the toilet.

Enda Kenny is the Prime minister of Ireland, (I can't spell the Irish title for him!)

Enda Kenny is the Prime minister of Ireland, (I can’t spell the Irish title for him!)


Note overhead helicopter. The PPS refers to people’s individual National Insurance numbers; now, Irish Water is NOT a Government body, it’s a semi-privatised, For Profit company, and has no statutory right to ask for PPS numbers….The Irish Government is a shambles when it comes to bringing in Household charges, Water charges, etc, as it appears to have no central records of who lives where, who’s on a private water scheme, who has only a rainwater system (me),etc, . In the event, they are trying to frighten people to sign up for a water tax, by threatening to cut people’s water down to a trickle…. learning from Detroit? Shameful!
Then there’s the matter of the water meters they are installing, with no consent sought from householders, and reports that they emit radiation, a real health hazard.


Money for water has been taken from Road Tax, (whilst the roads are in a parlous state); from Income tax, (which hits middle income folk the worst), from VAT, which is rated very high here, and from Property tax. Meanwhile, there is a vast amount of water lost in leaks, in an antiquated infrastructure which needs urgently to be overhauled.
The Irish people are picking up the tab for 47% (!) of the Banker’s Bailout in Europe…the gap between the Haves and Have-nots grows ever wider. Pensioners, Carers and Education are all facing cutbacks, and the way that the Water Tax has been brought in is the last straw for many folk. It was remarkable how people of all ages, and from all walks of life and all areas of Ireland, came together….Thank God there was no rain, and the atmosphere was wonderful.

Of course, the whole issue of water begs a LOT of questions…

Would people have come out in their thousands to protest for people the world over who have no access to clean water?  Probably not.

Should the Government have been educating people about how clean water is a precious commodity, and finding ways to encourage people about how to conserve water, and not to waste it?  Undoubtedly.

Should Government be more transparent about how all the various taxes people pay are utilised?  Of course.

Are water charges inherently wrong? I’ll stick my neck out and hesitantly say not necessarily, because although water IS a Human Right, purifying water is no doubt costly, and essential to a nation’s health. However, denial of water to people who cannot afford to pay is wrong, and could cause even more health problems which would tax the health service.
Irish people have always ‘paid’ for water via other taxes; perhaps charges would be more acceptable if presented in a transparent way, and designed to be a completely fair system. Perhaps.

We’re seeing wars over oil, and protecting oil pipelines, worldwide, but future wars will be about water.

About 4 years ago I objected to an American friend about American Big Business bribing tinpot dictators in Africa, to be allowed to privatise their water supplies…Why were they wanting to sell water to Africans? She said “don’t be naive, Charlie, it’s for when America is short of clean water, and they’ll ship it to America.” I had read that 40% of American fresh water was irrevocably polluted….you can’t wash water. In campaigning against Fracking I’d come across the quote “All the water there will ever be, already is.”


To end, here’s a photo of a dear friend, and the wonderful water pump he carved in wood.

Dave and pump
And the story behind the making of it, in his words.

“I was disappointed when I learned that all the trees on our street were to be cut down. Although many of these were old and nearing their life span, many were healthy and mature and gave a full leafy aspect in the summertime.
For the sake of enhancements to the footpaths, cyclepaths and the calming of traffic, the Council argued that more suitable new trees could replace the mature ones. The other reason given was, “the upgrade of utilities” which turned out to be a euphemism for water metering. So, in March of 2013 the tree cutters arrived and took out 40-50 years of mature growth, leaving dozens of stumps ready for removal as the roadworks got underway.

For years I have been photographing old cast iron pillar fonts all over Ireland, from which communities drew water as a shared public resource. Many around the country are still in working condition and others abandoned relics;
The question arises, are we to also to abandon the principal that water is a human right, owned by the citizens, only to be privatized and commodified for the benefit of some tax exile oligarch/overlord?

It struck me that the dimensions of the tree stumps which remained on the street resembled that of the pillar fonts and that a tree itself reaches down into the ground for water just as people did at communal wells in times past. I selected a stump, still putting out leaves in a last gasp at life, (which I had incidentally photographed the previous autumn) and determined to make a replica as an affirmation of shared social values in opposition to the kind of free-loader capitalism, monetizing everything for the benefit of the few.

And so I began carving on site with a vague notion that I would work there and allow people to see the piece take shape. The interest of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists was evident and many voiced their admiration and encouragement for the effort.
I decided not to seek any official or bureaucratic permission. The project had an exciting open endedness which I enjoyed. I was testing how far the conventions of the art system of selection, curation and approval could be circumvented and officialdom denied the policing of what is permitted as art. Inevitably and as expected it was not too long before a Council worker arrived and said the work could not continue.

A period of uncertainty followed. I asked the workers on the job if they could cut the stump out for me. Understandably, while always helpful and friendly, they were preoccupied with their work and vague about who might do it and and when, if ever, it might be done. I was always prepared that the work might come to nothing, except the satisfaction of having attempted it. The day came when the half-worked stump disappeared and I then reconciled that I had made a good try. Later, to my delight and surprise one of the workers called to me and infomed me that the stump was at the depot waiting for me to collect.
I set to work.

Now, after a year the sculpture is finished and ready for the ‘launch’. That is, the anti-water tax march, Dublin, Saturday, October 11th, 2014! Was this always my deadline?”

And from me again…one last photo. What a Grand Day Out!
m4w 19

A wee update to my last post.

This was my last piece for the Fundraising for Gaza exhibition in Galway; a calligraphic

version of Khaled Juma’s poem:

Final 2 DSCF9546

This photo shows the (sometimes tortuous) stages along the way…. Assorted roughs, 2, DSCF9553 And here’s the final stage of the piece…can you spot the mistake? ROUGH DSCF9542 I’ve written before about the curse of being a perfectionist…and about the illogicality of being a left-handed calligrapher…Well, there I was, at 11.00pm on the night before the Opening, filling in the colour of the outlined words. Being left handed I worked from right to left, (not to smudge the paint), and on the fourth line from the bottom I come across the first word…. ant….I’m like, What????? At that late hour, I had to just squeeze in the W, so the diamond shape does not “read” perfectly….and so it goes!     Gallery Opening IMG-20140912-00105 After a three hour drive to Galway to deliver pieces, we went for a great, Al Fresco meal in Eyre Square, relaxed, and watched the world go by, playing Spot the Tourist,Guess the Nationality, and Spot the Students! When we went back for the Opening it was overflowing with donated artwork, and the gallery was so well attended that people were overflowing onto the street…Thank heavens it wasn’t raining! Lots of red spots to show pieces sold….Great! Wandering happily to our hostel at 10pm, on a wonderfully balmy night, there was entertainment all the way up Shop Street…and loads of tourists and revellers…a great atmosphere. Homeless man and dogs  2 IMG-20140912-00118 This man was a great singer and guitarist, and we perched on a shop window to hear him sing. He was homeless, sleeping in a car with his two dogs, who were delightful, well fed and friendly and so well behaved…(especially for a Jack Russell and an indeterminate terrier!). It made me think how life can go from cruising along, reasonably happy and reasonably secure, to tumbling out of mainstream society in a few small disasters, a run of bad luck or bad planning. There appears to be an ever widening gap between the Haves and the Have-Nots…I thought of this brave and caring man as we tumbled into freshly laundered sheets for a well earned rest, and it made me sad. Here is a piece in the exhibition that really struck me…as an artist I did not have the money to purchase it, but I was glad I had a few euro for the man and his dogs…There, but for the Grace of God, the help of good friends in the past, and much Luck along the way….. Charcoal girl, IMG-20140912-00108 (I believe the artist’s name was Shona McGillivray).

On the Origins of Fuck Part 2: But what about the D?

So glad that I stumbled across this! Not least for the calligraphy, which I love…Would that we could scrape out mistakes off vellum these days!

so long as it's words

Last week I got to visit the manuscript that started it all. The one with the brilliant little note in the margin insulting some unpopular cleric with one of the earliest recorded instances of the word fuck:

whole page adjusted Brasenose College MS 7, f.62v [photo mine, with thanks to Brasenose College, Oxford and Llewelyn Morgan]

What this picture shows is one full page of a fifteenth-century manuscript. The two main columns are a section of Cicero’s De Officiis – a moral treatise on good behaviour – which was the second-most frequently copied text of the Middle Ages. And at the bottom of these two columns someone has come along and written the following:

1.  false are the works wich this Abbot writ in the abbie of Osney alias Godstow 1528
2.  O d fuckin Abbot

This handwriting is found on several pages throughout the manuscript and, very unusually, it gives us…

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The Supermoon, Social Media, Genocide, the Sisterhood, and Why Some Artists Get up In The morning.

Well, it’s been a hectic few weeks since the Supermoon…a veritable roller coaster of deeply disturbing world news, with a blog writing itself in my head all the time but not given the space or time to manifest. And now I’m at risk of alienating readers with my outspoken views….. so it goes.

Super moon, 3 DSCF9379
A few days before the full moon, I was making signs for a candlelit vigil for Gaza.That evening I sat out on my verandah, bathed in moonlight, and I had an overwhelming feeling of Oneness with all Humanity….One World, One Sun, One Moon shining down on all Beings….one Earth to cherish.


Super moon, 1 DSCF9376

As with sunsets, it’s impossible to convey the feeling off a full moon with a photograph…you need to feel the temperature, hear the sounds of the night….but when I see this photo the feelings I had that night all come back to me.


And yet for most of the last two months, I have not been meditating in the Peace and Light, but have been immersed in the growing outrage over what has been happening in Gaza….hardly reported in the mainstream news.
I have a Love/Hate relationship with Facebook, but it has been one of the only sources of real news from and about Gaza. Articles on the 66 year history of the conflict, photographs showing the extreme disproportionality of the bombing from Israel compared to the rockets from Gaza, with appalling consequences for the Palestinian civilians, and reactions from Jewish people and holocaust survivors speaking out against the Zionist Genocide…for that IS what it is, plain and simple.
And on social media, ordinary people are educating themselves, finding a voice and coming together to speak out….we cannot just ignore what is done “In our name”.
It doesn’t take too much thinking to find out why this information is not in mainstream media… World governments, and the shadowy Capitalist drivers behind the Governments and the Media, have been funding armaments on both sides, with the self-interest of accessing oil, and protecting “their” supply lines;  when you are tied in economically, morality can go out of the window.
With the dearth of real news in the mainstream media,. it fell to social media to inform people, and the facts and images were truly horrifying. I won’t burden you with that, but I do believe that the increasing outrage, horrifying daily reports, and photographs of people coming together in massive, worldwide demonstrations may have contributed, in small part, to the latest ceasefire.

I live near a small town in North West Ireland, and every week a small group of us gather for an hour; it has been great when folk stop to chat about what’s happening in Palestine….when there was no real coverage on the news.

There is a page set up on Facebook, Light in Support of the People in Gaza, which encouraged folk worldwide to light a candle on the 9th of August at 10 pm, take a photo and post it up.Here’s a group of friends at my house, where we had a simple meal together, and stood in silent meditation for Gaza. It felt good to share heartfelt thoughts and prayers with other folk all over the world.

Vigil 8 DSCF9242
Vigil 7 DSCF9218


After four young Palestinian brothers were shot dead whilst just playing on a beach, a freelance photographer, Brian Farrell, put out a call for 300 children to gather on a local beach here, to represent the 300 children killed in Gaza; 320 children turned up with their parents…( I commandeered my Honorary Granddaughter!)and similar projects were done in the south of Ireland.On the actual day of the gathering up here, the number of Palestinian children killed had gone up to over 418, by the latest ceasefire the number was over 500. His photograph was featured on the front of the Irish Times, but sadly, the ceasefire in the headline below the photo did not last for any length of time.

Rosses Point, County Sligo. Photographer: Jordan Cummins.

Rosses Point, County Sligo.
Photographer: Jordan Cummins.


Another project started on Facebook was ‘I Remember the Children’, where people put up bouquets of flowers in places local to them, with inscriptions remembering individual children who had been killed; I put up some flowers from my garden, in town, remembering two 13 year old twins who had been killed…

Flowers DSCF9175

Inscription DSCF9184

I was told that no Irish person would ever remove commemorative flowers from the roadside…but sadly someone saw fit to remove the label.WHY? People have been posting up such photographs of flowers all over Ireland and Britain, and some further afield, and in too many instances other people have removed the signs…I replaced the flowers and made a new sign, which thankfully has not been removed.
2nd bouquet IMG-20140819-00053
It was lovely that a commemorative bouquet was also put up for the only Israeli child that has been killed so far. Every child is precious….
It seems such a small gesture, but there have been heartwarming messages from people in Gaza, who have been touched by these gestures of solidarity for them in their plight. So many children left orphaned, so many shattered families grieving for children who’s lives have been so cruelly cut short….., and thousands of children injured, both physically and psychologically. How will these people EVER rebuild their shattered lives, homes, livelihoods?

It is 66 years since Britain, and the Oslo protocol, ‘gave’ Palestine to the Israelis, and Zionist forces expelled 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, committed 31 massacres, and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns…and how many more resurgences of war on Palestinians since then? At least three, and with a backdrop of constant bullying from the illegal settlers and Israeli armed forces in the streets…when the USSR collapsed there was a mass migration of Jews from Eastern Europe to Israel, and they have been illegally settled on Palestinian land.
At the end of the 19th century, Jewish people made up half the population of Jerusalem, but only 5% of the population of Palestine, with 10% Christians and 85% Muslims; all subjects of the Sultan of Constantinople, in the Ottoman Empire, an Empire with no frontiers, living in peace together……until the Brits, French and Italians went to carve it up……the rest, as they say………

So, what about the artists getting out of bed?
The time honoured role of creative people since the first cave paintings, the first written words, is to reflect; to mirror back an identity to their society. To work from, and for, Love…not just for money.
Here is a powerful piece from a Palestinian artist…it moves the heart far more than just words.


Along with small projects for Gaza, I’ve been involved with the campaign to stop Fracking on our tiny island. We had a 40 mile Tractor run of protesting farmers, with 140 decorated tractors joining in, and another event with a cavalcade of fishermen towing boats with signs, wanting to protect the pure waters of Ireland…(with typical Northern Irish humour, their groups are called F.A.R.T., Farmers Are Resisting Tamboran, and S.O.W., Save Our Waters..) We had choirs putting on performances, and a camp at the quarry where, unknown to the uninformed locals, drilling rigs were brought in at 4.30 a.m. I won’t elaborate on all that here, but we did manage to halt, however temporarily, the illegal setting up of a test drill. When politicians and councillors are offered “sweeteners” to turn a blind eye to the letter of the law, ( and Boy! that sure happens…20,000 euro given to a local business forum…), by multi-nationals who will be here just long enough to sell on in a Ponzi scheme, reap their profits, and get out before the pollution and devastation hits the fan, the ‘common people’ must keep their eyes open!

The timing of that, and the ceasefire in Gaza, allowed me to step back from the fray for a while, which was very serendipitous timing as I had an old friend from Scotland coming to help me sort through my chaotic shelves and drawers and stacks of artwork….I needed her to drag me kicking and screaming, and cast a professional eye over which pieces should go on the bonfire pile; clearing the decks can clear the mind summat wonderful!
My birth and adopted sisters are spread all over the world, but thank heavens for the Sisterhood! Three more dear friends came over for a day to help me blitz my woefully neglected garden, and seemed happy to go home with artworks and calligraphy…fair trade is infinately more rewarding than mere commerce, and breaking bread together and catching up with the craic is much more fun!

So now, I must return to the drawing board, producing artwork for a fundraising exhibition for Gaza. (However, as “Procrastination is the Art of keeping up with Yesterday”, I might just nip into WP to read all the posts I’ve missed from my favourite bloggers!)

  Rough photo of Gazan boy drawing DSCF9451

Gazan postcards mg730

I’ll end with one of the most poignant poems I have read for a long time…it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.

Rascal children of Gaza 10511089_10152644865839470_7591458270492350188_n

A light in support of Gaza, 1 DSCF9470