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Saturday 30 May 2009

Lost In Translation

When a person is inspired to create something - a painting, a book, a piece of music, a dinner, a flower arrangement - it seems like it comes from somewhere else. An inspiration, which literally means something s/he breathed in. There's no personal gain to be made other than the necessity of somehow expressing - exhaling - whatever was inhaled. Surely, that is true art. It comes from somewhere else; a place beyond ego, a place where the singular desire is to participate in creation to express whatever that 'je ne sais quoi' is that blows through us sometimes, and which is always beautiful. The great artists, the great musicians always says that they do not know where it came from - it just seemed to work through them. "For the wind bloweth where it will; you know not whence it comes or whither it goes."

The idea that art is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration was surely brought from a mind that was bound up in the old - and happily, passing! - idea that we are here to labour like slaves. Sadly, most of us bought into that myth that somehow to succeed at anything requires great suffering and sacrifice, or that there must be a purpose in our creations. Watch children painting. A dab here, a daub there and they see with their mind's eye a work of art that we don't see without the eyes of that child. They have to kind of translate it for our slower brains - it gets lost in translation.

When a person sets out to create something from their own desire, it is quite different. It might succeed instantly if it is hyped by the general race-mind media, which says, "This is what people want." Art, music, literature has been handled this way for a relatively short time (about five decades, I think) but there seems to be a real return nowadays to wanting something that goes deeper than that veneer and is rather something new - not as in rushing to latest craze, but in the sense of a new creation. Unmade beds, pickled fish and so-called poems about joy riders and crime have had their brief day and happily are no longer our daily diet. The exposure of corruption in parliament, the shame of the greedy city-boy bankers, the whole sense of living in an unreal reality governed by egos has been blown wide open.

I think we are living in crucial times and when people speak of 'people power' it is very different from the socialist myth (which is really tyranny!) but is really about handing back individual power to people to live their own lives and to shake off the notion that we are anything less than Divine beings whose sole purpose here is to realise the beautiful creativity within us and to be.

On a lighter note! Congratulations the the brilliant 'Diversity' - who won Britain's Got Talent (why can't they be grammatically correct and call it Britain Has Talent ???) - what an utterly stunning performance! Congratulations to Susan Boyle, who sang so beautifully and what a gracious response to those who came first! And congratulations to Julian Smith, who clearly plays from 'another place'. Thank you for giving us such a variety of beauty!

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Shame on you, Mr. Sarkozy!

The failure to invite Her Majesty the Queen to the D-Day Commemoration is beyond belief: an insult to the only Head of State who was actually involved in the war; an insult to the veterans and their families, to those who died liberating France, and to the whole of Canada and Britain. Of all those who are participating in the events, Her Majesty is surely the one person who most wants to be there and who has the closest connection to those veterans who will be there.
What is the cause of this appalling behaviour on the part of Mr. Sarkozy? Is he so forgetful of the part Britain played in liberating his country, or does he feel a sense of inferiority and humiliation at having to be liberated? Or is he afraid that the presence of so greatly a respected figure would overshadow the adulation being heaped on Mr. Obama? Perhaps Mr. Obama himself has the same fear.
Whatever the reason, this is such a terrible insult to someone who for over 50 years has stood for the real values for which those soldiers died. Sadly the present shameful government of Britain has quite forgotten those values and prefers to run England like a police state while they cover up their own misdemeanours with ridiculous excuses and an utter failure to grasp why people are do angered by them. Small wonder that, with their minds on ways of trying to restore some faith in their own faithless behaviour and cling to power, the Prime Minister and his cabinet quite forgot that the British people have far more respect for their Queen than they have for her parliament, and we would at least have expected them to press for an invitation.
The whole thing is an insult and all those involved in its planning can enjoy being in the spotlight, basking in the reflected glory, while the Queen, with her usual quiet dignity is consigned to watching it on TV. Shame on you, Mr. Sarkozy!

Friday 22 May 2009

Grand Duchess Elizabeth & The Imperial Family

For a clearer and updated version of this, please visit Youtube:


In case the words don't appear clearly, since the images are small....

The first verse is Alix, the Tsarina singing to Alexei, her haemophiliac son; the second verse, Alix sings to her hsuband, Tsar Nicholas, after his abdication:

Close your eyes and let me paint a picture,
A landscape of a season long ago:
Starlit skies, the trees aglow with winter,
St. Petersburg beneath a veil of snow.
From high cathedral spires the bells are ringing,
Chiming through the country near and far,
A thousand voices eloquently singing,
Echoing their prayer: "God bless the Tsar....God bless the Tsar...God Bless the Tsar..."

Close your eyes and let me soothe the sadness,
The paint that brings your gentle eyes to tears.
Love prevails in spite of all this madness -
The love that we have shared through all these years.
And though the battles rage and hope is dying,
Remember who you were and who you are,
With all your heart, you'll hear my spirit sighing,
In a fervent prayer, "God bless the Tsar...."

Scandals and Power-Seekers

The appalling stories coming from the inquiry into child abuse in Ireland are utterly stomach-churning and heart-rending; and who could fail to feel for those children and all they suffered at the hands of those in positions of authority? Moreover, who could fail to be disgusted at the way in which the culprits were simply moved from one parish or school to the next, shielded by their 'badge of office' and the tacit support of those with greater authority who lacked the courage to remove them? That being the bottom line, the utter scandal of this only coming to light now (as happened in America some time ago, and will probably go one happening as more countries open their closets to let the skeletons out, and more people have the courage to speak of their horrific experiences) cannot be underestimated.

However, as someone raised as a Catholic in the late 60s and 70s - how ever far my beliefs now differ from my upbringing - I feel a need to say that, without for one second negating or denying the horror that others suffered elsewhere, my own experience of nuns (and some priests) in England was quite different. My Convent Grammar School - Notre Dame, Leeds - was a place where I felt truly valued. There was no corporal punishment in that school and there were so many opportunities of finding self-expression. The place, to me, felt hallowed in that it seemed to be built - in some way - on the idea that we could all make something of our lives, and, whether we did or didn't, it was just okay to be who we were. I was never hit or abused in any of the Catholic schools I attended and I am very grateful for the atmosphere of love and acceptance throughout my education. My mother, who attended the 'rival' Catholic convent school in Leeds - St. Mary's - in the 1930s/40s has the same feeling about her school to the extent that she went to a reunion not long ago and is still in touch with people she knew there 60 years ago.

That having been said, I am equally aware of the depths of brain-washing that goes on in any religion in which a few people claim to speak with the authority of God. On the radio, people have spoken of the reason why this abhorrent behaviour was allowed to continue in Ireland, and it is usually put down to the enforced celibacy, but I think that misses the point completely. It's not enforced celibacy that is the problem, but the fact of any enforcement at all! If someone is bullied, chances are they will either become a victim or a bully, or will learn from what has happened to them and treat other people differently. If someone is told they must suppress their own nature because some weird God despises his creation, what a mess they are in and they might act out their mess on other people. Those who step out of the pattern and treat other people differently are the real heroes in my view, and they are the trail-blazers because they don't see the need to have someone in authority telling them what is good or bad or what will get them to heaven or damn them.

It really seems to me that left, right and centre, institutions are falling to pieces. The disgust we feel about our English politicians right now...the exposure of the abuses in Churches...maybe we just don't need authority figures anymore. Maybe, if we look inside, we see that we all have the Kingdom of Heaven within. The Wizard of Oz was nothing when Dorothy eventually met him. Authority figures have lost their way. Why don't we all grow up, take responsibility for ourselves and move on?

Friday 15 May 2009

Murky Week

What an incredibly murky week for British politicians! First the naming and shaming, then the excuse of, "I have done nothing wrong...the Fees Committee passed my claim..." followed by the blaming of the system, then the dangling of cheques repaying the stolen loot as though these great people were performing an act of public service and, too late, trying to appear honourable. The anger of the nation is something unprecedented in my lifetime, and probably in anyone's lifetime.
The most telling part of it all, however, isn't whether it was claim for clearing a moat, or hanging baskets, bath plugs or patio heaters and all the rest of life's luxuries, it was the sheer arrogance of those who made the claims. Some were claiming for properties they never inhabited and the whole flipping of second homes business is exactly the same as the credit culture that played out and burst on this country. What these people seemed to miss completely is the fact that most people don't live as they do. Most people, in my experience, seek to pay their bills on time and not to play with pretend 'Monopoly' money or exoect someone else to foot their bills. The so-called credit crunch, couldn't have been invented by typical northern folk of these Isles, because most of us - though living beyond our means - don't expect someone else to foot the bill.
Who created the mess that has bankrupted Britain? The answer, I am sure, is quite simple. If we have allowed ourselves to be governed by those who see us all as guilty until proved innocent - the need for constant surveillance, CCTV everywhere, the rights of tax inspectors to walk into people's home to see if they can be taxed for conservatories and panoramas and windows (which the home owners have paid for!!) - we have surely allowed ourselves to be governed by those with the mind-set of those who see themselves as above taxes and fair play but who view all the citizens of this nation as suspects, because they themselves are suspect.
The most amusing (in an ironic way) part of all of this, is that it is the so-called socialists who have claimed the greater proportion of our money and have lived like the Lords they claim to despise.
Funny that, on top of taxes, teachers and nurses have to pay each year simply to remain on the register of teachers and nurses....Hmm....does that money go to funding someone else's hanging baskets, food bills, plasma TV or cleaning bills?
I saw a recent TV series about Stalin. Much of it was set in the Kremlin, where he strutted about so proudly - far more tyrannically than any Tsar. That is the true image of socialism/communism. Nowadays, the Halls of Westminster are clearly populated by those who preach, "Do as I say, not as I do!"

Oh, and here's an amusing thing! One MP I heard on TV said, "If we get rid of the expenses, can we really expect MPs to live on £64,000 a year?" as though it is peanuts...Well...to quote the most popular socialist of the day, "Yes we can!"
Oh, please, Your Majesty, dissolve Parliament and grant us a speedy general election!

Friday 8 May 2009

The True Face of This Country - Not the Neanderthal Government!

In a week of ugly politics and the last gasps of a failing government in which the British parliament has been compelled - quite rightly! - to wash its dirty linen in public, the most repulsive image, to my mind, is that of John Prescott's impression of Gordon Brown. Regardless of physical appearance - after all, John Prescott is anything but an oil painting himself! a case of the pot calling the kettle black! - that image that was all over the newspapers shows the way in which we have allowed ourselves to be dragged into the quagmire. The yob, binge-drinking culture that is so often presented as the picture of Britain today, is epitomised in that image. If a country is led by foul-mouthed, grasping, porn-watching or lap-top-throwing thugs, who can't even agree among themselves, how can we expect anything better from the young people of this beautiful place? As several M.P.s declared themselves ashamed of their political party, those responsible for this ought to be more ashamed of the image they are presenting to the world. Do they have any idea of the traditions of this country? Do they, while they stick their fingers into every pie, interfering in education, in medicine, in grasping every penny through tax; while they steal (really) from other people's money (inheritance tax, death duty, stamp duty, VAT on everything) have any idea of the brilliance of so many young people here today? Young people who seek role models and leaders who are upright, who don't abuse their position, who have something about them which so few members of this Cabinet - or perhaps Parliament as a whole - seems to grasp at all. No, of course, they have no idea. They are far too busy trying to remain in power.

Happily, out of the quagmire, there emerged a voice which instantly resonated with the entire nation! Joanna Lumley's quiet voice and perfect diction spoke right to the heart of the matter. With little more than a glance, she quieted those ego-centric voices and took them to the cleaners because she was speaking for someone other than herself. No wonder the vast majority of people with whom I have spoken, admiring both her style and her real 'class', and still more her commitment to a worthy cause, wish she could be Prime Minister!

Now, another image - the picture on this post. Comparing the quiet dignity of Her Majesty, the Queen, to the ugly, ugly image of a thug doing an impression of a megalomaniac...Whom do we want to represent England? What are we about? Well, I think the shady goings-on in Westminster shows the depths of 'something is rotten in the state...' but the reality is way, way beyond their petty understanding. Out pops a Joanna Lamely - and, more importantly, behind her the Gurkhas who nobly committed themselves to our Queen not a government or a grasping political idea, but to all the Queen represents; or Her Majesty, herself, who has served this country for over 50 years...Those who think they have power only see it implode on themselves. Those who have their own quiet dignity are the real face of this country. They represent the beauty, the dignity, the lives of those who don't appear in newspapers but who uphold the real values of this nation. They are young and old. They are of all different skin colours and many spiritual paths. They - we - are nothing like the thug-culture of our parliament, presented so succinctly by that gross impression of Gordon Brown, made by his friend John Prescott.

Crikey!! No wonder, with so many snouts in the trough, they brought in swine flu!!