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Bold As Love revisited: What Didn't Happen

Friday 31st January, midday, grey and blustery; feeling slightly colder. Incessant rain continues, it's like Noe's Flood, are we up to forty days yet? Although it isn't actually raining outside my window at the moment. I seem to have spent most of this week preparing Bold As Love (Episode One) for Smashwords. Coming back to this story, I remember being told (thirteen years ago now,) how silly, how utterly unbelievable, it was to have rockstars getting involved in politics. Why not? I remember thinking; and saying. Artists get political, they take posts in government, ever heard of Vaclav Havel? But in hindsight, looking back, here on the eve of Bold As Love's Year of Dissolution (2015), with the army getting drafted into flooded Somerset (to the derision of the natives), and Michael Eavis, the patriarch of Glastonbury Festival, spearheading demands for drastic action** . . . I recollect that I really didn't make it up about rockstars gettng enlisted by the politicians, not at all. I'd seen the exact thing happen, in the Eighties (Red Wedge) and in the nineties (the even more hapless Cool Brittania). That wasn't my "what if?" It was the the other thing, the other half of the equation. I'd seen successive waves of street-fighting civil unrest sweep the UK through the eighties and the nineties. Thatcher vs The Miners, the Poll Tax riots; pitched battles between hippy Travellers and police; between anti-road protestors and police* I'd seen the Green Party pop up, like a political vehicle for all this dissent, and I imagined, what if this was the new politics? The suits vs the protectors, and the protectors getting frightening, looking dangerous, with this mayhem-causing barmy army at their back?

That's what didn't happen. The barmy army did not get organised, the gentle people remained gentle, and still are, by and large, to this day. It was the UK State that got organised, and weaponised, and (arguably) turned into a bit of a scary monster. Please consider signing the petitions below.

My Fracking Roundup

Mixed messages from Cuadrilla, who are now applying to test for oil flow at Balcombe. Mr Egan vows "we do not intend to hydraulically fracture the exploration well at Lower Stumble now or in the future". Good of him. Nobody fracks an exploration well. It wouldn't work. You drill a new hole. This is the kind of announcement that the informed greet with derision, but it matters little, as the intention is to fool uninformed public opinion.

If you feel you can make an informed case against the "flow test" proposal only, object to the new application here:

Meanwhile there seems to be a genuine delay in Lancashire See also The Daily Express

On the other hand, among the "red tape" issues Cameron plans to tackle, to protect strugging small businesses (like fracking exploration companies!), from over-the-top EU regulation, is the matter of special oversight for fracking, owing to exactly such issues as large volumes of Produced Radioactive Water. (I happen to know this, because I signed up for the 10 Downing St bulletin, and read the pamphlet).

Also (you'll recall) preparing the ground for removing that pesky thing where you have to apply for a property or landowner's permission, before drilling underneath them.

Meanwhile, BP is withdrawing from the Arctic. Pour mieux sauter? Or have they decided to go all renewable? Congratulate them here:

Trials of Balcombe protectors continue in Brighton (Caroline Lucas MP will be up before the beak in March). Read all about it here

And Greenpeace's no fracking petition has suddenly taken off. Definitely worth signing now.

Department of I Wish I'd Said That

I don't think I say often enough how much I appreciate New Scientist, even though I keep grinding my teeth over lifestyle, health and medicine articles artlessly citing "Americans" or "the American public" as their go-to basis. NS was never so shockingly insular in tone when it was a British global overview magazine for the sciences. Many thanks to Rick Bradford of Gloucestershire (I wonder how the go-to readership pronounces that word), for his Haunting Thought (4th Jan 2014).

"Physicists know that matter isn't the lumpen stuff we usually take it for. The closer you look at matter the more it dissolves before your eyes . . . So people shouldn't worry that there is no ghost in the machine. The truth is quite the opposite. There is no machine. It's ghost all the way down."

You can maybe find the whole letter online, but I've forgotten my password.

Ha! Information space! The Zen Self project lives! One of these days, somebody's going to get interested in cracking that mind/matter barrier, and then I'll be well pleased. If also spooked.

Last Sunday, in an interval of sunshine, we went walking in King Death's Garden, full of new birdsong (and a sizeable flock of goldfinches, a few long-tailed tits; not exactly singing, more cheeping) which is where this snowdrops picture comes from. Visiting the past, finding it hadn't waited for us, in a Proustian mood of learning that the places we love, the trees, bushes, significant gravestones, are alas as fugitive as the years, and promising ourselves we'd come back more often, Keynote image of the White Cliffs (why mess about, when you have the obvious on your doorstep?) is of course the proposed new Bold As Love cover. Coming soon, should I ever beat the Smashwords pointless challenge.

And normal service has been resumed. It's raining horribly now. I'll be back next year.

*hence the heaps of references to car-use as a flashpoint, in Bold As Love I; that's how it was, back in the day.

**mechanical river dredging, btw, which Eavis has been calling for, has its drawbacks. Definitely not the barmy option.

Patriotism Is Not Enough

Friday 24th January. Quiet weather, cool and dull. No rain! No wind! It's a miracle, I might be able to oil wash the fruit trees today if I get round to it. Remember Edith Cavell? Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone... (or something like that) That's an artist's impression of her in the picture, softer but not too far off the existing photos and it's there so I can encourage you to sign a petition calling for her image to get onto a £2 coin, as a counterweight to that glorious warrior, Lord Kitchener. Don't know about you, but I am finding this World War One love-fest hard to stomach. At least, thinks I, they could have had the grace to celebrate the end of the hostilities, not the beginning. But it doesn't work like that, does it? There wouldn't be much point in this big soppy love-letter from one World of Warcraft to another, if it was about the guns falling silent. Edith Cavell was an Aleutian Trilogy icon; her monument in St Martin's place attracts the attention of Bella, in North Wind, ; I took that "patriotism is not enough" message to heart in my nineties feminism. Being a gender warrior is not enough, lay down your weapons, make peace in the battle of the sexes... Seemed like a good idea at the time.

The BBC ran a kind of "where are they now" feature on nearly-made-it people from WWI, including one of my personal icons (can't really count Cavell in that category), Franz Marc . The judgement on Edith Cavell said, "she wouldn't have been famous if she hadn't got shot". Hm. She wouldn't have been such a gift as propaganda material but if you check out her career, I think it's a crass comment.

Anyway, you'll want the bad news about the Gagging Law. The House threw out the Lords' revisions: secret lobbying by big business will now continue unabated, whereas charities and ngos will face the restrictions and have to bear the burden of increased bureaucracy undiluted. Also in the news on this issue, some mildly interesting candid MP responses to clictivism. What I was saying about being able to express my opinion? In some small way? They really do not like it. Voters should not have opinions. I should just shut up and vote.

While I still can.

Smashwords: a pointless challenge?

I've been meaning to try Smashwords for years: have just embarked on preparing the text of Bold As Love for the dreaded "meatgrinder". Wow, this is complicated, and it doesn't help that the Style Guide is written in an almost impenetrable US dialect (which probably tells me something). On the plus side, if I can create a completely clean virgin text, it will not only be eligible for conversion into every different kind of epub imaginable, it will also be a thing of beauty. I can use it to refresh my primitive Amazon Kindle version of the book (which would probably improve reader satisfaction) and I will get that daft feeling of elation utterly pointless challenges give you: like collecting all fifty gold skultulas, figuring out the Angular Isles puzzle, or beating the Savage Labyrinth with no potions. On the minus side, when I looked at the smashwords site (at last) I was surprised that the library seemed so thin (isn't smashwords supposed to be huge?), and a little disconcerted by all the very, very stern warnings about making sure my content is fit for the innocent eyes of under eighteens. . .

Ah, it turns out I had the Adult Content filter on. Different animal without that. And I really don't think I need worry about my content.

Anyway, I've started so I'll finish. If I get accepted for the Premium class, fantastic! It might make up for never having snagged that pesky last Big Octo.

Looking forward to going out to Peter's birthday dinner tonight (not his actual birthday, date of his actual birthday is a closely guarded secret, I have no idea why). And next week, what excitement, I get to talk to the Arboriculture Department (Somewhat under a cloud, since the Save Our Tree affair, but I think they're okay really) about my young windsown elm tree. Which is not sick, thank god, but has got big enough to be pruned, and I need to ask an expert.

Silver Linings, Princess of the Spirits

Friday 17th January, dark skies and violent showers. The flooding finally reached "us" today, the Balcombe Tunnel closed this morning, misery for rail travellers, and the A23 closed at Bolney. How long has this been going on? I've lost track. Besides causing them to sleep twenty hours out of twenty four and suddenly get active at three am, it's playing merry hell with my cats' sanitary arrangements. Despite litter trays, even the good cat (that's Ginger) has been known, over the last six weeks or so, to look at the weather, first thing in the morning, and decide an al fresco wee isn't really necessary: hey, I'll just do it on the doormat, nearly outdoors; they'll never notice! The spray we bought to dissuade this activity has a list of DON'TS on the back label, including DO NOT SPRAY THE ANIMAL.

Huh? Insane. Whyever would anyone think of doing that? I wondered.

However, I've now been very close. Many thanks, thoughtful label writers. You saved me.

I finished Windwaker last night, after a long, fragmented time of voyaging on those oceans, klling Big Octos, madly sorting letters and clearing pirate infested reefs. Good game, I enjoyed it, but would not rate it with Twilight Princess or Ocarina of Time. Way ahead of Skyward Sword however. Next, I am planning to revisit Okami. Then decided to watch Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime), first time in a while: what a beautiful movie, unflinching, painful, pitch-perfect: the most serious and the best of all Studio Ghibli's productions, in my humble opinion. Now I'm pining to watch Spirited Away again, soon as possible.

Some good news (qualified) on the Gagging Law:

Long live clictivism. Used to be, my individual opinion meant nothing to nobody. All anyone wanted me to do was trot down to the Polling Station every now and then, and put my X next to the candidate from one of two or three (I mean, being serious) political parties. None of them (yes, I said none) gave a flying xxxx what I really thought or felt,on any specific policy or development, and none of them (yes, I said none) felt any obligation to keep any promises they made in the excitement of the chase: as long as I would check that box and keep them in power. Or get them into power, or at least keep their enemies out. But now, thanks to 38 degrees and all, I can say yes, I can say no! It's brilliant. I'm a bit in the world's machine!

Some ironic news (qualfied) from Greenpeace on the Celtique Energie proposal to raise an exploratory drill rig, with a view to hydraulic fracking, in the South Downs National Park. (WHAT???) The Park Authority was so unprepared for protest, a mere 1200 or so objections "broke" their website. But it's mended now. Comments on the proposal are still being accepted, until 22nd Jan.

Some interesting stuff on frack free Fernhurst's facebook page also, especially a discussion on what I've long suspected about this "exploratory drilling" bonanza:


Robert Hichens: Thanks to greywyvern for his comment. I'd forgotten all about The Green Carnation, until I saw it mentioned in the Wikipedia entry. I read it a long, long, time ago, liked it a lot and didn't realise it was defaming anybody's character at all. Now I want to read it again! My parents had a copy, with a green carnation on the spine, I remember: I think it must have been the 1948 edition. Gone with the wind, of course. My longtime favourite Hichens however is Bella Donna. I just discovered there's two movie versions, wonder if I'll seek them out.

The Malice Of Fortune Excellent antidote to the asinine Machiavelli feature in the BBC's current Imagine series (which I've found very hit and miss). Starring one of my favourite historical characters, plus Leonardo da Vinci (not such a sweetie), a historically verified incredibly beautiful courtesan, a serial killer and (Yes! You guessed it!) a whole slew, absolutely mountains, of viciously tortured and dismembered young women... Gets a bit repetitive going round and round in the middle, a few too many with one bound he was free moments, but I really like the way Ennis hides his "monster" in plain sight, by the simplest of sleight of hand, or rather pen. And the way he withholds his seriousness of purpose, to confound you with it in the end.

I find myself thinking, but stop jeering at this mad popular taste for the inventive slaughter of young women, Gwyneth. What if it's inescapable, the truth about the world? As true as what Freud found out, and then buried. What if it's one of the pillars of our universe?

Going out to see American Hustle tonight. Not my kind of movie really & I prefer the young or "Katniss" Jennifer Laurence (Winter's Bone), to the probably more true to life Hollywood luvvie (Silver Linings Playbook). But perhaps I'll enjoy it.

New Herbs #2

Tuesday 14th January, bright and clear blue sky, a touch of ground frost in the early morning. Exhilarated at having finally extracted my Old Venus payment from PayPal (what sticky fingers!) I have otherwise achieved absolutely nowt so far today, except stare out of the window at goldfinches, bluetits, starlings and the Lonesome Squirrel, single returnee from the mysterious Squirrel Purge of 2013. Not very varied bird action in the garden this year, so far. Maybe they'll appear if it gets cold.

Have I mentioned what a fantastic winter we're having? England's afloat, and in all the fuss about flood precautions, David Cameron let slip he thought the extreme weather probably WAS, on balance down to climate change?*and did you see those space pictures of the ice storm (not really a Polar Vortex, as we all now know) over the USA, looking exactly like stills from that silly Day After Tomorrow scare movie? Bizarre! *He quickly realised he'd misspoke himself, and got the Met Office to issue the old "no single extreme event can be attributed to global warming aka climate change" line. Absolutely right, of course!

But they all can.

Ah well, no point at all in yelling DO YOU GET IT NOW! No use suggesting people put a pan of water on the hob, add heat and see what happens to the fluid... Of course everyone gets it.


Department of Never Say Die Continued
(My Fracking Round-Up Jan 2014)

The first trial of protestors, arrested at Balcombe last summer, began at Brighton Magistrate's, Jan 6th. I couldn't make it, but here's the account (entertaining):
All defendants were acquitted. The Judge remarked that the police seemed to have poor memories, and concluded that the protestors' actions "were reasonable in the circumstances and that they acted with dignity" Our judges are still like that, here in the UK. They tend to uphold the law. They haven't had any death threats yet; haven't had their children snatched and terrorised on the way to school, or any stuff like that. Give it time. I'll definitely be at the trials in March.

Meanwhile, Total has become a player in UK fracking, with a massive public boost from David Cameron. Bad news, and yet the story made it big on the BBC newsite, close on 2000 readers thought it worthwhile posting a comment (at close of play, the Editors' Picks rather favoured the objectors than otherwise), and there followed an actual forum on the to frack or not to frack issue at">Barton Moss. Which is a first. A crack in the wall of silence.

Please, if you're a UK resident, consider submitting an objection to the Celtique Energie application to frack for shale gas in the South Downs National Park.The current deadline is 22nd January. Frack free Fernhurst has more information.

submit an objection

You can also still">submit an objection to Celtique Energie's application to drill at Wisborough Green, as WSCC has asked Celtique to supply more information (their planning application really was a disgrace) & the deadline has been extended until March.

for more information see: WSCC councillor ransley's blog
the sad story of West Chiltington

Keep chipping away. Never say die.


Went to see the Katniss Everdeen show #2 (I mean The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) for our Christmas outing, in the basement of the Odeon on the seafront (luckily it was a calm night). Much better than the book, good idea to ditch all the "Peeta has talents!" business, not needed when you have real actors, and boost the revolution. I was never really planning to, but I don't know if you'd get me inside a Center Parcs now. I'd never be able to enjoy the fencing or the tree climbing, I'd be waiting for the poisonous fog and the mad mandrills the whole time.
Desolation of Smaug (the B choice) will have to wait for the small screen.

Also The Bridge on the tv. (Saga show ~2) Same monochrome, same nightscapes. The thriller plot seems a bit pointless, this is no Edge Of Darkness, but it's fun trying to follow the ramifications of the soap opera


Joanne Harris's Gospel According to Loki, of which more later, and Robert Hitchen's The Garden Of Allah. A suspect character, he definitely had issues, but I got fascinated by his sultry stories & intrigued by his fascination with Islam. I used to collect Edwardian bestsellers long ago: I'm rediscovering them since we cleared the loft. I thought the Garden Of Allah, his really big one, was slow, florid and talky, forty years ago, but I'm loving the languid pace and the over-the-top colours now. The movie (I've only seen the Marlene Dietrich one) is a long way off the book.

New Herbs

Sunday 12th January, unbroken cloud and still air all day; darkening early, feeling cooler. The starlings came out immediately they saw me this morning, they've been denied service for a few days as I was poorly, but the dried mealworms have resumed today. Not too poorly, however, to attend the Anti-Gagging Law meeting in Brighton on Thursday 10th (see below). Or to get my hair cut yesterday (long overdue), with the special treat of being driven there in the car. This blog has been silent for a while due to Christmas and New Year festivities, and my drive to finish my new book; of which more later. The decorations are down, the Christmas cake is nearly finished, the tree has been lingering in the area basement due to evil weather but will be delivered to the Dead Xmas Trees corral on the refurbished Level this evening. The Cheese Mountain, created by certain massive cheese fanciers failing to turn up to Xmas dinner parties due to evil weather, had been reduced to about 100g of smoked Ashdown Foresters. And Mrs Woozle, my friend Jacq's cat, has returned, after 5 weeks missing. Definitely the best news I've had all year.

Department Of Never Say Die

Went along with a friend to St Mary's Church Kemptown on Thursday 10th, to attend a meeting, sponsored by 38 degrees, panel and discussion, about the Gagging Law, aka Transparency of Lobbying Bill (LHII*). I'd turned up to deliver a petition about the deficiencies of said Bill to my MP before Christmas, and found myself in a crowd of 10, so I wasn't expecting much. On the contrary the venue was packed (and St Mary's is a big old church, which I had never been inside before, handsome Victorian gothic). It got loud at times. Our chairman at first attempted to convince the assembly they should be quiet and dignified, and never, never jeer at a speaker with whose honorable opinions they happened to disagree. Or make groaning noises, or hoot. He must never have tuned in to the Parliament Live channel. In the end he gave up, possibly conceding the point about how the honorable persons comport themselves in that little green chamber. Me, I'd have felt sorry for Councillor Graham Cox,, in the Coalition's corner, the MPs for Hove and Portslade and for Brighton Kempton having found that they were unavailable. Except he was so happy in his work, just sat there grinning like a coal scuttle, secure in his conviction that we were all loopy outsiders, losers. Telling us silly nanas that no proper charities would be affected by Part II of the Bill. All they have to do is conform to the new regulations, operate exactly the way the Coalition wants them to operate, and everything will be fine.

The mood of meetings of this kind really isn't the fault of the participants Like those naughty badgers, this government has moved the goalposts! Only like, last week, it was okay to be charitable. Even caring about the rule of law or the fate of the planet was still respectable. Voters might well be divided on these issues, but it wasn't a political division. Now suddenly it is. Charities; advocates for justice and human rights, for the poor, the marginalised, the suffering, are a clear and present danger to the Coalition. A Shelter campaign or a Foodbanks petition could swing the next election. These rogue organisations must be stifled, their work must be made so difficult and costly they'll be forced to quit. . . Honestly, look at the evidence is it our fault?

Oh, and by the way, if you belong to a Union, the government has a right to know it and to do what they like with that knowledge. And no strike ballots, if the membership record of any Union, however many members, hasn't been scrutinised and found to be perfectly current and perfectly in order.

One day soon, dear uk readers, if this Bill gets passed, you'll find out where this "chilling" business is heading.

Sorry, mate. It says here you've donated to CAFOD; you once signed a Friends Of The Earth Petition; you've written a letter for Amnesty International. To be on the safe side we find it's better not to employ political activists. (most of the above redacted, of course)

So you aren't getting the job.

You think I'm joking? I'm not. Check out the construction industry blacklist story.

Anyway, special thanks to the person who had taken the trouble to look into the backers of the Transatlantic Trade Agreement, and who gave us chapter and verse on the kind of access lobbyers on behalf of this ruinous plan, such as the City of London has to the Coalition government. Could their mother tell them apart?

(didn't catch his name. You'll find this entry short on names. Links to stories, as opposed to vulnerable organisations already too deep in doo for it to matter, are taken from the BBC)

Mr Graham Cox only showed a hint of temper once: it was something about "computer generated politics"

Me, I say thank God for Clictivism. The dirty old internet has to be good for something.


Although its opponents are losers, muddled, and out of step with the vast majority of feeling in the UK, The Transparency of Lobbying Bill is now getting tinkered with, and there's been some movement. If you haven't signed the petition, please consider signing it now

This photo is of Ginger sitting in the sawdust (blocks we use for kindling & they tend to disintegrate) with the last remains of festive season in the bgd. The keynote is my new year's posy. On new year's day I went out, as is traditional, cut sprigs of pine, rosemary and ivy for my bedside table, and put the dried lavender that's been holding the space there into the tinder box. So here we are in 2014,& by Chinese reckoning heading for the Green Wood Horse (not as nice as it sounds). I wonder how things will turn out.

*LHII is an acronym I may have made up, it expands to Like H*ll It Is. Transparency of Lobbying, in this Bill, means that persons in the employ, or on the board of say, Total, BP, or City of London eg, who happen to have a quiet chat, and discuss something of interest and profit to all parties, are NOT lobbyists, because it isn't their job description, they do not have to be registered and their activities shall remain off the books and invisible. Only professional lobbyists, who are already obliged to be registered with the APPC so everyone they work for and why is already on the books, will be affected.