The November 30th Strikes

November 23, 2011

Conservative Party hypocrisy reached a new high today, when The Sun published an article in which David Cameron calls on public sector workers to defy their unions, by not going on strike on November 30th. The phrase the Prime Minister used, which really quite sums up the sort of post-modern irony that seems to run the veins of the Coalition, was a beautiful:

“most did not vote for this”

He is of course referring to the vote for public sector strike action on the 30th November over pension reform.

Unison vote: 245,358 voted in favour, 70,253 against.
National Association of Probation Officers Union: 80% vote for strike action.
The National Union of Teachers: 92% in favour.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union: 4 to 1 in favour.
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP): 86% In favour.
Society of Radiographers (SOR): 84% in favour.
Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP): 64% in favour.
Among others.
Over three million will strike. The Prime Minister believes it is illegitimate to strike, because most public sector workers didn’t vote in the ballot. This of course, simply adds to the breathtaking level of hypocrisy in the Prime Minister’s already weak argument.

It is true that most public sector workers didn’t vote. Even so, the unions that did have a huge turnout, were almost identical in respect to results, as those with low turnouts. For example, whilst Unite only managed a 31% turnout with a result of 75% in favour; the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) managed to get 66% turnout with a result of 86% in favour. Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) managed a turnout of 66.3% and a vote of 79.19% in favour. I’d say it’s pretty conclusive. But it strikes me as insanely ironic that Cameron would even have the nerve to bring up democratic legitimacy. The irony is beautiful. The turnout for the public sector strike vote among unions was around 27%. Pretty small overall. That being said, only about 2% actually voted against strikes. A stark contrast to the 67.6% of people who voted for any Party other than the Conservative Party in 2010. If we’re talking legitimacy after a vote, I’m pretty sure I know which is truly illegitimate, given the scale of reform since 2010.Let’s apply Cameron’s wording to the election and its aftermath:

The tripling of Tuition fees.

“most did not vote for this”

The abolition of 150 PCTs/Control of budget handed over to GP consortiums.

“most did not vote for this”

Rise in VAT, which the Tories said “We have no plans for” and the Lib Dems described as a “Tory bombshell waiting to be dropped”.

“most did not vote for this”

Radical pension changes.

“most did not vote for this”

On the last point, the radical pension changes can not in any light be considered ‘fair’. If we look at what the Government is saying; that a teacher retiring on £37,000 will now get a pension of £25,000, as opposed to £19,100 under the current scheme… sounds like a pretty good deal. But here’s the problem; for a pension of £25,000, the NUT says a teacher would have to work to 68, rather than 60 for the pension of £19000. What this means is if a teacher were to retire at 60 under the new proposals, he/she would receive £13,800…… £5300. Work for eight years longer, pay more, get less. That’s the new scheme.

Danny Alexander told the House of Commons on the 2nd November:

“Yes, we are asking public service workers to contribute more. Yes, we are asking them to work longer, along with the rest of society, but we are offering the chance of a significantly better pension at the end of it for many low and middle income earners.”

– Interestingly, this is nonsense. The document that Alexander is referring to, is the ‘Public Sector Pensions: good pensions that last’ (what a vomit-inducing title), in it we are given the example of a 40 year old male civil servant with 18 years of service, and would only have to work 18 months more – to the age of 61 years and 6 months – to get his existing pension deal. If he were to retire at 67, he’d have £3700 more than under the current scheme. Here’s where it is nonsense. Channel 4 pointed out that if you use the calculator on the Civil Service website, that man would actually only take home £2,567 more. 30% less than Alexander suggested. To even get near to the same pension as they’re currently due, the average civil service worker would have to work close to five years more than now. In contrast, Downing Street has been redecorated to the tune of £680,000 of public money, since May 2010. Just saying….

Baroness Warsi warned:

“Millions of public sector workers could be forced to strike against their will.”

– Oh the hypocrisy. Thousands of students will now face crippling debts, against their will. A report on Radio Leicester this morning highlighted the problem caused by deep austerity (remember, MOST voted against deep austerity in 2010) by showing that since this time last year, homeless rates have tripled in Leicester. Libraries have closed against their will. By June, 240,000 public sector workers had lost their jobs, against their will. GPs are being handed 80% of an NHS budget, against their will. Baroness Warsi really is a disaster.

Overall, the government intends to increase public sector pension contributions by 3.5% by 2015. The TUC says that this amounts to a 3% wage cut. They call it, a tax on working in the public sector. It essentially raises around £3bn a year. Coincidentally, the Chancellor ruled out a tax on bankers bonuses, that would have raised £2bn a year.

It would appear that the Coalition don’t understand. The High Pay Commission this week found that Executive pay is astronomically high, rising hugely even during recession, whilst the rest of the Country had to deal with rising inflation and flatlining wages, followed now by public sector pension attacks and the burden of the nation’s debt placed onto the shoulders of the Nation’s 18 year olds. Barclay’s bank saw its Chief Executive pay increase 5000% in 30 years, whilst its average employee saw his/her pay increase just 3 fold. In 1980, the average pay of the man at the top was 13 times more than the average employee…. now, it’s 169 times more. Collective, The report ends with:

“Stratospheric increases in pay are damaging the economy – distorting markets, draining talent from key sectors and rewarding failure. There appears to be little truth in the myth that pay must escalate to halt a talent drain in executives.”

– Executive pay is in no way linked to company performance. For example, as share index of FTSE 100 companies rose just 7%, average pay for bosses rose 32%, average pay for their employees rose just 2%. Renumeration committees are sordid little greed affairs, and it all remains very very private. It is wrong. So, given that Chief Execs. of financial institutions; a sector that caused the entire globe to become engulfed in the flames of sovereign debt crises, have been given massive tax breaks, and have seen their pay increase beyond anyone’s idea of a reasonable level whilst they ride the tide of consumer demand calling themselves, quite amusingly, “job creators” at every possible turn to defend their obscene life styles, knowing full well they have a plethora of multi-millionaires in the Cabinet to defend them…… the rest of the working World is expected to sit down, shut up, and take the Tory-led economic raping like a good little bitch.

The 0.1% at the very top, are taking even more, funded by cuts to wages like that of the public sector pension reforms. Teachers and nurses are funding the luxurious lifestyles of Britain’s banking chiefs. The Government absolutely fully supports this.

This is why I fully support the strikes next week.

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Usama Hasan – A hero to the Islamic World.

November 12, 2011

On Wednesday, I met Jesus.
He is a shop lifter from Poland.
He lives in London now.
And his mother is from Stoke.
And yet, amusingly, this isn’t the most ridiculous religious nonsense I have been subjected to this week.

My Atheist entries are usually aimed at either Theism as a whole, or Christianity. I am not usually one to take a shot at Islam, because for some odd reason, I associate anti-Islam sentiment, as being pro-EDL racist nonsense. This worry has faded recently, as I’m happy to admit I dislike Nationalism, and religion in equal amounts. Modern Islam is in crises, which poses a crises for the entire World; this needs to be discussed and debated. We must never be afraid to cause offence through reasoned questioning. Islam is a religion that tends to demand our respect, despite in the large part, not deserving our respect.

On the 28th February, the enemy of critical thought and free inquiry (thus, the enemy of humanity) Islamicawakening.com praised the Masjid al-Tawhid in London, for dismissing the Imam of the Mosque; a man named Usama Hasan.

Mr Hasan was dismissed, for the following reasons:

– He was dismissed, for free thought and critical inquiry. He was dismissed for embracing 21st Century intellectual reasoning, and fact. This, is why religion is dangerous in the modern World. The Mosque would rather indoctrinate its congregation, in 7th Century myths. A Warring-tribesman like mentality. A mentality that holds the concept of Jihad, at its very core. Jihad, is often noted to be a war in defence of Islam. It is a little bit misleading, in that the overriding goal of that rather regressive form of Islam, is defence, by conquest. Close all avenues of critical reasoning within the education system, to perpetuate a single way of thinking; the Islamic way. If people dissent, threaten them. This is “defence”. Let’s take a look at certain Hadith:

Paradise is in the shadow of the swords

– Conquest, central to the passing into Paradise.

Anas b. Malik reported that a person said: Allah’s Messenger, how the non-believers would be made to assemble on the Day of Resurrection (by crawling) on their faces? Thereupon he said: Is He Who is powerfnl to make them walk on their feet is not powerful enough to make them (crawl) upon their faces on the Day of Resurrection? Qatada said: Of conrse, it is so. (He adjured): By the might of our Lord.

– Utter contempt, promoted through fear, for anyone who doesn’t believe. Religion is just a man, with a knife threatening you until you give in.

Someone asked, “O Allah’s Apostle This (ordinary) fire would have been sufficient (to torture the unbelievers),” Allah’s Apostle said, “The (Hell) Fire has 69 parts more than the ordinary (worldly) fire, each part is as hot as this (worldly) fire.”

– Here’s that fear thing again. Fire isn’t hot enough for us non-believers (and we’re still supposed to respect this?)

Islam, if it is to demand respect, needs to modernise. It is at a crossroads right now. There are certainly forward thinking Muslims (Usama Hasan for example) who recognise that dialogue with the Secular World, as well as other religions, and embracing scientific truth, is the way that we progress. Islam can be a source of great scholarly pursuit, as it has in the past, but only if it wins over the minds of those who shout the loudest; the fundamentalists (of which, the number is pretty high). There are two roads; regressive literal Islam, or progressive allegorical Islam fit for the 21st Century. Christianity took a long time to note that its cosmology was vastly mistaken. The Earth is not the centre of the galaxy. It took a long time for Christianity to admit it is wrong. I wonder how long it’ll take Islam to admit that its weak dismissal of Evolution, is based entirely on misplaced belief rather than any sort of evidence. We all have a duty to question, to inquire, to be suspicious of authority and challenge it. That is how humanity moves forward. Islam is working in the opposite direction.

Hasan has had death threats because of his position on evolution. Fatwa’s issued against him. And all the while, it is he who people are condemning. Much like the Danish cartoonists who drew the Muhammad. People tend to blame the cartoonists for being “disrespectful” or Hasan for stirring up trouble or Salman Rushdie for writing a book. Those of us who believe in the methods of the Enlightenment need to stand up and point the finger of blame at the moronic sect of Islamic fundamentalists who seem to be so insecure in their irrational delusions, that they respond to any form of criticism, from a cartoon to actual fact based inquiry like that of Hasan, as a disgraceful attack worthy of death. A writer of a book is not worthy of death. A cartoonist should not be threatened for drawing a picture. We should not be afraid to cause ‘offence’. Offence, in this instance, is a by-word for progression. Hasan has the opportunity to bring Islamic thought into the 21st Century. But apparently, this is unacceptable.

A Kufr was issued against Hasan, which can be seen here. It comes across as a childish prank. It takes a while for a reasonable human being to realise that this is written by grown men. By adults. All because one man actually takes the fact of evolution seriously. One of favourite lines from the Kufr is:

The belief that the origin of man was the apes then this is disbelief in Allah
because it involves rejecting the Quran and what the Muslims have agreed upon, nay, what the humanity has agreed upon, because it is now clear that this view is utterly false devoid of any truth.

– It is clear that belief in a God, nay, belief in a personal God, who stays silent for 200,000 years of human history, and then intervenes by giving a book to illiterate Middle Eastern Tribesman, full of inaccuracies and mistakes, 198,000 years later, and then sits back for 2000 years as competing fairy tales over the nature his existence and his expectations, like a dictator in the sky, like a Kim Jong-Il nutcase, is utterly false and devoid of any truth. To claim that of evolution, and pass that dismissal off as “clear”, is a disgrace. It is beyond stupidity. Why on Earth should I be expected to respect this?

They quote Ibn Uthaymin, to give some sort of credit, or precedence to the issue:

“If he cannot be stopped except by this method, and he further
becomes an active caller to this atheism and disbelief then it is obligatory to execute him because he is an apostate.
And apostate must be executed.”

– This putrid form of Islam must be fought, argued against, and destroyed. It is a cancer. Thankfully, Ibn Uthaymin is now dead. The World is better off without him. The World would be even more better off, without the bile that he represented.

One of the more disturbing features of the Kufr, from Uthaymin:

It is incumbent upon the headmaster to refer his case to his superiors so that he could be kept away from education. It is also obligatory to monitor him outside the school to make sure that he does not mislead others.

– You might be mistaken for thinking this is the edict against Gallileo in the 17th Century, for proving that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe, flying in the face of religious dogma. But no, it is modern day Islam. Do not think for yourself. Do not question. Do not teach children any different to what Islam teaches them. It stinks of insecurity; that, maybe, if left to their own thoughts, humans will shake off the crippling shackles and thorned crowns of organised religion for good. This is unacceptable to organised religion.

One more criticism from the Kufr, is:


Usama Hasan spoke at the launch of two separate secular initiatives, 1) the infamous Quilliam Foundation (headed
by Ed Husain and Majid Nawaz) and 2) British Muslim for Secular Democracy. While at the first launch he
championed what he called ‘Islamic-Secularism’, at the second launch he clearly stated, “Muslims have no problem with political secularism. But we reject a metaphysical secularism that says or pretends that God does not exist” In other words, his Islam has no problems with doing away with the Islamic laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc, so long as one believes in a God. Hence, his denial of the obligation of Hijab, the punishment for apostasy, and promotion of a new ‘modernised’ marriage contract which neither requires a Wali nor witnesses as stipulated by Islam – the very marriage contract which was referred to, by Sh Haytham al-Haddad, as the ‘Zina contract’.

– What this seems to be suggesting, is that personal belief is a great evil. It must be dogmatic, and forced. Islam, according to certain “scholars”, should rule your life. You shouldn’t attempt to question or hold your own personal belief. It is rigid, an ideology that requires full docile indoctrination and robotic like acquiescence. How vile.

Long gone are the days when Islam was the beacon of scholarly endeavor and innovative ideas. The days when Islam introduced Greek texts to a Latin audience facilitating the Renaissance. Or translating and introducing the thoughts of Aristotle into Islamic philosophy. Or translating the cosmological argument into Arabic. Or introducing us to Algebra whilst Christianity decided it was all heresy (much like Islam is doing now). These days no longer exist. What exists now, is dogma.

When I’m sat in a Church, and I hear the Catholic congregation repeat phrases, or sit in prayer, I get the unnerving sense that this is all just one big horrendous cult, like a dream. I get the same uneasy feeling, when Muslims use the phrase “Mohammad…(peace be upon him)”. It seems robotic, and something I’d expect from the old Roman cults. It is no different, in its essence, to when Aztecs would sacrifice an animal (or sometimes, a human) every morning to make sure the sun rises. This is where it all starts; silly little word games.

Islam today, is like a kicking and screaming child in a supermarket, who wont take no for an answer. It doesn’t like to be challenged. Or told it is wrong, when it is quite obviously wrong.

There are voices of reason though, that must be promoted. Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, a leading Muslim scholar in Britain, showed his support for Hasan, by saying that it is unnerving that people can quite happily denounce someone as a “non muslim” for simply challenging orthodoxy. He is correct. The death threats have to stop.

British Muslims for Secular Democracy set up a facebook group pronouncing their support for Hasan. They have 900 members on Facebook for their own page, which is great. These are the progressive voices of Modern Islam, that need to be heard, and yet are increasingly silenced by the loud, uneducated, vicious voices.

A very helpful post on the Islamicawakening forum explains the Islamic issue with evolutionary theory:


No matter what the case is, the origin of Bani Adam is not a monkey, it does not go back to the monkey. This is a contradiction to what Allah has informed us about Adam in the Quran, Adam’s creation was very detailed and all of his details in his creation was given to us, it is complete. Nothing about monkeys was mentioned. His creation was clear, he was a human being and all his descendents for 10 generations were human beings. Nothing was mentioned about developing or evolving from monkeys.

So my question is, do we abandon these definitive information, which is no doubt about (from the ulema), about how Adam was created? Do we abandon that because someone (Darwin) said this theory? If someone tells you there is no city called London or Makkah, you wouldn’t entertain him because you know that it exists. So Allah Azza wa jal tells us Adam was from dirt with His own two Hands. The ulema have no doubt about that, the intelligent (the uqela) have no doubt about this whatsoever.

– Allow me to attempt to address this line by line (or there abouts).

“No matter what the case is, the origin of Bani Adam is not a monkey, it does not go back to the monkey.”
– All this, from a religion that claims to preach ‘modesty’. What horrid bullshit. We are not the descendants of any type of modern ‘monkey’. We share a common ancestor. We can go back further, and say we share a common ancestor with absolutely every vertebrate on the planet through the unlikely survival of Pikaia Gracilens (the first vertebrate). This is all important; it progresses our understanding. Evolution is fact. It needs to be taught as fact. I doubt any Muslim would argue that gravity is not true. To argue that evolution is not a fact, is the same as arguing that things wont fall to the ground when dropped. It is absurd. It is ignored for harmful superstition and delusions.The story of human evolution, is also the story of modern biology and genetics. I’d advise any Muslim who strongly believes that Darwin’s beautiful idea is wrong, to pray when you get sick rather than seek medical advice. The great Ukranian geneticist, whom dedicated his life to the study of genetics and evolutionary biology (and so certainly knows more about the way humans work, than the piss poor attempt by the guy above) once correctly observed that:

“nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

– So I reiterate; if you truly disbelieve evolutionary theory, then stay out of the hospitals and the GPs office when you get sick. Sit at home, and pray. Otherwise, shut up and accept you’re wrong. Very very wrong.

“If someone tells you there is no city called London or Makkah, you wouldn’t entertain him because you know that it exists.”
– Exactly right. How ironic. His religion is telling me, metaphorically that London doesn’t exist. And then using that argument, to make a very weak suggestion. We know that evolution is a fact just as we know that London exists. To say London doesn’t exist, even though it quite clearly does, is exactly what Islam, Christianity, Judaism, are doing, and forcefully.

“Allah has informed us about Adam in the Quran, Adam’s creation was very detailed and all of his details in his creation was given to us, it is complete. Nothing about monkeys was mentioned. His creation was clear, he was a human being and all his descendents for 10 generations were human beings. Nothing was mentioned about developing or evolving from monkeys.”
– Then “Allah” is wrong. More specifically, whoever wrote the Koran is wrong. Allah doesn’t exist. So it would be absurd for me to suggest he is wrong. The desert tribesman of the Middle East, whom wrote the book, were wrong. And unsurprisingly, given that they were writing at a time when the Earth was the centre of the universe, flat, and no one really understood what the hell was going on.

“So my question is, do we abandon these definitive information, which is no doubt about (from the ulema), about how Adam was created?”
– It isn’t definitive information. But he’s right; there is no doubt about how Adam was created. He (along with all other homosapiens) evolved. Absolutely no doubt whatsoever in that one.

We can of course point to this adolescent and miserable time in Islamic history, as a product of Western Imperialism’s support for dangerous dictators who used Islam as a way to control a population and controlled dissent with a steal fist. Or we can blame Israel. Blame can be thrown in any direction. The problem is, that by its very nature, by the words of its book, it is dangerous. If we take Israeli aggression out of the question, if we look at the hypocrisy and downright disingenuous bullshit of British muslims who refer to Iraqi muslims as “brothers and sisters”, the nature of the Koran is war and spreading its message through war. The only way this kind of regressive ideological nightmare can be stopped, is if, as Sam Harris puts it;

Muslims learn to ignore most of their Canon, as most Christians have learned to do.

– Islam really does have a choice to make. It either sticks to the fundamental regressive nonsense of the Koran as literal truth, or it does what much of the Christian West has done, and try to justify hatefilled verses, by claiming that really, they’re just analogies and full of love. Either way, they’re losing.

The form of Islam perpetuated by what is now termed “Islamists”, is simply holding back free inquiry, which progresses human understanding, because it wishes to cling onto an outdated and violent tribal imperialism codified in its Holy book. This requires a backlash from the secular and Atheistic World. It is the reason I am a member of the British Humanist Association. “Islamist” nonsense should be argued against and ridiculed at every possible opportunity.

The sort of religion perpetuated by the Masjid al-Tawhid in London is not personal and it is not about spirituality. It is the dogmatic type, that forces its dangerous fairy tales on its followers and deals harshly with dissenting voices regardless of how sane and correct those dissenting voices are. It is the type of religion that tells people in Uganda that condoms cause AIDs. It throws rockets across arbitrary lines over who should rightfully control Jerusalem. It flies planes into buildings. It cuts pieces of skin off of a little baby’s genitals. It perpetuates the myth that Homosexuality is unnatural (by the way, homosexual behaviour has been noted in around 150 species – including the grayling, the domestic chicken, the African elephant, and the common racoon…… homophobia and the need for ‘Gods’ has only been noted in one species – you tell me which the most ‘unnatural’). It indoctinates at a young age. It held back the enlightenment. It is a fucking curse on humanity.

When one walks through a mental institution and hears men talking to imaginary friends, one thinks “this guy is insane”. But when it involves more than one man, and can issue fatwa’s and make a defiant attempt to block any form of free thought and human progress on pain of death unless it glorifies their dictator of a God, then we’re apparently supposed to give it some credit, respect it, and point the finger of blame at anyone who ‘insults’ it.

Insult it, ridicule it, question it, fight it.

Muslims like Usama Hasan should be held up as heroes of Islam and organised religion, in a modern World. Whilst we may disagree with his belief in a God, we must appreciate that he is supporting a version of Islam based on personal belief, rather than its current guise; conquest.


We are the stars…

November 5, 2011

There is a sort of innate beauty in reflection. The mind can be a rather chaotic place, and reflection is a curious calming influence.

Quite some time ago I came to the conclusion that there is no God. I came to the conclusion that there is no after life. I came to the conclusion that this life, is what is important. It means, as difficult as it may be, living in the moment is the only important part of life. As i’ve discovered, living for the future is extremely destructive. One has to be impulsive, and take a chance. This is how memories are made. It doesn’t mean I have to make a great impact on the World, or that I need to somebody important; it simply means that understanding the absurdity of trying to find order or meaning or purpose in a chaotic, indifferent universe, is the route of all worry, and the route of all fear, and once you come to terms with your life as being a part of that absurdity, it is truly enlightening. You realise that this life, is decidedly important. I am the product of 250,000 years of human evolution. I am the product of fourteen billion years of universe expansion. I am, quite literally, the product of star dust. It is simply awe inspiring to know that the material that makes up my left arm, could have come from a distant star explosion, and a completely different part of the universe, to the material that makes up my right arm. We are made from the same ‘stuff’ that makes everything.
We are the stars. Everything is connected. We all come from the same pin point. A split second before the big bang, from something that makes a single grain of sand look like the Empire State Building. We are the Universe trying to understand itself. This, is beautiful.

When I notice someone or something that I consider to be beautiful; I get a sort of rush of adrenaline. We are all the same. Beauty is innate. I want to understand what it is that makes that person, or that thing, who or what they are. I want to know their favourite colour. Or what they dream at night. To know that everything is so tightly connected, is to open the doors to curiosity. It simply makes you want to learn about everything and everyone, because by doing so, it enriches yourself. I want to tell them that I am over awed by the fact that nature has, in all its infinite possibilities, of everything it could have produced, of the millions of possibilities offered by DNA, achieved as close to perfection as is possible. Words are my way of articulating to someone that I am taken in by their beauty. Photography is my way of capturing what I consider to be beauty and sharing it. By photographing something, I am saying to people “this is what I love”.

Reflection on all you see, and all you know, and the nostalgia that it naturally produces, is a product of the mind. The mind is a product of everything that came before me. Reflection has therefore, an in-built beauty. I thought I would share a few photos, that I have taken on my travels, to attempt to highlight the experiences that I feel have moulded me into the person I am. They aren’t supposed to be the most artistic photos. Simply photos that I felt a great need to capture, and that almost always figure, somehow, into my reflective periods. These are the constants. The concepts that anchor me to a certain path.

This is Rome. The Esquiline hill. The Maecenas gardens once rose beautifully on this hill. It is sort of overwhelming, to understand the spectacular history of an infamous culture, and to stand in its centre. Millions and millions of people will never get that opportunity. I did. That amazes me.

Quite possibly, one of my favourite spots in Rome. I am sure you can see why.

My first real taste of how vastly human understanding of the World is different, depending on what part of the Earth you stand on. Istanbul taught me that no one is truly individual. We all succumb to abstractions. Istanbul’s larger than life abstraction, is Islam.

The Blue Mosque made me realise just what humanity can produce, if it tries. What an incredible building. To think that we have minds, that if cultivated properly, can produce buildings like the Blue Mosque and its incredible prayer area and dome, or produce scientists like Newton. Or writers like Hemmingway. To know, we all have minds made from the same substance, has to be the most inspiring incentive known to man.

Spring is my favourite season. Bradgate park is a place I have been going to since I was a baby. I remember being in the car, and driving down the road toward the entrance, knowing the brightly decorated little ice cream shop was only over the next hill. My curiosity at the fact that deers ACTUALLY exist and are not just a product of Disney. I learned to love the smell of freshly cut grass, at Bradgate. I’d toddle over to feed the ducks. They’d eat it. I’d laugh. This picture to me, epitomises spring and Bradgate. As a kid, I loved it. And this guy, as an old man, is drawn to playing, like a child again.

There is nothing more in life, that makes you feel as if you’re in a romantic French film, than sitting on an underground Metro to Montmartre, and having a French violinist play right next to you. You intertwine the sound of the violin, with the sound of the train, and the scene changes and suddenly you’re walking through the Parisian streets with the stars, like tiny holes poked in a black canvas flickering subtly above. This is what Paris does to you.

This is the south coast of Devon, on a Spring morning. I try to do this at least once a year. My grandparents spent much of their 60 years together, on the south coast of Devon. There is something surreal, in sitting on your own, in the morning, overlooking a calm day, where the sea seems to blend into the sky, and the tiny ripples emphasise the calmness, knowing your grandparents did the same thing 50 years before. I feel connected to this place. I struggle to convey to people why it holds such importance to me.

And this is my serene place. Also on the south coast of Devon. It is the most tranquil spot on Earth for me. I sit on the cliff that goes out to see, preferably at sun rise, as one or two people walk their dogs on the beach, and all you hear is the sound of the waves. It is the place where all my thinking gets done. It is the only place, where I can quite easily forget about everything. This is where I look out, and feel blessed to have ever had the chance to be born, knowing that the gift of life, is so improbable, and exists in such a fleeting moment in time, less than a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of the universe; this is the magic of existence. One does not need a God, to feel a sense of objective beauty. One needs simply to be.