Tony Abbott – in his own words.

September 7, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website – www.dfat.gov.au

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website – http://www.dfat.gov.au


Tony Abbott was not a politician anyone expected to become Prime Minister, back in 2007. Abbott was a force of reaction more than anything else. The Liberals were shattered. But then, a sort of bitter War of the Roses-type family rivalry took over the Labor leadership – both trying to slightly out right-wing each other – and the Liberals were always going to be the obvious benefactor. And so Australia has today dealt Labor a mighty blow in the Federal Election, and elevated Tony Abbott to the Prime Ministership. So, it is perhaps worth noting the new Prime Minister’s thoughts on a variety of issues.

On women, Tony Abbott said:

“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.”

“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up.”

On man-made climate change:

“The climate change argument is absolute crap, however the politics are tough for us because 80 per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”

– Tony Abbott here is in direct disagreement with Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007, African Academy of Sciences, International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences, Geological Society of London, Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, American Geophysical Union, United States National Research Council, Royal Society of New Zealand, and many more. Abbott believes he knows better. I am unable to locate any research or thesis he has written on the subject.

On the right for same-sex couples to marry:

“I’m not someone who wants to see radical change based on the fashion of the moment.”

– Fashion of the moment. Seriously.

On the huge life decision whether to have an abortion:

“Abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.”

On what abortion might lead to:

“I believe that there is a vast moral gulf which separates modern Australia from Nazi Germany. But can we be so sure that, under pressure over time, we will not slide down the same slippery slope. We only have to look at the abortion situation in this country.”

On rose-tinted Colonialist history:

“Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage.”

On the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan:

“Shit happens.”

On a woman’s right to control her own body:

“I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak.”

On the plight of Aboriginal Australians:

“There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done.”

The Liberal’s website echoes the thoughts of right-winged Parties in other developed nations, with its delusional promises:

“The Coalition’s priority will be to build a stronger, more productive and diverse economy through lower taxes, more efficient government and more productive businesses that will deliver more jobs, higher wages and better services for all Australians.

– The exact same plan is well underway in the UK, and hasn’t delivered more efficient government – I challenge anyone to suggest the Department of Work & Pensions, or the Education Department, or the Health Department are now ‘efficient’ – hasn’t delivered more productive businesses, hasn’t delivered higher wages, or better services. Quite the opposite. With an added dose of misery and a distinct lack of hope. Similar policies in Republican controlled States in the US, offer similar results. Austerity is completely unnecessary in Australia in 2013. It doesn’t work. And it wont work for Australia.

Abbott is an Australian version of the slightly less sane sect of the US Republicans in Congress, a sort of Louie Gohmert figure for Australia. It will be interesting to see how the Abbott administration acts on the positions that their new Prime Minister fosters. It’ll be equally interesting to see how Labor change and if – with Rudd having retained his seat – they can move forward, get it together with a new leader, and new direction in time for 2016.


An Australian trip

July 17, 2011

It is surprising that I am not a Mark Rothko fan. I find his work to be easy and tedious. I feel nothing when I look at his work. It doesn’t overwhelm me, in the way that a Rembrandt, or a Caravaggio does. Yet, what he is trying to convey – a sense of calm – in nature, I find to be breathtaking. The photo below, I took yesterday somewhere along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. It’s difficult not to think “Rothko” when you see it. Yet it possesses something that Rothko just couldn’t create. Perhaps something that man can’t create.

Rothko simply fails to grasp hold of this sense of beauty in his works.

Here are a few photos I have taken on my second trip to Australia. Enjoy.

Ash bought me this incredible coat, as an early birthday/christmas gift. It is actually the greatest coat ever made. This was taken on a steam boat on the Murray River. Ash booked a gorgeous weekend away in Moama.

Our room in Moama, complete with a fire place, and a spa.

A shack on the Murray River.

Claire and Mark!

Ahmed, Geoff, Kerry, Ash and me.

North Melbourne V Collingwood, at the MCG.

Mr Geoff, in front of Flinders St, in Melbourne.

There will be more to come!
And be sure to check out my other photography: Futile Photographer.


The Pig Society Part II

February 16, 2011

The Big Society grows ever stronger, and support grows ever wider, charity bosses and workers applaud it and sing its praises, because it is a wonderful plan that is definitely not a cover for a mass of Corporate tax cuts.

That is what delusional Conservatives believe.
Except, it’s bullshit.
The voluntary sector is being absolutely gutted of funding.
As the previous post pointed out. But to make it clear, the Guardian today featured a story of a lady named Denise Marshall. She is Director of Eaves and also the Poppy Project. These charities work with victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking. She has dedicated her life to this cause. She has fought some pretty high powered members of the criminal underworld across Europe. Eaves provides housing and counselling for victims of abuse. They offer up to 35% savings on gas and electricity and other necessities for vulnerable women. In short, Denise Marshall is a heroine. She was recognised for this in 2008 by being given an OBE. She is one of the very few who actually deserve the honour.

Denise is now handing back the OBE, to David Cameron personally, because she has said that the extreme and needless cuts to funding for charities and organisations like Eaves, means she will no longer be able to support and fight criminal gangs who traffic women for the sex trade. She feels that she would be hypocritical and unworthy of an OBE when she can no longer protect the women she has the award for protecting.

Marshall said:

“I received the OBE in 2007 specifically for providing services to disadvantaged women. It was great to get it; it felt like recognition for the work the organisation has done.

But recently it has been keeping me awake at night. I feel like it would be dishonourable and wrong to keep it. I’m facing a future where I can’t give women who come to my organisation the services they deserve – I won’t be able to provide the services for which I got the OBE.”

“If you run a refuge where you don’t have the support staff it just becomes a production line, where you move people on as quickly as possible to meet the targets. You’re not helping women to escape the broader problems they face. They may get a bed, but no help with changing their lives and moving out of situations of danger.”

“I’ve worked in this sector for almost 30 years. I don’t want to sound melodramatic but I don’t think I have ever felt as depressed and desperate as I do now,”

How then, do the Big Society advocates justify the fact that on the same day as a true heroine feels she can no longer protect very very vulnerable women in her care, the Tories are trying to stop an EU law on the banning of naked short selling (which I shall try to explain as much as possible shortly)? The EU law, if the Tories get their way, will not affect the UK on naked short selling. Germany have banned it, the U.S have banned it, Australia have banned it, Hong Kong have banned it, Japan have banned it. We have kept it. It makes a very small elite group of speculators very rich, whilst risking money that is not theirs. How are these people protected, yet the vulnerable women like those that Denise Marshall represents have their funds slashed. The Government and its banking friends and business associates are sitting sipping champagne, whilst Rome burns. Nero would be in awe.

Short Selling (not naked short selling) is a little confusing, and utterly absurd. It has no social use. It is not to the benefit of any of us. It is dangerous and it should be banned. When you buy shares, you buy them in the hope that the price will rise and you can sell them some time in the future, to make a nice bit of money. It is all to do with how you obtain shares. You and I would buy shares. Naked short sellers borrow shares in the hope that the price will fall. So, if for instance I was to borrow 5000 shares from Broker A. I will then sell them at £1 a share, so £5000, hoping the price falls. Say the price falls by half. I now buy back all the shares, at £2500. I have netted myself a nice little £2500 and I give the 5000 shares back to the Broker A.

Naked Short Selling is different, because you don’t even borrow the shares you’re selling. You don’t have them. You’re selling a promise that you will obtain the shares that you’ve just sold, at some point in the future. You may as well walk into a bank, take all of their money, and promise to give it back at some point in the future. There is then an incentive for short sellers to wreck companies, because the share price has to fall for them to meet their promise. On a grand scale, this can lead to massive crashes.

This little practice lead necessarily to the 1997 Asian Financial Crises, that left millions in poverty. This wasn’t the fault of too much Government interference in people’s lives, or too many people on the dole. It was a direct result of unproductive short sellers and a massively deregulated financial sector.

The law looks to ban naked short selling in the EU. The UK will be trying to exempt itself from that banning.

This of course comes days after the announcement that there would be vast changes to the offshore tax laws, which mean that large and medium sized businesses who offshore their profits and then move them back to the UK, no longer have to pay the difference between the tax they paid in their tax haven and the tax they pay in the UK. They no longer have to pay any tax on profits that are made outside the country and brought back to the UK. Not only that, but they can claim expenses against tax they pay in the UK, to fund their overseas departments. That represents one of the biggest changes to Corporate tax law, and a massive shift of wealth from the poorest due to cuts, to the very wealthiest on a level far beyond anything Margaret Thatcher could have dreamed of. Suddenly the veil of an omni-benevolent Tory government is falling off, to be replaced by a face stamped with the logos of Diageo and Barclays.

On the 9th February, George Osborne told the House of Commons:

Those entrusted by us to regulate those bankers and run our economy washed their hands.
Meanwhile the rest of the country is left paying every day for their failures.
The government has to pick up the pieces.

It would seem that what Osborne believes is “picking up the pieces” entails giving away massive tax cuts, destroying the voluntary sector, and inviting the World’s naked short sellers to come and set up home in Britain.

Welcome to the Pig Society.


A Social Retardation

September 5, 2010

In Melbourne, Ash bought me a beautiful leather covered notebook with such thick and elegant pages, and an amazing fountain pen. In it, I will be writing any simple thoughts or observations I have; a sort of book of my own social commentary, in the hope that it’ll require me to try to understand the World I live in, a little better and develop my own way of perceiving certain situations that may arise. I then intend to expand on my thoughts, in blog entries on here. Today, I wrote a few lines in it, in my rather unique yet inapt handwriting, about how annoyed I am with what I have heard from a few English people since being back in the UK. The picture above shows my first page.

I have been back in the UK now for four days and already I’m starting to dislike many of the people who inhabit this otherwise beautiful island. I have heard the word ‘paki’ used to describe anyone with a slightly darker skin complexion, three times already.

The word ‘paki’ offends me. I am not Pakistani nor do I have a dark skin complexion, so it isn’t that which offends me. It is the level of profound ignorance required to imagine that using such a derogatory term, is a sensible idea. I have faith in humanity, but when such archaic bullshit is uttered, my faith in humanity takes a knock back, and that offends me. I am embarrassed to be part of a species that can be so flippantly abusive and illogical. It has no merit, there is no intelligent argument, it isn’t making a point or arguing a case, it is simply racist ignorance and for a society that is no longer living in the dark ages, and for a society that more often than not, refers to itself, quite comically, as ‘civilised’ the term ‘paki’ runs so contrary to that, it only proves to me that humanity is still at a plainly uncivilised stage of development, almost a nascent stage of evolution, still needing to grow up before certain social ills can ever be addressed. Quite paradoxically, children in a nascent stage of human development do not have these negative stereotypical preconceptions clouding their World view. They will pay cars with anyone, regardless of Nationality and skin colour. Children are at a progressive stage of social interaction, far beyond that of their parents and the adults who run their World. They are then taught quite severe regression when it comes to social interaction between cultures and Nations. They are taught superiority and exclusion. For humanity to progress to the next stage of social evolution, this has to change.

These prejudices run so deep, and provoke such anger, that they actually produce nothing of value, and only add to the misery from which they came. They are pointless. They are easy to use, when the alternative requires deeper thought and inquiry. They are the reason I wish to become a teacher, to try to infuse into the minds of the young, that they do not need to follow the path left by the older generations, and that the only way humanity can progress in their hands, is through thought and cooperation and throwing away the silly and worthless prejudices of the past, and move forward a decent way. I want to teach kids to think for themselves, and to question absolutely everything.

Those who use the term, are racist. It is doubtless that many use the term, and think it’s okay. They are ignorant to the fact that by using such terms, the meaning behind it aimlessly finds it way to the next generation of very suggestible idiots. And so the cycle of hate, distrust and suspicion continues. It would appear self evident, that the word ‘Paki’, which implies a sense of superiority of ones own culture, Nation and heritage, is a product of a 17th Century social construct known as Nation States and with it, the lugubriously abstract concept of Nationalism. It doesn’t really exist. Humanity created it. ‘Paki’ and ‘Brit’ and ‘Spanish’ and ‘Chinese’ don’t really exist. We created the concepts. There is no biological basis for defining someone by a Nationality. It is senseless. The only thing that most certainly is a biological actuality, is that we are all human, and nothing else. Not a religion, not a Nationality, and not a Race. Defining people solely on the basis of their apparent National heritage is what I consider to be a social retardation, but so strong a social retardation, that it also acts as a barrier to progress. A barrier, whose only by-product is an inevitable mix of anger, hate, oppression, superiority complexes, and inter-generational ignorance.

The negative connotations around the word ‘Paki’ wrongly educates our children to associate negativity with a particular group of people based solely on their skin colour (I wont say it is based on Nationality, because the word ‘Paki’ isn’t necessarily used to describe those born in Pakistan; it is used by the ignorant to describe anyone who looks slightly Middle Eastern or North African). Some will argue that they are simply using a term of Nationality, much like calling me a ‘Brit’. It is weak minded and a rather nonsensical and fatuous argument. The term ‘Brit’ or ‘Spanish’ or ‘American’ is used almost exclusively as a term of National identity, whilst ‘Paki’ is used entirely exclusively as a term of abuse. It has no positive connotations. It is not used as a term of endearment. It is used to express hate. And so the different motives around how the words ‘Brit’ and ‘Paki’ are used suggest that they are in no way similar.

It offends me that people can be so feckless, and weak. It offends me that a species that has so much potential and has already achieved a great deal in its short history, can stoop so low. It offends me that a social retardation, like rain water in a broken pipe, can not be contained, and will merely leak down onto the next generation and continue the cycle uninterrupted. Society, is in no way ‘civilised’.


Lomo: Another roll

August 9, 2010

Here is another selection of a roll of photography prints from my Diana Mini lomography camera, taken here in Aussie land.


Seven Months.

July 30, 2010

Me and Ash are seven months old today. And as most of the people who read this are aware, I (being from England) am staying with Ash (being from Australia) over here on the over side of the World, for ten weeks. I absolutely adore waking up next to her each morning, hearing about her day, learning to cook from her, exploring the World she knows with her. These 6 weeks so far, have reaffirmed my initial reaction upon meeting her back in December, that I want to spend my life with this girl. Completely one in a billion.

I have met all of her family now, and they have been amazingly welcoming. I already feel at home here. I have met the people she hangs out with; Gianna; a rather cool carefree Aussie who should have been this age during the 1980s (Aussies seem to love the 1980s, as opposed to us Brits, who like to pretend it didn’t happen), she seems to have a magnetism that people appear drawn too, which intrigues me. Kerry; a friend of Ash’s with an awesome sense of humour and gets TV rage at bad mums on awful yet strangely mesmerising reality TV shows. Mark; a kind of gentle giant who happens to be able to cook pretty fantastic food. And Kerry’s boyfriend (I forget his name, Ged, I think); very knowledgeable chap which is great for political discussions, with a quick wit, a very friendly aura, and a camera buff for all my photographic needs.

Ash now needs to meet my friends.

For our One year anniversary, Ash will be over in England. We plan to spend New Years in Paris, and then onto Florence, Venice and Rome. I know Rome pretty well, and Ash knows and adores Paris, so it’ll be an exciting few days, and a particularly spectacular way to spend a one year anniversary.

Anyway, here are a few photos of Ash, me, and a few people who have made my trip a happy one

This first one, is us in Surrey in December 2009.

This second one, in eerily similar fashion to the one above, is in Melbourne, July 2010.

This is me and Ash in my bedroom back home in Leicester, in December 2009, complete with my Abbey Road picture, Vettriano and Doisneau works languishing pointlessly in the background.

This is a rather awesome photo of Mark, Ash and me, at a bar in Melbourne. We should be a band. Except, I can’t sing or play any form of instrument.

This is me and Kerry’s boyfriend (I still forget his name, Gene, I think).

This is me teaching REAL football to Ash’s little brother, on their land in Tasmania.
.

This is us on a rather beautiful beach, on the South coast of Australia, last weekend.

This is Ash’s dad and her step mum, at their BBQ in June.

Kerry, drinking an ENTIRE jug of alcohol to herself. Okay that might be an exaggeration.

A KOALA!!! IN THE WILD!!! A FUCKING KOALA!!!!!

In a little over five months time, I will be posting a similar blog, full of photos of Ash, my friends, and European exploring, entitled “One year”.
Fun times.

GEOFF!!!! That’s the one!!!


Australian Debt

July 26, 2010

There is an election here in Australia, whilst I am still here. The choice is between the Aussie Labour Party, whom are currently in power with Julia Gillard as PM, and the Aussie Liberal Party, headed by a man whose head seems to be deflating whilst his ears remain untouched; Tony Abbott. The Liberal Party are the Australian Conservatives.

What i’ve noticed from watching the PM and the opposition, is that the same empty rhetoric is used here, as it is in the UK. Gillard keeps using the phrase “hard working families“. Abbott keeps whinging on about “Labour’s debt“. It is the same bullshit. However, unlike the UK, the Australians don’t seem to be falling for the “WE MUST CUT THE DEBT NOW!!!!” nonsense put forward by Tony Abbott. In fact, Abbots’ own website points out that Labour are putting the debt up by $100,000,000 a day, every day.

One of the issues that both the UK and Australians don’t seem to want to deal with, is the amount of easy credit available which has, over the past twenty five years in the UK caused much of the issues we’re now faced with. Essentially, what happened during the Thatcher years, was that her “trickle down theory” was an absolute failure. Whilst the wealth of the top 1% increased dramatically, the wealth did not trickle down. Wages stagnated, and have done ever since. The problem with that is, wages create the disposable income, and so if wages are not increasing, then eventually the wealth of the very few was going to hit a brick wall. The answer to that problem, was easy credit. Here have a piece of plastic with the River Island logo on it. You now have an easy £250 that you don’t have to pay back for two entire years! Have a credit card with a low interest rate. Have a house, and pay very little back. Until crises hit, because people couldn’t afford to pay it back. Suddenly, personal debt is at an all time high, no body has any money, the Government has to step in to stop the further abuses of banks and other places offering easy credit, and prop up a failing economy, and suddenly Conservatives are blaming the Government for the problems for not regulating private business affectively enough, whilst quite confusingly here in the UK electing a government dedicated to deregulation and further freeing up private business and banks to be as greedy as they so wish, which is exactly the reason we are in this mess. To cut a long story a little bit shorter……….. never ever elect Conservatives/Liberals/Republicans/Right wingers of any kind. Individual debt now accounts for a massive amount of the debt crises, across the World.

Australia hasn’t been free either, from the adverse affects of banking deregulation. Deregulation in the 1980s in Australia, seemed to have allowed Banks the freedom to offer ridiculous loans, lower their rates, whilst at the same time reducing the security they needed to back the loans. So, when rates suddenly shot through the roof across the financial sector in 2007-8, the banks ran up losses into the billions. Deregulation failed the banking industry and so failed the consumer. It isn’t a surprise either, given that in 1991, an Aussie Parliamentary Inquiry into the Australian Banking Industry chaired by Stephen Martin found that freeing up the financial sector had not delivered the promised benefits to average Australians.

Australia hasn’t escaped the easy credit problem. In 1980, the average Aussie Household had debts of around 40% of their income after tax. Today, it is 158% average debt. Which suggests that easy credit has become the norm in Australia too. Which means, lower interest rates don’t make much of a difference, and feel just as harsh as they would have felt when they were higher, in the 1980s.

Back to National debt.

The UK is not in a position to need to cut the deficit immediately, as suggested by the Tories, because we are the fifth largest economy in the World, we have a triple A credit rating, the third largest reserve currency in the World, and if we have enough money to spend £888m on subsidising the arms trade and a further £6bn a year on a 20 year old paranoia deal with Trident, we aren’t about to suddenly go horrendously bankrupt. The Tories are simply waging ideological warfare, there is no other reason.

The Liberals in Australia are mounting the same attack on Australia, for ideological reasons. Australia is not in a debt crises by a long shot. National debt as a percentage of GDP for Australia, stood at 17.6% at the end of 2009. That puts Australia below every European Country with the exceptions of Estonia and Bulgaria, as well as below the USA, the UK, South America, Canada, and most of Africa. In fact, they stand at the 108th out of 129 in the ranks of worst Government debt as a percentage of GDP. That is pretty amazing. No Australian banks collapsed during the crises, and they came out of it pretty strongly, given that by May 2010, unemployment peaked in Australia, at 5.3%. In the UK, in May 2010, unemployment hit 7.8%. In the USA in May 2010, unemployment hit 9.3%.

Australia, is not in a debt crises. It does not have to submit itself to deep cuts and years of misery. Its growth forcasts are excellent in comparison to the rest of the World. It didn’t have to bail out half its banking system, and it is well below the average debt to GDP ratio. Labour has not left Australia in a mass of unsustainable debt. The State of Victoria has a AAA credit rating. New South Wales has a AAA credit rating. In fact, Australia as a whole is 10th in the list of the least risky countries to invest in. It ranks above the UK, and the USA, as of March 2010. The Country Risk Survey studies the economic and political risks for investors wishing to invest abroad, out of 185 Countries. Australia, is the tenth best place in the World to invest in, according to the Survey.

Australia can afford to spend money to secure a strong recovery, and to provide necessary funding to keep key infrastructure strong. When an economy is struggling a little, we cannot rely on the private sector to provide the education and the healthcare and the levels of policing required to deal with a down turn in economic fortunes, even though it is the private sector that will inevitably benefit from the protections and social infrastructure put into place. Australia can afford it. It can afford to do this, because when Australia is fully recovered from the financial crises, it will remain one of the best countries on the planet to invest in, which will inevitably increase revenue across the board, which can be used to bring down the deficit and then the debt steadily and responsibly rather than deep cuts to key services that are needed the most during difficult economic times.

The Liberal Party Website describes how they are committed to a strong free market economy. Yet, at the same time, and rather contradictory, the website tells me they are committed to lowering the immigration rate to 1.4% annually. Surely a free market system, requires an outright destruction of all National boundaries; after all, National boundaries are simply left overs from the protectionist days of colonialism, and so it is hugely contradictory to be tightening immigration, yet pledging an era of an economy based on the principles of a free market system.

The moral of the blog is; do not believe the nonsense right wingers throw at you. Watch their eyes sparkle with joy when they can unload their ideological crap and blame government and the Left for problems caused by the very same people they themselves set out to protect, every time they gain a little power. Australia doesn’t need a Thatcher.


Aussie days

July 11, 2010

I am closing in on the halfway point of my visit to Australia. So, I thought i’d make a huge blog, full of my favourite photos from the past few weeks. So here you go….













Tasmania

July 2, 2010

Ash and I have spent the past few days in Tasmania. We stayed in a beautiful beach house, very kindly given to us, by a family friend, for three nights, overlooking the lake, and Mount Wellington, with the lights of Hobart across the lake. We have shopped in Hobart, and visited the peak of Mount Wellington. We then stayed in Ash’s dads place overlooking the same bay, which is a unique slice of paradise. The view is something I don’t think I could ever get bored of. The pace of life is far slower and far more relaxed than anything I’m used to. We have been through tiny towns that seem lost in time. We then stayed a night at a stunning little beach house in north east Tasmania, which followed a drive across some of the most beautiful land and the clearest seas I have ever had the pleasure to see. We ran along a white sandy beach and sat on the rocks. Aren’t we so damn cute? The air feels lite here. It feels fresh and has a great smell to it. You can see for miles, because the air is not polluted. The water is clear and fresh. It is simply beautiful.

Contrasting with the beauty and the serenity of the old Van Diemen’s Land, is the eeriness. I suspect it is a psychological issue unique to me, but Tasmania has an incredible ability to freak me out. I think it is largely due to feeling isolated, which I have never felt before. I have always lived surrounded by people, houses and cars. Calmness is creepy to me. No background noise created by people or cars leaves me on edge. The sound of a soundless place is entirely new. I’m used to people. I’m used to hearing cars throughout the night. This, linked with the quite appalling history that we English created by sending our convicts to serve awful sentences at Port Arthur in which, along with other penal colonies, England sent over 70,000 convicts between 1800 and 1860 for petty crimes, and treated them horrendously, and the attacks on the aboriginal population in this tranquil part of the World stands to creep me out slightly. We English should not have come here. It isn’t our land. Driving through Tasmania and looking out at the land, and the settlements that were originally English, I felt a tremendously overwhelming sense of guilt. English style manors in the middle of Tasmanian forest or by the side of beautiful rivers seemed both stunning, and wrong. We should not have came here. It wasn’t ours to take.

I have had my first panic attack ever, here in Tasmania. I felt a huge sense of being isolated and unwelcome. Not by Ash and her family, who have been amazingly welcoming, but by an inner feeling. Sleeping at night has unexpectedly made my heart start to race and an inability to breath properly, starting at the very point at which my eyes close. I felt like I should not be here, like something wanted me out. People have told me they have felt that way in certain places in England, but I never understood how a feeling like that is perceived. But having now felt it, it is ineffable. Cannot be described. I know full well that it is purely psychological, because once anxiety creeps in, it became impossible to control it, and eventually, when the anxiety has exhausted me, I fall asleep. Diverting the mind onto other ideas and thoughts did not work. It manifested itself visually last night, as I was falling asleep finally, around 2am, and suddenly thought I saw a child with darker tanned skin and longish straight black hair sitting on the chair in front of our bed, staring at me. The moment I jumped, it had gone. I am certain it was my mind playing tricks, given that my state of mind was pretty uncontrollable anyway. I suffer when I feel like I am losing control of my senses. I have to be in control of my senses. I do not believe in ghosts or anything of that sort, I am of the firm believe that it is all in the mind, but either way, it freaked me out. I also know it is affecting Ash, because I can’t seem to sleep. And I feel horrible that it is affecting her.

And yet, the days here in Tasmania are spectacular. I cannot explain in words just how lucky I feel to be here. I am massively grateful.

The adversity between the amazing days i’m having here in Tasmania, and the troublesome nights is having quite the affect on me.
I don’t think isolation agrees with me at night. I feel at home, in cities surrounded by people. It is why I coped brilliantly on my own in London for nine months, despite living in a rough and pretty dangerous area south of the river. A mix of culture shock and identifying somewhat with the evils of the English people over here in Tasmania along with the isolation and lack of people and bustle of city life, overwhelmed me. And yet, the people are lovely and the natural surroundings are astounding.


Australia

June 21, 2010

As I was strolling around the town in which my beautiful lady Ash lives, I saw a man with a moustache, in a red plaid shirt, dirty jeans, and big boots, carrying wood on his shoulder. It then hit me that I was quite obviously in Australia.

It feels great to be back with Ashlee. I have not been able to hug her when she’s had a bad day, or make her a cup of tea in bed, or go places with her, for almost 6 months and that has been horrible. We have both struggled with it. But seeing her again, at the airport, for the first time in over 5 months, made it all worthwhile. It re-affirmed my previous conclusion that I want to spend my life with this girl. I feel tremendously lucky.

The very first thing you notice in Australia, is the vast open spaces. The cities like Melbourne are modern and rather big. But within seconds of leaving the city, you’re presented with free space as far as your eye can see. It contrasts hugely to the densely populated cities and towns in England. Within seconds of leaving Leicester, you are in a new city or a new town, and the only open spaces are parks or farms.

Excuse the horrendous generalisations i’m about to make, because whether they are true or not, we English certainly perceive them to be true of everyone else, other than us. England has a bit of a North/South divide. Those in the North are never too keen on those in the South and vice versa. And I personally find Northerners far friendlier and willing to talk to you than Southerners. Aussies seem happy and friendly and willing to talk to a stranger, far more than we are. If you ask a Londoner where the nearest Tube station is, he’s likely to look at you as if you’d asked if you could lick his face. Aussies seem far friendlier than us Englanders. That’s not to say that we’re all miserable unhelpful bastards!

I have noticed just how different mentalities are in Australia in comparison to what i’m accustomed to in England. England is far too American. We are always in a rush. We are made to believe that the object of our lives is to have more stuff. Our cars have to be perfect. Our homes must be modern and filled with huge TVs and Xbox’s. Our entire economy is based on promoting useless wants. It’s a very flimsy system. Australia seems different from first glance. Cars have scratches and dents, they’re old and have torn seats. They do not seem to care if they get a tiny scratch that would essentially drive an Englishman crazy demanding compensation. Australian houses, from what i’ve seen are old miner’s homes from the gold rushes. The outside of the homes are very old looking and quite eerie in nature. I walked past one that had an old torn sofa on the front porch, a rocking chair, and a broken swing in the front yard blowing gently in the wind, with a whisper of a creaking sound. If that isn’t the mark of a house owned by a serial killer, I don’t know what is. And yet, inside these seemingly run down old miners homes, are beautifully renovated modern interiors. We in England find it difficult to get our heads around this idea. Seeing cheerful friendly people come out of eerie looking homes, not even carrying a bloodied axe or a black bin bag in the shape of a corpse, is not something we understand.

So far, I am loving Australia. I arrived on Tuesday. After all the jetlag, and waking up at 4am ready for my day, tired by 6pm ready for sleep, and other odd sleeping patterns, I am left not really knowing what day it is today. I presume it’s Monday. The flight was okay. I hate flying anyway. The slightest hint of turbulence and i’m convinced we’re going down. Over Afghanistan, the plane began to rock quite violently, we’d hit bad turbulence. A woman a couple of rows in front of me screamed. So naturally I was convinced the wings were about to come off. I am not a good flyer at all. If I hear a noise that sounds like the engines are slowing down, I think “Does the pilot know that the engines have stopped working? Shouldn’t somebody tell him that the only thing keeping this tin can unnaturally in the air, have just stopped? ……Shouldn……..oh wait, they’re making noise again.” I over think the entire flight all the time.

Kuala Lumpur airport has a forest in the centre of it. You go through a door to get into it. The sign on the door reads “This airport and its affiliated airlines cannot take responsibility for any lost luggage or deaths that may occur.” When there’s a disclaimer telling me that I might die if I go through the door, I am pretty sure that isn’t a door I ever want to go through.

I have had a pretty fantastic first week. First and foremost, I got my Ash back! I have explored towns that all remind me of Hill Valley in Back to the Future III. Old Western style towns, that I adore. They have such character. I have seen some beautiful scenery. I have not got used to everything being in Kilometres as opposed to miles. I have met Ash’s friends, who were all very friendly, very welcoming, and made a beautiful dinner and breakfast for me. Which is massively appreciated. I have driven and got confused by the idea that if the green man is showing, and there is no one directly crossing in front of your car, you can drive on. I have explored Melbourne, and walked along the south bank at night. I have joined together with Ash’s friend and beat two Aussies at pool. I have been in an Aussie pub, with very welcoming Aussie locals, and was fed the worst toast spread in the history of the World. I have learnt that the phrase “What’s going on?” is pronounced “s-carnon?” I have met Ash’s dad and brother, who are both great company, and whom bought me a pizza and wine, and whom we are seeing again next week in Tasmania, and…………… I HAVE SEEN KANGAROOS!!!!!!!!

If Australia beat Serbia and make it through to the next round of the World Cup, and England don’t…………… I’m going to change my accent, never go home, dress in plaid shirts, and call myself “Bruce“.


The Exhibition

May 15, 2010

My beautiful girlfriend, Ash, pictured here…

…. will be exhibiting some of her excellent photography work, for the first time, this July, in Australia. I will be there to see it, which makes me happy. She is a very talented artist and photographer, and it’s about time a larger number of people get to see her work.

I thought, given my growing level of pride in every thing she does recently, that I’d showcase some of her work on this blog, for the very few people who actually read it from time to time.

They are all lomography photos taken traditionally. None of them have been digitally enhanced.


Never be tired of England

April 23, 2010

Happy St Georges Day.
Did you know that King George III never formally acknowledge the independence of the USA? Therefore, we still own it. Nor did we agree to the full independence of Australia (The Australia Act of 1986, I choose to ignore). Therefore, we still own that too. And when I get there in July, I will proclaim myself Governor of Australia for Her Majesty The Queen. We’ll forget this silly “independence” thing in no time.

The Daily Mail in it’s quest to tarnish Nick Clegg as some great evil, had this to say earlier this week:

“His wife is Spanish, his mother Dutch, his father half-Russian and his spin doctor German. Is there ANYTHING British about Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg?”

It’s amazing isn’t it?
Nick Clegg, the posh English intelligent Lib Dem leader, is apparently an evil foreigner, despite the fact, that he was born….. in Berkshire.
Given that the husband of the Queen is a relative of the Russian tsars, I hope the Daily Mail will soon begin an anti-monarchy quest.

Today is St Georges day.
It is beautiful outside.
I have sat in my garden with a book and a drink sat by me, for most of it.
The reasons I do not fly the St Georges cross flag is something I dislike about the way it has been manipulated. St Georges cross and the Union Jack have been hijacked by the far right in recent years, to show that they aren’t too keen on muslims. It is used by those who keep claiming muslims are out to destroy England, rape your children, punch your grandmother in the face, and ban Christmas. It is from those who use the phrase “it’s political correctness gone mad” to cloak their inherent stupidity and ignorance. “You know, you can’t even smear shit into a a pakistani man’s face in the shape of the cross of St George whilst telling him to fuck off out the Country any more, without the politically correct bias liberal media telling you it’s racist. It’s political correctness gone mad!!!” I don’t want to associate myself with that type of person. Anyone who associates England with “the white race” is disgusting, in my view.

But I do love this country. In fact, I absolutely adore this country. I do not appreciate the far right telling me that I hate this country, simply because I am not a nazi. I do not believe in a singular concept of “Englishness”. My views on Englishness, are pretty post-modern in that respect. I love this country, for my own reasons, which I will now list.

I love the English summer time. I love traditional English seaside holidays. I love the sound of English amusement arcades on the seafront. I love Tudor history. I love being in the city centre for Diwali celebrations. I love the English countryside. I love standing in the sea on the English south coast despite it being freezing. I love the scent of England in the early summer mornings. I love English Christmas, the food, Morcambe and Wise, and bucks fizz. I love red post boxes. I love the majority of the people who are always polite, friendly, and tolerant. I love that I am the grandson of a World War II navy veteran. I love eccentric Brits. I love Camden. I love not understanding a word the speaker says over the tannoy at a local Tesco. I love Newstead Abbey. I love Bradgate Park. I love feeding ducks. I love those little green or red or blue or yellow arm bands the local swimming pools give you, to let you know when your time in the water is up. I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles. I love how we cannot go a day without at least one cup of tea. I love Brit pop! I love getting into bed, under a huge new duvet on a freezing winter’s night. I love wearing an England football shirt throughout the World Cup and Euros every couple of years. I love reading the papers before the World Cup that tell me that Wayne Rooney is at his peak. I love not understanding why our clocks go forward and backward every now and again. I love trilby hats. I love speakers corner. I love hearing the sound of an ice cream van. I love that we are part of Europe. I love Devon and Cornwall. I love our charity days like Red Nose day and Children in need. I love the National Health Service. I love that we are a country that still cares for it’s sick and injured. I love that we are a nation of compassion and acceptance rather than distrust, dogmatic individualism and miserable hatred. I love great British comedians like the Pythons, and Spike Milligan and comedies like Blackadder and Only Fools. I love our sense of humour. I love our sarcasm. I love talking to random people on the park when i’m taking the dog for a run. I love our political music like The Clash and The Jam. I love London. I love bike rides around England. I love black cabs. I love that on one long road just outside of Brighton there is a church, a mosque, a synagogue and a gay bar a little further down, and no problems arise. I love that we have minimum wage. I love the BBC. I love how overly excited our papers get when Wimbledon begins. I love our poets like Wordsworth and Byron. I love that Darwin was English. I love traditional English breakfasts. I love that we do not care what our leaders’ religious beliefs are. I love random games of football on the park. I love our regional colloquialisms. I love the words of Shakespeare and Milton.

I highlighted “I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles” because I think it raises an important point. We have never been a single culture, that is now being “eroded“. You cannot erode something that is not static. We have always been a mash of cultures constantly updating and changing. There have been times when those in control or those sporting racist and xenophobic views have tried to impose uniformity, but Britain is great because we have always rejected uniformity in that sense. I will give you an example.

For the majority of English history, since the year 0, this country has been Catholic. Our history, is Catholicism.
Before the 1530s, England was a Catholic nation. The Catholic church was a predominant feature of every community within England. It’s Latin mass, it’s imagery and it’s elaborate dressings along with it’s rituals and rites were what defined England. We weren’t really a nation state at all. We were a vassal of Rome, in all honesty. Given that our own King could not divorce without the permission of the Pope, suggests that ultimately, control lay with Rome. The English people liked it that way. That was England. That was our culture.

During the Reformation Parliaments of the 1530s, the preambles to the statutes written by Thomas Cromwell, try to rewrite this culture, to suit their own needs. The break from Rome and establishment of an English Church would have been massive. Within the space of three years during the 1530s, the entire English system of power, law, and the basis of community had changed beyond recognition. The Henrician church and the Roman Catholic Church were vastly different systems of control and belief.

According to historian Sir William Holdsworth:

“The preamble to the Statute of Appeals is remarkable.. because it manufactures history upon an unprecedented scale.”

Anyone who happened to disagree with the King’s god-given right above the Pope, to be “Supreme Head of the Church in England“, was swiftly and quite horrifically dealt with. It did not bother Henry or Cromwell or Cranmer or any of the other reformers within Court, that the vast majority of the English public, did not believe the King had power above that of the Pope. English culture, for over a millenium, put the Pope as their true ruler, and no one else. Catholicism, (which by the way, was brought to us by immigrants – the Romans, after Claudius invasion of the Country) was so ingrained in the minds of the public, that people like Thomas More were willing to die for their opposition to Cromwell’s reform, rather than betray their beliefs.

The preamble by Cromwell, to the Act of Supremacy of 1534 intriguingly tries to force opinion again, rewrites history, imposes the Act as objective truth (so much so that the accompanying Treason Act made it punishable by death to say the King was not Supreme head of the Church, or talk about the Pope being Head before him), and one wonders whether Cromwell would have gone this far, had the Pope granted Henry his divorce from Catherine in the first place:

“Albeit the king’s Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognized by the clergy of this realm in their convocations.”

I cannot express just how momentous a change this Reformation Parliament truly was. We were now completely cut off from the Church in Rome, and therefore, cut off from Europe in it’s entirety. Propaganda from the government of Henry made it an offence to be Catholic.

A little over fifteen years later, after Henry had backtracked a little, adding more confusion to what it meant to be English; his son Edward was a child, and only allowed to read books by Protestant writers. He grew up anti-Catholic. When the Duke of Northumberland became the defacto King whilst Edward was still too young, the first thing he did, was rid the council of anyone who still held even slightly Catholic views. After Edward died, Mary then tried to revert back to Catholicism and rejoin the jurisdiction of Rome. Elizabeth, after Mary, settled the dispute, and created a settlement that held mainly Protestant beliefs, but incorporated Catholic beliefs too, although the authority of the Pope was still denied.

The point of this, is that we have never been one single minded Nation. We have always been a mesh of different beliefs and forced uniformity. Catholics viewed Protestants with suspicion in the same way that those racists who claim to be pro-British now view Islam. Irrational fear. There is nothing English about it. We have always updated, and we have always been in a constant state of change, there is no single identity. English culture is created by it’s people, and it is changed and updated with every passing generation. The people can be Catholic, Pagan, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Sikh, Black, White, Asian, Gay, Straight, fat or thin. It doesn’t matter. That is what makes Britain great, and it is the one thing I love most about this country.