Bob Dylan: Ye Masters of War (last verse).
The song got to number 2 in the download charts. Here’s how the BBC covered the story:
BBC played the rival campaign song I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher in its entirety. The 1979 song by punk band Notsensibles sold 8,768 copies after a late push from Lady Thatcher fans and entered the charts at 35.
Woody Guthrie’s 1913 Massacre is the subject of Arlo Guthrie’s documentary to be shown in Bradford, Tuesday April 16 and Thursday April 18.
Hear Woody’s version of the song:
A new political blog – check it out!
The RealityNow blog has now been superseded by karldallasday.wordpress.com.
“The duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth be his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side.” - Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen) 965-1040AD
Thoughts for these days
(Perpetually under construction)
My best birthday present yesterday – apart, that is, from waking up by the side of the woman I love – was an advance copy of Richard Thompson’s new CD, Electric, which seems to me to be the best thing he has done for many years.
Which is saying a lot, because his recordings have displayed a consistent quality ever since Henry the Human Fly blew us away 40 years ago. Although this is a studio album, it has an incredibly “live” feel. It’ll be interesting to hear how these new songs, in several different genres, from hard rock to country, come over live, when he starts his UK tour on February 20 in Cardiff.
I’ll be reviewing the album in detail later, and hope to do it on air.
Happy birthday to me!
Thanks to all who’ve sent me birthday greetings via Facebook, Tweets, or in hard copy. 82! What a ridiculous age! I never thought I’d get past 50.
BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting a series of programmes about George Orwell (Eric Blair), whom I knew briefly when I was assistant secretary (in charge of membership) of the Trade and Periodical Branch of the National Union of Journalists. At that time I was writing freelance pieces on education for Tribune, where he was literary editor. Despite my active involvement at the time in the exploding folk revival (or perhaps because of it) , he never asked me to contribute to the paper’s cultural coverage. He probably also would have dismissed me as a Mayakovskyan Stalinist, which I certainkly was. I don’t recall his ever attending an NUJ branch meeting, but probably that was because the committee was dominated by CP members like myself.
Assistant producer of the BBC series, Lucy Collingwood, has blogged that she didn’t know that Room 101, in 1984, was an actual room in Broadcasting House, but she doesn’t seem to have followed that clue to a realisation that the tale is not about a Soviet-style dystopia, but a way in which he got out of his system all the frustrations of working for the BBC, and its domination by the Ministry of Information (AKA Ministry of Truth in the book). Nor is it set in the future, but he merely transposed the last two digits of the year he was writing it, 1984.
Despite my personal dislike of the man, I couldn’t help admiring his skills as an essayist. Being a working class kid, I couldn’t be impressed by his touristic descent into the lower depths, but his Politics and the English Language needs to be read today more than ever, when words like “redundant” (OED: “not or no longer needed or useful; superfluous”) have become part of the vocabulary of capitalist decline.
I never liked Animal Farm, not so much for its travesty of Soviet history – that had already become a cliche of the ultra-left to which I’d become inured – but because of the hopelessness of its ultimate message, that revolutions must always fail, and the cause of this failure is not so much the entropic force in human affairs (which is why revolutionary movements must continually reinvent themselves), but because of the inescapable stupidity of the animals – ie the revolutionary masses – who at the end of Orwell’s fable can no longer tell who are the pigs and who are the human beings:
“In a way, the world-view of the party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violation, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything and what they swallowed did them no harm because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.”
Orwell’s sole experience of real struggle of course, was his brief excursion to Catalonia, and I wonder how his POUM comrades would have viewed his depiction of them as blind followers of demagogues like the piggish upsurper, Napoleon? But just as the collapse of Soviet power does not seem to me to be the end of the story, nor, I think, does Orwell’s conclusion.
I am working on a sequel, Animal Farm II – the animals strike back. Though this is a first draft, I think readers will see which way it’s going.
A poem for Holocaust Memorial Day
I am dressed in black today in memory of all who died in the holocausts of the Twentieth and Twentyfirst Centuries.
Remembering that there was not only one Holocaust.
That it did not begin in 1933 and end in 1945.
That it cannot be owned by any single group, not any ethnicity, any religion, politics, sexuality, ability, age, lifestyle.
We are all holocaust victims:
“anyone’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in humankind”.
And the holocausts shame us all.
More on David Ward
So David Ward has been forced to climb down and “apologise”. For what? For standing up for an oppressed people who are suffering now at the same time as he stands in solidarity with those who have suffered in the past?
The best commentary I have read on this sorry affair is HERE (it pre-dates Ward’s apology, but is still relevant, sadly).
(The number of those who have LIKEd my comments on Facebook, including some Jews, has been gratifying.)
Playback of my play for this day, After the Memorial
F- and SH- words
I got in to hot water at BCB for allowing some “forbidden” words to get into my Movietime show.
Though I think the rules are ridiculous (and only apply to community radio, not BBC etc), I know about them and try to apply them. Accordingly, I thought I’d bleeped out the offenders before the recorded programme was transmitted. I can’t understand why that didn’t work, but if anyone was offended by the first broadcast (the rebroadcast had the words bleeped out by the people in control of the station, which I’m OK with) then I can only apologise.
I’ve been very inspired by the Muslim concept of Jihad, so widely misunderstood by non-Muslims (and judging by their misuse of the label, also by some alleged “Jihadists”).
According to Wikipedia:
In a commentary of the hadith, Sahih Muslim, entitled al-Minhaj, the medieval Islamic scholar, Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi, stated that “one of the collective duties of the community as a whole (fard kifaya) is to lodge a valid protest, to solve problems of religion, to have knowledge of Divine Law, to command what is right and forbid wrong conduct”.
In that sense, I can identify with Jihad, and believe it should be an essential part of repentance (turning away from our past errors or, as one Islamic commentator put it, “simply remembering or returning to God’s path”). It does not, repeat NOT, involve killing people.
Since I believe many of today’s churches need to repent in this sense (and me, too), I have set up a new website, Christian Jihad, to investigate these issues. It’s under construction at present but any suggestions or contributions will be welcomed.
Tomorrow is Holocaust Memorial Day, and I shall be uploading a recording of the play I wrote and broadcast on BCB, After the Memorial. Meanwhile, the following poem is not about the Holocaust as such, though it is mentioned. It was inspired by the deaths in Serbia from the NATO bombing in 1999.
On Sunday, the National Media Museum is showing Mark Jonathan Harris’s documentary about the Kindertransport, Into the Arms of Strangers.
Two days later there is the first of two screenings of 5 Broken Cameras, a film about Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation, on Tuesday January 29, and Thursday January 31. Hear what Michael Moore has to say about this important film in the clip below:
Meanwhile, Zionist fury at the link David Ward MP made between the Holocaust and Israeli atrocities in Palestine was predictable, but he is not the first to make such a link.
When I was in Palestine, many said to me: “How can the Jews, who have suffered so much, do these terrible things to us?” (They tended to distinguish between the illegal Jewish settlers and the Israeli army on the one hand, and the Jewish people as a whole.)
But the link is also made by the Zionists, as represented by the graffito I saw and photographed in the city of Hebron, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims as the burial site of our father, Abraham: “Arabs to the gas chambers,” it said. Just to make sure we knew who was adopting this Nazi terminology, it was signed “JDL” (Jewish Defence League).
More could be said about Zionist collusion with the Holocaust. Ben Gurion, Israel’s first head of State, declared outright on December 7, 1938: “If I knew it was possible to save all the children in Germany by taking them to England, and only half of the children by taking them to Eretz Israel, I would choose the second solution.”
(The above is the text of a letter I have sent to the Bradford Telegraph & Argus – firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Spent the afternoon collecting for Parkinson’s in Tesco, Canal Road. Quite busy but why, oh why, don’t they clear the snow from the disabled parking spaces? (Same goes for Girlington Lidl and Morrison’s.)
Meeting last night in Shipley of the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign, with a showing of the excellent movie The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (not the Gil Scott-Heron song, but the story of the failed anti-Chavez coup), followed by good discussion about the lessons of the Chavezistas’ success for us in Britain led by Colin Burgon, the ex-Labour MP who’s chair of the campaign.
I’m chairing BCB’s Round Table discussion show today at 12 noon, and have just recorded Monday’s Classical Hour, celebrating my birthday next Tuesday with a performance of Stravinsky’s Greeting Prelude, AKA Happy Birthday To You, and as much as I can squeeze into an hour of Music With Changing Parts, by Philip Glass.
Can anyone explain why WordPress is changing all my headings to Paragraph styles, and also deleting the breaks between paragraphs?
Re-enter The Wicker Man
Synchronicity! I just finished writing about “The Wickerman Phenomenon” as part of the revised version of my ebook on paganism, when blow me! The movie was on TV last night.
Actually, on re-viewing, it’s not such a rubbish movie as I’ve tended to think. It manages to convey an atmosphere of unease from the beginning, as Edward Woodward’s seaplane comes down into the Summerisle harbour. But, folkloristically speaking, I still maintain it’s a farrago of nonsense. Why so many neo-Pagans have taken it on board beats me. As I write in my analysis (read it in full HERE):
Julius Caesar would no doubt be astonished to learn how, two millennia after his slanderous assertion that Gaulish “Druids” burnt human sacrifices in huge wicker effigies, the idea of the wicker man has penetrated into popular culture. Not only has it inspired rock lyrics by such as Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickinson; it has also given its name to gatherings like the Wickerman Festival taking place each July near to Dundrennan in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, and the week-long Burning Man event held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, in the United States each August, but it has also been taken on board by modern neo-pagans. For instance, to mention only two out of many, a female effigy of wicker or other materials is burnt at the stake for the annual Danish celebration of Sankt Hans aften (Saint John’s Eve). A Wicker Man is burned at Buster Farm in Hampshire, England, every Beltane (May Day).
This is truly astonishing. Imagine if the Jews were to “celebrate” the Holocaust by embracing anti-Semites, crying: “It’s true! We did murder Christ. We did use the blood of murdered Christian children in our Passover ceremonies. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are not a clumsy forgery. We are engaged in a conspiracy to enslave the world. Open up your gas ovens and let us all be sacrificed to the greater glory of the Aryan race.”
A weird experience
Last night our church organised the first session in a course on money management, led by an ex-banker. Next week, a talk on terrorism led by an ex-member of Al Quaeda, perhaps?
At a time of falling attendances, and straitened times, shouldn’t we be considering how we can help people to cope, and how we can get the bankers, Amazon & CO, to pay back what they have stolen from us?
What with the snow, bumping the car, family matters etc etc, I can’t believe more than a week’s gone by since I last shared my thoughts here. It’s not as if nothing much has happened – quite the contrary, in fact.
I also recalled some lines I wrote about Paul:
I agree with Blake who wrote that everything that lives is holy, and with Paul, that salty sailmaker, who said that compared with the knowledge of Christ, everything else he knew was shit. (Philippians 3:8) His exact word, skubalon in the original Greek, is a popular euphemism for excrement: the King James calls it dung, but the NIV chickens out and calls it rubbish.
Our new priest, Alistair Helm, was installed as our vicar, and in his sermon, Archdeacon David Lee, spoke in part on the afterlife, which recalled to mind my uncompleted play, Painting with light. When extracts were performed at the Bradford Playhouse in Jonathan Hall’s Page2Stage project, I went away with a new scene in mind.
I must get round to finishing it some day, but, currently, two things are demanding my creative attention, my series of eBooks, Against Religion, and Fagin Returns, a sequel to Oliver Twist (see video below).
Lastly, however, I must remember to celebrate the last two Thursdays at the Topic. The first was Bella Gaffney, a young singer still in her teens. It’s so exciting even today, when so many folk club audiences are ageing, to observe a new singer growing and emerging from the chrysalis of being just another floor singer, and stretching their wings like a musical butterfly.
The other was Will Kaufmann’s illustrated talk about Woody Guthrie. When the Topic started way back in the mid-Fifties, one of Alex Eaton’s vision was to have talks about the music, something which hasn’t happened there for years. But then Will Kaufmann may be a Professor of American Literature and all, but he’s also a top-rate performer, with a style deliberately NOT aping Woody’s singing or playing.
He also gave us Joe Hill’s Preacher and the Slave (song I think all believers should take to their hearts) preceded by a snatch of the Carters’ We shall meet in the sweet by-and-by, inspiration for the song.(I thought he was a bit too dismissive of the Carters, who had a strong influence on Woody, not only for tunes (Wildwood Flower = Reuben James), but also his hammering-on guitar scratch lick, which became part of the British guitar revival via Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.)I was inspired to write the following poem:
Go to This Machine Kills Fascists for the text.
Celebration of the Baptism of Jesus
NOTE: Any Geordie willing to record the above text, please leave contact details in a reply at the bottom of this page.
I thought I had found the answer to my problems scanning books to extract the text, because of the curvature of the pages into the spine – especially in big books like A Treasury of Jewish Quotations, which I’m using for my book on Judaism in the “Against Religions” series.
The Scanthing app allows me to scan using my Android mobile, but it didn’t work on that particular book. I took so much time trying to solve that problem I didn’t get round to listing my TV recommendations to the week ahead.
Suffice it to say I’ll be interested to see if Blandings (BBC1, Sunday, 6.30pm) will eclipse my memory of Ralph Richardson’s stellar performance in the 1967 version. I’ll no doubt tune in again to both episodes of Borgen tonight (BBC4, 9pm) to see why it’s so less engrossing than The Killing. Everyone raves about it, but I was rather bored last week.
I haven’t had time to say much about Bella Gaffney’s solo spot at the Topic in Thursday. But watch this girl. She’s going places. (And I don’t mean Nottingham Uni, where she’s reading chemistry and maths.)
Yesterday got a bit stupid so I didn’t manage to post here.
Despite having missed out on my Swing Easy BCB radio show on Tuesday (see below), I did in fact manage to get Movetime finished in time to hit the airwaves at 6pm on Wednesday (from zero to 100% in eight hours! That’s a first for me, even though I reckon to be a fast worker.)
Here’s the full programme (not faded, as BCB requires, at 29 minutes 47 seconds); no video version as yet, but I’m working on it.
Those nice people at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, got in touch to say that I could still see the 10½-hour back-stage stream I missed on Monday – but I better be quick ‘cos today is the last of the three days it can be viewed. Run, do not walk to http://www.roh.org.uk/news/watch-royal-opera-live to view it today:
Best bit is the last hour or so, devoted to the third act of Die Walküre. There are options to view it from the auditorium, from the conductor’s rostrum, or backstage, hearing all the technical instructions. There are no plans, it seems, to release this remarkable footage on DVD. Pity!Apologies to anyone who tuned into BCB radio last night for my Swing Easy show. I was so up to my eyes with writing my Fagin Returns sequel (plus catching the ROH stream) I clean forgot about it. Unprofessional, KD! Slap-on-the-wrist time.
Better get it together to deliver Movietime to transmit at 6pm tonight. Among other films, I’ll be featuring Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet, and the weird and very wonderful Life of PI.
Last night I was able to drag my church, not quite kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century, by persuading the Parochial Church Council of St Paul’s, Manningham, to adopt the use of QR codes in publicising its activities.
QR codes (see scannable, clickable image at left) are cropping up all over, most recently in a US lottery sponsored by a soft-drink company (I won’t tell you its name, since I am boycotting its products!) I argued that, even though most worshippers at the church won’t have suitable smartphones (yet!), putting the QR code on the noticeboard outside the church, and reproducing it on all our printed materials, would send a message to the younger or more hip passers-by, that this was a church which has something to say about the world we live in, utilising the latest technology.
It’s pretty easy to do. I went on to this website, and created the free QR code in literally a few seconds. You can download a QR reader from the same website for Android, iPhone or Windows phone (also free). The code image can incorporate a logo, and I plan to explore that option later, and may display the results here.
Footnote:Here are QR codes for my two websites:
NOTE: The above QR codes didn’t work with the Esponce QR reader Android app (though they were created on the Esponce website), but the ShopSavvy app (which will also scan barcodes) worked fine.
Today’s big event for me was a visit to Bradford City Hall to begin planning a forthcoming charity banquet. Bradford’s Lord Mayor has invited the local Parkinsons UK branch to put on the event banquet on Friday April 19. Should be a good do. Put the date in your diary now and Watch this space.Early evening will see me at the monthly meeting of Bradford People’s Coalition Against the Cuts, where a big local demo is in the pipeline.
Finally, I’m really pissed off that I missed the all-day streamed transmission from Covent Garden yesterday, with access to all areas backstage during act three of Wagner’s Die Walküre. It’s not quite the same thing, but you can catch up on some of the highlights at http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/video/2013/jan/04/die-walkure-royal-opera-video?intcmp=239.
Having created a video pitch for a screenplay based on Fagin Returns (see the video below), my sequel to Oliver Twist, I’ve been motivated to get back to work on the book, which is going very well. Examining the structure of the possible movie made me re-evaluate the book’s structure, too, so I’ve created a whole new chapter on board of the ship bringing Fagin (now calling himself Cohen), and Jack Dawkins (AKA the Artful Dodger), with a shanty as the anchor is lowered, in which Cohen’s black servant joins in the singing, with Swahili words.
Having cast the movie (Al Pacino as Fagin, Daniel Radcliffe as an older Oliver, Javier Bardem as Oliver’s nemesis, his wicked half-brother Monks) I realised I needed feminine interest, ie a new “Nancy”, and am developing the character of Sarah Thweedle, the daughter of the landlady at Fagin’s lodgings, which I see played by Kristen Stewart. So far, no one’s saluted when I ran my pitch up the flagpole at www.igottapitch.com/, but perhaps someone who sees it on this page may get as excited about it as I am.
In church today we celebrated the journey of the three wise men to worship at the stable where the baby Jesus was laid in the manger. Here’s a link to my re-telling of that story in modern-day terms:: Witnesses to Glory: The Magi, in which Baltahazar, Caspar and Melchior are university professors. We also meditated on the significance of the first miracle of Jesus, at the wedding in Cana:
A New Year’s song for 2013
Amazing Peace, a song I composed to the tune of Amazing Grace last November, but sang at the Topic Folk Club on Thursday, January 3. Note my experimentation with the “lining out” Southern Baptist Church technique. I think it works.