Friday, January 28, 2011


Well. Hasn’t a proper shitstorm brewed and boiled over on the whole Secret Police (who do not exist) fucking up the cops whilst trying to screw the environmental movement. Now that’s what I call blowback. I’ll leave to one side the way that metaphors and slang for sexual activity and negative interaction are interchangeable. Isn’t getting fucked up supposed to be fun? Anyway…

One of the little details that has squished out amongst the torrent of steaming cack that has been the response of various arms of the State, most of which it seems had no idea what the others were up to, it seems, is the way the cops have maintained the line that the planned direct action to stop Ratcliffe on Soar power station emitting CO2 by shutting it down was in some way dangerous. Specifically, that it would have caused great inconvenience to the public, trashed hospitals and killed grannies and the like as the East Midlands was plunged into some kind of Gotham City style Dark Age of chaos death and violence. Or something. I exaggerate a little, but you get the idea. It’s the idea they want you to get.

I’m going to look at one of the cops involved in putting this position before you, gentle readers. Hugh Orde, ex shiniest uniform and chief sparkly cap at none other than the Police Service for Northern Ireland, who know a thing about disruption and more importantly terrorism - which is what they want you to associate the Ratcliffe action with, if you hadn't twigged. Hugh now sits as chair of ACPO, the private company that not only acts as a lobby group cum trade association for top coppers, but also sells its expertise in public control, sorry, security, to private companies. It was itself set up as a private company so it could do just this, and handily also avoid all that tedious parliamentary oversight and freedom of information law stuff that the less important parts of democracies have to put up with. This bunch of law on order privateers also, for some reason, decided to act as the operational controllers for various black ops (which don’t exist) such as using secret police (who don’t exist) it infiltrate and, it seems, have a good time in, various political organisations. All at some considerable expense. The people on the hit lists for this cabal of shadowy units with James Bond acronyms like NETCU and NPOIU included, it seems, Vince Cable, MP and Minister of the Crown, and Caroline Lucas, MP. Because they once went on a demonstration. The list is apparently very long…

Now, accuse me of overreaction if you like, but this is the kind of shit we had cruise missile based at Greenham Common to liberate Eastern Europe from, no? This is the fucking Stasi. And, yes, you are possibly sleeping with, or maybe even married to one of them. Very possibly if you are an environmentalist or actively oppose Fascism. Which I believe we once fought a war to stop, citing the evils of the Gestapo and, but you get the message. It’s blunt enough.

However. Hugh Orde. In his position as head honcho at ACPO, Hugh gets to sit on COBRA, not the bad guys from GI Joe, but the governments extra special emergency and contingency committee. Basically, the group of suits and uniforms that get to sit in a bunker and call the shots when the Shit hits the Fan. They know all about the resilience of things like the National Grid, and how it works to keep the lights on and plans for the possibility of power stations like Radcliffe going offline. It’s part of their job to. Without getting technical, the position is that if the action at Ratcliffe on Soar had gone ahead, there would have been no effect on the electricity supply to the East Midlands or for that matter anywhere else. The Judge and the Prosecution both agreed this was the case during the Ratcliffe trial. Heck, even the guy who was actually running the power station on the day said so. In court. Under oath. And I doubt that either of these three were actively seeking to win the case for the defence.

So, Hugh Orde. He must have been exposed to all this info in his position as a senior cop and ACPO chair and member of COBRA. As he was thinking of actually commenting on the case, I suppose he would have brushed up on the facts a bit. Yet, he went on the record to say that the action would have caused disruption and endangered life. This leaves us with a tough call to make. And I’ll leave you to reach your own conclusions as to which is true, and which is the more disturbing.

Is one the the nations most senior, powerful and unaccountable police officers an idiot or a liar. Or both.


I’m going I circles on a bus, looking for it’s bay in the new and spectacularly bad at it’s job bus station. It’s the in-between nameless days of Christmas and New Year, and the rotation is making it hard to type. I’m going to a party, which is not unusual. I’ve been to less this year than most, but have had the equivalent of about 4 Big Dinners, to the extent that I may even have gained a big of gut, which is very unusual. The named days were the usual itinerant selection of eating drinking and present opening for a number of very kinetic and noisy children, which is what it’s all about, after all. Ho ho ho.

It brought to mind, as these events tend to, the past. And just how much stuff we have as compared to then. No really, this isn’t just old person whinging. We, as in my folks, really do have more stuff now. And, so do we as in the wider we, in general and on average. Thing is, as I sat and watched a particularly kinetic small child pile into a heap of wrapped boxes, that whole value vs. worth vs cost equation played out in my head. I remembered all the things, many of them old and second hand, that I valued as a kid, and how they all got broken by other kids, or out grown or given away in turn. Of course, I’ve forgotten all the rubbish presents (well, I assume I have) and the ones I didn’t value. But as the wrapping trashing avatar of acquisition exposed each new present, and casually set it aside un-inspected with a cry of ‘more presents’, I did recall how we would open our presents. There was a ritual. Basically, one of us three kids would fetch a present from under the tree, and hand it to the recipient, after reading the label. This way, everyone knew what everybody had got, and from who. And, it meant we tended to eat dinner quite late. But, even when we were small, there was no uncontrolled or unsupervised orgy of paper ripping.

Not that his means that that child valued those things any less than I did mine. He’s one of my nephews, and I know he certainly does value things highly. All it means is that he, and his branch of my family, do a certain ritual in a different way. And that I quite possibly value the ritual over the actual presents.


And that I have lost a little more of my very low reserve of childlike joy and wonder.

Monday, November 08, 2010

and then I dreamt of yes

I’m not interested in an agony offset, an equation of suffering. Freedom, liberation, equality - thats not a trick conjured by trading the moments of power with the moments of powerlessness, however consenting either and each way. It’s not about a balance of submission and domination. It’s about everyone being free, about everyone having power with and through others, not over them. Even if you let them, or others - especially others - have power over you to convince yourself that makes amends. That’s a sham, a lie. That’s a world that still needs slavery, still needs hierarchy, still needs chains and prisons, no matter how gilded and long, no matter how comfortable and willingly accepted - it’s the algebra of choice that got us where we are now, and where we are now is fucked. And not in a good, respect you in the morning and fry you breakfast way, but a didn’t-want-that-damaged-for-life way.

Now, while we’re straying into that metaphor, I’m not saying we can’t play. I am saying we can’t use that game as a design for life. If thats your revolution, I’m not dancing. Thats not the change I want to see, let alone be. But we’re coming from where we are, and we all have our own way of working things out. It’s a journey, as they say. A process, not an event. Justice is not about scales, or about blindness. We make society and the basic rule, across the board, is just try and be better.

Consciously so.

So, if your offer is about a give and take of fucking over, a compromise where suffering is balanced, an equality of pain, but no aim to work to a gross reduction of suffering, forget it. I’m not playing a zero sum game, mine is a zero end game.
And I play to win. Because that way we all win, as much as possible, preferably always. And we all loose as little as possible. Preferably never.

Now, how we get there, that’s a tough one. But it would be great to have you with me as we try. Work with me on it, it just takes practice.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

piece of crap

…And then, something filmic actually goes and happens. Something huge. And you spend a week having your life written by Iain Banks. And not in a good way.

You find yourself heartily wishing for this to still be nowhere, for it all to stop, because you know the whole fucked up mess can’t get anything but worse, for everyone concerned. For some, much, much worse. But it’s not a film, it’s life. No rewrite. No alternate ending. No directors cut.

In some ways, in fact in every way but one, nothing has actually changed. But that one thing changes everything - the point of view shifts, One Big Lie is revealed, and the whole meaning of so much stuff is forever changed. Betrayal so huge it feels like a death. Or a murder. It contaminates memory, it stains the past. It’s such a shocking thing, how one fact can trigger a chain reaction, and show you how utterly wrong you were about a chunk of your life. The past is still there, those things all happened, but the meaning has been changed, soiled and sullied.

So now we pick ourselves up, and we keep going. We remember this is exceptional. We try to remember how to trust. Because this is life, and we must live.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

everybody knows this is nowhere

So, more of the same. Only more so. A little further into the Great Whimper, unless we finally plump for the Last Bang. I’ve always favoured the whimper. Welcome, or welcome back, by the way. And what have I done with my bitter, cynical, disappointed - oh so very disappointed - pessimism these past few years? Got drunk and watched Radiohead in a bout of miserablist hedonism? Sniffed around community activism to build the transition to a new resilience? Joined a gang and got us some land with a rocking chair on the porch? Maybe.

I got older, and more tired, that’s for sure. And I got myself to a new postcode. And a load of other stuff. Some of which was quite complicated, and difficult and draining. Some of it still is… But, that’s not why your here. Well, not that anyone is.

Anyway, here we all are in our little versions of nowhere, doing our best impressions of nothing. Just kind of waiting. For something. Obviously, this all fits into a mass of busy interlinked schedules full of stuff, you know, working, shopping, recovering from working and shopping, and people, and that. But that’s just the background noise, thats just the scene setting, yeah? Thats the first 15 minutes of the film, till the Life Changing Event happens, right? You know, the chance meeting with the love interest, the accidental bag switch for the one full of money, the conspiracy that hacks your work email. Or something less, it’s not like we want that much, even just a soap grade event, eh? Anything for a life less ordinary.

Well, no. I have actually had a somewhat less than ordinary life. No, really. Nothing filmic, nothing epic, but I’ve done things that are not usual. A fair few of them in fact. And I’m still here, and everybody knows this is nowhere. Then, most people have done loads of things lots of other people haven’t. We just tend to value otherness, the otherness that fiction posits as exciting. Not generally the stuff which is actually fulfilling. At least not realistically so. The apogee of cinematic excitement seems to be blowing a lot of things up these days, which I’m sure is pretty exciting - the nearest I got to this was fireworks as a kid, and I thought that was exciting - but I doubt it makes many people happier. Especially the relatives of the folk in the things that get blown up. And the more we use films for excitement, the more we use soaps for community, the more we use such mass media for emotional hits, the less we value the experience of our own real lives. And the more control over our lives we hand to the people who make the stuff. This may be nowhere, but at least it’s not La La Land.

Hang on. Miserablissed. Hmm, I like that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

out on the weekend

Well. It’s another train, heading south backwards. New laptop out, bike hung like fresh beef in the big new racks. And I’m travelling from a relatively new origin to a less common destination, shades of change. But not so huge, the basic narrative, the characters and dialogue, huge chunks of the scenery, indeed, whole scenes, could be cannibalised from earlier episodes. We hold change like we do risk - very poorly assessed. We latch onto minor detail without considering context or bigger picture. We confuse a bit of minor redecoration with real change, and we mistake risk for danger.

Much, I suspect, has to do with control, with power. We choose to believe that those things we have control over In some way, those areas of our lives in which we have agency, are the important ones, and overestimate the degree of change our actions therein actually represent. This is why we spend so much money on DIY. And hair care. Which is interesting, as it points to a consequence. Them as wants to sell you stuff know all this, so they actively spend a lot of time, energy and money telling you the vast array of their relatively inconsequential tat represents a powerful toolkit to deliver real, significant and lasting change in your life. Yes, your life - here and now. You, yes you, are just one small step, one little purchase away from new! A brand new life! A brand new world! A branded new you. With highlights and body. And new wallpaper.

Except your not of course. You are the same you, only a bit poorer and maybe a tad more neurotic or deluded. Shopping won’t change your history, or your DNA. Well, not yet anyway. But, it may change your future, then that’s also what they say about voting. Which is sold as the ultimate power choice. What’s more it’s free. Well, freeish. I mean, it’s not like voting affects our taxes. Or the result of an election could see us loose our jobs. Or end up with us in a war. Or anything.

Besides, I always thought branding was what happened to cows… and we all know what happens to them.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


This is the last post in the current form, not that I suspect the five or so of you that read this will notice. It’s run it’s course. I am not going to apologise for this, or for the long gaps and inconsistencies of floodculture. It isn’t for you and it never was. It’s just something I do when I get a thought or a rant, whatever, that fits it, because I enjoy it. And, frankly, much of the time I have something better to do anyway. I don’t care about it’s audience, or even if it has one. It’s not here to recruit, to build a movement, push a manifesto, change minds, change the world. We all do that every day, anyway.

Piece by piece, cliché by cliché, increment at a time, we all of us change the place around us with our actions. Sorry, but the future isn’t made by the great gestures and actions or great people, by Heroic Efforts at Moments of Destiny. It’s made by the squalid, thoughtless actions of fuck ups like you and me, actions taken in panic and blindness as we simply try to live our lives, to get by. Yesterday I switched to a (supposedly) renewable electricity provider. Yes, me, who’s rants about climate change have soiled these virtual pages, only just got round to it. Because that is how life is lived. Because it just wasn’t high enough up the list. Because, deep down, I just don’t believe there is actually any point anyway. Because, if I really meant it, I’d be switching to self generation, or quitting electricity all together. Instead, I got a fucking iPod for Christmas.

And, when those small things add up to larger, collective actions, we don’t make the right calls. They just don’t add up to what we need to do, more often the opposite. Like building a new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth. Like funding climate change denial from oil profits. Like not pushing for regime change to save people from tyranny when the country concerned…, but I’m turning into a bitter, cynical, whining liberal spitting self loathing platitudes from a comfortable chair in a comfortable house in a comfortable country.

Bottom line. When it comes down to it, I’m too comfortable. We all are - apologies to those on the end of the bell curve here, but the vast majority of us are, and by us I mean the people who are able or likely to read this. Whatever. Look, those of us who need to change won’t, because it will by uncomfortable, simple as. So, get back to work, put your noise cancelling earphones in and grin while you bear it. Just read the sports pages, don’t watch what passes for news. Keep it tuned to the music channel. And, for fucks sake, don’t look too hard out of the closed and locked window. There is a big world out there you and I made together.

Control. Alt. Delete.

Monday, October 29, 2007

fear III

This time it’s personal…

A different station, Saturday morning. Many police about, as it’s a match day. About half of them have the blue square panel in their yellow jackets - Forward Intelligence Team colours. Spotters and snoops. Cameras. Photo albums.Trouble. The lowest, poorest trained and least respected rung of the architecture of a police state in waiting. Full of adrenaline, speed and an inferiority complex resulting from their place at the bottom of the food chain in the wonderfully oxymoronic world of ‘intelligence led policing’.

My hackles rise, my awareness ramps up a few notches. I scan the station to fix their locations, and those of their quarry as well as the exits. There’s only a few home shirts about as yet, one group of pudgy short-hairs with bulging carrier-bags straining to contain the stella cans are keeping their distance and have formed loose circle round a mate at the cashpoint, while another is busy on his phone. Move along. Nothing to see.

But I’m also on a low level adrenal rush now, so I get out of the station by the most direct route, keeping to the pace of the general flow. They check me out, I check them out. We both decide no further action is required. I head to my usual cafe bar for a quick belt and some free wifi, but it’s a film set for the morning. No, really. it's full of cameras and earnest student types with clipboards and sheaves of paper. it takes them five miuntes to realise i'm there, after which they politely ask me to piss off. So, it’s back to the station for chain caffeine and more twitching.

I assume everyone has the same, or at least similar, reaction to the cops. The fact I can id their roles and rank probably has little effect on that. Thing is, the last 15 years of my life probably has. Is my reaction more so, of maybe even different? And can they tell? Or, is this paranoia? And, do I / should I actually care?

Things improve greatly once the surprisingly good coffee hits my system and I get onto the platform. At least the twitching is now related to a reasonable cause. But, along with the bitter aftertaste of the coffee, another lurks, just below the surface, down in the place were I keep the fear, right next to the anger.