There’s been an awful lot of discussion on Facebook about the Folkestone Triennial just recently - and in particular about the buried treasure in the harbour.

Thus I felt compelled to add my ha’pence worth …… sorry, but it was inevitable and anyway, I’m sure somebody will delight in taking up the cudgels and brand me an art Philistine.

I personally have little appreciation for the average product of what’s generally identified as ‘conceptual art’. Perhaps I’m missing out … . but I don’t feel any loss by it.

In my mind, the burying of valuable items of any description in Folkestone Harbour must be viewed quite justifiably, as a brilliant and effective publicity stunt for the Town. After all, it’s marginally like the California gold rush down there these days and I understand they’re far from all being locals.

I see that little number as nothing other than said publicity stunt and I cannot in my wildest dreams ever perceive it as art - conceptual or otherwise.

Art appreciation is a very personal thing and in my case it involves an appreciation of diverse offerings which evoke strong emotion within me.

I include that which will invoke past memories for instance, or visions which I find pleasing in their depiction of places within my ken - as well as the natural beauty of places or peoples I have yet to see.

My personal appreciation of art embraces many forms of music, for I have exceeding catholic tastes in this regard and can be moved to unashamed tears by a Chopin Nocturne as readily as I can by listening to certain modern ballads. Conversely, Liszt or Ravell may excite me every bit as much as AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd or African drumming.

My personal appreciation of art involves the written word - not merely because that is my own chosen medium - but because I have read and enjoyed many passages which moved me to excitement, tears and on occasion (dare I mention it), lust.

Most important of all however, my personal appreciation of art in ‘conventional’ form is heightened by recognising the effort expended by those who produce it as an outpouring of their own emotion. Whether their offerings be conventionally good or merely a personal best, is utterly irrelevant - just so long as they’re genuine and not pretentious - or produced solely to make money.

For instance, the visual depictions by young children in nursery painting offer an open honesty in their innocent perception of that which children see around them. Furthermore, a closer examination of their product will often yield some amazing insights hidden deeply within the child mind.

My own appreciation of art does not however extend to ‘artistic’ productions such as ‘Unmade Bed’, which I view as wholly incomplete and thus unacceptable to me as art - for it must intrinsically fail to provide the only honesty which would otherwise discriminate it from any other unmade bed in any other bedroom in any other part of the world - the distinctive personal aroma of the ‘Artist’ after a night’s tossing, turning, sweating and farting …. and anything else which may have gone on during the night.

If part of conceptual art is to shock, then I must indeed be a conceptual artist, for a re-reading of my last sentence has certainly now shocked me into a final unacceptance of anything to do with Tracy Emin’s ‘art’, even if she does come from Kent – and the same goes for that other chap who pickled a shark.

If I’m losing out by not appreciating this kind of art, then I’m happy in my ignorance but I do wish that the ‘art cognoscenti’ would stop telling me that because I don’t like much of what I see these days, I obviously don’t understand art.

Art is a personal matter and sweet nothing to do with anyone else.

I could go on about all this but I suspect I’ve made my point sufficiently as to leave it all alone now. Each to their own I say but please, don’t anyone push their perception of art in my face and tell me I’m ignorant …. I already know that.

I shall now quietly walk around the Town when I drive to Folkestone later today and I shall see whether there are any offerings at all which will excite my ‘artistic appreciation’

Certainly, I suspect it won’t be the odd shiny miniature water tower on a street corner - if indeed, that’s what those odd metal structures are intended to represent … … . .



I read that the man Galloway is seeking to voice an opinion about Israel on the world stage.

I do not support either Israel or HAMAS because I feel they are as brutal was each other.

But I also believe Galloway’s pronouncements to be worthless, for I think he has demonstrated his rabble-rousing rhetoric too often and I truly hope that people are no longer so gullible as to rally around his hysterical outbursts.

In my view, George Galloway is a pompous, opportunistic blusterer who takes advantage of the representative needs of ethnic minorities in order to further his personal image by ‘representing’ them.

"Saddam Hussein, I salute your indefatigability" he said a few years ago, as he brazenly stood in deference to that cruel dictator.

Do you think we all have short memories which forget your toadying so readily to one of the world’s most despicable dictators when you though it might enhance your status?

My arse Galloway. You sir, are a buffoon.



Just before 0500 this morning and full of wondrous ideas, I set out the tools of my chosen retirement trade and sat down to write.

Lenovo lap-top fired up with a blank page of Word (sadly, in that regrettable horror of Windows 8. But never mind, the scroll on the right-hand side does in fact work if you can only operate it before a dark column appears. If your hand isn’t fast enough to reach the appropriate scroll arrow in time, it’ll frustratingly cut off your intentions and offer instead, diverse computer operational choices).

Tabs set and ready for easy access to both Oxford Dictionary, Thesaurus and Google Maps (the latter to ensure geographical accuracy).

A large mug of creamy and fresh-made coffee (only one sugar nowadays though).

A plate of buttered toast ready for a generous application of Sandy’s home-made ginger marmalade from Gatehouse Farm, Elham (well, she deserves the commercial plug).

Enthusiastically and brimming with confidence, hope and ideas, I start work.

A little over four and a half hours later at 0930 and I’m sitting in front of seven pages of variations covering the same wretched chapter’s opening paragraph which I commenced yesterday. That was the one I clearly determined to finish in one swiftly decisive effort this morning, before advancing into the field of startlingly interesting prose which I foresaw in the night.

This, my friends is known as ‘Block’ and I now fully comprehend Oscar Wilde’s feelings when he recorded that one of his mornings’ work resulted in the insertion of a comma just before lunch. Following the ensuing afternoon’s extensive deliberations, he eventually took the comma out again and retired for the day.

Why, oh why, did I not heed my father’s advice?

He clearly said, “Write it all down as the ideas come into your mind. If you really feel you must, revise it for typographical and other errors at the end of the day. NEVER, repeat NEVER, revise something more than once in the same day. Just leave it for many days, or until the words are strange to you - as if reading them for the first time. THEN and not before, is the time to carry out your definitive revision.”

But then again, my children also will often scorn my own advice born of significant experience … …

So - the question now is, when are they open?



My basic and most earnest wish is unlikely to be achieved because of the nature of the two combatant parties’ leaders - but I shall express it nonetheless,

HAMAS - Stop sending rockets over to Israel, for all you achieve is a terrible retribution which is mostly meted on the heads of your own innocents.

ISRAEL - Stop reacting to provocation, for all you are mainly doing is killing and maiming many of the innocents and few of the guilty.

BOTH OF YOU - You CANNOT change what happened yesterday and during all the years before - it has all gone and memory of it should be locked away, never to be re-opened.
You CAN stop what’s happening today.
You CAN control the future. 
Exercise control over your collective reactions to real or perceived injustices. 
Be supportive of each other against the anger of your respective extremists.
Above all, force pride, anger and retribution to take second place to stability and the future well-being of your peoples.
Follow the example of Ireland - Meet, Talk, Compromise, Reconcile, Forgive and Genuinely Seek Peace.



One faction of the world’s population is hell-bent on provoking others into devising and deploying ever more sophisticated methods of meting out death and suffering to the innocent and guilty alike.   

Many other factions push their diverse beliefs at others, often forcibly, in the mistaken view that theirs is the only true religion. 

Yet other factions allow their insatiable greed to pollute and despoil the environment and deprive others of their share of that which belongs to all. 

Objectively analysing what I say above, it seems our only true achievement to date is being on line to ensure the future destruction of our planet, together with all its life forms - both innocent and guilty.

It seems to me that matters can never change unless enough of the world’s population joins together to control the culprits now - and then effectively police the future.

I believe we all know this, so why do we allow matters to continue?   

Well - it’s because whether or not Edmond Burke actually did devise it, there is indeed truth in the adage,

“All that is required for the success of evil is that good men stand and do nothing”

Defeatist, Insulting or Realistic?  

I merely ask the question … . 



I notice that yet again there has been a post on Facebook disclaiming the ‘takeover’ of certain urban areas in this country by the followers of Islam.

This time it purports to show a notice forbidding the presence of dogs in certain areas because it is offensive to Islam.

Now whether or not this specific alleged instance is true, there are many videos publicly available on YouTube and elsewhere which purport to show followers of Islam attempting to restrict the free movement and behaviour of UK citizens on the basis that ‘This is an Islamic area’ and therefore one which does not permit certain standards of dress or behaviour.

On the other side of the coin, there are numerous videos available which illustrate the attempts of radical exponents of other factions to intimidate the followers of beliefs other than their own - the latter victims often being the followers of Islam.

I hasten to express my personal view that the problem should not be specifically about either dogs, Jingoism, Islam, or indeed any other religion.

It should be about each of us having the right to travel freely around the UK, without fear of either unauthorised restriction or ensuing unauthorised enforcement .

This country is a democracy - a style of living which, despite its legion of faults, still manages to offer the most equitable form of rule and freedom of its citizens so far available today. 

It is certainly a system which stands out well against the drastic restrictions of dictatorships, religious zealotry and military rule so often exercised in various other countries.

Therefore, I believe this should be about all of us - the Free Citizens of this Free country - being free from ANY branch, race or society from annexing ANY area of this country or inflicting ANY rules or restrictions on others without first achieving a mandate created through the democratic process.

Nobody in our country, regardless of whatever religious or other persuasion, should assume they have a right to force their individual beliefs on others and nor do I believe they should be permitted to do so.



I tend to become stultifyingly bored when I hear all the fans getting so worked up about this current Brazilian-based International tournament - they enter a frenzy as if it’s the only football game on earth.

(If you want to bring the thing into reality, you should see their faces when one dares to refer to it as “Just a game of ‘Soccer”!)


In so far as I understand matters, there are three principal games of football in this country -

There is Rugby Union Football and there is Rugby League Football.

Both really matter because both are apparently played by ‘real men’ who’s acolytes invade soccer pitches in tanks, whilst shouting “Get up fool!”

There is also Association Union Football - which is what’s being played in the current World Cup tournament.

In the current mass frenzy, it should not be forgotten that Rugby Union Football also has its own World Cup - but we only bore people with our game for about two months in the early part of the year and once every four years we push the boat out for a few weeks over our own World Cup Tournament.

We also have a Rugby Sevens Tournament with its own World Cup - but again, we don’t tend to make a lot of noise about that either - except in Rugby pubs and the occasional Wan Chai brothel.

Just as Association players seem to dislike the term ‘Soccer’, so do the average Rugby players not refer to their game as ‘Rugger’ (a left-over from the middle-class valued Hancock’s Half Hour wireless programme of the 50’s)

Association Football is purportedly a gentleman’s game played by hooligans and Rugy is a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen.

Now the only thing which I can confirm in this latter regard is that I personally know a lot of hymn tunes (having sung in 3 church choirs as a lad). However, and as a result of my club rugby playing days, I developed a wider range and for every hymn tune with correct wording that I do know, I can profess to being far more proficient in the performance of at least one set of disgracefully alternative lyrics (but always sung in beautiful harmony in the company of my questionably behaved fellows- and usually late at night!).

Thus perhaps, the quote is incorrect and Rugby players are hooligans after all.

Association Football players appear to have a penchant for over-dramatising the occasional bit of pain.

Rugby players on the other hand, have a definite penchant for actually playing down pain. Rather, they appear to possess an enthusiastic ability to joyously celebrate both its distribution and receipt.

From all the above, I’m sure you will not be surprised to hear that I’m a Rugby man.

Finally, and as a matter of interest, I was educated into the fact that most ball games originate from the ancient and frequently repeated question -

"Now the battle’s over Lads, what the fucking hell are we going to do with all those heads from our defeated enemy?"

Perhaps then, and to the dismay of soccer’s players and fans, Rugby hooligans really were there first and were the originators of football after all … . ?



When my company was working as fire, safety and emergency planning consultants on a major international transport facility on the other side of the world, part of our remit was to act as observers and to report on the conduct of the required annual safety exercises which were intended to test procedures and performance.

These were carried out in conjunction with the various routine desk-top exercises which involved the diverse (7) emergency services.

On arrival at one of the emergency centres during one exercise at 0100 hrs, we found relevant staff fully relaxed and busy making tea. When asked by us if they didn’t realise there was an exercise on, the response was,

“Oh yea – but we don’t have to appear until 0335!”

The whole exercise accordingly performed like a well-rehearsed play and gave heavily inaccurate impressions of the norm - thus obviously yielding little wrong with the performance and procedures.

To my hard-hearted mind at least then, the whole thing appeared to have been an expensively produced sham which showed only what everybody wanted to see - but it fulfilled the annoying legal requirements.

Thereafter, and as we had with similar exercises on transport facilities elsewhere, our first major recommendation was that as far as possible, at least one such exercise should be carried out periodically on the basis that all except essential personnel should think it was ‘No Duff’ (a real emergency and not a training exercise).

In that way, a genuine testing could produce authentic results, rather than those produced by pre-planned and rehearsed theatre.

It has always been my opinion that unless inspection and testing of systems is periodically carried out - in effect, ‘No Duff’ - participants will always pre-prepare.

Thus, because the result will not indicate the true state of whatever is being tested/inspected, insufficient steps can be taken to improve matters where systems or procedures would otherwise be found wanting or out-dated.

So surely must it be with school inspections?

I can remember as a child, the school inspector’s visits being known about well in advance - with the result that all of us pupils and staff were fully briefed on how to answer questions when asked and things usually went pretty well.

In effect, and rather like a GOC’s inspection of a military installation, everybody knew what was coming and not only the facility itself but its procedures and personnel were always immaculately presented.

Not at all indicative of the ‘normal’ state of affairs!

Thus I fail to see how anybody could justifiably oppose un-announced spot inspections of schools by properly accredited inspectors - unless, of course, there is something to hide.

And from what I have heard and read, there may well have been quite a growing lot to hide in certain schools – a developing situation which could have been easily identified and nipped in the bud, if regular and appropriate inspections had been carried out from the word go.

As it is, I suspect we have the signs of an ominous and fairly well developed situation to be confronted.



Now that the ‘Earthquake’ has reduced itself to a few fragmented after-shocks, what have we actually got as a result of those frighteningly low turned-out European and local elections?

Already there is a feeling that although they may be a useful tool with which to scream a protest vote in far-away remote European politics, UKIP does not really have sufficient control over its significant rogue elements to be a party even remotely mature enough for serious consideration in UK national politics.

AND, with enormous relief all around, the man Farage at last appears to have gone silently off to quaff his pint of Brussels bilge-water. Well ….. a trifle more quietly anyway.

A host of European reactions against domestic interference from Brussels seem to have given the lie to the hitherto ‘impossibility’ of any re-negotiation of their membership terms of the EU.

It’s likely that (un-elected) busy Brussels bureaucrats may even now be checking where they can back-track on their directives and what they can be seen to be de-regulating in order to quietly keep their jobs and attendant expenses.

Many old MEP’s, plus probably some of the new intake must be hoping that occasional mentions of the ‘E’ word during the campaign and its aftermath, may quietly disappear into the gloom and leave them free to continue charging for all manner of questionable expenses which come with the already heavily-laden EU gravy train.

Politicians everywhere suddenly profess to be listening to their electorates and promising to do better next term. Yet this is despite their having had ample opportunity to change their ways during all their terms of power before threat of the electoral cane was finally rammed up their noses and lodged deeply within their sinuses.

What else?

Ah yes …. at last the ‘Grey Man’ of yesterday’s conservative government is being heard with rapt attention and despite whatever reservations they may have had about him in the past, folk appear to be regarding him now as an honest (if retired) face of the disgracefully slimy mire that is politics.

I exaggerate for effect - but as stated, it’s my view.

Yet again though, and by way of warning, I feel it appropriate to quote the cynical adage, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”.

Watch the political space … . it’ll all be back to normal by a week next Thursday … . or possibly Monday - ‘cos Thursday’s the beginning of its weekend.



I have spent most of today writing and in the doing, may perhaps have become a trifle introspective and even overly sentimental.  But that’s the nature of this particular beast and anyway, sometimes such approaches are no bad things and they can prove cathartic, so I shall say what I want to say regardless of verbosity.

As Heulwen truthfully suggested this morning in her Facebook post,

“Everybody has gone through something that has changed them in a way that they could never go back to the person they once were”.

True indeed, except that I would substitute the first two words with ‘The fortunate have ….’

My own such fortunate metamorphosis came about some twenty-five years ago when I recognised and drew back from the deceptive double-standards of erstwhile ‘friends’ in favour of a transparent constancy of the genuine folk within my ken.  I thus now regard the former - not as bad, so much as just of another world.  I also now hope (but in truth know) that the latter will continue to inhabit my present world until departure - warts and all.

That metamorphosis also revealed to me some out-dated approaches and errors in my earlier life and taught me that the manner in which I had been brought up - whilst perhaps applicable in those somewhat harsher days, was not necessarily appropriate to the now.  I felt ….. how may I say this?  I felt not ashamed of them but instead, chose to learn from progress and repair both my outlook and my approaches to others.  This I hope I have done.

I am vibrantly aware that I have some very good friends and they constantly demonstrate their value to me. 

They also constantly demonstrate unnecessary cruelty in their endlessly ageist remarks about me.  Some are scattered about the world.  Without doubt, they come from all walks of life and are without pretension.   They are endlessly and openly rude about my appearance.  Many of them remember with unfortunately graphic clarity what I did wrong the night before - and often what I did wrong many nights before that.  They never cease to wonder at my sometimes eccentric behaviour and are tolerant of it.  They take the piss and they receive it back in equal measure. 

Above all, they stand out against yesterday because they are always constant and without shade.  In short, I welcome their presence in my life - it is comforting and I am absurdly grateful.

No, I’m not in any way pissed but regrettably and wholesomely sober.  In celebration of that fact, I’m now off to draw another pint of Old Rosie from that jug on the kitchen unit.  Cheers again Scaff!

That is all.

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