Sunday, 29 November 2015

LEARN FROM THE PAST, LIVE IN THE NOW, VOTE FOR THE FUTURE

Focused on strengthening the 'self' today in yoga.   Rising above the ego - which feeds on fear and need (greed).    I do not read the papers but listening to the radio and the fear being nurtured and heard int the voices of those speaking and being spoken to on LBC, is interesting. The media stokes fear rather than trying to clarify the story and at the moment, they should drop the need to sell and advertise and focus on the bare facts because you don't need to dress it up in any way.   No background music, no actor doing the voice over.  No tight edit.   And those in charge are the most fearful of the lot.    History repeats itself - I think every 80 years its been proven to - and we're set for a 1930s repeat which of course then ended up in WW1.   Controversial to say, but those who are best prepared for what is about to happen (on a material level) are least worthy of survival.  

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

LOST VOICE NOT MOMENTUM

I lost my voice two weeks ago.  There's a bug going round and I heard even David Cameron croak through a talk to a group of City suits I think earlier this week, may be last.   Any way, he was croaking. As I teach yoga and present radio, its not a good idea to lose the voice. Sounding like the vamp in Carry on Screaming is one thing. Sounding like a squeaky mini mouse is not so cool.  I managed to do both week before last and ended up talking in whispers.  Thank goodness for the technology of microphones.

Where was I when I heard about Paris?  Working late.   I was recently asked to talk about where to go for Christmas. It has been an extraordinary year for travel, as in safety has over taken sunshine as the number one priority for travellers.  Or British travellers.   Shootings on the beach in Tunisia, bombings in Paris restaurants and flight blown up from Sharm.   I have never known a year like it.  Even when 9/11 happened it quietened the Americans coming to the UK, but the Brits travelled everywhere.  This is closer to home.  Next year the choice is Italy and Australia and China.  They seem to be the places people feel are safe….

Thursday, 5 November 2015

BUSINESS AS USUAL, WELL SORT OF...

World Travel Market, Family Travel Market and Luxury Travel Market.  I have lost my voice. This wouldn't normally be a problem any other year as I'm not sure if people listen to me anyway sometimes. But I teach yoga and I co present a radio show so its a bit of a nuisance when the voice varies from Mariella Frostrop gravel to Minnie Mouse squeak within a few seconds.  I ended up whispering down the microphone this evening.   Never know, I may get some dates.

No one would talk about the elephant in the room at WTM.  Security. True they had 'talks; about it, but on the stands they went on business as usual as though this had been just like any other year.  Well, barring 9/11, I've never seen a year like this in travel.  

I'm heading to Luxury ™ and may pop into Spirit of Christmas although I have no spirit of Christmas at the moment. I'm still enjoying the fireworks.   I've looked at my blogs for this year.   It will be under forty written, unless I have a spurt in December.  This is a good sign.  

Saturday, 31 October 2015

BOND - EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES. MILK TRAY MAN BUT NO CHOCOLATES….


The new Bond film is glamorous mysogynistic twaddle.   I wouldn't usually put the second word in, but when the film Suffragette is on at the same time, you realise we have moved on, well, women have moved on, but men, men in power at least, have moved from being deeply superficial to superficially deep.  I suppose thats progress of sorts.   Its like realising something is important, not knowing why and not knowing how to achieve it, but knowing how to pretend you've got it.   Politicians do it well. So do TV presenters.  Its called soul.  And although this Bond film was desperately trying to find soul, the train fight (the one with Sean Connery in From Russia with Love much better), the fast car chases (Rome looked better than the cars), everything looked like a Milk Tray advert but without the man handing over the bloody chocolates and leaving with his calling card.  Now the man arrives with the chocolates, eats them all himself and then shoots you.  And if he's as toned and handsome as Bond is, he is more likely to be gay anyway. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

THE DAILY HATE - CORBYN CAN'T SING, HE CAN'T DRESS AND HE CAN'T WEAR A FLOWER.

I'm sure David Cameron can do all of these things but that does not make him a better person than Jeremy Corbyn.   

I've become interested in politics again thanks to Jeremy Corbyn. Such has the vitriol been poured on him by the media, I want to vote labour.   Its not so much I dislike the Conservatives - I don't know any of them personally and mistrust the 'figures which say we are a wealthy country - because I don't feel wealthy and so if I don't feel wealthy, I don't care what expert says I'm in a wealthy country - its not relevant to me.  End of story.   And as a lot of the 'research' is based on limited guess work under the guise of asking thousands of people (what people, what demographic, do they tell the truth, how do you know they tell the truth…), I also feel this has no relevance.  

The media have focused on the fact he won't wear a red poppy and didn't have his tie on straight.  Does this matter?  People are dying en masse in Syria, children with appalling injuries being shown on TV tonight and the papers are saying Corbyn looks like 'a scruff'.   Its like the Great British Bake Off Baked Alaska-gate last year.  Its nothing. Its a nothing story.   Isn't there a more important story they could put in?  

And the poppy.   They talked on LBC this morning about Corbyn wearing a poppy.    I have a lot of respect for those who fought in the war and those who held fort at home (the women).    Many of my family did and I wear a poppy in November, but that proves nothing. I live near where the poppy factory is, and my son visited it many years ago, but that does not make me a better person than Corbyn because he chooses not to wear one.   

I also believe those who don't have respect for those who did have a right to show it as well. I'm not sure what he is, why he wants to wear a white poppy or a red one or go half and half and wear pink - although then I'm sure the media will say he's gay, or mocking gay, because the guy at the moment is not able to win as far as the media (thats all of them) are concerned.    So my gut feeling is he has integrity, something the establishment in all its guises fears, mistrusts and wants to eradicate because anyone who has integrity makes them look foolish.    


The media under estimate Corbyn and the media believe the masses are stupid. They are not.   The media are part of the same establishment as the Government.    And btw, why is Rebekah Brookes back working again? 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

A MAN'S WORLD?


I'm writing a series of books THE A TO ZEN OF… focusing on conventional subjects and examining them in an unconventional way - as in how each impacts on our emotions - namely nine in particular.  

Ranging from anger, greed, vanity, impatience, loneliness, heartbreak, jealousy, envy and lack of focus,  I've used the thinking tools of Edward de Bono to identify who and why these subjects influence us in such a powerful way and how to deal with these emotions - something the English (thanks to our stiff upper lip or other extreme - bare all in public culture) are particularly bad at.   So far, so good.  

Each book, I've been able to write diligently, even the one on sex which I found disturbingly quite easy to write.  On men, money and fidelity, fine.   On time, love, life, fine.    On women.  I stopped. 

Researching this book made me angry and upset, because when I started to interview men and women, and also read research both by psychologists and business people I realised how little has changed. I remember interviewing the late MP Barbara Castle when I was writing for the Londoners Diary Evening Standard, and had only been working there a few months.  She stopped me at the end of the interview and said 'how long have you been a journalist?"   I thought, omg, I've said something wrong, but no.   

"You're a very good interviewer.   You ask questions, listen to answers, you are feminine and don't believe you have to be hard or aggressive to get answers.   Women journalists believe they need to be harder, tougher more ruthless than men to get on. They don't. They just need to be women."     Another Barbara I interviewed a few years later for TV told me off for doing such a job. "Its no place for a woman in front of the camera.   People can't concentrate on what you are saying because they are looking at what you are wearing." So is that the fault of the woman or the people watching?      That Barbara was the late Barbara Cartland.

 I watched the programme 'The Ascent of Women' last night on BBC2, which illustrated the first novel ever written - by a woman - was by a Japanese woman who wrote about how a womaniser turns the many lovers he has into 'nuns'. 

The presenter, Dr Amanda Proudman, visibly moved as she looked at the inkwell the woman had used noted her name had not been kept for posterity, only a name given to her by her father, what he did and where he came from.   The programme went on to illustrate how the only powerful woman in Chinese history - the Dragon Empress - was portrayed as an evil woman killing all who got in her way.  The history books were written by men.  They still predominantly are.    Confucion was shown to keep women subservient to men, even women wrote rule books for women on how to behave.  

In my travels I've come across similar instances, none more striking than when I visited Buenos Aires several years ago with my son.     Eva Peron I had heard about, how she had slept her way to the top, how she liked fine dresses.  How she was ruthless.   History books focus on the irrelevance.   In reality, she was phenomenal.   She legalised abortion, rights for women, allowing them to divorce.  This is in a Catholic country and she did it before the rest of the world caught up. She was an incredible woman.   Even as I learnt from the BBC2 programme, so was the Dragon Empress who gave women a lot of rights and freedom they would have never had under a male emperor. 

So I was intrigued by the comments following the abuse and support being shown toward the female barrister who thought the comment inappropriate and sexist.   She is currently working on subject matter for her Masters, which really goes into the nitty gritty of sexism and misogyny at one of its most atrocious outlets  (genital mutilation).   I can just imagine the sort of research she is privy to at the moment.   Mr Silk should have recognised that before sending such a stupid text. 

So she was right.  He was wrong.  Although he won't believe he did anything wrong - although actually - he did realise he was being un PC (he put it in writing) so actually he did realise he was wrong.  Does that mean she can sue him?  

It was probably the tip of the iceberg, but the law, just like the media, just like the city, is riddled with misogynists who have been validated to behave the way they have.  And they are at the highest level, lauded as examples of professionalism and diligence.    They are establishment, and have no reason to change their ways because on a financially functional level they work. They may be married and have children and on a social level appear grounded.    But they are not.   They are emotionally broken. I don't know how else to put it. I won't put it like that in the book because I don't think my publisher will allow it.  Even studying psychology I realise a lot of the research is done for men, by men about men.  Only recently there was research to 'prove' women are more immoral than men based on the 'fact' many fathers are parenting children unaware that the child is not theirs.    Not that you could do a similar test with men of course.

I do not hate men.  I like them and love some of them deeply.  And I have a son, but researching the book I realise men have been emasculated not by women but by the social constructs which tell them they should be and feel this and that.  So you've got extremes.  Keeping everything in, then letting it all bellow out - usually onto their partners, lovers, anyone they trust to take it who won't tell them where to go. Or they break down, suicide, depression.  As a qualified yoga instructor, I teach both men and women.  The women carry their anger in their hips and boy are they angry.   The men carry fear in their  shoulders, and boy are they afraid.  But they have different ways of dealing with their emotion. The women bury it until they either become ill, or let it go.   They cry, they scream.  Men drink, take drugs, have sex, get angry, run, run, run.   But they don't let it go.    They dump it into their partners or get ill themselves. But they never learn and they never let it go. 

That's the difference.   And our culture - the British culture - is particularly anal.    As is the American which is completely the reverse.  Everything is out there - seemingly.   Their fear and anger on show; dumping it on the rest of the world on every level - politically, commercially and historically. 

Both are unhealthy, out of balance and cause issues which ripple out and have psychological consequences - all of which our children observe and absorb. 

I have experienced so much of this sexism over the years, and I have been blamed for it.  Because I'm open and friendly and I should be more guarded.   I once was able to interview a very hard to reach celebrity and I was told by someone, a male who is extremely high up in establishment the only reason I got the interview was because 'he wanted to sleep with me'.   I don't talk to that person any more.  He devalued himself with that comment.  As have all the men, married, who have approached me over the years. They devalue themselves.   We have become so use to misogyny we are told its just misconstruing compliments.   But its not.   Women and men are equals. We are, psychologically remarkably the same. We both are angry and afraid, we both need love and affection, although we may find it fulfilling from different sources (men from their partner, and women from their children, and children loving and being loved - the most unscrewed up of the lot until we teach them otherwise.), but we both need to love and be loved.   We are equal, despite what establishment and social constructs dictates. When we realise that we can breathe easy. We will automatically treat each other with respect, the same respect we treat ourselves (that is much of the problem - we don't respect ourselves - and that's men as much as women), and enjoy life rather than suffer for it.   Women will get paid the same as men because they are equal to them.    And men will do the same amount of child rearing and domestic work as women because they are the same as them.  If you've suddenly gone cold or laughed by reading that then you've fallen into the illusion that we are not equal.  

Men and women are equals.  Rudyard Kiplings 'If' is as much relevant for women as it is for men.    

Barbara Castle was only part right.   I don't believe it is a man's world.    I don't know what it is.    But it's not a man's world.  Ironically, if it were, they would treat women as equals.  Because the real men I have met in my life, all do. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

EDINBURGH IN AUGUST - MIND BLOWING CITY OF POETS

I didn't know what to expect.    I don't like people telling me I must like a place before I go because I instantly have extremely high expectations, and they are very high, as in ethereal, and consequently I've been disappointed with both Ireland and Ibiza - not because they are not wonderful, but because they were not as wonderful as I imagined.    Everyone told me the festival (in August there's the book, the arts, the international as well as the Fringe going on) so there are festivalS, would be amazing.   I had visited Edinburgh before, never during the festival season and passed through quickly on the way to St Andrews.  Walking the streets of Edinburgh (boy did I walk for those four days), I realise J K Rowling has filched every stone and cranny from every narrow archway and corner, every shadow and smell, every alley way and signpost.   She owes Edinburgh but I think she's paid back in bucket loads.

I was there for four days. I ate very little (I don't eat much anyway but seemed to live off almonds and water, and occasionally when I got really light headed, jelly sweets, and I had one lunch (at Civerinos @civerinos  www.civerinos.com) - very good.    On Saturdays they feed the chefs from the nearby restaurants and swap stories about how little sleep they've had in August. I don't think anyone sleeps in August in Edinburgh.  They have September for that. In August far too much going on.   I was even dreaming poetry on the second night.

The city is multi-layered, built up one street on top of one another, like a multi-dimensional cobweb, and this is mirrored by the mish mash web of incredible creative chaos which are the festivals, intertwining with each other - the high culture of the international festival, attracting big names like Juliet Binoche (beautiful but a bit snotty, pity), and baroque  of Lestyn Davies (think sound track from The Draftsman Contract and Dangerous Liaisons)  with the bookish book festival, tented and neat lawned in a square, with the arts festival spit-spotting galleries and sculptures anywhere there's a space and the fringe using every other nook and cranny, a bit like Rowling did but with less subtlety.  There isn't a space that hasn't been used for something creative.   The place buzzes with the inspired and inspirational.  You walk from one venue to the next because it is the quickest way to do it (dodging the tourists not forgetting YOU ARE ONE OF THEM, and the 'Edinburgh Crusties' who are here for the more cerebral stuff).   So you see a lot of Edinburgh.    The venues are inspired, anything from warehouses, to conference centres, student dorms, pubs, restaurants, ladies toilets, rooftops, cellars, graveyards, churches, anything that is a 'space' is taken.

Highlights.  OMG. Where do you start?   There are thousands of productions going on.   Do not go home thinking you have missed the best. If you do you will be miserable all the time. So be zen, be in the now and just enjoy what you see.    I went to about fifteen productions, plays, performances in three days.   That's enough. You need some time to walk, think, admire, be.

Two productions I attended at the EICC were mesmerising.    The Encounter, and 887.   The Encounter was phenomenal. Like Edinburgh, it was multi-dimentional, layer upon layer upon layer of story, of character, peeling away, with the actor and writer (Simon McBurney, one man show).  It was journey telling and story telling on a whole new level.  Desperately funny, funnily desperate, McBurney made himself vulnerable and so did the audience.  Some high art (OK, I find a lot of it), is too clever to loose yourself in. You are still thinking 'this is very clever' rather than getting into it.    The ego doesn't get into this performance.  It is visceral and perfect.   I have never experienced anything like it. Complicite is the company who produce works like this and it is mind blowing.  I still want to cry (in a nice way) when I think about it.  Its sort of like Walkabout (Jenny Agutter film) but set in South America.   You want the journey to continue.    I know actors over act, but boy is McBurney on the money.   You don't want it to end although you are utterly exhausted emotionally by the end of it.  A bit like walking round from venue to venue at the Festival really.    Any way, think you get the idea that I liked Encounter.   887, I saw after The Encounter.    If I had seen it before I would have thought more of it, and there were moments which were incredibly poignant, and creative, but the ego crept in and I could see it.   I could never see it in the other play.

Kate Tempest was another performance that blew me away.    She recited for an hour one poem after another with blistering intensity about, well, the beige-ness of life and how we are all terribly fearful and terribly angry and we do nothing about it.  We are bashed into apathy and mediocrity, but she did it, (as per Encounter) in a funny, filthy, powerfully poignant, lyrical, wise way.   Both The Encounter and Tempest made the audience cry and laugh within a few minutes of each other.   That is amazing.

The Fringe, I saw Phil Jupitus. He's a very funny comedian, and he's also a very good poet.   He makes up poems using the titles of the productions in the Fringe, and they're very good as well. He hates David Cameron and Boris Johnson with a vengeance but then I get the feeling that everyone in Scotland feels the same.

I watched Trygve Wakneshaw and his production of Kraken.   Very clever. I saw his penis but then so did everyone in the audience.  Twice.  

No penis performances include - Funny Bones Trash, excellent, funny and poignant (that combination again) for the children and their parents.    Go take your young children,  but they will need to be able to walk.  You walk everywhere in Edinburgh. No whinging children.  If they whinge, don't bring them. Tell them they are going to the real Harry Potter Land, and if they whinge they'll be turned into snakes or something.

UKIP the Musical, Nigel Farage meets South Park, clever and funny. Not poignant.   But funny.    Antigone, at the Rose Theatre, with Binoche and Finbar Lynch (very good) as well as obi Abili and Kirsty Bushell. Very strong cast.   I thought there would be no laughs in this one but there were.  I'm not a regular theatre goer but I do admire beautiful acting.

The performances go onto the early hours. I saw Pole, about Pole dancing at midnight, three girls performing (around poles) about the good, bad and very very ugly of the industry. One is a yoga teacher.  Yes some of the moves are very much like yoga postures although perhaps Iyengar wasn't thinking that at the time.

Tips, tips, tips, how to do the festival.   BE FIT.    And if you can, go by yourself and make friends, or just talk to people.  If you go with someone try not to debate too long what you are going to see. It takes time. Be spontaneous. Take a risk, as Kate Tempest would shout.    I know its not English but DO IT.

1) Wear very comfortable shoes.
2) Take snacks with you (almonds and water good).
3) Listen to those who say they loved something but do not die if you don't see it yourself.   One person's five star is another's no star.

I was told I must see Filthy Talk in Troubled Times, and didn't, but one day I'm sure I will.    And Tea Set and Brute.  But I didn't.    But I didn't stop walking or clapping, or crying or laughing, and occasionally I ate, and sometimes I even slept (at the Town Chambers (self catering apartments) with gorgeous views over Edinburgh and the Glasshouse - which is the other side of the railway station, in the new part by the Ingleby Gallery where I saw some of Charles Avery's work.   And I saw the David Bailey exhibition.   Powerful photos, but the best by far were Ralph Fiennes (1995) looking utterly edible, Jeanne Moreau (with smoking cigarette) 1966, Marianne Faithful (1964 - superb), U2 Bono 1985, his ego shouts out in this photo. Its all about him, will always be about him, has always been about him.   Bailey captures them even when they are soul less.    Mick Jagger in 1976 looking utterly trashed.   Mandela 1997, you want to know what he's thinking - probably (has he taken the photo yet?..), and Jack Nicholson laughing, Francis Bacon, looking as distorted and disturbed as the images he painted, Jacqueline Henri Lartigue (1982) like a map of a life on his face.    Incredible light on the face.   David Lean in 1989 looking dreadfully sad.

4) Go up by train and back by sleeper.    Its part of the experience, although someone I know found themselves in the same carriage as Janet Street Porter, so it wasn't quite the experience they had hoped for.

5) See the Edinburgh Tattoo. Its the icing on the cake.  The ceremony is wonderful. The castle beautiful.  The rest of the events are the cherries, each of them incredible. I have so much admiration for every performer there.   You are amazing, as are those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make it happen. Actually you are exhausted but you still do it because you love it - I can tell.  

Edinburgh is the cake, substantial enough to welcome everyone and more than just a backdrop. Its the inspiration for so much of the work that goes on here.   You visit during this season and you end up breathing with the pace of this place, absorbing the performances. The place and performance become one. As J K Rowling realised, the energy of this place and people makes magic.

Edinburgh is a city of poets and for a month the world gets to hear what they have to say.  And for four days so did I.   It was a privilege.





Tuesday, 4 August 2015

SMOKE AND MIRRORS - DIVERTING ATTENTION WITH EASY TARGETS

Bring out your dead and those who are easy to target.    In the City a trader has been jailed for 14 years for LIBOR fixing.   What only him?   And only thirteen other of his colleagues? And no one at the top knew anything about it? No one?

His colleagues obviously didn't like him and he, like the other 13, has been sacrificed. Those who are 'discovered' are allowed to be discovered - its blood letting. The ones who did the most damage are allowed to get away with it as long as a few are seen to be punished. But these guys are small fry.    Watch carefully at those who are not jailed and those who are.

Those who are sent to prison will receive the heaviest sentences not because they are more guilty than the others, or more friendless (no one has friends or is friends in the City, they have contacts) those who go to prison are simply less well connected.    The trader didn't drink alcohol.   That would, if nothing else, brand him a loner and a loser.

And Ted Heath.   Bring out the dead; unable to protect themselves, they are also easy targets. It is easier to kill a memory of someone, than bring to task someone who is still alive, in power and able to manipulate the media and the law. These dead names are diverting attention from those in power in every industry, those well connected folk who are still manipulating the media and the law, who are as guilty.    They do not care if their reputation is destroyed when they are long dead. Who would.

No more bringing up the dead, lets go for those who have got away with it and are still alive.

Friday, 31 July 2015

ON MY BIKE, AND TO MINSTER MILL

I interviewed the fascinating Will Butler-Adams this week, MD of Brompton Bikes. Excellent bike. A fraction of the weight of Boris Bikes.   Everyone should have one. Everyone.   Make life much easier and nicer.   See the full interview in forthcoming Richmond magazine.  They are in a race this weekend as part of the big cycling event which will make traveling by car in London a nightmare, well more than it is already.  www.brompton.co.uk

I also visited Minster Mill this week.  Good if you have pets. Not perhaps children. Good for lovers (v romantic) and dog lovers (see below). www.oldswanandminstermill.co.uk





Sunday, 28 June 2015

KIPLING MAKES EXCEEDINGLY FINE FESTIVALS

I went to Brighton this weekend and a place called 'Rottingdean', a place which sounds dreadful but it is utterly delightful (see photos)l. Its a beautiful village outside Brighton where Kipling lived and rented a home for about five years, and was happy until it became tourist ridden and people kept looking through his windows. When he once pulled the curtains on a woman she said 'how rude'.    I get the feeling the same would happen in Richmond.

Parking in Brighton is appalling. Far worse than Richmond, which I thought was impossible, but Rottingdean, about a ten minute drive away along the coast, is fine.   You can park and stroll and in the warm June sunshine it was an afternoon of heaven.  

The second annual Kipling Festival takes place this week (25th June to 7th July), with a variety of events celebrating the life and work of the man, born in India and most famous for The Jungle Book,  The Just So Stories, The Man Who Would Be King and 'If'.   "If" is one of those poems written for men, by men, to men, but it is as relevant to women.   Kipling himself wrote a lot of his stories about men for men, but he had a formidable mother and married a formidable woman, so perhaps he felt women didn't need the courage and focus, they had it in spadefuls already.   And he didn't want to give women the vote so obviously he was deeply flawed in many ways.   

The Festival, organised by the phenomenal Christine Foster (below) a local theatre director, this year celebrates the 150th anniversary of his birth in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1865.   The events explore the early life of a man who would be Kipling - winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature for the sheer 'originality of his imagination and his remarkable talent for narration' - at the time when the young reporter was creating the beloved poems and tales of his adventures under the exotic influence of the The Raj. 

Rudyard Kipling lived at The Elms in Rottingdean from 1897 to 1902.  His history can be viewed in a room dedicated to him at the Grange Museum.   

I arrived to the walled library gardens to find actor Geoff Hutchinson in full flow under the blue skies, amongst the roses, playing Kipling.   Evoking the eccentricity and mesmerising complexities of a man who was prone to depression, he quoted from his famous works, spoke of his life story in first person, then broke into full cockney (although don't think he is) when finished and out of character. Hilarious and rather wonderful.   Geoff didn't recite the poem, 'If' which would have made me cry.  It has the same powerful theme to 'The Quitter' by Robert Service. It stirs real courage; a quality I admire in anyone, and always wish to build in myself.  There were talks from celebrated historians Kathryn Tidrick and Mary Harner, who had a bit of a to-do over whether Kipling's wife was a force for good or just a nag. We decided she was a force for good, who had to be a nag.   

There were wonderful little 'sayings' of Kipling, planted around the gardens for the 'Kiplings Kids', where children could treasure hunt the sayings and win a prize at the end, but I found more adults doing it (see below - they are are priceless and timeless).   

Although Kiplings home was bought last year (Just over £1.6 million so not London price as it is beautiful, on a green over looking the pond), you can walk round the walled gardens, which are ideal for inspiring a writer, wild flowers, peonies, camomile, garlic, herbs scattered as though the seeds have just been thrown down, but obviously not.

the incredible organiser (Christine Foster).


kipling and the other journalist…(I write poems and books too!!! and I love India.   Kiplette...





yes. agree with this one 


I think this was tongue in cheek.. depends on the mother… 


Not always, depends who you are flying with...



The festival continues this week and is very well worth the journey, especially the performances of The Fever Trees at the Village Hall ((Wednesday and Saturday). for tickets go to info@kiplingfestivalrottingdean.co.uk   There are plenty events for children and a writers group, who will read their own work inspired by Kipling in India.    You can even walk on the South Downs surrounding Rottingdean, guided by Rob Upward a local guide.    Just don't expect to find a parking space in Brighton. Eat at the Indian Summer restaurant www.indian-summer.org.uk to get you into the Kipling mood, and beware the hen parties.  Kipling would have been enthralled.  The festival was a credit to Christine and her team.  If you don't' go to any festival this year, do this. Its baby porridge; small, substantial and perfectly formed.     The Kipling Festival is bi-annual. 








Saturday, 20 June 2015

FLYING HIGH WITH A TO ZEN OF YOGA

Interviewed the High Commissioner of India this week. Lovely man, lovely photographer (Glen) who also does yoga.   He loves the book and is sending one (I'm sending him one more) over to the Prime Minister.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

birthday photos






BIRTHDAY ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN


Gawd, fifty one already.   Birthday morning, I stood on top of a hillside in La Clusaz, and cried at the overwhelming beauty of the place, silly cow that I am.  Closing myself off to hatred, I also close myself off to beauty as well - and its overwhelming when I feel safe enough to open up again and let the beauty in.  I'm back in Richmond now so heart hermetically sealed.   But for that moment, that day, there I was, very happy, and open, surrounded by (not so) silly cows, with huge cow bells munching grass (the cows that is, not me), I spent three days in the company of some lovely strangers, loads of mountain bikers, a yogi and osteopath who placed crystals in places I haven't had anything for a very long time!   It is a village of 2000, which explodes by ten in the winter months, and during the summer has a series of mountain bike competitions which defy gravity and courage (or is that stupidity).  I took the easy 9k route 'route de gourmande' which basically is they say an 'easy peasy' route punctuated by cheese and wine stop overs.  There was only one we stopped at (very good, goat cheese - excellent; and I had apple juice instead of cider, but was hit by a low hanging cow bell (from the tent) thank goodness for the bike helmet because I would have knocked myself out).  You had to be born before 2000 to take part - so I was fine.

But oh boy, my bum hurt. Absolutely aches. Those who take part in mountain biking must have butts as tight as walnuts or at least be able to crack them between their cheeks. Bless.   On the Saturday it was hot and everyone got sweaty. Then a huge storm (incredible in the mountains) and on Sunday, rain in the afternoon, so everyone was covered head to toe in mud. Except the panda eyes thanks to the glasses they wore. Some of the drops that ride over appear vertical. Am sure they are not, but they appear that way.

I did yoga on my birthday at seven am started a two hour walk up up up up and then reached the top, to downward and upward dog and tree pose and of course eagle and mountain pose because seemed appropriate on top of a mountain.  Was with lovely guide Natalie who was in Nepal when the quake happened. She told me it lasted for 45 minutes. She felt the earth was angry with the way we were behaving - we as in mankind.   "Trying to wake us up".  Has she succeeded?   Nope.   Have to happen again then won't it.   Not in Nepal again though please. Nor in la Clusaz for that matter. And they speak French there - more than you can say for the nearby Chamonix where they don't speak French in some bars now.

Lake Annecy lovely.  Have never visited - or if I have can't remember.   Lovely place which doesn't depend on tourism. Which is a good thing.  Places that do are at the beck and call of people with absolutely no taste.

Thank you to all those who wished me happy birthday.   I had a nice time. x


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

SOME OF THE LOVELY MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT BLOWING PEOPLE I MET (details on previous post…Ailsa, Cate, Skylar, Tiffany, Momo, David and Art. and the lovely SamjMoon




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MIND. BODY, SPIRIT BLOWING...


I am sceptical of exhibitions mainly because its usually hard sell, and I walk away with sore feet and loads of leaflets I end up binning.   This year I attended the Mind Body Spirit Exhibition at Olympia.    I met a lot of people but here are the ones I recommend and why.
'As most journeys start, I had an intention to be there for a short time, fulfil a remit and go. I would stay a few hours on a Friday afternoon. This turned into a long weekend. Initially I visited the Mind Body Spirit Exhibition at Olympia to find out more about holistic holidays. There has been an unprecedented growth in this healing holiday market, for want of a better phrase, over the past few years, with retreats, spas, wellness centres, top of mountain yogic and meditation experiences designed to blow your mind body spirit, transcend and embody, empower and ignite the energies in you, allowing you to find yourself, loose yourself, centre yourself, discover yourself or just be yourself - if you know who you are, that is - which may not be the person you think you are at all. Or the person people tell you you are. Anywhere with a sunset and sunrise, ideally a hillside, or beach, and someone looking floaty and sorted, you could chill, channel, recharge and head back to the big smoke with some clarity until it filled you up again with nonsense. An exhibition hall at Olympia doesn't quite have the same energetic magnetism as a mountain top in the Himalayas, but the place was magical - which says a lot for the energy of those who were there.
Wandering around the stands at the show, which initially seems like any other exhibition, stands in neat rows, some smelling of joss sticks, another with an Indian man with a long beard (it was fake) and others smiling, handing out pamphlets, I was looking for my friend Ailsa Frank, who is a hypnotherapist. Diverted as I usually am on my travels, I looked around. Everything from massaging the chakras, realigning your life force, yoga in all its guises, silent disco, vegan nibbles, personal development workshops in the UK and overseas, wildflower therapies (www.WildFlowerEssences.co.uk (get the balance spray), chocolate and tea therapy (www.barakateas.com) bee therapy (www.wellbeingessences.com), light therapy, chakra therapy… any form of therapy seemed to be catered for. There was even organic chocolate for those who enjoy chocolate therapy.
Some offered an almost scientific analysis of why you feel the way you do, others offered more esoteric advice about how we are connected with nature. It is not surprising there is an increasing need for explanation and definition, when our faith in everything from the Church, the government, the media, even our parents has been challenged over the past three to four years and found wanting. The internet, for all its faults has enabled people to send before they have thought, and hence sent what they really think. Thats not what the government or the media or the Church are telling us to think, but what we really think - which is totally different. Thats powerful stuff. It was shown only on Saturday when the media announced 'the world is excited by the birth of the next royal baby.' No they are not. The media is but the world is not and twitter, Facebook et al showed as much.
As a result there's a lot of people who have based their lives, their journeys on falsehoods either told to them by their parents, their boss, goodness, even the media. And they don't know who to believe any more. When you don't believe in God, you start to believe in everything and there is an opportunity to explore yourself further. Not just geographically, but emotionally and spiritually. You don't need to be in midlife to have a crisis these days – it can happen anytime, any place, anywhere. A lot of those who have had some sort of 'aha' moment or are in need of one come to this exhibition.
Two years ago I came to this event and felt suffocated by the sell and take of the stands there. Full of tarot readers and astrologers, crystal sellers, I was slightly sceptical of the hard sell. But people today are seeking deeper and further now, beyond the star signs and crystal balls. As TV and media sells us more vacuous and superficial images of what and who is real (celebrities as false Gods), so we are realising that what is being is sold as 'real' is anything but, and what appears plausible is not necessarily authentic. Alternative is gradually becoming mainstream. Today the festival, because it is more a festival than exhibition is about tell and share rather than sell and need .
Essentially its about the stuff of experience rather than the experience of stuff. So less selling crystals and more telling stories and healers who heal, who share their knowledge, grace and wisdom. Everyone in some way, whether they label themselves it or not, at Olympia was a life coach, giving a different perspective on the life journey. So it was probably fitting my editor should send the travel editor there to investigate.
My very good friend Alisa Frank (www.hypnobalance.co.uk), who is a hypnotherapist was there selling her book 'Cut the Crap and be Amazing' which is essentially what everyone walking through the door wants to do. There are a number of workshops and areas - the Mantra Tent, the Wellbeing Studio, Aura Central, the Chill Out Space,but I headed for the Love Dome, because,if I'm honest and no reason better than that, I felt like it.
There I met Cate Mackenzie, ( www.catemackenzie.com 07974 341 545 ). Cate is a psychosexual therapist, couple counsellor and work shop leaders. She is above all else, a force of nature.
“I've been called many things, love coach, sex therapist, but essentially love coach is what I am. I help people connect with themselves so they are able to connect with others.”
With a red top hat , like a sparkling spiritual ring master, she has been working with people for over twenty years. A bright, beautiful lady, she's grounded with a wicked, engaging sense of humour, which will win over even the most cynical of hearts. You immediately want her to like you.
“Women and men are totally different aren't they?” I ask, hoping she will agree with me, and confirm my belief women are multi dimensional, much more evolved than men who are two dimensional, emotionally autistic followers who women have to drag kicking and screaming into enlightenment.
“They find love in a different way.” she replies, “Women channel through the heart, men through sex, but they are both extremely tender and loving and end up at the same place – they just reach it through different channels.”
Cate realised she had strong intuition from an early age, as did a lot of those I interviewed at the show, although many of them started out either as successful business people who realised there was more to life than making money . Many also s tudied Law at university , totally changing their perspective on life. Seeing angels or trusting intuition in childhood, knowing something was wrong or right, regardless of what you were told, was a common theme of those I spoke to. A lot also came from professions or education totally unrelated to psychic ability. I'm a believer in you meet good people through good people and I met a fascinating array through Cate.
One of those was Skyler Arcanesis, life coach, speaker, author and spiritual activist. Like Cate, she is incredibly inciteful, telling you more about yourself, your true self, than your friends, your mother and even you would like to admit to yourself (www.skyacamesis.com). This can be scary as well as fascinating, like someone holding a mirror to you for the first time in your life. Originally studying law, she realised that this wasn't her vocation and work revolves around love – how to love and be loved greatly, and the premise that we are all tired of being afraid. She was so illuminating about my life, she could have written my life story and guaranteed the happy ending.
Tiffany Wardle ( www.tiffanywardle.com), a psychic and expert in past life regression, soulmates and soul connections and Reiki Master and healing teacher, was an extremely successful businesswoman with property and business and lost it all, but in doing so found out something about herself which had more meaning to her life.
“I lost everything, even my soul mate,” she said. “Everything was taken from me, and then I went on this journey, a physical as well as meta-physical journey, that made me realise I had psychic abilities. I wanted to use and explore them.”
She also has that ability to hold up a mirror but one of her specialities is past life. She told me I had my knuckles rapped a lot in a previous life time and had to say stuff I didn't believe, which explains a lot about my distrust of establishment despite a conventional upbringing. I am more inclined to trust people than process.
Beverley Drumm ( www.nectaroflife.co.uk) specialises in kundalini yoga and tantric transformation. “ Whenever people think of kundalini and tantra they think sex but its much more than that. Its much more than improving your sex life. That is only on the surface. You change how you feel about yourself, and there are so many ways you evolve, the fact it improves your sex life is almost a bi product of all the other benefits of kundalini yoga, which is breaking down the barriers and blocks you have in your life to be yourself, and find yourself. I organise groups of eight to ten women for half day workshops who want to explore their sexuality and improve it. Sexuality is not just about sex, its about identity. Its a magical experience which I do in peoples homes.”
Tori Hartman (www.ToriHartman.com) , who compiled a series of parables and produced cards to help focus people on their life purpose. Tori talked me through the story behind each card. Its an accessible way of getting to the truth and confronting issues which can be quite brutal. She has strong psychic abilities and doesn't pull any p unches. "This woman spoke to me once and sobbed down the phone telling me 'he doesn't love me any more'. That's not the problem, I said. What's the problem is you're miserable."
Another excellent retreat are those run by the effervescent Samjhana Moon ( www.goddessportraiture.co.uk) Samjhana is a fine art portrait photographer (who actually originates from Chiswick, offering one to one luxury retreats in Totnes Devon. She offers a range of photography experiences helping women to look at themselves differently, regain femininity and light through getting in touch with nature.
"We are all connected with the seasons, especially women through the moon cycle. If you identify with the seasons it tells you a lot about yourself and how you see yourself as a woman, and enables you to reconnect with the 4 seasons because women are every element - air (breath-spring) fire (temperature-summer) earth (bones-autumn) water (blood-winter). Society loves the young adventurous girl (represented in the season of Spring) and the fertile, hot, sexy woman (Summer), but is less sure of the mystic and wise side of women, that are represented by the seasons of Autumn and Winter. I wish society would embrace every aspect of women!" Check out Samjana's gallery on the website, the images are illuminating in more ways than one.
Its not all women there. Art Giser has evolved NLP to bring in a psychic and spiritual elements to the practice, deepening it so that its not about them or you “getting what I want”, but heightening your perception into realising getting them to do what you think you want may not be the best way forward. That's evolution for you ( www.ENLP7.com ). I asked him why he felt the show had become more popular over the years. “More and more people realize that they are much more than they thought they were, much more than then their personality. They want more than just love, sex and money, they want to bring their spiritual nature into every aspect of their lives.” Some of us are wanting to transcend lfie, go to another level, others are wanting to embody their spirituality more strongly, so come back, be in our body again. We are all taking different spiritual journeys in different dimensions” 
Aware that I had gone to the exhibition in the first place to talk travel, I met the man behind The Big Calm ( www.thebigcalm.com) set in Kafelonia.
“A lot of people go there and they don't see the real destination. They don't see what it really has to offer. They don't explore enough. Its an incredible energy there and we've tapped into it with the retreats, which offer anything from meditation to reiki, horse riding, poetry and fishing.” Also try out www.upsidedownholiday.com, who holds yoga holidays in Dalyan, Turkey.
I ended up going for three of the four days – when I had anticipated only going for a few hours. I met Momoyo Smozky (momoyoworks@hotmail.com) who is, like the rest of those I have named in this piece, phenomenal in her healing powers. her powers will literally knock you off your feet. I bought some frankincense – a powerful oil I use in my yoga classes a lot - from the frankincense store (www.freeyoursenses.co.uk) which sells the best from Oman.
In fact I floated out of the exhibition every day, having mixed with some truly amazing and enlightened people. I have travelled extensively around the world and seen many phenomenal places, but on many levels, the trip to Olympia this May Bank Holiday was the best journey I have taken in a very long time.'

Sunday, 26 April 2015

MALTA - TWO SIDES AND ENERGIES

I have just returned from a wonderful four days in Malta. It is an exciting, interesting place and an alternative history.  I was given a book called an Alternative Guide to Malta which focuses on the history behind its energies, the belief it was built on Atlantis, why there are so many temples concentrated in one area.    Its very interesting.  Malta has an unusual energy, its sister islands Comino and Gozo again very different and the book explains why and how.

I got into discussion about energies when travelling and A to Zen of Travel tiptoes into an area focusing on how the dynamic between the place and the person is more important than the place in itself.   That's why some people love London, others hate it, some are drained by its energy, some energised by it, but it is the same place.  London is a powerful energy source but it attracts a lot of energy vampires which suck the blood out of it, but it still keeps on giving.

And there are energy sources around the world, but they always seem to either have geographical unrest or civil unrest.

The recent earthquake in Nepal troubled me because every time something like this happens it always seems to be somewhere beautiful. Somewhere exceptional, important, dynamic.     The Middle East constantly in the news because of the wars, the aggression, is a stunning place full of the most wonderful people, I would say, much more wonderful than many in the western world.    I admit I'm pleased I'm not a woman living there, or indeed living there at the moment, but that isn't to decry its an amazingly beautiful place. Syria is stunning as is Libya, but all of this is smudged over with the dust kicked up in war time, and blown up by lazy media eager for a bad news story because they are easier to write.

So why is it, these places, the most enigmatic, that suffer the greatest tragedies?  Or perhaps its just media perception again stirring up stuff that isn't so one sided?   Why did New Orleans burn to the ground and not somewhere more beige?  Why Nepal, where spirituality goes off compass, and not Las Vegas, where its gone completely the other way?  Why does nothing ever happen in Richmond?!

I have my theory.  The places where there is a lot going on below the ground, there is a lot going on above it. Where it flourishes below it flourishes above - i.e. there's movement below.    Its in a constant state of flux and evolution and energy being churned and re churned about.   Where there is no energy below the earth - no movement, it is static above it.   Think even the Bible put it there somewhere - as above so below, so below as above.  Or may be not.  

So basically if you live in an area where nothing every happens, it means you're living on dead ground.   Energetically as well as literally.  I'm not sure its one they'll put in the travel brochures for those troubled areas in future, or even those who aren't troubled and are free of civil or natural disaster (after all, who would like to feel they are holidaying on dead ground?) but its an idea.

THE MOTHER MYTH

I've just completed a module on a Psychology Degree at Open University.  I had to write a thesis on how the media constructs meaning as to what a working mother is. As a journalist I was viewing and analysing newspapers and magazines I regularly write for so it was interesting to evaluate essentially a 'voice' which is at least some of the time, my own - albeit heavily edited by the editor.

I was working with three other women to discuss the tools the papers used to create meaning and the debate became heated not because we each agreed with what the papers were saying or took sides with what the papers were saying but recognised that what was being written about was nothing to do with the reality of being a mother, let alone a working or non working mother.

The tools media - thats broadsheet, tabloid, regardless of politics use - is the same.  They use guilt rhetoric - some admittedly more than others.    The Daily Mail, aimed predominantly at a female market used emotive rhetoric to create a sense of working mothers abandoning their children in the home when they could have been baking cakes Mary Berry style, although 'statistics' showed that when they weren't working and at home, they spent very little extra 'quality' time with their children.    'Statistics' and 'quality' came up a lot in these articles, written by professional single men or professional women who made a profession out of writing about parenting.   The Guardian used a working woman, mother who organises seminars for working mothers to get back into the work place, but predominately high powered ones. The Telegraph focused on statistics and how George Osborne was trying to get working mothers back into the work place.   There was also another piece using scientific evidence about how damaging working mothers could be on their children although this wasn't conclusive in any way as there was also conflicting evidence.   The Telegraph talked at you, the Guardian talked to you and the Daily Mail talked about you.   None of the articles were constructive in their argument because there was no constructive argument - it was for both the broadsheets and tabloids - sensationalist and irrelevant.

Experts were used a lot to suggest value in what they said, as an authority that knows more about your behaviour and values as a mother than you do.    Re read that sentence. Someone is telling you they know more about your situation than you do.   And lots of government bodies and think tanks were included, quantifying and evaluating that 15% of mothers wanted this and 10% of mothers wanted that.  

Then there was the 'them' and 'us' scenario, as though working mothers were against non working mothers and 'we' (whoever category the media put you in) were dismissive of the other life choice other mothers had decided. Were we?   There were non working mothers and working mothers amongst the group - although we all decided that actually it was irrelevant if we were in an office or not, because we all worked in very different ways - none of which were compartmentalized/described accurately in the articles despite the presence of experts/statistics and that this 'them' and 'us' scenario didn't actually exist en masse.    In fact a lot of the way the media compartmentalised mothers was considered irrelevant.     There are so many more 'compartments' or rather there are none at all. we are individual its just like the media like the politicians has to put us in boxes even if you don't fit into any of the boxes.

And lastly, the media uses ideologies about the perfect mum.  Which we decided not only doesn't exist but has never existed and is not aspired to. The cross between a Mary Berry cook, with her happy family, and the celebrity culture of being there always for your children and being torn between being there for your children but also there for your self, your career, your future. And oh, yes being there for your husband.  

And the husband and dad had no impact on the children according to the experts, although the statistics proved he did, and that if he was absent then the child suffered, which was the mothers fault.  But the bar was set so low for the dad that he scored a team point just by getting out of bed, not beating up the wife and playing with the child occasionally.

I was left with the distinct impression the media knows nothing about mothers and reflects an impression of them that is totally unrealistic, irrelevant and irritating.   Mothers, all of which work, have far too much to do and get on with than worry about if they not doing enough or doing too much or concentrating on one area than the other.  They do not, and should not worry about what anyone else is doing, because when they focus on their own child and no one else's they get it right.    The media we decided don't create a social conscious, they attempt to nurture guilt, an image of a mother which is totally unrealistic and has a voice that has no place in parenting.

So next time you read in a newspaper or magazine telling you, as a mother, what you are like, how you should feel, what you should do, and which 'box' you fit into to, realise that its not you.   Even if it says it is.   And has experts and statistics and politicians to prove it.  Not that I know what I'm talking about of course.   Although I did get an A.

Monday, 13 April 2015

STRAWBERRIES, CREAM CHEESE AND LITTLE BIT OF BLISS


I spent the weekend in Provence which was beautiful. Lovely place, lovely people, lovely food, lovely wine.  Perfect combination of ingredients.

I ate cheese. I do not eat cheese as it smells like mouldy socks and I have never been partial to eating mouldy socks.     But Claudine Vigier the master fromager there (the big cheese), made it sound so sexy (roll the cream around your mouth with your tongue very very slowly until it melts into your mouth).    

I stayed at Le Crillon Le Brave, @crillonlebrave about two hour's drive from Marseilles, depending on if you are French or English driving.  Owned by one of the former directors of Soho House, its more than Babington in France.   Although its more than one building, its also more than a hotel, or holiday village, or resort. I don't know what they should call it, perhaps just Crillon Le Brave.    Or Le Brave, as its taken over 26 years to get to this level and the nearby Pope's Palace in Avignon (hours drive away) only took twenty.

GM Sebastien who is as efficient as he is handsome, and his team are all very good looking and very efficient which really says it all (about me and them both).   Benoit Liebus, the sommelier, also made his description of wine tasting into something better than Fifty Shades.   "Wine and food is like a man meeting a woman.   A part they may be tasteless, but together they may taste amazing'   I may have lost or gained something in translation there but I've got it on tape.     Also don't eat egg/choose egg on the menu with wine. The wine will always taste of egg.   I didn't know that.  I do now.

Visited the strawberry festival in Carpentras where the fruit is the size of plums, and everything is strawberry. People dress as strawberries, sell the plants, millions in boxes, cup cakes, drinks, as long as its strawberry, it works.

Visited the antiques market in L'isle sur la Sorgue which is enthralling and lunched at Le Jardin du Quai @jardinduquai
 where the food and wine do a match.com of flavour.

Would recommend the break to anyone who wants a treat. Don't take children if you have them. It is wasted on them and Le Crillon has loads of stone steps up and down and they are bound to fall over.    Take someone worth loving.  Not saying your children aren't (they are, more than anyone or anything else, unconditionally) but this is grown up time.











Tuesday, 7 April 2015

PERFECT DOWN UNDER, AND NO CHOICE AT THE POLLS

Writing about Australia and have forgotten how stunning the country is - well, in the places I've visited.    My favourite is Adelaide and the surrounding wine region of the Barossa, then Brisbane and Gold Coast and then probably Sydney, although I've seen little of the rest, which I hope to do in the next few years.   I loved Adelaide.  Its as though its taken the best of everything and added something more.   And the Outback is haunting, chill down the spine but in a good way.   Walkabout hinted at the magic but you have to go yourself. There's now loads of glamping opportunities but I went (1997) when there were few and ostrich hadn't yet hit Tesco counters.

Just done report on working mothers and how the media portrays us.   They use guilt rhetoric to make us feel guilty about not spending enough time with our children (it doesn't matter - there is studies both for and against), they create a them and us culture with stay at home mums - that doesn't exist, but for some reason they want to exist; stimulate the anxiety to create a perfect work life balance that they see as a group thing rather than an individual thing (media doesn't think in terms of people being unique, just being demographics), and they create an ideal mother type that also doesn't exist.  The Telegraph talks at you, the Guardian talks to you, the Daily Mail talks about you (like the bitch in the playground), and the Express is just pleased you want to listen to them talking at all.   Didn't look at the Times. They just don't pay on time.

And I got my poll card.    I've recently written about the suffragette movement and how they suffered so women could get the vote.  Its a pity we can't do the same to get better people (and I mean that in every sense) to vote for.    'We' did not choose them.  That is what 'we' were offered.    Its a bit like going into a supermarket and there is only stuff there you don't want and know will either a) kill you b) make you fat c) give you spots.   So with those options you go for b) or c) both all of them are crap.

Milliband looks gormless and his party fucked up.  Blair keeps returning like the plague, puppet and paid by the bankers to bang on about how if we leave the EU our financial sector won't be paid as bigger bonuses as they were used to.  Every time I look at Cameron and Boris I think Riot club and no matter how much Cameron's wife plays happy families and makes them look as though they are one of us, I don't know who are they are, but they are not one of us.   He looks like a smug constipated hamster, although I admit I've never seen one but if I did, it would look like David Cameron.

So I don't know who to vote for. They are all liars or greedy or both.   The good ones never make it to the top (as in they have integrity, values which aren't linked to money, can't be bought, don't have something that the law, church, banks, CEOs or any other head of establishment, can blackmail them with), so we are just left with the social climbers who have used every dirty trick in the book to make it onto our screens to shout vote for me.

I want to vote but I don't want any of the ones on offer.

Friday, 3 April 2015

seven little piggies and a lovely break in Kent.

I visited a wonderful bed and breakfast called Hayne Barn House.   Literally just off the M20, five mins from the Channel Tunnel stop off, its an excellent base to stay before you go on either the train (Ashford International Station is close) or take the car.   It usually does weddings, there are only three bedrooms, but its one of those places that is cosy, stunning gardens, lovely even in and particularly in the rain, although we arrived when the sun was shining.   I took Tom to give him a break from revision, just for the evening and went to a restaurant called Silkwood in Saltwood where the b and b is based.    Its a gem, not hidden now because I'm going to talk about it anywhere I can. Host is Jean Paulo (Florence) and chef is (forgotten his name) but from Chicago. The food is excellent, as in sublime and the wines are from Kent as well as all over the world, but well chosen.  Cocktails excellent and I had a Kentish spring cocktail (vodka, hop syrup, Kentish champagne) wonderful and I don't drink.  Fish superb, everything perfect.  Perfect perfect perfect.  Well not perfect, but just right.

And then I turned on the TV to watch the 'debate'.   The Welsh woman irritated me every time she spoke.   The Scottish woman spoke sense especially when she talked about university charges "you got your university education for free all of you, and it is shameful you are making this generation paying for theirs"  You go girl.     Point is, every time I hear the Scottish twang I think Gordon Brown.  And I'm not sure she likes the English, not just the English Parliament.   Just a feeling.

Miliband very bright man, but absolutely no charisma. Nothing.   Clegg in invidious position both having to attack and defend. The best orator on the bench (he gets a lot of practice on LBC) but Cameron is the better politician.   Appears completely plausible but totally inauthentic.    Watch The Riot Club. That's what he's made of.    You get the face you deserve and he looks as though everyone around him are either wasting his time or smell.

Farage banged on about immigration as though stopping immigration would stop cancer, and bring about World Peace.    However, he spoke what a lot of people think.   And only some of them are bigots.  And he was right. The rest of the bench were liars. And that is where they all fall down.    I looked at them, and thought one was a good speaker, one looked slimy, one I was worried she would forget her facts (Green party woman), one came out with some sound points but thought she would stab us in the back if she ever got in, and the other one may have had a point, but I didn't like the sound of her voice - and I didn't believe any of them could either deliver what they promised or were speaking the truth.

None of them are credible.   None of them.   OK, one of them. The woman invigilating. But its easy to ask the questions. Its delivering the answers thats the difficult bit.

Mind you, good there were more women.  

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

TV, SUICIDE AND SUFFRAGETTES

Arsenal just needed one more goal.  I know its only a game but it was so close and if ever there was a  match they lost it was that one.   They lost beating the smallest principality in the world two love, or two nil.  Tom was fuming and so was I. It wasn't so close. They didn't win.  You think with all their money they could have afforded a better side, each player earning bank account number salaries.   Too many near misses, almost there -  but it doesn't matter how well they played, they lost.   In yoga I talked about not competing with yourself, or judging yourself, or others; just having compassion and acceptance for yourself, which I'm sure is the exact same thing Wenger is saying to his team right now - not.

Then a programme on suicide which was very well produced.  And I suppose is the antithesis of having acceptance and compassion for yourself.    How do you start or begin to touch upon a subject which is riddled with guilt, denial, anger, betrayal, in fact every word that wasn't mentioned in the programme.  Shock was mentioned.  No one seemed to realise that there was a good chance that someone who was depressed would consider suicide.   Selfish it may be but when the black dog looms I am told it is all pervading and even in my psychology, which is barely skimming the surface of such matters, when there are so many things real or imagined - and the imagined becomes real - pushing you over the edge, relationships or lack of them, finance or lack of it, dreams or lack of them - its an option.    The woman talking and interviewing talked about the importance of talking, but perhaps the importance of listening and observing to alleviate the 'shock' should also be qualities we should nurture.   And the talking we tend to do as a culture is about stuff that so does not matter - like the weather, or I suppose Arsenal losing to Monaco.

And lastly, the last in the series on the suffragette movement. I didn't see the first two but will have a look on iplayer. I interviewed Barbara Castle, when a documentary was produced in 1994 on the anniversary and she had written her autobiography. She put in it to me 'never let it be a man's world,; having told me I shouldn't toughen up like other journalists and be sensitive and strong and basically feminine without being a pushover.    I'm not anti male, in fact I really like and have deeply loved some of them, but the programme concluded that considering what those suffragettes endured we have achieved very little - as a gender, politically, in industry, financially and we don't help our own. And that men still have their old boy network and block women at every turn.    I have, in general, not found that.   I think its' more to do with the person than the gender.  Yes, there's a type who will always condescend and patronise and block and politic but they do so to both genders and its their stuff and insecurity.  I have always gone my own way, and viewed system and authority as smoothing some one else's path and palm, although not necessarily mine.  

I taught yoga again today and was told by some people who came they thought I was the best teacher they'd ever had, which is a wonderful thing to say, isn't it?   And I went up to kiss my son good night.   Which was the best bit of the day.