Thursday, 31 January 2019


Ive been teaching for five years now. It has gone very quickly. I've taught retreats in my home in France, taught in clubs, corporations large and small, taught private sessions, CEOs and five year olds, classes in very swanky fitness centres, church halls, and most recently in schools to small groups and assemblies of three hundred plus.  I even attempted to teach at the House of Commons, something I feel they would need at the moment (yoga helps with decision making, focus, anger management and anxiety). If only they had taken it up, perhaps Brexit would have been handled differently.  Anyway, popped into a health food shop briefly this morning, to pick up something - think it was nuts - and a man said to me.
"Look at that."
So I did.
It was a packet of vanilla and something.  Think it was seeds and nuts, mushed up, sort of thing you are supposed to sprinkle on porridge or cereal or some such.   I did that in my twenties.
"Buddha Glory" he said, reading from the package.
"It is appropriating from a religion. As is aruveya. It is appropriating incorrectly."
I nodded because I agree. What has a vanilla nut concoction to do with Buddha.   It is a bit like saying Christ advocates you eat cornflakes each morning. (Nestle will probably attempt that at some stage, and I'm sure Monty Python considered it in The Life of Brian).
We chatted for a bit, and then he mentioned yoga.  I said I taught yoga.  He frowned. Then gave me a talk (lets say a talk) on the philosophy of yoga, all of which I agreed with.
"If you practice yoga, you should be vegan or vegetarian, you should live a good life, be kind and benevolent, it is a philosophy not an exercise, it is aligning the body.  You people eat steak at night and then practice yoga in the morning."
I think it was the combination of 'you people' and 'eat steak' that made me stop mid breath.  I don't eat steak and I'm not 'you people'. I smiled and agreed with him and he seemed restless I didn't want to argue. But what about - I agreed with him.  He left. I bought my nuts, wondering if I had just met a yoga fundamentalist.  I agreed with what he said.  The west distorting and appropriating from the Eastern philosophies (which they do and have always done although they call it 'adapting' because it sounds far less aggressive than distorting.).
The moment reminded me of the scene in Good Morning Vietnam, when the head of the radio department, sent the character Robin Williams was playing into enemy territory because he didn't like him.  When his boss found out, he moved him to another department and said 'It's only radio'. And this is only yoga. In whatever embodiment, or however it morphs, distorting from its origins, (in kilts, on surf boards, with boxing (!), as long as you remember the origins, that is what matters. As long as you know where it came from and how you want to practice it, then that is what is important. As for me, I will be careful where I buy my nuts in future.

Monday, 28 January 2019


On a rare night out I ventured to the new White City Soho House, full of media types, or corporate types trying to be media types, although to be fair, there is more likelihood of them being genuine media types here. I've visited Greek Street, Babington House, Shoreditch House and this was distinctly different again.
Liked the square, round and oval windows, on the wall behind the band who were brilliant.  And the Blue Peter Annuals with books scattered about. Nice design touches, nice pool, phenomenal view over London. Picked up a copy of 'House Notes' in the inhouse magazine which shares information about what is going on from cinema, to food, drinks, events. Its sort of a modern Groucho trying to be authentic although I'm not quite sure an authentic what. The Soho House venture has expanded globally and I have met over the years some of the past directors - one of whom has now all but taken over a village in Southern France, getting as much flack from some residents who refuse to sell up their ancestral home to him, as the Mistral which the walls turn their backs on. It is an idyll but it gave me a sense of the 'sense and sensibility of the Soho House chain. Sort of beauty not being truth as Keats would say, or corporate selling itself as creative.  Another director of Soho Group my ex worked with, and just like a lot of ventures and start ups there's a lot of financial people (out of necessity I suppose) who have invested off the talent (rather than into the talent) of the creatives around them.  In this month's House Notes there is a section on how members moved from corporate to creative. Corporate tends to be appropriate the talents of those who are creative. Even when yo have 'left' the corporate, you never really do. You just form another corporate. Once you are in the money you follow it, and tend to appropriate from the creatives around you, telling their story, rather than your own, appropriating their talents as your own. Once corporate always corporate. Once creative you are always at the mercy of not only selling your talent, but your story to them.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019


I recently went to see The Favourite and Bohemian Rhapsody in one weekend.  Rhapsody should have been depressing, but was far from it, possibly because of the music and the sympathetic portrayal of most of the characters. It was engaging and uplifting.  

The Favourite, was billed as a dramatic comedy. It was beautiful, weird, stylised, hypnotic but depressing. The acting was very good (I always wonder if the actors who play horrible people are genuinely horrible people, well hidden by the best PRs), and there were moments I forgot I was watching Rachel, Emma and Olivia. Although it was about women #metoo and all that, the women being the strong courageous ones - all the men being portrayed as shallow, childish, selfish, greedy, ruthless, angry little boys who secretly like to dress up as women (hmm), the focus was on the womens’ sexuality and emotional brutality and one upmanship towards each other.  The appropriation of skills and talents, the usurping of those who try to help and support as well as the sexual dynamic was a constant theme.  Everyone was left emotionally abused and battered. The good suffered and the baddies won and I as a viewer, was left thinking although they still felt empty and bored at the end, they would turn their attention to someone else to destroy just because. Everyone was left empty handed, except the men, who by doing very little, got everything.  Perhaps reflecting women do not work together in one cohesive unit even when they try. Intriguingly, the only group of characters in the film who spotted the ‘baddie’ from the onset were the ones who stay away from politics, money, and the greed that goes with it. Those in the scullery in the case of the film. Alas they are rarely listened to, are told to shut up and do as they are told. 

And on the theme of being told to shut up...

I’ve been told about a film called Birdbox which is a dystopian film (I am told as haven't seen it yet) about going round blindfolded so you don’t get seduced by the light – I think it’s a sort of Poltergeist meets Zombieland - but any screen will do. People are now doing the same in 'real life' in the US and in the UK and walking across roads blindfolded, jumping off buildings blindfolded, and getting injured as a result. (does remind me of our politicians at the moment with the mess they are making of Brexit).  In another film, A Quiet Place, a family has to remain silent, or die. Instantly killed by monsters. It follows a theme of denial. Of hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil.  Or rather walk about with your eyes closed and keep your mouth shut.  Hollywood has always had a wonderful way of telling it like it is in the world, under the guise of fiction.  Something journalists are rarely able to achieve. 

And then there is the film Vice.  A cinema-full of 50 plus somethings in Richmond, the worst money can buy, watched engrossed in a film which told more about the truth of what happens in American politics (or any politics) than anything we read in journalism.  The film intimated Dick Cheney (Satan on Earth allegedly - although there are far more than one), orchestrated 9/11 so that the company he was CEO of could make money.  He was portrayed as a good family man, who loved his children, his wife a Lady Macbeth, and his children merely pawns to be played out and put out on show when and if needed. Like every (male) politician then. I hope Christian Bale gets the Oscar. He plays descended, comic madness so well. Darkness under a veneer of charisma and in this case, quietness, always whispering, observing, projecting.  And the bad guy won again. Perhaps he has always won, just portrayed himself as the good guy as Vice suggested.  The bad guy has always won, they just have the funds to tell and sell a good story. And at least now we are seeing those at the top of their game for who they really are. Shit rather than cream. I admit even when I watched Emily Blunt's Mary Poppins, although I thought she had a brilliant singing voice, I felt this nanny didn't just have an edge. She was a real bitch. 

Saturday, 19 January 2019


Christmas and New Year are now over.  I am busy with the next projects and looking forward to 2019 with fresh vigour and energy.  Action plan, vision board and trips planned, I've been watching the news this week more than normal (not good for you allegedly as it by turn so negative/fake/flakey/disingenuous, you might as well be watching the soap operas which probably have more truth in them than the news items).   It seems to be full of 'sides'.   So, you are either on Megan's side or Catherine's side.  You are either on Leave side or Remain side.  You are either on Trump side or not.  No in-between.  My view is there are no sides. Only distractions. So I've looked at the stuff on the net, papers, TV, radio, talk shows and come to the conclusion its all one elaborate, receptive and rather boring hoax. 

I think the whole Brexit thing is a scam. I like conspiracy theories I admit, but this one is just causing a lot of stress, even in the schools in which I teach yoga. Our children are being effected because their parents are.  So this is wrong and unnecessary. There is no intention of leaving the EU and this is all an elaborate scam to show the 'us' (whoever 'us' is) that it is impossible to get out of a very bad marriage (EU) where the pre nup agreement is so confusing, restrictive, convoluted, that, despite the marriage being an extremely unhappy one (if the past two years has proven anything, it has proven the European continent is as contemptuous of us as we are of them.) we are stuck with each other.  A faustian pact indeed.  The elaborate playing out in Westminster, House of Cards style, has shown the politicians to be selfish, greedy and ruthless liars, as have those in Brussels, something we guessed at, but hoped upon hope was something that the press made up. So, I don't think Brexit will happen. Not because its a good thing, but because Cameron in his arrogance asked a question which was irrelevant and inappropriate. Because our government do not have the intellectual ability or energy to fulfil the promise they made following the referendum, and because none of them will admit to lying, because I am sure that would mean they would go to jail. They haven't said sorry either, not that that would matter. We would rather have the money back. 
The question asked at the referendum tapped into so many nerves, none of which were to do with leaving the EU, all of which was to do with unfairness - the contempt we have for our politicians, at the time Cameron in particular, the disparity in the wealthy and the poor (which is now unimaginable vast), sexism, racism, other isms and just a general pissed-off-edness with establishment in all its forms, but especially those run by the school boy network.  As a travel journalist I have become increasingly aware every single country around the world is as contemptuous of their politicians and respective media as we are of ours.
As a human race we are genuinely more united globally than the politicians and media and religious leaders would lead us to believe. Without religion, politics and media, we care and share.  It is in their interest (the Davos lot) (financially) to keep it that way. 
I think there will be civil unrest later this year. The 'us' will blame the 'us' (leave and remainers) and won't blame the 'them' in Westminster, because they have been seen over the past two years to be doing something, although no one - least of all the media - knows exactly what. The 'them' are also protected whereas the 'us' do not have the funds to protect ourselves or our funds.  
Luther-style, it would be good for some anti hero to come along and get rid of the 'them', because it takes someone even more selfish, greedy and ruthless to get rid of those who think the same way. They always blame the 'system' but it is the 'them' who sustain and protect the system.  
See what happens. Could be wrong. 

As for Megan and Catherine.  I don't care. It's as authentic and relevant to 'us' as the Brexit scam. Don't care if Megan is fake, or acting the part, or Catherine likes or doesn't like her. It is a diversion for Brexit. Only the protagonists are better looking. And as for Trump, he looks increasingly like Max Headroom.  He is the ultimate distraction - while his party is getting every law passed - he has diverted attention with his tweets, hair, skin colour, irrelevancies. And yet, he has brought all the prejudices to the surface, something politicians and the media have tried over the centuries to keep well hidden.  And that's a good thing.  Things have to come to the surface before you are able to get rid of them. He has brought the damned spot to the surface. If only we had the courage to squeeze it.