The hurdy gurdy man

Below the screen of his PC was a post it note

With the words of an Australian tank crewman

From World War One, when tanks were the future

Not an irrelevance in a world of assymetric warfare.

Ladled out death as you might vamp out indifferent music from a hurdy gurdy.

The words struck him forcibly, the indifference

The casual acceptance of cruelty as a process

Removed from the realm of morality by the

Remoteness of the deed.

He wrote another post it note

I am the hurdy gurdy man,

Then opened another electronic form, and began

Looking for a reason to sanction the claimant.


Those new Labour language rules in full

The Labour Party’s Cheerful Committee for Conversational Politeness has followed up its decree that party members shall not call each other traitor or scabs with new guidelines.

  1. It is no longer acceptable to call Ramsay Macdonald a complete shit without first prefacing the remarks with the words ‘but of course he won two general elections which is more than any trot ever has done, so he can’t be all bad.’
  2. It is no longer aceptable to call Roy Jenkins a splitter and a twat without pointing out that by forming the SDP he was in fact the godfather of Progress,and therefore ultimately right.
  3. It is no longer acceptable to call anyone who left Labour for the SDP an alibi for Thatcherism; in fact, they did not really leave Labour, they merely paid their subs to the wrong place. This error in paying their subs to the wrong place should not be referred to as the Toynbe confusion without also acknowledging that Polly’scolumns are far too good to simply be consigned straight to the cat litter tray.
  4. It is no longer acceptable to refer to anyone as a total fucking Blairite unless it is clear from body language or conext that this is a good thing.

Further edicts will follo as soon as we can be bothered to make up excuses for shutting down local parties or pissing on freedom of speech within Labour.


The dog looked through through the open door and

Refused to venture into the rain.

Above our heads thunder rolled, and rain came down in

Stair rods, tamping down and beating

The compost in the backyard pots into sodden



His coat adjusted, another tug on the dog’s lead

Persuaded him to venture out, looking

Unconvinced by my explanation that there is no such thing as

Bad weather, only bad clothing. While I

Hunched inside my coat and pulled my cap peak down

The dog hugged the backyard walls on the

Windward side of the lane, taking shelter where he could.


By the time we reached the open space the rain was

Abating, and the dog ran tentatively to the long grass

Parting the  soaking fronds with his nose

Knowing the vixen’s scent should be there, but

Discovering the squall had washed it away.


Turning our backs on the copse where the vixen

Sheltered with her cubs we headed home, dog wriggling inside his coat

My cap pushed back to make it easier to see the early morning traffic.

Thunder passed, and soon enough dog was dry and curled up on the sofa

Where I was eating breakfast  and planning my day.

Thunder had passed, and coats were discarded to dry for the next time.

Men’s fear

A bunch of twitter people I follow and like a lot were discussing the fact that they don’t like sex with men who

a) don’t like anal penetration of themselves

b) don’t suck cocks, and

c) don’t like being orally penetrated with dildos.

So easy for me to be a blokey, been there, done that got the spunk stains on my teeshirt kind of guy.

Except, when I started having sex with men by choice, rather than as a victim, I remember the acute anguish, the fear of being outed, of being bullied, and the panic that would set in. Walking this morning I realised that that fear wasn’t just about the risks, it was an internalized fear that I was making an irrevocable choice.

It’s summed up by the joke about the man on a remote Scottish island. He rescued people from a sinking boat. No-one called him Hamish the rescuer. He made exquisite, carved cradles for every new-born child, but no-one called him Hamish the carpenter. But he shagged one sheep…..

That fear of the irrevocable choice is the fear of losing everything you are nad becoming the poof. Not the musician, or the rugby player, or the son, or the friend,but the poof.

The other insight this morning was that that fear is no different to my female friends who fear that one indiscretion will make them the slut.



PIcture This

I love old music documentaries.

This week’s featured Blondie. Picture This is a beautiful song.

All I want is a room with a view
A sight worth seeing, a vision of you
All I want is a room with a view, oh-oh
I will give you my finest hour
The one I spent watching you shower
I will give you my finest hour, oh yeah

All I want is a photo in my wallet
A small remembrance of something more solid
All I want is a picture of you

Quite a few times this week I’ve wandered through the chords for Picture This; with a family member I watched a documentary about Blondie, with Debbie Harry telling tales about having sex in the alley at CBGB’s, or her adventures as a young woman in the sixties, doing the US equivalent of dogging. Step back from the words of Picture This; picture the scene, a woman watching the man she desires shower, and I am transfixed by the accuracy of the description of something I have experienced.

An atheist prays

If you are as deserving of her love, as she is of yours,You will hear my prayer.

If you will have faith in her, as she has in you, You will respect her choices.

If you care for her peace of mind, as she seeks to be an agent of your peace, You will hear my prayer.

Give me the patience to share her patience, to love her calmness and share her silence.

Give me the strength to enjoy her wisdom, and the wisdom to see her strength.

Help me love her, as she loves you, and you will be deserving of my love.


Responses to the crisis in the SWP

This account of the dispute in the SWP is a little less balanced than some might like, but worth reading.

It’s worth reading less as an analysis than  as a collection of examples of what happens when history is transformed from evidence to support an argument to an authoritarian assertion of what is to be done.

If you’re a progressive in the UK in 2013, an appeal to the authority of the past by reference to what Lenin said in Russia in 1905 is not immediately an obvious analogy.

If the SWP want to know why they struggle to demonstrate their relevance, references to the past in Russia or to the National MInority Movement or other events a century ago should tell them all they need to know.

History is evidence, not authority. We look at history to understand the present, but we make history, even if we do not choose the circumstances. By resorting to appeals to the authority of figures from the past we deny our own responsibility and agency – which possibly explains why the SWP has refused to take responsibility for its own responses to accusations of rape by one of its members. Lenin knew nothing about feminism, and didn’t even have the opportunity to learn from considering its errors. Lenin’s inability to understand even the simplest critique of the first category error that is vanguardism is, of course, why he’s an unreliable reference point.