There’s a huge wind blowing outside. The sound of it in the trees is one of the reasons I love this house. Buffets are gentled as the tree sways, its branches thrash and the energy is absorbed. You hear the same dissipation of sound and force when a wave breaks on a pebbled beach.

It’s Autumn.

I found myself thinking of the last line of Larkin’s poem, Absences:

Such attics cleared of me! Such absences!

Here’s the whole poem:

Rain patters on a sea that tilts and sighs.
Fast-running floors, collapsing into hollows,
Tower suddenly, spray-haired. Contrariwise,
A wave drops like a wall: another follows,
Wilting and scrambling, tirelessly at play
Where there are no ships and no shallows.
Above the sea, the yet more shoreless day,
Riddled by wind, trails lit-up galleries:
They shift to giant ribbing, sift away.
Such attics cleared of me! Such absences!
Listen to the trees!




Power Up!


Did I mention Sister Corita? We came across her by accident earlier this summer in a visit to the lovely museum of art and craft in Ditchling

We didn’t know there was an exhibition on and had gone there to see works by Edward Johnston, Eric Gill and other craft workers in the Catholic Guild Gill founded in the village.

They were political in their way. Phillip Hagreen’s prints still have power:


and a very characteristic cleanness of line, a modern unfussiness. What they don’t have is pzazz! Sister Corita has. In spades.

The connection between them is catholicism. Sister Corita was an American nun, working on prints and printmaking and, through the 50s, 60s and beyond engaging directly with the radical politics of the day – Vietnam, consumerism, poverty the need to bring christianity into people’s lives.

(from the website)
The ground-breaking work of Corita Kent (1918-1986) comes to Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft this summer. Corita was an artist, a famously charismatic educator and a Roman Catholic nun based in Los Angeles during the 1960s. A contemporary of Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha, her vibrant screenprinted banners and posters drew on pop and modern consumer cultures and became increasingly political throughout the decade. Her bright, bold work confronted issues of poverty, racism and war with an aesthetic more aligned with protest movements of the time than traditional religious imagery. Frequently appearing on the streets surrounding the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, where she taught, Kent’s imagery aimed to capture the public imagination in order to influence social change.

The effect of walking into a room full of her prints (especially after the restraint and control of those great English craftworkers) is extraordinary.




Power Up!

Reasons for leaving

Dear …

I am writing out of courtesy to advise you that I am resigning from the Labour Party with immediate effect – direct debits and the standing order for the monthly draw cancelled!

I wanted to offer a word of explanation (which you are welcome to ignore) but I thought you might be interested in which particular straw it was that broke this camel’s back.

It wasn’t the anti-semitism stuff. A lot (not all) of the complaints about Corbyn himself do seem overstated – sometimes wildly – and I think Corbyn could make a very credible case for his actions in support of the Palestinian cause if he wished. I’d honour him for it.

It isn’t the Brexit stuff either. I can see why a party might equivocate – the people have spoken etc. – although I do deplore the lack of an authoritative, accessible critique of what the government are attempting and there is a desperate need for a post Brexit vision that is not based on the worst of neo-conservatism.

No, what’s finished it for me is this, from the LGA (Local Government Association) Labour Group:

“The LGA Labour Group is hugely disappointed by the initial report of the Labour Party Democracy Review. We had made a serious and detailed submission to the Review, a few parts of which appear to have been accepted, but the general tone of the Review in relation to local government betrays a general lack of understanding of local government, and an astonishing lack of respect towards Labour Party members who serve as councillors. Given that the original remit of the Democracy Review was to ‘develop the accountability of Labour local authority elected members’, there is no recognition within the document of the current legal and financial frameworks that councillors operate within, nor the fact that councillors are the most accountable – both to the party and to their local community – of all elected representatives. Nor is there any acknowledgement of the significant role that Labour councillors have fulfilled in protecting communities from the worst of austerity, and how Labour in local government will be an essential part of delivering the policy programme of an incoming Labour Government.

The biggest concern is that the Review proposes to ban all councillors from serving on Local Government Committees – effectively downgrading councillors to second-class membership, with no say over decisions relating to local government policy development and campaigning, and excluding those party members who have the deepest knowledge, experience, and responsibilities towards local government, not to mention breadth of campaigning expertise and financial commitment.”

For me Corbyn represented a chance to reset the centre of politics in Britain after the Osborn years. I wanted to resist that rightwards drag that had seemed to suck the Labour Party along with it. I wanted change. Naively perhaps, I wasn’t expecting that his election would open the floodgates to all the purists I’d last come across in the eighties. On top of that I am a local government man through and through and it depresses me beyond measure that the Party, instead of welcoming the best of local action and initiative, seems to be set on denying and disabling it.

We are making ourselves as stupid as the Tories. It’s an achievement of sorts – but not one I am proud of and I have decided to step outside of the party and look around a little to see if there is any one out there who I can support.

Reasons for leaving

Six years in the gender wars – Sarah Ditum

For some time now – watching battles rage on twitter and in the press, reading with horror (but no surprise) about the effect off placing trans women in women’s prisons – I have been trying to make sense in my own mind of the rights and wrongs of trans activism and it’s impact on the rules and choices society makes about gender.

Sarah Ditum’s (long) piece here is the best map of the territory that I’ve found. Any quote pulled out of context would be an injustice – worth reading in full:

Six years in the gender wars – Sarah Ditum
— Read on sarahditum.com/2018/09/10/six-years-in-the-gender-wars/amp/

Six years in the gender wars – Sarah Ditum