Friday, 2 December 2016

Surviving Christmas On Your Own

This Christmas marriages will break up, old lovers will commit to one another, new lovers will find each other, families will argue, children will hate their presents, vegetarian guests will stick to spuds and sprouts, and granny will overdose on sherry. These people will all have something in common: each other. There is another side to Christmas that is overlooked: those who are alone. The elderly who have passed their use-by date, the divorced singletons who are persona non grata by virtue of being solo, the homeless, and those too impoverished to celebrate Christmas at all. Each of these people will feel desolate and unhappy on Christmas Day - please think of them.

For those who are alone on Christmas Day here's my advice:

Volunteer: Get in touch with a local charity and offer your services over Christmas. This is easier said than done from personal experience as you will have to pass a CRB check and this can take up to two weeks to process. But there's still time if you make contact asap.

Go for a walk: London is eerily silent and deserted on Christmas Day as everyone is indoors or away so why not grab a map and head off at your own pace? You may discover a few new things and perhaps even something about yourself. Walking has always provided me with a period of meditation which in turn lifts my spirits. My preference is the countryside with my beloved hound but if muddy wellies and wet dogs are not your thing, any leisurely stroll in the fresh air is better than none.

Go to church: attending church is free and even if you're not a believer, you might find the experience of reverence inspiring and comforting. Both Church of England vicars and Catholic priests will allow non-believers to take communion and receive a blessing on Christmas Day. My advice is to go to the morning service in order to avoid screaming toddlers. Your day will also be more structured if you get up early and go to church rather than lying around in your pyjamas feeling sorry for yourself. You'll see other people too- some worse off than you and you might start feeling more positive about life. No matter how bad things may seem, remember, there is always darkness before dawn.

Unclutter: Use the opportunity to sift through clutter or to create order in your living environment. It is amazing how much we accumulate in life and how little we actually need. If you haven't used an item in the last twelve months why not box it up to donate to charity, flog it on ebay/amazon or bin it? I have done this three times in the last five years and the effect has been a strangely cathartic. Don't wallow in nostalgia on Christmas Day- be ruthless! Old lovers are not exactly spending Christmas with you so make a bonfire and burn all their silly love letters! Holding onto 'stuff' is refusing to let go of the past and is also stopping the future from finding you.

Someone recently described me as the 'cleanest person they ever met'. I just can't think, relax or feel happy in a messy, chaotic, filthy home. Christmas Day is a good opportunity to take stock, clean up your living environment and also your head. A clean and tidy home will allow you to structure your thoughts and your life and prepare to welcome the New Year.

Read a very old book: make a plan to spend Christmas Day reading something interesting, erudite and thought-provoking. Find an antique book store and start browsing now (your intuition will lead you to the book you need). My favourite antique book store is at the very end of the Kings Road in London. I bought a book on Roman thinkers (£4.99) there that literally transformed my life. I found it uplifting to discover that all the same problems we encounter today were being mulled over by Seneca, Horace, Ovid and the likes more than two thousand years ago and even before Christ! Old books teach us that life is temporary as are our 'problems'.

And finally: we live in an age that is facile, precarious and uncertain. What we see on television is not reflected in our own lives- we can't all be rich, attractive, successful and living a perfect existence. I despair at the frivolity and stupidity that constitutes the mainstream and which we are meant to aspire to. Please consider this: don't buy into an unreality or a fantasy that will never happen because if you really think about it, you probably have that single thing you truly need: the chance to create your own happiness.

May I wish you a Peaceful Christmas.

With my good friend, Barbara, at the opening of Painters Painters, The Saatchi Gallery, 29th November 2016.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Pheasant Beating

I live in the countryside and winter months are a busy time for hunters. On my daily walks I may come across the local hunt galloping at full throttle past the hound and I or more frequently, I cross paths with hunters out on a pheasant beating. Here's a photo I took yesterday at around 8 in the morning. With the PC brigade ruining it for everyone, I was careful to take a photo of the hunters from behind. They were on their way down to the woods at the bottom of the valley where pheasants are plentiful at this time of year.

I am very grateful to witness these old traditions and who knows, I may very well join in.

 Photo copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Vulgarity, the new Chic

I was gobsmacked this week to see D-list celebrity Chrissy Teigen flashing her vulva at the American Music Awards. In need of a Thesaurus, Mr Teigen subsequently apologised for showing her 'hooha'. I wouldn't normally write about such a thing but I am guessing that after this depraved-yet-utterly-normal incident, one can look forward to the Legend-Teigen sex tape to rival that of her good friend Kim K, that other example of an utterly illiterate shrew keen to show every part of her adjusted flesh.

I went on Twitter to send Ms Teigen a tweet bringing to her attention that not all of us were impressed by her vulgarity. She never replied. Here's the other thing I've noticed. People like Ms T and Ms K are bullies- they have sussed out who they can troll and put down on social media and know all too well who to give a wide berth. If these 'women' for want of a better word, didn't have social media, I suspect they would be in therapy boring some psychiatrist rigid with their narcissistic personality disorder, i.e. their footloose and fancy-free vaginas.

Most notable of all, these women are illiterate. They overuse the word 'fuck' because a whole long list of adjectives could not possibly be retained in their smaller-than-a-vulva-sized brains. Proust, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Leonard Cohen must all be turning in their graves to see how illiterate, ignorant and plain dumb humanity has become. 'Look at my vulva, you fucking idiots!' has  replaced
'Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face. ' (Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry).
American history, add to that, Western civilisation, are being re-written and modified to depths of inanity not seen since Neanderthals. The expectations of young women involve emulating these brain-dead but tits-aware ignoramuses. Soon the norm will be sex in broad daylight at rush hour on a train platform and God forbid if one objects.

The irony of these women is they purport to be feminists and representative of some noble ideal while declaring 'I should have the right to flash my vulva and who are you to object?' Pandering to this level of idiocy makes a mockery of the women who fought valiantly for the right to be heard.

So to Miss Teigen, Miss K and her most utterly revolting family, here's my two cents worth- age 52 and female- you are vile, unappealing, disgusting, disgraceful, vulgar in the extreme, debauched and incapable of rising from the gutter where you belong. Money and a loose fanny doesn't make you sophisticated, elegant, intelligent, well-read, feminine or an icon but just plain TRASH. Oh, and buy a Thesaurus.

Photos copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

So long, Arnie

I Will Remember You

The wind in my hair
The sun on my face
The dawn chorus of birds wherever I am
The seed I plant and watch grow
These are the ways I will remember you.

For my beloved dad, Arnie, who died ten years ago.

Words and Photo copyright SvD.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Trump, The Non PC President

I like Donald Trump mostly because I admire plain speakers who look you in the eye and say it as it is. I am one of those direct individuals who finds it difficult to pussy foot around the truth/heart of the matter. There are two reasons for this: one, life is too short and secondly, if one doesn't say what one means someone else will say it for you. A straight-talking politician is surely a better option than the slippery, sweet talking, self-serving alternative that we have grown too used to.

Obama may not have disgraced his office like his predecessors but he always came across as the guy who didn't want to offend anyone. That type of approach makes someone less likeable, even untrustworthy because it is impossible to know what they stand for. One cannot be all things to all people which is usually found out the hard way.

Hillary Clinton lost the election because she was contrived, over rehearsed and artificial. There are too many rumours and whispers about her true personality plus her daughter, Chelsea, comes across as entitled and a complete brat. If one is unlikeable in the first place it is difficult to switch on the charm offensive and woo voters.

Beyond the charm however are the brass tacks. I have written before about convictions and how few, if any, people possess these days. I am amazed on a daily basis at the ranting on Twitter which passes for a belief in something. I have observed that if a topic trends, a swell of tweets appears in agreement and the consensus then becomes FACT. (Another example of why the polls were so wrong in the US). This herd-like mentality is alarming at best. Why? Because it shows a complete lack of conviction. Yes, we are social animals easily influenced by others and yielding to someone else's idea is a means of gaining approbation. But being able to defend an idea is an altogether different kettle of fish. Hence the reason that intellectual debate no longer exists in the mainstream and has instead been replaced by watered-down populism.

Trump has, in my view, been mislabelled an imbecile. In fact, Trump has proven that by having convictions and not being afraid to challenge the status quo and ingrained expectations can end in triumph. Trump has also demonstrated by winning the Presidency that liberalism has become a misguided and dangerous movement intent on reinforcing privilege over right and determined to keep things the way they are. Most shocking of all, the liberals were prepared to overlook the criminal allegations that have dogged the Clintons and put one back in the White House. Our 'me, me, me' society addicted to convenience and immediacy has resulted in non-thinking, shameless egoism cloaked in liberalism. The overall impression appears to be not what's best for my country but what's best for me. (We Brits are facing the exact same problem of the liberals versus the patriots in the current Brexit debacle.)  Perhaps we have gotten too used to seeing politicians enter office for the sole purpose of enriching themselves and not actually in order to make the world a better place that we too want to grab whatever we can. When the noble purpose of life, which the Romans called 'virtue', is no longer the pinnacle of human endeavour, what then remains?

As a conservative person, I was impressed to see Trump's family well-dressed and well-mannered during the campaign. It would appear that Trump's children have never publicly embarrassed him neither have his ex-wives made lurid allegations about him. Consider that vile other family beginning with the letter 'K' whose matriarch encourages the recording of a sex tape in order to achieve fame and fortune and otherwise known as liberalism in the extreme where all standards completely disappear. How do these people look at themselves in the mirror? Yet they represent a society that considers being degenerate a virtue.

Who knows if Trump will be a productive President and the desperately-needed tempering force in a chaotic and precarious era. I do believe that his convictions will help him succeed. And that can only be a good thing.

Photo copyright SvD.

Friday, 4 November 2016

High Court Brexit Ruling

Yesterday's ruling by the High Court sent me reeling. I had suspected Brexit was never going to happen but I am fully assured now that it won't. Why?

The MPs will vote against it. That is Parliamentary Democracy. Furthermore, MPs have more or less made it clear that voters are too dense to decide their own future- perhaps true when one sees what passes for humanity these days, 'innit', 4,000 knife crimes in London this year alone. It would be hard to imagine a bigger bunch of losers than these young men stabbing each other. Should these cretins be allowed to vote on anything or better off in a labour camp in freezing Siberia? They're not representative of a democratic society, are they?

Too many MPs must have vested interests in remaining in the EU or rather, one can only assume they do as they clearly ignore their own constituents.  Also, please don't tell me that hedge fund supremos did not make a killing at the news of the ruling yesterday? The pound soared and someone now has a brand new Rolls Royce. Ms Miller, as noble as she believes she is, probably has her own reasons for staying in the EU but I doubt very much the best interests of the British people is one of them.

Had Theresa May sought the correct advice, she would not be in this situation now. She had intended to go solo and invoke Article 50 but I suspect that no one in government had ever taken Brexit seriously enough to consider the practical aspect of whether she could indeed bypass Parliament. That makes me believe that Brexit was merely an irritant that eventually would go away. Logically, if enough time had passed between the referendum and invoking Article 50, someone would have argued that that was then and this now- aka, we need a new referendum. No doubt it would have been a future election promise.

We know now of the widespread disbelief in government pre- referendum that Brexiteers could actually win. Osborne and Cameron, puffed up like preening peacocks, looked down in disdain at voters and their message was clear- we know more than you fools so listen to us. They then proceeded to spin a yarn or two aided by the Governor of the Bank of England whose views ought to remain private. Interestingly, the Governor's forecasts have proved wrong. Most alarming of all, the Governor did not take into account that a weaker pound means greater demand for exports which could be just the boon to revitalise the manufacturing industry. There is plenty of precedent around the world of devalued currency driving growth in export markets. Why therefore did the Governor not factor this potential consequence into his forecasts?

The real issue du jour is whether Parliamentary Democracy works anymore. Britain has changed beyond recognition- whole towns are now made up of immigrants who speak little or no English and who don't see themselves as British. The City of London is a parallel universe to the rest of Britain. The average Joe Bloggs feels isolated from the political elite and is becoming more apathetic by the day.

Perhaps the government will realise that Brexit has provided an opportunity to reconnect with ordinary people, not those with deep pockets who refuse for the status quo to be eroded. Wanting things to stay the way they are when the whole world is in a state of flux is a dangerous and very careless thing to do.

The current uncertainty is damaging to Britain, not only on the world stage but in managing our own affairs. The aftermath of the Financial Crisis in 2008 was that livelihoods and futures were lost. Elected government has a duty to provide its citizens with an environment in which to thrive if they so choose. We saw in 2008 that the then government was woefully misinformed and had taken their eye off the ball and the FSA also cast a blind eye on the bacchanalian excess that ultimately came to an end with disastrous consequences.

Theresa May made a damaging mistake and lost valuable time in limiting the fallout of Brexit. The government is playing swings and roundabouts with your future and my future. One can only hope that the current climate of gloating, loathing, political paralysis and refusal to listen to voters will change.

That Brexit feeling: pilloried voter.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

The strange thing about politics is that everybody lies. Presidential Candidates may claim that they don't intentionally mislead the public but there is a difference between lying and being sparse with the truth. Voters also lie. Having worked in Market Research when I was employed by BAT and Toyota, I have seen first hand how statistics can be outright falsehoods and should be taken with a huge pinch of salt. Rule number one: people tell you what you want to hear. Ask yourself this simple question: do you eat a healthy diet? You know the truth but nine times out of ten, if someone were to ask you that question, you would say yes despite having just snaffled a bucket of fried chicken washed down with several cans of sugary cola.

The same applies to the current polls regarding whether Trump or Clinton will win. Trump has been vilified by the press as a buffoon prone to putting his foot in his mouth. Clinton supposedly has thirty plus years of public service under her belt and is 'committed' to a number of causes that will improve the lives of hard-working Americans. Blah, blah, blah. I recall the anticipation and excitement that accompanied both Tony Blair and Barack Obama into office. One deliberately deceived for his own gain, the other points out that his performance should not necessarily be judged on his actual performance because his hands were tied by his political opponents. In other words believing anything a politician has to say can be likened to one's own belief in God. One's interpretation of the existence of God is a deeply personal thing. The same applies to what we really think about politicians and their promises and the truth of our feelings is only really revealed in the isolation of the ballot booth. Away from prying eyes, the pencil does not lie. A bit like the confession box in church where our conscience assails us before The Almighty. I predict therefore that Trump will win. Why? Because he appeals to the maverick inside jaded voters who are expected to vote for Clinton but will otherwise reveal their true feelings on election day. Just don't ask them who they voted for.

Photo copyright SvD.