I am Me and You are He and We are She and We are All Together…

The weirdest thing happens on the computer when Thing and I try to comment on other people’s blogs.  For some reason it’s always signed in to his account when I comment, and to my account when he comments.  This is even after I’ve gone to wordpress and signed in on my own account and then hunted up the blog on which I wish to comment.  It always does that highly irritating little jiggle which only wordpress things do.  Other accounts are content with a wiggly red line or an empty space or a little error message – but no! that’s not good enough for wordpress.  It has to do a little jiggle from side to side so that you can’t ignore it.  I’ve come to hate that little jiggle – and unless I’m on the tablet, I’ve given up commenting on other people’s blogs.  So, to my latest follower, sheislove11, I send this message:

I liked your post although when you said you made water in the coffee pot I thought for a moment you’d peed in it!

And here’s the post I commented on – or rather, failed to comment on thanks to wordpress being so BLOODY STUPID!!!

Deep calming breaths.  Deep calming breaths…


If you follow my blog I always take a look at yours and sometimes follow you as well.  My daughter has started her own blog lately, and it features a banner created by my son.  He has agreed to do one for me, although he seems to be a while getting around to it.  Here’s Holly’s blog anyway.  In this post she has put a very short story and asked for comments, so get over there and get commenting:


The REALLY annoying thing about commenting on blogs is that it tells me I’m commenting as Sarada Gray and when I post the comment it says I’m posting as zerothly.  Which I’m NOT!!!

Aaanyway, Holly, since I can’t post a comment there I’ll post it here.  I basically agree with the other comment, in that the third paragraph is the best.  In the first two you should show more and tell less and maybe connect the grease in the cafe with the grease in her hair.  I love the use of the word ‘shrapnel’ though – it suggests that her life is a battle.

Went to ‘You and Me’ friendship group at the Martyrs today and gave a talk on Quakerism.  It was very well-received and I enjoyed giving it.  I talked about my journey from a red-brick vicarage in Edmonton, round the terrible North Circular to Hounslow, about going to church three times a day on a Sunday, about to-ing and fro-ing when the church went all evangelical and finally finding my way into Quakerism.  Ruth from the Quaker meeting came along to support and add information and the audience seemed greatly interested.

Which was nice.

Happy Monday, like the woman says.

Kirk out



Doctors and Patient

Well!  I have rarely seen an episode of Dr Who which bored me, but I have to say last night’s was 45 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.  Hm – how DO you get time back?  If I was a time lord (or lady) I guess I could go back in time and live it all again, like Hermione in the third Harry Potter.  You can buy those time-turner things on the internet and I strongly suspect they don’t actually do what it says on the tin, though if they did, we’d all get very tired.

Which was the precise subject of the episode before last, in which an app called ‘Morpheus’ could be implanted in the brain and override the need to sleep.  That was an excellent episode, as was last week’s in which Clara died.  But this week’s!  I couldn’t follow it and eventually I lost the will to understand and even to live.  The major problem was that the Doctor had no companion and therefore had to spend the entire 3/4 hr monologuing.  That was bad enough, but on top of that he spent 7000 years in hell (I know how he felt) having to repeat actions over and over until – well, I’d lost track by then so I don’t know exactly what he had to do but he had to do it and then he could get back to the Tardis which was encased in some kind of material harder than diamonds and ……….. zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  I sincerely hope next week’s story is better.

It’s been quite variable, I think, this season.  I’ve liked some episodes and hated others.  I wasn’t at all grabbed by the Zygons, though I did like Mark’s joke ‘let Zygons be Zygons.’

Apart from that I’ve been watching just about everything available on the iplayer.  For yes!  I have been quite poorly.  Two weeks ago I was prescribed both antibiotics AND steroids and after that I had to get another lot of antibio’s which I am just now finishing.  Then this week I’ll have to go for a chest x-ray just to check there isn’t anything else wrong.

Hey, ho.  That’s life I guess.  Incidentally, where does the idea come from about eternity being like a mountain of sand from which a bird removes a grain every thousand years?  I remember it from James Joyce but I think it’s a reference to something else.

TTFN.  I still haven’t been on Facebook…

Kirk out

So What is Facebook Like?

Facebook is like a hyperactive child pulling you this way and that, wanting your attention in a hundred different directions.  Facebook is like the nutter in the pub muttering about everything that’s wrong with the world and how it makes him feel. Or it’s like a friend who starts off being nice and saying how much she likes you and then gets all creepy when you have to leave and says if you care you’ll stay with her and share her life- or it’s a bunch of chuggers who grab your arm and say this is important! Your freedoms are threatened! Please sign and share!
Facebook is a pub where arguments get out of hand and people hit each other with words that hurt more than blows. I am sick of seeing abuse every time I log on. It hurts me to see the venom that lies so near to the surface.

True, there is a lot of inspirational stuff on there. A lot of exhortation to ignore the crowd and just be myself (whoever they think that is), plus pictures of amazing natural objects, freakish good deeds, astounding achievements.  But there’s too much of it, all the time. No one needs a hundred inspirational stories every day, you just can’t summon up the enthusiasm. It all ends by being wearing. You feel slightly guilty all the time because you have no energy left to care. So you can be tempted to post a status saying that you’ve had enough of inspirational memes but you don’t. Because you know it’ll just set off a whole nother debate about inspirational memes which will quickly degenerate into likes and dislikes and probably into yet more abuse.

Why did I stay so long? Because of the things I will miss: Chris Conway’s manic, leaf-catching selfies; chatting to my daughter; and above all feeling a sense of connection with people. I have tried to monitor my use to get the good stuff and ignore the worst. But it’s like cutting down on smoking.  In the end you’re just going to have to give up.
Kirk out

Why I am off Facebook

I am depressed and dismayed by the amount of venom and hostility which abounds on Facebook, of how any debate is fast reduced to boo! and hurrah! words, how I am besieged by requests to pray for sick children or hunt for lost cats, how I am flooded with stories of pain and destruction or evidence of how the Bad Guys are screwing us over, and endless stories about Jeremy Corbyn, what he said or did or didn’t do or should have done, what the Sun said and what Angelina Jolie said about the Sun: satirical items on the above. Cartoons. Debates on whether satirical items or cartoons are the way to go: and, post-Paris, people changing their profile pictures to the tricolor and others saying they won’t change theirs because it’s not the way to go and the whole crazy spin-off about Islam and hatred of Islam and hatred of Islamophobia and on and on until you can’t hear yourself think.
I have kept going because of these:
Encouragement in times of loneliness. A touch from a friend. A smile. A joke. A shared experience. A conversation. The pleasure of helping someone.
But these are drowned out, overwhelmed by the rest as the traffic drowns out a sidewalk conversation.  And what is the effect on my life?
I find myself logging on to Facebook five or six times a day.  Maybe more: I haven’t checked. I become obsessed with whether people have commented on my posts or replied to my messages.  I get sucked into debates and click on things I don’t need to see.  And above all a particular world-view emerges, depressing, fearful, mistrustful, dismaying.
So I’m off now. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone – as long as I need to.   So if you want to comment make sure you do it on here and not on Facebook, otherwise I won’t see what you’ve written.
I’m going out now.  I may be some time…
Kirk out

Je Suis Parisienne

Je ne sais pas quoi dire.  Il n’ya pas de mots.  Comme aurait dit le president Kennedy, ‘je suis parisien.’  Il y a un mot en anglais pour ces choses.  Le mot enormity signifie un evenement comme celui d’hier soir, un evenement qu’on ne peut pas comprendre, quelque-chose qui est difficile que l’on y meme pense.  L’evenement est trop grand, trop enorme pour se faire voir.

Ainsi sont les attaques a Paris.  Pourquoi?  Pourquoi?  Mais pourquoi?  Le question resonne, mais personne ne peut y repondre.

Parisiens, je vous salue.  Terroristes, vous ne gagnez jamais.  Et comme aurait dit de Gaulle, vive le Paris.

Vive le Paris libre.

Kirk out

Howling at the Storm: King Lear on Honeymoon in Wales

There seems to be a fair bit of what you might call autobiographical sitcom around at the moment.  Hot on the heels of Danny Baker’s ‘Cradle to Grave’ we have Emma Kennedy’s memoir-inspired series, ‘The Kennedys’.  I’ve only seen a couple of Danny Baker’s: set in the ‘sixties, they centre on his father, a sort of larger-than-life Del-boy figure who never seems to stop talking and who at the end of the series talks himself out of a good marriage and then back into it again.

The Kennedys moves on a decade, which resonates strongly with me, since I grew up in the seventies.  I had ridiculous flares, slinkies, gonks, Jacko roller-skates and a traditional suitcase (very small and without wheels.)  I remember all the lyrics of all the songs they play, so it’s a nostalgia-fest for me.  It’s also a bit of a downer in bringing back memories of just how traditional male and female roles were in those days and how everyone was telling me I’d be quite nice looking ‘if I only made the most of myself’.  Still, Emma, as a proto-feminist, keeps the side up and her mother is certainly no doormat.  Their friends, on the other hand, are a different story.

Flash forward to a wet campsite in Wales.  As it’s the ’70’s, the men put the tent up while the women sit on a bench: then they crowd inside as the rain starts to lash down.  The storm gets worse and worse; finally Jenny, who is seven months pregnant, wails to her husband: ‘Do something!’  And looking very much like King Lear might if he was on honeymoon in a tent in Wales, Tony leans out of the door, looks at the storm and yells: ‘Salagadoola!  Mechicka boola! Bibbidi! bobbidi!  Boo!’

He stares at the howling storm and says, ‘It doesn’t seem to have worked.’

I howled at that one…

Here’s the episode – it’s about 19 mins in:


And here’s the Danny Baker one:


Kirk out

Bake Off and Die

I am very proud to say that among other mega-popular programmes which I have never watched is The Great British Bake-off.  Now, before you ask how do I know I wouldn’t like it? I may add that I have seen fairly long snippets of it when my daughter lived at home and was watching it on her lap-top, so I have an idea.  In any case I don’t like the premise that everything must be a competition: you can’t just have a show where people sing or dance or cook or fish or dive or – well, anything at all, it seems, without it has to be competitive.  Baking, as far as I’m concerned, is something you do for pleasure; the pleasure of cooking and the pleasure of eating.  It’s not eye-candy or concept-heavy, it’s food, for god’s sake.  But on ‘Bake-off’ people come up with more and more outlandish ways of doing basic things (what the hell is a ganache, for example?) just to catch the attention of the judges – and while this year’s winner appears to be self-effacing and engaging, I am heartily sick of the sight of Sue Perkins.  I used to find her funny, but now all she ever seems to do is pop up everywhere wearing a blazer and grinning cheekily at the camera.

But sometimes a little voice nags at me.  What if I’m wrong in not giving all these other mega-popular programmes a go?  Should I give the One Show a go?  (here’s a clue: the answer is no.)  But other things are so popular there must be something in them?  I won’t watch stuff like The Apprentice because it’s basically bullying dressed up as entertainment – and if I have to see one more image of Alan Sugar’s seamed, deeply unattractive and grumpy-looking visage I’ll puke.  But should I continue to avoid Strictly?  Maybe not.  So last night I bit the bullet and put it on.  And then turned it off again.  I mean, there’s only so much spangly-jangly, smiley-sparkly, twisty-tangoiness I can take – and after two minutes I was over the limit.

So I turned instead to a film; and it proved a wise move.  ‘A Song for Marion’ starring Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp (he of the high collars in the 1960’s, now reinvented as the guru in ‘Yes Man’ and, here, a grumpy old man) tells the story of a woman dying of cancer whose passion is singing in an amateur choir.  More Mike Leigh than Hollywood, this is a charming and moving story of how a woman dies and her husband eventually performs the solo she was going to do.  There’s a nice cameo too from Christopher Ecclestone.  So give the relentless baking and dancing a miss and watch this instead:


Kirk out

No Woman

As I have previously pointed out, it’s useful having a blog, because unlike a diary you can search for things and they pop up.  So today daughter was asking me which Don de Lillo book I’d read and I searched my blog, and hey presto! I found it.  I would not have had a hope in hell of remembering the title, even though it was last year.  Because, you know, last year is just so – well, so last year.

This year I’ve been reading – well, lots of stuff, but most recently ‘Yes Man’.  Danny Wallace is an engaging, hilarious and completely off-the-wall writer; a bloke whose idea of a campaign is to stick ‘join me’ on a placard and see who comes and joins him – for no other purpose than to stand together and see who joins them.  Another idea he has is to place posters everywhere saying ‘call me’ and asking people to phone him for a polite conversation.

But by far the most interesting project is his year of living dangerously by saying Yes to everything that comes along.  Yes to adverts, yes to chuggers, yes to spam emails, yes to special offers, credit cards and – most significantly, yes to having a pint with his mates.

You see, Danny, just like the guy in the film that was made from the book, had gotten to be a bit of a ‘no-man.’  He inhabited, if you will, a no-man’s land*; a place of sitting alone at home and refusing offers of drinks, meals, bowling games, cinema, you name it.  He had gotten to be a bore – and when he got into a conversation on a bus with a man who ended it with the words ‘say yes more,’ he took it as a sign.  For a whole year he said yes to everything, and ended up going to Barcelona, Stonehenge and Australia as well as having some pretty hairy experiences.

He also ended up marrying the woman he had previously given up.

So that’s all good – but as I read it I was struck, not only by his experiences, but also by how impossible it would be to do this as a woman.  I don’t know, if you’re a bloke, how many offers of unsolicited sex you get in a week – but if you’re a woman of his age, you’re likely to get a lot.  Plus, there’s the fact that women tend to say yes to things they’d rather say no to.  So maybe as well as Yes Man somebody ought to do No Woman?  Like, someone who’s really stuck in life, doing things they don’t want to do?


I’m not sure that would be altogether great either.  It’s a bit of a minefield, this gender thing, ain’t it?

I’ll have to go away and do some more thinking about this.  Meanwhile, here is some light music….


Kirk out

*see what I did there?

Sleeping at Bus Stops

Yesterday I was waiting for the bus and there were two homeless guys. One was trying to help the other settle to sleep on a wall. They did not look at me or ask for money. After a few minutes I asked if they were all right.

One guy told me they were from Latvia. He said he’d lost his job and been thrown out of his accommodation.

I tried desperately to think of somewhere to send them. The guy was nearly in tears. I wanted to give him a bug but instead I gave him a quid, which was all I had.

I don’t know what else to say

Kirk out

Are You Stuffocating?

Once upon a time it was only dippy hippies or rampant communists who spoke out against having too many possessions.  (Not that I’ve got anything against either – we need our dippy and rampant people.)  But now, hot on the heels of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s excellent campaign on food waste (see previous post) comes another group of Totally Ordinary people who are beginning to see where we’re headed – and they don’t like it.

I only caught the tail-end of this item on ‘You and Yours’ but the gist of it is that we are suffocating from Too Much Stuff.  Shopping is not fun but we can’t stop doing it (those of us with money, that is), we throw out far too much and buy stuff we neither need nor enjoy.  It prevents us from being creative and from just Being; contemplating, thinking, imagining, spending time with people.  Spending time with ourselves.

There’s a lot of attention being paid to ‘mindfulness’ in the media.  But mindfulness is not new; it’s as old as yoga and older than the Buddha – and yoga goes back thousands of years.  It’s not about sitting cross-legged and contemplating your navel; it’s about being in the moment and focussing on what you’re doing, whatever it may be.

Someone at Quaker Meeting said recently that one of the most expensive holidays on earth is also the most minimalist.  Apparently businessmen (and women, perhaps) pay thousands to be tipped over a cliff in a basket with minimal possessions so that they can be out of touch for a week.  This is entirely necessary in a world where, no matter where you go, you cannot be out of touch.  People get work emails on holiday nowadays.  You’re never really away.

Anyway, here’s the link:


Now we can all be dippy and rampant.  Or maybe we can be dippy one day and rampant the next?

Kirk out