Category Archives: politics

Is it ‘One of those Days’ or Am I ‘One of Those People’?

Today is shaping up to be a fully-fledged, five-star, top of the range example of One of Those Days.  It started badly at 5 am when I woke and couldn’t get back to sleep: so eventually I sat up and tried to meditate.  But OH was fidgeting too much so I went downstairs, spread out my mat and began.  All was well for about five minutes, when OH decides it’s time to get up.  Footsteps clonking down the stairs.  The door opens.  The steps enter.

‘Are you OK?’

‘Meditating,’ I say.  The word, uttered through gritted teeth, just about makes it out of my mouth.

‘Oh, sorry.’

Well, honestly – I’m sitting cross-legged with my head and shoulders covered: what did you think I was doing?

OH then proceeds to open the curtains with a swish of fabric and a clacking of wooden curtain rings.  And when I complained, he had the nerve to lecture me about my levels of concentration!


So we have re-established the ground rule: if meditating, do not disturb.

After that my brain was all over the place.  I managed to drink tea, do crossword and yoga but then there was no bread for breakfast and when there was it was squashed, difficult to cut and impossible to make into soldiers.  I need soldiers with my egg!!!

At this point I decided that today was going to be one of those days.  But here’s the thing: vis-a-vis yesterday’s post, was it the things that happened or was it my reaction to them?  Was I predisposed to react irritably because I hadn’t slept well?  OK that in itself makes it one of those nights, upon the heels of which may well follow one of those days, but sleeping badly doesn’t always make me irritable.  Sometimes I’m depressed; more often than not I’m just tired.

After breakfast I went upstairs to start work.  Everything was going just fine when I got a text from the bank: I’ve gone over my limit again.  Yep, that just about sums it up.  I’ve gone over my limit again; and from having a small but just about adequate amount to see me through the next week or two, I now have no money at all.

I have to say, sometimes it’s very hard indeed to ‘love only what happens.’  But is it the things or is it me?  Or both?

It’s ironic that I should be feeling this on International Women’s Day, a day of celebration about how far we’ve come (when I was young the phrase was, ‘You’ve come a long way, baby’, which sounds incredibly patronising nowadays.)

But there it is.  That’s what’s happened.

You’ve gotta love it.


Kirk out


Leave a comment

Filed under friends and family, philosophy, politics

In Like a Lemon, Out Like a Lamp

It’s March now and you know what they say about March: in like a lion, out like a lamb.  It certainly arrived in leonine fashion; in fact it was more like a snow-leopard than anything, what with the Beast from the East (not Putin) coinciding with Storm Emma (not of The Archers).  The whole shebang reminded me of how blessed we are in general to have the Gulf Stream, and how horrid things would be without it: for, though we are subject to bouts of unpredictability and flurries of inconsistency, the climate of the British Isles (excepting the Highlands and Islands) is generally mild.  With climate change summers have got longer and winters shorter; and whilst I enjoy hot weather it does naturally worry me; a propos of which I have just started reading Naomi Klein’s book ‘This Changes Everything’ – a thorough and very influential guide to climate change and its deniers.

As far as climate change denial is concerned, it is now on the level of ‘the moon landings were faked’ and not far off believing that the earth is flat.  The evidence is there for all to see; the polar ice-caps are shrinking, sea levels are rising, the sea is warming, habitats are vanishing and places like the Maldives are going under.  It takes some degree of mental contortion to disbelieve all of these facts, particularly when you consider that 97% of the world’s scientists agree that man-made climate change is a fact of life.  What’s more worrying is that the process of climate change may be exponential: that like the Fibonacci series I wrote about the other day (of which more anon) levels may not increase at the same rate but reach a ‘tipping-point’ beyond which recovery is all but impossible.

Now, I’m an optimist.  I’m a firm believer in the power of humanity to solve the problems it has created.  But in order to do this we need to believe that there is a problem: and climate-change deniers, especially when they are powerful politicians or global capitalists, are holding up progress in an utterly unconscionable way.

Enough.  We can do this, but everyone has to get on board.

Speaking of Fibonacci, I have planned the novel around the number sequence and, whilst I’m quite excited about this, it does pose some problems; namely, that the first chapters are very short and the last ones very long: it will also be a very long novel if I stick to the plan.  So I’m just going to go with it and see where I end up.  It’s exciting!

Kirk out

Leave a comment

Filed under Book reviews, my magnum hopeless, novels and longer works, politics

A Chorus of Complaints

As Michael Fish once said (or was it Iain Macaskill?) I’m trying to think of something nice to say about the weather.  Meanwhile here is some light music.  Apparently it was Iain Macaskill – here’s one I posted earlier:

That isn’t the one I thought.  Oh well.  Anyway, the weather is… awful awful awful.  Schools are closed, motorways blocked, roads impassable and temperatures lower than a limbo-dancer’s back.  It’s cold.

But none of this compares to the ritual grumbling chorus.  It’s a musical for two competing choirs and it goes like this:

Choir 1:  It’s so awful.  I’m freezing.  We’re going to run out of bread/milk/gas/food/the ingredients of food.

Choir 2:  This is typical of Us.  What about Norway?  They don’t grind to a halt when there’s a few inches of snow.  Why can’t we manage?

To be honest, I have little sympathy with either side on this one.  Choir no. 1 is panicking unnecessarily: though of course there is suffering, the people complaining are not usually the ones suffering the most.  The ones I feel sorry for are the homeless and the hard-up, those who at the best of times have to choose between heating and eating and who must now be tearing their hair out.

But as for choir no. 2, it’s a completely false comparison.  You may as well say, ‘why can’t we cope with the heat like they do in Spain?’ or ‘why can’t we have canals everywhere like they do in Holland?’  They cope with snow in Norway because they have it every year!!!  They know it’s coming; they know more or less when it will come, how much there will be and how long it will stay.  They are geared up to it; their houses and trains and buses and roads are all designed with snow in mind.

But how often do we have this sort of weather?  How predictable is it?  How long does it usually last?

Like I say, there’s no comparison.

All of which causes me to wonder about Complaints Choirs.  These were a thing a few years back; choirs of people coming together to moan in four-part harmony (or cacophony) about mis-sold pensions or computers crashing or delayed trains or – anything at all really.  But I haven’t heard anything about them for a while now.

Well, according to this they’re still going – or they were in 2016:

Now stop moaning!

Kirk out

Leave a comment

Filed under friends and family, politics

What ARE the Odds?

Wow.  There’s a first: me actually agreeing with an article in the Spectator.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s a case of the Spectator agreeing with me – because, let’s face it, this article says practically word for word what I said in my post a few days ago – in fact, what I’ve been saying for a long time: that there is a new orthodoxy emerging about gender which does not want to be challenged, and that we need a debate about this.

Now I know the Spectator is a reactionary rag but even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and to my ears this article is quite reasonable.  OK so they take the opportunity to have a pop at Corbyn – which is quite disingenuous, since any politician (apart from UKIP or Jacob Rees-Mogg) would have said the same – but other than that they make reasonable points.

I’m worried that the gender train (the gender agenda?) is hurtling so fast towards its destination that people are going to be crushed under the wheels, perhaps already are being crushed under the wheels.  My argument – and I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again – is that we need a thorough, ongoing debate about this or else like Brexit it will derail us all (I’ve probably mixed a metaphor there, but hey – if Shakespeare can do it…)  Because we had the debate about homosexuality, we had the debate about women’s rights, and these are now pretty firmly established.  But it seems to me that those pushing for trans rights are simply trying to hop on to an already running train without paying the fare.  ‘You’ve accepted gays and lesbians,’ they seem to say, ‘so let’s cut to the chase and accept this.  No arguments.’

I have heard in more than one quarter the suggestion that trans people (including children) should be accepted without question.  But here’s the rub: to accept a person as a person is not necessarily the same as to accept a particular narrative about that person.  So, whilst I do strive as a Quaker, to accept my fellow humans and to answer that of God in everyone, I do not accept the orthodoxy of the trans agenda without question.

Nor should I: nor should any of us.  Everything should always be questioned – and now more than ever we need to open that debate; because shutting it down is not the way to go.  I have heard people complain (and not Daily Mail readers, either) that they feel constrained in this debate, that they have to keep their thoughts to themselves, that they ‘can’t say’ what they think lest it be construed as hate speech.  But there is a world of difference between respectful debate and hate speech.  On the one hand, you have a legitimate enquiry into the problem; on the other hand you have – well, Germaine Greer.  Just to give one example that comes to mind.

The subjects I would like to see discussed include:

The likely effects on partners of a person coming out as trans

how we deal with children who exhibit gender dysphoria

what we do about toilets

what we do about women’s groups where often intimate subjects are under discussion

what we do about areas where privileges gained as one gender are carried forward into another

This is just a starting framework.  And I refuse to believe that this cannot be done in a respectful manner.

Kirk out

Leave a comment

Filed under friends and family, politics

TV Martyrs

Imagine my surprise!

Go on!

Well, have you imagined it?

What’s that?  You want a reason?  OK well imagine that yesterday morning it’s early.  Too early.  That’s not the reason – I wake up early every bloody morning including Sunday.  Nor was it the fact that OH made tea early: that was no surprise either.  This is my life – everything is early.  Nope, the surprise was that as he came in with the tray the news also entered the room that the Church of the Martyrs was on the radio.  Not local radio, national.  Radio 4.

Let’s backtrack a little.  Immigration is a big subject for debate at the moment.  The other week I had a disagreement with someone who thought there was a link between the churches and far-right groups.  No, I said.  Absolutely not.  Maybe in the US but not here; in the UK, churches of whatever persuasion would not touch far-right groups with a bargepole.  And I stand by that – but the programme (which was also on the TV) gave me pause for thought; because it appears that 66% of Anglicans want immigration to be reduced.  That’s 66% of churchgoing Anglicans, not people who just put ‘C of E’ on application forms without ever setting foot inside the porch.  The figure for non-churchgoing Anglicans is 88%, which is more understandable, but the figure of 66% is quite concerning because it means Anglicans are more hostile to immigration than other denominations.

First on the programme was Billy Graham’s son Franklin, who defended his attendance at Trump’s inauguration by saying, in effect, ‘no-one’s perfect’ and declaring that God intervened to appoint Trump as President.

it’s about 7 minutes in.

The recording of The Martyrs came as a breath of fresh air.  It was made during a recent ‘Tomatoes’ breakfast cafe about which I have blogged many times:

and talking about a Christian duty to welcome the stranger and the refugee.  It included an interview with Evernice, whom I know well, who is a refugee from East Africa and now a valued member of the church.  There was also an interview with vicar Richard who reiterated the point about the Christian duty to welcome the stranger.  It never ceases to amaze me how people can ignore key aspects of the gospel when it suits their particular prejudices.

Kirk out


Filed under friends and family, God-bothering, politics, radio, TV reviews

I Self-Identify as a TERF

We hear a lot these days about ‘self-identification’ – the right to define yourself as whatever you feel you are and not be defined by society.  Now, in theory I am all for this; but in practice none of us exists in isolation.  We all have relationships, we all have contexts in which we exist.  There are tensions between the individual and the family; between the individual and group; between the individual and the wider society in which we all exist.

The individual ought not to be completely defined by society.  The society in which I grew up tried to define me in certain ways: that I should look a certain way (wear skirts and make-up), behave in a ‘ladylike’ manner (no swearing, no drinking pints) and aspire to a certain level (marriage and work as a teacher or nurse).  The career options for most girls were office work, factory work or the two professions I have already mentioned.  You were expected to work until marriage and if you worked after marriage, to do so part-time.  You were not expected to aspire to anything higher.

But nor do I believe that the individual has an unfettered right to self-identification; to demand that society (which is after all, other people) accept whatever they say they are and adapt itself to their needs.  And my fear is that the gender debate is heading in this direction; of saying that there are many genders and that a person should be accepted as whatever gender they say they are and called by whatever name and pronoun they wish.

Now, leaving aside the wider issues, which I’ll come to in a minute, this presupposes certain difficulties right away.  It’s hard enough to remember names at the best of times: we live in a mobile society where most of us meet new people all the time; so that to remember a variety of names and pronouns which do not correspond to our previous experience of gender, can be confusing and difficult.  To be berated if we fail adds insult to that injury: I once went to a ‘conference’ on gender where there were seven or eight of us, and to remember who wanted to be called ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘they’ or – god help us – ‘ze’ was beyond me.  I suspect the average person in the street wouldn’t even try.

To sum up so far: society has certain expectations, that a person will present as either male or female, and be addressed accordingly.  Some people don’t fit into those categories – or don’t look the way you’d expect their gender to look.  Some people demand the right to be treated as whatever gender (or non-gender) they say they are.

So much for the social difficulties.  Now for the relational ones: as I’ve said before, if you are in a relationship and one partner decides to self-identify as a different gender, that has implications beyond their individual rights.  It has profound implications for a marriage or long-term relationship because that relationship is effectively being expected to switch from straight to gay – or the other way round.  It may be that some people’s sexuality is fluid, and that they can make those adjustments without too much hassle.  Equally it may not.

As far as parents are concerned (I don’t speak from experience here, so feel free to argue the point) I suspect it’s less of an issue.  The parent/child relationship doesn’t depend on gender the way that a sexual relationship often does, and although there may be profound adjustments to be made it doesn’t threaten the basic relationship.

So much for relational problems.  Now to speak of wider society, and a number of issues which are emerging.  Should transgender people be able to use the public loos of their choice?  I guess where there are cubicles it might not be so important; but I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with someone who may still be physically male using a public toilet at the same time as I do.

But this is the tip of the iceberg.  Should trans women be able to join women’s groups?  Should they be able to sit in on sessions where women are discussing intimate issues such as abortion and abuse?  Would you feel comfortable with that?  I’m not sure I would.

Then there’s the thorny question of what you might call privileges gained as one gender being carried over into another (I realise I’m concentrating on M to F trans people here, but that’s where most of the problems are).  Should athletes who still have a lot of masculine musculature be allowed to compete as women?  Should men who gained certain positions at work be allowed to retain them as women?

And why is all this happening now?  Is there an element of men wanting what women have, now that women have (supposedly) equal status?  Is it womb envy?  Or can you be born in the ‘wrong body’ and if so, how?  We must be free to ask these questions, but there is a great deal of resistance to debate, particularly in what I’m going to call the trans lobby.  There’s an orthodoxy emerging, that we must accept the new status quo without question.  Well, sorry – but I never accept anything without question.  Ever.

Which leads me to my tongue-in-cheek title.  Because of course I don’t self-identify as a TERF: nobody self-identifies as a TERF because it’s like one of those irregular verbs:

‘I have doubts about the trans debate; you are prejudiced: she is Germaine Greer.’

TERF is a label used for others; hence no-one is likely to self-identify as one.  But we need to debate these issues, and we need to do it respectfully.

And we need to do it now.

Kirk out


Filed under friends and family, politics, The madness of Mark

Hell is Other Facebook Friends

I have been reflecting recently on the difficulty of interacting with any decency on Facebook.  I have long since withdrawn from political discussion since any slight disagreement can degenerate in the blink of an eye into a nuclear standoff and the mildest of phrases such as ‘I’m not sure I understand your position here,’ can somehow translate as ‘you are an utter arse and have no right to exist’.  But I thought I’d be safe with closed groups; particularly groups which are there for mutual support.

I can’t say too much without giving away confidential stuff, but yesterday we had a situation.  This situation involved potential harm to a person close to me and I wanted some thoughts – not necessarily advice, but support, consideration, sympathy, comments from anyone in a similar position: the phrase I used was ‘positive thoughts.’  No sooner was my post up than someone commented: not someone I knew in real life, nor someone I’d interacted with before, but still a member of a support group.

What was I thinking?  This is Facebook, for god’s sake – you might as well stick your head above the trench in World War One and ask for the enemy’s opinions on dialectical materialism.  What I got was a blast of hot air from someone who in no uncertain terms told me I had no right to do what I was doing and should do x, y and z immediately.  Clearly to some people the phrase ‘send me positive thoughts’ translates as ‘please give me your strong opinions.’  It hurt: I deleted the post.  Maybe I shouldn’t have done; but I felt wounded by the encounter and unwilling to risk more criticism.

Isn’t it a bit of an over-reaction to feel that way about a few words from someone I don’t even know?  But I don’t think I’m the only one – lately people are opening up less and less on Facebook.  There’s far less personal stuff (even good news can attract some nasty comments) and far more general information.  It’s a shame, but I understand it.  When even a support group turns out to harbour nastiness, where do you go for support?

All of this feeds into the trans debate.  Obviously there is abuse and that shouldn’t happen; but equally, the mildest of questions can trigger an incredibly aggressive response.  I recently had a debate with a F to M trans person who got very angry with me for asking questions and not simply accepting their view of things.  They were rude and aggressive and when I’d had enough and signed out, saying I’d tried to debate respectfully, they said I’d failed.  Well at least I tried, I thought.

Sometimes Facebook feels like a highly dysfunctional household where you have to keep your thoughts to yourself because anything you say can and will be misconstrued.

And yet every time I think of leaving there’s something that pulls me back.

Kirk out



Filed under Facebook, friends and family, philosophy, politics