Like Drinking? Like Thinking? Then You’ll Love Drink and Think

Once more I must remind you that tomorrow night is Drink and Think at the Ale Wagon.

This month the topic is ‘Should Drugs be a Matter for Choice or a Matter for the Law?’  OH is going to introduce the topic and will talk about prescription drugs, ‘recreational’ drugs and so-called ‘legal highs’.  He has strong views on this subject, but then he has strong views on just about anything, from coffee to the human rights act, so that doesn’t particularly distinguish it from any other topic.

You should come along.  Yes, Drink and Think is a philosophy discussion group, but it’s not specially academic or high-flown and anyone is welcome to come and join us.  There are usually about six or seven men and women who range from the abstract and intellectual to the very down-to-earth.  And then there’s the beer: the Ale Wagon sports several different real ales and since May is Mild Month they should have at least one type of mild on.

I have strong views on mild.  And tea, but particularly mild.  It aggrieves me that mild beer is seen as an old man’s drink when it is mostly very tasty and, as the name suggests, not too alcoholic.  And yet it has become so unfashionable, losing out to trendy lagers and strong bitters, that you can hardly find it.  My favourite is Banks’ Mild which hails from the Black Country.’s-fresh.aspx

I shall hope to find mild of some description tomorrow night.

See you there.

Kirk out

What a Swell Party That Was

Around fifty people came to wish us well in our new home. Thanks to you all and yah boo sucks if you didn’t, except of course if you were ill or unavoidably elsewhere.  Some people made a special effort even though they had other things on, so I was very touched by that. We had, from the Martyrs, Richard, Margaret, Debbie, Rosemary and Nina; from Home Ed circles Ceri, Rob and family and Yvette and Isaac, from Facebook Steve and partner; from philosophy Stephen and Jan, from round the corner Peter, from Scotland via Birstall, Andy and Lynne from poetry Carol and Mike, aka Spock, from France and Cornwall, Jan and Yvan (some good French conversation there) … let me see who else? The children had a bunch of friends over – oh yes, from round the corner, Andrew, from family Jonathan and Nerissa, and oh gosh, if I’ve forgotten anyone I apologise.

The music and poetry didn’t really happen although we had limericks later in the sunlounge, which was fun. Oh, and Steve said he liked the rest of my novel, so that was good.

There was oodles of wine and more than plenty of food, so that was all good. Thanks to all who came and to Mike for taking the photos. These will follow.

Today being my 57th birthday, I shall be mostly doing… nothing at all. (Now gasp and say, ‘no! You can’t be 57!’

Kirk out

Do Not Adjust Your Poet

That title, I have to say, has nothing whatever to do with today’s post: it just came to me in the middle of the night and I thought it would make a good title for a poetry collection.  Not, probably, the one I am assembling at the moment for a competition:

nor the one I am re-doing as a pamphlet which already has a title (The Ballad of the Bowstring Bridge) – but possibly a slightly whimsical or political collection.


A propos of that, I had a rather nasty comment on this blog yesterday.  Mostly commentators are polite, witty, respectful and interesting; but I do occasionally get the odd abusive comment.  These will not be published – and I will usually suggest to the commentator that if they would like to make their point again without being rude or insulting, I will be happy to publish it.

But! onwards and upwards… for Tuesdays are concerned with prose, and I have begun a non-fiction work which is a memoir of forgetting.  (LOL).  If this sounds a bit paradoxical, it illustrates the paradox of my life for the last five years since hitting (or being hit by) menopause.  I have forgotten everything: streets, routes, maps; people, people’s names, people’s children’s names; what I did yesterday, what everyone else did yesterday, what Katy did; what I watched last night, last week, last month – in short, my whole life is a continual forgetting.

I am interrupted by Mark asking if I can read Urdu.

‘Not in the slightest,’ I tell him.  Then I think for a moment.  ‘But I do know that the little dots are vowels,’ I say triumphantly.

‘No, they aren’t,’ he retorts.

See?  I don’t even know what I know.

Aaaand back to the post… so, it’s quite helpful to me to be writing this memoir and if, when it’s done, I can publish it, it will hopefully be useful to others.

One thing I do remember from yesterday is that at Philosophy we talked about Descartes (or ‘Day-cart’ as everyone seems to call him.)  My knowledge of Descartes was previously confined to one phrase – albeit in three different languages:

Cogito ergo sum

Je pense donc je suis

which of course in English means ‘I think therefore I am’.

Everyone knows that phrase.  But what I didn’t know was everything else he thought about consciousness – and now I can’t tell you what that was without referring to my notes.  Nope, I’ve looked and it’s too complicated to put on here.

Whilst we’re on the theme of prose, though, I was interested to hear that the winner this year of the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction was a biography of an Italian Fascist written in an experimental style.  The SJ prize is not known for being avant-garde, so I think the likelihood is that the experimental style is highly successful, so I’d be interested to read it.

Must go now as I’m trying to listen to Grayson Perry and that is not conducive to blog-posting.

Kirk out

Not Rose Hip Syrup

Good morning people! I am speaking to you quite literally from my bed this  morning, for we have a new tablet and hey! I can blog on it. Yesterday was a bit mixed:I failed to go to Philosophy as my brain went all fizzy and so I went home and rested for a while; then went to ‘You and me’ in the afternoon and Drink and Think in the evening where we discussed topics to take us up to Christmas.

I’m having a week off this week, since I’ve stormed my way through a draft of the novel I’ve been trying to write for a while – my own version of NaNoWriMo, if you will – and I now feel in need of a rest.  The novel is up to around 35,000 words, which is about a third of the required length, so that’s not bad.

This morning at the Crime Reading Group we are having an author visit: Rod Duncan who wrote the ‘Breakbeat’ novel I reviewed earlier, is coming to talk to us.  So that will be interesting.  Here’s the review:

I also caught, in between doing the compost, a radio discussion on Christianity in ‘Lord of the Rings’ and how it is less specific and more open to pagan interpretations, than the ‘Narnia’ series:

I’m also going to make rose hip wine.  There are TONS of rose hips about at the moment, and I hate the idea of wasting all that fruit, so I’ve found a recipe.  You have to gather them after the first frost, though, so I’ll have to wait a week or two.

Kirk out

Who ARE you?

I was thinking today about all of you, dear readers, and wondering where you are and how you are – and more than that, WHO you are.  As for me, I’m getting better, thanks for asking, but still not 100% as my energy is quite low.  I’m supposed to be going out today but we’ll see.  So, who are you?  Some of you I know personally – in fact I was gratified this morning to find that one of my readers had bought a book on my recommendation:  ‘Testament of Youth’ by Vera Brittain, which I blogged about the other day.  Some of you who are followers I’ve looked up and read bits of your blogs, and I know that you come from places as diverse as the US, Canada, New Zealand and Israel.  But who ARE you?  I’d really like to know.  And then when I’m blogging I can imagine I’m having a party here in my living-room and you guys are all sitting round and keeping me company.  And when you’re settled with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer and a canape (actually I have only the vaguest idea of what a canape is, so you’d probably have pizza slices or bits of carrot dipped in hummus) then I would ask you this: what is it that you like?  I mean, yes I know some of you ‘like’ my posts, in the Facebook sense (there’s a whole essay there, on the difference between liking and ‘liking’) and that’s good but I still don’t know WHY.  What is it you like about them?  What do you like about this blog?  Do you like discursive and philosophical articles?  Do you like book and film reviews?  Or do you just enjoy the banter between Mark and me as we sip our morning drinks?  Or is it the poetry and bits of fiction that you enjoy?  Or the off-beat observations?  The politics?  The culture?

Tell me.  I’d really like to know.  And if there’s anything you find dull – well, you can tell me that as well.

Oh, and speaking of banter with Mark, there was the usual three-way conversation this morning (you know, me, him and Him Upstairs: Mark and I pray together every morning about things which are on our mind and we find it very helpful.  Well, as you can imagine, we have been praying for some time now that things would improve work-wise and financially, and Mark gave it a twist this morning.  ‘Dear God,’ he prayed, ‘please help us to make some money before the shit hits the fan.’

Just thought I’d share that….

Over to you

Kirk out

Draught and Thought

There was a good second session of Drink and Think at the Ale Wagon last night on the topic of Free Will vs Determinism.  The group seemed to veer towards the determinism end of the scale, whether through a belief in genetic determinism, or in what I might sum up as ‘a combination of Sod’s Law and circumstances’.  However, at our end of the table we tended towards a belief that we have a spiritual dimension, and that free will predominates – though not exclusively – that we have a more than just a little ‘wiggle room’ within that combination of genes and circumstances and whatever else constrains us.  The subject has huge implications for any legal system, and we discussed some of these as, clearly there is no point and no justice in punishing people if they have no free will.

But hey, we can’t help it.


We also touched on the area of talent and levels of competence; and what happens in the mind when we are unconsciously competent and can seem to ‘go beyond’ ordinary consciousness into a state which I would define as meditation.

And that brings me to an area which we didn’t discuss, which is karma.  Many people identify karma with fate, ie something that happens to you and which you cannot alter.  My view – and the general yoga view – is almost the direct opposite of this: that karma is what you are given (or, if you believe in reincarnation, what your previous lives have given you) precisely in order that you may do something with it.  And that ‘doing something with it’ is in essence what you are here for.  In other words, your karma exists precisely in order for you to change it – or at the very least, to work on it.
One thing we did discuss – and in connection with which we might have quoted Hamlet:
‘there’s nothing either good nor bad,
but thinking makes it so’
– was the importance of perception; in other words, that a situation can be transformed by your perception of it.  Facts remain facts, but their meaning is changed according to who is looking.  So that, for example, the Gaza strip is an entirely different place to an Israeli and a Palestinian.  There wasn’t time to develop this idea very far but I’m a great believer in the power of visualisation to bring about change.  Even if it’s only a change in how I feel about a situation, that in itself is a huge advantage – as I was saying the other day about the person who moans continually about not having a car and then gets one, thereby finding a whole new stratum of things to moan about.
It’s the attitude that counts.  I firmly believe that.
Here endeth the lesson.
Today I shall be mostly… sharpening up some poems and getting a couple of other pieces ready to send off.
Kirk out


Trying to read last night and Mark was going on about biros.  Actually what he said was, if I was afraid of biros, would I think the world was a better place if they had never been invented.

‘Why would I be afraid of biros?’ I said.

‘No, that’s not the point.  Think of something you’re afraid of.’


‘No – something irrational.  Something that can’t harm you.’

‘There isn’t anything.’

‘Well, try to imagine something then.’

‘I can’t.’

I went back to my book, but would he let it go?  No, he kept on.  And I don’t even know why he wanted me to think about it.

Good day yesterday – church was good, came away with a couple of Tomato plants and ended up involved in compost.  I have a new wine kit which I shall start this week.   To Peter’s for yoga where we watched ‘Volver’, an Almodovar film of about 6 years ago.  Not his best, I thought – it had its moments but at 2 hrs 15 mins it felt very long and it seemed quite shapeless.  I had the same feeling about Penelope Cruz as I did seeing her in ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’, that her main concern was to be the centre of attention and to look ten times prettier than anyone else.  ‘Volver’ is a film of women – men are either dead or absent, and that gives it a ‘civil war’ feel, a feel intensified by the first scene which shows women in the pueblo cleaning and tending graves.  Aall the other women are extraordinarily plain, showing Cruz by contrast as extraordinarily pretty.  I found her quite irritating, and the story seemed to ramble on and come to an arbitrary end.  Still, it was good for my Spanish and I recognised a considerably older Carmen Maura from my days in Spain, though I did wonder for a while if she was Marisa Paredes.

Philosophy today.  Looking forward to it.  They are discussing privatisation of the NHS, which is not good at all.  Up to now, though I haven’t liked what they’ve done, I’ve been able to think ‘Labour would have done something similar.’  But that may change.  I may end up regretting voting for them.

That’s all for now.

Kirk out.

Weird weird weird

Relatively normal this morning, feeling weird this afternoon.  Went up to the chalet after philosophy.  Philosophy was good although the hijab didn’t happen as the leaders of the session hadn’t got it together so instead we had a round-up of whether animals are persons (inconclusive but interesting) and an intro to the topic of GM foods which was totally damning of the behaviour of the multinationals.  Monsanto came off the worst.  I am developing a Philosophy about all this – so watch this space!

Email from One & Other with a photo from the plinth.  It took me back.  I thought they were doing it again but it seems not.

But then I went to the chalet.  Felt exhausted so slept after lunch and ended up feeling really out of it.  Need to ground myself – but also have the urge to write so hard to know what to do.  Sometimes life feels like treading a tightrope.

Good to have the car even though I do end up feeling like a taxi some of the time.  Daniel wants me to collect Alex for a sleepover.  Then on Wdds I have a teaching practice assessment so have to get my head in gear for that.  At times it feels that the two halves of my character cannot coexist in one person.

My twins fight

like dog and cat

I cannot right

this ship of state

Can’t remember any more.  It was a poem I wrote a couple of years back.  Called ‘Gemini’.

I don’t believe at all in astrology predicting the future – but it does seem to have something to say about character.  I often read the stuff about Gemini and it makes sense.  Weird.  I don’t see why it should.

I’m rambling.  Will be spending an evening with Daniel watching videos.

Kirk out.

A bit manic today

You get two posts today because I’m feeling a bit manic.  Amazing the difference it makes, having two pots of tea instead of one in the morning (I woke up much twirly).

Trying to blog more about Home Ed as this is one of the blogs linked to Facebook for other home edders.  Today groups available were ‘baby science’ (can’t remember what they did but so far they’ve done an impressive variety of stuff including life cycles of various animals, insects and plants); older Science which they did in the park, and English, where they had to write a story which ended with the words ‘and that’s why I can’t eat shellfish’.  Daniel wrote half a story which looked promising and I want to read Holly’s also.  So a busy day!

Philosophy was good – we talked about Kant and utilitarianism and discussed the pros and cons of bankers’ bonuses.  It’s interesting to be put in the position of defending something you believe to be wrong – as lawyers do.  Not that I was – I was on the other side.  My arguments were as follows:

Bankers’ bonuses are unfair on bankers, for two reasons.  Firstly, because they have to take these huge bonuses whether they want to or not – and if they don’t, their mates will mock them and say ‘Who do you think you are, making out you’re better than us?’  Secondly, it is very bad for them because it isolates them from society and from the wider world. Ironically, in a free market, they are not free because of their attachment to money – and they don’t realise they are not free.

A little clumsily-expressed but it’s a work in progress.

On the radio they’re talking about QR codes.  I seem to think I blogged about Mark’s failure to explain these.

Yes!  Last summer:

I think it would be great to have an internet group for the philosophy.  Sadly I can’t see the tutor going for it, partly because some people would be excluded, partly because she’s something of a technophobe, but also – perhaps mainly – she’s a bit of a control freak.

Oops!  Did I say that?

Hyperspace calls

Kirk out

BTW if any philosophy people are interested the poem I quoted from was Wm Blake, Auguries of Innocence