Tourette’s Syndrome by Proxy

This was an idea I had a while ago: about a condition where someone makes other people swear involuntarily.  I’ve known quite a few people with this condition, and I think probably most politicians have it too.  I’m not sure what treatments are available, as diagnosis is still in its early stages, but it sure is a problem: I swore at the radio three times this morning, which means that three different broadcasters have Tourette’s by proxy…

I’m making slow progress with the rose hips.  I made the mistake of choosing hips from a dog-rose bush; these are quite small and topping-and-tailing them has taken me hours.  I shall wait and get some from the garden I think.

One of the things that makes me swear at the radio (apart from the usual political reasons) is what John Humphrys calls the ‘mangling and manipulation’ of the English language.  I particularly hate the wrenching of nouns into verbs; one such horror that seems to have crept into the language is ‘to gift’.  It’s entirely unnecessary: if you give something, it’s already, automatically a gift!  QED.  I also heard ‘writing out’ the other day from one of the banks who’d just been caught out in the typical things that banks do (I can’t even be bothered remembering what it was).  ‘We are writing out to customers,’ the man said, without a shred of embarrassment.  ‘No, you’re not!’ I shouted.  ‘You’re writing to customers!’

And please, please please can everybody chill (ho ho) about Baked Alaskas?  Baking should be fun, shouldn’t it?  What is the point of making it so competitive?  It’s ridiculous.  And I DON’T CARE!!!

Oh, and can anyone tell me what I’m doing at the Crumblin’ Cookie for Everybody’s Reading Week?  My name is on there but I don’t remember offering to do anything…

Kirk out


St George Wasn’t British, I’m not Deaf and Liam Neeson isn’t God. Apparently…

Well, happy St George’s Day if that means anything at all to you – which it certainly doesn’t to me: especially since St George was, by all accounts, from somewhere in modern Turkey and not from Guildford at all.  Goodness only knows where the dragon was from.  Perhaps Mark knows?

But Mark is busy talking to the woman from BBC radio 4’s ‘Feedback’ programme.  I was all a-ferment when she rang, wondering what it could be about.  Apparently it was in response to his complaint about yesterday’s ‘PM’ and 6 0’clock news.  Having switched PM off during an extremely long discussion about the next Manchester United manager, we put on the news only to be confronted with a seven-minute-long!!! item about the very same thing!  This is NOT NEWS!  I don’t give a flying f*ck about football, but whether I do or not, it’s not bloody news!  England winning the world cup; Andy Murray winning Wimbledon – yes, that’s news: but the next effing manager of an effing football team does not deserve seven full minutes of a half-hour programme.  So listen to ‘Feedback’ on Friday and you might hear Mark ranting about it.
So yesterday was otherwise quite restful: in between Spanish sessions I watched ‘Becoming Jane’ followed by ‘Jamaica Inn’.  Now, i have been slightly worried on occasion by my hearing; but during the latter I became convinced that I was going deaf.  I couldn’t hear a word of the dialogue apart from a few snatches; and since Daniel has wrested his X-box from our control, I have no access to subtitles either.  So I was getting quite worried until this morning on a thankfully football-light ‘Today’ programme they revealed that the sound quality was awful!  Apparently no-one could hear it, and vast swathes of the populace were, like me, convinced that they were going deaf.
But what about Rev, eh?  I didn’t see that one coming!  I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it but bloody hell!  And I’m sure that was Liam Neeson as God, but he wasn’t credited.
Who is this God person anyway?
Kirk out
PS and come down to the Donkey tonight where I’m doing some poems for World Book Night.

Spread a Little Misery…

No book reviews this morning as I am still working my way through the unbelievably turgid ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’.  This is the second time I’ve read this very disappointing novel, and I think I posted a review the first time.  Hmm – seems I did, but I posted it on Amazon and not here.  Oh well.  I know I called it a ‘turkey’ and this time around I’m liking it slightly more – but only slightly.  The narration is still turgid, the characters flat and the historical references unbelievably clunky.  But I’ll save the full heat of my ire until I’ve finished.

Meanwhile, as I listen to Gillian Clarke the National Poet of Wales on Desert Island Discs, I will share with you a thought.  It’s simple but profound, and it’s this: every day we need certain things to sustain us.  Food and drink, obviously; shelter and warmth, definitely; love and companionship, certainly.  However it struck me again this morning as it often does, that something else we need is some Good News.  No, this isn’t the beginning of an evangelistic rant, so don’t run away: I mean literally that we need some good news in our lives; and the news media very very rarely answers that need.  This morning as I was listening to ‘Today’ on radio 4, they began an item on vulnerable girls being abused in Rochdale by Pakistani men, and how these girls were let down by all the agencies who should have helped them.  This is not by any means the first time that this story has come up, and it’s depressing in more ways than I can count: the vulnerability of the girls and their need for attention which drew them to the men in the first place: the terrible patriarchal attitudes that often prevail in the Pakistani community; the restrictive practices of traditional marriage which lead them to marry their first cousins despite the inadvisability of this; the tendency of the police and social workers to believe the articulate and middle class and ignore the uneducated and poor: I could go on and on.  When I hear such a story I feel a mixture of sadness and anger, coupled with a desire to do something – but there’s nothing I can do, so it leaves me with this welter of emotion which I can’t do anything about.  So instead of continuing to listen, I took the radical gesture of turning the radio off.  What can I listen to instead? I asked myself.  And I came up with this:

And I felt much better.

Kirk out

Yes! It’s Lizardyoga’s Weblog’s 5-year Anniversary!

I got a funny little icon at the top-right corner of my page when I logged on this morning.  On examination it turned out to be congratulations from WordPress – because!!! today is the fifth anniversary of the start of this blog!!!

When I began it I had no clear idea of what I would write about – and now that I’ve been writing a daily post for all that time, I still have no clear idea of what Lizardyoga’s Weblog is about – but it’s that not-knowing which has been, for me, the blog’s greatest strength.  I’m sure that, had I limited myself to one field of interest, one topic, one area of research or activity or belief or philosophy – I would have run out of things to say before the week was up.  Most blogs are about something: Home Education or Writing or Politics or Following Someone’s Diet: they are often very personal and have a limited scope.  There’s nothing whatever wrong with this: such blogs often perform a very useful service for the community they involve,  in disseminating information or providing a forum for debate or supporting others in similar situations: but if I followed that approach I knew I would almost instantly run out of ideas.

This blog for me was an extension of what used to be my diary: I have boxes and boxes full of A4 notebooks upstairs containing these diaries, going back to the 1980’s – and the strength of these was for me the ability to write about whatever I wanted: I could fill them with fragments of poems or philosophical discourses or ideas on the state of the EU or reviews of pubs or fragments of dialogue – or anything!  And so it is with this blog: though I tend to plan posts a little more nowadays, I still have the freedom to write about absolutely Anything: whatever happens to be running through my mind as I sip my morning tea and listen to the Today programme, can become the basis of that day’s post.  Of course I put personal stuff on here as well, but I have been able to write on religion and politics, poetry and prose, philosophy and music, home education and much, much more.  I have reviewed books and discussed TV and films; I have analysed poems and delineated characters in a novel; I have dissected the political issues of the day and resurrected Kings of England by proxy as well as discussing where they should be buried.  And much, much more….

Of course, such strength can also be a weakness – and since Lizardyoga’s Weblog can’t be put into any category it has no natural and immediate audience.  It also generates relatively few comments, though I would like to thank those who have taken the time to comment, either here or on Facebook, on what I have written.  But it’s certainly true that if this were a Home Ed blog I’d have a loyal following of Home Educators; if it were a political blog I would have vociferous supporters and equally vociferous detractors; were it a blog purely about writing I’d have a following composed of writers and readers.  Sticking to one theme means that people know what you’re about and become more engaged with what you’re saying.

But there you are: that’s the way I’ve done it, and looking back I don’t think I could have chosen any other way.  This blog has been great for me, particularly in the dark days when I felt I couldn’t write a single word – because at the end of that day I knew that if I’d done nothing else, I would have at least written a blog post.

So if you’ve been with me since the beginning I’d like to say a huge thanks; likewise if you’ve commented then thanks also.  I think Mike – or Spock – as my most regular commentator, deserves a mention; and it would be nice to have more comments so please drop me a line even if it’s only to say you liked the blog.  Or didn’t.  Or you could call me a fat, bourgeois bohemian as one spammer recently did.  Go on – I could do with a laugh…

Happy five-year anniversary to all,

Kirk out

You Can’t Get the Staffs These Days…

With any decent organisation you need to know the answer to the question, who’s in charge here?  In other words, where does the buck stop?  Who takes responsibility when there’s a cock-up?

And the answer is, the managers – and more specifically, the Chief Executive.  As far as I’m concerned managers are paid more because they are expected to Take Responsibility – and that includes resigning when a cock-up occurs on their watch.  Whether or not it was of their doing, they are responsible because they are in charge.  And not so long ago, it seems to me that people resigned as a matter of course, because not to do so was considered unacceptable.  Take Mid-Staffs: along with a number of people I have been utterly disgusted lately by the response to the investigation into the Mid-Staffs Hospital.  People have died; patients have been neglected to an unbelievable extent, standards of care were so low that it would probably have been overtaken by a cottage-hospital in rural Africa, an investigation has cracked all this wide open, and what do we find?  The Chief Executive burbles on the radio about being ‘very sorry’ and how he really ‘does understand’ why people are so upset (that was yesterday) and today we have someone from the NHS Trust talking about how the Woman in Charge of Nurses (presumably what used to be called the Matron) was found to have ‘no case to answer.’  What?  WHAT?  She was being interviewed by Sarah Montague and I wished it had been John Humphrys as he would have torn her limb from limb: much as I like Sarah Montague’s non-confrontational style, there is a time when only kicking ass will do.  This woman should have been kicked out of the studio and then back in again, and so on until she explained exactly how someone who was in charge during these events can possibly have ‘no case to answer’. And then – surprise, surprise, she started to talk about ‘individual nurses’ who they are investigating.  In other words, no-one in authority is going to take the rap for this, only the ordinary nursing staff.  This sucks.  The Chief Executive should go (let’s face it, there should be no such thing as a Chief Executive in the NHS – it’s not a supermarket) and the Woman in Charge of Nurses should go.  And no bloody severance package.

So there you go.  That’s what I would have said this morning only I was too bloody exhausted to say it.

I hope to feel better tomorrow.

Kirk out

So, hum!

Well, who knew!  Apparently everything has a hum.  The yogis knew it and now the police know it – and they claim to be able to place, by date and TIME!!! – a recording of anything you like, according to the hum of the machines in the background.  Sounds like jiggery-pokery to me – but still, that’s what the man said on the Today programme.  And it reminded me of the yoga idea that the universe hums – and that the sound you can make to get in touch with the universe and feel one with everything and all that fuzzy stuff, is a hum.  There are actually two ways you can do this.  You can chant OM (OM contains within it all creation, beginning, middle and end; as it is actually three sounds – A, U and M).  Or you can chant – or think – ‘So Hum’ (or ‘So Ham’.)  So hum means ‘I am’ – or, more precisely, ‘I am that which is’, and it mimics nicely the sound of the breath: ‘so’ for the in-breath, ‘hum’ for the out-breath.

Try it some time.  And then go to a pizza place and say, ‘can you make me one with everything?’


They’re dropping like flies this week – first Patrick and now Ravi.  Farewell then, Ravi Shankar, the best-known – and in fact the only known – sitar player in the West.  I first came across Ravi Shankar at the Concert for Bangladesh, where he played a set alongside George Harrison, Eric Clapton and many, many more: I still have the boxed set of that concert, which is unusual in having sides 1 and 6 on the same disc, followed by sides 2 and 5 and then sides 3 and 4.  This was because a lot of people had ‘stackable’ record players which dropped down a disc at a time.

I have a sizeable stack of Tomatoes pamphlets this morning – the e-version is coming but will be a few days as apparently I have to type the whole lot out again!


I’m going to need that beer tonight…

Kirk out

Where Was I?

For some reason yesterday’s post didn’t get published, so you get two today.  Last night, apart from the tennis where Murray was comfortably through his first-round match, I watched a documentary about ‘food’, called ‘The Men Who Made us Fat’.

This is what I call a ‘proper’ documentary: it assumes in the viewer not only intelligence but also a certain level of attention, unlike others of the genre which seem to feel the need to remind the viewer of what they’ve been saying every five minutes and to recap the entire premise of the programme every ten minutes or so.  This week’s episode focussed on the phenomenon of ‘super-sizing’ in take-away and fast-food outlets, and equated ‘multi-buys’ to this.  I’m not sure I entirely buy this (!) because with discipline you can make a 12-packet bag of crisps last as long as 12 individual packets would; however if you’re in a restaurant and have bought a mammoth ‘soda’, it won’t keep till tomorrow.  These sodas are quite horrifying – one giant one contained 50 spoonfuls of sugar.  50!  Incredible.  The programme appalled, but it also caused me to engage smug-mode, in that we do not buy any of this stuff: in fact it makes me feel ill to contemplate it.  Those small, sad, saggy burgers sitting lost in that depressing little polystyrene tub; fries which have no acquaintance with any root vegetable sit like pencils in a little pencil-case; a tiny ‘salad’ consisting of a few shreds of lettuce drenched in chemicals and drained of all flavour; all washed down (or around, or possibly up) by a fizzy sugary liquid in a container the size of a small nuclear missile and capable of causing about as much damage.  I have not the slightest desire to consume any of these ‘products’ – I find the entire process depressing and alienating, and the food revolting.  It is clear (if it wasn’t before) that the root of this is money; the desire to maximise profits.  I don’t want to go all Biblical on you but  you can clearly see here how attachment to money leads to all kinds of evil.

As a follow-up, there was a discussion on ‘Today’ which was straight out of ‘Yes Minister’ – the spokesman for the food industry must have been taking lessons from Sir Humphrey Appleby as he actually said that a tax on fattening foods might discriminate against cultures where portliness is admired.  Talk about scraping the barrel!  Quite entertaining:

It’s the item at 8.30.  Actually he appears not to have been – in name at least – a spokesman for the industry but he certainly came across like one.

Another interesting debate this morning, and one which threw up equally abstruse arguments, was that over the proposals to reform the House of Lords.  According to one person, having an elected chamber would ‘actually make it less democratic.’  Mm – I can’t follow that one.  Apparently David Cameron is going to ‘throw his whole weight behind the proposal.’  Always a ssuming a light wind doesn’t carry him away first – an ever-present danger in the Commons.  It’s on the same programme as above, around 8.10.

Kirk out

Not Today, Josephine…

According to the “Today” programme, there are morning people and evening people – well, we knew that – and that also applies to those working on the programme!  Imagine being an evening person on a show which goes out from 6 am and on which you have to start at 4.  You wouldn’t have an evening at all.  You’d barely be a person.  Apparently James Naughtie gets up at 3 am.

Can’t say I feel very enthusiastic about today (the day, not the programme).  I lost a story yesterday and have to reconstruct it from memory.  No, I didn’t keep a back-up – I’d stopped doing that as I ended up with lots of versions and couldn’t remember which was the latest.

But I’m going to now, OK?  So don’t post any comments saying “Duh!”.  Or the equivalent.

New philosophy group starting soon, hopefully.  Will probably try to get along.  I need to do more with my evenings.

Very Happy Thursday to all

Kirk out.

The Rest is History

Twelve years of my childhood were dominated by a chain-smoking piano teacher called K. Stuart Hart (I never found out what the K stood for) who left me with a persistent cough and some moments of real insight. “The rest”, he said, “is the most important note in music.”

Think about it

He’s right. Rests of all kinds have been edited out of our lives: “Sleep when you’re dead”; shop, bankand eat 24/7.


This has even reached the hitherto stately regions of the “Today” programme, natural pauses are edited out and sentences unceremoniously shoved end to end. Result? Hard to listen, harder to digest.

Rest and digest

We are in danger of bypassing our Parasympathetic Nervous System altogether.

So my slogan for today is,

Don’t just do something – sit there!

Try this:

Switch off all phones. Sit comfortably in a chair and close your eyes. Now picture yourself sitting on a beach. It’s very tranquil. The sun is shining, there’s a cool breeze. You can feel the warm sand underneath you, the cool breeze gently blowing across your skin. You can hear the sound of waves gently splashing on the shore. Repeat to yourself: I feel safe, secure and peaceful. I feel safe, secure and peaceful. I feel safe, secure and peaceful.

Stay there for a few moments.

Allow the positive feelings to stay with you.

Slowly bring your awareness back to your surroundings.

Open your eyes. Stretch.