Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mistletoe and Wine

Happy Holidays
Seasons Greetings
Happy Non-Denominational Winter Festival



In all seriousness - enjoy the holidays: drinkingeatingarguingdiscussinggivingreceivinglovinghatingsmilingcryinghugginghittingwatching

Love everyone.

This post was brought to you by Sir Cliff Richard (am I the only one who thinks he's dodgy?)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ich bin Ein Auslander

Sometimes I think my opinions make me a foreigner. Or perhaps someone who is flying the flag for the great British Eccentric.

OK sometimes I know my views can be a bit different; challenging maybe. That's why I have this blog so I can write and say what I want and think.

I've been thinking a lot about the two things: Dawkins' book The God Delusion (very interesting reading), and 'reality tv' in general what with being surrounded and force-fed the media frenzy surrounding X-Factor (total shit) and Strictly Come Dancing (less shit, but still shit).

First up, I did end up seeing both the final of X-Factor, and Strictly Come Dancing too. I'm not sure if it's something to be proud of...I actually know who Rhydian, Leon and Same Difference actually are...and who Alesha Dixon is...do I have my finger on the pulse of popular culture or what?

I also watched a programme I'd heard about, but I think it's slipping under the radar a bit...Arrange Me a Marriage is another bit of tv my wife and I thought we'd watch...and shout about.

In fact I totally agree with the premise of Arrange Me a Marriage, and it's something I did myself, and I tell single friends. The idea of the programme is that when choosing a new car, tv, or computer we check the reviews, we create what we require, we get recommendations...and then we choose...because it's a big choice. Surely when choosing a life partner it's not a choice that should be left to chance...meeting someone in a club or on a train...we need to check everything out, and (to paraphrase Obi-Wan) create our own luck.

That's what I did...I created what I wanted...I did a lot of thinking, creating and wondering...and then went out and had fun searching. I didn't settle for anything less than 100%. I found her, then I married her. She's great.

And that's how God works...I don't think of God as something that exists outside us. It surrounds us, binds us and penetrates us (again to paraphrase Obi-Wan) - a bit like the Force. It's something we create, but we are still learning about. Our understanding is still limited. The great Arthur C. Clarke said "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Perhaps God could be thought of as some very advanced technology. Jesus understood the nature of God - which is why he was so interesting - he walked the talk...

Science and religion are not incompatible. But how we think about science and religion requires a different paradigm. Technology also isn't just about physical existence. The idea of technology can be applied to how we use language (if you know me, you'll know where I got this idea from...) to create new ways of understanding (aka possibilities...)

When we truly understand how magnificent we can be, we'll understand just how close we are to understanding God. Language gives us the gift of creation.

In the beginning was the word...remember?

This post has been brought to you by PWEI

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Closer

Married life

I've been asked about this so many times...usually by people who are not married.

Here's my answer.

The good things are a hundred times better...

...and the bad things are a hundred times worse.

Onwards and upwards.

This post has been brought to you (yet again) by NIN

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

No-one said it would be easy

Well.

It's been a very long time.

And so much has happened since I last posted...I've got married and been on honeymoon, entered my second year as a fully-qualified teacher, learned how ambivalent I am about myself, recaptured my love of guitar, reminisced about university years, learned about Africa, and completed community (leadership) service.

Even more interesting is the fact that people around me have mentioned that I haven't written for ages. I take this to mean that they actually read it. Which I then extend to mean that they might even enjoy reading my musings.

Very cool!

So, thank you for reading so far, and I'll get on with the post proper...just to warn you though, it is going to be a long one - and it'll cover the (seven) areas mentioned above...(I did think about posting lots of separate posts, but the title pretty much covers it all).

Where to start...uhhhh - oh yes...

--------------------------
1) Marriage
Quite a few of the people who read this are likely to have been to the wedding (especially as this automatically links to my facebook profile) but the day was brilliant. It was full of wonderful emotions and general happiness.

I remember it feeling quite surreal the night before - I was helping decorate the venue with my best man and another friend (wedding planner). We were there until 10pm (which is not that late, based on what others have told me about some weddings!) and then went home...to watch Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels with beer and snacks (no I wasn't drinking). My best man and I were explaining the intricacies of East London gang-speak to my sister's Hawaiian-based boyfriend who had flown over for the wedding...

...we didn't make it through the whole film because i) we were quite tired and ii) my incessant quoting, and best man's mimicry probably didn't help a first-time watcher's comprehension...but it's still an awesome film.

My best man had a full English breakfast cooked for us the next morning...but we had an errand to complete...white ribbon tied to the lamp-posts from the church to reception venue...which turned out to be a stroke of genius for everyone moving from one place to the next!

It was then getting ready. Brother-in-law to be and cousin-in-law (ushers) to be arrived and we were then getting ready...I'm still proud of getting ready in about twenty minutes...and that includes sculpting the facial hair (even looking at the pictures now, I'm chuffed with the defined beard and sideburns).

As we were leaving, my best man managed to rip his jacket...I thought it was hilarious...but when we arrived at the church my aunt was on on hand to do a quick repair job...

...we started at 2pm on the dot (I remember seeing my grandad checking his watch, and I felt a certain satisfaction...none of this fashionably late bullshit...start as we mean to go on) and the day went really well...



Here are the top-ten stand out moments...in chronological order
i) seeing how wonderful she looked
ii) actually putting on 'teacher-voice' for my wedding vows
iii) processing down the aisle at the end of the ceremony to the throne room music from Star Wars: A New Hope (I nearly had a tear in my eye)
iv) quoting Gandhi in my speech
v) everyone telling us how much they enjoyed the food
vi) my eighty-eight year old grandad singing Konkani songs
vii) dancing...
viii) ...to 'Raining Blood' by Slayer and 'Walk' by Pantera
ix) seeing my mum and dad dancing/ jumping to 'Jump Around' by House of Pain
x) everyone's varied, emotional and wonderful smiles throughout the day

The honeymoon was amazing too...the most indulgent and excessive holiday I've ever been on - all inclusive drinks, sun, sea, sand...and other couples on honeymoon! We met two other couples who got married on the same day as us - we're in touch with one of them through the wonders of facebook! It was a relief to meet some people who knew what we'd been through...planning the wedding, family politics - swapping and sharing stories made us feel better.

It's true what people say...the whole experience does go really quickly...and yet slowly at the same time. I loved it...

2) Teaching
It's still the most hilarious job in the world...I love teaching, and I want the best for the boys I teach. A-level Psychology has gone from four students to thirteen, and GCSE business studies from twelve to thirty-five. A-level business studies has always been healthy. My form are as mad and wonderful as ever.

And yet...

My life has changed. My priorities are changing. I gotta think about developing myself...and well, it's hard to see those opportunities where I am right now. In teaching, typically, it's a choice between a subject-based career path or pastoral (the second one is more of a 'social' role - typically as a Head of Year). Having just had my review, my choices are opening up...one part of me thinks that the subject route would be better - I like both business and psychology at a-level...yet the other side of me likes the idea of managing a year group - not the younger ones, but the older ones - year 12 and 13.

I know that if I don't choose, life will choose for me, and I'll end up dissatisfied, and bored...and then all sorts of silliness starts...like leaving things to the last minute to make my life 'interesting' and 'busy'.

So the time is coming for choosing.

And yet...there are still other niggling thoughts. My career path hasn't been conventional in any sense; part of me still wonders if I should leave teaching to get a job that pays more. Perhaps then I'll have the financial resources to start a family; to take proper care of my wife; to enjoy holidays; to do nice things for my family; to own a nice car; to buy a bigger house.

Money = Happiness right?

Or would that be selling my soul?

3) Ambivalence
I've observed that my general level of temper and anger has increased. I have shouted and 'seen red' more times in the last six months that in the previous ten years. As I've mentioned before about turning inward...it's happening a lot. I'm finding it much easier to comfort and shelter myself in a cocoon of resignation, rather than deal with life. I'm so much more volatile than I used to be. My usual sense of calm and trusting the world around me has fallen away. I'm familiar with the volatility though, from my younger days as a drama-queen.

It leads to certain negative thoughts/ actions about myself.

Perhaps the best example of this is the lack of care I demonstrate about my body. I do the odd session of Pilates, but the nonsense I put into my body. Comfort eating has become normal...I'm not suggesting I have an eating disorder, but I can certainly see how my consumption of food is influenced by my mood.

Other people have alcohol and drugs.

I have food.

The truth is, underneath the everyday pretentiousness that everyone uses to get through the day, underneath the smiles and posturing, underneath the intellectual vanity, I don't like myself. That's the core thought/ idea/ truth.

I know the truth.

And it seems I'm not alone in this.

Dramatic? Yes. Irresponsible? Certainly. How I feel 100% of the time? Not really.

It's more a subtle background contextual thing. A general unhappiness with myself that rears its ugly head every so often into something more nasty.

I can only call it the Dark Side.

It's something I didn't think would happen to me. What makes it worse is that I know I'm doing it - I'm actually conscious to it.

But I can't be bothered to do anything to address it. My shelter of resignation, indifference, and ambivalence is the path of least resistance; keeping people happy and not upsetting the boat is more important.

Am I selling my soul yet again?

4) Guitar
Cutting through the mood of that last section is the (re)ignition of my guitar skills. Playing guitar is one time I'm truly experiencing something amazing. I am lost in the moment. I've been practising according to Steve Vai's ten hour workout (not that I do it for ten hours - I'm averaging about 45mins per day) - and I'm seeing progress.

There's this one string skipping exercise I've been trying to nail for a couple of years - and I can now do it...and it's getting faster. Nothing like a metronome to get me going...I'm even playing Metallica at 180 bpm with all downstrokes (for the uninitiated - that means I'm playing very fast!)

I'm loving it - I can feel the flexibility and expression flowing; I've not felt it consistently since I was about 21. The next step is going to be converting it into songs and other ideas. Perhaps the well of cynicism/ discontent/ anger/ hate/ resignation that's permeating my consciousness is giving rise to a more positive expression through music.

Who knows? But it's when I experience the most happiness.

Please don't let it end.

5) University
At the beginning of November, the magic four met up in Wolverhampton for a night of clubbing...and it was a trip down memory lane! It reminded me of what I was like ten years ago...and how much I worried about my body then - but how much weight I've put on since. In fact two of us have, and two of us haven't...and yet at the same time, seeing each other was as if everything was the same!

The easy understanding and camaraderie; the flowing conversation; the natural roles we took on; the ridiculous dance moves, and most of all, the bringing out of the worst and best in each of us...

Three of us are married, and in chatting and reminiscing, I realised that I'm as human as they are. I often felt inferior to the others (for whatever reason) but it dawned on me that they
might go through similar things too...we're just humans. So much has changed in the twelve years we've known each other...yet sometimes it feels like the blink of an eye.

It brought a sense of my own mortality, and yet how much each moment is there to be enjoyed.

I also nailed some of my old major moves on the dancefloor...

6) Africa
I started it during the summer holidays, but it's taken me until November to complete it...The State of Africa is a totally amazing read. It's made more interesting because my parents were born on the continent. It was fascinating learning so much about a place that I've only been dimly aware of. Until reading this book, Africa in my consciousness was associated with words like "unstable", "famine", "aids", "genocide", and "diamonds"...it was interesting to find out about how much optimism there was when the first countries got independence just over fifty years ago...optimism not something I would immediately associate with the place...I'm someone that grew up in the 80s, and Michael Buerk's B.B.C. reports on the famine in Ethiopia with the television pictures are forever etched on my brain...a far cry from the happy childhood my mother talks about...

The book charts every part of the continent: from Egypt and Algeria in the north to Liberia in the west and of course South Africa. It also outlines just how much of a mess the European colonisers left the continent...it really was a scramble for Africa; a raping of it's natural resources for the enrichment of the white-man (to put it crudely).

During the time I've read this book, I've also watched 'Blood Diamond' and 'Lord of War' two films that manage to explore the issues surrounding the continent without trivialising them (although the latter is examining the sale of arms on a more general level too).

I haven't been so enriched and enlivened by a book for a long time...and it's all thanks to a unversity friend who worked out there, and had brought it back to read...

It also made me think about how much (white European) people want to 'help' and think they are 'making a difference' but really are doing nothing more than making themselves feel better...(more in another post)

Since reading the book I've heard about OneWater a very interesting company that donates all its profits to water projects in Africa. They build roundabouts that are connected to boreholes...that are actually pumps...the more the kids play on the roundabouts, the more clean water is pumped up into storage tanks - genius!

Except this company has attracted so much attention from the other water companies that they're not happy and are trying to undermine what they're doing...(the guy who started it was presenting at a business conference I took the boys to last week...)

Also - I watched 'Black Hawk Down' really shows how nasty the situation gets for UN troops with a limited mandate, fighting for causes they don't really understand or give a shit about. It seems as if the west doesn't care about what's happening in Darfur...and the French Government knew what was going to happen/ was happening in Rwanda with Hutus and Tutsis and did nothing...in fact they supplied arms...nice eh?

Reading such a consciousness-raising book makes me realise how interdependent and connected we all are, how much opportunity we have to sort things out, and just how we're fucking it all up.

There is enough food to feed everyone on the planet, but still people die of starvation every day because we cannot share.

7) Community
Some people in my life are happy that my time with YLGS has officially ended. I mean purely in the sense that I've stepped down as MD.

It's something I founded, put together, ran and grew.

It's something that's brought a lot of joy, and made a lot of difference to a lot of people.

And something that's really pissed off some other people...but I think they're happy now yay!

I've learned so much about the Goan community, and about people in general. Reading Nelson Mandela's autobiography, and doing the Landmark Forum (yes it does fucking work!) was what started the whole thing. I couldn't have predicted it would balloon into such a community - although that was my intention from the beginning!

To be taken seriously by older people within one's own cultural community; to know that your actions are directly benefiting hundreds (and many more indirectly); to have the space to be oneself; to have a project that challenges one to keep going regardless; and to create something that has a future...well that's quite good really.

It hasn't really sunk in...I've got my last committee meeting next week. At the beginning of December we had our Christmas party - the last one with me on the committee - and I was in a strange space...the faces, the questions, the people I like (tolerate/ don't like etc.)

It's been emotional.

So with the more time I'll have, writing songs, my blog, poetry, and maybe some fiction will be the order of the day.

Something for myself.

--------------------------

This post reflects the ups and downs over the last half a year...I've not been particularly happy with things a lot of the time, and I've not told many people. The important people know. (Ironically on Facebook, I've been voted happiest!)

I think it's mainly due to the disturbance in the Force earlier this year...Eraser...Fragile...

But you know what they say...onwards and upwards.

J.

This post was brought to you by Sheryl Crow

Friday, August 03, 2007

Life is a rollercoaster

Have you been on Oblivion at Alton Towers? Check the pic.

I've discovered/ created that preparing for a wedding is like that ride.

You wait in a long queue. The anticipation begins to build. You hear the screams of on the ride. Is that terror? Is that delight? You think you have ages to wait.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the queue gets shorter. You realise your time is coming.

The screams are louder. You hear the sound of the machinery. People shuffle along without much thought - like animals being led to the abbatoir - there is no escape. There is nowhere to go but forward, onward and upward. You look up and see the structure of the ride. You hope that the seats hold you in firmly. You hope there's no chance of getting hurt...in fact you just put your faith in logic and say "it's safe, they've tested it, it'll all be ok - it's entertainment, and I've paid for it".

Despite that, your heart rate increases slightly.

Now you can see people getting off the ride. The cars pull in. Someone gets off, and their legs crumple. Are they joking? Or is it really like that? The heart rate increases another notch. Is that excitement or fear?

Hmm...you've heard someone say that the physical expressions of excitement and fear are exactly the same - it's only the interpretation of those physical expressions that differ.

You tell yourself it's excitement - yes it's excitement.

And now you feel the rush of air as the cars go by. You're next.

Seconds later (or is that minutes?) - it's back. Palms are a little sweaty now. You smile to the person and group of people you're with. You ask yourself if it's a real smile, or if it's there to cover up something. How are you really feeling?

You walk on and take your place. Is that noise the machinery around you or your heartbeat in your eardrums? It doesn't matter. You sit down, and pull down the mechanism. Questions flow through your mind: will it keep me secure? Will I be ok? Will everything stay in my pockets? Should I put some stuff over there with the bags? Will my eyes pop out of my head because I'm wearing contacts? Will I throw up? Will someone throw up over me? How fast does this go? How safe is this ride? Have there been any documented cases of people dying on roller-coasters?

You're strapped in. There really is no going back now. You smile wanly at the person you're with. They make a joke. You make a joke. You're ok. Really -you're ok. You tell yourself you're ok. You hear a clunk, and the ride starts to move. More questions running like a ticker-tape through your head: shall I put my hands in the air? Am I too scared? Shall I scream at the top of my voice to hide how scared I am and make out like it's a joke and I'm enjoying it? Am I going to enjoy it?

You think about what the person you're with is thinking. Are they as scared as you? You heard from someone somewhere that everyone's scared of everyone else - that's the great big cosmic joke...but who gives a shit about that? THIS IS ONLY A ROLLER-COASTER RIDE!

The ride starts it's climb to the peak. You know what's coming. Or you think you know what's coming. Your imagination has played it over in your head. You've seen what the ride does and how people have reacted. You've seen how people have come off the ride.

And then it hits you. Actually - you've no idea what's going to happen.

But you tell yourself - this is only a ride. What could possibly go wrong?

And the ascent continues. And you think you know what's coming...

Yep - that's where we're at now. That's what it's like when you're on oblivion...I mean planning a wedding.

In my imagination - and from what all the people I know who've got married in the last five years have told me - the day goes really fast and it's exciting, and scary, profound and profane all at once.

Just like oblivion.

If you've seen the film Parenthood - you'll know how perceptive the older generation can be - the closing sequence when all hell is breaking loose onstage at the school play - and the camerawork pans as if they're on a roller-coaster...its exhilarating and scary at the same time.

That's what I'm talking about! If preparing a wedding is like that...well what's married life and beyond going to be like?

Fuck it - bring it on.

J.

PS OK OK OK! I know this post has been brought to you by Ronan Keating (bleurgh) but the sentiment expressed is perfectly captured by this song...and it's not like he wrote it...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Friends will be friends

Not to get too cheesy, but getting married is a big deal.

I've also learned a lot about friendship during this process. I mean - being a friend is different from being in an intimate relationship, or being part of a family. I can exercise choice over my friends. It's heightened even more with the phenomenon of social networking sites...Myspace and Facebook present a whole new way of ignoring/ embracing people.

But actual friendship is interesting. My recent stag do (and impending marriage) has made me think about this. My stag do was wonderful - and what was interesting was the fact that there were a lot of people there who I hadn't seen for months - years even.

But it didn't feel like that! Perhaps because those friendships were formed in my early years, but I like to think it's something more than that. Even though we were all older, and our lives were moving in different directions, there was a shared understanding and communication that made the whole day really worthwhile.

It's all very well getting drunk on a stag do (I didn't - although I was drinking...and tipsy!) but I think that misses the point. I wanted to make sure that everyone who came along knew why they were there, and had the chance to mingle with some other people.

I felt it worked really well...it felt a little strange that everyone was gathered there purely because of me, but it was nice.

What's also interesting, is that we've got someone helping us with the wedding (a professional events planner) who got back in touch with us through facebook! An old friendship was rekindled - but only after a conversation to clear the air and get to nothing.

So here I am - thinking about what friendship means.

It means being able to say anything to someone
It means no-holds barred: the good, the bad, the ugly
It means saying what there is to say
It means always finding a way
It means valuing the silence and the space between
It means always understanding what they mean
It means never giving up
It means forgiving and clearing up
It means getting together
It means having to remember
It means respect
It means getting to nothing...
...and everything

I've been told before that I have no friends. That's not what I experience, but it will take something to maintain.

Love everyone right?

J.

This post was brought to you by Queen

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'm only Happy when it Rains

The weather leaves much to be desired. Whatever happened to the great British summer? It's July, and I should be struggling to wear my black suit/ black shirt/ black tie combo to school every day - but I'm not at all.

Perhaps this is all a result of climate change?

I'm sure the rain isn't always bad, but it really is my least favourite weather. Purely because I wear glasses. No-one has invented any practical automated-glasses-wipers...not practical I suppose.

I hope this weather doesn't last until August. That wouldn't be good for my fiancee and I.

Still, I have my stag-do to look forward to. The hen-party has been and gone. Good fun it was - the pictures were all over facebook. People have asked me if I was particularly concerned about the hen-party and what could happen. I wasn't particularly. I know I trust her. And she trusts me.

We also know that neither of us is perfect. My mother talks about compromise. Blair talks about a Third Way. I prefer the Stephen Covey concept of synergy - 2+2=5. I like to think that's how our relationship is - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

It's interesting noticing other people's relationships too. Everyone is at different stages. As a human I can't help but compare: young married couple, my parents, couples who have been together one year, couples where the people live on different continents...all sorts.

I think that what keeps a relationship going is continual expansion of the commitment. I was having this discussion with my best man. Well I suppose it was less of a discussion than me stating my opinion...hehehe...

What I mean is, that unless the people in a relationship are expanding the commitment, it will die. I think that's why things stagnate for people. Or fizzle out. I've applied this understanding to what I've been doing. Getting engaged was an expression of a commitment. We are always moving forward. Buying the flat was the next stage, planning and getting the wedding sorted is the next stage.

After that - well - we'll expand. We're always looking forward.

I also think that to get the most out of my relationship, we have to be doing this thinking and looking forward consciously. It's not like it 'just happened'. Everything I have, started as my own creation - including all the bad stuff...hahaha!

Creating and moving forward consciously is the ultimate freedom...I can't remember where I read that.

So really, it doesn't matter how the relationship is structured - you could be on different sides of the planet - but if the commitment is growing, and it's looking to the future - anything is possible.

I also remember hearing about someone called Louise Hay from a friend. I've been seeing how my diet really affects my health - but not in the usual way. I mean how it affects my asthma. Normally, I put my asthma down to what's going on outside: dust, pollen, sun, rain, humidity - whatever.

I never stop to consider it might be what I'm putting in that's causing it.

I noticed that when I reduced the carbs I ate, and increased protein and non-starchy veg...I felt soooooo much better (pretty much in keeping with what I'd read about metabolic typing).

Now apart from what I'm putting in, the Louise Hay thing relates my thoughts to my body...

...sounded a bit radical, but her suggestion is that every single thought takes on a physical expression in the body. For example...apparently back-pain can be a result of feeling you don't have support.

So...my asthma has been playing up. Traditionally, the changes in weather etc. would be the explanation.

But I can't help but think a little deeper...my diet, and my state of mind.

Maybe I feel suffocated and pressured? Unable to speak and not listened to or valued? Controlled? Over-burdened? Am I holding back?

I wonder what circumstances I might be allowing to dictate my state of mind? Anyone would think I've got some big event happening later this year...

I keep saying it, but there was a distinct shift in my health after the events at the end of May. I know there are things I haven't confronted, and that's what's keeping it going. Yes my state of mind is affecting my health. Who would have thought it?

Summer is going to be interesting.

J.

This post was brought to you by Garbage

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This Love
















NO...MORE...HEAD...TRIPS





















This post was brought to you by Pantera - metal at some of its finest.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Just

If I've been invited to an event/ party/ gathering whatever at a bar, I expect the people who have organised it to be there to meet and greet the first people who arrive.

Especially if I have been specifically urged and requested to get there at a particular time because there is a reserved area.

Is that too much to ask?

So when I turn up at the requested time, to an empty venue, and on my own, what am I left thinking?

Pretty fucking useless.

People are looking for a familiar face when they go into a venue for the first time. They're looking for familiarity - I know I do! I'm expecting to see someone I know.

Also - if someone says they're going to turn up, is it too much to actually expect them to turn up? Am I the only one that thinks it's pretty fucking rude to say you'll be somewhere and then not turn up?

You do it to yourself/ You do/ And that's what really hurts

I don't know whether to laugh or cry for Goans and their behaviour.

J.

This post was brought to you by Radiohead

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tire Me

[Tirade of the tired]

I am tired.

Tired of madness,
Tired of sadness,
Tired of looking good,
And looking bad.

Tired of wanting,
Tired of wilting,
Tired of feeling like I ought to do something.

Tired of feeling,
Tired of feeling - like the world is against me/you/ us/ them/ humanity.
Tired of debating the existence of God.

Tired of badness, and evil.
Tired of goodness, and truth.
Tired of being right, making wrong, dominating, justifying
Tired of loving, relating, accepting, and compromising.

Tired of avoiding,
Tired of confronting,
Tired of smiling,
Tired of frowning.

Tired of pretentiousness and overwrought self-pity,
Tired of blandness and fake generosity,
Tired of arrogance, righteousness, and chronic fatigue.

Tired of claiming the truth.

Tired of leading,
Tired of creating,
Tired of inspiring,
Tired of praising.

I am tired of dying
one moment at a time.

Get busy living.

Then it ends.

J.

This post was brought to you by Rage Against the Machine They have a song called Tire Me on Evil Empire - check it out.

PS Check out tired.com

PPS http://www.slate.com/id/2103823/

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Another Version of the Truth

Year Zero. New NIN album.

It's good. It's urgent. It has a definite theme and structure to it.

It's also going to take more than one listen to get into. Sometimes the best albums do - 'OK Computer' by Radiohead took me a bit of time.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...I know I keep using NIN titles for my posts...but this one got me thinking (it's a track off the new album).

I've also watched the 'Loose Change' documentary. Perhaps I am becoming paranoid...perhaps I am just questioning appropriately. But I have always had a healthy distrust of the mass media. Reading 'Manufacturing Consent' by Noam Chomsky brought it out in me. Can I always believe everything I read?

The good historian in me tells me I can draw conclusions based on evidence.

Interesting thing is that in our educational system, a limited number of sources are given to our children for them to reach the 'right' judgements. Surely the best way of teaching history is to give ALL the evidence to children, and let them draw their own conclusions? Do we really need to teach children 'analysis' and 'judgement' skills?

I watched Loose Change and drew some conclusions based on the evidence presented.

I also watched some stuff about a company called Steorn. They claim to have invented a perpetual motion machine. Free energy. Violating the laws of thermodynamics. That's a very big deal. Interestingly, one of the executives of Steorn says the levels of outrage the company has received about their inventions was similar to religious fundamentalism and dogma. And that's after approaching over 100 universities about their findings; only a handful were interested!

I did think about a kind of 'science fundamentalism' - I suppose it's just a willingness, want or need to be 'right' in all circumstances. I rememember hearing about Copernicus being thrown into jail for suggesting the earth revolved around the sun. Is it always the way with anything revolutionary? Humanity cannot accept it.

Currently the technology is being tested independently after Steorn took out a one-page advert issuing a 'slap in the face' to science. Results are due to be published by the end of the year.

I might buy shares in Steorn.

I have also learned from an experience in 1998 that I want to be right more than anything in the world. I think it's a human being thing. Wanting to be right costs me all sorts of things; I just don't always think in those terms. When I do, it's illuminating to say the least, because I am then presented with a choice. Continue with the current course of action, or create something else.

Am I accepting another version of the truth? [Not to be too obscure/ geeky - follow this link, then click and drag. It's part of the whole Year Zero package. Cover art for Year Zero is also awesome].

J.

PS Watch Loose Change, An Inconvenient Truth and find out about Steorn...if you choose.

PPS FOLLOW MY LINKS AND SEE HOW [delete as appropriate] CLEVER/ GEEKY/ OBSCURE/ INTERESTING/ WONDERFUL/ INSIGHTFUL/ INSPIRATIONAL I AM. Thank you for reading.

PPSS Respect to shadow falcon's blog - there's a post along a similar theme there - and I got the pic from that blog

Friday, June 08, 2007

Climbing up the Walls

Screaming at the top of your voice and not hearing anything. That's a disturbing dream I have had before. Allowing myself to get so angry that I punch the floor and end up fracturing a knuckle. That's almost ridiculous and teenage like.

And not a dream.

I'm not particularly known for having a bad temper. In fact, it's more the opposite: rational, mature level-headed. But having punched a wall in anger and damaged it, punching the floor the next time I got angry seemed a logical step.

I didn't want to break anything; it was more about hurting myself than hurting anyone else. Physical pain tends to divert the mind from whatever other nonsense is happening. That was the intention anyway.

The punch has brought back to me the rather over-the-top dramatic way I used self-harm when I got angry. It was a way of demanding attention, manipulating others, and as I saw it at the time - keeping myself sane. I assert that anyone immersed in the realm of heavy metal music and alternative culture is doing so as a way of dealing with something. I felt the lyrics, gigs and clubs reflected my state of mind, and allowed me to channel my energy.

In truth, I still do.

I'm not sure what is leading me down this route at the moment, but my level-headedness has deserted me. I know I'm better that this too - that's the rub - I can see that I have a choice about how to behave in any situation, and I'm not making the 'highest' choice.

Still, being dramatic now isn't all-consuming the way it used to be. Thank God.

Speaking of God, I'm also finding it hard to hear God's voice(or said another way, use the Force). Normally, it's loud and clear; the path has been easy to follow. Now I really have to concentrate.

I think the punch was a turning point. Seeing my hand swell up like that, and bruise, really did give me something else to think about! I got a bit of a shock when I went to A&E and saw the x-ray!

It was not only the pain, but starting to examine the motives behind it, and having to explain it to people without wanting to lie or seem dramatic. I wonder what people thought when I told them? Were they uncomfortable? Did they think I was lying? Were they reminded of the times they got angry? Did they enjoy it? Was I enjoying relating the story?

There are also some (important?) people I have not told, and may never know.

I heard a quote somewhere recently that to be angry is to be human. Rage Against the Machine have intoned your "anger is a gift".

Perhaps.

But, however much I might avoid it, I really get: I am not my thoughts and feelings. I have started making little changes. For example, for about six weeks I have not given a second thought as to what I have put inside my body. The food I have eaten has been consistently not good for me. So, since last Thursday I have been elevating my awareness of what I am eating.

I've also been actually doing my Pilates. It's calming, I stand straighter and breathe more effectively. Rather than punching a wall, it's a demands physical concentration in a positive way.

It has taken something from me to effect these little things. First confronting that I am responsible for everything in my life, and then acting on it. I'm reminded of the clever radio advert from BT 118 at the moment - the guy talking about his to do list. How some things are 'permanently mid-table, and never make it to the top.'

Yesterday I completed everything I wanted to complete - and enjoyed it.

All this having a positive effect on my mood and outlook. It's up to me then right? After the up comes a down, and then an up...oh and then a down...a rollercoaster right?

Jesus is my homeboy. He's got my back.

J.

This post was brought to you by Radiohead, one of the most musically innovative bands ever.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I'm alright (you gotta go there to come back)


It's the last day of school today for quite a few of the boys I teach. They'll be moving on to bigger and better things (uni for quite a few).

I think - for all the machismo - they will actually miss school. I'm not sure how many would admit that (especially in front of a teacher) but there's no doubt that the familiarity and ease of staying at an institution makes it welcome.

And if any of them are reading this, then leave a comment on my blog please!

Also - they should know - I'm proud of them.

Controversial perhaps, but I'm proud to say I've been part of educating them. I may not have always 100% of the time:
got through to them, marked work on time, listened to them, given the best feedback, seen the best in them every day, been completely consistent, given them the benefit of the doubt, told them the truth, treated them with the respect they deserved, or been in a good mood.

But guess what - even I'm not perfect (although some teachers think they are).

As long as everyone I teach gives it 100% in their exams, I'm not asking for more - I don't think that would be fair. If every pupil I taught could come up to me after their exams and say "I've authentically done my best here." I'd be fulfilled as an educator. Some may achieve A grades; some may achieve C grades, but 100% is all I ask for.

A good grade in an exam isn't everything.

Having said that - I do know boys, who are capable of getting excellent marks, but don't bother even trying. Their arrogance means they expect the world on a stick.

There are no short-cuts to excellence. There are no guarantees in life.

It's action that produces the results. No reading through the year, means no good results. Simple.

But - like everything it needs balance. Too much work...and well...I'd burn out. We're not machines, we're human beings.

I've been going through a lot over the past month. But I'm becoming a bit more circumspect about the things I love. I think teaching forces me to confront myself and my issues in life directly; that makes me more effective.

I'm still angry and frustrated with other parts of my life, but that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't teach, despite what people tell me, or what my opinion of myself happens to be on a particular day. I'm still struggling through it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Someone once told me: "there's nothing that can't be sorted out in communication".

Work Hard. Play Hard. I like to think that's something I embodied for the boys...

J.

This post was brought to you by the Stereophonics

Monday, May 21, 2007

The End

This post is about my wonderful group of Year 11s

I said goodbye to them on Wednesday last week.

As a teacher, however cynical people may get, I do harbour a soft spot for everyone I teach. I'm not sure if that's just me. I hope other teachers do. For all the difficult days, I spent a lot of time on those boys! And I like to think I provided them with everything they needed to at least do their best.

I will miss them and their: energy, silliness, swearing, youth, arrogance, enthusiasm, lack of control, constant conversation about sex, use of slang, chanting, singing inappropriately, silly noises, tiredness in the morning, challenges to authority, (misguided - well some of them) opinions, love of football, boyish-ness, hilarity, mania, and play-fighting...

...and occasionally, of course, the work they produced.

It's the sheer lack of abandon and disregard for anything other than their own feelings (that more often than not start in their penises) that is (almost) awe-inspiring.

Do exam results indicate if I did a good job? Or their memories of school? Or what? Just how is the effect of a teacher measured on a group of pupils?

I'm not sure I'll ever know; I just hope to hear from some as the years go by.

I'm feeling it will be the same every year. Don't you just love a challenge?

As one of them said "live on the edge".

J.

PS It is actually a shame I'll be on my honeymoon when their results come out. Someone had better email me...

This post was brought to you by The Doors

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Angry Chair


Sitting on an angry chair
Angry walls that steal the air
Stomach hurts and I don't care

What do I see across the way
See myself moulded in clay
Stares at me, yeah I'm afraid
Changing the shape of his face

Candles red I have a pair
Shadows dancing everywhere
Burning on the angry chair

Little boy made a mistake
Pink cloud has now turned to gray
All that I want is to play
Get on your knees, time to pray, boy

I dont mind, yeah
I dont mind, I-I-I
I dont mind, yeah,
I dont mind, I-I-I
Lost my mind, yeah
But I dont mind, i-i-i
Cant find it anywhere
I don't mind

Corporate prison, we stay
I'm a dull boy, work all day
So I'm strung out anyway

Loneliness is not a phase
Field of pain is where I graze
Serenity is far away

Saw my reflection and cried
So little hope that I died
Feed me your lies, open wide
Weight of my heart, not the size

Pink cloud has now turned to gray
All that I want is to play
Get on your knees time to pray

This post was brought to you by Alice in Chains but those of you in the know would have spotted that already.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Eraser


Hate is a strong word.

There are some people I hate right now.

But they don't know who they are yet.

I was hoping it would pass. But I think I've got to go through it. Over the past couple of weeks I have been present to my 'dark side' if you will more than usual. In fact, I haven't lost my temper more, and been this quick to get angry since I that special weekend in June 1998.

But I tend to turn my hate inwards.

Interestingly, it's affecting my health. After the events of a couple of weekends ago, I got ill almost immediately. Cold, sneezing, blowing my nose all that. Since then, my asthma has been playing up. In fact over the weekend, it was the worst it's been since I was very young.

Now, I know how to control my asthma, and I've been taking my inhalers since I was young; renewing prescriptions, and getting a check-up is a habit for me. But none of those things seemed to work.

Which suggested to me what I knew all along. The link between my health and state of mind is incredibly strong. (No matter how many times I've told someone I know about this, they choose to rubbish what I say, and ignore their own experience...but that's nothing new). The ontological explanation for my asthma? Suffocation perhaps?

Self-improvement is masturbation, maybe self-destruction is the answer...It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
Tyler Durden
I have one thing on my side - a good friend is reminding me - distinctions.

More than most people, I have distinctions. And I can't deny that - no matter how much I might suppress the thought, I know there's a distinction between what happened, and what I make it mean.

And he's a pain for reminding me.

J.

Need you
Dream you
Find you
Taste you
Fuck you
Use you
Scar you
Break you
Lose me
Hate me
Smash me
Erase me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me


This post was brought to you by NIN

Friday, May 11, 2007

Down in a Hole

Being around younger people makes me more aware of how I change.

I feel that things don't really change much. The 'Rules of the Playground' pretty much provide the basis for the 'Rules of the University Campus', followed by the 'Rules of Working Life'. People are people I suppose.

I'm still struck by how insightful young people are, and how immature older (and supposedly wiser) people are.

Life keeps changing...

Chatting with a group of Year 11s at school (for those that don't know, that means they're about 15-16 years old) I asked them how many had been drunk. All of them, except one raised their hands (and even then, he'd drunk alcohol). I then asked how many of them had had sex before they were 16...two of them raised their hands. (I suspect it would have been more with another group of boys in the year group).

I'm not particularly making a judgement either way. But I can only compare it with my own experience. I was first drunk at the age of 21. That's probably quite late by most people's standards. And the idea of sex at the age of 15-16 was inconceivable for me! Mainly because of the interesting opinions I had about myself, and my own parents' attitudes to sex (which consist of i) leaving education about sex to school life, ii) never talking about any aspects of it, and iii) pretending it doesn't happen).

In another lesson covering a teacher, with the same age group, we were discussing attitudes to death, and attitudes to life. Some of the more difficult boys had very clear philosophies of life. One guy is a talented snowboarder (among the best in Europe for his age) and his idea is "live on the edge".

Another very precocious pupil says it's all about having fun, and enjoying life...but school gets in the way!

Being a teenager is easily forgotten by us 'adults'. It is a different world; inhabited a lot of the time by people who think they know best for them. And yet I always come back to the thought that they're people - like you, me, and everyone.

I suppose there's a teenager inside us all. I'm just surprised more teachers don't befriend their inner teenager as a way of understanding what could be happening with their pupils.

Jumping a couple of generations, it would seem that the people who have exerted the greatest influence on bringing me up aren't that great at communicating. All I want is for what I have to say to be understood. Not agreed with, not acted upon, just understood.

For some people, that's a lot to ask.

I don't think that wisdom comes with age.

I think wisdom comes from pushing the envelope; from going for it; from frequently messing up and clearing up stuff; from being at cause.

Said another way: using the Force.

To my mind, arguing with family is one of the most difficult things to resolve. I know that when I argue with my sister it's nasty, vicious and passionate. But we do sort it out. I can't imagine life not being in some kind of communication with her.

Having said that, my sister is one of the few people who can wind me up the wrong way, and upset me incredibly quickly.

I like to think it's because I care.

At the moment, being down in a hole feels like the most appropriate place. I want everyone to go jump. I feel like no-one listens/ understands/ takes the time/ cares or loves me.

Some might say I'm behaving like a sulky teenager.

Here are two quotes from George Bernard Shaw that give me hope:

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.


and

This is the true joy of life. The being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.The being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live,it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I've got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handling it on to future generations.


Keep on going I guess.

J.

This post was brought to you by Alice in Chains

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Surfacing


Here are a series of rants. They reflect what I'm thinking at the moment. It's pure opinion - as most blogs are - and opinions don't make that much difference to the planet.

Bear that in mind as you read.

1) People who cannot control their swearing. There is a time and place. At the front of a class, teaching students is not the place. On a blog we're free in cyberspace. I also will swear with impunity here. It's my blog so I can say what I want. If you're offended, then fuck off.

2) 'Friends' - what a fucking awful television show. It's boring, bland and uninteresting. It's the kind of thing that makes everyone older than 20 think that their life is inadequate. I mean who gets to deal with real life like that? Escapism? Yes! Chewing gum for the brain? Yes. Uninspiring? Totally.

3) People who say they listen to 'anything' when it comes to music. Oh really? I ask them if they like metal and they instantly say 'well apart from that'. Well you don't fucking like 'anything' then do you?

4) Assumptions about my ethnicity. Oh this one really gets me. Especially when the police make assumptions. But it's even more interesting when some idiotic fucker decides that I'm Muslim (note - there's nothing wrong with being Muslim, it's just not me!) on the basis of some point like, I don't drink alcohol, or I have a beard/ goatee or some combination. I understand that we all make assumptions to make the world around us easier to understand, but it costs nothing to ask and check.

5) People who say "I don't have time". What they really mean is "I don't want to" or "I can't be bothered" or even a simple "No I'm not doing that". It's not hard to say. But really - what do people really fill up their time with? A lot of pointless stuff? What it really comes down to is that people don't know what they really want. Choose what you want to do, then go and fucking get it. Simple.

6) 'There are always grey areas with issues.' No there fucking isn't. It's just more avoiding commitment or taking action. Life is simple, and we humans complicate it enough by creating 'grey areas'. Again if you don't know who you are, what you stand for or what you want in life, then guess what - they're lots of grey areas. Sitting on the fence only gives you splinters in your arse.

7) Not listening. Another one of my personal favourites. I've been told by a fair number of people that I'm one of the few people who actually listen to other people. (If you don't agree with that assessment of me - your entitled to your own opinion). Now if I listen, that doesn't mean I have to agree with what you say, or act on what you say. I think that's perfectly fair. I'm a grown man with my own opinions/ ideals/ principles etc. But when some stupid cunts don't listen to me, repeat themselves or tell me their point without giving me some opportunity to state my case - why the fuck should I listen to them? The 'Great Soul' Mahatma Gandhi said "Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress". I usually choose to listen, and say if I've followed what someone's said. Then it's my turn. If you don't want to give me a chance, then I'm fucking off. I'm not going to talk to you. I might as well talk to a brick wall.

8) "I'll try" actually there is no try (and I'm not just quoting Yoda) - you'll either do something, or you fucking won't. Simple.

9) Walking on public transport, and someone in front stops. London is a busy place - it's one of the most vibrant, exciting cities in the world. I love it. But when I'm walking on a tube/ train platform/ along a busy street and some dopey idiotic prick decides to fucking stop walking in front of me. I'm tempted sometimes to just push through...and in fact I've done that a couple of times. Showing no awareness of one's surroundings is akin to showing no awareness of reality - some people get sanctioned for that.

10) Dying with potential fully intact/ Waiting for the right time/ some day, one day. I think there are lots of people like this, or who are well on the way to becoming this. I suppose in teaching I come across this fairly regularly, but I do seem to meet a few people who have a some idea/ dream/ thought they want to follow up on, but never do. Well, I think there is no right time, some day never comes, and then you're dead. Get up off your fucking arse and do it.

11) People who have never read a book. What the fuck is this about? I can understand and respect a choice to not read books for pleasure. That's not for everyone, but to have never read a book? That's fucking ridiculous. It reflects that bigger/ better/ faster/ more/ a.d.d./ a.d.h.d./ me-generation/ I want it now society we're living in. Not only do books stimulate our imagination and ideas, but they're also an excellent way of learning. Not to demean other media, but to not have read a book ever? Where the fuck have you been hiding?

12) Being late. I hate being late personally. And with the odd-slip up, if I'm late I'll let people know. But turning up late consistently is fucking rude. Generally speaking around me, people are not late - and if they are, they communicate. Some stupid fuckers don't even bother getting in touch to say they won't be coming. Why should I give them the fucking time of day? If they can't even meet me on time, or communicate if they're late or have an emergency, how can I call them a friend or even trust them? (Of course, I'm all in favour of forgiveness, but if some shit-head is consistently late, I'm going to tell them).

13)The hypocrites in organised religion. Now organised religion is not without its positives. The structure, the meeting of similar minds, and the creation of some kind of positive collective consciousness are all to be applauded. But when people go to church and hear about forgiveness, and yet, don't fucking practise it in their day to day lives. It means nothing. I know people who have been attending church regularly for over fifty years, but still can't let go of hate. They can go fuck themselves. (Interestingly, the people who are the most zealous tend to fall foul of number 7).

14) Fearing God. What is all this about? Why fear God? I don't understand that. God created us all, and is all-powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing. So why be scared? Surely we should embrace God...and embrace the sacred and the profound. God knows when I say shit/ fuck/ bollocks/ cunt/ arse/ twat/ prick etc. God created everything, ergo God created those words. God is intimately familiar with the contents of my mind/ body and soul. What the fuck do I have to fear? As far as I can see, fearing God absolves people of the responsibility for their relationship with God and actually trusting themselves. Suffering is a choice. Happiness is a choice. So choose for God's sake!

15) Blaming circumstance. Shit happens. Stop whining. Fucking deal with it.

If you've got down to here, well done. If you know me - you know I'm not perfect. Either way, leave a comment. I hope this has stirred up something inside you.

J.

This post was brought to you by the Slipknot song Surfacing. It also contains 23 uses of the word fuck.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Fragile

So things happen.

Things happen that make me think about everything. Things happen that cause me to question everything. People tell me stuff. People who care about me tell me what they think.

I listen. I choose. I act.

Listening is not something I always find easy. But then walking my own path is not something I always find easy. Someone said to me recently: "reaching and striving for the best. Can't ask for more than that."

Do some people ask for more than that?

Trusting my instincts is something that (usually) comes naturally to me. But when I'm in a position of questioning my instincts, it's something I find more than a little unsettling.

It puts one in a fragile place.

There's a general theme ... of systems failing and things sort of falling apart...like there was something inherently flawed in the situation, like someone struggling to put the pieces together. A Downward Spiral peels off layers and arrives at a naked, ugly end. This...starts at the end, then attempts to create order from chaos, but never reaches the goal. It's probably...bleaker...because it arrives back where it starts - the same emotion.
T. Reznor adapted by J.
J.

This is another post brought to you by NIN

Monday, April 23, 2007

Do it Again

Do It Anyway - Written by Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical,
and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, People may accuse you
of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some
false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone
could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway


This post was brought to you in association with QOTSA

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Radio/ Video

I think this is my theory, but I'm not sure.

It's called D'Souza's Musical Circle (a bit like the political circle, and Eddie Izzard's 'circle of cool').

I don't proclaim one musical form to be better than another - from S Club 7 to Ministry...it's all expression, memories, and emotion.

I also find it hard to categorise music, and my own music taste because it's so varied. I tend to like things with some authenticity behind them, but then find myself dancing silly moves to things like 'Baby One More Time' by Britney Spears and enjoying it.

Everything has it's place.

Let's begin with pop. Cheesy, mainstream, vocal pop songs that are short, sweet, catchy and mid-tempo. Its purpose is to sell and make money: from Abba to Cliff Richard. They're safe. From there we add a dash of guitar. It's still popular, but perhaps the bands are writing their owns songs (how can we forget the Beatles?)

Increasing the distortion on the guitar, and volume on the drums, things are getting a bit crazier, but still melodic. 'Rock' tends to be a catch-all for all guitar-based music. It's quite catchy, singable, and it does range from soft-rock to hard-rock.

Of course the earlier versions of rock were far more anti-establishment: rock'n'roll...which was derived from the blues...they sit quite comfortably at this stage in the circle. Along with the mad experimentation of Jazz).

Taking the distortion on the guitar, but varying it a little, and perhaps a more internal focus on lyrics - it's moving into indie-pop. This is perhaps an oxymoron as the music seeks to bring together 'popular' and 'independent'.

Now change the vocals a little, make the lyrics more anti-establishment and teenage angsty...more aggressive, faster guitar...we're into punk and all it's variants...and what variants they are from hardcore, to stoner, to grunge...they're all rooted in the punk ethic.

After that, it's a simple link to the world of metal. Faster, harder guitars, darker lyrical themes, mental drumming. But a focus on live performance. (There are, of course, variants on a theme: trad-metal, power metal, thrash, rap-metal...)

If however, some samples are added, and the drums are created artificially...well - that's entering the world of Ministry, Skinny Puppy, NIN...it's Industrial. (Goth sits nicely between Metal and Industrial).

Speeding up the drums, and keeping with the samples...we end up in the world of trance and techno. Repetitive beats, loud bass...it's all there...(it's only one aggressive vocal away from industrial!) I mean Gabber is really the ultimate melding of Industrial and Trance (check out Ultraviolence).

Alter the drumbeats slightly, and the vocals and the tags drum'n'bass and breakbeat are more appropriate. Although there are a couple of unique bands that manage to straddle drum'n'bass and punk (the ethics of home-made music are not so far removed from each other ) - for example: the Prodigy and Pitch Shifter spring to mind.

If the drumbeats are slowed slightly, the world of 'house music' opens up. The repetitive beats, home-made basics and sampled vocals provide an accessible route to the dancefloor for the most atrocious and talentless dancers. Some say it's trance for the masses.

Slow down the drum beats further - stay with the sample-based style, keep with the spoken rhythmic vocals...well that's hip-hop...and it's allies - trip-hop anyone (check out Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky...)

Of course the sample-based music is nowhere without the samples...and where are they all from? Well...anyone for disco? House and hip-hop derive the majority of their samples from disco (and it's dirty sister funk!) Mad basslines, keyboards, and an emphasis on rhythm...all the key elements of disco and funk; as well as a brilliant ability with their instruments...

Of course the catchiness of disco, the danger of hip-hop, and talent of the funk players made it an easy product to sell. Combine these elements of disco, house, and hip-hop water it down...and well - it becomes r'n'b - (no not the proper rhythm and blues of Ray Charles, or the soul of Motown - but it's bastardised-high-selling-offspring - hip-pop)...the classic case of re-appropriating black-based culture for the masses.

I'm sure I read somewhere that it's the best-selling musical genre on the planet...

Make r'n'b a little safer, commoditise it...yes still use samples, and computers to create a catchy song, a little cheesy, mid-tempo...and um...well - we're back at pop music...the circle is complete!

Does this make sense?

I think I've missed few out...but everything has its place on the circle somewhere...I'm sure...

Enjoy!

J.

This post was brought to you by System of a Down

BTW - look at the pic and fixate on the central dot. Now move closer and further from the monitor...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Here comes the Sun

The title of this post not only reflects the weather, but my state of mind too.

Perhaps it's because of the weather that I'm feeling better? I don't have S.easonal A.ffective D.isorder do I?

Anyway...I have seen a few things about myself. I pretend I'm committed to my family, but actually I'm annoyed with some members. Impact on me is that I'm upset, and I'm nice...and I don't say what I really think like "stop the nonsense and sort it out like adults" - I'm afraid of world war three erupting. It's killer on me. I just get irritated, don't listen and end up taking it out on others.

I'm creating being peaceful and generous.

Also, going back to school was kinda hard - only a few weeks to exams and I'm getting boys inspired. Well I really felt that my year 11 get how much I'm standing for them doing well in their GCSEs. Behind all the macho bluster a lot of it is a call for attention or help.

It's not always easy to avoid cynicism.

Teenage boys...

J.

This post was brought to you by George Harrison

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Survivalism

Oh
My
God

I have to wax lyrical about NIN.

I love the band. I have for quite a while now.

Before NIN I was of the opinion that if it wasn't played with bass, drums, guitars, vocals, it wasn't music.

I'm not sure which particular song changed my opinion. But it seems that there are quite a dedicated fanbase out there. Perhaps it's the distinctive logo. Perhaps it's the emphasis on artistry rather than celebrity.

Actually, it's none of those. It was actually the lyrical content that attracted me.

At that particular point in my life, I was a dramatic, over-the-top, self-pitying teenager. That part of me still exists, but it no longer runs my life thanks to distinguishing 'what happened' and 'what I made it mean' (some of you will know what I'm talking about).

It makes a guest appearance every now and then.

So you can guess, lyrically, NIN isn't the most inspiring or cheery of places. I did listen to Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral rather a lot. And then obsessively collected all the 'Halos' as they're called. (Cue geek moment: each official NIN release is given a Halo number. I am missing Halos 12, 20 and 22...but don't worry they will be completed!)

I think that the guy behind it - Trent Reznor - is an artistic genius. The depth and intricacy of the music is brilliant. And seeing it live was great too.

Now my current reinvigoration for NIN is the imminent release of Year Zero.

This is becoming something of an internet phenomenon.

Traditionally NIN's lyrical and musical theme has been the inner demon. For the new release NIN is taking on the world around us, in a typically dark way. There are a LOAD of websites out there are creating a landscape - and all related to the release of the album. There is talk of a film as well.

The release has got the obscurity and confusion, yet addictiveness of Lost. It has the conspiracy theories of Prison Break. And it has the apocalyptic visions of...well I can't think of another TV reference.

It's a grand concept album.

And I can't wait.

J.

PS For those of you that don't know - that song 'Hurt' that Johnny Cash did? It's a Nine Inch Nails song...

This post was brought to you by NIN and Survivalism

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Back In Black

Well...lots has been happening in the time since I last posted. People have turned 30, got married, and got ill.

It's made me think how much circumstances can dictate my feelings, my mood, my outlook, my productivity, everything. It's as if my circumstances dictate my life, almost as if I'm a victim to them.

That doesn't leave me with much of a say in the matter of my life.

Now, I know that I don't have to be a slave to my circumstances, but knowing it doesn't make the difference. I can sit here and analyse, pray, and wait for the 'right' circumstances, but somehow I don't think that will make a huge difference.

A few weeks ago at school we had a comic relief event. I was approached by some boys the week before to sing "Back in Black". We had one practice, and well...it was ok! The only problem was that I didn't know the words. I spent ages learning them, but on the day, with the crowd...peformance nerves...and I forgot all the words. One practice, and the performance reflected that.

Having said that, we raised £80 in about 20 minutes! And I screamed incomprehensibly in time with the music (some might say that is the very essence of heavy metal) and managed to pull it off...the ridiculousness of my appearance helped.

The boys I teach are getting nervous about circumstances. Some have left their coursework very late. It's a bit of a wake-up call for them, and for me. Easter holidays haven't been that much of a holiday, but once the coursework is marked, it's downhill all the way!

And of course this is the season of rebirth, fertility and resurrection. I've visited Germany and seen one of my friends get married. It was great - a mixandmash of cultures. She's German, he's from Coventry, but grew up in France and went to Uni with me in Birmingham. They met in Burkina Faso.

It was nice how it all came together actually - German weddings are a slightly different format to those in the UK. No real dancing or partying, but games/ items/ party pieces after the food...and LOADS of coffee and cake. I wrote a song about the groom, and performed it in English and German. It went down really well - and raised an authentic laugh from the German contingent. (Not that Germans don't have a great sense of humour!)

Of course, going to a wedding made it all the more apparent that I am getting married this summer.

So after getting ill in Germany (induced from hayfever/ asthma/ eating badly), and suffering with a four hour plane delay (not pleasant - for me, or for the wonderful D who still managed to pick me up!) it was back to discussing invites and wedding issues with families.

My patience is being tested.

D is wonderful - and actually enjoying the whole process too. I am too, mostly. I just allow myself to get tested by my family. Yes it's my wedding, but it's also a big deal for everyone who is related to us. Sometimes I lose sight of that. Sometimes I can be a complete idiot and not listen. And sometimes, other people want it their way or the high way.

My family has wonderful people in it. Really genuinely amazing people. They all are in their own way.

And some just push my buttons.

So we're back full circle. Do I let my feelings/ opinions/ arrogance dictate the experience of planning my wedding?

Circumstances leading me, or me creating the circumstances.

It is action that produces results. No action, no result, simple.

I'm always reminded of this quote:

Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.
George Bernard Shaw
I'm going to make those phonecalls and apologies.

J.

This post was brought to you by AC/DC

Monday, March 12, 2007

Come Together


I think it's easy to be cynical.

As anyone who knows me will be aware, I am passionate about my cultural community: the Goan community. I'm part of the committee that runs the Young London Goans' Society (YLGS).

It's frustrating and satisfying in equal measure, and I suppose that's what makes it enjoyable. The full range of human emotion is brought to bear with it.

It's make or break year for us as a society.

We're contacting everyone on our database to correct their details, but also get their opinion on how we can improve, is there anything we're missing and all that.

Every time I make a call and have a conversation, I'm wary that I really don't know what to expect. There are such a range of opinions out there, it defies belief. Perhaps that's because it's very difficult to define our culture anyway, making our experience growing up in the U.K. even more interesting.

This theme of being 'different' or an 'outsider' seems to appear a few times in my posts.

And yet, I'm human. I have my ups and downs, my considerations and reasons for doing things and not doing things and all that.

But coming together with my community (and actually with any community) is really nice. I think it's life-affirming. With the world around me tending towards disorder, it's nice to be part of causing something bigger than me. YLGS does that, but I've been thinking a bit more about how a similar thing happens when I'm at school.

Assemblies are really good for that. I enjoy our House Assemblies (remember Houses at school? They were an endless source of amusement and/or pain for me...I was never good enough to represent the house at football or rugby - although I made the cricket team, which was quite satisfying for a short-round-Indian-looking boy). I'm part of a house with really enthusiastic, eloquent Head of House. He has managed to embody a spirit of pride, and healthy competition amongst the all-to-easily-cynical teenage boys.

Experiences like this are great.

So when I speak to someone for nearly an hour about the intricacies of our (Goan) culture, I feel I have gained a friend.

I like to think that every conversation will forward something positive; on a personal level, on a family and friends level, but also at the level of humanity.

Use the Force I guess...

J.

This post was brought to you by The Beatles

Monday, February 26, 2007

Down with the Sickness

Today I am ill.

Today I am getting better.

Me being me, I stand in being responsible. And Conversations with God kind of says the same thing.

I can't help thinking that I'm confronted about something, or avoiding something. It may be the wedding? (That's a serious business). Or perhaps I'm just burning the candle at both ends - which is what my sister, fiancee, and mother would say.

I actually don't like being ill. This is the first time I've been ill enough to be off work in a while. We know schools are breeding grounds for germs and viruses and all sorts of nasty things.

But I'm a dutiful teacher...I have sent the work for my classes today into school via email, (technology is wonderful) only to find that the deputy head is ill...but knowing him, he'll still be in school with a temperature of 102 degrees, aches and pains...

I've also discovered - I really do like my job! I want to be at work - not ill. Partly because of the routine, partly because I don't like being ill, but also partly because I actually enjoy being at work.

Yes I'm proud to say it.

I was talking to someone yesterday who was thinking about their job and how fulfilling it is...and everyone always seem to have the thought "oh I'd like to be a teacher." I've met quite a few people over the years who say that they thought of being a teacher, or always wanted to do it but never did.

I think there are quite a few people doing a job they don't enjoy, just for the money. And then they wonder why they're getting drunk all the time...well that's my theory!

It's easy to crave security, get safe, avoid risks and then stay a dreamer.

Someone close to me is always coming up with some business ideas but never follows through. I think he should either: i) write a book or, ii) go on the Dragon's Den. It's not easy to take risks, but it means it keeps us alive...right?

There are some of my other friends (they know who they are) WHO SHOULD BE WRITING BOOKS...and then credit me for inspiration, and give me 1% of their royalties for life...

Here's a quote from something I like:

The Dilemma

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvment.

To expose feelings is to risk rejection.
To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure. But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. Such people may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn feel, change, grow, or love. Chained by personal certitudes, they are as a slave, who has forfeited freedom.

Only a person who takes risks is free.

Author Unknown

Enjoy!

J.

This post has been brought to you by Disturbed

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It Takes Blood and Guts To Be This Cool But I'm Still Just A Cliché

Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Being the internet whore that I am, and having far too many online profiles, I'm appalled at the usage of English I see everywhere.

Actually, it's not just online...

OK, so maybe I'm becoming one of those annoying punctuation zealots, (Lynn Truss anyone?) but bad spelling and usage of English pisses me off.

What really gets to me is the bastardisation of the language for the 'street'.

Now I teach in a public school. It's a good school. It does well for the boys there, and I'm proud of what they achieve.

But it's full of pupils who wish/ think they are from 'da ghetto'.

I've had conversations with a few, and said things like:
No you are a nice middle-class white boy from Banstead
or
New Malden is not 'the ghetto'

Now I'm not totally unrealistic. I understand that younger people will want to communicate so their parents can't follow a word they're saying.

But the spilling over of this way of speaking into writing and the use of 'txtspk' in writing and email just gets to me.

Someone I know even said to me that posh-boys go and look at the Urban Dictionary and then start using the words so they are 'gangsta'.

safe
neek
seen
skeen
blud
bro
bruv
innit
wicked
truss
man
keepin it reel
ya get me
fo sho
chillin
relaxin
wot
hangin wiv m8s

What a load of shit.

For fuck's sake - learn to spell and type English properly.

Oh yes - people using these words are from the 'street' and they have grown up in deprived circumstances - that's why they can't write and speak properly...yet they have an internet connection and can post on bebomyspacehi5ringofriendster...

I even had a related discussion with some people I went to secondary school with. I'm able to understand the parts of speech: subject, object, verb, adverb etc. But my contemporaries didn't really know them, and we're considered to be the intellectual elite of the country as grammar-school-educated old-boys.

Even more ironically, my roots are quite clearly (to those who know me) not English.

I learned my English from my grandfather. This is a man who didn't even pass his GCSE equivalent. A man who arrived in Uganda from India barely able to speak English - and went on to be a Hansard reporter and work for the U.N.

He taught my sister and I, about the parts of speech, about spelling, and introduced us to the wonders of the English language.

I think language is what differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Language allows us to communicate and create. Humanity can conceive things that don't even exist in reality.

And how it has been abused, diluted, damaged, re-appropriated and mangled. Perhaps there's a link to the state of the world, and our (ab)use of language. (Hang on, someone famous said something like this...)

What is almost frightening to me, is the way language is used in the media. It could be likened to Newspeak.

And yet, some say our language has the power to create our world.
All I have in this world is my word and my balls. And I don't break them for nobody.
J.

PS Post a comment if you know who said that last quote!

This post was brought to you by the group Skunk Anansie (who no longer exist)

Oh and where would I be without wikipedia?