All hands on deck!

iceberg-2170383_640

Reduce your carbon footprint! Eat less meat! Recycle!

I’m sure you will have encountered similar messages in the media. And you may have been struck by the sense, as I was recently, that while our individual choices are important, we are essentially rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic, if the world’s biggest climate culprits don’t get involved. And not with green-washing and PR exercises, but with real action to end the obsession with profits and growth at any cost.

Stan Lee, beloved creator of the Marvel universe, passed away this week. In his amazing career he dreamed up scores of memorable superheroes and villains. Sadly we cannot rely on any colourfully-costumed crusaders to rescue us from our current predicament. In fact it all gets rather complicated when we realise that the menace we are facing is… us. You, me, the guys who run the corporations, banks, the politicians, (especially the politicians) all of us are the bad guys in this storyline. And, perhaps, the good guys too. Continue reading

Advertisements

Absurdians assemble!

absurd rockThe world is quite an absurd place, mostly run by criminals, thugs and at least one ridiculous but very dangerous sociopath with a fake tan.

As remotely-piloted drones blow up civilians thousands of miles away, we obsess over the best yoga positions for pets and finding the right brand of organic, gluten-free toothpaste. Each day, a dozen more species disappear as we gorge on ‘reality’ TV shows featuring Z-list celebrities being eaten by giant mutant crabs.*

It’s no wonder that comic book adaptations have become so popular on the big screen, when real life often seems like a plot from some dark dystopian tale, where super-villains vie for world domination as the very fabric of society threatens to unravel. Who then can resist a team of troubled heroes with perfect teeth, super-human powers and snappy one-liners, saving us from the devils of our worst nature, and the worst perils of Mother Nature. Of course in most comic books, it’s easier to tell the heroes from the villains. Continue reading

Author! Author!

Them2Something I read recently set the creaking gears in my mind to whirring and grinding: it was a reminder that each of us was the author of our own lives. Not an Earth-shatteringly new idea perhaps, but it had me pondering both the degree to which it is true, and also the implications of such a role.

There are numerous factors that make us the person we are: our genes, gender, sexuality, race, upbringing, social position, wealth, education, and the chance circumstances of one’s early life must all play a part.

Clearly an orphan, growing up in poverty in some war-ravaged corner of the globe, will have a very different experience of life and very different opportunities to the privileged offspring of comfortable upper-middle class professionals in a sleepy Surrey village. So we are certainly not all starting from the same place and with the same degree of literary freedom, when it comes to the authorship of our own tales.

Continue reading

Play that fungi music white boy*

Spanish_SlugYesterday felt like a day of strangeness and magic. First came a great deluge that threatened to wash away the parked cars and the occasional cyclist in an almost biblical-style flood. I stood under cover, caught between my local store and home after returning from work. I was listening to some sublime electronica at the time, a unique soundtrack to the cascades of water splashing and bouncing off roads and pavements. For a few minutes I just stood and watched, mesmerised by the experience. I found I was smiling broadly and felt an easing of the hangover headache that had dogged me all day. It was just a moment of subtle, indefinable magic.

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the downpour ceased and I broke cover and headed the few hundred metres home, trying to avoid lake-Ontario-sized puddles. A rainbow appeared briefly above our block of flats, a fitting appearance at the end of Copenhagen’s Gay Pride week.

I will backtrack slightly to me leaving the cafe where I work, about an hour beforehand. I ran into a lady of mature years, standing outside. She wanted to know more about the place. It turned out she was a fellow Brit and after basic pleasantries were exchanged, I told her all about our lovely little non-profit cafe and the many activities we host within. The lady seemed most pleased at my invitation to come and sample our food and perhaps make some new friends. “You are my angel of the day” she announced, in a warm northern accent, and I was perfectly happy with this description. I have been called lots of things, but don’t often get called an angel.

Continue reading

Game of Drones: A farce of fire and fury. Episode 1

donald-trump-into-game-of-throne

Scene one. A lavish ocean-side mansion at an idyllic retreat. On a nearby golf course, a fat man with a fake tan and ridiculous hair slices another shot into a sand bunker.

“Perfect shot!” beams King Windbottom, who is now several shots over par and losing badly.

“This is my best ever performance,” he declares. “I may even break the course record today.”

With the threat from the north escalating and his administration in crisis, King Windbottom wrestles with difficult decisions on a daily basis.

“Hmm, a nine iron or a seven? I’m sure I can make the green from here.”

His opponent and the caddies look sceptical.

“Oh look, a fire-dragon!” says Windbottom.

The others dutifully look away, as he kicks his ball out of the bunker. They exchange glances but pretend to not notice.

A messenger brings the latest news regarding the ‘mad king of the north’, king Wrong-un.

“He claims to have fire-dragons, sire. With long range capabilities. He says he will attack our forward outpost and sink all our boats.”

King Windbottom suddenly begins to sob uncontrollably. The others stare at their shoes. An assistant quickly steps forward, with pictures of kittens and inspirational affirmations:

YOU ARE THE GREATEST LIVING PERSON!

ALL PEOPLE LOVE AND ADMIRE YOU!

EVERY WOMAN WANTS TO BE WITH YOU!

Continue reading

The future is here, almost

albert_einstein_medNew year’s eve is often a time of reflection and even regret, as well as anticipation and hope for the year to come. But we can only live in the present, so as a great sage once said:

“Be not afraid for the future or regretful of the past, for the past was once the future, and the future will soon be the present, until it quickly becomes the past, again. In this way there is no past, present or future. Or something.”

Wise words indeed and ones we can all easily choose to ignore.

We lost many wonderful people in 2016, including some personal heroes like David Bowie. I suspect we also lost a bit of faith in human nature, with the UK’s Brexit debacle and the US presidential election demonstrating once again how the masses can be manipulated by ruthless sociopaths and morally bankrupt media organisations to vote against their own best interests. We now live in a post-truth world we are told, although I’m not sure if that is true or not.

Continue reading

Curve balls and cockroaches

metamorphosis_medLife has a tendency to string you along for a while, giving the impression that it’s all rather predictable. Then one day you wake up and find you’ve turned into a giant insect and wham! The world is suddenly a very different place.

Of course not everyone has an experience quite as extreme as Kafka’s unfortunate protagonist Gregor, in his story The Metamorphosis. For most of us those unexpected events that you didn’t see coming may be relatively common, although still life changing. You lose your job, get in a traffic accident or break up with a partner and suddenly the sense of stability is gone and all bets are off. It reminds you of just how fragile a construction our lives can be and how a single decision or chance event, somewhere back in time, can potentially ripple through the universe like a personal tsunami, overturning your plans and hopes like so many little boats.
Continue reading