Thursday, 3 November 2011


Do you know what? I absolutely love Christmas. I am not even a Christian but I love it just the same, there is something magical about it, especially if you have small children in your life and it is even more magical if we are lucky enough to have snow like we did last year.

I have had to re-learn how to love Christmas because over the last few decades it has been totally dominated by consumerism, the latest in a line of false Gods for us all to worship.

In our house we don't allow TV advertising. I made that decision when our little boy was very young because I could see how our society had been completely dominated by advertising and the programs had now become more of an incidental gap filler in between ads. I wanted to see if we could bring up a child as an inquisitive little free thinker rather than just another compliant drone. The positive effect of that has been that we don't start getting wound up for the big spend as early as most people do.

I am lucky to have been a child of the 60's, a time when Britons were experiencing a new found freedom and a new prosperity. A generation were growing up who had no experience of war but were the children of people who knew it well and what hardship it could bring. What was great about being a child in the 60's was the fact that people still liked people. Our house was alive with the comings and goings of friends and relatives and of course at Christmas time it was positively buzzing.

I won't pretend that I didn't get a huge pile of presents because I did. I was an only child and because my parents had so many friends I was spoiled rotten. On my sixth Christmas the pile of presents on the floor was nothing short of embarrassing. I can't remember what most of the presents were but there were a few Action Men and a Johnny Seven assault rifle with which I rather abruptly awakened my Dad on Christmas morning. On any other morning, a batten round between the eyes from a Johnny Seven would have cost me dearly but hey, it was Christmas.

The things I do remember about Christmas back then were what make me want to share that with people in the future and help to bring us about from the present course of folly and find the true spirit of Christmas again. The happy atmosphere, the carefree people who just wanted to be together to share the festivities and have fun.

The celebrations at this time of year are of course nothing at all to do with Christianity and were conveniently hijacked by it when it was the dominant force in society. I don't want to labour that point because in fairness to Christianity, it didn't really do it much harm. The festivities are strewn with markers that give away it's pagan heritage from the mistletoe, the holly and the ivy, right up to Santa himself, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Odin.

I would like to see us liberate ourselves from corporate slavery altogether but it will be an uphill struggle because we have been brought up with it in our faces everywhere we look. We can't even switch on our laptop without being bombarded by flash adverts and especially on the websites of newspapers.I know it's going to be hard to break this habit but of all the times of year when we should, Christmas is the one where they target us the hardest.

The joy of Christmas truly is in the getting together and sharing the darkest time of year with the ones you love. The long list of people who we feel duty bound to send a card to is not essential, nor is it essential to go to the shopping centre and find yet another useless item for someone you care about. Children are prisoners in their own room in many houses to an Xbox or a PS3. Probably given with love but surreptitiously relieving you with the need to spend any quality time with your child and show that love.

Christmas is, for your children, a fun time and a time of expectations but is also an opportunity to give them a well thought out gift. A gift that can make them grow either intellectually or socially and also a gift of something they are really going to need.

It is time to rid ourselves of the corporations at Christmas. Their power over us is given to them by us and can be taken away if we have the will. A gift that is given with love is gratefully accepted by someone who deserves that love. A gift that you made yourself or bought locally is a well thought out gift, whereas a lump of technology from China is no more than a token given out of a misplaced sense of duty.

Talk to your children, your family & your true friends about Christmas this year. Talk about recovering this celebration of people & family from the grip of credit card companies and superstores. Try to make Christmas this year a happy time that leaves you all feeling fulfilled, happy that you were together and sorry to see it end instead of dreading it's arrival and then feeling hollow, and drained afterwards.

Eat drink and be merry, spare a thought for your less fortunate fellows and have a very happy Christmas.

Friday, 9 September 2011


Ok it seems like an odd title but you would be surprised just how deep the oil is in our homes & in our lives. I am surprised that we are not slipping around like mud wrestlers in the stuff.  If this is all sounding a little odd to you & you are unaware of the implications of being oil dependent, let me try to quickly bring you up to speed without baffling you with graphs and figures.

Oil is a finite resource. This means that there is only so much of it and when it's gone, that's it. Now so far we have used around half of the oil that is recoverable. This is what people are calling "Peak Oil." The bad part about this is, that it has been a slow rise up to the peak, with oil being reasonably easy to recover at the beginning. As we reach the peak then it is a Helter Skelter ride down to 'Oil Defecit' at the other side as it becomes less economical to recover.

The social implications of life, 'post peak oil' are extremely worrying for us all, not least the people at the bottom of society. Things are going to get more and more expensive at a frightening speed. We are seeing the signs now as I am writing this. Nervous financial sector, twitchy retail industry, country's leaders starting to talk about financial collapse, police forces being beefed up to prepare for civil unrest.

Ok well you get the picture. If you are still with me then thank you because now I want to swallow the doom and gloom and talk to you about doing something positive to slow down the process and to prepare ourselves voluntarily for what will be mandatory if we don't.

First we have to look honestly at our food shopping trolley & try to look at it wearing "Oil Goggles." Unfortunately you can't buy these over the counter so you will just have to imagine them & train your brain to spot an oily product before you put it in your trolley.


A word that keeps buzzing around my head when I am oil spotting is "Logistics." It's a word that affects just about everything but is also a word that we don't use much. We just turn a blind eye to logistics. In reality it's the life's blood of our efficient consumer society. Everything that we eat, drink or buy to amuse ourselves with has to come from somewhere, via aircraft, ship, truck and van. It also has to be harvested, recovered or manufactured using oil as the principle fuel, so you see even something as seemingly innocent as a pear may have made it's way into to your shopping trolley from New Zealand via all of the above.


I will just pick one thing to demonstrate the folly of over use of packaging materials. SOAP. I have to my shame, a little plastic bottle of "Antibacterial Handwash" sitting in my kitchen next to the sink. This seemingly innocent little bottle is just one of many such things that we have become increasingly likely to buy for our short term convenience. The trouble is that it really is only a convenience for us in the short term.

 Inside the bottle there is simply a liquid soap. I only have the product because I am too stupid to just put a soap dish in the same place & stick a bar of cheap, ethical soap in it's place and I am willing to bet that there are millions of you out there who are doing the same. Toiletries and vanity products count for an incredible amount of unnecessary packaging in all of our lives and it is one place where we can start to make changes with very little inconvenience to ourselves. I am going to take my own advice don't worry, the bottle is going.

Oh dear, that's the problem isn't it, where exactly is it going? "Ping!" A light goes on in your head. "Recycling!" Ah! Yes, of course, the good old conscience savior comes to the rescue but here we go again with the logistics. It is carted off, melted down & turned into another plastic bottle which is popped onto a truck and taken to another soap company to be filled with anti bacterial soap once more. Oh and did I mention the few gallons of oil it used on it's way? Look around your houseand you will see that almost everything is soaked in oil.


Well how oily is our food? Is a loaf of bread oily? How about a chicken or a pint of milk, a joint of beef even? Well I am afraid the news is bad at the start but positively terrifying by the time we get to the cow.

Wheat is grown on large swathes of land. The land has to be ploughed, harrowed raked, sown with seed and then fertilised and if it's not organic it's sprayed with pesticide. Then you wait several months before you harvest the wheat, transport it to be processed, milled into flour and then transported again to the bakery and then the shop and finally to your home. Lots of oil there eh?

Now onto the cow of doom. Last century a Sunday roast was a treat and for lots of good reasons. People lived in a realistic economy. When I was a child during the sixties the true cost of rearing a cow was understood by people. We weren't throwing oil at the cow as if there were an endless supply. We lived in a time when farms were small, fields were small and the farmer new the butcher and many of the final customers of his produce, both dairy and beef. The feed didn't have to travel far at all.

Today's cow is a totally different animal. It costs an astonishing five tons off wheat to produce one ton of beef and as far as milk is concerned, my own local farm supplies me with organic milk after it has done a round trip of two hundred miles to be bottled.

We can all do something about this spiral of self destruction but we have to believe that it is real. Look around your home and ask yourself honestly if your lifestyle can be adjusted, because what we are doing is no different than if we were sucking the blood from our own Grandchildren.

Saturday, 20 August 2011


There was a time when Britain felt great. Of course I was only a youngster then & I am also possibly looking at it through rose tinted glasses but there is one thing for certain, it's a lot less great nowadays.

Something went horribly wrong. After the seventies where we had just gotten used to a kind of prosperity not seen before, along came something new. It was what seemed on the face of it a kind of financial liberty where restrictions on how much you could borrow seemed to slowly vanish and we were steadily lured into the bottomless pit of a debt culture where we are today trying to scramble back up it's greasy sides in an attempt to survive.

It all seemed to just happen so easily. The financial & commercial sectors were growing so quickly from our input that we failed to notice that our manufacturing & skills base was slowly disappearing.

We lost coal. steel, ship building, textiles, car manufacturing & a whole host of other industries whilst jobs servicing the new industry, financially enslaving the entire country were taking up the former industries workforces.

We hardly noticed it happening to us because we had all been bewitched by the "Precious", Consumerism had landed.

Meanwhile back in reality, our new found passion for all things zoomy, techy & shiny was still taking it's toll on the environment. The Dark Satanic Mills may have gone from our landscape but none of the stuff we were buying had materialised from thin air.

The people who were behind the wonderful new world had simply shut down the factories of Britain & opened them elsewhere, where the cost of production was a fraction of that at home & such inconveniences as health & safety & environmental responsibility were abscent.

Because we were bewitched & bedazzled we either didn't notice or we didn't care. The trouble is that now that the gravy train is coming to an end we are realising that after thirty years of living with debt & consumerism & having pulled down all of the factories we have also lost the skilled workforce.

You can read all of the books you like on being a welder of a fitter, a weaver or a warper but nothing compares to learning from other skilled people in their working environment.

So why have I called this a paradox? Well because although the game is almost up for consumerism we have nothing to fall back on and if we were to start again from scratch, how could we compete with the cheaper foreign labour whilst still servicing the debt that we are carrying.

Answers on a postage stamp please.

Of course the other part of the paradox is, if we accept that the planet needs us to slow down a bit & become sustainable, would we really want to return Britain to it's fomer manufacturing glory?

Maybe we should let the consumerfest just collapse & start again from a more realistic perspective.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


The education system is a mess. We have second generation social problems in Britain right now. In other words, many of this generation of young parents were woefully let down by weak family and social values and also by a dreadful education system which is still in place today.

Crippled families are hardly likely to be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat to help prevent the sickness from continuing on into the next generation and so forth.
So where can we look for help to prevent further decline in standards or continued stagnation at best?

First choice should be schools. In an ideal world our schools should be able to pick up where parents leave off and help our children to become happy and worthwhile adults but many schools simply don’t.

For a start they are constrained by the National curriculum which is more about ratings than education.
It would be better if head teachers were given a bit more freedom to decide how their schools operated and to teach what they felt was relevant to their children rather than have to roll out the same old rubbish year after year.

My son’s school isn’t doing him much good at all. Far too much time is given to things of little value.

RE bothers me. The National curriculum states that education in Britain should be broadly Christian based. Incredible really being as they now claim that we are a multicultural society.
Personally I think that religion should be taught only from an educational perspective and never fed to children as though it were either true or right. I don’t believe that it is ethical to indoctrinate young people who have, by law to be there in your care whilst you are working under the guise of an educator.

French also gives me cause for concern. What the hell is that about? Once again, we have people from all over the place living here in Britain and still we insist on pushing children through French, it makes no sense to me.

What I would like to see my child coming home from school with are some skills that will help him navigate through life.

How many schools have a garden or better yet, a farm? How much emphasis is placed on caring for the environment or inspiring children to get out and experience nature?

That was a rhetorical question I know. There are two things there which I believe are fundamentally important for young people to learn about and they are hardly touched on at all by many secondary schools.

A subject that affects all of us is ecology; it’s a very small word and it’s a shame that it isn’t bigger, so that we couldn’t fail to notice it.

Does it make sense to you, that it is the law of the land, that our children must learn about the Eucharist but there is nothing to say that they must learn about the carbon and its effect on our environment?

My son has almost come to the end of his first year at secondary school. He has been out on a field trip twice in that year. The first visit was to the Catholic Church across the road and the second was to the Anglican Church down in the town. Now you know why they say that some children think that chicken breasts are grown in polythene bags at the back of Tesco.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Is it okay to be patriotic?

Is it possible to be patriotic without being labelled ‘right wing’ or ‘racist’?

The British press have done a good job of making any talk of Anglo Saxon heritage sound decidedly ‘far right’.

It’s not only the Media who are to blame for Britishness becoming unpalatable, pro European politicians also seem hell bent on throwing away our national identity.

Devolution is also chipping away from the edges and all that our ancestors have worked hard to create is crumbling before our very eyes.

The name Great Britain has been quietly replaced with the understated ‘UK’ and as regards to ‘England’! It has almost become a dirty word.

So how did we arrive at this low point in our history?

Ever since the Norman Conquest, almost a thousand years ago, there has been a deep divide between the classes.

There have been a few variants of the Upper or Ruling Classes, from the original, Warrior Class during the age of Chivalry, to the Merchant and Industrialist Classes of later times and right up to the current rulers of today’s society, the Commercial or Financial Classes.

I don’t know if there is a generic term to describe them, all I know is that they most certainly exist.

The Class which has remained the same has always been the Lower Class. The only thing that has changed about the lower class has been the name.

We have gone from Peasant to Working Class and a few other titles in between. We even have a new title hovering over us, Benefit Class.

Someone has always born the burden of keeping the Rich and Powerful in the lap of luxury and up until the twentieth century it has largely been the British lower classes.

It doesn’t sound like much if you just read it as a short sentence within my blog does it? But if you pause for a moment to consider the humanity, the struggling, the suffering that our forbears have lived through then you can begin to understand that they have been the Backbone of Britain, they deserve our respect and our loyalty for their legacy.

I believe that we owe it to them to protect our Britishness and our Celtic, Britonic and Anglo Saxon identity.

The blame for our current state of disarray can be put squarely at the feet of the people who are running the show for their totally ruthless pursuit of money. Greed is the driving force behind everything in our society today.

You might look at Britain and say that the standard of living is better that it has ever been and on the face of it you might be right but it is only because the usual suspects have found people to enslave elsewhere in the world.
The trouble is, it can’t last forever, and we, the average Joe’s of Britain are the ones who shoulder the blame.

Outsiders who are looking to criticise a country always associate the people of a nation with the person who is leading it. I cringe at the thought of being associated with Gordon Brown. The fact that he was never elected to the office of Prime Minister cuts little ice with people who are looking at our country today.

It really is a sad comment on our society that we tolerate a leadership which has destroyed the economy, sold the gold reserves and ruined our international reputation in less than a decade.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Apology for lack of blogging

I am sorry I haven't added to the blog for a day or two. I have been busy putting my ideas into practice.

I have aquired nine tons of topsoil, three tons of wood chippings and now the process of transforming my lawns into vegetable gardens has begun in ernest.

It's going to be a lot of work in the beginning but the long term benefits are going to be worth it.

Apart from the veg beds I am also going to put a glasshouse lean to on the end of my garden shed.

I looked at the prospects of buying a greenhouse or polytunnel and decided that it would have to wait another year. Money is very tight and I am lucky enough to live close to a double glazing installer who gives away all the windows he takes out.

I have to really get stuck in now because it is a critical time of year. If you don't seize the moment for sowing you can never reap the rewards.

Also looking at taking my own advice on motoring. The Merc is going and we have, as a family decided that we want to go retro and look for a pre ECU car that we can continue to maintain ourself and is also an iconic fuel miser. It's looking like maybe a VW Golf Diesel or a Peugeot 205.

In the short term most of the adjutments that we are going to make are not going to pay for themseves. I mean lets face it, Aldi vegetables are so cheap it's a joke. They usually have five veg at around thirty nine pence and that is going to take some beating but of course this is not about the now, it's about the uncertain tomorrow.

I will keep updating the blog but you will have to be patient for now because the physical work is rather demanding and I am tired at the end of each day.

Friday, 12 February 2010


Nobody can be absolutely certain about what the future holds for us here in Britain. There are so many things that are set on a course for failure.

 We could carry on debating important issues until we were blue in the face and meanwhile the ship holds its course towards the rocks.

Doom and gloom is really something that I do not wish to dwell upon, it’s far too British.

 What I want to do is seize every opportunity to succeed whilst others better suited to politics carry on with their endless debates.

I do however want to connect with other people who are prepared to make the necessary adjustments to their lives in order to succeed and enjoy the challenges that the future presents us with.

Many of the adjustments can be relatively painless and can in fact be very rewarding. 

 For example, I used to spend a lot of time mowing my lawns, backwards and forwards throughout the growing season and when I turned off my mower the village still hummed with the droning motors of all the other happy little mowers.

This year there is going to be one less droning mower because all three of my lawns have been turned into vegetable patches.

The benefits of that small adjustment to my life are manifold. Firstly, no more petrol wasted on cosmetics. Secondly, vegetable patches take far less effort to maintain that lawns once the initial hard work has been done.

 You can even cut out the digging by selling your mower and replacing it with a rotavator if you wish.

Thirdly and I get a lot of pleasure out of this one, you cut out the Supermarket on everything that you produce.

Last but not least you get to enjoy food at its absolute freshest. Even if you were to buy the finest locally grown organic veg you still couldn’t match the flavour and freshness of food grown in your own garden Food starts to lose its character the moment that it is harvested. The quicker it gets from the garden to the plate the better it is.

If you have children it is even more beneficial to you because they understand from an early age where food comes from and learn how to grow it for themselves.

So that is just one painless adjustment to your life that brings with it several benefits and has no down side.

Try another one for size. The impending hike in fuel costs is definitely going to hit you if you drive a car. If you use public transport the costs are still going to be passed onto you so cut those costs now.

Either get a bicycle or take up walking. I know it sounds obvious but it is another multiple positive.

Firstly you save money; secondly you are cutting down on your fuel usage. This is particularly important should we ever be rationed but also, it’s good for the environment.

The third thing I believe is as important as the other two put together, your fitness improves. In an uncertain future one of the key things that you can do to help insure your survival is to get fit. It strengthens your mind and body and prepares you for the unexpected.

Remember the expression “survival of the fittest”?

Both cycling and walking can be life changing things. It is shocking how many people spend much of their free time gawping at the television.

I walk and cycle every day and I almost have the countryside to myself, the sights and sounds of nature, the breathtaking sunsets and all the while thousands of people are sitting listening to Peter Andre whining about how Katie Price has broken his poor little heart.

Well they are welcome to it all.