In memory of Pixi Morgan

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Pixi: real pixies in their original form were mischievous beings

It was during this visit to Cardiff that CJ had met Pixi for the first time. He stayed for a few days, and then, on the Saturday night Steve and CJ went to a party at the house where Pixi was staying.

He went by a variety of names in those days so you never knew what to call him. At one point he’d reverted to his given name, which was Neill, which he insisted was spelt with a double L. Later he declared that it was Reill, pronounced ‘real’ and even went so far to tattoo this on his arm. Then, after he met Arthur, he became Mordred, in honour of his role in the Warband. Not that Pixi was Arthur’s enemy as the character in the stories had been. They believed they had the right to interpret the stories in any way they wished, and in their version of it Mordred was on Arthur’s side. He challenged Arthur, because that was in his nature. Pixi challenged everyone. But the challenge made you stronger.

Later again he changed the name to Less Dread, because he had his dreadlocks cut off. But generally he was known as Pixi, a name that he loved and hated at the same time. The reason he hated it was that it had a kind of wishy-washy New Age ring to it. It was the sort of name that fluffy girls on peace camps might call themselves. But he knew too that real pixies in their original form were mischievous beings, not fluffy at all. Cosmic trouble-makers. Hence his spelling of the name, with two I’s. A bit sharp and a bit pointed. A bit angular. A bit spiky.

The party was in the back garden. They were sitting round a fire drinking cider. CJ and Pixi had never met before, but they felt that they already knew each other. They were like old friends. Pixi had heard Steve’s stories about him so many times, it was like he had been there, in spirit if not in body.

After a while Pixi began to sing. This was his natural place, with a guitar, by a fire, late at night, with the cider flowing. That’s when the currents of the Earth ran through him like a storm. It was like he was picking up energy from the Earth, like he’d planted electrodes deep into the mantle and was drinking in the magnetic field. There was an energy about him, an authenticity, a raw musicality, timeless and natural like the elements. It was as if he was giving voice to the spirits as they gathered about him, as if his audience wasn’t just a few people in the back garden of a house in Cardiff one late Saturday night in the 1990s, but the whole world, and everyone in it, for all time.

CJ felt that this fire was the same fire near which King Arthur had slept not so long ago, the one where the woman had accused him of being drunk. It could have been any fire anywhere in the world at any time in history. It was like the great stirring, humming electrical city all around them was fading into the background, and they had all been cast back, into another time: into a heroic age, in which the people were themselves again, no longer shackled by the constraints of industrial capitalism, no longer slaves to the profit motive, but free to explore their true status as legendary beings. It was like they had walked through a door and stepped into a myth.

CJ felt that this was what Camelot must have been like.

And that was the beginning of CJ’s involvement with King Arthur and the tribe and the Matter of Britain.

Read more here: http://hubpages.com/literature/Pixi

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Where did the billions of pounds go?

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Michael Linton, the founder of the Open Money Project, says that money is really an immaterial measure, like an inch, or a gallon, or a pound, or a degree.

To speak of a lack of money is absurd: like a builder saying he can’t finish your house as he’s run out of inches, or a brewer saying he can’t brew any more beer as he’s run out of gallons.

That’s what George Osborne is telling us when he talks about austerity: we can’t build for our future, he says, because all of the financial feet and inches have been used up somewhere else.

If you think that money is a limited resource, then tell me: how come the government created £375 billion worth of the stuff as Quantitative Easing?

That’s the equivalent of £10,000 for every man, woman and child in the UK. Where did all that money go?

Steve Keen, one of the few economists to predict the financial crash of 2008, talks of “Quantitative Easing for the people”.

He says that the government should use the capacity to create money, but that they should give it to us.

If you are in debt, he says, you should use the money to pay down the debt. If you are in credit, you should spend it.

Give money to a rich person, and they will put it into an offshore account, thus withholding it from the economy.

Give it to an ordinary person, on the other hand, and they would probably spend it. They would buy a new three-piece suite, or a new kitchen. They would go on holiday. They would buy a new car.

Spending money creates jobs which gives more people money to spend. The money goes round and round and the economy grows.

Positive Money have estimated that of every pound of that £375 billion created by the Bank of England and given to the banks, only 8p went into the real economy.

If, on the other hand, they had given it to us, every pound would have generated £2.80 worth of economic activity and everyone would have been better off.

*******
The Whitstable Gazette.
The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.
Send letters to:
The Editor, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3SE,
fax 01227 762415
email kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk

For a fully referenced version of this article please go to https://christopherjamesstone.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/quantitative-easing-for-the-people-2/

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Quantitative easing for the people

Michael Linton, founder of the Open Money Project

I’ve been thinking about money.

Michael Linton, the founder of the Open Money Project, says that money is really an immaterial measure, like an inch, or a gallon, or a pound, or a degree.

It’s a measure of the relative value of things and not a thing in itself.

To speak of a lack of money is absurd. It’s like a builder saying he can’t finish your house as he’s run out of inches, or a brewer saying he can’t brew any more beer as he’s run out of gallons.

That’s what George Osborne is telling us when he talks about austerity: we can’t build for our future, he says, because all of the financial feet and inches have been used up somewhere else.

If you think that money is a limited resource, then tell me: how come the government created £375 billion worth of the stuff as quantitative easing?

That’s the equivalent of £10,000 for every man, woman and child in the UK. Where did all that money go?

It went into the pockets of the very wealthiest.

According to the Bank of England, the top 5% of the population took 40% of that money. This is because most of the money has gone into boosting asset prices rather than creating anything new.

The richest people in the country have seen the value of their holdings grow by around £322,000 per household.

That’s why house prices are going through the roof, particularly in London. It’s an asset bubble generated by quantitative easing.

The rest of us are no better off. In fact we are worse off because, at the same time as he is boosting asset prices, George Osborne is also selling off all our public assets to his friends in the City.

Steve Keen, one of the few economists to predict the financial crash of 2008

Steve Keen, one of the few economists to predict the financial crash of 2008, talks of “quantitative easing for the people”.

He says that the government should use the capacity to create money, but that they should give it to the people instead of to the banks.

If you are in debt, he says, you should use the money to pay down the debt. If you are in credit, you should spend it.

Give money to a rich person and they will hoard it in an offshore account, thus withholding it from the economy.

Give it to an ordinary person, on the other hand, and they would spend at least some of it. They would buy a new three-piece suite, or a new kitchen. They would go on holiday. New clothes for the kids. A new hairdo. They would decorate their house or build a garden shed. They would spend what they felt could afford.

Spending money creates jobs which gives more people more money to spend. The money goes round and round and the economy grows.

Positive Money have estimated that of every pound of that £375 billion created by the Bank of England and given to the banks, only 8p went into the real economy.

If, on the other hand, they had given it to us, the people, every pound would have generated £2.80 worth of economic activity and everyone would have been better off.

Isn’t it time we had some new thinking about money?

Posted in economics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Deaths of stars and friends remind us how fragile we are

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There have been a number of high profile deaths in the news recently: starting with Lemmy from Motorhead, followed by David Bowie and ending with Alan Rickman last week.

I was never a particular fan of any of them, but they served as a familiar backdrop to the ongoing story of my own life, so it will seem strange not to have them around any more.

There was also the news of the death of my good friend Richard Stainton, which I first heard about on Facebook.

What was particularly poignant about this for me is that I have recently moved onto a new postal round which includes Richard’s address. I was looking forward to knocking on his door one day with a parcel and saying hello.

What all of these deaths do is to remind us how fragile we are, and how tentative our hold on this life.

All of them were relatively young. Lemmy was the oldest at 70. Rickman and Bowie were both 69.

I’m not sure how old Richard was, but the last time I saw him, not long before Christmas, he seemed in good health, so the news of his death came as a complete shock.

Alan Rickman and Richard were both staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause and members of the Labour Party. Richard had just rejoined after a long absence, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership.

That’s another thing I was looking forward to: chatting to Richard about our hopes for the future now that we have a real opposition again.

I feel no compunction making these political points on the occasion of the death of my friend as I know that they were central to his sense of identity.

He was a great campaigner for justice and for peace, and I’m sure that our town will miss him very much.

Most notably, he was instrumental in getting the peace bench built on the beach, which he used regularly as a focus for his activities.

It will stand as a lasting memorial, not only to Brian Haw, but to Richard Stainton as well.

*******

The Whitstable Gazette.
The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.
Send letters to:
The Editor, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3SE,
fax 01227 762415
email kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk
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The socialist commandments

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  1. Love your school-fellows, who will be your fellow-workmen in life.

  2. Love learning, which is the food of the mind; be as grateful to your teacher as to your parents.

  3. Make every day holy by good and useful deeds and kindly actions.

  4. Honour good men, be courteous to all men, bow down to none.

  5. Do not hate or speak evil of anyone; do not be revengeful, but stand up for your rights and resist oppression.

  6. Do not be cowardly, be a friend to the weak, and love justice.

  7. Remember that all the good things of the earth are produced by labour, whoever enjoys them without working for them is stealing the bread of the workers.

  8. Observe and think in order to discover the truth; do not believe what is contrary to reason, and never deceive yourself or others.

  9. Do not think that he who loves his own country must hate other nations, or wish for war, which is a remnant of barbarism.

  10. Look forward to the day when all men will be free citizens of one fatherland, and live together as brothers in peace and righteousness.

Declaration:

We desire to be just and loving to all our fellow men and women, to work together as brothers and sisters, to be kind to every living creature, and so help to form a New Society, with Justice as its foundation and Love its law.

Socialist Sunday School Commandments c. 1912

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When the new year begins is down to your tradition

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So that’s it: 2015 is over and done, and 2016 is well on its way. I wonder how many of you have broken your new year’s resolutions already?

As I’ve said before: the placing of the new year is arbitrary. The calendar is a man-made construction and only loosely connected to the progress of the actual year.

When the year begins is a matter of debate, and what year you think it is depends on what culture you were born into.

The Jewish new year is in September and they are in the year 5776.

The Buddhist new year is in April and they are in the year 2560. The Hindu new year varies depending on the tradition, but the year is 5118.

The last Islamic new year was on the 14th of October 2015. The next will be on the 2nd October 2016. They are in the year 1437.

Islamic months end with the sighting of the crescent moon and track the progress of the year from direct observation of the heavens, but this leads to a disconnect with the solar calendar, and an Islamic year that is 11 or 12 days shorter than ours.

Our calendar, on the other hand, while it tracks the progress of the sun accurately enough, loses the connection to the moon.

The most precise calendar ever devised was by a Stone Age people: the Mayans of Central America.

Their calendar tracked the progress, not only of the sun and the moon, but also the 243 year cycle of the planet Venus and every lunar and solar eclipse from August 11th 3114 BC to the present.

They are currently in year four of a five thousand one hundred and twenty six year cycle which will end in the year 7138.

And we think we’re civilised? The Mayans hadn’t even invented the wheel when they started their calendar, but they know exactly where they are in relation to the stars.

As for your new year’s resolutions: there’s plenty of time for you to make them and break them again.

It all depends on when you think the year begins.

*******

The Whitstable Gazette.
The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.
Send letters to:
The Editor, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3SE,
fax 01227 762415
email kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk
Posted in The Whitstable Gazette, Time, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Celebrate a time of great traditions

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There was one of those infographics on Facebook a while back. It said, “Winter Solstice: get naked, drink mead and party like a Pagan, because a Christmas spent queuing at Argos is just rubbish.”

Well it used a different word than “rubbish”, but you get the idea.

Since when did Christmas become a marketing tool for the corporations? All those bland adverts selling us ready made luxuries for the Christmas table.

It’s depressing, it truly is.

When I was growing up my Nan made the Christmas pud. She put a silver sixpence into the bowl and we took it in turns to stir the mix. Whoever found the sixpence on Christmas Day would have good luck in the coming year. That’s what Christmas is really all about: these peculiar traditions which we would revive every year.

Like going out on a winter’s morning to gather the holly.

Like kissing under the mistletoe. Like the yule log burning in the grate and the star on top of the Christmas tree.

All of these traditions have roots going back through the centuries, to the very dawn of history perhaps.

The Vikings celebrated Christmas, as did the Romans, as did the people who built Stonehenge.

They called it by different names and it took place on slightly different dates, on or around the solstice, but it was still clearly the Christmas we know today.

The Romans knew it as the Saturnalia, in honour of the god Saturn, after whom Saturday is named.

It was a time of feasting, gift-giving and partying, said to be a return to a mythical golden age when Saturn ruled the Earth.

That’s what gives Christmas its special magic: this sense of something deeply-rooted in history which we are bringing to life again for the coming year. It is anything but bland.

TV might have replaced the Yule Log as the thing to watch, and alcopops the wassail as the thing to drink, but the spirit of Old Christmas lives on.

And wherever people gather around the table and raise a toast to peace and goodwill to all men, there the real meaning of Christmas is found.

*******

For a longer version of this article, please go to: https://christopherjamesstone.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/the-christmas-tradition-lives-on/
The Whitstable Gazette.
The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.
Send letters to:
The Editor, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3SE,
fax 01227 762415
email kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk
Posted in The Whitstable Gazette | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The spirit of Old Christmas lives on

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Saturn: a notable similarity to Father Christmas

There was one of those infographics on Facebook a while back. It said, “Winter Solstice: get naked, drink mead and party like a Pagan, because a Christmas spent queuing at Argos is just rubbish.”

Well it used a different word than “rubbish”, but you get the idea.

Since when did Christmas become a marketing tool for the corporations? All those bland adverts selling us ready made luxuries for the Christmas table. It’s depressing, it truly is.

When I was growing up my Nan made the Christmas pud. She put a silver sixpence into the bowl and we took it in turns to stir the mix. Whoever found the sixpence on Christmas Day would have good luck in the coming year.

That’s what Christmas is really all about: these peculiar traditions which we would revive every year. Like going out on a winter’s morning to gather the holly. Like kissing under the mistletoe. Like the Yule Log burning in the grate and the star on top of the Christmas tree.

All of these traditions have roots going back through the centuries, to the very dawn of history perhaps.

The Vikings celebrated Christmas, as did the Romans, as did the people who built Stonehenge.

They called it by different names and it took place on slightly different dates, on or around the solstice, but it was still clearly the Christmas we know today.

The Romans knew it as the Saturnalia, in honour of the agricultural god Saturn, after whom our Saturday is named. It was a time of feasting, gift-giving and partying, said to be a return to a mythical golden age when Saturn ruled the Earth.

That’s what gives Christmas its special magic: this sense of something deeply-rooted in history which we are bringing to life again for the coming year.

Interestingly depictions of Saturn in Roman art show a notable similarity to Father Christmas: an old man with a long white beard.

The Vikings called Christmas “Yule” and many of our current traditions come from them. Not only the Yule Log, but also the Christmas tree has its origins in Viking practice. They would decorate evergreen trees with carved runes and small images of the gods, as well as food and clothing, in order to propitiate the tree spirits, to encourage the return of Spring.

Yule was also a time of drinking and feasting and riotous excess. Not much has changed then.

In Medieval times the Christmas festivities were guided by an officiator or Master of Ceremonies known as “The Lord of Misrule”. During the Christmas period this character, chosen by lot from amongst the peasants, ruled supreme. The ordinary rules of behaviour were reversed. Masters served the servants, and the servants became masters, while the Lord of Misrule himself commanded absolute obedience.

John Stow, a Tudor writer, in his Survey Of London (1598), called the Lord of Misrule a “Master of Merry Disports”, and described his role as to “make the rarest of pastimes to delight the beholders”. The reign of this mad priest of anarchy (known as the Abbot of Unreason in Scotland) lasted throughout the Christmas period and beyond—from Halloween to Candlemas, over three months in all – during which time there were “fine and subtle disguisings, Masks and Mummeries” as well as cards and other games.

The Lord of Misrule, in fact, was another variant of the old god Saturn, who also had it in his power to reverse the social order.

The slogan of Christmas was “the World Turned Upside Down”, and although things went back to normal after the Christmas season had finished, there can’t have been many members of the servant class who didn’t wish they could stay that way forever.

Philip Stubbes – a puritan writer as you can tell by the tone of disapproval – in his Anatomy of Abuses (1583) described Christmas in the following terms:

More mischief is that time committed than in all the year besides, what masking and mumming, whereby robbery whoredom, murder and what not is committed? What dicing and carding, what eating and drinking, what banqueting and feasting is then used, more than in all the year besides, to the great dishonour of God and impoverishing of the realm.

During Cromwell’s reign, there was an attempt to legislate against Christmas, marked in a popular ballad of the time, called The World Is Turned Upside Down:

Listen to me and you shall hear news hath not been this thousand year/Since Herod, Caesar and many more, You never heard the like before/Holy-days are despis’d, New fashions are devis’d, Old Christmas is kicked out of Town/Yet let’s be content and the times lament, You see the world turned upside down.

Unfortunately for the Puritan legislators, Christmas was way too popular with the masses for the attempt to ban it to succeed. The people simply carried on doing what they had always done, enjoying the festive season in all its riotous splendour.

Is it too much to imagine that the vain determination to get rid of this popular festival might have helped bring about the restoration of Charles II in 1660?

The unruly atmosphere of these earlier festivals still holds to this day. It remains, what it always has been, a festival of lights in the darkest part of the year, a feast of plenty in a time of paucity, a celebration of excess to banish the ghosts of the passing year, a chance to remake the world again.

It is anything but bland.

Well TV might have replaced the Yule Log as the thing to watch, and alcopops the Wassail as the thing to drink, but the spirit of Old Christmas lives on.

And wherever people gather around the table and raise a toast to Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men, there the real meaning of Christmas is found.

*********

More on Christmas: https://christopherjamesstone.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/fellow-creatures-at-christmas-a-ranters-yuletide-fable/

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Katrina’s chocolates are simply heavenly

One of Katrina’s paintings

It’s become something of a tradition. Every year around this time I encourage my readers to shop locally and to buy their presents from one of the many artists or crafts people who live and work in Whitstable.

This year I’d like to introduce you to Katrina Louise Taylor. Some of you will already know her. Many of you will not.

Katrina is an artist, but she is also a very talented chocolatier.

Ah chocolate: that most heavenly of confections. Who doesn’t like chocolate?

But Katrina’s chocolates are in another league altogether.

She’s been featured on the BBC Good Food Programme, and has won several awards from the prestigious Academy of Chocolate, including a Silver Award for her Damson Plum & Amaretto Truffles, and a Bronze Award (twice!) for her Peach, Geranium & Armagnac Truffles.

Other flavours include Black Cherry and Chilli-infused Vodka, Wild Blueberry and Calvados, Lavender, Kentish Honey and Single Malt Whisky, Raspberry and Cognac and Grand Marnier and Seville Orange Marmalade.

I think you might see a pattern here. They mostly include alcohol in some combination with fruit or flowers. The White Stilton with Apricot and Lime Oil is the only exception to this rule.

I never promote anything in these columns that I don’t believe in 100%, and Katrina’s chocolates are simply out of this world.

If you are interested you can contact her via her website at www.katrinalouisetaylor.com. She also sells her wares at the Windy Corner Stores on the corner of Nelson Road and Island Wall.

She will be at the Farmer’s Market in St. Mary’s Hall, Whitstable, this Saturday, the 19th December.

In fact, here’s a really good idea: why not visit the Farmer’s Market and not only will you find Katrina there, but you’ll be greeted by a host of other producers selling a wide variety of interesting, organic, local products, many of which would make for fine and unusual Christmas presents.

The hall will be decorated and the organisers are hoping to have live music playing outside.

Buy local. You’ll be helping the local economy while saving yourself from stress at the same time.

Posted in Food, Kent, Reviews, Whitstable | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Unbalanced reporting is feeding our ignorance

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I overheard one of my colleagues at work the other day. He was listening to a news report about the prospect of British jets bombing Isis targets in Syria.

“Let’s bomb them,” he said.

I often hear him saying such things.

He’s not a right wing bigot or a racist, although he might be Islamophobic. Many people are Islamophobic these days.

I said, “that’s exactly what they are saying about you right now.”

He turned from his frame and looked at me sceptically. “So what would you do?”

Unfortunately my answer was a lot less succinct than the three words which had summed up his argument.

I said we should cut off their funding. I pointed out that Isis appear to be backed by Turkey, one of our allies. I tried to tell him about the Saudi connection and the export of their Wahhabi philosophy.

I reminded him of the million or more dead Iraqis and the devastation of that entire country; about Western backing for Islamic extremists in Libya, and the use of militant jihadists to destabilise Syria.

It’s a whole complex argument which isn’t easy to get over when you’re attempting to tie up bundles of mail ready to take out on a busy morning at the Royal Mail.

I remembered a quote from Noam Chomsky which I thought might clarify things: “Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.”

I didn’t say it though.

I realised I would have to explain who Chomsky was.

That’s when it struck me. The division isn’t between the right and the left: it’s between the informed and the misinformed.

If you don’t know who Chomsky is, then you are misinformed. It is a measure of the failure of our media that so many people are entirely ignorant of the argument, going back to the Vietnam War, and articulated most clearly by Chomsky, that the United States is, in fact, a global expansionist Empire.

Without knowing that you cannot possibly understand the real meaning of the events unfolding in our world today.

*******

For a longer version of this article please go to:

https://christopherjamesstone.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/left-wing-vs-right-wing/

The Whitstable Gazette.
The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.
Send letters to:
The Editor, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3SE,
fax 01227 762415
email kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk
Posted in Newspapers, politics, The Whitstable Gazette, War | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments