Sunday, May 22, 2011

Layer 469 . . . Dylan, No Direction, New Labour, The Beat, The Rapture, and a New Morning

Thought For Today

It's often through teaching that the teacher learns more about a subject.


"He's got the holy spirit about him. You can tell just by looking at him. He can't help what he does."

This was said about Bob Dylan by one of the people interviewed for Martin Scorcese's film, No Direction Home, broadcast (again) on BBC4 last night and the night before (parts 1 and 2).

Bob himself was filmed speaking directly to camera, giving simple and straightforward opinions about his life and times, and his work. The man, of course, is a genius, and of course he's driven by a spirit that neither he, nor anyone else, can control. As were Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. As is Leonard Cohen.

You'd have to say that this is in contrast to someone like John Lennon, whose desperation for love and acceptance put him in thrall to Yoko Ono. Also Paul McCartney, who needed people like Lennon to give him musical direction, and also needed his wife Linda to keep his ego intact. I pretty much can't bear to look when potentially strong, capable and independent people put themselves under the influence - if not the command and control - of partners who reinforce their weaknesses and sap their strength.

Part of the genius of Dylan is that he called himself "just a song and dance man", and he long ago realised that living as a hermit - afraid of and in retreat from the world's madness - was no way for a genius and an artist to live.

To live in the world you have to be part of it - you have to participate in it and you have to interact with it. Otherwise - what are you going to write about, or make art about? What's going to stimulate, feed and ultimately move your soul and spirit? How, as an artist, are you going to describe the world if you're not out there experiencing it?

Therefore, even at the age of 70 - like John Lee Hooker before him, and BB King and Leonard Cohen in the present - Dylan constantly tours and constantly makes music . . . he practices his art and offers his genius to those of us who seek inspiration, stimulation and nourishment for our souls and our spirits.


The Beat - live at the Half Moon last night - were good, but not great.

Their ska-based music is still tremendously lively and energetic - with lots of audience interaction and participation. The drums, bass and sax work together extremely well, and the lead vocalist is a great character as well as a good singer.

However - the acoustics of the Half Moon are crap, and the quality of the amplification was extremely poor. The keyboards were totally inaudible, the guitar was rarely at a high enough volume to be heard properly, and the vocals were muffled and incomprehensible.

All in all, very disappointing - though worth going to - to see a very good band and in order to support live music. This country desperately needs a  good live music scene, and as many venues as possible to support it. Music is good for the soul, and brings people together. South London desperately needs to bring its people together.


The thrilling thing about this morning is that the world is still in existence, in spite of the line-up of planets, and forecasts that it would come to an end yesterday because of this rare cosmic configuration. This morning started off wet and dull, but the sun's already broken through and we have another beautiful morning of blue skies and sunshine.


Ed Miliband: Labour must win back middle classes

Labour leader sets out mission to regain trust of voters by admitting to past mistakes and pledging to tackle inequality
What's this about winning back the middle classes? Labour has an awful lot to do to win back the working classes, or indeed anybody. Particularly socialists and the Left in general. Labour has a problem with anyone apart from its core vote of uncritical deadheads. Who else could support what the Labour party became, thanks to the Blair/Brown years?

Still, Ed Millibean, in spite of his posh-boy-with-an-Estuary-inflection voice and his schoolboy looks, is making a steady start. And of course he's dead right that Labour MUST admit to its past mistakes AND must pledge to tackle inequality - things that New Labour could never, ever, do.

"In a speech to the Progress thinktank in London, Miliband pledged to tackle the "new inequality" between the rich and the rest of society, but also admitted the gap had grown under the last Labour government."

In a direct pitch to middle-class voters in the south of England, Miliband said their living standards were being squeezed in the same way as those in poorer parts of the country.

Labour needed the humility to acknowledge that the inequality between "those at the top and everyone else" had grown under the last Labour government, although the coalition was exacerbating the problem.

"Inequality is no longer an issue just between rich and poor. But between those at the top and those both in the middle and on lower incomes," he said.

"Since 2003, those at the top have seen their living standards continue to rise at extraordinary rates, while those of the rest have stagnated."

He said he was committed to tackling Britain's budget deficit, but that the current government's austerity measures were loading more of the financial burden on to those who were already struggling.

Improving jobs and wages would mean "asking less of the state", although he did not eloborate on whether this meant something akin to Cameron's "big society".

"The truth is that we cannot create a society that is equal to the aspirations of the British people in a world of wide and growing inequalities – a world in which there are bailouts for bankers and austerity for the rest.

"Asking more of our economy, good jobs and wages, means asking less of the state. At times, we hung on to a picture of Britain in which people were either poor, and desperately in need of our help, or affluent, aspirational, and doing OK.

"We failed to understand that for millions of people in the middle, life was becoming more and more difficult.

"In the future the Labour offer to aspirational voters must be that we will address the new inequality by hard-wiring fairness into the economy."


Our ignorance was bliss for Fred Goodwin

A supine and compliant judiciary has allowed too many corporate wrongdoings to go unpunished

by Nic Cohen

As a journalist, I have learned to notice the stories that aren't printed and the witnesses who don't come forward. Chief among the people we ought to hear from but never do are bankers not only at RBS but also at HBOS, Barclays, Lloyds, Goldman Sachs, Abbey National and Northern Rock prepared to tell us about the blunders their banks made and how they might be avoided in future.

Bankers know that the judges would issue a gagging order if they spoke out. Their employers would fire them and no other bank would hire then because they had broken the omerta of the City. Privacy law does not work in isolation. It meshes with commercial confidentiality and fear of the sack to form a conspiracy against public understanding.


This is Andrew Rawnsley's article from last Sunday, which might have given Ed Milli the push he needed to get going with his latest speeches -

To have a hope of power, Labour must turn from dull into dynamic

Ed Miliband's party needs to forget complacent assumptions and remember that the task is both big and urgent

The most recent meeting of the shadow cabinet turned into a long discussion of Labour's performance in the local and devolved elections. A rigorous postmortem is certainly required.

Let me suggest five things that Ed Miliband and his party ought to forget and five things they need to remember if Labour is to look serious as a contender for power.

The time frame to think about is the mid-term of this parliament. By then, Labour ought to have demonstrated that it has learned from its mistakes in office, developed a persuasive critique of the coalition's record, and started to look like a convincing replacement. Even if this parliament goes the full five-year stretch, the midterm is now only 18 months away. That is not long at all. In fact, for the Labour party, I'd say it is frighteningly little time to establish themselves as a credible alternative government.

Remember parties get the attention that they deserve. Labour frontbenchers moan that the media won't pay them any attention. With a few honourable exceptions, watching slow-drying paint is more gripping than most of the output of Labour spokesmen and women.

Labour's transport team should be getting out more, travelling the world to learn what works best abroad. Ditto the education team and the health team. They ought to be hungry for new ideas and seek them from people you would not always expect Labour to engage with. And they need to be seen doing so.

The anniversary of the coalition has been marked by a welter of pieces saying that David Cameron looks good in the part of prime minister. Voters prefer Mr Cameron to Mr Miliband on questions such as charisma and strength, and they do so by big margins. Building himself into a more prime ministerial figure is the Labour leader's greatest personal challenge. An operation on his adenoids isn't going to be enough. He needs to demonstrate much more verve and daring, and articulate a much clearer sense of direction, if he is to show the stuff of successful leadership. Given a more dynamic lead by its chief, his party might then start to follow and look interesting again.

Or Labour can carry on being what it is now: risk-averse, ill-defined, dull and complacent in its assumption that the failings of the other side will coast them to power. Well, that worked a treat in Scotland, didn't it?


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Layer 468 . . . The IMF, Strauss-Kahn, Hattie Carroll, Naomi Klein and Bob Dylan

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn refused bail on sex assault charges

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who denies the charges, remanded in custody in New York over fears he might flee the US

As far as Oxzen can see the IMF is still a New York-based ultra-powerful right-wing institution controlled by individuals who have aligned it with the doctrines of the notorious Chicago School of Friedmanite economics. For several decades it has forced governments throughout the world to privatise public assets and impose austerity on their citizens (a la New Labour and New Tories who did it without any external encouragement or direction - simply for fun and profit) in return for receiving emergency loans, etc. Read what Naomi Klein has to say about the IMF:

IMF Go to Hell

The IMF had its chance to run Argentina [ETC!]. Now it's the people's turn.

Naomi also has plenty to say about the IMF in her book, The Shock Doctrine, which, of course, everyone should have read by now.

"The IMF has three trademark demands - privatisation, government deregulation, and deep cuts to social spending . . . " [P9]

"The colonisation of the World Bank and the IMF by the Chicago School [graduates] was a largely unspoken process, but it became official in 1989 when John Williamson unveiled what he called "the Washington Consensus".  It was a list of policies that he said both institutions now considered the bare minimum for economic health - "the common core of wisdom embraced by all serious economists". These policies, masquerading as technical and uncontentious, included such bold ideological claims as "all state enterprises should be privatised", and "barriers impeding the entry of foreign firms should be abolished". When the list was complete it made up nothing less than Friedman's neoliberal triumverate of privatisation, deregulation/free trade and drastic cuts to government spending. Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank and one of the last holdouts against the new orthodoxy, wrote that "Keynes would be rolling over in his grave were he to see what has happened to his child [the IMF]". [P.163]

"The IMF's official mandate was still crisis prevention - not social engineering or ideological transformation - so economic stabilisation needed to be the official rationale. The reality was that in country after country the international debt crisis was being methodically leveraged to advance the Chicago School agenda, based on a ruthless application of Friedman's shock doctrine." [P164]

Sounds familiar?

Wikipedia says -
The IMF sometimes advocates “austerity programmes,” increasing taxes even when the economy is weak, in order to generate government revenue and bring budgets closer to a balance, thus reducing budget deficits. Countries are often advised to lower their corporate tax rate. These policies were criticized by Joseph E. Stiglitz, former chief economist and senior vice president at the World Bank, in his book Globalization and Its Discontents. He argued that by converting to a more Monetarist [ie Friedmanite] approach, the fund no longer had a valid purpose, as it was designed to provide funds for countries to carry out Keynesian reflations, and that the IMF “was not participating in a conspiracy, but it was reflecting the interests and ideology of the Western financial community.”

Now, Mr Strauss-Kahn is a member of the French Socialist Party (!) and has apparently made a pretty good fist of managing the financial current crisis, insofar as he's advocated the expenditure of reserves [ie OUR money] on propping up the financial institutions, banks and indeed whole countries, such as Greece. What's not clear [to me at least] is whether he's also been calling for re-regulation of financial institutions, and indeed the nationalisation of banks and finance houses. And if not, why not?

Something happens to people who rise to positions of enormous power - people like Thatcher, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Blair, and, possibly, Strauss-Kahn. Either they start to feel omnipotent and godlike, in which case they assume the right to think and to do whatever they like, or else their latent psychopathic tendencies completely take over and they feel no limits on their desires, impulses and need for personal gratification.

This story instantly brings to mind the lyrics of Bob Dylan's song,

Play the video and listen to the words -

The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll

William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger
At a Baltimore hotel society gath’rin’
And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him
As they rode him in custody down to the station
And booked William Zanzinger for first-degree murder
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain’t the time for your tears

William Zanzinger, who at twenty-four years
Owns a tobacco farm of six hundred acres
With rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him
And high office relations in the politics of Maryland
Reacted to his deed with a shrug of his shoulders
And swear words and sneering, and his tongue it was snarling
In a matter of minutes on bail was out walking
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain’t the time for your tears

Hattie Carroll was a maid of the kitchen
She was fifty-one years old and gave birth to ten children
Who carried the dishes and took out the garbage
And never sat once at the head of the table
And didn’t even talk to the people at the table
Who just cleaned up all the food from the table
And emptied the ashtrays on a whole other level
Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane
That sailed through the air and came down through the room
Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle
And she never done nothing to William Zanzinger
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain’t the time for your tears

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all’s equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain’t pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught ’em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin’ that way without warnin’
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence . . .
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now’s the time for your tears.


Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly raped a maid
In his New York hotel bedroom that she was a'cleaning
He came out of his bathroom and stood there stark naked
He grabbed her and hit her, and he raped her
And the cops were called in and his name took from him
As they rode him in custody down to the station
And booked Dominique Strauss-Kahn for all of his sex crimes -
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain’t the time for your tears


Bob's written an interesting piece on his website, on his China gigs -

Allow me to clarify a couple of things about this so-called China controversy which has been going on for over a year. First of all, we were never denied permission to play in China . . . 

So much for the right-wing press - who have, let's say. . .  issues - with Bob, and with China.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Layer 467 . . . A Message on Headed Notepaper

This is a fucking outrage - and all credit to the Guardian for highlighting it:

Parents angered by schools' promotion of home tuition schemes
Parents say tactics used by schools are pressurising them into signing up to home tuition schemes
by Sue Learner

Parents across the country are protesting about letters from their children's schools that help to market a DVD home tuition scheme. In return for sending out the letters on school headed notepaper, signed by the headteacher, the schools receive a payment for "administration costs".
The critics complain that some parents are signing up to the Student Support Centre's literacy and numeracy programme, which can cost thousands of pounds, because their school is advising them it "may be of benefit" to their children.
The headteacher's letter states: "I have been asked to distribute information on behalf of the Student Support Centre and, having reviewed the service they provide, feel it may be of interest to you and of benefit to your children." It adds: "Neither I nor the school actively endorse the service."
Bob Jefferson, whose daughter attends Towerbank primary in Edinburgh, calls it "an abuse of trust". "I don't feel that it is appropriate for the school to be promoting a private company. Quite a few parents at our school were upset about it. I know schools are strapped for cash, but it seems they are getting paltry sums of money, so why are they selling their souls to the devil?" he says.

Why indeed . . .

Contact details
More than 25,000 primary and secondary schools have sent out the SSC material, says the company, one of the largest UK providers of home tuition materials. Parents are urged by schools to return the form whether they are interested or not. They are asked for their contact details, which are passed on to the company.
The programme of DVD lessons for key stage 1-4 is backed by a tutor helpline, and children are given regular tests.

Of course they are. Tests and more tests - it's the only game in town. Forget education and forget the development of 'character' - it's all about testing now.
Zoe Hall signed up when her daughter was in year 8 at what was then Lindsey school and community arts college in Lincolnshire (now Cleethorpes academy). "She brought home a letter and, because it came from the school, I trusted it. I thought she could do with some extra maths tuition. So I returned the slip. A sales lady came to the house. She said: 'You can't put a price on your daughter's education', which made me feel very guilty."
Hall signed up at £65.60 a month and quickly regretted it, but was unable to cancel the contract because she missed the five-day cooling-off period (since changed to 14 days). "It makes me feel so angry," she says. "It has been a waste of money and has caused arguments in our family."
Hall says her daughter tried to follow the DVDs for six months in year 8. "She found it too hard. I don't think she even needed it in the first place. The sales woman assessed her as needing to do the programme, but she sat her mock GCSE in maths at Christmas [in year 11] and got a B [without using the programme]." At the end of the four years of her agreement, Hall will have paid out £3,148.80.
Martin Brown, principal of Cleethorpes academy, says: "We agreed to distribute the leaflets because we are often asked by parents where they can access good educational support outside of school. Having looked at the material provided by the Student Support Centre, we were confident that it could be of help to students as a home-based complement to their schoolwork. We do not endorse this company and we make this quite clear in the letter we send out. Our role is simply to distribute the leaflets, collect the return slips and pass them on to the company." 

These people have "a role"? No they don't. They just suck Satan's cock, as the sainted Bill Hicks would say.

There's outrage here about schools (and their headteachers) aiding and abetting commercial enterprises whose only interest is getting money out of gullible and concerned parents. There's outrage about doing this shit for the sake of a few quid. There's outrage about parents being fleeced for no good reason.

But the real outrage, which this article seems to overlook, is what's being inflicted on children. You can kind-of understand business people wanting to con their way to some big bucks. This is what we expect. What is TOTALLY unacceptable is the whole business of schools actively promoting the non-stop, ceaseless cramming of children who have much better things to do with their after-school time. And yes - playing computer games and kicking footballs and watching TV and reading books for pleasure are all MUCH better for kids than coaching and cramming for the fucking tests. Headteachers who secretly (or openly) welcome parents hiring private tutors (or purchasing expensive DVDs) to cram kids on the basis that their schools (and their careers) are bound to benefit from it are fucking hateful shits of the first order. To hell with the lot of them.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Layer 466 . . . One Wedding, One Referendum, One Assassination, Scottish Elections, FPTP, SlutWalking, the Guardian, and Praising Essays

The incredible weather continues. Temperatures have been reaching 26 degrees, with cloudless skies, and mostly no wind at all. The cyanothus trees and shrubs are in full blossom, as are the standard white lilacs. The first roses are out, the sunflower seedlings are nine inches tall, and it's late Spring already.

So what's been happening in the world? Something about a royal wedding, and something about Osama bin Laden. Also some local elections and a referendum. All very boring.

Meanwhile, here in the centre of the universe a friend of mine had someone walk up to her outside a local library and squirt a water pistol in her face, before carrying on down the street, squirting as he went.

At roughly the same time, in another part of our lovely borough, a drunk walked - nay tottered - up to me, stood right in my face, and said, "D'you know where sunshine comes from? Eh? Where it comes from? NOT FROM WHITE MEN!" At which point all one can do is either, a) punch out the lights of the poor pathetic drunk, who no doubt gets slighted and shunned several times a day on account of his nasty drunkenness and not his skin colour, or b) walk swiftly away. Instinctively, as a man of peace, I did the latter. It's not my place to tell him he's a nasty drunk and a racist. Who am I to judge? We all have our dark sides.


The elections for the Scottish Assembly turned out to be very interesting. The SNP, led by Alex Salmond, is now in complete control of the Assembly - much to the consternation of the other parties, all of whom seem to fear that there's nothing now to stop Scotland declaring its independence from Britain - assuming the people of Scotland agree to the proposition in a referendum.

As I've been saying for some years to my Scottish friends - why on earth wouldn't Scotland want to free itself from control from Westminster? The argument is supposed to be that Scotland does very well from its share of the UK budget, but this is surely bogus. No self-respecting individual makes themself an absolute servant to someone in return for slightly higher wages than they'd get if they were autonomous - so why on earth would a whole country want to remain in perpetual servitude if it didn't have to? Why would Scotland want to remain a vassal of Cameron & Osborne, any more than it wished to have Thatcher as its unelected dictator?

The SNP is an avowedly social democratic / democratic socialist party that believes in greater social justice - which is what the Labour party used to do, but does no longer. It's a party that puts the welfare of the people above the wellbeing of non-humans such as bankers, international financiers and oligarchs. It's a party that believes in public ownership of high quality public services, such as education, health, housing and social services. From the average citizen's point of view, what's not to like?

The loss of Britain's nuclear umbrella, and its trillions of wasted funding? Having to rely on NATO for military protection? (From whom? The English?) How scary might that be? Being put in the same position as Germany, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg and all the rest? How big a deal is that?


From the average English person's point of view the potential loss of left-leaning Scottish MPs from Westminster might appear to be a catastrophe. The prospect, under first past the post, of perpetual Tory government in England is grim indeed.

Looking on the bright side, however, it would finally reveal what a complete con the first past the post electoral system really is. How can you possibly call anything a democracy when English Tory-supporting shire counties can completely outnumber and outvote a small number of urban constituencies where the left-leaning working classes, on account of the land-grabbing Enclosures Act, happen to reside in their tower blocks, estates and terraces? And all the anti-Tory votes in the shires count for absolutely nothing.

People in England are, by and large, too ignorant to realise that they've been fucked over by the FPTP voting system - so much so that they've just voted overwhelmingly to keep it in perpetuity! The lack of any sort of proportional representation will guarantee perpetual government by Tories and their lackeys, if Scotland leaves the Union. Hurrah!

Polly Toynbee:




There's an interesting story in the Guardian this weekend, all about so-called sluts.

SlutWalking gets rolling after cop's loose talk about provocative clothing

Lecture to Toronto students ignites protests across Canada and US . . .

When a police officer from Toronto went on a routine visit to Osgoode Hall Law School to advise the students on personal safety, little did he know that he would unwittingly inspire a movement that has caught fire across Canada and the US.

"You know, I think we're beating around the bush here," Michael Sanguinetti began, blandly enough, as he addressed the 10 students who turned up for the pep talk. Then he said: "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised."

Fast forward three months from Sanguinetti's unfortunate remarks, and a movement that was born in riposte to his loose talk has now gone international. "SlutWalking" is attracting thousands of people to take to the streets to put an end to what they believe is a culture in which it is considered acceptable to blame the victim.


The Manchester Guardian, born 5 May 1821: 190 years – work in progress

The paper has essentially changed neither its ownership nor its character during its long life

It is good to pause and reflect that the things that matter most – truthfulness, free thought, honest reporting, a plurality of opinion, a belief in fairness, justice and, most crucially, independence – do not change.


Bloggers take note:

In praise of … the essay

Michel de Montaigne crafted a personal and conversational genre which has been the preferred literary mode of free spirits

The best essays, like George Orwell's, are tough but not fanatical, delight in the commonplace and ambiguous and can see the world as easily in a ham sandwich as a morning rose. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Layer 465 . . . Happiness, Nostalgia, Rose Tints, Extroversion, Well-Being, Letting Go, Science, Research, Spiritual Intelligence and Metaphysics


Does nostalgia make you happy?
New research says looking back on the past with rose-tinted glasses helps your wellbeing in the present
"I don't like nostalgia unless it's mine," Lou Reed once famously remarked. He may be happy to hear, then, that new research finds a pleasant personal trip down memory lane does wonders for your wellbeing.
Psychologists in the personality and well-being laboratory at San Francisco State University examined the personality traits of 750 volunteers and concluded that an ability to look back on the past in a positive way plays a key role in attaining overall life satisfaction.

This is classic "scientific" nonsense - both the Guardian piece about the "research", and the original article it's based on -

If you want to know what happiness looks like then you should take a look at the photograph that have used to head up their report on this latest research.

As for the "well-being laboratory" itself - I'd love to meet the people who were clever enough to get funding for this particular gig. They must have a wonderful life.

Here we go again - dealing with "happiness" as if it's a permanent or semi-permanent state of being which is attainable if we pursue it hard enough, or - according to these experts and their questionnaire-based statistical studies - if we're sufficiently extroverted in our approach to life in general.

For some years now Oxzen Laboratories has been saying that the ability to focus on our lives as if they are vessels that are half full rather than half empty is likely to lead to greater well-being. And you don't have to be the kind of extrovert who runs around a beach madly waving your arms in the air and grinning a big grin to yourself in order to feel blissfully alive and signal how happy you are. Even introverts can feel a sense of awe and wonder, and experience the joy of life brought on by sunshine and the beauty of nature.

Whether or not you'd call this happiness is another matter entirely. Check out the 23 Oxzen hyperlinks to 'happiness', and especially what the Dalai Lama has to say on the subject:


As for nostalgia, and personal trips down memory lane . . .

Having spent two consecutive Bank Holiday weekends going through my parents' belongings and deciding what to do with them, whilst preparing to let go of their home for the past 20-odd years, there's been plenty of opportunity to experience nostalgia. My son's approach is simple and straightforward - either throw it away or sell it on ebay. My son the so-called, self-styled, scientist. The chalk to my cheese.

So I say to him - what you need is some understanding of the metaphysical. What the hell is that? says he. Some sort of spiritual mumbo-jumbo?

Well yes, I suppose you could call it that . . .

More than ever I look forward to the day when metaphysics and spiritual intelligence (as well as combined science) is part of the National Curriculum. I wonder how many young people currently leave school without having the faintest notion of what metaphysics is, and without having heard of either Zen or the Dalai Lama. For that matter, how many teachers . . .

Even a smidgeon of plain old philosophy in young people's education would be welcome . . .


Here's my son's requirements for happiness. His dog. A fast motorbike. Enough money to buy fuel for himself, his dog and his motor bike. And, er . . . that's about it. Everything else is pretty much optional.