P – is for Gram Parsons

Sunday 10th July

Gram Parsons has become somewhat of a legend, but at the time he was making his music hardly anyone had heard of him.  He came to fame when he joined the Byrds from his own band ‘The International Submarine Band’.  Gram pioneered what he called Cosmic American Music, a mix of mostly country with blues and soul and spaced out guitars.  He featured heavily on the Byrds album ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’, which at the time was one of my favourites, especially ‘Hickory Wind’, which Gram wrote.  The Byrds at that time were going through a lot of personnel changes and Gram only lasted the one album.  He joined up with fellow Byrd Chris Hillman to form ‘The Flying Burrito Brothers’ a more solid country outfit.  They released two albums and then Gram, by now a heavy drug user, went solo.   He only made two albums, but they are classics; G.P. and Grievous Angel’.

He was great friends with Keith Richards who wanted him to join the Stones, (he definitely influenced the sound of Exile on Main Street) and he toured with EmmyLou Harris, and Delaney and Bonnie.  He seemed to be a real musicians musician and has achieved cult status; many citing him as the founder of what is now known as Americana.

He died from an overdose of morphine and alcohol and even in death he achieved fame.  His dead body was stolen by two friends and taken to the Joshua Tree National Park and burnt by pouring a few gallons of petrol on it and lighting it.  This was apparently Gram’s wish, but his family took the remains back to his home in Louisiana and properly buried him later.  His songs though live on and are still being recorded today.  My favourite is still Hickory Wind.

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2066 – 3 days after second conjoining

Saturday 9th July

Record date 20661108

Three days have passed and I have not thought a single thought.  Well, none I can remember.  It is as if a degree of amnesia has descended on me.  I am not thinking.  I have stopped thinking at all.   Or, if I am thinking then those thoughts do not remain.  They occur; then they are gone.  I have lost, temporarily I hope, the ability to communicate directly with the screen.  I cannot even force the keys down by simply thinking them down.  I have to look at the keyboard, try to recognize the letters and aim my blobby fingers at them.  The screen is helpfully using word-functionality to correct my plodding mis-spelling.   This is slowing me down ridiculously, but hopefully this is a temporary loss of functionality, a new re-learning experience.  Slowly Qwerty is coming back to me.  The old alphabet we learnt at kindercrammer; the letters would appear softly on the screen as each key lit up on the soft plastic keyboard and my stubby baby fingers would jab each one down in turn.  Much as I am typing this now.  Think how to spell, find the letter and jab.  It all takes too long.  I am tired.  Headache.  Head aches.  Must sleep.

Record date 20661110

Tired all the time.  I am tired all the time.  I sleep and sleep and remember nothing.  They shake me awake, give me my milk but I am desperate to stay asleep.  I turn to bury my head in the pillow, pull the cover over my sleepy head, but they won’t let me sleep, the fuckers.  My head hurts when I am awake. I just want to sleep.  Dog tired.  I cannot think of anything I want to do, any place I want to be except my bed.  I need to sleep, don’t they realise that?  Why do they keep waking me up?  Just let me sleep and I will be alright.  Too tired to type anymore, I cannot see the letters on the screen, my eyelids are closing and my head hurts

Unlikely, but O – is for Gilbert O’Sullivan

Thursday 7th July

What a strange character.  He had tried unsuccessfully to be a pop star for a couple of years, then his manager suggested changing his name from Ray Sullivan (born in Ireland, brought up in England) to Gilbert O’Sullivan, a play on the Operetta writers and quite stupid really.  And so was his image, short trousers, cloth cap and short trousers – like a sling-back to a 1940’s school-kid, complete with pudding basin haircut.  But such was the quality of his songwriting that he became a huge star.  And then threw it all away by ditching the waif look and going Middle of the Road and chasing a sentimental audience; he made millions and was bland bland bland, but when he was good he was great.

His debut album, and the only one worth ever buying or listening to, was simply titled Himself and is a classic; every song is brilliant.  It had the two massive singles “Alone Again (Naturally)” and “Nothing Rhymed” (As I sip my Napoleon shandy, eating more thn enough apple pie, I glance at my screen, and see real human beings starve to death right in front of my eyes) but there isn’t a song you don’t want to sing along to.  The backing is pretty jazzy, professional session players aplenty but it is the quality of the songwriting that is so amazing.  Almost any of the songs would have been hits had they been released as singles.  My favourites are ‘Permissive Twit’ (was he singing directly to me), ‘Matrimony’ (something that begins with M and ends in alas) and ‘Houdini Said’ (Houdini said to get out of bed was the hardest thing he could do).  After this album people were talking about him being as good as Elton.

Well Gilbert (or Ray) went on to world-wide fame with songs such as Clare, but for me the originality of this first batch of songs is unbeatable; and an all-time favourite – he should have stopped there.

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Bye-Bye Nigel

Wednesday 6th July

In a few weeks we may have seen the biggest clear-out of party leaders ever.  And there hasn’t even been a General Election, where the stupid unwritten convention is that a defeated party leader has to resign next day (this started incidentally with John Major, before that Wilson and Callaghan and Kinnock carried on even though they had lost elections, giving the party a little time to absorb the shock of the defeat and to decide what to do about it next time).  I can understand why Cameron bowed out, he was almost the sole prominent Remain campaigner, he had called the Referendum in the first place and he was going to stand down before the next election anyway.  But now his tenure in office is permanently tarnished and History will recall that he was the man who took the UK out of Europe (and although technically untrue, it was his reckless Political gamble to outflank both UKIP and his own rabid anti-European M.P.s which caused our exit).

Jeremy Corbyn is more interesting.  Okay, he ran a pretty lacklustre campaign, but he was NOT the reason that Labour voters chose Leave rather than Remain, although there is some evidence that around 60% voted Remain; it was the Conservatives who voted overwhelmingly to Leave.  Anyway there have been rumblings in the party for a while that Jeremy was just not the man to enthuse the public, let alone traditional Labour voters.  And the resignations from his Shadow Cabinet were staged in order to have a vote of no-confidence in Jeremy.  The more centre and soft-left and even right-wing Labour M.P.s have never bought into Jeremy’s agenda, even if it is supported by most of the membership.  Jeremy has really done little wrong, but in these days of Media dominance it is perceived that image is important.  Blair at times appeared to be more Style than Substance, but he did win three Elections and increased spending on Schools and Hospitals substantially.  Of course , the Left cannot ever forgive him for Iraq, which incidentally might have been even worse had we not joined America in that disgraceful and possibly illegal War.  The Chilcot Report on the war is about to be published by the way, and Jeremy will surely have something to say, but whether this will satisfy his M.P. critics I very much doubt.

And now Nigel Farage, the bête noir of UK Politics has resigned (for the third time, hahaha).  This man was an absolute spiv, an out and out liar and a closet racist, who appealed to people’s worst instincts.  Many liked his ‘Man of the People’ image, the pint and the fag, but in reality he was wealthy and privileged.  But he was a good speaker, always quick with the witty phrase and unashamed when he upset whole sections of society.  His party must now try to find a successor, no-one on the horizon has any charisma, and Nigel had run UKIP as such a one-man band that they may struggle to achieve the giddy heights at the last election where they took 15% of the vote, though failed to break through the first past the post system.  So, bye-bye Nigel.  Just like Boris, you have screwed us up royally and now quietly shuffle off the stage and leave others to clean up the mess.

Five Years From Now – A Lot of Unhappy People

Tuesday 5th July

So, after the momentous decision nearly two weeks ago, we have to look to just what our country will look like in 5 years time.  Firstly it will be incredibly unlikely that Article 50 will not have been invoked by the incoming new Leader and P.M. of the Tories.  I doubt that there will be a General Election until 2020, by which time the terms agreed upon with the EU for our exit will be about to be, or will have just been enacted.

Let’s look on the positive side and assume that we will still have access to the Single Market and that the Economic Uncertainty will be over; the threat of mass redundancies and Recession if we had not even secured this essential market will at least have been averted.


We will almost certainly have to accept free movement of people as well.  As there are to be no pre-triggering negotiations and only two years of talks the Europeans will have the Upper Hand, and will insist on this condition.  Also Cameron’s famous brake will not be in place, although of course free from Europe we may be able to restrict Benefit payments to new Migrants; though in reality there were very few of these, far more common were benefits paid to non-EU immigrants, which no-one has ever attempted to control.

So I think we will have an awful lot of unhappy people.  The Scots will most probably be in the process of declaring Independence and applying themselves for entry into the EU.  Northern Ireland may well follow suit, or be in some sort of limbo with an uncertain future with the South.  All those who voted remain (48%) will be unhappy that we are out of Europe and the majority who voted Leave will be unhappy that we still have to accept EU migrants.  Tory M.P.s (at least half of them) will not be able to forgive the Leavers and will be trying to force some sort of re-joining strategy.  Labour could well still be in turmoil with or without Jeremy as leader, as UKIP eats into their traditional vote, and most of them will be unhappy as we face at least another five years of Tory rule. The LibDems will always be unhappy, unless someone can resurrect Charlie Kennedy.

The trouble is that the Leave campaign promise of being able to control Immigration was never realistic.  We recently signed a very limited trade deal with India and had to increase the number of visas for Indian workers wishing to work in the UK as a trade-off.  Even if we manage to negotiate new trade deals with China and other countries we may have to concede on the Immigration front.  The world is changing fast, young people are travelling and choosing to work all over the world, and no amount of Government Legislation will stop that.  Of course, this is the best-case scenario.  We could well not even agree to the single market, in which case unemployment will rocket as companies re-locate to mainland Europe. Of course if that happen then many EU migrants may well go home to or to other more prosperous countries in Europe, so at least some anti-immigrant people will be happy.

We Are All Welsh Now

Monday 4th July

My Wife is Welsh.  She was born in the valleys, a real coal-miners daughter.  And though she left Wales many years ago she is still Welsh and always will be.  But then, maybe we all are.  The ancient Britons fled North and West as wave after wave of Romans, Angles, Saxon, Danes, Vikings and finally Normans invaded from the South and the East.  Many settled in Wales, and even later were pushed further West and North as the coal mines were developed in the South Wales valleys and miners came to work them from Cornwall and the North of England.  And they complain ablout Immigration now.  Much of what we associate with Wales was (like most of England) a Nineteenth Century invention – male voice choirs and rugby included.

And now tiny Wales is in the semi-final of the European Football Championships, a feat only matched by England as long ago as 1996.  So, we are all Welsh now. Just as we are all Scottish when Andy Murray plays tennis (which, by the way, as Djokavic is now out he is expected to win – no pressure, Andy).  Whether the Welsh dream can continue, who knows. Tomorrow they play Portugal who have performed very poorly so far; even if they have Gareth Bale’s teammate Christiano Rinaldo.  Whatever the result let us hope that Wales don’t go out on penalties, that would be too cruel; it would be so ironic if Portugal got to the final without winning a single game in normal time.  Then we have the final and only Germany or France of Iceland to beat – wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a Wales, Iceland final.  So come on Wales; because as you know, we are all Welsh now.

A New Party – Maybe?

Sunday 3rd July

We are in strange territory, for the first time that I can remember both main Political Parties are in turmoil, the Conservatives are in the throes of a Leadership contest and Labour should be, but may not actually have one.  The LibDems of course are almost dead and buried (thankyou Mr. Clegg) and UKIP though they are riding high now still have only one M.P.; come the next election the heat over Europe may have died down a bit (or not).  The SNP seem impregnable in Scotland but they may have passed their peak, and can no longer blame Labour for Scottish woes.

It may look as if the Tories are the only show in town, but they are still as split as ever over Europe, and maybe even more so now that the referendum is over and the hard negotiations will soon start.  Although the Media are urging whoever wins their leadership to call a General Election, why would they risk losing when they have just achieved becoming Prime Minister?  And even though Labour are in a mess and supposedly ‘unelectable’, together with the SNP in Scotland they could still deny the Tories an absolute majority.  And I am not at all sure that current favourite Theresa May will win; the Tories have a history of choosing outsiders – and remember the party is overwhelmingly Brexit.  I think that Andrea Leadsom has a strong chance of winning, and she is such a rabid ‘Outer’ that she could find her party quite unmanageable.

And as Labour are still in a mess, and there is a strong possibility of Jeremy either staying or winning again we could have large numbers of very dissatisfied M.P.s in both parties led by people they don’t agree with.  The natural solution would be to form a new party of the centre.  Well, stranger things have happened in just the ten days since the vote.  And as this party would be largely women like Theresa and Angela Eagle, maybe it should be called the Vagina party.  And the biggest danger they would face would be that just suffered by Labour.  Their slogan must be “No Entryism into the Vagina party.”  Have a nice day.

2066 – Conjoining as it is happening

Saturday 2nd July

Enough of self-doubt.  Banish those thoughts Janek.  Look to the future.  That’s the mantra we all use around here, though I sometimes wonder if self-doubt has really been banished at all. Maybe we are all self-doubters, but like the Emperor’s New Clothes we are all full of confidence in public.  Never mind that now – I am being wheeled into the con-joining room.  I am flat on my back and sedated, though in fact the sedation is simply slowing down my thoughts; unconsciousness is of course the last state I need to be in.  I can see the ceiling electricity conduits branching off like the twigs of a tree, as we twist and turn, something you never take the time to observe, or the sprinkler faucets every few yards, and the air-con tubing, all semi-disguised by chrome-effect plastic access panels.  A lot of time must have gone into designing something no-one ever looks up to see.  Doorways are held open and those same idiotic smiling faces of the assistants beam down on me.  If they only knew how I despise them, and their messianic fervour.  Give me a bit of old-fashioned diffidence any day.  The left forward wheel of the flat-bed trolley I am strapped into (onto?) is wonky; it spins on its vertical axis as we turn each corner causing a slight judder which is a distraction.  Uh-oh, we have stopped.

Bright lights, banks of bright lights.  Ah, an eye-shade is placed over my head; that feels better.  Those myriad kaleidoscopic lights have subsided, their spinning is slowing and like fireworks incandescence they are fading fast, just a shadow of their trajectory remains, a ghost of a memory sinking into the blackness.

Ouch, that hurt, I can feel the cold liquid which I hope is doing me some good seeping into my veins, in a few seconds it will hit my brain.  As I thought, a very mild sedative underscored with Ibuprofen; shouldn’t cause me too much trouble.

The cap is being fitted, it feels just the same as the first time.  My head is supported in a plastic harness and the cap in three parts is clipped into place.  It comes right down over my eyes and ears and fits snuggly into my neck.  The sensors are already on my freshly shaved scalp, spaced out in an even and exact pattern which exactly correspond to the sensors inside the cap itself.

Silence, even the shuffling squeak of trainer-clad shoes has gone.  The temperature appears to have fallen a few degrees, my skin is registering a slight breeze; a fan must have been switched on.  The hairs on my arms, naked to the shoulders are raised, an old animal defence kicking in.  I am forced to wear the same ludicrous pink fatigues my torturers wear and my arms are bare.  Anonymity at all costs, a uniform for all seasons.  I never liked pink.  Cathy bought me a pink shirt once; I used to keep putting it in the dirty laundry chute unworn but scrunched up.  A few days later it would re-appear perfectly laundered on my shirt rack.  I wonder if she ever guessed that I never actually wore it.  I exchanged it a year or so later for a blue check button-down collar one, blue and check, just like all my other shirts.

A faint whirring noise, a magnetron motor has been switched on, the process must be about to start.  I can sense a slight variation in air pressure, I must be inside the machine now, the whirring noise has settled into an almost imperceptible but-still-there constant faint hum.  I can feel the heat from the magnetron, my ears even inside the cap are registering their warmth.  The humming is slowly increasing in intensity, Stars are forming in my eyes, little stars popping into existence like the few milliseconds after Big Bang itself as galaxies formed and sped away from each other at unbelievable speeds.  Colours now, purple, iridescent blue-black purple, indigo swirling clouds shot through with piercing stabs of alizarine crimson, pulsing now in the space where my blanketed eyes should be seeing.  The sound is very very loud, I have to concentrate to shut it out so I can still hear myself think.  Yellow, chrome yellow, buttercup yellow, sickeningly bright yellow colours are flooding my vision field.  I cannot concentrate, I am feeling dizzy, nauseous. Little daisies springing up filling my mind, little daisies opening, daisies…

Waves of daisies, marching daisies, petals folding in on themselves, curling up and dying, turning browny pink as they fall away.  The sound is overwhelming, the roar of waves crashing on my mind, sucking me under with the waves.  The undertow.  I am sinking in the undertow.  Don’t want to let go.  Can’t hold on any longer, the waves, not daisies at all but huge sea waves are folding over me, crashing into me, one after another.  Here comes a big one, my whole body is sucked under the water.  I cannot see anything. All sound is whooshing away as my ears resist the inflow of water.  I am being unborn, here beneath the sea.  The undertow is dragging me away from the shore….

Waves lapping my face, slipping salt water over my mouth.  I can taste the salt in the water.  The sun is beating down on me. My body is floating in a warm Mediterranean sea of calm placidity.

I want to drift away, sleep is dragging me deeper and under I fall…..


I wake, my eyelids still closed, but I am back in my room.  I can feel the soft folds of the quilt tucked under my chinny chin-chin.  Mummy had just tucked me in, the back of her finger strokes my infant cheek, red nails glide past my nose and the soft pads of her huge fingers close my eyelids and here comes mister sleep dragging me back down again.

Changing Sides

Friday 1st July

Am I the only person to have noticed the spring in Mr. Cameron’s step?  Why, rather than crestfallen after his massive defeat at the Referendum he seems positively jolly.  Rather than call for a period of calm after the upheaval, a time for some quiet reflection, maybe even a debate in the House on the consequences of the vote and the way forward, he seems hell-bent on pushing forward and beginning the process of implementing the decision.  It is almost as if he has changed sides overnight and is now, or was always a secret, Brexiteer.  And compared to the roaring silence coming from Gove and Johnson this is quite amazing.  Okay, so Cameron is Prime Minister (for now) and is supposed to show leadership but only weeks ago he was predicting disaster if we ever left the EU, now he is busy telling us of the many things we must do to implement the wishes of the people.

I suspect that like much of what he does this is all stuff and nonsense and he has another agenda, which is to embarrass Johnson (or whoever else succeeds him) and to box them into a corner, where the only way out will be to beg (for that may well be what we end up doing, it will be 27 against 1 after all) the remaining members of the EU for access to the Single Market, because in all reality that was the only bit of Europe the Tories ever wanted.  But Cameron knows that the Brexit vote was indeed a Phyrric Victory and in order to get access to the single market they will have to accept free movement of people – the very thing which most Leavers voted against.

And on the other side we have Jeremy, a lifelong Euro-skeptic who changed sides (possibly to keep his M.P.s on side) and supported Remain, and is now accused of not persuading Labour voters (by the way, Blair and Brown and many others advocated Stay but no blame attaches to them) to vote that way and may be deposed because of it.  Funny old world.  Cameron will ride off into the sunset and the Lords and Directorships aplenty, and Jeremy may become a sad by-word in the turbulent history of the Labour Party.  Or not, we will see.