I don’t wear poppies, and this image perfectly encapsulates why

Sick Brits who remember nothing

Another angry woman

Content warning: this post discusses death and war

The Royal British Legion tweeted this image of a fundraising event. Look at it.


In the image, four children aged around twelve stand, holding gigantic plastic poppies. Three of the children wear t-shirts saying “Future Soldier”.

The poppy was once a symbol to remind us of the senseless massacre of millions upon millions of people in muddy fields far away from home. The poppy was supposed to say never again to the horrors of a spat between politicians murdering a generation. What it is now is a symbol of militarism, and standard used to recruit children to don a uniform and go off and get themselves killed. It means the opposite of what it is supposed to.

I admit I’d stopped wearing the red poppy about six or seven years ago. I am not sure if it was because my eyes opened to…

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Gate A-4

Live & Learn


Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be…

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Starting out

the curly mind linguistically innovative poetry - weird & risky

The first issue of this blogzine for ‘linguistically innovative poetry’ will appear very early in December. Submission information in ‘About’. I look forward to reading some exciting work.

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Going to work on an egg

Wee Ginger Dug

The Tory party conference is taking place in Manchester, behind steel barriers and protected by snipers in case someone throws an egg. A young fogey delegate goaded the crowd with a photo of Margaret Thatcher, but what’s to be condemned is that someone rose to the goading by throwing an egg, and not that an over-privileged young man with all the empathetic skills of a sea slug goaded them in the first place. It is apparently expected and perfectly acceptable that middle class youth with gilded spoons up their arses should not empathise with people who have not enjoyed the same privileges in life. It’s unreasonable to condemn the fact that compassion has become a dirty word. This is the UK that we’re better together with.

According to Jeremy Hunt, whose name is rhyming slang, the removal of tax credits from the lowest paid workers will make people in the…

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According to Bernard Moitessier, I am not a natural borne solo sailor.
I think that nothing is better than sharing the joy of sailing and a fair share of the work, with a good companion. However I do sail solo a lot of the time and discovered many years ago that being trapped in harbour waiting for crew did not suit my temperament!
The following are ways of going about single-handing that I have evolved over the years. They are very far from a ‘how to do it’ instruction kit! I offer them in a spirit of humility to any sailor who is nervous about giving single handing a try.
It should go without discussion that you the Skipper have spent considerable time sailing your boat in light and strong conditions, under main or foresail or both. You are totally familiar with boat systems, handling under power and coming along side. In short, you know your boat.

1. Before going off on any sail longer than a lazy afternoon day-sail, I spend the night aboard at anchor or on a mooring. My pontoon berth is far too protected and insulates me from the motion of the sea, so physically tuning in to my boat is not possible. Next morning, after a light breakfast, I set off before the day breeze has built up to its full strength.

2. I have a five day weather forecast when available. Even though it is only accurate for about three days as a rule the best guess of a professional is useful. I have a navigation plan, which can change if things are not as expected. I keep a plot on my paper chart and in my navigators logbook every hour.

3. I set sail under main alone, not motor. I work my way clear of moorings and then unroll the genoa when I can set a good tack. For most of my sailing life I sailed boats with hank-on foresails, but I’m getting a bit lazy as I get older.

4. I take short hops; no more than fifteen or so miles, or about six hours duration. I avoid overnight sailing for the first few days.
It is a mistake to dread sailing at night. Indeed it can be easier to navigate, observing other vessels lights, than it is making out what they are doing on a hazy summer day. Going into an unknown harbour at night is another matter. I find the leading lights get confused and hidden in a background shore-side clutter. Under these circumstances I hove to till daylight.

5. When I am clear of traffic, or expect to be for a while, I fiddle with the sails and the elastic chord holding the tiller and try to balance the boat. I want to be able to make tea, check the log, move around the boat and not be chained to the tiller for the duration of the passage.