Leonard Cohen

I have spent the day listening to the recorded work of Leonard Cohen and I have laughed, wept and shouted with anger, joy and delight. His last album ‘You want it darker’ produced, and made possible, by his son Adam Cohen, is beautiful and made me weep – do read the sleeve notes and listen to Cohen’s words.

There wasn’t another like Mr Cohen and why? Not just the voice. Not just the orchestration. The words. The poetry. The tales never told. The tales teased. Not the just business of being human, not that alone. Not just the words. But the passion. Those innocent calculated simple words that in their conjunction take me to another place, no other place of loss and growth, not a happy place but where we, or should say, where I, have been in his company and grown from it. And that is the point. He was with me and I with him – don’t be stupid, this is not some facile homily, but a statement of regard, a statement celebrating inestimable worth and value – Leonard Cohen was, and will be forever, present.

Mr Cohen is dead
Like hell
Alexandra’s leaving
Always alive
In his music
In my head
And in my heart

Thank you
Mr Cohen
You will be missed
But yet
Your music
Goes on

Trump & Brexit

I have no witty aphorism to offer in the face of Brexit and Trump’s victory in the US presidential election. No pithy pun to make me look good. No alliteration to amuse you. And why not? Because Brexit, and now this latest populist insanity in the USA, are not funny. If Brexit was bad Trump’s victory is terrifying. I may have no jokes but I do have something to say – and it’s an apology.

But before that – I am heartbroken that the majority of the people of the countries that make up the United Kingdom (sic) have decided to leave the European Union. I am distraught that the millions who inhabit what was once allegedly the land of the free and the brave have fallen under the spell of a contemptible demonic misogynistic racist demagogue and chosen a path that threatens us all. I am not surprised that Marine Le Pen, Farage and their ilk are pleased at the outcome of the US election – they see it as a first step in recreating the strong state so beloved of all fascists. I am not surprised that Putin welcomes Trump’s expressed desire to wind up NATO, why wouldn’t he? Maybe he and Trump can kiss and make up riding bare back and all aquiver on the back of a horse all reported in Okay! magazine? I am not surprised that Prime Minister May offers Trump her congratulations and speaks of the ‘special relationship’ while she demeans us on tour in India with her latent racism and spouts her mantra of a hard exit from Europe – the woman has a shameful selective memory and shoes to match. And now we have the purring gentle statesmanlike reeking puss from Trump, as, Thatcher like, he celebrates himself and his new independence day, moving forward into the fantasy that only popular fascism can supply.

My apology.

I take personal responsibility for Brexit and Trump’s victory. You’ll say ‘that’s nuts’. It’s not. I am one but I am part of many.

I have got what I deserve by:

• Being passive in the face of years of neoliberalism rhetoric and policies that have destroyed millions of lives and common purpose and doing bugger all about it
• Being offended but passively accepting the process whereby people are turned into commodities
• Not exposing the lie that unrestrained markets can deliver good for all – whereas it is the rich who always profit
• Succumbing without protest to the power of international monopoly capitalism
• Ignoring the untrammelled power of media moguls and oligarchs and not doing something about it
• Acquiescing in the belief that parliamentary democracy will bring about equality of opportunity and justice for all
• Passively relinquishing my responsibilities as a citizen to be politically active and not just once in a while at the ballot box because that’s a delusion created by those who control us
• Acquiescing without protest in the passing of power and authority to sycophants, lickspittles and the servants of corporate power in the form of Labour and Conservative administrations
• Being too content to shout at my radio in my kitchen rather than on the streets
• Hoping that all will be well in this best of all possible worlds
• Shutting my front door and hoping that it will all go away as they come for me not today but tomorrow and there is no one left to say enough
• Forgetting that, though I am privileged, I am at one with the disenfranchised, the disregarded, the outsiders, the poor, those described as disabled, the immigrants and those who see no hope at the end of their tunnels and that I am but one step away from their place of pain
• Not saying “No Pasaran” over and over and over again and doing something about it
• Not learning from history and remembering that the ruling class takes many forms and mutates just like a virulent virus adapts in order to survive and destroy all in its path.

So what is to be done?
Alone we are alone – together we are more than the sum of our separate parts.

As a dear friend said to me today, ‘I refuse to enter the last quarter of my life without the optimism that fuelled the first three, we must think, believe & do the humanistic, moral correct things, the dark cannot prevail.’

There’s only one thing to do with pathogens – take the time and effort to wipe them out.