“He flexes like a whore”

Not sure why that particular description and Bowie lyric and song flashed into my mind, but there it is. I think the implication is that time is cleverer than you, more alluring, ultimately unknowable, and one step beyond or ahead – maybe.

Thinking about the past and the future takes time in the present.

It’s been about 10 years since the first Access book came out. It’s hard to believe. A lot has happened. And now Pluto is moving into Aquarius. More will happen. The new moon was conjunct with Venus this week. It was very beautiful. There were Northern Lights further south than normal. There will be five planets visible this week in a line. Interesting.

It was such a heady time, releasing the book, seeing the response. I stumbled across a review website I hadn’t seen for a while, at least. It’s strange to think that people read it, wanted more. There are still people that discover it, buy it. I wonder what they think. What people wanted after book 3.

I know I wanted to regroup. Perhaps if writing had been the only thing I was doing – but it was not. A balancing act, living a life, surviving in a vast city, trying to hold on to what was important. And that didn’t include trying to please everyone, or turning an idea into a formula. It did mean caring for people who needed help and holding things together when there was little assistance.

It takes a village to raise a child, they say. It also takes people to support each other. I’m grateful for all the lessons learned – from supporters and from those who threw obstacles in my path. Maybe people don’t realize the power they have to make a difference. Or they just don’t care. With so much content on the web now, so many books, so much disaster – terrifying, visible, agonizing horrors  – it’s mentally draining. Even if that is nothing compared to trying to survive in a war zone.

There are videos coming out of Ukraine showing artists dancing, playing music in the midst of the rubble of their lives. Something to think about the next time art is framed as a trivial thing. It’s trivial – in the way Mary Daly once described trivial – of course I can’t find the quote, but basically the opposite. In the way that certain words become trivialized but for no reason other than that they don’t suit the power narrative of those behind the curtain. So art and artists become insignificant, compared to the important things, like business, and cheating on your taxes, and getting around the rules. It’s never been easy to survive as an artist, but now asking for support has become a part of what “an artist” must do. Creating clickbait. Finding sites that help “monetize” your noble calling. It’s a funny old world, innit? Anyway, mustn’t grumble, as they used to say as I went to get tea in a café in London. I miss it. London? The café? That time?

I remember one of the times I came to the US to study. There was a young woman, in a suit, with a briefcase. She entered the classroom, barely looking to the left or right, and scanned the sightlines. Then she sat very precisely in the front row, where she was most likely to be spotted. She smoothed her pencil skirt and took out, in a business-like fashion, a pad and pen to write with. Her back was ramrod straight. I remember slumping in my seat and looking up at the ceiling, wondering what to make of this vision. A little voice told me to run. I probably should have listened. But I didn’t and the rest is history, etc. etc.

Time. I started listening to the new Sleaford Mods album. Like this song, Force 10 From Navarone. Funny, I interviewed their main spokesperson – Jason – and went to see one of their first shows in NYC when they were starting to get some traction – about 10 years ago. It was a strange interview – it’s on my website here. I remember thinking he didn’t seem comfortable, no doubt convinced that I was part of some large music business conspiracy that he needed to watch. I suppose I was, in a way. I mentioned politics – hopefully. He dismissed my hopes. And looking back at the albums he was listening to  – The Specials were there. Connection.

Time and loss. And we just lost the extraordinary Terry Hall a few months ago. I’ve been listening to a lot of his music since then. I think Ghost Town – was always one of my favorite songs, for the sense of simmering anger and warning. The atmosphere… And he went on to do so much more. He and his band crashed through barriers and pointed out racism. They woke people up, to use a very harassed word. The problems – are still there. Yes, things are better. Or are they just different?

I won’t even talk about the USA, where a race to the bottom of every category seems to be going on. Outrage milked for money, the power of the press a mouthpiece. A sculpture is pornographic, a gun is protected.  In the UK, the BBC is attacked, while those who would be happy to see it become a shadow of its former self preside over the arena. No matter that it transmitted knowledge and information all over the globe. Or perhaps it matters very much.

All performance. It takes more effort, more energy, to try and see beyond it, ask who funds what and why.

I read a book. One of the lines on one of the pages that had taken hours weeks years to write said something like no country was worth saving if it didn’t have art. It made me think. How that piece of our humanity has been whittled away, while we watch and applaud.  How in my local school they want to take away theatre for the high school. Music in schools – if you can pay for it. Art in schools – too expensive. All those materials. Languages. Who cares, there’s Google Translate. As long as the taxes are low, people seem happy to watch quality of life disappear. Because they are told what to focus on, and things that don’t make money aren’t necessarily needed. And artists better get better at asking people to pay for content, or else it’s back to the 9-5, not that they ever left.

Popularity is a funny thing. The popular – used as the ultimate form of control.

Keep running.