The Cormorant and the Heron

I am almost exactly the same age as Keanu Reeves, I am older than him but just a day and a bit. His mother’s maiden name is also Taylor.  This means that we are both “Virgo” wood dragons. He is allegedly an introvert too.


So, there you go…

This morning something unusual happened I saw both the Cormorant and the Heron at the same end of the pond. The Cormorant was on the water and the Heron was a few metres away on the land. The Cormorant saw me and flew off South.

This means that we are a bit of a breakfast diner for the local predators.

We won’t know the stock levels in the pond until it gets warmer and the fish are more active. Two birds of prey will eat quite a lot of fish…

Felix, the back and white stray cat, is a bit confused. He can see Bowie indoors and is wondering what is going on. He lets me get close to him now. So maybe, I need to check him for an identity chip…Guess is that he has not got one and it would take weeks of patience to earn his trust.

The weird thing about being 58 is that loads of people who are roughly the same age and famous, start dying. It is always mooted as a “tragedy”. It reminds one of mortality. The various life expectancy tools suggest that I should live into my eighties. If that happens, I am financially buggered. My guess for an expiry date, for me to be taken off the supermarket shelves, is very early seventies, assuming nothing untoward happens.

Anyway, Keanu has been seen drinking in pubs in and around Tring near where I used to live and where a copy of the I Ching jumped off a bookshelf and fell at my feet…

If he tips up near here, it will freak me out a little.

Coal Mining Dream 18-03-23

Something has changed with my dreaming since the beginning of the year. This may be because I am on the wagon, but I doubt it. I have picked up a subtle shift these last few months, something has come to a head and passed. I do not know what.

This dream has the historical context of a matrilinear involvement in mining since the mid-1800s. The men of my family worked, first in the copper mines of Beddgelert at Sygun, then the slate mines at Blaenau Ffestiniog and then coal in the Rhondda. I joke that I am physically suited to shifting large weights in enclosed surroundings, playing front row rugby or Judo. My arse is close to the floor. You could say that mining is in my DNA.


In the dream I am talking with a man above ground in a kind of depot. He is wearing a flat cap and is some kind of foreman. He is dirty and covered in coal dust. I am clean and dressed in modern clothes. I am asking him for a job. He doubts that I have the stamina or the inclination to work at the coal face deep underground. He thinks that the men will not accept me and that I may have to have a fist fight or two to establish my place. I explain to him that I come from a line of miners so there is possibly some potential there.

He takes me over to a schematic on a wall in a portacabin. In the schematic the various seams of the mine are portrayed. He says that the seams on levels 1-3 have all been worked out. The men are working levels 4 and 5. He says that 5 is a rich seam but that it twists and turns. Five is very deep and there are occasional problems with gas.

To get me started he takes me over to the rail trucks coming out of the pit. There are some with pure coal and others in which coal is still mixed with bedrock. He suggests that I work separating the coal from the bedrock. I start and the pieces of rock are heavy. I pick them up with my gloved hands and break the coal from the rocks. I chuck the coal on one pile and the rock on another. The foreman is pleased with my work and suggests that I come back the next day.

When I return, he kits me out with a Davy lamp and a pickaxe. I join the other men in the lift going down. We stop at level 4 and most of the men get out. The rest of us continue down the shaft to level 5. There is a handful of us and the foreman. We are by way of an exploratory party. I start to work on a part of the seam which turns out to be wide and very rich. I am easily separating large chunks of best quality anthracite. One of the other workers wants to take over my position. The foreman says that we should fight for it. The man runs at me and knocks me to the ground. We brawl. I get him into a choke hold and he passes out.

I have earned the right to work at this section of face and the respect of the other miners. I work my guts out and load the small rail wagon near me.

At the end of the shift we go up the shaft in the lift and the foreman says that I have done well but will be extremely full of aches tomorrow. He says that usually it is the third day which is the killer. The first day is easy, the second day very painful. The third day is very hard and difficult. By the time the full shift comes on the third day, the body is close to crisis, it struggles with all the aches and pains to complete the third shift. Day four is less difficult. Usually after the weekend the second week is no problem. If I can make it to the second week, then I will be fine to work there.

Dream ends.

When I am coming to, I wonder if this is some kind of a racial memory which I am tapping into in the dream.   

Things You Do Not Know

People have a tendency to conclude a whole lot from not very much. Their speculations can be mistaken for reality, their extrapolations unquestioned. I have joked about the phenomenon of self-diagnosed omniscience in this blog and I have introduced the concluding kangaroo, a being that jumps a great distance over chasms to form conclusions.

People also like to pontificate; evidence is rarely a major concern.

I first became aware of some oddities in my character, the summer of my 13th birthday. We went to Butlins at Pwllheli and I spent a lot of time walking along the Llyn peninsula. I did not want to be there with my parents. I was able to persuade various bartenders that the beers I was buying were for family.

The average man of the street has never heard of three or four pronged nagal beings. I was very much with the question as to who or what I was / am that summer. I even had a jacket like this at one stage.

While I was decorating this afternoon, it seemed to me that people may conclude about what I am up to and engaged in, based on the contents of this blog. They may be certain that they understand what is going on. They may forget that I choose what to put in the blog and what not to.

A long while back an American university was visiting the one that I worked at, with a view perhaps to forming an alliance. The delegation was “senior” and to help fill their diaries, I was delegated by the powers that be to talk about pastoral care, student support, transferable skills training, the tutorial system, science outreach and academic quality control. The delegation arrived at my office and we had an extended discussion which covered a lot of ground. They were a bunch of suits but very engaged in what I was saying. They started asking me if I had been to the USA before and made an informal invitation to come visit. Somewhat surprisingly they took my contact details and arranged a follow up meeting for the following day.

The next day two of them came to my office they had called the “mother-ship” and proceeded to offer me a job. They would pay for me to come visit for a fortnight to scope out. Then we could put together a plan for a new form of student liaison and care office campus wide. They suggested that I could have a big salary and choose my team.

While the negotiation about alliance was taking place, I was being head hunted spontaneously.

Nobody knew that this was going on, the seaside sounded attractive…

It was out of the blue…

People tend to conclude from within their own version of reality. As a consequence they do not include things which they do not know into their conclusion. They are unaware of the things which they do not know. This rarely inhibits conclusion forming.

Self-diagnosed omniscience if inaccurately or prematurely diagnosed is unaware of the things it does not know. It deems that there cannot possibly be any things which it does not know.


Relative Freedom to Speak

Yesterday I questioned whether economic “growth” can help to slow planetary warming. It is my opinion that it cannot, it will exacerbate it causing more heating. People, in particular politicians, are unwilling to let go of the “growth” mantra because without it there would be a gaping policy void. They pin their election hopes on this notion.

What would we do without an economic policy which has brought so much inequality, wealth for a few {and happiness for millions} via the exploitation of natural resources in other people’s lands?

I will speculate that were I employed at a well-funded august institution with strong links to corporate sponsors, I would be unable to state the above opinion in public without censure of some kind. The corporates might indicate, over a quiet canapé, that such a view is unlikely to enhance chances for future funding. We cannot have radicals upsetting the boat / gravy train / PR opportunity. Research funding is the raison d’être for many ambitious institutions. Upon which side is the bread buttered?

Because I can be seen as an eccentric git, living in the wilds with no power by association I can offer my opinion. Lacking institutional kudos few are likely to take me seriously and I can be written off. As a “nobody” I have a relative freedom to speak. I am not even worth bothering about. I can be classified as a disgruntled burn-out has-been who is a failure and who was unable to hack it in the topflight. He is a loner, a weirdo, and an outcast.

I have no “superiors”, no line manager, no boss, to call me in for a word. I do not belong to any societies from which my membership might be withdrawn. There is not a blind dog’s chance that I will ever seek any research grant funding ever again.

I can have a chat with the cat and the heron, but they are not concerned with human politics.

So, I have a relative freedom to speak if only to and with myself…

Will Economic Growth Slow Planetary Warming?

In the UK people, politicians, chant the mantra of economic growth. It will, by magic, put more money into the treasury and be the answer to all our woes. We have had growth before and yet social injustice and financial inequity persist. The wand of growth lacks efficacy and generality. It is perhaps a false God.

I would really like someone without recourse to hand waving, gesticulation, assertion, and bluster, to explain to me how and in precisely what manner economic growth will slow down planetary warming.

“Blah, blah, blah, green economy. Blah, blah, blah, more renewables.”

I would really like to be enlightened…

Just exactly where is the energy going to come from to fuel this economic growth? Is nuclear fusion a ready technology? How much energy is needed to build a nuclear power station? Can we buy enough solar panels from China?

I doubt anyone will be able to provide a watertight and cohesive argument to prove {or even theorise sanely} that continued economic growth will slow planetary warming.

There may be wishful thinking and vested interests.

This paradigm of exploit, waste, and “grow”, is old fashioned.

Yet we have people saying that we must set targets for emissions, {moveable according to convenience}, and gather together to save the planet. There is a lot of show and tell, much less do.

The problem is these agreements have fewer natural teeth than someone who has been to a Turkish dentist for a full refurb.

The world is not yet serious about this and despite natural disasters it keeps pressing the snooze button.

There is a logical flaw.

On a planet of finite resource continuous economic growth cannot be sustained indefinitely, nor for that matter can population growth.

I really, really, would like a genius to explain to me {in reality} how “growth” will slow down and/or reverse planetary warming.

I just don’t see it…

Spring at Traou an Dour 16-3-23

Before getting back into the DIY I took the camera for a spin around the garden…


The heather has started to flower…


This rockery flower is ~0.5cm across…the bugs are back


The magnolia is starting to unfurl…

This has been dipped in sherbet…


Daisy plus bug with psychedelic wings…


Simple yellow primrose … there are loads of these starting just now

Monsieur Le Heron has started to chill a bit

Grape hyacinth in full bloom…


Pine cone in the making…


Baby dandelion with assorted bugs…

Pine needles close up

Rescued azalea coming back to life..

Her Royal Highness – Bowie

Escapism and the Saviour Fallacy

Rather than confront inconvenient truths there is a human tendency to engage is escapism. This may be entertainment, politics or a simple refusal to look at and/or accept truths.

“If we carry on just like we are, a fairy godmother will appear. At the swish of her wand the climate crisis will disappear and we can carry on raping the planet and shitting plastic into its oceans.”


The kind of escapism, where only the bearers of good, upbeat news, get voted into power. Is dangerous and myopic.

“There is no problem with climate change, the coronavirus is just like a cold and the Swissies have bailed us all out in CHF, there will be no more repercussions.”

But people will over promise to get into power and then blame someone else when they don’t deliver.

“It is all down to that fairy godmother, she promised she would save us all. She has gone back on her promises, she even wrote a spell on the side of a big red bus! What a cow!”

This onus on some external “saviour” to put everything right, to conquer evil and save our souls aside from being ultra-passive negates our responsibility. There is a chance that Greta Thunberg is seen as a diminutive saviour and an IKEA prepacked answer to climate change. Because she is in the news we can relax and do sweet fanny Adams.


It is always some bugger else’s job to fix stuff. We can sit here and point the finger wisely and do jack shit.

The idea that Christ came to save our souls, to redeem us from sin, is both convenient and a cop out. It is a fallacy. He came to show the way and not to let us off the hook and do the job for us. The notion of a carte blanche slate wipe is the stuff of lysergic acid induced unicorn dreams. There is no get out of jail free card. It is a justification and an escapism.

Sooner or later the scales of karma await. Place your bets if you do not believe me.

“I know there is a financial crisis. Let us borrow money we don’t have so as to keep the level of services we have become accustomed to. We can always ask Acme Monopoly Inc. to print us some more currency, it is even more environmentally friendly these days. We have computers, there is no need for killing trees to make banknotes. Printing money is eco-friendly. Are we not wonderful green warriors? Don’t worry about the interest payments we can always borrow some more money to cover them.”

Putting stuff off until Monday next week when we can then re-schedule it for the next quarter is unwise and not timely. Of course, we can then reschedule until the next financial year, if it seems convenient so to do and we can thereby avoid any nasty decisions.

“In the context of inflation let us put off HS2 until next year to save money, when due to inflation the prices will be higher…Genius at work!”

The thing is the fairy godmother does not exist. I am sorry to piss on your fire / burst your bubble…

We cannot pin our hopes on a saviour to get us out of this mess, we as a humanity have to change…and swiftly so.

Dharma of the Day #10

The little surprises of life

Are the bounty

With which the universe


When things seem hard

The Dao sends us flowers

For us to inhale


Amidst all the hubris

Petals fall cadent

Upon the breeze


Wait only for the flute

And its subtle keys

It caresses your being


When your spirit flags

It is your salve

And your nectar


Let the cosmos

Be your nurse

And your healer


Open your palms

And take your alms

Humble and secure


To find your place

Which always awaits

A monkey puzzle


To ease back on tension

And to trust

Abandon to your Soul


Then like a leaf in a stream

You can eddy

And dance the currents


Have no fear of weirs

They are man made

Rivers know so much more


Journey always

With open heart

For it has a succour

Most subtle

Be as fluid as now

And do this often

A silken scarf, blowing

No aim

Ease off those shoulders

Breathe in and out

Especially out


Now find your most

Authentic centre

And become, truly

A Star!!

Wasted Resources

The other day the physio and I were discussing the raising of the state pension age in France. I explained to him that many people in the UK had private pensions. Because of this I was able to retire at 55. The stipend is sufficiently low so as not to trouble the tax man in any way. I said that as far as I can remember the UK retirement age for men had been 65 for a long time, so things have been kind here. I said that the UK was trying to get early retirees back into the work force.

The motto retirement before arthritis here is current and apt.

I read today that the UK industry is once again bemoaning the lack of “soft skills” in the newly qualified work force. Doctoral training centres for the “science superpower” are being halved. There is a drive to get people back into the work force.

I am the same age, give or take a few months, as Boris Johnson. He is an ephemeral wood dragon like me, by Chinese horoscope. He is contributing to the UK economy and keeps a large number of journalists and commentators in work.

I have not been employed for more than a month since December 2006. I was self-employed for a number of years, running a few skills course and then private tutoring “A” level physics and chemistry. I have not contributed to national insurance. So, when and if the time comes for me to draw a state pension, it will only be a few quid. I will end my days close to poverty if inflation keeps on going.

By resigning my job in 2006 I saved my employer the cost of my salary and related expenses. One could say that I have saved them 17 years of salary which hopefully they have used wisely and productively on employing someone to enhance their standing better in any research assessment exercise that I could. That saving may add up to a couple of million sterling.

Irrespective of any skills which I may or may not have, I am now unemployable. There is a huge chasm in my CV and I have nobody to act as a referee.

I could teach English and there is an outside chance there is a market for science-English. But that is about it. There is no way that any human resources person would take a punt on someone like me. It has been six years since I have taught physics or chemistry at high school level.

There is no track record.

The system, as it was, failed to make use of a highly skilled technical expert. It also failed to use my transferrable skills expertise. Once could say that I am societal jetsam. In one sense I was a wasted resource. The choice of tense is deliberate because I am no longer a useable resource, that boat has sailed, the horse has long since left the stable.

I am wondering if people will ever get this.

The system based on performance indicators, bullshit, bizarre spreadsheet metrics, pissing contests and lust to promote up the greasy pole is systemically failing a large part of the workforce.

Skilled resource is to be found walking its Labrador and eating Battenburg cake with Earl Grey at garden centres all around the UK on weekdays.

How long before people realise that the way they are doing things is no longer working and stop using a shoe-horn?

I won’t be here to see that day…

Being Incongruous

Today while the wife was getting her Zometa intravenous treatment to help with the possible effect of Myeloma on her bones and bone strength, I went into the supermarket at the local “city”. {~16,000 people} The place was a little like the Marie Celeste as many people are turning out to protest against the pension reforms.

Around here more locally, during the weekdays, the supermarket has grey-hairs, pensioners, like us and young mothers as clientele. Not so in the “city”. Because of the age and health profile of the locals here, wearing a surgical mask in the supermarket is still the norm. One does not have to, but around 20% still do. The wife is immune compromised so we both still tend to wear masks in public, her FFP2 and me surgical.

I am 95kg and muscular. I wear desert combat trousers and have recently had a short buzzcut. Because people around here are generally small and slight, I do look a bit like a brick shithouse.

In the supermarket today I was the only one wearing a mask.

I was incongruous. Several people stopped and did a double take.

Why was this big lump still wearing a mask?

Any way today I am not only incongruous as a being, I looked that way too!!