A Chemical Orthodoxy

It’s currently eight minutes past eleven at night. I finished my day’s work about forty five minutes ago. My heavily-pregnant wife works for the NHS, so every day she goes up to our loft at 8am and works through till 4pm. Meanwhile, I look after our three year old daughter. At 4, we swap over. I start ploughing through my emails, trying to complete the myriad jobs and tasks that are the day to day bread and butter of a head of department; managing my team, supporting them to set work, setting work for my own students, tracking which students are working and which ones aren’t, preparing a budget for next year, coordinating curriculum planning for next year, working towards our sixth form which is (supposed to be) opening in September, developing resources for use now and next year, chasing up students who need support or cajoling, answering queries about…

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On 14 May 2020 I posted an article, ‘Why the rush to get workers back to work – no matter what?‘. One person on Facebook commented: “Absolutely spot on! If only the workers realised the power they hold…..”, which garnered this response: “Speaking personally, my only power feels like refusal to go back to work, resulting in more extreme poverty and probable homelessness. It really does not feel like power.”

I posted this response: “You have just nailed the elephant in the room, which I’ve battled with all my adult life and which is seldom talked about – economic slavery and why ordinary working people don’t rise up. We can’t afford to.

Money, isn’t just the means of our survival, it is also an ideological weapon that’s been used against ordinary people for centuries.

In the desert, the one who controls the water supply is king.

In Britain, it’s wealth, that’s what keeps the rich in power and subjugates millions of people.

No matter how loudly we shout, until we resolve the problem of access to the means of survival we’ll never be free.”

I have repeated over and over that ‘poverty is violence’ to which I have never found an answer and until we do billions of people will never realise their potential.

Britain is the home of the Industrial Revolution. People abandoned their farms and flocked to the cities and areas of industry looking for work, to be paid poverty wages, working in appalling conditions [1] or found themselves in work houses or debtors prisons. [2]

Work houses were brutal places of unimaginable cruelty. Historically, as now, the poor are always blamed for their poverty by those in power.

Between 1983 and 1985 I was studying Community and Youth Work at Durham University in which we were required to do three community placements. One of my placements was in a mining town during the miners strike and my final placement was in another mining town shortly after the strike ended. For a wide eyed, naive, southern boy it was terrifying, at a level I’ve not experienced before or since. The violence and suffering was horrific whilst the bravery and courage of the miners and their families was awe inspiring. The two overriding issues were resources (survival) and unimaginable state violence courtesy of Margaret Thatcher.

Boris Johnson wants nothing more than to be seen as a modern day Churchill, but in reality he’s still pursuing the policies and brutality of Thatcher. She has a long shadow, still.

Since 2010, the Conservatives have been waging economic warfare against the people of Britain – subjugation and control.

Unless and until we defeat poverty and stop the use of money as a weapon, dreams will remain shattered and lives stunted and ruined for the brief time people are alive, prevented from enjoying it by those with too much wealth and privilege and no humanity and compassion.

Imagine if life was a celebration instead of a burden and a curse for far too many.

Perhaps Jesus was right that the poor will always be with us, but he never said that they should be humiliated, punished and despised for it.

If there is a heaven and if I’m in it, I shall enjoy chatting to the camels as the rich rage and spit, “Don’t you know who I am?” and God replying, “oh yes.”

Life should be a joy, not a prison.

Keith Ordinary Guy. 15 May 2020.

[1] https://www.ducksters.com/history/us_1800s/working_conditions_industrial_revolution.php

[2] https://sites.google.com/site/debtorsprisonsp72014/debtors-prisons-and-workhouses

It’s a curious thing. The government is desperate to get people back to work no matter the risk involved. So desperate are they that they even want to get young people back to school, no matter the risk to them. Why? The economy.

Some, like Barry Sheerman MP, are even saying that great damage is being caused to young people, particularly to children in low income families: @BarrySheerman “I am very unhappy about the teaching unions reluctance to cooperate on the reopening of schools great damage is being caused particularly to children from lower income families by this extended closure & there are safe ways to reopen!”

It is unclear in what way young people are supposedly being damaged in their homes, for want of a shred of evidence, or how being at school somehow protects children from this mysterious harm.

There was no notice, apart from a scant few hours, no resources and no attempt to keep workers safe either getting to or at work. Not an ounce of effort was extended to protect workers and Monday morning, 11 May 2020, the London Underground, to name but one small area of concern, was packed with unprotected workers.

Absolutely no other groups were under this same pressure, it was exclusive to English workers. Scotland, Wales and Ireland are having none of it.

Why the furore?

Well, lefties like me have been saying for a very long time, workers are the economy, the great mass driving force of production, progress and growth, for which we are derided as loony, Trotskites, Leninists, Marxists and all the other names we get called with such hate filled scorn, for one very good reason.

Workers are the beating heart of the economy, without whom the economy is screwed!

Oh they despise us, abuse us, pay us poverty pay and treat us like dirt and hate our very genes, in case we pollute their privileged gene pool.

But they can’t live without us. Sure, they don’t care if a few thousand or even a few million die, we are, as they say, the 99%, so a little culling doesn’t much affect our overall ability to keep the economy and the country functioning.

They despise us because they need us. Who makes the shirt on the back of the billionaire, so called ‘self-made man’? Not he. Or makes his shoes, produces his food, lays the roads and the car he relies on, or the planes. Who makes every single thing he needs to survive, the cleaning, the desk, the house, the every fucking thing you can think of?

Why, great merciful heavens, we do.

And is he grateful, as he pays our poverty pay and stashes the rest of the value we’ve produced in a tax haven? He didn’t get to be a billionaire on his own, no matter what he thinks, he stole it from working people, from you and me and our children and their children to be.

It’s the grandest theft of all time.

Right now, as Covid-19 shapes all our worlds, and those in power are desperate to get back to the business of thieving as usual, is it time to think again? Is this our time?

I don’t know, I am but one. There are 33.4 million working people in Britain who must either decide or just accept and wear the yoke once more.

Keith Ordinary Guy. 14 May 2020.

One day in January 2015 at around midnight I awoke in extreme pain, such that I could barely breathe. Within 2 minutes of a 999 call the paramedics arrived and blue lighted me to A&E. I was given a pain killer suppository which was definitely the best pain killer ever. Bliss! From that point memory gets hazy, but at 3 am I was given a 7 hour emergency operation to remove my appendix with life threatening complications for which I was thankfully out cold.

The several days I spent in hospital recovering were unpleasant for no other reason than my acute social phobia, however I was given the best drugs I’ve ever taken and spent an unknown period of time tripping my brains out. The ward turned in a digital matrix in which I could see and experience every pixel. I thought the operation had changed how my mind worked and that I would henceforth live my life with this new ability to see the matrix. Sadly it was not to be.

The climactic event of the whole thing was when, in response to the drugs, my arse exploded and I shat myself as no righteous human being deserves to shit. I was eventually released to spend the next 3 months recovering, I had survived something that came extremely close to killing me.

That, my friends, is down to science, our incredible NHS and human skill for which I am understandably incredibly grateful.

Now, here’s the thing. If you want to know what life was like before the NHS, do read Harry Leslie Smith’s book, ‘Don’t Let My Past Be Your Future’ [1]. The medical care we so take for granted today simply didn’t exist prior to WWII, especially for poor people, and I would certainly have died.

Post war Labour founded the Welfare State, the NHS and built more than a million homes, 80% of which were council houses. Back then, people from all walks of life lived and thrived in social housing. Opposite the house we moved into when I was 2 or 3 was a dental technician with his own business and my childhood friend Ian. We used to occasionally accompany Ian’s dad to work and mess about with pink plastic.

Whilst we, my family, were dirt poor, council houses then were for all, without prejudice or favour, they didn’t become exclusive to poor people until Margaret Thatcher. [2]

The conservatives opposed Labours plans and only reluctantly got on board in what was called the post war consensus. It ended with Thatcher, since when the long plan to privatise everything has steadily and stealthily advanced into the madness of the decade of 2010 – 2020 under David Cameron, Theresa May and now Boris Johnson, which has seen poor and vulnerable people prematurely dying in droves. 50’s women robbed of their pensions and disabled people targeted with obscene cuts to their financial and physical support. [3]

A little discussed, in general, problem is that under the welfare state and with the advances in science and medicine, more and more people who would have died without our world class health system, survived to have a chance at this brief journey (miracle) we call life. Just as the NHS was there for everyone, so was the Welfare State, the cost burden shared by everyone, to use the well know expression of the Musketeers, ‘All for one and one for all’.

This did not sit well with Conservatives, right-wing ideologues and eugenicists who firmly believe the gene pool is being polluted or watered down by poor genetic stock. In their survival of the fittest ideology, unprofitable lives, poor, ill and disabled people (useless eaters) should be allowed and enabled to die.

All the human advances and achievements we have worked for are the enemy of right wing progress and private profit and in the last decade we have seen and experienced the destruction of state provision and the advancing erosion of social support for those not worthy, in their eyes, of life.

In that world view, the NHS, prior to the health and social care act of 2012, was the enemy of those who consider poor, ill and disabled people have no right to live if they are economically unprofitable and a drain on society.

As difficult as it is, for someone like me and all decent people, to accept, they have not just thought the unthinkable, they have implemented policies that Hitler would have recognised all too well and been proud of.

“While Thatcher boldly declared at the Conservative party conference in 1982 that the NHS was “safe with us”, the Iron Lady and her then chancellor Geoffrey Howe were seriously considering proposals for dismantling the welfare state, which would have included “the end of the National Health Service”.” [4]

However, at that time she didn’t dare take on the sacred cows of the NHS and the Welfare State. The plans were hidden, but not abandoned, until David (pre-election pledges -“No frontline cuts”, “no top-down NHS reorganisations”, “no VAT rise”) Cameron set about doing all that and more under the guise of Austerity.

For a blow by blow analysis of the Cameron years, may I recommend my ‘Letter a Day to Number 10, detailing, over four and a half years, the catastrophic betrayal and lies of Cameron and his government as they tore Britain apart, softening us up for the further lies and betrayals under May and Johnson into what amounts to a genocide of the weakest and most vulnerable people in Britain. [5]

The greatest lie of all is that some people are not worthy of life. The greatest betrayal was in the demolition of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The Tories, the hidden mechanisms of state and the media threw everything at him and won and working class hopes died.

The Johnson government, not worthy of the name, is the most obscene, callous, uncaring, brutal, lying, cheating, stealing government in modern post war history. For the Tories, the Corvid-19 pandemic has presented them with a licence to kill with impunity. Even the Telegraph, amazingly, has described the handling of the pandemic as ‘Government’s handling of Covid-19 is a very British disaster’ [6]. They got that wrong though, it has been an enormous success, if your agenda is murder. They have left Britain open to become the highest death toll in the world, lagging only behind the USA, in an opaque fog of lies and deceit and it ain’t over yet. [7]

Under the endless lies, they have done the bare minimum to appease the masses whilst enabling the death toll to rocket like a space shuttle on launch, or crack, take your pick. [8]

Nothing in Britain will be right until we find a way to remove the wrong that is the Conservative and Unionist Party from power, who have caused such irreparable harm and loss to millions of ordinary people and our way of life.

I am 69 and I never imagined I’d ever see such a vicious, brutal, petty, predatory dictatorship in the UK and I have never before experienced such prolonged rage and grief.

The Tories are a crime against life.

Keith Ordinary Guy. 13 May 2020.

[1] https://www.waterstones.com/book/dont-let-my-past-be-your-future/harry-leslie-smith/9781472123473

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/thatcherism_01.shtml

[3] https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-welfare-cuts-hammered-disabled-13479252

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/28/margaret-thatcher-government-1982-papers

[5] http://www.keithordinaryguy.org.uk/

[6] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/05/12/governments-handling-covid-19-british-disaster/

[7] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-06/uk-has-second-highest-coronavirus-death-toll-worldwide/12217924

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/12/uk-coronavirus-death-toll-passes-40000-official-figures-say

Britain’s reputation for its handling of the coronavirus epidemic has taken another global pasting after newspapers worldwide reported on what they described as confusion and internal divisions that are rapidly creating a crisis as big as Brexit for the UK.

Govt Newspeak

UK takes a pasting from world’s press over coronavirus crisis – The Guardian
Across Europe to the US, the foreign newspaper verdict is Britain has performed badly [YOU THINK]

Scientists Scrutinize New Coronavirus Genome for Answers | The ...
The foreign media have been scathing in their verdict of how the British government has handled the coronavirus crisis. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/Downing Street handout/EPA
Britain’s reputation for its handling of the coronavirus epidemic has taken another global pasting after newspapers worldwide reported on what they described as confusion and internal divisions that are rapidly creating a crisis as big as Brexit for the UK.

With many diplomats admitting that soft power reputations are being forged or destroyed during the pandemic, the European press in particular is taking time to point out that the UK is experiencing the worst death rate in Europe, revealing a National Health Service that is underfunded and underprepared.

The UK is also being singled out as the…

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“I am a person who also needs to survive.”

Westminster Confidential

And why the BackTo60 Facebook crowdfunder is essential to bring these sad facts for many more to light

The family of Ray and Lesley Myers with daughters Nicola and Jenny in happier times.

This is a tragic tale that I suspect is being repeated across the UK now we have the largest number of deaths in Europe. It gives a little glimpse into the human cost behind the cold harsh statistics of the daily death toll. Her daughter contacted me and she agreed to be interviewed.

Ray and Lesley Myers thought they had their retirement well planned. He would get his pension at 65 and one year later she would get hers at 60.

He was a successful self employed builder in Cheshire. They had a comfortable four bedroomed house and two lovely daughters.

Then at 60 Ray developed cancer and was unable to work. They downsized from their four…

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The poor side of life

Dear readers, its Thursday once again and I hope that you are all safe and well.

Whilst I haven’t had a test to confirm that I’ve had Covid 19 I did have all the symptoms and this is my experience of it.

The past two weeks or so have been very different for me. I had taken my health for granted albeit for my underlying health conditions and I took every precaution that I could have done to avoid catching Covid 19.

For a few days before it hit me hard I had a headache (not unusual for me) a scratchy throat and a slight cough. I put this down to yet another migraine/ headache and a bit of hay fever, so I carried on as normal.

A few days after the headache (which wouldn’t go) and the scratchy throat came the next wave of symptoms. I developed a temperature…

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The NICE document separates human life into blunt categories. In one small group of boxes, there are people deemed to be worth saving. In the others, there are groups of people who, it has been decided, ought to be just left to die. As cheaply as possible.

Politics and Insights

NHS Bevan

The National Health Service (NHS) was born on 5 July 1948. It was the first time anywhere in the world that completely free healthcare provision was made available on the basis of citizenship rather than the payment of fees or insurance.

The NHS was founded on the principle of universal healthcare. It upheld the most fundamental principles of human rights: that each life has equal worth, and that we all have a right to life.

In 1946, the new Labour government passed the National Health Service Act. The model they used was based on one used in Tredegar in the 1930s, which was like an early, local version of the NHS. However, the new Minister for Health, Aneurin Bevan, who was MP for Tredegar, had to overcome opposition to the NHS. For example:

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I have joined the autumnal club of retirement in which I am still a mere stripling, my leaves just starting to turn. Even so, my life is now subject to impromptu grunts and groans as bits of me approach their sell by date, seemingly quicker than other bits. Picking things up or sitting down, it’s easier to let the spontaneous grunt out than not, though quite how that helps I have no idea.

Some things inside, though, are changing dramatically and deserve special mention. The landscape of my internal world has changed spectacularly.

Growing up, there were things that I took on board as my life developed. Leaving school, getting a job, developing a career, meeting someone and marrying, finding places to live, having children, raising them, having nervous breakdowns and a lot of stuff and nonsense on the way… There was lots of it and it was complex, demanding and absorbing.

At 69, it’s all done. Some of it remains in place, but still essentially done. No longer aspirations or desires.

I am content to be on my own now, having learnt to deal with loneliness many years ago, and untroubled by the busyness of life that continues around me at one step removed.

Inside my forward vision has slowed to almost a standstill. It’s still there, but I am not engaged with it any more other than knowing I am closing in on the end. My attention is engaged in the present and increasingly in the past, with vibrant memories that are dear to me now, even the dark and difficult times that have done so much to shape me.

Like the autumn we see in nature, my internal colours are now much brighter and more varied. Everything is coloured by a life times experience, and I like what I see and increasingly feel. Love is richer, caring is sweeter, kindness is essential, conversations go deeper, my connection to and with nature is such that I no longer feel an unconnected being, rather, I am part of the flow of nature and indivisible from it.

A saying has grown inside me for many years to become almost a mantra – ‘There is beauty yet’.

That’s what matters now, because this life we have, this dearest of natures gifts to each and every one of us, is breathtakingly awesome. I’ve not always seen it or understood it and even once attempted to end it. But it is a thing of beauty and wonder, seemingly out of nowhere, through tiny eggs and seeds combining to make each and every one of us living beings.

And the little flame of passion that has lived inside me all my life is now a great fire and to live passionately and vibrantly is beautiful.

I lost half my life to depression, an unforgiving, brutal, task master that brooked no rivals. An ever present, demanding darkness that was painful in the extreme.

Until I learned a thing. Until I learnt that depression is a warning. It’s like a traffic light and when it goes red, something is very wrong forcing the claxon of depression to sound off. Loudly!

There isn’t room to put even a fraction of all that I’ve learnt from depression, but there are a few things worth mentioning. For me, depression was a warning that my being was occluded, some vital part of me lost and screaming for my attention. It is also true, that choosing to look into the occlusion to discover its symptoms and its cause, involved some of the greatest, naked and eviscerating, psychological pain I’ve ever known.

For me the occlusion came in childhood, and finding and healing that lost child has taken much of my life.

Depression can come from many places and strike for a multiplicity of reasons, but for existential depression, there is always a triggering event or set of circumstances. I cannot claim to speak for all depression, but I am an expert on my own existential depression, and have developed a prodigious set of tools to deal with it and even having that tool box, the tools forged with my own hands (with some awesome assistance), is a source of comfort and strength. It’s like the opening of Simon and Garfunkle’s, ‘Sound of silence’, “Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again.”

We’ve had some profound conversations! And always, always, there was some hurt hiding away, locked behind doors, hidden by grief, awaiting my attention and the space to touch it, feel it and live through the depth and expression of sorrow, to emerge from the chrysalis into sunlight once more, or even and especially for the first time.

The greatest oppressive and catastrophic occlusion was to the beauty of life itself. It’s not hard to see in this world, we’re battling the occlusion of life all the time. It’s not just inside us, we’re surrounded by it and it’s most visible in some of the inhumane reactions to the coronavirus that have dominated the news and social media recently, not least from the government.

But why do I care? What is the source of the outrage I feel, the abhorrence, the disgust (the danger of depression)?

I care because it offends against life. That’s the bottom line. It is an insult to this glorious wonder that is life. Worse, it drags life down, tarnishing its beauty, like a punch in the soul.

There is life even in rage and abhorrence. I’ll take the hit, feel the pain, and I’ll survive it to live and love on.

The words, ‘There is beauty yet’, are enough to make me stop and consider how to fight, and how to conduct it, because not fighting when life is threatened by cruelty, abuse, greed and so on, is unthinkable.

There is literally nothing more beautiful than life itself.

There I rest, there is my peace, there is the entire meaning of my life.

Here there is beauty, brightest in autumn, with the gorgeous sun of a lifetimes experience shining on it.

The very thing that makes me a useless eater in the eyes of some, is the very thing that is most precious. I am not living to work to earn a meagre crust or chasing rainbows of ambition any more, I am living to live this beautiful adventure that is second to nothing, life.

It’s great to be vibrantly and truly alive.

Keith Ordinary Guy. 28 March 2020.

The poor side of life

Dear readers its Thursday and most of us are on lockdown.

I did take a walk down to Ashton but I was unable to hand much out food wise because I have no spare cash, none at all but I did the best that I could do given the circumstances.

I realise that most of you are probably stressed and/ or worried about catching Covid 19 and are trying to keep away from people as much as possible, but its nearly impossible because we can’t afford to do one big shop for the week etc because universal credit prevents this.

Universal Credit is being touted at the moment as being the best thing ever, that it’ll help all self employed and previously employed people and that it will be of great benefit to them.

Claim universal credit and you’ll be ok!! But it’ll take at least five weeks to process…

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