Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Just because you're better than me. Doesn't mean I'm lazy. Just because you're going forwards. Doesn't mean I'm going backwards.

Okay today has not been a good day.

It appears that the world has taken advantage of my post-Glastonbury fug to mess me up just as much as it can.

Cheers world.

When I returned and logged on there was a message from VSO. To cut a long story short, it appears that the good people of Hanoi, Vietnam are not at all enamored with my application. Nothing wrong with it, except they want a fundraiser and not a PR man.

It appears they already have a PR man.

Hanoi - fading fast.

Of course, I believe that the skills I have are suited to the post but they're not so sure. To prove myself they want me to write a small piece about what I think the job entails. All very well, but I only know what they have already provided, other than that I'd just be taking a stab and I would hate to think that what I produce could be used against me.

A chat with my VSO placement person only further served to unravel my world. She doesn't sound at all confident about Vietnam. South Africa is still on the table but far from definite and if I miss out on both then the next option could be Spring 2005. Or worse they may just decide they can't place me at all.

It was at this point that my world decided to freak me out by self combusting. No VSO could be the reality. And if no VSO then what? I'm confused, angry, and let down. How could VSO allow me to get into this without explaining that I could be left with nothing?

Worse still, with the positive noises about Vietnam, I've had to turn work away. That means that I now have no long term plan at all. Just how am I going to pay the bills?

I mentioned before the Glasto intermission about the Special Person I had met and the problems over how I reconcile this relationship with my departure. What I didn't mention is that I met her on VSO training and she will be gone in a few weeks.

Now I have the very real possibility of no Vietnam, no VSO and no Special Person and all in all, it's too horrendous to contemplate.

So I guess I have to have a plan B. As the fog clears it's slowly forming in my mind.

How does this sound?

* Firstly, I jump through whatever hoops are necessary to try and rescue the Vietnam post. It remains the dream. What's more my posting there won't be too far away from Special Person whose heading for the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.

* Secondly, South Africa isn't such a bad second option and if need be I'll take that.

* Thirdly, I have to sell my house. Long term business plans are in a state that I'll need the cash if nothing else and once the house is sold then at least I have the cash to live and keep my options open and....

* If VSO doesn't come through, and is showing no signs of coming through, by the autumn then I will go on my travels again. Maybe I'll visit Special Person, maybe I'll do 'Nam again. In the meantime VSO can have my email address and they can alert me if anything comes up.

Mongolia - destination of Special Person

Right now though, it does feel like my world is rapidly caving in. I want to simultaneously burst into tears, get drunk, play loud music and kick items of furniture around.

The inability to help people using what experience I have is pretty sobering too. It only serves to reflect my biggest fear that I do a worthless job. Why can't I save people's lives or build bridges or safeguard the eco system?

It's a long time since I felt this down about anything. I feel like VSO promises have meant me wasting a valuable year of my life. I'm tired of it all and I feel like such a fool for telling everyone about VSO and Vietnam and all the rest of it.

Sorry, just think of this as a misery intermission, the luckiest man in the world will be back with you after this short break.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

If she wanted to be a farmer's wife I would endure that muddy life. I would dig for victory.

I've just slept for 12 undisturbed hours in my lovely bed. Glasto really does take it out of you.

Again, Glasto 2004 was being hailed in some quarters as the best ever. It wasn't but it was pretty good all the same. In the end, the weather stopped it being a classic and the line-up wasn't quite as strong as past years.

Maybe it's just in my head but every year seems to develop a sub-plot. Last year it was the war in Iraq, this year it was nationalism and Englishness in general.

I must admit I was a little perturbed when it was announced that the England v Portugal game was to be shown on the pyramid stage. Like Michael Eavis I feared that it was very much the wrong vibe. But, because of an absence of anything else to do the Thursday night, I attended.

There's something about supporting the England football team that doesn't sit right with me. Not sure whether it's the fans, the media or the team itself that winds me up most but I can't really get excited about the whole England thing. Then of course there is the problem that, as a nation, we tend to turn sporting pride into ugly nationalism.

Either way, watching the game unfold on the large screen wasn't too horrific an experience. Although I had heard that "No Surrender" chants were voiced by some groups. All in all not very Glasto.

When 90 minutes were up I decided against sitting around for the extra time. I took myself off on a wander up through the green fields, to the stone circle which looks down on the rest of the site.

From there I heard the cheers, gasps and moans that pretty much told me what was happening. For Glastonbury, at least, a defeat was probably the best outcome. Certainly I heard no more "Rooooooney" chants that had so quickly become irritating before that.

As mentioned, the festival itself was good if not a classic. Oasis still have the presence to entertain but didn't really seem to put much into their performance. They weren't helped by terrible sound and an over reliance on their first album.

The very next night they were shown how to do it my Macca. While he had none of the coolness of the likes of Radiohead and REM, that had made last year so memorable, he does have the world's best back catalogue. In the end he was spot on. Mixing the obscure with the new and playing the right crowd pleasers. The best Glasto moments are the sing-a-longs. Last year REM's "Everybody Hurts" and Radiohead's "Kharma Police" were just amazing. This year we had the Glastonbury choir enjoying beautiful Beatle tunes.

I think it was the youngsters that enjoyed Macca the most. Old enough to know the tunes but young enough not to be tired of them. A bunch of 17 year olds camping by my tent were certainly impressed and kept me awake by talking excitedly about the performance into the small hours.

I didn't watch Muse on the last night. They've never been a band I've taken too. The tunes aren't strong enough and they seem to take themselves too seriously. So, my Glasto Pyramid stage departure was after Morrissey.

And it was Mozza that was the best of the lot for me. Irish Blood English Heart summed it all up. The lyrics fitted the mood perfectly. Tens of thousands of fans stood, ankle deep in mud, joining in with the cursing of the royal family, political parties and the hijacking of the flag by the right wing.

Like Oasis, Morrissey appeared grumpy, but he had the style to pull it off. He played only two Smiths songs and it would have been nice to hear more, but he met the crowd on his terms, played what he liked and was still blistering.

Of the Smiths songs, "There is a light" was very special. A typical trademark Smiths songs, outwardly morbid to the uninitiated but life affirming and just gorgeous if you "get it".

His band were just awesome too. Fast, loud, proficient and cool as f*ck.

Of the rest of the weekend, other high spots included "Somewhere only we know" by Keane in a set that was most memorable for making the sun come out. I enjoyed Wilco too and a quick burst of Billy Bragg in the Leftfield tent before having to make an early departure to catch Morrissey.

I remain gobsmacked at the festival in general. And I'm tired of all those "It's the new Henley" newspaper articles. It's not and the comparisons are tired. Yes, less than creative Guardian hacks can probably find people drinking Pimms if they try hard enough but they're way more likely to meet someone skinning up a splif or downing 'shroom truffles.

Glastonbury is open to all. And it's spirit means that everyone can enjoy it. The same people who are now complaining about its gentrification we're mouthing off about wall jumping scallies not so long ago.

In the meantime, I shall continue to attend whenever I can. It is a very special place for me and each year provides me with a memory and an experience that will stay with me forever.

This year Morrissey balanced the footie flag waving start to the festival, with some good old fashioned angst.

Good on yer Mozza. And good on Michael Eavis too.

I love Glasto.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Pick up your feet, fall in, move out. We're going to a party way down South.

Just back from Glasto. Well actually I got back around two hours ago - the intervening time has been spent with me soaking away the mud in the tub.

How bad was the mud? Pretty bad. How good was the festival? Pretty good.

Right now I'm knackered. I'll post more fully tomorrow.

Night all.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I’m gonna tell all you fascists you may be surprised. The people all over this world are getting organised. You’re bound to lose, you fascists are bound to lose.

Love is still all you need.

I know the plan was for this site to go all Glasto for the next couple of days. That plan remains.

But, I felt compelled to add this post and I shall try and link it to the festival as best I can.

What I love most about Glasto is that feeling of a mini utopia. The people are friendly, the coppers are even handed, and with the likes of the Leftfield tent the spirit remains radical.

In the Leftfield tent

The creator of Bloggerheads, for my money, the best blog on the web, has decided to hang up his mouse for the forseeable future. Throughout his blogging his opposition to Bush, Blair and the Iraq war has been both insightful and brilliant.

He signs off with this piece of brilliance that bought tears to my eyes. You must see it for yourself.

We're constantly let down by traditional media in the fight against war and intolerance. That is why the likes of Bloggerheads are vital. To effectively fight and oppose big business and self-serving politicians you need to be armed with the right information to shoot down their arguments.

For the festival goers who are visiting this site. Please check out the links above and I would heartily reccommend a trip to the Leftfield tent. You may learn something, or you may just come back with the feeling that, if you oppose this war, you are not alone.

The fight against the war continues. As Bloggerheads puts it, we are all responsible for this war, because we could all have done more to stop it. Until we see the removal or Bush and Blair this will not be the last war.

This Saturday night, I expect to be in the Pyramid Field at Glastonbury. Macca will be on stage and I'm hoping he can do a special festival rendition of "All You Need is Love". The song, was first performed in the sixties, via satellite, to a worldwide audience of millions.

And today, with wars being waged in our name in the Middle East, its sentiments remain as true, and as important, as ever.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.
How can you lie there and think of England? When you don't even know who's in the team?

Glatso - it's taking shape.

Pic from the official site.

Glasto isn't the easiest place to catch up with your mates. There's 150,000 people, getting a signal isn't always easy and besides, your mobile is likely to run out before the end of the weekend.

Last year we hit upon a system. There was a large group of us and others were travelling down at different times and from different places. So we came up with a plan. Nothing concrete and nothing binding but we had places we agreed in advance, should you be watching whatever band in whatever field.

On the Pyramid field we picked out a spot in line with both the sound stage and the speakers. On the "other" field it was just to the left of the sound stage. It meant that had any of us gone for a wander on our own we could normally find something to watch a band with later. But without the hassle and commitment of real plans. Glastonbury is not a place for set-in-stone plans.

Anyway, it worked well, and I've just emailed round a rather nastily drawn plan for out meeting place this year. It's scanned and shown below, so if you can read it, and if you're going and you see a big bloke with a broad brimmed hat on in either of those spots then chances are it's me.

Meeting points.

The general weather forecast seems to be picking up a little bit. It's a glorious day here on Tyneside but the Glastocam doesn't look quite so sparkling as I write. My fingers are still well and truly crossed.

I set off bright and early tomorrow, but I shall try and do a quick blog either in the small hours before I sleep or early doors before I set off.

If I don't, for whatever reason, then make sure those of you who are going have a blinder. Those of you who aren't can check out the TV coverage (see a few posts down for details) and you can sit there green with envy.

Today's Glasto Links

1. Gallaghers in shock sibbling rivalry.
2. Coppers on bikes.
3. Weather's starting to look a little more optimistic.
4. Has Glasto lost its spirit?
5. Veggie food.
6. Rooney Roadshow comes to Glasto.
7. Alphabetical listings with times.
8. Catch a film.
9. Recharge your phone.
10. Don't forget ID for your tickets.

Finally, if you would like something to argue about. What's do you reckon the best bet is - stick to the main fields and watch the big names. Or move around and see the smaller, wilder acts and various curiosities around the site?

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Monday, June 21, 2004

I'm not the one to tell this world how to get along. I only know that peace will come when all our hate is gone.

Being as shambolic and disorganised as I am, I take extra pleasure on the rare occasions when a plan comes together.

The various elements that have been clouding and confusing my mind for a couple of weeks seem to be melting away.

First off, the cheque that wasn't supposed to clear till tomorrow, magically was available to withdraw from my account today and so this morning I busied myself sorting out my car.

MOT (check - with flying(ish) colours), insurance (check), tax (check). All sorted today and my car is now roadworthy and legal, ready for that drive down to Glastonbury.

The drive to Glastonbury is always glorious. Full of excitement and anticipation and that "school's out for summer" feeling, it goes in a blink of an eye. Unlike the journey back, of course, that goes on forever.

Actually last year it took four hours just to be out of the car park.

To add to the "coming good" list is the tent. I had only just remembered it had been packed away wet and I'd pretty much convinced myself it would just be a large, unpleasant smelling lump of mildew by now. After putting off giving it a once over, I steeled myself and zipped it open and unfolded it all out. Magically it seems just fine.

Not bad for £30 from Aldis. I'm such a class act.

Just been out and bought Mozza's new CD too. On first playing it sounds like a blinder. I shall be there when he struts his stuff on the main stage. I wonder where I can buy gladioli to twirl? Hope he plays some old Smiths stuff too.

So, once again it all comes together for the luckiest man in the world. Or is that too much fate tempting?

Right now I'm most looking forward to that split second after the tents have been put up, when you collapse on the grass and you're handed a pack of Rizlas and a pouch of Golden Virginia.

Then you get that Glastonbury grin.

Todays Glasto Links:

1. Top pies at Glasto.
2. Oasis in "no drugs" shocker.
3. Opera at Glasto.
4. A story about poo.
5. Unsettled Glastonbury weather.
6. Don't worry though - Macca can control the weather.
7. Jet replaced by BDB.
8. Turn Glastocam into your desktop wallpaper.
9. I want a tipi. Maybe next time.
10. The Glasto 2003 quiz.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Picture from efestivals excellent website.

As you may already have noticed, everything is going a little bit Glasto for the next couple of days. Partly because I thought it might be of interest to people who are going or are planning to watch it on telly, and partly because I'm like an excited kid and I really can't contain myself.

Today links:

1. Moaning moshers.
2. The Glasto weblog.
3. The Michael and Emily show.
4. Larding it at Glastonbury.
5. Pictures of the mud year.
6. Nasty corporate stuff.
7. Morrissey interview.
8. Probably too late to hire but cool anyway.
9. BBC's Glasto blog.
10. The Green Police.

Finally, it's not Glasto related but good to see The Stone Roses' first album named as the best ever. I totally agree.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

I read that "shadow poet laureate" Adrian Mitchell will be performing at Glastonbury this year.

His most famous poem is "Tell me Lies about Vietnam". Cut from here and pasted below.

I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I've walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain,
Couldn't find myself so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames
Made a marble phone book and I carved all the names
So coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
So stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Where were you at the time of the crime?
Down by the Cenotaph* drinking slime
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out,
You take the human being and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women,
Chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

I will not cease from mental fight. Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand. Till we have built Jerusalem. In England's green and pleasant land.

With money problems slowly sorting themselves out I'm now getting very excited about Glastonbury.

With this in mind, I decided to try and bring together some Glastonbury links for those of you who are going.

Glasto info:

1. The map. Choose a place to pitch your tent and meet friends.

2. How to get there.

3. What you need.

4. The nasty toilets.

5. How to get free ponchos if it rains.

6. The line up.

7. Keep an eye on the weather.

8. Mixmag's top tips.

9. Live on-line.

10. Telly coverage.

Glasto News

1. Supergrass replace The Libertines

2. Tree Hugging.

3. The movie.

4. The history.

5. Oasis to play new material.

6. Billy Bragg on Glasto.

7. Benn & Klein.

8. Glastonbury memories.

9. The Red Tower.

10. A message from the coppers.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.
Your life has lost its dignity, its beauty and its passion. You're an accident waiting to happen.

Lovely Glasto toilets.

She-Pee urinals. Ladies, your thoughts please. Disgusting, very welcome, or just plain urrrrggghh.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Friday, June 18, 2004

She said you know honey, it's such a shame. You'll never be any good at this game. You bruise too easily.

While I fervently believe that everything in life happens for the best, it's often difficult to work out just how the plan fits together.

Take the chain of events that indirectly lead to me signing up for VSO.

Work was a pain. I left work. I travelled. It put work and my little life into perspective. I returned. Took on another job. It was a pain. I set up on my own which was a little better. I had a row with a mate. Thought there was little for me here anymore. Applied to VSO. Was nearly sent to South Africa. It fell through. Now I'm off to Vietnam (fingers crossed).

Take out any link in that chain and I wouldn't be going to Vietnam. And as I have said, it's a dream come true.

But also somewhere, late on in that chain, when my posting was well on its way to confirmation, I met someone.

And how do you progress a relationship when you know you're going away? When time is running out. Do you throw yourself into it and wring every last drop out of it while you can? Or do you keep each other at arm's length to make parting that much easier?

I don't know and can't work it out. But it's tough.

Chuck in the fact that she works shifts and weekends and it's even harder.

But as I said, I'm a great believer in fate. I'm not religious and I can't abide new age guff but fate has never let me down. So what's happening here? Just how does all of this work out for the best? Remember, I'm the luckiest man in the world, so how do I come up trumps this time?

In the meantime, I'm still dreaming of VSO and Vietnam and that's not going to change.

And between us we've talked a lot about "enjoying the journey", in other words living for today. The trouble is we're not, we're living with one eye on tomorrow and our behaviour is being affected by VSO plans.

What's more all of this would be so much easier, if I wasn't quite as smitten.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

But I left you on the debris. Now we both know you got no money. And I wonder what you would have done without me hanging around.

Cash update.

The target: To set off to Glastonbury on Wednesday (latest).

Need to: Tax, MOT and insure my car.

Current situation.

Client One They are going to pay me tomorrow (they promise). They have also agreed to me picking up the (moderate sized) cheque rather than just posting it which saves me a valuable day in trying to get it cleared in time.

Cash available by: Thursday next week.

Client Two. Again, after much chasing have agreed to pay (small amount) money into my bank. This cuts down on clearing time but the "system" still means it won't be paid in and available before Tuesday of next week.

Cash available by: Tuesday next week

Client Three. This one is a long shot. But it's the largest of the cheques and they have my bank details so theoretically it could just appear in my business account in the next couple of days. However, they are only just nudging the 30 days payment agreement.

Cash available by: Who knows?

The problem:

* Money paid by Client Two is the only cash that will definitely be available to me in time for Glastonbury (if they actually do pay it in when they promise to).

This, would be of a size that would cover spends for Glastonbury but wouldn't cover cost of tax, MOT, etc.

* Money paid in by Client One would cover everything but doesn't clear till Thursday next week. Too late to do anything with except write cheques against.

The trouble is my business account only comes with a SOLO card, rather than a cheque guarantee card, would garages allow that? Would insurance companies accept that?

Possible solution: I get a friend to lend me the cash, in return for a cheque that will clear a couple of days after they lend me the money.

I think this might just work.

Unless anyone has any better ideas?

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

All they taught you at school was how to be a good worker. The system has failed you, don't fail yourself.

Total Quality = Total Bollocks

Back in my early days as a journalist, one of my regular tasks was to write advertising features. The basis of these was that a company would pay for me to visit, interview the boss, organise a picture and then write it all up for publication.

It would then appear in the paper, alongside their advert, under a banner saying: "Advertising Feature", which may as well have read: "Don't believe any of this - we were paid to include it".

Anyway, there were a number of stories that appeared time and time again. Refurbishments of social clubs were a favourite. After a while, to amuse ourselves, we used to see how often we could get away with the same intro: "*insert name here* is looking better than ever thanks to a *insert sum here* refurbishment that has proved a massive hit with its *insert number here* members."

At Christmas we would also have to produce a special festive supplement. I once managed to write an entire 16 page pull-out without ringing a single person for interview. The next year we dug up the same text and rehashed it once more.

Amongst these regular features was Total Quality, a business accreditation that was very fashionable in the early to mid nineties. Like all these certificates, one company would achieve it and then would get all snooty and refuse to deal with any suppliers who weren't Total Quality. They would then be forced to obtain it and on and on it would go down a long chain of suppliers.

They would then take out an ad feature to tell the world they were now Total Quality and what a difference it had made to Sandra in accounts.

Total Quality was to the business world as McDonalds is to restaurants. Basically it strips out the expertise and experience and instead documents every process so that a visiting alien from the planet Tharg could step into an office role at the drop of a hat.

The system would be slavishly followed by all employees and just to make sure, Total Quality bods would drop by from time-to-time to ensure it was still adhered to.

Which is fine. (Rant coming here). But I'm sick of systems. I'm sick of the fact that if I ring a client, who owes me money, they say: "Right, well it's Tuesday, if you send us a copy of the invoice today, then I can process it tomorrow, send it on to accounts payable on Thursday, who will put it in the system on Friday and then they will send you a cheque on Monday, which should be with you Tuesday."

To which I of course reply: "How about if I drove round now with a copy and then someone could write me a cheque there and then and I could take it home with me?"

And the reply: "I'm sorry but that is not how the system operates."

Trouble is, in this situation, there is no beating the system. Every action takes such a ridiculous amount of time and this is before I have to wait five whole working days for the bank to clear the cheque.

And why does each step in the system have to take a day each? Can't anyone achieve more than one task a day?

In other words, having managed to kickstart the system today, at best I will receive a cheque on Tuesday, and it's likely to clear two weeks tomorrow.

That is ridiculous. It may have been fine in the days when communications were done by snail mail but in these days of near-instant email it is ludicrous.

When I set up on my own I got all the requisite computer gear, printer, scanner etc. One item of office machinery I didn't invest in is a fax. Who the hell uses fax these days? I'll tell you who does, bloody accounts departments that's who. I can just imagine them, sitting there covered in decade of dust and occasionally shuffling over to their nasty shiny paper fax to pick up another invoice that will go into the bastard f*cking system

And yes, I'm only this angry about it because I am skint. Made worse by the fact that I am heading off to Glastonbury in just over a week's time and I don't even have the cash to tax, MOT and insure the car, never mind keep me in Rizlas and munchies.

It's driving me absolutely nuts.

And before anyone starts to tell me about what the Government are doing to stop this, the money outstanding is from three separate Government organisations. If they cannot pay me on time then how the hell do they expect private businesses to behave responsibly in this area?

Some money, in the bank account of my clients.

Every weekend when I have a "quiet one" due to lack of funds, I try to cheer myself with the fact that money will soon be paid and the next Friday and Saturday will be more entertaining. When there are no cheques by Tuesday then you pin your hopes on having it cleared for the following weekend and so on and so on. It's soul destroying.

Bloody systems. Its an excuse for slow payment and crap service. The one phrase I really try to avoid with clients is "no, sorry I can't do that". If necessary I work all night to hit deadlines, so how come they insist on such a "can't do" culture themselves?

To quote Bob Geldof:

"Just give us yer f*cking money. I'm not doing this for the good of my health".

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Gonna follow the path that climbs up through the trees. Walk along the cliff top and gaze out to sea. I feel free when I come up here. And if it's clear some days I see the point.

I've mentioned before about the times in life when your cynicism is put aside and you realise there's still hope for the world.

Despite the worst excesses of governments, big business, religion and bigotry, you are reminded that people are overwhelmingly good and are committed to simply trying to make society work for the benefit of all.

Yesterday I was at a wedding. It was a beautiful do that saw Dr Toon tie the knot with his lovely bride. A large proportion of Lovely Bride's family hail from Bangladesh, although over the years many have settled in all parts of the globe.

Suited and booted, I took my place amongst the wedding party, the style of dress ranged from the women's saris to the men's exotic looking Asian styled suits.

Alongside the happy couple, the star of the day was the bride's father. Looking immaculate in a cream suit he delivered a raucous speech detailing his own experiences having moved to England. While, the best men had been asked to tone down their speech, the bride's father was a little more daring. He brought the house down. His words were funny, touching and just what was required. Surveying the room at one point, he spoke of the racial mix of the people who were gathered. In all, family and friends had travelled from a dozen points across the globe. He commented that such a mix was a reflection, in difficult times, of the hope that remains in the world.

This is why I can't understand racial intolerance. Surely this kind of gathering is just what life should be about. I really can't see how the mixing of cultures can be anything but positive.

Certainly, it was a fantastic day. The ceremony was in an old Northumberland Hall, then we moved onto another spot in the country for food, speeches and the evening's entertainment.

It was nice too to meet up with people I don't see that often. Smoggy Toon was there with her Aussie bloke. She'd heard on the grapevine about her Space Hardware Smoggy Toon name. She wanted it changed. Sorry, Smoggy Toon.

I remember a heart to heart I had with ST, the day before I went travelling. She had kindly offered to put me up before my early flight from Teesside Airport. We talked into the night and I recall she touched on men troubles. I'm not sure when she met her bloke but he's a diamond. He's good company and they make a great couple. It was fantastic to see her looking so happy and so confident in herself.

The evening finished with a rousing, punky version of Auld Lang Syne. Arms were linked and the slower opening lines were sung together before the drums kicked in and it gave way to twirling and pogoing.

The atmosphere was superb. That feeling of shared happiness that you get from only the best of occasions. Plus, as I said, that sense that the world is a pretty good place after all.

Perhaps the only downside for me was being there as a single male. It doesn't normally bother me, but weddings do have a habit of reminding you of your unattached status.

However, I have recently met someone who I think is pretty special. VSO means that realistically there is no long term future in it. We both know that. And I shall have to be careful what I type here because I think I have given her my blog link before.

But, last night, I wished she was there with me at the wedding. We knocked text messages backwards and forwards over the day. This meant me scurrying out of the underground bunker of a reception room so I could pick up a signal outside.

I am sure people must have been curious about me continually lurking outside.

Today, will be spent watching football and nursing hangovers. We've given Dr Toon a good send off and the couple have given us a day to remember.

As they prepare to depart on their honeymoon, I wonder what the etiquette is as to whether bride will let groom watch the football.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Friday, June 11, 2004

The Big Intervention

I don't think there is an argument left for Blair to stay.

His actions during this war have been shameful and now the British public have cast the mother of all protest votes.

He has to go. Future generations will look back and wonder how he managed to stay so long. They will want to know how a Prime Minister that took us to war "by mistake", was allowed to get away with it.

This version, of course, is giving him the benefit of the doubt. When the kindest telling of the tale is that we went to war in error then the game must surely up.

Because if it wasn't the biggest ever mistake, then it was all lies and Blair knew all along there were no weapons of mass destruction. While America went to war for oil, Britain it seems, went to war because we didn't have the guts or intelligence to stand up to the USA.

The media men that have had the guts to stand up to Blair have had it tough. Casualties have included Greg Dyke, Andrew Gilligan and Piers Morgan. They have all lost their jobs, and yet the greatest inaccuracies of this war have come from Number 10. In spite of this, Blair continues to hold onto his post.

For me though, the most telling statement of the war, came before the start of shock and awe. It came from Robin Cook in his resignation speech.

I have repeatedly posted that link to this weblog and in particular there is this comment:

"Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term - namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target. "

I post it again because no one has ever managed to answer how come Robin Cook knew and yet Blair and Bush didn't? Or is it just that Cook was the only one not lying?

Unlike Blair, Bush, Dyke, Gilligan and Morgan, time has proved that Cook was a 100pc right. He made a stand, resigned from the cabinet and set out his arguments. Another good man lost to the debacle that has been the Iraq war.

In an ideal world he should be allowed to return. He has already won the argument and been proved right.

And Blair was wrong and he should go. The sooner the better.

Because, unlike Blair, all the mistakes of aforementioned have not lead to the killing of 10,000 innocent Iraqi civilians.

In a truly civilised society the cost to Blair should be so much more than his job.

However, it would be a good start.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

God's footballer turns on a sixpence and brings the great crowd to their feet in praise of him.

Just been out to Safeways. Why do they insist on making it so hard to buy razor blades?

First off, you can't just chuck them in your basket. You have to pick up a token and take it to the checkout. Secondly, I had presumed the checkout lass would have a ready supply and she would simply swap the token for the real thing.

But no, you have to then take the token, along with your receipt, to customer services. Finally, once customer services has deemed you worthy of serving, they then take your receipt, and your token, check it, initial it and then sort through a whole bunch of keys.

Once they have found the right key they go to the bottom drawer, unlock it, and finally they hand over your Mach 3s.

Honestly, I felt like I was waiting for methodone or something.

Some razorblades, yesterday.

Serves me right for cheating on Morrisons in Byker. Byker Morrisons is also the choice of the stars. Celebs spotted to date include former The Word star, Hufty, the dark-haired Geordie woman who used to be on The Bill, Emmerson Thome, ex Sunderland and Chelsea defender now, I think, at Bolton.

Best of all was old "Unbreakable" himself Olivier Bernard, Newcastle's umpa lumping full back who is undoubtedly the hardest player in the Premiership.

Olivier Bernard. He's unbreakable.

He was surrounded by families saying in loud voices: "It f*cking is him, man," and "..but he looks dead little and that", meanwhile Ollie contented himself buying what looked like a year's supply of toilet paper.

Olivier Bernard. France, Newcastle and Morrisons' finest.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Monday, June 07, 2004

When did it fall apart? Sometime in the 80’s. When the good and the great gave way to the greedy and the mean.

If everything continues to go to plan as far as VSO is concerned I will be putting my house on the market within the next few weeks.

It's a nice spot. I over look a small marina on the banks of the Tyne. I have lived here for five years and the appreciation in house prices has meant it has turned out to be a good investment. An investment that will set me in good stead whatever I decide for my future.

It was only a couple of weeks after I first moved in that I must admit I almost considered leaving. On the way back from the pub on the development, my mate spotted a plaque partially covered by a bush. When we pushed the branches back we were horrified at what we could read.

This stone was laid by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.


In recent weeks, following my VSO training, I am only just coming to terms with what Margaret Thatcher did to the world. Before learning more fully about the third world I had presumed that the damage she caused was limited to Britain. She set the tone that Reagan would follow. Together, their neo-liberal agenda not only changed the UK and the USA forever, it also changed the world.

Banks started regulating third world lending on the basis that countries would have to adopt these polices. The US and UK may have voted for Ronnie and Maggie but other countries had privatisation, cuts in services and the decimation of the welfare state imposed on them

"Trickle down" was the buzz phrase. The idea that if you make the rich, richer then the money will slowly but surely flow downwards. Experiences has shown that the money doesn't trickle down at all.

Thatcher stated that there was "no such thing as society", she believed in looking after number one. If we became a little more selfish, a little more aggressive, and a little more greedy then we could all get ahead. Or so the rhetoric went.

Now, as I contemplate my posting in Vietnam, I am realising that this Neo Liberalism, spread as far as South East Asia. This country that has suffered at the hands of both the French and the Americans is now suffering as a result of "Doi Moi" - their version of Thatcherism.

To really understand why the still communist Vietnamese government opened the doors to Neo Liberalism you have to follow the story since the end of the American War.

A cornerstone of the ceasefire agreement was a promise by president Nixon that $3.25bn in reparations would be paid to Vietnam. While most of the money would go to American firms, it would help restore industrial plants, railways lines, dams, roads and harbours. But the money was never paid.

Worse, on the last day of the war the US Treasury Department froze Vietnamese assets of $70m. Further American bullying scared off the World Bank who suspended a grant for an irrigation scheme that would have increased food capacity.

To add to this, from 1981 American voluntary agencies were denied export licenses for humanitarian aid. Soon Washington's allies joined in.

In 1979 Thatcher persuaded the European Community to halt its regular shipments of milk to Vietnamese children. When, as a consequence, the price of a kilo of milk powder rose to ten times the cost of a kilo of meat, the World Health Organisation stated that a third of all infants would be stunted, and a disproportionate number of the very youngest were going blind.

At the same time $12m worth of food was being passed on to the murderous Khmer Rouge who had killed one million of their own countrymen. This was carried out simply because the KR were being used as a chess piece against the Vietnamese army.

As a result of all of this, the country continued to suffer and in 1986 the old guard in the government resigned en masse. The new leaders, short on options and desperate for acceptance from the west, agreed to Doi Moi.

Soon the World Bank opened an office in Hanoi, alongside the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development bank. In 1994, while it was Clinton that finally lifted the trade embargo, it was the policies of Thatcher and Reagan that had to be agreed to if Vietnam was to be allowed to prosper.

To this end the World Bank told the Vietnamese that a total of £1.8bn in grants and loans would be forthcoming if they opened up to the free market. The state economy would have to downsize, public enterprise would be scrapped and tens of thousands of public employees had to be sacked. Public services, including health and education were stopped.

Before any of this could happen Hanoi was also told that it would have to honour the bad debts of the now defunct Saigon regime.

Meanwhile, foreign investors were to be offered five-year tax holidays for their sweatshops. To give you an idea of the pay in these places. Young women, working a 12-hour day, get $12 a month. Compare this to what VSO will pay me for working in Hanoi. My wage is supposed to reflect what is liveable on, with little left for socialising or entertainment. I will received around $150 a month.

Land laws were reformed and this affected two thirds of the population. Subsistence farmers had kept famine at bay but these were replaced by cash cropping for export.

Seven years on, by the World Bank's own estimates Doi Moi has seen poverty increase. Now up to 70% of the population is now in "absolute poverty", half the children are severely malnourished.

The World Bank now also admits that since the reforms got underway there is now a higher proportion of underweight and stunted children than in any country in south and south east Asia, with the exception of Bangladesh.

Should I be succesful in my application to work in Hanoi, then I will be employed by KOTO, a truly superb operation that trains street kids how to cook, wait on tables, and everything else they need to know to work in a resaurant. As part of my job I will also be teaching a local person how to take over fundraising and PR tasks when I leave.

On Unicef's website they draw a parallel between the increase in the number of street children and Doi Moi. It states that there is at least 19,000 street children in Vietnam, but there could be more than double this number.

In short, this is Neo Liberalism writ large. Popularised by Thatcher, made global by Reagan and gleefully taken up by the World Bank, International Monetary Funds and the various conglomerates. If, as you read this, you are wearing an item of clothing made by Nike, then the chances are it was made in Vietnamese sweatshop. The person who made your trainers or t-shirt got $12 a month, how much did you pay?

So, forgive me for not sheding a tear over Ronald Reagan, a man who said of the war in Vietnam: "You ask what we were doing over there all those years: what was it all about it? I'll tell you pure and simple, it was a noble case."

The real tragedy is that what the hundreds of thousands of troops, and the millions of tons of bombs couldn't achieve, is now being achieved, thanks to neo liberalism.

* Information taken from John Pilger's Hidden Agendas.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.
I offer up to you this tribute. I offer up to you this tank park salute.

Today I heard of the death of an old colleague.

I haven't seen Roger in seven or eight years and yet it was still a shock. He was quite the most extraordinary character I have ever met. My life was better for knowing him.

I first met this man when, at 20 years of age, I got my first journalism job on a weekly free sheet. He worked out of the same office as me, writing for another weekly in the same group.

In many ways the job could have been seen as something of a come down for him. In his time he had been one of the sixties' beautiful people, mixing with the stars from the Beatles to Elvis, from Liz Taylor to Dean Martin. As showbiz editor of Titbits he had been a bit of a jet setter. But he applied the same efforts to his current post and, while his nostalgic tales were frequently aired, you never felt he was disappointed by the way his life had gone.

He was larger than life. Imagine a slightly more camp Peter O'Toole. Very well spoken, very loud and with a laugh that would turn heads from hundreds of yards away.

His paradox was that while he was always very different, he could get on with anybody. He was much loved by all. Roger was a drinker and during my time working with him I accompanied him to various, less-than-exclusive, watering holes. As a young, eminently middle class, fearful hack I was often concerned about my own safety. At first, even more so, because I felt that this loud, camp individual would surely bring us unwanted attention.

He almost always did become the centre of attention. Yet he managed to charm everyone. From local hardmen to old grannies, everyone loved him. He didn't really fit in anywhere, yet everybody accepted him. He lived in the Teams area of Gateshead. A pretty rough patch but Roger never had a moment's bother.

Our work local was the now departed Barley Mow in Gateshead. I drove to work in my battered old Ford Fiesta but most nights the car would remain in the pub car park as I was talked into yet another session.

Although I look back at the pub with fondness, what I remember most about it was the smell. A heady mix of old chip fat and lager. It being Roger's second home, he too had more than a whiff of the Barley Mow about him. For him, every night was a party, every lunchtime was three pints long.

On each payday he would cash his pay cheque and hand over the money to the Barley Mow. In return they would keep his pint glass filled. The landlady, Sue would also mother Roger a bit. If he looked a bit unwell then she would enquire as to when he had last eaten. Sometimes it would be two or three day earlier. She would cook him something and make him sit down and eat it.

The Barley Mow remains the only pub I have ever frequented that would have my "usual" waiting for me on the bar when I entered. My usual of course being chip fat-flavoured lager. Roger would hold court amongst the regulars and every night was a lock in. Something that impressed me no end.

There were some raucous evenings. I remember one time when the whole place was jam packed at one am and singing along to the jukebox. It was "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" by Dawn, as I recall. It was a comical sight. Roger was conducting us all, bringing in various groups of regulars for each verse and chorus. Then he would command us to "take it down a bit" and we'd whisper the next couple of lines, quietly clicking our fingers like some cheesy cabaret act.

More recently my dealings with Roger have been in my PR capacity. More often than not I would send him press releases with a shamefully short email. Roger would always try his hardest to get me best coverage possible.

I read in the papers that his current local has replaced his barstool with lilies. Elsewhere tributes from publicans to hardnosed hacks have labeled him a "true gent" and a "beautiful man".

Roger was a beautiful person. He drank too much. He smoked too much. He stropped out of the office on numerous occasions, but he was beautiful.

He was accepted for what he was by everyone. He was loved by everyone.

He will be missed by all.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

It’s morning in America and you can be your best. If you have a valid credit card and can pass a urine test. It’s midnight in El Salvador, they’re spending dollars in your name. And it’s no bloody consolation that Reagan cannot run again.

Just heard that Ronald Reagan has died.

I'm not one for crocodile tears so I'll spare you the tributes.

Except this one from Gil Scott Heron.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.
I’m gonna tell all you fascists you may be surprised. The people all over this world are getting organised. You’re bound to lose, you fascists are bound to lose.

I'm a big fan of Bloggerheads. Not sure what they're cooking up but it looks like fun.

Go to Bloggerheads for more information on the Big Intervention. You better go there right now. You have to prepare for all of this.

Hey Manic, this better be good. I'm expecting nothing short of revolution.

Not sure what this is but I'm excited.

And while we're at it, if Google is still seeing fit to put those "Say thanks to Tony Blair" adverts at the top of page, feel free to send them something silly and abusive. I know I have.

Judging by the ads all over Blogger for new Labour Party members, I think they must be getting desparate.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The sun came up, the trees began to sing. And light shone in on everything. I love you

Never has bad news made me so happy.

It's as much as I can do to fight back tears of joy right now.

I want to get drunk, turn cartwheels in the streets and dance a one man conga up the Quayside.

And what is this bad news?

My VSO South Africa job is off.

But when one door closes another opens.

I am now first choice for a job in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Whooooooooooooooo Hoooooooooooooooooo.

Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, VIETNAM.

My most favourite favourite favourite place in the whole world. Two years ago I fell in love with that country. The people are warm and welcoming. The landscape is gobsmacking. The food is unbelievable.

I have long suspected I am the luckiest man in the world. Now I know it. I'm sitting here literally punching the air in between each word I write.

The job will be working with a training organisation that helps street kids. What a brilliant, brilliant placement.

Streets of Hanoi

I would have happily done the South Africa job and I would have completed my two years. The crime scared the living daylights out of me but I would have stuck it out.

But in Vietnam I can have a life. I can sip a beer on a pavement cafe in the evening. I can eat wonderful noodley things dished up by roadside chefs. I can take a boat trip in Halong Bay. I can have the kind of existence I have always dreamed of.

Halong Bay

My friend Teacher Toon has already called me a bastard since I broke the news. He has informed me he will be out to visit as much as he can. My little sister has just said the same.


Like I said. I am the luckiest man in the world. What are the odds that out of all the places in all the world I would be sent to the country I love the most?

And like my mate said: Hanoi Rocks.

It truly does.

I know nothing is definite, nothing is settled. Like South Africa this could all go wrong. But it won't. I know it won't.

It can't do.

I'm going to live in Vietnam.

What could be more perfect?

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

If no one out there understands you start your own revolution and cut out the middleman.

As someone who has always been fascinated by politics, I have surprised myself by the realisation of how much I hate it right now.

I've ranted at British Spin. Then I ranted at Bob Piper who certainly doesn't deserve it.

I hate politics because it seems that while the atrocities in Iraq are on-going everything else just appears so insignificant.

British Spin's daily New Labour line towing sends me up the wall.

I want one single outcome from the upcoming elections. I want Blair to get a bloody nose. Ideally I want him to bleed so profusely that his own colleagues take advantage of his weakened state and finally find the guts to chuck him out the party.

I want the media to realise they are backing a lame duck and I want the pressure on him to intensify. For what he has done to Iraq, and for what he has done to the way I feel about my country, there are few horrific scenarios that I wouldn't wish on him.

I know that the Respect Party are opportunists. From what I can gather their manifesto doesn't add up to much and probably makes little political sense. I don't care. This is a protest vote.

Real protesting didn't do any good. Blair cacooned himself against it. He ignored that message. My local Labour MP Nick Brown doesn't even acknowledge letters sent to him.

So, having failed with all the other methods of peaceful, democratic protest I will instead go with the ultimate weapon. I will vote for someone else. I will vote for the one party where my vote will be counted and will be seen as a vote against Blair and this evil war.

I want to get back to a time when politics did matter. I want to care again about the state of public transport in the country, about education and the health service. Currently though I can't see past Iraq. I can't see past the horrific pictures taken inside Abu Ghraib prison. I can't see past the thousands of dead Iraqi civilians. And I certainly can't see past the WMD lies.

For me Blair has wiped out all the other issues. Iraq is the only issue. If your party supported the war in Iraq then I will not support you.

The anger I feel surfaces almost daily. The plethora of St George's flags that we are seeing in the run up to Euro 2004 irritates the hell out of me. I don't want to see our flag right now. I don't want to see any level of nationalism. I don't feel like this country currently has anything to be proud of.

So I will apologise to anyone whose comment book I have ranted in. Trust me if Blair or his cronies had a blog then it would be them I would be arguing with not you.

But Blair is hard to reach. The doubts of his cabinet didn't sway him. The protests of a million marchers didn't sway him either.

The collapse of the Labour vote might not personally sway him either. But at least it might put a collective rocket up the arses of his Labour colleagues. Maybe, in order to save their own skins, they will be the ones that finally get rid of him.

And with Blair out the way then Bush's position would also be less stable. In an ideal world the upcoming elections would strike a mortal blow for Blair and his fall from grace would drag Bush down with him.

Then maybe I can then vote for who I really want to vote for again. The Labour Party. The old Labour party.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.
If you are falling, I'll put out my hands. If you feel bitter, I will understand

Mmmmmmmmm. Proper typing again. Mmmmmmmm.

Sorry but this blog is a little light relief from the mother of all writing jobs.

I've just sent it back to the client. I'm paranoid about all work I do and I never think it is good enough. I'm always worried that someone will hate it. Even when I could blame poor briefing or lack of time, I always blame myself.

This job should have been at least a two week undertaking. Instead I had to cram it into just a couple of days. It meant a couple of late nights and an early morning this morning. I now can't even enjoy that feeling of completion as it doesn't feel finished to me.

Like most jobs, I am sure they asked me simply because they had been too busy to do it themselves. They had probably put it off to a point whereby they thought the problems included in producing it were insurmountable and they off loaded it instead,

Wading through the unexplained acronyms, the jargon, the spin and the blather, I couldn't make head or tale of it. Now I have that agonising wait till the email I sent it over on is returned.

They're a good client. I got this job because they like my work but I would hate for this to be passed around their office getting destroyed by all and sundry for whatever reasons.

I tried. Honestly I did.

All I ask for now is a "thanks, great job, we'll take if from here" email with a request for me to bill them sharpish. Then I can relax.

In the meantime, I think I might go back to bed and watch 24-hour Big Brother Live on E4.

I'm sorry but even Richard and Judy would be too taxing right now.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.