48. Kings Cross Fire

The Kings Cross Fire 30 years ago yesterday started at Kings Cross Underground station killing 31 people and injuring a 100. A counsellor was provided for the 150 fire fighters who attended the scene, but was not used. Hopefully how times have changed. The awareness of PTSD has risen, and avoidance strategies such as alcoholism and the link to depression is more widely known.

There is an immediate association with Grenfell. The closest link being panelling. Wooden panelling clad the escalators at Kings Cross, helping spread the fire. The cladding in tower blocks has unfortunately become infamous.

30 years ago the free market and globalisation was firmly set in motion, paving the way for the mass inequality the world is suffering today. Both incidents kick started a change: but still the bottom line wins. The cost is looked at before the potential danger to human life.

The people who died at Kings Cross were from all parts of the population. In this way there was little discrimination except that those who died were travelling by tube. In Grenfell it was more a reflection of our time of inequality. A tower block situated in one of the most expensive boroughs in the country, housing people living in poverty.

Both fires reflect on the bottom line. London underground was used to fires on the tube being common place so had become complacent. Government cuts allowing builders of buildings to be safety advisers at the same time, lowered standards.

The lack of learning and awareness of tragedy being missed or not built upon is common throughout history. Humans create change only when forced to do so. Mass production emphasises the cost of multiples. The cost of a safer cladding panel being £10 more expensive sounds cheap until you order half a million.
Kings Cross Fire

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47. Aunts

Aunts are cool.
Close but not as dependent as a parent – Aunts can have a kind, gentle & detached view of their nieces and nephews. In many families the sister of your parent is not like your parent. Younger, more spoilt, more funky, more 60’s, more urban. and just plain more fun. The ability to tease their siblings – your parent was so liberating because if you dared to do it yourself – you’d be told off.
But however your own parent reacted to being ribbed: it was a delicious joy to watch, like an illegal, almost criminal act.
And the Aunt got away with it – not caring what the reaction was.

Aunts can be trusted advisers who have different and varying bits of advice to give. You might have to work out that they are sometimes not diplomatic, so you have to be careful what you repeat back home. A stronger bond can be formed when your aunt is a god parent where extra and bigger gifts are in order. Knowing your parent well they can explain what is happening and describe your parent in terms of being a child with their own parents and family struggles. Amazing.

At school events Aunts would be an added extra: it was usual for parents to be there.
But Aunts had to make an effort – to travel distances to make the event even more special.

Aunts have lessons to tell through books which are the first books you read.
You are open to these first books. The writing, the drawings, the shapes and colours. Lying dormant the book memories are deep down ready to be triggered into open moments of joy and remembering. 

Billie 1934-2017

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46. Hard Dog

Hilary Clinton described her husband as a “hard dog to keep on the porch”. The Presidency has an easily abused allure. Like Freud’s Vienna sexual abuse was rife: because there were vulnerable live in female servants with no recourse to justice. The Westminster Village with its bars, late night working and vulnerable interns is similar. Add a certain type of male politician – risk taking Adrenalin seeking and unaccountable. Sexual harassment and abuse is inevitable.

A TV host reprimanded a group of men, about trying to minimise low level harassment. And they still didn’t get it. The sarcastic response made by a male panel member:-  “No, and as you point out with four blokes sitting around you we’re hardly in a position to say, ‘That’s rubbish’.”

Yet there is also a strong group of women who don’t understand what all the fuss is about. The journalist who “innocently” related a knee touching incident, has ended a ministerial career. The “victim” referred to the latest parliamentary abuse investigations as a witch hunt.

Again the micro fails to become macro. The individual incident is minimised and not understood to be about thousands of little incidents built up to become a culture. Is this a defense? Being so afraid of the self and feelings that nothing can be thought about? Relationships with men and women that are not satisfactory. Relationships between parents being one sided and abusive of power? Brothers and sisters given unequal opportunities which is handed down the generations?

Not having awareness or empathy for another. Not to see that what is allowed –  is sanctioned by an invisible infrastructure empowered by inequality, and being able to get away with it.
Hard Dog

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45. Katie Lee 1919-2017

Katie Lee  spent her life fighting for her beloved canyon flooded out by the Glen Canyon Damn. She fought tirelessly to have the dam removed and the Colorado River returned to its natural flow. Her favourite word was fuck! It was the first word she said to herself every morning.

She felt the flooding of the Canyon was a crime against nature. She was tired of seeing nature and the things she loved about it being eroded and destroyed.
She was a Hollywood actress, Folk singer and activist. She learnt to drive from her Husband a racing driver. Smooth and fast driving was her skill using the gears not brakes. Few find a cause or set of values worth upholding over a lifetime. To be captivated so totally and completely by something is a rare talent.

To be so captivated and enthralled by something that is taken away from you must create an unusual rage. That can fuel a life time of fighting for a cause however impossible that cause is. To have a dam knocked down is a tall order. But like the micro to macro: she predicted an ecological movement which is in the fight to prevent the planet from human attack. She gave a new generation a role model to be active and resilient in an age where consumerism is still winning the fight.
At the Moment!
Katie Lee

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44. Politician Mysogyny

A traveller asks a man sitting on the side of the the road “Which is the way to Jerusalem?” The man replies “Jerusalem?” Not understanding what he says. The traveller asks the same question again with the same result. This is repeated several times when suddenly the man on the side of the road exclaims “Aaah Jerusalem!” and shows him the way. 

UK politician makes a joke referring to a sexual predator who is all over the news. There is an outcry as it seen as trivialising sexual assault. Anger, disbelief, resignation, and despair are expressed. Politician Mysogyny.

Taken at face value the politician is being crass and insensitive in an attempt to be funny. Is there a lack of empathy  with women where men have power over them?  When are men in a similar situation? Boys will be boys? A lot of politicians are educated in single sex schools creating a warped immature experience of women. Objectifying them. 

Is it deep in the male psyche that men have to hunt women? To own them, like cattle or territory? It appears that Mysogyny is deep seated and unconscious. Popping out in banter and humour.
At the heart of Msyogyny is a wound of hurt and pain. Men’s hatred of women comes from a deep hurt and insecurity. Men have always felt threatened by women, their power of birth, their connection to emotions and a gentler testosterone free sensibility.

Like the traveller to Jerusalem our stories of pain need to be repeated and repeated to be understood. The story needs to be told and retold for a deeper understanding of meaning.
What happened to us and how did we get here?
What happened to men and how did men get here?
Politician Mysogyny.

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43. Bully Kids

The power between parents and children has always been a delicate balance. Children in the early part of their lives are totally dependent on their parents. The way this power is handled by the all powerful parent instils attitudes to power and authority in their children for the future.
Bully Kids.

Now in the present the power shifts between men and women have changed. Making relationships and the children from those relationships more equal and complex. Women can have kids despite men: not controlled or bullied by them.

In some families one or other parent is not present leaving the role open for children to fill. In some families the children outnumber the parents, so there becomes an inverse us (kids) and them (the parents) dynamic.

Parents can feel very guilty if there is an illness, trauma or breakdown of the parental relationship. This can allow the children to develop more colleague like relationships with their parents where boundaries are more challenging to set.

Parents may feel anxious about their children – not believing or trusting them. This can create frustration and anger for the kids who are trying to independently make their own way in the world. Parents can get into the habit of trying to fix everything for their children. Unintentionally taking away their autonomy and learning to make their own mistakes.

These traits can also be in the kids. Anxiety in children can cause a bullying behaviour. They want to hold onto the parent and reject them at the same time. This process is normal but can be fuelled by an insecure attachment. Self reliance becomes difficult so the kids feel they cannot leave home. Motivated particularly in the UK by a housing market beyond the reach of young people in their first jobs. Insecure parents can be open to being coerced into doing things by tantrums and manipulation. If the parent is afraid of the kids’ anger the kid will learn how to use this to their advantage.

Parents still hold an authority of age, experience, and some wisdom. If this is not demonstrated to children parents become children, and children parents.
Bully Kids

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42. Quiet Men

Is there a multitude of quiet men silencing their views on the alleged behaviour of Harvey Weinstein?
Is it because most men think that they have never behaved like that? That men they know wouldn’t speak about women as sex objects? That some men had genuinely feminist role models growing up as kids? That men’s girlfriend peer group insisted on respect and behaviour that included equality, and openness? That men would challenge other men who spoke about women in a derogatory way?
Quiet men. 

Perhaps men would all agree with the all the statements except challenging other men on their behaviour towards women. Like challenging racist behaviour it is very difficult to do. 

There is an argument that being part of a racist culture that if you are perceived to be privileged or mainstream in that culture you have to be racist. That if you have gained from the culture for no other reason then being part of that culture. The problem is that most white people would not think we lived in a racist country in the UK. In one belief the whole argument falls down. The same of sexism. In a patriarchy if you believe in patriarchy and benefit from it? Does that mean you are automatically sexist for benefiting from that patriarchy?

Humans including men have consistently abused their power to do or get what they want. It seems it is inevitable that power corrupts. It is part of human nature to suit yourself, and to try and have outcomes that get you what you want.

It is hard for men if they do feel that they are sexist to be vulnerable and open about it. Men are untrained in the art of feelings, and being at a disadvantage. To be unmanly leaves men without a reason for being a man.
And with no way talking or understanding the way out of this old age dilemma.
Quiet Men

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41. Masseduction

Masseduction is the new album by St Vincent. In the Era of Trump, Brexit, Sex crimes, & Gender Fluidity. The idea is that we seduce and are seduced by people, products, lifetsyles through the lens of the media. Like all good seductions the facts and the substance behind the seduction are hidden and maybe not what they seem.

Masseduction. This was the case in Brexit. What was the UK voting for? Sovereignty? Independence? A howl of rage against the destructive forces of the Free Market? The easy target of immigration? Were voters seduced by the chance of not paying membership fees to the EU? The perception of not having the EU making laws for the UK?
The Brexit story is still unfolding, of two sides not willing or able to meet in the middle.

Trump and his dubious history with women, was selling a version of the American Dream. His make the US Great again was similar to a Churchillian cry to arms. He promised a revival of American industry and jobs. Being a business man he promised deals. His frustration and blurty tweets show how deals may not be the medium of politics.

The most seductive and clever of all the seducers is the marketplace. It blatantly uses sex and gender and blatantly excludes more complex grey areas of sex and sexuality in its advertising. Consume at any price. It makes us consume even if we don’t want to. Everything we put in our bodies, where we are entertained, and who entertain with is all processed by the market place.
And then sold back to us as a life style choice.
Masseduction

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40. Hollywood Sex Crimes

A well known Hollywood producer has been outed with allegations of being a serial sex abuser. Apparently his exploits were common knowledge in the film industry!
There are common themes here with the way the story unfolds.
Hollywood Sex Crimes 

That power and money seem to protect them and how they operate. That people know what is going. That people in the know avoid them. That in some cases people have been paid off not to speak. And that it takes one victim to come forward years after it has being going, which encourages another to come forward, and another and another. Until the tipping point is passed. The secret can no longer remain secret. Then the person becomes a pariah, without a day in court.  

The point that seems most to surprise men and women is why did the women wait so long to speak out? Why now after so many years? As far as women and sexual abuse are concerned we seem in 2017 to be finally moving into a semi enlightened age distinct from the dark ages of previous decades. One of the common reactions to sexual misconduct is that it is laughed off always by men as something to be minimised. Another is that it is not believable or to be believed. Or that the process of reporting and gathering of evidence was so weighted against the victim, that it was not a viable option.
Hollywood Sex Crimes

Most women have stories to tell about men not staying within the boundaries they request. Depending on which generation women belong to, this is seen as an occupational hazard, all the way to to their being real equality on all fronts between men and women.
Now how about men and sexual abuse?

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39. Arthur Russell

Arthur Russell was a contrarian. If you liked his music he did not trust you. Not well known when he was alive Arthur Russell is making a comeback: fans include Kanye West who sampled him on 30 hours, Frank Ocean, and Devandra Banhart. As a cellist and composer he only released one record called “World of Echo”. He was a very shy man, with an acne pocked face.

Russell was an explorer of the extreme. His vibrato-free voice, and mid american accent hid the clarity of his lyrics. When you hear his lyrics it can sound like he is singing underwater. He would wander the streets of Lower Manhattan studying people. Hiding in the dark corners of dance clubs he would study which music enticed people onto the dance floor. How the rhythm of their bodies synched with the rhythm of the music. He composed the Ballad of Lights featuring Allen Ginsberg in a haunting track of darkness and light.
Russell died of Aids in 1992 but he left behind a treasure of unreleased music. His work cannot be categorised: Allen Ginsberg called it “Buddhist bubblegum music”. This disco track “Is it all over my Face” became an instant classic.

For every famous well known artist, composer, musician, academic, scientist, and inventor, there are men and women working away creating work that is out of the mainstream. Away from mass appreciation, they skirt around the bodies of well recognised work, able to create without the pressure of being liked, appreciated or revered. Arthur Russell was one of these artists.

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