Goodbye Old Friends!


 (Click on photos to enlarge them)

Above and below: The Middlesex Hospital


This past week I’ve sadly had to say ‘goodbye’ to two very old friends. Not people, but buildings, or parts of buildings.

One was the Middlesex Hospital where I was born back in 1945, and where I was under constant treatment and underwent many operations (I was born with a cleft palate, hare lip and club foot, and also ended up with one leg shorter than the other. I also broke one leg in 1951.)

I was a regular visitor and in-patient of the hospital between the years 1945 and 1958, and was last admitted as an in-patient in 1969 for a final operation on my lip. I got surgical shoes and insoles to facilitate my short right leg and fixed right ankle right up to the present day, though in latter years have just used the cork insoles or parts of them in shoes I buy in regular shops.

Although I’m still supposed to be getting surgical shoes from them, they didn’t even bother to tell me when they closed the hospital, nor tell me where I’m supposed to get shoes/insoles from now. In my most recent visits and contacts with the hospital they’d lost most of my enormous bundle of notes, so large because of the many departments I was under and the numerous operations I had as a child. One consultant told me all their older notes on patients had recently been shredded. This was not helpful when a social worker was trying to apply for disability benefit for me, wrote to the Middlesex and they had very little knowledge of me at all.

Although my stays in the hospital were quite traumatic for me as a child, I am very sad to see it not only closed and boarded up, but now demolished. All that has been saved of the main building is the chapel.

Built in the 1930s, it was a solid and pleasant looking building, and would have made an excellent hotel or block of flats. I think it is scandalous that it was just demolished. What, I wonder, happened to the beautiful paintings in the foyer?

The hospital had many innovations in the 1950s which would be a credit to hospitals today. Simple things like colored lines on the walls and staircases to lead you to various departments – follow the green line for orthopedic, etc. Also the ceiling railway (later dismantled) for X-rays. You’d have your X-ray, and they would be put in a metal container which then ran along rails just under the ceiling to be delivered to where the consultant would examine them.

I am of the very firm opinion that buildings should ideally last for hundreds of years, and that no structurally sound building less than 100 years old should ever be demolished. To demolish an esthetically pleasing modern building (any building dating from after the First World War is ‘modern’ in my book) is just scandalous.

The other sad ‘goodbye’ I had to say this week was to the maisonette in Havelock Road, Hastings where a gay couple my partner and I knew lived. Noel’s family had been in the maisonette since the 1940s, and Brian came to live there in the 1960s.

I spent many Christmases and New Year’s Eves there over the years, having been visiting the flat regularly since the early 1970s. It has been a ‘home away from home’ for me for nearly 40 years, much longer than I’ve lived in any of my own homes.

The flat was full of antique furniture, ornaments, etc. and some wonderful paintings by Noel’s uncle – Frederick Thomas Daws who featured dogs and other animals in most of his work. Below is a photo of myself, my partner and a friend with Brian and Noel’s two American Spaniels Robbie and Max sitting below one of Daws greatest paintings of hunting dogs. Oh how I’ll miss that painting especially, which dominated the huge front room.

This is a paragraph of a longer article I found on the Net about Daws: 

Frederick Thomas Daws. R.A. (British, b.1878)

F T Daws, Ranks amongst the most notable of British canine portraitists.
Born in London on the 2nd of October 1878, He studied at the Lambeth school of Art and exhibited widely. least of all a total of 12 works at the Royal Academy from 1896.

Noel died a few years ago, and Brian is now in a nursing home. This week Noel’s family have been instructed to clear the flat prior to it being handed back to the landlord, who will no doubt renovate it. Its position near the railway station, town center shops and sea-front make it a prime location.

I shall miss not visiting the flat when I go down to Hastings, a delightful muddle and treasure trove of artefacts going back to pre-War days. A mint condition collection of the pre-War comic ‘Magnet’ has just been rescued by Noel’s nephew, and there were many such things hidden away in drawers, such as a mint condition program for the Festival of Britain, and pre-War photos still in their Ilford envelopes complete with negatives.

I shall also miss the impressive facade of the Middlesex Hospital in Mortimer Street, just a few blocks from busy Oxford Street. Two old friends gone forever, as far as I’m concerned. Though the Hastings building remains, the flat/maisonette I knew has gone for good.

These two places join my father’s unique restaurant, the original ‘Swiss Cottage’ which stood in front of the pub of the same name and pre-dated it. That such an historic building (which should have been listed) and the Middlesex Hospital can just be demolished is sacrilege. We’ll never see their like again.

Daws painting in front room, Hastings flat

Prosecutions for passing on HIV and revelation of HIV status.

This is a very delicate and controversial subject, and was brought to my attention again recently at a discussion group I attended where two fairly recent press articles were displayed.

One concerned the adoption of a baby by foster parents, who were not told the real mother was HIV positive. The other concerned a Scottish case where an HIV+ man is being prosecuted for having unprotected sex with 5 women, one of which aborted their baby (or twins I believe) on belatedly learning the news. She was the only one of the 5 women who contracted the virus.

These press articles are written in highly emotive and discriminatory language (e.g. ‘evil HIV beast’) and are also very inaccurate.

Regarding the foster parents of a baby who had an HIV+ mother there are so many inaccuracies and scare-stories in the press article, that one would be forgiven in thinking it was written in 1989 and not 2009. With present screening and other practices, it is extremely unlikely that a baby born to an HIV+ mother would be HIV+ itself.

Even if it were, it poses no danger whatsoever to the foster parents or their biological children. The HIV virus is extremely difficult to pass on except via unprotected sexual intercourse or sharing of needles. As soon as it is exposed to the air, the virus dies, and saliva also kills the virus, so catching it from toilet seats, cups and other utensils is impossible.

There is also much confusion about HIV and AIDS. The two are linked but separate. Yet press articles frequently refer still to someone being infected by AIDS when they mean the HIV virus. AIDS, or Acquired Immune DeficiencySyndrome, is not a virus, nor is it a disease that anyone has actually died from. It is a medical condition in which the immune system is badly damaged by the HIV virus and thus leaves the body vulnerable to various serious and often fatal diseases, such as types of cancer and pneumonia. It is these diseases the victim may die of, not AIDS itself.

In this day and age, in many countries, those diagnosed as being HIV+ are carefully monitored and when their CD4 count falls below a certain level (usually 200, over 500 being the normal CD4 count) they are offered combination therapy. This consists of a cocktail of drugs, usually three, which raise the CD4 count and lower the viral load, which can pass on the virus to others during sexual intercourse.

While there is at present no cure for HIV infection, successful combination therapy means the condition can be controlled, and latest medical research suggests that if the viral load becomes or remains ‘undetectable’ (that is under 50 units) then it is very unlikely for the virus to be passed on even via unprotected sexual intercourse. These studies are still ongoing as it is possible more of the virus may be present in bodily fluids other than blood, which is the fluid tested regularly to insure viral loads become and remain undetectable if possible, with the help of combination therapy.

The thing is HIV is singled out as the only condition where people are prosecuted for having unprotected sexual intercourse and not telling their partners of their status. Other STDs can be passed on via unprotected sexual intercourse, including potentially fatal ones like syphilis, but it seems people are never prosecuted for this even if they know they are infected themselves and fail to tell their partners.

This very fact, that unprotected sexual intercourse is a dangerous practice for ANYBODY, means it is every individual’s responsibility to take the necessary precautions. This means, surely, that unless it is necessary for procreation (i.e. a heterosexual couple want to have a baby) nobody should ever indulge in unprotected sexual intercourse, and if they do they should at least ascertain and weigh up the risks involved.

If a couple are in a trusting, monogamous relationship and therefore fairly sure neither has some disease or virus which could be passed on during sexual intercourse, then protection may not be deemed necessary. But this does mean a high level of trust, and perhaps even testing to make sure no disease or virus was present before the couple entered into a monogamous relationship, that is unless both were virgins at that time.

So in the case of the 5 women who had unprotected sexual intercourse with the Scottish man being prosecuted, they were totally irresponsible themselves, yet were described in the newspaper article as ‘unsuspecting’ victims. Even though 4 of the 5 women tested HIV negative they were just lucky. They certainly should not be described as ‘unsuspecting’; ‘irresponsible’ would be a more accurate description, ‘reckless’ or ‘careless’. They are not ‘unsuspecting’ as they should have suspected each of their sexual partners might well be infected with HIV or some other STD.

Anybody who is promiscuous should know the risks of indulging in unprotected sex. They should not be relying on their sexual partners to tell them if they are HIV+ or infected with any other STD. The reason is obvious: many will not know. In fact those who have not been tested for HIV but who have the virus are likely to be far, far more infectious than someone who HAS been tested, is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load.

In the Scottish case, the man was on combination therapy. The newspaper article doesn’t state if his viral load was undetectable at the time the woman was thought to have contracted the virus. If it was, it is likely the woman contracted the virus from someone else. The other 4 women did not contract the virus from this man, despite his HIV+ status.

So everybody has a responsibility to think very carefully before indulging in unprotected sexual intercourse, and to make sure the risks are minimilized if they do so.

As regards to prosecutions for passing on the virus, these must be decided on an individual basis. It very much depends on the circumstances. If one partner in a married couple or in a couple who are pledged to a monogamous relationship is secretly having sexual relations with other partners and has become HIV+ or infected with some other STD, then it is imperative that he or she tells their regular partner/spouse, certainly if they are to indulge in unprotected sexual intercourse. If they don’t do so and know about their condition, then a prosecution is certainly justified.

In fact, even if they don’t know whether they have been infected, they should tell their regular partner/spouse about their promiscuous lifestyle, so what it amounts to is that those in a relationship which is supposed to be monogamous must think extremely carefully before indulging in either unprotected sex or in affairs/one night stands outside their regular relationship.

Prosecutions for passing on the HIV virus where the various partners are all living a promiscuous lifestyle are not, in my view, justified. As stated above, they are likely to have come into contact with someone who is HIV+ or infected with some other STD (whether they know it or not), and the more sexual partners they have the greater the risk. If they are having unprotected sex with loads of different partners, then they are acting extremely irresponsibly themselves, and are at high risk of contracting the virus or other STDs themselves. Prosecuting one of their many partners because he/she knew they were infected is quite pointless.

So I would say prosecutions are only justifiable where the person infected has deliberately lied about their status, or has somehow deceived their partner into believing their relationship is mutually monogamous.

Someone who is knowingly HIV+ and attending ‘swingers’ parties’, orgies, gay backrooms, dogging scenarios, etc. is surely under no obligation to reveal their status to all and sundry at these events. All parties should know the risks, and be taking the necessary precautions. Similarly for people who have a promiscuous lifestyle; they should be aware that they are quite likely to contract HIV or some other STD sooner or later if they indulge in unprotected sexual intercourse, and that the greatest danger of infection is from partners who don’t know they have been infected themselves.

In this day and age unprotected sexual intercourse outside of a monogamous relationship is quite irresponsible, and that applies to both partners whether one of them knows they are HIV+ or not. Prosecutions in these circumstances are unjustified and a total waste of time and taxpayers’ money. Who is going to prosecute all the others who indulge in unsafe practices, and are ignorant of their HIV status?

New World Order/Old World Order?

The term ‘New World Order’ is bandied about to connect various conspiracy theories including various alleged assassinations and supposed terrorist incidents, etc. This would include the death of Diana in Paris and 9/11.

I personally prefer the term ‘New World Order’ to ‘the Illuminati’ or ‘a race of Reptilians’ which some of the more extreme conspiracy theorists use to conjure up a plot to kill millions (via the Swine Flu vaccine for instance) and continue their secret control of all the world’s governments.

I subscribe to some of the conspiracy theories – the assassination of Diana in Paris for instance, the death of JFK – and totally reject others. I don’t believe the Swine Flu vaccine was a deliberate plot to kill millions for example, though there have been contaminated batches in the rush to distribute it, and I considered the risk of taking the vaccine greater than in not taking it, since Swine Flu itself is rarely lethal.

Some other conspiracy theories I keep an open mind about, such as 9/11 and the death of Marilyn Monroe. If there was foul play regarding the deaths of Marilyn, JFK and his brother Robert then there may be a Mafia connexion.

But as to a ‘New World Order’, I would argue it is really very much the Old World Order of capitalism we are actually talking about. Of course wealthy industrialists, financiers , arms manufacturers, rightwing politicians and other capitalists will do everything in their power to cling on to their control of much of the world’s wealth and resources, and this is nothing new at all.

Go back to the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1917, and you will see how the White Armies created civil war in the country to try to prevent the old Russian Empire going Socialist. Failing in that attempt, the bourgeoisie and the old ruling class infiltrated the Communist Party and awarded themselves special privileges, became appointed as directors of nationalized industries, opened up special shops for themselves, etc.

Corruption abounded everywhere in both the Soviet Union and the other Socialist countries, mainly due to the machinations of the bourgeoisie in trying to regain their former positions of wealth and privilege within the confines of Socialist states. Some genuine Socialists and Communists were also corrupted, and others just felt powerless due to the level of infiltration.

Then there are the various intelligence services of the West, and their respective governments, who all conspired to break the Soviet Union by escalating the nuclear arms race, and also the costly space race. All these factors and others eventually caused the collapse of the Soviet Union and the European Socialist countries (also the Socialist system in Mongolia) whereupon many of the political leaders who had pretended to be Socialists and Communists showed their true colors, and became power-greedy ‘nationalists’ overnight in order to hang on to their positions of power and privilege.

Terrible ethnic and nationalist wars and genocide resulted, which of course was great news for the arms companies. Constant wars, eternal ‘enemies’, ‘terrorist threats’ and ‘bogey-men’ like the Soviet Union and now Bin Laden are all needed to justify the vast and very profitable expenditure on arms, financed by the taxpayers, which props up the whole rotten capitalist system worldwide. Wars are  provoked or the whole system would collapse.

This nearly happened in the Depression of the 1930s, until World War II came along to rescue Wall Street and the other big capitalist financial centers via the profitable arms industry. Whoever won that War, by the way, the capitalists would benefit, Fascism/Nazism or Western bourgeois democracy, they would still be in control.

In the countries ‘liberated’ by the Soviet Union, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia (who just exchanged Hitler for Stalin as their occupier) and the rest, well their dictatorial and imperfect Socialism meant they too had a privileged ruling class of bureaucrats, diplomats and politicians who greatly distorted Socialism and limited its achievements for the ordinary people, though these were considerable (elimination of illiteracy, abolition of unemployment, security in old age, excellent public services, cheap subsidized housing and basic foodstuffs, good public transport, etc.)

Today what we see is not the New World Order emerging, but the Old World Order which has existed since feudalism largely gave way to capitalism clinging on for grim death before its final and inevitable eventual collapse as foretold by Marx and Engels.

We don’t need to speculate on a race of Reptilians living amongst us, nor do we need put too much emphasis on secret societies like the Freemasons (or the alleged Illuminati). The bourgeoisie and the capitalist ruling class will use secret societies, the intelligence services, governments and the military to defend the system of exploitation, and this has always been the case.

While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the view that 9/11, for example, was engineered by the US government or its secret security services, I certainly agree that 9/11 was used as a pretext to launch the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, grab their oil supplies, and extend Western influence and control over the Middle East. How much the CIA, etc. knew in advance of the plot is a matter of conjecture, but it is suspicious that after many years Bin Laden is still at large, and everyone knows where he is – Northern Pakistan. Yet no serious attempt has been made to track him down there. It is very useful to the West to have a bogey-man at large, thus justifying more wars and arms expenditure, and contailment of liberties in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’.

The biggest remaining ‘Communist’ country, China, has also been infiltrated by capitalists of course, and the People’s Republic is now a more-or-less fully-fledged capitalist state despite still being ruled by an autocratic ‘Communist Party’.

The fact is that there is an on-going struggle between the progressive forces seeking to liberate the world from capitalist exploitation and the reactionary forces seeking to preserve the Old World Order.

This will never change until and unless the masses become more politically active and aware, and less inclined to be fobbed off with the latest gadgetry, with brain-numbing reality TV, dumbed-down action movies and the rest of the trivia which dominates our lives nowadays. Also when the toiling masses stop being persuaded to live on credit and run up huge debts, and instead demand that they be rewarded with the full fruits of their labor.

All wealth is created by labor, and so any unearned income in the form of shareholders’ dividends, company profits, directors’ bonuses, and so on has been directly stolen from the workers’ wage packets somewhere in the world, not least those in the highly exploited developing world, but also in the former Socialist countries and increasingly in the developed capitalist countries where the once powerful trade unions have largely been neutralized.

The Old World Order is, I’m afraid, here to stay for quite a while, until people are spiritually and politically far more developed, and even then attempts to overthrow the Old World Order of capitalism or to curtail its powers or profits will be met with brutal and often underhand, secretive measures and conspiracies to defeat the progressive forces.

However we should not be despondant. Great achievements were made by the former Socialist countries despite the infiltration and corruption, and this can be done again and improved upon, learning from the mistakes of the past. The Old World Order cannot continue indefinitely, it is far too unstable hence the constant wars and conspiracies to prop up the failing edifice.

The near-collapse of the world banking system is but the latest evidence of this instability and failure of the whole capitalist system.

So I look forward to the New World Order to replace the Old World Order, but that pre-supposes that the NWO will be some form of democratic Socialism and not open Fascism, which is the capitalist system dropping all pretense of democracy and showing itself at its most brutal.

I hope, with the knowledge of humankind’s gradual spiritual and ethical evolution (just think of the horrors of the past such as the Inquisition and burning people at the stake for heresy) we will eventually achieve a much fairer and equal society worldwide where large-scale exploitation, wars, etc. will be a thing of the past. But this won’t happen in my lifetime, it may take a few more hundred years to achieve.

Perhaps with the help of  ‘outside’ forces (Spirit, more advanced alien civilizations from elsewhere in our Universe, etc.) this process can be speeded up.  Meanwhile we have Barack Obama in the White House which is a good deal better than George W. Bush, even if he is not able to deliver quickly on all his hopes and promises. I just hope he is allowed to complete his Presidential term, and hopefully be elected to another.

Of course he will be thwarted and undermined by the forces of reaction, but as Lenin said, two steps forward, one step back. Progress is slow, but if Obama can achieve some form of health insurance for poor Americans and achieve progress towards world nuclear disarmament, then that is most definitely a step forward. We are playing the long-game here in the battle against the forces of reaction.

But in the Americas we see hope. Progressive governments in many Latin American countries, and a more progressive Presidential administration in the USA itself. Let’s hope this trend continues, and spreads around the world despite the machinations of the reactionary forces to forestall it.

The Future of the Monarchy

I am a republican, and indeed a European federalist so I would love to see a united federal republic of Europe (or even better a European union of Socialist republics). But this is unlikely to happen within my lifetime at least.

So what is the future of the Monarchy in Britain? That is after the present Head of State dies or abdicates.

The most likely scenario is that William will be crowned King, jumping a generation. There would be so many Constitutional problems having Charles and Camilla as King and Queen. Already unpopular because of his treatment of Diana during their marriage, the fact that both Charles and Camilla are not only divorcees, but that Camilla was Charles’ mistress during his marriage to Diana would not go down well with the British public. Nor would the monarch’s role as Head of the Church of England be easy to fulfil because of the church’s views on infidelity and divorce.

Whoever replaces the current monarch on the Throne will lead a very different sort of institution to the formal, rather stiff one we know today, where the Queen is a rather distant and aloof figurehead.

In many ways I admire William, who has inherited much of his mother’s concerns for the underprivileged. His work for Centrepoint, the homeless charity, and his recent taking up the challenge to sleep rough on the streets for a cold night in December testifies to this.

However, none of the royals are likely to be truly revolutionary, because of their closeted upbringing. It is unlikely any will renounce the Throne and declare they are in favor of a republic, and also unlikely they would rock the Establishment boat in other ways such as declaring they were gay (there is strong reason to suspect gays in the royal household are encouraged to go through a sham marriage), nor to take a political (some would say moral) line against militarism or Britain’s so-called independent nuclear deterrent. The non-political aspect of the Monarchy has anyway always been very suspect. One can’t imagine HM, had she a vote, voting for anything other than the Conservative Party, and certainly not for any political party of the Left.

All males in line for the role of monarch are expected to join the military in their youth, as indeed the two princes have, and will be expected to launch any new Trident submarines or their replacement, which is abhorrent to many in the peace movement, among others. However I am impressed by the fact that William has said he wants to help the United Nations and direct his military career towards I believe it was air-sea rescue missions. At least it was a clear indication of the humanitarian and internationalist principles he has inherited from his mother.

As to the future shape of the monarchy or its replacement in the UK after the Queen abdicates or dies, I see several possibilities.

The most likely thing is that it will continue, probably skipping a generation so William becomes King, but the new monarch will have much more contact with the media and the people than the present Queen, and will therefore seem much more human.  Who knows, some of the many royal palaces and castles may be donated to the nation, or even used to house the homeless.

The quandary which will result from Charles being next in line for the Throne may lead to demands for some sort of popular vote, which would mean an elected monarchy. Candidates would probably be confined to those next traditionally in line, but ideally it would be a genuine democratic process with anybody receiving enough nominations able to stand and be elected as Head of State.

This last option would be a republic in all but name if elections were held regularly and the term of office was limited to say 5 years, but I see it as a possible British compromise in the future to a fully-fledged republic. The elected Head of State would be called King or Queen instead of President, and would wear the royal regalia on special occasions, ride in a golden coach for the tourists, etc. A process much like electing a carnival queen in fact.

The other possibility, also quite remote, is that in order to preserve the tourist trade attracted to Britain by its quaint royal traditions a mini-kingdom or principality, similar to Monaco, could be established in the area around Windsor. This is near enough to London to be easily accessible to tourists, so both the British Republic and the tiny Kingdom of Windsor would benefit. Additional revenue for the latter would be created by selling Windsor stamps to be put on postcards and letters still handled in Windsorland by the Royal Mail instead of the People’s Mail which operated in the British Republic.

All these are possibilities, but I would say in the distant future and probably not directly after the present monarch abdicates or dies.

Oh, another possibility – a proper republic with an elected President of course. There’s even a fifth even more unlikely possibility: a genuine People’s or Socialist Republic – but that would be way off the radar at the moment! (By genuine, I mean truly democratic and not a monarchy in all but name such as the ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’ which is corrupted by nepotism, Kim Il-Sung being the President for eternity despite being dead, his son Kim Jong-Il being the present de-facto leader, and his son being groomed to take over from him.)

My personal feelings are that the Monarchy is an extremely antequated and unfair system, that it glorifies and preserves a past best forgotten; our bloodthirsty imperialist history when rivals to the Throne killed each other, and when Empire was spread far and wide, subjugating millions under a ruthless dictatorship. The ostentatious display of wealth by the royals is also deeply offensive to many in a world where millions are living in poverty and suffering famines and other hardships.

It is also unfair on the royals themselves, especially those expected to become Monarch one day, to have to live such an artificial and restrictive lifestyle, largely isolated from the general public. Everywhere they go, everything they do is closely monitored by security, bodyguards and of course the media. They don’t even have the right to openly voice or display personal opinions or preferences. Imagine the hoo-ha if a future King or Queen openly announced they were not of a heterosexual persuasion, and went thru a civil partnership ceremony with someone of the same sex! Or if they declared they were a pacifist, and would not take on any role to do with the military or the Ministry of Defence: Soldiers, sailors and airmen barred from royal processions, from guarding royal palaces, the monarch refusing to launch nuclear submarines, etc.

Yet why should these people not have personal views?  We know they have been indoctrinated from birth, and told any personal views must be kept to themselves, but this charade is slowly cracking. The then Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII and then Duke of Windsor) visited Nazi Germany with Wallis. Charles, to his credit, has spoken out on environmental issues, and of course Diana, his ex-wife, took on causes such as her anti-landmine campaign and the AIDS issue. William is getting involved in homeless charities, which begs the question why his family, and he as King, would need to hang on to so many palaces, castles and other royal residences which are empty most of the time apart from flunkies, many living in ‘grace and favor’ apartments.

At least with an elected Head of State, whether called a President or some other title, the person can choose whether to be nominated and come under constant scrutiny of the media, etc. Also it is not a job for life in a democratic country, but for a finite period until the next election for Head of State. They could also, presumably depending on the country’s Constitution, be more openly political that the British monarch, and perhaps be allowed some personal political opinions and to opt out of certain functions which clashed with their consciences. There is no such possiblity under the present hereditary system, unless the monarch chooses to abdicate.

The likely scenario is that the monarchy in Britain will gradually change, and perhaps wither away eventually. This is especially likely if the EU moves towards a more federal union as the majority of member states are already republics. I feel it is inevitable, sooner or later, that a sort of United States of Europe will develop out of the present EU, and that this new entity will be a democratic republic with no room for monarchies within it. Tiny tourist places like Monaco and possibly the Kingdom of Windsor/Windsorland will survive mainly for the tourists, outside the European Union though probably linked to it for their own economic survival.

But King Charles and Queen Camilla on the Throne? Extremely unlikely. You see that’s the trouble with unelected Heads of State determined by hereditary principles, you just don’t know who you are going to get next. Could be a divorcee (which doesn’t worry most of us, but does the Anglican Church), could be a very stupid person, a very clever person, or a politically very undesirable person (was King Edward VIII, aka the Duke of Windsor, forced to abdicate solely because of Wallis Simpson, or also because of his friendship with and admiration for Adolf Hitler? Imagine Sir Oswald Mosley and Lady Diana Mosley being invited to Buckingham Palace garden parties!)

Of course once you start deciding the next in line for the Throne is unsuitable in some way, and decide to skip a generation or force them to abdicate, then you have in fact declared that the hereditary system is deeply flawed and the logical solution is a democratically elected Head of State with a wide-open field of candidates who receive sufficient nominations.

Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None?

When paying my gas bill this morning I was again told it would be cheaper to get my electricity supply from the same company, and I refused to even consider it as always.

In this crazy mixed-up world today where everyone but me has gone bonkers you can get your electricity supply from the gas company, your gas from the electric company, bus companies are running trains, and for all I know you will soon be offered your water from the phone company and your phone service from the water company. Absolutely barmy and ridiculous!

Let’s explain something for today’s generation, which they might not be aware of: There used to be something called ‘expertise’. It meant experts who were good at what they did, but did not necessarily know much about anything else.

After the Second World War Clem Attlee’s Labour government set up some excellent utility and other public service organizations, all run by the State. The water boards owned and maintained the water pipe network, reservoirs, etc. and supplied your water, the gas boards owned the gas mains, gasometers, etc. and supplied your gas, the electricity boards owned the national grid and generators and supplied your electric, British Railways, or British Rail as it later became known, owned and maintained thousands of miles of track, stations, signaling systems, rolling stock and provided a good, integrated railway service, the local bus and transport networks like London Transport concentrated on road transport (and the Underground in the case of London Transport), while the good old Post Office who owned and maintained the phone lines, pillar boxes/post offices and telegraph offices delivered all mail and telecommunications services. 

It all worked perfectly well, because everyone knew their field and were experts in it. Then Maggie Thatcher came along and f**ked everything up. Since nationalization and ‘Socialism’ was a dirty word to her, she decided that all the above should be broken down and privatized. Tony Blair after her had the same idea, since he too was a dyed-in-the-wool true blue Tory, as are all the New Labour leadership today.

Thatcher and Blair also believed in disposing of council housing, which has caused chaos and misery for those on council waiting lists with little hope of ever getting a home, for council tenants like myself who have to tolerate inconsiderate ‘lease holders’ living above them who seem to be above all the rules and regulations that govern council tenants, and young  people who struggle to get on the so-called ‘property ladder’ because council homes are now almost unobtainable in many parts of the country.

To go back to the utility and public service companies, the grids and networks haven’t been broken up or duplicated. One company still owns the railway network (Network Rail), the gas companies still own the gas pipes, etc., the electric companies the national grid, British Telecom now own and maintain the phone line network, and the Post Office the mail network of post offices, pillar boxes, sorting offices, etc.

How, then, can it possibly be more efficient or beneficial to the customer to get their electricity supplied by a gas company which doesn’t own the grid and has to rely on the electric companies to maintain it? Or for the customer to get their phone service from a company other than BT which owns the phone network? Cheaper it may be, as rival companies raise and lower their tariffs in order to grab new customers, but the fact is the best service will always be provided by the experts who own the grid/network, and which are always the previously nationalized company or local utility boards.

That is why in all cases where I can I have stuck to the successors to the old nationalized companies and utility boards and have no intention of ever changing, even if some new company comes along and offers everything free. I had experience of phones supplied by different companies at my last job, and it simply doesn’t work efficiently. Many of our calls had to be re-routed thru BT or you simply couldn’t get a connexion at all, because BT, like the other companies which own the grids/networks, always give preference and therefore a much better service to their own customers.

The answer, of course, is to nationalize or take into public ownership once again all these companies. Let British Rail be revived and run an integrated national rail service. I don’t want bus and airline companies running trains over track maintained by another company. No wonder there is total chaos when anything goes wrong, nobody knows who is responsible for what.

I remember an incident soon after privatization of the railways when I took a direct train from Clapham Junction to Bristol Temple Meads. The guard or ticket inspector was sitting with a calculator with each passenger, looking at their tickets and trying to allocate a percentage of the fare they had paid to about half a dozen different rail companies which the train passed thru. They now have a different system of allocating such revenue, but you see my point. Privatization of the railways, and the London Tube system, simply doesn’t work efficiently and doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, and the same for the utility companies.

As for the Underground system, well the Sunday before last six lines, including the two newest (Jubilee and Victoria) had sections partly closed for ‘engineering works’. When the Underground was integrated and run by London Transport no lines ever closed down for ‘engineering works’. All work was done at night, but now every weekend one or more Underground lines (and railway lines as well) are closed for ‘engineering works’.

London Transport should be revived and take over ALL local Underground, light railway, bus, tram and railways in the capital, just leaving a revived British Rail with the main rail lines to the provinces beyond the Home Counties surrounding London. Once again London Transport should extend to all the Home Counties, taking over all the bus, Underground and train commuter services into and around the capital. (Remember the vast network of London Transport green Country buses which extended 30 miles or more around the capital into Bedfordshire and Sussex? That’s what we need back again.)

When private profit is the main motivation everything is done ‘on the cheap’ and therefore the public suffers. Cheaper is not always better, and public services are not always meant to make a profit; they are meant to provide a top-rate service to the public, subsidized by the State. Instead we now get a cheap third-rate service from private companies, their workers suffer from inferior wages and conditions, and these companies boost their profits with State subsidies paid by the taxpayer. The British public lose out in all ways and only greedy shareholders and company directors benefit.

Another example is waste collection, street cleaning, council home repairs/maintenance, etc. once done directly by council workers. Now it is all contracted out to private companies doing it on the cheap (which means their workers’ wages and conditions suffer), and the customer gets an inferior service.

So no, I DON’T want my water supply from the British Broadcasting Corporation if that’s the next idea up New Labour’s sleeve. Nationalize the bloody lot again – all the utility companies, the phone companies, the bus, underground and railway companies, then we’ll get a decent, integrated set of public services once again.

Atheist Monk?

A long-deceased monk from Bury St Edmunds, Brother Boniface, came thru in a number of direct voice seances by the medium the late Leslie Flint in the 1960s and 1970s.

His communications tend to be repetitive and rather long-winded, but in one of them (available on the Internet, read or listen to last communication by Bro Boniface on this page: he says ‘there is no God’ in the sense of a personality or Supreme Being who sits on a throne and judges us. Rather ‘god’, if the term means anything at all, is descriptive of the immortal life force in all living things, the eternal mind or consciousness which permeates everything, whether it appears to be alive or not.

I think it best to dispense with the term ‘God’ or ‘god’ altogether, since it is understood to mean a personality or Supreme Being who can be praised and thanked when good things happen, and blamed when bad things happen, which leads many to become atheists or agnostics believing there is also no afterlife.

I prefer terms such as Pearson’s ‘ i-ther’, Source, the universal life force or even ‘the Great Spirit’: a form of conscious energy which is constantly evolving and which animates all physical life forms.

It is the conclusion I came to a long time ago, that we are all part of this universal force or consciousness, and that it is eternally evolving.

We can ask many questions, and do, about why certain people suffer and often die in tragedies such as the Haitian earthquake or the Asian tsunami, or why one person dies in a road accident while another survives. We can’t know the answers for sure, but we do know that life and death are cycles in an eternal existence. We may experience life on Earth for a full life-span of 70 or more years, or a much shorter time. We may or may not have a life-plan to fulfil, and some may take longer than others.

Why do children and babies die, or are babies stillborn? We just don’t know all the answers. But communications from Spirit tell us we are all part of Soul Groups, which could also be described as different aspects of ourselves. The combined experience and Earth lives of our Soul Group is shared in the spiritual realms, and each aspect or individual interacts with each other.

It seems that spiritual evolution is the end result of all these experiences, and that the collective consciousness, i-ther or unified conscious energy field is also constantly evolving and expanding. It is not ‘god/God’ in the sense religion has understood it, but it is the creative conscious energy behind everything and of which we are all a part.

It is all part of an eternal process, and from within our time-constricted universe we cannot fully comprehend it. The spiritual domains are outside of time as it is measured in our physical universe.

We have to break it down to what we CAN understand, and that is that we, as individuals, survive death; that is our personality, memories and consciousness survives death, and we enter a domain which seems very similar to our own at first with apparent physical bodies, but living in much more beautiful and pleasant surroundings (for most of us anyway, some get trapped in darker realms for an indefinite period before they progress).

Eventually we all progress to even higher spiritual domains, and dispense with any sort of physical form becoming pure spirit, energy or consciousness. Ultimately it seems we not only see ourselves as an aspect of our own Soul Group, but as an aspect of the universal consciousness. We become aware, if you like, that we are all One.

This seems mystical to us on the Earth plane where so many life forms seem to be in conflict with each other, but this is but part of the learning and evolutionary process it is necessary to go thru to achieve the eventual merging of our individual life force with the greater whole, the universal consciousness. It is not ‘God’ a personality or Supreme Being, it is the sum total of all consciousness, it is indeed ‘us’ at our highest level of evolution.

The only analogy I can think of at the moment is the sea; the oceans. It gets swept up in the air as clouds, comes down as rain or snow, sinks into the Earth and forms lakes, rivers, glaciers, etc. and ultimately flows back to the ocean. An eternal cycle. Each individual raindrop, snowflake, each river, brook, pond and lake has individual characteristics and an individual existence, but ultimately it is all one, the sum total of all water on planet Earth which is constantly recycled. Water will again be swept up from the sea to form clouds and come down as rain or snow to form rivers, lakes, ponds and puddles, but never will any of these be exactly the same as a previous one, containing exactly the same water. Everything is re-mixed before being recycled. An analogy to the phenomenom of various incarnations of Spirit Soul Groups perhaps?

A river or lake, a cloud or a rain shower could be analagious to a Soul Group, but eventually we all return to the ocean – the Source from which we all came.

Nature of the Afterlife

Recently I’ve acquired some interesting new information via the Internet as usual, which is a goldmine for researchers into anything.

It was pointed out to me by Survivalist Michael Roll in a comment to a previous blog that the concept of reincarnation is a fallacy, yet I find there seems to be evidence for it.

It has been brought to my notice this week via Victor Zammit’s excellent weekly Afterlife Report that sources on the Other Side in fact confirm that there is no such thing as reincarnation as we understand it.

As Spock might have said: ‘It’s reincarnation, Jim, but not as we know it.’

We as individuals only live once on this Earth it seems, but our spiritual existence is much more complex. I have been aware for some time that we all have a Higher Self on the spiritual planes, and also that there are Soul Groups, but never fully understood either concept. In fact it is extremely unlikely that we are able to really understand either of these things whilst still on the Earth plane.

However I read this week that according to two sources on the Other Side, namely the highly developed Native American guide Silver Birch and the deceased Psychic Researcher Fred Myers, that these Soul Groups, of which our Higher Self is a part, do share experiences.

I already knew that spirits from the same Soul Group often incarnate on Earth at the same time to help each other. What I didn’t realize was that even when they incarnate at different times, maybe hundreds or thousands of years apart, experiences and lessons learnt from these disparate Earth lives are shared by the whole Soul Group in the spirit planes.

Therefore those individuals on Earth who recall ‘past lives’ are in fact connecting with memories of other spirits in their Soul Group. It is also described by Other Side sources as ‘other aspects’ of our greater Spiritual self, far too complex and alien for us on Earth to fully understand.

My deceased partner then confirmed to me, in written form, that this was indeed correct. He was a great believer in reincarnation while on Earth, but is now telling me he has since learnt that we are all unique individuals, and that the Soul Group concept of shared experiences is the answer to the mystery of past life recollections.

I still hold on to the belief that the evolutionary process involves experiencing life on Earth thru the plant and animal kingdom until we evolve to the human stage and beyond. But this, in fact, confirms the ‘Soul Group’ concept since I haven’t believed for a long while that I myself ever lived as an animal. I maintain that as we evolve we merge with other kindred spirits to create a greater whole, so the individual I am now is a sort of Soul Group in itself.

This also answers the question of before birth existence. We didn’t just sit around for eons waiting to be born on Earth, nor did we just come into existence out of nothing as orthodox scientists and many orthodox religions would have us believe.

We evolved gradually over these eons, and the individuals we are now were indeed newly created, but not out of nothing. We are an amalgamation, surely, of many spirit entities which may all have experienced Earth life up the evolutionary scale. None of these entities will have lived life on Earth before as a human being, but all will probably have experieced it as an animal or before that as plant life. We as individuals have never experienced this, but various aspects of ourselves have no doubt done so.

If this were not so evolution would be impossible, and certain spirits would be stuck on the plant/animal level forever. That is not to say, by the way, that some animals are not probably more developed individuals than many humans. Dogs and other domestic pets, dolphins and other creatures are often very highly developed spirits.

However the probable evolutionary process of merging several animal spirits to create a new human individual may well dilute the greater whole temporarily.

The evolutionary process continues after death as we join our Higher Self in our Spiritual Soul Group, gather and share more experiences of human and other lives from this Soul Group, and both as individulas and  as a Soul Group we gradually evolve further in the many Spiritual planes.

We certainly do not lose our individuality as soon as we pass over. In fact we are very much the same people we were on Earth for a long time. We live in an environment created to be very similar, but better, to that on Earth. We can recreate by thought-power houses and environments we used to live in on Earth for example, or ones we dreamed of living in.

Eventually, however, we have no need of these physical things. We will move on to higher Spiritual planes along with our Soul Group, and as we evolve to higher and higher planes we dispense with a physical body and physical environments altogether. We become pure spirit, energy or consciousness, and ultimately will merge with Source, the conscious i-ther, unified conscious energy field, the Great Spirit, God, Allah or whatever you like to call this most highly evolved conscious entity.

Constantly I am gaining knowledge, and to those who think this is a load of old tosh, well let’s just wait and see. Or, if they are right of course, wait and NOT see!

Of course I’d have far more conviction they were right if any of them had actually studied the overwhelming evidence in favor of survival, and if they knew the first thing about quantum theory which even Albert Einstein found difficulty in accepting.

Basically, quantum mechanics prove that everything is far more illusory and complex than we could ever imagine, and that the act of observing, of thought and consciousness, affects and probably even creates matter, or the rather the illusion of matter. We, in fact, create our own virtual realities both here and on the higher spiritual planes.