Intelligent Design or Evolution?

This is the question raging in America, but for me the answer is very simple. The two are NOT exclusive. In fact it is perfectly obvious to me that both intelligent design and evolution are responsible for the current state of life on Earth.

First of all, what is meant by the term ‘Intelligent Design’? Many would interpret this phrase as meaning the existence of God, but this is not necessarily so. Of course it depends on how you define ‘God’.

It really all boils down to the nature of Consciousness. If Consciousness originates outside of the living brain, then everything becomes much easier to understand.

Let’s first examine the two diametrically opposed traditional explanations for the existence of life on Earth. One is Darwinian-type Evolution coupled with Natural Selection. In its purest form, this theory sees no need for God or Intelligent Design of any kind. Everything evolved by pure chance, but the law of survival of the fittest and those able to most easily adapt to their environment meant Natural Selection insured only the most efficient life-forms would survive.

The other hypothesis is that God created all life-forms, designing and planning everything from the beginning.

I postulate both these theories are non-starters. They are both wrong, and yet they both contain elements of the true answer.

The Evolution/Natural Selection theory works along the lines that given enough time, billions of Earth years, a million monkeys typing blindly on a million typewriters would eventually produce the collected works of Shakespeare. I think this is complete nonsense, and that is what they would type. A few words or sentences in English perhaps in all those billions of years, but never a word-perfect book, story and certainly not the complete works of Shakespeare.

Similarly for unplanned, undesigned Evolution and Natural Selection to come up with complicated organs like the eye, a bird’s wing capable of producing flight, and all the complicated internal organs of living things is absolutely impossible. Obviously all these things have intelligent design behind them. If they came about naturally by pure chance, why haven’t TV sets, washing machines, computers, etc. come about by pure chance with the help of Evolution and Natural Selection? The idea is plain stupid.

Equally unlikely is the idea that an all-wise God designed and planned everything down to the last detail at the beginning. If it had, why was the long process of Evolution necessary? Of course fundamentalists would reject Evolution entirely, and cling to the Biblical stories of The Garden of Eden, which rely on incestuous relations between Adam and Eve’s children to produce a human race which would survive beyond their children. Think about it.

In any case all the evidence is in favor of Evolution, but there is no evidence whatsoever that it came about by pure accident. In fact all the evidence points to Intelligent Design guiding Evolution.

Now to explain this, we need to return to the nature of Consciousness. If, as the latest evidence suggests, it originates separately from the brains of living organisms, then that is where the Intelligent Design comes from.

Spiritualists and Survivalists would say that it is Spirit which is responsible for the Intelligent Design guiding Evolution. Interestingly one of the pioneers for the theory of Evolution and Natural Selection, Alfred Russell Wallace, was a Spiritualist. He has been overshadowed by Charles Darwin, but it was Wallace’s independent theory of Evolution with the help of Natural Selection which prompted Charles Darwin to publish his own theory.

Because of his advocacy of Spiritualism, Alfred Russell Wallace, the true originator of Darwin’s theories, has been rather overlooked and sidelined by orthodox science, biologists and historians. Yet his belief is so important, as without it, evolution and natural selection are non-starters. They HAVE to be guided by Spirit or some external intelligence.

Ronald Pearson, the British scientist, also believes in Spiritualism or Survivalism, but has come up with a new term for this external Consciousness – the ‘i-ther’ or ‘intelligent ether’. This is a sort of intelligent matrix which permeates the multi-verse. It is synonymous with the interconnected Spirit which Spiritualists are aware of.

The key thing about this external consciousness, whatever term you use to call it, is that it is constantly evolving along with everything else. So far from being all planned right from the beginning, which would make Evolution unnecessary and laborious, each tiny stage of Evolution is planned by Spirit or the i-ther; the Consciousness of which all living things are just a tiny interconnected part. The brains of living organisms are not the originators of conscience; they are merely the means by which our physical bodies function. Similar to radio receivers or TV sets – the voices and pictures do not originate in the equipment in your home, they are transmitted externally and received by this equipment.

The analogy continues, because all the evidence of Spiritualism, Survivalism and Quantum Physics suggests that there are many dimensions, planes of existence or universes existing side-by-side. However, just as a TV properly tuned to one channel will not be showing any other channels, so the living brains of organisms on Earth usually are only aware of our own Universe.

Sometimes, however, a TV or radio set will be incorrectly tuned, so it picks up more than one channel/station at a time, though one may be indistinct. This explains how some people – mediums and possibly small children and some animals, can tune in to Spirits in an adjoining plane/dimension.

Back to Intelligent Design and Evolution (note not one or the other, but both together). Consciousness is external to our living bodies, that is why everything survives death and why people who have out-of-the-body and near-death experiences are able, while unconscious or even temporarily clinically dead, to see and accurately report on events happening around them and at a distance. It also explains remote viewing and clairvoyance.

It is this Consciousness, external to our brains and living bodies, call it Spirit, the i-ther or what you like, which designs the tiny next stages in Evolution of various species.

Although all are interconnected, each species branches off and develops separately, and we on Earth live our lives here as individuals. This is to gain experience and evolve Spiritually. However, this also explains how different species develop separately, with their own defense and hunting mechanisms. Any designs which are not efficient will fail and that species will die out. So ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘natural selection’ certainly come into play in furthering the evolution of the species, but intelligent design is behind it. Similarly to the old-style video recorders, VHS took off and evolved into DVDs, Betamax died out. Both were intelligently designed, but natural selection meant VHS survived.

Without intelligent design, there could be no meaningful evolution. On the other hand, were there an all-wise God who created and planned everything from the beginning, there would be no reason for evolution at all – the world could have been created exactly as it is, or a lot more perfect, but certainly there would have been no need for the laborious process of evolution to get where we are today.

The only answer is therefore intelligent design guiding evolution, incorporating natural selection and survival of the fittest, and everything, including the external Consciousness/Spirit/i-ther responsible for the intelligent design, learning from past mistakes and evolving all the time in small stages.

Evolution is the key to everything, but it is not blind. It is guided by intelligence, an intelligence that learns from its mistakes and then progresses. All living things, and even inanimate objects – the whole multi-verse, is part of this process. An eternally evolving intelligent multi-verse, and we are only fully aware of one tiny physical dimension within this infinite eternity.

Different Cultures

Oh how I love those rock’n’roll Dixie belles as immortalized in songs like Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Long Tall Sally, Good Golly Miss Molly and not forgetting the provocatively (in Britain) named Short Fat Fanny. Also the chivalry in the States at the time, with boys carrying the girls’ books to school (couldn’t they afford satchels?) Here the lads would say: ‘Carry yer own bleedin’ books!’ and as for dressing up for High School Proms and escorting a girl, well it just didn’t happen. At my college the boys all sat bored stiff round the main hall at end-of-term dances watching the girls cop off with teachers for a dance. No way would we join in.

Just imagine if rock’n’roll had started a few decades later in, say, Essex instead of the Southern States! None of this quaint over-polite Miss Ann, Miss Lucy nonsense. Song titles might have been something like: Shaggin’ Sharon Stomp, Well Fit Bird Boogie, Givin’ Tracy One Bop, Chavs Rule Innit and of course Whole Lotta Shaggin’ Goin’ On would be a certainty.

Nobody would be in the Jailhouse Rockin’, they’d all be nicked by the Old Bill or else plastered down the rub-a-dub.

Unless, of course, rock’n’roll started in the British public schools in which case song titles would be absent of girls completely and more sophisticated, along the lines of: Mason Minor’s Got a Rather Dishy Arse, Harrow School Hop, The Eton Boppin’ Song and I Say Chaps – Let’s Rock!

The mind is even more boggled when thinking what the titles would have been had rock’n’roll started in, say, China at the height of the Cultural Revolution. But an inkling can be got from popular songs in Mao’s China at the time. Everyone Praises The Commune’s Vegetables was a Top Ten hit according to the magazine China Reconstructs at that time, and another all-time favorite was Ten Thousand Years Of Life For Chairman Mao.

We should, perhaps, be thankful rock’n’roll started in the Deep South of America, preserving names like Skinny Minny and Miss Lucy ( who was too fat and juicy) for posterity.

Eleven Popular Political Misconceptions

(Click on maps/pictures/diagrams below to enlarge them.)

1 Cyprus was an independent country till Turkey invaded the North in 1974.

In actual fact it was Greece who first invaded the whole island in July 1974. The Greek military junta in Athens organized a coup against President Makarios with the objective of annexing the island to Greece. However Makarios survived, went to the UN in New York and pleaded for help because ‘Greece has invaded Cyprus’. His pleas were ignored, especially by Britain which was a guarantor of Cypriot independence with thousands of troops stationed permanently on the island. Turkey also appealed to Britain to intervene, and only took unilateral action to protect the Turkish-Cypriot population from extermination/ethnic cleansing when Britain refused to help. The whole thing stinks of a NATO plot between USA, UK, Greece and Turkey against what they considered a pro-Soviet Makarios.

The present-day TRNC  is colored yellow, the British occupied areas (sovereign bases) are shaded gray and white, the remainder comes under the Greek-Cypriot administration.

2  The Berlin Wall sealed off East Berlin.

No it didn’t. The border installations (not always a wall, in most places a fence) surrounded West Berlin, sealing it off from the surrounding territory of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).  Prior to 1961 there was more or less free movement between the two halves of the city, but this was causing severe economic problems for the GDR. Not least East Berliners getting jobs in West Berlin depriving the GDR of skilled labor, and West Berliners stripping East Berlin shops of subsidized basic foodstuffs. The border installations originally kept both West and East Berliners in their respective sectors, but later West Berliners were allowed to visit the GDR capital for special occasions like Christmas. GDR citizens could all visit the West once they reached pensionable age. Trusted GDR citizens of working age and younger could visit the West also – for example Angela Merkel and her family, who had emigrated to the GDR from West Germany. Merkel, now Chancellor of a united Germany, was the daughter of a pastor who moved from the Hamburg area in the FRG (West Germany) to Leipzig in the GDR.

Yellow and black dotted line shows border installation surrounding West Berlin. Official crossing points are also shown.

3 All Communist states were one-party dictatorships.

Not strictly true as countries like the GDR (East Germany) and CSSR (Czechoslovakia) were, in fact, coalitions. For instance the GDR had Liberal Democrats, Christian Democrats and National Democrats represented in its Parliament, along with members of the Socialist Unity Party (itself a coalition between the Communist Party and the Social Democrats). It is true, however, that the Marxist-Leninist party played the leading role in these National Front coalitions, and you had to be an active member of one of the political organizations to participate fully in choosing the candidates. General Elections were just a final rubber-stamp for this process, the idealized objective being originally for all citizens to become politically active as a preparation for self-governing Communism proper. In fact it became a means of keeping a privileged ruling clique in power because of the political immaturity and apathy of the masses.

4 Ulster is part of Great Britain.

Wrong on two counts. First, Ulster comprises 9 counties, only 6 of which are in the United Kingdom. This was gerrymandering by the British to insure a permanent Loyalist majority in the six counties. The other 3 Ulster counties with strong Republican populations are in the Irish Republic.

Also the 6 counties of Northern Ireland are part of the UK, but not part of Britain. This is why the official name of the Union is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

5 The Labour Party was never a Marxist party.

It was greatly influenced by Karl Marx among others, as can be ascertained by the fact that printed on all Party membership cards for decades was the old Clause IV  phrase referring to seeking for the workers by hand or by brain the fruits of their labor thru the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange and the best democratic control of these. The symbol of the old Labour Party and its anthem sung at all Party Conferences was The Red Flag.

6 The symbols below are known as the ‘peace signs’.

Mainly in the USA, and they are wrong on both counts. The hand signal was given by Churchill at the end of the Second World War and meant V for Victory over the Axis Powers – a subtle difference to P for Peace. Hitler could equally have used it when he invaded France and other European countries.

The symbol within a circle was known as the ‘ban-the-bomb’ sign in Britain, and this is much more accurate than ‘the peace sign’ because it specifically refers to Nuclear Disarmament being the superimposed semaphore letters N and D within a circle representing the unborn child or the womb. The symbol, designed by Gerald Holtom and first displayed in London in 1958 just before the first Aldermaston March, also represents the broken Cross symbolizing the death of humankind.

7 USA got involved in Vietnam to protect democracy there.

Clearly wrong, as the reason the USA got involved once the French left was because they knew if free elections were held thruout Vietnam the Communist Ho Chi-Minh would win. They therefore canceled the planned elections, installed a series of puppet dictators in the South and embarked on the long and costly Vietnam war.

8 Nuclear weapons are a deterrent.

Against what or whom? If they are a deterrent why was Argentina not deterred from reclaiming the Malvinas/Falkland Islands? Why were Afghanistan in 1980 and North Vietnam in the 1960s (and North Korea in the 1950s) not deterred and why didn’t they immediately surrender to the nuclear armed USSR in the case of Afghanistan, and the USA in the other two cases?

Who are they now supposed to deter? Bin Laden and Al Quaida who regard themselves as martyrs if they kill themselves and loads of innocent people in bombings, etc.? Sounds as if we are prepared to do the martyrdom bit for them much more effectively, if we can locate where Bin Laden and Al Quaida are at any given moment. Oh yes, the nuclear ‘deterrent’ also didn’t stop USA’s 9/11 attacks or Britain’s 7/7 London bombings.

The fact is nuclear weapons are essentially military useless status symbols, that’s all. Nuclear weapons in fact CAUSED the Cuba missile crisis in 1962 and nearly brought nuclear castastrophe. It was only averted when USSR agreed not to install nuclear missiles in Cuba if USA agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Turkey, which bordered the Soviet Union.

9 The Atom Bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War II ended the war in the Far East and saved many Allied military lives.

Even if true it could not be justified as, like the conventional bombing of cities, it broke all the rules of international law. Targeting innocent citizens, and in the case of the atomic bombs generations still unborn who suffered deformities and cancers, could not be justified under any circumstances.

In any case the Japanese, like Al Quaida, considered martyrdom for their country and Emperor an honor, hence the kamikaze pilots. So Hiroshima and Nagasaki, terrible as they were, would not have ended the War.

It was U.S. capitulation on the status of Emperor Hirohito which ended the War. Instead of being tried for war crimes the USA had to allow him to remain on the Japanese throne till  his death, the only one of the Axis leaders to escape retribution.

10 The Second World War was a success for Britain and the Allies.

Depends how you classify ‘success’. Britain went to War when Germany invaded Poland. At the end of the War the Allies handed over Poland, Czechoslovakia and a lot of other former Nazi-occupied countries to Stalin’s Soviet Union to become part of their sphere of influence. Ask the Poles if exchanging Hitler for Stalin was considered a ‘success’!

Then there’s the millions of Jews and others who perished in the Nazi concentration camps. They were certainly not saved by the War, and in fact the Final Solution was only implemented during the War, not in the six years of Nazi power before it. It is almost certain it was a wartime policy which could not have been implemented in peace time. With Germans more concerned with the daily Allied bombing of their citizens, and their soldiers fighting and dying on two fronts, what was happening to those in the concentration camps was of no more concern to the average German citizen than what might be happening to Japanese internees in the USA or German/Austrian ones in the British camps. The War almost certainly sealed the fate of six million Jews, Communists, Gipsies, homosexuals and others.

The War and Holocaust also led directly to the establishment of Israel on Palestinian soil and all the trouble that has caused since – including much of the reason for the strength of groups like Al Quaida which see Israel as basically an American-backed Western colony in the Middle East.

That’s 10, and one for the pot:

11 The USSR never voluntarily marched OUT of a country they previously occupied.

They marched out of Eastern Austria, including Vienna, in 1955 under an agreement whereby a reunited Austria remained neutral and outside the NATO alliance. When Churchill made his Iron Curtain speech after the Second World War he had mentioned Vienna as being one of the capitals behind this Iron Curtain.


I’m quoting Alexander the meerkat, who probably has more sense than a lot of politicians. How on Earth did we get into the kind of economic mess we’re in at the moment, with banks having to be rescued from collapsing by the taxpayer and cuts in public services to try to pay off the national debt?

Capitalist greed is the short answer, and it would also apply of course to former Socialist countries where the ruling bureaucratic clique creamed off too much for themselves.

The basic rule of thumb is that you don’t get anything for nothing. If you try, you’re in deep trouble sooner or later, and the more people trying to get something for nothing, the greater the problems they create.

The simple fact is every able bodied adult of working age needs to earn their living, and if there aren’t enough jobs around then they have to be created because there is actually plenty of community work needing to be done in charities, hospitals, helping our aging population, the disabled, etc..

Living off interest, shareholders’ dividends or credit (or vast inheritances) causes tremendous problems because these individuals are not being productive. They are living off the labor of others like parasites or else off paper money just printed out and therefore not worth its face value, and this is the direct cause of inflation and all our other economic problems such as the national debt and the collapse of banks.

If you want something you should earn the money and buy it. This immediately rules out owning homes for most people, as it would take a lifetime to save up and buy one outright. So why do so many people get into debt with mortgage companies trying to own their home when most buildings outlast their residents?

To pass on to children? Well you can only pass one home on to one child, so if that child is still living in the family home as an adult and the home is passed to them, any siblings will feel hard done by. If the property is sold on the death of the parents and the proceeds split between the siblings, then the one still living at home will suddenly find themselves not only bereaved when their surviving parent dies, but homeless and possibly with little prospect of finding another since their share of the sale will probably not be enough to purchase another home, and council housing is now almost like gold dust. Private rented accommodation, which is very expensive, being the only alternative unless you can get yourself on a housing association list.

True Socialism solves all these problems because it requires everyone who possibly can to work, and in return it looks after its citizens. Low-rent accommodation, with no worry about maintenance and repairs, should be provided for everyone who needs it when they need it, along with cheap public transport and many ‘free’ public services like education, health, etc.

Of course these are not ‘free’ – they have to be paid for somehow. One way is thru taxes, and why people complain about this is a mystery to me. You don’t complain when lining up at the supermarket checkout at having to pay for the goods you have purchased, so why do so many complain about paying for public services thru taxes? Presumably because they don’t have a choice and may not use some of them – tough! The services are there if you ever need them, and state pensions will be needed by almost everyone who survives to retiring age.

Another way of funding public services is with the vast amounts of money held by the banks and financial institutions (insurance companies, building societies, etc.) If all credit/lending/mortgages to private individuals was stopped and all financial institutions taken over by the State, then this vast pool of resources, representing the surplus value of the labor of millions of citizens, could be used to keep taxes low and fund the public services.

Why can’t we live on credit or unearned income? Because the simple fact is if too many people are doing this there will be too much money around chasing too few goods and services. Also, much unearned income like vast company profits shared out as dividends and directors’ bonuses is stolen directly from the exploited labor of billions of  non-unionized sweatshop workers in the developing world, and also in many former Socialist countries where all their former subsidies and public services have now been abolished.

Either way it’s not good to be living in a society where so many are living on credit or unearned income, as if this has not been stolen from the wage packets of the exploited workers, then it is inflationary ‘paper’ money not worth its face value because it doesn’t represent the labor of anybody.

It all comes back to the old Marxist truth that the only thing that produces value is labor. Without good, honest labor all the gold in the world would lie deep in the ground, totally useless to anyone. It is the hard labor involved in mining and processing it which gives it a high value. If gold coins just rained form the sky on a regular basis they’d be utterly worthless. As worthless as the paper money printed off to hand out willy-nilly as credit. If it is not just printed off it’s people’s hard-earned savings and the banks charge interest for lending it. As my old boss used to say, banks are the biggest crooks of all. They charge people for lending money they don’t own in the first place. Interest is unearned income and therefore totally unjustified unless it just covers inflation.

Nobody needs to now work as hard as they did in previous centuries because many labor-saving machines and gadgets have increased the productivity of labor. But all these labor-saving devices represent the stored mental and physical labor of workers – those who invented and designed the devices, and those who build and maintain them. 

In much the same way a painting, sculpture or antique stores up and reflects the labor power of those who created these objects, and their value increases as they become rarer and more difficult to reproduce. The labor power of a Dali, Rembrandt or Van Gogh is really unique – others can copy their style, but you will never get a new original by these artists (unless you find, and believe in, a truly gifted psychic artist inspired by these deceased greats). Similarly with genuine antiques of all kind, they can be copied and reproduced but you’ll never be able to create another genuine 18th Century piece of furniture, for example. So their stored labor increases in value with time because of their rarity value and the impossibility of creating new original works of art by deceased artists, or new genuine antiques.

So everything we purchase represents the value created by the labor of those who produced it. Anything which does not require labor to produce it, such as the air we breathe, is free and has no commercial value. At least not on Earth. Were we living on the Moon or Mars, then we’d have to pay for the air we breathed because labor power would be required to create it.

It really is that simple. Very few things come free, they have to be worked for. If you think you’re getting something for nothing you can bet it’s either been filched from the wage packets of some exploited workers somewhere in the world, or it is inflationary money printed off with no real labor-created value behind it.

That is why we are in such an economic mess, and why the capitalist system is so unstable, lurching form crisis to crisis. Only constant wars and a huge arms industry, which are ways of creating publicly-funded employment and killing off the surplus population, keep the capitalist system going.

That’s the best reason of all for getting rid of it and moving on to the next stage in human society – Socialism!

Jerry Lee Lewis

His latest CD

He’s been called many things, some nice, some not so nice. ‘The Killer’ is the most usual pseudonym, which apparently came about when he was still at school – he called people Killer (and still does), and they called him Killer, so the name stuck. The Press like to hint that he may be responsible for the deaths of two wives, and he did shoot his bass player once (accidentally) but the guy survived, though was fired from his band as he couldn’t play guitar properly!

The two wives, Jaren and Shawn, died in the 1980s. Jaren drowned in a swimming-pool, but was already separated from Jerry who was miles away. Shawn had only been married to Jerry for a few months when she was found dead in bed beside him. She died from a methadone overdose, though Jerry admits they’d had a row the night before.

Jerry’s been married 6 times altogether (his sister Linda Gail 8 times), but it was wife number 3 which caused the scandal in Britain which then crossed the Atlantic on his return from the aborted 1958 British tour. In the Deep South at that time the evangelical churches (Jerry belonged to a Pentecostal sect, the Assemblies of God) encouraged young teenagers to get married to prevent fornication or sex before marriage. So as soon as you reached puberty the church and the community urged you to get married.

Consequently many Southern singers had married at an early age. So had Jerry’s sisters. Jerry first married at the age of 15, his sister Linda Gail at 14, and older sister Frankie Jean at 12. Elvis was dating Priscilla when she was 14, but Col. Tom Parker kept this under covers. Frankie Jean has said if a girl reached her mid teens and wasn’t married or didn’t have a steady boyfriend people would start talking and asking what was wrong with that girl, where was her beau, her husband-to-be. The strong hint was any girl not married or at least engaged by 15 or 16 was definitely an outcast from decent society – a lesbian probably.

Despite his fall from grace, Jerry continued to have hits in Britain, the country which was so shocked by his marriage to his 13-year old distant cousin, Myra. After his first three Top Ten hits Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Great Balls Of Fire and Breathless, High School Confidential reached number 12 in the British charts in January 1959 (months after he’d been sent home in disgrace from his first British tour), Lovin’ Up A Storm reached the Top Thirty in May 1959, and in May 1961 he had another Top Ten British hit with What’d I Say.

In the USA he wasn’t so successful chartwise immediately after the scandal. High School Confidential stalled at number 21 in the Billboard charts around the time of the aborted UK tour, and no other records reached the Top Fifty until November 1971 when Chantilly Lace reached number 40.

However Jerry continued to tour Europe and USA, and made two astounding ‘live’ albums in the mid-1960s, ‘Greatest Live Show On Earth’ recorded in Birmingham, Alabama and ‘Live At The Star-Club Hamburg’ which is often considered to be the wildest live album ever recorded by anybody.

Jerry moved from Sun Records in late 1963 (leaving a huge catalog of excellent unreleased material, later released by Shelby Singleton the new owner of the catalog) and moved to Smash, a subsidiary of Mercury Records. They tried everything – an excellent single ‘I’m On Fire’ which should have been a big hit, but the British invasion was just starting, and everyone wanted to hear The Beatles and other British groups, not an old American rocker (well he was still in his twenties, but he seemed old hat to many.)

Smash released re-recorded versions of his old hits, and new rockers under album titles like ‘Return of Rock’ and ‘Memphis Beat’. They all failed to make any impact on the charts. A country album was released, ‘Country Songs For City Folks’ but all that did was supply Tom Jones with two hits – he recorded Green Green Grass Of Home and Detroit City (previously American Country hits for Porter Wagoner and Bobby Bare). Jones’ arrangements were very similar to those on Jerry’s album, and Tom admits that’s where he got the inspiration.

Smash tried Jerry recording soul music with an album called ‘Soul My Way’, many tracks without piano – it too bombed. Then, just as they were about to give up and not renew his contract, they had another try at Country, a genre Jerry had always recorded (Hank Williams’ ‘You Win Again’  had been on the flip of Great Balls Of Fire in the States, reached #2 in the Billboard Country charts, and earned him a Gold Record in its own right).

This time Smash got it right by including Kenny Lovelace on fiddle and a steel guitar, and Jerry had his first big Country hit for years when ‘Another Place Another Time’ hit the Top Ten, followed by ‘What Made Milwaukee Famous’.

The Country hit singles and albums continued non-stop, and Sun got in on the act as well, releasing Country singles to cash in on his new found chart success. Consequently following 4 Top Ten Smash/Mercury singles in 1968, Jerry had 5 singles in the Billboard Country Top Ten the following year, three in 1970 (and a fourth made number 11), and three more in 1971, plus another which made number 11.

Two consecutive singles, in 1971 and 1972, made not only #1 in the Country charts, but their flipsides also made #1 – the double hits Would You Take Another Chance On Me?/Me & Bobby McGhee and Chantilly Lace/Think About It Darlin’. He was now recording rock’n’roll again, and having more success in the Country charts (all his big rock’n’roll hits of the 1950s also made the Country Top Twenty).

The Country hits continued into the 1980s, when like many older Country singers he found it difficult to get a recording contract, so was without a label for years. A one-off album was released in the 1990s, ‘Young Blood’, which failed to make any impact, then in 2006 ‘Last Man Standing’ was released, a CD with many guest artists. It was promoted by Jerry appearing on all the big US chat shows, and hit 4 Billboard charts, going #1 Indie, #4 Country, #8 Rock and #26 pop, it sold over half a million copies and earned Jerry his first Gold Disk in years. (It bombed in UK, despite British guest artists like Ringo Starr, three Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart because of lack of promotion).

Now he has a follow-up CD coming out in late August or early September, the 18 track ‘Mean Old Man’ also featuring many duets. But sadly Jerry lies very ill with shingles, complicated by staph infection and pneumonia. A European tour scheduled for this month has been postponed till October/November, and all U.S. dates for July, August and early September have also had to be canceled or postponed.

Jerry has had many dices with death and survived them all. He nearly died of a stomach rupture in 1981 and was given less than a 50% chance to live, and on at least one occasion when living with Kerrie his 6th wife and his son Lee in the 1990s he collapsed and was found and resuscitated.

We all hope Jerry, the last man standing of the Million Dollar Quartet (Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis) survives this latest illness. Phoebe, his daughter by Myra, who lives at the Ranch and looks after him, is caring for him and is sayng her daddy will pull thru. Let’s hope she’s right.

Water Baby

Chelsea Harbor from the air

I was born late on March 20th. It was wartime, and they had something called ‘Double British Summertime’ which had already started that year, according to my mother, so it’s confusing as to what time I was really born – sometime between 8.30 and 10.30 pm I think depending on whether you go by GMT or DBST.

At any rate, I was born ‘on the cusp of two star signs’ as the astrologers say, Pisces the fishes and Aries the ram.  Now I’ve never been into astrology – astronomy yes, the exploration of the Solar System and the Universe, but astrology always seemed too way out for me. Certainly the horoscopes printed in newspapers and magazines are a load of nonsense – and I find it hard to believe that everyone born under the same star sign will have similar things happening on the same day.

However, there may be something in it. There are several water signs, for instance, Pisces being one of them. For whatever reason, I have always been attracted to water (apart from drinking it, which I only do if there’s absolutely nothing else to drink. Not that I’m an alkie – I just prefer fruit juice or fizzy drinks to water.)

But I do like to go swimming in the Summer in natural water – usually Hampstead Mixed Bathing Pond, the Serpentine Lido or the sea. I also like being by rivers, streams, ponds or any expanse of water.

I live near the River Thames in Battersea, and my mother lives near me. So I often push her wheelchair (she’s nearly 96) the half mile or so to the River and we sit and observe what’s going on.

Not that much on our stretch of the River because most of the tourist boats don’t come upstream this far. A lot of new piers were installed recently, and a frequent hop-on/hop-off catamaran service calls at them as far downstream as Greenwich and Woolwich, but upstream the last pier is Millbank for the Tate Britain gallery.

To makes matters worse, the Festival Pier in Battersea Park was removed upstream to the South Bank near the Royal Festival Hall some years ago, so we now have no pier in Battersea at all. Apparently there’s one further upstream in Wandsworth, though I’ve never actually found it, there’s one in Putney, and another just across from where my mother and I usually sit at Chelsea Harbor. All are only used infrequently – Chelsea Harbor just by early morning/late afternoon commuter boats.

So there’s very little traffic going up and down the River in Battersea. The odd tug pulling barges loaded with container crates, a few tourist boats going upstream to Richmond, police, fire and river environment management boats, and small privately owned vessels.

I’ve written to Thames Cruises who run the catamarans, but there are no plans to extend the service upstream. I believe, for some reason, they wouldn’t be allowed beyond Putney anyway, but that would be great for us. If we want to travel to Greenwich or anywhere downstream by boat, even though we’re by the River, we have to take a bus or train to Westminster.

On the Battersea side of the River are quite a few houseboats, though many more are moored at Cheyne Walk across the River in Chelsea. Chelsea Harbor has a Marina with some very expensive looking little yachts and other boats, also a luxury hotel.

We often sit by a houseboat called Jadi, previously there was a much older and even bigger boat there, but it was rotting away. I sometimes wave or chat to the owner of the Jadi, which is currently being refurbished. The other day we saw her and her two children take a little motorboat ride up and down the river, their two dogs anxiously looking over the side of the Jadi waiting for them to return.

I’ve often fancied a canal boat, even if just to hire it for a week or so. The idea of living on water appeals to me. I have been on short cruises on various waterways, including the Norfolk Broads and in the Lake District, and my mother and I have been on quite a few Mediterranean cruises, and one all around Great Britain.

Back in London, one thing which annoys me is the money wasted on Hungerford Bridge, now renamed the Jubilee Bridges and Charing Cross Railway bridge. Actually the Hungerford footbridge, which had absolutely nothing wrong with it and ran alongside the railway bridge, was demolished for no good reason and two completely new pedestrian bridges built, one each side of the railway bridge. What a complete and utter waste of money!

There was no need for a new pedestrian bridge there, and certainly not two. Where we desparately need one was in Battersea, alongside the Overground railway bridge which joins Battersea with Chelsea Harbor/Imperial Wharf. To get to Chelsea Harbor a quarter of a mile away across the River we have to walk miles and cross Battersea or Wandsworth bridges then back again, or else get a bus or train across the River.

Just the other side of the Overground railway bridge is Battersea heliport, used by the rich. Unlike New York City where helicopter flights over Manhattan are very cheap, one over London would cost you hundreds of pounds. The luxury millionaire apartments next to the Heliport have closed in balconies because of the noise from the helicopters!

I do love the River, but upstream of Lambeth and Vauxhall Bridges it is not used much, at least not till you get past the lock at Richmond. This stretch of the River between Richmond and Vauxhall is very underused, and people living near it have few piers or boat services they can access easily.

I also like other waterways in London – the River Lee for instance, and I look forward to the Leeside Olympic Park and the improvements that will bring. Also the Regents and Grand Union Canals. When I lived in Camden we frequently walked along the Regents Canal from Camden Lock, thru the Zoo to St John’s Wood, or took the Jenny Wren or another tourist canal boat to Little Venice or Paddington Basin. I’ve also walked the other way as far as Victoria Park and the River Lee, using towpaths where possible.

Battersea Park has a lovely lake. No swimming allowed, but there are parts where you can imagine you’re right out in the countryside by a river (because of the islands, and twists and turns), or even on a bayou in Louisiana (I know, because I’ve seen some bayous in Louisiana and Mississippi, but Battersea Park has the advantage of having no alligators.)

There is also the Festival Pond with fountains, though these are not always working. Kids tend to paddle in this shallow pond in hot weather, though they aren’t supposed to.

Yes I love water, and as kids we frequently holidayed in Margate and were always in and out of the water – either the sea or the salt-water pool which was in front of the Sun Deck, till they demolished the Sun Deck and turned the swimming pool into a boating lake. Shame, as the sea at Margate isn’t deep enough to swim in unless you walk out miles.

For days out we often went to Southend (5 shillings or 25 pence return on the Eastern National green bus from the Nag’s Head, Palmers Green near where we lived) or else by coach to Clacton, where we also spent some holdays.

Now Brighton is much more accessible from Clapham Junction where I now live (this should have been named Battersea Junction as Clapham is miles away to the south). My mother and I went last Saturday and it took just 45 minutes, quicker than the 49 bus to Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park and the Serpentine Lido.

Wherever natural water is, that’s where I want to be. But clinical swimming pools (indoor or outdoor) smelling of chlorine have little attraction for me. I’ll only use them if there’s nothing better.

Yes, whether there’s anything in astrology or not, I’m definitely attracted to water like a true Pisces. Being on the cusp of Aries the Ram may have other connotations, but I”ll leave it there for now!

Chelsea Harbor Pier looking across to Battersea

Segregated Battersea

It never used to be like this, but now the area where I live is getting like the Deep South of the USA in the 1950s, or apartheid South Africa.

You can draw a line along York Road and to the north of that along the River Thames are the very affluent white areas, with affluent white Chelsea across on the other bank of the River. Walk along the riverside walk on either side of the River and you’ll hardly see a black/ethnic face. Luxury millionaires apartments, the Heliport for rich executives, and little Fred Wells Gardens where you see relatively few black/ethnic faces.

Cross York Road and it’s another world. Vast council estates where the Tory council has concentrated most of the Labour voters, selling off a lot of other council estates to those most likely to vote Tory. Council housing is now reserved for the poorest with many single mothers and low-income families.

I live on one of these council estates, the Kambala, which had quite a different character 26 years ago when I moved in, after my council tower block Jay Court (named after Douglas Jay, the local Labour MP for years) was sold off to yuppies and renamed Park South. At that time Kambala Estate, one of the last to be built by the old Labour council, was a place people wanted to live.

Now Kambala and the adjoining York Road and Winstanley Estates are a sort of working-class oasis. To the north are the luxury riverside apartments, to the southeast is the Falcons, a former council estate long since walled off to form an exclusive private one. Two blocks have recently been demolished to make way for yuppy student studio apartments.

Near me is York Gardens with the library/community center. The Gardens are over 90% ethnic with few white faces, next to them is Pennethorne Square – again over 90% black with all the shops catering mainly for the Afro-Caribbean community (mainly Jamaican), and the Baptist Church which is also almost exclusively black. Across the road is Falconbrook School, like all other state schools in the area, over 90% black/Asian.

White kids in the area mostly go to private schools I presume, such as the girls school in Battersea High Street (over 90% white – north of York Road of course, near the affluent Battersea Village).

Virtually all the take-aways and most of the food shops in Falcon Road and that area are Hal-al or Jamaican/Asian, and there is also a mosque and an Islamic education center.

It seems, having desgregated the Southern States of the USA and got rid of white-ruled, apartheid South Africa, here in England, judging by my local community, the races are increasingly segregated, evidently by their own choice.

Why do those of Jamaican origin all congregate on Pennethorne Square and in York Gardens for instance, and largely boycott the River towpath and Fred Wells Gardens? Pennethorne Square and York Gardens are like a little Jamaica, and white faces are definitely in a minority.

And is it good for state schools in the area all to be over 90% black/Asian/ethnic? For white kids to be educated separately, and probably privately?

In the Deep South in the 1960s they bussed children to schools so there was a mix of races, but here in Battersea (and presumably other parts of Britain) we have virtually all-black schools and all-white ones, all-black churches and predominately white ones, etc.

Part of the reason is the council’s policy of concentrating the remaining council estates in certain areas, and allocating the homes along ethnic lines. For instance, all the empty council homes in my block in recent years have been allocated to the black community – usually to single mothers.

This kind of policy started with the election of a Tory council in the late 1970s which has been in power in Wandsworth ever since, following Shirley Porter’s policies in neighboring Westminster by selling off council estates privately as luxury apartments to people most likely to vote Tory, and concentrating poorer working-class whites and the poorer ethnic communities, all more likely to vote Labour, in the few remaining council estates.

Consequently Latchmere, the ward I live in, is one of the few in the borough with three Labour councillors still.

Apartheid has officially been abolished in South Africa (though sadly the black townships still survive) and no more will you see signs in the Southern States saying ‘Whites Only’ or ‘Coloreds Only’. But if North Battersea is anything to go by, segregation is growing in England. The races are not mixing as much as they should for a truly multicultural, desegregated society.

Wildest Cats In Town Weekender

As expected this was a great Weekender, with the bonus of some nice sunshine. Only thing was the hot weather made it very uncomfortable wearing Teddy-boy suits, and some had three-piece outfits with waistcoats. Despite fans and air-conditioning, the main ballroom got rather hot. I chickened out and stuck to jeans and t-shirts, not wearing the one drape jacket I’d brought with me (I usually bring three).

Some great acts over the weekend like American rockabilly Sonny Burgess with his 1950s piano player Kern Kennedy and a drummer who also goes way back. British pop singer from the late 1950s/early 1960s Marty Wilde made his first appearance at the Weekender, and was very well received doing a mixture of his pop hits and some rock’n’roll standards. He was visibly bowled over by the reaction, and by the vintage cars he saw at the camp, including one the same model (but different color) to one he had way back in the 1950s/early 1960s. Strangely Marty got the name of the Weekender wrong, calling it ‘Wildest Rockers’. Since he’d just introduced his current band as the ‘Wild Cats’, a name he’s used since the 1950s, you’d have thought it would be easy to remember ‘The Wildest Cats’ as the short version of the Weekender’s name. Perhaps he didn’t like the suggestion we were wilder than his backing group!

Ervin Travis and The Virginians from France did a great set as usual, with Ervin perfectly performing in Gene Vincent style, complete with head-to-toe leather outfit (Ervin, you must have been sweating in the heat!) He does some unusual Vincent numbers I certainly never heard Gene do live.

Perennial favorites Crazy Cavan and The Rhythm Rockers (from Wales), The Lennerockers (from Germany) and young Teddy-boy band Furious (from England) were also well received with their wild, wild performances. I was up on stage with Cavan for two or three numbers as usual, as were a load of other cats including Frank Walker with whom I shared a chalet.

Sunday afternoon Sandy Ford’s ‘Flyin’ Saucers’ played in the Princes’ Bar as usual, and they are always brilliant. Sandy managing to look just the same as he did nearly 30-40 years ago, and his wife Yvonne on bass looking as glamorous as ever.

Charles Dale, Brian Jessup, MaryJean Lewis (Jerry Lee’s niece), her Scots husband Gary, Mick and Peggy from Guildford and Peter from Brentford were among the others I knew, and of course Ritchie Gee who organizes the Weekender and who presented a little Teddy boy (from France I believe) aged about 6 or 7 with a trophy – the little lad could bop and was wearing a full Teddy boy outfit. There were several very young Teds in little outfits, so rock’n’roll is safe for another generation.

The beach party with the Two Hound Dogs DJing went well, and I was able to swim in the sea several times and get some sunbathing in. Also met up with my friends Derek and Peter on Sunday.

I don’t at all regret missing the Gay Pride celebrations, and there were other gays at the Weekender who felt the same as me. When Pride in London caters for other fashions and musical tastes and doesn’t clash with the Wildest Cats In Town (and gets rid of all the exhibitionism and shouting of obscenities) perhaps I’ll consider attending.

Meanwhile I look forward to the Wildest Cats In Town Xmas Party with Jerry Lee’s sister Linda Gail Lewis and my favorite bands in December.

Pride events or Wildest Cats – no contest!

The first weekend in July always means two things: Gay Pride events in London, and the Wildest Cats Weekender in Pakefield, Lowestoft.

I’m a gay man, but also a rock’n’roll fan and so always choose the Wildest Cats Weekender over Pride, which holds no attraction for me whatsoever.

I absolutely detest the fashions, music and behavior of many gay people at the various Pride events, and can’t even see the reason for it any more.

Why do they just assume just because someone is gay they like the same fashions, music, and like to be exhibitionists? It all started back in the 1970s to win gay rights, but now we have won most of these the events would only be laudable if they sought to win respect for the gay community from the general public.

My partner and I (he died in 1991) went on  two gay marches in the USA – in Washington DC and in New York City. These were great, as there was a feeling of solidarity, and people from grandmas to office people giving us a ticker-tape welcome as we marched down 5th Ave supported us.

We stopped going on Gay Pride marches and similar ones in London when obnoxious gay men and lesbians started shouting out obscene slogans. I also do not want to see overtly sexual behavior in the streets, or men walking around (or on the Tube) with their bare arses hanging out of their chaps/trousers. Such behavior should be renamed Gay Shame.

Anyway I have no interest whatsoever in any of the fashions and music gay people are supposed to like, and which they play in the gay clubs. I also find the gay community in London very unfriendly and unsupportative to those who are elderly or lonely – not much to be proud about there either.

I much prefer the friendly atmosphere and great live music of the rock’n’roll Weekenders, and The Wildest Cats In Town is one of the best.

The prospect of reasonably good weather, a beach party, another outdoor music event on the promenade in Lowestoft on the Sunday including a vintage car cruise, half board, free electric in the chalets, and loads of excellent acts and bands – this year including Sonny Burgess, Marty Wilde, Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers, The Lennerockers (from Germany), the brilliant Ervin Travis from France (who is Gene Vincent reicarnated), Sandy Ford’s Flyin’ Saucers and loads more – this is Heaven! A truly international gathering of friendly people, both gay and straight.

At the Rockabilly Rave two weeks ago, as written on this blog, there was even a guy in drag. We don’t need to march along the streets with a load of exhibitionists and listen to god-awful music just because we happen to be gay.

Isn’t it time this annual carnival was either stopped, or made into something more universal and acceptable? Most of the gay people I know are into classical, blues, soul, 1950s rock’n’roll, traditional Country not the kind of ‘house’ type crap played in the gay clubs. Nor are we all 20 and beautiful, or exhibitionists who wish to kiss and cuddle in public (if we had anyone to kiss and cuddle with we would do it in private, or at least inside a gay club), and we don’t all go around with the hairy overweight ‘bear’ look, shaved heads,  and the latest gay fashions so we stick out like sore thumbs instantly recognizable as gay men or lesbians by all and sundry (including homophobes and queerbashers.)  

Being gay is one part of our personality, that doesn’t mean we all have to look the same, like the same music, or hang around only with people who share our sexuality, and who can be extremely self-centered, ageist, shallow and hedonistic – not to mention bitchy if you have a look they consider out-of-date or you are ‘past your sell-by date’.

Wildest Cats here I come. You can keep your Gay Pride and shove it up your a***e!