Interview with Michael Dickel

Interview with Michael Dickel

 

I am fortunate enough to be able to call the writer, poet, educator, artist and musician, Michael Dickel, “friend”. Yet while we’ve shared an equality through creative writing and also as human beings, I’ve never really delved into the life and journey of that friend…until now.

 

Michael has a book of poetry currently with the publishers titled “War Surrounds Us”, a book written during the 2014 Gaza conflict.

 

We, as people, have the bad habit of placing things on one side or the other, we don’t see the grey in our black and white worlds.  We put every man, every child, every woman, every situation into one category or the other in order for us to be able to label it, accept it and ultimately, fight for it.  We create a corner each for who is “right” and who is “wrong” and forget that squares actually have 4 corners, not just 2.

 

Michael’s book, for me at least, allows me to see the grey, to realise that we are all human, we all see, hear and feel and as with the US and the UK…we appoint a leader through the electorate – the people choose who lead them…and not every person is in agreeance, not every person is responsible for the decisions we make as a whole. And ultimately, not every person is complicit to the actions of their leaders.  We tend to reside within the buzz of mainstream media, learning “truth” from biased perspective instead of THE truth and then we judge based upon misinformation.  Divide and rule made easy because we, the people, make it so.

 

I have spent several hours in Michael’s company this week learning about the man behind the creative cloud:

 

 

  1. Tell me a little about the man Michael Dickel, your background…where you originate from, your family, your job.

The man, huh? As with most people, I suppose, the narrative threads of my background, or even a summary of my background, twist, turn, and diverge—some of them loose ends, some of them wild tangents, many broken and frayed, but most of them dull weaving in some wearable denim, albeit a bit faded and worn. Which doesn’t tell you much, does it?

Well, my family comes from the East Coast, Philadelphia area. My mother’s family went back generations in the U.S. My paternal grand-father immigrated with his parents around the turn of the 20th Century. While my brothers lived in Philadelphia, I was born in the Midwest, where my father moved to teach high school in the Chicago suburbs. A tension between East Coast and the Midwest, my father’s choice of teaching as a career and the more upscale hopes of my mother (who also taught most of my life) provided a sort of warp on the loom for the weft of my formative years.

To cut to the chase, or at least getting into the car, I ended up with a first degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota. After a decade working in various psych-related jobs, plus or minus some months, I returned for a second degree in creative writing and then my doctorate in literature. I began teaching in 1987, becoming a third-generation teacher (my maternal grandmother had taught in a one-room schoolhouse). That year, I also began publishing my poetry and not long afterward, some short fiction.

However, flash back, Friday or not: in grade school I wrote a couple of poems that I can still recall, not that I’m going to give them out in this interview. In Junior High I received a prize for poetry (and a school publication of it). In high school, my poems were included in the literary magazine and I became one of its editors as a junior. And I continued to write, off and on but mostly on, until those first publications in the late 1980s. So, in some sense, I’ve always been a writer.

I married at age 22, and we had two daughters some years later. They are now grown women. My first wife and I divorced in 1999. Some years after, I remarried, and we have two children now, a son and a daughter—a second family for me, a first for my wife, Aviva.

I’ve worked in higher education since 1987, teaching and directing writing centers. Most of my professional work has been administering writing (and learning) centers. I moved to Israel in 2007, and here, I teach, still in higher education. I’ve also branched into working with film production companies, writing English grants, treatments for films, and a screenplay—all for documentaries. Mostly, I piece together some paying gigs and I write, which doesn’t pay. Like crime. Except, I think crime pays more often than writing.

  1. “100 Thousand Poets for Change” – what exactly is this and what is your role?

My role in 100 Thousand Poets for Change is pretty small, actually. I have organized readings in Jerusalem the past two years, and am organizing one for this year. The first year, I put together the reading myself. Last year, I had help from several people. This year, more people have agreed to help with the organizing, and I have had conversations with a couple of NGO who might collaborate with the event. That’s it. It’s plenty, I suppose, but not so much in the scope of the whole.

So, what is the whole? In 2011, Terri Carrion and Michael Rothenberg started 100 Thousand Poets for Change. There simple, and huge, idea was to have a day when globally (at least) 100-thousand poets would read, give workshops, hold parades, or participate in some other event—all to demonstrate a commitment to activism in the areas of sustainability, peace, and social justice. The idea was to have poets and poetry noticed and recognized as powerful change agents within culture. Each local organizer / group determined how to do this, how to put it together, and what local issues needed attention or would be highlighted in some way. Some groups hold fund raisers, some hold a day or weekend or week of events, some—like me—do something more quiet and modest, an evening reading.

What is very cool is that this has really blossomed into a worldwide movement, and more than 100-thousand poets, artists, musicians, mimes (yes, there is a mime group!), actors, dancers, and others participate in these events worldwide each year.

  1. “100 Thousand Poets for Change” – 2015 schedule is?

The official date for 2015 is 26 September, a Saturday. In Jerusalem, we have adjusted our schedule because Saturday has problems related to public transit and the Jewish Sabbath, and late September also is when Jewish High Holy Days often fall. Other locations adjust their schedule for their own reasons. Some organizers have held fund raisers and other activities year round. In this way, the schedule is very much local. The website gives more information and information about events as they are planned around the world (http://www.100TPC.org).

A few days from now, an exciting first 100TPC World Conference will be held in Salerno, Italy. Many of us who organize these events around the world will converge on the West Coast of Italy to discuss our organizing efforts, our poetry, our local strategies and issues for six days. I’m very excited to attend. There are people coming from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East…I don’t know for sure, but possibly Australia, as well. All over the world. It has also been eye opening, the bureaucracy and difficulties some of the organizers have encountered getting visas to Italy or permits to leave their own countries. Some have not succeeded and thus won’t be joining us, unfortunately.

  1. Why poetry? Some tell me that writing poetry is their “exhale” and others tell me that they write simply because they can. Why do you write? And why poetry?

I think the question for me is broader. I don’t only write poetry. I write prose (flash fiction and longer form fiction, essays). Recently I’ve been doing research and writing for documentary film. I’ve written a few songs, as I play guitar. I have painted, drawn, sculpted…perhaps it is why art? First, I have to write and to play music. Not doing either of these things is not possible for me. I’ve tried a few times to stop one or both. They come back and torment me until I dance with them again, like Uncle Walter and the bears in the song, Waltzing with Bears.

However, I have a deeper, philosophical answer. Art matters. While commercial commodification and capitalist exploitation tend to dilute and marginalize art in public discourse, the fact remains that art matters. What we call art, by which I mean all of the arts (writing, visual arts, theatre, music, dance, etc.) act as a sort of DNA of culture. It transmits to the living cells of society—us, individuals—information, but it also passes this information on to the future. It considers and is influenced by the past, but it takes that past and through recombination, creates a new organism that evolves. Physical DNA takes generations upon generations to achieve evolutionary change. Culture, through art, potentially could evolve in a generation or two.

This is why the wealthy and powerful want to control and horde it, even while at the same time saying pay no attention to it, it’s not important. It is important. It’s dangerous. It’s alive. And it has more of a hold on me than I ever will have a hold on it.

  1. I hear you have a book of poetry currently with the publishers titled “War Surrounds Us”, firstly, when is this book due to be released?

The printer’s proof has been accepted, and, if all goes well with shipping, I should have copies of it at the 100TPC conference in Salerno. As it is shipping internationally, that might not happen… the official publication date is mid-July, though. By then, it should be on Amazon, bookstores should be able to order it in the US and EU, and readers of this interview should be able to get a copy. Please do get a copy. Please. Thank you.

  1. Your book of poetry, what is the “theme” of the book?

Well, I think the title is the theme: War Surrounds Us. If you read through the international news each day online, say on BBC or AP, and take note, you will probably find in almost every region of the world some battle, suicide bombing, arson attack, or the like, in almost every region—labelled as terrorism, linked to various of the many, many active groups who claim credit for these things, or to nations, or to coalitions.

However, the poetry in my book is much more specific. The poems come from last summer (2014) and the period of the Israeli-Gaza conflagration. The first poem is largely a “found poem” of news updates coming up on my screen, showing the buildup to one of the series of rockets fired out of Gaza and airstrikes against Gaza from before the full-blown “operation” began. Inevitably, it seems, war comes.

The poems chronicle my observations, experiences, and concerns during the war—particularly observing effects on my young son, who was 3 at the time and turned 4 just after the ceasefire that finally held. While my perspective necessarily is that of who I am—an American-Israeli Jew living in West Jerusalem—I do try to imagine and to observe Palestinians in the poems, too. For example, I observe the strange surrealism of sitting in a forest eating ice creams next to an Arab family, both of us laughing at the mess our children are making, smiling at each other as neighbors will—while all the adults are also aware of the death and destruction only a few hours’ drive away.

The title poems comes from a trip we make to the north, out of the range of the rockets and air raid sirens. We go to pick apples at an orchard that is near a border crossing into Syria, the Quinetra Crossing that hit the news a few weeks later when insurgents captured UN soldier there. We hear the thudding of artillery just over the hills, first to the left, then to the right, then to the left… war surrounds us.

But, as I said at the start, it surrounds us all. We are in the midst of a giant conflict, worldwide, with a lot of different factions and a lot of different coalitions, armies here, rebels there, insurgents across the river, militants in the mountains. In the U.S., police shootings seem to be on the rise, there are riots, there are motorcycle gangs shooting each other one week and trying to provoke at a mosque the next. In the Ukraine, a battle rages with Russia. In Europe gun and bomb attacks rock the cities. In Asia there are insurgencies. It’s not just the Middle East. The violence is everywhere.

And we need to stop it.

  1. What instigated/compelled you to write it?

See question 6.

  1. In Israel, is the perception of man different to the perception of poet? And if so, in what way/s?

I honestly don’t know. When I first visited here, I was already a poet. I have only been a poet in Israel. I do feel that when people hear that I’m a poet, they have more respect here than in the U.S. However, I’m not sure that means much or is “real.” It’s just an impression, that people seem to think it’s meaningful. I hope it is. It’s not lucrative, but I’m not after lucre, I guess. If I were, I’d write for the business or banking worlds or not even write…do something with a better financial return on investment, as it were. If anyone wants to pay a little lucre for my poems, though, I’m happy to have it to pay the bills.

  1. If you were given the opportunity to meet with one person from History, who would you meet? Where? And what would you say to them?

I’m sure my answer would differ depending on when you asked me and what I was writing about or thinking about at the time. Today, the answer is that I’d like to meet one of the Anonymous poets. Anonymous is one of the most famous poets, she’s collected in almost every anthology. Who was she? I’d like to speak to one of them, to talk about the poems she wrote, those we know and those we don’t. I’d ask her why she thought her name didn’t travel down with them to us, and what were her motives for writing. I’d like to know what helped her continue to write anonymously. Of course, she might not have been anonymous in her own time (or mind). And I’d like to learn about that, too.

  1. Who are your favourite poets and why? (Modern Day and the “Greats”)

Which chapter of the book would you like me to use to answer this huge questions? LOL.

Why is probably too idiosyncratic or else too obviously general to answer meaningfully, but I trace my own influence-ancestry in poetry to these names (among others, and not in correct chronological order I suspect):

Walt Whitman, probably the first really American voice
Emily Dickinson
William Carlos Williams
e.e. cummings
Langston Hughes
Elizabeth Bishop
Allen Ginsberg
Jack Kerouac
Robinson Jeffers
Robert Duncan
Anne Sexton

Today:
Leonard Cohen
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Joy Harjo
Carolyn Forche
Gary Lundy
Adeena Karasick

The answer to why for any one would require an essay or three. In general, I like their poetry, they resonated for me, when I read them something changed, vibrated, sang out, generated in me new sparks and poems. I know that I left names out. They must be in another chapter.

  1. If you could make just one change to the world we live in, what would that change be? And why?

I think we need to have concern for, show, and act on our mutual humanity now more than ever. We cannot fall back to the old nationalistic family feuds and Xenophobia, we must see the divine spark of life and joy that each of us possesses as our human potential. Much more important than ideology, politics, even culture and art, is the need to treat each other as fully-human neighbors, people we choose to and want to figure out how to live alongside of in ways that promote what is best for everybody. We have to be less selfish, less concerned about winning, less interested in material gains and having power over. We have to figure out how to live together well. If not, we are going to destroy ourselves and likely the planet along with us.

  1. Given the opportunity, where in the world would you opt to reside and why?

I visited Croatia once and very much liked it, especially in the northwest. I also found Slovenia beautiful. But one place? Could it be a sailing cruiser, so I could travel around? I really want to explore more of the world. I don’t think I’ve seen enough to choose one place.

  1. What is your favourite poem of all time?

“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop — that’s today’s answer. Come back tomorrow for a different answer.

  1. What are your aspirations for the future?

To get a regular gig as a poet-teacher, or poet-poet, for that matter…salary enough to keep afloat, part or all of the job expectation would be to write and create, create and write.

  1. If you could start your life over from the start, would you? And if so, what would you change and why?

There are so many things about which I could easily say, sure, change that. But wait…if that didn’t happen, would I have done some other thing… so, okay. I have scars and I have regrets. Yet start over? If I could take all I know along with me, maybe. What could I choose to change, though? It’s like chaos theory, if you change that butterfly’s wing flapping, the whole world is different. But what would it be? And would it be better? I wish I had made some different decisions, financially, some years back. But if I had, where would I be now? I wish I had gone straight down a certain street instead of turning off of it, but maybe a car would have hit me as I continued in that direction. It’s the life I have. I can’t re-start it, but if I could, I’m not sure I would. Probably not. I like most things about my life now, and what I don’t like—mostly working hard as adjunct faculty for little pay—isn’t that important, no matter how much it looms at times. Well, I don’t like violence, conflict, war…but starting my life over won’t do much about those.

 

 

Again

 

The world has gone mad. Again.
And again, voices incite–the hoarse leaders
pretend to have been polite. They did not shout
fear and hatred to explosive tension, to a thin-
wire stretched, first sounding a note then cracking,
snapping in two, each piece twisted. The world goes
mad. Again. The leaders call for calm, like arsonists
who work in the fire department. The fires burn
in the streets at night. The checkpoints flow
with blood and tears. And most of us just want
to go to work, have coffee with friends, teach
our children something other than this craziness
in a world gone mad. Again. And most of us want
to turn away and not see the burning, the smoke,
the arsonists lining up toy soldiers at borders
ready to pounce, to attack, to burn. Again.

© Michael Dickel.

 

 

 

Michael’s book, “War Surrounds Us” will be available to purchase mid-July.  ISBN:  978-0-9896245-2-7

I will announce the book’s release, hopefully through official press release, on these pages and will include cover jpg’s etc. at the point of launch, so purchasing this amazing book will be made easier for all who wish to own it.

 

 

Just When You Thought I’d Vanished…

 

Up I pop with not very much to say, in honesty.

It’s been a while since I wrote here…not because I’ve ceased to have an opinion, nor because I don’t feel my voice has any importance, but because I’m taking time to observe the world and its people around me.  I’ve also been rather busy trying to secure a publisher for my 6th book of prose and poetry titled “Memoirs of a Messed-Up Mum.”

There has also been the issue of my broken gas meter and a whole week of having no gas to cook with, no ability to heat my home and consequently, myself and my children and of course, no hot water, so feeling unclean, the last thing I wanted to do was sit at the computer and write.

I had emailed EDF several months ago (3 to be precise) and informed them that the battery on my pre-payment meter was low and needed replacing.  Their response email advised me that it wasn’t an emergency complaint and thus, I had to wait until the battery died and then contact them again.  When this happened, AFTER crediting the meter with £15 gas, my daughter telephoned them on my behalf and they agreed to send an engineer out within 8 hours to replace the battery.  An engineer arrived 4 hours later, took one look at the meter and said he couldn’t fix it, that it was apparently a recent common problem with similar meters and that we’d have to phone the emergency number again and request another engineer be called out to repair it. So, again, my daughter phoned them and was told an engineer would visit us within 8 hours.

The second engineer came around midnight, the house was stone-cold freezing and he replaced our meter with a new one, but only put £5 credit on it.  I put the heating on straight away, but that credit lasted only 2 hours. We phoned EDF the next day, a Saturday, and were informed that without a new top-up card we were unable to credit the new meter, but that when we were in receipt of it, it would have my £15 credit on it. We were told our situation wasn’t an emergency and that the card would arrive with us in due course.  The children and I spent the weekend in our respective beds attempting to keep warm.  On the Monday morning my daughter phoned them again and was told the payment card would be sent that day by 2nd Class post and that it would arrive with us by Wednesday at the latest and that in the meantime, we should just sit tight. I spent those 2 days crying my eyes out…it was so cold that my bones physically hurt.

Wednesday arrived but the card didn’t, so my daughter phoned EDF again and was told that an engineer would come out and put £5 credit on our meter.  The engineer never arrived. The lack of hot food and inability to get clean and warm was taking its toll and our complaints were seemingly falling on deaf ears – we were told that a lot of people were in the same position and that EDF were fixing it to the best of their ability.  By Thursday, even my daughter was losing patience…she phoned them again and 2 hours later an engineer arrived and put £5 on our meter…we were told that £5 was the maximum amount that the engineers were allowed to credit the meters with.  That evening 2 of us managed to have a lukewarm bath each and a hot dinner…then the gas was all gone.

On Friday my daughter phoned them again to ask where our payment card was and was informed that it hadn’t been sent out due to 2 things:- apparently they use business class and can only post things out on certain days of the week – our meter had been broken a week earlier, yet no day within that week was a business class day? When my daughter said this to them she was told that their systems were down, hence the delay. So my daughter told them I was threatening to go to the press – I am disabled and the cold causes me no end of suffering. That evening an engineer came and put £10 on our meter and the next morning the pre-payment top-up card arrived by First Class post. EDF telephoned me for 4 consecutive days to make sure our gas was working all right.

I just think it’s a shame that normal people are forced to suffer as a result of a company’s inability to provide an adequate service to its customers.  With all of that money from tax evasion that these fuel companies get away with under our current government, one would think they’d spend a little money training their staff and improving their services.

I’d be interested to hear stories from others regards to their dealings with the fuel companies…so do feel free to comment this post.

Last week I was fortunate enough to watch a live-stream of the Occupy protest outside the BBC in London, calling for the BBC to tell the truth in its news programs instead of fobbing us off with what the government think we should be able to watch.  Too many people pay an annual TV License Fee to hear bullshit propaganda fed to us by the Tories and their over-inflated egos.  The BBC bigwigs sit with fat pockets and apparently no conscience.  It forced me to be realistic – we are paying to be lied to and for the most part, the great British public are content with that so long as they get to watch Eastenders and similar shows. That, in my honest opinion, is ignorance at its finest.

I’ll leave you with your thoughts and also with this:

http://daily.represent.us/matt-damon-blows-your-mind/

 

Until next time…

 

The Potential Costs of Farting in Public…

 

“Totally Insane” would adequately describe the Tory government and its legislative proposals.  I’m astounded at what I’ve just read – that farting in a public place can be considered as an “annoyance” and thus, under potentially new measures, can be deemed punishable under the new replacement for the dreaded ASBO, the IPNA (Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance).  This Bill will apply to anyone aged 10 and over.  Just think, if your neighbour’s son or daughter blinks too many times or the binmen don’t put your wheelie bin back in the exact spot in which they found it and it annoys you, they could get locked up for it and potentially lose their home.

God only help you if the cat from 4 doors down shits all over your garden and you complain to its owner and they deem you confrontational and annoying…you could quite well end up with a substantial fine and a shitty garden.

If this Bill applies to all of us in the UK, then does it apply to IDS, George Osbourne and David Cameron too? Because, quite frankly, I find the privatization of the NHS annoying. So too the treatment of our disabled and most vulnerable of society.  I also find the whole “Workfare” scheme and its new spin-offs annoying. And what of MPs pay increase? And their expenses???  Under new proposals, the unemployed will be forced to work a 40-hour week for their £56.80 Unemployment Benefit (the new Universal Credit), doing millions of jobs magicked up by this government…jobs that apparently don’t exist with a living wage attached.  Not only do I find this annoying but totally preposterous too.  Expecting the unemployed to work a whole week for less money than each individual MP claims for just 1 days’ dinner voucher?

The following articles are both factual and very interesting and surely worth the read:

http://www.trebuchet-magazine.com/the-birth-of-a-police-state/

http://www.harlanwolff.com/2013/08/05/when-did-we-become-nazis/

 

Now to find a solution for my poor garden…I’ve suddenly become allergic to cats.

 

Press Release: A Toynbee to Remember by Joy Travers

Joy Travers tells the story of WWI Toynbee family through their own letters

Author announces release of ‘A Toynbee to Remember’

BRIGHTON, England – In “A Toynbee to Remember” (published by AuthorHouse), Joy Travers’ new book, readers take a look into the lives of the Toynbee family during WWI, exploring their involvement with the Christian Brotherhood movement, the political problems they encountered and their unique perspective on the war.

 

Travers spent many years researching 500 Toynbee family letters sent between the United Kingdom and Egypt during WW1. The letters describe how the family at home feels about the war and their part in it. The son in Egypt does the same about the entirely new experience for him away from home and the people he knows and loves.

 

An excerpt from “A Toynbee to Remember”:

 

“The Brotherhood teaching laid particular emphasis on personal development and getting the most out of any situation in order to increase one’s awareness of other people. Thus, knowing that Stan would most probably never be in the hell of trench warfare, Will was already leading him into stretching himself with new experiences. This exchange with a non-combatant relatively far from the battlefield, allows us to look at an aspect of the First World War from a little-recorded angle.”

 

Travers says there is no other book like hers. “Most of the contents will be unknown to anyone under 75 because political history has not been taught in schools as a scientific subject.”

 

“A Toynbee to Remember”

By Joy Travers

Softcover | 8.25 x 11 in | 296 pages | ISBN 9781481796187

E-Book | ISBN 9781481796194

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

 

About the Author

London-born Joy Travers has a long career in secretarial work. She holds a master’s degree from Kent University, Canterbury, and she spent 20 years researching the background to the 500 letters exchanged between members of a London working-class Toynbee family from 1915-1919. Those letters form the main part of her book “A Toynbee to Remember”.

 

 

They’re at it again!!

 

Remember the row over the Iraq war? How we swore blind that we, as the people, wanted no part in it? And still, the then Prime minister Tony Blair stroked US ass and entered into an illegal war anyway?

Remember all of that bad press afterwards and the leaders that went unpunished for their crimes? Yes, their CRIMES…including using banned chemical weapons to murder innocent people.

I was looking through the posts at Facebook today and happened upon a very interesting and informative post by Keith Ordinary Guy titled “A letter a day to No 10”.  I shall post it here in full for you to read, share and copy/paste onto your own paper so you too can send it to Downing Street.

First though, follow the links and read what you find there…know that they accuse Syria of using banned chemical weapons in order to justify seeking to bypass the UN in order to kiss Bilderberg butts and allow the corporate world to profit again illegally from the deaths of innocent people.

Are we really prepared, as a nation, to stand by and shake our heads whilst allowing our government to represent us in this manner so we can complain afterwards because we seemingly enjoy a good topic of conversation?  This isn’t a Soap Opera, this is REALITY and unless we unite, it’ll just go from bad to worse.

The National Sleep Out Protest against the Bedroom Tax, homelessness and Benefit Cuts that took place in over 50 towns and cities across the UK on Saturday 24th August 2013 has proven that we really can make a difference, as the first article in Keith’s Facebook status proves.  So take heed people and more importantly, TAKE ACTION.

Kieth’s status is as follows:

 

Letter to number 10. No 497.Wednesday 28 August 2013. Syria, another disaster waiting to happen.Shares are encouraged and welcomed. If this letter speaks for you and you wish to send your own copy please feel free to copy and paste the text for your own letter.

Website updated, letters and replies plus bonus material featuring Mr Suggs, Eeyore and Ribbit.

Also on the website, download the support compilation three album set from Atona. Not to be missed.

 http://www.keithordinaryguy.org.uk/

Dear Mr Cameron,

For a government that has lied to and wilfully deceived the country and brought chaos and despair to so many of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country such that a UN Watchdog is due to arrive today to investigate the bedroom tax and people being driven to suicide, you are not fit to make any decisions on another sovereign nation. Nor, of course, is Obama, whose troops have used Depleted Uranium weapons in Iraq with devastating consequences for the lives of the Iraqi people. Britain and America are not fit to make decisions about Syria especially as it seems that the debate is to be about an armed response as a first resort and not, as it always should be, a last resort.

Of course, we cannot know who is pulling strings behind the scenes as you are at great pains to avoid declaring corporate interests which we know dominate government decisions and the last people you listen to is us. There is also the matter that the last people to suffer in any armed conflict are those who make the decisions to pursue it. If, as is likely, you create a situation of spreading yet more hatred against the West in the Middle East, it is not you who will suffer the consequences of your actions and we’ll be at risk from yet more rhetoric about extremists and more draconian measures to suppress it and us into the bargain.

Gung ho western interests with more testosterone than brains are doubtless champing at the bit to have a go in Syria and are ready to make vast profits on the proceeds of war. The world is an ever increasingly fragile place, driven by the neoliberal agenda. Given the dominance of neoliberalism in UK politics now, it is unlikely that we’ll see restraint or from you tomorrow. No good will be served by precipitous decisions and whatever the truth is of the situation in Syria, striking first and asking questions later is not a solution. The history of war in recent times does not inspire confidence that civilians will not suffer and the military industrial war machine is not to be trusted any more than you are.

 http://welfarenewsservice.com/un-watchdog-investigate-bedroom-tax-suicide-link/

 http://rt.com/news/iraq-depleted-uranium-health-394/

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23851292

A letter a day to Number 10 Downing Street. The government get all sorts of free media time to have their say, now I am having mine, with the help of friends and supporters who have kindly donated stamps and stationary. My thanks to you all. There is also a website with all the letters and replies, featuring Mr Suggs, Eeyore and Ribbit plus bonus material.  http://www.keithordinaryguy.org.uk/

We have a voice…NOW is the time to exercise our rights as civil human beings.

Credit Unions – The Trusted Alternative to Banking

 

What is a Credit Union?

A Credit Union is a not-for-profit community savings and loans co-operative run by the community for the community, where people put their money/savings in so they can be lent to others.  There are approximately 450 Credit Unions across the UK.

 

What is a co-operative?

A co-operative is basically an organisation that is jointly managed and owned by a group of people who run their services for the sole benefit of their members.

 

What are the criteria required to join a Credit Union?

To join a Credit Union you are required to share a “common bond” with the existing members, such as working for the same employer or living in the same local area, or belonging to the same church, trade union or other association. So long as one family member shares the “common bond” and joins the Credit Union, then all other family members are permitted to join too.  Each Credit Union has its own definition of a “common bond”, so do contact them and discuss your options.

 

What does not-for-profit mean?

Not-for-profit means the members use their own money to run their services and reward its members not to pay external shareholders.  They have to set aside enough money every year to make sure they don’t go bust.  It’s usual occurrence to use any outstanding monies to improve services to members, and usually share it equally between the members in the form of a “dividend”, which can be anything up to 8% a year.  Credit Unions aren’t permitted to lend all of their money out at once and must put it into bank deposit accounts to ensure they can get the money back if they need to.

 

What services does a Credit Union offer?

All Credit Unions offer savings and loans accounts. Most also offer life and loan protection insurance. Some also offer other types of insurance products including travel, motor insurance and contents insurance.  Again, you would have to call them and confirm this.  Some of the larger ones also offer extra services such as debt management, mortgages, Child Trust Funds, funeral plans, current accounts, ISA’s and more.

 

 

How do I put money into a Credit Union Account?

You can do this in several ways, either at a local collection point, direct from your wages via payroll deductions, by standing order or direct Debit. Welfare payments can be paid directly into your CU account.

 

How do I withdraw funds?

Smaller Credit Unions require for you to use a pass book to withdraw your funds whilst larger ones can provide you with a Debit Card to use at a cash machine.  You can also visit a local collection point or arrange for payments to be made directly to a bank account (this is known as “Bacs”).

 

How can I borrow money from a Credit Union?

The lending guidelines vary with each Credit Union, so you would need to enquire about this.  Firstly though, they have to make sure you’re able to afford to repay anything you borrow.  They usually lend small amounts for any purpose and most CU’s can lend over a period of 5 years for an unsecured loan and 10 years for a secured loan. How much a CU can lend you depends upon the amount its members have saved and how good they are paying loans and interest back on time.

When you borrow from a CU you will usually get free life insurance to cover the value of the loan so that if you die before repaying the loan in full, then the insurance repays it.

 

What happens if I don’t make the repayments?

If you don’t make the repayments, a CU can enlist the help of debt-collection agencies.  They can also contact the DWP if you are on Welfare and request it be taken from your monies prior to you receiving them.  If you are employed, they can get the monies back through the County Court.

 

What is the typical APR on borrowing?

The maximum is APR 26.8% which means that if you borrow £100 over a year, the most you will pay back is £126.

 

How do I find my local Credit Union?

The best way to do this is to use ABCUL’s “Find your Credit Union” website:

http://www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk/home

Or you can telephone ABCUL on 0800 015 3060.

You can also try your Yellow Pages or ask at your local Citizens Advice bureau for contact details.

 

Cats by City Youth Theatre, Brighton: A Review

TOM – The Old Market Theatre, Hove.

Tuesday 11th – Saturday 15th June 2013

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

based on “Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats” by T.S. Elliott.

 

A young, talented and energetic cast used all the space of a very well put-together set of “Alley cat” junk and street objects, by crawling round the theatre and interacting with the audience to draw you closer to the feline frolics of a usually confusing storyline.

 

The Jellicle cats gathered for their annual Ball where their leader Old Deuteronomy, played by Jamie Landmann, selected one special cat to be transported to “Heavyside Layer” to be reborn.

 

We were then presented with character sketches, where each cat told their own story in song and dance, hoping to be Deuteronomy’s chosen one.

 

The “stand outs” here for me were Rum Tum Tugger, played by Louis Livesey-Clare, who performed his character as well as a West End stage star.  Alonzo, played by Jordan Lamarca, so feline in his stage presence and interactions with both the cast and the audience, and especially in his interactions with Munkustrap, played by Rory Maguire, who pulled off another stellar performance in the lead role.

 

But the stars of the show, for me, were Rhianna Mcgreevy, who played Grizabella, the cat chosen for rebirth by Old Deuteronomy and Lauren Dawes, who played Jemima.  Despite an out-of-tune bassist and a slightly out-of-time orchestra accompaniment during the famous performance of “Memory”, both girls gave a truly amazing and highly emotive performance vocally and stole the show.  These ladies have a very bright future ahead of them.

 

Once again, Producer and Artistic Director Katy Markey has made her mark (pardon the pun!) on youth theatre in Brighton.  Assisted by an amazing team that included Ben Simpson, Luke Marshall, Josh Mills, Dara Novakovic, Joe Mott, Amanda and Vicky Schofield, CYTC produced and performed a production to be proud of.

The Story of George Rolph. (part iv)

DAY 23: FROM GEORGE ROLPH – A STATEMENT OF REASONABLE DEMANDS AND A FURTHER CALL TO ACTION.

Posted on 12th June 2013 – Day 23 of George’s Hunger Strike

George’s FB page:https://www.facebook.com/george.rolph.564?fref=ts

 

A STATEMENT OF REASONABLE DEMANDS AND A FURTHER CALL TO ACTION.

 

George Rolph

14 hours ago

 

“When I first began this protest it was in a state of general fury, that a government in the UK would DARE to attack the most vulnerable people in the country and allow a private IT Company to profit from their misery. It was like a return to the days of Robin Hood; robbing the poor to give to the rich! Sheriff of Nottingham style.

 

I could not stand for that and no other decent person should either.

 

It was NEVER just about what they had done to me in removing all my benefits and leaving me on the verge of destitution. It was also about those mothers and fathers who found, like me, all income cut off who could not now feed either themselves or their children. It was also about those men and women fighting every day to survive in the face of crippling physical and mental illnesses; who were already living on the edges of poverty; now finding that the safety net that may have paid for all their lives with National Insurance Contributions being pulled out from under them as the government and ATOS pushed them off the high wire above it.

 

Now, let me just say this so there are no misunderstandings. If you are fiddling the system and are drawing money out you are not entitled too then in my eyes, you are scum. Nothing less than a common thief and you should be jailed and made to pay back every penny. However, this fight is not about those doing that. This fight is about people who are genuinely sick and need our help.

 

The problem here lies NOT with the sick and disabled, but with assessments that are target driven and which take no account of the real lives of those sick and disabled people. The problem is that the tick-box system that has been put in place is clearly unfit for purpose and MUST be scrapped.

 

There is also another issue and that is far more pressing because it is killing people at a rate of up to 32 a week, who are driven to despair and placed in a position of unrelenting fear. My first argument relates to those people.

 

Here than are my two demands and these are NOT negotiable.

 

1. That anyone who appeals against the decision to stop their benefits MUST have those benefits restored until the appeals process is complete.

 

2. The government will set up a genuinely independent committee of people with medical backgrounds, to look hard and quickly at the failings of the ATOS system; and make rapid and permanent changes to ensure that a holistic approach to each patients needs and concerns is fully implemented, BEFORE any decision is taken regarding their suitability for employment.

In other words, a system where patients attending assessments is put in place, whereby those patients are given space and time to explain how their illness affects their everyday life; and that those statements are also recorded and entered into evidence.

 

Both of these demands are reasonable. Both are achievable. Both are desirable.

 

If these demands are met then my protest can end and we can all get on with trying to live a normal life. There is nothing extreme about these demands and nothing in them that any reasonable minded person can object too. If the government refuse to implement these two recommendations and to do it quickly, this protest will become about corporate manslaughter charges and an ever escalating, non violent, but VERY LOUD international protest.

Now, in case any government ministers from both coalition parties are still under any illusions they can simply ignore this issue, let me spell this out:

 

Politically, this will utterly destroy you as political entities! NO ONE will ever trust you again and you will be confined to the dustbin of political history as people who tipped from democracy to cruel, idealogical tyranny. When the vast majority of our people have understood exactly the magnitude of what you have been doing, their anger will become utter disgust and then fury and you will be finished.

 

Furthermore, less the socialists among us are also thinking this will have a minimum impact upon them politically, let us just say this. We know and remember that it was YOU that introduced ATOS into this land and it was YOU that started this whole ball rolling. YOU will ALSO be brought to account for the deaths and misery it has caused.

 

We are NOT your serfs any longer. Get used to it! THOSE DAYS ARE GONE.

 

You are public servants NOT public masters. You are elected to serve THE PEOPLE not the policy whims of David Cameron, the EU, your whips, the media or those business lobbyists buying your ears. Trim your arrogance now while you can or we, the people, will trim it for you, and all the force and threatenings you can muster will not be enough to stop us. Your tin-pot feudal empire will not stand without the cooperation of the people and if you wish to avoid an English Spring you would do well to listen. No one sane wants trouble for his land and his people, but no one sane wants a government boot stamping on their necks either. Do not force a choice between the two.

 

I am one voice with a growing number of supporters but do not think you can just silence me and the whole thing will go away. From the ashes of my life will grow a movement that you will NEVER stop. Not because I am great, but because our PEOPLE are great and despite your best efforts to pervert them, enough have resisted those efforts to understand the difference between common decency and evil. They will form the hardcore of an avalanche that will sweep away those corrupt vermin now running our country. Once that happens here, it will spread around the developed world.

 

The population have been sending you old guard politicians very clear signals for a very long time. The rise of UKIP is the strongest of all those signals and your old methods for using the media to shape public opinion in your favour is weakening by the day. Ignore them at your peril. The spirit of the British lion is stirring. If it wakes up and roars you will never defeat it.

 

In closing I want to say a word to those urging me to give up because the psychotics in suits in Westminster cannot be beaten.

 

Go away from me!

 

I will not listen to you.

 

A war conducted by defeatist cowards can never be won. This fight goes on until those two very reasonable demands are met. Fight with me or go away. I have neither time nor energy to battle with you. I am offering my own life to save the lives of others. That is the tradition laid down over the millennia of human history. Some fights are worth dying for. This is one of them. To live in a land that would do these things to the very weak would be intolerable to me and only when YOU feel the same way will you have any understanding of why I am making this stand.

 

In times of war, it is good and right to call upon others to risk their lives for us in combat. This is a war none of us wanted. It was declared by a bunch of hyperactive civil servants who have forgotten the word ‘servant’ in their job description. I do not want to die, but neither can I live in a land willing to tolerate this evil when we have sent millions of our best young people to spill their blood around the world to prevent tyranny ruling. This is a domestic tyranny. It is REAL. It MUST be fought.

 

I am NOT the peoples saviour. I know of and acknowledge only one saviour – my Lord Jesus Christ – and He said this: Greater love has no man than this; that a man lays down His life for another. John 15:13.

 

Because I love you. Because you matter to me. Because I want YOUR suffering and the suffering of your relatives to end. I offer my life willingly. No one is taking it from me.

 

So,

 

GET UP!

 

STAND UP!

 

FIGHT BACK!

 

YOUR PEOPLE NEED YOU!

 

George Rolph.

11th June 2013

 

Join the fightby Ros Wynne-Jones

Have you or your family been affected by the cuts? Or have you been shocked by how your area has been hit?

I want to reveal what’s really happening around the country every week.

POST: Real Britain, Daily Mirror, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP

CALL: 020 7293 3000 and ask for the Real Britain desk.

TWEET: @realbritainros

EMAIL: realbritain@mirror.co.uk

Interview with George Rolph.

Hunger strike: Day 20.

 

Q.  Firstly and most importantly, how are you feeling both physically and mentally?

A.  I actually feel very good right now. I am clear headed, in no pain at all and as determined to finish this as the day I started.

 

Q. For those amongst us who are still unaware of what is happening, could you please outline the nature of your protest against the ConDem government?

A.  In truth, I am NOT protesting against the CON/DEM government. I am protesting against those WITHIN the government that enacted these policies that are causing so much pain and who have the unmitigated gall to call them “compassionate.”  There is, in my opinion, now way that you can inflict so much damage on the mentally or physically sick in this country that they kill themselves in huge numbers or are placed in destitution and claim to be, in any way humanly possible, a compassionate person. To think that a person could do such things and describe themselves in that way, betrays such a lack of a grasp of reality that I, as a lay person, would consider them to be insane.

If you took a donkey with a broken leg and forced it back to work, the people of this country would be up in arms about the cruelty of it. The media would be going crazy too. There is something very, very, wrong with a society and it’s leaders when they think they can take very seriously ill people and do as ATOS/DWP are doing to them while everyone looks the other way.

 

Q.  What made you decide upon this course of action?

A.  The decision was made for me in a sense. All my benefits had been stripped away leaving me with zero income. That ultimately meant homelessness and death on the streets. I decided if I were going to die it would be in my way, in the place of my choosing at my timing. I also decided I would not go meekly into that death bowing to my ‘masters’ and tugging my forelock, but rather, that I would make a heck of noise about it. The only question left, once that decision had been made, was how I would go.

In the beginning this was a personal protest about what had been done to me, but as I looked into ATOS and their activities I discovered that they had done this, or similar things, to too many other people and that some of those people were dying. That infuriated me. I realised that these policies were every bit as extreme as those brought to bear upon the disabled in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The same kind of cold, dead hearts which were willing to kill the most vulnerable people in their countries and under those regimes had now arrived in the UK in 2013 and they have to be stopped.

 

Q.  So far, how successful has your protest been, both with the general public and with the media?

A.    I cannot answer this question yet as these are still early days. Ask me again close to the end of matters.

 

Q.  How have ATOS and the Department of Working Pensions (DWP) responded to your protest?

A.   My benefits have been restored completely, for which I am very grateful. However, this is not just about me. There are many other people out there for whom the misery and fear goes on. My fight now is about them.

 

Q.  Personally, do you think they re-instated your benefits because you are legally entitled to them? If so, then what are your thoughts about why they denied you of them in the first place? Or do you think they re-instated them to prevent any further bad publicity from smearing their already tarnished reputation?

A. Honestly. I think a little of both.  It is the nature of the self righteous and criminally corrupt mind that it thinks everyone else does, or should, think as it does. However, it also carries within a very strong sense of personal preservation and will rush to protect itself when it is under threat. It wants to give the impression of purity and hide its perversity. That is how it survives among us — by faking goodness. 

 

Q.  Ideally, what do you hope to achieve by the course of action you have chosen to take?

A.   I want to see those benefits restored to everyone who has had them taken away wrongfully and I want the system of evaluation used by ATOS completely dismantled and reappraised. So that qualified personnel make the decisions about a person’s fitness or otherwise for work and not, as in my case, a physiotherapist diagnosing cognitive abilities she was not qualified to understand or make.

 

Q.  Many of us are naturally concerned about your well-being and are of the belief that this government aren’t worthy of your life. You are such an inspiration to us all and give us the strength to stand up and fight against the cruelty inflicted upon us.  We’re aware that you’re prepared to die for this cause and its possible outcomes and whilst we respect and support such a noble act, we’re also aware that you are more of a threat to this government alive than you will be if you die.  What is your response to this?

A.   Be as concerned as I am about the welfare of the mother with no benefits, or the single disabled dad in despair. FIGHT FOR THEM. Don’t copy me but use my protest as your symbol. Take your eyes off of me and put them, with all the energies you can muster, into the fight. Oh and fight an unconventional war. They have set up hoops for you that they expect you to jump through and are ready for that. By-pass those hoops and come at them from another direction. MAKE A VERY LOUD NOISE AND DO NOT BE SILENT UNTIL THE PEOPLE LISTEN.

 

Q.  In the event of your death, how would you like to see this fight progress?

A. To victory because the alternative for our people is unthinkable.

 

Q.  If you had the opportunity to be in the same room as David Cameron for 20 minutes, what would you say to him?

A.   Get some psychiatric help. You have no idea how ill you are.

 

A very big “Thank you” to George for taking the time to allow me to get this interview, it’s much appreciated.

 

Other interviews:

http://bambuser.com/v/3647737

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/george-rolph-hunger-strike-after-1946899#ixzz2W0aoe11A

 

 

 

The Story of George Rolph. (Part iii)

 

I’ve spent the past few days wondering how George is. Today I visited his new Facebook page and read the following update:

“Hunger strike: Day 18. Health Report And Other News.

John 15:13.

June 7th 2013.

I want to begin by warning people NOT to copy me and to begin your own hunger strike. If you are seriously physically ill already, you could make yourself much worse. Also, if you are taking powerful drugs and they are not being absorbed slowly by stomach contents, even your normal dose could become too strong and do serious damage to you or even, kill you.

Weight: 227.02 lbs
Start weight: 260lbs

I feel fine in myself. Although I went through a period of slight dizzy spells now and then, those have now passed it seems. I can walk OK which I could not do when I was not taking fluids.

I have fasted for 14 days before and felt no ill effects but I am five days into new territory here and so far things are going well, so no need to worry dear reader. If that changes I WILL tell you.

I have noticed that I am getting irritated by things much quicker than normal. I am usually a laid back fellow but things seem to be getting under my skin much more easily these days. If you are a Christian, please pray about that for me. Love is everything and the peace of God enables it.
Thank you.

All in all I am quite well. So far, not a single hunger pain. Our God is good and the Lord Jesus Christ sustains me by His Spirit.

OTHER NEWS:

The DWP manager is returning today to fill out a form about care allowance. (He just called. 12:00pm and will be here within 45 mins). I have no idea what that is and I want to be careful not to get more than I should. I do not want to be overpaid now and have to pay back a huge sum later when some robot in the machine discovers the error. I want only what I am legally entitled too.

Mary and James who are making an independent documentary are coming today. That will be interesting. Hope they can cope with the state of my house. Poverty and clean and tidy do not go together, but they do add to the overall sense of helplessness and shame.

Beren Cross (Love that name) of the Independent Newspaper spoke to me by phone yesterday. He is researching a story on me.

The Daily Mirror are sending someone on Monday 10th June.

A smashing chap turned up last night and spent hours setting up a live stream for me. It was difficult because the Cam would not perform correctly at first, but once we figured out the mistakes, we got it together in the end and I broadcast my first test stream.

This is good because I hope later to make regular broadcasts to let everyone know how I am, but it also means I feel slightly safer. If the police cut up rough on the orders of some psycho’ politician somewhere, and burst through the door with an order to section me and force feed me or something, at least I can capture the live event. Let’s all pray that does not happen.

I have a plan to form a committee of workers to discuss ideas and make ongoing plans. Anyone willing to be considered for such a committee and who is dedicated to seeing this through to the end, should contact me and let me know. So far, the most committed people who have done so much to help have been mostly females. Come on guys! Stop finding ways out of things and start getting involved here. This is about all of us.

That leads me neatly to my next point. PLEASE, do not focus on me and my health here. THAT IS NOT THE ISSUE. The big picture here is that people are dying and living in fear of what the DWP and ATOS are doing to them. THAT is what we are here to stop; and while I understand and thank you for your concerns; if you are spending all your time worrying about me, your focus is in the wrong place. Worry about THEM. I do, which is why I am doing this.

We have to stop this monstrosity dreamt up by spoilt rich kids with no life experience and no concept of what life is like when you CANNOT work, no matter how much you want too.

Sharing things is anathema to them, because they have been trained to think in terms only of kill or be killed in the market place. That is their ideological pathology and it is thinking like that which leads to the deaths and misery of others.

On the other hand there are the Socialists who think, ‘what is yours is mine.’ That is also an ideological pathology. What you work and strive for in life is yours. The idea that central government should take that from you and ‘redistribute it’ (steal it) is as perverse an idea as only caring about number one.

Both of these ideas will do — and have done in the past — terrible harm to our country. However, there is little wrong with the idea of a common pot that we all pay into in order to protect the weakest in our land or, God forbid, in the event that we ourselves are made unfit for work though accident or sickness.

The common pot is a very old idea and it has excellent provenance and you can read more about that provenance here:  http://biblehub.com/niv/acts/2.htm

Jess.
Ian.
Lizzie.
Berni.
Kurt.
Sarah.
Mary.
Maxine.
Christine.
Kat.
And so many others.

THANK YOU.

You are stars and make me proud of my people and our country. We need more of you so let’s go find them and let’s put an end to this evil that is ravaging our people, raping our culture and perverting our values as a nation. There are some very sick minds in government, the House of Commons and elsewhere and those minds are churning out some very sick ideas. We have to challenge them, instead of forelock tugging our way back to the middle ages.

You are standing up and fighting back. Come on everyone. Join us. Our country needs you because you ARE our country.

I love you all. Thank you for getting into the fight. Remember, this is about US fighting for those who cannot fight. It is not about me or you but ALL of us.

George Rolph
June 07th 2013.”

 

I know that many of you across the globe have also wondered how George is holding up, hence me sharing this with you…time to stop worrying about the negatives, this is George’s choice and we must both respect his decision and support him and ourselves in any way we can.

The BBC are still ignoring our complaints, even though they’re very polite and keep promising to pass the information on to a higher person.  But as you’ve just read, certain media sources are now prepared to research and tell George’s story…and that, can only be a bonus.

We’re with you George, every step of the way…for not only are you giving others the courage to stand up and fight, you’re also leading by example and we are all in awe of you. Keep being you.