Archive for June, 2013

I am publishing The Happy Moment – An Appreciation of the Poetry of John Stammers as an e-book.

I have gathered all the John Stammers blogs back together and re-constructed them into book form.

Why, when they are freely available as blogs?
Because not only is the sum greater than the parts but the whole direction, the construction of the arguments, and yes the metanarrative of the book, are only evident in this the original form of the writing.
Without these the book would be just disjointed jottings.
That suits the format of the blog page. But it is not how the text has been constructed.

I am once more using Lulu to publish.
Lulu is relatively straightforward as a publishing tool, and you can get your ISBN for free.. The downloadable directions are clear and easy to follow. The whole procedure is relatively painless.

I wrote that Lulu is relatively straight-forward –
draw-backs are that pamphlet and book form is only for 60 pages and over. All else has to be ebook. Also book covers; it is possible to provide your own – I am not altogether sure how easy it is to upload. the most difficult part I have found is obtaining permission to use images. Some organisations work on a looong time line. Waiting for response can undermine your confidence and patience. The danger then is to plump for something that’s a not what you want but is better than nothing.
You cannot use an all-capital title, or name.

Lulu book covers tend to be one colour per book with an abstract swirl. I am not sure if variations on this basic design are available. It may be that for a fee other more complex/interesting designs are available.
Book cover design is an art in itself: too complex and you loose the interest of the browsing reader, too colourful and you mis-sell serious content.

Uploading a text is easy, and set up is painless. Once the process has been gone through: providing genre and key words, brief description, and Copy Write details then it can take up to 2 weeks for the book to be processed, that is for the e-publisher to trawl the ms, headings and chapter headings to make sure the content is processed correctly.
Once the text is uploaded the house formatter automatically provides a tagged Contents page. A copy of all this is available for review or re-editing.
In case of formatting errors a reformatted text is simply uploaded and the whole process gone through again. The previous attempt can simply be deleted from your site.

So in about 2 week’s time it should be up – and what is more – AVAILABLE!

The Snooping Question

Posted: June 23, 2013 in Chat
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The new reports on government snooping on populations of net and phone users raises a great many questions. UK’s GCHQ and USA’s NSA are alleged to be in cahoots in long-term snooping projects. The main information gathering has been underway for the last 18 months. Details of emails and ‘metadata’ are being copied and stored for future perusal.

What bemuses more than anything else in this operation is how all this greatly sophisticated technology is based on, depends upon, a rather medieval view of human behaviour.
It is like a super-streamlined futuristic vehicle that still runs on… internal combustion principles, or a nuclear reactor used for … boiling water, to run steam turbines.

I have this image of, in mercifully only a few year’s time, a TV (or equivalent for the period) entertainment show making fun of all our rather quaint and archaic ways. One of which would be this vast accumulation of redundant information. Why redundant? Because the basis that it was gathered on, the image of behaviour, was so laughably archaic.

The pressure to understand, to find explanations for extremist and seemingly mindless terrorist acts is forcing our hand at finding ways of coming to terms with what constitutes ‘normal’ human behaviour. I am thinking here of a multi-dimensional, that is multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-economic, understanding of behaviour.
This ‘forcing the hand’ is the way that developments tend to happen. The result is usually ad hoc, with a fill-in-the-gaps-later effect.

That we all have ‘weaknesses’ is still not fully accepted or understood. Our weaknesses are perhaps a major part of our empathy mechanism. They are still to us ‘weaknesses’, shameful, and suppressible defects of character, lack of moral fibre, backbone, or other semi-organic terms. Counselling is partly concerned with our owning them, embracing our content whether good or… less good. The result, when counseling goes well is one of empowerment, of humility (ouch – to churchy? Still relevant.).

Our strengths we tend to see when warped out of shape in competitive jobs, or by grief when catastrophe strikes. Between strength and weakness is, presumably everything else. This is usually the advertising image us, the us that is constantly streamed by every known channel at us: consumer us.
This is our point in time, our point of flux. The need for a sense of stability is also a basic, a given – it is in actuality an illusion of course, but the sense of it is very real to us. At present we are developing a new shape, maybe even growing up a little, taking on more adult responsibilities for other people, other foul-ups of previous generations.

No way will government or ultra-government analyses of our current activity help us on our way. If anything it just may hold us back a little.

The slow tumble of the clouds…

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Chat

The slow tumble of the clouds sideways
across the blue sky’s bald pate,
lit and then obscured.
It had been dark in me all day,
and then I realised: I had no
windows wide open in me
like these.

The nine-thirty flexi-time cut-off,
while high above the miles of cloud
gathered, moved huge weathers.
The scale was constantly changing;
the scurrying of our smallness,
the huge slow masses.

Sometimes it seems our lives are lived in words
all scurrying together; vocabularies
like clouds, huge, full
of everything that sustains us.
So why these snarl-ups on the road?
Why this darkness in us;
these stops?

I have sent words out, scurrying little helpers,
to draw you back from harm, with a busy
tie-ing in of reasons for continuing.
And I have stood there too where words fail
at the roof edge, face to face
with that wordless place

as big as the sky and as hungry.

It has nothing to say that words can understand.
And everything to mean.

The Anger of Old Men

Posted: June 11, 2013 in Chat

The anger of old men who have forgotten
or never knew the gap between aspiration
and achievement is not of their making

that the two are different species
with no blood relation
one is an acrobat at the top of his profession
the other an angel superb in indifference.

The angry old man watches garden birds –
a data-base of fortuitous pleasures,
dependable pension of surprises;
speckled, dappled, pied admixtures
of hope, resignation and the half
dozen particulars; the personal takes on life.

To fly is to always return; freedom
the trail of these few crumbs. The unused sup of spirit
in the glass, its tinting smear of light;
an aroma of continuance.

The old man berates the heedless youth
who in his loud and righteous turn
smacks him one. Each looks at each and sees
what they most hate. The chasm of the world speaks, says:
Yah! See? This is you! What you are and what you most fear.
Well… it‘s all you got. So long, sucker!

A bitter taste in each their mouths. One spits it out, the other
writes a letter to the Telegraph.

The angry old man looks out onto a world
cut back to honest durable essentials, the certainties
that age gives him. It is reality at last.

But it’s not, it’s a simplified version;
what was discarded, lost
was the truth in the detail,
the human face.


The old man questions a photograph of his younger self
and finds there only incomprehension.


The angry old man wonders at this busy woman
and where his wife has gone: just one more
example of not being consulted.

Who – not why or when, so much – (so final)-
has gone and come? Unconsulted again.

Where have my glasses gone, my keys, hair…?
The bedroom curtains, most things, familiar
yet different somehow: who –
he had not noticed properly before –
is that old man in the bathroom mirror?