Archive for the ‘John Stammers Page’ Category

All death and gloom?

Dr Omar Atiq closed his cancer treatment centre in Arkansas last year after nearly 30 years in business.

He worked with a debt collection firm to gather outstanding payments, but then realised many families had been hit hard financially by the pandemic.

Over Christmas, he wrote to patients telling them any debts would be erased.

“Over time I realised that there are people who just are unable to pay,” Dr Atiq told ABC’s Good Morning America

“So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it.”

Breaking ice; Spring on its way.

It is certainly worth noting that the oncologist is of Pakistan origin, and that the decision was taken through consultation with his wife.
Big Yes.

And enormous thanks to Eilidh G Clark
for directing me to Youtube’s far better coverage:

Don’t miss this!!

Lord of Misrule

Posted: December 27, 2020 in John Stammers Page

As this is the period of the Lord of Misrule, let me introduce you to:

Georges Le Gloupier: the Custard Pie Thrower

or, as he was styled, entarteur.

Belgian writer (An Anthology of Subversion), critic, and actor, Noel Godin, developed another character to his list, that of Georges Le Gloupier.

Let us celebrate 30 years of the guerrilla patissiere!

Wiki tells us: Since 1969, when Godin planted a pie on the face of the French novelist Marguerite Duras, he has pied dozens more, including choreographer Maurice Béjart, France’s best-known television anchorman Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, French president Nicolas Sarkozy and film maker Jean-Luc Godard.

And, diverse authority figures as Microsoft boss Bill Gates, former Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe, TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson, economist Milton Friedman, conservative commentator Anne Coulter and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy have all found themselves coated in viscous gloop as a result of custard pie-related attacks.

Prof Kershaw said, the use of the custard pie is different from egg, flour-throwing:

It’s all about the clown as outsider – like the fool in Shakespearean drama or the mediaeval court who has the licence to insult the king or queen.
You’ve got to get close to the victim – it’s not like throwing an egg from a distance. This makes the protester stronger.

Noel Godin used a special phrasing for his activities, with terms like “tempêtes patissières” (pastry storm) to describe his practice.

It was when his group managed to target Bill Gates, in 1998, that he knew he had achieved his greatest goal: ‘My work here is done’, he intoned before leaving the stage.
Having used the actorly references, let me assure readers that quite a few films and also books about and starring Noel have appeared since then:ël_Godin

He is also featured in a Bansky-produced hour-long pseudo-TV piece. The Antics Roadshow.

A book celebrating Noel Godin’s anarchy-satiric work, was published in 2005:

‘Entartons, entartons les pompeux cornichons!: 30 ANS DE GUERILLA PATISSIERE : “L’ENTARTEUR” RACONTE’ published by Flammarion. ISBN-10 : 2080685465
Written in French. 

Groups of like-minded anarcho-satirists banded together, expanding the work.
I remember TV reportage from the 1990s of such targetings. The usually well-dressed, i.e. to fit in with the assembled, pie-throwers approached their target chanting ‘Gloup! Gloup! Gloup!
They were an established phenomenon of the time, and if not an expected, at least in most cases an accepted, hazard of one’s position.
There were, of course, the one’s who, perhaps targeted too often (French philosopher Bernard-Henry Levy), lost their sense of humour. He has been targeted eight times, to date.
Did Bernard-Henry’s response betray an inner nature so contrary to his public self, and so therefore reveal a superficiality? Or was this someone for whom losing face so publicly was one insult too far?
It could have been just a particularly bad day. Heaven knows we all have those.

Eight times, though.
Had it become personal? If you look at the work Bernard-Henry Levy has done to date, you cannot but wonder, Why him?
The bigger the profile, the bigger the hit.
Yes, but where does deserving come into this? Bernard-Henry Levy does seem to live his life in public ( but because of his status, the impacts of his campaigns are also that much greater.
The sense of humour; that is so essential. So many big names that have been ‘hit’ have been able to laugh and walk away.
To take oneself so seriously? It is essential to do so in order to get ‘up there’, but to attain, and keep on attaining, the right balance… that is an art. A very difficult art.ël_Godin

Oh, yes, I do really like this.

Star of Caledonia

To be based on the Scottish-English border, near Gretna.
Certainly do need something big to mark that crossing!

Trail’s End

Posted: November 10, 2020 in John Stammers Page
Tags: ,


Donald J Trump in a roadside bar
his cap sliding into his eyes,
nursing his drink like he’s film noir
‘I just can’t get an aide,’ he sighs
‘who’ll stay from round-up to trail’s-end.’
His tenth’s contract came to a sudden end.

The bar man shakes his head, ‘I hate 
to see any man so down on his luck.
All end up here, somehow.’ gives me a look,
then begins to relate… 
but Donald sat up, shook,
insomnia-red eyes glared around the room,
as he mumbled ju-ju into soda and lime

in a whiskey glass. 
Will he phone home? Will he sleep alone?
‘Looking for reporters, TV crew,’ 
the bar man says. ‘It’s what they all do
at the end of their time.’ 


Donald J Trump woke up in his trailer
struggled to put on his too-tight jacket,
grunted with shoes, zipped pants, in that order.
Looked up, straightened tie: ‘Still hack it!’
Checked pockets, sprayed hair, ‘They’ll see!’  
Hummed a voice check, ‘Here’s to me!’
chinking his glass, then downed in one;
rechecked the clock: Will this be the one?

Nearly time to hit the stage again, 
stood, belly in, ok, a little weight gain;
climbed step by step down the stairs
to stand in the wings. ‘Noisy tonight’.
He knew a few things to get them right,
tricks and faces, the names in his cross-hairs.
Then time: stepping out all constraint disappears 
as he puts on his Mickey Mouse ears.

The circus is in town again.

Theatre in your own home

Posted: November 7, 2020 in John Stammers Page

Theatre needs support.

Here’s an initiative by Knaive Theatre: theatre in your own home, your own room.
A digital immersive experience.

Last night we had Stampin in the Graveyard. A very professional piece.

Tonight is the deeply immersive
Covid Lockdown Breath Machine.
Don’t miss it.

Covid Lockdown Breath Machine is a binaural sound project written by 
Lavinia Murray and composed and sound designed by Dr. Robert Bentall.

‘Designed specifically to be experienced in with headphones, alone, with the
lights off and the curtains drawn Covid Lockdown Breath Machine is a fantastical, transformative and ultimately uplifting journey into the symptoms and imaginings of a corona virus patient. Take a breath and let this breeze whisk you to a world of kaleidoscopes, household gods, mushroom spores and a fresh but capricious westerly wind.’

​’You can hear a teaser by putting on your headphones and clicking here.’

Bon voyage.

Bonnie Broukit Bairn

Posted: November 3, 2020 in John Stammers Page

I was wondering how to introduce this choice of poem.
I could have riffed about this or that, but… does Hugh MacDiarmid’s poem need a reason for being?

Bonnie Broukit Bairn

Mars is braw in crammasy,
Venus in a green silk goun,
The auld mune shak’s her gowden feathers,
Their starry talk’s a wheen o’ blethers,
Nane for thee a thochtie sparin’
Earth, thou bonnie broukit bairn!
– But greet, an’ in your tears ye’ll drown
The haill clanjamfrie!

Hugh MacDiarmid.
From Sangschaw, 1925.

crammasy crimson
wheen o’blethers pack of nonsense
broukit neglected
haill clanjamfrie whole crowd of them


Posted: October 27, 2020 in John Stammers Page

They cannot abide the fires we raise
birds, trees, insects, worms, mice –

our joys do not quicken the earth; love, praise,
rise to the skies, colour crops, make meat taste
less like slaughtered trust. 

Fires mark appeasements to fate, 
we say, as we bargain for better futures
with the Potentialities, 

hoping to erase failure altogether.

Commander in Chief

Posted: October 20, 2020 in John Stammers Page

At last, a hard-hitting repost.

Now, where’s that one about Boris Johnson?

Reblog: Brutalism

Posted: October 8, 2020 in John Stammers Page

He walked out of there into a mechanical world. It should have been a new world, the old world new again. But it was a mechanical world.

The hearing aids were the new part; they were calibrated to the loss of the higher frequencies, and so upped the treble for him. The simple laws of materials and their resonances meant those upper frequencies had the tinny sound of some ipod ear pieces.

He walked out of there expecting to hear the world as he had known it; it was not that world. What he heard was a mechanised version: a bird flew by, flapping its wings for take-off and height-gain. There was instant visual and environmental recognition, here was an urban pigeon entering onto a length of flight, the road to the next junction, maybe. It was too built-up for wood pigeons, though they had the same flapping-slap of flight. But this time it sounded like a rustling newspaper, a large broadsheet. This was not that familiar sound to vision connect he knew so well.

His cotton trousers brushed soft cotton socks; it was a rasping sound. That was wrong. He was so intent on this hearing phenomena, these anomalies, the car just missed him. The slightly off-centre focus of his hearing, a little further to the back of his head, skewed his balance; he felt he was lurching around. By the side of a road this was not good.

He came to that junction in the road and turned, off the curb again, on then off.

‘Did you see that fool, then?’

‘Drink. Or drugs.’

‘Shouldn’t be out.’

‘What a tosser.’

He walked away quickly. This is what he got the aids for, to hear conversations again. But this…. All those times outside of conversations, anything not one-to-one, anything with background music, or just sounds blanking out all finer sounds…. And this is what he needed them for? To hear this kind of thing? Everything has its plus, and its minus.

He was in the shopping precinct now; all around were conversations. He was no longer shut out, separated by a blurred barrier of sound, now he could hear. And what did he hear? Conversation as social glue, as recognition codes among women, and among men; the youths uttered a kind of blank-faced vowel-heavy monosyllabic talk. Back with their girlfriends they were animated and fully vocal again. This was bonding, rather than intercourse: all had come outdoors to re-register themselves as social beings of a certain type, place, age, social level.

That hiss. What was it? It was the hair over his ears, the ear pieces. Whenever his ears moved, and it was surprising how often, or his scalp moved – that too – whenever all the continual physiological responses of his head occurred it gave a hissing sound, like a simmering. It should be a lower sound, a rustle of hair on plastic, on packed plastic, not hollow; but a rustle.

It was then he began to notice the changes in the new sounds, a mismatch of known sound from recognised stimuli, and this altered sound. His sense of balance, ok, that was expected and explainable: his mind listened to these new sounds despite himself. His mind was so taken up with this that it left his vision to fend for itself. And so, that object glimpsed for a second, and which he had glimpsed so many times and knew to be a faded flower head over his high garden wall, now gave him a sudden alert.

He was home, and brushing up the soil he had just walked in with a hand brush. What was that? A crow cawing somewhere close. It was his shirt brushing the flock wall paper as he moved. Nothing was matching with anything else. His mind supplied the correct explanations, but the cause was not the right one. Although vision was always king, sound was the council of ministers, the underlying sense and explanation to everything seen.

Now every sound had borders again. Things you are not aware of, things taken for granted, things slowly accustomed to, building up, accumulating, as your own sense of self grows. And now how very untidy this house – everything overspilling. My god, he thought, Where’ve I been?

The week was taken up with tidying, only, the clarity was like a razor. He became ruthless; everything went. His comfortable apartment became… stark, sharp edged, with high-lumin light bulbs that gave no mercy.

A part of him found he could not stay indoors longer than needed. He interpreted this as being focused, energized. This mismatch set up a sense of restless energy that frequently tipped into acts of anger, sudden bursts, that made no sense to him. He’d leave whoever he had hurt, and walk away amazed at himself, appalled at himself, and thrilled.

He searched out the cleaner parts of the city. The Business sectors? No; vacant buildings accumulated there, closed-downs. It became a tumbleweed centre. No, the places he gravitated to were the financial sectors. Behind their black windows they generated as much energy as they had before. This time, they did it clandestinely. Their offices were… sharp-edged, minimalist, with high-lumin light bulbs. This was his new home.

But even there, a part of him shrank away from full commitment.

The straight abrupt angles of the building in front of him was the promotion of common sense and business confidence, of four-square achievement; solid, dependable. This was the crown of the great city.

Now, however, it and many of the ones in this style, especially in close proximity like this, their own financial sector, now radiated to all an overbearing feeling of dullness, of deadness of spirit and enterprise. They had come represent the hubris and failure of an economic system that was flawed at heart.

His hearing was now like that; it dictated to sight a different, diminished repertoire of sounds to meaning.