Monday, February 27, 2006

Europe Steps In To Aid Palestine

The European Union has decided to honour the Palestinian democratic choice of government, Hamas, and assist the Palestinians by giving them €120m (£83m - $140m) aid for this important "transitional period".

This comes as Israel witholds $50m per month in customs and taxes used to run Palestinian society - it pays nurses, doctors, teachers, police, civil servants. "The aid is designed to meet the "basic needs" of Palestinians and will be distributed by the United Nations. The EU package approved on Monday includes: 64m euros going through UN agencies to the poorest in the Palestinian territories. 20m euros will pay the salaries of Palestinian Authority officials. 40m will be earmarked for electricity and other energy expenses."


The BBC article has all the numbers you need to grasp the meaning of this graph showing the breakdown of aid. Like almost all BBC articles, it is well researched and accurate, but like most western news media, the BBC report tells only a fraction of the story and skirts the real issue.

Palestine may have received $1bn from the EU and the US in 2005, but compare this with the amount of aid that Israel receives, through arms, tax free US donations and other means.

"The Israeli government is the largest recipient of US financial aid in the world, receiving over one-third of total US aid to foreign countries, even though Israel’s population comprises just .001% of the world’s population and has one of the world’s higher per capita incomes.

Since 1949 the US has given Israel a total of $84,854,827,200. The interest costs born by US taxpayers on behalf of Israel are $49,937,000,000 – making the total amount of aid given to Israel since 1949 $134,791,507,200 (more than $134 billion).

Private donations to American charities initially constituted one quarter of Israel’s budget. Today, it is estimated that these tax-deductible donations exceed $1.5 billion per year. The ability of Americans to make what amounts to tax deductible contributions to a foreign government does not exist for any other country."

BBC Links Palestinian Monitor

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Birthday Of Funk


*Gerald, your local "Complete Discrete" electrical appliance salesman will be presenting you with the Deluxe version of the Blammo Anal Intruder 4000 ® *

This superb gift was sent by my old chum the Bike Stealer this morning, along with a delightful musical comedy moment from Victor Borge.

I share my birthday with Johnny Cash (we walk the line) Victor Hugo (we raise up the oppressed), Levi Strauss (we wear blue trousers) and Fats Domino (we found our thrill).

Wikipedia also tells me that on this day, 1797 - The Bank of England issued the first one-pound note, 1952 - United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that this nation had an atomic bomb, and 1991 - Tim Berners-Lee introduced WorldWideWeb, the first web browser.

Plus, and as if that wasn't enough, the One Thousand Bloggers chaps have decided to make me blogger of the week, coming soon to a pixel near you. I am currently slot number 262.

Thanks a lot, also, for the many kind messages comments and emails I received after writing about my recent misery. Last night I dreamed I lost my (long dead) dog - and in the process of searching for him, met up with three people whom I have not seen in years. It seems that they are still with me, these shades, past loves, and come to greet me once again in my sleep.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Mighty Boosh: A Great British Comedy

I thought I'd cheer myself up so I went onto Amazon and bought series one and two of The Mighty Boosh, aka Howard Moon and Vince Noir. These beautifully imaginative comedies have me laughing aloud.

The hip Mighty Boosh universe is retro and futuristic, magical and streetwise, subtle and slapstick. It is the surreal comedy genius of Spike Milligan, Monty Python, The Goodies, The Young Ones, Hitchhiker's Guide, Red Dwarf. It is the flavour of now and it is as old as music hall and pantomime. I have been rolling around and guffawing watching them back to back, having bought myself an early birthday present.

Bizarre, twisted scripts with sublimely psychedelic storylines make this a hugely entertaining TV comedy, with a great double-act. Dour unsuccessful Julian Barratt (Howard) and charming optimistic Noel Fielding (Vince) play a huge array of costumed characters, enjoying all the adventures a BBC comedy budget can provide.

Like Morecombe and Wise and Laurel and Hardy before them, the two main protagonists enjoy a love-hate male relationship, and their intimate patter plays hilariously on human foibles: jealousy, petty vanity, selfishness, conceit, ambition, lust, pride, betrayal, immorality and bad fashion choices. Barratt and Fielding take a gentle, childlike delight in all they do, however daft, which makes them very watchable. And daft much of it is, but wonderfully funny moments of pathos and some strangely disturbing glimpses of darker dimensions kick this way out of the student-only stoned zone and into the great starry place where such timeless comedy goes on forever and the moon speaks to you covered in mashed potato.


Tight ensemble acting, vibrant design (based on Fielding's illustrations) and the best comedy songs I've heard in years make this unmissable. I really like them so much, I thought I'd immediately change my "no advertising on Blog of Funk" policy, so I did. Buy these DVDs and laugh your socks off.

Blog of Funk Rating: Johnny "Guitar" Watson.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Fun With Google Censorship



A nice politically-correct search engine for you, and blog to match.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Frail Humanity

In the last couple of days, I have learned of the untimely deaths of two friends, both in their 40s. Despite a head-cold and a nagging sore throat, things are progressing and improving for me, but this news dampened my spirits considerably.

Saturday I learned that Kumiko had just died in Montreal. She was a lovely, big-hearted Japanese woman - she lived with us for a summer, when she got together with MP. They travelled the world. She changed many lives. I lit two joss sticks, rang a bell, said a prayer.

Today, I learned that Ken French, a kind and dapper schoolfriend, died on Monday. He, above all people, turned me on to Funk. He lent me Parliament, Mothership Connection. I cried again this afternoon, for Ken, watching the Mighty Boosh. Boys, your humour is genius. Ken, I wish I had seen you again before you died.

It's the awful truth of life that as we live and gain age, our loved ones keep dropping off the branch like so many ripe fruit, and as we get older, first parents and then contemporaries leave. I'm used to my own paranoias about health, and being on the edge of imminent death is too familiar a feeling for me, but I have felt that chill wind a little too often for cheerful. What was I saying a few posts back about being too serious? Maybe the opposite is true and I have not been serious enough, desperate to divert from the darkness.

Like many Brits, I'm not that good at admitting my depressions when they hit. People dying on you, after all, is quite likely to trigger a totally normal reactive depression, and one after the other can take a toll which starts to creep under the usual British soldier-on defenses. We do not have a kind and healing culture in this country which permits us to boldly say how completely fucked we are when that is indeed the case.

Facing up to depression has been an ongoing theme of my life. Most of my emotional patterns come from my mother, who was brought up in the 1939-45 World War. This was a time when you didn't show grief, you did keep a stiff upper lip, and morale boosting meant massive diversion from the awful truths of death and destruction, and of the appalling conditions they were living through. My own early life was equally chaotic, if without the bombs, and it took me years to find the emotional outlets I was denied at the time. Find them I did; but old patterns, even reformed ones, still make up your history, even if they don't still determine your present condition. Depressions can still creep up on me unnoticed with me sailing along in complete, articulate, verbose denial, apparently in touch with my feelings and operating efficiently as far as the outside world is concerned.

My computer also "died" recently. That was God working to help me, I decided. When forced by circumstance to stop over-working, I immediately felt pretty tired and knew I needed a break, so I took a few days out, and went to see some old friends and my sister's family. I also decided to visit the GP and check my throat out (which hurts and I hope I don't have cancer but anyway I stopped smoking but I used to smoke anyway I got a referral to hospital - again - see what I mean we're all falling apart) and I booked a session with David Charlaff, the best osteopath accupuncturist healer in town.

David cricked my neck which was stiff. I told him about the throat. He laid me on my stomach and needled my head, my hands, my back, and sent me off with a prescription for £25 (!!!!) worth of homeopathic remedies, which I am still swallowing and gargling.

That was Monday morning. By Monday evening, I was sick. Monday night, my "cancer" throat went red, raw. The virus bit. I realised I had a virus. Damn! Bloody healer, I cursed, he's healing me! He brought the sickness out pronto. I sighed, took painkillers. Been carrying on working in bursts, when I have the energy, drinking lemon ginger and honey.

Of course, I've had time to reflect, in my misery and occasional fever.

I was really affected by my twelve year old neighbour's death, end of 2005, it was awful. I didn't really even write about it or talk about it, except to GGF a bit. We'd just gone through a rough time anyway, when it happened. It knocked me, rocked me. I couldn't face the funeral, made sure I worked so I didn't have to go.

Just a few days ago, I found some video of her I had shot randomly out the window one day before she got sick, and I watched her walking fit and healthy in the park, which we both knew and loved. It slightly shocked me but I passed on, looking for some showreel stuff.

The sickness has made me feel my emotions, all the locked-up sadness. I realised I was actually depressed for a while, and that I am not depressed now. My depression was caused by unexpressed grief, it occurred to me, with tears running, snot all over my face, trying not to sneeze all over my iBook.

Now I'm feeling so shit, and newly sad about Kumiko and Ken, I realise that I need to sing the blues, for her, and for my other dead friends, whom I miss so much, while I still can.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Abnormal Service Will Not Be Resumed

I've often thought that people who live at the water's edge are both our ancestors and our inheritors. They live on the margins. At once far from civilisation and yet closer to it than those who live in the bosom of society, they survive on the wreckage, on what survives the water as sea-containers split and spill, and ends up like this lot, on Terschelling Island, off northern Holland recently did. It was hard to find pairs, apparently.

I visited this beautiful, low lying island once, in a 1979 1600 VW camper van. Although I already felt outside of everything I had previously known, and I was in a sense isolated and in the unknown, I remember having the most remarkable time.

The performance festival was ten days long, an international phenomenon with acts from South America, Spain, Poland, France, Italy, Ireland, Australia. It was here I first saw the work of the great Kantor. My beautiful but rather stroppy girlfriend was in a messed up work relationship and couldn't get over that some guy she'd been involved with was there with a bunch of weirdo menage-a-million processional yoga types. But, what the hell, I found an eighth of really fresh hash just lying on the ground on day two, which made all the difference, I can tell you.

I remember putting up with a fuck of a lot and being totally cheerful despite everything. Bicycling everywhere, sleeping in the van, hanging around with two body-obsessed sexy female performers. I wasn't getting a lot but it didn't matter. I was having a lot of fun. The fact that we'd got the van over on this 10k x 1k island was a minor miracle - it put us in the select few to have motorised wheels, so we could explore the island, and get to most performances we wanted without leg death.

It was fabulous, being so close to the north sea, on such a low-lying, windswept place, far from the mainland, surrounded by gorgeous looking happy people and heart-filling horizons. Some part of me never left the island.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Success In A Pod



Blimey! That's over 500 hours of listening pleasure this month alone. I love that iTunes rejected my podcast for being too damn funky. I always suspected that Apple was run by middle-class white rockers who think dressing down makes them hip.

I still don't own an iPod.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Too Bloody Serious By Half

Guilty, guilty, guilty as charged. It's absolutely true. I have fallen foul of the worst vice known to writers, artists and performers everywhere. I've been taking myself far too seriously, and so I decided to seek (and find) specialist treatment. I need to improve my well-bean, boost my commune system, and enhance my move.

Over the full moon I tried retail therapy, sensual indulgence and self generosity, a trident attack of the most effective order, recommended to me by several women.

1. Look at our new bedding. A pink silk throw, blood-red pillows, pink sheets. Just in time for or as it likes to call itself these days, Poke-n-Puke Day.



We stretched out the new super soft mattress-covering and put on our shiny smooth new sheets and clean, crisp new duvet cover. I know you can imagine the fun we had gently sleeping in such a riot of warmth.

2. Shameless Self-promotion.

She made me do this. You too can buy your tiny 24x32 advert for three dollars. Only three dollars! A snip, a bargain, a boon, a Walloon.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bye Bye Babies

At the moment, I am fielding a minor depression which has been brought about by the end of the project I've been on for six months - which has gone well, it's just that saying goodbye to your babies is hard, as any parent knows.

It's not been the best six months of my life - including as it did a major health scare - but it has been a fantastic time creatively. Me, my mates, my music, my microphone, my melodica, and my Mac.

Today, my huge, fast, silver dual processor G5 Mac stopped working. It just won't boot. It tries to - it whirrs its zillion fans meaningfully - but it just sits there looking imminent without doing a damn thing. It's something to do with the motherboard, not the disk, not the RAM, not the peripherals. I have fixed macs for other people enough to know that it's Back to Base for this baby.

There are five songs on there I need to rescue, so I'll be praying for a disk-swap song-retrieval success story in the next few days. Otherwise I've lost at least a month's work and then I'll be considering selling up and moving to Chile.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Google: Feeding The Beast

Searching for images on Google, this page came up:

We do not allow clicks coming from Google. Our site has been removed from Google Search Index as Google has gotten greedy over MAKING MONEY OFF OF YOUR CLICKS, However Google's DIRTY BUSINESS TACTICS enable you to find this site thorugh an IMAGE Search, which means you are looking to STEAL an image of something that may be copyrighted and ALL of the images on this site are copyrigted, or you are looking to find images of products to look at the image, which makes us loose money by having you visit our site. We only make money when people come around our site for Shopping. Google deletes sites from its index because Google WANTS TO MAKE ALL THE MONEY and wants everybody else TO LOOSE MONEY. FUCK GOOGLE. Stop USING GOOGLE NOW. Stop Feeding the Beast. Google is an ignorant mother fucking son of a bitch. If you have invested in GOOG stocks, we invite you to help your future and get rid of them AS SOON AS YOU CAN.


Google's Business Model IS A SCAM. Yes you heard it right, this company is SCAMMING US ALL. Ever wondered WHY you see Amazon.com on Google Search results for just about ANYTHING you search for? Will tell you, the answer is a
MAN Called "John Doerr". Google ONLY lets you find What Google Wants to let you find. When you search the web with Google, Know that You are NOT searching to find information available on the web, YOU ARE SEARCHING TO FIND Information that Google deems a potential/real revenue source for Google. STOP using Google Services NOW and seek for the TRUTH.



[From http://www.coupons4-us.com/WalMart_Coupons/index.html?deal_type=product]

Funny - I wasn't looking for an image TO STEAL - but I often do use Google image search for one reason or another, and I do pilfer freely, because such is the internet that we can. For the purposes of this blog, I often link to people if I use an image (see previous post). Once or twice, I have even asked and been given permission to use excerpts or elements from other sites. Generally though, I steal like a naughty internet magpie. I think I would have to revise my methodology if I made money from this blog - it wouldn't seem right to profit from other people's stuff without cutting them in on it. Maybe that attitude makes me stupidly sentimental. But I cannot see the point in pretending this isn't all an enormous evolving multi-national cultural collage which we are all constructing and deconstructing. That wouldn't make any sense.

I know that my own files are also linked to and downloaded via sites beyond my control - one of my song files has been downloaded and presumably heard over 4000 times in the last three months because someone with a MySpace account is linking to it. Actually I am really pleased that all these people are digging my song, though I do kind of wish I was charging a quid per hit.

Am I accusing them of stealing it, or "stealing my bandwidth" as one righteous blogger once rantingly put it, or blaming Microsoft? No, because such is the nature of this public space we call internet, and if you are in it, you must accept that anything you do is up for grabs and might be used without your approval. Only the most blatant defamation of individuals with immense wealth, or the very biggest commercial infringements of the most powerful corporations, will ever be punished, and everyone knows this.


Interesting, the march of Google, and amazing that more people don't see the incredible power they are accumulating, which will soon dwarf Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple. My personal take is that Google is duplicitous, holding out against the mighty US Government on the one hand, capitulating to China on the other. I wouldn't trust them further than I could spit a cockabindi claw, even though I regularly use their services, and use Blogger to publish this blog.

blogging enormous evolving multi-national cultural collage


© This post copyrigted 2006

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Time Travel Invented 2075


BT, or as we know them, The Grand Incorporation of Britannical Telecommunicationalists, have made the following predictions:

  • 2012: personal 'black boxes' record everything you do every day

  • 2015: images beamed directly into your eyeballs

  • 2017: first hotel in orbit

  • 2020: artificial intelligence elected to parliament

  • 2040: robots become mentally and physically superior to humans

  • 2075 (at the earliest): time travel invented


I have some points to raise:


  • 2012: if people have as much success in setting the 'black box' as they do in setting their video or TiVo, then we can expect long detailed recordings of everything we haven't done all day. We'll just get the pauses between actions, the coughs, ums, and ahs in speech, the nervous tics, the hours of waiting for the spouse to return from shopping whilst channel hopping. Etc. Or else, you'll accidentally record everything somebody else did all day and wonder why you now have a dog called Rover and a wife called Susan/husband called Bob and live in Surbiton

  • 2015: images ARE ALREADY beamed directly to your eyeballs, via this amazing stuff called LIGHT. See how the screen delivers these words into your mind?

  • 2017: it will be a Chinese hotel full of Japanese space tourists, so we can re-title this, First Space Brothel. It will be sold as weightless shagging and make millions

  • 2020: artificial intelligence is already in parliament. It comes from having attended public school, Oxford/Cambridge Universities, and joined a political party

  • 2040: robots are already mentally and physically superior to humans. They do not experience greed, lust, hatred, envy, drunkenness, or any of the malevolent negativity which consumes humanity; they beat us at chess; it's only a matter of time before we prefer them as sexual partners and parents.

  • 2075: someone, probably a sexy Chinese robot, must have travelled back from 2075 and told them all this. Would you believe the words of a pheremone-transmitting robot with ultra-smooth synthetic skin and a guaranteed line in chat up, as it circled you in a weightless environment whispering huskily into your ear? And would you be able to justify this activity when either Susan, Bob or Rover scanned your 'black box' ?


Of course you would. You're human.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Children Are Not Small Adults: Official

In 1966, I was four years old. My parents divorced. My mum hooked up with a new dad. I was, quite understandably, confused and depressed. I don't recall anyone ever explaining to me where old dad was now, or where my paternal grandmother had disappeared to, or where my old toys were. There were five of us. I wasn't priority.

The moral support I received was a trip to the doctor when I couldn't sleep for nightmares.

The doctor, a well-meaning, half-trained ex-army medic, pressed into the National Health Service at de-mob, prescribed tranquilisers. He figured that half an adult dose ought to be correct, and I distinctly recall being fed these nightly concoctions of horror, foul-tasting pills crushed up with awful tasting jam. The sugar was disguising a dosage fit for an elephant. Unsurprisingly, I didn't remember much else about that period for many years, and it was a long time before I even started asking questions.

They tried again at age ten, with valium, but this time, I was wise to it and started pretending I had taken them when I hadn't.

It is even more common now for children to be given mood and behaviour-altering drugs and very little research has been done to examine the results of this long-term medically sanctioned experimentation upon children. Read this BBC news article. "90% of medicines for new born babies and 50% of those aimed at children are untested after collating evidence from doctors."

I have long since adjusted to the fact that this series of large chemical doses interrupted and interfered with my emotional and mental development far more than a failed relationship and a broken family ever did. What else could I become but an explorer of my inner world, since that was where I became trapped, unable to seek rescue, zombied into quiescence? What else to become but independent, cynical, and drawn to self-medication? If it wasn't for the things those kind souls in charge of my welfare actually did right, I may never have discovered this awful wrong years later, sitting in the office of an eminent psychiatrist, as he left to answer the phone.

As I sat and mused that it had taken me nine months to work my way through the medical system in order to get his referral, and that, by now, I had recovered from my terrible depression, more or less, and had no longer need of this bearded figure's expertise, I saw the fat pocket of my medical notes on the table in front of me, picked it up and started reading. There it was, page two.

In came the doctor, saw me reading the notes, raised his eminent eyebrow.

"I believe I am allowed to do this?" I asked politely.

"Go ahead," he confirmed, taking his seat at the desk opposite. I read, absorbed, checked a few things.

"Isn't this drug banned now?"

"We don't use it anymore. We've found much more effective medication. Are you interested in that?"

"I don't have clear memories from this time. Perhaps this is why..."

"Perhaps."

His non-committal reply not quite masking a genuine flicker of concern began a process of astonishingly rapid understanding in me that I had been the victim of drugging, disempowering and emotional isolation, aged four and a half, perpetrated in good faith by loving parents. These adult-strength drugs severed the connection to my previous self, my previous life, which had been already confused by the ongoing struggle to feed five young mouths, my mother's unresolved grief, and combinations of love, sex and jealousy. My own unresolved, unseen emotions would haunt me until I was twenty one, until I was twenty nine, until I was thirty six.

At thirty six, having suffered regular depression, and dealt with it in my own various independent and untrusting ways, I sat down and started to recover memories. Seeing that medical reference in my notes released a tiny dose of clarity into a black, deep pool, the sound of one drop echoing down long tunnels of years. One after another after another, realisations disturbed my waking mind, in the havoc of my recovery, like enormous manhole-cover-sized pennies dropping, dropping, one a week, barely enough time to absorb it.

I made notes.





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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Woodpecker

There is a new noise in city Islington, a knocking, thwocking sound which echoes and carries through the tall trees in the park directly opposite where I live. It's the beating of beak upon bark, as distinctive and colourful as a cartoon. It is not a very loud sound but somehow it cuts through the rumble and grind of traffic and pedestrian turbulence, and it can be heard despite the regular human mania of rush hours, commerce and wage slavery.

The woodpecker is new. I have never heard that knocking sound in Nether Holloway before. I have heard it in Highgate Woods, in Hampstead, in Richmond, in Upper Norwood, but never here, in the shadow of the Arsenal, in the land of cafes and theatre bars and colleges and the eternal rivers of moving metal and glass. This sound joins the screeching of circular saws splitting pavements, drills tearing up road surfaces, and the ubiquitous high-pitched two-stroke churn of 125cc commuter bikes.

I hear the woodpecker every morning and every evening, making noise out of all proportion to its size, a vigorous, rapid, hollow, repeating rap. I always hear it at least twice. The first time, I listen expectantly for the second, which arrival fills me with pleasure. The noise has nothing of the variety and beauty of the blackbirds' songs, which I come to recognise each year, and enjoy like the songs of my youth, but it has one thing above all else - uniqueness.

At this time of year, with the daylight seeping back, slowly at first, unnoticed, like a washing machine flooding the downstairs neighbour, extending the days in miniscule amounts, the birds start to sing and preen and nest build, and in particular my friends the blackbirds, fiercely territorial beings who thrive in these city spaces, fanfare the imminence of Spring more effectively than snowdrops, crocusses or the annual tax return.

The avian population, like the human, is in constant flux. Birds come and go, driven out by population pressure, changes in the environment, or bigger birds.

There are the gulls, raucous, itinerant, flown in from the Thames estuary a mile or two away, enormous white birds with a wingspan large enough to scare you. In Brighton, there are tales of birds attacking humans for their food, as they potter down the seafront with a bag of chips. I have not witnessed that kind of avian mugging but gulls are quite capable of ganging up on an unruly rabble of pigeons to steal food. We have practically no sparrows now in London. This has been blamed on various things - loss of habitat, 21st century additives in food causing sterility. Interesting enough, the only place for miles I have heard their traditional cheep-cheep-cheep and seen their small, darting brown shapes is in the local city farm where they thrive in a hedgerow next to a chicken coop.

There are magpies, mostly in ones and twos and threes, but I have seen eighteen at once, all black and white in a single tree, hopping and chattering. Used to be a rare sight, now they flourish, confident, capable, cheeky, clever, successful birds, the yuppies of London, who move into an area, steal the best nesting sites, and displace the former population. The collective noun for magpies is variously, a tiding, a gulp, a charm or a murder, but they are less feared than the jay, an occasional sight, who although smaller is more deadly, and whose quiet appearance sends shivers of fright and cries of alarm throughout the entire manor.

Let us not be sentimental about this - Islington may be a Liberal borough, but to the birds, it is a jungle. Yesterday I saw a rook, a large, black, intelligent bird, part of a nearby colony of at least fifty, eating a pigeon alive from the head down, and each time it stabbed the dying bird with its sabre beak, there was still enough life in the pigeon to cause it to flap its wings. It reminded me of the time that I saw a video made in a safari park, where a foolish video camera-wielding tourist was casually slapped down and eaten by a huge lion - what he think, that his camera was protection? As the lion calmly surveyed its next meal and its surroundings prior to commencing course number one, one paw on the still moving body, the flailing arm of the man came up in the same spastic, useless movement.

Having heard it for a couple of weeks, I saw the woodpecker on Sunday morning, before the church bells started to peal, as I stared out of the window, thinking nothing. It is not Green, possibly therefore Lesser Spotted. A smallish body, no real crest that I could see, sharp beak, bark falling from the trunk of London plane where it found breakfast. I hope it stays, finds a Lesser Spotted friend, makes more woodpeckers. I hope the magpies don't take its nest, the jay doesn't eat its eggs, the pigeons don't give it some dread disease, the park rangers don't cut down the dead tree it now calls home. I hope it finds a plentiful supply of bugs in the churchyard. I hope its beak stays sharp.

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