Category Archives: books

Another Day

Yesterday, I took my usual route into work with my guide dog, Trigger. The route to my local station entails passing the Queens Hotel, on Church Road in London SE19. On reaching the hotel, Trigger stopped dead in his tracks due to a large crowd of tourists blocking the pavement. The word ”Achtung!” (meaning attention or take care) rang out and a section of the crowd moved to allow Trigger and I through. I did, however have to say “excuse me” several times as others in the crowd had apparently, not heard their tour guide’s  “Achtung!”.

 

On such occasions I try not to let my frustration show, as I know that we British block walkways when abroad and while meandering our way around this sceptered isle. Nonetheless its frustrating when people block pavements, particularly when they can see a visually impaired person approaching with a guide dog or white cane.

 

My irritation soon subsided when I remembered that the French author, Emile Zola had stayed at the Queens Hotel during its glory days, https://insidecroydon.com/2015/01/08/zolas-exile-in-upper-norwood-and-case-for-two-blue-plaques/

Zola bravely wrote an articl accusing the French authorities of antisemitism for imprisoning a French officer, Dreyfus, (who was of Jewish descent) for providing secret information to Germany. Dreyfus was, in point of fact innocent and was later pardoned by the authorities. However Zola’s criticism lead to the imposition of a fine and a prison sentence. Rather than submit to French “justice” Zola fled to Upper Norwood. (Anyone interested in the “Dreyfus Affair” can read about it here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_affair).

 

On reaching my local station, I took the train into London Victoria. On arrival in Victoria I was faced by a number of busy roads and was grateful to a lady who helped me to cross 2 of the busiest ones. We chatted briefly and I learned that her name was Marianne, which made me think of Leonard Cohen’s song “So Long Marianne” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZI6EdnvH-8, but, not knowing my helper well I decided not to mention either Cohen or his song!

 

As I walked along Victoria Street, Trigger suddenly made a dive for the food being eaten by a person who was (I assume) homeless, as they where crouched down by one of the pillars which support the canopy that overhangs a number of the shops. All I could do was apologise! I did, of course feel incredibly guilty as I continued on my way. Trigger should not have taken the food. However whatever was being eaten was at his level and its extremely tempting for any dog (even a guide dog) to help himself in such situations. Also, to be fair to Trigger, given that the food was at his level he may have thought that it was being offered to him.

 

So, all in all an eventful trip into central London!

 

 

 

 

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Heather and Rose

I know a young lady called Heather

Who likes to dress in leather.

Her good friend Rose

Does poetry compose

About girls who dress in leather …

 

There was a young lady called Heather

Who wore one single feather.

My good friend Rose

Goes without clothes

In every kind of weather …

 

 

“The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” (forthcoming audio edition)

I am in the process of arranging for my latest collection of poems, “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” to be recorded and made available as an audio download. (“The Writer’s Pen” is currently available, as an e-book in the Kindle store and can be found here, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GD1LBMV/).

I hope that my collection will be available, to purchase from audible.co.uk and audible.com by Christmas 2018.

My previous collection, “My Old Clock I Wind and Other Poems” is available, as an audio download from audible.co.uk and audible.com, and can be found here, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077VZTM3V/.

Currently I am in the process of deciding whether to record “The Writer’s Pen” myself or whether to assign that task to a professional actor or actress.

Once “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems” is available in audio format I shall, of course post a link here.

Kevin

Sunday Evening Humour

There is a young lady called Irene
Who I have never seen.
She has a son named Mike
Who looks very like
Me, and that young lady I’ve never seen …

I know a young lady named Moore
Who all the men adore.
She works in a club
Called the Back Rub
And the police they bang on the door …

Acorns

As a child I took the acorn
From where it lay
On the forest’s lawn
As by way
Of the woodland path I went
Content
In my harmless play.

Shall I take
The acorn today
And break
The shell
I know so well?
The truth forlorn
Is that many an acorn
Have I broken in play.

The Myth of “Free Will”

According to the author of this article, (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/sep/14/yuval-noah-harari-the-new-threat-to-liberal-democracy) “free will” is a “myth”. While we can choose who to vote for, our choices are, for the most part products of our biology and societal influences (E.G. family upbringing). The author contends that governments and corporations will, in the future be able to “hack” us and know us better than we know ourselves for, in his view we are “hackable animals”.

The author is right that we are not free in some respects. For example there is considerable evidence that one’s sexual preferences are biologically determined (I.E. gay people have a natural/biological attraction for the same sex, while straight people have a natural/biological attraction to people of the opposite sex). For this reason it is, in my view cruel to try to change a gay person, by religious or other means into a straight individual. It doesn’t work and one is forcing them to adopt a way of life which goes against their natural inclinations.

I do, however fundamentally disagree with the author’s assertion that “free will” is a “myth”. Take, for example the young man attracted to a pretty girl. It can be argued that he lacks “free will” in the sense that he can not help being attracted to the beautiful woman. However where that same man to pester that young woman for sex or, god forbid sexually assault her, can we really say that he lacked “free will” and his actions where predetermined? We can not, for the overwhelming majority of men attracted to beautiful women do not make inappropriate advances or force themselves on the object of their desire. Where there no such thing as “free will” the number of sexual assaults would increase massively. It is moral precepts and the existence of “free will” that makes us human.

The author is correct that corporations and individuals can (and do) try to (and sometimes succeed) in influencing our behaviour. For example a person who frequently searches for news stories with a particular political bias may well find himself confronted by only those kinds of articles. However the educated person does (in my experience) go out of their way to find stories which challenge their preconceptions and its through education that we can help to combat the danger of “echo chambers” in which people only find themselves exposed to views that reinforce their existing view of the world.

With the growth of artificial intelligence, we do need to think seriously about the hacking of humans (the author is undoubtedly right here). However his view of “free will” (the lack thereof) is, in my opinion wrong and dangerous.

(My thanks to my friend Brian for drawing the above article to my attention).