Thursday, 30 April 2015

I spend so much of my life acting, when all I want is to stop and read the script

I’ve been in the habit of telling my parents a story – that I have a job.

After all, stories are indeed part of it. There is the usual narrative of course, which is never seen as such but  instead as ‘normal’ – that I get up at 6 am with the appropriately misted eyes, straighten  by body into a collar and a pair of shined shoes. They praise my dedication to ‘occupation’, the assumption stops them  reading into things anymore.

But I sift through stories, I cannot assume  anything.

For every week-day morning I go to the town library. I stay there at 9 am, in the fictions section, beginning ‘A’. Then at  my ‘lunch break’ I board a bus to the next small town and go to the library there,  again to the fat laminated ‘A’ in the fiction section. I will ‘work; through them, I will gain experience, I will earn -  nothing.

Why are they hated, those who gain yet earn  nothing?

But  everyone is assuming, happy in the knowledge of my ‘occupation’. The old women who observe me,  cross-legged in the corner, nursing the book over my knee, think I am ‘on break’ from the office. The librarian may think I have been jilted  by a partner, a lad working as a town centre apprentice clerk or something similar.. (meaningless phrases)

Yet the only intimacy I have, the only solidity beyond assumption, is the book; the smoothness of the spine, the beautiful sensation of turning pages. In a place so public it makes my skin creep.  And the connections. The delicious sensation of seeing people, reading. Sometimes I will go and pick up the book after they’ve pulled away and hope to  follow the lines that they did. Best, perhaps, most savoured, those books bound in tarpaulin or a fixed fabric, so the title cannot be read.  It makes the ‘outsider’ ‘guilty’ (ah, what apostrophes can mean) I have to imagine the genre as it works its way across the readers face, over their mouth, into their eyes. I see people reading and disappointed, exasperated, angry, I heard a man mutter he wanted advice that was ‘easy to understand’. I am trying reading people reading.  I know that I feel something different, yet in a string of words, we are monetarily connected. Sometimes, library books  have pages so worn the edge of the paper has begun to curve.

Like the slight curve of my palm as I wish I could offer  this to you. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

I’d give you my address if I had one

You like to think you know why
I look out from the corner table, drink in
Conversation, inhabit elation
With a slight flick of the wrist.
My throat never moves
As the beer tips
And my eyes freeze, close, freeze

I am the pulse you leave
In another year. Like the paint dried
Over what your said was a tear-stain
On your bedpost
The rented accommodation, the half-made
Array  of promises, the cries in the dark.

Everyone feels alive clutching glass
Rather than sheets, you can feel the knife
Your touch has become.
I have lost the time
And the offer
Of walking me home

Enters your voice.
It sounds deliberate
Like the risk I entertain
As the strangers witness
My slow discomposure.
I have lived in these thoughts
Longer than I can remember
Watched the exhibitions of gentry
As my fingers go up in smoke

Will be crossed
In the dark street later
I grab your hand
Beginning to laugh –
For this is my home
This unfeeling mask

Are we  escaping and hiding a similar process?
Under the eyes of a streetcar
We are bound to confession
I would give you my address if I had one
And you learn the lesson
Looking at your hand afterwards

And seeing only tissue.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


It began with phrases
I would reuse them, increase them for occasion
Let my tongue locate feeling
‘I really feel for you’ I would say, like a friend did
I  lied, titled my head to one side
As I had seen in the films. I talked about films
Like the text in magazines, filled
Silence with clichés, camera stills
Became role-play.  I willed a voice
From memory into mine
Trembling, tripping through time
‘I am truly envious’ – even though I was not.

I am haunted by memories
Of a teacher who spoke
In tones as cut-clear as a pitcher
Serving ice-water at lunch
Which froze our lips over
-          I could only smile dumbly with every sip.

Now I intend to drink in
Yet still I drop, clichés and clench
To the arms which still rock –
They hold bracelets not, handed down, hot
Like the pen between fingers, making shapes over
The box which says ‘sign here’

The recycled gesture
The recycled thought
The first few words recycled
Slide through the throat

What do you want
Is an odd question
From when we are children
-              The trill of annoyance
Irritable, launched
By the teacher who once made you
Stand in the corner
‘what do you want?’.
I wanted to be an author
But that was not what she meant
Meaning – ‘why are you being so awful?’
I wanted knowledge, friends
But nothing belonged here

I am trying to get something off my chest
It isn’t working
I bring the subject up slowly,
Thickening near my neck,
Hurting. It could be age
Not yet an adult
Skin still inflamed by clichés,
Rage – can even have positive meaning

Rage rage rage rage

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

laughing laughing laughing as the kettle cries

It had all the props for an appropriate life
The ladelling, the block of knives
(teeth slotted into gaping holes)
Noticed the weight of feet against the tiles
The newspaper sheets just soaking up
The confession dropped, this liquid life.

Broken the room dedicated to
The welding of energy for the day
Their stoking to inflame the cheek
The fork amplified in its embrace.
Perhaps the years of pangs of worth
I believed, were naive,  brittle
Thinking of forest fires upon the screen
And looked for love in what was metal.

The scores still settling in the skin
 Of the goose my mother plucked  with her own hands
It was the softest they have ever felt
For death tenders there the hands of man

 And still does now
I flick the switch
The kitchen anticipates it’s light
But instead, the kettle hilt
Liquidless, and left now, to boil dry.

I lean against the granite surface
And watch the kettle slowly start to gape
Steam fizz from underneath the plastic hatch
The deliciousness of seeing something break.
No longer am I the simple child
Who assumed  kitchen as a place of love
No longer do I seek to find
Nor know when I have had enough

 My finger still, upon the switch
The kettle shrieks, then screams, then asks
In acrid streaks of blue-black smoke
If it  better to remove the mask

It has assumed
And I have bought
From the passed-down familial sense
That to be domestic is to be ‘dutiful;
To produce, they call it ‘consequence’.

The clean attempt at cutting space
Though my finger trembles on the tab
As the kettle threatens at the mains
And screams and screams and belches ash
For even it has found its moisture
Which has managed in itself to move
And lost beyond the tabled effort
In the attempt to assemble what was love.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Steak on a Train

There was no dining car on the train. No – gone, just as those elements of childhood fantasy typically do, instead to be absorbed into some streamlined, externally shiny narrative. Instead I sat about three-quarters of the y back in the central carriage positioned just so I could see through the  little glass hatch into first-class. It was positioned at an odd angle, this hatch, so that in order to look through it – as temptation demanded – you were required to crumple and crease, double back on yourself as if a confirmation of your own mediocrity.

Mediocre – like half-warm water or an entirely wasted piece of paper – paper that doesn’t even deserve the exertion of coming to flame. That’s what I thought of – staring at my notepad in front of me on  the train desk. An impersonal plastic, used for presenting everything from overpriced food to a person’s realisation of their own focus and  tears. A man a few seats away had his face pressed into the table and  leaked into the atmosphere with dripping, irregular snores. I could hear another person contending with a cough. Even voices seemed to be fighting themselves as they  burst open and then shrivelled like  puncture wounds.  In my preserved kind of social silence, I could have appeared ‘successful’. I wore a tailored suit jacket and an ironed skirt, made from a material which  creased the skin of my stomach back to a kind of flatness..

It was only four o clock and I felt disgustingly, side-creasingly full. It was as if a weight indescribable in content, had slipped down my spine and over my stomach. There was a hovering, hovering to it, which added a kind of nauseating uneasiness – edging on anger, I felt like the act of putting pen to paper, would be a kind of  purge. And of nothing fresh either – all stale and seeping, and burnt-down by passionless, plastic eating. 5 days out of 7, 5 days out of 7.

I was recycling the numbers round ad  round in my mind when I suddenly noticed another young woman, sitting almost adjacent to me on the other side of the carriage. She wore very little, and what she did seemed to slip in a kind of nude shade into her own skin – a frustrating nakedness. Yet it was not that I was drawn to, but instead, her apparent disconnection from all surrounding, her ear did not cock at the mention of a dirty word, she did not look up when a particularly loud line of feet filtered past. She didn’t even glance through into first class where they were now reading newspapers and feeling the crispness under the air conditioning.

She was sitting in one of the train seats without a table, as if designed to make  a rather pleasant exhibition of whatever was in the hands. Cradled over her palms with almost a kind of fondness was a plastic packet, yet I noticed, attempting to focus amid the hubbub, that she was attempting to prise the corner of plastic away with an apparently overworked thumb-nail.  The nail working, working, working – in those moments summarising  the frustration, the fickleness, the thrown-up human limit of everything felt –

Perhaps I wanted her to stare back, perhaps that was why I kept staring. And yet, her whole body and no apparent movement, apart from the thumb and the rest of the flesh quivering according to the movements of the train. Even the staring provided little solution to where her skin ended and  clothes began. Her hair  seemed to lock in a kind of electricity, a foamed mass of curls channelling static from the headrest.

Her own occupied silence made me feel  more aware of the acuteness of my own – but I could not help watching.  I  watched her as a scene rather than a singular, yet as part of society, rather than  a single spectator. Part of the collective jaw picking off the flesh of the singular.  I knew this a more and more eyes seemed to  slither towards her, the ambiguity,  urging, almost hoping for her to open the plastic.  The click, click, click of her nails – such a common sound, almost an irritant.

Even  the old man at the end of the carriage seemed to turn to watch her, his face creased in a kind of concentration, as if locking the mask of loose skin into place for a final determined act.  The click, click click of her nails was like the directing of some symphony ready to give way at any second. For despite the music players, and laptops, ,my previous stare joining on my watch, even life in episodes – something  stuck on one woman’s undivided attention in  attempting to open a plastic box.

It had to be opened, it was necessary.

It was.

It was a seething slab of meat as the plastic catch on the box collapsed and the finger plunged forth. The sight of the steak in her hand made me think that suddenly the clothes seemed to coat even to the edge of  each finger, though this was probably untrue.  A human being in a whole stocking, hanging a whole raw steak in front of her face. There were hundreds of pairs of eyes not just watching now, completely unmet by her, but waiting, of course we were all waiting, we knew what she wanted to happen.

We knew we felt the saliva thicken in anticipation by the sides of our teeth.

She bit the steak.

And all around her, we were throwing up words quick to declare how disgusting it was, but it was only noise. And she was only human. Just as we all were.

But she was braver than that. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Reforming the Reformations...

Is a 'Reformation' designed by a reaction of violence?
Language  can be a crucial as well as confusing tool, changing according to perspective. This is evident in terms of era of ‘Reformation’ in Britain, what could now be seen as used as an umbrella term to describe the conversion of the state religion from Catholicism to Protestantism. This may well have been advocated as a ‘reformation’ by those driving it, with positive connotations especially championed by protestant bodies. Even in historical study of Scotland, this positivity has been championed as the case by  protestant historians, giving rise then to a kind of ideological determinism. After all, the Scottish reformation is often cited as  a time of the ‘rise of the people’s church’ ie. The kirk. However, in this article it will be argued that the Scottish reformation was aggravatory rather than reforming, actually driven by elites, potentially even more so than events in England.

In comparison to the English reformation, which is often assumed as a process being undertaken by The Act in Restraint of appeals and papal limitations imposed by Henry VIII as early as 1533,  the Scottish reformation  was much later (in the 1550’s) – this in itself suggesting it was driven with an intensity by elites. There were origins  of protestant thought beforehand of course, for example contact with the teachings of Erasmus and also D'etpales; considerable French influences desirous for the removal of abuses from the Catholic Church. The teachings of these two men could be seen as part of a wider intellectual culture of humanism popularised in Britain – especially through French connections – in this light foreshadowing that the Scots could use their French connections to bolster their reactions, especially as many resented  the French assumption of power in the ‘Auld Alliance’. Yet these ties and intellectual connections were ultimately driven and decided by elites, apparently summarised in the rancour rather than ‘reform’ of Patrick Hamilton returning to Scotland in the 1520’s, influenced by the teaching of Protestantism amongst merchants, only to be burned at the stake by Cardinal Beaton.

Archbishop David Beaton of St Andrews, and the last Cardinal of Scotland (he was related to James V, especially significant when relations between James and his uncle Henry VIII became strained)

England’s reformation was also bloody, but it appeared driven not only by the elites but by the people – having an impact which could be seen as more ‘reformatory’ in nature. For example, the Act in Restraint of Appeals and Cranmer’s in introduction of a new prayer book uptaken by many, saw real constructive change – attempting to usurp one religious structure with another, as following on from the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 onwards. It may have been readily accepted by more of the working people also than in Scotland – whose highlands and islands were difficult to penetrate – as seemingly complementing the reforming drive of the lollards some years earlier. The catholic church in England had been under pressure to reform for some time, especially regarding outdated monasteries, and therefore Henry’s VIII’s movements may well have been seen as more ‘reforming’ by the people, however, elites  still had a significant extent of power as Henry VIII’s appeared unnerved by the actual impact of his reforms and introduced the Six Articles in an attempt to re-introduce some catholic elements. This is interesting as Henry VIII is often depicted as a hard-handed figure imposing the Church of England, yet actually showed a certain level apprehension and even wavering – executing Wolsey amidst this.

It is easy to at try and perceive  the ‘reformation’ for what we anticipate the definition to mean – the reform of the religion, when this was not wholly the case. However that Protestantism continued as a force on England and was still accepted under Edward VI’s and Somerset’s harder implementations, highlights a possibly greater ‘reform’ in the public acceptance of protestants. This was highlighted in that the people still largely received Cranmer’s new prayer book, whereas in Scotland the religious control seemed perpetuated by a select number of elites. James v seemed to avoid the theological changes  transforming England, as appointing Cardinal Beaton as  Archbishop of St Andrews to exercise  hard catholic values., the burning of two key protestant reformers by Beaton– Hamilton and Wishart, emphasizes that a key element of ‘reform’ was lacking.

The stones  marking 'PH'  outside St Salvator's Chapel, St Andrews, marking the place Hamilton was burned to death
However, one could also argue that ‘reform’ was lacking and actually a point of regression was occurring in England, as following Edward’s protestant exercises and death, his half-sister Mary, took to the throne, In turn began a series of anti-protestant measures in an attempt to impose the Roman Catholic church again – including the Marian persecutions in which 288 at least were executed. The use of ‘imposing’; church rather than reforming it seems the case for the reformation as a whole, including Scotland – the changing of religion associated with ‘religion’ often occurring out of violence rather than reform. Violence may have not appeared officially the case in terms of the work of Argyll as regent following the kings dearth – as he was pro-English, proposing the Treaty of Greenwich which would marry James Vs daughter Mary, to a French prince. This emphasizes the web of cultural dependencies, but ultimately also the inevitably of violence and imposition rather than reform, and these concepts were met with a coup from Beaton.  In many ways Beaton could represent what a  number of the Scottish lords and earls saw as unattractive and veering towards Catholicism rather than a constructive Protestantism. He was related to the king James V, who failed to pursue reform, and  was not typically someone to allow for compromise.

Martyr's Monument, St Andrews
Yet Beaton himself was assassinated in 1547, following the execution of George Wishart, a known supporter of the protestant cause. The  assassination was carried out by a group who became known as the ‘Castilians’ – a group of protestant-driven reformers, who could be seen as representing the people rather than elite – containing members such as John Knox. However, they were still incorporated as a bigger power battle of elites as at this time, Mary of Guise was regent of Scotland following Beaton, and ordered her French allies to storm the castle via the sea. The subsequent arrest of the Castilians by the decisions of an elite provided the opportunity for Scottish resentment to the French to develop further – and in this light, again, the ‘reformation’ may not be seen as primarily riven by reform to religion, but violence, in the form of national unrest. This reached a new climax in the Battle of Pinkie 1657, part of England’s apparent ‘wooing’ to seek Mary Queen of Scot’s hand by force, although many historians argue in terms of the then dispersal of protestant information amongst the people – the English and Scottish  troops meeting at Pinkie, this was seemingly part of a wider power competition rather than the reformation of religion.

Yet what about Ireland amidst all this?  The prerogative of the monarch did extend to Ireland afterall, considering that monarchs of early as Henry VIII’s were attributing their rule to Ireland also. This could be seen as matched in theory by Ireland, as following on from the acts of supremacy in 1534, the Irish followed by 1541 in introducing the title of ‘Kingdom’ to Ireland rather than a lordship. This brought potentially greater glory to the country but also the pressure of affiliation with a monarch – bound to be controversial in the light of a Protestant monarch over a largely catholic populace. From the Crown of Ireland Act 1542, Henry was now ‘king of Ireland’ – and now neither had to be subject to the papacy. In turn, Henry also rather forcefully arranged to be declared as head of the ‘church in Ireland’. The state churches in Ireland however did have less power and influence considering the country was already a place of significant Catholic  stronghold.

  Yet these movements could be seen as at a slower-place in Ireland compared with England aforementioned, and his lack of policy haste could also appear reflected as Cromwell’s attempt for dissolution of the monasteries in Ireland – which in reality did both affect many areas. This could imply that either the English government was being naive and limited policy performance in Ireland or actually limited/scared to act. The reality was perhaps is that they were limited and scared to act as Henry’s direct of authority as lord of Ireland and then king, only extended to the area of the pale immediately about Dublin. There was still much unexpectancy and therefore little way of guaranteeing that policy in relation to Ireland was even being carried out – though Henry VIII still determined and issuing the legislation for the closure of monasteries in 1537. Despite this pressure, many houses of friars still remained in Ireland and this apparent English inability to have lasting impact in Ireland was also reflected in that Edward VI’s act of uniformity had  few implications in Ireland, though much in England. 
King Edward VI (R28 January 1547 – 6 July 1553)

Yet what did have implication not  religious per se in Ireland but having effect in Ireland in the long-term was the systems of plantation, a process from 1556 to 1620.  It was a process ultimately of  colonisation starting with Henry, where Irish landholdings were given to wealthy protestant earls – thus English invasion and  negativity associated with Protestantism and thus unpopular in the eyes of many ‘old Irish’. Although the focus on Protestantism was  reversed by Mary during the Marian counterreformation, plantation still continued Under Elizabeth. There was initial relaxation in laws regarding Catholics but following the promulgation of the Papal bull in 1570, Catholics were increasingly seen as  a security threat. This threat accumulated in the two Desmond Rebellions (1569-83) and the Nine Years War, both overlapping with the anglo-Spanish war, where inter-territorial grievance occurred in that some of Catholic (confederate Irish) sided with the Spanish under Phillip II – Mary’s husband of Elizabeth.

 Slowly, an alliance was also forming  between Gaelic (old) Irish and the ‘Norman Old’ English who had Catholicism in favour; Protestantism slow to  spread due to the unstable nature of the country and its associations with colonisation.  By the reign of King James I, the start of toleration meant that Irish Catholicism could potentially strengthened itself and the treaty of London (1604) was signed with Spain, ending hostilities there.  However, the  plots against his life including the Gunpowder Plot in 1605  caused him to pit a  harder line toward Catholics . However, James’ attempted forcing of Irish people to convey to Protestantism seemed futile, and although there were an increasing number of Presbyterians entering Ireland in an attempt to influence, they served significantly to aggravate and would take issue themselves with royalty later.  It could be seen that at this time Irish culture became more  entrenched too, with  the Bishop of Kilmore, Bedell translating a Book of Common  Prayer into use.

Yet these methods of Irish cultural identification were seemingly a slow burn, like in Scotland, inevitably to accumulate in violence, thus can be seen in the Irish rebellion of 1641 who still held allegiance to Catholicism and/or the crown which  on the head of Charles I, which was being threatened by parliament and their compiling Militia Ordinance. The fighting of the wars of the three kingdoms would ultimately involve a largely catholic Ireland defending the old, old traditions of monarchy – thus entrenched in its beliefs rather than infiltrated by others.
Reflecting on the Irish Rebellion 1641

In turn, could it be appropriate to see the Scottish Reformation as a time not necessarily of reform, but of aggravation and therefore reaction?   However, Not only were English protestant ideas transferred into Scotland by the aggravated interactions of Pinkie, but  perhaps increasingly became seen as a method to separate identity from the regent, Mary of Guise, who was  French. In turn, it could appear that whilst Protestantism was an action for change in England, in Scotland, it could be seen as reaction against France and infringements on the national identity. This was potentially consolidated by limited action within church reform in Scotland   including the restricted impact of church councils under John Hamilton.  There was an evident want to separate the Scottish identity from that of the French, and in this way, Protestantism could  appeared as used as reactive force. This appears especially the case in the growth of privy kirks around this time, combined with the ‘confessional front’ of a potentially more accessible Anglicanism in England under Elizabeth from 1558.

 Elizabeth also issued The Act of Supremacy 1558 and the Act of Uniformity 1559 – which put her both at the head of the Church of England, but also made Anglican Sunday services compulsory. In Ireland, this meant that the populace was instructed to go to an appropriate Church of Ireland service every Sunday; significantly unpopular and typically unfollowed by the majority of the Irish who were Catholics, and perceived Protestantism as symbolic of English invasion.   The Marian exiles of Mary’s reign  were also spreading Protestant ideas in Scotland, though it could appear further the case that these took a particularly reactive rather than reformative Scottish element – working outside existing church structures and proposing new ones entirely; perhaps symbolised through the first bond’ of the lords of the congregation signed by Argyll.This largely noble-led effort in Scotland, often most predominant in privileged pockets could especially reactive when compared with England. At this time, what has since become known as ‘The Elizabethan Religious settlement’; was in operation -  on one hand attempting to bring an element of control to the public practice of faith. This was evinced  in the Act of Uniformity and Acts of Supremacy – both 1588 which served the dual-role of effectively putting Elizabeth at the head of the church, whilst also outlining structures for the public – including the  new payer books and Anglican Sunday services. In this light, the course of English Protestantism could be seen as driven from above and below. 

This  combination of high and low in terms of societal standing could be seen as also holding elements in Scotland, so not entirely noble but perhaps significantly facilitated by them,  as some historians note ‘The Beggar’s Summons’  of 1559 as the prelude to what has been since known as the reformation   crisis of 1559-60 (notably later than the  first stages of the English Reformation under Henry VIII). As this article has explored what appears ‘reaction’ rather  than reform, so to speak, could the period of 1550-60  be seen as  crisis in reaction? The reaction against French domination still evidently was a driving force, with Knox returning from chain labour imposed by the French in 1550 and thus bringing further reactionary zeal, tied in with Protestantism. However, the reaction was changing in terms of the  attitudes to the English – and in 1560 the lords actually appealed for help from England for the safe return of the Earl of Arran to lead the Lords of the Congregation. The signing of the Treaty of Berwick in 1559 showed that reaction had taken a key direction;  but was it Protestantism (moving towards Presbyterianism)  as reaction against French dominance and old-fashioned manipulation, rather than the actual form of religion itself?
Window in St Giles Cathedral, Lords of The Congregation

It could be seen that the new religious structures were just as corrupt as the old ones in many ways, rather than  a wholly new reaction. The first Reformation Parliament which met in  1560 seemingly ignored the Treaty of Edinburgh drawn up following the death of Mary of Guise – instead opting for a whole confirmed Confession of Faith. The Lords of the Congregation had evidently taken advantage and reacted  to the circumstances of the death  of the unpopular French Regent and the withdrawal of French and English troops. If England Scotland are to be compared at this point, Protestantism in Scotland could appear a reaction against national interference, whilst England’ s efforts could appear more actively reforming – or at least in concept; such as the Act of Uniformity. Yet this also exposes the above/ and below dichotomy as whilst England was attempting to co-coordinate the practice from below, Scotland was imposing it from above, This included the forcing down of a first book of discipline and tellingly, although the elites desired for ‘reformed’ ministers in each of approximately 1080 parishes, only 20 were filled by 1561. Thus a key difference is that whilst a much greater proportion of the populace were protestant in England following the slower course of reform, in  Scotland it appeared distinctly more ‘elite’ with many people still practising Catholics.

Therefore, this article suggests that the Scottish reformation can actually be seen more in the light of an aggrieved national reaction propelled by privileged circles rather than religious overhaul. It could be easy to assume this for the English reformation too – socially it is easy to judge Henry VIII’s decision or reform as driven by ulterior motives. Yet under Edward especially and in the public’s continuance of Protestantism despite the Marian counter-reformation, this signifies a potentially much greater public drive of Protestantism, tweaked further under Elizabeth. But the Scottish reaction and English reformation? It was complicated time in history with complicated connections between nations and perhaps best to see the reformation as process composed of both reaction and actual change, rather than defined singularly.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A Spokesperson Said

I am the generic spokesperson
No one needs to hear my voice
As noise is only at the end of digits
Either keys on board
The fingers moist

From pushing it back,
The weekday grease.
I  drink coffee, imitations sag
In the souring of breath
The magazines
Laid upon my lap.
I dandle the day
 Over my knees

‘We just love our shower mat’
‘We use our mop every day of the week’
Advertising anticipates the trap
The habit
Between the sleep.

I grate, I  glean
From my right side
The bits that you would like to see
Formatted on a single page
The bits of type
Between white teeth

Have I said enough
Have  I got it right
To satisfy those damp desires
I place my hand on the enter key
And crack your mind through
 Pages, wires

Once it may have been a face
A smile, the human scent
Has become packaged by a layer
The monologue
The mind for rent.

Shall I slobber
On the Frisbee
Of your thoughts
Like an animal in afternoons
When I am too tired to hover, scan
With the cursors which
Become the hand
 I now abuse.

Who ever knew a sadistic streak
Lay behind the silent job
Telling people what they want hear

Like to the blind, that they are seeing God. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A man in demand - The fantastic affair of being both James VI and I

James VI and I
The Union of The Crowns was an event in 1603, which saw the English and Scottish crowns joined under the monarch of a single king – James VI of Scotland who in turn became James I of England. Such circumstances arose as following the death of Queen Elizabeth I  in 1603, she had no children – and this left James , great grandson on Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister) in the blood-line to the English monarchy.   His accession to the crown itself  could be seen as considerably romanticised at the time, including mobbed by adoring and excited Englishfolk on entering London  and himself speculating on the joining of the crowns of England and Scotland  as a little like a ‘marriage’. However, this article will explore that the Union of the Crowns was not as necessarily harmonious as this image of ‘marriage’ suggests, and if we are to continue the relationship metaphor, potentially composed of many more illicit, and often short-lived romances.

After all, James himself had not been raised in circumstances of unity. The only child of Mary Queen of Scots  and Lord Darnley,  he was denied of his father – who was murdered in 1567, potentially in retaliation for the murder of the Queen’s secretary Rizzio. Mary then went onto marry The Earl Of Bothwell, which was regarded with disparity by most of the populace. This discontent even evinced itself physically in that the queen was captured– and imprisoned in Loch-Leven Castle, forced to pass the hereditary title to James, who was only 13 months old at the time. In reaction to Mary’s increasingly unpopular Catholicism – seen as linked to France and foreign invasion – James was raised by prominent protestant Earls; with his key regent for much of his early life being The Earl of Moray. Furthermore, it was Moray who played a key role in defeating Mary’s troops at Langside in 1582 – and in this way it is interesting to see how James was in effect, raised by a man implicated in the early doom of his mother. There was also further insecurity for James in this arrangement, as  not only under the influence of Moray, but also prominent advisors such as Lennox. James himself was the  object of kidnap in what has became  known as the 1582 Ruthven Raid as  he was captured by protestant elites seemingly suspicious of Lennox’s Catholic connections.
A young Mary Queen of Scots

However, rather than hard-lining his protestant views, it could be seen that James’ different series of experiences with different religious groups led  to him attempting to drive his own view – rather than what different parties had attempted to force on him. After all, James was a prominent champion of The Divine Right of Kings and this could appear exhibited in what could be seen as crackdown on religious practice following this release in 1583. This included curtailing rather than aiding Scottish protestants in the form of The Black Acts 1583 which exercised a greater extent of royal control over the kirk (Scottish Church). By some Scottish people at the time, this may well have been seen as a form of ‘betrayal’; especially when coupled with the Treaty Of Berwick which was drawing up an agreement of peace between Scotland and England whilst Elizabeth I was still ruling. In this light, to the Scottish people, limitations upon the kirk could may well have been associated with getting closer to England – and thus taken as negative and betrayal. This may well have been emphasized by James’ declaration to Elizabeth during the turbulence of the Spanish Armada (Phillip II attempting to enact his revenge on Catholic Mary’s protestant sister) that he would be like a ‘son’ to her and help where he could.

But were these just royal pleasantries or was James already making early steps to put himself in a position of unpopularity? Following the death of Elizabeth, accession was not a wholly popular decision after all – especially as James was in the eyes of many, the son of a woman guilty of treason (Mary Queen of Scots had been beheaded, as accused of plotting against Elizabeth I ) and also a ‘foreigner’. However, he also possessed factors which were attractive to any monarchy and a welcome rather than alienating break from the past. For example, he had a solid marriage with Anne of Denmark, and also three children – two of whom were male and thus could offer a hereditary line which had been an issue previously in terms of religion. On the surface then, people may have thought James offered a great, romanticised prospect, hence the enthusiastic crowds and James’ apparent tones of confidence.  It was this confidence he exhibited in calling both the Scottish and English parliaments in 1604 to discuss the idea of a ‘perfect union’.

Yet ‘perfect’ seems a term almost farcical to use in regards to monarchy – a momentary ideal perhaps, but not a state which can be maintained. This was ultimately the case in terms of James’ rule of Scotland and England, which could be seen as proceeding to entail multiple complications - and as many have argued, James’ betrayal of Scotland. This betrayal could be seen as beginning that despite his pledge he would return to Scotland (Edinburgh) every three years, he only returned once. The Scottish people may have seen this as proof that James had become a ‘puppet’  to England and her parliaments –as after all, James was stopped in his own ideals for closer and English and Scottish union by legal rejection through the parliament in both 1607 and 1647.

Part of the Treaty of Berwick 
But how could a prospect of a king who once seemed so popular now appear  so rejected? In one way, it could appear that with his own upheld views on The Divine Right  of Kings, James had placed himself at an idealistic distance from what in reality were tides of turbulence in regards to nation and religion. This was not just limited to Scotland and England, but also in Ireland , where  there was much animosity between the Irish and old English and new Scottish settlers moving in as part of James’ imposed plantations settlement. In this light, it appears James was a character intent to impose his ideals and no less. This was evident in Scotland also with apparent measures taken to what he termed as ‘civilise’ the clans in the highlights and islands – including The Statues of Iona of 1609, which required every clan leader to come to mainland Scotland and receive education in the English language. By many scots people, this was not only considered an affront to national identity, but to their pride – further impacted upon in that James referred to their Gaelic language  during his reign in a derogatory way, suggesting it was ‘alien’. Thus although James was a Scottish king, he may well have been seen by many traditional scots as harbouring a kind of rejection of Scottish values.

Yet James himself potentially saw himself neither as Scottish king or a rejecter of Scottish values, but a British king; a completely new concept. It was in 1604, following the union of the crowns, he proclaimed himself  ‘King of great Britain’; thus a proclamation rather than legal statute. And how could the people react to this? It was potentially a relationship to themselves which they could neither accept or reject, as it was an unknown concept. And in turn, a key reaction to what is unknown, is to attempt to destroy it, there were three major attempts on James’ life in the first five years of his joint reign – the  Bye plot, the Main Plot and the gunpowder plot – arranged largely by catholic conspirators alarmed bu his protestant  king from ‘foreign’ Scotland who likely in their eyes also had a ‘foreign’ way of doing things.  After all, rather than adopting what became known as the Anglican ‘middle way’ or religious settlement as Elizabeth had, it appeared that James preferred to use religion  and even nationalism with fluctuating intensity, in order to suit his needs. This not only included exercising his idealised Episcopalian polity over the more radical Presbyterian kirk, but also allowing a certain degree of laxity for practicing Catholics in Britain – before later cracking down with penal laws.  James himself was an avid supporter of the theatre – a patron of Shakespeare – and it could appear that within his dynastic affairs, he was attempting to stage a play which facilitated all his senses. 
The Eucharist - a significant area of dispute between covenanters and episcopalians 

Puritans  approached him  with the Millinery Petition to remove elements of what they believed as  ‘popery’ from the catholic church, but he turned them away. He also turned down the more readily Presbyterian system in Scotland in actual favour of bishops as they actually more readily supported a monarchical structure. Forcing through the Five Articles of Perth  despite unpopularity in Scotland, may well have appeared summative that  king of ‘Britain’; rather than Scotland, had power in mind rather than people.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Female, Written

I try to write
But perhaps I have perfected the art
Of losing the plot
Far too often

Of using the knife
With the hilt inwards.
‘Ladylike’ or just squeamish
An indulgent paradox
Shifts through my fingers
They look like insects
Yet the wrists rotten.

I take the first hand
In the other
And curl the digits to fists
Slowly knotting the flesh
Is this expression?
If I hold it above my chest
Does it mean something?
When I push it against my temple
It fits like a glove

Ah, you lover
The clichés run
And these hands uncover
They scrabble with dust
They want to hold
But they only touch.

Because she is sensation to one
‘A hand’ to the other
She can never be whole
But is like a parade
Taken for entertainment
Tired-out for the day.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Eating Myself

The contemporaries
Grab handfuls of language
And pelt it at canvas. I envy
Their movements
Their fluid enhancements
Yet these fingers are dancing
Over a carcass. I take the bone
Of a sentence, peeling off prose
In its sinewy embers
As if looking
For hope. Did I mention
The glut of the grease
Which I sieve through, sitting under
My nails
 Like an intimate gesture.

I have prepared to fail
Like a special menu.
The picture, first be my heart
Remarkably tender
For it has hardly stirred. The component parts
Glitter, the life in the mirror
Plucked like a lobster
To impress the diner.

I want then to be served
On an extensive platter
Or poured into china – my tongue
And its matter. The talk, talk, talk
Of the trimmings thereafter
Hot in the string
Of individual breaths.
When that is exhausted
I will offer them health
The residual lot
Slow-cooked for flavour
And served by itself.

The cutlery does not match
But I never did either
The jaw bone bent at an angle
With receiving incisors
The eyeballs a special
That turn to you after.
There might be a layer
Of self-pity to puncture
But under, the mildness

Of innocent vision.

I once saw my hand, reaching  into the distance
And bend to a cup
For another cheekbone.

I catch the friction
Of knife or a wristwatch
Guiding me backwards

And wonder if this is the system
The palm which we eat from.

What is an Affair?

They were going ‘out’
Each told the respective spouse
Put on the unsuspecting coat
Typically going ‘out’ was of the house
-          Yet today was something else.
The clinch with which the fingers press

Over the texted excuse even later
‘Friend offered coffee and could not refuse’
‘Train not due for an hour – signal failure’
The routines they hate they now reuse

Tired of putting on a face, she slips
In and out of smiles and grasps his hand
She is what is what would be known as ‘comfortable’
Others give him the name of  ‘family man’

Yet they  have dared this kind of tryst
Like children in the café corner
The high-stools seemingly arranged for shame
For he is ‘baiter’ and she the 'other woman’
(Also husband and son, and wife and daughter)

According to  the slow accordion
Of Sunday-noon-time conversation
Nobody notices really what they talk about
For all they see is bad behaviour.

Both look at eyes beneath the mask
The paper of their words, recycled later
In heads , in beds – assuming marriage
The title ‘mummy’, ‘daddy’ – nursing failure.

 The cautious, clutch of another’s interest
Then the slow sensation of mutual trust
When mixed with social obligation
Becomes the family-thrown accolade of dust

The anxious ash of bodies smarting
In the ceremony of the ‘working week’
She cleans it from the kitchen for an hour
It coats his lashes when he sleeps
(She picks the children’s toys up from the floor)

People try to accept it with ‘good’ or ‘habit’
Implying positivity in a test of time
Which smashes one life through another
And says joint recovery is always right.

She already had the second baby
And he acquired the car, the points
All the correct seats of successful;
Yet he sits unheard
She has no voice

These are the hours they become unknown
The forbidden poetry  of their skin
Yet they go in fear to narratives
They are too scared by time to leave.

For this is the watched process, desperate
In the want to be two people, interested.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Faltering Forward - Human Capital, Manchester and Industry

In this article,  the industrial revolution will be considered a process of division when approaching the concept of  ‘work’ – ultimately developing and advancing itself through exacerbating the needs and vulnerabilities of people in society. In this article, Manchester will be explored as a case study

When one is presented  with ether term ‘industrial revolution’, it is easy to assume a time of positive progress, especially when bolstered by statistics. In the late 18th and early 19th century,  as industry grew, it could be seen as easy to view the situation in regards to material – between 1809 and 1839 imports nearly doubled, from £28.7 million to £52 million. Externally, this increase can be portrayed as positive – but in another sense, could be seen as negative in terms of the rise of a greater dependency. In this light this article will explore the relationships of divisions and contradictions on which the industrial revolution can appear based, and the impact this had on the psyche.

Manchester's linkages of Bee and Industry
 After all, it could appear that industry was developing its own code of morality, in an attempt to find
man’s place within this hive of statistics and activity. It seems almost appropriate then  that the Bee rose as a prime example of  the industrial ethic-  indeed becoming  the symbol of Boddington’s Brewery in Manchester and still evident as a kind of graffiti throughout the city. These terms seem to have a kind of contradiction about them in themselves – imagery or graffiti? Articulating a mind or showing dissent?  In this article I will attempt to explore how the rise of the industrial revolution drove the idea of human capital and division then, rather than unity.

Like a worker bee, people strived for some supreme object- like the queen, they typically never would see.

Interestingly also, ‘human capital’ has become a term applied since   to the era – representing another divide, that between past and present.  In one definition, human capital is a collection of resources – talents, knowledge, skills etc. possessed by the individual which would have been felt immediately at the time. The indeterminacy here as to what composes the definition itself  expresses an issue.  Indeed, we look back upon the industrial revolution as the ‘past’; where capital is a stock of knowledge and experience  embodied in the ability to complete labour and in turn produce economic value. Whereas man’s capabilities may have once been valued by himself, they were now valued, even quantified, by an impersonal presence.

A process built upon division?

It is it a case of over-analysis to see industrialisation  as a process driven, even encouraged, by division? It is often discussed how the industrial revolution changed the British landscape – and this is true in one sense, with rapidly expanding cities and factory buildings unlike anything people had seen before. However, this  could be seen as prompted by prior landscape change, involving the increases in the amount of land under cultivation, peaking in 1872 at 9.6 million acres. Yet with an ever-increasing population driven by a lower mortality rate,  Britain was increasingly moving away from subsistence farming to farming for something bigger. What was ‘conventional’ was being divided. This could be seen as in the rise of the enclosure - The term “Enclosure” is used to explain the process of appropriation of former common lands, now to be employed under some greater motive in line with desired productivity. People  no longer defined their own lives and tilled the land they pleased, instead there were given instruction and limits in terms of their interaction with nature; this was ‘progress’. This could be seen as  embodied in the form of the cotton gin – an innovative tool which  massively increased the productivity of the worker with minimal exertion on their part.

Is the bee centring on the waste of life or a sign of its productivity? 

But  had the commercialisation of agriculture led to something cold? Was this bigger ‘progress’ even tangible? The rise of commercial farming saw planting become a public activity rather than rendered by personal decision (as in the past of ‘cottage’ farming), as ultimately for ‘public’ rather than personal use, supplying a growing ‘workforce’. However, Britain’s own farms could not actually fully maintain this – and Britain began to increasingly import goods also, though it had the money to do so, and thus attempted to glorify the concept.

What was emerging increasingly through food imports and free trade philosophies though, was that   the number of farm labourers dropped – what was human worth  became invested in capital rather than rural communities.  The fuel for power could be sourced outside, and now man became a component of power, rather than controlling it. For example a growing population as part of this global system led to an increased demand for coal, and by the later 19th century Between 1860 and 1900, the number of miners increased from 307,000 to 820,000. People were driven out of the house and underground, and this could appear an appropriate metaphor for ‘workers’ as part of the industrial revolution.   Thus not only drawing to an end with subsistence farming but an end of the ‘cottage’ lifestyle and family farming – men and women were increasingly differentiated, and became a ‘workforce’ – often unseen, yet instrumental. As part of this, new states of the mind and activity were accustomed, for example the concept of the ‘working week’  was introduced and in turn, the division between ‘public’ and ‘private’.


Division and differentiation could be seen as accelerating as terms, in order for the ‘stock  of human capital’; to be improved. Not only was man expected to divide between home and life, but contend with local investors and long-term creditors. They were  meant to develop then to answer questions asked of them, but not ask themselves. In turn, this could be seen as a process  of conditioning of the human capital to become responsive, rather than reactive. Workers were seen as holding a ‘growth inducing’ role if they advanced within their area of industry, and were blamed if they failed to live up the requirements of industry. In turn, whereas man had once worked machinery and controlled it in the fields i.e. the plough, machinery now controlled man – and this may well have  been experienced as shocking.

Bee mosaic on the floor of Manchester Town Hall
Manchester as what Assa Briggs called a ‘shock city’; could have appeared to encapsulate ‘shock’ in
the form of embodying contradictions and divisions as already raised in this essay.  At the forefront of the cotton trade, with frequent connections to America, there had been rising factory numbers in order to process this number – and in turn, increased imports in the UK as a whole to satisfy a larger working population. The city itseld became known as 'Cottonpolis'  from 1750 onwards, embracing the steps from water to steam power with cotton as the primary raw material in use. However, although this represented ‘progress’ in one sense for Manchester, on the otherhand, there were food riots as early as 1797; aggravated by an increasing immigrant population also – with about 15% of workers anticipated to be Irish, moving from their native country during the  famine. It could appear that measures were taken then in an attempt to address these issues properly – a repeal of the Corn Laws, which in theory protected British businesses from imports.  In reality, they placed greater pressure then upon the output of labourers – wanting capital to increase further, regardless of declines in living standards. After all, in 1816, the were was what became to be known as ‘the year without summer’ reaching into the  London Spa Fields riots of 1816. The transportation connections then, can be seen on one hand as positive, could be used to then to also communicate with and join pockets of dissent, with the Manchester Peterloo Massacre occurring in 1819.

In this light, considering discontent and geographical factors, the layout of Britain, especially the North of England ,was heavily affected, This was seen and felt acutely in Manchester,  as the population increased, the densely packed city became less desirable and  a key spatial effect was that the growth of urban areas, showed a system of economic cores and peripheries. Those who take a structuralist view of this system  argue that the growth of the core – like the Ancoats area in Manchester, where many factories were located , is only possible through the underdevelopment systemically , of the periphery. Theorists such as Walerstein have argued this – appearing to imply that human discontent was a necessary part of driving the industrial revolution forward; in terms of providing heavy enough demand. And this could be seen as not only the case of Manchester but across the UK – such as whilst 80% of the population were rural-based even in 1780, by 1880 the population was 80% urban. The pulling away from the country and instead commuting within cities leads to a profound compromisation of personal space; which in the case of industrial Manchester was aggravated by zonation and the popularity of Laissez Faire economic outlook.

Yet these structures could be seen as emphasizing divide more than solving it – private struggles often became public matters. This included questioning and the acquiring of knowledge – as many more universities opened public facilities at this time, and the mechanics institute in Manchester itself grew. However, a key point was that proceeding into the 19th century, the Mechanics Institute began to dwindle in terms of attendee numbers, so efforts were taken to make a more public involvement;  becoming the Royal Victoria Gallery of Sciences. In itself ‘gallery’ suggests an element of the visual and/or display, emphasizing  again the noticeable theme of projecting a facade – putting forward what people wanted to see, rather than what was the actual reality.

Projection rather than reality could be seen as the case in terms of Manchester’s acute sanitary conditions also– in 1831 less than half the population had actual access to fresh water, whilst in 1865 it, in responding to this pressure, was the only city outsourcing. This statistic itself suggests not only that man became to be associated with number,  but also it was opportunities of human struggle and dissatisfaction which allowed the ‘industrial revolution’ to exhibit itself. For example, outsourcing  was  presented as a form of ‘progress’, when really actually attending to a desperate and dire need.

Therefore, this article explores the  contradictions of the industrial revolution, the divisions it exposed and aggravated in its indeterminacy and the pressure this placed upon the psyche. Through the study of Manchester especially, expressed by the symbol of the bee – a  key contradiction could appear true: that in enabling himself, man is also disabled. This could be seen as poignantly reflected in Thomas Hardy’s poem  ‘The Voice’, written closely to the turn of the twentieth century and reflecting upon the apparent industrial bleakness and man's place within it as ‘faltering forward’ – progress for the big sacrifices them small.  Indeed, Like the worker bee  works to feed the queen, yet slowly dies in the process.  These aspects of disintegration could appears  in the plan for enclosure  rather than personal power, fossil fuels for animate power – ultimately opening  up the prospect of an unlimited supply of energy.  This in turn places the expectation upon man as part of generating capital, a means to an end, rather than the end in itself.  It could be argued that this is a pressure ever-present, even today yet  so difficult to define, and thus assigned to other attributes to which people at the time could attach themselves – especially the concept of the protestant Work ethic. In this light, the industrial revolution, especially in the North, could be seen as driven by divide rather than a solidarity. Whether that makes it more or less of a revolution is potentially open to debate. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

It's All Decomposing

It is concluded by an apple core
Left in that place ‘on the side’
Defining the structures of life
By their immediacy.

I have tried
That indulgence of ‘privacy’
Yet it is greeted with stares
The function of doors in this space
Is no more
-          People look down.
They see my  face
The slowly seeping
Eyes, two nostrils
-          Still an audience when I am sleeping

Do they prefer this act
The human footage of my mouth?

And then on the side, the apple
Embodying a verb it could not before
My breathing
Like the slow reduction
Of something natural
Into talk.

I have waited
In this room for days
Walked, yet it is only distraction
Hoping the apple core will rot
And in eating
Something then, will happen.

Thursday, 2 April 2015


Your significant other leaves
Saying they’ll see you later
And you wait, and you want
Gauge to cry, and you don’t
Complain life is unfair
Don’t expect me to be there
I’m just a spectator

He checks his watch at half past eight
Scans the street, then lays his bait
In the sensuality of his breath
His want to break evades itself
The flair of young man singular
Don’t expect me to be there
I’m just a spectator.

Later rituals
Are seething kin, the citadel
Already she has cleaned her teeth
Of the others he inclined to meet
And memories of those embrace her
Don’t expect me to be there
I’m just a spectator

Don’t expect me to love or hate you
I’m the photographic untruth
The time taken
The unnecessary fight you lead.

Clubs and societies
Formed so I can see you later
Paper then as I embrace you
Don’t expect me to be there

I’m just a spectator

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Carol and the community of TUSC – Transport for Ugandan Sick Children

An article to raise awareness of a fantastic charity which deserves the publicity. TUSC is a small charity working at a community level in Uganda to provide transport to those who essentially need it . It is on further reading about the charity that it can be realised that the focus is not just transport, not at all, but helping people move forward - not only from illness and injury, but also away from a lack of self-belief and towards a much brighter outlook. It is in contributing to a local charity which is how this brightness can continue outwards and inspire. Thank you.

Carol with children and 'Billy Bus'
In her  day job, Carol Mitchell is a nurse,  continuing care for the ill and infirm across Lancashire. Yet it seems that her generosity is not only within local limits. A  keen traveller, Carol   has paid a number of visits to the Jinja region of Uganda, Africa – where, as a mother of three children herself, she was deeply moved by the plight of sick children and their despairing families.  Uganda is the second-most densely populated landlocked country in the Africa, and has faced a number of humanitarian crises in recent years including civil war, resulting in wide-spread poverty.

The poverty faced by people on a daily basis is truly shocking. Carol alludes to her dismay ‘that sick children were not able to get to healthcare because there was no money to get them there ..... families often have to choose between eating or treatment .’ Whilst we have the NHS to turn to in moments of crisis, some Ugandan families have no one. Why open an article with such a personal anecdote? Because charity CAN be and is importantly personal – involving compassion and care. For example, Carol was determined to  get the wheels turning to ensure that families in this region of Uganda were not alone in times of trouble – literally.

Things in motion for the families of Uganda

It was with the help and guidance of local man Weere Yakub and cooperation with local hospitals that Carol came up with the idea of providing a vehicle to visit villages on a planned basis so  that  vulnerable people unable to make the journey themselves, such as  sick children and pregnant women,  can be transported to healthcare facilities. Unlike Carol’s freedom to travel and administer care in Rossendale, the people of Uganda face highly limited mobile healthcare services and transport links which are often inadequate to take them to hospital in the case of emergency. This is especially dangerous for children. It was with this in mind that Carol continued forward with the establishment  of what is now called TUSC – Transport for Ugandan Sick Children. They can ve visited at
Weere Yakub, The TUSC project manager based in Uganda and 'Billy Bus'

TUSC not only seeks to provide transport to and from hospital for vulnerable people, but is also a free service, therefore making healthcare much more accessible for those who would have once been daunted by the financial implications of going to hospital. This accessibility is furthered in that TUSC also aims to provide ‘outreach’ support – teaching communities in Uganda basic health care, potentially empowering families.  This can involve helping the  disabled in the community and increasing awareness rather than ostracising. Such care and power began under the inspiration of one woman from Bacup, Lancashire and now, although based in the UK, TUSC has a permanent presence in Uganda also.

Best time with Billy Bus

This presence is perhaps best seen in the smiling faces of the children and the TUSC ‘Billy Bus’  - the transport vehicle for the charity which was bought in 2012 through public support. TUSC is a small but extremely hard-working charity, and Carol pledges ‘We are totally dependent upon the good will of our supporters and every penny we receive is used to run our vehicle and provide mosquito nets.’ It is in contributing to TUSC, even by the smallest amount,  people potential, like Carol, to make a really significant difference. It is a case of families here supporting families there – a brilliant network. And this support really can be seen and felt – you can follow TUSC on Facebook, or "Givingabit", where your online shopping can benefit us without it costing you extra... and as we face growing fuel costs a regular donation of any amount would be amazingly valued."

 You can be part of this and in supporting such an active charity  acting first-hand with the Ugandan
community.  After all, small charities can still address critical issues as well as being potentially flexible to changing circumstances. What is so crucial about the work of TUSC is that it seeks to  actively better the lives of Ugandan people, encouraging and enabling them to make the most of the resources they have, as far as possible. This may be from allowing a mother the security of giving birth in a hospital, to the prospect of families having access to treatments for a vulnerable or disabled relative. That people might be otherwise left alone in such circumstances is deeply upsetting.

 By supporting  a small, locally-based charity like TUSC this year, you are avoiding big draining corporate measures and instead contributing to the people as directly as possible. In light of recent American figures, as well  as the statistics that Uganda is rated among countries perceived as very corrupt by Transparency International, at a scale of 29 – with  0 being most corrupt and 100 clean) – this may  well be an important way for charity to develop; directly connecting with the people, just as it works to connect people with the right health care. TUSC provides attentive, honest and compassionate care for those communities who need it. 

For more information on this brilliant charity, visit - and follow them on Twitter