Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Karen Davis on the Woman Challenging a Spa over Biological Male in Women’s Area

June 29, 2021

This is going to be another controversial post, as it’s about women’s right to protest against the inclusion of biological men in women’s spaces on the grounds that they are transwomen, and identify as female. Davis is a Black American feminist, a teacher and musician with a degree in psychology and an absolutely razor sharp mind. She is one of the many voices criticising trans activism and transwomen on the Net, and does so not with prejudice, but with facts, statistics and logic.

Now to make it clear, I do not hate transpeople. I am sure there are some wonderful transmen and -women around, and I recognise that some people genuinely identify as members of the opposite sex and treatment and transitioning has worked for them. I do not wish to see anyone, including transpeople, bullied, abused, denied jobs, assaulted or otherwise persecuted simply for being what they are. As the author of Harry Potter, J.K Rowling said, they should be able to dress how they want, sleep with whoever will have them and live the best life they can. But their rights should not supersede women’s rights to safe, single sex spaces.

This is essentially a practical, real-life enactment of the Staniland Question. Helen Staniland is a Welsh lady, and one of Graham Linehan’s interlocutors with Canadian Arty Morty on his The Mess We’re In YouTube channel. She used to go around asking people if they would be happy, if their mother or daughter went to a women only space, like sports changing rooms, and saw a penis. Of course, most severely normal people privately wouldn’t, and say so privately to her. But the trans rights activists demand complete acceptance as women, and scream and holler prejudice and ‘transphobia’ if this supposed right is questioned. But the TRAs really don’t have an answer to her question, and so have been reduced to misrepresenting her as some kind of pervert or prurient woman obsessed with male genitals.

In this case, Karen Davis looks at a video of an angry woman, unseen, who challenges the staff at a spa because she has seen a naked, biological male in the women’s changing area. She saw a penis. And the staff are unsympathetic, at one point replying to her statement ‘It was a dick!’ with ‘Yes, and you’re being one.’ But this is a real problem with women’s right to their own, single-sex spaces allowing them to feel safe and comfortable.

The transgender individual didn’t have to use the women’s area. The spa contained men’s, women’s and coed spaces. If that person understandably didn’t want to use the men’s, then he could have used the coed, mixed space instead. But his demand to be seen as a woman overrode women’s desire and need not to have a biological male in their space.

Davis is also against transwomen being accepted as women, even if they have transitioned. It’s not a view I fully support, but I can appreciate her reasons for holding such a view. Especially as the medical literature shows that transexuals and transvestites have a higher incidence of other fetishes, including paedophilia and exhibitionism. There have been instances where transwomen, who have undergone gender reassignment, have committed acts of gross exhibitionism in women’s space, such as toilets, for example, and then posted it on the Net.

While Davis is particularly ferocious in her opposition to trans rights and denies that transwomen can ever be women, she and Helen Staniland have a point.

Biological men should have no place in women only spaces, like toilets and changing rooms. To allow them in contradicts the very reason we have them – to protect women from embarrassment and potential sexual harassment.

And women have every right to complain.

History Debunked Attacks Racially Segregated Schools, Demolishes Free School System

June 26, 2021

Here’s another video from another Conservative youtuber, Simon Webb. Webb’s channel, History Debunked, specialises in attacking various myths and pseudo-history being pushed as authentic Black history. In this video he attacks the call from supporters of Critical Race Theory that there should be separate schools for Black pupils, and particularly for boys. He has seen for himself how such schools actually lead to worse academic performance and behaviour in such a school in Tottenham in Haringey. But some of the reasons for its failure – management by parents, instead of qualified teaching staff – are also a major problem for the Thatcherite free school project, which was intended to allow parents to break out of the state education system.

Webb begins by quoting a passage describing how one Black activist, Derek Ball, urged Blacks to abandon their demands for integrated schooling during the Civil Rights struggle, and instead concentrate on building good, all-Black schools to boost Black educational achievement. The argument for these is that, despite attending the same schools as Whites and Asians, Blacks, and particularly Black boys, still fall behind because of the lack of suitable role-models.

Webb describes how the Seventh Day Adventists in Haringey in 1980 set up their own, all-Black school as part of this ideology. Staff at the school, John Loughborough, were good, moral, upstanding people. Unfortunately, they had a problem recruiting proper teaching staff, so they were being taught by the friends and relatives of the people who founded it, who wanted a job. Webb states he noticed how the academic achievement and basic behaviour of the children of friends, who sent their kids there, progressively decline. Their interest in and performance in vital subjects like maths and physics declined. At the same time, their interests narrowed to Black music, culture and politics. The teaching staff were unable to keep discipline, and so their behaviour became worse, instead of better. By the 1990s, when Haringey closed it down, it was the worse school in the borough.

Webb states that he has heard similar stories from across the Pond, and there are also similar stories about Muslim and Orthodox Jewish schools in this country. In the case of the Orthodox Jewish school, the educational curriculum was extremely narrow, so that its former pupils were left unprepared for life in wider British society. The same is true of the Muslim schools, while many of the pupils at the former John Loughborough school have a chip on their shoulder about how poor their schooling was, and its inability to prepare them for mainstream British society. He states that the problem with schools is that their management requires a very specific set of skills, which most parents don’t have. He states that in all the similar schools of which he knows, Black, Muslim, Orthodox Jewish, there are similar problems – a narrow curriculum, safeguarding issues and poor discipline.

The demand for racially segregated schools to benefit Blacks goes back several decades. I can remember the idea being debated in the 1990s. Round about the time Bristol City Museum was setting up its ‘A Respectable Trade’ exhibition about the city’s role in the slave trade, a women wrote into the local paper, then the Bristol Evening Post, calling for such schools. There were similar moves before then. After the riots in the St. Paul’s area in 1981/2, the council sent into schools various teams and advisors to teach the children not to be racist. This included the school at which my mother taught. This was accepted by staff and parents, though I do remember that the headmaster at the time refusing to allow the same anti-racist educators to take Black children out of the school to have special lessons on their Black identity, or something like that, as he was firmly against any kind of segregation.

I also recall Thatcher’s attempt to break up the state education system. As well as the City Academies, which were so terrible she and her education secretary, Norman Fowler, were actually winding up before Blair later relaunched them as academies when he came into power, she also announced she was passing legislation for free schools outside Local Education Authority Control. No longer would parents have to tolerate sub-standard education as the hands of evil lefty teachers and local councils. No! Parents would now have the power to break free and found their own schools, run how they wished. Which would undoubtedly do well due to market forces. All absolutely tripe, of course. Teaching really is a skilled profession, which not everyone can do. But right-wing governments like those of the Tories and Blair have been able to use it as a political football and partially privatise it by playing on the general belief that ordinary people know how to teach and manage a class better than the professionals. I remember back in the 1980s how the right-wing press, including the Bristol Evening Post, was constantly attacking teachers with scare stories about Communist teachers indoctrinating children. Thatcher herself, in one of her wretched speeches, was scathing about ‘anti-racist mathematics’, while her lapdog paper, the Scum, ran the story about children in Brent or Lambeth being taught to sing ‘Ba Ba Green Sheep’ because the original nursery rhyme, ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’, was supposedly racist.

And the concerns about the narrowness of the curriculum in some of the free schools and academies run by religious organisations are perfectly justified. A few years ago there were concerns about the Muslim schools up north, with allegations that they were being run very strictly in accordance with traditional Islamic practice. The sexes were segregated, discipline harsh, and the curriculum narrowly religious. There have been allegations since that this wasn’t the case, and such concerns were the result of Islamophobia. The Christian schools set up by a the evangelical Christian head of a haulage company have also been criticised for their severe and humiliating discipline, as well as teaching Creationism as science. As for Orthodox Jewish schools, the French academic, Alfred Kepel, in his book about the rise of religious fundamentalism, The Revenge of God, describes one such school in Paris where the only secular subject was maths.

I am certainly not against faith-based schools. Both Mike and I went to an Anglican church school and got a Christian education. But the school also strongly condemned sectarian and racial prejudice, and did take children to other, non-Christian places of worship, like the local mosque, as a way of teaching them about those faiths.

Nevertheless, the very narrow focus of some religious or racial organisations in the education they wish to provide should be of concern. Whatever their faith or none, children need and deserve a broad education which promotes their personal achievement and growth and prepares them for wider British society rather than isolating them in self-imposed ghettoes. And they also need to be taught by properly qualified, experienced and skilled staff, rather than ordinary people, who wrongly think they can teach thanks to decades of being told so by the right-wing press.

The free schools and academies may not provide this, and in many cases they certainly don’t. But they make profits for the academy chains and support the Tory ideology of attacking the state provision of education.

I’ve no doubt that racially segregated education is a failure, regardless of whether it is intended to benefit Blacks or other ethnic minorities. So are the free schools and academies generally.

All of them should be wound up, and schooling returned to the state and control of local authorities.

Daniel Hussein, Islam and Satanic Crime

June 11, 2021

One of the most shocking stories this week is the trial of Daniel Hussein, who is accused of having murdered two Black women as part of a demonic pact. When the rozzers searched Hussein’s home, they found a handwritten document in which Hussein pledged to sacrifice a woman a month to a demon in return for which the demon would make him win the national lottery, allow him to live in luxury and wealth and protect him from being discovered. Well, as the old proverb goes, ‘the Devil is a gentleman who doesn’t keep his word’. It’s an horrific crime of the type that’s committed by evil maniacs and which used to furnish plots for the X-Files.

Simon Webb of History Debunked put up a video yesterday commenting on it. He pointed out that while such pacts with Satan and the forces of hell were part of the medieval European, Christian worldview, as shown in the Faust legend about the 16th century German magician who sold his soul to the Devil, it’s been absent in the West for six hundred years. So what has caused it’s return? He points to Islam. He says that he has nothing against the religion, but it surprised at how little westerners actually know about it. In his experience, the belief in djinn – the genies of the Arabian Nights – witchcraft and sorcery is a major part of the worldview of the average Muslim, and mentions that the other Friday he was talking to three young Muslim men of 17-19 at a further education college about the djinn that was supposed to be tormenting one of them. It is this worldview, held by two million Muslims in this country, that has meant that parts of Britain have regressed to the Middle Ages without anyone noticing.

Okay, belief in the djinn is part of the Muslim worldview. They’re mentioned in the Qu’ran, which states that one of their number is Iblis, Shaitan or the Devil. The ex-Muslim atheist vlogger Harris Sultan put up a video a month or so ago laughing at a Pakistani mullah, who was claiming to have met the djinn and officiated at their marriages. Way back in the 1990s or early part of this century, a Yemeni newspaper apparently caused a sensation by printing photos of what it claimed were the djinn. Alas not. They were really carvings at an adventure park somewhere in Britain.

But the prevalence of a belief in djinn doesn’t explain a crime like this. There are, after all, large numbers of Christians worldwide who believe in a real, literal Devil, but that hasn’t meant that crimes like Hussein’s are any more common in Christianity. The black magician Aleister Crowley spent more time than almost anyone else casting spells and summoning demons while posing as ‘the Great Beast 666’ but he only joked about sacrificing children. I think he was simply enjoying himself far too much with a life of sex, drugs, necromancy and mountaineering to want to do anything really evil.

It’s also open to doubt how rationalistic the West really is. A survey of mystical experiences among the western public in the 2000s showed that actually they were quite common, but people were simply reluctant to talk about them in case people thought they were mad. The historian of modern witchcraft, Owen Davies, found that ordinary people retained a very strong belief in the existence of witchcraft long after the passage of the 1736 Witchcraft Act. This act effectively ended the witch-hunts in Britain by making it illegal to pretend to be a witch or have occult powers for monetary gain. It saw witchcraft as a form of fraud, rather than a real, demonic force. But the records of court cases in which mostly elderly women were attacked and cut on their foreheads shows that the mass of the British population still believed in it. In folklore, it was believed one way to get rid of a witch’s curse was to attack them and cut them ‘above the breath’. Davies’ book, published in the 90s, provides a wealth of supporting information that shows that belief in real, Satanic witchcraft continued into the 20th century. This is apart from the rise of Wicca and modern neo-paganism, which is a separate thing entirely, in my opinion, which owes more to 19th century occultism and ritual magic than traditional British folklore.

What the murders remind me of most is some of the horrific Satanic crimes carried out back in the 1990s. This was the age of the Satanism scare, when some fanatical evangelical Christians and militant feminists were running around accusing perfectly innocent people of membership of Satanic covens and the ritual abuse and murder of children. The Fontaine Report, an official government investigation into this, found that there was no evidence such covens existed.

In addition to this, there were unfortunately, real, unpleasant people who did torture and murder people for Satanic kicks. These were mostly mixed-up teenagers and young people, like the Haemogoblins, a teenage gang in America who thought they were vampires. There was also a whole vampire subculture based on the novels of Anne Rice, some of whose members may have taken the whole thing waaaay too seriously. But most of these really shocking crimes were committed by youngsters, who’d read too much bad horror literature. Quite often what they knew about Satanism came from one of the rubbish evangelical books supposedly revealingly it, or from Heavy Metal records. Which has caused problems for some rock stars, who were only interested in producing awesome music. As Ozzy Osbourne told the British investigative reporter Robin Cook, ‘I have enough trouble conjuring myself out of bed in the morning, let alone evil spirits.’

The ritual murder of which Hussein is accused looks far more like the crimes committed by these mixed-up, White nutters than something uniquely Muslim. And I think that if he did commit it, then the same factors will probably be found to have motivated him.

I don’t think we have to worry about large numbers of Muslims making pacts with the Devil and dragging us back to the Middle Ages just yet.

My Video on Gerard Winstanley’s ‘The Diggers’ Song of 1649

June 8, 2021

The Diggers were a radical 17th century Protestant sect during the time of the British Civil War. They believed that all land should be held in common, all men being created equal by the Almighty, and were firmly against both the Cavaliers, the gentry and the priesthood. They tried to set up a colony in St. George’s Hill, a piece of common land near Weybridge in Surrey, but their homes were pulled down and the movement squashed. One of their leaders, Gerard Winstanley, who advocated their political and theological doctrines in his A New Yeeres Gift, also wrote this song about them.

In this video I explain that before the rise of modern newspapers, people got their news through broadside ballads, popular songs written about the issues and news of the day. I got this from Roy Palmer’s excellent A Ballad History of England (London: B.T. Batsford 1979), which collects various ballads from 1588 to the late 20th century. Ballads were still being written in the 20th century, though the medium had changed to recordings rather sheet music. One of the last was about a dispute at British Steel in 1975.

I recite the lyrics and then play the tune given in the book. I regret I can’t sing and play the keyboard at once.

The lyrics are

You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now,

You noble Diggers all, stand up now,

The wast land to maintain, seeing Cavaliers by name

Your digging does maintain, and persons all defame,

Stand up now, stand up now.

Your houses they pull down, stand up now, stand up now,

Your houses they pull down, stand up now.

Your houses they pull down to fright your men in town,

But the gentry must come down, and the poor shall wear the crown.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

With spades and hoes and plowes, stand up now, stand up now,

With spades and hoes and plowes stand up now,

Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold

To kill you if they could, and rights from you to hold,

Stand up now, Diggers all.

Theire self-will is theire law, stand up now, stand up now,

Theire self-will is their law, stand up now.

Since tyranny came in they count it now no sin

To make a gaole a gin, to sterve poor men therein.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

The gentrye are all round, stand up now, stand up now,

The gentrye are all round, stand up now.

The gentrye are all round, on each side they are found,

Theire wisdom’s so profound, to cheat us of our ground.

Stand up now, stand up now.

The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now, stand up now,

The lawyers they conjoyne, stand up now,

To arrest you they advise, such fury they devise,

The devill in them lies, and hath blinded both their eyes,

Stand up now, stand up now.

The clergy they come in, stand up now, stand up now,

The clergy they come in, stand up now.

The clergy they come in, and say it is a sin

That we should now begin, our freedom for to win.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

The tithe they yet will have, stand up now, stand up now,

The tithes they yet will have stand up now.

The tithes they yet will have, and lawyers their fees crave,

And this is they say is brave, to make the poor their slave.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

‘Gainst lawyers and gainst priests, stand up now, stand up now,

‘Gainst lawyers and gainst priests stand up now.

For tyrants they are both even flatt against their oath,

To grant us they are loath free meat and drink and cloth.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

The club is all their law, stand up now, stand up now,

The club is all their law, stand up now.

The club is all their law to keep men in awe,

Buth they no vision saw to maintain such a law.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now, stand up now,

The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now;

The Cavaleers are foes, themselves they do disclose

By verses not in prose to please the singing boyes.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

To conquer them by love, come in now, come in now,

To conquer them by love, come in now;

To conquer them by love, as itt does you behove,

For hee is King above, now power is like to love,

Glory heere, Diggers all.

Similar to the Diggers were the Levellers, another radical Protestant sect which was extremely strong in the army. They believe in the extension of the franchise to the male heads of households, which was dangerously democratic for the 17th century, as well as state provided schools, hospitals and care homes for the elderly. They still exert a powerful influence in the Labour party.

Here’s the video.

Two Fairy Sightings from 20th Century Britain

June 7, 2021

My last blog post was about a video I found on YouTube from Irish television in 1966. They were covering the attempt by an Irish docker, Tim Hayes, to spend 101 hours buried underground near a fairy fort in order to disprove the existence of the ‘Gentlemen’ or ‘Good People’. The film included a brief interview with a local man, who said he would definitely not want to interfere with the fairy fort, and would be extremely upset if anyone else were to do so or interfere with the field in which it lay. The film testifies to the continuing power of real belief in the fairies, despite the onward march of rationalism.

But it isn’t only in Ireland or the Celtic countries that belief in the fairies still persists. People are also still seeing them in England too. I found these two accounts from the 20th century in Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, (London: Reader’s Digest 1973), p. 121.

All dressed in green

‘… When we were on holiday in Cornwall, my daughter and I came down a winding lane, and all of a sudden there was a small green man – all in green with a pointed hood and ears. We both saw him … we were cold with terror and ran for the ferry below.’ A 20th century description by a man from Shropshire.

A fairy guide

‘… It was on the Berkshire Downs, and we’d lost our way, and didn’t know what track to take. When I looked round, there was small man in green standing at my elbow. “You’ll be all right,” he said, “You take that one; you’ll be all right.” Then he didn’t disappear, but he just wasn’t there any more’. Described in 1962 by a Somerset farmer’s wife.

And sightings continue to the present day. I went to a folklore/ paranormal conference a few years ago here in Bristol on the fairies, which included people who very firmly believed in them. And when I was studying for my archaeology Ph.D. at Bristol university, I went to a seminar on fairies presented by the epic Ron Hutton. Hutton opened by singing the theme to the Southern vampire TV series, Tru Blood, before describing a sighting of a fairy one evening by a young man and a women in Glastonbury. Well, where else? The couple saw this strange light bouncing along the ground. One of them asked the other what on earth it could be, and got the reply ‘It’s a fairy. What else could it be?’

Having said that, you have to be careful of jokers. My mother had an old friend from college down in Cornwall. She went down there one year to visit her. They were out on a trip somewhere, and she, the friend, my father and the friend’s mother went on to wherever they were going, leaving the friend’s father behind to have a sit down and rest. When they returned they found that he’d been talking to an American woman. This was at a time when there was a spate of fairy sightings. The American had asked the old fellow if he’d seen any. Oh yes, he replied, he certainly had. They were at the bottom of his garden. That wasn’t remotely true, and when they challenged him on it, he replied, ‘Well, it’s what she wanted to hear.’ Sometimes that smiling old rustic telling you of his supernatural encounters may not be the naive, horny-handed son of toil in touch with the supernatural you believe him to be.

But in the spirit of this post, here’s another video I found on YouTube. It’s the folk-rock band Steeleye Span playing ‘Wee Wee Man’ about a fairy from the 1970s.

Clannad: Caisleain Oir

May 28, 2021

Here’s another bit of folk music I really like. Back in the 1990s I was into the Irish folk/folk rock group Clannad. They come from Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair) in Donegal in Eire. They first came to prominence over this side of the Irish Sea in the 1980s with the haunting theme for the ITV drama, Harry’s Game, about a British secret agent who infiltrates the IRA in Ulster. They then followed this up with the theme and incidental music for another ITV series, Robin of Sherwood. This was a pagan reworking of the Robin Hood legend, with Robin and his outlaws worshipping an ancient woodland spirit, Herne the Hunter. The programme starred Michael Praed and then Jason Connery as Robin, and was hit Saturday evening TV. Even now, nearly 40 years later, I think it’s better than the later versions that came after it, even if it did mess with the legend by introducing the pagan mysticism.

The song’s in a mixture of English and Gaelic, and apparently the band have also sung in Latin and Mohican. Despite trying to teach myself the language back in the 1990s, I can’t speak Gaelic at all and really don’t know what the Gaelic lyrics means. I just like it because it’s a beautiful, haunting piece of music. ITV or Channel 4 also made a documentary about them back in the 1990s. This revealed that they’d got the nickname ‘the Gaeltacht hippies’, which sort of boggles the mind. Surely, hippiedom can’t be that unique in Irish Gaelic culture!

I found the video over on An Ghaoth Anair’s channel on YouTube, who also provides a bit more information about the band.

Sasha Johnson’s attackers Were Four Black Men, Claim Police

May 25, 2021

According to Sky News, the police have said that the attackers who shot BLM activist and Taking The Initiative party founder Sasha Johnson were four Black men. The Sky report states

Met Police Commander Alison Heydari appealed to the public for information on the shooting, saying “four black males in dark clothing” fired a gun during a party in Peckham.

“From our enquiries so far, we have established that Sasha had been at a party at a house on Consort Road in Peckham early on Sunday morning,” Cdr Heydari said.

“Around 3am a group of four black males dressed in dark coloured clothing entered the garden of the property and discharged a firearm.

“We are aware of Sasha’s involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK and I understand the concern this will cause to some communities – however, I wish to stress that at this time there is nothing to suggest Sasha was the victim of a targeted attack.”

The rozzers also deny that they are aware of any credible death threats against her. This has been rejected by her party, which has reasonably asked how they can say that without talking to her and that the fact that she was shot in the head makes those threats very credible.

See: Black equal rights activist shot by group of four men at party, police say (msn.com)

I realise that some of the great commenters on this blog will be somewhat sceptical that Johnson’s attackers were not White racists, given the way long shadow of the Stephen Laurence murder. However, I think that it’s all too possible that her assassins were Black. There is, unfortunately, a violent gang culture in many deprived Black communities, and these people will try to kill someone for the most trivial reason. A few years ago some idiot tried to shoot a White DJ, who played rap music for Radio 1. He’d clearly annoyed someone, and not everyone was a fan. I’ve heard people, who listened to him describe him as an idiot and other, more colourful terms. But stupidity and inanity don’t justify attempted murder.

Johnson was a volatile person, who apparently suffered from bipolar disorder. She also seems to have made a few personal enemies. One of the videos I posted about her yesterday came from a former friend, Michelle Francis, who had some very radical racial views herself. Francis says in another video, also about some spat or other with Johnson, that she (Francis) believes in racial segregation. She makes all manner of personal accusations against Johnson, including the claim that she never paid the workers in her restaurant.

I am also aware that there are criminals, who try to infiltrate political parties right across the spectrum in order to gain a false legitimacy and increase the scope of their activities. The attempt to set up a false BLM party by anonymous individuals seems to me to be an attempt by some seriously shady people to cash in on the name and prestige of the real BLM movement. For all I know – and this is just speculation – Johnson could have been targeted for assassination because she blocked such attempts at criminal infiltration.

Whatever the motive, I do not support this attempt on her or indeed anyone’s life, and wish her a speedy recovery.

The Gurt Lush Choir Sing John Renbourne’s ‘Traveller’s Prayer’

May 23, 2021

I’m a fan of the British folk musician John Renbourne, formerly of the group Pentangle way back in the ’60s and ’70s. I first encountered his music through the album Ship of Fools, which I bought way back in the late ’80s/ early ’90s. ‘Traveller’s Prayer’ is a peculiarly haunting piece with its mixture of pagan and Christian imagery, addressed as a hymn to the moon.

‘Gurt lush’ is a Bristol dialect expression, used for anything tasty or delicious. I found this video of the Gurt Lush choir and the Gurt Western Orchestra – gurt is a West Country word meaning ‘great’, ‘big’ – performing the piece at the Colston Hall in Bristol in 2015 on the Choir’s channel on YouTube. They’ve put up this description of the piece and its origins in Scots Gaelic folk hymns.

This lovely pagan hymn was composed by virtuoso guitarist John Renbourn, once a member of Pentangle. The melody is very much in the Protestant hymn-tune tradition, but the harmonies sound older and darker; and the words seem to come from somewhere older still, from times when pre-Christian pagan traditions continued to be mingled in with superimposed Christian beliefs. Renbourn in fact based his lyric on a prayer titled A Ghealach Ur (The New Moon), which used to be recited on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. This was collected in the late nineteenth century by an excise man and folklorist named Alexander Carmichael who travelled widely in the Highlands and Islands. Carmichael made friends with the Gaelic-speaking tinker folk in many places and they shared with him their traditional travellers’ prayers, stories, invocations and healing rites. He gathered these together and published them in 1900 as a collection titled Carmina Gadelica.

I’m definitely not a pagan, and just like this piece because it’s a beautiful piece of a music, although I must confess that I do like its pagan and Christian imagery. I hope you also enjoy it.

Liverpool Elects First Black Female Mayor – And She’s Labour!

May 8, 2021

Hooray for Liverpool! While everywhere else in England it seems the party is struggling, thanks to Starmer’s inept, divisive leadership, they’ve won a victory in the town of the Beatles, Jimmy Tarbuck, John Bishop and Cilla Black. They’ve elected as their mayor Joanne Anderson, who beat the Independent candidate, Stephen Yip. The Tory candidate, Kate Burgess, lost her deposit. She’s promised to clean up the town’s politics after the previous mayor, Joe Anderson, who very definitely isn’t related to her, was arrested over allegations of corruption. She has promised to make the city’s government more accountable and transparent. She’s also said that she intends to make violence against women and girls and personal priority. She was raised by a ‘feisty’ single mother, and gave her experience of growing up under Thatcher in the 1980s, feeling that she would never amount to much. She has worked as a freelance equality and diversity consultant, including a ten year stint in the Crown Prosecution Service when it was presided over by Starmer. The founder and director of Operation Black Vote, Simon Woolley, described her victory as a ‘truly historic win on so many levels’ pointing to the significance of a Black woman now running a town that used to be a major slave port.

See: Liverpool chooses UK’s first directly elected black female mayor (msn.com)

It’s great to have some good news amid this torrent of horrible Tory victories.She isn’t one of the three people Starmer’s NEC tried to bar from standing, and there was a report yesterday that she was a Corbynist, although this seems to have since vanished. If this is the case, then it’s certainly a slap in the face for Starmer. It adds further evidence that shows that it isn’t Labour policies that are the problem, nor legacy Corbynism, but Starmer himself.

Beeb’s ‘Horrible Histories’ Pushing Myths and Falsehoods as Black History

May 7, 2021

One of the major aims of the ‘History Debunked’ YouTube channel is attacking the myths and sometimes deliberate lies, which try to present past British society as far more ethnically diverse and multiracial than it really was. This is being done in order to create an image of the past that fits and reflects today’s racially diverse society. Although undoubtedly well meant, it is a fabrication. Simon Webb, the YouTuber behind the channel, is a Telegraph-reading Conservative, but I don’t think he can be fairly accused of racism. He’s a published author, who does know his history and the reality behind the falsehoods he tries to debunk.

On Tuesday he put up a video attacking the latest editions of the Beeb’s Horrible Histories programme. This is a children’s history programme based on a series of best selling books. This is intended to present history in a fun way with much comedy, though Webb, with rather more serious tastes, decries it as slap-dash and inaccurate. A recent edition of the programme was on Black British history, and was simply full of myths and falsehoods presented as solid, historical fact. So much so, that Webb said he couldn’t go through all of them, and described the programme as propaganda aimed at children. So he confined himself with a couple of the more egregious.

The programme began with the Empire Windrush and the statement that its passengers had been invited to England to help with reconstruction after the War. This is a myth that’s been promoted by a number of people, including Diane Abbott. The truth is that Blacks weren’t invited to Britain by anyone and definitely not the British government. They were appalled at the immigrants’ arrival because they didn’t have anywhere to accommodate them. Webb states that some ended up living in air raid shelters because of the lack of proper housing. The truth is that the Empire Windrush was a troop ship that was returning to Britain from South America. There was hardly anyone on board, so the captain decided to open it up to paying passengers to reduce costs. The adverts for places aboard the ship in the Jamaican Daily Gleaner simply gives the prices of the various classes of accommodation. There is no mention of work in Britain. As for the motives of the people, who took passage aboard the ship, the Sheffield Daily News in Britain reported the comments of a Jamaican businessman, Floyd Rainer, who said that the immigrants had come to Britain because they were dissatisfied with pay and conditions in the Caribbean. They were seeking better opportunities for themselves, not to help Britain.

The programme then followed this with an item about Black Roman soldiers at Hadrian’s Wall. These were Moors from the Roman province of Mauretania. However, Mauretania was in North Africa, in what is now Morocco and Algeria. It was a province settled by Carthaginians, who were Phoenicians from what is now Lebanon, and the Berbers. Although comparatively dark-skinned, they had Mediterranean complexions, and were not Blacks from the modern West African country of Mauretania, has an American website claims.

It then went on to St. Adrian of Canterbury, who it was claimed was also Black. But he came from what is now Libya in north Africa, and so wouldn’t have been a Black African. However, the programme stated that he was an African, and left the viewer to imagine that he would therefore have been Black.

Mary Seacole was also shown tending British soldiers in a hospital during the Crimean War, which is also a myth. She set up a bar and restaurant and never did any actual nursing. It also showed Cheddar Man as Black. This is based on a reconstruction that was widely covered in the press at the time. However, Webb has done a previous video about it and similar reconstructions showing how flawed they are. In the case of Cheddar Man, the scientists behind the announcement that he was Black actually retracted this in a piece published in New Scientist. No-one really knows what colour people’s skins were 10,000 years ago.

I think the BBC actually means well with all this, and its presenters and compilers probably don’t think that they’re falsifying history. I’m sure they genuinely believe that they’re uncovering previously hidden aspects of the British past. I think projecting the presence of Black people back into the past is part of an attempt to deal with the continuing racist attitude towards Black and Asian Brits that still sees them as foreign, even though they have now been here for three generations. And a smaller number will have been here for much longer.

But I also think that the Beeb is also prepared to falsify history in this direction as well simply to make a programme. Back around 2003/4 the Beeb screened a series about the way modern artists and musicians were taking inspiration from the Psalms of the Bible. In one edition, feminist icon Germaine Greer went to Jamaica to meet the Rastafarian musicians, who sang the Psalms in the origin Amharic, according to the Radio Times.

Historically, this is nonsense. The Psalms were originally written, like almost all of the Tanakh, the Christian Old Testament, in Hebrew. Hence its alternative name of Hebrew Bible. It very definitely wasn’t written in Amharic, which is the modern Ethiopian language of the Amhara people. But Rastafarianism is based on the worship of Haile Selassie, the late emperor of Ethiopia, as the Lion of Judah and Black messiah. Hence, presumably, the insistence that the Psalms were written in Amharic. It seems to me that the Beeb obtained the cooperation of the Rastafarian musos for the programme on the understanding that the programme would be presented from their theological point of view. If they contradicted the assertion that the Psalms were written in Amharic, a language that didn’t exist when the Psalms were actually composed, then no programme. And so the Beeb and the Radio Times published this piece of historical nonsense.

I think a similar process may also be working behind the Horrible Histories and similar programmes present long held myths as facts about the Black past. I don’t know, but I think some of them might be made in collaboration with Black groups and individuals, who passionately believe these falsehood. The Beeb wants to make these programmes and include the views of Blacks themselves. These individuals insist on the inclusion of these myths, which the Beeb won’t challenge because its researchers don’t know that their myths, and the organisation is afraid of these organisations denouncing them as racists if they ignore these long-held Black views.

There are some excellent books and materials on Black British history out there. Three I’ve come across are Gretchen Herzen’s Black England – Life Before Emancipation, the collection Under the Imperial Carpet – Essays in Black History, edited by Rainer Lotz and Ian Pegg, and Our Children Free and Happy – Letters from Black Settlers in Africa, edited by Christopher Fyfe and published by Edinburgh University press. But there is an awful lot of myth and falsehoods as well.

However well meant, these need to be rejected as falsehoods, even if they’re told as truth by the Beeb.