AUTUMN WINTER THOUGHTS – QUEENS PARK…

Why do I think so much?
How does my mind make sense
Of the madness inside my head?
The boy who lived on the edge
Never truly fitting in-never wanting to!
Now a mature man who can relate to anyone
Who knows beggars and their dogs….
Judging nobody – for my own house is but ruins
Feeling comfortable with drifters
Those running away from society…

I always knew I was different
Maybe a little odd or even lost
Always looking behind the mirror
In search of my true self
Which still remains just an Autumn shadow
Glimpses of sunshine break through the clouds
Warmth upon my face
It’s going to be a long winter…

Memories of boyhood solitude
Bike rides to the moon
My heart my soul are quiet, tranquil, peaceful, content
I feel like a dry golden crisp leaf
Slowly falling-swaying
Finally settling on the frost-covered grass
I am always dreaming
For my reality is not the truth
But something entirely different…

A friendly robin is following me
I smile as she sings
My new companion-A brief acquaintance
Her secret melodies only understood by nature
A song of Spring’s return
New life fresh hope new beginnings
I pray she makes it through
As she flies away alone
Into the cold misty night
To be alive is truly wonderful
To feel the joy and pain of true love
Perhaps the greatest gift of all…

M C Bolton, October 2022

Photo by Jennifer Cavanagh

SPID Theatre takes on RBKC for Housing Justice

How to deal with an inflexible, disconnected, disgraced local authority that gets to mark its own homework on its supposed Change policy?  SPID Theatre on Ladbroke Grove spun its web and caught some official flies with an up-close performance of The Story of Fires and Floods. It then headed to the V & A to perform the same show and screen its film The History of Neglect. The event was also used to announce that SPID and residents of Kensal House are taking legal action against the council for its neglect.

Three of the protagonists break down how this all came about….

Act One – Sophia

‘Social, Progressive, Interconnected, Diverse!’ we shout.

The audience at the Victoria and Albert Museum rises, celebrating with us Kensal House Estate’s heritage and breathing life into the museum. The place buzzes with community spirit – artistic activism in action. It’s empowering to meet the eye of so many press and SPID funders as I announce class action against our landlord, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for their negligence. Continue reading

Retrograde Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

RBKC’s coat of arms. The motto means ‘What a good thing it is to dwell in unity’ – picture from rbkc.gov.uk

An outsider assessing Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC) from a distance can be forgiven for believing that the council has become a more progressive, liberal, and democratic institution since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. This illusion is sustained by the local authority’s exhaustive public relations policy and an absence of political or media scrutiny. In this induced amnesia, RBKC keeps a firm grip on North Kensington. But the council’s approach to the north is arguably more regressive and undemocratic than at any time in its history. A study conducted in the early years of the borough sheds light on the dynamics at play.

Sixties London

In 1963, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea was formed by a merger of the separate K and C boroughs through the London Government Act. In 1967, Professor John Dearlove of the University of Sussex began researching the relationship between RBKC’s decision-makers and those seeking to influence policy, referred to as interest groups. For years, Professor Dearlove attended council meetings and learned about community issues, publishing his findings first in an academic journal[i] and later in a book[ii].

In the 1968 local elections, London turned blue, the Conservatives winning control of 28 councils to Labour’s three. The 2022 results reflect a changed city with just six councils controlled by the Tories and 21 by Labour. But RBKC stands apart from the wider city, remaining a Conservative safe seat throughout, and the only remaining Tory council in inner London. But it has been a divided borough, with North Kensington council wards tending to vote Labour, and two now-abolished parliamentary constituencies, Kensington North, and Regent’s Park & Kensington North, returning only Labour MPs to the Commons between 1945 and 2010.

The stark contrasts of the borough were present from its inception. The London Housing Survey in 1968 stated: “one of the most distinctive features about the Royal Borough […] the sharp contrast between North Kensington and the rest of the Borough”[iii]

Professor Dearlove noted the north’s higher number of manual labourers, its overcrowded homes, lack of open spaces, and higher proportion of children. Relating these disparities to his research, Dearlove saw the social, economic, cultural, and political divide between the north and the rest of the borough reflected in the contrasting interest groups interacting with council decision-makers, with northern residents inclined to seek innovation, change, and sometimes the reversal of the council’s policies. Continue reading

Both Barrels

Sitting alone upon the hill inside my head

Overlooking the City

Watching soldier ants devour, destroy each other

For no reason, no reason at all

Slowly returning to their homes

Questioning their beliefs their actions

Cognitive dissonance quickly vanishing – Vanquished

For the perpetual lie must continue…

Picking up a placard like a sword

Needing a cause to feel validated

I am here, they cry

We are the virtuous ones 

My life is relevant

My identity counts

Truth is it doesn’t…

You’re full of self-delusion

Just used by idealogues for a lost cause

Of their immature revolution

Always a follower

Never a leader

Or even worse an individual free thinker!

Feeling safe in a crowd

A peaky blinder

No one’s listening or cares

Even you don’t really

In the quiet of your bedroom…

But hey! The next march beckons

I sit upon my hill in peace

For I am a gang of one

I left the battle long ago

Slowly walking away

Leaving the foolish to fight the deluded

While the band plays on………………….

M C Bolton, May 2022

drawing by TC

THE HOMECOMING

Gently I stroll barefoot

Across the dew-soaked grass

The sun slowly rising

My feelings, my emotions stretching

Dusting off the fine particles of my subconscious dreams…

Is this the Promised Land?

I cannot return to the wilderness

Never again do I want to feel

It’s hard sand between my toes

Or hear the jackals howling at the moon…

I have made it this far

To the land of giants

Where their walled cities stand defiant…

Leaving behind my former self

Shredded like an old snakeskin

Blown away by the breeze…

This flawed, weak man 

Like a piece of driftwood

Made smooth by sea and sand

Tossed casually into the eternal flame

A sacrifice of unconditional Love

To glow amongst the embers

Finally, home

Finally free………………….

Mark C Bolton, August 2022

Why Write

Now & again, we are invited to deliver writing workshops for young people. Here’s what I like to tell them…

I tell them that the aim of the workshop is for them to write skilfully, to express their ideas creatively and with confidence. We encourage them to take ownership of their English language; it belongs to them, not their teachers, schools, or exam board.

Why does writing matter?

Because people think with words, vocabulary is very important; it allows us to understand ourselves, each other, and our world. And all jobs require communication, from applications to emails, to writing reports, and blogging – a way with words boosts your chances of success in any career.

We always emphasise that we are not there to judge them. We aren’t following the national curriculum. We are genuinely curious about what they have to offer. Usually, blank faces look back but some grasp this concept of creativity for self-expression and liberation. Writing is largely a self-taught discipline; anybody can develop a style that works for them, with enough practice.

Impact

Words can be used for various reasons – to hurt, inspire, inform, lighten, uplift, and connect. People without words are frustrated and angry, they feel impotent. Continue reading

INITIUM NOVUM

A calmness entered my soul

Just briefly I was complete

Everything made sense

Feeling that inner peace 

Of refusing to fit in or go with the flow

I was right all along

The never ending war inside my head

Slowly rescinding as I accepted defeat…

Knowing I just had to be me

Taking risks-Putting it all on the line

No fear of rejection 

For there is truly nothing to reject

Being human wanting to love

To be intimate-To care

Sharing a moment in time 

For reasons I know not…

Gentle touches-A stolen kiss

Yet everything is slipping away

A landslide of the heart

Swaying like a reed in the breeze

Reaching out-Reaching inward

To feel-To grab

Hanging on to the thin thread of hope

Falling backwards into space

Beyond time-Towards darkness…

Then comes the bright piercing light

Blinding-Cleansing my soul

As I am born once more

Trying to hold on 

To my knowledge my experiences

But it’s all slipping away

Slowly slipping away

Knowing nothing once again……..

M C Bolton, July 2022

Awareness Alone

She was flying at speed, with no sense of fear. Kaleidoscopic rainbows of colours were rushing past her with excitement, an eager playfulness that she found contagious. She looked down and saw hills and valleys beneath her, she saw ploughed and fallow fields and the microscopic activity of lives being lived. She looked up and witnessed the stillness of the stars. There was a never-ending depth to them when viewed from this angle, like brushstrokes to the infinite. She looked ahead of herself and into the oncoming colour, she felt a reassuring calmness within the speed. 

She had always been a rebel, quick to play the devilish advocate of the opposite and contrary, quick to assume the role of the antagonist committed to playing the counterpoint. For so many years she had been the one trying to rush others onwards. She had called it passion. She had judged most of life as a drudgery, a flattening bore of responsibility and restraint. She had seen those surrounding her, family and friends, even strangers who’s path she would cross, as needing shaking up, waking up into the pure potentiality of a life lived in full glory. She had made herself a nuisance without any sense of shame. Pushed forwards with the wholehearted belief that she was following a higher cause, the lifetime commitment of an awakened truth-seeker, desperate to both inspire and be inspired. The counterpoint to what she perceived as inertia had always been movement, a dragging and a thrusting, a call to arms proclaimed by an individual rushing onwards at speed. Now that she was flying at speed, she found herself playing the counterpoint again. Only it wasn’t the inertia that she had always imagined it to be, the counterpoint to speed was actually stillness. 

She was still, while flying at speed. And with the stillness came a calm contentment. Strangely familiar, like a friend from the past that one struggles to recognise at first. That moment before the spark of reconnection lights the fires of your heart. The squeal of delight, the lightening of spirit, the widening of the eyes. It was as if every cell in her body was pulsating with the eternal light of the stars above. She could feel everything with expanded awareness, the entirety of her body, as well as the vistas above and below. The wind was her too. The way it rushed past with eager delight. Every colour was a world of its own, a doorway into a past moment of her life. Red and orange, blue and green, yellow and fuschia, purple and pink. She had been all these colours and more and she had retained their stain as an imprint upon her soul. The fibres of her being stored the memory of how she had been, and her past being had shaped her even more than she realised. 

Her subservience to ideology and principle had left its residue. It had been corded to her for so long and during any time of cording there will be a continual osmosis, unconscious assimilation and the creation of baggage. It wasn’t enough to cut the cord and be done. That idea was born of impatient irresponsibility. There were dues to be paid, reparations to be gathered, uncollected baggage waiting to be reclaimed. She would have to suffer the kickbacks of her former trigger-happy self, and when they came, as they surely would, she would have to resist the temptation to re-cord herself to her former ideas and principles as a method of self-defence. For such a method would place her finger back on the trigger, it would result in more shots, more death and destruction, the creation of even more baggage, further dues to be paid, further reparations to be gathered. An endless cycle of birth and death, pleasure and pain, an almost continual suffering. 

She would have to stay clam, retain a connection to stillness. And her unofficial counterpoint training would help; because in a world of continual change: new creations, physical death and decay, emotional rises, psychological shifts, developing thoughts, ever-reactive senses, the only counterpoint is that which never changes. That which is consistent. 

Awareness. 

Her Awareness. That within, which is aware of all the changes, the senses and thoughts, feelings and beliefs, all the fluid identities of the surrounding world. The ‘I AM…” that connects itself to different things in order to complete the trailing sentence and experience itself in absolute totality. If she could remain connected to the knowledge that in truth, given a long enough timeframe, she is only that awareness and nothing more, then she would probably be alright.

She continued to look ahead. The confluence of different colours had merged into a fixed point of light. Colours continued to exist in the periphery, but her attention was so concentrated that she didn’t notice them. She was beginning to know something beyond colour and form, separation and difference. She was still aware of what was below her in the fields and the valleys, she could even feel the sadnesses and joys of those who ploughed them. They fell into her like a pebble to a lake, causing a splash and a ripple that settled into calmness and transparency, security and rest. She was becoming aware of the source and the sauce. The source of it all, as distinct from the separate sauces of life, the different tastes and fancies. She was beginning to connect to this perennial awareness. Something singular and alone, but far from feeling lonely she felt more accepted and connected than she ever had before. And no sooner had she smiled to herself in self-satisfied satisfaction, than she awoke to the warm daylight of a summers morning, the rest of her household fast asleep. Her day just beginning.


by Palmer Golden

photo by talib

RBKC’s North Ken News: Real Eyes Realise Real Lies

North Ken News is a Kensington & Chelsea Council magazine, delivered to thousands of residents in the borough’s less affluent wards. Ill-conceived and half-heartedly produced, it typifies a local authority lacking the ambition to truly change following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Background

In January 2019 Kensington & Chelsea Council (RBKC), after holding ‘Creating Stronger Communities Conversations,’ produced its Grenfell Recovery Strategy, saying the document “demonstrated a strong desire” on the part of local residents “to shape recovery directly, building on the existing strengths and talents of communities.”

The aspirations RBKC identified in its consultations with locals included:

  • RBKC enabling “stronger community leadership”
  • RBKC tapping into “existing skills and networks” and
  • “The need to improve Council communications to all North Kensington residents”

North Ken News, along with other mass distribution puff pieces, are RBKC’s responses to the frustrations raised about the council’s communications. These publications amount to little more than public relations for a disgraced local authority. A true provider of grassroots news and analysis, the blog THis Is North Kensington summarised North Ken News as “PR self-analysis of the supposed Grenfell Strategy.”  

Context Continue reading

THE PARTING

I dropped anchor

Watching her slowly sail over the horizon

Knowing we would never see each other again

A small tear formed in the corner of my eye

Where it stayed

For the stoicism within my soul

Kept it from rolling down my cheek…

I knew I would miss her

We had fought so many battles together

At times against each other

She was brave good and true…

Capturing my heart upon my first gaze

Knowing it was doomed from the start

I still entered willingly

Laughing inwardly at my foolishness…

Yet what a journey

For a brief moment

We were both truly alive

Living dangerously -Without fear of tomorrow

Caring, sharing, touching each others’ spirit

Even praying together one time

Feeling the Love of God

Descend on us like a dove

But even that was not enough

For religion, tradition, duty calls

What should have pulled us together

Tore us apart!

I held on briefly-Still do

Believing that what God ordained-Brought together

No man could separate!

This world, this often cruel sea

Not made for the likes of us

As we both sail into the mist of time…

I will never forget you

For you are like the cool Summer breeze

That blows through my hair

I know it’s you

Just passing by

Just saying hello!

Just saying Hi !

A wry smile cracks upon my face

I truly love you still

Yet you can never hold the wind….

M C BOLTON MAY 2022

photo by TC