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A comprehensive analysis of our predicament

- from 13th Dec 2019 -



The above link is to Jonathan Cook's blog following the UK general election. You only have to read the first paragraph to see how Cook anticipates the monumental indifference - incompetence - of the most devisive 'BIG corp' govt we've yet seen in the UK... not that I too didn't foresee what Cook describes, but to articulate such foresight so unrestrainedly, so starkly... yet also with professional objectivity... is quite a skill, and one that Cook excels at.




A Conversation With

Olive Oyl

Bud: From my angle we first met back around 1952 when I'd have been 2 or 3 years old - a baby, essentially, maybe not much older than Swee'pea. I still have the book where I first saw you both:

Olive: Swee'pea is just a baby still, ever since he first appeared in 1933. I started in 1919, a decade before I met Popeye. We don't age, you know, or change our appearance - except Bluto from how he was in 1937.

Bud: As I see... it's all there on your wikipedia page - and Swee'pea's likewise. Popeye and Bluto have their own pages too. The Jeep and Wimpy are clearly not important enough. Here's a few shots from the above book; Swipe for more:

Olive: Why... they're wonderful... I haven't seen those in AGES...

Bud: Neither had I before a few days ago.

Olive: And the Jeep was right.... he's ALWAYS right. None of us went down on that voyage, or any other voyage for that matter. We're ALL still here, even if not much in the limelight anymore.

Bud: Back then in the 1950s I loved you all too, even Bluto.

Olive: He was my lover before Popeye turned-up. Then they were in constant combat over me. That's when the artist gave Bluto a beard - maybe intending to make him look more scary. But I love them both... somehow Popeye always finds a tin of spinach that gives him the strength to win, and poor Bluto slinks gloomily away to lament alone.

Bud: Maybe you should go and console him when that happens?

Olive: I don't think it would impress Popeye if I did. But Bluto is used to it. He can handle losing....

Bud: That book lived at my maternal grandparent's house in Wadhurst where we went on holiday each year when I was a kid.... so I only met you and your friends for a couple of weeks once a year. Even so, being among my earliest acquaintancies, you all made a significant impact on my early psyche... you especially, because the others seemed dull in comparison except the Jeep... and he stayed in the background most of the time. Maybe Popeye shone through now and then, but you were the key character, the centre of attention. As for Swee'pea, he just gurgled.

Olive: I was just helping Popeye get organised - and looking after Swee'pea. The Jeep took care of himself, though Wimpey liked to keep an eye on him.

Bud: I really liked the Jeep. He was unique... neither dog nor cat nor anything... the result of some kind of auspicious mutation I guess... most intriguing was that he could predict the future and ALWAYS told the truth - the two things above all that humans can't do.

Olive: ... but they think they can. There was no fight in that book. Bluto and Popeye got along just fine on the voyage.

Bud: That's what I liked... a few dicey moments, though, like when you fell overboard.

Etc., etc., etc.....


A glimpse at the Work

(or rather, Play) of John Berger

- artist and author -

It's several years now from when I'd wander along Tackleway in Hastings Old Town on my way to the cliffs and run into Roland Jarvis taking a break from his work (or play), standing outside his large studio 'Takleway Hall' in the sunshine. Always it was a chance for a brief but wonderful, uplifting conversation. Roland's personality was, as far as I could tell, the precise opposite of his art - which was usually laced with sinister impressions. The range in size and quantity was extensive, including weird sculptures and animations whose subjects frequently radiated subtle suggestion of menace. Above all, every piece was good, done with care and skill. I told him I thought he was the 'Harold Pinter' of art, which seemed to please him immensely. Most intriguing was that among his former acquaintances were the author/artists Raymond Briggs and John Berger who died a year after Roland and at the same age of 90.

What luck, I now reflect, to have met and talked with Roland on those rare occasions I ran into him, or when he opened his studio as many artists do in Hastings for a period during summer - this has become a welcome custom, perhaps in many towns?

John Berger, though, is someone I'd also like to have met. From what I can make out, he was a straightforward simple kind of guy - although from the town-&-city (Croydon), he seemed much more attuned to the rural life and countryside. By 'simple' I'm not talking about intelligence - his IQs (both emotional and intellectual) were without doubt well at the high end of the spectrum. His simplicity was in his style, his poise, his powers of focused observation without sophistication or pretensions. As a man of compassion and empathy, he considered art and life deeply, regarding everything with a kind of reverance. He found easy affinity with the oppressed, and the less privileged, especially peasants and villagers in their basic way of life - and including the deceased: his book 'Here is Where we Meet' contains 'conversations' with people he'd known but were long dead.

Like the above discourse with Olive, conversing with the dead is a mind-exercise I've tried... how well can I imagine precisely what this person would say if I met them now, or perhaps at some remote spot on one of my long walks in the countryside?