Yorkshire update

A typical Yorkshire weekend in the last few years. Hours of pre-event twitter and some FB/blog activity. Cheap train tickets (you walk the first mile to Leeds along the platform at Kings Cross just to reach your carriage). Smiles of friends & catching up at the other end whilst instantly jumping into pre event campaign arrangements from different areas of region or further afield. ‘Exciting’ phone discussions from supermarkets about vegan friendly foods or the council / police re final checks and locations or attendees ringing constantly – I’m coming, not coming, have you got space for…., where are we meeting (occasionally from within our own organising group too). More tweeting. Fri evening planning about timings and what else can go wrong. More tweeting. Saturday morning arrives and we all swing into action. This weekend was a conference. Helped with some tech & general handyperson – I forgot to take up some equipment due to pre-house move organising & some minor gremlins but overall everything ok and good support on site. We got about 70 extra attendees which was nearly half again but enough to go around and any remainder goes to the Crypt. Amazing campaigners doing amazing work in freezing temperatures sometimes, week in, week out because they really, really care about health and wellbeing of their family, friends, local community – unlike the soulless outputs of the career climbing in search of endless power and wealth. Leeds air was crisp and clear as we finished Saturday post-event collapse at pub or restaurant and plans to change the world. More tweeting & fb. Sunday if time & weather are aligned – head off into the Dales. Today we were all more exhausted than usual so went to Kirkstall abbey museum instead. And back to the next cycle of train journeys… Will no longer be contributing to one twitter account for several months at least from end of this weekend onwards in agreement with others affected (unless there is emergency). Will close personal one soon and keep cancerpainres to once a week updates which is more than enough based on amount of research published by people in pain, cancer or other fields.

Media objects: emotion, experience and the psychopolitics of popular culture – Professor Caroline Bainbridge

Inaugural lecture at Roehampton this evening:

If going to understand cultural politics, need to understand relationships to self hood through interaction with media.

Freud. In 1920 after death of daughter – formulated idea of compulsion to repeat – a wish to find a way of mastering difficulty – try to control but control not in our hands.

Prince. There’s joy in competition. Went to Prince exhibition – wore whote gloves to handle Prince’s guitar – invited to keep gloves as memento of physical contact with guitar.

Turn to media favourites to work through unconscious responses to world and politics. 

Media saturated. Sense of identity bound up in this. Media meaningful because of coordinated activity. Large number of fragilities around – fear, anxiety, pain mostly on show. Use media as psychological to understand who we are and how relationships formed with other people.

Seeming banality – politics get mapped on e.g. Brexit and passport colour. 

Donald Meltzer – injustice of social order – shown in Girlhood film,  feminism. Idea of aesthetic – express political idea – relief from pain of growing up disenfranchised, shows how young women found solace, cinematography creates new possibilities for tones of skin. Girls sing but not heard in clip where dancing. 

Entanglements with media objects – how do we use for consolation. Are we in therapeutic age – work of Donald Winnicott, Christopher (Bolis?).

Object is not inanimate – when we encounter a human,internalise a version, create & retain psychological profile. Certain objects – transitional – significant to us. Look for substitutes as we mature through life. Object meaningful when relate – make it part of ourselves or remove a painful experience. Object can tolerate being destroyed either in fantasies – is external. Shores up fractured sense of identity.

Holding seemingly impossible ideas in tandem through psychoanalysis. Mamma Mia example – 1 in 4 ppl bought DVD. Stage show & film directed by 3 women, story about 3 women. ABBA songs dealing with emotional life experience. This comes out when we encounter objects in unexpected places e.g. unexpectrd reminders – hearing ABBA songs at weddings etc 

Mamma Mia also object of denigration and ridicule. Might have to put up with disparaging comments but can hold onto our joy of film. Sticking finger up.

Psychopolitics on the move.

In 2008 In Treatment ( originally Israeli).  Only one storyline in US version changed. Pilot dropping bomb scene wad replaced as seen as difficult to transpose culturally to US. Decision to change storyline based on one in Iraq – fantasies of US identity, dominance, democracies of change, war and guilt. For viewers in other countries – what do fantasies mean based on our understanding of our role / geopolitical identity. Local versions in 16 other countries didn’t have US story.

Collapse of moral and social values. #metoo

TV drama provides objects which we can use to regulate our own lives. Fragment our own experiences whilst projecting onto these objects. 

Psychological problems and celebrity – obsession with disclosure – highlighting difficulties and overcoming obstacles to emotional support.

Increase demand of on-demand viewing and binge watching. Addiction metaphors. Greed often present in dramas that people binge watch. Greed linked to contemporary experiences of emptiness & loneliness. 

Relatedness now imagined in the ether – endless smartphone and social media – gives rise to activity such as binge watching. TV drama gives outlet from desperately seeking stuff to make us feel good. Looking for way out of anxieties thrown up by digital media. 

Psychoanalysis been out of fashion but still has unique potential for understanding how we think about the world.

Russia books update 

Finished ‘Lost and Found in Russia – encounters in a deep heartland’ and it was as expected – some really interesting stories e.g. Vissarion, Anastasia, mind control technologies and interesting that the noosphere got a look in. But a bit like Dimbleby’s Russia – seems to wallow in describimg problems based on a very Western perspective. 

Re-reading Ustinov’s Russia as therapy – so full of life, spirit & adventure in a blend of non-fiction and fiction including drawings of Orthodox priests, imaginary encounters with Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great amongst others, mixed in with dashes of geopolitical thought:

“Mrs Thatcher once told me, with all the weight of her authority, that there was no public opinion in Russia. I remember my reply.: ‘I suppose, Prime Minister, that is why Russians have had two major revolutions this century, while the British have only had football riots and a few bitter strikes” 1

1. Ustinov P (1987), Ustinov in Russia, Summit Books, available at:https://www.worldcat.org/title/ustinov-in-russia/oclc/17294803

Repeating in miniature

As part of plan to move away from London and back into the countryside, will soon be moving further into London for a few months 🙂 

In a tinier version of my life in Oxford will be moving in with a friendly dog (I think 2 cats too) and some friendly humans but as it’s nearer central London everything smaller and more compact. We will all see how we get along and both sides used to this kind of arrangements.

It’s fine for relief cover for Mole Valley tkd but also opportunity to expand coaching and own training too.

No commute for a bit which is good. When first moved back into Surrey a couple of years ago I had forgotten the etiquette and on first day at Clapham Junction in rush hour – let a couple of people on the train ahead of me. A female voice from behind said “Oh for goodness sake get on”…it doesn’t take long to adapt 😉 

Taekwondo update

With Master Worsfold slowly cutting back his martial arts commitments, a group of us met to plan a way forward. I will continue as a relief instructor but others are also going to complete coaching qualifications so there will be a wider pool of relief as well as local instructors. I will start preparing to move house, either nearer work for a while or back to Mole Valley.

Am continuing to explore possibilities for inclusive arts (together with Master Worsfold) and various other bits and pieces. Will be continuing staff sessions at work too. 

Original plan to join a specific club and train for the nationals is not an option (nothing to do with me but not appropriate for this blog). 

Will also continue to explore ITF & WTF combinations (Master Worsfold says not impossible but making a lot of work for myself), as with competition training, will see where I end up living and plan from there – even nearer work, it’s still possible to get to Mole Valley or nearby. 

Breaking – Master Worsfold has told me to get cinder blocks, so will sort that soon too. 

Exploring alternative views of environmental issues

Recently read A Redder Shade of Green – intersections of science and socialism by Ian Angus

I am interested in alternative views of environmental issues and movements


P50 – 2″Rapid climate change has been the rule not the exception”

“Today, however as a direct result of fossil fuel combustion, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 is over 440 parts per million and growing fast.”

He has looked at international research which show how environmentally destructive trends greatly accelerated by World War 2 and the industry backlash in denying these trends. 

He challenges the “all humans are to blame” as scientists have also repeatedly challenged this narrative. He cites how cfcs were not reduced by putting a price on them or ‘cap and trade’ but by a mandatory phasing out and ultimately an outright ban.

He challenges assumptions around overpopulation and points out a number of environmental destructions by Shell, Chevron and US military which wouldn’t have been stopped by population decrease or universal access to birth control. 

He challenges rhetoric around use of mathematical equations and models 

P112 “nature isn’t a thing you can count so how can you put it in an equation?”

He points out the challenges with nature reserves, local natural extinctions, agriculture and biodiversity e.g. “it is not the existence of agriculture but the type of agriculture that determines whether biodiversity is preserved”

He reviews the overuse of plastic and the chemicals transmitted and reacting both in the water and within fish that we eat.

He challenges ‘environmental catastrophism’ and the idea that being informed is not the same as viewing the world apocalyptically. He points out the need for specific goals and where international agreements which need to but are not currently challenging capitalist economies e.g. emission reduction rather than fossil fuel reduction.

P173 “pouring crap into the environment is a fundamental feature of capitalism and it isn’t going to stop as long as capitalism survives”


I learnt a lot from this book and agree with quite a lot of it. It may be a misinterpretation on my part but he suggests that building a global movement working with environmentally, socially just movements rather than industry and government. I agree and disagree for the following

1. My understanding of development movements whether via governments, ngos, philanthropists essentially tells people in less developed countries – we have developed our countries but we’ve messed up including environmentally in your countries or bordering countries. 

So you can’t have exactly what we have because we don’t have enough resources and can’t figure out or find a way to agree to let you have what we have as well (more in this in another post). 

2. Based on my limited understanding of Russia with its complex climatic environments and relationships with bordering nations (but could be Middle East too) would be 

Western societies telling Russia that they a) need to give up one of the key inputs into their national economic health b) need to allow Western government friends,  ngos or industries to come in and decide which of their assets are going to be useful for Western environmental solutions and not offer anything in assistance or compensation (not to oligarchs btw). I can’t see solutions without liaision with the government and it doesn’t have to be a revolution.

There is also still not widespread real time collaboration by examining Russian or Chinese scientific, literary, political and historical thought in the languages used in those countries – we are just not there yet with translation and cultural understanding and maybe never will be, but that’s not a reason not to try to build bridges.

3. Challenging the ideas that capitalism has its own answers to its own failures is well handled in the book. This is similar with the growth of technological hype, entrepreneurial hype in other areas such as health which still posit solutions with the thinking and physical infrastructure rooted in their own political beliefs about solving problems, crises and catastrophes.

Cabbage капуста ‘pizza’

From New Year’s Eve cooked by Russian friend, forgot to ask Russian name of dish.

Grated cabbage lightly fried with an onion and placed on thin sourdough bread (bread fermented in jar/tub without yeast over a few days).

We added cubes of feta cheese then heated in oven to allow slight rise of bread.