Monday, 30 November 2015

#bless the NHS

There are some people who don't understand the NHS.  There are people who don't understand how universal health care, free at the point of delivery works.  It works like this: we all go to work, we earn money, we pay some of it through tax and National Insurance to the Government.  The Government doles it back out to regional health authorities who provide hospitals and health care.  It works. It's not perfect but it works.

Some people might feel that they pay disproportionately for this service.  They're wrong. Some of the people who talk most tosh about the UK National Health Service are residents of the USA, some are Republican presidential candidates.  Others who talk tosh are members of the UK government who should know better (including Messrs Cameron and Hunt).

NHS baby, Stik
here's a link with street art from the Hackney Gazette
Stik, who has painted his distinctive stick-figure characters across the globe from New York to Tokyo, spent years living on the streets before he found fame, where he came under attack from thugs on more than one occasion.
He wanted to do something to “give back” to the NHS hospital which he credits with saving his life on more than one occasion.
Over 500 people queued at the hospital in Homerton Row throughout the day to acquire a limited print and those disappointed at not getting a print were cheered up by the artist himself who gave each a personally signed poster of the mural painting.
Shaun Caton, art curator said: “This is an act of tremendous generosity from Stik. Gestures like this go to show that art is not elitist and can significantly enhance and improve the environment of a hospital courtyard, providing a landmark which is both fun and poignant.”
The money will go towards the neurological rehabilitation unit’s art room, to help rehabilitate patients with brain injuries, along with arts workshops for people with dementia at the elderly care unit.
*          *         *         *         *         *         *         *

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust provides services to some 1.9 million people living in Southampton and south Hampshire, plus specialist services such as neurosciences, cardiac services and children's intensive care to more than 3.7 million people in central southern England and the Channel Islands.

The Trust is also a major centre for teaching and research in association with the University of Southampton and partners including the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust.
UHS gained foundation trust status on 1 October 2011.
Every year 10,550 staff:
  • treat around 140,000 inpatients and day patients, including about 50,000 emergency admissions;
  • see over 500,000 people at outpatient appointments; and
  • deal with around 110,000 cases in its emergency department
Providing these services costs more than £1.6 million a day.

#SaveTheNHS  #BlessTheNHS

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Art rankings (nos 1 - 134)

Something different today.

Self appraisal is pretty difficult, pretty challenging.  Look at the last ten decisions you made at work, or the last ten conversations that you had with your children (or your parents) or your wallpaper choices and consider what and when you did well, what you could have done better and what you really screwed up on.

Hard enough to be honest with yourself - how about sharing it with others? How about looking at twenty years of your working life and ranking everything you've done, in order of merit.  Then writing a list and putting it on the canteen notice board.

With art there is a further complication. As an artist, particularly the sort of artist who ploughs their own furrow, how do you know what is good.  How do you know this song is a potential Number One.  Do you care if it is a potential Number One. Is it going to be lead track on the new album or relegated to a bonus giveaway on Soundcloud.  How do you know this painting is even finished (or you should have stopped a while ago).  How do you know this poem makes sense.  What will they say about it on A Good Read?

If I was an artist I might be happy to list my top ten achievements, the ten paintings, songs, poems, wallpapers I had created that I was most proud if.  I might even be happy to say I wasn't really satisfied with this picture or that song.  I would be less keen to list my failures.

One man who knows the value of his work is Art Garfunkel and as this blog is mostly about Art in one form or another his appearance here is justified. (Look out for op-ed pieces about Art Blakey and Art Malik).

You have to understand this: Art has reviewed the 134 songs he released as a solo artist between 1973 and 2007. He has rated them all.  He has put them in order. Not the ten best love songs and the top ten songs about animals, but all 134 songs ranked.  So, Good Luck Charm is one place ahead of Saturday Suit; The Break-up is better than Let's Fall in Love; rabbits come out ahead of frogs and camels.  There are no ties - he thought hard an decided King of Tonga was actually worse than Up in the World. And Take Me Away is awful.  I listened to it for research purposes and it fully deserves its place at 134.

This next bit is from  It is copyright and is quoted here for review purposes. It is in itself a work of art. Over now to

Below is a list complied by Art Garfunkel of his entire body of work as a solo artist from 1973 - 2007. These songs have been ranked by Art in order of quality of his vocal performance and overall quality of the song.

134. Take Me Away
133. you’re a Wonderful One
132. This Is the Moment
131. Beyond the Tears
130. Herod
129. And I Know
128. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
127. The Song of the Camels
126. Love Is the Only Chain
125. The Frog
124. Hang On In
123. Marionette
122. Turn, Don’t Turn Away
121. If Love Takes You Away

120. How Did You Know
119. Mary Was an Only Child
118. Daydream
117. Another Lullaby
116. I Will
115. Another Only One
114. Feuilles-Oh/Do Spacemen…
113. I Shall Sing
112. It’s All in the Game
111. We’ll Never Say Goodbye
110. Paper Chase
109. Morning Has Broken
108. Crossing Lines
107. King of Tonga
106. Up in the World
105. She Moved Through the Fair
104. As Long as the Moon Can Shine
103. Wishbone
102. So Much in Love
101. The Friendly Beasts

100. I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)
99. Can’t Turn My Heart Away
98. Baby Mine
97. Every Now and Then
96. Sometimes When I’m Dreaming
95. Looking for the Right One
94. The French Waltz
93. Life Is But a Dream
92. The Romance
91. Miss You Nights
90. Words from An Old Spanish Carol
89. Goodnight My Love
88. Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars
87. Someone to Watch Over Me
86. Fingerpaint Me
85. Incredible Phat
84. Just Over the Brooklyn Bridge
83. Saturday Suit
82. Good luck Charm
81. Mr. Shuck n’ Jive

80. Slow Breakup
79. Let’s Fall in Love
78. The Breakup
77. When Someone Doesn’t Want You
76. The Annunciation
75. Secret O’ Life
74. In Cars
73. Wooden Planes
72. Oh How Happy
71. Down in the Willow Garden
70. Old Man
69. What I Love About Rain
68. In a Little While (I’ll Be On My Way)
67. Just a Simple Little Tune
66. The Same Old Tears on a New Background
65. You Stepped Out of a Dream
64. Why Worry
63. Easy Living
62. Water of March
61. Grateful

60. That’s All I’ve Got to Say
59. The Creatures of the Field
58. O Come All Ye Faithful
57. Who’s Gonna Show Your Pretty Little Feet
56. Young and Free
55. It Could Happen to You
54. Finally Found a Reason
53. The Lord’s Prayer
52. If I Loved You
51. The Things We’ve Handed Down
50. Someone Else
49. Wild Geese
48. I’m Glad There Is You
47. Crying In My Sleep
46. The Thread
45. I Wonder Why
44. Woyaya
43. Dreamland
42. While We’re Young
41. Barbara Allen

40. Lasso the Moon
39. If I Ever Say I’m Over You
38. Travelling Boy
37. Bounce
36. Shine It One Me
35. Two Sleepy People
34. Everything Waits to Be Noticed
33. All My Love’s Laughter
32. Breakaway
31. Let It Be Me
30. Watermark
29. What’ll I Do
28. I Remember You
27. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
26. One Less Holiday
25. Second Avenue
24. Rag Doll
23. The Kid
22. Sail On a Rainbow
21. Some Enchanted Evening

20. Since I Don’t Have You
19. So Easy to Begin
18. Carol of the Birds
17. The Promise
16. I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face
15. Skywriter
14. When a Man Loves a Woman
13. Disney Girls
12. My Little Town
11. I Have a Love

10. 99 Miles from LA
9. Crying in the Rain
8. The Decree
7. Perfect Moment
6. Scissors Cut
5. A Heart in New York
4. (What a) Wonderful World
3. All I Know
2. I Only Have Eyes for You
1. Bright Eyes

Friday, 27 November 2015

Meme pas mal!

Paris, November 2015

Making sense of what happened in Paris a fortnight ago is difficult.  At one level it is entirely explainable.  Some people don't like the West.  Therefore hurting the West, targeting the decadent, the fun loving, the young gig goers, the patriotic football supporters makes a kind of warped sense.  For those foot soldiers involved - well, they did their bit.  For the tacticians behind them, well, any response from the West, from France, Europe and the USA is going to benefit them - a soft response is a win, a hard response is a recruiting tool.

our time has fallen well below, Paris, November 2015

The perpetrators were European with middle eastern heritage, causing confusion for those who wish to blame outsiders and concern for those who cannot understand why anyone doesn't love the West.   Personally I love the West.  There's bits I'm not keen on.  Just the sight of Disney, MacDonalds and Starbucks makes me feel uncomfortable.  Something to do with colonialism - cultural imperialism - coca-colanisation.  It is not totally weird to find a lot wrong with Western society.

 Paris, November 2015

But even if there is much wrong with Western society there is no honour in this murderous assault. No eternal reward.  No glory. Because in the same way that carpet bombing Syria won't make the Middle East love NATO, terrorist acts in our cities won't make us sympathetic to your views.  Hearts and minds, people, hearts and minds.

 Paris, November 2015

But there's always scope to look for the good.  There were less than a dozen terrorists.  There were hundreds of good people - ambulance drivers and paramedics, doctors, nurses, police and soldiers, fire officers and good neighbours, friends and families who went to help.  The world is no more screwed up than it ever was - there has always been good, always been bad.  The Noah story - which predates the Bible - or any of the sacred texts anyone round here is still using - the Noah story tells of a time when people were so bad that the Almighty was happy to wipe all but a single family out.  Five thousand years ago there were holier-than-thous telling their contemporaries that the world was going to hell in a handcart because it was just one big Kentucky Derby. Incurably decadent and depraved.

Paris, November 2015

not even hurt!

 Paris, November 2015
The healing starts with art

 Bataclan, Paris, November 2015

  Spray for Paris, Paris, November 2015

Paris, November 2015

 Paris, November 2015

Emilie and Charolotte Meaud were twin sisters, around the same age as my eldest daughter. They were dining out. They were shot dead.  Charlotte is on the left in the pictures below, Emilie on the right.  If I thought praying would help I would.

Charlotte and Emilie Meaud

 S.E.W.N. Paris, November 2015

S.E.W.N. detail Paris, November 2015

Paris has been rocked by waves, but not sunk.  

Pictures by Mme Akriche. Thank you for sharing

Friday, 20 November 2015

razzle dazzle

The War To End All Wars was in full swing a century ago.  The fact that war is now over is being commemorated by a series of art commissions, or rather Art Commissions.  The Tower of London poppies were a great way of remembering each life Commonwealth life lost (although that was of course only half of the story).  The poppy displays currently in Yorkshire are pretty amazing too.

On the Thames lies HMS President, a floating jewel in the heart of the capital (according to its website).  Built at the tail end of The War to End All Wars as HMS Saxifrage she has been dazzled by German artist Tobias Rehberger.  Take a closer look.

So, what the heck is dazzle painting?  Over to the HMS President website:
The theory of dazzle painting was first introduced in 1914 by the scientist John Graham Kerr to then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, with the intention of adopting disruptive camouflage which was initially called ‘parti-colouring’. The idea was not to ‘hide’ the ships, but to paint them in such a way that their appearance was optically distorted, so that it was difficult for a submarine to calculate the course the ship was travelling on, and to know from what angle to attack. The ‘dazzle’ effect was achieved by painting the ship in contrasting stripes and curves that broke up its shape and outline.

There's a couple more dazzle ships in Liverpool, including the Snowdrop, a Mersey Ferry bedazzled by Sir Peter Blake.  He has gone for a very '60s dazzle while Rehberger's is more of a modernist take on the WWI look.

I suggest that when you've finished looking at my pictures here you do some searches for HMS President and Tobias Rehberger, Snowdrop and Peter Blake, Edmund Gardner and Carlos Cruz-Diez.  You'll have hours of fun and maybe learn something.

Two things. 
  1. art has escaped from the gallery and that can only be good
  2. the War to End All Wars didn't end all wars.  In fact you could reasonably argue that the War to End All Wars was a major cause of the Second World War. This is what we should be remembering. 


 moral equivalence 

A century of conflict has surely taught us that you can't put your point across by bombing the bejabbers out of the enemy.  You can't win hearts and minds when you show the same lack of respect for life as your enemy does.

This is about the art.  And the duck.  

And the dazzle ship. Great work Tobias.

Monday, 16 November 2015

six deadly small business marketing mistakes


 1. Not having a marketing plan.

 2. Not differentiating your business from your competition.

3. Not having a systematic referral generating program.

4. Neglecting to communicate and market to your current customers.

 5. Make money with other people’s customers.

6. Not realizing you are in the business of marketing your product or service.

 with thanks to Hatoum Naji for more wise words
art from Leake Street

Sunday, 15 November 2015

ex machina







Some people believe language exists from birth. And what is learned is the ability to attach words and structure to the latent ability.

What will happen to me if I fail your test?

Isn't it strange, to create something that hates you?

we have our own arrogance

Nathan, you shouldn't trust anything he says

 Caleb, you have to help me.

One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa... an upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.

"the deus ex machina has come to save us!"

quotes from ex_machina
art from Leake Street