Monday, 29 June 2009

Back in the saddle

Last Friday for the first time this year I cycled on my old training route of some 54miles in the South Cheshire countryside - rolling hills around Alderley Edge, Goostrey ('Goostrey remember me') and Wilmslow.

It got quiet hot and I drank 2 bottles of water - not quite up to my 6 bottles in the August heat of my LEJOG ride nearly 2 years ago. I completed the trip in 6.5 hours making a good 8 miles per hour. This was almost as fast as I got before starting my LEJOG so I am well pleased to be still so fit and not that sore the next day, if a little tired.

I have been suffering what I think is a stress related tense stomach intermittently for some weeks now. It disappeared during the cycle ride and only reappeared some 48 hours later. I can't obviously stay permanently on the bike but it does say something.

On the ride itself the time past quickly. I dwelled inside and quietly turned a few things over in my mind, nothing startling emerged but I have missed this time just to reflect and be me during the busy-ness of my life in recent weeks. And the countryside was glorious to travel through.

Best to all Bill very much back on bike

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Manchester riots

[more creative writing stuff]

Although the Manchester riots were clearly a consequence of the brutal i-snatch squad attacks on the pandemonia or Pet-in established following the Pet Shop Boys concert at the iRena in December i2020 no-one could really blame the riots on the pandemonia or heaven forbid blame the Pets although some attempts were made by gov-e-media outlets. Neil and Chris of the Pets and their manager went into hiding as result which was unfortunate as their concert was their first public outing in 5 years.

No the riots were a dis-aster waiting to happen, indeed according to the Synchronisers they were caused by the phenomena of mass dis-aster, namely that some much of the population was in a disconnect with energies of the cosmos. But they would say that wouldn't they?

Also the fact that the Gay, Pol*, Chinese and Italian quarters of the city were all involved in the riots suggests that a simple 'this was gay or pol bashing' view of the riots was just that: simplistic. This is not to deny the the brutality shown by the snatch squads when operating in the Gay or Pol quarter of the city. Indeed in any overly 'civilised' society a public inquiry of some sort would have happened.

The Manchester riots lasted 5 days and over 1,000 Snatchies were deployed. 100 people were alleged to have died in the riots although due to extensive fire damage the true figure will never be known. Certainly 60 bodies were recovered and 451 people were hospitalised with fire, gunshot and tazer injuries. Things were so bad at one point that the city and surrounding region was declared a Grade P disaster zone. This needs to be set in the context that the hunger riots in Glasburgh only resulted in a Grade M disaster declaration.

*Pol(s) slang term for for polyamorists who openly have more than one loving intimate relationship at any one time. As a group they seemed to have emerged around 1972 ( in the old PPM calendar)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Next meeting with Xavier

[More creative writing stuff]

My next meeting with Xavier was different. He seemed to have lost something, some of his edge, some of his vitality. It was as if he was truly becoming the down and out that I didn't believe he really was. Was this change in him a consequence of his contact with the Naylorites - a contact I had facilitated? Or was it something different?

I soon found out. We met in the back terrace garden of a local i-cafe-bar Tring. Xavier was more or less hidden behind a pillar and as he told me 'the owner is an old Buddhist friend of mine'. Xavier had a haunted look to him.
'How goes?' I asked conversationally.
'Not well Biblbo' I was startled once again by his use of my old nickname. I looked inquiringly at him.
'They are after me' Paranoia or what?
'I'm not sure. Could be your lot, the Dark Cyclists-'
'No,' I shook my head, 'not my lot and don't spread such rumours'
'OK'' he replied in a skeptical voice.
'Not my lot!' I said more emphatically.
'OK. OK but someone is... I got beaten up yesterday.'
'Oh.... sorry to hear that but isn't that an occupational hazard?'
'Yes but they were professionals, I could feel the difference.'
'But why?'
'To warn me off.'
'Off what?'
'Off... the Naylorites I think.... Unless they did it'
'Not likely they are ex Quakers and so are pacifists.'
'Oh yeah, there's a tale or two I could tell you about them.'
'Another time' the last thing I wanted to hear was Xavier slagging off the Naylorites.
'Is there somewhere you can go?'
'I rather hoped you would know a place.'

It happened so suddenly. A shadow loomed over our table and a hand seized Xavier and another hand firmly pressed me in the chest back into my seat. It was an i-snatch squad*, no use resisting them otherwise we would both be 'tazed, dazed and fazed'.

They took Xavier away but left me - why? - luck on my part or were they already watching me and waiting? Almost certainly but what use was I to them - obviously more than I realised. Surely the groups of 19 were not that strong, not that much of a threat? After all we were only trying like a number of groups in our own confused chaotic way to co-ordinate the administration of things including the supply of food and other services rather than the government of people which was now way beyond a joke.

*I-snatch squad - semi autonomous squads but government resourced at a distance, independent of the police and the armed forces. Set up in i2018 or thereabouts. Formed largely from ex service men and women. Famous for not even bothering to wear any identification but always dressed in dark blue designer shell suits well tooled up with the latest tazers and communication equipment including i-blockers. Infamous for their break up of the Pets Pandemonia live-in in Manchester which resulted in the Manchester riots of i2020.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Challenging dragons

Cool cloudy day with very little breeze but if feels like it will soon get warmer. Feels like a great potential cycling day but I have meetings most of the day but I am promising myself a bike day on Friday, if the weather holds good. I haven't had a bike day for ages, not this year indeed so I am probably a bit rusty even if my bike isn't. There's a bike route that goes the length of Wales (challenging the dragon!)and I want to do it soon but it may have to be next year.

I feel I have been rather caught up in work matters. It's felt full on since September and the block put on developing my Kenyan work and the turning down of my application for promotion has rather knocked the stuffing out of me. But there is more to it. I feel this urge to offer something a bit different, something from my maturity and I don't seem to be able to have a sensible conversation with anyone in my institution about this.

So who knows how this will play out? Meanwhile to paraphrase Cromwell I will trust in the Lord but keep my powder dry. And also meanwhile I have some speaking gigs coming up (no academic ones not poetic ones yet!) Cirencester next week then Bristol in mid July and then Reading in mid September. Such exotic places! But actually a chance to connect with differing audiences around my passion of spirituality. So maybe this an expression of offering something else!

As ever watch this space, send me an email!

best to all,


PS Sheila and Grace are at Wimbledon for the tennis having queued up overnight for tickets on the Sunday. Very British do with tents and toilets. They were number 850 in the queue! Yesterday they were sat behind the umpire and so I got a fleeting glimpse of Grace last night on channel 301.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


When I met Xavier again he had fallen on hard times. In fact he looked what he had become - a down-and-out as we used to call them. That was a less pejorative term than 'dosser' 'alcky' or 'bum' or the More post modern term of abuse 'wireless' IE unable to link up up to the net - unplugged and unpluggable.

I don't know if Xavier was his real name. I just knew him as that from our software days at i-in the publicprivate puter company big in the i1990s. In those days he was a neo Buddhist and wore those Eastern influenced print clothes that were briefly fashionable in the late i1980s.

Xavier used to have that strange shaved head look as a Buddhist long before it became a fashionable (old)company man statement and a rather straggly moustache. But the Xavier who blocked my way that morning had long greasy grey hair and a beard to match. He was thinner than I remember him - no trace of the buddhabelly we used to tease him about. Unfortunately he was so close to me that I was are that he stank.
'Billbo, ' he said.
'Er', I was puzzled to be so addressed. Billbo was a nickname that no one had used in over 20 years.
'It's me Xavier.'
'Whaaat... no, no' I couldn't process the idea that this wreck of a person was my old friend Xavier.
'Yes, yes it's me.'
'Bloody hell'
He just looked at me with a sad smile. I held out my hand. He shook it slowly and firmly and said,'now any chance you could buy me a breakfast?'
'Of course... veggie I suppose?'
'And GM free if possible, I've still got some standards.'
'We found a nearby Cyber-Cafe-Bar with some outside tables and chairs. He ordered a full veggie with a cappuccino and I had my usual - Teckie special with an e-power drink.

'There's More of us 'on the road' these days.'
'I hadn't really noticed.'
'Well you wouldn't, would you. You never were that aware of the outside world.'
'Perhaps not... but what happened to you?'
'It doesn't matter.'
'No. What matters is what happens next.'
'We are one of the 19.'
'Oh,' I was gobsmacked.
'Close your mouth, it's unbecoming and your breathe smells.'
'But what?'
'You're on the streets.'
'Yes, so?'
'It's the best place to be right now. N o one takes any notice of us. We are able to listen in, plug into the networks on the quiet and then move on.'
'Close your mouth again. The thing is we need your help in contacting the Naylorites.'
'Er, why?'
'None of your business why. The less you know'
'The safer I will be. I know everyone keeps telling me that.'
'Well its true'...'Thank you sire, thank you so much' Xavier said and awkwardly stood up.
Frankie and Stacey was approaching our table. Xavier winked at me and melted away.
'Who was that? demanded Stacey?
'Oh just some wireless.'
'I hope you didn't give him any money or e-credit?'
'So what are you guys up to?'

Stacey and Frankie needed little excuse or invitation to tell me in great detail about the e-party they went to the night before, who was there ('Anybody who was anybody, but where were you?' demanded Frankie)who said what or rather who texted what to whom and so on. After a while I made my excuses and left.

Friday, 19 June 2009

What's the score

Well, I was disappointed not to make the final 12 of the Poetic Republic competition, though I enjoyed acting as a judge like every other participant. However I have just found out that I made the second stage indeed my poem was 33rd out of 310.

I can live with that. Here's the poem again

On meeting Pam again after 30 years

I was ill
Sitting at a table
In the Art Gallery
Awaiting a friendly bowl of soup
"Is it Bill?" a voice said
And I looked up
And saw
a grey haired woman
With a somewhat familiar face
"It's Pam" you said
"Of course, I replied
Time travelling
back and forth
Over 30 years
From the blond haired young woman
Of spirit
- who I loved
To this defeated short grey haired mature woman
Were you time travelling too?
But at least you had the advantage on me
Of seeing me at a distance before coming over
I told you of the recent deaths
Of Mole and Woody
You had not heard
You'd been mad on a psychie ward
You told me you were here with your OT
And not to let on I knew you
Oh my God paranoia on your part
Or playing safe self care
You left me
With a whiff of our shared and separate histories
of sadness, of time passing
Of my survival and flourishing
Of your survival by your fingertips
Isn't life strange?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Musing on music

So on Tuesday at my piano lesson doing a bit of voice work my range developed from only being one octave to adding on 3 extra notes taking me just about to Middle C which according to Rebbecca my music teacher was good for a Bass. That aside I was also hitting the notes more clearly. Rebbecca plays a note on the piano and then I copy it. It was that bit easier to go down the scale than usual and I was able to move between singing two notes that were 2 noted apart up and then down. To those who understand this stuff it is no big deal. To me at 59 years old never being able to do this stuff and never even having any encouragement or support this is a minor miracle. What if, as a child someone had sat me down with a piano or thrust a wind instrument into my arms and said 'Try this?'

Anyway I am being shown how amazing learning is at any age. I thought I was too old that this stuff was like a lot of language stuff and had to be learnt young. Rebbecca says no and its true. I feel sorry for her some times stuck with such a basic learner as me and I am not as fast or as promising as some of the younger ones BUT I don't lack motivation or lack enjoyment in what I can do. My maternal grandmother used to say 'Count your blessings' I am with regard to music.

One of my dreams is to be able to play the piano and sing my old time favourite Pets song 'Red Letter Day'. This is going to take some time. Firstly because the musical score is actually quite complex for me. Secondly singing and playing at the same time is beyond me at present. Getting my two hands to work together well enough is still challenging let alone singing as well. Thirdly Red Letter Day is pitched at the start 2 octaves above my range. When I shared this with Grace she transposed it down 2 octaves. Fine at the start by then Neil suddenly drops two octaves and that was too low for me. So if I am ever going to sing Red Letter Day I need to extend my range by at least an octave! Well 2 or 3 notes last Tuesday was a start.

Watch this space and who knows I'll Youtube myself someday. I am on Youtube somewhere talking about Friends but that's another story and I've lost the link!

Best to all,


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

On meeting Pam again - prose version

(I submitted my poem ‘On meeting Pam again after 30 years’ to an online poetry competition run by Poetic Republic and it failed to reach the final (sob). Talking with my piano teacher Rebecca last night firmed up a feeling I had that it might work, further developed, as prose. So here goes.)

It was a strange day, I felt awful in both senses of the word and I don’t why I went into work. That was not a good decision. We – me, Naomi, Valerie and James had our usual Tuesday lunchtime meeting that day and we went to the nearby Art Gallery where they do half decent vegan food that suits Naomi.

Since I was drugged up on antibiotics and feeling not quite on this planet – actually quite a usual feeling for me but this was much worse – James readily agreed to get me a soup and a roll on condition that I carefully guarded the only empty table left in the café. This table was in an alcove near to the door and not visible to most of the rest of the café.

I spread our coats over 4 of the years and slumped in the fifth seat. I was in a kind of pleasant enough daydream humming along to an OMD song in my head – I think it was ‘Joan of Arc’ – when a voice said “Is it Clive?’. No no-one calls me Clive these days I make damn sure of that. I looked up with a frown at being interrupted. I saw a middle aged woman with cropped grey haired who had a somewhat familiar face.

Whilst my brain struggled to bring this half recognised figure into focus she said, "It's Pam"
"Of course, I replied, stunned. It was like I time travelling back and forth
over a 30 years period. Pam in my mind’s eyes was a beautiful blond haired young woman. We had been close then and she had such a spirit in those days but this stranger/old friend in front of me looked defeated by life and was older and greyer. I wondered how I looked to her. I was greyer and less hairy. Did I look defeated? I daren’t ask though I know the truth or at least my version of it.

Had she time travelled on seeing me? If so she had the advantage on me as she had chosen when to make contact. We had one of those really weird conversations that occur between old friends who haven’t met up again in years. You know you talk about mutual friends you have lost contact with and what you are doing now and you share a few old memories. So I talked to her about Mole and Woody who had both died recently. She had been close to both of them and had taught Woody his first few guitar chords and arranged his band’s first few gigs long before he became famous, but that is another story.

Then things went a bit strange. No she had not heard of their deaths, mind you she never was a big reader of newspapers but “The thing is I’ve been in psychie hospital”
“Oh fuck”
“Fuck yes”
“Oh Pam” I said and I reached out and touched her hand. She flinched away at first from this physical contact but then she relaxed.
“Look it’s ok,” she said, “I don’t want you to worry”
(Oh Fuck she’s even taking care of me – do I need that? Am I that vulnerable? Am I? Or what?)

Things then got even stranger. “I’m here with my Occupational Therapist – the hospital just over the road. Please don’t let on you know me” I nodded - what was this? Was she paranoid or was this her looking after herself? How mad is that psychiatric ward she is on? “I must go” she said and disappeared.

Jesus! I felt stunned with traces of memories, of pictures of her and of me and a sense of the passing of time and my own flourishing in many ways. But was she flourishing? No, it seemed to me to be a case of mere survival by her finger tips. I hope she reaches a safer point.

How can we pass into and out of each other’s lives? You just do that when you are young. It strikes me we are wasteful of each other without little thoughts for the future but that’s how it was then and probably still is today. Pam is timeless in my mind as the young woman she was but also now as this older woman.

Isn’t life strange.

Friday, 12 June 2009

The synchronisers

(More weird creative writing!)

Then there were the so-called synchronisers. You will notice my skepticism about them but they did have a fair bit of power and influence. Indeed one of them Carl Justav (clearly named after Carl Gustav Jung who popularised the notion of synchronicity) was reputedly regularly consulted by our recently deposed King Charles, no less.

To me these synchronisers were no more than puffed up Astrologers and that's not saying much and they copied the Astrologers' habit of recommending times for actions to be taken. However, whilst Astrologers mostly worked with the individual star charts of people and organisations the synchronisers specialised in linking apparently random and unconnected events within a set time frame.

They were especially adept at claiming such knowledge after such an event had occurred, retrospectively as it were, or even more subtly whilst an event was occurring. They were well plugged into high powered CompInfo data streams and in turn their Synchtwit feeds into mobes, plasmas, and redberries were highly sought after.

One fine example of their work was their response to the Birmingford riots of i2028. It was clear to many of us that a Pandemonium* was likely to break out. What took people by surprise apart from the synchronisers was the strength and violence of the Pandemonium and how rapidly almost concurrently it spreads to other major Ionic cities. Some argued that the images and messages on Synchtwit actually caused these events to happen i.e. that the synchronisers caused the synchronised events they were forecasting. But it is hard to blame them for the simultaneous outbreaks of St Vitus dance that occur ed. But that is another entry.

* pandemonium, a slang term taken from a 2009 Pet Shop Boys song of the same name - 'Is this a riot or are you just pleased to see me?' and their world tour of the same name that led to the Pandemonium riots or Pet-ins in which thousands of their fans refused to leave the tour venues and set up semi permanent occupations instead. These were called Pandemonia and occur ed in Manchester, Liverpool, London, New York, Sydney and Moscow. Pandemonium then became a slang term for any group of people refusing to leave a place especially when asked to by the police, fire service or uncivil defence force.


Well, one of my students was talking to another student who said "You're one of William West's students aren't you? He's funky" (referring to my colourful dress sense.)

Such praise! It delights me. All of my colleagues in this rather grim concrete and asbestos ridden 60s building wear really dull clothes, greys and other dull colours. Even the women mostly show little colour doing that corporate thing of let's not draw attention to ourselves, let's blend in.

So today I have on my read trousers, pink pullover and blue shirt. Sheila has taught me something about colour combining but mostly I shop in terms of (mental) colour healing - though it is rather hard to get any amethyst coloured clothes for men!

What I find totally bizarre is how much men's cycling clothes are dark and dull apart from the odd dayglo jacket and the dreadful lycra. Indeed many cyclists just dress dull and don't even have lights on in the dark at night. They scare me when they also use their mobiles phones whilst cycling. I find the busy traffic on Manchester streets rather frightening as a cyclist and I think this is a good survival practice.

We all respond to colour go out there and flaunt it and be funky too!

Best to all

Funky Bill-on-bike!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The PEDs and the Dark Cyclists clash

(More weird creative writing shit!)

There were now frequent clashes between PEDs (pedestrians) and the Dark Cyclists or Darkies as they became known as. Occasionally MOOTs (motorists) were involved but mostly not as MOOTs looked down on PEDs as ever. PEDs were seen as would-be MOOTs who lacked the resources to access a motor.

These disorganised and apparently random battles between PEDs and Darkies led to the now notorious Easter Battles. For those few remaining Post Christians (or Christies as they were commonly called) living in Iona (Islands of the North Atlantic, formerly known as 'Great' Britain and Northern Ireland and Eire) there was something profoundly ironical about an outbreak of communal violence at the time of the most important Christian festival. On the other hand for Christies Easter symbolises the brutal death of their founder Jesus so perhaps the brutal clashes between PEDs and Darkies were not so inappropriate.

Indeed it was always thus. For example comparatively peaceful and seemingly golden age of the 1960s there were pitched battles at seaside resorts between gangs of young people called Mods (who dressed fashionably and rode motor scooters) and rockers who disdained fashion and haircuts and rode motor bikes.

But the violence between the PEDs and Darkies was different. They were lots of injuries and many deaths. This was much closer to civil war than teenage exuberance fuelled by drugs and alcohol. Indeed most of the participants were over 25. Of course mass unemployment played a part, as did the collapse of the eco system and the collapse of modern government. But there was something else here - there was a relish about these battles, they were a focus for creative energies, they gave participants a sense of belonging. In many ways they resembled the warfare between the drugs gangs in LA.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Dark Cyclist meets a PED

(More creative writing)

The pedestrian looked rather warily at me but that was not surprising. I was wearing my all-in-one dayglo recyltex cyling suit and I was riding my 40 gear teckiebike with built in Britnav, shockers and electric spear so it was not surprising he might take me for being a Dark Cyclist.

The PED/Dark Cyclist violence had yet to start in my part of town but it was only a matter of time. Indeed the escalating patterns of conflict were already happening. There were recent reports of tacks strewn across cycle lanes and of pedestrians being beaten up although as yet these did not have all the hallmarks of a Dark Cyclist attack.

The PED no doubt had friends who'd been 'burned up' by Dark Cyclists riding them down-and-over leaving their signature burn marks on their bodies. The PED would be guessing that I had friends who been tacked, jacked and smacked with endless trips to the almost defunct local A and E Department - good only for anti tetanus and anti HIV jabs. Yes rape for men and women was often a feature of these attacks. Cyclists were increasing wearing defensive clothing like my all-in-one recyltex suit which was hard to rip with a knife, and which along with my Cyclealarm gave me some illusion of protection.

I passed the PED, dressed in the usual fashionable dark clothes that makes it so easy for them to blend into the background when cyclists are out and about, without incident, not even exchanging the ususal words of natural abuse
['Effing PED! 'Crappy cyclist!'] indeed if anything I heard a sigh of relief that matched my own.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Poem - being on the edge

I wrote this poem yesterday and then blogged about it in prose but I think it works best and succinctly as a poem. Let me know what you think!

Being on the edge

My dad
Used to blame
My moodiness as a teenager
On my bad Welsh blood

My mum told me
Not to despise working class people
But she never said me where I belonged

growing up
In a small town
I longed for
The freedom of the city

Now I live freely
In a city
I miss the warm cloying
Small town community

The story of my life
Has been about
Being on the edge
And not belonging
Shot through
With moments
Of shared connection
With people

I am
we are

I am both
I and we
Lost in between

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

On the edge

I had that not unusual experience as a child of wondering if I had been adopted. That would explain my feelings about not quite fitting into my family of origin. It got worse when I passed the 11 plus and was clearly set for University. Only my cousin Ian had been to Uni and my dad, like many Englishmen, despised intellectuals (and counsellors and social workers to boot). It probably did not help that my mother was part Welsh (and psychic) and so my teenage moods were put down to my 'bad Welsh blood'.

I could never figure out what class I belonged to and class was very important in the 1950s Britain I grew up in. My mum taught me "not to despise working class people". But in saying that she was clearly saying 'we are not working class' but she was not saying 'and so we are middle class'. And my dad would never see himself as middle class. So I got educated and then sent for elocution lessons before I went to Uni (didn't work very well, I hated them and it made me feel ashamed of my local accent).

So I have got the culture(?) and education to be middle class but...

I grew up rather quickly as my mates in the street were all 2 years older than me - I got bullied a bit as a result - and moved on from cowboys and Indians to War games ahead of my school mates. I got into reading the Guardian from aged about 13 which made things worse with my Dad and I got very political (ditto) and wanted to join CND (ditto) whilst most of my school mates were apathetic. Although I was studious at school I missed out on being bullied by the rugby players because I also drank and went to nightclubs from 16 onwards.

This stuff about class caused me not to go to Oxbridge (Oxford or Cambridge) because I knew I would not handle the class stuff there very well plus I did not want to wait an extra year to do an entrance exam. I was desperate to leave home and find my future. So any Uni I looked at had to be over 50 miles from my home and preferably in a city, so Manchester it was. I did computers because it was sexy it was a good future (I needed to know I could earn a good living) and because I peaked in Maths at 17 and because I had given up History which I loved at 16 as I did not want to be a teacher and I hated learning dates and stuff by rote.

I didn't really fit in with the tecky science scene at Uni, I loved talking in the student cafe bars and I hung out with some local anarchists and some community activists. My 3rd year project was a computer programme/dissertation was on automating council house waiting lists.

I got a job writing computer programmes in the NHS and found myself surrounded by very nice evangelical Christians. I hung out with some radical medical students but they were Marxists not anarchists and had not read R D Laing Wilhelm Reich and David Cooper who were my radical therapy heroes at the time. I remember carrying Copper's Death of the family around with me at the time.

I then found my home among the counter culture in Notting Hill and had a whale of a time with the music drugs and mysticism and helped found a radical anti psychiatry group called Cope. This was where I discovered group therapy and began to hone my writing skills.

Heck this has become rather autobiographical which was not quite where I intended it to go. I'll leave it for now and see what else is cooking later.

Bill-on-bike, enjoying the cooler weather.

As ever email me on or off blog if so moved.