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This year, next year, and forever onwards! 






As we prepare for a non-materialistic Xmas, let us reflect on the death at 75 years old of Vaclav Havel yesterday (18:12:11). Former President of the Czech Republic, human rights activist, and of course professional playwright, he led his country to freedom after the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Front page news except in "The Morning Star" (hidden on p6) where in a short paragraph it mounts an acerbic attack on him. I am considering cancelling the paper as a result - if it were not for Jeremy Corbyn's column.

As we carry on with the Commercialised rubbish today (21.12.12) we would do well to reflect on the most important event of the day, the funeral of this great man in the Czech Republic. Much more important than spend, spend, spend.


The annual campaign to try and persuade you to throw materialism out of the window, and instead to do things that will help those in genuine need and to help save the precious environment of this small, precious, and it would seem (so far) unique planet in the Universe.

Christmas is just another capitalist con-trick to persuade you to part with your money, often for what is merely overpriced tat and rubbish. It is high time we stopped falling for this con-trick and stopped feeling guilty for not spending money, whether on ourselves, our kids, or our friends.

It is long out-of-date in any sense of the meaning of the word whether Pagan, Christian, or Victorian. Let us throw off the shackles that seem to constrain ourselves to over-indulgence and over-spending; so much so that some people (which means those without money) feel forced to take out loans at extortionate rates of interest so that their children will not feel "left-out" and will remain happy. This leaves them not so much at the hands and mercy of the banks, but at the hands and mercy of the private money-lenders, the crooks charging several 100% interest so that people find temselves in spiralling debt, being pulled under by a whirlpool from which there is no escape. This is the reality of the capitalism of which our government is so keen. Expect to see a rise in evictions and homelessness and the suicide rates in January and February as reality bites home. 

There is another way . . .

 "It's Christmas Jim, but not as we know it", to borrow from and paraphrase Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock in the original "Star Trek" series.

It will be a different way of celebrating Christmas. If Christian's wish to celebrate and remember their festival, there is nothing whatever to stop them doing so, but without the Victorian-based materialistic frenzy attached. In Scotland, in my mothers youth, and still today, Hogmany (New Year) is the great celebration and that does not require a materialistic frenzy - although capitalism will no doubt do its best to make it such if we were to change.

Besides, we should remember that the majority of the world does not celebrate Christmas. They are of different faiths and beliefs, in particular those who are the absolutely poor and for whom each day is the same as any other . . . stinking miserable poverty, starvation and thirst. So consider that before you go overboard in your complaints about the difference it will make to your lives. Remember "The Little Match-Seller" in the work of Hans Christian Anderson who froze to death in the snow one Christmas Eve because no-one bothered with her, no one bought so much as one match from her.

Anyone reading this is lucky enough to be living in a different world from her. And from the millions who die of poverty throughout the world today.

People of any and all faiths can celebrate their festivals without an explosion of materialism. For those of no faith who just go along with it "for the children's sake" are not doing their children any favours. They are just teaching them to aspire to be materialistic. So that they feel deprived if they do not have a huge pile of presents of junk to open on Christmas morning. In turn, they will come to feel the same when they come to have children of their own. Let's break the chain, or vicious circle, right now, by making that change this Christmas, and all the other forthcoming festivals. One day they will thank us for it.

 Yes folks, it may still just be August but in case you had not noticed it we are heading for Christmas 2011 and the shops and gift catalogues are full of the usual tat and sheer rubbish; they are exhorting us to spend, spend, spend to buy, buy, buy this crap including the usual Christmas cards, presents, decorations, etc. And do I am launching my annual campaign against a commercialised Christmas. And what will this rubbish include. Well below box on the right you can see just a few examples.


 Not content with my annual campaign to try to persuade you to BOYCOTT A COMMERCIALISED CHRISTMAS this year I am going to ask you to join me in a 3 day Fast from 24-26 December in solidarity with the majority of the world's population for whom Christmas means NOTHING AT ALL. 

Just think. No mouth watering succulent turkey (or vegan alternative), no crisp-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside roast potatoes, no beautiful carrots, peas, parsnips and other vegetables, no steaming-hot Christmas pudding with brandy ablaze, and steaming-hot custard, no Christmas cake and mince-pies . . . And that is just the traditional English dinner. No delicious drinks alcoholic or otherwise. Perhaps if you are lucky a crust of bread to nibble on, and some dirty and possible contaminated water to sip. Just the same bill-of-fare as on the other 364 days of the year.


Whether or not their cultures celebrate Christmas is irrelevant. It will be just one more day of poverty, hunger, thirst and suffering.

Therefore I am asking that you do something different this Christmas.

I am asking you to forgo the luxurious foods we normally enjoy, have been brought up from childhood to enjoy.

To forgo them altogether. No cheating by having them earlier or later. No having them as a New Year's feast. No feasting on your "normal" foods.

No candies or chocolates or Turkish Delight or marshmallows roasted in front of the fire either.

But be sensible.If a medical condition prevents you from taking part because you must have regular meals, do not put yourself at risk. All I would ask is that you try to avoid the unnecessary luxuries.

Just three says without food and drink (other than tap water). Albeit what are the three most important days of the year to us in terms of eating, drinking and merry-making. BECAUSE these are the three most over-indulgent days of the year. Because this is when we over-eat and drink to excessive levels whilst the majority have nothing. Not just in the Underdeveloped World either. You will find plenty of homeless, hungry and thirsty people in this country as well. You will find plenty of people lucky enough to be sheltered but without the "traditional" Christmas fare.


I am still trying to think of ways of avoiding Christmas in particular carrying out my plan of fasting on 24,24,26 December. I am considering saying Sylvie has invited me away for the 3 days before we have to separate which might keep the peace at home. Or make things a whole lot worse!


Hans Christian Andersen

It was terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it would soon be quite dark; for it was the last day in the year - New Year's Eve. Along the street, in that same cold and dark, went a poor little girl in bare feet - well, yes, it's true she had slippers on when she left home; but what was the good of that? They were great big slippers which her mother used to wear, so you can imagine the size of them; and they both came off when the little girl scurried across the road just as two carts went whizzing by at a fearful rate. One slipper was not to be found, and a boy ran off with the other, saying it would do for a cradle one day when he had children of his own.

So there was the little girl, walking along in her bare feet that were simply blue with cold. In an old apron she was carrying a whole lot of matches, and she had one bunch of them in her hand. She hadn't sold anything all day, and no one had given her a single penny. Poor mite, she looked so downcast, as she trudged along hungry and shivering. The snowflakes settled on her long flaxen hair, which hung in pretty curls over her shoulders; but you might be sure she wasn't thinking about her looks. Lights were shining in every window, and out into the street came the lovely smell of roast goose. You see, it was New Year's Eve; that's what she was thinking about.

Over in a little corner between two houses - one of then jutted out rather more into the street than the other - there she crouched and huddled with her legs tucked under her; but she only got colder and colder. She didn't dare to go home, for she hadn't sold a single match nor earned a single penny. He father would beat her, and besides it was so cold at home. They had only the bare roof over their heads and the wind whistled through that, although the worst cracks were stopped up with rags and straw. Her hands were really quite numb with cold. Ah, but a little match - that would be a comfort. If she only dared pull one out of the bunch, just one, strike it on the wall and warm her fingers. She pulled one out . . . ritch! . . . how it spirted and blazed! Such a clear warm flame, like a little candle, as she put her hand round it - yes, and what a curious light it was! The little girl fancied she was sitting in front of a big iron stove with shiny knob and brassy facings, with such a friendly fire burning . . . why, whatever was that? She was just stretching out her toes, so as to warm them too, when - out went the flame, and the stove vanished. There she sat with a little stub of burnt-out match in her hand.

She struck another one. It burned up so brightly, and where the gleam fell on the wall this became transparent like gauze. She could see right into the room, where the table was laid with a glittering white cloth and with delicate china; and there, steaming deliciously, was the roast goose stuffed with prunes and apples. Then, what was even finer, the goose jumped off the dish and waddled along the floor with the knife and fork in its back. Right up to the little girl it came . . . but then the match went out, and nothing could be seen but the massive cold wall.

She lighted another match. Now she was sitting under the loveliest Christmas tree; it was even bigger and prettier than the one which she had seen through the glass-door at the rich merchant's at Christmas. Hundreds of candles were burning on green branches, and gay-coloured prints, like the ones they hang in the shop-windows, looked down at her. The little girl reached up both her hands . . . then the match went out; all the Christmas candles rose higher and higher, until now she could see they were the shining stars. One of them rushed down the sky with a long firey streak.

"That's somebody dying", said the little girl, for her dead Grannie, who was the only one who had been kind to her, had told her that a falling star shows that a soul is going up to God.

She struck yet another match on the wall. It gave a glow all around, and there in the midst of it stood her grandmother, looking so very bright and gentle and loving. "Oh Grannie", cried the little girl, " do take me with you! I know you'll disappear as soon as the match goes out - just as the warm stove did, and the lovely roast goose, and the wonderful Christmastree". And she quickly struck the rest of the matches in the bunch, for she did so want to keep her Grannie there. And the matches flared up so gloriously that it became brighter than broad daylight. Never had Grannie looked so tall and beautiful. She took the little girl into her arms, and together they flew up in splendour, up, up, to where there was no cold, no fear. They were with God.

But in the early morning huddled between the two houses, sat the little girl with rosy cheeks and a smile on her lips, frozen to death on the last night of the old year. The New Year dawned on the little body leaning there with the matches, one lot of them nearly all used up. "She was trying to get warm", people said. Nobody knew what lovely things she had seen and in what glory she had gone with her old Grannie to the happiness of the New Year.  




No doubt Thatcher would have had the Earl of Shaftesbury locked up as a dangerous revolutionary, a threat to the state and the sacred rights of property for getting women and young children out of the  mines, industrial factories and other appalling places of work by getting enacted or supporting:

Factories Act's 1847 & 1853

Mines & Colleries Act 1842

Lunacy Act 1845

Supporting rights for Jews

Supporting Florence Nightingale

Supporting the Ragged Schools Union

Founding the Model Dwellings Co. which worked for improved housing for the working class

Is there a Santa Claus? - a physicist's view

Consider the following:

1) No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

2) There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

3) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical).

This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.

On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that 'flying reindeer' (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine.

We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth. (The ship, not the person.)

5) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each.

In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second.

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force. In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.



 . . . we are making the assumption that the same physical laws that apply to us also apply to Santa. Whilst he is presumed to live in Lapland he is not a mortal creature and therefore not bound by the same physical laws as apply to us, as regards time, speed, etc, etc. Anyway, if he does not exist, where do all those presents come from . . . ? And who eats the mince pies and drinks the brandy I leave out every year? These in themselves beg other questions . . . is his driving not affected by the alcohol? Supposing he is breathalysed? How can his stomach and bladder cope with it all? Fortunately science come to our aid once more . . . re-read Point 1 of the above!  

We are about to witness another commercialised event as you can hardly have failed to be aware if you have been in the shops.

Saint Valentine's Day strikes again!

Once more the shops are full of cards and all sorts of tat and rubbish.


More cant and hypocrisy! 

You can show your beloved how you feel about them without the need for all the rubbish in the shops. And if you cannot think how you really are in trouble! All you need is privacy and yourselves. Do not feel obliged to go out and spend ridiculous money on ridiculous, overpriced cards and gifts - most of which are rubbish, produced in Chinese sweat-shops - or somewhere similar. And of course you can always give a Good Gift . . . such as a few pounds to pay for a baby's heart operation in India or Africa.          



Here we go again! Easter 2012 is approaching! The shops are full of over-priced chocolate eggs. Where does the Easter Bunny get the money from to buy all those Easter Eggs? Once more, although I am an atheist, I suggest a boycott of this commercialised festival. Particularly given the working conditions of those who harvest the cocoa beans.


Only 363 more non-shopping days until Xmas!






*1,000,000,000 Christmas cards (1 tree is needed to produce 3,000 cards) that is one-third of a million trees;

*500,000,000 extra aluminium cans;

*3,000 tonnes of aluminium foil to wrap Christmas turkeys;

*750,000,000 extra bottles and jars;

*83sq km of Christmas wrapping paper (larger than the ground surface area of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, England or a cube 14sq miles in size!);

*125,000 tonnes of plastic waste : the same weight as 50,000 polar bears! Now an endangered species because of Global Warming, partly caused by the manufacture of Christmas goods and their plastic wrappings!

*And of course the waste of energy (and resources to produce it in the first place) to manufacture all this crap; not to mention the fantastic waste of resources of energy (and resources to produce it in the first place, in the shops, in the streets, in town squares, in our homes, practically everywhere.


I cannot give you exact details here but you can imagine for yourself that it will run into billions of pounds worldwide. Many of these presents will be unwanted or even if wanted by the kids - or adults! - for a few hours or days, they will soon be put aside or discarded altogether. Some will go straight into the waste-bins. The luckier gifts might make it to the next Jumble Sale or Charity Shop priced at a fraction of the original cost, and probably not sold or wanted even there. Consider the waste of the resources - raw materials, energy (both raw energy and work hours) - involved in the manufacture and transport of these items. And the unsuitability of so many of these presents: toy weapons, war "games" for Play Stations. FOR CHRISTMAS??!!  And all this whilst the majority of the world's population exists in stinking, miserable poverty. Plus we have just witnessed yet more environmental disasters.

Happily there is an alternative, which I am pushing once again.

Whatever  your faith or none, let us restore to this festival its original meaning of hope and caring for others.

Let us make Christmas a time for caring about others.

Let us make Christmas a time for caring about our friends, our loved ones, and the less fortunate. Let us say to those commercial interests "Get stuffed! We neither need nor want your poxey rubbish!" 

Whatever your faith or none let us reclaim the original meaning of this festival from big business and global international capitalism and the Victorian invention it largely became through Victoria's beloved Albert.



Start as you mean to go on, that's what I say! Christmas 2011 is here but it is never too early to start!

That way there is no excuse for not participating!

That way there is no excuse for not saying for have not been warned! 


I bought a second Village Library for India and decided to name it as above in honour of the daughter of one of my dearest friends at work. This is my "biggy" present of the year and it is for Alison and Jasmine as I have no special "someone" any more, and I do not want anything for myself - no doubt I will receive money for Christmas as usual.

Alison and Jasmine are both very special people to me, I am very deeply fond of both of them and so it seems only appropriate to name it after them.

I have had regular reports of the previous Village Library I bought and photo's in the last report, and it seems to be a beautiful place and used a great deal. Money goes so much further in poverty-stricken rural India.

It is one of the most satisfying gifts I have ever given and was named after someone I loved very much. So it seemed only appropriate that I should once again give the library to two people I love very much.


I have decided to reveal the name of that other Village Library in India.

It was bought for someone I was deeply in love with at the time, the first woman to have returned my feelings, the only woman up until more recently to show me love in every sense of the world, the love of my life. It receives an enormous amount of use and it is very popular with the villagers.

So that is 2 so far. I dare say there will be another. Libraries I mean, not loves. Although there is now another love.


The US Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a Nativity Scene in Washington D.C.  This wan't for religious reasons. They couldn't find 3 Wise Men and a Virgin.

Many Banks have a new kind of Christmas Club in operation. The new club helps you save for last years gifts.

Mail your packages early so the Post Office has plenty of opportunity to lose them in time for Christmas.

No parent in their right mind would give a 6-year-old a drum set, ergo Santa exists!

What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite.

Why is Santa always so happy? He knows where all the naughty girls live.

The 3 stages of man: He believes in Santa. He doesn't believe in Santa. He is Santa.

Assorted Xmas One-Liners

  1. A Tory Santa Claus came down the chimney and said: "Anyone want to buy a present?"
  2. Hear about Santa and his reindeer landing on top of an outhouse? Santa looked around for a moment, then hollered "No no, Rudolph! I said the SCHMIDT house!"
  3. I hope Santa brings me that mistletoe belt I asked for!
  4. No one in the history of the world has ever purchased a fruitcake for themselves.
  5. No parent in their right mind would give a 6-year-old a drum set, therefore Santa exists!!
  6. The 3 stages of man: He believes in Santa Claus. He doesn't believe in Santa Claus. He is Santa Claus.
  7. Q: Do you know why Santa dosen't have any children ??? A: he only comes once a year and thats down a chimney ...
  8. Why is Santa Claus always so happy? Because he knows where all the naughty girls live.
  9. What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus? Claustrophobic.
  10. Why was Santa's little helper depressed? Because he had low elf esteem.
  11. What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite.
  12. When you stop believing in Santa Claus is when you start getting clothes for Christmas.



I do not think there is any way I can carry out my plan of a Christmas fast over the 3 forthcoming days. It is going to cause too much upset here at home. However, I can avoid breakfast's I think, and not partake of any sweets, etc. Frustrating but that is families for you who do not share your ideals.



Annual event, the Day after American Thanksgiving

This is linked to Boycott a Commercialised Christmas for obvious reasons.


Today, commercialism will go mad. It is the last weekend before Christmas, the last chance to spend, spend, spend before Christmas arrives.

Today is also the annual Buy Nothing Day, really rather appropriate. So before you all get into your cars and rush off to the shops, supermarkets, and hypermarkets, please give it a little thought. Do really actually NEED the rubbish you will bring home, as opposed to WANT it, two very different things.

Consider the utter waste of so much of what you are about to buy.

Most of it will quickly be thrown aside, whatever the smiles (many false) that will greet you on Christmas morning. Re-read the "Christmas Rubbish" paragraph above and THINK.

You STILL (just about) have time to go to the Good Gifts website if you have not done your Christmas shopping.

You STILL have time to avoid the gluttony of food that is prepared, consumed and thrown in the bin at Christmas.

You  STILL have time to make a difference! 



Today, Commercialism will continue with the post- Christmas sales. It may be Sunday, it may be Boxing Day, but that will not stop them trying to make a killing. Though they may find it a little difficult with the lack of public transport. But no doubt people will try to get into shopping centres even if central London has more of a problem with the (fortunate) lack of car parking. But you can expect your local shopping centres to be full of people bursting to spend yet more money. Well, I intend to have nothing to do with it all. Although I do need another toner cartridge for my printer. It is just about exhausted, although it seems that taking it out and shaking it allows me to continue. So far. So I have a letter ready to send to Shona. I just hope the blank bits next to the pictures will not result in the screws not allowing it through. Although one-sided printed does not seem to have mattered.

So I wish the shops the best of bad luck for today if indeed the sales have started. Why should capitalism be allowed to make a profit. In fact, I have discovered that Boxing Day has philanthropic origins. Although perhaps hypocritically patroising might be a better expression, where the rich boxed up small gifts (often left-overs) to distribute to the poor in the towns, or on their estates, or their servants in large town houses. Very interesting. When I was a kid I used to think that public boxing matches took place! Oh the innocence of childhood for you. I remember at infant & primary school none of my teachers could answer my question as to why it is called Boxing Day. Or perhaps it was those useless pillocks who put into miy mind the idea that public boxing matches took place! Honestly some of them were so daft. In one case, one of them always snappily told us we would find out when we were older, if she could not answer the question! Now what was the old bat's name . . . oh yes, thats it . . . Miss Mewitt.  

A Christmas Donation

If you are considering making a Christmas donation, then please make it directly to the organisation. Do not fall for any of these "Sponsor a child" adverts. The money just goes into one big pot to be distributed amongst all the charities. That smiling little girl you think you are educating is just a model. He or she does not exist at all. The same with getting a particularly name child off the streets in this country. Do your research first. Giving directly to Medicins Sans Frontieres or Save the Children or OXFAM ensures the money goes directly to where it is needed. Just as it does with "Good Gifts". Your warmth and generosity should not be taken advantage of; but unfortunately it is. If you sponsor a child through University via "Good Gifts" - only then can you be certainly really are doing so.

How do people live with themselves?

This has always been something that has puzzled me : just how do people live with themselves having such extravaganza's at Christmas? Are they totally lacking consciences? What makes them extra greedy at Christmas? Why are they so materialistic? Are they naturally so? Are they socialised into this condition? Children tend to become very materialistic at really quite a young age -- certainly if their parents can buy things for them. And the more they get, the more they want. They have "wish for" or "want" lists for Xmas - do any of them have "give" lists, I wonder? (Credit to Charles M. Schulz and 'Peanuts'.) As they grow up, and assuming they do not become wildly rich, I suspect they will develop "give" lists. But for whom? For the family and friends of course. But will they really consider just what they are putting on those "give" lists? Will they feel compelled to make sure their kids get the latest toys just so that they do not feel let down or disappointed when comparing themselves with their friends? Our "society" has become so materialistic that kids end up with an inferiority complex if they do not get the latest toys and gadgets as their friends. Can that be right?

Christmas and the inferiority complex 

Our "society" has become so materialistic that kids end up with an inferiority complex if they do not get the latest toys and gadgets as their friends. Can that be right? What have we done to our children? OK it is nothing new, I think we had similar feelings when I was a kid. Like most people/children we compared ourselves to those who had done better rather than worse. Although I do remember being disturbed that so many got so much less. However, I was told not to think about it, that that was just the way things were, I was not to make myself unhappy. But not to anything like the same extent.

Christmas and the superiority complex

Following on from the above, our "society" has become so materialistic that kids expect to be able to brag about their Christmas presents and how much better they are than anyone else's. And parents use it as a way of feeling superior to other parents. Or indeed to one another as adults, showing off their glamorous clothes, watches and jewellry, gadgets for the car and home, the presents they give to family members, and so on. But I was too young to notice if they did that when I was a kid. But they certainly do so today. However, I cannot recall anyone boasting about what they have done for charity. Perhaps that is because people like myself who use "Good Gifts" are somewhat reticent and modest, we do not do so in order to be able "to blow our own trumpet's". I am certainly not going to reveal what I have spent on presents or what I have bought - except for those 2 libraries which, as a librarian, are very close to my heart. 


In fact, this campaign is now year round, really being a "Boycott a Commercialised Anything"  including Easter, Saint Valentine's Day, New Year's Day, birthday's and anything else you care to think of. However, we have to decided to stick with our original name since that is how we are known. 

 According to "Wikipedia's" latest information, on this planet of about 5 billion peple, there are today 11,000,000 millionaires and 1,210 billionaires.

Just what do they want with such wealth? What do they need with it? How do they justify it to themselves every day and as they go to bed each night? Perhaps they were born without a conscience? Perhaps they had it surgically removed at birth? Or when they were on the up-and-up? How can people be so desperately materialistic that they want so much in the way of materialism? Or just plain having it in the Bank. I shall have a lot more to say about this in my forthcoming book.


 I must do more about this, this year, rather than just relying on the internet. Such as more leaflets available in the library and notices up on noticeboards. Perhaps mail the basic leaflet to my email contacts. And ask them to email it onto their friends, and so on. I may have to do a bit of editing of my leaflet an extra line or too unless of course it is already there. Or send leaflet with message title "Urgent: email all your friends!"  But it has to be done very soon. As many people as possible must see this site as soon as possible. 



The Good Gifts catalogue is now available at or telephone 020 7794 8000.

Unlike so many charities that spend vast sums on administration, at Good Gifts they do precisely what it says on the description. The Good Gifts catalogue offers a range of presents suitable for every occasion, not just Christmas, but also from birth to death and all the fun bits in between: nameings, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, you name it, there is a suitable gift for it. A Good Gift is not a puritanical, do without act of self-denial, or a Scrooge-like denial of giving someone else joy. It is really a jolly, lovely way to show your affection. Whilst it is the thought that counts - or so we were told as children - there is the additional pleasure of knowing that the gift has given someone else less fortunate a helping hand, it has brought joy and happiness into someone else's life. Most of the gifts have long-term benefits - restoring sight to a blind person; restoring someone's hearing, giving livestock that, through offspring can keep building wealth; giving some the chance to go to school or university. The presents range in price from £5 to the sky's the limit. Most are less than £20.

We are told that the joy is in giving, a sentiment I heartily endorse. By giving a Good Gift you are not giving to strangers, but rather to friends you have not yet met - as well as to your loved ones. All those to whom I have given such gifts have told me it is the most satisfying gift they have ever received.

For someone I deeply love, last year I gave a village library for India, which was named after her daughter.  

(See right) 


 Another mention for this wonderful Gift Catalogue . . .

It is now a few months on since I last mentioned them, so with the shops going ever-wilder with Xmas "goodies" (i.e. trash) I feel obligated to remind you of "Good Gifts" once more . . . spend without guilt . . . and give your friends a wonderful gift that will be life-transforming to whomsoever actually receives it. 

Give without guilt.


This is the name of the first village library I bought and I named it after someone I loved very much until I did a stupid thing which cost me her love and friendship. As Eva put it, it was "the biggest mistake of my life".

I shall regret that mistake forever.

However I am please to say that I get regular reports about the Library, which is in a purpose-built building which from the photo's I have been sent make it clear it is a very beautiful building. It is beautiful inside, with wonderful facilities including books, journals and computers.

It was a present given out of love to help those less fortunate than the two of ourselves, and whatever has happened between us I shall never regret giving.

The best present I have ever given anyone, and likely to be the longest-lasting, surviving both of us.

 10 Reasons Why a Christmas Tree Is Better Than a Woman

  • 10. A Christmas tree doesn't care how many other Christmas trees you have had in the past.
  • 09. Christmas trees don't get mad if you use exotic electrical devices.
  • 08. A Christmas tree doesn't care if you have an artificial one in the closet.
  • 07. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you break one of its balls.
  • 06. You can feel a Christmas tree before you take it home.
  • 05. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you look up underneath it.
  • 04. When you are done with a Christmas tree you can throw it on the kerb and have it hauled away.
  • 03. A Christmas tree doesn't get jealous around other Christmas trees.
  • 02. A Christmas tree doesn't care if you watch football all day.
  • 01. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you tie it up and throw it in the back of your pickup truck. 


  1. A Christmas tree is always erect.
  2. Even small ones give satisfaction.
  3. A Christmas tree stays up for 12 days and nights.
  4. A Christmas tree always looks good - even with the lights on.
  5. A Christmas tree is always happy with its size.
  6. A Christmas tree has cute balls.
  7. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you break one of its balls.
  8. You can throw a Christmas tree out when it's past its 'sell by' date.
  9. You don't have to put up with a Christmas tree all year. 
  10. You can play with its balls in company.


Why do people get so greedy at Christmas, an annual festival that has no meaning to them in the original sense of the word, of whatever faith or none they might hold? I remember a "Peanuts" cartoon in which Lucy was determined that Christmas was all about the spirit of "getting" - of "getting all you could whilst the getting was good". And usually these people are themselves very well off. They do not need anything more. The very idea that it is better to give than to receive, that the joy of Christmas lies in giving, is a totally alien concept to them - including Lucy.

Is there something basic in humans that makes us greedy or is it a learned process? Not necessarily from friends and family (who may well try to teach us the very opposite) but from the continuing pummeling of commercialism and capitalism? Remember, our "traditional" Christmas is but a Victorian invention.

With Harrods providing Christmas hampers that cost as much as £5000 one has to ask what the world is coming to. 


Most helpful today when I asked about a copy of the David Frost LP cover. They asked me to send an email to their archives person so I have sent all the relevant information that I have. It may well be a Don McCullin photo website (the timing would be right) so I shall have to go through the various websites and his books.

I should also point out that OXFAM spend very little money on administration so a donation to them makes a very good Christmas present.

I shall never forget the picture of that little child - a real one, not a child actress - gnawing on a crust of bread. I did not have much of an appetite for Christmas dinner or any of the sweets laid out before me.

A life-changing experience, if ever there was one. 

UPDATE : It is on its way to me!

UPDATE : Received!


This is the message on the sleeve of the LP of the Christmas carols introduced by David Frost:



Today (10 Dec) is United Nations International Human Rights Day. It therefore seems appropriate to make some comments on the economic system and Human Rights. 

The most basic of human rights is the right to life. That also entails liberty, freedom from fear, torture, hunger, thirst and want in general.

For everyone in the world.


And yet what is the situation we face today. Billions of people living in abject poverty whilst the lucky few million live lives of millionaires in comparison.

And some million's live lives of millionaires and and some hundred's that of billionaires. Literally, there are that many rich people in the world.

Nowhere, no time, is this more evident than in Christian countries at Christmas where money is splashed and strewn about like confetti with no tthought given to those who are without.

Where Christmas Day is no different from any other day of the year.

Just one more day of hunger, thirst, cold or heat, an existence that most of the people reading this cannot begin to conceive of or understand.

The United Nations is not perfect. It has conspicuously failed in many of its original ambitions but this is not the fault of the UN itself. It is rather the fault of the selfishness of a number of the member states who comprise this magnificent body who insist that national interests must come first. Damned national sovereignty! This is something we must learn to cede in the interests of the UN and the world itself. Whether we be a democracy or an autocratic, despostic dictatorship. (And sometimes I wonder just how much of a difference there really is between these types of state/government.) The UN needs some radical overhaul. No state should be a permament member of the Security Council just because of its power and wealth and/or because it was a founding member. The UN Charter on Human Rights should be rigidly adhered to by all members, no excuses.

Mid-August 2011

Well here we go again. Another year. All together now:


Once again I implore you to shove aside commercialism this Yuletide. Instead go to Good Gifts for your presents. Skip the usual Christmas presents, cards, gaudy decorations, over-eating and over-drinking, and general over-indulgence. The reasons can all be read above. Have a tasty vegan meal or better still fast. I shall fast from the first stroke of Christmas Eve to the last stroke of Boxing Day if I have my way. Any sweets given to me will be handed on to others.


8 December 2011 

After various illnesses, epileptic turns, falls, damaged teeth, stitches in head and knees, staggering on crutches and other general disasters my Campaign is getting back on track again. I have already sent out some emails and put up some small posters. Naturally I have long since bought my Good Gifts. Now all I have to do is to write them.

Are we really happier? 


The question that keeps crying out for an answer is :

Are we really any happier with all these extra materialistic things?

It would seem not. Survey's suggest that all the extra things available to us, that we receive, do not make us any happier or more content. They may even leave us feeling the reverse. Money (providing we are not living in poverty) cannot buy happiness. All the materialistic goods may give us a feeling of satisfaction, but only for a brief period of time.

So why buy them in the first place?

OK so it keeps people in work, but then so would any production line, whatever comes off the end be it toys or medical equipment, from simple things like walking sticks to kidney machines and complex prosthetic limbs. From foods to medicines. No one is pretending it is going to be easy to change. But it has been done before. And possible plans for change have been made by the Shop Stewards Committees at Lucas Aerospace and British Aerospace. Not that management were interested : it was infringing on "the perogative of Management to manage". They would rather see the companies collapse rather than have the worker's produce plans to save them. I wonder how the work-force and the shareholders felt about that. If indeed they even knew of the Alternative Corporate Plans.

We buy them because of insidious advertising and the link to TV programmes, films, and so on. We buy them because other people buy them. We buy them because our kids demand them. In short, we buy them because we are brain-washed into buying them. The propaganda is as good as anything we think the Nazi's used. (Actually they were very bad propagandists but that is another argument for another day). Or the Soviet's : remember all those black-and-white films of people weeping over Stalin in his coffin? Believe me, you would make a good job of appearing to weep and wail with a machine-gun or bayonet in your back. We buy them because we think it is traditional. We buy them because it is habit-forming.

As any druggie/smoker/drinker could tell you. 

Because that - ultimately - is what it comes down to.

We are addicted to Christmas - or at least one of Victorian values.

We are addicted to materialism.

Hence we are addicted to our Victorian materialistic Christmases in the same way a junkie is addicted to his or her heroin habit. No more; no less. Can you imagine what the reaction to that would be in public?! But how am I ever going to get that over to people. Hmmmn. I can feel a letter to "The Guardian" coming on here . . .

Did you know . . . ?

"Good King Wenceslas" is not a mythical figure. He was a 10th century Czech King and the famous hymn about him is based on fact. Partly hence all the statues and portraits of him in the Czech Republic, of whom he is the patron saint. So next time you hear/sing the hymn just remember : it is a real man being referred to.

When I was staying with my beloved Eva, I was inside his castle and even looked out of the very same window legend has it he was gazing from when he saw the peasant gathering winter fuel.

OK, so he was a King and legends and myths always build up around such people. But he was a Czech King. People close to me will understand the reference and emphasis to that most important point. It is still very important to me.


For some reason there is a gigantic spike between 8-13 December with over 20 hits. Someone must have been reading this thing! Thank you for doing so. Please keep on reading and tell your friends. Cheered me up immensely to see it leap from zero. At least it is a beginning.


At least they are not going overboard. Mind you, it is a small Co-Op, literally a corner shop on the parade. However, they have all you need and they are clearly more concerned with keeping their regular customers supplied with their regular needs.


Yes, they continue to arrive, from all sorts of charities and shops in Crawley, Horsham and the occasional other places. And via email & the www. And they go straight into the appropriate recycling bins. Myself,  I would have thought it was a bit late by now but I suppose that is capitalism for you. One last great surge . . .  This is the last shopping weekend before Christmas - unless you count Christmas Eve next Saturday. I should have thought that will be sheer hell.


I am glad I shall not be shopping on Christmas Eve, though it might be fun to observe! (As I keep saying.) Watch the great heaving, unwashed masses (that is a quote isn't it?) fighting like mad. Knowing they will probably be back on Boxing Day for the sales! And to spend their Christmas presents in the form of money and vouchers.  


You still just about have time . . . get onto them today! I shall be very disappointed with any of you who get involved in capitalist materialism. Especially my Christian friends. I am the athiest and yet here I am preaching (sic) against chucking money away on a materialistic Christmas!

Remember that for most people in the world (Christian and non-Christian alike) Christmas is just like any other day, no different. Just one more day of a sheer miserable existence, trying desperately to survive. Whilst the lucky tiny, tiny minority live it up to a disgusting degree, pretending to be good Christians, but in fact being nothing of the sort. 

Thought for the Day

The death has just been announced of Vaclav Havel, Nobel Laureate, playwright, human rights activist, former President of the Czech Republic, and hero to millions. For many years he was an inspiration to the people of his own country and across the globe. He will be deeply missed. 

Did most things

Pretty successful day out but unable to get any of Vaclav Havel's works. Shall have to go on the Internet to buy them I think. However, got the other things I wanted and my David Frost LP has arrived. Along with my grab-stick.

Announced that Sylvie has decided to stay as Professor at London University rather than go to Cambridge so she does not have to leave me behind. Has caused some degree of shock at home. Hope it does not make things even more complicated. 


Announced news about Sylvie. (That she has turned Cambridge post down and stayed with London so she does not have to leave me.)

General shock amongst mother, aunt and nearby friends.


I must deliver Good Gifts and some of the calendars. Last chance this side of Xmas.



. . . starts right here!

Just 363 non-shopping day's (it is a Leap Year) until next Christmas.

I hope you have had a successful time both in giving and receiving non-commercialised presents or nothing at all. I certainly have.

Yesterday I took my Good Gifts & Greenpeace calendars round to my friends at No.2. The young ones are old enough now to understand now.

My mother and aunt seem to be out . . . no, I can hear them coming in. I wonder where they have been? To see Pam & Bill apparently. They said they woke me up or called me but I did not respond. I have since seen them & Andy & family and Sue (Bill's daughter) and family and gave them their Good Gifts and Greenpeace calendar.

Very successful here at home, anyway, for 2011 Boycott.


 We have now slipped into October and the shops are becoming ever more packed with the usual commercialised crap produced for Xmas.



Christian or Humanist or Pagan or whatever, you do not need commercialised crap to have a good celebration. 

What matters is being with loved ones, family and friends, and helping those less fortunate than ones selves. Look left for a reminder of the Good Gifts catalogue. Remember they become busier and busier as Christmas approaches. If you are sitting reading this my hunch is that you are not too badly off and the same may go for those you know and love. You do not need or really want the Christmas tittle-tattle. Anyway, if you want decorations do as we did as kids, and have fun making your own which can be lovingly stored until next year.


 We are almost  into November and there is more and more emphasis on the commercialised crap and luxury foods for Christmas.



Avoid this annual extravaganza of capitalist consumerism!

Do not be tempted by the ad.'s!

Stop feeling the need/wish to treat yourself materialistically!

Go to Good Gifts 2011 and reward yourself by giving a gift to someone you do not know, who is in desperate need of your help, because of our profligacy and greed not just at Christmas, but in general in the capitalist world all the year round.

As soon as Christmas is over, the ad's for summer holidays start :








It is the middle of November, Christmas is but six weeks away.


 Do not be tempted to treat yourself saying, "Well after all, it is Christmas". That is no excuse! It is precisely because it IS  Christmas that you should not be wasting your money on rubbish and tat.



It is almost the end of November! I hope you have not been tempted! Or if you have been tempted that you have resisted the temptations! REMEMBER!!! Most of you reading this will be living lives of luxury compared to most people not just in this country but certainly abroad in the Underdeveloped World in Asia, Africa, Central and Latin America.





"THEY" are getting ever pushier and desperate to sell us their junk for a "wonderful" Christmas! 

"THEY" are determined to make us think that we cannot celebrate Christmas without all the trapping of Christmas and spending money on materialistic presents for our loved ones, friends, colleagues. 

Just let us show them how wrong they are!

Celebrate by giving "Good Gifts". Make someone's life a little less miserable, or even a little happier by giving a gift to someone whose life will be immeasurably improved. And make the recipient of the card feel happy.      

Forget the junk - it's a load of bunk!

Ignore that desperate advertising imploring you to buy the tat, the rubbish, the things that people will thank you for to your face and groan and pass to the Charity shops behind your back.





We are now well into December and so I say once again, KEEP CLEAR OF THE USUAL CHRISTMAS AND JUNK!

* Whatever they try to kid you, you do not need it!

* You do not even really want it!

* Your friends and loved ones do not want it!

* Give to those who are in NEED rather than in GREED!

* Christian, Pagan or whatever : remember the true meaning of Christmas!

*Let's make this a record year for NOT spending on Christmas rubbish.

*Let's make this a record year for Good Gifts.

Whilst you are sitting enjoying your usual Christmas treats and nibbles, your huge Christmas meals, give a thought for those who have nothing. For those children who are crying with hunger, thirst and pain.


Almost there and the rubbish continues to grow in the shops, piled sky-high. (I know - I had to help my mother with her Xmas shopping - she disapproves of my views.)

YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO GO TO  www.goodgifts@org

Surprise your loved ones with a truly unique present! 

"My" present this year (2010) is the Jasmine Green Library although I have given it to Jasmine. I do not need or want any presents. I have got everything I need or want.

Except a lady. But you cannoy buy one of those.

"My" present this year (2011) is to put 2 Asian women through 3-year Nursing degree's. Money well-spent if ever there was.



We are perilously close to Christmas!

YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO GO TO www.goodgifts@org

This site provides presents in the true spirit of Christmas (and any other occasion) the whole year round. If you are a last minute shopper go to their website NOW and make your selection via the www or by telephone! Bring joy into the life's of the less fortunate, and give to your friends (and yourself) without the usual feelings of guilt.


Just 3 and-a-half non-shopping days to Christmas! To all of those of you who have steered clear so far, well-done, keep it up, no last-minute panicking because you have not wasted your money! Probably too late for Good Gifts in time for Xmas . . . unless, like me, you celebrate the New Year, rather than Christmas. But remember:


YOU have done the right thing.

WE have done the right thing.


From my own point of view, I would consider it reasonably successful. I gave Good Gifts, although in the end I gave both my mother a my aunt a materialistic gift as well. Guilt-tripping from my mother saw to that. Patrick & Eva were the only others to receive such gifts because they are still a bit young but I think next year I can give them Good Gifts. I still have several left for other occasions.

I was unable to carry out my fast because of guilt-tripping relatives.

Now it is Boxing Day so I can claim to have had breakfast, as I have done on the other two days, and all were to full to eat an evening meal, so it has not been completely disasterous with only one meal on each of the other two days.

I have finished Shona's letter, so that can go in the post and now I am preparing the next letter. I just hope they will get through ok with the spaces Clip-Art leaves, I may have to do it the longer and harder way next time, ie print the pictures first, and then leave gaps in the text so I do not print over them.

I wonder if anyone at work followed my pleas? Oh well, we will find out when I return to work.



So another Xmas is almost over in all but name. True, 12th Night is not until 5 Jan and today is Hogmany, which has become part of the celebrations. And as I say opposite, the mad Post-Christmas/January sales now take place of all the rubbish the shops did not manage to move. But I stuck to my resolve to avoid taking part in the capitalist plot of commercialisation of the festive season. I did not manage to fast altogether, but I wanted peace to rain in the home.

Today I have a bit of shopping to get at the local shops (basically my newspapers) and I have to post off my latest batch of letters to my friends in prison in the USA. Possibly I shall go to the War Resister's website and find some more people to write to there. Get the New Year off to a good start.

To those of you who took part in the Boycott - what can I say? I am deeply grateful to you for doing so.

To those of you who did not take part in the Bocott - what can I say? Yes indeed, what can I say that is not too rude or offensive? Anyway - words simply fail me.

And so "Boycott a Commercialised Christmas 2011 is now underway!


Tomorrow alas I have no choce but to indulge in a bit of commercialism, I fear. My laser-toner is just about exhausted and I need to use the printer a lot just now with all my letters to prisoner's on Death Row, serving Life, or peace movement prisoner's of conscience. And so I may go out and try and get a replacement in Redhill or Crawley. I would go to PC World if my mother was up to driving, but I cannot see it. Perhaps I shall go online.

 Some more Christmas thoughts . . .

There is a howling wind out there just now, with lashings of rain.

It is not going to be a very Merry Xmas for millions of people in this country, let alone abroad. So please do not do it. Do not go wildly over the top. Donate by way of "Good Gifts" and fast or go vegan for a few days. You won't regret it, you will feel much better for it. Not just psychologically but also physically : no hangovers, no feeling ill for the surplus of food & drink . . . etc.

Site Design

Having somehow screwed and buggered-up my site whilst trying to do something over-ambitious I have re-arranged things and hope it is not disasterous an outcome. Hope this is not too disasterous for anyone. And that I can reinstate the one column design below, as and when necessary.

Last years biggie present & this year's

The first was the Eva Trubacova Library. Last year's was the Jasmine Green Library. This years is to put 2 students in Africa through a 3 year degree course. Naturally enough, Sylvie is getting that one. 

Christmas 2011

With my mother's illness, guess I am condemned to spending Xmas here at home, especially as it seems the cat is still going to have to be re-homed because of my mother's asthma. Even if the carpets are going and linoleum going down in their place downstairs and on the stairs and landing. I should have liked to do voluntary work but I have enough to do here looking after my mother and aunt, who are both in their mid-late 80's.


My mother and aunt are reasonably well and could could make-do without me. And poor Smokey has been rehomed, so I have lost my best friend. The carpeting has been cleaned by a specialist and so will not need replacing. But it is too late to make other arrangements now, everything is set, so I am stuck with it. 

However . . .

But I guess so long as the train's and tubes are running I can get to my planned concerts, which will be something. 

Now that I have given looking up for a partner, and Sylvie has disappeared off the scene, I can feel a little more relaxed. At least until they decide to tighten the thumbscrews again. But I am not having any of it this time. My life is my life, not theirs.


I cannot change column sizes as and when I want to with this programme, which is a damned shame, that would have been very useful. 


Only 363 more non-shopping days until Christmas!





 . . . about being off with this accursed bad leg & knee is that I am missing much of the commercialisation and hell of the day's preceeding Christmas. I loath that. I might miss it altogether if things carry on as they are and I can only hobble around. Sometimes it is interesting (from sociological and psychological points of view) to witness but it is physically very uncomfortable. I have no feelings of envy watching them do it, I tend to think "poor things", capitalism really has got you well-socialized, hasn't it? Not for me, ta very much.


Woken from my nightmares by alarm clock 14 December, realised I was still off sick, looked for my cat, almost called him and looked for his food . . . it is going to be a hard habit to break. 


Thank you and please keep it up . . . especially if you agree with me! Please do not weaken, no matter what people say to you.


Had to go shopping in Sainsbury's this afternoon. Disgusting the amount of food, sweets, cakes, rubbish on sale that has taken so much of the Earth's resources to produce whilst so many are starving. Utterly revolting. And the way people are loading up their trolley's with crap, booze, and over-indulgence. It is enough to make one weep.


My mother wanted to go shopping in the local Co-Op mainly for Christmas goodies for presents for the hospital, friends and neighbours. So I just held my nose and went ahead and helped her.

The Sun is trying to break through to the south. If it does it might be quite a nice day though it is cold outside. Although I guess the Czech Republic and Finland will be a lot colder. It is all relative.

I might go online and see what the crowds in London are like - the camera's do have their uses.


Only 363 more non-shopping days until Christmas!





If you have left it too late to get a Good Gift what about one that takes a little more effort? Design your own card either on the computer or by hand and make a donation in your friends name to Medicins Sans Frontieres, Save the Children or Oxfam. Or if you have a school in a deprived area near you, ask the Head or appropriate teacher about some books or CD's or DVD's you might buy for their library - if they even have one. Perhaps the local library would be open to such a gift. Mine was not (Crawley, West Sussex County Council) but you might have better luck.


As I while away the evening, I am acutely aware of the funeral that took place today of Vaclav Havel. My computer is not showing it properly and so I must try and see the TV News later.

Tomorrow for various reasons I intend to be out of the house so my mother and aunt can do as they wish without me around to cause further confusion.

I need a hair & beard trim in Redhill and then I might go to London to visit Waterstone's to see if I might treat myself to any of the works of Vaclav Havel.


Could not get Vaclav Havels works anywhere. Shall have to go online and look at Amazon.

Just hope I can avoid the mad crush of the crowds where I shall be. I have no intention of going into the West End proper. 


Today the funeral took place of Vaclav Havel. I have seen it on TV News. A momentus and very sad occasion.  


Xmas is almost with us.

I have delivered certain things to certain friends. (Just in case they are reading this. Do not want to spoil the surprise in the morning.) Others to be done tomorrow. Some will have to wait until return to work.

Have just seen the classic production of Merle Park & Rudolf Nureyev in "The Nutcracker". Why ever did the Royal Ballet drop it for another production? Dame Ninette de Valois herself said Nureyev's production was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.


These will start tomorrow so please resist the temptation. And remember : a lot of what is in the sales is gunk by anybody's standards. They only put into the sales what nobody has been prepared to buy at the original asking price. So you are not getting the bargain you think you are getting.