Why Cricket?

lords batsThe worldwide trending #Putoutyourbats – which, as I write, is still gaining 5 posts a second in my twitter feed – makes me cry.

Why, cricket? why are so many grown men and women in the UK and far afield flooding out their emotions as if the death of a cricketer, who most barely knew of, is a major bereavement?

I was always told, “Never try to explain cricket to the unbeliever”.  Well, that was mainly referring to the rules, which of course remain unexplainable to all but players, but I shall endeavour to explain why this sporting death is somehow different from others.

“What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”

CLR James was quoted by John Arlott in answer to those who recognised his worldly wisdom as well as his encyclopaedic cricketing knowledge, and he eloquently summed up why he loved the game. My view is based on my “nearly fatal” experience.

I took up cricket for the 2nd time at the age of 25 – bowling for St James, the local Sunday league and midweek evening matches in Cardiff. The camaraderie was better than any I felt when playing football and there was that marvellous first game when I took 3 wickets and an amazing catch to earn my permanent  place in the side. We never wanted to take it too seriously and were often deliberately losing a couple of games to avoid being promoted to the first division where it was treated as a matter of life and death.

It shouldn’t be a matter of life and death, no sport should, but motor sports, mountaineering, and several others have seen more deaths than cricket, which has had a few at all levels. In one game we had a member of the opposition who loudly made loud sexist comments at a woman jogging around the boundary edge, he was also a loud and arrogant mouth on the field as we batted.
It came his turn to bat and I got plenty of, but didn’t need any, advice from my team-mates to “Let him have your fastest”.

As it happened I found a great spot just short of a length with real zip, and, our midweek pitches being of the poor quality they were, this ball happened to rear up and smack the batsman right under the sternum. He staggered backwards and fell onto his stumps, “HOWZAT!” the whole team shouted with glee…

As it turned out he was helped off the field with only a bruise for his trouble, and I felt no guilt whatsoever, indeed I happily accepted the massive kudos I got from my friends for silencing him. However, had he ducked, and turned his eyes away from that ball, he could, just as easily and freakishly as Philip Hughes, have caught a fatal blow. How would I be feeling now, had that happened those 30 years ago?

Perhaps the love of the game that unites players and fans alike is the knowledge that serious competition in cricket is a matter of importance, but that we are all respectful of this tribal interaction as a way of bonding whilst encouraging individual excellence. The pleasure of taking the final wicket to win a game is immense but the main pleasure was merely taking the field – the cliché of the green expanse and the sound of willow on leather is further enhanced when you have heard the thunder of the paceman coming up behind you as you prepare to back up the facing batsman – (or are the umpire). The thrill of out-thinking an opponent so he makes a wrong move to fall into your trap is immense… but the longer games gave me a sense of both tranquillity and excitement that cannot be matched in any other sport.

I feel for Sean Abbot – and all those who have put out their bats, literally or metaphorically, as we have what is almost a Princess Diana moment, not in this case for a mass celebrated individual – but for what that individual represented. This is what we see in this great fellowship of the game. #putoutyourbats.

 

 

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Prostate cancer and sex – not a joking matter

The latest news headlines are a lazy male sub-editor’s dream :sex headline

 

prostate cancer story

Oddly, none of the news I can Google includes links to the, so called, serious study.

The nuts and bolts of it seem to suggest that virgins have double the average risk, while sleeping with lots of women - but not men, which also increases the risk - significantly reduces the risk of getting the disease.

All the many newspaper articles then go on to say what appears to be the drift of the press release – that the theory is that this is about increased number of ejaculations…
immediately I spot the (most obvious) flaw in this research.

This was a survey conducted via interview. With men.
It is true that in interviews you can show that 70% of men masturbate and 30% lie.  i.e. all men masturbate, including virgins. (the figure for women is apparently more like 52% – 48% ), and seeing as masturbation is statistically more likely to end in ejaculation, then that theory is blown straight out of the water since virgins might well have a better chance of survival than macho women chasing dickheads with potency problems…

What would be interesting would be if this research was done more thoroughly and compared with the already established facts about promiscuity and disease. is an increased number of partners somehow creating a better immunity through cellular transfer – such as happens in reverse for women with their risk of cervical cancer going up dependent on the number of women their partner has had sex with…
Similarly, having multiple partners works out badly for chlamydia, HIV, herpes, gonorrhoea, syphilis, – all of which favour virginity very much more strongly over promiscuity than this tabloid headlined study suggests the opposite…

My only advice for fellow men over 55 is:
be happy with a wife, or on your own, but… – if you are having any difficulty peeing – go to the doctor and get the finger up the bum check… no need to die for having missed out on this simple pleasure…

 

 

 

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The dilution “joke” is worse than Jim Davidson: boring

dawkinsHow many jokes on Twitter do I see about Homeopathy?
– maybe a hundred a month?
There are some powerful leaders in this field: Tim Minchin, Dara O’Briain, virtually every stand up comic ever…
and what do these jokes consist of? – “it’s so weak it can’t possibly work”

Well that applies to the joke – much more than the treatment.
Maybe one or two of these people have bothered to dig deeper into how succussion makes for a mysterious, but measurable, “Quantum effect” (for want of a better description) but in the main, no… they are basing their cheap jibes on what they have read other hostile reductionists say… or Tim Minchin’s Storm (which is fun)
and have comfortably agreed with the dogma on the basis of the ever dangerous phenomenon of  the obedience to authority, or conformity tendency 

I have my own critique of the large number of “alternate” therapists and their jumping unquestioningly to conclusions based on bogus papers and results – (the crystal healing astrologists leave me cold), – just as I have a similar critique of “Accepted medicine” doing the same thing.

Sometimes, the falacious arguments that Minchin and others use are the same ones they attack, when in the mood –
The idea that medicine that has been found to work is “scientifically proven to work” – that is a dangerous statement, Mr Minchin – seeing as there is a very long list of “scientifically proven” treatments that have later been dismissed as wrong, as retrospectively based on bad science, – normally after many people have been killed by or badly affected by such treatments…
Then, of course, there is ECT – (Electro-Convulsive Therapy) still used, (successfully 50% of the time) for extreme depression and yet scientifically unproven, with an unknown rationale, yet extremely dangerous to cognitive function…
No jokes about ECT and western medicine, you masters of comedy?
– why not?
And the placebo issue, not even wondered about as amazing?
No mention of how revealed placebo knee cartilage surgery – where the cut is made under anaesthetic but no real surgery undertaken -sometimes works. ?

We (me included) joke about Dawkins’ arrogance on Twitter – yet not his deliberate obfuscation and denial of genuinely scientific testing that doesn’t suit his, and the wider conformist, mechanistic, reductionist worldview.
He lied repeatedly about Rupert Sheldrake‘s excellent and independently repeated experiments showing, “Dogs can know when their masters are on their way home”, because it didn’t suit his reductionist dogma.
And Sheldrake’s Ted talk was removed for a long while because it frightened way too many scientists who hate to be challenged where it matters (the possible loss of their funding sourced from other mechanistic fundamentalists).

Rupert dares to point out how many scientific “facts” are no such thing – So before you decide to “joke” about homeopathy (whose worst exponents are indeed worthy of ridicule) try and see which of these common dogmas you wrongly accept as given:-

1. Everything is essentially mechanical. Dogs, for example, are complex mechanisms, rather than living organisms with goals of their own. Even people are machines, ‘lumbering robots’, in Richard Dawkins’s vivid phrase, with brains that are like genetically programmed computers.

2. All matter is unconscious. It has no inner life or subjectivity or point of view. Even human consciousness is an illusion produced by the material activities of brains.

3. The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the universe suddenly appeared),

4. The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they will stay the same for ever.

5. Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.

6. All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.

7. Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains. When you look at a tree, the image of the tree you are seeing is not ‘out there’, where it seems to be, but inside your brain.

8. Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.

9. Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.

10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.

To understand exactly how these are demonstrably false – you would need to read The Science Delusion (available at some good bookshops) – or watch the Ted Talk above, or this longer talk by genuinely exploratory scientist, Rupert Sheldrake, who talks about the new science we need, free from dogma…

Come on scientists! – your comments are welcomed.

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Contrary to my better nature… a negative list

This blog was always supposed to be relentlessly positive, supporting my faith in laughter as a great healer but also positivity and seeing the best in people.

Therefore it would seem contrary of me to cite negative things about real people that might give the impression I am into bashing public figures without truly knowing much about them, because… well they are public figures.
However, I feel a need to expurgate, to vomit out, to cleanse myself of a toxic awareness…No, not a machine gun spree or infliction of pain…it’s just that I do believe that there are some individuals, messing about in the public viewpoint, who we really would be better off sending to a desert island where they can play their discs, congratulate themselves on their long since lost luxury items and decline into old age without the oxygen of public awareness…

I shall decline to use all their photos since I had a nice breakfast.
Besides – this is not a controversial list, I am betting that even the Dalai Lama would silently agree that most of these people need to vanish to a long lost Ashram
As a list it starts:
K Hopkins – no explanation needed,
Piers Morgan – smug feather duster and partly responsible for the decline of journalism in the UK.
Morrissey – Oh, please! frequent offender of masturbating to a mirror in public? Anyone unknown would have been in front of the magistrates regularly, but would have stopped wanking then.
Jeremy Clarkson – Red Top buckwheats* for him
Donald Trump – like a combination of the two above.
Toby Young – fermented giraffe dribble.
Nick Robinson – A former Young Conservative leader who thinks he IS the news.
Anne Atkins – for forcing a dangerous mass rush to switch off the Today programme
Just about every RushHannityOFuckwit involved in Fox News – for trying to hard to take humanity back to primordial slime.
Anyone who has EVER been a member of “The Bullingdon Club” (new cabinet needed)
Simon Cowell – who needs to be prevented from returning to Planet Borg and wielding his horror somewhere else in the universe.
Jim Davidson – “Who?” you may ask, I’m doing what he would have wanted by including him and he can make life worse for all the others.
The Koch brothers – love to see what they manage with no money and no personality with the above crew.
Tony Blair – for betrayal of humanity
Nigel Farage – ditto, but from a lower base.
Ted Heath – dig up his body and leave the rotting paedophile anchored on the only beach for the others to contemplate.
Paul Dacre – and all past and present Sun editors too – the tabloid chiefs who have so successfully turned a major part of the population into a satire of dumbed-down, lowest common denominator, bigots: – buckwheats* the lot of them.
Vladimir Putin – as the only non English speaker he will make it “interesting”.

I am sure there are several more that may deserve this isolation treatment – but the good news is that there are thousands that others who may have been put on the list that I feel quite OK about.
In fact in drawing up this list it has helped me realise that a majority of the people I can think of in public life are really OK people – and I am happy to see them interacting with my country…IDS HANDS

So there’s your positive.

NB *Buckwheats refers to a fate from the  film, “Things to do in Denver when you’re dead”

(But this guy needs to be drowned on the way to the island.)

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Top Agencies are still killing vulnerable young women.

Anorexia-Nervosa-02 I and many other people, thought that we had started to move away from the horrific trend in Fashion circles, for the promotion of anorexia and the degradation of women.
Not so, it seems.

A young and vulnerable but tall girl I have news of, I shall call her Julie, aged 18 going on 12, is illustrating to me just what is wrong, and how it is still going on.
She was told she should use her quirky good looks to make a career in modelling and applied to several top London agencies. They immediately got back and she was snapped up by one of the biggest. The first thing she experienced was the boss lady “teaching her” the 2 most important skills of a model:
These were –
1) How to take cocaine
2) Diet, caffeine, and how to eat cotton wool to defeat the appetite.

When she decided to pull out of the contract due to shocked friends suggesting this was a nightmare, the agency boss poured scorn on them as provincial know-nothings and said she would call the police and enforce the penalty clause on her contract. Friends said, “Fine, you do that and we will detail to the police all your drug pushing and obscene habits” – so she dropped the contract like a hot potato.

This isn’t a gender issue per se, but the ideas and culture around what women should look like are still the major problem, and that is something we can all contribute to changing. As for these agencies, I would be most pleased if others would come forward to confirm or deny this ongoing state of obscenity – and if confirmed, take action before more girls die as a direct result.

The ages in this Wikipedia list of deaths from anorexia are telling:

Since the latest problems with modelling and parents – Julie has made 2 suicide attempts…

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Good News v Bad News: Optimism as a choice

As you absorb the news,goodbadnews
from the BBC,
or the press,
or searching the internet,
It can be only too easy to feed your expectations with what appears to be a reflection of the world as it is…

The BBC’s news agenda is set by the press, still, and it will do its weekend good news stories “and finally” etc. So you, the people, will enjoy your weekend a bit more. Relax – “the world will never end on a Friday or Saturday night!”

You have to be a determined Polyanna to miss the fact that the majority of the news has something of a heavy negative aspect – deaths, destruction, the threat of war, disease, climate change, and so on…

On the other hand you can fool yourself that the bad news we now hear and see every day means that the world is getting worse. I hear people saying this all the time, and what is more they can be amazingly sure of this fact.

But I know it is not a fact…
So when I tell them about Stephen Pinker’s research revealing that we have seen a steady fall in “man-on-man” violence since the caveman days, steady over years, decades, centuries, millennia, they dismiss it.
Whereas they don’t as easily dismiss the news that the CIA deliberately uses labyrinthine conspiracies to kill its own side to justify attacks on fake enemies.

Cognitive bias is one thing – but the notion that the world may actually, at least in some ways, be getting better is NOT something people want to hear.
I am fully aware of the many aspects of the human influenced world that may in fact not be getting better, but I choose to be an optimist despite this awareness – not by avoiding knowing about bad things.

An optimist is someone determined to work for, and set an example of, the best in humanity, because by doing so, you help it become more real.
A pessimist is someone who has deluded themselves that it is better to be right about how bad things might be, and therefore contributes to that worsening of life becoming a reality.
It is not “realism”.
Realism is knowing that optimists on average live 5 years longer, and much happier lives than pessimists, and that the maths of how violence is reducing, just like UK crime figures is a reality.
The big lies are swallowed and then regurgitated ad nauseam by people who fall for sad Daily Mail “nostalgia“, and no quantity of factual information can deny them their negative self fulfilling prophecies…

 

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Women – you know you’re feeling shit, let’s do drugs

I don’t mean illegal drugs silly! – no, those are fun. I mean these drugs:

womans mag

…as in the magazine itself and everything contained in it.
(cover by Twitter’s @TechnicallyRon, give him a #ff)
The content of your ̶ d̶r̶u̶g̶, I mean magazine, is as bad as the cover suggests: adverts that confirm the lies you have ingested since primary school, articles designed to create alienation, the overall message that within consumerism lie all your personalised solutions to…
consumerism.
Features and articles seem to be as if written by the more verbose arm of the advertisers PR firm staff.

That piece on how the widows of Gaza are really getting into L’Oreal’s moisturizing, dead hair-regenerating formula, is that really cool?
and The Dior scent that really does cover the smell of ISIS beheaded Christian teenager must be a SOOOOPer product…

NATO underarm deodorant is this magazine’s Autumn best buy – called “OverArm” (geddit) it means you can emerge feeling fresh and alive from your tank on the lawn, (just minus your arms).

Every product, every designed piece of nuclear waste, every sentence, every photo, these are the drugs that suppress your auto-humane system. Like sugar, you know this shit is making you fat and hopeless but you cannot resist,
– or maybe you can –
simply don’t spend any money on them
and they may disappear…

(unlike the Metro which has to be burned upon discovery)

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The other side of me…ntal health & drugs.

Much has been made of depression, Bipolar and the importance of treatment recently. I have much personal and professional experience and want to add one more little sideways shout to the issue.

I have had people I called friends commit suicide, and others just die…
I wish the formula was as simple as Cognitive Behavioural therapy for some, drugs for others and it should all be OK… The drugs are clumsy, the therapy very variable.
I am one of the lucky ones – a combination of careful drug management and long term psychotherapy from the third (private) therapist I tried, got me to the happy and sustainable drug free person you are reading today.
For a few lucky others with bipolar I know this path has also been followed – but for many more the drug treatments appear to be a permanent requirement, while others gain little from psychotherapy.

The group who receive least loving attention are those labelled “Schizophrenic” – in the public’s eyes, “The really scary ones”.
The figures for murders by Schizophrenics, by the way, are no higher than murders by “Rugby players” (- for example)
bipolar v schizo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trouble with labelling is illustrated above.
The harsh facts are that we create these names for people who think differently to the norm, and then treat the intricacies of these most special human beings with a toolkit straight out of a road labourer’s van.
Some of them work – you really can bang in a screw with a lump hammer if you try. But the long term prognosis for people with the Schizophrenia diagnosis is an odd one…

I cannot show you evidenced research on premature deaths of Schizophrenics.
Sure there are records of the suicides, but there is a more worrying reason that I cannot confirm whether my anecdotal experience of people dying prematurely after being on long term psychotropic medication is true, or not…
To put it simply, no one, especially not the drug companies, wants to find out if drug treatments might actually be killing people with Schizophrenia. So no one is going to do this research, ever.

To put in my observations from working in the field out there – besides the suicides (many of which were by people who were on drug therapies) there were a remarkable number of people I came across dying in their late 40s or 50s of heart attacks, and some people of all ages dying of “unexplained adult death syndrome” – (which means the autopsy discovered no cause).

I cannot offer a happy solution – taking people with that label off their medication would almost certainly be a disaster causing more deaths and misery. I just want to see development of better drugs, and better talking therapies – given to people whose label is not helpful to treating that person as a complex human being.

One should note that, adjusting for population, the total number of people in the USA diagnosed with either Bipolar(1) or Schizophrenia, is about the same as in the UK.
however, in the UK the proportion diagnosed with bipolar is way smaller, while in America the number of Schizophrenia diagnoses is exactly proportionally, way smaller…

No one wants a label – but I have been mislabeled in the past – had to fight to get it changed on medical records. It illustrates how easy it is to get the wrong label fixed to you and forever you are looked at in “that certain way” .

I once gave a talk with my friend, Nick, who was a leading Psychiatric nurse, to a group of Voluntary sector workers working for groups such as MIND, the MD Fellowship (as was) and many more.
He told us of someone in a midlands hospital they had cured of schizophrenia…in 2 weeks.
An excited member of the audience leant forward saying, “This, I just have to know about!”
“Yup”, Nick said, “The consultant had seen this florid and aggressive older man, given him a diagnosis of schizophrenia and put him on the ward”.
(more leaning forwards)
“We gave him some new batteries for his hearing aids, and three square meals a day and in two weeks he was entirely sane”.

My point being, the deeper you look into this system of mental health and treatment, the more you realise how it is not simple, not something the tabloids can have a five day jamboree over and dismiss… it is as complex as the people affected…
Compassion and understanding, of the kind that Jayne Zito showed in setting up her foundation are what we need a lot more of…
Typical tabloid coverage – much less.

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Fame, depression and death of a hero.

I read a lot of people implying something along the lines of “If I’d been Robin Williams I’d have just been happy to have made it”.

CW, CBS And Showtime 2013 Summer TCA Party - ArrivalsThere are still so many, so confused about fame, about the nature of depression, and about why we get so upset when someone we don’t know at all, not only dies – but chooses to leave us all.

I feel a huge sadness over Robin Williams’ death, and also, a touch of anger that his demons got the better of him and deprived his wife and young children of his compassion and humour in such a devastating way.

The facts remain:
Depression can be in anyone’s life – it touches most.
Fame is not a good goal to be pursued – it will never bring happiness.
Suicide is to be talked about in wise ways – not the way the shitty media cover, this and mass shootings… as a mawkish grief-spreading cancerous feeding frenzy.

Being misunderstood is a part of any life where you express a view in public.
No matter how carefully we choose our words, no matter if people we trust express their deep understanding of what we are saying, and therefore how we feel, they can at best only scratch at a temporary surface.
Those who we do not know, but who read our material, can build amazingly false pictures of who we are – and in turn publicly cement a false version of us in their public’s eye. It has happened to me often on a very minor scale, abusive tweet replies sometimes resulting from a complete misreading of a text apparently well understood by others.
Do you see the fame catch here?
Thousands of people on social media are asking, “Why?” as if they had some understanding of what it was like to be Robin Williams.
No one could ever know, but perhaps it involved the following:

Going home from a stand up gig that went incredibly well, but now there’s no way and nowhere for that buzz to be sustained. You are alone, and you know that none of those people who applauded have any idea who you are or how you feel.
You have been told you have an illness called depression, but when it is at its worst, it lies to you about being a permanent inescapable hell. It is a very good liar, it uses the most honest part of YOU to lie to yourself. It can do this right after your greatest high…

The lies we tell ourselves when we are young often include the one about fame, “I will make a name for myself! – be recognised”.
Whereas those who have made it as movie stars generally dread being “recognised”.
Why do you think that contradiction arises?
The cliché is that you are looking for the love from the world that you didn’t get as a small child. This cliché carries a lot of weight.

You cannot get love from strangers, and the illusion of their love can make you feel less loved than ever…
Only the love of self that incorporates an understanding of your whole self – and the unconditional love of another is critical to that – can be satisfying.

The tragedy for the public who feel something they describe as love for the famous who made us laugh and enjoy ourselves so much, is that we do have a genuine loss, it is a small bereavement. I feel it now.
The wise teachers I had as psychotherapists taught me a lot about this. That no matter how much we may feel we have “got our act together”, or become some kind of top class Zen student, these deaths of the famous can still kick us in the teeth.
My long term therapist, Jeremy Hazel, was learning his trade when George VI died. His teachers noted that nearly every client, Republican, Royalist, orphan or otherwise, reacted as if they had been bereaved of a father.

We should take note of this with regard to how we will be in the UK when the Queen dies.
Just as we note why and how we feel, as the King of Comedy has died.

 

 

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Rape – a law to be eliminated.

I have tried, over 10 years – and despite some verbal support from enlightened criminal lawyers and a couple of MPs, this last attempt failed.
Law commission appeal on rape law

I am getting too old now – but the cause remains true…
Someone else needs to grasp this issue and stop the system from abusing victims of sexual assault three times over, via…
1. Process abuse of victim
2. Failure to prosecute
3. Failure to convict those brought to court due to law being WRONG

Please read, and if you agree, spread it wider.
Thank you.

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