please imagine some really well worded disclaimer that explains anything i've written in a really acceptable way,

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"It is natural for one in this case to dread the loss of his faith, indeed of his own integrity and religious identity, and to cling desperately to whatever will seem to preserve the last shreds of belief.  So he struggles sometimes frantically, to recover a sense of comfort and conviction in formulated truths or familiar religious practices..  ..The man of today is more and more vulnerable in this respect.  His efforts to seek peace and light are carried on not in a realm of relative security, in a geography of certitude, but over the face of a thinly veiled abyss of disoriented nothingness, into which he quickly falls when he finds himself without the total support of reassuring and familiar ideas of himself and of his world.  Nevertheless it is precisely this support that we must learn to sacrifice.
     This is the genuine climate of serious meditation, in which, without light and apparently without strength, even seemingly without hope, we commit ourselves to an entire surrender to God."
                         -Thomas Merton (Contemplative Prayer 1969)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

On seeing..

A short exercise that I recommend trying..   (with an equivalent view of your own)

Out of my window I can see a street.. I am using this view to practise different ways of looking at, and seeing it..

How would I describe it on first glance?

Then I try looking at it in the following ways:
Like an architect.. when were the buildings built? by who? out of what? in what style?
Like a photographer.. is there an interesting shot here?
Like an estate agent.. who owns these buildings? what are they worth?
Like a sociologist.. who lives here? what are their lives like? what social issues are here?
Like a gardener.. what could we grow here? and where?
Like a politician.. how many people live here? what matters to them? who will they vote for?
Like a homeless person.. is there any shelter here?
Like a tourist.. what is interesting? unusual? surprising? authentic?
Like a historian.. what has happened here? what caused it to become like this?
Like a small child.. ?
Like someone who has always lived here..  ?
Like someone from 100years in the future.. ?
Like someone with vast compassion.. ?

How does each way of looking make us feel toward the place? Can we see more than before? Is it helpful?
(people train to see in many of these ways, I am an amateur at all, but still find trying interesting)

Can I see geopolitical or spiritual concepts, eg. "Scotland" or "Edinburgh"?
Can I see social fabric?
Can I see evidence of love?   ..of corruption?    ..of fear?
Can I see beauty?
Can I see hope?

We can likely see far more spiritual and invisible things than maybe we first thought?  (human eyes are amazing!)

Does how we look affect us? and who we become?
Does it affect what we are looking at? and what this becomes?

What if we look as a Daily Mail reporter? what is the most shockingly awful thing about this place?
What if we look for the potential for greatest good? for heaven here?

"when looking at the sea..  it is the looking that is transformative"
-Thomas A Clark

May we all see today with open eyes, and with kindness..

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dear friends and possible readers.

I am working on a draft 'urbanmonk manifesto'.  If you're interested, or would like to help, please give me a shout..

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"The serene have not opted out of life. They see more widely, love more dearly, rejoice in the things the frantic mind no longer sees or hears."  -Pam Brown

Sunday, June 05, 2011

"Demands to “make poverty history”, and the responses from those in power, revolve around money: less debt, freer and fairer trade, more aid. Rarely will you hear someone with access to a microphone mouth the word “land”.

That is because economists define wealth and justice in terms of access to the market. Politicians echo the economists because the more dependent that people become upon the market, the more securely they can be roped into the fiscal and political hierarchy. Access to land is not simply a threat to landowning élites — it is a threat to the religion of unlimited economic growth and the power structure that depends upon it.

The market (however attractive it may appear) is built on promises: the only source of wealth is the earth. Anyone who has land has access to energy, water, nourishment, shelter, healing, wisdom, ancestors and a grave.

...The first and inevitable effect of the global market is to uproot and destroy land-based human cultures. The final and inevitable achievement of a rootless global market will be to destroy itself.

Rome fell; the Soviet Empire collapsed; the stars and stripes are fading in the west. Nothing is forever in history, except geography. Capitalism is a confidence trick, a dazzling edifice built on paper promises. It may stand longer than some of us anticipate, but when it crumbles, the land will remain."

-From the manifesto of the Land Magazine

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you as few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
Absolutely clear.
~ Hafiz

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Yes! to Danny MacAskill's new wee film..  I don't care if it messes up the layout of my blog!

Monday, October 25, 2010

On my cycle home I was crossing over an old stone bridge that spans a tranquil section of the River Almond, when I encountered a young man paddling a coracle.  I stopped and shouted down to him. He said he was taking it for a test paddle. I said it was a very classic monk thing to be doing. He said 'Yes, it's very zen,'. He said he got it on ebay. £40. It was broken. He repaired it. He hadn't fallen in yet. He is going to take it fishing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My current favorite blog is the new blog/business/bakery sensation that is The Apocalypse Bakery!
I sampled at least 5 cakes today at the cameo curio event which were all excellent. And there is some good wisdom in there too, gradually leaking out riddley through either of the bakery or apocalypse themes, or through a happy blend of the two.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

...and been dancing in the hills.

..actually I've been quite busy recently. I have become a farmer.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Some of us have been living here for a wee bit. It has excellent views and an atmospheric post-apocalyptic feel.

I'm not completely sure about this new experiment in putting pictures of my life on this blog..

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

They are sending potting compost and quality plants to landfill. This supply line must be intercepted.

We can do this with our vehicles.

Our yard is turning is slowly turning into a garden centre.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Due to volcanic erruptions I am spending most of the day sitting near a ferry port. I have found a cafe where a mug of tea costs 85p and includes free refills. There are complimentary newspapers, 3 copies of the Star and one of the Daily Mirror.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Our major challenge
is to focus
on what we can create
rather than
what problems we can solve.

Stop talking about what's wrong
and how to fix it.

No future is created
simply solving problems.

You have to tap into people's 
and possibility
to organise around something larger."

-Peter Block (Community: The Structure of Belonging 2008 -cited on Emma's wall)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Chris has spent the summer following guerrilla gardeners around the city - a German girl who "flowerbombs" vacant plots of land, and a man who plants politically motivated shrubs on the immaculate lawns of corporations."
     -the guardian

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

This is where I went in February by the way.
It's at the top of here:

Monday, March 08, 2010


Apologies that this blog seems to have got stuck in time..

The comments have also gone weird due to technical issues.. (apparently they will be deleted unless I pay lots of money, I do have a copy but won't be able to synch them to here unless someone invents an easy way of doing this for free)

I'm reviewing whether to relaunch this blog here, or whether to go lower tech and just make zines on a photocopier..

I do have lots of good material from the past 8months or so.. will do something with it and put at least a note up here.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

"Learned and leisurely hospitality is the only antitode to the stance of deadly cleverness that is acquired in the professional pursuit of objectively secured knowledge. I remain certain that quest for truth cannot thrive outside the nourishment of mutual trust, flowering into the commitment of friendship."
-Ivan Illich (educationalist)

Monday, June 29, 2009

"It is commonly thought that conservative-minded people are as a rule old, whereas innovators are young. This is not quite true. Conservative-minded people are most commonly young men -young men who want to live, but who neither think nor have time to think, and who therefore choose the old way of life as a model."
-Leo Tolstoy

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On leadership in our continent. (I live in Europe)

There are various types of protest all over Europe about the 'current economic crisis'.
The mood seems to be that people are feeling angry and increasingly more desperate, but are unsure where to channel either of these.
(not sure much of the UK has quite woken up to it yet, we're still in bit of a stupor)

I read an article by a journalist speaking with a senior diplomat in Brussels:

"[the diplomat] says the leaders have been pulling all the right levers, and the crisis would be much worse without their prompt action.
But the levers… here he gives a broad-shouldered shrug which suggests to me that he feels the levers may be pulled with the correct vigour, but they are just not attached to anything!
His gloom deepens. "I can't believe," he goes on, "that people are still walking around just doing their jobs, going about their lives."
So here was a very senior diplomat in effect wondering why more people were not taking to the streets in greater numbers.
Maybe it is because they don't know what to demand."

"In the recent past politicians were seen as irrelevant, now they are perceived as crucial.
These protests aren't promoting a programme. They are more like a prayer, for benign intervention...
..The shadow of the 30s, bullies in big boots with simplistic solutions, hangs heavily over Europe's economic woes. History surely isn't about to repeat itself?
Yet in nearly all our countries there is a vacancy for someone who understands people's pain even if he or she cannot make it go away, and for someone who appears to have a clear plan that has a chance of working."
-bbc website

Only a few economists and politicians with too much to lose to allow them room for maneuver are still convincing themselves: 'we are still in control and we know what to do'.

This 'economic crisis' will have far further reaching consequences than I have heard any politician remotely acknowledge. The media is splurging doom and gloom about it, so many of the things our societies have placed their hope in and trusted their wellbeing to, are being shown up as hollow facades, and shifting sands. I doubt that many people had a passionate enlivening faith, in plastic consumerism and the wealth made out of thin air on computer screens in stock exchanges, but we accepted what we were advertised.
We were due a faith crisis.
We really needed it.
And we need it more.

This is a time for soul searching, on a collective scale. How do we want to live our lives together?
What do we value?
How can we make sure all of us have enough to eat each day?
How shall we shelter from the weather?
What shall we teach our children?
How can we help eachother be healthy, in mind and body and in spirit and in community?
How shall we care for our elderly people?
How shall we resolve our conflicts?
And how shall we make collective decisions?

All of these questions are worth our thoughts, dreaming, prayers, conversations, research experiments, contemplation, and courage.

Our continent may go through some drastic reactionary shifts as powerful forces make lots of noise and shake things.
But each of us can make a bit of the future.

What shall we make?

Friday, March 06, 2009

February is a good month.
Every February there are two warm sunny days, that arrive just when you are not sure if there has ever been warm sun apart from in distant childhood memories.

It's been a long time since I wrote on here anything about what I've actually been up to.

I have been walking up snowy hills; getting more lifts from strangers and teaching them to play metaphysical hide-and-seek; dancing in a woodland clearing with giant origami flying birds; and sitting eating quality thai food in small improvised houses: a whole mini village of them ingeniously constructed inside a furniture warehouse; borrowing smart clothes from strangers, and eating dinner with them; driving a food delivery van in rush-hour London; designing giant fridge poetry; talking with 89yr olds and 1yr olds; helping make carrot cake for 250ppl; and falling asleep on trains.

And soon it will be Spring!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Some strong words about the love of money i am writing now to remind myself:

"there was no escaping the feeling that all these titans of global capitalism were in the same boat, and that boat was going down."
. -The BBC reporting on the World Economic Forum in Davos

Everything gets shaken eventually.. It's just amazing the amount of trust and assumption of permanence that gets invested in such flimsy structures (with such shiny signs).

Financial security and material wealth are not worthy of your trust! They are not kind compassionate or merciful in any way! They speak in flattery and bullying tones, and talk of superiority and inferiority. they keep trying to bribe our greed and threaten our fears. Don't listen to them!

They will all become rubble. Don't shelter underneath them in a storm.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Every patio, flat roof and window sill, can be looked upon as an opportunity for food production."

-'The Self Sufficient Gardener' by John Seymour

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"a home is not a home if there aren't any mattresses on the livingroom floor"

I like their home.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Had to disconnect cooker as unsafe."
-Southern heating and plumbing.

left by workmen on a scrap of paper in our kitchen.
och well..

Monday, November 03, 2008

"Western cultural views of how best to organize and lead (now the methods most used in the world) are contrary to what life teaches. Leaders use control and imposition rather than participative, self-organizing processes. They react to uncertainty and chaos by tightening already feeble controls, rather than engaging people's best capacities to learn and adapt. In doing so, they only create more chaos. Leaders incite primitive emotions of fear, scarcity, and self-interest to get people to do their work, rather than the more noble human traits of cooperation, caring, and generosity. This has led to this difficult time, when nothing seems to work as we want it to, when too many of us feel frustrated, disengaged, and anxious."
-Margaret Wheatley

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

So the government is asking banks to be less harsh on people whose houses they are trying to repossess.
I'm sure there's a parable Jesus told, recorded about this?!

The one where a king lets off a man who owes him a huge amount of money. And then the man goes to a really poor man and threatens him for the small amount of money he is owed by him.
Don't think it has a happy ending..

Thursday, October 09, 2008

"Imagination is better than knowledge" -Albert Einstein.

The world is all a mixture of imaginary and real. Perhaps the main way we make sense of the world is through imagination. But whose imagination?

Very few things that we are told count are very solid..

Academic qualifications are pieces of paper.
Money is amazingly imaginary (or how did hundereds of billions of pounds just 'disappear' in a day?).
Facts are 'manufactured in factories' -they are things made by people to try and make sense of the world. Imaginary.
Celebrity is a fairy story told by magazines and tv.
'Progress' is a great humanist myth.
all imaginary or demarkated by imaginary lines.

Reality does exist of course, underneath all these things, and it bubbles up and surprises us from time to time.

But our eyes and ears and senses only have access to a tiny fraction of 'the present moment reality' (but it's where God meets us!).

Otherwise there are various forces competing for our imaginations.

'The bottom line', 'in the real world', 'democracy and freedom', 'normality', 'disney morals', 'if everyone would just agree to believe what I believe then everything would be ok', 'consumer wellbeing', 'Hugo Chavez imagination?', Osama Bin Laden's imagination?, Simon Cowell's imagination?, the 'moral majority?', the guardian?, the daily mail?, etc.. etc..

A day for thinking about what stories we live our lives by?

The news about the world economy is fascinating at the moment. It's like people are collectively waking up and realising: "but look the emperor is actually naked!"*

And we have a rich history of prophets to learn from, who lived, spoke and acted, in ways shockingly in contrast to the prevailing imaginations of their day. Jeremiah mourning about coming destruction when everyone was partying. Moses trying to persuade people they were special when everyone knew they were Egyptian slaves.

What economies shall we imagine? what ways of organising our communities that care for the weakest members? what ways of teaching and bringing up our children? what ways of cooperating with different cultures and nations?

"you cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it"
-Albert Einstein.

"the key pathology of our time, which seduces us all, is the reduction of the imagination so that we are too numbed, satiated and co-opted to do serious imaginative work."
-Walter Bruggermann

*see also wee pict on this subject

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

There are no paths of no return; the dangers are in getting stuck in dead ends. I think if we are always prepared to learn and humble enough to be wrong, and always seeking, knocking, asking, loving, then we are more 'safe' than any bank vault or mountain fortress (both of which are more likely to be traps?).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"He who sacrifices the mass good for his personal conscience has a peculiar conception of 'personal salvation'; he doesn't care enough for people to ‘be corrupted' for them." Saul Alinsky

I find this a really intriguing quote.

There is a good article about Alinsky here:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Only two kinds of people can afford the luxury of acting on principle, those with absolute power and those with none and no desire to get any...everyone else who wants to be effective in politics has to learn to be ‘unprincipled’ enough to compromise in order to see their principles succeed." (Rogers 1990: 12)


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It was like some massive game of hide and seek where thousands of people slowly explored the huge crumbling palace, discovering art and small groups of interesting people creating things in every hidden corner.

(photography by jennie)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."
-Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So I got talked into jumping on a bus to a festival in Poland at short notice.

then in a separate incident I got talked into hitching back.

I am still on the way back.
Found all this in middle of nowhere in German countriside in the middle of the night. The cathedral was full of people and really loud dramatic singing.

Then walked around outside a bit and found electronic music playing out in the forest. It was a magic forest. There were lights hiding in the trees. They were dancing. And when it rained, the raindrops glowed and chased eachother around.

I was 90% asleep. But here is photographic evidence.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Living simply and thinking collectively.
We need to learn from: The Chinese.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Summer Solstice!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I have been making important administrative phone calls to offices where they only speak French. This is hard. Got shouted at. But in the end I think I won them over.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Been living in a park with beer and tea in the sun and football and BBQs and hundereds of randoms and some really good old friends and new. In my element. Mini festival involving the world's biggest dress (!?), it's like a big top, 14m high and 19m in diameter.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

So I lost football against Connor and Brad. They beat me 63 - 54, in a 60 minute match.

Friday, April 18, 2008

so i got stuck in some big hazy cloud of fever for a week and dreamt I had to play football matches in rivers, and got lost in huge mazes, and had my head pounded in. Yeah and lots of puking. I'm on the mend now though.

Last night I saw a film about some friends trying to shut down their local weapons factory in England. Was really good.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I´m a feminist.

last saturday was womens day

the news remembered:
in europe Statistics show that for women between 16 and 44 years of age, domestic violence is thought to be the major cause of death and invalidity, ahead of cancer, road accidents and even war.
hellloooooooooo? this basicly means: home (and a love relationship) is the most dangerous place where a women can be...isn´t that shocking. Besides:statistics show that in Germany women still earn 25% less then men, though they are better educated, have better qualifications then men and so forth,I´m not talking about the issue of women having more part time jobs and men being more often in the leading offices, NO!Its usual that a women with the same qualification and experience as a man, having the exact same job, tasks, role and position, yes in the same company!- often get up to 500 or 600€ less payment than men. And women simply get offered less payment already at job interviews than men, just because. Because why?People see reasons for this in the old role picture, the image that women only need to earn supplementary payment, ect. And companies use women to simply not to have that many staff expenses i guess.

YES, its time for a new feminism. With this I don´t mean women trying to be like men, anti-men thinking or stuff like that. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica feminism is simply the belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. So hard?
Equality is actually not enough, we need the same appreciation and acknowledgement for women than for men. And we need more male feminists, this is not just a cause for women to fight for themselves. We need protection.

And especially "the christian world" has to take a very clear stand in that. To long violence was not discussed, feminism was seen as "bad", and unjust actions were tolerated under the belief that women should submit to men. Come on! Submission is a different discussion. This is about equal treatment, and basicly the right to live.

-this post was copied from Tabea's blog (Mar 12th). I thought I'd put it on mine too.

Monday, March 31, 2008

"I'll go and get the axe [so that we can try and smash a hole in the ice on this frozen lake to jump through]" -E

Sunday, March 30, 2008

and then I found myself drying my washing on the megabus again.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The sally hall smells of paint.

My friend E's treecamp in Ireland is getting
evicted as I type, they're all at the tops of trees
and down tunnels locked to things. Lots of police and
anger and violence. Hmmm.

I wrote a contents page on the train back up North.
Got to 44 chapters.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Gipsy people are good.
Two guys just gave me a lift (hitch hiking again) and bought me lunch, and gave me free meal vouchers, and asked God to bless me.

Lots of good people around. 

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Got threats for not writing on my blog. Who reads this anyway?!

Well, lots of interesting stuff has been happening.. as it tends to.

Been enjoying winter stuff like snow and gales and rain and big waves and fire.

Have spent quite a bit of time on trains, sometimes I chat with people.

I met a man on a train..
He had lots of financial advice: don't trust in property -but over long time periods like 100 years the stock market always goes up. You need a trade. You need to invest. You need money behind you for when there are storms.
He had traveled all over the world, really enjoyed South Asia. Chided me for being down on the legacy of the British Empire. He had retired at 55. He was living it up. He had no children.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Christmas!

I have been picking mushrooms.
And pushing wheelchairs.
And eating.

Hope all well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Was looking at a war memorial and thinking:

If I decide to fight for our empire against their empire, I'll just meet and destroy myself coming in the opposite direction.

Friday, December 07, 2007

"The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion.. ..The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

There's frozen puddles in the gutters here now.

They (we) discovered a new species of tree. Apparently it only grows on the Isle of Arran.

Lost 6-1 last night (I came on as a sub and slightly flukily scored our (only) goal with my first touch of the game).

International football this week with similarly unsuccessful set of results.

Been reading 'The Cloud of Unknowing' on the number 42 bus.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Played a rare 11 a-side football match last night.
We won 8-4 despite going 1-0 down in the first 30seconds. Came back from 2-1 down to go 8-2 up at one point. I played left midfield. David had a good game in goal.

Broughton Cosmos ... 8 : 4 ... Inverleith

Dingwall 6, 20, 67................. Jones 1, 93,
Kirby 39, 52,......................... Calder 15,
Smith 49, 63,........................... Riordan 84,
Small 80,

Att. 3

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Illusions of grandeur?

S: Do you think there's any chance you sometimes take yourself too seriously.

T: [Smile] Of course, but maybe most people don't take themselves seriously enough.

What if we do matter?

"If everyone's special, no one is." -just shows a major lack of imagination.

"There is no way of telling people they are walking round shining like the sun."
-Henri Nouwen

"You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself."
-Ethel Barrymore

Monday, October 29, 2007


Have been on the roads tracks and waves a bit these past few weeks.. And lived in some stunning situations. Kinda stopped taking photographs/notes for a bit..

It is my experience that the longer I live, the more disastrously unjust, cruel, desperate, insecure, and destructive, I find this collective experience of life on earth to be.

It is my experience that the longer I live the more goodness I discover mixed and growing into and through the bleakest places, the flavours and colours of the fabric of the universe beautiful to the smallest detail, friendship and courage real and somehow magical, and love working far beyond the logic of the machine, guttingly hopeful.

I find the unfolding of both of these consistantly overwhelming.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

European Championship Qualifying : Group B Table
12 September 2007 22:19
7..Faroe Islands......9.......0.......0.......9.......3......29.....-26........0

Monday, August 13, 2007

Whatever the future holds.
Clue 4: Learning to live on the land.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

From the trundling Radio2 lorry cab, to the banging trance tunes in the speeding party car of the geordie girls, tin of strongbow handed to me as the sun set.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On our hillside the pianist plays and flames leap from the burning desk and scorch the surrounding grass.

Friday, August 10, 2007

6 miles barefoot along the stunning ridge of hills.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

He's an artist. Our job is to be a safety buffer between him and the public.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I ran to the door of the bank to find 20 monkeys leaping and howling, filling the room. My tripping friend was spinning on his back on the floor trying to bring them down with an invisible gun. This won't help my attempts to calm him back to reality. The monkeys made off with all the money.

Monday, August 06, 2007

This is my living room. This is where I sleep. On this circle of sofas on the side of this hill by this big oak tree.
Making tea for strangers under a starry sky.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Trusting the high speed steering of a 5 year old through the trees.
Winning lots of prizes at the local horticultural show.
On a pilgrimage to visit my own family.
More hitch hike lessons: in botany and blues music.
A convertable accross a muddy field,
And clinging on, pillion on a powerful bike.
Building yurts and fires.

Recent memory.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

There are leeches in the green diving pond.
That's ok.

I'm enjoying the physical overlap between myself and these ecosystems in which I am living: to be scratched by the grass, coated in dust, baked in the sun, immersed in the pond, crawled over by ants, and fed from the trees.

'If you were to write a book, what would it be about?'

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sat round fire cooking fish from the lake we were swimming in with the folk musicians who we met hitch hiking who are now playing incredible music under so many many stars with the chorus of frogs in the night.

Eating a peach that I just picked off the tree that is growing outside this abandoned house that we just climbed into through the window hidden behind a vine because there is an electricity socket here that works in the cool of this bare concrete shaded room.

Feasting again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Up in the rainclouds.
Down under the loch.

In a paperwork office.
On the shopping centre floor.

In the purple sunset sea,
Under the red and black cliff castle silhouette.

On the football pitch.
Among the chilli plants.

now pilgrimage season..

Friday, July 06, 2007

Spent some days walking very slowly through steep sided valleys in torrential rain..

Monday, June 25, 2007

sometimes it is light all night.

sailing past vast cliffs.

"When God made time, he made plenty of it."
-an Orcadian man.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

post 300.
so the building just got stormed by 6 teenagers throwing pancakes, we chatted.
i've been walking the streets,
meeting old friends,
and playing some violent game a bit like American football but with a giant exercise ball.
duelled with burning sticks in the night, catapaulted rocks across the valley, learnt about bonsai trees, and slept in a barn.
Skidded round junctions on mountain roads, drank tea with plant ecologists, thought about the striking of the Sikhs in India, bit disappointed by Morecambes wonder goal, smashed crumpled at the bottom of a huge sand-dune.

What are universities for?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"It's amazing what you can achieve when you are so remote you can't hear people's discouragement."
-Dan the successful Northumbrian chilli farmer

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"The writers of history have seldom noted the importance of land use. They seem not to have recognised that the destinies of most of man's empires and civilisations were determined largely by the way the land was used."
-Dale and Carter: 'Topsoil and Civilisation' (1955)

Monday, April 09, 2007

If you time it just right, you can topple a crouching rat with the gentlest push.

Snow patches around the mountain summits but bare feet above them on springy sun warmed grass, glorious.
Good to visit higher levels of sky.

Falling though the heavy high volume industrial electronic crystalline music sinking down towards asleep.

Hitched a lift with a guy who has rescued among other people, David Beckham and Prince Charles from broken down vehicles, he did enough to convince me he had anyway.

Sunburnt swaying in a hammock with the draft of an amazing book written by a friend.
Books written by friends opened up great worlds.


Happy Easter!

Friday, March 30, 2007

In the 6ish hours between high tide and low tide (or vice versa) the water doesn't flow evenly, It turns gradually, then flows heavier and then eases up again before turning back.
And we're currently at that point in the year between the 6ish monthly low and high tides of light, where strange strong currents of the light come streaming powerfully past you and can dislodge your footing or spin you round.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This week there are lots of animals around, and I've met some great people, walked in a sunny park, made tea on a fire, and slept in a tree.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Apparently the mouse came home in the old lady's shopping.

Monday, March 19, 2007

bowls of porridge and vermicelli on the 8 bus.

urbanmonklife recommends: exhibition: by David Martin, at Royal Scottish Academy (building with big pillars on Princes Street, Edinburgh (at the bottom of the mound)).

Very very very good. (and FREE)

see link: davem (on right side of page) for more of the story.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Out of nowhere local mosque curries gone blazingly spicy.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"If you are coming to help me, you are wasting your
time. But if you are coming because your liberation is
bound with mine, then let us work together."

-An Aborigine Woman.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

so i don't seem to have so much to say in 2007 so far..

I heard that the weight of humans on the planet is about the same as the weight of ants.

I've just been running the word-taps every once in a while to help stop the pipes freezing.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

more sleet

more drizzle

happy with both

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"In times of profound change, the Learners inherit the earth. While the Learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."
-Al Rogers

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Several killer whales in the Firth of Forth at the moment.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Haven't seen the sun for several days, but today there was at least some variation in the grey ceiling. Went for a walk under the motorway today, lots of mud, mud and cloud and cold water. Lots that actually is good.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio. Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." -Hamlet

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I stood with my back to the cliffs of the boundary of conciousness; the wind farm turning behind me built in the stream of the updrafts coming from beyond and below them.

Listening to the muffled roar of the sea swell hitting this solid continent hundereds of feet beneath the salty cliff edge soil and it's clumps of seathrift.

Fulmars throwing themselves up through the gusts and sliding out to sea between the layers of buffetting air.

I slowly took a few steps forward, inland.

Taking turns to watch the horizon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

"Our systems always have errors, but this is good 'since it is always the errors of our systems that have released us from the tyranny of our systems.'"

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The sky is watery murk. It swipes you, and squeezes its coldness into the stones.

met a guy who has written a book on magic mushrooms, based on 17 years of practical experience.
and lots of other interesting people that night under the railway arches.

and walking the windy postcoded roads of Aberdeen.

Monday, November 20, 2006

in places wading through the dazzling soft snow up near the top of the mountain surrounded by the winter blue sky.
sometimes it's obvious that the goodness is everywhere -it's just about letting it soak into us.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"So teenagers.. you are the most screwed up and worst in Europe. You are unhealthy, promiscuous, binge drinking, violent, yobs. We are suspicious and afraid of you. Basically you're crap."
-The UK Media
(my paraphrase of a wave of media articles following the release of new statistics from the Institute of Public Policy Research)

Some things I've been learning are that:

What we look for is what we will find.
How we treat people is how we influence them to become.
If everyone says you are something, it takes a lot of self belief to prove them wrong.

-It would be very easy to do the opposite of 'seeking the Kingdom of God*'.

*I can explain more what I mean by this if needed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Today there is scaffolding blowing in the wind.

Last night old Telford College South campus, was proper blazing. In at least 3 places.
The moon has been making good silhouettes too.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"If you can specify exactly where you're going, you are not learning."
-Mike Higton

Monday, October 30, 2006

I like the way there is music on the buses now, from the mobile phones at the back of the top deck.
The other day the hip-hop was so perfect with the dusk rain of Leith when a rock got thrown against the side as we passed.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

There was an explosion in the road and the firework spiralled whining towards the front of the car that had slammed on its brakes a few feet away, at the last minute it veered away and exploded with a loud bang and a big cloud of smoke. The people ran away.
Another one bounced off the front of our building flew back over the fence exploding in the middle of a group of our friends who had thrown it.
A house caught fire from the ones through its letter box.

Monday, October 23, 2006

With two friends from Sweden, gate-crashed a lecture on 'The History of Science':

'In the late 16th century there was a major crisis of thought in Europe. Every university on the continent had been basing its teaching on the philosophy of Aristotle; but with the rediscovery of the writings of other Greek philophers, and the realisation that Aristotle himself wasn't even that highly regarded in the ancient world, all of this was called into question. Their whole system of natural physics, and of understanding the nature of the world and life, was challenged and undermined.'

"Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone"
-John Donne -An anatomie of the world (1611)

Monday, October 16, 2006

We really could be a whole lot more creative with housing all our friends in the shelters available. Thanks to those who are living this. Now we just need to find some way of creating stable flexible employment.. (any ideas?)

Friday, October 13, 2006

There is lots of copper piping to be had at our local demolition site, just bring a wheelie bin.
And wear black in the night.

Lots of mushrooms in the hills.

And the starlings are returning.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sometimes re-enchantment bubbles out of the ground.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This frail 'order' is an imposter, but our desperate insecurities herd us to pay it homage.
So many precious persons selling ourselves to a stage set reality –built of our understanding, our ingenuity, our aspirations, a craved construction to which we devote our trust.

Oh its so fucking safe to be the people who are right, the ‘special ones’ ‘in the know’ surrounded by the sea of ignorant masses

..as the rain comes down and the vast ice fields spill their waters, the seabed tremors and the waves start to loom.
..and the chaotic drunk old man constructs his ship in the parched wilderness of forgotteness.

And the junkie on the pavement in Amsterdam speaks words with a greater truth than the celebrated preacher.

And if?
We let go of the ideas we have worshipped, the certainties we have built our houses on, the standpoints we have fought for… We may feel like we are just drifting out into the chaotic cosmos.
Is there anyone you would trust with your wellbeing cut loose in an infinite space?
Can you express this trust?

“Is the universe friendly?”
-Albert Einstein

Friday, September 08, 2006

The words were harsh but I could not ignore them:

Your influence can brainwash you.
Wealth can rob your life.
Insured security can leave you scared sleepless at night.
Caution can paralyse.
Knowledge can make you a proud fool.
And success can leave you in ruins.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Picking our way through the slippery weed and discarded plastic, in the drizzly grey dusk, for a total immersion in the Granton manky-ness where God is.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The greatest palaces of luxury will crumble into painful splinters and shards.
Fortifications be turned to beseige.
And towers crush their defenders.

Monday, September 04, 2006

"Our culture is competent to implement almost anything, and to imagine almost nothing."
-Walter Bruggemann

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

And surely there is a vast need for humility, for we, Christians, are destroying much of what is good in this world, we are war criminals and we have demonised beautiful nations of people. We have fought for much that is destructive, and against those to whom we should be honoured to show hospitality.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Scouring the old burnt out truck wreck for any part that could unbolt or cut away by the precipice edge of the treacherously winding mountain thouroughfare.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sat in long dusty grass by our vans, just woke up and ate a cheese and honey sandwich.
Several days of dramatic activity have just passed, and maybe a dozen hours of staring out a bumpy bus window at passing landscapes, with thought and without thought.

There are thousands of bears in these mountains, where the rain falls through the tall pines and beeches raising strange smells into the air. On the dusty plains there are fires and gypsy encampments all around us, dogs and cows wander along the paths, and our new friends live in the village and beat us at football in the dark with mosquitoes that bite you whenever you stand still on the slippery grass.

Somehow in the subterranean ice caves shivering in shorts among the curious towering formations.

The rumble and the gnarly psy-trance filling the trees around this petrol station the van swaying under my feet as I land on the roof in the sky with the stars of our galaxy and my friends all around.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Chapter 5

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

back on the road for a bit..

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"if we get good enough at learning, we can learn from anyone, and any situation we find ourselves in."

Some friends and I are starting a course (as in: we're running it for anyone interested), it's completely unaccredited with any formal organisation, is very time/location flexible, has a broad range of available modules, and it's free!


for more information or a prospectus, just send in your email or postal address. (urbanclimber@yahoo.co.uk)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sunblasted by day,
and showered with sparks from our fires by night.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


(i'm just writing this to see how it sounds)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

they (we) have recently discovered a new giant creature that we didn't know had been alive all along.. It is a bit like the giant squid, but it lives under the ice around Antarctica, and it is bigger than the giant squid. It has been named the 'collosal squid'. Females can grow to over 15metres long.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

so the top deck of the bus had to be closed cos of the syringe needles left on it.
however but also:
-the genius story written and performed by the 7 year old,
-in the pub at the moment of Steven Gerrard's 91st minute equaliser,*
-the buzz of the crowd on stage in the lights and harmonies of the Bongo on sat night,
-the red green blue white and yellow flock of pigeons wheeling over the roof tops,
-and the volume of the live trance DJ in the flourescent lit chip shop where I sat waiting for my
night bus,

like where the surface gets a bit chipped, and a momentary fountain
bursts through from the vast
reservoir just beneath.

seen any recently?

(*I know this is mixed (WHfans), but there was a certain beauty in it?
or maybe you saw it in Konchesky's moment?)

Friday, May 12, 2006

As I have been getting older I have been thinking that maybe reading and writing could be good things to do..
If you can believe that reading an essay could be good, I recommend this.
Ideally print, and drink tea.

thoughts and comebacks welcome.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"In the 1950's the French Situationists developed a technique for travel which they called the derive, the "drift". They were disgusted with themselves for never leaving the usual ruts and pathways of their habit-driven lives; they realised they'd never even seen Paris. They began to carry out structureless random expeditions through the city, hiking or sauntering by day, drinking by night, opening up their own tight little world into a terra incognita of slums, suburbs, gardens, and adventures. They became revolutionary versions of Baudelaire's famous flaneur, the idle stroller, the displaced subject of urbancapitalism. Their aimless wandering became insurrectionary praxis."
- Hakim Bey, [OvercomingTourism]

Friday, April 21, 2006

I climbed over the fence and walked a bit further into the tropical world, the luxuriant vegetation bursting through the air and pouring deep and lush over the pillars and the ground all around me, laden with the colour fabric of 10,000 living sculptures. The atmosphere tangible, drunken, oozing life. Tiny aircraft suspended in its volume. This kind of beauty has truth in it. Who could this mud make?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Massive helicopter buzzing me on the dodgy cliff mountain side, hit by the ice of boiling breakers trying to mash the beach. A glowing red rockface, molten against the dark grey roofs, sky, walls and roads. A German guy I met in a cafe propped open window on a 2 year film tour of the trance parties of South America. Loads of tufts of grass put in the trees by the river. Swans overhead flying SW. And drifting for hours suspended in the smoke in the heavy heavy electro with the grey people. Throwing rocks at a Spanish football stuck in a tree.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I think lots of us are prone to spending massive proportions of our time living either in the past, with our memories, regrets, and unsolved questions; or in the future, with our plans, worries, hopes, and rehearsals. While we do of course exist in the present tense all the time, we rarely become 'fully present', our headspace is full of things that are not about right now. These things are all important, they are about how we got here, and where we are going from here.. they give a lot of context and meaning to here and now. But if we are never really aware of being 'HERE, AT THIS MOMENT', then we will miss out on being aware, in our only opportunity to directly connect with reality. (we will live only in a world of memory and prediction, this is a world created in our own minds (and missing reality would be a shame cos it is full of the amazingness, (you are totally surrounded by God as you read this))).

Where are you?

Friday, March 31, 2006

“Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve
purpose. And one of the great problems of history is that the
concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as
opposites-polar opposites-so that love is identified with the
resignation of power, and power with the denial of love. We’ve got
to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power
without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is
sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing
the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting
everything that stands against love. It is precisely this collision of
immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the
major crisis of our time.”
– Martin Luther King Jnr.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I have been thinking about PEACE.

It is something that everyone (apart from arms companies), seems to want.

But we have a range of approaches to how we seek it.

One of the most common in the world today, is the quest for security..

From the kindly man in the Israeli settlement, hoping for peace by making it absolutely impossible for the desperate palestinian suicide bomber to get close.
To the responsible people who ordered the 400+ CCTV cameras to watch everyone in and out of Kings Cross station.
To the concerned officials who insist on having the right to arrest and detain anyone they choose to suspect of being a danger.
To the governments who want to declare war on anyone who might one day in the future gain the capabilities to be a threat.

I would just suggest that perhaps it is Justice, that has a closer relationship with Peace, than Security does.

I dont have easy answers, I just think this deserves some consideration.
And that it is always worth thinking twice before acting from a motivation that is fearful.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"In everyday use, learning has come to be synonymous with 'taking in information'.. Yet taking in information is only distantly related to real learning.. Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we were never able to do. Through learning we repercieve the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life."
-Peter Senge

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Some of our friends are even barred from Lidl.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I haven't done a shout out to an animal for a while, but I've just recieved a phone call about this one..

The Water Bear

"They are apparently the World's Toughest Animal. You can shoot them into space, take them to the deepest ocean depths and let them go, deprive them of air, water, and food for years and they don't care. Send them into the core of nuclear reactor. They'll be fine."

They are about a millimetre long and the nearest one to you, is probably in your nearest piece of moss or lichen. (though they live in a lot of places)

See entry in wikipedia for more
or this video
Thanks John! !

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"War speaks to our most fundemental sense of identity: there is an 'us' and a 'them', and no possiblity of confusing the two. When though, enemies shake hands, who is now the 'us' and who the 'them'?
Peace involves a profound crisis of identity. The boundaries of self and other, friend and foe, must be redrawn."
-Jonathan Sacks

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

If you watch sleet in reverse: it collects itself, peeling from the pavement, and then launches itself skywards.

Get onto LiviMS radio show with the greatest presenter of them all.

Monday, March 06, 2006

In a world of time-distance compression. I have an idea for anyone who is craving space.
(ok bear with me on this, and listen more to the thoughts you have while reading, than what I am actually writing)

To explain:
200 years ago, Australia was months away from France, but now it is about a day away.
London and Glasgow used to be several days apart, and now they are a few hours apart.
The world has been getting progressivly, though not uniformly, smaller over time. There are still places that take days to get to, places you have to trek through mountains or rainforests to reach.. and some of these are a lot nearer as the crow flies, than other places that can be reached much more quickly.. (if you draw maps using this measure of distance it is interesting and looks weird).

So all we need to do to suddenly have vast acres of terriotory to be used are to create places that take ages to get to.. eg you could build in your garden a really windy path with things to climb through and under and over, that is the only way to get to the other end of your garden.. you could concievably design a garden that is about an hour long each way, without needing the grounds of a stately home to fit it in. Or in your house you could have a corner of a room, that you are only allowed to enter after waiting for 20minutes outside it.. Even if you flew from Russia, you would still have to add 20mins to your journey time to get to that part of your flat.

Or if you ban yourself from using air travel, the world suddenly expands in size by several times.
Or if you ditch your car, and walk everywhere in town, then town is suddenly a far bigger place to explore.

Maybe this could be like some kind of counterbalance to the way our worlds will get smaller because of how many national borders we might be prevented from crossing due to our governments pissing people off.

What if people got claustrophobic from being confined to one planet? Then perhaps we would be forced to find another way to deal with issues than running away? And to living lives of exploration and discovery that aren't based solely on looking at new things with the same ways of seeing.

I still think the universe is infinite, and plausibly expanding..

You could walk the streets of London for a lifetime, and not SEE everything there.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

With a sunset exploding over the forest behind us, we stood high above the surrounding snowy plains; trying to predict the way we would be thrown by shapes of the slopes below. And would we be launched into the rocks or the trees? But sometimes, surely the best thing to do is to get in that black bin bag and throw yourself off the edge?

Thoughts about the schooling of neon tetras.

And the things you can buy in the subterranean world of the tunnels beneath the tower blocks.

The tastiness of yellow mushrooms found in the forest.

And tracks.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"[I propose] that an enormous amount of modern ingenuity is expended on finding defences for the indefensible conduct of the powerful."
-GK Chesterton 1905

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The one thing you can guarantee about climate change, is that it will not stay the same. It never has done and it never will. If this is scary I can write more sometime about why I think it is good that the world is not stuck.

Friday, February 17, 2006

"I see it. I see it LOOMING"

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sit on the car roof driving down the windy hill country muddy lanes with the tunes playing at a good volume. Look at the wind sculpted beech trees.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I think I can be certain that I am the only person to have ever lived, who has met face to face all the people that I have met.

not quite sure what to do with this thought.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

“We have learned to see the world from the outside, as it were; objectively, so-called. We have learned to act on the world (and on others) as if it were entirely separate from ourselves; we have learned to manipulate, to esteem control and predictability. We have learned to define boundaries, and always put ourselves on the other side of the line.”
– Allan Kaplan

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

So there was this crackling spray of blue sparks through the air and steady plumes of thick smoke. Stopped the van and ran round to the back. The van is full of stacks of chairs that are LIVE. So we don't touch them except with a pole with a rubber handle: more arching bright white light. And chair legs glowing red hot on fire. Mutual perplexed laughter. (with of course a due appreciation of the potential seriousness of the situation*)

Ripped out the van fuses, and tried to see through the no torches darkness to the battery wires. But still the blue cracking jumping current in the chairs.
Manage to disconnect chair stacks from eachother by hitting them with pole, and using a hoody as a rope to drag them crashing into the middle of the night residential street. Cooling and no more sparking is good. Oh the potential of dissimilar metals connected; and the burning heat of rapid oxidation.

Chemistry inspires me.

*I might change the subheading of my blog to this

Thursday, January 12, 2006

"I can't predict what kind of community it will be, but the new community will be in reaction to the crushing bigness of systems."
-Theodore Roszak

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"Trying to do too much, is amateurish."
-quote for the New Year, -AS

Thursday, January 05, 2006

so it begins...

Forging ever onward into uncharted, uninhabited time..
We are guaranteed the unimaginable.

What are you looking for?
Looking hopeful or afraid?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

so: 1 tiger would beat 1 lion in a fight
but, 5 lions would beat 5 tigers in a fight.

and the big question:

any predictions for 2006?

(you dont have to quote your sources, though you can of course)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Our placard message to the G8 leaders, the police, the media, the demonstrators, and ourselves.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

just wait, hang on a minute..
So if, as I'm gradually coming to conclude, I am not the centre of the universe..
Then what is the centre of the universe???

(you all have probably known that I wasn't the centre of the universe for ages, but hey like I said, I can be a slow learner)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

anyone had any good ideas recently?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Solstice again,
it's been pitch dark for a while already,

Learning about what happens when the two heavily loaded words that are 'salvation' and 'army' go together.

There are some interesting organisations in this world..

It's complicated.

Enjoy the night.

Monday, December 19, 2005

it has been said that
"civilisation is chaos resting."

i s'pose it depends on your view of what chaos is,
or civilsation.

I've been thinking about shipbuilding and building rafts out of broken bits of house.
And also about having deep conversations with strangers about subjects that don't even come near the usual introduction conventions.
I guess this might be one.
and Hello friends.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

December can be good.
Even Winter.
Some people have known this all along.

Some of us take longer to learn..

Sunday, December 11, 2005

apparantly the reason I keep getting stopped by the police is cos I look like a junkie.

there is porn trampled into the pavement,

and puke all over the tube station.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

So December...

Last night stumbled across a big street party, and were spinning and shouting in the electro folk, pipes and fiddles, thousands of people, and huge lit screens, over the slippery cobbles..

Then walked off into the night.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Happy St. Andrews Day!

I've been thinking about the space programs of different countries over the years, and especially about America's current program.

"We do not know where this journey will end," said Bush, "yet we know this: Human beings are headed into the cosmos." -gwb quoted on nasa website

So because we have explored space as much as we have, we have seen a whole extra stack of mind blowing WONDER, and we have realised more of how much more GLORY is in the universe that we havn't seen. Space, is a playground for the imagination, for scientists, filmscript writers, psychedelic voyagers, sci-fi geeks and trekkies, mystics, and children.
And perhaps space exploration has brought some excitement and sense of achievement into the tough/mundane lives of millions of people.

It is perhaps, one of the great 'achievements' of our generation, that we have sent people into space, and to the moon, if other civilisations are remembered for, pyramids, or a great wall, or hanging gardens, then maybe this is one of things we could be remembered for generations after our civilisation has crumbled away.

But at what cost? each of these achivements has required great sacrifice from a population, or a slave population.

Is it worth it though? To achieve something really lasting? (??)

I have been thinking about how if we keep the humanistic worldview that we are brainwashed with as we grow up, then space exploration really is perhaps the only hope for the future of humankind, and therefore worth every penny of the hundereds of billions of dollars that have been spent and are being spent on it.

I am really concerned that people seriously believe that the long term survival of the human race depends on their choosing to spend resources on space exploration, rather than on feeding those currently starving, or dying of preventable diseases. And I am concerned because some of these people seem to be in power or close to power.

I know everyone these days claims to understand that technology is not the answer to all our problems, and that science does not and cannot have all the answers.. but we need to put this into practice somehow, because these humanistic beliefs are still contributing to great suffering and death.

Because people need more than humanism,
Our most basic problems cannot be solved by human invention,
Hatred, bitterness, jealously, greed. We need more help with these ones.

What shall we teach our children?

Monday, November 28, 2005

It is amazing how much can happen and change in a week.

another cold Monday morning,
I'm gonna go walk around..

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

so I am sat in the middle of the MESS.

and there has been mess,

a smudgey mix of bacon rolls, airbourne paint, glowing paper and broken windows; clay, candles, people, plants, and animals, mentions, shadows, and spat water, blurry eyes, chocolate wrappers, and a cranked up sound system.

And this is a part of our mess, the mess of our lives, and of our city.

See this God. See it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"The aim of life is to live,
and to live means to be aware,
joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."
-henry miller

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Met some really nice people from Slovakia and Austria, total strangers, gave me tea in their flat.

Remembering when I was lost in the maze of razor sharp rocks with the snow and vultures.

Spent a lot of today reading the Rule of St Benedict on the number 8 bus.

Monday, November 07, 2005

blue sky and sunshine,
perfect for trying to fix databases.

interested to have picked up some rumours of 'critiques' of urban monks.

apparantly urban monks are people who never do anything but clothe it all in interesting sounding language to justify themselves.

'urban monks' have perhaps no standardisation.. but I for one, would say that I believe in working hard but not too hard. Some of the things I would value are not traditionally respected by society as worthy of a wage. But I believe in working to earn my food, and definitly in working to make a contribution to society.
And as for language, it's all exploratory, trying to find the good elements in the theme; the 'monk language' is not the point, I just think it's got valuable stuff buried in it somewhere, that I'm trying to discover.

But if I've missed the really cutting bit of this critique or if anyone has any better ones, critiques are always welcome (so long as your underlying motive is to look for the good in the world).
Comments/Complaints/Suggestions box.

what is an urban monk anyway?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

it's like 49 degrees C in this computer lab, but no one else has noticed.
I'm off.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Plunging through a forest of wings.
Every breath of air, every shadow, every muscle,
the glass, the blood, the apparitions;
All saturated deep in the ground water of noise,
suspended, enveloped and permeated,
by the volumes of bass and lead.
The old bricks of the arch, reverberating with remembrance.
Bruises and stage dives,
kicked in the head and flung to the wall.
Temperatures soaring and sweat pouring.
Mashed in the human melee.
Fears exposed by their masks.
Death overwhelmed by life's fragility.
Buried in the depths of the underworld.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Colds and rain.

our bus wing mirrors got smashed off.

and there's piss on our door.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

They say street crime in Scotland has just hit an all time high.

The last few days have all been quite unusual; except in the kind of way that makes me think maybe it's all the other days that I see a less complete reality.

People in the street trying to predict my future, keep finding money on ground etc, meeting people I know in alleys full of pouring water, having 7 course meals by candlelight in freezing apparently derelict buildings, space hoppers and skipping ropes, champagne and scrambled egg.

Buildings are made of angles and textures.

The old people on the bus are all worried about bird flu.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"karen and i are getting rats. we have already built their pirate ship. mines gonna be called "argh"." -john

Sunday, October 16, 2005


"We are to praise God with dancing. Psalm 150:4"

And other accelerating visuals caught by glances through the glowing smoke and dancing family in the buoyant darkness with the beaming swirling bright lights floating through.

As the rumble of splurging noises clatter out and speak to the blood in your veins to flow, your heart to beat, your feet to know the ground, your frame to animate, and your imagination to soar, to notice you are alive, to taste and thank God. Together.

Thank you French Techno DJs.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Today I am moving to a place where I know nothing, and I have everything to learn.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"Rome was not sacked in one day."
-local graffiti

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Feeling at home, dole money, daily record, allday breakfasts and mugs of tea. Man comes in and orders 2 cans of Fanta and 2 cans of Irn Bru, sits at table in front of me and drinks them slowly one by one. From time to time he addresses the whole cafe loudly, talking about Scotland these days, and teenagers, but not really angry or negative. Wee girl(5) chats to everyone too and runs around, somehow makes everyone properly smile, even at eachother, how did she do that?!

"the drugs dont work, lights will guide you home, Some people were detained under the 1971 immigration act because their presence in the country 'was not deemed to be conducive to the public good'. like a cat in a bag waiting to drown, shiny happy people, blessings are not just for the ones who kneel, and ignite your bones."
-cafe radio

Monday, October 03, 2005

"Those lucky enough to be in the path of annularity and with clear skies should look for the "beads" or "gems" that skirt the fiery ring.

These are caused by sunlight streaming through valleys and past mountains on the Moon's surface."
-bbc on todays partial eclipse, (cloudy here)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I think the two kebabs a day diet did me a whole lot of good.

est. no. of diff places slept in last 5months: 51 (thanks if one was your sofa!)

I've been to Germany before, and liked it. But this time I think I was a bit more open eyed.. Germany is an AMAZING place! The people, the trees, the artwork, the bars, the soil, the pavements, the smells, the culture, the food. Loved it!

So it's October, and year4 is well underway.

I would suggest that in all of the entire world, through the entirety of history, there has never been anyone who has either spoken as wise, world changing, and love motivated words, or lived them out so completely as Jesus Christ.

Here are a few recent thoughts:
We have an open invitation to follow Jesus, if we take this up and we choose to trust and try to follow Jesus, a whole load of exciting things happen. [understatement].

One of these is that we become a part of something bigger that we can't really ever fully understand, but that is both better and more more exciting than we could understand. A 'glorious mystery'. We become part of the Church. Because our minds cannot really cope with what this means, we have whole range of pictures to describe different aspects of this. One of these is: the body. The Body of Christ!?

Serious implications.
So I'm thinking..

This means (among other things) that any of the following people who are trying to follow Jesus, in some way taking up the invitation, are connected together in some way, and meant to function in different but complementary ways: (to care for and give their life for the world!).

Ofiice workers, contemplative hermits, mega-church televangelists, people at mass, novelists, anarchists, monarchs+presidents, soldiers, popes, farmers, bible study groups, OAPs, children, those with learning difficulties, and CEOs of multinational corporations, and... me??

How can we be all connected? Some of these people I have a deep respect for, others I would describe some of their actions as despicable. And some a bit of both.

How is it possible for me to live if I identify myself with all these people? I want to reserve the right to disown at least some of them!

Perhaps, this is one place where a need for humility kicks in. To stay true to our integrity, of what is good and what is real, we cannot possibly condone many of the actions of these people; but maybe we don't have the luxury to say "well that's not really 'the Church', it only includes the perfect bit where we are!". If we are part of the Church, we are connected to some things we could be really ashamed of. But it also means we can take some responsibility for this, we can (and I believe it is really important that we do) PROTEST.

We can speak very differently about a family that we are a part of, than a family we are not.

Even citizens of a democracy have a powerful message when they shout: "Not in Our Name!"

We can bring protests to the Church, as long as we remember that this involves bringing them to ourselves. (I will think more on this.) We can also protest to God.

This protest is for a greater goodness to come into something that we are a part of. We are not the righteous outside observers pointing out the flaws. We are guilty. We protest as those flawed, human, guilty and needing help. And if we protest against things we find in ourselves; surely only God can help us. Maybe this is part of what is meant by 'repentance'.

But this makes me very hopeful.

The Church is human, and has the full range of human problems, multiplied together because it is a collective thing (if this makes us cry, it is an appropriate response). But it also has the full range of human good potentials and beauties, also multiplied; and it is also being made good, into the scarily pure goodness, holiness, by God. And this will be completed. It is too good for us to be able to understand.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Just got given some chocolate by a girl with a dog on a bridge. A total stranger. She's said I looked like I needed it. It was good.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The air is freshfaced. A new day dawns. Thousands of new people just showed up in town who will all be here for the next 4 years or so. And somehow we have landed, very much so, in September 2005.

Monk reflecting on the commencement of year4 of training.

Take a deep breath, here we go...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


-Julian of Norwich
(an English lady of a few hundered years ago; i think she knew things)

(if this doesn't make sense, ask questions)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

living on sunburn and beans.

remembering time stopping present tense moments of being completely unable to escape just how irrepressible the hope really is.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"Every man gives his life for what he believes, sometimes people believe in little or nothing and yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have, we live it and it is gone but to live it without belief is more terrible than dying, even more terrible than dying young."
-Joan of Arc

hmm my blog gets heavy sometimes,
hope you're all ok.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

"Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Deal with it!"

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

ok so i havn't just been drinking tea, I've been wandering around, mainly North.

But sometimes when you're officially doing nothing you can be far far more busy and productive than when you're doing something respectable and socially acceptable.. like a job.
But then you even get money for food.
And jobs remind us that life is about contributing to things bigger than us.
Individualism is boring.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

drinking tea for a few days.
recommend it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

too muscular to be a weasel, and too sleek a coat to be a stoat. polecat at dawn.

been hanging out with the puffins, the hedgehogs, deer, gannets and the fulmars, of the Far North of this inspirational island.

and learning about fish, oil, and heroin, from those great teachers: the people who transport the hitchers around.

And had an amazing and surprising conversation with a very humble Mid-Western American Christian.

Edinburgh's quiet now all the G8 crowd have gone.
Been thinking about some of the people I met, the Palistinian guy who'd been hit by a police baton, the pretty girl from Afghanistan, the police from London, from East Anglia, from Yorkshire, the friendly Basque guy dressed as a 12foot beaked devil, the eco feminists, the live8pilgrims, the journalists, the anarchists, the clowns, the communists, the people from London travelling home to their bombed city, and so many local people who found themselves on the world stage for a few days, and decided to see if anyone actually wanted to listen to what they had to say. And so many people who had no idea what they really wanted to say, but wanted to show up to show that they care.

Been thinking a lot about how can we live in this world these days when the bombs are getting too close for them to be easy to ignore anymore? Is it too late to start caring about the shocking imbalances of the world? The pressure that has built up along the fault lines?
How did we let it become so unequally stacked?

Does anyone really have any hope?

"If the oppressors kill/hate the oppressed, we all lose. If the oppressed kill/hate the oppressors, we all lose."

But life goes on as normal, and the sun is shining.

"There comes a time, when silence is betrayal."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, July 15, 2005

ok so I wrote like a whole article on that Monday and then didn't have anytime to write on the Wednesday when I had way more exciting adventures, and witnessed lots more ingredients for thinking, up at the Gleneagles hotel on the first day of the G8 summit. But hey, this blog never was at all representative of things I do.

Since then I have been given a lift a hundered miles by a professional Robbie Williams tribute singer, and another hundered miles by an Irish wagon driver who taught me about UN peacekeeping in South Lebanon in the 80s.

I also spent a few hours sat by hard shoulder of M1 with steam coming out of car engines.

For those times when camping at Festivals are the rest and recovery days.
May peace be with you.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Urbanmonklife reporting live from Edinburgh..

(in the news-style)(for more bitesize+quirky posts please scroll down)
Saturday was an incredible display of 250,000 people dressed mainly in white filling the Meadows and marching around the city centre in a massive peaceful demonstration to 'vote with their feet' and hold the politicians accountable to the good intentions they profess. Sunday was more relaxed though with a Stop the War demo. But if this reporting is live, it has to be about today and now, so...
Today was a day that had caused a certain amount of concern to police, and locals, and people committed to peaceful methods and positive press. Billed as 'the Carnival of Full Enjoyment' it was anarchist initiated and they refused to discuss with the police and council their intentions or planned route march. Many local shops and businesses boarded up their windows, and their was a growing police presence in the build-up.
This day could have been described more as a protest than a demonstration in that it contained elements who were visibly antagonistic towards police. When a protest is against 'the oppressive system' then police restricting their movements become clear symbols of this 'oppression', and thus an intensity can build in the face to face encounters that spectators and passers by can be completely confused by. "we don't understand what they're saying or what they're trying to achieve, they just seem to be causing trouble, but the police seem to be really harsh on them."
There were groups in different places many dressed in colourful costumes and many dressed as clowns. (such as the clandestine incendiary rebel clown army). Green cammo with flourescent pink trimmings were a running theme. Also some bands such as a samba band and a number of small marching drum bands.
In the morning about 200 people were gathered in the West End of Princes St. and began to move towards the financial district where they were met by a heavy riot police contingent. They were hemmed into Canning St (nr Torphichen st) for some time. Rumours of some damage being done to one building have been heard, as yet unsubstantiated. This body of protesters were then engaged in a big wide game, the length of Princes st. with riot police moving them along and eventually hemming them into Princes St Gardens by the Scott Monument. There were a number of scuffles with some bottles thrown by protesters and a reported 12 protesters hospitalised. Policing seemed to be effective at containing the group although spectators were at times swept into the midst of the protest by changing blocks and lines of riot police. One minute you were not allowed one-way, the next another. At one point I ended up chatting to the same confused Merseyside riot policeman from one side that he was blocking, and then walked around the line to the otherside and said hello again. There was quite an ebb and flow to the crowd, the police stood out. But eveyone else was just people.
Meanwhile around the city small groups of colourful people, some in mockmilitary uniforms with bands were walking around the city with a good festival atmosphere, relatively ignored by police. There was a bit of a gathering at one point in Bristo Sq where a number of bands met and lots of colourful people were dancing. Really good vibe. Again, passers-by unsure of aims of groups. 'Maybe its just a party'.
One of my most telling experiences of the day was when I dropped by a university building where I used to work. They had to unbolt the doors to let me in and told me that they had been told to stay indoors all day and keep the whole place locked up. This meant that their whole experience of the day had been limited to hearing helicopters, sirens, and occasional drumming, and otherwise left to their imagination. I was glad I could reassure them that generally everone was smiling and casually walking around and that actually there wasn't a full-on war zone besieging them. But it said a lot, locals responses were often quite fearful, unhelped by the local press that has been issuing dire warnings and hyping every minor incident systematically for months.
As I type Waverley station is still closed by police, occasionally letting people from trains out, there are reports that there are still people penned in in that area, potentially violent but fairly small scale. 100 protesters against 10500 police. maybe not a good choice of battlefields.
The argument that smashing a few windows in the great city of Edinburgh maybe is put in perspective when compared to the bombing of the great cities of Baghdad and Basra, has been raised.
I felt like I was crossing a big line at one point when I moved from a group of spectators to meet some friends who were sitting down drumming in front of a line of fully armed riot police. I was there and got my share of an earful from a bitter local man complaining about 'scum closing the city centre'. But from the place of being among the protesters I had a good chat with a Riot policement from Suffolk, was able to welcome him to the city. He had been made to stand outside the whole day from quite early in the morning in a fairly intense situation. He was appreciating the view of the castle, but counting down the days to going home. Maybe sympathetic to some causes, but systems are weird. More here (please note that this is the only violence of any kind to have happened so to mention it this much is completely unrepresentative of almost everything that has happened in Edinburgh this week).

Also today was a big blockade peaceful protest with a very good vibe outside Faslane Naval base home of our local Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Trident Nuclear Submarines.

And my friends keep getting in all the National papers for things.
We live in interesting times.

The G8 conference starts on Weds and runs till Fri.

Friday, June 24, 2005

oh and I forgot to say.. I picked up my first hitchiker and his surfboard.

Been hanging out with the only insured parkour instructor in maybe anywhere. Have been eating ambient food. living in a crypt, picking punnets of fruit, and learning about the foreign policy of Neville Chamberlain's government and it's relation to changes in public opinion of the time.


Try walking at normal speed down the road (or in a park or in the country). Count your steps: 1...2...3...4...etc.
Now slow to half speed, so: Step...2...Step...4...Step...etc
Now slow to quarter speed: Step...2...3...4...Step...etc -this is quite hard, keep it up for a few minutes, let yourself relax,
Now slow again, to 1/8 speed. This is surprisingly hard. Keep it up..... relax....

The exercise:
Now try walking a distance that would usually take you 5mins, but at 1/8speed, so allow about 3/4 of an hour (this is perhaps most effective somewhere really interesting like a wood or a scrap metal heap, but everywhere is interesting really), you are in no rush at all.. SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

(this idea came to me from a postmodern theatre course at Bretton Hall Leeds Uni, I think the way it is going is a practice for contemplation in everyday life (so good monk stuff)).

And I've become intrigued by hermits. I went to meet a man who I'd heard had lived in a cave for a while.
If anyone has anything they could teach me about hermits or their experiences please email me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"a work of art created by a whole series of lucky mistakes"

And congratulations to our womens football team for beating Finland 3-2 with brilliant 91st minute winner.

Have been sunbathing, learning about Egyptian Coptic Monasteries and how you can smoke chicken using lapsang souchong. Danced all night at urbangorilla, cooked fish, chucked rocks and made pots, classroom assisting, and getting hit by atlantic rollers, climbing granite, and reading Thomas Merton.

get someone to show you "Turtle" in sign language.

Good TV: In case you havn't heard about it, the BBC recently put on a fantastic 3part series where they picked 5 diverse guys who volunteered to join a Benedictine monastery in Sussex for 40days(+nights). From 6am prayers, times of silence, chats with spiritual directors, group meetings (and arguments), manual labour alongside the monks in the gardens, and a visit to a local Carthusian monastery (where monks live in solitary cells), these men experience a life very different from the walks they come from, and comment openly and honestly on their impressions and experiences of it. If they reshow it or you find someone with videos. I RECOMMEND watching this.. it's really interesting on several levels. The Monastery.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Congratulations to Liverpool and any fans. You done grand!

Monday, May 09, 2005

I have just constructed a track for a tricycle ralley.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"We're at a funny stage of life," -D

"Life is a series of funny stages." -K

Monday, May 02, 2005

One day I was woken by a soundcheck. And had breakfast with a political rally as the backing track. From a big stage in park at end of our road, windows open.
There were climbers dressed as wolves and rams, tied together with rope in case of crevasses. There was a cyber kangaroo man. There was a stadium rock band playing to 60000 people with 15people watching.
Buskers everywhere.
Then later there were folk musicians, uilleann pipes and the like, in a pub.
Then there was a big and good feast.
Later again there was walking, scrambling, up to fire on the hill, warm heady smoke, dancing and DRUMS, painted costumes and firelit crowds.
Then at 2am there was a room full of Greek and other Orthodox christians with incense, candles, singing and peace, "A very blessed Easter to each of you".
Then bought some books from a pavement stall. And rounded the day off with a visit to a prayer box.

I love cities. They're full of people.

None of this day was planned by me, it was just all happening and I stumbled across it.
And this description doesn't even include people I know in it (but there were some brilliant ones).


Spin as fast as you can wading in the grey sea.

"Live attentive to God"

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

sleep in cupboards, sleep on trains, sleep in corridors+kitchens, sleep on motorway embankments, sleep under bikes, be careful if you sleep in trees.

deep peace to your sleep.

Monday, April 25, 2005

ok yeah short blogs better.

met a guy building roofs of airports.

and some reggae DJs on a sunny saturday morning.

and some people who'd just walked to London from Leeds.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


So 'SPIRITUALITY' is a word that is used a lot these days. Some people love it and can't get enough of it, some people shy away from it, some people think it's fluff, and some people recoil at it's use.

I'm going to use it in a similar way to the terms: 'personality', and 'sexuality'. It is a dimension of our humanity that is really important; and finding healthy expression for it, is a way of experiencing and exploring the life that we have as people.
Spiritual things have been variously defined as things that cannot be explained scientifically; or the whole 'unseen' proportion of the world, (which would include dreams, imagination, art, relationships, angels, spirits, wisdom, faith, love, trust, God). Spirituality can involve an interaction and exploration with these things, as well as recognising that to be human is to be spiritual, we have spirit (as well as body and mind), and this part of us can be exercised and enjoyed, and it remains part of us through the whole work, rest, and play of our lives.

In much of Western cultures there has been wide scale repression of spirituality, the spiritual dimension of humanity, over the past decades and even centuries, back to 'the Enlightenment': age of reason, science, and things making sense in a controllable way. This means that generally we are 'Spiritually Repressed People'. However, despite years of education under communism and/or capitalism, it has been found that although you can try to ignore the spiritual side of being human, and deny anything outside 'everything making sense and being controllable'; you cannot indefinitely suppress a whole aspect of what it means to be human and alive. This suppression never fully occurred, but there is now a rebounding..

So.. in recent decades there has been an accelerating interest and exploration in Western cultures of all things spiritual, including paranormal and supernatural, as well as holistic approaches to health, and spiritual exercises such as meditation, yoga, etc. There has also been a reaction to all this 'new age weirdness' with it's frequently esoteric language and subcultures that can leave outsiders alienated; though maybe this is because many people on this exploration are on a REBELLION against the spiritual sterility in the culture, they don't necessarly care about looking/being considered different; and it can feel good to be 'in the know' and 'above the masses'.

But a SPIRITUAL AWAKENING, is exciting in any form, individually or on greater scales, to wake up to having a spiritual side to our humanity, living in a world with a spiritual side, and to explore the new possibilities this presents.

And this is the scenario in which many of our cultures find themselves..
We are becoming MORE ALIVE again, it's not new, it just got repressed..

.. but what are the possibilities??

Western culture at the moment is like: a small child from the countriside who one day goes for a really long walk, and finds themself entering a great city. They had never dreamed that this could be possible, towering buildings, when before all they knew were small cottages; bustling streets, and deafening new noises, rich smells and vibrant colour everywhere. Market stalls of exotic foods, and clothes and tools, furnishings, and crafts. And a different musical style from every corner. The child beams a smile, and skips a step, this is life, this is exhiliration. The child keeps walking.. passes a man lying on the pavement, just having a rest.. and someone's made a bit of a mess spilling this red juice on the floor here. There's exciting things going on in all the shops and cafes. The big men came and gave the child presents, this is great, everyone is so friendly! 'What's a gun?' sounds fun! Yeah can I be in your gang? I'll go and give those people some presents for you.. wow my head is spinning!
'I'm so proud of myself for finding this place! It's amazing! I bet none of the other kids know about it!'

The 'unseen world' has very strong parallels with the 'seen world', really they are each part of the same 'world'. The world is beautiful, is based on and full of, goodness, but is also very screwed in some ways. It is really worth finding what things are solid/eternal, and who can be trusted.

'Spirituality' has become for some, a word to describe an exciting part of life.. a place to point others in the direction of, to encourage people to 'seek'. Other people have had bad experiences of 'spirituality', or of people who use the term, and so shy away from it. Others have encountered a lot of bullshit and self importance among those who identify themselves with the term.. and still others, are afraid of it: the world is big and we cannot control it.

But whatever you think of the term.. -don't really care too much about words, but: