Birthday Weekend 2019

So, this weekend I turned another year closer to 40 – two years off it as of late. Yet, I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin. I am loving being in my thirties and more power to those who say life begins at 40 – I am one person who is looking forward to the year.

Well, what did I get up to for my 38th Birthday? Friday was a bit of a write off due to ill health – I was not up to much and I slept most of it. Pity as an awesome bar-keep at a pub I frequent, well, it was Anna’s last shift & I wish I could have made an appearance.

Saturday was spent working – i seem to have been putting in as many hours as possible with my day job and it is reaping dividends. However, I managed to take Kathryn out for a meal on Saturday night. The destination was DOMO, 8 Montpellier Street.

The food was good – I ordered a bowl of vegetarian dumplings for starters, Kathryn went with the Calamari. Kathryn order the worlds hottest curry for main and I ordered Udon Noodles – we had to swap which was a regret when the bought out the beef for my course. They managed to heat up a metal plate to around 4000ºc and the beef was cooking as they served it – not the best if you are a vegetarian, but, I am not and this was melt in your mouth delicious.

We washed it down with Japanese beers and hot-footed to Tom’s for a beverage.

We woke on Sunday to hear that the scheduled Big Bad Sunday had been cancelled due to ill health on the DJ’s account – it is not for me to tittle-tattle so I won’t go in to details but I hope he recovers soon – Harrogate needs him.

It was with a sad heart I set out to go for a few beverages with Fun-Time Allan. I was not really in the mood to drink. But, that is the thing with Allan. He turns all times into fun times – I was blasted into the future by lager brewed to German Purity laws. It really was a good session – we had a good chat with good people and things were good. Sam, the amazing bar keep, did this for me:

After this I went home for more beer, pizza and cake. All in all, I seem to be enjoying my 38th year. I seem to have received a lot of love on Social Media for the simple act of living another year – one year that is not to be sniffed at.

I am still amazed that I lived out my twenties. I have beaten the odds.

The Ideal Alternative To The Benefits System

*Kicks hornet’s nest: I think the Benefits System needs scrapping.

Comrades – Hear me out; I will start this memo off with a fact. I am claiming benefits and I am also a disabled British National (I have Schizo-Affective Disorder and I was born in Norfolk – I am also British). As a claimant of ESA, DLA, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit I am on the ‘top whack’ for a lot of these due to chronic illness. But, I am doing okay for myself because of it. Some months I have food in all the time. I am comfortably impoverished. If my health was good, I would return to education. But, in this Blog post, I hope to outline a ‘good idea’ for the scrapping of the benefits system.

A Turkey Voting For Christmas?

Why would I state that the benefits system needs scrapping? Why would I say that after my bold boast that I am “Comfortably Impoverished?” I am saying the benefits system in the UK needs scrapping because it has become a game.

I have just applied for the replacement to ESA, called PIP. The idea of the “PIP Game” is that the governing body has to realise how ill you are and then you will be awarded your set amount of money from the government. The government have a set number of benchmarks to gauge how ill you are. The iller you are, the more money you get. It is in peoples interest to be ill because the iller you are, the more money you get.

There are even people who’s job it is to ensure you get the right benefits (ie “You are ill with X, so you receive X money”). It is a charade.

The Solution

I believe I am paraphrasing Marx when I say this – I think I am just re-iterating the redistribution of wealth. But, here goes: would it make sense to offer a Universal Salary to everyone who is a subject of HM Queen?

A standard set amount of money is distributed throughout the year regardless of your health, income, race, gender, sexual preference or anything that unites or separates us? Paid for by our current taxes.

Wouldn’t it be the compassionate thing to do? To extend the hand of brotherhood to each and every person of this fair isle? To embrace all that is great about the diversity of this island, and kick the Gammons in to touch once and for all?

With the Universal Salary – people would be able to ask for the money – if they are in a tight spot or not – without the assessment. The sheer amount of faff that goes into a benefit claim means that the government are sometimes spending more legitimising the recipient’s claim than the recipient will receive in benefits.

It is a game. Kafka’s “Trial” reminds me of the whole process. A man is arrested without being told what he has been arrested for – he is allowed to go about his normal life regardless. He is just ‘Arrested + on trial’. As in Kafka’s book, you are constantly on trial without committing a crime when you are on benefits. You are marked when you are on benefits.

The redistribution of wealth, the Universal Salary, means that peoples taxes, the taxes that they already pay, will be used for a fairer society – a society that helps the ill person and the single parent. A society that helps the student and helps the pensioner.

A fairer society.

I rarely talk about this sort of thing on this Blog – I do not have the wit to become a campaigner for Disability Rights, or the charm – I am a man who sits in his pyjamas working as a web designer. It is rare I write about my Health. I try and keep it to myself.

But this really, really got to me. DWP: don’t send me back to Dark Place.

Who Was Åke Hodell?

I mentioned, a bit ago, about my radio show The Parish News – you can read the blog post about The Parish News’ first steps in 2019 here. In that post, I mention a man called Åke. Now then, I am even unsure how to pronounce his name being the ignorant Englishman that I am – I admit, non-English languages are not my forté (pun intended).

But why would I write a blog post telling you about Åke Hodell? Well, because his work shook me out of a coma.

I had been in political apathy for a while – I had not ‘put my name’ next to any cause for a while – even if ‘putting your name’ is the sterilised, sanctioned version of protest that we have open to us.

I listened to a piece called “Mr Smith In Rhodesia” and I was amazed at the man’s genius. Mr Smith In Rhodesia is a protest poem about British brutality in Zimbabwe and it was eye-opening.

Åke Hodell (1919 – 2000) was a Swedish experimental text-sound composer and writer who used his compositions to voice political dissent. His work, though congruent with electroacoustic and avant-garde movements, is most closely associated with the ethics and aesthetics of the Fluxus movement.

Hodell was trained as a fighter pilot, but after a crash in 1941 spent several years in the hospital, which catalyzed an antimilitarist ethos and shaped his artistic direction. In his first text, Flyende Pilot (1953) and subsequent books, Hodell explored what he termed “elektronismer”, or “textsound composition”, which collages field recordings and the narrative human voice in a similar way to the way of a radio drama or of musique concrète. Many of his text-sound compositions, produced in collaboration with the Swedish Broadcasting Commission, had strong political content.

“Mr Smith in Rhodesia” from 1969 protested the racist government led by Prime Minister Ian Smith, and “Where Is Eldridge Cleaver?” questioned the disappearance of the Black Panther and leading ideologist of the black freedom movement believed to have been assassinated under Reagan.

“Mr Smith in Rhodesia” was for a long time banned from being broadcast on the radio in Sweden after vigorous protest from the British tabloids.

The Parish News In 2019

My radio show, The Parish News, is going from strength to strength – I may be getting played on a digital network down south sometime soon, but I will try and not count my chickens before the eggs hatch.

The show always follows the same format – it is quite a regular show. As in – the format of the radio show is not experimental but the music is experimental. I wish I had the inspiration to really fly by the seat of my pants and go hell for leather with a couple of dog barks before launching in to a Scat Poem.

But, no.

Instead, I present The Parish News in a friendly style that shares with listeners the music I have been ear-looking at over the week.

The artwork for the radio is getting there too – I have a series of png files that I have collected over the years of flowers. Yunno, arty shots. Here is a brief highlight.

It really is a good laugh – if you want to find out more about the show then head over to www.theparishnews.com – it is a WordPress build that I made. The Parent Theme is Divi and I have customised it to the point it is functional for a radio show. None of the shows are hosted on the site – that is all done on Mixcloud.

Currently, The Parish News is broadcast on Soundart Radio in Devon, UK. It is also broadcast on a couple of community stations in America (KBOG & K-PIP in Oregon and Missouri respectfully).

It sometimes charts. On Mixcloud that is. I think the highest it has reached is No.4 in the Noise Chart – but that was back at the beginning of 2018.

There may be a brief change tot he organised playlist as I hammer “Mr Smith In Rhodesia” every week until the year is out – it is my new shiny thing. It is a protest Text-Composition about British brutality in Zimbabwe. The piece shook me. It is a brilliant work that I have only just switched on to. Åke Hodell is the composer – I will try and write a bit about him in the coming days.

So, here is to another year of broadcast – I really am lucky in that people consent to broadcast my show – I doubt anybody listens, but it is nice to be broadcast.

Photoblogging In Harrogate

This may prove a bit reckless, but, I have started another blog – an iPhone Photoblog. The domain for the venture is www.hiandyb.co.uk and it is slowly getting there. The idea behind it is to post up a new photo, taken exclusively on my iPhone, and share it via the website. The only rule I have set myself is to stick to my iPhone.

The iPhone I am using is an iPhone XR – it has an excellent camera, I just wish I was skilled enough to use it.

But, why am I starting a photo blog? Why not stick to Instagram? Well, I have an instagram account and that is tied up with work – I use Hi_Andy_B (Instagram Account) to show people what I have been up to at work – I did not want another instagram account due to the chances of them changing the copyright policy. So I started a new website.

Jess – The 19yr old cat

The website is a joy to use – I plumped for the Blot CMS (www.blot.im) so all I need to do is export the image to a specific, safe Dropbox folder and then it automatically makes it up on to the website. It is a breeze – I may offer to make a blog for my Dad when he retires …

The aesthetics of the site are minimal and complete – there is a magazine vibe to the thing and I dig it. The ABOUT Page is less fussy than my regular sites becaue it was all written in MarkDown.

If you want to see my new blog, head over to Andy Backhouse’s PhotoBlog HERE.

Christmas 2018

First of all, please let me start this blog post by wishing you – the reader of my blog – a very festive and fun-filled Christmas. We have spent ours up at the Farm, near Ripon with my Brother and his family, my sister and my folks – it has been a a good Chrimbletide. We feasted, we gifted we made merry.

It was the first time I got to meet my nephew Ben – only two weeks old, bless him. He has the lung-capacity of a three year old and a scream that can pierce an eardrum at thirty yards. I would post a photo of him up here, but I do not have mum and dad’s consent so I will stick to saying he is bouncing and healthy.

Gifts were exchanged – we had a haul; I received a CD from Kathryn and I have been given a pork-pie stand, hand-whittled by my brother. I really like it. It is not as if he works in a sheltered workshop or anything, he has more degrees than a boiling kettle, but it is a good past-time that he has, whittling.

Mum and dad got me an Office chair for my flat – I have been using an adapted rocking chair (it is a table chair with runners on) for the past few months and my back is aching – silly idea in the first place, but I just can’t get rid of stuff.

The highlight of the day was, undoubtedly, my eldest niece receiving her own copy of her “Special Book.” Sarah calls the Screwfix catalogue her “special book” and sometimes my brother has to read it to her to get her to sleep. She was over the moon when she peeled back the gloss wrapping paper to reveal the branded Screwfix catalogue. She did not want to open another present, just sat there reading the thing – it was a sight.

Christmas Dinner was Turkey with all of the trimmings. Christmas pud and an Aldi delight as a second pudding – that was okay. Beer of choice at the meal was Founders Brewing Co. All Day IPA. My favourite of the modest selection that we picked up from Morrisons on the way to the farm.

Kathryn is sat watching a few trashy programmes on the telly and the rest of the house have retired for the evening. It is a scene of rural bliss. We have had a good time catching up and we will miss the Christmases at Home Farm. This is the last Christmas that my Mum & Dad will spend here. Dad will be retiring in the coming year and having to move house. There are twenty years of memories in the pores of this house – not all good. It is good we have managed to spend some time together as a unit to look back on in our dotage.

Wow! That took a melancholic turn – I am unsure why. Maybe it is because I need my sleeps, maybe it is because I saw the baton pass to another generation to maintain festive fun – but that got dark, so I had better sign off.

Merry Christmas to all.

Rudolph, Tundra-Wanderer

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” done properly in Anglo-Saxon meter, by Philip Craig Chapman-Bell.

“Incipit gestis Rudolphi rangifer tarandus
Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor —
Næfde þæt nieten unsciende næsðyrlas!
Glitenode and gladode godlice nosgrisele.
Ða hofberendas mid huscwordum hine gehefigodon;
Nolden þa geneatas Hrodulf næftig
To gomene hraniscum geador ætsomne.
Þa in Cristesmæsseæfne stormigum clommum,
Halga Claus þæt gemunde to him maðelode:
“Neahfreond nihteage nosubeorhtende!
Min hroden hrædwæn gelæd ðu, Hrodulf!”
Ða gelufodon hira laddeor þa lyftflogan
Wæs glædnes and gliwdream; hornede sum gegieddode
“Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor,
Brad springð þin blæd: breme eart þu!”

Rendered literally into modern English:

Here begins the deeds of Rudolph, Tundra-Wanderer

Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer —
That beast didn’t have unshiny nostrils!
The goodly nose-cartilage glittered and glowed.
The hoof-bearers taunted him with proud words;
The comrades wouldn’t allow wretched Hrodulf
To join the reindeer games.
Then, on Christmas Eve bound in storms
Santa Claus remembered that, spoke formally to him:
“Dear night-sighted friend, nose-bright one!
You, Hrodulf, shall lead my adorned rapid-wagon!”
Then the sky-flyers praised their lead-deer —
There was gladness and music; one of the horned ones sang
“Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer,
Your fame spreads broadly, you are renowned!”

Polly

We are all heart-broken in the run up to Christmas. We were told on Saturday that our beloved pup, Polly, was not strong enough to make it through an operation she underwent.

Polly arrived at Home Farm on June 1st 2018 and left on 15th December 2018. A brief stay but one that will be with us, her hoomans, for the rest of our time. Polly chewed everything and that, ultimately, was her undoing. She ate a doormat and the string from the doormat knotted her insides. She was off her food and needed to see a vet. She was not strong enough to pull through.

I’m gutted.

Polly – asleep

Jess, the nineteen year old Cat hated Polly – they would always be fighting. Why, with Polly looking for new ways to upset the slumber of geriatric Jess, Jess has outlived two hoomans, two dogs and a goldfish. We had to take her to the vet for a check up and, under sedation, she vomited a mouse – the nurses at the practice were astounded she was still catching mice at her age.

I doubt Jess the cat will miss Polly. But I do miss Polly.