Why this blog has the name it has

July 21, 2018 § Leave a comment

It’s not about throwing rubbish in the ocean, in case you were wondering. One morning in 2015 I watched the sun rise over the ocean from Goubert Avenue in Puducherry (Pondicherry) in India, and saw an elderly couple who appeared to be enjoying the moment in a similar fashion, until I saw the man swing a big plastic bag full of rubbish forwards and backwards, and then fling it out into the waves. That’s not what this blog is about.

Neither is the title of this blog a reference to the Starfish story (versions of which can be read here and here), even though I do try to keep that story in mind as I live my life.

Instead, the title of this blog is about recognising that when we act in this world, we cannot control how our actions are received by others. All we can do is to drop it in the ocean, we don’t know what the ocean will do with it.

The title comes from a specific time in my life. I had just submitted my PhD thesis for examination, and was trying to figure out what to do next. In the process of finalising the text of my thesis, something happened that made me realise that I cannot control how others receive my actions. A friend helped me to understand that this was a lesson worth learning.

One last thing: saying “I cannot control how others receive my actions” is not the same as saying “I’m just going to do whatever I feel like doing.” Since that time of my life, I have learned a couple of other things. One is that it’s worth learning to distinguish where it matters what others think of you, and where the only thing that matters is what you think of yourself. Another thing I have learned is that there are things I can do to increase the chances that others receive my actions the way I intended them to be received.


Street jam #1

July 7, 2018 § Leave a comment

Friday 6 July, 6pm-10pm, CL and me, guitar, trumpet, tin whistle and a copy of the Buskers’ Code. We start at Founders Arms near Blackfriars Bridge. Discuss possible locations. Agree that on a scale of exhibitionism between 0 and 10 we’re probably looking for a 5.

We set up between Founders Arms and Bankside Gallery. I knock over my beer. After 10 seconds of playing a resident tells us to shut up.

Fortunately, a passing musician tells us about a formal busking site by the river near the Tate Modern. Unfortunately, there’s a guy setting up his guitar amp there when we walk by.

We toy with the idea of setting up outside the Globe theatre. Which is an open air theatre. So no.

We set up under Southwark Bridge. Great acoustics for unplugged playing. We play one song before a guy tells us we can’t play there. He’s a Hungarian musician with years of busking experience. Apparently he had this location booked until 7.30 and someone else has it from 7.30 onwards. When the new person arrives we move on.

Opposite the entrance to Southwark Cathedral, which is flying a LGBT Pride flag, is a large block of rock that provides us with a seat, a gap between two office buildings that gives a breeze from the river, and an appreciative audience in the form of customers at the Mudlark pub and passers-by, which facilitates level 5 exhibitionism. In the opinion of our audience, the highlight of our set appears to be an extended freestyle reggae interpretation of the outro of “Demon Cleaner” by Kyuss, featuring CL on trumpet and vocals (but not simultaneously).

On the way back to Blackfriars we tip our Hungarian mentor, who is back in the Southwark Bridge spot playing bassoon with a friend on trumpet.



Ian Visits

June 17, 2018 § Leave a comment


To do

May 19, 2018 § Leave a comment


Nervous conditions

February 6, 2018 § Leave a comment


Tsitsi Dangarembga’s 1988 book is awesome, I just finished reading it today. On the intersection between patriarchy and colonialism, and their similarities; if you buy into the system you might get certain opportunities to move ahead but at the same time will be subordinated and psychologically damaged in the process; if you resist it is quite likely you will be crushed. On the final page of the novel Dangarembga says it was about four women but does not name which characters she has in mind; I’m not 100% sure I know which women are included in her four and which are not, because it seems to me that five women are central to the novel’s plot. But one of those does not stand up against patriarchy and colonialism at all, so perhaps the book is about the four who do, and how they are positioned differently, which means their experiences are different to each other, while at the same time they face similar challenges because they are all African women facing a patriarchal-colonial system which pushes down on them.

Oh, and today marks 100 years since women got the vote in the UK.

ivor cutler

December 9, 2017 § Leave a comment

dinosaur jr guitar wizardry

December 9, 2017 § Leave a comment

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