Recessional by Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling is quite correctly perceived as a poet who celebrated and actively supported the British Empire. This is undoubtedly the case, however as can be seen in his “Recessional” the picture of a jingoist is not a wholly accurate one.
In “Recessional” Kipling forsees the collapse of the British Empire. Great empires come and go and the imperial might of Britain will fade away in the same manner,
“Far-called, our navies melt away; on dune and headland sinks the fire: lo, all our pomp of yesterday is one with Nineveh and Tyre! …”.
The poem is, to modern ears somewhat jarring in it’s references to “lesser breeds without the law”, however the overall tone of the poem is one of reflection rather than unthinking jingoism.
Kipling was remarkably precient. The poem appeared on 22 June 1897 and by the middle of the twentieth century the UK was well on the way to divesting itself of it’s empire.


God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!

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How to Kill by Keith Douglas

How to Kill by Keith Douglas

Under the parabola of a ball,
a child turning into a man,
I looked into the air too long.
The ball fell in my hand, it sang
in the closed fist: Open Open
Behold a gift designed to kill.

Now in my dial of glass appears
the soldier who is going to die.
He smiles, and moves about in ways
his mother knows, habits of his.
The wires touch his face: I cry
Now. Death, like a familiar, hears

and look, has made a man of dust
of a man of flesh. This sorcery
I do. Being damned, I am amused
to see the centre of love diffused
and the waves of love travel into vacancy.
How easy it is to make a ghost.

The weightless mosquito touches
Her tiny shadow on the stone,
and with how like, how infinite
a lightness, man and shadow meet.
They fuse. A shadow is a man
when the mosquito death approaches.

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Photographs – my visit to the New Forest

I’ve written previously about my visit to the New Forest which took place from 14-21 May 2012. During this time I took a number of photographs (or – more accurately – being blind, sighted companions photographed scenery etc. on my behalf). Here are some of the photographs from my time there – 






Many thanks to my friend Jeff for uploading the photographs on my behalf. For my previous posts on my visit to the New Forest, please visit –

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If People Could Read Minds by Kevin Morris

If people could read minds half the men would be in prison and the other half would have black eyes.
If people could read minds divorce lawyers would live like kings.
If people could read minds friendships would vanish like melting frost on a summer’s morning.
If people could read minds a new dark age would dawn

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Is criminal behaviour incoded in the structure of our brain?

I’ve just read an interesting article “Law and Order Blame it on the Brain”. Scientists have carried out research which appears to show that there are differences in brain structure in criminals (for example in the brain’s of psychopaths).
Research also demonstrates that brain scanning can determine whether someone is telling the truth, for instance whether the accident for which they are claiming compensation really is causing them the acute pain which they claim it is. Others are more sceptical stating that the power of suggestion may cause the brain to light up in certain ways so, for example a person who has shaken their child to death may be in denial about having done so. They may genuinely convince themselves that they are guiltless and brain imaging would, therefore indicate that they are telling the truth when they deny having murdered their child.
This is all fascinating stuff. For the article please visit

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If it quacks like a duck then it is a duck – well maybe

On 29 June 2012 The Wall Street Journal carried edited extracts of an interview with the inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil. Kurzweil postulates that by about 2029 machines will have achieved human level consciousness and the emotional understanding which goes with it. Machines will be able to make us laugh and cry and will become anoyed when we don’t respond to them. In addition Kurzweil sees an increasing merger of man and machine (this is already happening in the case of Parkinson sufferers who have computer implants in their brains).
I am no scientist, however history teaches us that predictions about the future are notoriously hit and miss, witness for example those who postulated in the 50’s and 60’s that housework would be a thing of the past by the 1980’s. This patently did not come to pass.
The question also arises as to whether merely because a machine “quacks like a duck and walks like a duck” whether it is in point of fact a duck. In my short story “Hemlock” I wrote about a robot, Becky who can converse on matters cultural and who does, apparently possess the capacity to experience the emotions stirred by Keat’s Ode to a Nightingale, however one could see Becky’s responses as flowing from clever programming rather than from a spontaneous response to the beauty of Keat’s verse. Doubtless some will say that it matters not whether the response is due to clever programming, what is important is the fact that machines can interact with us in a human-like manner so, in effect we should treat them as ducks even though they remain clever imitations rather than the real thing.
For the Wall Street Journal’s article please visit
For my short story “Hemlock” please visit

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Paint it Black the Rolling Stones

I was reminded of this great song by a live singer/songwriter at Ealing Beer Festival on Friday 6 July. She played a lot of great music but this was, undoubtedly one of my favourites

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