Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Not For A Long Long Time (2)

Not For a Long Long Time

Actions from another time

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If the so-called ‘age of austerity’ had begun by this point, I was only just able to taste it on my tongue. A claustrophobia (or an intensified version of what came previous) specific to this age ensued. And I hope I’ve already stressed on this blog how it feels that the gravest of issues threatening the basics needed to have a habitable planet seem to have been pushed further from grasp by a social climate that has necessitated an economically-debunked, ecologically-disastrous unhappy selfishness. What I mean is that just when all logic pointed us one way, the ruling agenda has hurtled us into a more fucking messed up take on all that came before.

And what I’m really talking about is that back in 2009, 2010, the issues that really ought to mean the most to me did mean the most to me, before I got embroiled in this day in day out self-preservation battle; one I foolishly didn’t anticipate due to a conviction that just ‘doing my own thing’ would suffice as a soul-saver – with no acclimatizing to social norms required for formulaic sexual attraction so necessary. But under all the will to help the world, I was never ‘the quiet man’ – always too easily swayed but the things I wished I wasn’t swayed by’. It caught up, and like Canute I just stood there.

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Where did all the Caring go?
 
But that doesn’t mean I won’t prise out the courage to care again; I’m still inhaling and exhaling on this planet, and I still rest my words around the argument that it isn’t inevitable for our species to fuck it up, well-and-truly.

Here are some photos of a woodland slowly emerging from the trees I planted down the banking of the A637/ as South and West Yorkshire join together. I planted them over a succession of Wednesday’s in 2009, 2010, 2011, on my way to pick up my wage from my nearby workplace. I must have planted well over 50 trees (mainly oak) that are still growing.

I’m not saying my acts of guerrilla tree planting were doing anything more than acting as a gesture that I hoped would be spotted by others. But the very impulse I had to do this in the first place proves a fidelity to a wish that we could steer this defunct, insufficient vessel of western civilisation to a reasonable safe place build anew. And I know that sounds sort of religious, but this was one of many ‘artistic’ actions that stemmed from an initially-teenage inability to deal with the nihilism of accepting a world where we couldn’t save ourselves, and where the only aternative was to ‘make sure you have a good time before you turn the lights out’ – an offensive philosophy to anyone who finds/found something of contemporary life intolerable.

But, regardless of all that, these photos here show a bunch of trees that may grow into a woodland. Something my younger self should be angry about his older self not considering enough!

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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Prisoners of Reason

I’ve received my copy of Prisoners of Reason: Game Theory and Neoliberal Political Economy Author: S. M. Amadae, which features my artwork ‘The Logic of Neoliberalism’, which I made back in 2010. I’m really pleased for my work to be part of this publication by S. M. Amadae and now look forward to reading it. The book can be found at the Cambridge University Press.

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‘Soul Searching’ – Upcoming Exhibition

I have 4 works (The Planet’s Mental Illness, Disintegration, Not Humanly Possible, and The Index For Child Wellbeing) in ‘Soul Searching’, an exhibition exploring mental health through art and poetry.
'Soul Searching' Dews Museum poster

I’ve never shied away from explaining that mental health has had a continual place in the compositions I make; never shied away from telling people about my own history with mental health issues; never shied away from saying it as I see it: that the unrelenting injuries of life under a 21st century capitalism, that sustains itself through disbelief and cynicism, work overtime against our wish for a good happy, meaningful life. Which doesn’t make it impossible – but fucking hard, that’s all.

This Land

"For there are brighter sides to life, and I should know because I’ve seen them, but not very often” (Still Ill, The Smiths)
 
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I wish the diagrams of carbon footprints and three-planets-consumption-rates would give up traveling through my mind in the form of guilt-trips right now, as I’ve only ever flown one other time in my 32 years on the planet.

Anyway, it must be said that I’m far less bothered about seeing every corner of the globe as much as I’m bothered about seeing the only bit I know well from another perspective: thousands of feet above the land as the plane flies over Northern England.

I’m seeing England for myself as I’ve seen it all way through my life on paper and on a computer screen. I’m a map obsessive, but maps of the land I live on, and the towns and cities so near to me that I can see their light pollution as the night closes in (Surely one day we can leave behind this civilisation built on competition, envy and power, driven by fossil fuel addiction, and find ways of allowing such sights without making us complicit in destruction at the same time?).

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not my image – forgot my camera

I appreciated my work friends asking me if I wanted to meet up with them in Amsterdam. I took them up on it in an instant. As I’ve said, time and time again, although I travel often, 90 percent revolves around the former heavy industry heartlands of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and 9 percent traveling to and from cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, London etc. I’m not a great planner for the far-flung, either in time or space.

The here and now seems so claustrophobic in an England too socially-fragmented to truly convince itself that the age of endless austerity can end, that the far-flung other seems to refer to another dimension rather than another place. But, granted, I seem affected by this inertia to the point where claims of self-fulfilling prophecy aren’t unjustified.

The compulsive comparisons of Amsterdam’s size to English cities made it clear to me that I have an indelible relationship to the landscape of England. The land clearly means a lot to me. This is why, even as I constantly refer to it as an unhappy and sick place, I can’t see any point in fantasising about (or even planing) running away to some scarcely populated wilderness, or somewhere lacking our horizontal winter rain. The view from the plane as we flew back over to Manchester Airport was a sight-seeing far more appealing to me than the world-famous layouts of historical European cities.

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again, not my image

A family with the wrong members in control
George Orwell famously wrote that England was a family with the wrong members in control. A seemingly somewhat reluctant but necessary text he wrote in a punch-drunk manner as England, along with other old imperial nations, had stubbornly and clumsily walked into a war with a Germany that had been turned into an insane war machine.

The text has been massively misused ever-since for jingoist aims. The English people haven’t faced anything like the threat they faced when the Luftwaffe was conducting bombing raids over towns and cities. The biggest threats we face are subjective, not objective – climate change is clearly being lived through, and the madness of Fracking is in our midst (for example), but no effective action can be taken on this until we ask ourselves what type of society we want.

But this is exactly what Orwell was arguing we needed to do in in the 1940’s, a time where all the classes had to work more closely together out of sheer necessity. In the midst of such a turbulent time Orwell was asking if 1940’s England really wanted to go back to a stuffy and backwards class system. To some extent, after the conflict ended, such alterations were attempted.

A similar coherence is demanded today. We have reached the point of the 1930’s levels of inequality; power seems unaccountable as wealth is sucked into fewer and fewer hands. I don’t think anybody actually thinks this is a good thing, but we just seem so locked in a claustrophobic here and now – compounded by the cyberspace technologies we cling to – that we don’t seem to be able to effectively communicate as a whole, and ask the necessary questions of where we would rather be. A sharing of cynical postmodern humour seems all we’re capable of.

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this image is actually my own!

The 20th century Artist Isamo Noguchi said “we are the landscape of all we have seen
. The landscape of England is what I have seen, come of age in, and wanted more from. I’m not sure about ‘the family’ notion altogether, but as 2016 begins England is most certainly a place where wrong the ideas, institutions, and people are in control.

The view from the plane brings everything together. Suddenly the coast of Lincolnshire is connected to the Ferrybridge powerstation, which is connected to the mill town of Huddersfield, which is literally a stones through away from the sprawl of Manchester, over a pennines that looks like a few small hills. Pretty much similar to how the planet as a whole must feel from space, but let’s rearrange the house of England out before we go there.

As we leave Manchester Airport our train home takes two different routes through the city , cutting through the quintessential claustrophobia of ‘Cottonopolis’. It takes us past the areas that fostered some of the best pop music albums since pop music began. I’ve only been out of England 3 days, yet feel a renewed perspective as we cut through the light-green peaks that separate Manchester and Sheffield. I can’t get away from this place – and when I’ve been elsewhere I realise that I don’t want to get away from it anyway. Perhaps when Manchester’s Morrisey sang “England is mine and it owes me a living” it wasn’t one of is odd jingoist quirks, but an recognition that the place he knew as home could be a far better, sharing, happier place to be within.

Spending time elsewhere and then seeing England from above made me realise I have never wanted to leave this land I just want all that is upon the land to be rearranged into what it could, and has always promised it could be.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Tired of Life (“I Want To Leave Myself”)

Tired of Life (“I Want To Leave Myself”) 2016, ink on paper
 
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All I need to add about this drawing is that the title isn’t necessarily referring to me, and my state of mind. It refers also to a general mood in an age where I believe our increasing dependency on the ‘matrix’ is nihilizing us, daily; draining any colour from the world, and its eroding all mystery. These are the qualities things which make our time spent in this world more than a the knowing dead-end of unit-shifting pleasure-seeking.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

A Lifetime’s Worth of Staring at Train Announcement Boards

A semi-fictional broth of occurrences over the past few days.

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A morning

I had a dream last night. Fuck knows what it was about. But to be honest, what it was about isn’t important anyway. What is important is that I had a dream, and judging my lack of anxiousness when I woke, it wasn’t a bad dream.

You henceforth feel like a balloon slowly losing air, as the components of your daily servitude to the system slide into place, like they’re literally replacing your organs and ligaments. You want to find somebody who will listen when you say “I’ve have enough:  it shouldn’t be like this”,  but most of them are too busy trying not to think of it to be enable to classify you as of this earth for suggesting such a thing. Better you forgot the dream in the first place.

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A night

 Under Invisible punches

In the waking hours before my dreaming I had failed to control my frustration again. But I was holding it together so well! Keeping The Noise in check. Channeling it onto better things. Or so I thought. Cumulative blows, that I’m all the more sensitive to because I’m constantly noticing them, especially when I see them landing on the far-less fortunate folk than myself, who meander amidst our blindspots on normally-familiar streets; who lacked my support system; who were destined to be “losers” in “The Game” before they even got started. I’d kept my cool since the new year began, but it literally took one thing, the profit-seeking hiking of rail travel prices, to start a downward spiral that put the seal on the soundtrack of this day.

It all fell back on me: the injustices and fears of a world set into a motion I cannot often see a favourable end to. Cumulative computerised images of the “Epic Fail” culture came pouring back into my head, as the woman sat across from me on the train pointed out that an abandoned water bottle I pushed off the table in front of me in frustration was leaking onto the seat opposite. The way I felt her judgmental gaze on me for my surface-level unacceptable behaviour, like I was a paint-by-numbers pathetic person, gave me aimless and hopeless empathy for the hundreds of angry people who become “Epic fail virals” because of a surface-level idiocy that I can’t help but believe is due to an unmanageable deeper stress. What can I say? I’m a humanist.

We shout “get down, mate” as their morally-wayward actions slap them in the face in front of a camera phone. We don’t question the difficulties they may also have as the world becomes an harder and more fucked up place. Because,  despite glimmers of the willing for a more compassionate world, we sense the dog eat dog nature of a lonely and competitive reality, and we respond accordingly.

Sometimes it seems as if the air around me is solidifying and compressing. An agitated persona follows suit – we can see it all around. And it is for this reason that, before I felt compelled to punch the seat, I moved from this no-doubt decent woman’s gaze, and found a seat on the next carriage.

A Day

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I want to be wherever I am not. I want what they (seem to) have but I don’t want to be them. I want to be myself but the not the self I am.

I know the railway lines between the dysfunctional conurbations of SouthWest Yorks so well that there is barely enough room left to know anything else. The trousers I own, the shoes I wear, seem to be preprogrammed to march me to these destinations.

I stare at the train destination boards, like they’ll show me a way forward, or a way out – but with a 75% chance I’ll be seeking the substitute sedative of cider via a nearby pub after this hour of exhaustive indecision. No gap year trips when my wage packet can only stretch to the day in hand…for every day of my adult life. Although it isn’t an adult life at all – let’s be straight, I’m stunted…but at least I accept it.
Wise I bring the Gap Year up, I guess.
  
The deadlock I have usually skirted around with artistic focus for ten plus years becomes unavoidable within the Christmas/New Year burnout. Maybe it’s the sight of so many young rosy-faced adults with luggage (the clear indication of having purpose and of being wanted,  by someone). It certainly helps impound a sense of lacking a life. As long as I’ve got a piece of art or exhibition on the go, I have a life. As soon as they end I become a wandering ghost on these streets I speak so much of.

Class plays a large part. It really does. I would never underplay this issue of class. You veer close to losing friends when talking ‘class’; it’s one thing many feel so uncomfortable about. I’m quite honest about where I stand, precisely because I have never known where I stood.
  
I was born into a poor family.  Mining, and mill stock. My parents were really struggling. My dad had no job, as the majority of the community, including many of my uncles, fought for theirs in the 1984 Miners strike – the year in which I was born. We had to rely on family and friends. If I’m honest I think most my clothes were second hand until the early 1990’s, by which time my dad had toiled to get a degree and a teaching job against all odds. It looked like our family were in the process of adding the generational improvement of livelihood.

Yet, esteem issues, likely formed in the days before I could speak, due to our family being reliant, and thus subservient to others, seemed to cling on, and on, until I realised they’d clung on way into an adult life where everybody seemed to be headed for some destination, high or low, except me.

My village was literally split (by one road) between a middle class commuter estate built around the same time as the motorway arrived, and the council estates built for people who worked in the local mines, and the not-too-distant sewing factories. The cul-de-sac I grew up on was neither, and I was neither. I came from one, went half-way to the other, and ended up nowhere. I felt bad around the kids from the estate, like a traitor, due to our adoption of a handful or more traditionally middle class values. I felt bad around the settled middle class kids on the other estate, because I felt too common, too clearly ‘thick’ (I was mildly illiterate for much of my teenage life). It was the mid 90’s and the carrot and stick of Blair-year aspiration had convinced us all in some way or another that the middle class lifestyle wasn’t just desirable it was compulsory. 
  
It’s taken me until my 30’s to realise how important confidence is to getting on in life. Without some self-belief you are well and truly stuck. I never knew how to get along in the world I had to get along in because I didn’t know who I was in this world – I didn’t really like who I thought I was because on each side of the fence I felt like an fraud, and imposter. But, getting to the point, this in-between place also gives you clear insight into the strong relationship between class and confidence.

I was an very detached child. Daydreams were mandatory, and I despised any interference in them. I had ideas, desires, expectations. But I came to realise that none of them were practical. Art studies seemed like the only realistic thing I could do. It ensued that my way of finding new and inventive ways of saying ‘fuck you’ (and little else to be honest) to the larger scheme of things (that was increasingly beginning to frighten after the unofficial millennium inauguration of 9/11) would be a semi-sufficient confidence-builder for my fast-approaching 20’s.

My life, and art, became so wrapped up in the ominousness of climate change, relentless capitalism and social breakdown as the first decade of the millennium passed into the second, that I completely unanticipated that I would be 30 one day, and, as the things that concerned me so much unfolded (as they clearly are doing), I’d still have to deal with life as a man in his 30’s come-what-may. I came here totally unprepared.

So here I am, in a well-known train station, on a day off from work, anxiously thinking how I can break through an aimlessness, knowing that I no longer have the time to dwell. And I’m asking any potential reader to bear all the previous text in mind when reading the apparent sweeping judgmental outlook of the following story, as I waited, waited, and watched in station terminals in the 2 Week-period around the Christmas/New Year.
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The view from the fault-line
 You go to University. You make far-flung friends. Develop a full-student life (sometimes finding yourself a misplaced target of anger from confused and angry drunk old men, once employed in the long-gone heavy industries, from a time before ‘University’ became this city’s main industry). You leave for Xmas and go back to your home town. Showering glittery sprinkles of ‘elsewhere’ upon its dying night life that usually has to rely on underage drinkers and mid-life crisis drunks. (I am neither of these, but this is where I see you all the same).
 You head back to university on the 29th/30th December for New Years’ celebrations with your new friends. Suitcases at railway stations (this is where I see you for the second time). You leave University, have a brief spell of indecision involving low pay, temp jobs, Gap Years and other temporary crutches (this is where I see you, and briefly humour you, for the 3rd time). Then you slowly evacuate ‘the building’ for the relatively-fast ascent to career-building and family life.
 Yet it doesn’t always happen this way; some of us slip between the fault-lines of the perpetual ruptures of contemporary life, and some of us can’t quite figure out how we even managed to complete a fecking degree in the first place, because we have always felt stuck in a fault-line.
 I never went to university. I’ve got a degree, yes, but I never did Uni. I mean, I tried twice, and failed twice. But I was in and out of both too fast to be remembered. I got my degree qualification in my home town. Whatever you think or say about Barnsley (of which I am qualified to do due to being umbilically tied to it), it was never a ‘university town’. Some of the tutors you have, some of people you meet, are great – but it was never a university town (nor should it have to be, I guess).
 I don’t resent you. Course I don’t resent you, as part of me wants to be like you. And I’m not assuming you haven’t got heaps of shit weighing you down on a daily basis. But from the view from the fault line you are people, and that’s what I don’t feel like much of the time.
I just lack something. 
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You’re all grown up now….
 Except you’re not. You’re like a bonsai tree, “a bud that never flowers”. I walk out of the station to a pub, cursing a pre-new year landscape that talks over your story in your head every time you justify your life, to the extent that you begin to curse everything in sight. 
 I try so hard not to be like this. Today was another day when I really wanted those avenues to open up in front of me, so that I didn’t end up staring at train destinations hoping my number would come up. 
 My truth comes back to me. I know I’m somehow in the right when I look around and see that this is a world that can now only persist through cynicism. A world where we treat the swaves of unhappy teenagers with condescending contempt, ascertaining the assertion that these mere teenage blues will die, that they will take their indie posters down and eventually find their ‘safety niche’ within the cynical superstructure.
 I’m talking of the chasm, where compassion should rest, in a Britain that’s been Tory in spirit for decades now. A miserable middlemass that suffocate the unreabilitatable vulnerables. A pessimist is resigned to such a world. Me, a pessimist? No, I’m a damaged optimist, who like many opened his heart incautiously to a cynical world, and survived by becoming lost in another life, a life that has long since had any cause, but has lead to nowhere else either.
OneNat
OneNationTory (2015)
  
The night is cold, revealing the stress scars on my face, as always. I accidently glare in at a fitness club just as its members appear to reach an endorphinated climax. I see a Guardian newspaper headline telling me to cut down my drinking to no more than a pint a day. But there’s no Guardians, or “guides to take me by the hand”; no real understanding of how helplessly walking past another casualty of the homeless epidemic, and then seeing my gaunt face stare back at me from a ‘Tory screen’ telling me how they’re helping the working person, is going to engineer a need for alcoholic comfort.
None of this will be understood until we all come to an agreement that “it is no measure of good health to be well adjusted to a five a day diet in Cameron’s Britain”. Until that point this is just another blog pissing into Digital Rain. You can bunk up the tax on drink all you like, because in ToryNation we’ll always find a way to pay.
I’m smiling in the pub I enter because a barman error lands me with a free pint, and somebody plays Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive, a paint pallette for perpetual pop invention, on the jukebox. Little things make the here and now manageable. I just wish it could last…
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Thursday, 7 January 2016

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Internet is Making Me Ill…

…and other Year-Sapping issues that self-righteous simplification responds to by saying: “don’t do it then…”.
 
If such a complaint was raised in, say 1997, when the Internet had about as much centrality to contemporary life as a praline Latte does now, then “don’t do it then” would be an appropriate response. In 2015 the Internet is at the beckon call of our every thought to the point where it has a say in everything little thing we contemplate, whether we use it or not. We don’t need to have Wifi to be thinking in ‘Wifi’.

I’m not career savvy, I’m not go-getter, and I’m not desensitized enough to the deluge-broth of horror and envy that constitutes social media.   I overthink (a fatal error in our ‘just do it/don’t look back’ competitive age), I have an obsessive personality, and my pre-Internet-age-damaged sense-of-self constantly needs recognition/acceptance from others; 3 traits that made have the Internet a destructive intrusion into my life.

I don’t claim to be a great analyzer of our (non)times; if any respectable theorist had enough free time to Google their own name, they’d probably be laughing at my overuse, and misuse of a handful of their ideas.

What I do claim to be is somebody who is all-too-aware how the Internet heightens, even mushrooms, pre-existing issues I may or may not have. But, yet, how it encompasses the horizons of now, so that it more or less seems impossible to do anything without it. Yet when I’m on it, it is impossible to do anything with it, as my ability to think properly is ambushed by an hasty anxiety that seeks recognition as if I was a drowning soul seeking oxygen.

‘Fuck Up’ doesn’t even get close; “don’t do it then” warrants outspoken anger.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Everything I’ve Done in 2015

It’s pretty unlikely I’ll get anything else done this year now, as I’ve hit my New Year-period wall prematurely, from which I can never imagine the possibility of making anything new again – until I make something new again.  Peharps I do my own yearly roundups because I somehow feel that I’m unjustifiably forgotten about. When I regain my bearings from the egotistical gravel pit, I recognise that it’s likely over 90% of us feel this way. But all the same, no choice but to play The Game.
So here’s a list, in a more or chronological order, of the best bits of what I have done in 2015; and believe me, there’s a lot of bits I’d rather regret.


January 2015



February 2015
 



March 2015

Not Humanly Possible (A4, ink on paper)

Not Humanly Possible


A Cognitive Austerity (A4, ink on paper)

A Cognitive Austerity  (2015)





April 2015



May 2015
https://vimeo.com/144591777″>Lost Bus Routes and Pre-Election Rambles
from https://vimeo.com/user18137640″>john Ledger on https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo;.

Five MORE Years… (A4, ink on paper)
Five MORE Years... (2015)





June 2015


The Long Night of a Needless Storm 

close up 6 

Close up 1


“Hardworking Tax-payers, Inconvenienced” (A4, ink on paper)
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Pain is Barred an Outlet (A4, ink on paper)
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July 2015

“Sad, LONELY, Frightened” (A4, ink on paper)
Sad, LONELY, Frightened 001

“Sad, LONELY, Frightened”

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Everybody’s Fracking (95X130cm, mixed media on paper
Everybody's Fracking

This Is Not a Top Song List: My Life Through Joy Division Tracks



August 2015
The Self [ie] Under Siege  (A4, mixed media on paper)

The Self [ie] Under Siege - By John Ledger



OneNationTory (2015)
OneNat
OneNationTory


September 2015
“Can We Stop Now, Please?” (A4, mixed media on paper)
IMG2(1)


https://vimeo.com/146577387″>The Big Smoke (and Mirrors): Stories From Forgotten Space
from https://vimeo.com/user18137640″>john Ledger on https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo;.

October 2015
Manchester and The Morning after… (Stories From Forgotten Space)


November 2015
Debtland (2015, 110X77cm, mixed media on paper)
1 

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Debtland
Artwork for Wear Your Band T-shirt to Work Day (explanation here)
Rubber Ring. Gimme Shelter - Copy


Sounds that made up my year…

“the rotten soil of nowhere land”

Zomby – Where Were U in 92′
Real McCoy – Runaway (Tory election victory-sting-soother)
The Fall – Frightened
New Order – The Village
Goat – Let it Bleed/Gathering of Ancient Tribes
Sleaford Mods – Double Diamond
Wu Tang Clan  – C.R.E.A.M
Sleaford Mods – Mcflurry
Sleaford Mods – Jobseeker
Sleaford Mods – Tied up in Notts
DMS – vengeance
Sleaford Mods – Teacher Faces Porn Charges
Rufige Kru – Menace
Congress – 40 Miles
Chumbawumba – Tubthumping
Sonz of a Loop Da Loop Era – Far Out
The Chameleons – Don’t Fall/Second Skin – (again)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Tying up Loose Ends



“You think too much” and “you are a very negative person” are the two things that have been said to me on occasion over my adult life that make me feel as alone, and that my doings even no purpose, as if somebody had literally just said to me “nobody gets you, you’re on your own with this, and it’s shit all the same”. And they would never say the latter, as these two quips are well-meaning.  What they fail to miss isn’t that intense overthinking isn’t only compulsive, that I’m also not very good at it.

I have often felt lumbered with concerns that are well above my means of digesting and then acting on in a decent way. I have always struggled to read. I had a spell of furious burn-out reading in my 20’s which equipped me with the reasonable writing ability that I ought to have picked up in HE  prior to that. But, largely thanks to increased Internet dependency, I’ve almost stopped reading intelligently altogether.
This is beginning to become apparent to my friends, who have come to expect an opinion on all current affairs from me. What can I say, I’m a charlatan? Sometimes I would genuinely rather talk “who’s better looking than who”, than the dead end of capitalist realism, that transfers this Incapacity into Incapacitated, as a turn to the pub to soften the noise as the night draws in.

Overthinking isn’t a pursuit, it’s a burden around the wrong man’s neck. I think this is why I wanted to tie up a few loose ends from my music making days, when the burden felt have slackened off slightly (the above song is the last I wrote before I fucked it off in 2008).

I’d love to go back to this,one day, rather than have these things wrapped around my neck. Good political journalists, thinkers, activist artists etc  aren’t  beaten down by this shit because they’re equipped. They are strong because they can switch off and focus on pastimes of their choice, as they have been  assigned to a task they’re equipped for. I come across as negative because I’ve ended up forgetting what I actually enjoy in life, tied to things I’m not built for dealing with.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Artwork for Wear Your Band T-shirt to Work Day

This is a rarity when it comes to my way of making work, but T-shirts are up for grabs featuring a piece of work Ive made for this Friday’s (27th November) gig at The Underground, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, as part of Wear Your Band T-shirt to Work Day.
Gig info below…
“This Friday live @ The Underground we have The Kitson Trio, a rock & blues band who recently reformed after a six year hiatus. Fronted by popular local singer-songwriter Richard Kitson, the trio will play their last live date of 2015 at The Underground with support from The Rolling Down Hills &New Road Kings, SPLND BSTRDS an acoustic duo that usually make up half of The Black VinesIndiemand Barnsley

Rubber Ring. Gimme Shelter - Copy

Winter

I Just haven’t got the resistance to comfort-seeking I used to have in aid of achieving what I had to do. Every day 5 years back, at the back end of 2010, I would go down to my studio (Elsecar, South Yorks), straight after my job, 2 train stops or 2 bus rides from where I live, in the one of the coldest snaps I have experienced in my life. In aide of what? I was working on 2 drawings that were meticulously thought on about how to describe the world we were drifting into; I knew already that Tory rule would mean a intensification of all the things we needed to veer away from to avert future disasters, socially and ecologically. It really did feel like the dawn of a winter, and on the eve of 2011 I felt like I had to be prepared for this more than at any other point. This more intensified slotting of work-making between job and sleep, felt almost like a drill, or something compensatory for the coward I always feared I’d be when pushed came to shove, for whatever one may be shoved into. The studio was so cold the pipes froze and burst around Christmas time, and with my finger-less-gloved hands I’d have to hold my pens with one hand whilst holding an hot water bottle with the other. I miss the sincerity of the devotion to getting these works done, I really do.

 What music reminds me of this? In Bluer Skies, Echo and the Bunnymen

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The early stages of the ironically-titled drawing, Global Ghetto, 2045, Marks The Centenary of The Defeat of Fascism

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The early stages of ‘I Want None of This’

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Monday, 23 November 2015

The Big Smoke (And Mirrors): Stories From Forgotten Space

This is a spoken word/video version of notes and mapmaking from earlier in September this year, over the weekend the Labour election leadership was decided.
It is part in a series of map-making’s of meanderings and musings that coincided with decisive events for the wider society in 2015. My thoughts on the past (my past), present, and longings for a future decisively different from the present loosely congregating around these events. This part covers Manchester, Barnsley and London.

The Big Smoke (and Mirrors): Stories From Forgotten Space from john Ledger on Vimeo.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

“High as You Can Go” (Walking from Darton to South Leeds)

Sometimes these things have just got be done. Today was one of those days. High as you go – still transfixed by the Chameleons’ Under The Script Bridge.
http://walkit.com/themed-walk/leeds/other/ledgefromkec/walk-from-darton-to-hunslet/

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Walk out of the Barnsley area, through Staincross down to Woolley, seemingly stalked by two young men in a car, driving around beeping at me. Game playing. I’m sport,  basically, for their boredom. But there’s nothing you can say or do. I’m in a cloud of enough unlocatable guilt and paranoia making me sheepish enough, without dealing with those you can’t deal with. I hate the phrase ‘you can’t educate pork’ spouted from the ‘enlightened’ ones in any given town. I hate having to take the position of seeing folk as irredeemable tossers. But I’m not the one making it hard, I’m happy to get a long with any one if they agree not to give me grief. It doesn’t seem like such a hard deal to make. Most days you can brush it off, but there’s always that day when you don’t stand so tall, and then it hits you hard. My only response is to keep walking and walking indefinitely.



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 As a male and female duo jog up and down a lane that stares down at the Vale of York, I come to the conclusion that all there is save total burn out, is stability, a rock in my life, of sorts. Think about my age. Yeah time’s have changed, but I remember how my grandparents got together at the ages of 14 and 16 respectively. Tomorrow when the shame of another heavy night wears off, I know I’ll be back in strenuously independent mentality. It’s no good though, always burn out. Maybe hastening the burn out by walking as far as I can is a good plan right now.

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Long road into Wakefield, things feel on top of me.  It’s make or break.

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Despite the world feeling so cold, and ‘the good life’ seeming unimaginable, there’s still an interest I give to areas that have a nice shape to them. Sandal, with its mix of old houses, and tree lined avenues has the look of a place a me, a different me, of futures and pasts, would like to be a ‘proper’ adult in.

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Decide to carry on past Sandal Agbrigg station, and try to walk on towards Outwood station. I may as well.

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The footpath vanishes alongside the trunk road that connects Wakefield and Bradford. I realise I’m in one of those types of zone that could only exist in the country in its current sad and bitter mould; a place made for people only if they are inside a car to begin with. For this reason I try to find a cut through to Outwood station  via an ‘enterprise zone’. Why do my thoughts become occupied with the notions of what it is to be mean-spirited when the roads all lead to dead ends monitored by cameras meaning I have to cut through a blackthorn bush in order to get back to the road I originally tried to leave behind? Our country has been structured around meanness. Common humanity helps us break through it, but in times like this at one side there’s a sense of being the weakling, the visible tradegy straggling at the side of the road, and a potential criminal looking up to no good on the other.

“Get down sucker”
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I’m that tired, and spaced-out by the motions of walking, I almost stumble into a passing car. As I approach the junction 41 industrial park I realise this too is not a place built for human scale route -finding; these distribution centres hold possibly nearly everything I eat and drink, and more. Yet they are also deserts, vast areas of emptiness with no signs of how to get out. I have no idea to exit, so have to take the long road, as i walk past the heaps of rubbish, likely thrown into the bushes from the thousands of lorries that pass through here, I decide it isn’t worth going backwards to Outwood station. I’ll head to south Leeds, and catch a bus from there. My legs never ache these days, they are numb.

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Not many roads are made for walking down. Not in the winter. My tired legs are finding it hard to climb onto the verges as the coming dark night makes it hard for drivers to see you. After crossing the M62, and a small road’s walk, it is literally a single field that separates the sprawl of Leeds from here. There is something disturbing about the lifelessness of the housing estate I enter, regardless of the cold of winter. It feels like a stage set from the near-dystopia drama Black Mirror, precisely because things feel that grim at the moment. ‘Britain is a country in the verge of nervous breakdown” – so said the narrator of the Sleaford Mods orientated documentary Invisible Britain, which I saw recently. These words have since narrated my walks through Sheffield, Barnsley, Wakefield and Leeds over the past 2 days. I wonder why…

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I finally make the bus as I arrive in Belle Isle.

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