Archive for September, 2010

The Alchemist Himself

September 30, 2010
The Alchemist Himself

The Alchemist Himself

“BBC Radio4, what a pity that the podcast of my interview today will be online for only one week.” — Paulo Coelho

I was about to leave the house, my finger was poised to turn off the radio (and it was only on for a couple of minutes for top of the hour news) when I heard that Paulo Coelho was on in half an hour. [ see iplayer]

My lovely friend Sian was not well. I had sent her flowers to wish her well, and within seconds of my hearing Paulo Coelho was on in half an hour she had sent me a lovely message thanking me for the flowers. I was to reply to say it was the least I could do, let her know Paulo Coelho was on BBC Radio 4. I then checked my messages and found that whilst I was writing to her Paulo Coelho had sent me a message to let me know he was on the radio within 20 minutes.

I let my lovely Latvian friend Liudmila know who just happened to be in Egypt. It was her birthday the day before. For her birthday I had a copy of My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk. The reason I was on my way out the house was I was on my way to a book club discussion on My Name is Red. Well I thought I was. I got the right day, but wrong week. It was the previous week, but apparently went down quite well.

My lovely Russian friend Alissa had recommended to me My Name is Red. We were at the the time discussing The Alchemist. My first contact with Paulo Coelho was a lovely girl from either Lithuania or Latvia who was completely engrossed in The Zahir and she recommended I read Paulo Coelho.

The previous day I was at a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. A fund raising event for Professional Carers Benevolent Fund (they raised over £150). Myself and one of the girls there was talking about El Camino de Santiago and Paulo Coelho walking the route which led to The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist.

The programme was a excellent. I found it a very moving account of the life of Paulo Coelho, interspersed with beautiful readings of The Alchemist and the thoughts of readers on The Alchemist, one of who much to my surprise was my friend Elaine from who I had just read a message that morning.

But why no publicity from the BBC for this excellent programme and why is it only being held on-line for 6 days?

Please BBC repeat the programme again and again and can we please have a reading of The Alchemist by the man who read the selected passages?

The Alchemist has sold 42 million copies. It has almost been three years in the New York Times best seller list. Paulo Coelho this month exceeded over a million individual visitors to his blog!

Synchronicity: meaningful coincidences, coincidences that are so improbable that they cannot be explained by chance alone.

Also see

The Alchemist Himself (iplayer)

A Warrior’s Life by Fernando Morais

The Pilgrimage

The Alchemist

Veronika Decides to Die

Synchronicity and Paulo Coelho

Words of Saint Michael

September 29, 2010

For my lovely friend Sian.

Also see

Organ recital at St Michael’s Abbey

Rong Radio

September 28, 2010

My ears are battered and burned and
i have just learned that i have been
listening to the wrong radio station

My mind has been brutalised now the pain can’t be disguised
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station

I was beginning to believe that all black men were bad men
and white men would reign again
I was beginning to believe that i was a mindless drugs freak that
couldn’t control my sanity or my sexuality
I was beginning to believe that I could not believe in nothing except nothing
and all i ever wanted to do was to get you and to do you.
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.

My future has been blighted i am so short sighted
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station

I was beginning to not trust me, in fact, i wanted to arrest me
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.

I’ve been dancing to music that i can’t stand.
I’ve been reciting commercials to my girlfriends.
I’ve been trying to convince myself that what i really need is a sunbed
and a mortgage and some hairspray, the kind of hairspray that will wash my grey blues away.

I been trying to convince myself that i could ease my conscience
if I gave a few pence or a few cents to a starving baby in Africa
because African babies need my favours
because Africa is full of dictators
and oh yeah globalisation will bring salvation!
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.

I thought my neighbours formed an axis of evil
I wanna go kill people
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.

I am sure I didn’t inhale so why is my mind going stale
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station

I was beginning to believe that all muslims are terrorists
and christian terrorists think they existed
I really did believe that terrorism couldn’t be done by governments
not our government, not white government
I just could not see what was wrong with me.
I gave hungry people hamburgers you see
I was beginning to believe that our children were better than their children
their children would die from terrorism but i couldn’t hear their children call
and a child from Palastine simply didn’t count at all.
What despair,
no children i was not aware
I’d been listening to the wrong radio station.

For years I’ve been sedated, and now i think I’m educated
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station
and every time i got ill, i took the same little white pill
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.

When it started I was curious but then it got so serious
It was cool when it began but now I really hate Iran
and look at me now i wanna make friend with Pakistan
I wanna bomb Afghanistan, and i need someone to tell me,
where the hell is Kurdistan?
Yeah, you can be my ally for a while until i come to bomb your child
and I’m sure there’s a continent called the middle east
and i think i can bomb my way to peace
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.

I’ve been listening to the wrong jams, I’ve been listening to the wrong beat
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.
I’ve been listening to the wrong tones of the wrong zones
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station
I’ve been listening to the wrong voices
I made such mad choices
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.
I’ve been listening to spies I’ve been listening to lies
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.

I needed to know what some pop star somewhere was having for breakfast
I needed to know that I was no longer working class
I needed to know if the stock market rose 1 percent
I needed to know that I had a ruler to give me confidence
I needed to know that my life would improve loads
if I had an operation on my nose.
I needed to hear that DJ say,
“Good morning, good morning!”
I thought he was there just for me
I loved the way that he would say, “This show was sponsered by…”.
“Oh my oh my”, he made me cry
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.

Can you dig this? I put my self on a hit-list
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station
I’m laughing and I’m crying and I’m watching myself dying
I’ve been listening to the wrong radio station.

Listen to him, can you hear?
Listen to her, can you hear?
Listen to it, can you hear?
Listen to me, keep this frequency clear!
Tune in, Drop out.

— Benjamin Zephaniah

Also see

Strange Meeting

Lowkey – Terrorist? by Lowkey

‘We want equality’

Art inspired by God

September 27, 2010

‘I started to draw at the age of four. Nobody taught me how to paint. I just felt this energy coming through me. And I had to show it to everybody in the world.’ — Akiane

Where does art come from?

We learn in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho that alchemists learn how to read the signs, learn to communicate with the Soul of the World, that the universe conspires to give us what we desire.

Hildegard von Bingen said she was ‘a feather on the breath of God’.

Dasha Balashova and Detelina Petkova were inspired in their art by God.

It was in conversation with God that Katrina Moss designed and developed her system of Ruach Cards.

Akiane Kramarik is an amazing self-taught artist. She says she receives what she paints in visions from God. Akiane started drawing at age four, painting at six, and writing poetry at seven.

Is it only saints, mystics, prophets and artist who are able to cross the transition zone?

For my lovely friend Sian.

Also see

Akiane: Her Life, Her Art, Her Poetry

Hour of Power

Sistine Tapestries by Raphael

The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations

How to Know God

The Alchemist

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept


The Witch of Portobello

Monsanto GMOs Linked To Organ Failure

September 24, 2010

Also see

Percy Schmeiser vs Monsanto

Genetic Engineering – Paradise on Earth or a Descent into Hell?

Grocer and Grain rootsy vegetable soup

September 24, 2010

‘All my soup recipes are determined by what veg is in store at the time and after a year of getting to know good veg combos through lots of soup making – I go with instinct on amounts. but, basically if you soften an onion, have a couple of litres of good veg stock, and 2 or three types of complimenting veggies and some fresh herbs , that’s a good start – then experiment!’ — Hakan, Grocer and Grain


one onion
3 large parsnips
4 large carrots
1 celeriac
4 medium potatoes
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of garam masala (optional)
vegetable stock


Saute onion, then chop up parsnips, carrots, celeriac, potatoes, cloves of garlic, and add to pot (to which you may like to add a little oil).

Stir and ‘sweat’ (until veg looks a bit ‘battered’ at the edges!).

Then add 2 teaspoons ( depending on taste preference) of garam masala and stir into all the veg so it all gets a coating.

Then add the veg stock and simmer until soft.

Then blend and season – inc a sprinkle of chilli flakes if you like, also chopped flat parsley works well.

Play around with veg amounts – this is quite a sweet soup.

Using fresh seasonal vegetables, the first soup of the autumn season at Grocer and Grain in Brighton. Many thanks to Hakan of Grocer and Grain for sharing the recipe.

Garam masala: An aromatic mixture of ground spices used as a base in many Indian dishes (‘masala’ means spice). The proportion of spices changes according to the dish being cooked (and the cook!) but typical ingredients are cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper, with substitutions or additions made depending on whether the dish includes meat, vegetables or fish. You make your own or buy from any good food store.

Also see

Sweet potato and butternut squash soup

Roasted parsnip and apple soup

Mountain top coal removal

September 24, 2010

Mountain top coal removal is a dirty business.

See the film Coal Country.

Also see

Activists Dump Half a Ton of Coal Rubble on Lisa Jackson’s Front Lawn

New report from physicians’ group: Pollution from toxic coal ash is an ‘expanding menace to health’

My Virtual Book – Paulo Coelho

September 23, 2010

An interesting visualization of the work of Paulo Coelho.

Tony Blair receives Liberty Medal

September 23, 2010

“This is the man who introduced arbitrary detention into Britain and supported all kinds of measures which led to people being locked up and mistreated by authorities, the opposite of liberty. It’s one of those great cosmic jokes, isn’t it, like Henry Kissinger getting a Nobel Peace Prize. I think there are some moments in life where one just has to laugh.” — Peter Hitchens

“We are really living in an upside down world where the people who are the most subversive to democracy and freedom get awarded these medals and those who generally fight for freedom, like ourselves, are been chased from one place to another.” — Chris Knight

Last week Tony Blair received in the US the Liberty Medal. I had to assume this was someones idea of a sick joke.

Estimates put the civilian death-toll in Iraq at one million people, since the invasion by the US-led coalition with British forces in 2003. After stepping down as UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair went on to become Middle East Peace Envoy, and has toured the world as a public speaker, reportedly charging up to $400,000 for a 90 minute speech.

Since leaving 10 Downing Street, it is believed Blair has made between $30 and $45 million. He received a $7 million advance for his new book, which he’s donated to a charity that helps military veterans. But even that didn’t go down very well at home, with critics calling it “blood money”.

Last week there was better coverage of this event on Russia Today as it gave views of antiwar protesters.

Critics dog Blair for peace awards

Also see

Liberty medal awarded to Tony Blair

Tony Blair (the man many call a war criminal) awarded a medal by Bill Clinton for his ‘resolution of conflicts’ around the world

‘I won’t read Tony Blair’s book – John le Carré

What to do with Blair’s Book

Arrogance and greed of Tony Blair

‘I won’t read Tony Blair’s book – John le Carré

September 21, 2010

Legendary British Author John le Carré on Why He Won’t Be Reading Tony Blair’s Iraq War-Defending Memoir.

David Cornwell, the legendary British novelist who writes under the name John le Carré, joins us in London. A former British spy, his books include The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and The Constant Gardener. On the heels of the publication of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Iraq war-defending memoir A Journey, le Carré explains why he refused to interview Blair and why he won’t be reading his memoir.

Also see

What to do with Blair’s Book

Arrogance and greed of Tony Blair

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