Tibetan hallucinations with Welsh Bards
People, I’m back. Actually I’ve been back for a while, but let me explain.
As well as my yearly visit to Chen Jia Gou in China where I study taiji (tai Chi), this year I also went to Tibet. Tibet really is an amazing place. It can be difficult to see what it’s really like because the Chinese have such strict security there, but once you get around officialdom and meet some real Tibetans, you get a really honest idea of how the people feel, and you see what the place is really like. It is the highest (inhabited) place on Earth, so the first thing that happens when you arrive is that you get altitude sickness. I got if for a while, but it wasn’t too bad, I just had a few hallucinations and some trippy dreams. There is one thing you’ll notice about my travel photos that I put on my web site, they tend to be of me with friends and people I meet, but in Tibet my breath was taken away by the beauty of the place, which is why there are lots of photos of mountains.
Coming home was strange. I came home to four funerals and one memorial service, at the same time I had to go to Wales to film Benjamin Zephaniah’s First Eisteddfod, which I know many people have seen. With all the negativity I was going through at the time it was a real pleasure to make the programme, an escape if you like, but I’m so pleased that it had such an effect on people all over the world. The Eisteddfod is a great expression of Welsh culture. Some of it is weird and bizarre, and some of it is roots and political. I loved it. And I stand by what I said about the Welsh language. Britain is a multicultural place, and if we can learn Hindi, German, Chinese, French, and Polish in our schools, I don’t see any reason why we can’t learn Welsh, Cornish, or Scots. Not all schools teach Hindi or Chinese etc, so not all schools should teach Welsh, Cornish, or Scots, but they are our native languages and so they should also be options. Multiculturalism is not just about the cultures that come here; it should also be about the cultures that are here. Although we know that in truth we all came here from somewhere if we go back far enough.
I was really moved by all the people who wrote such positive things about my Eisteddfod journey, and I have to say sorry to people who tweeted me and sent me messages in various ways. I just couldn’t reply to you with all the funerals and everything that comes with them.
I have always been acutely aware of the refugees fleeing war and oppression that come to Europe, after all – this was what inspired my novel ‘Refugee Boy’, but coming home and seeing the thousands of people arriving at various European borders brought home to me just how bad some parts of the world are. I can’t help but notice the lack of any talk about how British, American, and what some might generally call ‘western’ intervention has help to create these problems. Some of you might remember that on many occasions, on various debates on TV and radio, I said that repercussions would come back to us if we meddle in other people’s affairs. Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya had problems before, but however you cut it none of those countries were as bad as they are now. What I find sadly ‘ironic’ about this whole situation, is that a few decades ago thousands of people left Germany to seek refuge in other countries, now people from many other countries are seeking refuge in Germany. It is the place to go, it is where (most) people welcome refugees with open arms. And the Prime Minister of what some people called the United Kingdom, (which we all know is not united), does nothing until he sees the photo of a dead boy on a beach, as if he didn’t believe it was happening and a little boy needed to die before he did something. Then what did he do? Very little. Fortunately the people of these islands have shown an enormous amount of compassion putting the government to shame.
So what about Jeremy Corbyn, well I know him, but I don’t know him very well. I’ve been on many campaigns with him and I have to say, he is one of the most dedicated campaigners I have ever seen. Back in the days when we were trying to free Mandela, free women, free East Timor, free the carnival, and trying to ban the bomb, I remember being with him on three demonstrations in one day, and then at the end of the day I was getting in my car to go home and sleep, and he was going off to address a meeting. Whatever you think of him, he really does care and he’s not in this for the money or his ego. Sadly I fear it will end in tears. The forces reigned against him are so strong. Right wing big businesses, right wing media, right wing politicians, (and not just those in the Labour party), are all out to get him. They had a go at him because he didn’t sign the national anthem, but they would have had a bigger go at him if he did. His every move will be scrutinised and those who are out to discredit him will be waiting to criticise every handshake, milkshake, or toilet break he makes.
BTW, I would never sing the national anthem. Apart from all my personal political reasons, it’s a terrible tune, and most people only know the first verse. I don’t want to grant Marshal Wade aid, that he may rush to crush rebellious Scots. I really like rebellious Scots.
I have lost many close friends lately and for the most part I have shied away from naming them although some of them were high profile personalities. But I have to mention Chantal Benjamin. She was my first real agent, manager, events organiser, and an amazing friend. With both of us having Benjamin in our names people thought we were related, but we weren’t. In the late eighties she gave up a full time, well paid job, to take care of me, and we were like a pair of outlaws. For a long while we could not be separated, and I have always used our relationship as an example of how a man and a woman can be extremely trusting of each other, and extremely close, and free to express ourselves to each other without that relationship being sexualised. Some might call it plutonic, but after giving it some thought I would prefer to call it spiritual. She went on to work tirelessly for disadvantaged minorities in the media and as an activist. It is obvious that I will miss her, but more importantly all of those people she worked to help and to liberate, and all of those people who trusted in her wisdom will miss her very much.
So that’s it. If you’ve read pieces that I’ve written here before you’ll know that I’m not really keen on writing blogs, but when I’ve been away for a while I feel that I must talk a bit about where I’ve been. It’s probably full of spelling mistakes and I might have repeated myself a little, but it’s how I feel right now. The next few months are going to be really busy so please don’t expect much from me online. I’ll be recording in the studio, acting, and eating all the vegetables I’ve grown this year.