Heron of Hawthornden

At last Heron of Hawthorndeis published – now as a Grey Suit Editions UK special illustrated chap-book. I wrote two dizains a day for the length of my 2017 residency in the castle. The sequence is accompanied by my own water-colours. Click the link for availability.

20th November

Our very first breakfast. Tardier than the rest,

I sit alone at the narrow elm table,

Terribly ancient; eating my porridge with Sucrose

Purchased in Tottenham. Not quite as fit

As I ought to be; recovering from a twisted knee,

Everyone else now busily writing. As I finish

What’s in my bowl, the elegant dark-wood Windsor

Chair, stately and antique as our patron, who is

A hundred and three, gives way beneath me.

I clutch at its arms, but still… it collapses, albeit gracefully,


Taking me with it, spilling me onto the tartan carpet.

This elicits apology. However, I’m encouraged not to fret.

This veteran’s been rickety for ages.

Hamish will fix it. Yes, but the peg at the top of a leg

Splintered, I’m sure, as we keeled over.

Clearly that chair has now been put paid to by me.

What a way to start a residency in a precipitous

Castle, a castle where silence is de rigeur until our

Convivial evening fare. I must watch my step

As well as how I sit. There is a dungeon below us here.

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Tango at the Room – the Practica

NEW at the Room! (but postponed now until further notice)


10.30 am – 2.30 pm

Tango Practica, guided by Anthony Howell, at The Room, 33 Holcombe Road, N17 9AS. Between Bruce Grove and Tottenham Hale stations…

Plenty of Room to dance, and ideas and guidance given if asked for.

Map can be found here:

£5 per person – contact 0208 801 8577

The Room has a sprung dance-floor, a fantastic sound system, and it is the nicest space to dance in town. Refreshments can be made upstairs in the kitchen.

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At Seventeen – (Feels like it feels approaching seventy)

An old favourite.


Lovely song.

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The London Party

The London Party aims to establish London as a city state independent of England and the United Kingdom. London will secede from England and relinquish any claim to the capital of England. There will no longer be London members of parliament. Parliament will be expected to relocate to a major city in what were its provinces. London will apply to stay within the EU.

Lexit from Brexit!

The Greater London Council will be revived and become the elected governing body of the Republic of London. The Queen will be invited to relocate to Sandringham.
This page initiates the formation of the London Party. Initially posts will comprise a think tank to take the idea forward. All interested are invited to join the page and contribute ideas.

So, who would like to join me in establishing the London Party? The aim is to establish Greater London as an independent city state, seceding from England. London would apply for membership of the EU. If Scotland has the right to do it so should we.

Parliament, without its London MPs, will need to move to Birmingham or Manchester.
I declare myself interim leader of the London party, until we have sufficient members to nominate and vote for a leader.

Anthony Howell, January, 2020.

Join me for an independent London, and please feel free to make observations in the comments section. Absurd comments are welcomed as well as balanced ones since this is a project that exists solely in the imagination.

We also have a facebook page  and again comments and insights are welcome.

Observation 1: Isn’t the City of London already separate from Britain? Could we hijack the City of London and make it the capital of Greater London? This might cut through a lot of red tape.

Would this solve the problem, mentioned in a comment below, of finding our share of national debt, so as to be free of it on independence, or legitimately carry our percentage and only our percentage with us?

Here is a link to the debt issue.

What might be the advantage of the City of London as our capital?

Maybe the Republic of Greater London could become a trust? In this, the City of London could be very helpful.

(Interesting that this is what is being taken out of the EU with the rest of the UK just as the EU starts tackling tax-evasion issues.)

So the model could be Switzerland.

Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market – this means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals, at present.

If this cannot be arranged, the Republic of London may have to be registered offshore.


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Toads mating

A wary nod suffices on the cycle track.
It follows an extensive reach where breezes
Dint the idling river. Clustered round
A sewer’s lid, cow parsley thrives, as muddied
Clouds abet the treacherous stillness of
This prelude to the weir where nothing shows
How such a lazy seeming stretch accelerates
Before the chute. Slowly the clouds go over
The edge of it onto that wide white slide,
While spinning eddies make a sudden rush
Between protective bars, and concrete ducts
Convey these churning waters into culverts
Open to the gaze below some grills. This
Is where toddlers and teenagers too have been
Seized by the vortex, dragged, as by the hair,
Down to a mesh the surface masks. At trestle
Tables, here, the weir’s enthusiasts
May brood, one to a bench, while boys with caps
Turned back glide by, darting glances at
Girls with distant hair, sat on the bank,

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MPASTURAVACCHE – Jatun Risba at The Room

In December 2019 I was honoured to host MPASTURAVACCHE: The milk-suckling snake (2019) – a one-to-one performance created and performed by Jatun Risba– at my space The Room, in Tottenham Hale, London. Risba states her own motives and intentions in texts related to this performance, but I prefer to attempt to convey my reactions as they came to me at the time.

The audience booked a time slot individually with the artist, and it was decided that a knock on my front door would mark the conclusion of the previous visit. I applied for a time-slot myself, and at the time appointed I duly knocked on the door to the studio.

I entered a space blacked out except for the light from projections or from equipment utilised by the artist. I was handed a headset for virtual reality with thermal vision, however, I entered the space without wearing this, and I could see the artist, naked, standing in a bowl, wearing a large horned helmet, but the first thing that struck my eyes was a projected text trembling on the floor in front of me:

For I am the snake that is the beginning and the end of the human.

I am the most venerated and most despised cow,

I am the whore, the Negro and the Madonna,

I am the virgin and the widow,

I am the mother, the father and the rejected daughter.

I am my grandmother’s bare arms, the meaning out of my grandfather’s breasts.

I am sterile and bloodless, yet fertile,

I am an unnameable creature, married and single,

I am the one who gives birth and the one who never procreated,

I am the one who consoles from the pains of delivery and dying.

I am a bride and a groom who have no possessions.

And my sex nourishes my augmented sense, my dilated sensations,

I am the Cow of God,

I am the foot of my husband’s plant,

And he is the son who I’ve rejected.

Always respect me,

For I am the shameful and the magnificent one.

The text intrigued me. It was both sublime and abject. As I was taking it in, I looked up, walked through the projection, approached the artist. I looked closely, as if I were examining a sculpture in that dark space. Her tongue never ceased flickering in and out of her mouth, her wide open eyes followed my eyes and constantly regarded me. There was also a constant smile. The effect was as paradoxical as the text. The artist was an oxymoron: a contradiction in terms. The terracotta bowl, filled with earth, in which she stood, made her powerfully “grounded” while the big horned helmet gave her head a mightiness, but this in turn drew attention to the vulnerability of her breasts, the provocation of swaying hips and her vulva. I put on the thermal vision headset. At first I was disorientated, since I had no idea what these were: yellow, red and orange colour oozed together. Then I began to get my bearings, and aimed these googles in the direction of the performer, aware now that I was performing with her. In thermal vision her body appeared to me as a primitive archetype, a blurry vision of orange and yellow. The vision swayed. I sensed the sinuous articulations of the spine. There was a voluptuousness to the image. Now this primordial vision, generated by modern technology, raised her hands. She touched the horns of her helmet. Twin circles framed her head. I sensed her through her heat.

The performance made an impression. I found myself examining my own reaction as if it were part of the performance, I felt ancient mythic truth covering me like a fluorescent shawl generated by the most modern means, I felt an erotic urge to take advantage of the subject’s vulnerable nakedness, coupled with an internal warning not to transgress. I wondered how different this performance would be for me if I were a woman – or a child. It reminded me of how, when I was seven years old, I had gone into a tent at a fair where a naked woman stood motionless behind a gauze, the first woman I had seen naked apart from my mother. How fantastic it would have been, had I entered that tent, and experienced this current vision of sensuality fused with power.

Jatun Risba’s weaving together of art and science is highly original. That she uses modern technology to pitch her audience back into a primordial world, where woman is snake, where communication is heat, where audience and icon become seemingly umbilically joined in the performance of their own privacy is remarkable. Through her performance she reinstalls in our mind that there are other powers as formidable as mere brute strength; powers which feminism sometimes disparages as irrelevant to some notional conflict between the sexes. I think this is where the oxymoron makes itself felt: the power of Aphrodite is equal though dissimilar to the power of Aries. There was indeed something powerfully beautiful about this performance.

Anthony Howell, December 2019

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Whatever happened to Hapi?

“Lord of the Fish and Birds of the Marshes” and “Lord of the River Bringing Vegetation”, Hapi is the Egyptian God of the Nile. He has one pendulous breast full of nourishment, as well as a pot-belly. He is God of the annual flood. His big belly shits out volcanic silt from the upriver plateau; silt that acts as a fertiliser for all the fields and trees bordering the Nile. But Hapi has been exiled from his own river.

As this documentary “Struggle over the Nile” shows, Nasser’s erection of the High Aswan Dam, sponsored by the Soviets in the sixties, fundamentally changed the ecology of the area.

Aswan High Dam, is an embankment dam which was built across the Nile in AswanEgypt, between 1960 and 1970. Its significance largely eclipsed the previous Aswan Low Dam initially completed in 1902 downstream. Based on the success of the Low Dam, then at its maximum utilization, construction of the High Dam became a key objective of the government following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952; with its ability to better control flooding, provide increased water storage for irrigation and generate hydroelectricity the dam was seen as pivotal to Egypt’s planned industrialization. Like the earlier implementation, the High Dam has had a significant effect on the economy and culture of Egypt. (Wikipedia).

Now the nourishing silt no longer reaches downriver.

Meanwhile, upstream countries in which the Nile has its sources – Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi – are building their own dams, drastically reducing the flow of the river downstream. The dams also flood huge territories, such as the home of the Nubians.

Nubian civilisation is one of the most ancient in the world. There was a Nubian dynasty of black pharaohs, and their pyramids are wonders of the world.

Nubia is being destroyed and the Nubians are being displaced and their entire existence is under threat:

“There is (a) holy mountain further north on the Nile, in a town where Ali Osman Mohamed Salih, a 72-year old professor of archaeology and Nubian studies at the University of Khartoum, was born. His parents taught him that God lives in the mountain, and that because people come from God, they too are made of the mountain. This logic links the present with the past, and a people with a place. Salih says it means, “You are as old as the mountain, and nobody can get you out of this land.”

Salih is concerned that three new hydroelectric dams that Sudan’s government has planned along the Nile might do just that — along with drowning Nubian artifacts. According to an assessment by Sudan’s National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, the reservoir created by one planned dam near the town of Kajbar would flood more than 500 archeological sites, including more than 1,600 rock etchings and drawings dating from the Neolithic period through medieval times. Estimates from activists in Sudan suggest that hundreds of thousands of people could be displaced by the dams.

Salih has protested Nile River dams before. While passing through Egypt on his way back home in 1967, he was detained in Cairo for his open opposition to the Aswan High Dam near the border of Sudan in Egypt. The dam created a 300-mile long reservoir that submerged hundreds of archeological sites, although the most grandiose were relocated to museums. It also forced more than 100,000 people — many of them Nubians — from their homes. Governments of countries along the Nile justify hydroelectric dams by pointing to a need for electricity. Today, two-thirds of Sudan’s population lacks it. However, history shows that those whose lives are uprooted are not always those who benefit from electricity and the profit it generates.”  Click this link for full article

All this exacerbates the plight of Sudanese Refugees.

Hapi weeps in exile. Myanmar, Palestine, Sudan. Will Hapi now become “Lord of all displaced peoples”?

See also my previous post about Nubia


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