Quercus at the Howard Assembly Rooms, Feb 7th


The Howard Rooms are a great place to hear live music. The hall is big enough for a sizeable crowd, but small enough to feel like you’re in a friendly pub, and the wood everywhere, including the amazing wooden ceiling, gives the place a warmth, even in a cool February. Quercus (meaning ‘oak’) are singer June Tabor, Iain Ballamy (playing saxophone) and Huw Warren (piano), and on Saturday they played a repertoire that ranged from traditional folk to experimental jazz, from extraordinarily gentle to wildly exuberant. June Tabor’s voice has a huge range of emotion and colour, and it worked well with the saxophone as a second voice – the human tones and the sax’s metallic hoarseness weaving together, backed by some really versatile piano playing that could be hauntingly delicate or sometimes cacophonous as it created the effect of a whole band behind the voice and solo instrument.

Some of the highlights for me were a Robbie Burns love song (you can hear the studio version of this at http://player.ecmrecords.com/quercus ), a moving lament for first world war fallen from Coope, Boyes and Simpson, and a great, sad, slow version of Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – a song that was so popular and well played in folk clubs of the 70s that it seemed to became a cliché and almost disappeared for many years. This version brought out the ache behind the deceptively simple chords and made you remember why it became so popular in the first place.

I first became aware of June Tabor through the album Silly Sisters that she recorded with Steeleye Span singer Maddy Prior in 1976, and then through albums like Anthology (1999), which has much the same jazz/folk span as Quercus. I’ve always loved the uniqueness of her voice and her defiance of being held within any one tradition. On Saturday I did impromptu interviews with members of the audience to test their reaction to the music:

“She still has a wonderful singing voice and a really easy comfortable rapport with the audience.” (Franz, harpist)


“I particularly like the pianist.” (Jean, jazz aficionado)


“Put it this way, I shan’t be asking for my money back”, (Pete, art critic)


“I just loved them. They’re so good at drawing you in, and although that can be quite intense they’ve got an openness you can really relax into. There’s something sea-shorey about the sound. She’s the rock at the centre that frees the other two ” (Gail, crime writer)


There’s  a lot going at the Howard Rooms over the next couple of months, from classical film like Metropolis (2nd April) to more musical feasts like the Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell (17th Feb) and the saxophone playing son of John Coltrane, Ravi Coltraine (11th March), as well as Opera North’s ‘Little Voices’ Saturday morning programme for under 4’s and a lot of other stuff worth checking out at http://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on







Asking for Help: Only you can benefit, well, and your friends and everyone who cares about you

Milan Buddha Ghosh

Asking for help is something I find very difficult, and I know it is really necessary for my well-being.

Because of 17 years of domestic violence, racism at school, and mentalism, the bigotry against the ‘partly’ or so-called mad-folk, who can be just as individual as others. We are all valuable individuals who need help at times.
By definition we suffer as human beings, and we can learn to be happier much happier

we all know that it can not only be terribly difficult to help ourselves by asking for help. But also even terrifying, at times. You see, when you’ve been beaten for years called ‘Paki’ etc. go home trust is a hard thing to allow. It is hard to pick up the phone, even when you choose the mostly trustworthy people and friends, or kind strangers.

However the good news is it gets better, by fits and starts and uneven journeying, over the years. And many people do say how much I’ve changed. They usually say you changed so much.” if I prompt them further with questions they say you’re much happier, lighter even more playful than you were before, fitter” etc. So the good news is that just like exercising a muscle practice reduces the fears anxieties resistances to asking for help.

A problem shared is a problem halved; and I’m sure many of us could for our own benefit, no ones else’s, practice sharing our problems in hard times. Likewise we can mutually coach each other in sharing problems and processing them, with love understanding and inspiration.
That’s why we ask for help isn’t it?
And somewhere deep down inside we know we are OK, that others are OK, although we may well have to steer clear of a host of people who become as bad as their practising harm or evil even. You see human character or personality is not set in stone what the mind dwells on it becomes, another solar rule of karma is how we behave what we do becomes us. We create our own lives with our actions, thoughts and good or bad thoughts about others.
If we understand this, then
There really is no permanent depression, despair or anxiety hearing voices, eating disorders or any other forms of distress.
So if you have been told you are of a certain mental health diagnoses for life, or incorrigible or incurable – well, it is total NONSENSE.

Terry Simpson is a great activist in many health positive circles
he said to me years ago when I was low ”Create a massive support network.
Last January when I was low, but my lows have got further and farther apart, he said ”Don’t let anxiety run away with you, its an unrealistic fear Milan”(, I’m paraphrasing him). He said also ”Be like a peasant ” my paraphrase when it all goes upsides down and you’re down pick yourself up dust yourself down and start all over again.
And I know many friends coach each other out of the blues and horrible anxieties even out of hearing voices, and paranoid and aggressive alienated bits of ourselves that are voices.

I can vividly remember about 12 years ago, when I realised it was better to ring 1 friend a day rather than not. Or I would be down and have horrible anxiety for the rest of my life. it was a moment of presence-truth. Whatever mood I was in high, low, neutral, numb, dissatisfied or satisfied. Tony Lawson was one of the friends I rang and Terry. I soon realised and felt like a fool for the depressed past, because no one refused help. People thought of me as a really nice man, more or less unanimously. They even expressed admiration for my humour my vulnerability and hearts openness, speaking my mind and body e.g. warming up floors spontaneity. I was SHOCKED in a nice way. It made me feel lighter, a bit more unburdened more playful and joyful serious-er too at times, but in a contemplative way which allowed deeper insights. My mental knots were untangling. My life transformed. Later on I became a Buddhist.

So yes we sometimes ask for help without words we just turn up at art groups (see my blogs re Buddhism, Chat N Create and Inkwell interview with ark ruse and the recently posted poem call A Pint of Inkwell.

Others sources of help
mental health websites min.org. http://www.leedsmind.org.uk
Please post your self help groups, fave counsellors, business cards only or NHS giving their consented info, please share about anything that has helped you ask for help
that’s what leedwellbeingweb is for – USE US!

For Better Mental Health Cultivate Friendship 2

Milan Buddha Ghosh
The hot spice (I’m Indian can you tell?) of the crucible of friendship can transform your life from misery to contentment, OR no matter how good your life is, to an even greater happiness.
Deep meaningful friendship is part of life’s variety and spice; it is an essential part of good living, and loving, I contend.

7 simple points about why friendship is so important to me:

1 Of course you’ll know I am a Buddhist by now. And it saved my life together, with therapy, 15 years of each
when I lived in Chapel-town as a single unemployed man, well it wasn’t very good for me. I had left 6th form aged 19 but resisted people always saying your bright go to uni for a comfy job better life. I didn’t stupid pride. I knew everything. I was partly right comfy isn’t really living but its better than relative poverty. My pride stopped me learning a healthy or even more enlightened way to live. Friends told the truth with sensitivity and love. Friends give you what you need, not your foolish pride.

2 Friends give you what you need in hard times. They know you and thus can really love you. Know how to put things in the right way and sometimes the wrong way, because the hard truth cant be said with fluff protective fluff all the time. Materially if you need money, food a home coaching on how to get a job how to get and love a woman they’ll tell you, and I mean men, and women have coached me. Women have said ”you’re good dancer” ”believe in yourself/ talents poetry writing playfulness,” ”you don’t mistreat women so be patient and nurture love.

3 Friendship save lives from suicide, whether you know this or not.

4 Friendships shared hobbies interests e.g. the art literature and culture depending on the individual and even blogging to increase health and well-being… enhance our lives to gratitude.

5 Along with the mutual, personal friends shared interest is being completely daft, have bad puns, wit, stupidity in daftness, frivolousness shared humour. Until you are sometimes crying with laughter you don’t even know why you are laughing. Friends can tickle your heart, halve your woes

6 They do this like counsellors and co religionist practitioners, by listening, not perfectly but good enough, because natural empathy or trained empathy is not mind-reading. Friends listen well so cresting mutual well-being.
Compared to those 2 years 1984 to summer 1986 the period when horrible anxiety and despair depression set in. And became a crippling force for many years my life is far better, far far better not perfect . I still have despair but it does not take over my life as it used to there are no suicidal feelings now, very rare fleeting ones. That’s normal psychiatrists say; do we need em to tell us that; if so that might be mental unhealthy dependency on authority?
It only took 2 years to establish a pattern of depression by unemployment and no lover, no unemployment militates against friendship partly through lack of money. Only 2 years. Compared to those 2 years life is good indeed.
I have felt more joy, and gradually of a realer kind: not manic elation/ drivenness but slowly, more joy with calm and contentment.
What do I owe to this slow gradual change: friendships of various kinds; they saved my life whether they knew it or not..
Friendship of my various person centred counsellors. 5 in all all were very good. The friendship of fellow Buddhist and ‘fellowesses’ too!
The real deep affection of Buddhist recommendations, choose your friends who share interests, hobbies who you feel comfortable with, go deeper in talking with joy and your despairs, expect less, its common sense? Yes but Buddhism builds on common sense, all the way to enlightenment. Because common sense and even though healing negative pain wont get you there, to enlightenment, that is.

7 This meditation-al and therapeutic joy via Buddhist teachers, friends the counsellor being a friend, non Buddhist ‘ordinary’ friends being a friend to the best in me, and them, has reached a revolutionary point for me years ago. A point of no returning back to despair. I would actually die for at least a dozen friends without hesitation, if thy were attacked throw my self in the way. ”There is no noble cause than to die for ones friend.” someone once said. Have a guess who because my memory is so very bad middle aged ‘old’ mem-awry. I’d even die for good old Tez were he attacked in my presence if necessary; until then I prefer to do more blogs because they are therapeutic; and although I’d have no hesitation in defending any true friends life, tis better to do good things in non-emergency situations.
So, conclusion, – for better mental health cultivate friendship.

Eric Berne MD my kind of humanist psychiatrist ” in What Do You Say after you Say Hello, author also of Games People Play, says:

”One thing in life is more certain than taxes and just as certain as death: the sooner you make new friends, the sooner you’ll have old ones.[and calm contentment I may add!]”

what keeps me well is writing poetry so therapeutic, creativty in general, and openbess too! milan buddha ghosh

A Pissed Poem

Hungover: Despair black mornings, mournings,
and Pits where slimy beings lie.
Sometimes I see the light, an inkling, even a twinkling of real life-enhancing insight, but then chosen doubt, copping out:

and tears, yet more tears, torn soul inside, and fears
Could this the way the path?
No, not really, I say.
Girl’s Own Adventure Stories
Why run at the sight of infinite possibility?
You don’t need me to tell you why.

A very confessional, and therapeutic poem by my ex:

Teresa Seed,
so cute short and pretty in her red beret and suit, 1985?

Sun 5th May 2001 Pafos, Greek Cyprus.

The sea. The sea. Rippling like eternity.
A sun high in heaven’s hold. A shore golden, rocky, gritty and smooth by turns.
A mossy sea wall, with stray cats, tails aloft, zig-zagging along their way.
The panoramic view: ships floating majestically, planes robotic-ally landing, speedboats cruising distantly. People playing in the sun, sunbathing.
A naked woman lies on her sun-bed, oblivious of her beauty, or not.
Fear and desire of this woman, knowing no love.
All this, and more arouses a seamless passion. Not of lust, but the desire to stay here now, a 1000 years in Cyprus. Knowing there’s no paradise.
Yes, these endless ripples of eternity have anchored in the rock of my heart.

Yes that’s what a large bottle of local beer Keo does for you!

Be a Thriver, not a mere service-User, or grim Survivor

Be a user but don’t be used by psychiatry,
or any person or system for that matter
Be a user not a loser.
Build yourself up
Build up your self-esteem.
Get well. Stay well.
Horrible anxiety, and Depression are hell.
Know that you can survive – And even enjoy life – I do.
Empower yourself.
Be strong. Be positive. Survive.
You are the best person in your own life.
If there is misery in your life, see it. Acknowledge it.
Then be better than it.
This slimy being , or man of fire that has haunted you all your life.
Survive. Thrive.
Even the biggest problems can be opportunities.
Try to remember you are worth it.
Be a survivor. Be a 9-liver. Be a thriver.


night time in greek cyprus

maroon deep blue night
heavenly freedom in-sight
I’d forgotten my hat suddenly remembered panic stricken
no ordinary hat red gold and green jesters
on a hotel sun-bed drenched in moonlight.
I gilded and glided down to Pafos beach, breathing high and deep
was the moon in me, or my mind in the moon,
and the sea and stars.
eyes-searching the seafront sweeping left and right
and there
recognised it,
then hearing a voice or sigh
2 moonstruck lovers
gently playing. laid out to the watching stars
averting my eyes i locked on the jester-hat
thinking lucky souls then some envy
then none at all
then higher still
everything total-real
all one
inner. outer. breath. wind.
rising lungs legs limbs. body in each and every thing
I felt a universal silent din.
every thing a verse
a walk a free breath, a weft of the Uni-verse!

15 August 2004:21:56 end

if you too would like to try your hand at poetry please come

Leeds Survivors Poetry 545pm to 745p Leeds Civic Hall, ask reception,  every fortnight from 20th of february onwards. ts very therapeutic and joyful, and we need you! why not try it out you might love it, whether you are an experienced writer or not. its very friendly indeed. love yourself and come.

30 Minutes Reading a Week Can Improve Your Life

Reading has proved good for wellbeing, but reading aloud in groups brings added benefits.

The Reader Online

A report released today by our research partner the University of Liverpool’s CRILS (Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society) in partnership with Quick Reads commissioned by Galaxy® chocolate highlights the key benefits reading can have on the nation’s wellbeing. Statistics in the report Reading Between the Lines: The Benefits of Reading for Pleasure find that those who read for just 30 minutes per week are 20% more likely to be satisfied with their lives. Other findings show that of the 16 million lapsed readers in the UK 42% of people aren’t reading because they’re unable to find the time to do so.
One of the greatest benefits of being a reader within the report was shown in the analysis regarding empathy. With just 30 minutes of reading a week, as many as two thirds of readers (64%) reported a better understanding of other people’s feelings versus less than…

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Icebreaker – Kraftwerk Uncovered

The group Icebreaker have previously done a tour where they re-interpreted songs by Brian Eno. Brian Eno shot to fame in the early 70s with the band Roxy Music, where he played synthesizer, an instrument which was in its early stage of development.  Eno had previously been an art student, inspired by ‘minimalism’, an art form which is about only using the basics.  Eno then went on to work with a wide variety of other bands, such as David Bowie, Talking Heads and German ambient pioneers, Cluster.  After this tour, they wanted to do something similar.  They chose Kraftwerk because like Eno, (in fact much more so) they were highly influential in developing electronic music, from the early 70’s and up until the present day.


On the 23rd of January Icebreaker performed at Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds. Before the main performance, Icebreaker did their version of Terry Riley’s ‘In C’. Terry Riley was, an American minimalist composer. ‘In c’ is considered by many to be a masterpiece. The composition went through many different shades, from mellow to noisy, from joyous to dark, from hypnotic to intense. It gradually built up from a luxuriant clarinet to a climax of sound. There was a part that for some reason made me think of a giant worm coming out of the earth!


Each Kraftwerk song was performed as an avant-garde instrumental, apart from a little snippet of processed German vocals, which I believe was sampled from Kraftwerk. Each song segued into the next. The performance was for about an hour. The songs combined many eclectic sounds and influences. After a while a booming bass appeared. The drums were more for percussive effect, such as crashing symbols, rather than rhythm. They were combined with electronic drums for extra volume and bass.


Above the musicians were three large screens.  The screens began showing abstract shapes and rotating wire mesh which flashed to the pulsating bass and crashing symbols. There were shots of what would normally be mundane – doors, windows, pieces of metal. Grainy black and white images of Kraftwerk’s home city of Dusseldorf, desolate streets and factories with no people.  Weeds blowing in the wind, industrial chimneys blowing out thick smoke.  These images could have been filmed anywhere in the Western world. Scenes that would usually have been empty and inhuman evoked emotion.  The film, created by Sophie Clements and Toby Cornish, is intended to create insight into Kraftwerk’s ideas of technology and how technology affects urban and natural space.  For the song ‘Autobahn’, first we were shown a car driving down a motorway, from the viewpoint of a passenger.  Then, the screen showed the white lines of the road, which you would expect to be dull but was in fact rather intriguing!  The bleak images contrasted with the powerful music.  It would be interesting to know what Kraftwerk would think about this! I thoroughly enjoyed this performance.  Much thanks goes to Howard Assembly Rooms

Members of Icebreaker: James Poke – flute, pan-pipes, WX11 wind synthesizer, bass drum, Rowland Sutherland – flute, pan-pipes, Bradley Grant – saxophone, clarinet, Dominic Saunders – keyboards, Ian Watson – accordion, Audrey Riley – electric cello, Dan Gresson – percussion, James Woodrow – guitar, bass guitar, Pete Wilson – bass guitar with J.Peter Schwalm on electronics and processing.

By Daniel Tavet

Light Bulbs


Reduce your heating lighting bills, save money and save the planet; and thus be happier by karmic wholesome choices I invite you to – it is win-win-win.

I had some en-light-en-ment recently (GROAN!)

I had a spark in my head…..

it said…..

            “replace your energy saving

            light-bulbs to even lower

            wattage light-bulbs.”

Karma is well-being including energy / environment saving / lower Carbon emissions / energy bills for those who choose to make the effort of wholesome change. Life is for living. Folks usually misunderstand karma as negative consequences only. Actions, including spoken words, have consequences, it is often said. However, what people forget is that wholesome choices = karmas, consequences that make us happy and contented. In other words, we create our own life’s satisfaction happiness and well-being. I live my life that way now.

So, please save yourself money and the planet and take the following advice.

1) Take out your old light-bulbs. Look for the wattage – they should range from 100 watt down to 40 watt (old bulb) to 14 or even 11 watts per energy saving bulb. You’re doing well, if you get lower than 11 watts (the print on bulbs can be very small so look carefully. Incidentally if you feel like writing to the manufacturer then please do to increase the font size, as far as possible, so that sight-disabled people can read it and benefit from the energy-saving light-bulbs)

2) Order online. Search for ”energy-saving bulbs Leeds UK”; there are 20 Leeds in the world hence the UK bit addition. I’ve got mine as low as 3 watts . This means the bulbs are so efficient that they produce hardly any heat and over 95 percent heat. The reverse of the old story/bulbs! Fantastic!

3) Replace your bulbs and give the old energy-saver bulbs (if lower than your neighbours) to a neighbour.

Your health, your wealth saved!

Please go to British Gas, or any other energy supplier company that you use, in order to get free light-bulbs – or contact the ‘Green Doctor’, see details below.

Conclusions: Reduce your heating lighting bills, save money and save the planet; and thus be happier by karmic wholesome choices I invite you to – it is win-win-win.

For information on alternative Green Deal Schemes you can visit The Energy Saving Trust website or call the Energy Saving Trust helpline on 0300 123 1234, who can help you in all sorts of ways. For instance there are grants and subsidies available covering a wide range of measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation, energy efficient heating and other energy saving measures.

Warm Homes Service grants for insulation and heating measures are available to owner occupiers or private rented tenants, living in Leeds, who are suffering from illnesses or have disabilities aggravated by cold and damp conditions. Contact the Warm Homes Service on 0113 391 8336 for further information.

The Green Doctor, run by Groundwork Leeds, provides face to face advice to vulnerable households on energy efficiency, grants and other environmental issues. They also supply and install measures such as draught excluders, energy efficient light bulbs, pipe lagging and reflective radiator panels for free. Contact the Green Doctor on 0113 238 0601 or email greendoctorleeds@groundwork.org.uk

The Green Deal is the new government initiative that allows you to make energy-saving improvements to your home or business without having to pay all the costs up front.

Wrap Up Leeds ECO is a partnership between Leeds City Council, Keepmoat, Wilmott Dixon and SSE. Since July 2013, Wrap Up Leeds ECO has helped hundreds of Leeds householders to cut their fuel bills by installing cavity and solid wall insulation, loft insulation and boiler replacements. However, it is now closed to new applicants. We will soon announce our new partnership to help you to heat your home for less.  To preregister please call us on 0113 3950757.

The government has issued a simple guide to access help and information. The guide aims to help householders towards lower bills and warmer homes.


by Milan Buddha Ghosh