Is it just me …


© NASA The object in the middle of this image, sitting alone within a star-studded cosmos, is a galaxy known as ESO 486-21. ESO 486-21 is a spiral galaxy, albeit with a somewhat irregular and ill-defined structure, located some 30 million light-years from Earth. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observed this object while performing a survey — the Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS) — of 50 nearby star-forming galaxies.

… or does this image render you weak at the knees too? It came to my attention via the ubiquitous Twitter where its 124 characters read: During a survey of galaxies, @NASA Hubble telescope spotted a galaxy in the process of forming new stars.   Carefree as you please: couldn’t sound more normal, pedestrian, dull even.

Whining whenever possible about the ghastliness of our graceless times, the balm of reflecting on the third side of that coin is a Restorative. If we have the technology to see across 30 million miles, why do we not see what’s on our doorstep?

Last evening’s perfectly vertical cuticle of new moon is about as much as I can fully grasp. The glorious simplicity radiating the exquisite truth that no matter for how much Arlene Foster nobbles the Government to hide past mis-managements, no matter how deeply this caving-in will inform European negotiators’ approach to nailing the UK for every penny, no matter how bizarre grow the brittle effluvia of #Resident Trump, none of it really matters.

We are inconsequential amid the inconceivableness of the universe: thank goodness nothing we do could disrupt the symbiosis of space objects and their relation to one another. Would that we learnt from such an example.

UnLocking productivity


© Hartswood Films/Sherlock                         Jim Moriaty in reflective mode

On this first anniversary of the Brexit vote, we dare to reflect elsewhere.

Lack of productivity is said to be a problem. Hoodathort?

Hoodathort restricting freedoms by funneling innate human resources into ever tighter, more myopic perspectives or conjuring up ever-more mean-spirited procedural strictures would have so siphoning an impact, so draining of scintillation?


On the first day of my formal working life, a couple of colleagues took me out for a drink at lunchtime – yes, in those days it was the norm – and cautioned the City’s two drivers were fear and greed. I don’t suppose other places are immune to these values; but let’s take fear as the more interesting.

Fear of what? Saying/Doing/Feeling/Believing the wrong thing? Of being unmasked/misunderstood/mis-judged/ under- or over-estimated/mis-directed? Strikes me that the paralysis which fear invokes is a greater drain on resources – intellectual, commercial, emotional, psychological – than Asian Flu or some equally ghastly, non-fatal global horror.

If employers desire their people to stride out into commercial Nirvana, they must be given the freedom to imagine and to make mistakes. The Post-It Note emerged as a result of too much or little – I forget which – sticky stuff tipped into a pot. No-one died, the company didn’t fold as a result of disproportionate ingredient evacuation: no. Something miraculous happened and profits at 3M shot through transcendence into the noumenal sphere.

Giving people their head demonstrates trust and respect for their abilities and would transform corporate morale, hence productivity, at a stroke.

If you’re that decision-maker, try it and see. I dare you.


For your nostalgic amusement, here’s what we posted as a result of last year’s poll. Come what May

Yes I did


© Jack Brockwell                                    BH Obama kite-surfing off Necker

It seems reasonable to suppose everybody’s grin would be this wide if doing something from which one had been prevented for the last eight years. The image, taken in February off Necker Island, reveals not merely the man beneath the sombre suit but reminds us there is more to life than a job.

These pages have rent and torn themselves over past months’ woe while the present is, if anything, worse. It’s important to find some chink through which light can seep in order that gloom doesn’t settle, as a shroud, to inform our world view.

If you’ve ever had your heart broken, you’ll know that putting one foot in front of the other is just about all one can manage for a while. Not all of us have been caught up in current shocking events but I imagine that this slender task of just keeping going will chime.

When others tell you it’ll make you stronger and you just manage to keep from throttling them, you know that it’ll never get better and your heart will never mend. Coz it doesn’t and it don’t.

Yet somehow the resilience that lives within for cases of emergency hammocks our shattered frame while it mends. And after a long time of dark, suddenly you notice the sun’s out and there be more to life than the job of existing.

Pro tem, by simply being present, we can support. Not having to say anything but be willing to Listen. Doing this simple thing helps begin the healing of victims’ trauma and that of survivors’ guilt.


Love: strongest of all


In the 23 minutes of Sunday’s Six o’Clock News [BBC R4] devoted to the Islamic terror attack in The Borough on Saturday, not a single Muslim leader spoke to denounce the attack. I called the Today programme’s production team to urge them to ensure an Islamic voice could be heard, as a Muezzin, calling through the core of this morning’s programme to denounce these actions.

Alas, to no avail.

Clearly these agents of execution listen to someone. The frenzied action to which they’re motivated has seaped into their being. Why is the alternative not volubly, emphatically, decisively finding its way into their hearts transported there by cultural peers?

Something profound has changed. Something’s shifted.

My Muslim friends are as hate-filled, militant, offensive and violent as Agnostic/Christian/Jewish/Taoist/Buddhist friends, ie not at all.

The explosion of chaos in the hearts of these destruction men and women in whom has been nurtured this annihilating aspiration is inexplicable. The mujahideen morphed into the taliban who inspired al qaeda which fostered daesh and brought forth … this. This vacuity of humanity, this vomit of purpose, this belch of faith.

It’s a struggle to find an emotionally intelligent explanation of what has happened in Manchester and on Westminster & London Bridges in the last couple of months. Clearly we’ve entered an epoch where this kind of monstrous happening has yet to reach its peak.

What is the rational reaction? Who knows: but I shall ask every Muslim who’ll speak to me how they think this country should respond; and then urge we all to do exactly that.

Balm of being meaningfully useful


Processing the shattering vacuity responsible for last week’s destruction of so many lives in Manchester takes more than time. It demands deep empathy in order to comprehend the pain it has wrought.

Reports cascaded of taxi drivers ferrying fareless rides; residents offering beds for the night to those involved, solidarity cascading from the shoulders of Mancunians as off-duty medical staff dashed to their hospitals.

How we deal with shock is a function of our inner being. Class, nationality, gender, orientation, intellect: none has the slightest impact on our humanity which is the determining factor in how we respond to, inter alia, unbelievably awful events. It’s instinct, our inner-ness which governs or … which directs action.

And by giving of ourselves, the healing process begins. It ain’t rocket science; it’s more sophisticated than that.


Just this moment it’s been announced John Noakes has died. Everybody’s uncle he, along with Shep, cheered one up every single time he was on screen making meaningful connection with each Blue Peter child.

God speed, John Noakes.

It’s behind you


Image: Apogee and Perigee moons

Have you ever bumped into a lamp-post for gazing up into the wide black yonder peckled by light burning billions of miles away?

Yesterday, intoxicated by sticky fragrance of Elderflower, an evening wander amid the fresh and fat green of a sprung Spring was a squinting puzzlement. Where was the perigee super moon?

A Super Moon is so termed in virtue of its proximity to th’Earth. Not an astronomical term, yet its frequency is slight: the next such closeness will occur in 2034.

In my mind, I only saw a full and huge moon, to which end only looked towards the Eastern sky. And that was my mistake; closing the mind to the prospect of anything other than fullness.

How often is that the case, I wonder; shutting off ears, mind, heart to possibility in light of misapprehension? Too often in my case but you might be different. The upside is a gradual chipping away of my ignorance to allow in more light of understanding.

[P’raps I should add that its position, between the sun and earth meant it was indiscernable even if I had squinted in th’opposite direction. Tant pis pour moi.]

Quid pro quantum leap


Image                                                         An irate-looking, savoury lentil burger

It’s marvellously cheering to learn of success borne of values-laden endeavour.

A hamlet north of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire gives its name to the local football team, Forest Green Rovers. Regular readers of these pages will know how we love to wade into waters too deep and splash around trying to cause waves. In this way, we’ve been frantically critical of FIFA and joyful of G Southgate Esq.

This, then can’t be resisted. A chap whose fortune was made through concern for the planet has enabled the club to leap from one football league to another. What pleases far more – given our lack of knowledge of the game – is that his money leveraged transformation of the club’s exo-structure.

Eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince has put his mouth where his money is by ensuring players and fans no longer munch on meat and dairy products while at The New Lawn. The ground and buildings are powered by solar panels and there’s a charging point for electric cars.

Sustainable use of the Earth’s resources is his motivation, a mindset which can be easily absorbed to inform how lightly we tread on the planet. Nothing contentious there. Except that usually it’s the other way around. Usually, our modus operandi is fashioned by those whose eye is on their own wallet resident in their own pocket.

Perhaps this kind of eco warring will catch on? It takes a quantum leap of the imagination, naturally, yet believing evolution is possible when principled concern funds it seems a cheerful way to glide leagues ahead.