Seeing is believing


At the 2006 Crisis over Christmas jamboree in Sunny Deptford, there came a chap who entranced everyone in the joint. He had dancing eyes which stilled themselves into an inferno of intensity and concentration only to clatter off again in a polka of mirth. He worked with febrile vigour and just shone, seeming to feed off the delight his skill ignited.

He came to give undiluted pleasure to Guests and Volunteers in performing mind-defying conjuring feats with cards & watches, rings & strings. The squash of people around had no impact on his ability, dexterity and gleeful cheek. He said his name was Dynamo: piquantly descriptive and sPlendaciously mysterious.

It seems he’s gone onto somewhat greater things than that wigwam-like edifice in the life-death-and-sex-on-the-streets place which once was Sunny Deptford. [P’raps I should say that SE8 and SE14 have undergone something of a transformation and the salty old sea dogs who once lounged on the great Anchor at the top of the High Street have all been moved on by the boys in blue.]

Meanwhile Dynamo’s been giving pupil-dilating surprise and rapture to millions of people ever since and grown a properly vast following.

News came the other day that he has been unwell.

A man whose skill transforms every single spectator of his wizardry into a smiling, wide-eyed child deserves to receive wellness wishes wafted from every quarter to bolster return  of health and strength.

Easter is a time of renewal, regeneration, restoring-ness. We have your back, Dynamo and want you restored to health and vitality. You can and will do it.


The Jung Ones


© Ben Elton?                                       Neil, Rik, Vyvyan & Mike in younger days

Could Jung’s proposition of archetypes – that psyche is a composition of three elements namely the ego, personal unconscious and collective unconscious – influencing our behaviour explain the synchronicity of trans-polar neighbours.

In one of the twelve pearls that are the episodes of The Young Ones, the phrase negative reality inversion is uttered by the hapless Neil upon emerging along with clones from a muck-heap.

Ras and the #Resident could be a tribute band instead of the democratically elected leaders of the OyesUR & USA.

The seeming reflected image over the polar ice-cap of two slight and trivial individuals who appear willing to heap responsibility for their own actions to the shoulders of collective consciousness is dazzling. Along with an election-boosted ego and personal unconscious, Ras will be in power til 2024 which coincides with the #Resident’s planned departure from the term of office for which campaigning as already begun.

Never mind the precedence it sets, load your rowlocks for a fast getaway otherwise heavy, heavy, heavy: it’s gonna be the negative reality of an invasion.


A proud day for Saaaafease London


© BBC                                                                           see footnote

A crow wouldn’t even need to flap a mile to fly between the childhood homes of two luminary thesps: Hatcham Park Road in New Cross Gate whence Gary Oldman honed his observations and Crooms Hill, on the edge of Greenwich Park which became home for the two-year old Dan Day-Lewis.

Two men of similar age, whose routes to Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre began around the same curve of the Thames and went off-piste thereafter, both recognized by their peers. That same crow would have 5450 miles to cover in staggering between those beginnings and this evening’s Hollywood Boulevard destination.

G Oldman Esq and Sir Daniel Day-Lewis receiving their, respectively, first and last nominations for Actor in a Leading Role from AMPAS. That’s a fine symmetry.

In this, not winning doesn’t mean losing. In this, being nominated acknowledges achievement of endeavour.

Muscles developed to overcome inevitable rejection amid learning the craft as young actors must be drawn upon by 80 per cent of nominees on Oscar night. It is a brutally public process.

When Anthony Minghella clutched his Best Picture Oscar in 1997 for The English Patient, he declared it a proud moment for the Isle of Wight. Of the small world which has long-divorced couple Lesley Manville OBE and Oldman both nominated, one might say it’s proud moments for South East London and East Grinstead. [This is posted amid pre-prandial slurps at lunchtime.]

Footnote: OK, here’s the thing. We weren’t quite able to find an attractive picture capturing both Hatcham Park Road and Crooms Hill. The first lies just south of the left corner while the latter is on the west side of Greenwich Park sitting like a green bottle on the right of the frame. Accuracy Schmaccuracy.

Snap, crackle and pop


Image: Bob Vila

The avalanche of news as well as weather is ironic: when the hole we’re excavating gets deeper, convention is to stop digging.

It’s hard to conceive how a greater hash of Brexit could be made. The heroic absence of sensitivity towards the EU appears a badge proudly borne by the Government’s negotiators to whom it grows increasingly implausible to credit the ability to deliver an imaginative, workable deal.

Listening is done with the ears; with the heart, eyes, skin: attending with the complete self to the complete picture in front of you.

The team of British negotiators are lost, have lost, were lost before they began in virtue they just don’t get it. They don’t get the hurt the EU feels and they don’t get we no longer have a voice.

Blustering in with demands will not achieve them. Deafness to the impact our message yodelled across the channel in June 2016 will only shrink further the shred of benevolence for which it’s plausible to hope.

Infusing the approach to negotiations with emotional intelligence would still not alter that unfortunate inevitability of approaching severance. It would, however, demonstrate an intellectual sensitivity and willingness to show strength through flexibility: better that than the brittle snap of failure to which we toboggan.

… let me count the ways


Au bal: Manet’s thrilling expression of love’s sizzle   in the Courtaud Gallery’s collection

St Valentine’s Day: an apposite moment to reflect that in loving someone our most doting act is to set them free.

One in Three Hundred and Sixty five days seems insufficient an allowance in which publicly to express romantic love and eros. But hold a moment: erotic love is but one of many – parental love; friendship love and agapé, the love of God for humanity.

And while perhaps not so much today, the component parts of love still matter: kindfulness, generosity of spirit, affection, tenderness, cherishing endearment. Thus, perhaps this 0.3% of a year we are given license to yodel sonnets to our belovéd ought be seen in the context of competing claimants on our time. And yet …

The vulnerability of love is as piquant as its strength.

The thing it’s easy to forget is that being kind to oneself fosters the desire to be kind to others. Lovingness is a self-fulfilling prophesy and accepting everything we are gives others permission to do the same.

If you love someone or something this Valentine’s Day, set yourself free.

Common cents


Photograph by Mary Olive Edis (Mrs Galsworthy) of Dame Millicent Fawcett, circa 1910

What has changed in the Ninety years since universal suffrage or the Century since genteel anarchy in the UK led to women being permitted to vote in a graceless surrender to the inevitable? Little if it’s still an issue.

I long for it not to be and reflect on how men must view the increase in female-dominated business and political conversations / radio programmes / books / events / sports / plays / film / telly. I wonder if it occurs to them their weary exhaustion echos the centuries women have had to endure a world subjugated by men?

I saw a thing on telly – I don’t have one so it is note-worthy – and found it compelling and stirring in a way I don’t recall. It was directed by a woman. It struck me forcibly that men make art which necessarily will appeal to men. It explains a life-long dis-satisfaction with the majority of visual art; how / why / in what way could the preferred object of the male gaze appeal to women?

Men: if you can empathize with women’s lot over … well, the whole of history, you understand how tiresome it is to be stamped upon. If you were forced to: reconfigure how you think / pour yourself into uncomfortable clothes / undertake frantically dull domestic roles / endure unwelcome physical contact and inappropriate innuendo / publicly diminish the depth of your intellect so as not to outshine your spouse and all simply in virtue of women not understanding you, it seems reasonable to suppose you’d all have joined the lemmings long ago, dashing over the edge.

I long for the time gender is unremarkable. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another hundred years for men and women to agree to celebrate our equally different strengths.

Death of a sails man


Sweden’s flag, the colours are from Magnus III’s time: 1275, since you ask

Ingvar Kramprad has died, 75 years after creating IKEA.

Aged 17, he maximized the gift of dyslexia, flattening objections to his ambition and created the framework of IKEA – his initials and those of his home location.

I first came across the store in France, shocking my companion that I’d never heard of it. This was in ’83. It seemed weird to walk round a warehouse full of recognizable shapes, colour combinations and utensils I’d never seen in England but found ubiquitously in Sweden.

His thing was accessibility. Enabling all to have access to robust, enduring, ecologically sound furniture & utensils.

Contrary to popular opinion, Sweden is not a Utopia of egalitarianism. Class structure exists, sexism is rampant as is racism, homophobia and anti-semitism. I know: who knew? Well, any Swede who’s spent time away from this really bucolic land.

But the man, this modest humanitarian was not hewn from a Pine. He really was made of tested stuff which endures in virtue of its compassion.

According to a pal who also took his Stockholm bus to work, he travelled as all other commuters and carried a wee lunch pouch: no grand corporate dining for him.

I learned the store sells Kallas Kaviar (mumsfilibabba). Yesterday, I was impelled to get some – along with tunnbröd which alas wasn’t stocked so had to make do råg knäckebrot. Why yesterday?

I’m hoping it was in empathic acknowledgement at some preternatural level for his heroic achievements.

© IKEA                                                                             Ingvar Kamprad 1926 – 2018  As practically every one sails in Sweden, the flag floats everywhere