Amid Lambo and Purgatory


© Compassion in World Farming                                                            Spring

First Day of Spring has a different ring to it, donchafind? 2019: there’s an otherness. Not even near cresting its Fell / Furth / Munro / Fawr … top is what I’m trying to say, it seems as though we’re all goldfish, opening and closing mouths with nothing useful emerging. Our unchartered waters are … well, what are they: choppy? turgid? modal?

It feels like we’re all in a state of suspended animation.

Terrible things, really terrible things are happening in the world yet there’s a sense each is just another fish in the bouillabaisse of woe. The grinding tedium of this dismal process offends every fibre of generosity cultivated over a life-time of believing that we’ve just this one world [unless and until China finishes building its new wall on the Dark Side of the Moon] and isn’t it kinder to be cheerful with our neighbours?

Not an apologist by nature – I wonder how these isles would respond were they forced to devote n years’ time, humanity and resource to the internal affairs of a neighbouring country? I daresay the UK would respond as Princess Anne so ably instructed a photographer eons ago [Badminton, 1982] to Naff Orf.

© News International                                                                                  Image

As we ricochet between Limbo and Purgatory in a kind of maniacal pinball, what words of comfort are there to find, better to soothe geological laid furrows of our brow?

We can and will do this: we can and will make it through and we shall emerge into a fully sprung Spring with something over which to be joyful.

Convinced? Naaaaaah: neither am I.


Pulling in opposite directions


Many moons ago, my boss chirruped that an old mucker of his had become the Prime Minister’s press secretary. Plain old Gus O’Donnell was a bright chap well versed in finance and had spent the preceding year in a similar role for the Chancellor: given the holder of those two great offices of State shared numerical identity in the form of John Major, that’s not so surprising.

Weaving himself through the highest echelons of power, his tenure as Cabinet Secretary from 2005 to the end of 2011 was not to be the end of his political prowess and he now sits in the Lords as a Cross-bencher.

To say he knows a thing or two about how Westminster functions would be uncontroversial.

On the radio this week in the context of Brexit’s impasse, Baron O’Donnell said “What the Civil Service is after is direction”. [BBC R4 PM 12.iii.19 @ 17.24]

And there we have it.

While you may also have steam of frustration and tears of exhaustion pouring out of you, maybe you also wondered how a once finely-ordered set of isles had imploded into a cess-pool of its own creation?

Seemingly, it lies in virtue of the Government and Civil Service being in a tug-of-war. [After Brexeat, what next?]

Where does one even begin with this vacuous void? Perhaps with a spot of emotional intelligence-gathering?

From nothing emerges something


Andy Beck                                                                                      Brave new Dawn

For the longest time, coercive control didn’t exist and, as such, couldn’t be spoken of or discussed. When attempts were made to do so, it was batted away or not believed or incurred contempt. No-one was willing to Listen.

But then something happened.

Was it enlargement of understanding, by which we mean a willingness to understand: in short, empathy? Or mebbie it was wider exhaustion with maintaining the pretence that a human being lashes out for no reason? We’re told at school, are we not, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction?

Lamentably, it not trivializing to mention the Helen Archer/Rob Titchener storyline The Archers ran in contributing to public awareness of this grim cancer in relationships. It played a crucial role in projecting it to the forefront of public consciousness.

Let me be clear: if you have not been the object of a coercive controller’s brutality, you will have to work hard to grasp the extent of its annihilating impact.

Today, Harriet Wistrich successfully argued Sally Challen’s conviction for murder was ill-conceived. Lady Justice Heather Hallett stated this appeal was not about coercive control but “conditions which were undiagnosed at the time [of the trial]” and ordered a retrial. So shifts the balance in justice.

The invisible damage this kind of brutal abuse wreaks gnaws at the core of one’s resilience. It excavates confidence and autonomy and freedom. It creeps with inexorable menace to shroud one from the world and if lucky enough to escape, it is only with considerable hindsight that the unending litany of coercive acts come into sharper focus. When in their midst, it is impossible to grasp that anyone might actually intend such harm. Invidiously corrosive, the nature of controlling behaviour invades to the very marrow of hope.

If minded to uphold the Challen family in your heart and all families struggling for survival from within a cauldron of emotional abuse, then remember that treating others as you’d wish to be treated is a fine start to blotting out this blight.

Walking on air


 © Steve Burnett                     Prize-winning shot of natural nature

It is at once a shattering relief and a complete no-brainer: that flourishing mental health is increasingly and volubly associated with mingling in Nature.

These pages like to promote the simplicity and efficacy of genial escape by walking in green landscape and blue waterscape to soothe the mind, enabling it to comb through the tangles. Applies just as much to animals: think how unhappy captive creatures are, removed from their proper habitat.

The prize this image deserves was awarded by the Campaign for National Parks which is celebrating seventy years of ambling amid the glory of creation.            [It was a matter of squinting puzzlement when living amid the Fells, that 75% of residents never set foot on a rambling path while 5% wouldn’t be prized from them.]

Pressing oneself into the grooves of the landscape reconnects to the fundamentals of existence. It resets the internal compass to direct us towards a kinder approach and consideration to tread more lightly on our Globe.

Image                        Moonscape

Mebbie the Earth’ll end up    as arid as any other planet in the solar system: devoid of rapturous, balanced beauty: valuing & appreciating it while we have it enhances individual and universal humanity. … Back to the owl.

@SteveBurnett_                          Right: supper A short-eared owl … on a mission

Check its expression: does it suggest to you he’s heading for something distinct … inferring thought? Won’t it be great once we permit all creatures sentience?

Untangling the web


Image                                                                          Funnel-web spider’s crib

One of the scintillating qualities the mind possesses is that of sieve. It allows the stuff of life to fall through until such time as we’re ready to see it or feel it … or hear it: know what I mean?

A wonderful mathematician & computer scientist was speaking of how she mustered support to save Bletchley Park by means of connecting with like-minded strangers through the twitosphere.

I’m not sure if being ‘very very pants’ is something that can be said in sentient company: nonetheless, it is an accurate description of my techné in this area. Her words had me dashing to squint at @emotionalresilience and #Empathy and … all those aspects of existence on which these pages comment.

It was a depleting experience: seems there ain’t many of us who reason these matters … matter.

The Materials that we supply – not only here but in universal encouragement to let lives speak – inform how generously we can contribute to the wider world. What’s done becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy: being gloomy causes one gloom just as a kind act ignites kindness.

It’s not rocket science: it’s more sophisticated than that.



© The Guardian                                             photo credited to Bettman/Corbis Taken in 1942 after relentless bombing which, miraculously, missed St Paul’s

It’s hard to explain to European friends the how and why  of division cleaving asunder convention. Sober reflection our parent of parliaments traditionally promotes appears to have evaporated in the heat of wild anxiety. (Julian of Norwich was quoted on the radio earlier: she who tends to be wheeled out, alas, when hopelessness hoves over the horizon.)

This evening’s Parliamentary vote on the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, designed to protect the Irish border, has the potential to explode the Referendum’s result.

Who knew the bloated tedium that would result from David Cameron’s attempt to make his mark? Who appreciated the fickleness of an ill-informed electorate? The vacuity of detail in the run-up to that June 2016 decision now appears so frantically obvious it’s hard to grasp how we didn’t ask more pertinent questions.

Tiens: hindsight, huh?

Setting aside the partisan nature of war, it would be interesting to listen to those who experienced the Blitz comment on the politics [poliblitz seems more accurate] of these self-immolating days. Would they see beyond the rats-in-a-sack spectacle or sit in expectation of the monumental fall-out?

How we see the world


Maps have a particular power of attraction. In capturing the eye, the imagination comes galloping up behind and before you know it, you’re swinging through jungles or placing chips on green baize or snorkeling over shark and sea cucumbers.

The Globe laid out flat before that eye provides an irresistible chance to dream: notwithstanding historic reasons of Empire, for a couple of hundred years many maps placed Great Britain in the middle.

The sun was said never to set on the British Empire by virtue its territory spanned round the corners. This 1897 map fixes the United Kingdom surrounded by its spoils.

Twenty Nineteen’s dawning illuminates that we must accustom ourselves to a differently configured world. Trade, movement, scientific collaboration and education will all have to wriggle better to accommodate the new shape of things to come.

Perhaps this is an apposite moment to refresh how we understand the subtleties of emotional resilience?

Developing expertise of assessing others’ state of mind – emotional intelligence-gathering – differs from evolving the skill to fortify suppleness and sensitivity to currents. Emotional literacy, accurately reading the signs of others’ mood, allows instant evolution in conducting dialogue.

The strength and wonder of bamboo lies in its flexibility. Bending amid the gales that’ll blow through historic customs this year will help fortify how we emerge. Cultivating kindness is the simplest, titanium-strength strategy to fortify birth into a new world that is coming.

Have yourselves a happily kind New Year.