New word alert – Avianity

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© Derek Eland                                                                            Little Langdale II

Rather splendidly, it seems gardeners aren’t the only ones for whom the light rain yesterday was a blessing. This day dawned and by Six, the sun was already at 30° and fiercely warm. But what made this morning different from the last was the response from the song birds who’ve been dejectedly mute of late.

Euphoric chirruping, while not cacophonous as April’s claxon, was boogyingly buoyant and appeared thrilled by the refreshment of their surroundings. Here’s a link to what we said then.

The dry, hard earth’s yielding few slugs and while it’s a less sticky walk if you’re bare-foot through the meadows, it means the birds have less to eat. [Indeed, voles have had a hard time of it too: none seen since February’s glut. Nuff said.]

One need only listen to the avianity billowing from trees, bushes and hedges to ponder the infinite fragility of balance of which humanity is the custodian. Birds: sentient, alive, alert, react as any other creature when their existence is enrosied. Their expression of joy is audible – while a grey heron simply bounced along the rooves of canal boats such was its rejuvenation.

Thus, rather than an exception, wouldn’t it be simpler to make kindfulness-to-our-surroundings the rule and do what we can to nourish Earth and her atmosphere? Replenish: strike a chord?

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Sophisticating football

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© BBC                                                                                                  HMS Victory

It is heartening to listen to sports commentors speak of the emotional intelligence of Gareth Southgate and his approach to managing the young England football team.

When he was appointed in November 2016, we noted his manner and self-knowledge bode well for the future of English football.

While Croatia’s fair victory curtailed England’s voyage of self discovery, this “team in the making” as Barry Davies described them on the radio, will set sail on others, taking with them fuller awareness of their potential, fuller wind in their sails.

From a dispassionate stance, it’ll be interesting to discern the team’s current mettle by virtue of its last match to determine Third/Fourth place at the World Cup.

Even if one is not bitter in life, there is still danger to become sour which is why acceptance and release matters. Unless this casting off occurs, moving on can’t happen. With Southgate at the helm, in England we can now expect every man will do his duty.

Shark Market of Al-Hodeidah

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©  Robert Harding                                                  A Great Hammerhead Shark    Simply couldn’t face an image of the market. So much death, so little hope

For the longest time, this Blogos has wanted to talk about Yemen: the aching tragedy, the annihilating trauma, the febrile waste, the biblically inexhaustible march of plagueful horror.

At the port of Al-Hodeidah there once was a shark market. Mebbie there still is? If you went, first thing in the morning, you’d find a tennis court sized space the floor of which would be strewn with shark carcasses. The defiance of their dead eyes seeped out sightlessly, a dismal, undignified end for such unstooping creatures.

Grey and Whitetipped Reef are shorter than Scalloped Hammerheads which, in turn are shorter than the Tiger Shark: all lay as individuals in a shattering anxiety of death. The excruciating continuation of that image, observed twenty-five years ago between the first Gulf War and their second civil war, ricochets through the mind now, given this unending, unyielding belligerence of Yemen’s warring, autonomy-craving factions.

Huth, a small town west of the Sana’a to Sa’dah highway, was a feisty place back then. But it wasn’t murderous. How did it transform into a crucible of reaction?

When individuals are denied their inalienable right to a dignified life, it grates the spirit. That rough exterior can’t be soothed with liniment.

It seems, in the case of Houthi’s rebels (inspired by dissident Zaidi cleric Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi) who assassinated Ali Abdullah Salleh on their way trying to rid the country of Saudi, Jordanian, Moroccan and US forces, that their only hope is for dignity in death.

But as the sharks could show, lack of life removes possibility of redemption.

The port is a lifeline for a population drowning in misfortune. The North produces Qat and little else while the South is fertile if cultivated. War has severed all conceivable arteries of assistance.

If peace is to settle over this extraordinary country and fiercely tribal, bewildered people, all foreign military interests have to leave … them in peace. If this happens, (notwithstanding the Cholera, child mortality, poverty, absence of infrastructure, furiously vested interests) the Yemenis will sort it out for themselves: Insha’Allah.

Bilderberg – mounting a picture of progress

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Image: looking north west over Turin

“The Bilderberg Meeting is an annual meeting designed to foster dialogue and discussion between Europe and North America … bringing together individuals who share an active interest in affairs relevant to the relationship between [them]. There is no desired outcome, there is no closing statement, there are no resolutions proposed or votes taken.”

“An invitation to this group [supervenes on] whether participants can bring an interesting perspective to the discussions and invited by virtue of the different point of view they offer.”

“The first meeting took place in Hotel De Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, Netherlands, from 29 to 31 May 1954. Representatives from economic, social, political and cultural fields were invited to hold informal discussions to help create a better understanding of the complex forces and major trends affecting Western nations in the difficult post-war period.”

So, plus ça change.

Fostering dialogue and understanding is a Good on any measure. Participants are figures on the kind of global stage where the curtains rarely open and whose actors move quietly behind the scenes as well.

Here’s the list of the delegates.

Were the shroud of privacy to be lifted, it’d be interesting to listen to how the recent introduction of business brinkmanship to North American politics is discussed by this distillation of Davos.

Mebbie, it’s precisely the ingredient needed to ignite fresh thinking? Mebbie, in Turin this week, the dialogue fostered within The Bilderberg Meeting might sift to the surface the largest stone to polish it a bit?

* text in “inverted commas” is lifted from the Bilderberg site

Ils font un singe de nous

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Feet held to the fire singe quickly, it seems.

With everything and nothing going on, it’s been remiss of us not to record some kind of emotionally literate response to it all. We do so now in virtue our ears have received a metaphorical box for neglecting implications to the wider world.

There’s a reason. Perplexed to the point of paralysis, we can’t quite emerge from under the dismay of acrasia — which you know to mean weakness of will.

The world, through inertia or frantic stupidity or disbelief or acrasia, has enabled what we euphemistically term pinball wizards* to wrest power in countries around the globe. Turkey, USA, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, the UK, North Korea – though there its people aren’t culpable – Poland, Israel, Hungary [beddastopthere, Ed].

What are we doing? What are we thinking? This is how things went awry in Weimar Germany. We have to wake from this vaccuous torpor which has levered malign imbeciles into positions that determine how we live.

This, doubtless, is not what was expected when feet were released from their crisping: the Sussex’s wedding, the unfurling of a balming Spring – both worth reflection. Nonetheless, emotional intelligence is not a comfortable candy-floss for the weak. It is naked in the face of interrogation and sticks out its tongue at detractors who know little of truth.

*Pinball wizard: described by Elton John on The Who album Tommy. If unfamiliar with the lyrics, we infer being a stranger to veracity, integrity, professionalism by virtue of lacking sight, hearing and speech.

Birds do it

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Image                                                                     Not that sort of Blackbird, Ed

You know those vehicles whose engines leap at the touch of an accelerator? Well, in this part of the world, Spring sprang out at us on Sixth April. By Tenth, cherry blossom had done its work and last week, the grass had the bounce of a recently sprung trampoline – adult size.

Listening to avian conversation has been a delicious splooosh, refreshing memory of the busyness of this time of year: students throwing all-nighters in wild and frantic revision, corporate budgets finalized for next year and clothes pulled from winter wrappings and shaken back into life by a promisingly warm breeze. Yet, it’s the banter of birds that concerns us.

Watching Blackbirds converse is almost eves-dropping. Their bold chirrup ends with a full-stop at which they hold themselves statuesquely still. They’re listening for the response. Once you too have tuned in and found that cheerful song, it’s euphorically simple to follow the dialogue.

Chatterboxes? I wouldn’t be able to get a word in such is the buoyancy of chatter. Anthropomorphizing with abandon, you really hear nest-building progress, shopping lists, diary co-ordination, family updates and choice of supper. Occasionally, they appear to make jokes. It’s stunning.

It seems endlessly reassuring that Listening is important in all worlds, not merely mammalian.

Seeing is believing

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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.