Thanks Giving is a very particular celebration to which this side of the Pond seems immune. The Third Thursday of November is a vortex drawing in kith, kin and kindreds: closeness for closeness’ sake.

This secular gemütlichkeit has often been said to be a more important day on the US calendar than Christmas – one wonders if it pertains to sacred days of other religions: for the sake of the point we treat them akin.

And the point here is that celebrations are to be [yerp, you’ve guessed it] … celebrated as objects of wonder and cheer.

To which end, we join in on this Hurrah to Life, the solar system and everything.

Mercury ii





Mars – note no Earth in this sequence. It’s in the naughty orbit currently,  undeserving of a look in amid these infinitely peaceful images.



Saturn ii









All pictures come from NASA by virtue of spaceships, telescopes and the ambition to see beyond the beyond.

  • by the by, who knew there to be almost four blue planets?

He brought them all home


One hundred years ago today, the day was a Sunday, sank The Endurance.

It was the ship, actually more of a boat, from which Ernest Shackleton had hoped to enable his team to master the South Pole and conquer th’Antarctic.

I am indebted to both the RGS and BBC for bringing to my attention Frank Hurley’s splinteringly clear photographic account of what must have seemed the doomed record of a bizarrely timed expedition.

This link will get you to what I’ve just seen and clearly tells the story more authoritatively than I could.

Apart from the joy of hoping you see it, the reason it seems noteworthy is to applaud the ethic of ‘for its own sake’. I’m sure Shackleton was a beast of an egoist whose force of destiny drove his prudent historical placement. But that can’t have been all of it. Somewhere within his breadth and depth must have been nurtured the notion of striving to leap beyond his own, unsinkable endurance and inspire others likewise.

There seems something splendid in that.

Sink hole


One reason people wear a white poppy in early November is to bear kinship with the brave souls who defend our freedoms while expressing dismay at the failure in dialogue which leads to War.

With the dreadful business in Paris on Friday and this morning’s swoop on a group suspected of fermenting more horrors, it’s terrifically hard to find a rational approach amid the chaotic anxiety of prevention.

On the day the gentle, genial, quelling giant Jonah Lomu has died, empathic thoughts of finding a suasive way through this turmoil naturally turn to the long game. Because it seems inevitable that military force – boots on the ground – is a necessary consequence. (Yeah, but sufficient? Ed)

Might we, this time, think now of the exit strategy? Could we, perhaps, reflect on the the emotional cost to nations and produce a strategically intelligent goal and stick to it?

Al Assad tries to live up to his father. Putin tries to live up to his namesake Ras … putin. Islamic Statements of destruction appear anxious to remold the Qu’ran away from Compassion and Mercy. Ought we maieut a way forward that minimizes atrophy?

While White Poppies are not rounds of ammunition perhaps they could be the 4 bi 2 of dialogue?

A rose by any other name


Colin Welland, actor and screen-writer, died this week.

It was he who announced, upon accepting the Oscar at the 1982 ceremony for his Chariots of Fire original screenplay, “The British are coming”. Mass cheeriness which met and deepened the film’s success certainly cemented many a career.

The title comes from a line in Jerusalem, one of the few anthems which fire British blood. Amid the David Puttnam (the film’s producer) Archive held in the special collections of the British Film Institute lies the very first, type-written script for the movie. Naturally enough, on its cover page sits the title:


it says.

This speaks to me.

The evolution which transformed its original name seems to project a silhouette of wrestling with the surface to dig down into the viscera of meaning.

Some people called Welland “an actor and screen-writer” while others said “a loving and generous friend, husband, father and grandfather”.