Joy delights in joy

Twitter screen shot
@GurdeepPandhur, Suki & @DamienRobi, shining

There isn’t a single part of me that doesn’t empathize with the sporting world: Tokyo Olympics, Rugby League, village cricket, Outback Picnic Races and everything inbetween. All is chaos with whole lifetimes of effort burst in a single PCR test.

For each athlete nailed to the petard of decision makers, you are loved, admired and your potential immutably recognized. Your dedication is honoured.

The only means we have of putting a hand of comfort on your forearm is to share this Joy.

Damien Robitaille, whose brain seems able organize he sings and plays three instruments at the same time as smiling, has done much to inject a glimmer to lighten hearts and battered souls. Together with his effusively buoyant Bhangra bud, Gurdeep Pandhur and hound Suki, they have softened my ice queen heart which gives thanks for all clever people whose generosity of spirit slops over the rim to shower us with their kindfulness.

Here at The Materials, all our efforts are focused on strengthening Listening skills so Understanding can flourish between and within human beings. When we see such direct communication as this, mebbie there’s hope for the world in an impenetrably bleak moment?

Pedantic or semantic?

Cruikshank’s 1819 comment on moral, social and intellectual vaccuity

Do you think if HeartMasters were as integral to schools as HeadMasters, mental&emotional health would be nurtured as with intellectual curiosity, so schools could flourish in ways wildly beyond current ambition?

We’d like to listen to your thoughts: @MBMaterials #HeartMasters.

While you’re thinking: here’s a tricky one. Does it matter that from this September onwards, these islands will officially shed Great Britain’s GB from motor vehicle license plates in favour of UK? First we heard of it was on the radio news at the start of July, followed hot on its heals by a vox pop MP referring to Global Britain.

Are Scotland, Wales and England (Northern Ireland has never been included in Great Britian for some reason … odd, considering all) being rebranded-by-a-thousand-teeny-cuts in an effort to avoid the process being noticed?

Evolution, that irresistible deliberate force of nature, serves most when many voices are heard. Mebbie never produces the best outcome but that with which the majority can live: the utilitarian option. Stealing autonomy by stealth is insidious and resultant impotent fury damages mental health, physical well-being and intellectual calm.

Is it pedantic to insist on an open discussion to thresh through how the 6,289* islands which comprise Great Britain should be known or should it be understood as mere semantics and trivial to national identity?

Does it seem to you this is the latest in a lengthening list of asset-stripping ventures? It’s almost as though these isles are being dismantled from the inside out on the trickling orders of a long-game player.

The Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport is the fellow promoting this September’s transposition. Think how proud his family must be.

* Source: Alistair McConnachie

Knowing wrong from write

Albrecht Dürer’s Knight, Death and the Devil

Mary Wakefield is married to Dominic Cummings, the PM’s former Civil Service syther. In late April 2020, she wrote and presented her Thought for Today on Radio 4’s eponymous flagship news programme.

Rather than elevating listeners’ minds to matters noumenal, the content pertained to praise of her magnificent and much maligned husband in what seemed a pre-emptive strike at subsequent complaints that howled through serious media on his oversight-testing, 30-mile drive to Barnard Castle.

Listening to it made one consider if a parallel universe had materialized for its 3 1/2 minute duration. The BBC said it was giving “the strand an occasion injection of personal covid stories”.

Having failed to right his wrong at the infamous Rose Garden press briefing in May 2020, Mr Cummings has recently attempted to justify his actions by virtue of criticising those around him at the time. Most puzzling.

What has any of this to do with emotional intelligence, mental health resilience or kindness? we hear you wail.

Well, in virtue of the gathering of the Globe’s seven, leading decision makers in St Ives at the weekend to thresh empathic wheat from political chaff, we send supportive wishes to help thoughtful Leaders drive events in a different, clear-sighted direction. It seems these islands stand in peril of writing themselves out of history if national institutions can be bullied into bewildered acceptance of wrongness.

The Family of a Man at the Barbara Hepworth Museum: all but a few steps from #CarbisBayHotel, host location for #G7 Leaders amid their weekend Summit in St. Ives.

No time for dithering

Chimera of Arezzo at the National Archaeological Museum of Florence

There is everything and nothing about which to write. The glory of a quenched Spring, finger-tapping impatience with Lock-down’s end, gloomful dread of looming titanic Depression, the cheerful hum amid birds’ conversations.

Is it just me or have you also reached the summit of indecision and know the next step you take can determine everything which follows?

In another life, I knew a person who seemed to have stopped living for fear of living. This perpetually seemed a crushing waste of their humanity: potential, kindness, hope, their glee in existential fizz.

And Lo: this spectre of threat appears to have raised its heads to glare threateningly at me.

It has been known that when demons have ambitions to pursue me, I stop, turn and with preposterous volume wail BOO. Without fail, they turn and flee. Well, I’m saying Boo to this latest chimera in order that genial intention which follows in its wake can glide up at a social distance and personally suggest a dialogue.

Madeleine Baird Materials is OPEN for business: fortifying mental and emotional well-being, both of which ventilate self-raising flourishing.

Part Three: Sentience


This is a moment for yodelling ‘At Last‘.

In its Action Plan, the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill commits to:

  • Recognize animal sentience – the capacity of animals to have feelings, including pain and suffering
  • End the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter and taking “further steps” to limit foie gras trade
  • Bring in “more effective powers” to tackle livestock worrying as part of its Kept Animals Bill
  • Stop people keeping primates as pets, improving standards in zoos and “cracking down” on puppy smuggling

We’ve written endlessly on this – that it’s potty to deny animals sentience. If you have had a pet, wandered in nature or watched even one social media clip of a dog/cat/bird/horse/otter/grizzly bear/dolphin/panda/ elephant/orangutan reacting to or initiating some self-entertainment, then it is impossible … just impossible … to refute conscious decision-making, delight-bringing, care-demonstrating capacity of all living creatures.

That we don’t speak their language has persuaded those of our species who traditionally determine such matters that animals lack consciousness. [Odd though: that they understand and react to ours.]

To be clear, we find Consciousness synonymous with Life. Consciousness IS life.

That means feeling joy, pain, loss, scepticism, hunger, cold, confusion, irritability, revenge, love [that’ll do; Ed] are states of awareness experienced by ALL breathing creatures. And it’s going to be validated in law.

At last. #whyzittakensolong ?

Part Two: Necessity in naming


Hermaphrodite lobsters appear as 1 in 50 million. Thare split-colour displays the condition of gynandromorphy; in this case, the blue side’s female, the brown male. Aren’t thay magnificent?


© J_P_M

Since rising in emphasis to inculcate cultural priorities, we’ve been thinking on normative solutions to Gender.

Cards on the table: provided none is harmed as a result, once grown we think every child born has the right to love and be loved; we think every child born has the right to express their truth.

In light of which, do we not owe it to one another to listen to what each says about themselves and accommodate those wishes accordingly? Gender fluidity, for those who experience it, is an all-consuming demand.

Well, in that case, grammar needs robust refreshing. Personal pronouns in current declension just won’t do. So we start the debate which we hope others will embrace, dissect, ventilate, broaden. Here’s an opening suggestion:

  • I, you, he, she, thay
  • Me, you, him, her, thane
  • Mine, yours, his, hers, thine/thare
  • S/he, wo/man, Mr, Mis, mrs … though that’d be wierd

An essential property of human life is our humanity. The huffing, puffing and eye-rolling which accompanies the utterances of many who find this trivial might be calmed by reflecting on what it means to be acknowledged for our true selves.

Name: to a large extent, our name IS our identity: it captures who and what we are. Spelling it correctly is part of honouring that. Thus mis-spelling a name demonstrates a lack of respect for that person: if the meaning of a term is its reference, then it must be carefully and correctly applied as a rigid designator : just as, for example, understanding thare [non-binary] gender for who thay are.

There is both freedom and tyranny in such refreshed approach to how we greet the world. Empathy is a real help in supporting efforts to navigate through: I don’t suppose anyone intends harm yet being careless with others’ feeling impacts as a dreadful blow. For many, sense of self supervenes on how one’s treated: being diminished by tactlessness is an empirical universal, alas.

Sensitivity to others deepens one’s own river of humanity, allowing it to flow ever more freely. Although at first we found this enlarged way of understanding our many-peopled-world difficult, there is something utterly splendid in the necessity of correctly naming others: that opening oneself out as walls come tumbling down.

Post hoc ergo prompter hoc


A wonderful thing has happened. Law and Justice have co-incided to the shattering relief of the innocent.

In 1999 Post Office, as we must call it, installed flawed computer software from Fujitsu called Horizon. It made sub-postmasters & -mistresses appear to be defrauding the company through false accounting. Many were prosecuted and jailed. More had their lives stripped of dignity. All will carry the damage for life. On Friday, the Appeal of 39 (from 335) found their convictions to be “an affront to the public conscience” and overturned them. It was professional negligence on an obliterating scale.

We love guddling new words. The Meaning of Liff was the formal accumulation of what millions of us lacked the energy or where-withal to do, namely compile a volume of words with illustrious, riotously fresh&frisky definitions. Written by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, it was published in 1983 as ‘a humorous dictionary of toponymy and etymology’.

Well, yesterday we were delivered of a new compound noun whose grave meaning, alas, is anything but joy-padded enginuity. Rather, it compasses

keeping silent when validating acknowledgement is professionally & empathically required

Protected by the Church and the Cabinet Office, there is a living (sic) embodiment of that description captured above whose compound noun (… or adverb, mebbie?) is


Let us all hope that in virtue of this, no such moral bankruptcy will suffocate others’ lives again.

Nick Wallis, journalist&broadcaster has done heroic work revealing this catastrophic episode, making an astounding contribution to national life through his series of radio programmes, The Great Post Office Trial. Dogged, fearless: remarkable investigative journalism.

☆ To be clear, emotional intelligence demands the courage to be straightforward with the world. Clarity of communication dissolves the need for hiding. When possessed of that resilience, all is brought into the light. Life and Liff : both easier as a result.

Nature abhors a Dyson


Vacuum cleaners gained the generic name Hoover after its inventor, James Spangler, gave one to his cousin. She was married to William Hoover who, in 1908, bought the patent and so materialized the nattily named Electric Suction Sweeper Company. The inventor received royalties and was employed as a supervisor until his death in 1915, only after which did the company change its name to Hoover. There’s something honorable in that: doing business the right way.

Do you find something of the toy cupboard about Dyson machines? While they are effective, how great is your immutable puzzlement they must all – whatever their function – be so violently noisy?

Deafeningly loud, they destroy mood and harmony in nano-seconds. One’s nature receives a battering from such annihilating volume.

Granted, men love noisy machines. (I’m not going to pretend that makes any sense to me. Mebbie it’s a chromosomal thing?) But women don’t and while fewer men participate fully in house-work, it seems odd to subject women to torturous punishment.

Sir James Dyson, self-confessed-patriot and tax expert, is in the news today. It has emerged he required assurances his people would not be burdened by having to pay extra tax here if they worked on making ventilators in March 2020 which were so desperately needed by the NHS amid the national emergency. Seemingly, he had genuine fears his company would derive no benefit until tax rules were fixed in his favour.

Private text messages between the title-proud First Lord of the Treasury and Noisy Toy man demonstrate the ease with which tax arrangements are settled.

However administered, an axiology or theory of value reflects one’s deepest principles. It’s interesting to us that erupting unnatural noise at the expense of users chimes with notions of mandating self-interest at the expense of national interest.

Part One: Heresy?

Image Thinking oneself into victory

You know when something niggles at the nook round the back of your mind caused by accumulation of non-urgent agenda items stored for further reflection? The moment arrives when some space-clearing is required and as things are quiet*, now seems the perfect time to think aloud and see where it leads.

Are you as muddled as us on the question of what Belief is and to what it refers?

Elite sportswo/men are taught visualization to ensure they see their victory: it’s a proven route to success. It bolsters self-belief and probably boosts release of endorphins (other helpful hormones are probably available). This kind of belief forces the body to comply with the heart’s desire and head’s ambition to win.

We’re comfortably familiar with the notion that pushing the body to perform in a certain way is part of the method of achieving goals. Harnessing will-power to function in unison with other means – training, eating the right food stuffs, drinking water, sleeping soundly, being kind, holding focus – powerfully wills the body to win. This is neither controversial nor buttock-clenchingly awkward for onlookers: indeed, it is expected.

Why then is belief in the body’s ability to fight illness considered heresy or the notion of a lunatic when exactly the same principles apply? Interviewed on Today, neuropsychopharmacologist, Professor David Nutt said in the context of treating depression …

“If you don’t believe in a treatment, as patient or doctor, it’s unlikely to work and that’s true of all medicine.”

Let’s consider complementary medicine.

Complementary medicine supports (complements) the body’s own efforts to heal itself.

When we’re permitted once more to shake hands, neurons send messages down nerves to lift the arm and extend the hand of friendship. When I want to recover from an illness, I command the immune system and spleen to go out to fight on my behalf: no?

What’s that you say? I do no such thing: that it happens is entirely beyond my control?

Well, under whose control is it? Does my body only do what it’s told by external technicians because they don’t believe I have any control over my body? How then do I shake a hand with no control over my body?

Today is Professor Nutt’s birthday. Three cheers for a scientist who speaks truth fearlessly.

* Owing to popular demand, The Materials is re-starting Voyage of Discovery: philosophical pacing through Nature to restore equilibrium, most usually taken up by C-Suite executives. Contact us to book one-to-one sessions reglue-ing pieces of mind.

We love this


Riz Ahmed interviewed for The Late Show on his latest film #SoundofMetal. Sub-titles by @deaftcollective

Ah, man. We love it when thought and consideration is voiced, with kindness, about Listening.

We’ve been banging on about the sophisticated skill of Listening for …. EVER and continue to delight in hearing how others understand it.

It’s g-Lorious to be reminded we listen with skin, heart, the reception dish of our bodies, with our deepest gentleness and at the furthest folds of compassion.

Riz Ahmed’s new film #SoundofMetal requires him to submerge himself in an echoing void of empathic displacement and sense the world … his world … afresh when the character he portrays loses his hearing.

We listened to the discussion on @BBCFrontRow when he said ‘Attune the body to do the Listening for you‘ and ‘Holding space for someone else’s energy with your full attention‘ which captured so beautifully an essence of this absorbing skill.

This actor who holds himself with remarkable inner stillness learnt to sign for the role. A sign of our times?

Alas, we have not seen the film (no telly), Sound of Metal, directed by #DariusMarder is available on Amazon Prime.


NOTE: we’re having vexations galore with the evolutions of this site’s platform. Please bear with us during this phase of our learning: it’s gonna be a protracted process. To which end, visit the site itself if you wish to see it as it was intended. Higgledy piggledyness is so distressing.