When a word is a Bond

© Getty Images  ……………………………………………………..  HM The Queen in Glasgow, 1953

It is many months since we posted a pondering and, frankly, we’d thought continuing reflection impossible with nothing but an earth tremor able to shake us from that conviction.

Well, yesterday caused just such a vibration.

The funeral of Her Majesty ventilated something of magnificent splendour and for the isles of Great Britain, it meant something. Bidding a thankful À Dieu to a monarch matters in all kinds of ways.

As a 21-year old Princess, she committed herself to a life of service and, normal for the time but depletingly rare now, her word was her bond. She worked hard for the next 75 years. How many people do you know who are working at the age of 96?

Whenever international friends have asked over the years what does Great Britain think of The Queen, the response always included words like Respect, Taken Seriously, Gentle Power and Long-sighted wisdom.

Perhaps few knew at first hand of her humour: James Bond & the Olympics: Michael Bond’s Paddington. Or, the bond of her word which bound her to fulfilling the hand which fate dealt her. Mebbie more knew of her deep empathy (we’ve often written of it in these pages)?

Her Late Majesty has been laid to rest with immediate family: Parents, Sister, Husband. I don’t suppose many know the true impact of Deathness: so we hope that if the immortal soul pertains to everlasting life, the Queen will know how the world appreciated her devotion to her family, her duty and would recognize global gratitude as peace bringer whose words were always meaningful.

The Queen is dead. Long live the King.


Compare the Marxists*

©Image…………………………………….The incomparable Sergei and his boss

There’s something rather thrilling in the valourous steadfastness of the Ukrainian people. It gladdens the spirit in being reminded that defending honour, autonomy and your friends begins in the heart: it is an act of courage driven by conviction.

I wouldn’t wish this offensive Offensive on anyone, not even Mrs Putin and his playmate Sergei Lavrov. Yet, it has shone a light on something that seemed to disappear for the longest time; namely the glorious energy to defend what is held most dear: one’s freedom. Led by 44-yr old President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in khaki fatigues, it sets a scintillating example of modern leadership (though I’m kinda reminded of Henry V & friends’ 1415 unequivocal stride into the breach).

As though in a trance, all over the world we’ve voted in wing-nuts then just sat and watched as they’ve marched in and screwed … everything: national reputations, values, integrity, trust, respect, cherishing one another, kindness and joy in giving for its own sake, benefit of the doubt, choosing to be the bigger person, accepting rather than erring on the side of distrust, regarding venal vestedness as poor judgement. They’ve made it all muck and this negative reality, the norm.

The Ukrainian people are showing the rest of the world what courage, compassion and care for one another look like. They are “fighting for the whole free world”. The rest of us can follow their bold example by choosing to restore honour to judgement, courage to action and truth to thinking.

Marxism always produces fatkats, swollen by hypocrisy of getting away with it: the do as I say not as I do line. Whether it’s illicit parties, oil pipelines, nuclear weapons, stolen elections or any-excuse-just-as-long-as-I-get-what–I want, somehow we have stood by and allowed Marxist ideology to evaporate our freedoms.

Marxism’s commitment to [exploit and oppress] the exploited and oppressed requires there to be such victims. Ukraine was already starved to death by Stalin. Well, creation of a revolutionary proletariat may not be entirely what was intended but when exploitation inherent in bloated, private control looses sight of global scrutiny, then it only has itself to blame.

* for our readers abroad, this is a pun on a ubiquitous advertisement. There, there: think no more about it.


Ignite your empathy

© Caryn Mandabach Productions…………………………………………… Peaky Patriarch portrayed by Cillian Murphy

Yesterday’s Russian invasion of Ukraine is too awful a focus. We autopsied its cause in the last Blogos, below. In its bleak mid-winter, war reshapes minds and hearts. Et alors ….

The breathless wait is overtaken by anticipation: the end of February ends the deep delay to the broadcasting of Peaky Blinders‘ final season, that brutal band of bastards.

In a dialogue with The Guardian‘s Ed Cumming which strayed to real life having covered historic fictional life, Cillian Murphy talked of the importance Listening has to empathy: this in his capacity as supporter of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway. It strives to infuse Empathy throughout the curriculum in virtue of the positive influence it has on academic and individual achievement. “If you’re listening to someone, you can respond emotionally to them”, he says.

What does that mean? Well, our take on its meaning is to listen with your whole heart; enabling truthful response. A response which by-passes the pre-planning and lands directly from your core, bringing certain knowledge the speaker has been heard: with compassion.

Of all the people we teach how to Listen, children get it fastest. Maybe in virtue they lack the baggage which impedes adults to take it seriously, maybe because they recognize it as a skill they want to learn? Validation and acknowledgement with which the Listener gifts the speaker are priceless gems strengthening both.

In ancient times, men sat around fires listening to logs crackling and burden sharing. They were known as Elders (eld is Nors for fire) and that empathic form of communication – the circle, one speaking at a time, the restorative gaze into dancing light – enables a sense of skinship to flourish. We all feel better for being heard. Gorgeously, one feels yet better for Listening. Try it and see?

Peaky Blinders : 27.ii.22 on BBC1 at 21.00hrs


BRICS and mortar

© The Province ……………………………………………………… Those 1987 Jamaican Heroes

With the Winter Olympics wooshing down slopes, the perilous state of global diplomacy would appear akin to a bobsleigh run. BRIC, the pithy acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China was coined by economist-turned-elder statesman Jim O’Neill who usefully grouped together this cohort while at Goldman Sachs in 2001 (since which time South Africa joined the theoretical huddle).

Do you share concern for the white-knuckle state of dialogue being yodelled across the East-West gulf, particularly in virtue its cause appears to be the chasmic absence of emotional resilience?

Ukraine represents the red line for Mrs Putin, a man whose fragile sense of self supervenes on reconstructing the USSR, his homeland. Doing his all to bind China in to his southern flank, still it’s doubtful the inferred threat succeeds in protecting his ego.

A 60mm mortar, created for destruction

Setting free someone you love is a natural response to wanting to see them grow and flourish. Using them as a buffer against perceived threats protects nothing: it merely diminishes everyone and shrinks the aggressive defender yet further.

Not being party NATO’s expansion ambitions makes musing on them fraught with potential for ridicule. Thus, rather than crash out at the foot of that slope, we pause for a moment to reflect on why some tend put their fragility on display.

Smallness doesn’t hide well, neither in nor out of plain sight. Smallness is tattooed across the brow, hums through words, colours action, vibrates around intention. Shoring up stature and stability with threats to lob mortar rounds … and the like … at those one fears smacks of cornered ratness.

Is NATO really trying to corner anything or wrest territory from them as unwilling to yield? Mayn’t Ukraine flex its autonomy and decide for itself?

Conjeuring a Sino-Soviet-against-the-World War could seem within conceivable possibility by virtue of a small man who wants to seem larger. Just because we have Pestilence and Famine-through-climatic-collapse, must it be inevitable War and Death gallop from their stables?

madeleinebaird.com/ blogos

Oh clouds: unfold

* Without divine intervention, it might have been called Runners. Shriek.

In Special Collections, cared for by the British Film Institute, reposes the David Puttnam Archive. One of its very many treasures is the original screen-play for Chariots of Fire, Colin Welland’s story whose name change seems crucial-beyond-imagining to its ultimate, blazing success.

Tweeking things releases potential. For instance, one of the vanishing small number of wondrous consequences the Pestilence has ventilated is that exercise in the open air has infused thinking such that millions of people who didn’t, now do.

While part of me laments relinquishing the splendid isolation of communing with nature, pressing my whole being into the contours of its glory, there’s a generosity-of-spirit slither that grins from ear to ear in knowing how many more now benefit their own mental & physical well-being.

Each of us is one, whole entity. Though there are others inbetween, ya ankle bone’s connected to ya … hip bone just as ya kindess connected to ya wellness. Or ya imagination’s connected to ya hopes.

Apart from all those other years, 2021 has been the worst of the worst for a dispiriting proportion of the Earth’s current population. Each of us is going to have to be the change we want to see if things are spiritually and materially to improve. Not only is waiting for someone else to act pointless but it only deepens one’s own visceral gloom: autonomy vanquishes helplessness. By parting the clouds above my own head, I intend to let the sun smile down, warming what the departing year so viciously cooled.

May 2022 be a blesséd improvement – politically, emotionally, epidemiologically, intellectually – each feeling connected to their ability to foster wellness in themselves and others. Happy New Year, y’all.

* ownership of image not entirely clear. Goldcrest Films? Lord Puttnam of Queensgate? Hugh Hudson?


UThixo amsikelele umntwana*

Twitter screenshot of Gugulethu Ndzendze, aged 9

Howzitbin for you?

‘Unutterably bloody along to manageable’ seems an approximate spectrum of response to enquiries after how others have wrestled this forsaken, blighted year to the ground.

Remember 2008: when the financial waves crashed around our ears and one felt crushed by the weight of perpetual woe wafting from the radio? So, we’ve been here before.

A profound strength of emotional intelligence / literacy / resilience rests on principles of Truth. Facing up to reality is 1. soooooooooo much easier, and 2. soooooooooooo much easier. (3. & 4. equally so).

It takes the same amount of time to Listen as it does not to Listen but requires more of oneself. To Listen, you have to be prepared to give of yourself: your compassion, interest and untempered humanity. To be fully present.

I love that everyone round the planet celebrates Christmas in one way or another. Sacred and Secular unite in acknowledging the ontological/epistemic opportunity to thank with one’s heart for the gift of love. All of us can ‘save lives in different ways’ as Tamsin Greig mused on the radio recently.

When times are so tough there’s nothing tangible to give, we are given the chance to give the most powerful thing of all: our full presence.

Were there no pictures, you’d think Gugulethu Ndzendze a mature, academy-trained operatic luminary. Observe.

In reality, she’s a child, creating joy. Happy Christmas.

* Not being fluent in Xhosa, I was expecting God Bless the child to translate as Nkosi Sikelela umntwana in virtue of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica. Tiens, eh ben dit donc.


Smells like team spirit

© Michael Lavine

For our international readers, the UK is having a mirror held up to its principles and practises … revealing the blemishes. It is to this we refer.

Crossing Cricket’s boundaries has been as dismal as illuminating. Since Azeem Rafiq captured the vascular drainage of racism implicit to the Yorkshire dressing room [daresay it’s not the only county whose cricket club is thus mired], his eloquence has thrown open windows ventilating the snarling state of banter.

The cricket club has acknowledged Rafiq was the victim of racial harrassment.

Interviewed on the Today programme about the painful experiences Rafiq revealed, Monty Panesar championed his fellow cricketer’s ‘determined voice to be heard’.

Educating teenagers on the difference between micro-aggression and banter is important in light that “the Dressing Room is a great place to be … which comes under team spirit”.

Aye: and there’s the rub. There’s nothing soft about sensitivity to others’ feelings. Insulting one another in virtue of not knowing how to express admiration seems intellectually, morally and emotionally deficient and rather tragic. … Would that there were an expert in strengthening self-awareness and spirit of empathy; in fortifying emotional resilience.

Yet there’s hope this tipping point will yield more than a cascade of recrimination.

This is a miraculous opportunity for us all to examine the cause of our contempt for things beyond our ken and spring-clean values and principles by which we live. No?

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido
A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial, a denial
A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial

Songwriters: Chris Novoselic / David Grohl / Kurt Cobain Smells Like Teen Spirit lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Madeleine Baird Materials: expert in strengthening self-awareness and the spirit of empathy.


Poetry in motion


Full disclosure. Don’t have a telly, never seen Strictly Come Dancing : often walk across Tottenham Marshes.

Rose & Giovanni have risen up through audible visibility in virtue their recent performance on #Strictly included moves danced in silence, reflecting Rose Ayling-Ellis’ sound world. Watch them swoon here.

Giovanni Rose, a seventeen year old poet has just won The Foyles Young Poet of the year Award for his Welcome to Tottenham, a powerful reflection of what it means to be young, gifted, black and trying to survive in an ethnically diverse patch of North London. Watch him perform it here

It seems more than a co-incidence of name that three people are beamed to the forefront of consciousness at the same moment. Sometimes it seems the universe spins in such a way as to compel us to Listen.

Both dancers and poet express their message quietly which seems more powerful than bellowing. In such explosive times as these, it’s wonderful to remember volume holds less importance than meaning and it is often the suasive approach that endures.


Throwing another Christian to the lions?


Have you ever seen a sword’n’sandals film: one depicting the ancient world dripping in blood and parched of moral noblesse?

Almost fainting as intellectual and physical response to a depiction of how Romans would throw another Christian to the lions*, this depleting image has been blinding my view of the road while cycling round Town in recent months.

Why? It is how road-parked cars appear to my mind in light of the exponential increase – blizzard proportions – of shattered glass lying on the road beside where once the driver’s window existed. Their plangent exposure to ferocious attack defies belief.

I don’t know what these violent grabbers seek: it seems puzzling to suppose anyone leaves a thing of immediate financial value in their vehicle. It must be something else then that motivates a night’s exercise of smashing their way in to cars along an entire length of street. But what?

This, albeit a long way round, suggests that were understanding the emotions promoted up the academic hierarchy, there’d be fewer destructive souls in our midst.

It is a ubiquitous characteristic among those who carry out criminal acts not to reflect on their victims nor on the impact of their crimes as it entails examining their own motivations which, naturally, are unpalatable.

Famished inner emptiness is a condition marvellously simple to treat.

Empathy classes are beginning to ventilate some curricula. Teaching children how to stretch their minds to understand how their actions impact others … how reality exists beyond themselves … is an extremely sound start in addressing all kinds of social ill, crime being the most obvious.

By starving voracious minds of the chance to cultivate compassion and empathy, are we not continuing to throw Christians to the lions?

* For them as find this kind of thing to their taste, the wondrous Senhouse Museum in Maryport, Cumbria was where I saw it. (Simply couldn’t face illustrating this Blogos with lions gnawing through their supper. Image comes from Psychology Today)


earth … heart … hear


Listening to words woven from evolving meaning: is it possible to arrive at heart from earth merely by switching the order of characters and still have an ear at its centre?

© Steve Fallon …………………………………………………………………………… A few steep Munros

The Conference of those Parties who signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994, gathering in Glasgow at the end of this month, has a steep Monro to climb. Not only must it avoid platitudes of woe but present a practical, achievable plan all can grasp as the obvious way to evolve how each of us lives.

From Copenhagen’s gathering in 2009, we took the notion that if status were uncoupled from consumption, having a lot of stuff would be a sign not of wealth but bankruptcy. There seemed excitement that peak oil would influence a kinder maturity shaping better, less cluttered ways of living. But did it? Did it, hell.

Though understandable, it seems rigid to cling to the original title: CoP26 should theoretically be 27 (years after 1994) and this choice to disregard a flexible reality is troubling. What else will be conveniently ignored? Perhaps this blindfold could be termed eclimat?

Eclimat: a tendancy to dodge the truth of what stares us in the face.

In a world where we’re told the first shall be last and the last first, will switching the order of characters who lead and legislate our lives be sufficient to persuade? If there’s no ear at our own eccentric centre, what hope is there moral, intellectual and emotional duty will be embraced?

CoP26 : 31.x.21 – 12.xi.21 … Halloween to beyond Rememberance

As a wee aside, listening to William Shatner’s exquisitely affecting visceral flow of euphoria last week immediately following his egress from the Blue Origin capsule was a marvellous manifesto to value what we have while we have it. The planet’s fragility stares us in the face.