Ardent sincerity


© USA Today

A while ago, an aspiring politican told me he thought compassion, empathy and emotional intelligence was a load of rubbish. I wasn’t sure at the time whether this was said to shock, prod or truely reflected his thoughts.

Happily, he is young enough for the maturing of his ideas to shape themselves into something deeper. For as Jacinda Ardern’s victory in New Zealand shows, those qualities do appear to be making greater sense to Electorates around the world.

Strength of character incorporates flexibility, kindness, honesty, forebearance, vision.

At a distance, it seems Ms Ardern’s Leadership is what has transformed a Coalition into a majority Government, the first such since New Zealand’s current political system of proportional representation was instigated in 1996. While there’ll be a hard-working team around her, it seems her vision telescopes a more understanding perspective into hearts of stone to transform ambition from something ebrasive into an embrace.

© The Independent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledging Victory

Reflection on timeliness


© CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform                            The cover of Dr William O. Sass’ novel: pertinent to this day

In virtue of it being World Mental Health Day, we offer this in bliss of soothing equilibrium.


Clearly, we at The Materials are not the only ones excited about the date today: 10 • x • 2020?

The previous such symmetry being 8 • viii • 1616 and before that 6 • vi • 1212. Need we go on? It’s a rarity: every 404 years in other words. This is the last such event. Ever.

[Well, unless they decide to add a few more months to the Lunar Calendar which might mark more than a tidal surge in astro-physics, mathematics and geometry!]

A new day: choose the self-fulfilling prophesy of wellness.

© Adrian Ashworth                      Higger Tor Sunrise Mist

♡ As an aside, we also love the fact that it’s a rare occasion when European and American dates can’t be confused … x • 10 • 2020 !

Re-framing the narrative


© Picasso, seeing it all at one glance

Things are very bleak for a vast proportion of the planet.

Students unable to be taught, jobs flying from windows, hope scattered: all in atrophy.

But something rosey seemed to push its head up ~ like that impossible appearance of snowdrops in winter ~ defying all logic given the circumstances.

If this pestilencial epoch has given us anything cheerful, it is the opportunity to look afresh at how perception has altered. In virtue that only a teeny proportion of people are economically unaffected, all the rest of us have a legitimate claim to reframe the picture we have of ourselves and our achievements.

It would be entirely understandable to survey the debris of our lives currently and find it failing. It seems so last century, though, to frame a picture of success as fortune slopping over the cup’s rim. Is it not more relevant, interesting and useful to ponder all that we come to understand as a result of each experience this turgid turbulence washes upon our shores?

Surely it is those riches-of-epiphany which ought be prized and matter far beyond … stuff? How we apply the sum total of our understanding seems more meaningful to swelling compassion and empathy. [If the medieval appetite for alchemy teaches us anything, is it not that each of us is born base metal and Life is the chance to transform ourselves into gold? Or, as was written with greater melody a while back, Love over Gold.]

Autumnal quiver


© Fanpop/3xZ

The Autumn equinox has inclinations towards breath-taking glory in colour, quality of air and the Light which infuses both.

We’ve so much over which to be glum currently that being thankful for Indian Summery weather is as being released from confinement don’t you think? Mebbie you don’t: but here at the Materials we do.

When early mist drifts dreamily before one’s eyes, there comes a reminder of how all, constantly, is in motion. The Earth’s tilt, eternally consistent, is remarkable in the grand scheme of things. We’re all 93 million miles from our star and for our little globe, a mere 24,000 miles in circumference, the modest shift might appear too meagre to impact across so heavily empty a void.

Not a bit of it. Existential core alteration of lifestyle for Northern and Southern hemispheres demonstrates an infinitely fragile sensitivity to fluctuation of any kind.

Quivering with gleeful anticipation seems a better option than sagging into sloughs of despondent gloom (which would appear, prima facie, a coherently rational response to that by which we’re besieged).

Joy begets joy … each thing gives birth to itself, afterall … by virtue of which the self-fulfilling prophesy of receiving what we give might carry us through these coming, uncertain months, resilience intact?

Mite we not give more thought?


A bronze, widow’s mite still in circulation around the time of Jesus (minted by Alexander Jannaeus, King of Judaea, 103 – 76 B.C)

A story from Cheltenham illustrates the freedom and elegance of a simple truth.

Doubtless, with the best of intentions, a supermarket thought it a benevolent act to give by rounding up customers’ bills to the nearest Pound and donating those extra pennies to health charities. In these hard-pressed times, the simplicity of the plan is rather gorgeous.

The missing element, though, appears to have been Consent: the Shoppers whose generosity would fund the plan were not asked for their view/opinion/agreement to participate: they were deprived the freedom to choose. From one view therefore, it could be seen as theft: a far cry from the intended kindness.

The fact this kind of thing occurs ubiquitously and on a daily basis is a sombre reality which could be entirely mitigated by just a smattering of emotional intelligence.

Taking into consideration how their customers would feel if the coppers were removed from their change versus inviting them to be the donor would’ve informed planners of the importance of proper procedure.

How one feels is captured by the cycle of how one’s treated and therein, how one treats others: that symbiotic self-raising flourishing of relationships.

Vish Vaparni noted truth always tastes of Freedom on the Today programme this morning. Truth, among other things, is clarity; transparent dealings nurture trust.

Here at The Materials, we’d heartily encourage all Grocers, businesses and those on the public-facing front line to inform their decisions with emotional intelligence. The relief to all concerned will not only mark a profitable change of direction but enhance the flavour of life.

The supermarket story was described in the Manchester Evening News


Memory Day celebration


©  Hanna-Barbera Productions

You know how rosey it is when you hear others say in a public forum what you know to be true? That visceral ease in knowing your mind and heart chime with others about things that matter?

Well, earlier Rethink on BBC Radio 4 mused over qualities leaders will need to support levitation from the mire into which Covid-19 has plunged most countries.

Were I to give you a synopsis of the programme, you might not bother to listen. Thus, Listen.

The picture of an emotionally intelligent world that emerges, one inclined to Listen makes radical sense: yet there’s nothing radical about a thing promoted for over twenty five years.

Today is Memory Day: celebrating the day a six-year anteriograde amnesia episode retreated and new life began. There couldn’t be a better moment to rethink how to recover from – and hear how important Listening will be to comb through – the tangle de nos jours.


These routes are made for walkin’


What is a life?

Some hold the definition of a straight line as the shortest distance between two points : seems both intuitively and rationally true. Yet it strikes me as intrinsically sad: unless you’re a Roman foot soldier whose feet have a vested stake, what’s beguiling about an unexplored path?

The pestilence, which appears to have acquired a tidal nature rolling in and out, has thrown up opportunities to rethink how we behave, replenish, ventilate, assume responsibility, acknowledge [mind ya prolix, Ed], aspire … you get the idea?

To which end, Town Centres: they iz a-changin’. A break-out group of a North London Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise [NLCCE] conference in February – remember February? Before Covid-19 had hinted itself into being – discussed the future of the High Street which seemed prescient then but now, the conclusions drawn appear self-evident.

The High Street evolves in ever-shortening waves. No-one’s left who remembers two sweet&paper shops, a baker, DelikatEssen, Blacksmith and a hairdresser with those terrifying, rigid dryers standing sentinel along a wall – and all of them privately owned.

Well, mebbie it lies in virtue that harmoginodge – a somberly vaccuous case of national brands engulfing individualism – has been found wanting.

Brits, it seems, want shops with variety and idiosyncrasy: in the absence of which they shop online. Thus, the function of a High Street evolves into a place for socializing rather than commerce. Java joints and Houka lounges smoulder where once a haberdasherery rubbed shoulders with the green grocer, where that essential hardware store jived with the mistress of vinyl.

Life, lived to its fullmost extent, requires mingling in social celebration. Live, thrive, strive and stride into a multi-coloured/ethnic/aroma’d/possibilitied future where the rules have been thrown in the air and are landing in different patterns.

If the root of all evil is money, then perhaps this is a time to divert one’s route along different corridors to see what exists beyond?

Putting things in perspective


© Yiannis Efremidis                                   Analemma: Clock time vs Solar time an everlasting tag of war! After 18 months the Avlaki Analemma project became a reality. Only six of the 52 weekly images were lost due to inclement weather, Yiannis took 46 successful pics through the year.       Solar Analemma is the figure-8 pattern that shows the Sun’s path in the sky at the same time of the day throughout a year at a specific location on Earth. The dots in the sky are the Sun’s center from photos taken at 8:45 a.m. & 9:45 a.m. according to daylight saving time, roughly every week from March 26, 2017 to March 25, 2018. Location: Avlaki Beach, Attica – Greece

This is written while supine and in the shade. Sometimes the crushing, unimaginable scale and voluptuous beauty of creation becomes overwhelming, possible to approach only as a fragment of oneself so as to lessen the searing scorchment of understanding.

Hence, we start with Yiannis Efremidis calming tracerie above, in preparation for what yodels beyond our solar system. The languid grace of Infinity’s symbolic never-endingness is but a glimpse of how all that is, ever was.

© NASA                  You’re looking across 11 billion years of cosmic spacetime.                                                                                                                                          Scientists have released the largest ever three-dimensional map of the universe, proving that it is basically flat.
“We know both the ancient history of the universe and its recent expansion history fairly well, but there’s a troublesome gap in the middle 11 billion years,” said Dr Kyle Dawson, cosmologist at the University of Utah, who led the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) team which worked for the past five years to fill in that gap.” (appropriately, quoted from Sky News)

Would that we might observe our gorgeous planet in the context of the space – the yonder – it occupies and spend more time glorifying its wonders than in wrestling down myriad, earth-bound trivialities.

Amid such ventilating wonder, thankfulness for our surroundings and those who help us understand it better is surely a universe of blessing?

Gold, Frankincense and Merchandize


The Materials doesn’t enter the political sphere in virtue it is, by its essence, divisive. We attempt to focus an emotionally resilient perspective as mere observation.

Have you noticed the very striking physical, intellectual and behavioural similarities between the blonds either side of th’Atlantic?

The Prime Minister and the #Resident seem strongly attracted to transforming the business of politics into their fiefdom’s playground. Indeed, one wonders where their [advisers’] apparent messianic fervour to bonsai politics will lead given such latent Cummings/Kushner immersion.

It could be argued that the American (1789) and British (Act of Union, 1800) political systems have equal maturity – though there was something of a longer run-up on the eastern side of the pond.

Somehow, it feels as though written and unwritten constitutions – whose stabilizing walls have supported and guided events when turbulence threatened chaos – have lost their relevance to holders of great office. The spine that upholds and impartially protects the spirit in which countries are governed appears to have received such a kicking, it is in peril of cracking.

Thank goodness there are those, like Dr Julian Lewis, MP to whom integrity matters and whose backbone can’t be swayed by threats trickled from catapults. He’s sure to be humming ‘Whip crack away to your hearts content: I’ll be getting on with the job’.

Ole blue eyes sure ain’t makin’ whoopee


Image: Cornel Constantin/Shutterstock                                  Guess who this is

Obligingly, The British Arachnological Society (BAS) found it was one leap too far to suggest spiders could be attributed an equal intellect to octopi merely by virtue of eight legs. While we’ve all read that the enormously social octopus can solve complex problems – mebbie in virtue of having a brain in each leg as well has its head – it occurred to us the same might apply to their similarly limbed land-cousin the spider.

Apparently not.

Lockdown, which “hijacked our summer vacation” has given swinging vaguaries space for idle wonderage. Happily and amongst many other more pressing matters this Jumping Spider above, sprang to our attention.

From Noel Kirkpatrick‘s article in the May 2020 issue of Treehugger.  “It’d be easy to think that these tiny creatures have insanely muscular legs given their ability to leap up to 50 times their own body length. This is not the case, however. Instead, jumping spiders rely on segmented legs and blood flow to make their crazy jumps. When they’re ready to jump, the spiders cause an extreme change in hemolymph pressure (the spider equivalent of blood pressure) by contracting the muscles in the upper region of their bodies. This forces the blood to their legs, and this causes the legs to extend rapidly. This quick and sudden extension of their legs is what propels them in the direction they’re aiming.”

That aside, just think about it, though. Processing the information from eight eyes while organizing the mind to move eight legs in addition to producing an inexhaustible supply of what’s proved so far to be the planet’s unknowably-strong protein, simply has to infer an ingenious mental acuity, no? That’s not a web of intrigue, merely natural deduction from explicative reasoning … and real spidery, man.