© The Guardian                                             photo credited to Bettman/Corbis Taken in 1942 after relentless bombing which, miraculously, missed St Paul’s

It’s hard to explain to European friends the how and why  of division cleaving asunder convention. Sober reflection our parent of parliaments traditionally promotes appears to have evaporated in the heat of wild anxiety. (Julian of Norwich was quoted on the radio earlier: she who tends to be wheeled out, alas, when hopelessness hoves over the horizon.)

This evening’s Parliamentary vote on the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, designed to protect the Irish border, has the potential to explode the Referendum’s result.

Who knew the bloated tedium that would result from David Cameron’s attempt to make his mark? Who appreciated the fickleness of an ill-informed electorate? The vacuity of detail in the run-up to that June 2016 decision now appears so frantically obvious it’s hard to grasp how we didn’t ask more pertinent questions.

Tiens: hindsight, huh?

Setting aside the partisan nature of war, it would be interesting to listen to those who experienced the Blitz comment on the politics [poliblitz seems more accurate] of these self-immolating days. Would they see beyond the rats-in-a-sack spectacle or sit in expectation of the monumental fall-out?

How we see the world


Maps have a particular power of attraction. In capturing the eye, the imagination comes galloping up behind and before you know it, you’re swinging through jungles or placing chips on green baize or snorkeling over shark and sea cucumbers.

The Globe laid out flat before that eye provides an irresistible chance to dream: notwithstanding historic reasons of Empire, for a couple of hundred years many maps placed Great Britain in the middle.

The sun was said never to set on the British Empire by virtue its territory spanned round the corners. This 1897 map fixes the United Kingdom surrounded by its spoils.

Twenty Nineteen’s dawning illuminates that we must accustom ourselves to a differently configured world. Trade, movement, scientific collaboration and education will all have to wriggle better to accommodate the new shape of things to come.

Perhaps this is an apposite moment to refresh how we understand the subtleties of emotional resilience?

Developing expertise of assessing others’ state of mind – emotional intelligence-gathering – differs from evolving the skill to fortify suppleness and sensitivity to currents. Emotional literacy, accurately reading the signs of others’ mood, allows instant evolution in conducting dialogue.

The strength and wonder of bamboo lies in its flexibility. Bending amid the gales that’ll blow through historic customs this year will help fortify how we emerge. Cultivating kindness is the simplest, titanium-strength strategy to fortify birth into a new world that is coming.

Have yourselves a happily kind New Year.

The transforming power of Love


Leonardo da Vinci c.1499                                             Madonna & Child                       with St Anne & the infant John the Baptist                          One can’t help feeling the weight of expectation on those two tots

Mrs Thatcher missed so much of life in virtue of her maxim about buses. It went something along the lines of the living definition of failure is using the bus if over the age of 25.

I witnessed a thing of miraculous wonder the other day. Returning my gaze from the sky to the goings-on around me, there was a woman of indeterminate age – truly, anything between 30 and 50 – lumbering back down to the driver to tap her Oyster card. From the rear view, this figure seemed akin to a small, dishevelled mountain. When she turned it was clear the world had been nothing but immutably harsh and cruel to her.

Lines of dread had chiselled deep gashes across her brow while vaguely flabby cheeks were capilliaried with cold. The amorphous mass of her be-holed cardigan suggested the shape of Baltic granite without the smootheness and the matted hair appeared more akin to a horse-hair mattress. Her gait was that of a drunken docker and her bulk was somewhat overwhelming.

All this impressed itself upon me in a heartbeat. Yet two seconds later, this embodiment of hellish misery was a vision of loveliness. How, I hear you cry? She smiled at the very small child sitting in the push-chair.

The love that cascaded from every pore of her core had a wholly transforming effect as dazzling as an ogre changed into a princess, with or without a pea.

Gone was any notion of a cumbersome wreck and in its place was the dancing delight, fairy light affection that wrapped itself around mother and child. The sweetness of motion cradled her from being over-powered by the love that yodelled from her, illuminating her eye and skin and heart.

At this time of familial warmth and reminders of existential vitalism, I can’t help pondering the shattering simplicity that what makes life meaningful … is love.

Have a splendidly joy-filled, love-funneled Christmas.

Eleventh hour Okie Kokie


©  Relevant Magazine

Announced just after Eight this morning was the news that the European Court of Justice has ruled the UK can unilaterally change its mind over leaving the Union.

The political shenanigans are what they are and will lead whither they lead.

What puzzles though is that time and again, Brexiteers cite the 17.4 million votes the Leave campaign garnered which was 52% of the votes cast.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of people eligible to vote in 2016 was 46.1 million. I’m the first to admit my Maths is rubbish but it would seem that a majority of the population didn’t agree that leaving was a Good in itself.

Do you remember the confusing arguments each side put forward, none of which touched on the real sticking points and the inertia which seemed to settle over the countries of these isles in the Spring of 2016? And the conversations you had with those who assumed the Vote would be Remain and hence weren’t sufficiently bothered to vote?

I wonder if the 13 million who comprised the Can’t-be-arsed brigade would stay away from the be-pencilled, wooden booths were a second Referendum offered?

Are you hip to the notion of those who ask the question taking responsibility for the answer? Well, what has to be accepted is that if there is another Vote on EU participation, the answer may be the same … unless everyone makes their vote count by deploying it.

Any Dimbleboy unspaghetti’d


© Graham Monro/GM Photographics

For longer than the world has spun on its axis, the Dimbleby dynasty has cracked the whip and held reigns over British broadcasting.

Heard on the early evening news comes a cataclysm to traditionalists the universe over that Dimbleby Junior-cum-Senior (the specter of Pater Richard continues to loom) has, through a kind of sphincteric exchange, relinquished his grip at a cornerstone of political debate. Younger brother, Jonathan continues to moderate his own interpretation of Any Questions on BBC Radio 4.

The new appointment as convener of Question Time on BBC television is Fiona Bruce.

Not having a telly, I’m unable do anything other than celebrate evolution, big up elocution and wonder if this passing-of-the-baton was execution or elevation? Father of the paper-waving Chamberlain said All political careers end in failure.

It seems that for affable broadcasters, if you have the [18th century use of] bottom, it is possible to float out on a high cloud of affection and regard.

Emotional resilience in the cauldron of debate is a pre-requisite. We wish Ms Bruce cheerful fortune and success in advance: next week’s Question Time will be the last of the old guard. May the salutes hold standards to account and let progress unfurl.



Image                                                               North Atlantic King of Fish

Well, well. It seems an atmosphere of uncertainty infuses thinking at every level. Overheard while trying to pass a crocodile of bobbing heads the other day was ‘it might be because of brexit‘. “Will it stop at Christmas?” ‘Dad said it’ll never stop.‘ 

Atmos, Greek for vapour, coalesces as a notion to convey some ephemeral, lingerless possibility; its dispersal an ever-present threat. Which returns us to the protectionist policy of Brexit so troubling to those Year … 4’s(?).

At that age, I struggled in ceaseless confusion amid Cold War and Cod War. They melded in my mind and with hindsight one wonders how my contribution to dining table discussion didn’t highlight this lack in knowledge.

A troubling upshot of uncertainty is the seepage of alarm into the cracks of stability. Radio news & current affairs programmes are subsumed by the subject such that one’s deep fatigue is in danger of switching off the ability to care about the British departure from the Union.

It’s ironic: the only argument which ultimately might have tilted my pencil towards Leave was that suggesting determination of fishing policy and restoration of control over UK waters. [Tiens, eh ben dit donc or Nå må jeg sige as Danes might say: even after March, Poseidon will seemingly continue to answer to Copenhagen].

Emotional resilience, as we’ve been hearing in recent weeks, is increasingly recognized as a core constituent of balanced stability. A demand it makes is to recognize individual sovereignty to assume responsibility for our actions. Being answerable for all we do guides a kinder infusion into the atmosphere we generate.

Baker’s Dozen


© BBC                                                           Richard Baker in news reading days

The solemnly urbane Richard Baker died on Saturday. I heard this sad news first at Eleven o’clock and every subsequent bulletin caught throughout the day.

For a woman of my generation he was indeed a News Reader and a Proms man. More piquantly though, he – and this wasn’t mentioned at all – was the idiosyncratic choice for his steadiness to tell the thirteen stories of Mary, Mungo & Midge.

© Estate of John Ryan                                     Mungo and Midge returning

Children’s telly in the early Seventies mebbie lacked the in-ya-faceness which obtains today yet seemed to me to require viewer participation in the action, agreeing somehow to allow the spell to be cast.

Richard Baker’s delivery was essential in the conveyance to his wide-eyed audience of the weird reality of high-rise living. In virtue of his baritones, we sat clamped in wonder at the mysteries of the wider world.

The series was conjured up by Captain Pugwash creator, John Ryan and was oft repeated, thus having a life long after its natural end … and still able to surprise. I got real shock seeking out an illustration: the series was in colour. It was a different world.

A news reader to the last, it appears he informed, educated and entertained his fellow care-home residents with headline cuttings once the sun hove past the yard-arm each evening. This strikes one as joyous, benign and mirthful; a glorious rounding of a well-lived life.

God speed, Richard Baker.