Relocating Dodekathon for mere mortals


Hellenistic period Pentelic marble possessed by The Walters Museum Procession of Twelve Gods and Goddesses
L to R: Hestia of the hearth; Hermes, messenger of the gods; Aphrodite of love and beauty; Ares of war; Demeter of agriculture; Hephaestus of fire; Hera, queen of the gods; Poseidon of the sea; Athena of wisdom and the arts; Zeus, king of the gods; Artemis of the hunt and moon; Apollo of the sun

Mount Olympus, gazing East over the Aegean, was held as home of the Twelve Greek Gods. The highest of Greek peaks, this geological phenomenon is symbolic of how the mighty rise and keep separate from those they attempt to control.

Davos: this week along the valley between Liechtenstein and St Moritz, the great, the good and the downright embarrassing gather to press the flesh, forge alliances and attempt to assert their will over their peers.

This annual jamboree or World Economic Forum matters in virtue of what is said from the depth of armchairs set before roaring fires. The conversations are taken back across the world and transformed into action.

What have they (we) to learn from the Ancients? The thing that stares us in the face is balance. When Olympians wrested power from Titans to swan around Olympus, Gods were equal in number to Goddesses. Each played to and were recognized for their strength.

With that in mind, if today were your 18th Birthday, what classic epithet would helpfully focus your gaze to the future? I heard this said by hefty hard-man Ray Winstone while portraying a King:                                                                          Listen to your conscience: it is the voice of God.


Image                                        Mount Olympus as Odysseus would have seen it


TW3 vs DW3


Album cover of his 1965 masterpiece

2  4  6  8: time to trans-substantiate

This line from Tom Lehrer’s Vatican Rag is so splendidly offensive, of such magnificent macabre merit, yet manages to tell it all.

Professor Lehrer, mathematics don while gracing lecture theatres at MIT, Harvard, UoC and Wellesley in the Fifties and Sixties, responded to his other calling by swooshing the pithiest of satirical sythings. Via jaundiced cultural critique he grated political rind from political rumps.

You need to be a millennial to have an excuse not to know his work: the reason we’ve not illustrated this Blogos with a portrait of the genius rests in virtue there ain’t one. Sure, when he was at the height of his fame; but now? Nada. A private man.

[In the Sixties, he’d worked on TW3 – or That Was The Week That Was – as had two guests on my earlier programme. It seems I thought to persuade whomever answered the phone this tenuousness was sufficient to merit a dialogue, at least.]

Which brings me to the kernel. Having received no response to a letter inviting him to a broadcast, I called a number thinking to speak with his office. Lo: the man himself answered.

The conversation was conducted on his part with infinite civility and pragmatic certainty that he would not be in dialogue with anyone on the radio for the reason he let his work speak. A killer argument. Neither then nor now can I muster a counter to its simplicity.

What wouldn’t I give to listen to his take on the #Resident; what wouldn’t we all sacrifice to have a scintilla of that lazer-like vision cut through to the very marrow of what did we do to deserve what we have



© Getty                                                    Suzanne Lenglen in flying form, 1926

You know those occasions when the words you want to write are unforthcoming? No matter how you approach it, the idea upper most refuses to budge and sits like an angry spider up in the apex of your mind, just glaring?

Well, such is the case with the intended rounding off this depleting year.

To which end, rather than whinge and whine, we look ahead in the hope to get the year off to a flying start.

As I grew up, 2018 was the telephone number. Flux of life mandates it waxed in girth and now no-one remembers the streams of locationless figures, reminiscent of π – pi.

Yet it is this flux which may save Hope from Despair’s greedy arms. The world turns, the air redeems in the darkness of night, each new day an end of yesterday. In short, we start afresh.

Madeleine Baird Materials wishes all readers of these pages, all clients of the business, all new-comers to emotional intelligence bon courage for a bold and thrilling year ahead.

We’re counting on being the change we want to see.

Stop press: rainbow forced to add colours


© Historic England                                                   The trench yielded its treasure in double-quick time in virtue of Philippa Langley’s intuitively informed academic research

Historic England has slapped a preservation order – of sorts – onto the Leicester car park under which were found the mortal remains of Richard of York, the Third king of that name and last Plantagenet to rule the realm.

We must thank Scots screenwriter and historian Philippa Langley and Richard III Society for marking the spot with an X. Indeed, that he was found and the manner of the finding is a gLorious tale and one to which we shall doubtless return.

What re-enters my mutterings list, having heard the news this morning, is that of the place of his burial.

Goodness knows his Sixteenth century press painted him in the very blackest of colours and it does seem as though he were further blighted with a misshapen spine. But he was a king, a Plantagenet, from York. Why was he not returned there?

Ptolemy slid Alexander into a cask of honey and brought him back from Persia to – OK, Egypt when it ought to have been Macedonia if we’re going to be picky; … rather than go on ad nauseam the point it seems important to make is fallen heroes ought not be lost to their people.

Added to which, it means we must find one alternate and one further colour of the rainbow so as to enrich the mnemonic: Richard of York got buried in vong place.

Think of the cruel confusion we’ll inflict on children learning the colours of the rainbow if this travesty goes unchallenged.

Tickety Boo-Hoo


KC Jones and Junior wouldn’t touch a replacement bus service

The Rail Delivery Group [want to call it travel midwifery] announced today the rise in train fares would average at 3.4% in 2018. Delays, cancellations, upgrade closures, filthy conditions: it is amazing that Commuter says No is not blazoned across foreheads of beleaguered rail users.

The highest rise for five years would be conscionable were it justified as rail has so many happy consequences. Direct, minimally polluting, theoretically simple to organize and could be mapped to every girth of wallet.

To quote a former administrator, they’re ‘avin’ a laugh.

When I was gairl, commuters would sail past ticket collectors at the station exit, waving their chits in the thin, musty air. I daresay a proportion went up and down to Town every day for nothing. Now, those impossibly brisk machines ensure payment is made from which it follows train operating companies receive a higher proportion of income than once was the case.

In those days the same lamentable conditions obtained, alas, but fares were appropriately priced. How then, is it possible to justify such above-inflation increase with no reflection in the quality of service?

How do the French get train travel so right? Double-decker, spacious, punctual, heavenly sleepers with crisp cotton sheets … I could go on. In some countries, the train is the ultimate in civilized travel: tempo of change before the eye an uplifting reward for the mind and evidence the body works best at a leisured pace. In short, as it is such a gorgeous way to travel, shouldn’t it be enabled to achieve that height in the UK?

Unless passengers make their voices heard, there will be no end to enduring woeful conditions of transportation. If not in tears, should we not all be steamin’ and a-rollin’?

Sloe to catch on


Image                                                                       Frosties. They’re great

Sloes fruited early this year, mebbie in virtue of a soggy-ish summer? Blackthorn berries plumped themselves by mid-September perhaps sensing first frosts would come too late for creating a Warmer in time for Midnight Mass returners?

[You know suggestions for making sloe gin involve notions of waiting for the first frost before picking and pricking?  Course you do.]            Well now, thems were the days before temperatures began their inexorable rise. A last Saturday in November dawns on the first hard frost I’ve seen which, had purists stuck to the recipe, would leave insufficient time for the sloes to transform the Gin into gorgeously fruitful liquor.

It’s bound to be a different story beyond the Capital but still, it does seem late and points to something, drattedly, beyond capture.

How does the animal world accommodate the radical changes the human world causes? How do animals comprehend interference with their networks – whales getting lost, birds displacing themselves, jellyfish sunning themselves in Ireland? For a catalogue of cases of animals confused by radio/satellite technology, refer to your newspaper/radio/device-thing.

It not possible to confuse a thing which lacks the equipment to be confused.

The inter-connectedness of creation mandates acting with respectful, compassionate responsibility in what we produce, use and its disposal. Why is that so difficult to grasp? If we can’t stretch our minds to understand Life is consciousness and consciousness is sentient, then we don’t deserve Earth’s bounteous fruits.

Food and pharming


                                                 Belted Galloway                                                        illustrating another of nature’s glory not in need of chemical pharming

Perhaps you need to emerge into each morning to the moo of Farming Today to know that often the first item to be covered after news and weather at Six pertains to the horrors of quackery and witchcraft espoused by those who promote using earth’s unmediated harvest?

This unofficial slot for denigrating all things non-pharmaceutical suggests the laddy doth protest too much (who funds such puzzling impropaganda?)

In a recent Abacus programme we called What in Earth? there was talk about the role contemporary methods of farming have on gut health along with the intriguing impact pharmaceuticals gimlet into the economy. Not as shareholder dividends but the cost of NHS provision to those afflicted by their use. [At some stage I’m sure I’ll grasp the logic of damaging one part of the body to benefit another ~ lamentable consequences of popping pills.]

This matters, in case you were wondering, in light of Mugabe’s exiting the world’s stage. Yes, let me finish. If we don’t speak truth to power, power morphs into a malign, corrosive form that shapes what we do and how we think. No-one stopped him though it was clear his skills were exhausted by 1981.

Zimbabwe, as fertile and productive an Eden as Africa contained, had for decades enjoyed buoyant plenty in virtue of well-ordered farms. When the farmers were murdered, land decayed lacking ordered cultivation.

At the time of writing, the monstrous Mugabe continues to resist displacement perhaps to wring from his removers immunity from prosecution for his family?

What are we doing in allowing such people power, in swallowing all that pharmaceutical companies tell us, ignorantly condoning use of agrichemicals and poor welfare practises to produce cheap food? Have we all gone raving mad or are we only now waking from a torpor whose grip rendered positive evolution inert?