Possessing vertebrae


© Jonathan Bachman, Reuters Ieisha Evans standing for her principles

Last July in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Police Department was confronted by a nurse, Ieisha Evans, who decided to step out from the thronged Black Lives Matter protestors and show her strength when told that not keeping to the sidewalk would result in immediate arrest.

At this moment of Mrs May having called an Election for Eighth June, one is reminded of what motivates taking or making a stand. We can’t yet know the full reasoning of this change of heart but like as not, a show of strength will be in the mix.

Thousand words painted by these images: taken as read?

© Jonathan Bachman, Reuters                                            Moments later




Greek café opens its doors for strays during winter nights

Since the beginning of the year and p’raps even longer, it’s been hard to know what to write. The litany of misfortune has cascaded around our ears, propelled by the puzzling individuals who play on the global stage and who forget that being the bigger person is not about size or volume.

Across all the world’s solemn systems of thought, this is a sacred time of year. It prizes open an opportunity to soften the heart and be kind for kindfulness’ sake.

Celebrating cyclical transcendence offers hope and a chance to let our life speak. Flopping back into that great supportive armchair – taking responsibility for actions in order to control the outcome – has the consequence of floating out kindness to others as well as to oneself.

Kindfulness is the prudent, fulfilled ambition to act with kindness in order to germinate kindliness in others. This intended symbiotic reflection cultivates a generosity of spirit to dissolve darkness, transforming its lack into light.

I’m not sure Messrs Chambers or Oxford English, Collins or Websters are ready to recognize this idea of kindfulness; not yet …

What happens when we do nothing


Image: SNN/Polaris/Newscom

Seemingly, the Assad/Putin regime claims Tuesday’s airstrike killing 58 adults and 11 children was aimed at “the terrorists’ stockpile of toxic substances” which appears the justification for the terrible and traumatic injuries that laid waste to so many in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib province.

Yet Sarin, the toxic substance responsible for the injuries, is destroyed when bombed and carries no further. It must be mistaken then, the Assad regime, in suggesting the target was responsible when it could only have been the weapons used.

We – by which I mean all of us – seem to let pass extremely puzzling claims that fly in the face of common sense.

There’s an ironic thing about truth: it stares us in the face in just the same way as audacious fiction, both daring us to say something.

EQ means never having to talk about your emotions


Love Story – a ’70s film which gripped the smooching generation – had a strap line of Love means never having to say you’re sorry

In similar vein, developing Emotional Intelligence means never having to talk about your emotions.

In firing a weapon of any kind, it’s preferable to squeeze the trigger while controlling breath. Thus, on this day when the Prime Minister triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to formalize the long process for UK withdrawal from the EU, developing the intelligence to accommodate the passions this evokes would seem a prudent move.

For the second time since 1415, England has waggled two fingers at those it faces across the channel. This, then, may be a moment for kindness to inform professional dealings. Self-raising flourishing implicit to those with heightened skill in negotiation could infuse and nourish dealings with symbiotic tenderness and rational calm.

It is in the interest of these isles that breadth and depth of GB negotiators expand in empathic grace to understand the dismay with which their EU peers approach the table.

Not drowning but waving


I confess to being somewhat bewildered by the waves of events which keep crashing onto the shore of our lives. All deserve expansive attention yet comment on their tidal sweep could drown empathy by virtue of compassion fatigue, while cursory mention would seem to marginalize their hugeness.

Let us think laterally then as to how to manage reaction. Acknowledgement is vastly validating; demonstrable recognition someone has acted or something has occurred in a meaningful way replenishes the kindness it extends. Being thankful, mournful, accepted, welcomed, kind, understanding of and to others is a grounding phenomenon that stabilizes compassion and grows capacity to be larger than before.

This balanced giving and receiving won’t lessen the reality of external events but will supply the ballast to maintain equilibrium amid all the squalling turmoil caused.

The dead – and sometimes the living – drop out of conversation in virtue of speakers not knowing what to say. Being present and cultivating a silence from which thought finds its voice is a peaceful, organic approach to remembering, lest we forget.

Singin’ on the rain cloud

Image: Richard young/Rex/Shutterstock Gerald Kaufman in happier times

Image: Richard Young/Rex/Shutterstock Gerald Kaufman in happier times

Father of the House of Commons Sir Gerald Kaufman, MP for Manchester Ardwick, later renamed Gorton, for as long as anyone can remember, died last week aged 86. His acerbic tongue could level his opponents, not all of whom were Tories and displayed a merriment in life through his wardrobe his demeanor frequently hid.

A prominent Jew, Sir Gerald was critical of Israel’s occupation of Palestine while supportive of and a participant in cultural Judaism and as a journalist in cultural life generally.

He honed a rapier wit scripting for TW3 as Ned Sherrin’s satirical review That was The Week That Was was known in the Sixties. And from 1970, his public life was based at Westminster. But above all, above even politics, he loved the silver screen and would regularly attend BFI Sunday night screenings of black and white classics, although his best loved picture was Singin’ in the Rain.

In an interview he gave my programme The Hollywood Ups and Downs Show sometime before the turn of the millenium, he freely admitted he’d have worked for a Nazi newspaper if it meant he could write about film.

Have a listen.



Gilray's Excrescence

Gilray’s Excrescence

Gorgeous palaces that are melted into thin air hover all around us. Their shimmering essence, as their material substance, is but a hologram. Currently, it seems the most successful enterprises are as tangible as clouds yet wield power of an atom bomb.

Take Uber, for example. Travis Kalanick appears to have co-founded a company whose stratospheric creation and market capture neglected to put in place tangibly accountable operating systems for staff, protecting them from extravagant neglect of their humanity. Upon facing their complaints, he was told he had “to start listening to your own people.”

Hubris is the swagger of excessive pride that can lead to a downfall. Now, there’s nothing wrong in being deliriously delighted with an achievement; perhaps even for a moment being seduced into thinking oneself above criticism? But allowing that to inform how the producers of your bottom line are treated – to their detriment? That’s just shabby.

If long-term prosperity is to flow from our ingenuity, the ground from which we grow must be nurtured and returned to good heart. It’s all one thing, really. Kindness to the earth, brings forth healthy food and surroundings to nourish hearts and minds.

Kindness to one another: not so hard it is? Listening, on th’other hand, is hard work and demands attention ober und über the call of duty.