From nothing emerges something


Andy Beck                                                                                      Brave new Dawn

For the longest time, coercive control didn’t exist and, as such, couldn’t be spoken of or discussed. When attempts were made to do so, it was batted away or not believed or incurred contempt. No-one was willing to Listen.

But then something happened.

Was it enlargement of understanding, by which we mean a willingness to understand: in short, empathy? Or mebbie it was wider exhaustion with maintaining the pretence that a human being lashes out for no reason? We’re told at school, are we not, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction?

Lamentably, it not trivializing to mention the Helen Archer/Rob Titchener storyline The Archers ran in contributing to public awareness of this grim cancer in relationships. It played a crucial role in projecting it to the forefront of public consciousness.

Let me be clear: if you have not been the object of a coercive controller’s brutality, you will have to work hard to grasp the extent of its annihilating impact.

Today, Harriet Wistrich successfully argued Sally Challen’s conviction for murder was ill-conceived. Lady Justice Heather Hallett stated this appeal was not about coercive control but “conditions which were undiagnosed at the time [of the trial]” and ordered a retrial. So shifts the balance in justice.

The invisible damage this kind of brutal abuse wreaks gnaws at the core of one’s resilience. It excavates confidence and autonomy and freedom. It creeps with inexorable menace to shroud one from the world and if lucky enough to escape, it is only with considerable hindsight that the unending litany of coercive acts come into sharper focus. When in their midst, it is impossible to grasp that anyone might actually intend such harm. Invidiously corrosive, the nature of controlling behaviour invades to the very marrow of hope.

If minded to uphold the Challen family in your heart and all families struggling for survival from within a cauldron of emotional abuse, then remember that treating others as you’d wish to be treated is a fine start to blotting out this blight.

Walking on air


 © Steve Burnett                     Prize-winning shot of natural nature

It is at once a shattering relief and a complete no-brainer: that flourishing mental health is increasingly and volubly associated with mingling in Nature.

These pages like to promote the simplicity and efficacy of genial escape by walking in green landscape and blue waterscape to soothe the mind, enabling it to comb through the tangles. Applies just as much to animals: think how unhappy captive creatures are, removed from their proper habitat.

The prize this image deserves was awarded by the Campaign for National Parks which is celebrating seventy years of ambling amid the glory of creation.            [It was a matter of squinting puzzlement when living amid the Fells, that 75% of residents never set foot on a rambling path while 5% wouldn’t be prized from them.]

Pressing oneself into the grooves of the landscape reconnects to the fundamentals of existence. It resets the internal compass to direct us towards a kinder approach and consideration to tread more lightly on our Globe.

Image                        Moonscape

Mebbie the Earth’ll end up    as arid as any other planet in the solar system: devoid of rapturous, balanced beauty: valuing & appreciating it while we have it enhances individual and universal humanity. … Back to the owl.

@SteveBurnett_                          Right: supper A short-eared owl … on a mission

Check its expression: does it suggest to you he’s heading for something distinct … inferring thought? Won’t it be great once we permit all creatures sentience?

Untangling the web


Image                                                                          Funnel-web spider’s crib

One of the scintillating qualities the mind possesses is that of sieve. It allows the stuff of life to fall through until such time as we’re ready to see it or feel it … or hear it: know what I mean?

A wonderful mathematician & computer scientist was speaking of how she mustered support to save Bletchley Park by means of connecting with like-minded strangers through the twitosphere.

I’m not sure if being ‘very very pants’ is something that can be said in sentient company: nonetheless, it is an accurate description of my techné in this area. Her words had me dashing to squint at @emotionalresilience and #Empathy and … all those aspects of existence on which these pages comment.

It was a depleting experience: seems there ain’t many of us who reason these matters … matter.

The Materials that we supply – not only here but in universal encouragement to let lives speak – inform how generously we can contribute to the wider world. What’s done becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy: being gloomy causes one gloom just as a kind act ignites kindness.

It’s not rocket science: it’s more sophisticated than that.



© 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.