Not so splendid isolation


Image: Stefan Wermuth, Reuters ……..The Mays in Downing Street,

You don’t have to be that long in the tooth to recall Election Days +1 where the victor, hundreds of party members and well-wishers are pressed into the Downing Street cul-de-sac, their throng thrilling to the vibration of victory with the glorious prospect of power ahead: humanity spilling from windows in cheering-wreathed smiles, bobbing heads of the prime ministerial team wholly refreshed from weeks of 18-hour days by winning #generalelection.

For the Prime Minister and her husband on Friday, the street’s echoing emptiness must have felt even more shocking and isolating than it looks.

The knives were out long before the last Count had counted. Yet her two advisors, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, responsible for the puzzling Team Theresa approach – nothing short of a doom-laden no-brainer – appear to have Teflon armour and firm friends across many sectors of media.

Is discerning those to whom we listen from those we listen-and-act not a function of being an adult? Yet, it seems these advisors saw an opportunity for self-aggrandizement to which Mrs May was immune or deaf.

All of us are subject to areas in which our judgement is poor. Naturally enough, these are not those we ought pursue. Politicians need sound political judgement in order to take their Constituency seat and a spot on the green benches.

For the country to flourish, the categorical imperative implicit to goodwill and selflessness has to inform action from here on in. If you’re unfamiliar with Kant, I’m referring to doing the right thing. If familiar, waft warm wishes to Downing Street. They’re needed.


The above was posted this morning, Saturday Tenth June. The Two o’clock News told me this puzzling pair of Advisers had resigned. Hadn’t realized these pages carried such suasive weight.

Love: strongest of all


In the 23 minutes of Sunday’s Six o’Clock News [BBC R4] devoted to the Islamic terror attack in The Borough on Saturday, not a single Muslim leader spoke to denounce the attack. I called the Today programme’s production team to urge them to ensure an Islamic voice could be heard, as a Muezzin, calling through the core of this morning’s programme to denounce these actions.

Alas, to no avail.

Clearly these agents of execution listen to someone. The frenzied action to which they’re motivated has seaped into their being. Why is the alternative not volubly, emphatically, decisively finding its way into their hearts transported there by cultural peers?

Something profound has changed. Something’s shifted.

My Muslim friends are as hate-filled, militant, offensive and violent as Agnostic/Christian/Jewish/Taoist/Buddhist friends, ie not at all.

The explosion of chaos in the hearts of these destruction men and women in whom has been nurtured this annihilating aspiration is inexplicable. The mujahideen morphed into the taliban who inspired al qaeda which fostered daesh and brought forth … this. This vacuity of humanity, this vomit of purpose, this belch of faith.

It’s a struggle to find an emotionally intelligent explanation of what has happened in Manchester and on Westminster & London Bridges in the last couple of months. Clearly we’ve entered an epoch where this kind of monstrous happening has yet to reach its peak.

What is the rational reaction? Who knows: but I shall ask every Muslim who’ll speak to me how they think this country should respond; and then urge we all to do exactly that.

Balm of being meaningfully useful


Processing the shattering vacuity responsible for last week’s destruction of so many lives in Manchester takes more than time. It demands deep empathy in order to comprehend the pain it has wrought.

Reports cascaded of taxi drivers ferrying fareless rides; residents offering beds for the night to those involved, solidarity cascading from the shoulders of Mancunians as off-duty medical staff dashed to their hospitals.

How we deal with shock is a function of our inner being. Class, nationality, gender, orientation, intellect: none has the slightest impact on our humanity which is the determining factor in how we respond to, inter alia, unbelievably awful events. It’s instinct, our inner-ness which governs or … which directs action.

And by giving of ourselves, the healing process begins. It ain’t rocket science; it’s more sophisticated than that.


Just this moment it’s been announced John Noakes has died. Everybody’s uncle he, along with Shep, cheered one up every single time he was on screen making meaningful connection with each Blue Peter child.

God speed, John Noakes.

It’s behind you


Image: Apogee and Perigee moons

Have you ever bumped into a lamp-post for gazing up into the wide black yonder peckled by light burning billions of miles away?

Yesterday, intoxicated by sticky fragrance of Elderflower, an evening wander amid the fresh and fat green of a sprung Spring was a squinting puzzlement. Where was the perigee super moon?

A Super Moon is so termed in virtue of its proximity to th’Earth. Not an astronomical term, yet its frequency is slight: the next such closeness will occur in 2034.

In my mind, I only saw a full and huge moon, to which end only looked towards the Eastern sky. And that was my mistake; closing the mind to the prospect of anything other than fullness.

How often is that the case, I wonder; shutting off ears, mind, heart to possibility in light of misapprehension? Too often in my case but you might be different. The upside is a gradual chipping away of my ignorance to allow in more light of understanding.

[P’raps I should add that its position, between the sun and earth meant it was indiscernable even if I had squinted in th’opposite direction. Tant pis pour moi.]

Quid pro quantum leap


Image                                                         An irate-looking, savoury lentil burger

It’s marvellously cheering to learn of success borne of values-laden endeavour.

A hamlet north of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire gives its name to the local football team, Forest Green Rovers. Regular readers of these pages will know how we love to wade into waters too deep and splash around trying to cause waves. In this way, we’ve been frantically critical of FIFA and joyful of G Southgate Esq.

This, then can’t be resisted. A chap whose fortune was made through concern for the planet has enabled the club to leap from one football league to another. What pleases far more – given our lack of knowledge of the game – is that his money leveraged transformation of the club’s exo-structure.

Eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince has put his mouth where his money is by ensuring players and fans no longer munch on meat and dairy products while at The New Lawn. The ground and buildings are powered by solar panels and there’s a charging point for electric cars.

Sustainable use of the Earth’s resources is his motivation, a mindset which can be easily absorbed to inform how lightly we tread on the planet. Nothing contentious there. Except that usually it’s the other way around. Usually, our modus operandi is fashioned by those whose eye is on their own wallet resident in their own pocket.

Perhaps this kind of eco warring will catch on? It takes a quantum leap of the imagination, naturally, yet believing evolution is possible when principled concern funds it seems a cheerful way to glide leagues ahead.



High Fiver


Thems were the days

On Friday, users of the English Five Pound Note will wave a final farewell to these mostly tatty slips of blue paper when their validity expires. Do you recall the old ones? Obviously, not those white jobs that could have doubled as a tablecloth-for-one but that splendid statement which yodelled status as a teenager of substance. Ah me; long gone them days.

The last time I went into the Bank of England (BoE) was … the last time notes had to be exchanged. On that occasion, it seemed to me as though tumble weed and Sergio Leone were the last ones through.

This week, however, people were sitting and talking earnestly; there was a rope barrier indicating which way to queue; cheerful paint pinged from the walls in brightness, all suggesting times had indeed changed. The extremely personable, efficient teller who took my grubby note smiled cheerily and said ‘ooh, yes. That was a long time ago’ when trying to pinpoint the approximate date of my last visit.

Polymer bank notes have been around for years: Australia, Mexico, Canada and Papua New Guinea to name four national users. I would think BoE’s Canadian Governor, Mr Carney wanted to bring a little bit of home with him were it not for the notion that this is the way things are headed. Extending life at all costs. … but that’s another story and I so wanted to end on a high note.

Seems Prime Ministerial war leaders are de rigeur for Fivers old and new

Cup and sorcery


© Walt Disney                                                                      Uncle Albert’s Tea Party

What if igniting that which has become blah troffage were transformed into an explosion of wonder? Think: a magic tea could become a regular event.

If a lavish six-courser with full napkinry has been consumed by diners atop Arthur’s Seat, then a wee Tea of scones, crumpets, cakes – a fruit and a coffee & walnut [my favourite] with lashings of piping tea can be transported pretty much anywhere: watching the goslings, amid the bluebells, surrounded by birdsong, picking hay from your hair, enveloped under blue, bobbing on teaming waters. 

If this year, with its crashing waves of surprise teaches anything, it is surely to do it all now. Whatever has been pondered in the heart as an ambition to be fulfilled at some stage, make the time; do it forthwith.

We are our own magicians. The fertile conjuring up of our lives from the well of possibility is easier now, May Day, than tomorrow: a blissful case of jam today. Pleasing the mind makes the heart smile and I’m positive we all need a bit of that.