Pulling in opposite directions


Many moons ago, my boss chirruped that an old mucker of his had become the Prime Minister’s press secretary. Plain old Gus O’Donnell was a bright chap well versed in finance and had spent the preceding year in a similar role for the Chancellor: given the holder of those two great offices of State shared numerical identity in the form of John Major, that’s not so surprising.

Weaving himself through the highest echelons of power, his tenure as Cabinet Secretary from 2005 to the end of 2011 was not to be the end of his political prowess and he now sits in the Lords as a Cross-bencher.

To say he knows a thing or two about how Westminster functions would be uncontroversial.

On the radio this week in the context of Brexit’s impasse, Baron O’Donnell said “What the Civil Service is after is direction”. [BBC R4 PM 12.iii.19 @ 17.24]

And there we have it.

While you may also have steam of frustration and tears of exhaustion pouring out of you, maybe you also wondered how a once finely-ordered set of isles had imploded into a cess-pool of its own creation?

Seemingly, it lies in virtue of the Government and Civil Service being in a tug-of-war. [After Brexeat, what next?]

Where does one even begin with this vacuous void? Perhaps with a spot of emotional intelligence-gathering?

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.

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.