Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Giants played marbles....



The Giants played marbles,
Sitting on the flat earth

They threw the great round stones
and shouted and laughed with mirth

Each boulder the size of a house
Was smaller to them than the smallest mouse

They slapped the ground with roars of delight
as on knocked the others' stone out of sight

And the people hide and quaked in fear
As the ground jumped and the huge rocks did appear

Falling miles from the sky
and they did not understand why

Some blamed the weather
some blamed the church
some blamed men for leaving single mother's in the lurch

Some grew angry
Some grew sad
Some said the whole world was mad

And the Giants, played on,
throwing their stones up high
so they came crashing down from the sky

And the reason why?


The Giants were playing marbles
Sitting on the flat earth
They threw the great round stones
as it made them laugh with great mirth

4 July 2010 France

Dropped off the planet

er no.
But as not many readers....


may have to dig something from the archive to post

Friday, June 18, 2010

out of office

Apparently a journalist in the FT says that no one should have out of office messages - not in this day and age of mobile Internet devices (actually he says "blackberry and iPhone" - just in case you'd not noticed there are other devices out there)

I'd agree. Not because we should be on 24hrs, 7 days a week. Not because of course it is utterly reasonable to be available even if in a different time zone, or doing something else.

I'd agree as the journalist, Tyler Brule, says what 70% of the world think. "I have sent an email, therefore you should read it."

There is no point expecting an end to the torrent of mails, usual inane two line whines. There is no point expecting people to notice the polite notice, that you are away, doing something not at your desk, therefore cannot answer today and please ask someone else. There is no point, as anyone who actual works knows, you will still get cc'd and still get the mails and then the demands for replies.

No one reads the out of office. They ignore them.

Because work is now sending mails. Not doing things, or makings things, or writing anything more than FYI on the top of another series of forward mails and at the end is a demand for a report on something that has nothing to do with you or the original sender.

Mass instant communication - and all it is, is noise to show that people are "working".

Friday, October 09, 2009

Respect

Respect is a much overused word. As is disrespect.

Having had another day of stuff thrown at me, some of it, a lot of it attitude. People with a high opinion of themselves, or more accurate a dissmissive attitude of others

Very disheartening to have people or persons actual be very rude and dismissive of you.

Being me is sometimes, not easy

"My God, My God why hast thou foresaken me....."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Flesh of my Flesh

The thought started reading this:

"Ferraby loved everything to do with being a father, from wheeling the pram out in the afternoons to preparing a bath at the exact temperature: even to be woken up in the middle of the night was an acceptable part of fatherhood, establishing his connection firmly. But most of all he liked simply to be with the child, watching her, talking to her, feeling her minute fingers curling around his own. He felt no need for any more exciting hind of activity, these days; he whole leave was passing in this simple and tender fashion, and he would have chosen nothing else. "
The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

This stuck a sudden cord - not by the whole part which is poor Ferraby losing it and unable to stop himself having waking nightmares of sinking - but the besotted father, not wishing to hold anything but the flesh of his flesh close.

And that made me remember my grandfather lying in a hospital bed, in a gown designed to rob you of any dignity. Flesh of my flesh, his shoulder and arm despite being that of a ninety year old man, could have been mine- same broad shoulders, freckled skin, long forearm.

The stroke had robbed him of most of his speech and will. He lay mostly in the bed, move open eyes close, seemingly unaware of the world.

And he would not eat.

I ended up at one point feeding him baby food -combined with selective swearing this finally seemed to trigger his appetite. Then the hospital were persuaded to puree his food. Then, he finally started eating for them. He was like a large baby in the end; waking up at odd hours, making inappropriate noise and needed cleaning and helping with basic functions of bladder and bowl.

And it was not much fun at all. But then we had the only hope of him returning to being the cantankerous, casually racist, misogynistic bastard he was before where as a baby will, always of course, turn into someone great/good/worthwhile. Even a potential baby is invested with so much hope.

Alas I do stir the cup of bitterness I have prepared myself - the child we, I, would have had would have been three now.

And my grandfather - he was released, expelled more accurately, from hospital and the family found him a good -ish care home. As good as any can be expected really. And I left the fighting to get him to recover, to live to others for a few weeks, while I lived a bit of my own life. And in that short time he went and died. Maybe because I was away, maybe it was just time. No one aside from my grandmother seemed overly upset - he was just old. I felt guilty I was not more upset. And I had looked away. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood but I cannot say, due to character traits lain out above, we were at all close. Which makes it worse.

"Il y en a toujours l'un qui baise, et l'un qui tourne la joue"
There's always one who kisses and one who turns the cheek

Again the Cruel Sea; though it is a French proverb I think.

I am childless and age creeps up on me - I fear I will be childless and alone come my end, or at least not much loved like my Grandfather. Perhaps that is what I must face.

Some things do not turn out how you want, no matter how hard wished for or worked for and some do.

Cynical experience over my hopeful heart says; "Life is not fair. At best she is impartial. At worst, downright vindictive."

All you can do is brave the Cruel Sea and roll with the waves and storms.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Translations from Personal Reviews

Once or Twice a Year we have these in most places of work. Unlike school reports (where if you are lucky your teacher remembers who you are when writing it), work ones often decided bonus and promotion. You can be damned by faint praise or ambiguous words. What do the words actually mean? Some key phrases and the possible meaning behind them

TENACITY - a polite term for bloody mindedness or stubborn attitude that has worked in your favour rather than against you

EVEN HANDED - they mean that this person tries to offend no-one so does very little

PASSIONATE - over enthusiastic to border line obsessed with certain areas of work

COMMITTED - over enthusiastic to border line obsessed with certain areas of work

DEDICATED - over enthusiastic to border line obsessed with certain areas of work

KEEN - over enthusiastic to border line obsessed with certain areas of work

DRIVEN - over enthusiastic to border line obsessed with certain areas of work

FOCUSED - over enthusiastic to border line obsessed with certain areas of work

ENTHUSIASTIC - over enthusiastic to border line obsessed with certain areas of work

TEAM PLAYER - cannot complete a task of his/her own so involves everyone to help with it, making decisions and announcing to office what is going on. Also first to stop doing their job if something more interesting is being done by someone else and they can assist/take over doing it

IN TOUCH WITH THE BROADER PICTURE - Complains all day about how badly company/organisation etc is run, usually with jaundiced but sadly accurate facts rather than doing anything about how badly place is run

SELF MOTIVATING - have not actually spoken to him/her for months and they have not sent any reports in or attended any meetings, but still claiming expenses and saw them in the corridor last week, striding past whilst talking on a mobile phone.

SELF ASSURED - arrogant self opinionated and rude. Possible senior management material

NOT A TEAM PLAYER - failed to bring in cakes on birthday, make anyone tea/coffee, go to pub after work or go to Christmas party and seems to have an OK home life and no personal problems. Smugly happy so not popular.

QUICK THINKING - someone who thinks about what they are doing; not to be trusted and got rid of when redundancies happen. If they stay that long.

At The End Of The Day

The sun quietly got on with setting – it did it every day and was well practised by now. With the casual easy of a brilliant artist it painted the horizon in reds, oranges and gaudy bold pinks, shot the stray grey clouds with the startling colours and bathed the side of trees and buildings in deep warm gold.

The long grass in the field by the side of the road shimmered like the sea and shadows stretched and lengthened, like a cat waking from sleep. Darkness rising and waiting to take over the whole ground, but at the moment only a contrast to the last, glorious huzzah of the day, a counterpoint to the spectacular light show in west.

The car tyres hummed on the road, the engine quietly growled along, like a slightly perturbed dog. Light bounced off the bonnet, refracting, dancing around. Intensely bright, the driver of the vehicle, squinted through dangerous dark shaded glasses – care worn hands, scarred and battered gripped slightly tighter the steering wheel. He, a large, slightly running to fat, slightly greying man, shifted in the drivers seat, unintentional making the car shimmy and shy like a young horse before a jump. It did not stray over either line, but the mistake made him grimace in disgust at the lack of control.

Fortunately he was alone, both inside the automobile and on the road. No one was beside him to admonish him, no other driver to flash their lights in alarm, no policeman to haul him over.

Just him and the sun, quietly setting across the wide flat landscape at the end of a long hot summer's day. And Miles Davis playing. The beginning “Flamenco Sketches”, starting in that unwinding and cool way that was at once a rush to the head and a release of tension, like that first sip of dark red wine, or the hit of water from the shower as the cares of the world were washed away, the tension between his shoulders and in the small of his back eased. The noise in his head turned off for a few moments and was replaced with calm.

He should hit shuffle on the mp3 player; change the music and the mood to something upbeat, to keep him alert and focused; He should not be thinking, reflecting, shooting glances to his left to admire the beauty of the great ball of fire slipping gently behind the horizon.

He should have left earlier, he should have arrived earlier. He should have planned better; so that at the end of a long day, he was not driving, tired and hungry the two hours from home.

Lots of things he should have done. Hundreds, thousands. This was why he was where he was, not somewhere else, though he was realistic enough to not think that somewhere else was on his own luxury yacht being hand fed peeled grapes by some scantily clad ex-super model.

But right at this moment, at this sudden apex of his life curve, because it was an apex, a highest point, he was driving along a quiet, blissfully traffic free and untrammelled by repairs, road, with Miles Davis playing and the warm summer sun, softly, caressing the day goodnight.

He exhaled, blew out the worries and fears of the day, pushed them out of his mouth with his breath. Took them from deep within himself, placed them in his diaphragm and pushed them away, in on long steady exhalation.

The bills, the passing years, the job that took too much from him both physically in time and emotionally in care, the ageing relatives that seemed to exist between life and death now with no joy or interest in the world, the sad disappointments and rank unfairnesses.

Gone, or at least pushed away in the exhalation. Put aside; 'parked' as that annoying, peppy, polished but above all young middle manager would say. No longer part of the moment.

Because the high point was now, he was on an open road, comfortable sat, listening to some nice music and enjoying the sunset.

He toyed with the idea of pulling over to watch it.

He dismissed it.

Not because he was late, or that there was no where to stop, or that it was self-indulgent. Though these were second, third and fourth thoughts that notice what he was thinking and rushed into the decision making process late, all a splutter, demanding to be heard, far too late as the decision was taken.

He did not stop.

The moment was an apex, a high point for all the constituent parts of the situation.

The open road, with the car moving at an acceptable, progressive but above all constant speed – not stopping, starting, bouncing around with our impatient road users in their urgent demanding efforts trying to get where they were going, endangering or impeding him. No sea of red cones, no flashing 40 signs, no pathetically chirpy young woman explaining on the radio, that due to a broken-down-lorry (now one word in the English language) there were “severe delays”. The car moving, the feeling of movement, of progression, of transit, of the transitory nature of the whole situation and life was tied up in the fact that the car was in motion.

Whilst the sun setting was the perfect backdrop, in this apex scene, the perfect moment. Not quite literally driving into the sunset, but some director- of a particularly cheesy melodrama - would have sat with with his camera filming frantically as the car sped along the road, gold and red sunlight all over it, the closing moment.

The end of the day.

Sadly unlike cheesy melodrama there was no closing moment, apart that rather final cold hard closing moment, in life. No happy driving away with the setting sun.

But the moment had that, the beauty and the tranquillity and the calm to it.

The music was a great soundtrack, though he probably, knowing his budget it would have to played by someone else, not use the original as here.

Bill Evans starting the tune, improvising over the cord changes, with Miles Davis coming in at just the right moment. The perfect mix, of reserve, of sadness and melancholy but with a “heh that's okay” shoulder shrug in there as well. Jazz, born of the blues, knowing sadness as well as joy, this encapsulated the end of the day feeling, the slight tiredness, the weary sad smile.

The last track on the album.

He must have played this tune so many times.

Actually now he thought about it, as the road began to come to a bend, he had played this at other sunsets, sometimes deliberately sometimes accidentally.

Escaping Birmingham, after a hellish day, the sun hitting the hills as he scudded down the M5, with only a few other drivers around. The nasty taste in his mouth after the unpleasantness of the day's business, the ache in his fingers from writing, the mobile phone firmly off. He had put the CD in the player, skipped forwarded, and carefully still of his speed and road position went past Tewkesbury toward Gloucester, the Sun on his right, the road painted red. The end of the day and all the stress and time stopped, or at least paused. Out of the loop and at peace.

Or sitting on the patio, a cool glass of something in front of him, cats hunting in the flowerbeds, the wood at the back of the house, full of summer noise, the music slowly reaching out its tentacles from in the house, so he was distracted from listening to the friends around him, but still captivated by their faces, animated and smiling and talking as the music filled his head.

Or the harsh winter, cold and stark coming back from work, and walking from where the car was parked, miles from the house, and the tune popping into his head, as the snow and ice that frosted the cars and roof tops went pink and red with the setting sun.

Roundabout.

He pushed the clutch dropped out of gear, down two gears, lifted his foot, slowing the car smoothly, calmly in above all pleasingly controlled way. Checked right, nothing, slowing still, making sure.

Then away, accelerating, round to the second exit, up a gear and off on another section of unblocked, uncluttered, lonely road.

Then rushing toward him, familiar buildings.

The tall towers of the disused power station, with light shooting through the rusting girders, the broken building sad and old, but some how less sad, with the soft dying sun light, the summer breeze moving the heavily leafed trees near it.

Flamenco Sketches finished, and something else on random played came on.

Something upbeat and poppy, with a repetitive and grammatically incorrect chorus but above all no soul, that had somehow found its way on to the player.

He turned off the music, sighing that the moment had now passed. Sad, that it was over, but happy that it had been good.

At the end of the day, it was just the end of the day. Like any other of the 13000 or so he had witnessed, many he had not really paid much attention to at the time.

The end of the day, with the night waiting.

The car sped on leaving the open road behind it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eurovison Hell

Is there a support group?

Surely this comes under the Geneva Convention as torture or Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

I am being forced, AGAIN, by She Who Must Be Obeyed And Feared, to watch this - show is too small a word to encompass the sheer utter awfulness of it.

Ok Graham Norton is helping as very funny, but if it was not for my decision to self medicate on home made cocktails (Daiquiri's but now sadly out of Rum), would be gnawing my own leg off...

help..

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Tower and the Light

The evening sun hits the cathedral
And the red bricks glow red - like a hearth stone, warm and inviting
and the roof is as green as a cricket pitch
cool and bright and fresh

and over the town, as the evening comes in, the tower is bathed in the dying days light
and it looks as if this was ever thus, England in the evening spring sun

and the sun goes behind the hill.

And the cathedral goes grey and dark.
And the bricks are old, and cold and dirty
And the roof is an old off green
And it is cold

Night is coming
The dark coats the land in a dark, soft blanket

The tower is gone, lost in the night sky

And then lights come on

And the tower is a beacon of light
Golden and bright
The colour of the sun
ethereal, floating over the dark land
shafts of light bouncing upward,
connecting the cathedral to the heavens

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kitchen Naming

So looking at Kitchen brochures; I commented to friends there at the time that one, a concoction of black shinny plastic and fake marble was certainly one for the would be city banker-bachelor loft apartment, complete with the Porsche in the basement car park.

This then lead one friend to insist we renamed the range of kitchens, from "Tiverolli" and "Mocca Studio" to the more realistic naming criteria.

Purple plastic and grey marble effect worktop - newly made bachelor wanting to look trendy and cool
Gloss black doors, with chrome handles - pony tailed tosser
not so glossy black door, with wooden surround - wannabe pony tailed tosser
lime green doors with light gray work tops - Look-at-me kitchen for your thirty-something never married
coffee coloured units and doors - I don't actually use the kitchen, it is to look at, hence this impractical colour is fine
white units, white top, with built in door handle - bought by the builder as "deluxe kitchen".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Modern lack of communication

In other social worlds there were rules.

Fish eaten on Fridays.

Only horses sweat.

Stand up when a lady enters the room.

Take your hat off in church.

Now we have e-mail - perhaps we should have some rules - for e-mail, for chatting, mobile phones etc.

1. Do not text while talking to someone face to face. Devote your attention to one thing at a time and actually you may actual effectively communicate.
2. E-mailing someone three lines about a subject is not actually working on something. Stop using e-mail as audit trail back covering exercise.
3. Do not start mails with no salutation or any personal touches - we've all done it, it is not nice
4. Do not use chat instead of walking over to someone to talk
5. or to use it to pretend you are working
6. cc'ing your boss on all your mails is not big, not clever and not a substitute to writing your reports or communicating properly.
7. Flaming is a bad idea. Really. You will be scorched. Move away from the keyboard!
8. Passing a mail to you to someone else to answer for you is rude - reply saying you getting someone else better qualified/less busy to deal with it please.
9. Never ever ever hit reply all without checking the circulation. Ruthlessly cull your own circulation lists. Limit the traffic.
10. Less is more. Send less mails or even Stop Mailing some people. Really try the phone or in person. Because, think what you are doing. What people now do all day is send each other memos or read them. Not even twenty years ago, we actually did this thing called work at work. Think how long you spend all day going through the slew of e-mails, demanding, pleading or simply the two liner to show involvement. Stop adding to this tidal wave of drivel! Write what needs writing. Ruthlessly cull you circulation list. Major cause of project over runs - reading all the two line e-mails from people trying to appear involved in the project.


Two postings in one month. Too much

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Philosophy while Running

Unlike lawn mowing, deep thought whilst running, does not have the same risks - such as mowing your own feet or more seriously, mowing part of a shrub and having to explain this fact to the head gardener (She Who Must Be Obeyed).

It does have the risk of missing oncoming traffic - if you happen to cross a road (which, as I am in England this is highly likely) or share the route with other users. Horses are very large animals. Having been nearly run over by a trotting hunter am now taking this as a serious risk. The other is dog walkers, or rather the dog, who thinks either a) this is jolly good game to chase you or b) decided you are a risk and chases you. You then have to translate the barks - is that angry woof or playful woof? Either way stopping is often required - in order for the owner to recover the dog

It has given me a business idea. Exercise your dog - I run and the dogs chase me like idiots for a hour. But I think the chances of being bitten and losing dogs too high, for it to be viable.

These aside, running early in the morning - 7:00 AM, when most sensible people have just hit the snooze button on the clock radio, is peaceful. Morning dew turns spiders webs into silver necklaces, draped gaudily around branches. Soft golden light, playfully illuminates the woods and the turning leaves. You are alone - in fact I have even seen the milkman parked up and not moving.

I do have a music player thing with me, but do not use it. Firstly to listen out for horses or dogs, secondly as lost in thought.

And I find I very quickly retreat into thought, mainly as your legs begin to ache, you need to not think, "I have hardly gone any distance" or "why am I doing this?" or "I am far too old to do this".

The regular rhythm of feet hitting the leaf strewn path, the puffing steaming breaths, the jangle of keys in pocket sooth - like a train running on a track, like a steady hypnotic chant.

Having run the route many times, it is familiar, so you do not look so much- and if you were not thinking of something else, you'd be thinking of the pain in your legs, not on the fauna and flora (Deer mainly. No chance of hitting them, they run away as soon as see you).

Possibly this explains the series of trips and falls - not the poor state of the bridleways. Too busy musing on the unbearable lightness of being you miss the large tree root or pot hole and end up flat on your face (four times now in seven months). I have scabby knees and an interesting scar on my hand to attest to this.

But I still think deep thoughts. As it is space - my space - in a busy day, in a busy world. No e-mails to answer, no calls to answer, no one else to attend to. And really that is all one needs - time and space, possibly the most valuable commodity to anyone.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Philosophy and lawn mowing


Mowing the lawn and thinking do go together quite well. As long – if using electric, you do cut your own cable, or slice your own toes off, pushing a mower up and down the grass it is a good time to drop the brain into another gear, and ponder the great unknow-ables of life the universe and if Phylis in accounts is having an affair (again).

With a ride on – no too hard to drive and think I feel, but does depend on terrain.

As I attacked again, with aid of said electrical grass cutting implement, the patch of thorny scrub laughable called a lawn, my mind wanders, it that detached idle way around issues, and does the mental equivalent, of taking the back of the TV to work out where the funny noise is coming on

Perhaps not always a good idea, but it satisfies the curiosity- that itch to know and to explore. And hopefully nothing goes bang.

(note. Unless you are a TV engineer this will invalidate your warranty. In the case of buzzing TVs)

I have just, sold my house. So the lawn was actually my landlord's not mine. So my original house, which I spent years sorting out and spending money on is sold.

And this made me think about home and Homes. Because in English, home is not just a house, it can be a whole country, or a city or a street not just a house. We do not have “the mother land”. We have home. Which is more, well, cuddly, cup of tea and biscuit relaxed and dress down than the patriotic, hard line, dress smart and stand up straight, social realism of “motherland”. Nor is in Chez Nous – my place. It is not so hip, cool and casual or French.


Home is where you wear slippers

Home is where know where the mugs and tea is stored

Home is where you sit and just are, not having to do anything


It is not appreciated as it is rather like a comfortable old jacket you wear at weekends (I'm English. I wear jackets.). Comfortable – familiar, worn. Maybe stylish but, most of all it fits and feels well. But not thought about.

Perhaps that is a man thing? Women will wear shoes and clothes that are uncomfortable, because they look good.

Men wear stuff that fits. Then looks good. No man would do to his feet what women do to theirs with high heels. Men are either to wimpy or not insecure enough. Or possibly too lazy...


And then I run our of lawn and the Philosophy stops.



Monday, May 05, 2008

The Essays 4: An End to Universities

Well another pop at another sacred cow. (This is turning into the seemingly dropped radio show Heresy). Universities the home of enlightenment, of elucidation or education.

Only of course it is not, which is why I say, down with it. Having survived its mangling, I feel I have a valid standpoint on this. The joke is always given:

Lectures:
A means of the information in the lecturers notes passing to the students notes, without the information passing through the brain of either.

Which people laugh at, as it is ridiculous. But this is how it is. As a student I was part of a compliant at one of our lecturers, as he was so bad. But really we should have fired 90% of them. The could not speak publicly, they cared little if they got their message across and the actually practical application of anything was beyond them.
These are the sort of people who complain of “dumbing down”. These are the people who say you “read a subject” at university. These are the smug so and so's who ruin education. Because they keep it a competition.

Rather than trying to get everyone educated – that is all understanding things, universities are an exercise in proving who is good at cramming for exams. And yes there are essays, and The Thesis, but exams are really it.
All universities tend to teach is how to pass written exams. Want actually someone who knows something, then universities are not the best places. Find someone who makes a living out of it, tends to be a better bet. Even in really practical subjects like computers and engineer, the real clever people are inventing Yahoo- how many of the internet pioneers were actually university professors and how many clever youngsters. How many professors were involved in designing Concorde? The Channel Tunnel? Inventing mobile phone networks? Start very successful companies? Very few.
Ok, it is a very sweeping generalisation, and not really true. There are lots of clever professors making money. And the universities have clever people in them. But universities are rigged not to help you learn, but to test you. You have to spend days getting a reading list. You have to research yourself things. No one shows you how to do anything. Most lectures are just the lecturer repeating his book at you – which is oddly the course book and costs £40.
So when these graduates come out what can they do? Well they can sit for three hours and regurgitate facts and formulae no problem. Actually rewire your house, fix your car, find a cure for some disease – then my faith in the system falls down. Truly stupid people get degrees. Really clever people sometimes do not.
The problem in England, which has spread I fear is that universities have some scared glow that rubs off on graduates. And actually no one asks -”So what does that mean you can do?” that is until the get to a work place and find, “oh dear I have to solve a real problem not regurgitate a known answer”.
In a meritocracy you are judge by your merit. Your worth to that society. Universities were born in the medieval period and hang overs from the class and rank system are still there. The value thing is “pass this test to prove you are clever”. It is not “pass this test to prove you can do x, y, z”.
I have a degree, actually. Makes me no better than anyone else, until I use that education to do something better than other people. Which I do not do. Most of what I studied does not affect my daily working life. Like a lot of graduates.
So the degree thing is like a club. A badge. A show off thing. And it makes me laugh when an estate agent or Bank Manger has BA (Hons.) or BSc (Hons) after his or her name on the business card. Because it proves nothing apart from you have bought into the “I passed the exams so I am clever” lie.
No, you are just good at sitting exams. If you could sell my house or arrange not to not lose my current account then you would have merit.
So what would I change? Make universities actually educate so people can do something other than pass exams.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Essays 3: Let's get rid of Religion - but please don't cut off my head

There are many things wrong with the world: global warming; corrupt dictators; and the propensity of certain pubs to sell ’pies’ which are actually casseroles with jaunty pastry caps on top. However , if you are going to change something, then let’s change something that will have a big affect.


Religion. (I have now a mental sound track playing, from Fiddler on the Roof. It is stuck on everyone singing “Religion! Religion!”). The problem with saying ‘Let’s get rid of religion’ is that some people take it very badly and threaten to cut your head off – which sort of makes my point.


Religion – ‘It is the opium of the people’. A saying of Karl Marx often quoted, though his argument is a lot more complex and of its time. People remember this particular part because it has a truth to it. A little religion, like a glass of wine with your meal may well be a good thing. A small prayer here, following most of the commandments especially the stealing and murder ones; all very good and beneficial.


Overdose on religion and the affect is more dramatic. People drunk on religion start stoning certain people, because, say they happen to be have slept with the ‘wrong’ person. They start to think that they are the ‘chosen people’ and everyone else is lesser people and not ‘special’ like them. They even blow themselves and innocent bystanders up in ‘holy wars’.


Religion, at least the organised type, is about putting a social order and control on the people. It has very little to do with thinking about the meaning of life and much, much more about your place in life and how you should live it. Hence, all the rules over shellfish, pigs, sexual activity and prayer times. Really – if there is a God (and I am not discounting the prospect incidentally) – do you think the supreme being, who is outside time and space even cares what you eat? Who you sleep with? And when or even if you go to a place of worship? You may say ‘you cannot know the mind of God’, I am going to take the radical step of assuming God is neither mad nor stupid – which means anything that hurts no one is not a problem for God.


So then, who came with all these rules? Oddly enough, I think it is the people who have the robes and do the chanting. After all, they benefit. If we just had ‘Think before you act and do as little harm as possible’ as the one commandment, it would rather cut down the need for priest types, wouldn’t it?


Cut out the bells and smells and “moral lecturing” they would be stuck doing useful stuff, like helping the poor maybe?


Now we could have a long list of the good and bad that religion has done, which actually is not my argument. (Though one for my list, is the refusal of the Catholic Church to allow the use of condoms. This has helped HIV/AIDS spread and kill so many people that it is tempting to call it mass murder.).
Why would I change Religion? Because it is a method of thought control and social conformity. It really is an opiate of the masses – you don’t have to think or reason or try to do the right thing yourself. Just do as the good book and the priests say and you are just and pious, no matter how idiotic. Kill the infidels, don’t allow blood transfusions, gay people cannot be adoptive parents, make women cover themselves all the time. Just Shut Up and Do as you are told. Which is just plain stupid. We are humans, because we think differently from the other animals. So we should use our brains, possibly God given, for making life and the world a better place. Not for trying to stick to silly rules or fighting over who’s God is best.


Religion is like an over protective parent. It treats people like very small children, with a list of ‘you must do this and not that’. In truth, with the widely educated societies we are becoming, we don’t need ‘Do and don’t do’ and rituals that control us. We need solid values and rational reasoning to help us in life. Not dogma, cant and patronising.


We need to be allowed to think as when we think we are human. When we do not we are just another dumb animal.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Essays 2: Death to Buzzwords

What I would Change?
Fantastic, an ideal opportunity to have a whinging rant at the world about any pet hates I have. Or for some blue sky thinking.

Oh I did it. I used a business buzzword. Which is what I really, really want to change.

I hate them. All of them. Ball park figure - I am English, What is a ball park anyway? Lowest hanging fruit – unless you work in an orchard this makes sense how? Thinking out of the box – I was not aware I was in one.

What is wrong with approximate figure rather than ball park figure? What is wrong with saying, easiest goal rather than lowest hanging fruit? Why not say – we need to try and be original.

Like any jargon or patois, management speak is a language design to include and exclude certain people. Should you not like using phrases such as ‘kicked into the long grass’ or ‘Elephant Traps’ then you are not a dynamic, go ahead, sharp and active person, capable of ‘pushing the envelope’ or developing ‘synergies across the corporate universe’. If you do one half of your organisation thinks you are the latter, the rest think you are either a) demented b) a toadying servile gimp c) both.

It has got so bad that people write books on it. There are competitions for Business Word bingo, and even British Airways has a feature in its in-flight magazine with the latest business words and what they mean.

Clichéd, hackneyed and tired they are used by Management and management wannabes to sound like they know what they are doing. And before you know it they are everywhere. Even ministers and politicians are using them.

So instead of using language to communicate, clearly conveying thoughts and ideas, it becomes a tool to divide and to be obstructive.

Is there anything more disheartening than sitting through a senior management briefing as they reel of a series of these phrases, occasionally linked together with the odd ‘we need to’ or ‘we must use’? By about the third phrase you are already beginning to nod off or are drawing fantastically complicated doodles on the note pad in front of you.

Because that is the real point. These phrases do not work. A simile is only good if cogent, relevant to the parties hearing it and usually fairly original. ‘Lowest hanging fruit’ sounds great to a bunch of fruit farmers when talking about getting the easiest thing done first. To people working on helping the homeless it does not really work.

They also, over time, the get baggage as saying them reminds people of other times they were used. Lowest hanging fruit often means going for the quick and easy, in a hurry, so we can all walk away from the project pretending it worked, rather than it actually achieving what it was meant to do.

Similarly, efficiency. We hear that world and we all think;- job cuts, pay cuts no Christmas party, no more biscuits at meetings. The actually meaning of efficiency;- the accomplishment of or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort, is obviously what everybody should strive for. Who wants to put more effort in than is necessary? To be inefficient, is wasteful.

But in Management speak, ‘tightening our belts’, ‘effective case management ', ‘non-duplicative/reduces duplication’ are phrases always is used in favour of just coming straight out with ‘we are going to cut jobs’. Of course if you did say that some one would ask why. If you use enough buzzwords then no actually listens.

And this is the true reason for it existing, its raison d'être. Using management speech allows you to say that you have spoken to people but you have used so many buzzwords no one actually understands what you have told them. The old way of keeping the masses in place was to use other languages – like French above. Now we use buzz words, to baffle, bamboozle and befuddle.

Where as a simile or phrase was originally intended to shed light on a matter, now they shroud it in ‘lingo’.

Can you see the policy? Not for all the phrases such as capacity building, system change awareness and coordinated delivery.

The Plain English Campaign has the right idea. Our bosses, politicians and leaders have to stop using gobbledygook. Is it any wonder no-one real knows what they are doing? They should say what they mean and no longer hide behind trite clichés.

The Essays 1 :What I would change - Consumerism

(the Financial Times (its a newspaper) is running an essay competition about "what I would change". So I tried out writing some essays. One went in, if I win I get a suit. But against the readership of the FT I feel possibly I little outgunned. The others, I am shoving here.)

It would be very tempting to go for an obvious problem here. What would I change? – no more wars, no more poverty, no more diseases, no more global warming.

I think this is trying to change the symptoms of the problem rather than the illness itself.

So I would change consumerism. Because the way we consume, is what is causing most of the problems

Consumerism works though. Greed is good. Look where it has gotten us, with sky scrapers, aeroplanes and digital watches.

I would argue that the world is built on commerce. I think there is a different between commerce and consumerism. It is one thing to buy and sell goods and services, and another to constantly have to buy things.

The problem with constantly having to buy things to maintain a society is that it is ultimately the snake that eats itself.

And consumerism is not human nature. The use it and throw it away goes against the grain for many of us – that is why our homes and offices are full of old stuff.

Seriously, right now, I challenge you to go through your house and find nothing redundant or old you have kept just in case you might need it. You probably have. An old mobile phone, an old sweater and old pair of curtains.

These items have all been replaced, but not because they are broken – usually. They have been replaced because we live in a consumer society. We have to buy, buy, buy. Get that bargain, the latest item, the In Thing.
An example. Most people change their mobile phone every six months. Most people do not use any of the new features on their new phone, or do anything different with it. Most people text or make phone calls with their phone – something possible with a model of six years ago.

Whilst it is fantastic that we now have a phone that can show you videos of Kylie Minogue, locate the nearest pub with GPS mapping and let you go on MySpace, who actually does this? Or actually wants to do this?
Most of us get a new phone as it was the latest thing. We were sold it, rather than seeking it. And we are sold a new one in six months. All the effort to make that product and it has a life of six months. And the only real reason we change it is that, we have been sold the new one.

Magnify this with cars, washing machines, clothes and all the other stuff we buy and suddenly you can see the pattern.

We change for fashion or for the sake of change. And this model needs to be maintained – there are now hundreds of factories and millions of people working making all these things and selling them all. This is why certain items no longer seem repairable. We no longer make things to last, but make things in the certain knowledge that it does not have to last, cannot last, as we need it to be replaced, as they want to sell you a new one. And just to make sure it is redundant they make new ones better, faster, sleeker and cooler.

And it is not as if this new stuff makes us happy. Usually, just as we get comfortable with a new car or new phone is when we change it.

More and more of your income, is spent on things other than shelter and food. So there is less and less money to be spent on all the problems that really matter. Rather than spending the earth’s resources on useful, needed things:- green energy, medicine, affordable housing, we waste it with consumerism.

Please recycle away, but if you changed your car every six years rather than every three would that not be better? Maybe stick with the same washing machine rather than getting a new one with the new kitchen? Do you really need yet another cashmere jumper?

This is all the change that is needed. Value you what you have, buy what you want, not what you are told to want. Allow human nature and market forces to work with this. Buy a product that will last and keep using it. Buy it because you will use it – by all means buy luxuries if you will enjoy them. Nothing is a waste if it is used and enjoyed. But just to buy because you can costs so much more than currency.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Autumnal Pictures

This was the Eden project in September. (camera phone Samsung D900i 3 megapixel)



This was outside the office today:
(G600 5 Megapixel camera - focus not fantastic.)


Friday, October 12, 2007

A Dog Walking Prayer

I must go to the hills again
Where the earth meets the sky

Where the wind howls around your head
And where there is the buzzard’s keening cry.

And all I ask is a clear path, on which to walk
And, on its route, a sheltered meadow in which to lie

And all I ask is a clear day, with not too many clouds in the sky,
And all I ask is a lonely place, with out too many people passing by.

And all I ask is the distant sight of a village church steeple,
beside it a sleepy pub; with a garden and a cool spot out of the sun

And all I ask, is at the end of the day when the walking is done
When the shadows length, and I am too tired to run.

Is a bowl of water and the bone I am due.
Is somewhere to rest my paws, and in my dreams, rabbits pursue

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Besuited Man

My suit is my armour
Can't you see?
The cloth turns aside arrows.
The pinstripes protect me.

Let others their worn denim or corduroy prescribe
I am happy when in a suit I am spied

Something that fits- and fits me best
I am not happy in a string vest

Clothing you can wear anywhere
For which few doors are barred
A besuited man is a suitable man at large

Maybe as all formality is dead
Maybe fashion says I should look like,
I just stepped out of bed

But as people judge by looks,
then look and see
As the besuited man,
the smart man,
the well dressed man.

Is visibly me