Monthly Archives: January 2018

The Harbinger

via Daily Prompt: Conveyor


Signs, portents, omens. The hero is awakened by the herald, a harbinger (or two, or three). Gandalf sparks Frodo, Hagrid awakens Harry Potter, or Pooh to piglet The shady one, the mysterious one, the edgy one, is the harbinger, the one who calls or perhaps, the one who points. Some are explicit, some are covert, but whichever, whomever, they unveil the beginning of a path, a journey, sometimes an adventure. We all need a harbinger ot two in our lives, someone who will spark the journey, the adventure, the next step. And, in our own way, we all need to be a harbinger for someone.

As Winnie the Pooh says:-

"I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen." 
Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)




Filed under community, life, mindfulness

My Cavity, My Cavity

via Daily Prompt: Cavity

With apologies to T.S. Eliot 🙂

My Cavity, My Cavity

My cavity's a mystery pain,
it's called the hidden hole.
My cavity, my cavity,
there's nothing like my cavity.
It defies diagnostics,
it isn't anywhere!

The dentist seeks it here,
the dentist seeks it there;
but my cavity, my cavity, 
well, it's not anywhere!

To all intents and purposes,
my mouth still looks quite right.
But underneath that pearly grin,
the enamel's worn very thin.

Some say its all the acid, 
others claim alkaline.
Well it could be all the sugar! 
But whatever may be the science,
my gums are sunken in.

My cavity, my cavity,
the Scarlet Pimpernell.
How long till they find you,
and fill that crater in?



Filed under poetry

You Can’t Say That!

via Daily Prompt: Stifle



I wonder that we’ve ever really had true free speech. George Orwell’s experience in Spain (1936) was such that he portrayed both left and right as having stifled free speech in his novel, Animal Farm. Every form of totalitarian government has stifled free speech, but in recent times even liberal democracies have resorted to enacting laws that limit free speech.

In an interview in 2012 (The Telelgraph, October 18, 2012), Rowan Atkinson (aka Blackadder, Mr. Bean) tilted at the law in England – The Public Order Act. Atkinson criticised the “Creeping culture of censoriousness” and went on to point out that we have entered a time when it has become dangerous to protest. In other words we are losing our basic rights to speak out. He was not speaking in favour (as some tend to confuse free speech with the right to vilify and slander) of the right to say anything, especialy hate speech, but that we have gone too far, curtailing even basic free speech.

Atkinson claims that in trying to outlaw insult, because insult is difficult to define, we end up prosecuting one the basis of insult, ridicule, sarcasm, criticism, or even stating an alternative view to the status quo (the subversive, Orwell speaks directly to this in his novel 1984). In reality, in stifling free speech we end up with repression.

Many have paid for speaking out, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who criticised Joseph Stalin, was sent to labour camps by Stalin. Umberto Eco wrote in the ‘Name of the Rose’ (later a movie starring Sean Connery) how the Vatican maintained a list of books to be destroyed, how the church didn’t like criticism of the institution. The leaders of the French Revolution brutally repressed criticism. Hitler, Stalin, Franco, Castro, Pinochet, Mao, Idi Armin, Robert Mugabe, all loathed and tried to regulate criticism. In recent times Donald Trump has complained about free speech (which is ironic). Kim Jong-un carries on a tradition of repressing poitical criticism in North korea.

The English philosopher John Stuart Mill commented (‘On Liberty’ 1859, Penguin, pp 83 -84)  that we should not employ censorship because this would prevent people from making up their own minds (horror of horrors). Interesting thought, Mill clearly wasn’t frightened of public free speech, and he believed free speech wouldn’t cause the collapse of society nor descend to harm or hate. But there are worrying signs that liberal democracies are moving towards control of free speech by creating laws where criticism of government becomes an offence!

No one likes criticism, but surely that is no reason to be petulant and defensive and hide behind laws? Sometimes we need to push back, sometimes others need to push back against us. Criticism can sharpen us,  it can energise us, help us to refine our view, and help us to grow. Let’s not fear each other, but instead let’s embrace the idea that society, and in particular, people’s views, are not homogenous, and we won’t all agree, and we won’t like all that we hear and read about ourselves. Instead, let’s embrace the difference, let’s hold to the value of free speech.



Filed under community, history, life, Philosophy/Theology, politics

He Had No Inkling

via Daily Prompt: Inkling


Why Pisssaro? Did I have an Inkling? Not really, but I loved this quote by him:

I remember that, although I was full of fervour, 
I didn't have the slightest inkling, even at forty, 
of the deeper side to the movement we were pursuing by instinct. 
It was in the air! (Camille Pissarro).

Such humility, such openness, no guile. But equally such boldness, passion and energy. Pissarro, an impressionist and neo-impressionist painter was considered by the younger ones, Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin, as the father of the impressionist movement, and their master and mentor. But, as Pissarro states, it wasn’t a forethought, there was no intenional movement at first, there was no plan, they just went with their creativity, their energy.

It says to me that if you try to be profound, if you try too hard to be the one, to be noticed, it becomes forced, even fake. The impressionists didn’t try to be impressionists, they simply worked at their painting and it became something, and eventually, beyond them.

Pissarro also helped to form a painters collective. In that sense, he was also showing that we bring our self to bear in the work we do, but we can really grow and flourish in community. He had no inkling, but he gave himself fully to his passion and creativity. His impressionism has left its mark.



Filed under art, community, history, life

Inscrutable You

via Daily Prompt: Inscrutable

maxresdefault 3.jpg

Photo: via Bing

It's that look, the blank look, 
the unreadable you. 
I wonder what you're thinking, 
what you're hiding.
Why? why don't I,
Why can't I know?
Will you show your hand when I call?
Maybe I'm bluffing,
but you, you're impenetrable.
I can't beat the dab hand of your inscrutable look, 
that look,
that keeps me wondering.



Filed under life, poetry

Life Isn’t Black And White!

via Daily Prompt: Silhouette


Locomotive tender, part of the Gwalia Museum, makes a classic silhouette against the light. We could talk about the merits of silhouettes, or the creativity of black and white photographs. But I’m drawn to the grey.

There’s talk everywhere about colouring within lines, following numbers, obeying laws, sticking to the unwritten rules we all “know”, doing it right, being a “good” citizen. Rules and laws are black and white, literally – print on paper or, as folk lore, mores, they are etched in the community psyche, but one needs discernment to navigate life, one needs to appreciate and savour, even learn to trust the grey. The movie Inception illustrates this perfectly as it has no heroes or villains, each character has to deal with their own subconscious, and their own shaddow. Inception is an abstraction of what real life is actually like, but we all take moral positions and justify them, black and white, but the reality is life is beyond our controls and manys the time our rules don’t fit, don’t work, and we have to find another way through.

Life is a series of relational encounters where we flex and compromise and move, sometimes in a direction we’d never thought we would or could go. A bit like dancing. In this dance of life I live by two main principles, loving my neighbour as myself, and doing no harm, I’m not perfect, but these two principles even roughly applied help me navigate the stultifying black and white and live into the grey of reality. Grey is relational, affective, heart over mind. Black and white are sharp polarities, divided, forceful, demanding. Grey is softer, warmer, blended, forgiving, neutral, open.

I like my silhouette, but it is softened by the grey. Live into and appreciate the grey.



Filed under community, life, mindfulness, Spirituality

Trill of my Life – Or, how science fiction saves the world.

via Daily Prompt: Trill



Trilling? Well not quite, Nicole De Boer as Ezri Dax a Trill, as seen on Star Trek. And no I’m not a true Trekkie, but I did enjoy the show. In general I enjoy science fiction, it is another world, and yet it isn’t. All fiction is, in some way, related to real life, where it differs is that fiction can abstract, take licence, and allow fantasy. Fiction can be quite potent in confronting social justice issues. Take any of HG Wells’ works, Orwell’s 1984. Look at District 9, a movie that speaks to racism; Ursula LeGuin’s (who, sadly, died this week) The Dispossessed, a book about racial inequality; or Samuel Delaney’s Neveryon, a series about power, race, sexuality and aids, or Octavia’s Brood an edited collection by writers inspired by Octavia Butler, essays that speak to injustice and inequality. Star Trek was doing it very early with racial creations that confronted our constructs of race, it addressed class, wealth, inequality, power, race and sexuality.

Science fiction enables us to question our values, especially our inherited values, while enjoying being entertained, we are encouraged to look at difference, and to question power relationships, and to seek justice, in some cases restorative justice.

A basic musical Trill consists of a rapid alternation between two notes. A Star Trek Trill was a humanoid native to the planet Trill and who were inhabited by a symbiont, thus two lives in one body alternating. Science fiction enables us to trill inwardly, to look at different sides of an issue – of what might appear to be singular, but is in fact complex. Perhaps to trill is to possess a 20/20 vision in emotional intelligence?



Filed under community, nature, politics, Science, Space, Spirituality