St Patrick’s Day

Posted in journal on March 17th, 2010 by george

Today is St Patrick’s Day. Its extraordinary that a man born in Roman Britain, which was approximately modern England and Wales, should today be widely recognised as the patron saint of Ireland. St Paddy is a limey?! His feast day is celebrated perhaps even more outside the church than in.

As a young man embarking on my drinking career,  I and my friends felt duty bound to deliver extravagant performances on March 17. This was in England in the late 60s, when Irish-English relations were not great. After a long history of dissent, what passed for peace was in fact no more than an uneasy truce. Still as a budding musician and trainee drunk, I felt no qualms enjoying Guinness, Jameson’s whisky, and the music of the Dubliners and beyond. Neither did great numbers of my countrymen. What did we care of history? The misdeeds of our greedy ancestors did not concern us. Nor in my experience, did they particularly concern Irish people of our age. Read more »

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single dad

Posted in journal, single dad on March 15th, 2010 by george

Yesterday my youngest son wished me a Happy Mothers Day. It was a light hearted, innocent remark, and that is how I took it. However, since I am the sole parent living with him and his sister, there are times when I get to wear the mother apron. As all single parents discover, we are doubly flummoxed by parental challenges.

When I first embarked on this blogging lark, I considered launching a blog that chronicled both the delights and the nightmares that come with being a single dad. I decided against it, because I realised that despite my best efforts not to, I would inevitably embarrass my children. Being a teenager is tough enough without having one of your parents highlight the details of your tender years on the internet. Also I would never claim to be anything approaching an authority. I’m just another bewildered single parent.

However, to never mention my single dadmanship would be to deny a large part of my daily life and what occupies my conscious mind. So beginning today, I shall from time to time report episodes and a few thoughts as this ongoing, great adventure unfolds. Read more »

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mothers

Posted in journal on March 14th, 2010 by george

Its Mothers Day in the UK today. Or as its now known, ‘Mothering Sunday’. I have never been comfortable with this name. ‘Mothering’ sounds very close to ‘smothering’, and suggests the excessive, fawning attentiveness that hopefully most mothers are wise enough to resist.

What no one can argue with, is that there will never be enough thanks given to the millions of mothers worldwide who on a daily basis, put their own well being aside in order to best love and care for their children. Read more »

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dust

Posted in journal on March 5th, 2010 by george

I have a shaky but determined policy toward cleaning. I begrudgingly devote small pockets of time, throughout the week, to keeping disorder and dirt at bay. The results are a long way short of spotless. I can see how I could spend several hours a day tidying and polishing, but I refuse. The fact being that there is always something better to do. And I mean always.

From time to time, like now, the accumulated dust gets unbearable, and I am obliged to attack. Was it Quentin Crisp who famously said of dust, “After two years, it doesn’t get any worse!”? I admire his tenacious sloth. I am not about to put his claim to the test.

I’ve heard it said that most house dust is particles of human skin. “Unto dust we shall return.”  Maybe so, but I’m not quite ready for that. I’m doing a little spring cleaning this morning, which in my house, means dusting on an industrial scale. Clouds and mountains of it.

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suspending judgement indefinitely

Posted in opinion on February 23rd, 2010 by george

I’m as guilty as anyone of making ill considered judgements about people. I tell myself its a human weakness, but that’s a cop out. The truth is I’m guilty of allowing fleeting impressions, assumptions and imagination to make up for the lack of evidence. Someone will say something, or do something, or even just appear to be a certain way that sits uncomfortably with my expectations, and without a thought to where they are coming from, or what pressure they may be under at that moment, I paint them into a corner. “That’s what you’re like, and that’s that.” And there goes any chance of getting to know that person.

There is a distinction between judging actions, and judging the person who performed them based on those actions. Therein lies the hypocrisy. From time to time we all behave in ways we subsequently regret. We have little trouble making light of our own shortcomings,  so why is it that much more difficult to cut others the same slack?

We are most inclined to judge those about whom we know the least. When we truly love someone, not only do we admire and revere them, and delight in their company, but we also forgive them for their weaknesses, which we recognise as being not unlike our own.

As we get to know people better, we are less and less inclined to pass judgement, and eventually we are obliged to suspend judgement indefinitely.

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true heroes

Posted in opinion on February 18th, 2010 by george

‘real heroes take no credit…they do their thing and move on’ I remember reading something along these lines in the Tao Te Ching years ago, and thinking, ‘that sounds right!’

When speaking of heroes, often our first thought is of soldiers and battle. Warriors overcome their natural fear, risking and often losing their lives for the greater good. When we hear such accounts of supreme courage, and the ultimate sacrifice, we are humbled indeed. ‘Greater love hath no man…..’ Faced with such choices, how would we respond? Read more »

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the day after Mardi Gras

Posted in opinion on February 17th, 2010 by george

Today is Ash Wednesday, the 1st day of Lent. For the next 40 days, Christians, as best they can, turn their backs on earthly delights and renew their commitment to God. Traditionally they give up something they enjoy, and take up something that may be of service to others. Each in their own way make sacrifices.

It is in anticipation of this behaviour, that the carnival ethic of Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, and so on has evolved. Christians around the world have relished the last chance to sing and dance and make merry, before the 40 days of fasting and abstinence begin.

Much like Christmas, Mardi Gras has been taken to heart by secular society, as another opportunity for revelry and excess. As usual they are eager to join in any celebration, but baulk at the idea of personal sacrifice. Where’s the fun in that? It is impossible for a non-believer to understand the joy the faithful experience in the performance of their Christian duties. Still, as at Christmas, I feel compelled to encourage everyone to at least consider the origins of the traditional celebrations they so heartily embrace.

No matter what we believe, most of us can own up to falling a little short in the human kindness department. That in particular is what I hope to work on and improve in myself this Lent.

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a certain amount of truth

Posted in opinion on February 5th, 2010 by george

Through the ages, the word and the notion, truth, has been the subject of conjecture, debate, and reams of written opinion and discourse. I don’t pretend to have anything startlingly new to add. But the phrase which is the title of this post, and what it suggests, has always disturbed me.

One of the dictionary definitions of certain is, ‘some though not much‘. For some reason, this is the meaning I assume to be in use in the phrase. In which case, ‘a certain amount of truth’ is a convoluted way of saying something is mostly a pack of lies!

My instinctive response when encountering this phrase has always been, “Well either its true, or it isn’t.” But truth isn’t  necessarily such an absolute. In the material world it often is. A pint of beer, a dozen eggs, dawn, winter…There’s no denying these things. They just are. A pint of beer is a very certain amount of truth. As in sure, finite…

However in the realm of ideas, philosophy, metaphysics and such, there seem as many degrees of truth as there are colours in the spectrum. Perhaps it is something to do with the nature of words, which ultimately fail us when we try to convey our insights to others. Music or pictures often do a better job. But at best, even they allow only momentary glimpses of something we yearn to know better. And that something we suspect is truth, or at least part of it.

‘A certain amount of truth’ sounds like a kind of seasoning that one might add to one’s reality or perception of it. Enough would make it truthful, but anything less would not.

If we are spicing our lives in this way, let us serve generous helpings!

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truants

Posted in journal, opinion on January 28th, 2010 by george

This morning as I pottered around my kitchen rearranging the debris, I noticed several children wandering by, after 9.00am, not looking like they were hurrying to school. First two girls walked by both eating some kind of bright yellow candy. Next a boy cycled by then stopped to untangle his shoelace from his chain. A few minutes later a lone boy ambled by peering around as if looking for some company. I would estimate all of these to be between 12 and 16 years old.

Although it is none of my business, it has piqued my curiosity! I know it is not a holiday because both my children have gone to school. Have they complained to their working parents that they are not feeling well, then when the house has emptied, got up and gone out to look for some fun? That’s what I used to do. Read more »

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non-stick glue

Posted in rants on January 22nd, 2010 by george

Am I the only person who increasingly finds that modern envelopes do not have enough glue on them? Or the glue has been diluted? In any case, no amount of spittle will seal the envelope. So some kind of tape is required to do the job.

What kind of cost-cutting madness is this? Is this a prelude to a whole range of products that, in the name of economy, no longer meet requirements? Shorter staircases…lets save wood and jump the last couple of steps. Floorboards too thin to support a person’s weight. Lukewarm freezers…. Sound systems you can barely hear, even at maximum volume.. Perhaps solar clocks….

There is an advertising catch phrase I’ve heard on the TV that goes, ‘It does what it says on the tin’. It has entered the vernacular here in the UK. It seems to imply that nowadays just doing what it is supposed to deems a product miraculous!

Hear ye, manufacturers! Its not much to ask…

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