The need to blog is fairly intense at the moment, not just many interesting things happening in the world to comment on, and significant things happening in my world to write upon, but also multiple communication initiatives that look like opportunities to turn talk into attention and opportunities into progressive action:
I am a fully-fledged grown-up adult,
I’m trying to make a dent, I’m trying to get a result
I’m holed up in a Hollywood hotel suite,
with tequila to drink and avocado to eat.
[Loudon Wainwright III]
My Left Knee – the story of my knee replacement surgery. [Truly inspiring life experience – to me anyway – in which I have been fortunate to come into contact with many wonderful individuals making the NHS work – and it ain’t over yet. In draft based on text notes and name-checks.]
Where Soul Meets Body – a stream of consciousness vignette within the above. [Based on the anaesthetic-and-morphine-fuelled immediate post-op euphoria, paying attention to the music collection on my Android phone whilst exercising my leg under the covers in fearful anticipation of the true pain level kicking-in. Rolling like thunder – that’s why they call it the blues – is not in that playlist, but much Roy Harper in there. Draft in chaotic notes.]
Leadership – an essay on what is really missing from society’s decision-making structures. [Prompted by a Facebook exchange with Martin. Near complete draft; a bit rambling and losing it’s way towards the end. Needs at least one good editorial session.]
Greatest [Currently Most Famous] Thinkers – revisiting the April 2013 Prospect Magazine poll on World Thinkers. I’ve expressed disappointment before, more than once, at the popular confusion between famous scientists and great thinkers, but thought it worth analysing the comment thread on the original article, in the light of the recent Comments in Crisis piece on the destruction of valuable debate. Also want to dig up that piece on how far most readers get beyond the headline – if at all – yet still immediately comment, share, like, link, embed, you name it. Meme’s in action. [Draft in mind only.]
The Cyprus Connection – transitioning from reading Sir Ronald Storrs’ Orientations – where he ended up as the first British governor of Cyprus, having been the first such governor of Jerusalem and Judea / Palestine post-Balfour pre-Herbert Samuel – into Mak Berwick’s Langkawi Lair, whose opening scenes witness an atrocity associated with the 70’s Makarios revolution in Cyprus. [Draft in mind only.]
‘Twas Ever Thus – the latest in a series of dozens, in which I often quote Horace explaining the impression, reported at least as long ago as 4000BCE, whereby ubiquitous and continuing aspects of human enterprise, are invariably dressed up as the latest problem “of our times”. Here goes ….
Prompted by reference to Terrence Rattigan’s falling out with John Gielgud – a topic on BBC R4 Today this morning – when “Johnny” elected to play the Dickensian anti-hero Sydney Carton, rather than appear in a production he’d already been working – fully cast and rehearsed – with “Terry”. An archetypically camp Cambridge gay set lovers’ tiff. Quite sweet to hear contemporary recordings of the luvvies actually, and I’m a fan of Rattigan, but the conversation brought up how significant Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was, still is, to our times (yet again).
Tale of Two Cities is apparently my mother’s favourite book, or was until she started reading the Russian classics more recently. And, it’s a book I know I should know. It’s been on my reading list for ever. I’ve owned a copy for years. It’s been on the bedside cabinet and the desk beside me where I work, dozens of times before. I’ve read the opening chapter, and got up that muddy south London hill in the horse-drawn coach more times times than I can count, made the Dover meeting and the channel crossing several times, I’ve even got to meeting the heroine’s father in the Paris garret a once or twice, but …. I’ve still not got through it. No idea why.
Anyway, It’s one of those books – like Anna Karenina, similarly I’ve never completed – with mythically famous opening lines. So famous Sylvia and I lay there trying to recall them as we listened to the radio. Nope? OK …
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
And, in one long sentence, it goes on, ….
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we are all going direct to Heaven,
we are all going direct the other way
in short, the period was so far like the present period,
that some of its noisiest authorities insisted
on its being received, for good or evil,
in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Sound familiar ? Plus ca change, ’twas ever thus.