The quip is an affectionate lampoon of my step-father, who for as long as I’ve known him has never eyed a piece of meat on the Sunday lunch table without asking precisely that question.
It wasn’t Spain, the UK, France or USA
It was their damaged, wanting, top-skimmed sons
Tangentially projected, deliberately dislocated,
Craving heroism, careering off the gently curving path.
Self possessed, high powered, laser-bright, half-blind
Compelled to incorporate the ever-stretching view
Their reward its title on some plinth or keystone
They broadcast weighty, bass-flat keynotes, artificially amplified,
To force-tune the diversity of harmonies beneath
Into obedient monotones.
It takes a certain determination to tame the wild, unnamed exuberance
Of nature’s wanton rhythms; to specify that
They are anvil-beaten into measured, lockstep uniformity.
These smart schooled boys of ours — part-people, pained,
Starved by their own terror
Of the satisfaction of returning home humbled —
Pay forward their open wounds for their fledgling sons to feed,
Ensuring the continuation of the line.
No downward glances at the deepening dark beneath
As empire’s razor-sharpened bleeding edge trawls on and round
To eventually meet its shadow on the other side.
There will be no choice then but to swallow self and reconcile:
It was not, alas, the nation, nor the flag; not the people nor their creed.
Not the era nor technology that’s to blame, but the scar itself,
Its bearers of privilege mis-programmed to go forth and multiply it
Their legacy a red-hot replicating baton in a relay race to the core.
Written on impulse, with interesting timing, as it serves well to mark this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
When the essence of leadership tends in the direction of doing injury and inflicting harm, it is a collapse of leadership, for which we do not have a name. – Stephen C Rose, in the introduction to his book: The Coming Collapse of Leadership.
Why is it that slow food, slow money and slow travel are so appealing, but that there’s nothing quite as dull as a slow catastrophe?
Perhaps it’s because when you slow down food, money and travel, it allows you to more fully savour the genuine rich pleasures to be had in the senses and in the moment.
Whereas if you slow down a catastrophe, that doesn’t work at all, because catastrophes are meant to be enjoyed at pace. Read the rest of this entry »
In the same week that my 16 year old son began assessing his options for subjects and sixth form colleges for next year, his 11 year old brother made a bold but flawed attempt to bunk off school, managing to duck away from the school bus and secrete himself in the local churchyard with his packed lunch and a plan to sit out the day under a bush.
The closeness of the school community and his older brother’s vigilance meant that his absence was spotted and reported within an hour; to his chagrin he was back in school for second lesson. But there were insights to be taken from this traumatic, if brief experience.
It’s been another long intermission, but with a heave of the creaky ropes and a squeak of the pulleys I hereby open the curtains on a new act for Vivid.
Since last writing here, there has been a time of false dawns and illusory summits; of horizons that came pleasingly into view only to be lost again in cloud. Of conflicting goals and wavering beliefs. On the surface it was no more than another period of indecision about future directions, brought on by a relentless and uninvited flow of leads and possibilities, each a distraction from the previous, and each, when it came to serious analysis, of dubious compatibility with my skills, resources and leanings.
(or: More than my job’s worth, part 2)
Some weeks ago I made a decision. Except that it wasn’t me that was making the decision, I thought, it was the pants. They had been lying there, in the path, for probably more than a year. It’s a muddy, narrow path between hedge and houses; the route to school that I walk with my son every morning. A dozen parents had casually side-stepped the pants a thousand times apiece, perhaps not noticing them, perhaps embarrassed; but surely all, like me, wondering secretly: whose were they? How had they fallen off? Were they missed? Surely someone should pick them up. Should I pick them up?
Yet month in, month out, they lay there, unloved and ignored, covered in turn by summer dust, autumn leaves and winter snowfalls, exposed after every wind or thaw to reveal an ever more crumpled, downtrodden repose, their pinkness struggling to be heard beneath the deepening coating of mud and algae.
The day I decided to pick them up would be the day my life would change, I thought. The pants had called me. And if you respond to the call, the pants are yours. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been thinking about jobs lately. For a while I even thought I should try to get one, freelance writing work having dwindled so dramatically. Admittedly, opportunities to work as a newsletter editor abound. Each that I have seen, however, pays precisely nothing. How droll, that when I am at last presented with an opportunity to use the longest word in the English dictionary, it is to describe the trade to which I have devoted half my working life, in conceding that the job of editor has succumbed to floccinaucinihilipilification.
But, enough levity. Read the rest of this entry »