Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Relationship between politics and the media


I don't understand American politics.

There. I've said it.

And all these years of blogging with lovely Americans. You'd have thought I'd have got a grip on it by now wouldn't you?

I don't mean that I don't understand it in the sense of Don't bother me with it. I'm not interested. Far from it: I really would like to get a better handle on it, (which is a big step from the sense of resentful frustration I used to have at the amount of media attention American elections get here).

Don't get me wrong. I understand where the two parties stand in terms of right and left, conservative and liberal and therefore, roughly, what a given policy stance would be on either side.

What I don't get is the role of the media and it was partly Pam's comment on the previous thread that got me thinking.

Having been brought up with the BBC and its charter of political neutrality and objectivity I am very conscious of the difference between news reporting and editorialising. Newspapers editorialise: maybe they shouldn't but they do. I know the political flavour of our newspapers and therefore what editorial stance to expect when I pick them up (and I laugh at those publications which call themselves newspapers but don't report news, preferring instead to offer tits, bums, soccer, celebrity gossip and horoscopes). What I could not imagine is a T.V. news outlet which offers opinion and interpretation in the guise of news reporting and which even goes so far as to set political agendas.

So, help me out here please.

Fox News: the media arm of Republicanism?

Or

The Republican Party: the political wing of Fox News?

Discuss. (In no more than 50 words. I have a limited concentration span.)

UPDATE: You may be interested in This Guardian article: "The Sarah Palin Peculiarity" which looks at how the British media is disproportionately influenced by American issues.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Those pesky e-mails


Yet again the truth has been uncovered. We must once more thank those sceptics for uncovering the international plot where all scientists have colluded to tell lies about climate change.

Thanks guys.

Interestingly the revelation of stolen e-mails from East Anglia University has caused a huge fuss in the U.S. yet barely a ripple here.

No surprises there then.

Now I don't know about you but I am bored with the same arguments about the conspiracy of climate change: so bored that I'm not going there again. Instead I offer this piece of satire from the BBC

LISTEN HERE

Start listening at about 4 minutes 30 seconds.

(Any Roman Catholics and Anglicans might also enjoy the song "The Pope wants Vicars" at 25 mins 35 seconds.)

I found the following British newspaper items helpful:

HERE

and

HERE

UPDATE I recently found This which I found helpful.

More eavesdropping



......and then she said she was pregnant. Pregnant! I know! I wouldn't knowingly leave her in charge of an uncapped fountain pen let alone a baby.

Oh him. Yes, well he has delusions of adequacy.

Yes, well someone with her I.Q. should have a low voice too.

When they say what you don't know can't hurt you, he should be practically invincible.

He was cast as the back end of the donkey. At least the front end was acting.

...so I told her "Excuse me, but you're confusing me with someone who cares."

I think his only fuction in life is to make other people feel better about themselves.

I don't think he knows the meaning of the word fear, but then again, he doen't know the meaning of many words.

She said she was finding herself. I suspect she'll wish she hadn't bothered.

Well she looked to be lost in thought. I'm sure that was unfamiliar territory.

Oh look out here he comes. Tall, dark and obnoxious.

"He told me he was the man of my dreams."
"What did you say?"
"Only if I eat cheese before I go to bed."

I don't know what makes his mother so stupid but it really works.

His family were clearly paddling in the shallow end of the gene pool.

She whined so much I nearly offered her cheese and biscuits.

I wonder how many angels could dance on the new vicar's head?

That child. Did you see that child? What an advertisement for birth control.

But it's not just the cream that rises to the top is it Dear? So does the scum.

"She finally went to the doctor about that little problem, you know."
"Oh yes? Any diagnosis?"
"Well, like we thought really. Late onset lesbianism."


"We're going to Evita in January."
"Oh really? Will it be warm there then?"

"You're looking very red in the face."
"I've had some cheec alcophol."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Puddles

Following from last weeks post I'm reminded of an incident that happened somewhere far more public.
I was working in a then busy nightclub. The place had floor to ceiling tinted glass walls that separated the VIP area from the main club. This allowed a much lower volume, options for private parties and a bit of anonymous people watching. The darkened windows however mislead one individual who had filled his bladder with beery evil.
He found a darkened corner in the crowded bar and thinking he was obstructed from every prying eye, undid his jeans and whipped his little fella out to water the corner. I was checking in with the bar-staff in the VIP and spotted the lads efforts out of the corner of my eye.
I checked his outfit and with a quick assistance call on the radio shot off out of the VIP, round the crowded bar and trying to track him down. I imagined he'd have finished his business by the time I'd gotten round the crowd to him. To my surprise and that of a colleague who'd joined me part way round he was still mid business.
I approached him from behind, tapped him on the shoulder and advised him to stop. He spun about, still mid flow and I tracked around keeping just back off his right shoulder. My colleague got his boots wet.
The pissing punter laughed at this and gave a little wiggle to finish the job. With his business concluded we told him to depart swiftly. He thought this most unfair. Now we know what had just been in his hands, some of it was on my friends boots, most of it was soaking into the hard wearing carpet. When he reached out to touch us, we both in sync knocked his hands away. He tried again, this time with fists. Probably cleaner but still not ones we fancied touching us. With some footwork he ended pressed up against the still wet glass with one of us on each shoulder. He really didn't get that it was time to give up so with an upper arm each, we escorted him to the nearest door. This did mean however going past the busy bar. Somewhere in the process he'd not re buttoned his jeans, as he kicked and stumbled in his futile efforts he did achieve the added humiliation of having first his arse, then his entire lower half down to his ankles on show. Strangely he didn't ask us to let him go to recover it, just kept struggling and thrashing out. Having spent his urine our patience he was deposited into the cold of the night where at least his member would appreciate the excuse. We departed before I think he'd even realised he was naked, he did realise he was angry but with only a locked firedoor while he shrank a little more.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not at all bad for 72!


Dame Shirley storms the Royal Albert Hall for the 2009 Children in Need concert.



An object lesson in how to command an audience.

There you go Mimi: you next.

What do we think Gary Barlow said to her that shocked and delighted her?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eyeball bleach

There are some things you just never need to see.
Getting an assist call to the ladies toilets is rarely a winner. Well that is unless it's to interrupt some cramped, dirty, sleazy romantic moment.
The usual is however when a female staff member, door bar or management, has found one unconscious. After announcing my entrance loudly and entering accompanied and slowly I enter and encounter the issue.
Now some ladies wake up, shake off their stupor, straighten themselves up and make their way out without problem. They're not usually the ones I get called to assist with.
I get the deeply unconscious. The ones covered in vomit. The one-shod wobblers. The piss soaked ones. The ones who've shit themselves. The larger ones wedged under the bowl. These all require patience, respect of modesty and a strong stomach.
When the only thing the female doorstaff spots is a pair of shoe soles sticking out from under the door, I get a call. This could be white powder sniffing so my colleague meets me at the door and describes the situation. We enter together, still no change in the situation. She pops the lock with her bolt sliding tool. The door opens inwards so she firmly opens it and bounces it off a buttock. A large naked buttock. This causes to slumpfurther the kneeling, firmly unconscious, knickers 'round knees, arse in the air, loo-roll stuck to thigh, face on the seat, vomit strewn, hair in the bowl partied out lady. My colleague hoicks down her belt/dress to cover most of here bare rear, grabs the back of her hair and tries to rouse her. This has limited effect. She's not enough strength in her arms to lift herself off the bowl and not enough control of her legs to get them under her heft in the restricted space.
Neither I nor my smaller footed workmate could get past her. Neither of us wanted to particularly get our hands, shirts, trousers and shoes dirty trying a clumsy lift. With a lot of shoving, pulling and twisting we got her sitting next to the bowl. From there we could get on either side, lift her with a hand each in her sweaty arm-pits. Once upright she began to recover and after washing her hands, face and cleavage clear of obvious chunks of vom and establishing control again over her shoes she was good to go. Slowly and carefully out the ladies room, out the nearest exit, down a short flight of steps and into the fresh air. We left her under the distant observation of the front door team and went back in to thoroughly scrub with soap, water and as much alcohol rub as we can get out of the staff-room dispenser. I still felt like I stank all the rest of the shift and way home. Put me right off my special burger.
According to the front door team, she sobered up, stole a few slices of pizza from a passer by and then jumped the taxi queue and was gone into the night.
The image as the door opened is however is not something I'll ever be able to get out of my mind without some strong mind bleach.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is. William P. Merrill


Yesterday evening was one of those intensely spiritual moments for me and I was nowhere near a church. It was my privilege to have been participating, as a member of the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, in one of the Leeds International Concert Season's performances - Mozart's Requiem with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in the iconic Victorian Leeds Town Hall.

There is nothing unusual about my participation in a big choral concert but somehow every once in a while it becomes personal and I am transported beyond myself. The atmosphere was electric with anticipation and from the orchestra's very first haunting notes in the opening chorus we knew this was going to be something very special indeed.

God has given me a talent, albeit a modest one, and singing has been part of my life since I was a teenager when a very charismatic music teacher gave me a glimpse of something beyond pop music. I learn music quickly and I have a pleasant enough voice: it is not a soloists voice, at least not since my student days when I was often cast as second or third romantic lead in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, but it is a blending voice and as such it is a good enough choral singer's voice. (Even given that My Own Personal Agnostic and I have been moved up from Baritone to Tenor and are "exploring" the upper limits of our voice range.)

I have long been interested in the link between music and spirituality although I have never made the time to explore it any in detail. Victor de LaPrade once noted It is incontestable that music induces in us a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of the invisible. But I am not at all convinced that the intensely spiritual feelings I sometimes experience with music are necessarily linked to overt religious expressions. I hate hymn singing, for instance, with a deep and deadly loathing (something of a problem, one might note, for a person preparing for ordained ministry) while being deeply moved by Elgar's Cello Concerto and mesmerised by Purcell's closing lament and chorus in Dido and Aeneas. Am I encountering God in those two (and the many other) secular pieces that touch my soul? I would say so if only because I am the recipient of someone else's God given talent.

Of course Mozart is always going to the one who most touches my soul and there must be an element of the very personal in the composers, and indeed performers who, quite literally, strike a chord in our subconscious. And, of course, Mozart wrote music to sacred texts and liturgical settings and his Requiem must be one of the most intense of all with its eschatological vision Dies Irae, Dies Illa (Day of wrath, day of anger will disolve the world in ashes) portrayed in incredibly powerful and urgent music: talk about putting the fear of God into people. A similar effect is created in the declamatory Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis, voca me cum benedictus (When the accused are confounded, and doomed to flames of woe, call me among the blessed.) It was designed to terrify and to challenge the conscience but its not the text that works for me. Although I have sung latin more times than I could hope to remember I have to read the English translation - and I don't always - to understand what I am singing and I discover repeatedly that the written text is flat for me and totally devoid of impact.

No, it is the music and what Mozart, in this case, does with it for the text that creates the vision and the terror and the immense power that makes it a spine tingler: you don't need to know the words to get the message: this is urgent, passionate, confronting music even given its incredible beauty and I would also add, inspired. It has the power to move today as it did then. Of course the liturgy ends with the expected note of hope in the Lux Aeterna (Let eternal light shine on them, Lord, as with Your saints in eternity, because You are merciful. Grant them eternal rest, Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them, as with Your saints in eternity, because You are merciful) but that's no help at all if your Latin is only good enough to buy a coffee and an ice cream!

Then, of course, I have to add the complication of participation: it isn't always just the listening is it? Certainly not passive listening, anyway. There is something extra in the act of participation whether it is the all absorbing enthrallment and awe of active listening or the self-giving of playing, singing or conducting which seems to me to be akin to worship.

So what is it about music which, regardless of its sacred or secular context, can make the soul sing? What does music do to the soul? What does music reveal to us of God?

Cervanes said He who sings scares away his woes and that is certainly true for me and I am sure for many others. So is it purely psychological and if so why? Was Confucious right when he said Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without? Why does music have that power to touch emotions? Beethoven seemed to be on to something when he said Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life and Delius seemed to be on the same track when he said Music is an outburst of the soul but sadly they didn't go on to do the theology.

I'd be delighted if someone else would.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Too Late

I'm always amazed how many folk bow to a faceless invisible authority. The Milgram experiment showed the extent of this but every night I work I can see the effects.
If I refuse someone for being barred, too drunk, inappropriately dressed or even for the club being too full, I can expect grief. When I say they can't come in because it's a student night and they aren't students, they'll often give me grief.
What is surprising is that when I tell a group they can't come in because the licence on the premises says so, they don't give me grief. The licencing laws say I can't admit drunks, that never stops them whining on. It seems the impression of a faceless authority, under which we all apparently toil, is sufficient to suppress the whining and aggravation that usually accompanies a refusal.
This 'too late to let in' reasoning doesn't mention the fact we'll be serving for another 45 minutes or more or the fact we'll be banging out tunes for nearly an hour and a half. More than enough time to find the love of your drunken night and get more than a pair of drinks down your throat.
It doesn't seem to matter, if the authority behind the scenes says no, people accept it. Even drunk and potentially troublesome people accept it. Once in a blue moon the authorities will be on the premises. Even everyday they'd be very unlikely to notice one or two late entering punters but the mere suggestion that this faceless, usually limbless body says no is enough.
Not surprisingly the excuse is used as soon as we're towards the dregs of the night to dispense with unwanteds. Very effective if a little naughty but riding the coat-tails of the all powerful disembodied power sometimes makes up for some of the convoluted, arcane, pointless things in the law that grind with me.

Copenhagen


No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. President Barak Obama

Failure to reach broad agreement would be morally inexcuable, economically short-sighted and politically unwise. U.N. Secterary General Ban Ki-moon

China hopes the Copenhagen conference will push for the comprehensive, effective and sustainable implementation of theUN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi

If we act now, if we act together, if we act with vision and resolve, success in Copenhagen is still within our reach. But if we falter, the earth itself will be at risk. Prime Minister Gordon Brown

We need an agreement on one objective -- global warming must not exceed two degrees Celsius. To achieve this, we need the readiness of all countries to accept internationally binding obligations. Chancellor Angela Merkel

The time has passed for diplomatic tinkering, for narrow bargaining. The time has come for courage, mobilisation and collective ambition. President Nicolas Sarkozy

Climate change is a global challenge. It can only be successfully overcome through a global, collaborative and cooperative effort. India is prepared to play its role as a responsible member of the international community and make its own contribution. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

We will support the idea of Mr. Rasmussen to have a politically binding agreement at the end of the Copenhagen meeting, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Copenhagen will be the most important international gathering since the end of the second world war. Economist Lord Nicholas Stern

In the doomsday scenarios we are so often invited to contemplate, the ultimate tragedy is that a material world capable of being a manifestation in human hands of divine love is left to itself, as humanity is gradually choked, drowned or starved by its own stupidity. Archbishop of Canturbury Rowan Williams

Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment. Pope Benedict XVI

The harmful effect on the atmosphere brought about by chemical emissions in industrialized countries is a very dangerous sign. Although this is a new thing for us Tibetans, the world is paying a lot of attention to this problem. It is the responsibility of us, who speak of the welfare of all sentient beings, to contribute towards this. His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Where climate change has occurred in the industrialised world, the effects have so far been relatively benign: the inhabitants of North America and Europe have felt just a gentle caress from the winds of change. I wonder how much more anxious they might be if they depended on the cycle of mother nature to feed their families. How much greater would their concerns be if they lived in slums and townships, in mud houses, or shelters made of plastic bags? In large parts of sub-Saharan Africa, this is a reality. The poor, the vulnerable and the hungry are exposed to the harsh edge of climate change every day of their lives. Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Comment:

One wonders how these powerful, influential, multiply advised and highly intelligent people can have been so misled by the "false science" of climate change. Unless........

Climate change denial is spreading like a contagious disease. It exists in a sphere that cannot be reached by evidence or reasoned argument; any attempt to draw attention to scientific findings is greeted with furious invective. This sphere is expanding with astonishing speed.

A survey last month by the Pew Research Centre suggests that the proportion of Americans who believe there is solid evidence that the world has been warming over the last few decades has fallen from 71% to 57% in just 18 months. Another survey, conducted in January by Rasmussen Reports, suggests that, due to a sharp rise since 2006, US voters who believe global warming has natural causes (44%) outnumber those who believe it is the result of human action (41%).

A study by the website Desmogblog shows that the number of internet pages proposing that man-made global warming is a hoax or a lie more than doubled last year. The Science Museum's Prove it! exhibition asks online readers to endorse or reject a statement that they've seen the evidence and want governments to take action. As of yesterday afternoon, 1,006 people had endorsed it and 6,110 had rejected it. On Amazon.co.uk, books championing climate change denial are currently ranked at 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8 in the global warming category. Never mind that they've been torn to shreds by scientists and reviewers, they are beating the scientific books by miles. What is going on?

It certainly doesn't reflect the state of the science, which has hardened dramatically over the past two years. If you don't believe me, open any recent edition of Science or Nature or any peer-reviewed journal specialising in atmospheric or environmental science. Go on, try it. The debate about global warming that's raging on the internet and in the rightwing press does not reflect any such debate in the scientific journals.

An American scientist I know suggests that these books and websites cater to a new literary market: people with room-temperature IQs. He didn't say whether he meant fahrenheit or centigrade. But this can't be the whole story. Plenty of intelligent people have also declared themselves sceptics.

One such is the critic Clive James. You could accuse him of purveying trite received wisdom, but not of being dumb. On Radio 4 a few days ago he delivered an essay about the importance of scepticism, during which he maintained that "the number of scientists who voice scepticism [about climate change] has lately been increasing". He presented no evidence to support this statement and, as far as I can tell, none exists. But he used this contention to argue that "either side might well be right, but I think that if you have a division on that scale, you can't call it a consensus. Nobody can meaningfully say that the science is in."

Had he bothered to take a look at the quality of the evidence on either side of this media debate, and the nature of the opposing armies – climate scientists on one side, rightwing bloggers on the other – he too might have realised that the science is in. In, at any rate, to the extent that science can ever be, which is to say that the evidence for man-made global warming is as strong as the evidence for Darwinian evolution, or for the link between smoking and lung cancer. I am constantly struck by the way in which people like James, who proclaim themselves sceptics, will believe any old claptrap that suits their views. Their position was perfectly summarised by a supporter of Ian Plimer (author of a marvellous concatenation of gibberish called Heaven and Earth), commenting on a recent article in the Spectator: "Whether Plimer is a charlatan or not, he speaks for many of us." These people aren't sceptics; they're suckers.

Such beliefs seem to be strongly influenced by age. The Pew report found that people over 65 are much more likely than the rest of the population to deny that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming, that it's caused by humans, or that it's a serious problem. This chimes with my own experience. Almost all my fiercest arguments over climate change, both in print and in person, have been with people in their 60s or 70s. Why might this be?

There are some obvious answers: they won't be around to see the results; they were brought up in a period of technological optimism; they feel entitled, having worked all their lives, to fly or cruise to wherever they wish. But there might also be a less intuitive reason, which shines a light into a fascinating corner of human psychology.

In 1973 the cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker proposed that the fear of death drives us to protect ourselves with "vital lies" or "the armour of character". We defend ourselves from the ultimate terror by engaging in immortality projects, which boost our self-esteem and grant us meaning that extends beyond death. More than 300 studies conducted in 15 countries appear to confirm Becker's thesis. When people are confronted with images or words or questions that remind them of death they respond by shoring up their worldview, rejecting people and ideas that threaten it, and increasing their striving for self-esteem.

One of the most arresting findings is that immortality projects can bring death closer. In seeking to defend the symbolic, heroic self that we create to suppress thoughts of death, we might expose the physical self to greater danger. For example, researchers at Bar-Ilan University in Israel found that people who reported that driving boosted their self-esteem drove faster and took greater risks after they had been exposed to reminders of death.

A recent paper by the biologist Janis L Dickinson, published in the journal Ecology and Society, proposes that constant news and discussion about global warming makes it difficult to repress thoughts of death, and that people might respond to the terrifying prospect of climate breakdown in ways that strengthen their character armour but diminish our chances of survival. There is already experimental evidence that some people respond to reminders of death by increasing consumption. Dickinson proposes that growing evidence of climate change might boost this tendency, as well as raising antagonism towards scientists and environmentalists. Our message, after all, presents a lethal threat to the central immortality project of western society: perpetual economic growth, supported by an ideology of entitlement and exceptionalism.

If Dickinson is correct, is it fanciful to suppose that those who are closer to the end of their lives might react more strongly against reminders of death? I haven't been able to find any experiments testing this proposition, but it is surely worth investigating. And could it be that the rapid growth of climate change denial over the last two years is actually a response to the hardening of scientific evidence? If so, how the hell do we confront it?


George Monbiot, Author and Journalist
The Guardian 2nd November 2009

HAVE A LOOK HERE

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I may never wash my hand again...



My friend Catherine is Vicar of Huddersfield. We’ve known each other since college days.

“I’m doing something at the College of the Resurrection” she said to me. “They’re having a vocations day and I’ve been asked to do a workshop on communication. I wondered if you’d like to help.”

That sounded like the sort of thing I’d enjoy and it would be good experience.

“We’ll also be managing the press.”

Now I’m very fond of the college but I was finding it difficult to imagine a huge press response to a vocations day.

“Come again?”

“You know. For the Archbishop.”

Sometimes I don’t concentrate as hard as I should in conversations. I replayed the conversation in my head. No Archbishop. I must have looked confused.

“Archbishop Desmond.”

“Tutu?”

“The very same.”

“Oh go on then.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Archbishop Desmond Tutu. My hero, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The one whose birthday I share? I am going to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu!

Wow!

As it turned out the college’s publicity machine wasn’t firing on all cylinders as only the Dewsbury Reporter turned up. They weren’t hard to manage.

The Archbishop was tasked with dedicating a foundation stone for the new environmentally friendly buildings that the Community of the Resurrection was planning and so a small group of people were gathered in the autumn sunshine waiting for the Archbishop to arrive. Catherine and I had been asked to find a couple of young people to be in a photograph with the Great Man. She was to find the young man – a task she took very seriously indeed – and I was to find the young woman. Actually I found five, all in a group. They had come from a local sixth form.
“Would any of you be willing to be in a photograph with the Archbishop?”

They were all gob-smacked at the prospect.

“No-one?” I said, misinterpreting the silence.

“Er…” One girl ventured.

“Fantastic come with me. What’s your name?”

“Grace.”

We were joined by Catherine and her young man Dan, and set off for the ceremony. Now this is the Community of the Resurrection: it was never going to be a simple affair. Archbishop Desmond was accompanied by Stephen, Bishop of Wakefield, the Community Superior, the College Principal, a crucifer, two acolytes, a thurifer, and a phalanx of robed brothers and full time students. They take ritual very seriously here and they do it well: it is like watching dance it is so well choreographed. Archbishop Desmond, a former member of the Community, took it all in his stride as introductions and welcomes were said, splashed the stone with holy water and dedicated it with a prayer.

Catherine and I organized the photos (during which I trod on the newly dedicated foundation stone) and then the Archbishop shook my hand. ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU JUST SHOOK MY HAND. I may never wash it again.

We moved into church to listen to the Archbishop’s address which was, as one might expect, witty and perceptive and full of interesting anecdotes. He had his congregation eating out of his hand. Catherine and I found ourselves in the front row to one side of the altar with a wonderful view of the whole proceedings. It wasn’t the sort of address one could take notes from but one thing stuck with me. He turned and looked at me, which I know was a total coincidence, as he said:

“God has called you for who you are. He wants you as you are for your uniqueness. Do not let others change you.”

Struggling as I do from time to time with the idea that God has called me for who I am and not as someone else’s vision of priesthood, I found that heart-stopping.

When it came to the Eucharist there were to be three points of distribution and it was clear that we weren’t going to receive from the Archbishop. But he’d just shaken my hand – did I mention that? – so I wasn’t bothered but I did notice a certain amount of jostling for position as people lined up. Just at the point when Catherine and I were about to get up to join our nearest line, the college Principal, who was in the Archbishop’s team, came over and asked Catherine to take over from the Archbishop which she did with great calm and aplomb.

When we spoke afterwards on the way to dinner she took my arm.

“Three things went through my mind in quick succession: what a great privilege it was to be asked to take over from Archbishop Tutu; all the people in the queue must have felt short changed when they got me instead of him and when was the last time I brushed my hair?”

“I’ll tell you what went through my mind: If you and I had sat in each other’s seats, it would have been me. Now that would have been interesting.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Earlier every Year


It's happening already. Normally reserved 'til the snowy and frozen months of winter, this autumn, before bonfire night, before the start of November even. Some hilarious drinker has asked if they can borrow/have/steal my hat.
This was the first night I felt I had to wear it. It was cool and one hell of a wind was blowing through town. I've been wearing the big coat, gloves and hats for many years. My head gets cold due to my follicularly challenged male pattern absence of hairdo. I wear a hat, a simple, unbranded, knitted black hat.
Every year I'm asked time and again by punters both drunk and sober if they can take this essential part of my kit. The answer is the same as my answer to drunken ladies who suggest I swap my comfy boots for their painfully impractical tiny, pointy, high heeled hell shoes.
"NO!"
This year it's just too early and I'll be hearing it for four or five months to come. Oh well, at least I'm warm, so far.