Monday, 25 October 2010


I dipped in and out of the coverage of the Pope's visit to Britain last month but one thing which stuck in my mind was a speech given by the Archbishop of Canterbury at a joint service at Westminster Abbey.  The Pope spoke too of course but what I remember most are these words spoken by the Archbishop:-

'Work is so often an anxious and obsessive matter, as if our whole value as human beings depended upon it; and so, consequently, unemployment, still a scourge and a threat in these uncertain financial times, comes to seem like a loss of dignity and meaning in life.

'We live in an age where there is a desperate need to recover the sense of the dignity of both labour and leisure and the necessity of a silent openness to God that allows our true character to grow and flourish by participating in an eternal love.'

I thought it one of the most profound and beautiful statements I have heard about the nature of humanity and human dignity in a long time.   I found myself thinking about those words quite a bit over the intervening weeks because the truth is that we do identify ourselves in terms of what we 'do'.   I remember that when I first arrived in London in 1987, being struck by how almost the first question people would ask about you was "and what do you do?" and one sensed very quickly that this is how your value as a person was judged.  Where I came from, it was considered bad manners to ask such a thing and even worse to volunteer the information.   In many ways, although they would have dismissed such a suggestion as nonsense, that level of civility was the essence of what we might now consider to be 'cool'.  

What I've been pondering is I suppose what Dr Williams was saying which is, if our whole identity is tied up in our work, what or who are we when that unexpectedly disappears?  And what happens if that event ie unemployment is repeated on a mass scale ?  

Maybe the scale of the measures announced last week as they become clear over the next few years and the consequent effect on the public services will mean that for instance the unpaid work done by the many volunteers up and down the country will be valued more, rather than ignored or worse, simply taken for granted .   

I'm not done with this yet...

Back in the game

A lot has happened over the past 10 days or so, perhaps the most significant development being my return to full-time employment...well, the certainty of it at any rate.  For now, I can plan the last few weeks of this life whilst preparing for something entirely different.

Although I have had serious crises of confidence about my ability to return to the fray/pitch (oops, losing the game metaphor now) I have nevertheless managed to persuade some very nice people in the City that I've still got it and what's more, they need me.    So phase 2, and my favourite part, will involve kit and more specifically, acquiring it.  A very good and wise friend of mine maintains that getting the kit right is more than half the battle, since it will not only give you confidence but also instill confidence in others. 

So that's the fun part.  The trickier issues will involve childcare, managing my voluntary commitments, some of which inevitably will have to go and I suppose ultimately it means altering the nature of my relationships including friendships.   It will be a process of change for all of us but I can honestly say that I am excited at the prospect. 

For now though, I'm going to focus on phase 2 as above and get shopping.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Bermondsey Banksy ctd.

So it seems that the owner of the building is responsible for the cover-up although what he plans to do with it is anyone's guess.  As ever, in their own inimitable way, the Simpsons in an intro written and designed by Banksy himself, sum it up:-

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

It's a cover-up!

What's happened to the Banksy ?  It's almost as if he has been wallpapered over.  And whodunnit?

Monday, 11 October 2010

Bermondsey Banksy?

First seen Saturday The Grange, SE1.  Official confirmation that it's the real deal here

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Close your eyes and listen...

Tom Waits, another neglected poet...

National Poetry Day

Classic avoidance strategy...lots of things going on right now, none of which would be helped by referring to them here.  Instead, as it's a day of poetry, I will share with you one of my favourite poems. 

Sonnet no.XXII by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curved point, - what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented?  Think.  In mounting higher
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence.  Let us stay
Rather on earth, Beloved, - where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.