Archive for the ‘Cultural’ Category

Future-of-banking“I’ll be informing our Fraud Department about you” said the bank call centre to me.
“You’ll be in breach of our Terms & Conditions” said another.
Welcome to the world of bank switching.

They say we change banks less often that we change spouses.  For me so far: banks 4, wives 1.  I started off life with Oldlands Bank Ltd.  Then off to Northshires Building Society.  Followed by Widget International Offset Mortgages.  Now Nu Bank PLC.

(more…)

Advertisements

170719203040-john-mccain-07-19-2017-super-tease.jpgWhen there seems so little to admire about US politics at the moment, the death today of John McCain reminded me why there is much to admire as well.  And a personal example we could copy here in UK.

The Arizona Senator died today.  I remember standing in my kitchen on 5th November 2008, in Kisiizi Hospital, Uganda.  Listening to his concession speech to Barak Obama. Generous, big hearted.  Conceding that something and positive had just happened in the result, despite the difference in politics.  It was wonderfully put.

(more…)

World Cup 3.jpg

Germany about to go out. As watched on Hospital Cashier

A shout goes up from the Hospital Cashiers.  Here in Haiti, I have heard shouting in Cashiers before. Angry patients, or cries of despair over the death of a loved one.  But while grappling deeply with a knotty problem, my concentration was broken, and the shouting went on and on.  It was not consternation, but excitement.  South Korea were about to knock out Germany in The World Cup, and the queues in Cashiers were watching it on the Cashiers TV. Shrieking and shouting.

(more…)

Bishop Curry.jpgEpiscopal Presiding Bishop Curry’s sermon, at Harry and Meghan’s Saturday wedding? Wonderful. Or Waffle? As usual, I think Christians mis-read society. This sermon was… Both. At 14 minutes it felt long. It was MLK-lite derivative. Lots and lots about love. Sure, some good stuff here. But don’t Muslims, Hindus, agnostics and atheists love too? And sometimes, sacrificially too? And considering how little was said on the embodiment, the very visualisation and representation of God’s love – Jesus, the sermon could have been preached by any Theist. And perhaps that was so under Prince Charles’ direction??

But…

(more…)

On Chesil Beach.jpgAnother grenade thrown into the current gender wars?  Another poke at sexual repression?  On Chesil Beach – the book – is not this. I see the book by Ian McEwan, and the new film, are being misused for these polemic purposes.  Pity, because here is something worthwhile and relevant, 55 years after it was set.

In placing the drama in 1962, McEwan is deliberate.  It is a direct reference to Phillip Larkin’s Annus Mirabilis, the year sexual intercourse “began”.  McEwan describes well the times.  I am old enough, just, to remember some of this, CND, Macmillan, colonies getting independence, etc.  Now, reviewers sneer at the effective evocations, “melon boat for starters? Ha ha.”  After year and years of rationing, that was exotic. Even using onions was not universal.

(more…)

women-haiti-phoneRing, ring, ring – and the thread of your discussion goes ping!  We’re discussing a complex accounting issue with my Haitian colleagues, in three languages (English, French, Creole).  Then … a shrill jingle… the phone is picked up.  And poof! The thread of thought is broken.  On another day I was in a personal 1-to-1 conversation with a Haitian friend … a shrill jingle… the phone is picked up.  And poof! A sheepish smile “sorry, I won’t be a moment.”

If I’m honest – after many visits to Haiti, I still get annoyed.  For a people who value personal relations so highly, I wondered why is an incoming call given such priority over face to face conversation.

(more…)

Buried Giant.jpgKazuo Ishiguro’s “The Buried Giant”.  Does it stir?  Will the earth quake as it breaks surface?  If you are looking for a literary Godzilla, go elsewhere. Ishiguro’s tales is set in England, after the Romans have left and the first Saxons have arrived.  It also is a canvas for memory, loss and forgiveness to be explored.  Easy to read – it is not a light read.  And like the travellers in the book, the allegories can readily lead you into forests with little light.

(This seeks to be a spoiler free review.)  The tale starts with an older couple, Axl and Beatrice, becoming unsettled in their village life, and setting off to find their son who had left home years earlier.  It is very early on that the land feels under a mist that smothers memory.  Recollections of the past are in fragment only, if existing at all.  As time passes and encounters on the road occur, are shards of the past snatched back.  (more…)