Archive for the ‘Understanding Others’ Category

“The men are all talking about this on the wings.” Here we are in prison and Will was telling me what he’d heard. He was on the Sycamore Tree victim awareness course but had had to miss Ray and Vi Donovan telling their story.  Of the assault on their two sons and murder of one of them,  Chris Donovan.  Will had heard all this second-hand, but it still amazed him.

Dartmoor therapyWhy?  Brutal assaults like on the Donovan lads are alas, not rare.  Forgiveness by victims isn’t unheard of.  What surprised Will and the men on the wings – was the Donovan’s willingness to come into HMP Slade and tell their story.  To tell it at length, sharing their sorrows and tears.  And then listen with warmth and compassion to the prisoner’s own stories.



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…)

Balloon Dog.jpgMcMafia loves the art world.  And so do the other super rich (see my The Face that haunts us still).  Billions (of people) still tremble, but a few splash billions. Jeff Koons Balloon Dog (Orange), a giant steel replica of a dog in the shape of a stretched balloon, was bought for $58 million by a New York collector.  He didn’t even get it for the art.  He shunted the piece into his New Jersey warehouse – “anticipating future resale at a profit”[1].


Ferry.jpgHotel staff knock on the door, but we are changing.  No this is not a convenient moment.  Ah, this will only take a moment.  Comeback later. But I just want  …. And so on.  That there was an awkward exchange of words in this hotel was not uncommon.  Trip Adviser reported several people commenting that the staff were rude.  But that is so easy to say and there’s no context.  And damaging to what I thought was a good hotel and good staff.


Salvator_Mundi.jpgShock 1: $450 million for a painting.  World record shocks many.
Shock 2: Portrait of Jesus as Saviour of The World, bought by Saudi Arabia, stalwarts of Muslim conservatism.

On 15 November 2017, this modest but enigmatic portrait by Leonardo da Vinci was auctioned for a massive $450.3 million setting a new world record.  The painting will be loaned to The Louvre in Abu Dhabi.  The painting is titled “Salvator Mundi”, or in English “Saviour of the World”.  A mysterious Jesus is blessing the viewer with his right hand and in his left, is a transparent globe, representing the cosmos.  Just the thing you’d expect a Saudi Arabian prince to buy?


9788483063279-us-300.jpgDemi-God for some, very-devil for others, Marx is a marked man.  So when a biography says he was fun – that’s worth looking at.

Francis Wheen’s account of Karl Marx (Fourth Estate) is hugely acclaimed.  And rightly so.  Karl’s famous image really gives the wrong sense of the man.  Francis says he ended up a bourgeois Victorian.  But she shows what a lively character he was.  Very sharp intellectually, man of thoughts and ideas, rather than cutlass and pistol.  Driven personality, hard arguer, verbal bully, intemperate, heavy smoker and drinker, devoted father and grandfather.  But – dry and dusty he was not.


the ministry of utmost happiness.jpg

Arundhati Roy’s “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”. A Good Read?  Like beauty being in the eye of the beholder – the simple answers are usually misleading.

I finished it and had mixed feelings. It had very good reviews and I really don’t know why. It is in effect a critique of India’s political classes, dangerous nationalisms, its cruelties to Muslims, Dalits, the Hijra, and Kashmir in particular. A story well worth telling, and I’m quite interested in that. It has been a tale told by others many times.  Indeed, there is a long tradition of English medium Indian writers dishing the dirt on Indian society (Rohinton Mistry, Arvind Ardiga, etc)