Archive for the ‘Understanding Others’ Category

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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.

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Double Lives

Posted: 10 June 2018 in Understanding Others
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Jim Boyling, ex-undercover police

Undercover work was not meant to like that.  Last week high-street retailer “Lush” was forced to abandon its undercover police campaign.  Last month DC Jim Boyling was sacked by The Met for gross misconduct – for having sexual relations with 3 women activists, subject of his undercover investigations, and then lying to the authorities.  We also saw also the biography of one of Britain’s notorious traitors published: Donald Maclean[i].  And the republishing of Kim Philby’s autobiography[ii], another double agent.  Two of “The Cambridge Five”, Soviet spies, men of affluence, arrogance and indulgence.  Leading double (or more) lives.

My mother knew them (The Cambridge Five, not The Met spies).  During The War, working for the BBC World Service Spanish service, she went to the World Service (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…

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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…)