Archive for the ‘Understanding Others’ Category

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Grandfather’s dog-tags

It is an odd thing: the British Empire’s first shots against Germany were in Africa (Togo).  And last shots were in Africa (Tanzania).  Remember, remember the eleventh of November.  What do we remember?  Neither Togo not Tanzania spring to mind, do they?  Alongside the grieving, for many nations there were hopes in that season.

I felt quite emotional today.  But that was because in my head I am remembering not just those of my family who saw active service in The Great War – but those who were drawn into “round two” as well? I suppose it was a kind of grieving for family members past and passing.

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Nothing To Fear

Posted: 2 November 2018 in Cultural, Prisons, Understanding Others
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Mounir el-Motassadeq

I haven’t posted anything for a while, but The Daily Mail provoked me.  Their recent headline “Terrorist back and treated like a hero”, about a 9/11 plotter just released from a German prison and his return home, to Morocco.  We should fear Morocco?  So it’s full of zealots then?  I detected quite the reverse when I was there in recently.

The Daily Mail was outraged that his wife was pleased to see him.  That his mother thanked God for his return.  What mother wouldn’t?  Or wife?  Warmer the better I’d say.  I know from our own prisons, that offenders are less likely to commit new crimes after their release if their family connections are strong.  Mounir el-Motassadeq will be less likely to restart terrorist-jihad if his wife and three children really connect with him, and look to him to stick to more orthodox Islam instead.

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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.

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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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