Friday, 30 January 2015

The Beautiful Sword

In the blossom-land Japan
Somewhere thus an old song ran.

'Said a warrior to a smith
"Hammer me a sword forthwith
Make the blade
Light as the wind on water laid.
Make it long
As the wheat at harvest song.
Supple, swift
As a snake, without rift,
Full of lightnings, thousand-eyed!
Smooth as silken cloth and thin
As the web that spiders spin.
And merciless as pain, and cold."

'"On the hilt, what shall be told?"

'"On the sword's hilt, my good man,"
Said the warrior of Japan,
"Trace for me
A running lake, a flock of sheep."'
And one who sings her child to sleep."'

(Solomon Bloomgarden)

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Grandma and Grandson: It's the Little Things

Donald came to the rescue and crawled up next to my feet as she spoke, a concerned look on his chubby face as if he were on an important mission. My mom swung her chair around so that her back was fully to her computer and leaned forward to beckon Donald. "And how did my little man do today? Was he a good boy?"

I started to answer, but then saw that she'd been speaking to the nine-month-old baby. It became clear that this would be a meeting with an extensive agenda: My mom and Donald would need to go over what he had for lunch, whether he was da cutest widdle man in the entire world. and possibly review what the kitty-cat says. "Would it be okay if I went into our room for a while?" I asked. "I should probably get back to unpacking."

My mom picked up Donald and propped him on her lap so that he was facing her. He giggled and tried to take her glasses, and she responded by initiating a game where she would lean in so that her glasses were just within reach of his outstretched hand, then she'd pull back and Donald would explode in guttural giggles. I tried again to ask if it would be okay for the baby to hang out with my mom, but it was clear that even my questions were an interruption to this convocation of their mutual admiration society.

(Jennifer Fulwiler, Something other than God)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Weekend feasts

I have decided that as long as I'm in KL, I will cook. Since I am on a diet the livelong week, the weekend is the time to cut loose and eat like fun. Well, anyway, eat what I have made. I have been experimenting with various recipe books and this weekend, I made pineapple curry, kerala fish fry and ginger syrup cake. Only the cake was spectacular but that is besides the point. The point is I want to make something different every week. I am tired of routine and I think I want to mix it up.

This will involve compiling a list of ingredients during the week (after I have figured out what I want to make) and shopping on Fridays. Then maybe, Friday night (if I come back early enough) I can make the cake so I only need to make the main dishes on Saturday.

Next week I am planning a dry mutton curry, asparagus belachan and cocoa cake. Let's see how it all turns out. Meanwhile, here are pictures from this week:

Monday, 26 January 2015

Do Something Kind for a Good Friend (4th week of kindness)

Tennessee Williams said, "Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose." With that in mind, I present the upcoming week's theme.

On the surface this theme may not seem remarkably different from last week's but in practice it is intended to be. This week it is important to choose someone who is close to you in the present, someone you see on a regular basis. This need not be a family member, but it also can be. In all cases, choose someone you already know well, someone with whom you've gotten along well over time AND someone with whom you've been annoyed. This should be a person in your life who has seen you at your best and at your worst, someone with whom your friendship has stood the test of time. This is what I mean by "good friend."

Begin by simply considering the friend you've chosen for a few minutes a day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Do nothing more than this, just taking the time to think about your friend. Allow your thoughts to carry you where they will. If they drift from your friend, bring them back. Then, through this consideration, allow an idea for a kind action you can do for your friend to surface. As is true each week, this need not be anything "big." It is important that it be simple and mindful.

Having decided on your action, complete it. Then summarize it in your journal, keeping your summary concise yet complete.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Forest Man

Nestled in Northeast India next to the Brahmaputra River sits Majuli Island, a giant sandbar that happens to be the largest river island on Earth, home to some 150,000 people. It is also the location of the 1,360 acre Molai Forest, one of the most unusual woodlands in the world for the incredible fact that it was planted by a single man. Since 1979, forestry worker Jadav Payeng has dedicated his life to planting trees on the island, creating a forest that has surpassed the scale of New York’s Central Park.

While home to such a large population, rapidly increasing erosion over the last 100 years has reduced the land mass of Majuli Island to less than half. Spurred by the dire situation, Payeng transformed himself into a modern day Johnny Appleseed and singlehandedly planted thousands upon thousands of plants, including 300 hectares of bamboo.

Payeng’s work has been credited with significantly fortifying the island, while providing a habitat for several endangered animals which have returned to the area; a herd of nearly 100 elephants (which has now given birth to an additional ten), Bengal tigers, and a species of vulture that hasn’t been seen on the island in over 40 years. Gives you more than a little hope for the world, doesn’t it?

Filmmaker William Douglas McMaster recently wrote and directed this beautiful documentary short titled Forest Man from the perspective of Payeng’s friend, photographer Jitu Kalita. The project was funded in part last year through Kickstarter. The video is a bit longer than what we usually see here on Colossal, but completely worth your time.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Victory Wrenched From The Powers of Darkness

Every line we succeed in publishing today - no matter how uncertain the future to which we entrust it - is a victory wrenched from the powers of darkness.

(Walter Benjamin, Jewish essayist and theorist)

Friday, 23 January 2015

Economics As If People Mattered

"The great majority of economists," Schumacher laments, "are still pursuing the absurd idea of making their 'science' as scientific and precise as physics, as if there were no qualitative difference between mindless atoms and men made in the image of God." He reminds us that economics has only become scientific by becoming statistical. But at the bottom of its statistics, sunk well out of sight, are so many sweeping assumptions about people like you and me - about our needs and motivations and the purpose we have given our lives. Again and again Schumacher insists that economics as it is practiced today - whether it is socialist or capitalistic economics - is a "derived body of thought." It is derived from dubious, "meta-economic" preconceptions regarding man and nature that are never questioned, that dare not be questioned if economic science is to be the science it purports to be rather than (as it should be) a humanistic social wisdom that trusts to experienced intuition, plays by ear, and risks a moral exhortation or two.

What, then, if those preconceptions are obsolete? What if they were never correct? What if there stir, in all those expertly quantified millions of living souls beneath the statistical surface, aspirations for creativity, generosity, brotherly and sisterly cooperation, natural harmony and self-transcendence which conventional economics, by virtue of a banal misanthropy it mistakes for "being realistic", only works to destroy? If that is so (and there is no doubt in my mind that it is), then it is no wonder the policies which stem from that economics must so often be made to work, must be forced down against resistance upon a confused and recalcitrant human material which none dare ever consult except by way of the phoney plebiscite of the marketplace, which always turns out as predicted because it is rigged up by cynics, voted by demoralised masses, and tabulated by opportunists. And what sort of science is it that must, for the sake of its predictive success hope and pray that people will never be their better selves, but always be greedy social idiots with nothing finer to do than getting and spending, getting and spending? It is as Schumacher tells us: "when the available 'spiritual space' is not filled by some higher motivations, then it will necessarily be filled by something lower - by the small, mean, calculating attitude to life which is rationalised in the economic calculus."

If that is so, then we need a nobler economics that is not afraid to discuss spirit and conscience , moral purpose and the meaning of life, an economics that aims to educate and elevate people, not merely to measure their low-grade behaviour.

(Theodore Roszak in his introduction to E.F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Subtle Art of Peacemaking

Let me begin with a story of one man's brilliant expression of creative dialogue when faced with a very threatening situation. One morning I was having breakfast in my high-mountain Colorado home listening to the radio when my attention was arrested. A person of no special notoriety and not a professional peacemaker was describing a riveting incident in which he was involved.

Julio Diaz was getting off a subway train in the Bronx intending to visit his favourite diner for a late-night meal when he was accosted. A teenager came up to him brandishing a knife and demanding that Julio hand over his wallet. Without hesitation, Julio gave the youth his wallet, and the young man started to bolt toward the stairs when Julio called after him. He asked his youthful assailant if he also needed his coat, as it was a cold night. The youth came to a halt, flabbergasted.

Julio told him that he thought that if he was so desperate to steal this small amount of money, maybe he also needed a coat to keep warm. He also said that he would be happy to invite the young man to have dinner with him at his favourite diner, because he looked as if he could use a good meal and company. Hesitantly and suspiciously, the teenager agreed to have dinner with Julio.

When they got to the diner, Julio was greeted by the people, who knew him, and throughout the meal the waiter, the chef, and others came by to chitchat. The young man was amazed at how friendly people were and how much they loved Julio. When it came time to pay the bill, Julio indicated to the young man that he could not pay for obvious reasons, and the teenager responded by giving him back his wallet. Julio paid the bill and then offered to give the young man twenty dollars, which he obviously needed, but on one condition: that he trade in his knife for the money. Julio had disarmed his assailant with skill and great compassion.

Now that is how to make peace! Julio did not allow himself to be triggered. He kept himself centred in the other person's need. And he responded with courage and creativity to affirm his own deepest values of human solidarity. Perhaps there are a number of ways to protect oneself, disarm an assailant, and even give him a lesson in humanity, but this approach to centring one's energy and establishing dialogue deserves the attention of anyone called to be a creative peacemaker.

(James O'Dea, Cultivating Peace)

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

I Feel So Blessed

Maybe it is time to take stock here rather than posting things other people have written. Well, it's been a good year so far. Yes, I make resolutions and then don't keep them, but I have decided to stop beating myself up about that. I simply resume where I left off when I have got myself back to me. It's working so far. There are so many pages of the novel written - certainly, I have gotten further on this than I have with anything else.

The diet is going well...because I force myself to follow it and eat healthy five out of seven days (and even in the last two days, I don't indulge as much) I find myself less achey and I sleep more soundly. All of which is good, real good. I haven't managed to regularise the walks (OK I did it all of two days this year - Jan 1 and 2) but you know, that's a work in progress.

The tapestry that I am making is much further along...if I continue to do it faithfully every day (OK I have not been faithful this month, not even close), I may actually finish it by this month. Or at least, early next month.

As far as my special SME pullout is concerned, most of the stories are in for next month (way early) and that is a cause for celebration. There is nothing like having the time to go through each story, quietly, breathing in, breathing out, making changes where necessary.

Do you realise that the way we normally set up our lives, the thing we lack is time? So we rush about vague and anxious, knowing that there is a whole lot of shit in store and not wanting to face it. So we self-medicate. With food, with alcohol, with entertainment - anything so we do not have to confront the enormity of the moment.

I know that there are big things in store this year. Big things that will be brought about by small quiet changes in my life. It's past the middle of the month and I already feel it...the changes.

I feel so blessed.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Year of Kindness (Week 3)

Doing something kind for someone you love may be the most conventional theme we'll have in this year-long activity. I offer it as an opportunity to relax a little after what may have surprised people last week, completing a kind act for oneself.

Having said that, I know that it is sometimes hard to complete an additional kind act (remember, one "requirement" of these themes is that you do something you would not otherwise have done) for those we love and for several reasons. We may already be doing kind things for those closest to us so finding an additional thing is a challenge, we may take for granted some of the kind things we do, we may actually not want to do anything additional (we might love them but perhaps don't like them much in a given moment, day, or week), and we may think an additional act needs to be something big.

On that note, I regularly stress that the small acts of kindness are often the most significant. Small acts for those we love require paying careful attention. Timing can really add to these acts, too. As we move forward, beyond this week, keep looking for those small acts of kindness you can do for those people you love. These definitely come back as kind acts to yourself. They make you feel good and they help build stronger relationships with those closest to you. The stronger these relationships are, the stronger you become and the more positive impact you carry in the world.

After having completed your act, summarize it for yourself in your journal. Was this assignment easier than doing something kind for yourself? If so, try to do another kind act for yourself this week AND a kind act for someone you love.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Sleeping Beauty (continued)

Then I contemplated her, inch by inch, for several hours, and the only sign of life I could detect were the shadows of the dreams that passed along her forehead like clouds over water. Around her neck she wore a chain so fine it was almost invisible against her golden skin, her perfect ears were unpierced, her nails were rosy with good health, and on her left hand was a plain band. Since she looked no older than 20, I consoled myself with the idea that it was not a wedding ring but the sign of an ephemeral engagement. "To know you are sleeping, certain, secure, faithful channel of renunciation, pure line, so close to my manacled arms," I thought on the foaming crest of champagne, repeating the masterful sonnet by Gerardo Diego. Then I lowered the back of my seat to the level of hers, and we lay together, closer than if we had been in a marriage bed. The climate of her breathing was the same as that of her voice, and her skin exhaled a delicate breath that could only be the scent of her beauty. It seemed incredible: The previous spring I had read a beautiful novel by Yasunari Kawabata about the ancient bourgeois of Kyoto who paid enormous sums to spend the night watching the most beautiful girls in the city, naked and drugged, while the agonised with love in the same bed. They could not wake them, or touch them, and they did not even try, because the essence of their pleasure was to see them sleeping. That night, as I watched over Beauty's sleep, I not only understood that senile retirement but lived it to the full.

(Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane, Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Opportunity To Start From Scratch

Workspaces are also popping up around the Detroit area. The i3 Detroit project is a hackerspace, an open community where technology, art and culture all converge in the realism of innovation. The way i3 Detroit works is members pay monthly dues and they have access to a workspace as well as an array of tools ranging from basic handsaws to advanced laser cutters. Members also have the opportunity to tap into the brain power of other i3 Detroiters, a commodity that is just about priceless.

Detroit can appear on the surface as a dying city, and if you check their accounting books, you're probably not far from the truth. But as with many things in life, the face value of a commodity is not always what it's worth. In the case of Detroit, the value of the city lies in its residents, not in the price of its houses. The old adage, "One man's trash is another man's treasure," could not hold more true in any other scenario. One might see an old, decaying Detroit as a diehard relic that didn't innovate fast enough, while another sees an opportunity to start from scratch, to build something better than what once was.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Breaking of the Frost

'Tis a power
That does not come unrecognis'd, a storm
Which, breaking up a long-continued frost
Brings with it vernal promises, the hope
of active days, of dignity and thought,
Of prowess in an honourable field,
Pure passions, virtue, knowledge, and delight,
The holy life of music and of verse.

(Wordsworth, The Prelude)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Icon Painter

The work was laborious, the task always long. The icon painter's art required silence and solitude and he preferred the late hours of the night, those quiet, unhallowed hours while others slept. Each time he sat down in the lamplight at the bench, he bowed his head to ask a blessing through prayer, so that the image he created should be worthy of that venerated saint.

He followed the steps laid down by the ancient masters, giving to each meticulous process its necessary time and care. The seasoned oak panel again. Coat by coat, he built the plaster-like base of whitest gesso, sanding the flaws from each dried layer until the finish was smooth as glass. With compasses and ruler, he traced the design's sacred geometry - the underlying cross, the squares, circles and triangles, painstakingly checking measurements and the calculated proportions, four nose-lengths in the figure's face, two nose-lengths from nose tip to chin.

The gold-leaf background was too delicate for fingers. Instead, he ran a squirrel-hair brush through his own hair, giving the bristles the trace of oil they needed to lift the precious tissue. On the glue-soaked polished surface, he lay dan overlapping leaves until the base was covered and, with the agate-tipped burnisher inherited from his father, spent hours coaxing the gold into a rich glow. Then, to painting. Night after night, he mixed the tempera white from yolk. With care, he rolled the soft yolk ball from palm to palm, passing it from hand to hand until its skin was dry, then pinching the sac over a porcelain bowl, he pricked it, and let the yolk run from the sac as his emulsion. He ground the pigments finely on a marble slab, and mixed with the prescribed colours - vermilion, raw sienna, titanium white - with the egg yolk, adding vinegar and water to the right consistency. He applied the paint in the required symbolic order, working from dark to light - robes and hair, then flesh tones, then the highlights which made the holy figure radiate its sacred light. And, when all was done, and dry, he mixed his varnish to the secret recipe, and glazed the icon to enhance its mystical glow.

(Anne Zoroudi)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

52 Weeks Of Kindness: Do Something Kind For Yourself

The concept of this theme is summed up simply by the directions you are given on an airplane to put on your own air mask before helping those next to you. Why? Because to be able to do anything well, you need to first take care of yourself.

This is easy for some people and hard for others. It can also be confusing. Consider ways you can be kind to yourself that allow you to be in the best position to fulfill your unique potential. What things do you do that fill you with joy, that literally inspire you (fill you with spirit)?

But what about the idea of self-indulgence? Indeed, in our culture we seem to have made synonymous the prioritizing of ourselves with self-indulgence, selfishness, and even arrogance. I think in our hearts we know the difference. Pay attention to this, especially if you find this theme is a challenge for you.

As the week progresses, take time to reflect on your ongoing experience with the theme. Is it hard for you to prioritize yourself? If so, consider why. By the end of the week, make sure you have completed your act AND have summarized your experience in your journal. Try to make your summary concise, yet complete.

Be aware that I’m using the word "act" in the broadest sense. You may find that for you the best way to fulfill a theme is in a metaphorical way rather than a literal way. A kindness act can be a shift in your awareness or attitude. Paying attention to your internal processes and aligning with your own inner knowledge isn't indulgent, although it sometimes may look that way to others. The key is being honest with yourself.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Something Inside So Strong

I know that I can make it, though you're doing me wrong, so wrong...

Monday, 12 January 2015

Sleeping Beauty

When he brought the water, she placed a cosmetics case with copper corners, like a grandmother's trunk, on her lap, and took two golden pills from a box that contained others of various colours. She did everything in a methodical, solemn way, as if nothing unforeseen had happened to her since her birth. At last she pulled down the shade on the window, lowered the back of her seat as far as it would go without taking off her shoes, put on a sleeping mask, turned her back to me, and then slept without a single pause, without a sigh, without the slightest change in position, for the eight eternal hours and twelve extra minutes of the flight to New York.

(Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane, Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

My Idea of Heaven

No, ordinary things and good
I'd choose: friends, wise and kind and few;
A country house, a pretty wood
To walk in; books both old and new.

To read, a life retired, apart,
Where leisure and repose might dwell
With industry; a little art;
Perhaps a little fame as well.

Lytton Strachey, March 1920

Saturday, 10 January 2015

I Am Beautiful

I AM BEAUTIFUL because I am five feet small.
And for everything else there are five-inch heels.
I am beautiful because I know songs from every decade since
the 1930s in two languages and I can almost always sing
along accurately.
I am beautiful because I read Tolstoy for fun and Cosmo when
I mean business.
I am beautiful because I am the crazy curled girl child
moving to the percussion beat of her own spirit like a maniac.
I am beautiful because I can throw my beer and tequila down
like a woman.
I am beautiful because I know exactly when to stop.
I am beautiful because I am too pretty to ever have to try too hard.
I am beautiful because poetry gives me electric goosebumps.
I am beautiful because the tigers still come to find me
sometimes in the night
although it has been one thousand two hundred and
seventy-nine nights
since they buried you in the ground, I always let myself cry.
I am beautiful because I can wear polka dots and pair them
with stripes
I am beautiful because I pretend I'm doing photo shoots and
arena concerts in the shower.
I am beautiful because I put on eyeliner to go to the
gas station.
I am beautiful because I am not capable of leaving anyone.
I am beautiful because I have become capable of letting people
leave me.
I am beautiful because I am not afraid to be ugly.
I am beautiful because I can parallel park on a two-way street.
I am beautiful because I am my father's daughter.
I am beautiful because I know a calculator is a little understood
sign from God
that we do not need to study Mathematics.
I am beautiful because I say I am.
I am beautiful because when I am sad, I buy myself a pack of pencils
and sharpen them till I feel better about myself.
I am beautiful because I know someone else is never the
solution to you.
I am beautiful for my yesterdays and my tomorrows but mostly
for this very second.
I am beautiful because my morning cup of coffee
completes me.
I am beautiful because I have dated bad boys and good boys
and ugly boys and pretty boys
only to finally realise all I needed was a man.
I am beautiful because I say I am.
I am beautiful beyond measure. I am a measure of beautiful.
I am a beautiful measure.
I am beautiful. I am.

(Pooja Nansi)

Friday, 9 January 2015

Those Tiny, Invisible, Loving Human Forces

I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big successes. I am for those tiny, invisible, loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of human pride.

(William James)

Thursday, 8 January 2015

I assure you, all my books were first rate before they were written...

I believe that the main thing in beginning a novel is to feel, not that you can write it, but that it exists on the far side of a gulf, which words can't cross: that it's to be pulled through only in breathless anguish. Now when I sit down to an article, I have a net of words which will come down on the idea certainly in an hour or so. But a novel, as I say, to be good, should be seen, before one writes it, something unwriteable: but only visible so that for nine months one lives in despair, and only when one has forgotten what one meant, does the book seem tolerable. I assure you, all my books were first rate before they were written...

(Virginia Woolf in a letter to Vita Sackville-West)

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Dead, The Unborn, The Absent, Strangers, Readers Who May Never Come To Be

I believe all this because I've lived it, and I've lived it because I'm a writer. For 20 years I have sat alone at a desk tinkering with sentences and then sending them out, and for most of my literary life, the difference between throwing something in the trash and publishing it was imperceptible, but in the past several years the work has started coming back to me, or the readers have. Musicians and dancers face their audience and visual artists can spy on them, but reading is mostly as private as writing. Writing is lonely. It's an intimate talk with the dead, with the unborn, with the absent, with strangers, with the readers who may never come to be and who, even if they do read you, will do so weeks, years, decades later. An essay, a book, is one statement in a long conversation you could call culture or history; you are answering something or questioning something that may have fallen silent long ago and the response to your words may come long after you're gone and never reach your ears if anyone hears you in the first place.

After all, this is how it's been for so many books that count, books that didn't shake the world when they first appeared but blossomed later. Writing is a model for how indirect effect can be, how delayed, how invisible; no one is more hopeful than a writer, no one is a bigger gambler. (Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark)

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Real Deal

If Keynes says that "foul is useful and fair is not," he propounds a statement of fact which may be true or false; or it may look true in the short run and turn out to be false in the longer run. Which is it?

I should think that there is now enough evidence to demonstrate that the statement is false in a very direct, practical sense. If human vices such as greed and envy are systematically cultivated, the inevitable result is nothing less than a collapse of intelligence. A man driven by greed or envy loses the power of seeing things in their roundness and wholeness, and his very successes become failures. If whole societies become infected by these vices, they may indeed achieve astonishing things but they become increasingly incapable of solving the most elementary problems of everyday existence. The Gross National Product may rise rapidly; as measured by statisticians but not as experienced by actual people, who find themselves oppressed by increasing frustration, alienation, insecurity, and so forth. After a while, even the Gross National Product refuses to rise any further, not because of scientific or technological failure, but because of a creeping paralysis of non-cooperation, as expressed in various types of escapism on the part, not only of the oppressed and exploited, but even of highly privileged groups.

Small is Beautiful, EF Schumacher

Monday, 5 January 2015

52 Weeks of Kindness

Hi y'all. These exercises are from Andy Smallman of Kind Living. I received this in my email and thought I would pass it along. And if I get the other reflections I will post it here too...just in case you want to do these exercise. For the year. Alternatively, if you don't want to keep checking my blog, you can go to and sign up for yourself. Have fun. Be kind.

As we get started this week, the focus is simply to get you thinking about the difference between being courteous and being kind. For the sake of simplicity, I'm suggesting that being courteous is a social custom we're taught. It comes with an expectation of being treated with courtesy. Same with using good manners and doing what is expected of us.

For our purposes here, kindness is something else.

Kindness is a self-contained act in which the action or thought involved brings its own reward. There is no expectation for reciprocity; in fact, sometimes we worry that receiving something in response to a kind act diminishes our kindness. For this reason, many of us prefer to complete our kind acts anonymously.

Take some time this week to think about what I've written above. Get a nice journal or notebook to reflect on your thoughts. Write about a time when you behaved with courtesy and another time when you behaved with kindness.

What was the same? What was different? How did you feel in both cases?

Sunday, 4 January 2015


Carrington, on the other hand, believed that art derived from and was a distillation of personal experience. Gertler must be made to accept her at her own estimate, instead of treating her as a mere embryo to be incubated in a man's passion, hatched out into a common sluttish mistress or submissive dowdy wife and helpmate. Realising that if she surrendered herself to his desires she might also have to relinquish her hold over him, she refused to comply with his authority. His crude insensibility, his trick of plunging into intimate life without waiting for the ripening of intimacy, his rough and tyrannical rages repelled her and roused her own fighting qualities so that she gathered all her forces to resist him.

Lytton Stracey (by Michael Holroyd)

Saturday, 3 January 2015

What A Wonderful World?

If you're a follower of this blog or any of my blogs or a friend on Facebook, you would know that I love Libera. So when I saw their latest blog on their website, I couldn't resist sharing it, along with the preview for their new song:

Libera has been all over the place……to America, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Singapore, all over the world – in fact, to the other side of the world. But now, the trip to top all trips…..Leeds in the North of England !

‘W-H-A-T I-S G-O-I-N-G O-N’ we all wondered?

We had an exciting purpose of going there. It was to record the song ‘Wonderful World’ at a 1800’s MILL, which meant of course we would have to leave our nice white robes at home and get ourselves covered in something they call….. DIRT – but in film type make up form. My reaction to this was ‘Dirt, what a peculiar prospect! Jolly ho, let’s not waste another moment, cover me immediately in mud, dirt, soot etc. It is my natural habitat.’

Of course the journey between London and Leeds was quite long, so the usual scenarios happened. ‘Where’s my tablet?’ ‘Did you seriously eat all of it, and keep none for me?’ ‘Barbara, can I have my DS back please?’ ‘Kuba can you stop talking about Pokemon?’ But then Mr Peabody and Sherman came to the rescue on the coach DVD, and all was peace and calmness.

Anyway the next day was a ‘Wonderful’-Day! We were off to the mills to record ‘Wonderful World’, and as I said earlier, we had to get rid of our robes and get covered in the aforementioned dirt. We got dressed in old-fashioned ragged dirty clothes, which enabled us to look the part. On a more serious note we were re-enacting one of the most horrific jobs in the history of the Industrial Revolution. So our clothes and dirt were not for a kind of nice friendly Oliver Twist scene, with happy boys dancing and singing about pickapocketortwo, but more real – we had to have bare feet for a start – and we were to be working in the mill where children would have to crawl under dangerous machines risking their lives. We all had different parts to play: nippers, weighers, machine cleaners (one of the most dangerous jobs of all), floor cleaners, hand spinners and bobbin basket carriers.

The children would have been working very hard for very long hours each day and due to the awful working conditions they would not have seen much of the outside world. Their world in itself may not have seemed altogether too wonderful either. Some may indeed have been optimistic about themselves but not all.

We all learnt a lot about the history and the cruelty to children working in the mills. Not that we could hear much – the machine made the most ghastly noise. They told us that most of the children became deaf. It was all so sad, and we felt a bit guilty really as we were kind of play-acting what was real life to them, almost as if their ghosts were around us.

Anyhow, back to the 21st Century, evening came and we went back to the place where we were staying to spend our final night and had a massive Italian meal – in other words, pizzas - on the way.

The next morning we got up at our own times and went down for breakfast. We had the whole rest of the day in Leeds, so we went to see the charming sights of Leeds. It was a nice, sunny day so we started the day by heading to the accommodation’s grounds where we played a bit of football which is very popular in Libera. Then to the Media Museum which is rather nicely related, as it is all about film and television. Later on we went back to our rooms to pack our stuff into our suitcases. We got to the coach and made our way to our next destination. The Park. We played our world famous chase game called ‘Disease”. After about an hour we decided to move out to a zoo. There were orangutans, crocodiles and even blue whales (okay that last one was a bit of a fib!) Anyhow, it was time to head back to London, and we were all sad to be leaving but happy to be reuniting with our families. This was a tour that was not going to be forgotten quickly. Now we are all looking forward to see what the film will look like!

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Pivotal Conversation

Have you watched Begin Again? Yes? Did you love it? No? Why not? I thought it was a movie about moments of redemption. I would embed the moment of redemption right here but YouTube is not allowing me to share it. And after the moment of redemption we get the first iteration where the formerly hotshot producer approaches what he thinks is a young ingenue and offers to produce her and she rebuffs him quite cruelly. He deserves it. And he leaves.

And the second iteration is when he waylays her outside the bar and comes clean. Presents himself just as he is, no disguises. And this time, she listens. For ah, it may be that the young ingenue is wiser than you think.

Dan: OK, here's the truth. I couldn't have signed you even if I wanted to, you know?

Gretta (looking apprehensive): OK.

Dan: I didn't come from a signing tonight. I haven't signed anybody in seven years. My label's completely lost all faith in me.

Gretta: So why did you give me your card?

Dan: Force of habit. If I look homeless it's because I practically am. I left my home about a year or so ago. I'm sleeping on a shitty mattress in some shitty apartment. And I wasn't celebrating tonight. I was drinking my ass off, standing on a subway platform ready to kill myself. And then I heard your song.

Gretta chuckles mirthlessly.

Dan: Want to get a beer?

Gretta: Sure.