Category: Uncategorized

Dancing in the Dark

My thanks to Mike Halliwell for this snappy little acrostic poem:

Lambeth-walk
Or
Charleston;
Knees-ups
Delight
Our
World-weary
Neighbours.

Lambeth Walk

To any choreographers who may be reading this, how about some bright new versions of those good old dances to incorporate social distancing? Meanwhile, here’s my own stripped-back acrostic based on a randomly-generated word:

Crampon
Lack
Impedes
Mountain
Bid

Hmm … that’s either a shock headline in Mountaineering Weekly or an obscure metaphor for, er,  you-know-what! Not much else to talk about, really, is there? Other subjects are available, I’m told, but like homing pigeons my scattered thoughts keep returning to our collective dovecote of doom …

Did I just say that out loud? Well, strange days breed odd outpourings … as absolutely nobody said, ever!

And talking of odd outpourings, here’s another:

Collect enough data today –
Lift lockdown tomorrow, they say.
If stuck in a pit
Maybe digging ain’t it
But ladder-less, hell, dig away!

Oh dear, grumpy or what? There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover in my next post – just you wait and see! – but just for now and while I’m in this somewhat strange mood, let me leave you with the not-so-fresh prince of despair …

 

 

image: Vauxhall, Oval & Kennington

source: climb from https://randomwordgenerator.com

Creative Licence

As our world grows more dysfunctional there appears to be a corresponding upsurge in control freakery of all kinds – focus groups, market researchers, spin doctors and the like. Uncertain times naturally breed a desire for commercial safety but what is designed to please everybody often ends up delighting nobody. A formula movie composed by committee might tick generic response boxes but most likely lacks the art to stir and inspire audiences – an art that can only arise when film-makers who have real flair and passion are given their heads.

Such art is often controversial but controversy is the mark of a mature community and we should beware a situation where creative freedoms are constrained in the interests of mere uniformity. Socially-aware cinema has always given a voice to those in our society who may otherwise struggle to be heard.

For that reason I can thoroughly recommend Sorry We Missed You, the latest offering from veteran director Ken Loach who at the age of 83 has lost none of his fire and crusading spirit. It’s the touching and often intensely moving story of an ordinary family caught up in the gig economy. More than one commentator has observed it should be required viewing before the UK election of 12 December. At any rate, laughter and tears were never far apart in what I found to be a deeply cathartic experience.

Image result for sorry we missed you

To end on a lighter note, I’ve just watched this documentary on the making of A Hard Day’s Night. Lasting less than 40 minutes, it’s an engaging and often joyful insight into more innocent and optimistic times (sigh!) when even the suits would risk giving genuine talent a free rein. Hard to believe now that they went about it in such a haphazard and ramshackle way – though somewhat easier, especially after watching this, to understand how it all somehow succeeded!

 

Bifocals

This sharp little poem has really struck a chord with me!

To work out why, I tried substituting author for archer and applause for prize. There’s no doubt an overwhelming desire to show off is a surefire way of taking your eye off the ball … or bull. Double vision indeed!

Amazing that the poem was written 24 centuries ago, don’t you think?

When an archer is shooting for nothing
He has all his skill
If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous
If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind
Or sees two targets -
He is out of his mind!

His skill has not changed. But the prize
Divides him. He cares.
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting -
And the need to win
Drains him of power.

Chuang Tzu

 

Image result for archery clipart

 

                                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: ClipartWiki

Midnight Meditation

I couldn’t let today pass by without saying something about the climate change protests that have taken place around the globe. Let armchair critics have their outraged rants about schoolchildren missing lessons and adult working days being lost, their fury fueled by reactionary media in cahoots with tax evaders and toxic polluters. I believe we’ve heard too much cynical mockery of youthful idealism and more than enough nasty ridicule of the ‘snowflake’ variety. The future belongs to young people and their children and it’s absolutely right that they have their say now, before it’s too late. The times, along with the old demographics, are changing and if politicians understand anything at all it is the power of symbols to change hearts and minds – a power exponentially amplified in the huge whispering gallery of a deregulated social media. In the increasingly faint but fervent hope that our wars can remain purely cultural, I’ve chosen a picture which seems to strike some kind of balance. It’s a balance between science and art, man and nature, pessimism and optimism, work and play, now and forever. After all, as everybody really knows, the best things in life are free …

Image result for climate change pictures

 

Image: Time Magazine

Paper Chase

The other day I was talking ‘personal organisation’ with my fellow-retiree and WordPress correspondent Curt Mekemson – click on the name to view his enjoyable blogsite. Our conversation reminded me of a highly effective system I’d begun to use by the end of my working life. If I’d seen it earlier, I might have more hair now!

It’s paper-based but I’m sure it could be adapted for computer. I’d recommend a read to anybody, if only for a glimpse of perfect order in an otherwise disorderly world … 🙂

Image result for paperwork overload

The Less Stress Desk System

Operates on the “doing one job at a time” principle and “out of sight, out of mind” principle. Also keeps a running check on the work in-hand while constantly keeping papers in the right priority. Most desks have piles of papers on them, usually in no order of priority. Pending baskets invite paper piles. Double and triple tier baskets double or triple the size of the pile and the pressure. They are a constant reminder of work waiting to be done, and they distract from the current job. The less stress desk system cures this. Here’s how it works.

It uses one in-tray, one waste-paper basket and one bank of size A4 drawers. Drawers are better than baskets or trays because they keep pending work out of sight, but aren’t essential to make the system work. The drawers are labelled as follows:

Action Today

Action Soon

Redirect

File

Read

Info Needed

Under pain of death, people are warned to put papers only in the in-tray on your desk. Each time you return to your desk, or complete a task (whichever is convenient to your working style), you sort, not deal with, the in-tray contents as follows:-

1.  Take the first in-tray document, scan it quickly and ask yourself “Am I ever going to need this piece of paper again?” Be ruthlessly honest in your answer. If the answer is “No” put the document in the waste-paper basket.

2.   If the answer is “Yes” put it away immediately in the appropriate drawer of the bank of 6, including papers that you intend passing to other people. Put these in Redirect.

3.   If you have a Secretary or an Assistant, have him/her empty and deal with Redirect.

4.   Don’t go home until you have dealt with all the contents of the Action Today drawer. These will be processed one at a time and put in one of the other drawers or waste-paper basket as appropriate. If you are rigid in your discipline about not leaving each day until the Action Today drawer is empty you will become very realistic about what you put in it.

5.   As you leave at the end of the working day, put the contents of the Action Soon drawer in the in-tray ready for the same process at the start of the next day. This keeps pending material under constant review and prioritises it constantly.

6.   To prevent the Info Needed drawer becoming like the usual pending basket, handle it as follows:-

a)  Write on the original document the action needed from another person to provide the info needed plus the date you expect it by with a note to let you know if the person can’t do it by that time immediately on receipt.

b)  Note this in your diary on that date. Put the document in ‘Redirect’ to be passed on but with a note for it to be copied and this copy go into the ‘Info Needed’ drawer. Your diary will bring this to your attention at the right time to pull out and put in your ‘Action Today’ drawer.

c)   People will get used to meeting your diary date if they know you don’t forget and automatically chase them on the due date.

7.    Put away any material that will take more than a few moments to read – e.g, Trade Journals – in the Read Drawer. Plan blocks of time to do reading daily. And filing things away can be relaxing when you don’t want to do anything else.

And there you have it. Almost makes me want to go back and have a second crack at it. Almost.