Thursday, 28 April 2005

hymn selection

Gordon Brown reminisced yesterday that one of his father's colleagues as a Scots Presbyterian minister marked election results by playing an appropriate hymn on the first Sunday after polling day.
A Labour win inevitably meant 'Now thank we all our God', a Tory one 'Dear Lord our Father, forgive our foolish ways' and a hung parliament 'God moves in mysterious ways'.
- p6, Guardian, 25 April 2005.

Chernobyl joke

We had good jokes. Here's one: an American robot is on the roof for five minutes, and then it breaks down. The Japanese robot is on the roof for five minutes, and then breaks down.
The Russian robot is up there two hours! Then a command comes in over the loudspeaker: 'Private Ivanov! In two hours, you're welcome to come down and have a cigarette break.'
- Aleksandr Kudryagin (Liquidator) [post-Chernobyl clean-up team]
- G2, p4, Guardian, 25 April 2005 (extract from oral history of Chernobyl).

Monday, 25 April 2005

prevention of terror

A friend of ours was stopped, searched and questioned yesterday on Webber St under the terms of the prevention of terrorism thingy, because he walked down the street and then subsequently walked back up it. He obviously looks more suspicious than we realise. The news websites today confirm it was because Labour, including Tony and Gordon, were having a rally in the Old Vic. The theme was World Poverty Day. This page has some pics from the event.

Thursday, 14 April 2005

the task of a City Missionary

'The task of a City Missionary is to go where he is not wanted, until he is wanted.'
Lord Blythswood, 1911.
- Streets Paved With Gold; Irene Howat and John Nicholls; p127.

I did the quiz on this site, forwarded to my by Bethan (whose results were similar, although with a positive figure for Green and less of a gap between Lab and LD), and as well as the results they gave the code to include it in your blog (which was very smart). It seemed churlish not to copy and paste (and I see it's worked nicely). I'm surprised the gap between Lab and LD is so big for me, but I guess that reflects the extent to which Lab have moved right and LD has become the left-wing party.

PS John commented, 'Just did the test myself - looks like we're all Lib Dems now!'

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

     Labour 4
Conservative -32     
     Liberal Democrat 38
UK Independence Party -12     
Green -9     

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Sunday, 10 April 2005

opinionated nonsense

Photography rendered all two-dimensional representational art (portraits, landscapes, etc) redundant and obsolete.

Prose is harder to write than poetry. Poetry that can be reformatted as prose sentences is written by those who haven't got the talent to come up with whole paragraphs. Language is intended for communication; much poetry wilfully obscures, and so is a failure in the use of language and in communication.

Nothing is so bad it's good. It's just bad.

Don't do or own anything because it's ironic or kitsch. Life's too short. Just do or own things you actually like. The peasants who own that stuff because they actually like it have more artistic integrity than you and your quotation marks.

streets paved with gold

Some of the houses - known as rookeries - that were demolished in the name of progress were notorious. ... Shaftesbury told of a visit he made to such a slum. Having been informed that five families lived together in one room, a family in each corner and one in the middle, he asked how they managed it. 'Oh,' was the reply, 'we did very well until the family in the middle took in a lodger'.
- Streets Paved with Gold: The story of the London City Mission; Irene Howat and John Nicholls; CFP, 2003; p83.

story and epilogue

We all see our lives as stories, it seems to me, and I am convinced that psychologists and sociologists and historians and so on would find it useful to acknowledge that. If a person survives an ordinary span of sixty years or more, there is every chance that his or her life as a shapely story has ended, and all that remains to be experienced is the epilogue. Life is not over, but the story is.
Some people, of course, find inhabiting an epilogue so uncongenial that they commit suicide. Ernest Hemingway comes to mind.
- p196, Deadeye Dick; Kurt Vonnegut.

Friday, 8 April 2005

more from alanbrooke

Weather getting more spring like, daffodils coming up, and bushes sprouting, which makes war even more objectionable.
- 22 March 1940, Lord Alanbrooke's Diary

Had it not been that by then one's senses were numbed with the magnitude of the catastrophe that surrounded one, the situation would have been unbearable.
Several years later, whilst dining at Chequers one weekend, Churchill said to me that the receptive capacity of a man's mind to register disaster is like a 3 inch pipe under a culvert. The 3 inch pipe will go on passing the water through under pressure, but when a flood comes the water flows over the culvertwhilst the pipe goes on handling its 3 inches. Similarly the human brain will register emotions up to its '3 inch limit' and subsequently additional emotions flow past unregistered.
- 25 May 1940, note.

Tuesday, 5 April 2005

the wild horse, the lunatic

Bernard Ketchum told us about one of Plato's dialogues, in which an old man is asked how he felt not to be excited by sex any more. The old man replies that it was like being allowed to dismount from a wild horse.
- Deadeye Dick, p197.

I've heard a similar retort credited to someone twentieth century, I forget who - 'like being unchained from a lunatic'.

Monday, 4 April 2005

what were modern times

even into what to John Rettig were modern times
- narrator in 1980s referring to 1880s, Kurt Vonnegut, Deadeye Dick, 1983, p160

the best thing about getting old

The best thing about getting old is that at the precise moment when you don't know what's hip any more, you cease caring.
- Charlie Higson, p128, The Word, April 2005.