Monday, 30 May 2005

Christians and leprosy

Gould's sympathies, very properly, lie mainly with those affected by the disease, but he writes understandingly of the problems faced by doctors, nurses and administrators. While being alert to imperialist and colonialist attitudes - some missionaries have appeared more than half in love with suffering - he does not use these simply to damn the practices of the past. That a particular doctor or missionary had faults and attitudes unpopular today does not obviate the good of his or her work entirely.

Some leprosy advocates have argued that the Bible is the source of much anti-leprosy prejudice; Gould shows, however, that the horror of leprosy is as strong if not stronger in non Judaeo-Christian cultures. Moreover, as one missionary doctor pointed out: "When no one else cared or bothered, Christians did, and their example still inspires those of other faiths and of no faith." Even the 20th-century pioneers of leprosy treatment and research - such as Paul Brand, born into a missionary family in India, and Stanley Browne, known as "the boy preacher" in his Bermondsey youth - came from the medical missionary tradition.

The title of Brand's book, Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants, indicates his great realisation: the importance, indeed the blessing, of pain. In leprosy, the loss of digits and limbs results from impaired pain sensation rather than the disease itself. Most people will, for example, adjust painful shoes and thus prevent blisters and the risk of infection; those with impaired pain sensation, such as leprosy patients, don't. This understanding, with the use of sulphone drugs from the 1940s, revolutionised the treatment and management of the disease.

- extract from an interesting review of Don't Fence Me In: Leprosy In Modern Times, by Tony Gould, in Saturday Guardian Review, 5 February 2005.

The term 'leper' is now frowned upon (naming/defining someone by their illness) and rarely used; Christians have been amongst the slowest to catch on, thanks to its use in the Authorised Version.

what was God doing before the creation?

Gerry Gilmore seems, no doubt accidentally, to suggest that Augustine used the old joke 'What was God doing before the Creation? Preparing Hell for those who ask that question' as his actual response ('Bang up to date', April 30). In fact Augistine, after quoting the joke, deplored it for making fun of people who had serious quesitons. His own answer was: time was created along with the universe and hence it is meaningless to ask what happened 'before'.
- letter from Bruce Bennett, Cambridge, in Saturday Guardian Review, 14 May 2005.

Jack London in the East End

When Jack London came to London in 1902, he stayed in Highgate and contacted Thomas Cook, the travel agent, for information on how best to approach his next stop - the East End. They were unable to help, admitting they knew nothing of that unexplored corner of the globe. Undeterred, London disguised himself as a sailor and dived in - roaming what was a poverty-stricken ghetto and writing his book People of the Abyss.
- from review of Salaam Brick Lane: A Year in the New East End, by Tarquin Hall, in Saturday Guardian Review, 16 April 2005.

please send more tether

He keeps a sealed letter in his bedroom: 'I aint read it yet. It is from my mum I know that is what her words look like. On the envelope she has writ: "End of tether reached. Please send more tether." She is funny aint she. A funny lady.'
- an introduced quote (sic throughout) from Tom Boler, by Daren King, in a review of the book in Saturday Guardian Review, 30 April 2005.

Jim Crace's letters to would-be writers

An interesting article from the Saturday Guardian Review of 5 February 2005: 'When would-be writers seek his guidance, Jim Crace knows exactly what to say: One of the rewards of being a novelist of even limited success is that several times a week, by phone, by email, in person, you will be approached by complete strangers - unpublished writers - keen to obtain your help and advice. It would be truculent and unfriendly not to respond. Here are my seven letters of reply to five recent strangers:'

Roy Hattersley on John Wesley

An interesting article from the Saturday Guardian Review of 14 June 2003: 'Roy Hattersley reflects on the legacy of John Wesley, 18th-century preacher, founder of Methodism, passionate advocate of respectability and an architect of modern British politics.'

That article's been on a shelf for almost two years; I'm trying have a bit of a tidy up; it's the kind of thing this blog is for. Interestingly - and I find this often to be the case with articles on news sites - I couldn't find the article through the Guardian's own internal search engine, but entered a phrase from the article into Google and that found it. The credit for the photo of Wesley in the print article, I've just noticed, is 'City Mission London / Eileen Tweedy'.

Sunday, 29 May 2005

life towards God

Our minister David's got a weblog, Life Towards God. Rather more weighty and substantial than this one, as it should be. A website and two weblogs - our congregation must be quite close to the top of our denominational charts.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

beatles covers base camp

With my birthday money I got The Exotic Beatles Vols 1 and 2, The Trojan Beatles Tribute Box (3CD), All You Need Is Covers: Songs of The Beatles (2CD), Help: Songs of The Beatles Vol 2 (2CD), Daytrippers (jazz/soul Beatles covers), We Can Work It Out (jazz/soul Beatles covers), Motown Meets The Beatles, and I Am Sam OST (pop/rock Beatles covers). You might think I’m marshalling resources to start an assault on acquiring a cover version of every Beatles song; I couldn’t possibly comment.

house of the rising sun

It’s fascinating to read Van Ronk’s version of how Bob ‘borrowed’ his arrangement of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ - and also discover that his subsequent researches revealed the ‘house’ wasn’t the brothel we’d always imagined but a women’s prison.
- review of Dave Van Ronk’s memoir, Uncut, June 2005

autobiography titles

Bad title: ‘Broken Music’, by Sting. Comment: ‘Top o’ the twee! O Sting, where is thy death?’
Good titles: ‘Hitler: My Part In His Downfall’, by Spike Milligan (which is an excellent book); ‘Reach For The Ground: The Downhill Struggle of Jeffrey Barnard’; ‘If I Don’t Write It, Nobody Else Will’, by Eric Sykes (forthcoming).
Made up title: ‘Cheggers Can’t Be Boozers’, by Keith Chegwin
- feature on best and worst autobiography titles, Word, June 2005.

Sunday, 15 May 2005

playstation tanks

Everyone wants to harness modern youth's addiction to computer games. The makers of the Challenger tank, for instance, have cunningly installed those PlayStation controls that young lads are glued to.
- Education Guardian, 3 May 2005, p17.

how tommy vance got his name

The former Richard Hope-Weston adopted his more famous moniker by default, when another DJ, for whom the jingles had already been recorded, failed to turn up for a job on KHJ Los Angeles in the early '60s.
- Andy Gill, Word, May 2005, p40

cymbeline quote

Golden lads and lasses must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust

most interesting statistic of the election

Prior to Thursday’s poll just six of the 92 professional clubs were in Tory constituencies. That figure has now risen to 11, including their first two Premiership sides in Chelsea and Fulham. Portsmouth are the only top flight team in a Liberal Democrat area.
- Guardian, Saturday 7 May 2005, Sport section, p17.

Tuesday, 10 May 2005

lousy players and lousy GMs

A saved summary of threads on characteristics of 'lousy players and lousy GMs' in role-playing games.

two candidates

We saw two candidates out and about during the election. We saw our own MP, Simon Hughes, at some English festivities at Covent Garden to mark St George's Day on Saturday 23 April. And, on the Monday 2 May bank holiday, as we were taking the long way round to go to the Museum of Docklands, George Galloway, on his battle bus on Cable St, visiting a mural commemorating the conflict between the BUF and anti-fascists there in the 1930s. Simon and George both won, although Simon's website hasn't caught up with that fact yet.

Friday, 6 May 2005

arsenal ticket tout

The case against a man arrested for ticket touting outside Arsenal’s football stadium was dismissed because the judge at a north London court had not heard of the club and said the prosecution had failed to prove that they were a Premiership team.
- Guardian, 3/1/01 (story from Islington Gazette 14/12/00)

simon schama and harold macmillan

Tripping over a rug in the Christ’s College senior common room, I rose to find myself face to face with Harold Macmillan’s whiskers. ‘There, there,’ Supermac drawled, not missing a beat, ‘gratitude understandable; prostration quite unnecessary.’
- Simon Schama (Labour supporter), Guardian, p2, G2, 5/5/05.

ur team suk bro

The Guardian Guide's TV listings for last night's election coverage read:
BBC1 Election Night - David Dimbleby stays up all night with Jeremy Paxman, Fiona Bruce and Peter Snow.
ITV1 Election 2005 - Jonathan Dimbleby stays up all night with Alastair Stewart and Nicholas Owen. Wonder if the Dimblebys ever watch each other's bits and then text? UR TEAM SUK BRO. No, of course they don't.

We stuck pretty faithfully with the BBC; both watched till after 3, I stayed downstairs but fell asleep on the sofa not long after that, occasionally surfacing, until the younger generation got more vocal just before 7.