Brexit / Language

Brexit / Language

Language isn’t the problem, it’s the lack of the rule of law made possible by what appears to be a new law: liars will not be prosecuted.

Refuse the family game

Refuse the Family Game

I would like my own exercise in witnessing to be taken as an admittedly exalted collaboration with the children who refuse the family game imposed on them, children who insist, in their play, on the foreignness of that game and on their determination to remain orphans.

Bersani, Leo. Thoughts and Things (p. 14). University of Chicago Press.

Red Tape

Red Tape

/ because the way they are behaving, and even more so their advisers, this is what we should expect if their dreams of removing ‘red-tape’ are ever realised /



For the foreseeable future I shall let stand together whatever comes to mind without worrying about sentences.

I’m sorry, there’s nobody there

I’m sorry, there’s nobody there

On Friday I rang my bank to ask about something and became stuck in a queue of other callers. As I waited a message kept repeating, and it ended with a mechanical-sounding woman’s voice telling me she was sorry for what was happening. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, before mentioning something about what was going on. When my call was eventually answered I asked the man speaking to me who, exactly was sorry for what had happened to me.

‘We are,’ he said.

‘That’s not what your recorded voice says. She says ‘I’.’


‘She isn’t real, is she?’


‘So nobody’s sorry. Could you pass this on to your supervisor for me,  please? How alienating it is to be told someone’s sorry for something, when nobody is?’

‘I can transfer you to the complaints department.’

‘No. I’d need to wait. Can you tell them?’

‘I’m sorry, but I can’t.

‘That’s ok. You’re doing your best.’

Keeping Cool & Carrying On

Keeping Cool & Carrying On

Occasionally people feel that they have noticed something about you, and may try to interpret it. There might seem, for example, to be a high likelihood that something emotionally draining in a person’s life could adversely affect their decision making.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that when people are aware of what is happening to them and they talk about it with someone who’s disinterested in the situation, they’re more likely to make better decisions, or at least ones they are more aware of and happy with, than worse ones. What’s liable to happen is that those looking on become affected by that situation and displace their own worry or unease onto the person having a problem … they worry about themselves without realising it. The trust they lose in the person they are observing might assume the proportions of their own, unrealised lack of trust in themselves.

I went through something like this recently and people close to me told me I’d be OK, to just stick to the basic things, to get on with life and not get caught up in other people’s dramas. They were right, I think, apart from the fact I forgot to tell people I was all right. If I’d been more clear, and spoken a little about how I was dealing with things, life would with hindsight have been far more simple. Keeping cool involves, perhaps, rather more than I used to think watching Clint Eastwood roll into town with something by Ennio Morricone playing in the background. The times when I was deciding to let off some steam, for example (which weren’t exactly moments where I lost control; on the contrary they seemed to leave me feeling far more in control: I threw a towel out of a window and was delighted to see it get snagged in a rose bush).

As it was, the possibility that I was aware of what I was doing, which wasn’t popular, was not taken seriously. That was to a large extent my own fault. Curiously, because the group of people I was involved with all had good intentions things worked out ok. A basic level of trust prevailed. That’s worth thinking about: how much can you get to trust people at the start of a project? I’d felt from the beginning a level of respect for the others, and attached to that there seemed to be a certain kind of trust.

I remember playing a game of cricket about 30 years ago and  worrying about a person in my team going out to bat who was in the middle of a deep personal crisis. I asked one of the other players if the man going out to bat was ok. ‘He’ll be fine,’ I was told. ‘He rang me for a chat last night and he knows what’s what.’ I was dubious and started to imagine what it would be like taking strike to one of the fastest bowlers I’d seen all season with so much on my mind. How could this man, the man with so much to deal with, cope? How could he even play cricket. Wouldn’t it seem so insignificant and pointless. Didn’t he look a bit brisk on the way out to the crease; a little ‘head-down’?

That man scored 140 and I was out for a very scratchy 2. I think I was worrying about something. I was so angry: what a waste of my afternoon. Traveling to the other side of the county for something so pointless only to get out cheaply and have to spend the rest of the afternoon pacing the boundary.

In my twenties there were quite a few things like that.