Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jubilee Ambivalence

Ok it's hot outside and my dna prefers a Siberian climate so I may be a bit grumpy. However, I am not looking forward with any great interest to the upcoming celebratory extra-long weekend of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Don't get me wrong - having been part of the jubilation for my Aunt Dorrit last year on the occasion of her 60th year as a teacher at Lawrence University, I am all for the appreciation of the work of a lifetime. I think the Queen has done her job well. I am just wary of the jingoism such an event engenders. And I don't get the concept of a ruler by birth. So I shall enjoy the extra holiday. I will watch some of the pageantry on TV. And I shall try not to eat too much!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cygnets in Spring

Signs that Spring is somewhere around as seen yesterday on the river by the marquee near Romsey where the ravaj conducted her first Wedding Blessing.

FYI Romsey turned out to have some interesting historical connections. The most interesting to me, and to the taxi driver who took me to the station, is Florence Nightingale, who was buried in a nearby church. My driver was quite passionate about the fact that Nightingale is not given the kudos she deserves in her own country. He told me that at the station he often picks up nurses from all over the world who have travelled there only to visit the church and pay homage to their mentor.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Love Your Neighbour As Yourself

“The late Rabbi Albert Friedlander impressed upon me the importance of the biblical commandment “Love your neighbour as yourself.” I had always concentrated on the first part of that injunction, but Albert taught me that if you cannot love yourself, you cannot love other people either. He had grown up in Nazi Germany and as a child was bewildered and distressed by the vicious anti-Semitic propaganda that assailed him on all sides. One night, when he was almost eight years old, he deliberately lay awake and made a list of all his good qualities. He told himself firmly that he was not what the Nazi’s said; that he had talents and special gifts of heart and mind, which he enumerated to himself one by one. Finally he vowed that if he survived, he would use those qualities to build a better world. This was an extraordinary insight for a child in such circumstances. Albert was one of the kindest people I have ever met; he was almost pathologically gentle, and must have brought help and counsel to thousands. But he always said that he could have done no good at all unless he had learned, at that terrible moment of history to love himself.”

From “12 Steps to a Compassionate Life” by Karen Armstrong

Monday, May 14, 2012

Angelica Garnett R.I.P.

Creativity and decadence are lovely to live vicariously, but the life of Angelica Garnett sounds utterly dreadful. Her obituary in the Telegraph is introduced thus:

"Angelica Garnett, the artist and writer, who has died aged 93, was the daughter of Vanessa Bell and niece of Virginia Woolf, and within the Bloomsbury soap opera of high art and serial bed-hopping had the misfortune to be given one of the most gripping storylines."

Read it for yourself right here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The R's are Staying Up

That was the most unbelievable 90 minutes of football across the country. Up, down; hope, despair and back to hope; joy, misery, confusion and finally joy because by the skin of the teeth of Bolton Wanderers who could only draw with Stoke, my beloved QPR are safe from relegation and will again be playing with the big boys next season. Feel quite sick and heart still pounding but it's ok.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


There's a bit of a media blitz on today as Out4Marriage really gets going. Am proud I was invited to help kick it off with my vid about equality for marriage. Other religious leaders are joining in, and you can see their vids here. Once you've had a look, why not make one of your own?

My Heart Belongs to Daddy

Rabbi Albert H Friedlander z"l

85 isn't so old these days. If my father were alive, he would be 85 today. So would his brother Charles. Sadly neither of them are with us any more. There is some comfort in knowing that he was loved and is remembered by many people across the world. Would rather be able to give him a birthday kiss.

So I looked online to see who else shares this day as a birthday and found the following:

Rabbis Kaufmann Kohler and Joachim Prinz

Athletes Dennis Bergkamp (interviewed by the lovely David Winner), Jonathan Edwards and Merlene Ottey.

Bad guys John Wilkes Booth and Mark David Chapman (Rick Santorum is not as bad as them but does share the birthday)

Music heroes Sid Vicious, DonovanMax Steiner and Bono

not to forget Thomas LiptonKarl BarthFred AstaireMilton Babbitt and Maureen Lipman.

There are loads more, but I'm supposed to be working ;-)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Maurice Sendak R.I.P.

Many people will no doubt express their sadness at the news just in that the writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak has died. It is always sad when a creative talent leaves our world. Read, however, his point of view as reported in the Times last year:
"On the sun-dappled road, Sendak’s mood is far from bucolic. “I think the whole world stinks: everything is decaying, the lack of culture depresses me most. I’m happy that my career is over and I can do what I like. I don’t want to be part of anything. I like where I live, what I read; I’m still doing my books, people are still purchasing them.” Is he happy? “Who’s happy? What does that mean? Of course I’m not, I’ve nothing to be happy about. I can’t complain about my life, I’m just a little bit nervous about how it’s going to end.” Does he think about dying? “Constantly, constantly. It’s time to go, it’s time to get the f*** out — it really is — but look how pretty it is here.”

His family and friends have died (only his sister Natalie lived beyond 83). “I’m old enough to die. I despise religion in all forms, so I have no hope of an afterlife. If I saw my mother and father again, I think I’d kill myself.” We both laugh at the idea of killing yourself when you’re dead. “I will be nothing and nowhere, and that will be such a relief. To be something and somewhere is very tiring: the good times are so few.” However, Sendak has found depression “an awful waste of time” and alleviated it by reading, walking and listening to music (Mozart, Haydn and Gluck are favourites)."

If you have a subscription to the Times, you may read the whole article here. We will miss him. I hope he's surprised by what happens next!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Cisse scores for QPR vs Stoke City

A French Perspective on the Election

Under the headline of "Présidentielles : surprise ! c'est (encore) un homme !", mes amies at Le Blog d'une Chienne de Garde demonstrate their excitement at the news that Carla Bruni is rumoured to be on a flight to Los Angeles since her husband just lost the French Presidential election.

What? A translation? Hmmmmm ... the quote is something like "I'm not born a feminist, I am becoming one". As for what the testicles are saying, the Babylon translator online suggests "with the hair to the tabs and all" but I suspect that is not quite what the artist wishes to suggest. The headline, with my A for O-level French, I can reliably tell you it says, "Presidentially:  Surprise! It's (once more) a man!"

O well. Let's reserve judgment on the new Socialist President-elect of France:  Francois Hollande!