Reflections on JusticeThursday, Sep 23, 2004A Humanist point of view – Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource Forum of Faiths You might say that I’m contributing my paper under false pretences. Firstly, although the Suffolk Humanist group, Suffolk Humanists, is affiliated to SIFRE, we wouldn’t describe Humanism as a ‘faith’. Faith is defined as ‘a strong belief in something, especially without proof’, or ‘a specific system of religious beliefs’. It’s also defined as having complete confidence or trust in something, but since Humanists are essentially sceptics, we’re not inclined to have faith in anything that isn’t proven.
Letting rip!Thursday, Sep 9, 2004We had some fun at a Humanist meeting last night, thanks to you, Mark [Mark Murphy, BBC Radio Suffolk presenter]. Well, partly thanks to you, and partly thanks to Lesley [Lesley Dolphin, also from Radio Suffolk, and Mark’s wife]. She asked me to be a Crabby Old Woman on her programme a couple of weeks ago – I think you’d told her I could be a bit grumpy sometimes. We copied the idea at our meeting, when everyone was told they could have a rant for five minutes about something that really annoyed them.
Silly seasonsMonday, Aug 30, 2004It’s August bank holiday – the end of the summer holidays and the beginning of autumn. Keats wrote, ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, not ‘Season of soggy cereal crops’. You used to know where you were with the seasons. Not any more. Everything’s topsy-turvy, seasonally. We’ve had warm winters and soggy summers, early springs and late autumns. The birds and beasts don’t know if they’re coming or going. There are lots more bugs about, because there haven’t been the hard frosts to kill them off, while seabirds off the Scottish coast have failed to breed because the small prey they feed on have all swum north in the milder seas.
PortraitsWednesday, Aug 18, 2004Last Saturday I went to the BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. It was the second time I’d been. Last year’s winner, Charlotte Harris, painted a canvas four feet square of her grandmother, just her head and shoulders. The old woman’s skin has a translucent fragile quality. She’s looking down with a pensive expression – what was she thinking? What stories could she tell? This year’s winner, Stephen Shankland, painted a mother and child; nothing like those we see in religious paintings, but a real flesh and blood young woman looking straight at you, while her baby plays with a ring.
Shut up!Sunday, Jul 25, 2004A contributor to our village newsletter let off steam this month about those who drive too fast through the village (which is illegal anyway), park inconsiderately, and ride excessively noisy motorbikes. But it’s not just teenage motorcyclists who shatter our rural peace and quiet. If it’s fine today, a so-called ’day of rest’, you can bet that quite a few grown-up people who’d like to think of themselves as upright, considerate, law-abiding citizens, will be creating a noise nuisance to rival the motorcyclists.
Growing oldThursday, May 27, 2004I’ll be a pensioner in a couple of weeks. Does that mean I’m old? I don’t feel it, but I probably look it to small children who only see grey hair and wrinkles. I don’t plan to grow old gracefully – where’s the fun in that? And the older I get, the less patience I have with people who waste my time, such a tele-salespeople, or whingers. I’m more inclined to speak my mind, which some find a less than endearing habit, but I think one can be too polite for your own good sometimes.
FacesMonday, May 10, 2004That splendid actress Anna Massey was interviewed for one of the broadsheets last week about her role as Aunt Jemima Stanbury in Trollopes He Knew He Was Right, which finished on the BBC TV last night. I love that name Jemima though I can only think of one other, and thats Jemima Puddleduck in the Beatrix Potter stories. Anyway, I digress Ms Massey was asked about her characters disdain for artifice, such as the girls in the story who wear hair pieces, and she responded by saying, I dont like artifice either.
William WordsworthSaturday, Apr 24, 2004The English poet William Wordsworth began and ended his life in April. He was born on April 17th 1770, and died on April 23rd 1850. In 1843 he was made poet laureate. Wordsworth is associated with the English Lake District, where he began and ended his life. A lot of his work celebrates the beauty of Nature and the English countryside. The Wordsworth poem I know best is the one about daffodils, which many of my generation were expected to learn by heart at school – “I wandered lonely as a cloud…” and so on.
SpringtimeFriday, Apr 2, 2004My mother used to recite a daft poem at this time of year: “The spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is?” Tennyson was a little more eloquent when he wrote, “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” I don’t know about thoughts of love, but there’s definitely something in the air at this time of year, besides pollen. I heard something on the news the other day about fertility treatment for childless couples.
Terrible timesSaturday, Mar 13, 2004If whoever bombed the Madrid trains aimed to make those living in crowded European cities feel more vulnerable, they’ve probably succeeded, if only because it’s hard to ignore the films and pictures of the aftermath. Without paying a penny, euro or dollar, modern terrorists gain maximum coverage from the modern media, encouraging a siege mentality. The trouble is, the more frightened people are, the less clearly they think about the threat, and how to deal with it.