”The steamer Mongolia, belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Company, built of iron, of two thousand eight hundred tons burden, and five hundred horse-power, was due at eleven o’clock a.m. on Wednesday, the 9th of October, at Suez. The Mongolia plied regularly between Brindisi and Bombay via the Suez Canal, and was one of the fastest steamers belonging to the company, always making more than ten knots an hour between Brindisi and Suez, and nine and a half between Suez and Bombay.”
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
The year A.D. 2017. Month October. Any given day.
Banned from using the word ‘busy’, I’m left with ‘occupied’, ‘challenged’, ‘hectic’, ‘exacting’ … or perhaps the more positive, ‘full’, to describe my life. “It’s the new normal,” you say. “Same for you, then?” I reply.
Imagine the cartoon me. I’m sketchy and one-dimensional at present. I sit on a park bench along the Thames in the shade of a great plane tree. Millions of bottoms before me have sat on this very bench. Seagulls fly and cry high above me. Ducks drift past on the tide. I sit. I stare. Continue reading Lacking the creative juices
Chutzpa, chutspa, chutzpadik – Pronounced KHOOTS-PAH; rattle that kh around with fervour; rhymes with ‘Foot spa’. Do not pronounce the ch as in ‘choo-choo’ or ‘Chippewa’, but as the German ch in Ach! or the Scottish in ‘loch’. Hebrew: ‘insolence’, ‘audacity’. Gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts’; presumption-plus-arrogance such as no other word, and no other language can do justice to.
The Joys of Yiddish By Leo Rosten
On Sunday morning I lead prayers at church. It had been an emotionally charged week in London. I dreaded standing in front of the congregation. Over 70 people had recently died in the Grenfell Tower fire not far from where I live, fires raged in Portugal and the news was still full of recent terror attacks.
I now dread my 7am wake-up with BBC Radio 4.
In May I’d readily volunteered to do prayers, but as my turn drew near, I wondered if I really had it in me. What would I say? How would I create the right balance between silence and words? Continue reading Building Castles in the Sky
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps on this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.”
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Oh, Shakespeare! You had me at tomorrow.
You’ve heard me say your first draft has permission to suck. That’s still true even though our first draft of 2017 has been unexpectedly fractious and gruelling. Call it seasonal affective disorder, call it one problem after another, call it what you like. So far, 2017 is not the post-2016-solve-all that it promised to be (promised as in the promise communicated to me over a glass of Champagne on New Years Eve). Continue reading Plodding along
“He read the words again, holding his candle close to the frame, to light them. Then he went to the table, opened his bottle of ink, turned to a clean page in his journal, dipped his pen and wrote: ‘January 27th 1898: At St Matthias Mission there is an odd sense of predestination …’ He looked up and gazed a moment at the text on the wall, returned to the page and added, ‘It is strange how strongly I feel it. What it is I do not know, but I shall leave before it takes me in. I shall leave before I am its victim.”
Shades by Marguerite Poland
So the story goes, a family worked in Asia as missionaries for OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship). They lived and served among the Asian people in a small community, becoming quite close to many of them. One day a woman they knew well and had spent much time with, turned on them in an angry tirade. She said things that were untrue and hurtful and their relationship with her seemed to be broken.
“A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.”
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
“A campaign for a 4 day week you say? Let’s vote for that!” said …. pretty much everyone.
Dreaming aside, it actually did happen. From 1st January to 7th March 1974 UK Prime Minister Edward Heath initiated a 3 day week as a measure to save electricity during a rather torrid period brought on by the second major coal miners strike in two years.