Sunday, 19 August 2012

"But one can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.


My friends were talking about spirituality. They had a book of spiritual exercises and tests and were congratulating themselves on how well they scored. Especially on attachment. They had learnt not to be attached.
When I reached over and tore a page out of their book, what do you think happened?

Thursday, 16 August 2012





Tuesday, 14 August 2012


We have family connections in Sudan. A visit there is imminent. Out of interest I was looking at some statistics about the country.
Their infant mortality rate is 68 per thousand births. That is, approaching 7% in old money.
The UK Caesarian section rate is 23% nationally and as high as 30% in some hospitals.
Does not compute.

Monday, 13 August 2012


The Olympics have been a remarkable achievement on many fronts. Team GB has had a gold fest, resulting in a world sporting standing for Britain which is astonishing. The organization and vision of the games has been, quite frankly, amazing. Its ceremonies have been splendid, uplifting, and a superb advertisement for Britain worldwide. It has lit our interest and excitement and provided many iconic, moving and wonderful sporting moments. More than that, it must surely have a lasting effect in kindling sports enthusiasm and funding up and down the land. And then there are less measurable but nonetheless tangible effects. It has communicated to everyone in Britain a fantastically positive message in support of our diverse racial and cultural community, bringing us together with pride and excitement in the achievements of athletes from widely differing backgrounds. Grand dreams have been played out in grand spectacle, and we have communally overcome our traditional British reserve to show how we feel about it, both on the podium, and up and down the country when yelling at the telly from the sofa. We have cheered home our boys and girls, sometimes lifting them to even further greatness. And our British love of a tryer meant we cheered as loudly for the last man in the marathon, as for the first. And not only is there the implied message that we can achieve grand dreams on the field of play, but the sheer enormity of the Olympics vision and  organization has underlined that we are a country that can pull off with enormous panache even the grandest of organizational challenges. All of that ought, and can, be inspiring to any of us who desires to achieve anything.
It would be mealy mouthed to dwell on small failures - the ticketing failures and the failures of G4S, when so much else has gone so spectacularly well. Indeed, in the latter case, that failure has furnished us with yet another reason to be thankful for our great armed services, and has added some millions back into good causes from a chagrined commercial organization.
We have been worthy of the Olympics.
But have the Olympics been worthy of us?
The Olympic movement has a long way to go to modernize. It is incomprehensible to me why the paralympics are separated from the main games and not fully integrated. The logic underlying which games are selected for inclusion and which are not seems an arcane mystery. I have nothing against syncrhronised swimming. But its inclusion, when golf, cricket, baseball, snooker, karate, cross country, the half marathon, motor sport, darts, aerial sports of all kinds, not to mention a host of others, are excluded, baffles me. Likewise, the Olympic stance on amateur versus professional, which seems to be completely different for different sports (football a good example), leaves me puzzled. Also, the IOC and its rituals could do with an image overhaul. Why are men in grey who we've never heard of presenting the medals? Why are they old? Why are they men? And why the flowers? Why are the ceremonies announced in French? Why are Olympic officials literally treated as royalty? These things are unaccountable gaps between the Olympic movement and current world perceptions and realities as spectacularly displayed by London 2012.
When the London 2012 logo was first released, I must admit I thought it was a mishmash saying nothing. Now, in the fullness of a games that have been diverse, inclusive, exciting, vibrant and absolutely contemporary, and have said the same about London and Britain, I must admit, I was wrong.
Its been wonderful. Now lets hope the Olympic movement catches up.