Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Peter Turkson                                                               11 - 5
Angelo Scola                                                                  7 - 2
Tarcisio Bertone                                                             4 - 1
Marc Ouellat                                                                   7 - 1
Peter Erdo                                                                       9 - 1

Fancied outsider: Christoph von Schornborn, at 28 - 1, well worth a punt.

Oh. can't they have a RACE?

What a spectacle that would be!

3 A.M.

Throughout my life I have suffered from what you might call depression. At one point, my suffering was bad enough for me to even think about killing myself. But I don't believe depression is an illness. There isn't a depression virus. And I don't believe there is a depression gene. Though if you told me depression was genetic, I'd be likely to believe that it can be socialised into you as a habit learned from your family members.
Truthfully, what's it made of?
Thought, is the answer,
My approach has been that, if my mind has made the depressive thoughts, my mind can unmake them. Therefore, throwing away the suggested medication, I have taught myself habits of mind - thought processes - to deal with the harmful, depressive thoughts which sometimes come into my mind. I have a whole range of counter thoughts at my disposal, but here's one - one I used recently - last night, in fact.
I awake in the middle of the night. My brain is quite full of depressive thoughts, mainly centering on how useless I am, what a failure, how pathetic, what a waste of space, etcetera. I look at the alarm clock. It is invariably 3 a.m. That seems to be the phase of sleep when these thoughts arrive.
"Oh," I say to myself, "3 a.m. Must be." Then I check the clock. As I say, invariably it is. I then link in my mind the thoughts with that time, knowing they will pass as time passes.
"These are 3 a.m. thoughts." That is comforting. Even though the thoughts may want to persist, the fact of their association with a particular time places them in an impermanent context. The dangerous bit of depression, the one that led me towards suicidal thoughts, is the thought that these torrturing thoughts will never leave. And that, of course, is a fallacy.
What if it isn't 3 a.m.?
Then I simply look at the clock and think "Oh, you're early today," or "oh, you're late today." Last night it was 0440. They were late.
In either case, the important aspect of this way of dealing with unhelpful thoughts is to get outside them and see them for what they are: thoughts which come; thoughts which will go.
Then they stay where they need to be - thoughts - unpleasant certainly, but no more than that.
I write this rather personal post with the sincere aim of helping anyone who reads this and suffers the torture of their own thoughts. I have developed many more ways of dealing with them. If you want to know more, feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Monday, 25 February 2013


Today, two ometer stories:

As part of an assignment I did once, I commissioned ALIVEOMETERS for the Directors of a client Company. Their settings read from dead to absolutely zinging. They had dials and everything. They were made by a lady welder / sculptress in dungarees in a workshop in the East End, were about five foot high, mild steel, very heavy. They made an impression.

I and a colleague went to Toronto to pitch for a largeish innovation assignment. The Canadians who grilled us were very anal, and at one point asked us "how can you be sure that what you say works". My colleague, tired of their nitpicking, said "We've got a meter which measures it." Bizarrely, the Canadians didn't bat an eyelid.

After the meeting, we were not only pissing ourselves, but we realised that for the following pitch meeting to even more important Canadians, we actually did need a meter. Therefore we went ferreting around in Toronto's junk shops till we found one which we could hook up to a battery, and when we got to that bit in the even more important meeting, we hooked up the dial and hey presto, the needle swung round to max. Again, amazingly, no reaction.

Later, the Canadians came over to visit us in sunny Leeds. We had a driver pick them up at the airport. But instead of holding up a sign with their names on, we had him hold up a ruddy great big ometer.

Friday, 22 February 2013


We came across this beautiful and moving memorial to the men of 158 squadron RAF, quite by chance, after a trip to the beach.

My father flew in bombers during World War II. Like many of his generation, he rarely spoke of it. He flew some 180 or more missions. On one mission, acting as tail gunner of his bomber, he was chased by Messchermidt ME109 fighter planes for some 90 minutes. In this time, the German planes shot off some 13 feet of one wing of my father's aircraft. Later, within a short time, my father's hair turned white. I am not surprised.
Returning from one mission, my father was collected from his aircraft, along with the rest of his crew, by a lorry to take them to the debriefing room. Arriving outside the debriefing area, my father jumped down from  the tailgate of the lorry and  fell awkwardly, breaking his ankle. The following day, his crew went out on a mission. They never returned.

I took a few moments to look at  this memorial, and bow my head to the men who gave their lives so that I and my generation can live in freedom and to make my own small act of meditational gratitude.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


The mini missus came home excited.

"Harry Ward's got a potion that turns him into a dog."

That, I thought, sounds like a line from Tom Waits.

"How does he do it?"

"I'll write it out for you."

Here it is.

Go down and up five loopsin a row. One yoghurt spoonful. Give dog a dress.Have honey. Stik big flower in your mouth. Spit out in fifteen minutes. Have one bite out of a big ruler. Stik a lefe under a boat for 2 minutes and then suk out all of the sea water.
Well done.

So now you know.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


Fuck it.
Drive on.

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Across the field they came. Six of them. Maybe seven. Coming at a lope towards me, in a loose formation. Not in uniform, but in a kind of uniformity marked by their masks and balaclavas, and their camouflage trousers.
Briefly, our marine hand to hand combat instructor's words flashed in my mind. "In a fight, drop the leader first. The leader is the first to speak, the first to appear, the alpha in the group. Don't wait. Drop him, and the others will cower."
The leader vaulted himself over the small fence, towards me.
I felt no instinct to fight, but none towards flight either. Just calm.

"Are you lost?" I asked.

"Mmhhrrrmmoph," said the alpha from behind his balaclava.

"You're a long way from a footpath," I prompted.


"Why are you wearing masks and balaclavas?"


"Are you ashamed to be seen? Are you doing something which shames you?"


The six now stood like little boys receiving a parental reprimand, heads half hung. Boys gone too far in their game of cowboys and indians, goodies and baddies.

"Look," I said. "I'm no fan of the hunt either. But how would you feel if masked men came into your home? This is my home. I could feel frightened."


The young men were saved from further questioning by the appearance of a minibus containing their fellow animal rights hunt saboteurs. They skulked aboard. I drove the few yards to the house, rather marvelling at my own calm. I don't doubt it will change nothing.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


Any man who puts a caravan up a tree has my vote.