Saturday, 30 May 2020

100 Days - 32nd

I like Trevor Noah and have enjoyed his Daily Social Distancing Show on Facebook over the last few months. His usual style is a witty takedown of current events but here we see him in a different light, giving some serious and important insights into events in the US surrounding the killing by police of George Floyd this week. I don't have the ability, nor the right, to add anything to his thoughts. Watch it through, and take it on board. 

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.

Friday, 29 May 2020

100 Days - thirty first: Birthday

Excitement over at the Osprey Cam because the first chick hatched today. Coincidentally it is my son Lewis's 32nd birthday today too. I did not want to post a baby picture, because that would not be who he is now, and I could not find the fabulous photo taken of him climbing at Brimham Rocks, but sometimes I think he might still be this person:
It is strange how you look at your adult children and still seek out the child that you used to know. I always thought he would be a tree surgeon; big trees and getting to the top of them used to be one of his main aims in life. He has done other things with his life, but even now if you take him for a walk he will find a tree to climb. 

Book to Make You Think, in the light of recent events in the US: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas from 2017

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

100 Days - thirty : Frances

I need to take today to think about my cousin Frances. It was her funeral today. She took her own life a few weeks ago amid the chaos of the pandemic that robbed her of her mental health support and the little family routines that had helped her to cope with her depression. We were not close, I only saw her intermittently though my life, but her death is a terrible loss for all the family. 
The top photo shows a Maguire family visit to our home in Neston during the seventies; Frances sits on the right of the front row with myself and my brothers.
The photo below was probably taken in the 80s, its hard to tell, mum looks very young still. From the left: (my mum's sisters) Enid, Iris, Ann (Frances' mum), Frances, Joanne (her sister), and my mum.

I just feel sad. It is tragic that she found life not worth living when she was still so young. And heart broken for my lovely auntie Ann.

Stay safe. Hug your loved ones, if you are able.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

100 Days - 29

I have been reading, quite a bit. Intermittent insomnia has found me staring at the ceiling in the wee small hours, and another cup of tea and a few more chapters just while away the hours. 
'The Sixteen Trees of the Somme' by Lars Mytting (translated by Paul Russell Garrett) was one of those 'mysterious thing happens to character in childhood that he has to get to the bottom of' stories. An enjoyable meander from Norway to Scotland to France and back again. A lack of female characters annoyed me somewhat; the two young women vying for his sexual favours were one dimensional, but the narrative disclosure was very satisfying and the details around wood production were surprisingly engaging. Generally nicely written, well woven into the background history of the events and very atmospheric. Here Edvard is with the undertaker after his grandfather has died:

"She emerged from the back room wearing dark-grey office clothes. Walked around the counter, shook my hand and did not let go. She said nothing, but gave me to understand that I had been expected. At first I thought that this was a silence was meant for all types of bereaved: parents who were broken for life, having had to order a small coffin; the spouses of tyrants who were happy the bastard had finally gone. But Rannveig Landstad's silence flowed inside me like a sedative, and all at once - for the first time in ages - it felt as if I had something in common with others in the village. Other people had stood here and felt the same way, stood here shaken and destroyed in the antechamber of the churchyard, and I was not ashamed that I was red-eyed and out of sorts having wandered around the entire night burrowing through papers before lying sleepless, staring at the clock." (p.73)

I was a little disappointed by 'Postcards' by E. Annie Proulx, but only because I did not enjoy it anything like as much as 'The Shipping News' (which predates the blog so no review, another book I should reread some time). Loyal Blood rapes and kills his girlfriend, and to cover his crime pretends they are running away together. He never comes back, but keeps in touch with his family through a series of postcards. The book follows the different family members down their various paths in life. It is in essence a portrait of poor, rural America in the period from the end of the war; there is something of the American Dream for the family who's fortunes wax and wane over the years, sometimes by their choices and actions, sometimes by sheer chance. I was about to say it was another book without decent women characters, but then found that the quote I have is about Jewell, his mother, learning to drive after the father dies:

"Did men, she wondered, have this feeling of lightness, of wiping out all troubles when they got into their cars or trucks? Their faces did not show any special pleasure when they drove. Men understood nothing of the profound sameness, week after week, after month of the same narrow rooms, treading the same worn footpaths to the clothesline, the garden. You soon knew it all by heart. Your mind closed in to the problems of cracked glass, feeling for pennies in linty coat pockets, sour milk. You couldn't get away from troubles. They came dragging into the mirror with you, fanning over the snow, filled the dirty sink. Men couldn't imagine women's lives, they seemed to believe, as in a religion, that women were numbed by an instinctive craving to fill the wet mouths of babies, predestined to choose always the petty points of life on which to hang their attention until at last all ended and began with the orifices of the body. She had believed this herself. And wondered in the blue nights if what she truly felt now was not the pleasure of driving but being cast free of Mink's furious anger. He had crushed her into a corner of life." (p.143)

Looking forward to being on leave next week and enjoying some books in the garden, but will probably just stare into space and then beat myself up about wasting the time. Wish I could go somewhere but whatever ...

Stay safe. See you tomorrow (maybe).


Monday, 25 May 2020

100 Days: 8 and twenty - hot date

We usually avoid the bank holiday tradition of going somewhere to hang out with a load of other human beings, but today Dunk and I biked along the Floop to Gorton Upper Reservoir. (We took a joint decision not to risk the canal path down to Dunham Massey.) I was proved wrong yet again, in my claim that south Manchester is without hills. I mean it felt pretty flat on the way out, but then it was definitely downhill all the way home. Google maps shows a rise of nearly 200m over the length of the journey. There were a few other people sitting on the bank of grass at the far end but it was not crowded. I made the rookie error of bringing chocolate on a boiling hot day, it was escaping the packet by the time I got home. Not sure if this counts as our annual date, there was no ice-cream so I am thinking not.

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

100 Days - 27th : Good and Evil

The "Evil God Challenge" by Stephen Law from Steph Hope on Vimeo.

Stephen Law always makes me think hard about stuff, and I like the way he often relates philosophical problems to what happens in real life (because philosophy is often connected in people's minds with the abstract and abstruse). Here is an animation explaining in layperson's terms his longer thesis challenging the notion of an omniscient, omnipotent all-good god.

In other news today, people died.
Watching the crisis unfold has often felt a little unreal, as if it is happening elsewhere to other people. I have felt that naming people, as happened a lot with the early deaths, and the deaths of medical professionals, is important so that we remember it is real people dying. The New York Times today printed over 1000 people's names, along with some detail about them. Here are some people who  have died: Solomon S. Podgursky, 84, New Jersey, loved to figure out how things worked; Ruth Skapinock, 85, Roseville, Calif., backyard birds were known to eat from her hand; Irene Gasior, 94, Pennsylvania, great-grandmother with a flair for pizzelles; Dale E. Thurman, 65, Lexington Ky., tailor known for his exacting work and strong opinions.

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.

Friday, 22 May 2020

100 Days - day 26

 I tried hard but today got me down somewhat.
Two messages for the great British public:

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.


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