In memoriam

They say that one ought not speak ill of the dead, but with some people, it truly is an unnecessary proscription. If Simon had any faults, it was that he was too generous, too open-hearted, too damn agreeable. These are faults to which we all might aspire.

Simon was a living, breathing model of how life ought to be lived. Mortuary assistant, pig farmer, shoe cleaner, B&B proprietor, writer: his career path sounds almost mundane until you realise he established pig farms in Vietnam for a charity, ran Streetshine, a charity for the homeless and built his own tourist eco-lodge in Abene, Senegal. In between-times, he wrote two books, Squirting Milk at Chameleons and Chasing Hornbills, and numerous pieces on Africa. He wasn’t one to sit on his haunches. Apart from when sitting on one’s haunches was exactly the thing to do. It’s no surprise he ended up in Africa. Continue reading

The Scarlet Letter

Many have commented on the crass, arrogant and patronising attitude of the HuffPo’s UK editor to those who provide much of his content (and thus pay his wages):

“…I’m proud to say that what we do is that we have 13,000 contributors in the UK, bloggers…we don’t pay them, but you know if I was paying someone to write something because I wanted it to get advertising pay, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. So when somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real. We know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.
Continue reading

Who you calling an asshole?

Things are getting rough on the interweb. The problem is, opinions are morphing into threats are morphing into actions such that people, such as Dan Hodges, in this rather disturbing but, I must say, refreshingly honest piece, are becoming afraid to post opinions or, what is worse, hold to their convictions for fear of retaliation. Dan begins his piece, naturally surrounding the Charlie Hebdo massacre, with these words:

Just before I started this piece I was about to tweet the picture of the cartoon of the prophet Muhammad published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. I was going to do it “in solidarity”. And then I stopped. I stopped because I was scared. Continue reading

Age cannot wither him/her

Apparently there’s a hoo-hah over Stephen Fry’s imminent marriage to a twenty-something comedian. People (especially on that new-fangled instrument, the interweb), are without so much as a by your leave suggesting that the 30-year age gap is perhaps somewhat wide. Hannah Jane Parkinson has written an article which unwittingly explains exactly why scepticism surrounding the shelf-life of such relationships is rather well-founded. Continue reading

Don’t mind me, I’m just an artist …

bb stack

So, you’ve survived the hell that is Christmas and the purgatory (literally in some cases) of New Year’s Eve, and you’re staring at a blank screen, waiting for the words to be transferred from the very depths of your soul into 12pt Times New Roman by that magical process they call ‘writing’. Continue reading

Small beer

As Oscar Wilde never said, if there’s one thing that is almost as good as playing cricket, it’s talking about playing cricket. Indeed, it could be argued that we play better in our narratives than in the game itself. This, of course, would be a wild and unjustified accusation. It is true, however, that one of the great joys of cricket is the post-mortem, carried out, according to tradition, in a nearby hostelry or at the clubhouse. Continue reading

No, Sir, after you …

It’s a cliche universally acknowledged that two Englishmen in close proximity is a queue in want of a purpose. The way by which one may distinguish a true Englishman (and I use man in the widest sense, inasmuch as it includes any and everybody) from those others who merely wish they were English is simple: place a random selection of people in a room and the ones who form a queue (even if the queue is to escape the room) are truly English. I wonder if UKIP use this fact in their campaigns, targeting the queues that form for no reason other than the laws of gravity (English, remember)? You certainly never hear them talk about immigrants waiting to enter the country, while Cameron, in his turn, seems intent on starting the naturalisation process early, by making ‘them’ wait before they may claim benefits. It’s a wonder he hasn’t said that ‘they’ must ‘wait in line like the rest of us’. Continue reading

Was it the drugs, or was it the parky’s?

So, the question is whether we ought to read carefully, or just the headlines.

Parkinson’s UK posted this article today on the supposed link between Parkinson’s and creativity. It was the third paragraph before these words appeared: ‘The researchers spilt [sic] the people with Parkinson’s into 2 groups and found that those who took more Parkinson’s medication were the most creative.’ Continue reading

Parkinson’s and creativity

This is a piece a wrote just over a year ago, and I’m going to reproduce it here:

Creativity and Parkinson’s. A contentious pairing of a much-argued ‘gift’ and a disease that rots your brain in an extremely precise manner. They are inextricably connected inasmuch as the fruits of creativity vary wildly in their quality, just as the wholesale slaughter of the basal ganglia seems to produce wildly varying symptoms in each individual. There’s obviously a massive problem with attempting to gauge the true relationship between the two, namely the necessarily subjective nature of assessment. How does one measure creativity? Continue reading