Wednesday, March 27, 2013


My dearest Chloe,

You won't listen to me at midnight . . . you won't listen to me at three in the morning . . . you refuse to listen to my pleas as dawn breaks.

Might you, I wonder, be very kind to your weary Mum and spare just a moment to read this heartfelt letter?

Yes, I know, I fully understand that you love your toys.
Thanks to your generous circle of friends, you've accumulated a wonderfully large family . . . toys that are much-chewed and much-cherished . . .  believe me,  I'm fond of them, too.

It's also true to say that, although I may be weary, no-one could call me curmudgeonly.
Never think that I don't understand your wish to play . . .   I do.
I even have some sympathy for your hope that, with a little encouragement, you might get me to participate.

But there's something you need to know, Chloe . . .  the early hours of the morning are NOT the time to wake your sleeping Mum and suggest she joins in a bit of fun!

Let's take the example of your much-loved mouse, your American mouse.
I know he's your very special friend and I'd be the last to deny his undoubted charms.

But do you really think that a squeaking mouse is the best thing to push under my sleeping chin in the early hours of the morning . . . or, come to that,  a catnip hamster . . . or your favourite toy fish?

Whilst we're on the subject of what a Mum doesn't enjoy, have you ever asked yourself whether excited miaows are the most popular way to wake me up?
Or that sitting on the pillow and licking my nose will really give me zest for a midnight game?
And believe you me, Chloe, a persistent paw poking down my neck will never tickle my sense of humour!

All that being said, I fully agree that only a very skilful cat could climb your cat-tree, unhook your dangling squirrel, and bring him down to join in the fun.

But, come on now, do you honestly believe that the squirrel plays with any greater enthusiasm inside my bed than he would on the bedroom floor?
I can assure you that I don't!

Did you realise, Chloe, that, come dawn this morning, there were six of us struggling for space in my bed?

Yes, I know.  You had the greatest delight in returning after breakfast and finding all your toys still snuggled between the sheets.

I'm sure they were as happy to see you as you were to see them, and I can't deny that the five of you constitute a very happy little family.

But, please, don't you think that, in future, you could all of you play your night-time games on the bedroom floor . . .  and let me sleep in peace?

Just a hopeful plea from your very exhausted . . . but ever-loving,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Caught in the spotlight

I know this is going to sound a fanciful suggestion, but I'm wondering whether the same thought has struck you.

Let's find out . . . even if you've only given it momentary consideration,  has it occurred to you that a very bright, very invasive spotlight is shining on all our lives?

Yes, I know the idea sounds far-fetched, but just think about it for a moment.  Over the past year or so, a seemingly never-ending sequence of ill-judged events, deceitful occurrences, hidden misdemeanours, some from way back in the past, have been brought to public attention as never before.

Heroes have become villains, pillars of society have been exposed as criminals, those we trusted have proved fraudulent, the seemingly illustrious have been shown to have feet of clay.

This fierce spotlight has spared few of our national institutions.
Amongst others caught up in its judgemental beam have been the BBC, the National Health Service, the political parties, the City, the Catholic Church, the Police Force, the media, and the meat industry.

Day after day we've watched in horrified fascination at what has been revealed by this probing searchlight . . .  at the nature of the dust being produced from under a previously secure carpet.

What is particularly interesting is its indiscriminate nature . . . switching, as it does, without apparent rhyme or reason from one long-hidden misdemeanour to another.

But, if it's indiscriminate in what it targets, does this mean that this light is shining on all of us?
Shining on me . . . shining on you  . . . ?

The grey days of winter are a good time for pondering, and perhaps they help to focus our attention.

Not only is the light shining, but change is certainly taking place . . . taking place with great rapidity.

Just think about it, in rapid succession there's been a new Archbishop in Canterbury, a new President in China, and a new Pope in Rome.
Appointments that have all taken place within days of each other.

Such profound changes and revelations also raise an intriguing possibility . . . could this light signal a time of universal deep-cleansing?

No, please don't dismiss that idea out of hand.  Let's just consider it for a moment.
If it holds any possible credibility we need to ask some questions.  Firstly, the nature of this powerful light . . . and, equally as important, where does it come from?

I'm no scientist, but I do know that, ultimately, all matter in the universe consists of pure energy.
With this thought in mind, may I share a simple exercise that I was given the other week?

I suggest that you close your eyes and hold your hands out in front of you.  You needn't stretch them too far, just hold them comfortably with the palms facing each other . . . not touching.
Now . . . gently move them a little closer together . . . then a little further apart . . . can you feel anything?
Can you feel a slight build-up of energy between your hands?
Keep your eyes closed and try again . . . palms moving slowly towards each other . . . now palms moving slightly further apart.
It could be that you have a sensation rather like holding a balloon.  A sense of something between your two hands that is tangible and pliable.
Now . . . move your hands slowly further away from each other and, as you do so, feel that sense of contact dissolve . . . did it go?

If, as I hope, you had a real sense of a strong bubble of energy contained between your two hands, then you had tangible proof of this energy we're talking about.  An energy that not only forms us, but extends its scope beyond our bodies.

How does this experiment relate to that powerful light?
Well . . . is it so fanciful to suppose that the bright light that we've become increasingly aware of over the past few months could be no more nor less than our light . . . the light of humanity . . .  ?

Just think about it for a moment.  Don't we acknowledge this subconsciously in the language we use?  How do we describe those children whose hands shoot up in eager response to the teacher's questions?
We say that they are 'bright'.

"Let your light shine," a wise man once told us.
What if this is literally true?  Could it be that your light, my light, and every other light, are all conspiring together to focus attention on the social and economic chaos we've created . . .  not to cause disruption and upheaval, but to help us see clearly so that we can put things right?

Only one thing is certain when you're caught in a searchlight . . . there's nowhere to hide.

Perhaps it's time to heed the wisdom of Einstein, "You can't solve a problem," he said, "with the same thinking that created it."
What are we waiting for?
Let's look out those rubber gloves, raise our consciousness, and undertake some serious spring-cleaning!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Two Tea Cups

Two tea-cups on a tray;  such simple things
To speak of wordless joy, and yet they say
That you were here.  What sweet content it brings
To note the dented cushion where you lay
Your head.  The gift you brought lies open by
My side, and can I trace a fragrance in
The air, a perfume, subtle as a sigh,
That springs to life from happiness within?
The light has grown more bright since you were here;
This room has gained a depth of quality
It lacked before.  You have not left, my dear,
The miles between us are a fantasy
When everything I touch, and sense, and see
Affirms your living presence here with me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Surprise me!

I don't remember, is your television one of the multi-talented, modern variety capable of offering you past programmes at any time you choose?
I was talking to a friend the other day and she was encouraging me to dispose of my ancient set in favour of a similar model.  It wouldn't cost much, she assured me, and look what I'd gain?
All those past programmes that I'd managed to miss, each one would be available at the touch of a button!

It was good advice, and there was a lot in what she said.
But is it so very stupid to become attached to old, inanimate objects?
I'm deeply attached to my thirteen-year-old car, which is unfailingly reliable.  I have a similar affection for my equally ancient television.  If a piece of equipment has never failed you it seems disloyal, not to say ungrateful, to scrap it for an up-dated version.

However, there's another reason why I'm reluctant to take my friend's advice and put all those past programmes at my disposal . . . it's just a bit harder to explain.

Let me start by admitting something.
On my shelf sits a pile of CDs.  There are CDs featuring my favourite composers and my favourite artistes.  CDs of the orchestras, conductors and soloists whom I most enjoy.
Do I listen to them?  Yes . . . but nothing like as frequently as they deserve.  The radio, on the other hand, is on constantly.  Not only that, should the radio offer me, quite unexpectedly, one of those same CDs, I'm illogically overjoyed!
I stop what I'm doing . . .  turn up the volume . . . and revel in this unexpected treat!

Is it just me, or are we a contrary species?  Whatever the reason, it's the unexpected, uncontrollable delights that we seem to value.

Sunsets are a perfect example.
Surely one of the joys of a glorious sunset is the very fact that it's unexpected?  It wasn't anticipated, can't be influenced or prolonged, and can never be reproduced to order.
If we could 'record' our favourite sunset and replay it across the western sky whenever we felt the urge, would it be the same?  I doubt it.  Over time, we would cease to notice the breath-taking colours, far less pause to admire them.

Do you know what I missed most when I was at school in Switzerland?  It was the vagaries of the British weather.

"What a glorious day!" I would say enthusiastically to Swiss friends when I first arrived.
They'd look at me in surprise, "But it's always like this here," they'd say, without a glance at the brilliant sunshine reflecting off the snow.
They were right, I was over-reacting.  It was always like that there.  But how sad if the British obsession with the weather were to be replaced by a matter-of-face acceptance of natural beauty.

So, do you understand why I'm sticking with my old television . . . why my CDs are collecting dust on the shelves?  It's the childlike desire to be surprised by pleasure . . . and, I wonder, is it so very foolish?