WHY DO ONLY WOMEN GET TO COLOUR THEIR HAIR?

With a group of friends the other day, I was attracted by the bright hair colours of the women.  One had a shock of blue and platinum, another red-brown, two were rich black, two were blonde and only two were natural shades of grey.  Those men who had much hair at all appeared to be grey-white – fully grey-white, mostly grey with a sprinkling of the old brown or black, or greying at the edges of wispy black or brown.  On average, the men looked at least 10 years older than the women, though they were in fact all of similar ages.  Why do only women get to colour their hair?Read More »

‘THE AGE’ STRIKE, EXPERT COMMENTARY AND THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Recently, journalists at The Age went on strike for a week in protest at yet another large cut in staff numbers, claiming that independent journalism was at great risk if this cutting continued.  Though I sympathise and value some of The Age journalists, particularly the commentators and analysts, I’m afraid they are like people promoting sailing ships when steamships arrived.  The time of newspapers is over.  Let me explain.Read More »

Je Suis Ove (et Don)

Have you ever read a book and thought, ‘That’s me!’?.  I’ve read two – ‘A Man Called Ove’ (which you may have seen as a film) and Don in ‘The Rosie Project’ – and felt this.  It’s quite disconcerting when a writer gets at your heart.  It’s as if you are transparent…But luckily, if the  characters are flawed, immoral or dangerous, you are the only one aware of it and, not wishing to reveal your heart of hearts, you may escape detection of your dark centre.

Now, if you’ve read either of these books, I doubt you will have had this feeling.  If you know me you may think what I feel is slightly odd, because Ove and Don are rather strange, unlikeable characters and you may feel (hopefully?) I am not like that.  But, inside, this is what is going on in my head.Read More »

I Hate ‘Love’.

I love you’.  I hate it.  Not love, but the phrase.  I hear it so often.  It’s used so frequently it’s virtually meaningless.   A phrase used to fill the gap, make the hearer feel good.   But real love is fundamental to a good life.  What can we do about the phrase?

Degrading the Language

Part of the problem with the phrase ‘I love you’ is that it represents just a small – but very important – part of the general degradation of language.  The use of increasingly superlative words for ordinary actions.  ‘Amazing’, ‘fabulous’, ‘fantastic’, ‘unbelievable’, ‘great’, ‘the best’ and so on.  These words are used endlessly each day.  ‘What an amazing cup of coffee’.  ‘You cooked a meal.  Fantastic.’

Garrison Keilor, the great American storyteller, ended his weekly story from Lake Wobegon with ‘…and all the children are above average’.  It used to be a joke, but now it seems all the children – and everyoneis apparently above average on almost everything.  Wow, isn’t that fantastic!  Unbelievable.  Well, actually, it is unbelievable.  It’s simply not possible mathematically.

And so ‘like’ has been replaced with ‘love’, increasingly followed by XXs and now by several emojis.    Everyone ‘loves’ everybody they know.  ‘Admire’, ‘respect’ and similar words have gone.   But in reality, this (respect, like, admire) is what we feel for most of the people we claim to ‘love’.   Similarly, ‘best wishes’ and ‘sincerely’ have gone from birthday and celebration cards and FB (actually they never even reached FB!) to be replaced by ‘love.

What’s wrong with ‘love’?  It’s fake news.

But isn’t ‘love’ positive?  Isn’t positive good?  How could I hate this wonderful phrase ‘I love you’?

What’s wrong is that it is an example of fake news.  I’ve always been a person who tries to tell the truth, to say it how it is, to call it as I see it.  And I don’t see ‘love’ everywhere, I don’t feel ‘love’ for everything, everyone I know.  I want to reserve this very special phrase for very special people in my life, for very special situations.

People say ‘But you must love everyone in your family?  Well, actually, no I don’t!  Some I love, some I like, some I’m neutral towards and some I actually don’t like’.  And, if you are honest, this is almost certainly how you feel about your family.  (I blogged much earlier on preferring friends over family.)

Actually, I use ‘love’ more now than I used to.  Isn’t this contradictory?  No, its not.  I’ve actually felt ‘love’ for a lot of my friends, but been afraid to express it, for all the reasons above.  Now I go out of my way to use ‘love’ more, but only for those for whom I mean it.  Sometimes it feels odd, especially when sending ‘love’ to a male friend, or an attractive female friend.  In this respect, I agree that there should be more love in the world.  We could certainly do with more making love and less (or zero) making war in this world.  What I don’t agree with is expressing love where it isn’t meant.  Which seems to be most of the time.

So, dear readers, I thank you for reading my blog.  Some of you I may indeed ‘love’.  Some I may ‘respect’, ‘admire’ or ‘like’.  Some I don’t even know and I might not even like you…but thanks for reading and I hope the blog continues to be thought-provoking.  Perhaps you will rethink your use of the word ‘love’

and perhaps we can recapture the wonderful value of this simple, but so powerful, word.

‘PEOPLISM’: A NEW POLITICAL VISION. ECONOMIES ARE FOR PEOPLE.

As most of us despair the deceit, wilful blindness, self-centred arrogance and corruption of many politicians and leaders in all of our countries, I wondered how do we find a new way to reconfigure the process, create a genuinely new framework for rethinking our societies?  We’ve had capitalism, centred on the power of money and markets.  We’ve had communism, centred on making everyone equal.  We’ve had socialism, centred on protecting the weak.  We’ve had dictatorships, centred on a few powerful people making decisions for the rest of us.  We’ve had democracy, centred on equal rights to speak and vote.  We’ve had religion, centred on the basis of blind faith in the mystical.  We’ve had royalty, centred on the power of a specified family.

All of these have their weaknesses, as we are too painfully aware.  I propose a new political philosophy of ‘peoplism”.  Peoplism focuses a government on what people actually need.  Let me explain how it would reframe our priorities and decisionmaking.Read More »

PRAISE SERENA THE GREATEST.

I’ve never been a fan of Serena Williams.  I’ve hated the ugliness of her play, her grunting, her mental humiliation of her opponents, her parents’ behaviour, the gracelessness of her strokes, the outfits she wears, the superficiality of her post-match comments.  I’ve willed her to lose to pretty young things like Sharapova, Mandlikova, Kerber and co. who play pretty tennis.

But this year I’ve come to realise one truth:  she is – by far – the best women’s tennis player ever to play.  I’ve watched the grace of Margaret and Martina N, the determination of, Billie Jean, Chris, Steffi, Martina H and Monica.  I’ve seen each of them dominate their time periods.  But when I watch the power of Serena, her refusal to admit defeat, her utter humiliation of those just below her in the rankings, I’ve no doubt she is the best ever. Read More »

Is Life about ‘Me and My Family’…or ‘Me and Society’?

Over the Christmas-New Year period, you catch up with a lot of people.  Perhaps naturally, these conversations focus a lot on how families are doing.  When I mention that I spend a significant part of my week working with my environmental group and as a community bank director, there seems to be no interest.  Perhaps I’m a bad marketer of myself, a bad story teller!  But, as I reflect on this apparent lack of interest, it seems that people fall into two broad types:  those interested mainly in themselves and their families and those interested mainly in the wellbeing of society.  And the mix matters.  Here’s why.Read More »