'Panic Saturday' is behind us. But the panic does not seem to have diminished greatly. The compulsion to buy and the strain of doing so is on almost every tongue. Like many Quakers, I don't give presents. This makes Christmas both easier and more demanding.
999 Convention for the NHS: common frailty, shared humanity
There are few of us who either enter or leave this world without its presence. In between, the NHS is there for broken bones, depression, ingrowing toenails, heart attacks, cancer and all the diverse pain, fear and suffering of our lives' journeys.
Early Quakers held a 'Testimony against times and seasons'. Although this is not observed with as much rigour in our own day, we still hold to the belief that as all life is sacramental, so all times are holy and none should be marked as more holy than another. Christmas therefore, is a rather more low-key event with us than it is with society generally.
Mellor, Mitchell, Mordaunt and Thornberry: we can be better than this
Following an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival this year, Jeremy Paxman remarked that it was “almost impossible to exaggerate the public’s contempt for politicians.” This is probably true and much of that scorn is of politicians' own making.
#CameronMustGo - the hashtag trended on Twitter across the weekend, beginning in the aftermath of Mark Reckless' victory in the Rochester and Strood by-election and continues to date (26 November 2014), having collected over 400,000 contributions from politicians, celebrities, journalists and citizens.
The Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red installation is gone from the Tower of London. The disputes over white poppies and the British Legion's misuse of Eric Bogle's 'Green Fields of France' have died away. But in this centenary year of the start of the first World War, there is much remembering – both honest and contrived – still to be done.
Willie McBride and the British Legion: the falsifiying of remembrance
The meaning and integrity of any creative work – literary, musical or visual – inheres in completeness. Imagine Beethoven's last symphonic work without the great choral cry of “Freude!” Or Shelley's Ozymandias shorn of its final four lines and thus reduced from an enduring reminder of the transience of power to a graceful, if mordant antiquarian observation.
Red, white, purple or any combination thereof. The hue of the poppy we wear should be the choice of an informed conscience. To be coerced into a symbol, for whatever reason and by whatever means, immediately invalidates its significance.
Ebola, war, terrorism, injustice, inequality, squalid government, torture. Sometimes the inventory of cruelty and suffering seems overwhelming. The temptation to spiral into despair and the cynicism born of helplessness can assail us all. But sometimes a glimmer comes in the darkness and smallness no longer seems to equal futility.
The outsider tamed: will the Farage style survive parliamentary participation?
Politicians rarely make sense in the aftermath of a by-election. Neither Clacton nor Heywood and Middleton (9 October 2014) were exceptions. David Cameron claims that a vote for Ukip will put Ed Miliband in Downing Street. Nigel Farage suggests that voting Labour benefits the Tories.