August: silly season or a time for the challenge of holiness?
August 2015 seems to have experienced some kind of identity crisis. Not only did the weather pass from night frosts to baking hot days via torrential rain and flash floods, but the 'silly season' appears not to have happened at all.
It has been said that when the Conqistadors' ships first sailed along the coast of Chile in the 16th century, the indigenous South Americans were unable to 'see' these vessels because they were so outside their frame of reference. Whether this is true or not, it does seem to illustrate the phenomenon of the political establishment’s reaction to Jeremy Corbyn's candidature in the contest for leadership of the Labour Party.
Holidays, the uses of travel and the challenge of re-creation
The great holiday get-away weekend has come and gone. Two million holidaymakers thronged the roads and airports. Gridlock was predicted on many major roads, Heathrow expected the busiest day in its history and the travel association ABTA (Association of British travel Agents) warned people to leave “a lot of extra time” to complete their journeys.
Yesterday, I wept in a cinema – something I had not done since, at the age of 10, I was utterly undone by the death of Bambi's mother. The cause of tears on this occasion was a scene from Amir Amirani's film 'We are Many', a documentary about the global protest against the Iraq War.
Clichés are usually truths which have somewhat lost their impact through repetition. That repetition takes place because the truths concerned were originally mordantly appropriate. Try out 'If war is the answer, what is the question?' and ' if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail'.
We have a tendency in these islands – particularly in England – to prefer our history packaged as 'heritage'. Pageantry and grandiose words may easily replace rigorous and realistic analysis with a warm fuzzy feeling. It can also make us look both foolish and false.
When Charles Kennedy died last week, alone in his Fort William home, the shock and sadness was felt far beyond his party. More than a warm, amiable and likeable man, more than an extraordinarily capable politician before illness hollowed him out, he was that rare animal, a genuine liberal. The lower case is deliberate.