Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Archive for the category “Reflections”

Snooker Loopy

“And as young Kevin Moffat comes to the table, he needs only one meatball to clinch the world snooker title…”

Kevin Moffat? Pah! Back in the day, I was the King of Snooker. The Queen of Snooker. Whatever. (Anyone remember Kevin Moffat??)

Such a satisfying sport/not a sport. Whatever. 

Snooker’s heyday, from my perspective, was 1985. The final between Denis Taylor and Steve Davis was the most stressful and gripping sporting event I have ever watched. It was brilliant. 

Also brilliant were Denis Taylor’s glasses. They had the legs coming out from the bottom of the frames so that they looked upside down. I, in response, had similar. (As I write, I am hoping and dreading finding a photo of them in equal measure… probably I have them on in one of my “girl Harry Potter” school photos.)

Found one

My snooker table was smaller than a regular pool table, but it did the job – and handily fitted in my bedroom at the time, although you did sometimes have to hold the cue at a weird angle so as not to hit a corner of wall. 

The small table did mean that a disproportionate amount of breaks resulted in the white going straight in a pocket. At least, that was my excuse. 

However, there were a lot of things to enjoy about the snooker table. The lovely cubes of smooth blue chalk that you could prep your cue with. The setting up of the balls, which I could already do before Chas and Dave hit out with their very helpful lyrics in May 1986:

“Pot the reds and screw back

For the yellow green brown blue pink and black”

Very satisfying was also getting “a plant” where two touching balls handily lined up with a pocket. Then, it didn’t matter what angle you hit the nearest ball to you at – the one nearer the pocket would go it. Magic. 

Less great was the time I was lying on the floor looking at one of the snooker balls, enjoying its weight and shininess, then I dropped it on my face. Crack. Ouch. Not much you can do about gravity. 

Having a snooker table was a pretty sociable thing. Where now, teenagers have to be in separate houses with a large TV and a console to “play together”, we spent hours and hours and hours and hours playing snooker. 

This turned out to give me a handy transferrable skill as my gran’s neighbours had a pool table in their garage, so the holidays there were also spent setting up the balls, learning trick shots and trying to get better all the time. 

Another transferrable skill was mental arithmetic – working out what your break was and never managing to get anywhere near the magic 147. 

A full-size snooker table is a different thing though. Too big. Not a hope. 

In time, though, the skills of snooker, pool and mental arithmetic that were so much of my life in the mid-eighties have all atrophied and disappeared without trace during the intervening thirty-five years or so. I can still count up Scrabble and Yahtzee scores alright, but, meh, numbers… 

For my own children, the snooker table was brought out several times, over the years – taking over the living room for a few weeks at a time – but we didn’t use it during the whole pandemic so far, I don’t think – and I then figured we should probably move it on.

Hence the nostalgia. 

It is kind of encouraging to think that, while I was going out of my mind watching Denis Taylor, so was the rest of the snooker-watching world. It was genuinely a great (very long) moment. I was an 80s kid, having a very 80s kid experience. I am glad I didn’t miss it. 

More Bus Fun

This morning I took my car into the garage to have it looked at. I sanitised the key, handed it over and made my way to the bus stop across the road.

I told the bus app where I wanted to go, along came the relevant bus and away I went… a slick and efficient service.

I spent the morning having a coffee to myself, reading a book in the sunshine. Then, I did a fitness class. Then I got a lift home. Boom.

The only thing I needed to accomplish during the rest of the day was to get back to the garage to pick up my car at 5.15. According to my trusty bus app, this was very straightforward. The bus from the end of my road was due to leave at 4.15 ish, and that would get me there around 5. Cool.

4.15 came and I went to perch at the bus stop. Along came the bus and on I got, beeping my all-day ticket and taking my seat. Slick.

As we went along, I checked the bus app and the map app and zoomed in to see which shops I was looking out for to hit the Stop button. So I looked out expectantly for my selected landmarks.

As the shops I expected came into view, I pressed the button. At the next stop, I got off.

I broke into a half-hearted jog – time seemed to be running out on me – and made my way along the road I had studied – and waited for the landscape to become more familiar. This didn’t happen.

I arrived at my destination, horrified to find that I was at THE WRONG BRANCH of the garage! It was 5.04pm and I was in completely the wrong place!

Sweating and flushing, I checked my phone. My map app said it would be a 36 minute walk or an 11 minute car journey to the correct branch – and I had almost no time to get there before the 5.15 car-pickup deadline. Panicked bewilderment.

Providentially, as I was sheepishly texting Husband to confess to bumbling the whole perfectly straightforward bus-trip and car-collection thing, a cab driver was right there in front of me, helping his passenger out with her luggage and he happened to be free! Amazing.

Sans perdre de temps, we set off, my face red as a red thing and my eyes fixed on my watch while hoping that taxis take plastic… I haven’t been in one for … well…. since pre-pandemic or before…

Unbelievably, my most helpful driver managed to complete an 11 minute drive in about half the time and I got there for the 5.15 pickup. Relief. (I did have to lollop/gazelle my way inelegantly up a grass verge… but I am taking my arrival at 5.15 as an actual win.)

I was never more glad of my mask to conceal my roasting beamer, while the girl spoke car to me.

As her words and advice washed over me, I became aware of all the half-thoughts and inklings that I had systematically ignored all day – about how the bus to the garage seemed to be handier than I thought it would have been – about how I hadn’t realised how close various places were to my bus route (they weren’t) – about how the parks on the Southside are not actually as near each other as I deluded myself into thinking they were…

In my defence, both branches are, technically, on the same road… just 1000 buildings or so apart…

I resolve to improve my geography of the Southside.

(Eh, the picture of the Knight Bus is the only faintly relevant pic I could find of me and a bus… sorry if you were hoping for a Harry Potter post…)

On the buses

I have had cause to be on the buses of late. Gammy hand.

Public transport is pretty limited here, but there is a service that very handily goes from the end of my road to the end of my work’s road, although what is a fifteen to twenty minute drive becomes a forty minute whistle-stop tour.

The buses are cute, and generally a cheerful orange. They have seatbelts (that no one uses); the fare is fair; the payment contactless. Much better than the bad old days of the exact-change-only thievery of the other buses.

I was a fan of the buses, before the gammy hand, before the pandemic, even. Just standing there, fairly confident that the bus will come – and once you get on, it still has the vibe of a trip, a day out, a jaunt… I can sit back, relax, people-watch…

The bus service from the end of my road has a couple of quirks though. The main one is the sense that you get, on occasion, that the bus driver isn’t entirely confident about the route. Once, the driver missed a turning and I had to shout directions to get us back on track. Hope no one was standing hopefully on the road we missed. And twice, the driver has hung a left instead of a right therefore missing an entire estate. Hope no one was standing hopefully there either… And then there was the day that there were roadworks that took the driver by surprise and when he called in to let base know, he didn’t seem entirely confident about where we were…

So this uncertainty makes each trip potentially a wild-west maverick adventure, so that is who I am when I get on the bus. I mean, you make your plan, you get on… but who knows how it’s all going to end?

City buses have it easy. They float down main roads, slide into bus lanes; automated displays let the passengers know the real-time ETAs of their buses. Not so in suburbia. We swing speedily along wide open roads, windows rattling, hearing the engine straining as we scale hills and judder to sudden stops; we navigate the badly parked cars in busy residential streets. Curtain twitchers frown disapprovingly as we loop round roads where no one ever gets on and no one ever gets off…

I love the “there” journey. In the morning, the buses run to time and all is well with the world. Waiting for the bus home is another matter. A depressing game of psychological chess. I have to bolt out of work and make it to the bus stop. At that point I check to see how things are progressing on the bus app. There is, because of the way things are, in reality, a chance that the bus may, just may have been and gone – early – and I have no way of knowing. So I might be standing there in ignorant futility. At what point do you think – enough – and break into a walk to another transport solution half an hour away? Because you know, that as soon as you do that, the cheerful orange bus will appear. But will it?

On the way home I am generally aching; my bag feels heavier; I am tired in all kinds of ways. The route seems daft on the way home but it makes sense of the way there. Always good to get home for a cup of tea.

I have to say, though, the service has been pretty reliable this time round. In the winter of 2019 there were more fails and close calls – the worst one was when it was dark and raining and the driver didn’t see me… sad times…

Of course, it is the people that are most interesting. There is a wee element of groundhog day with people living in the same pattern as me, at least on the way there. There is one kid who has his ticket on his phone, and by the time we are going home, his phone is generally out of charge, so he has to rely on the kindness of the driver. But it has always worked out for him. The drivers are kind. And the passengers are always polite. It warms my heart when people say “Thanks Driver” as they leave the bus, as if it is the guy’s name. I can’t say that. I just say thanks. I kind of wish I was a “Thanks Driver” kind of person.

A lot of the people who use this service are very frail and they make me worry. It is so shoogly and swingy. I imagine it must be quite daunting to be shunted about in your seat, keeping one hand on your zimmer-trike gadget. The wise advice on the signage says to ring the bell then stay in your seat until the bus stops. This is very good advice but almost no one takes it. The urge to get up just as the driver is drawing in is irresistible, but really stupid, as that’s when one could easily come a cropper.

Let me tell you about yesterday. It was forecast to be 17 degrees, and in a non-public transport context, this would normally mean that the DMs would be patched in favour of the Birkenstocks. But with the back-of-my-mind lack of faith in the bus service, and the potential need to walk far in case of an epic fail, I had to stick with the DMs, while knowing I would regret this when the 17 degrees were out in force.

I made it to the bus stop after work in good time. Roasting. The bus was just two minutes late, which I think is reassuring; I would always rather it was two minutes late than pressuring me to be on time. On I got and away we went. Just me. Bus to self.

Lovely bright sunshine. As we went along, I was joined by three teenagers, then a very old lady with a wheeled shopping trolley bag thing. As we took off, the trolley went slamming into the wall opposite but when we turned the other way it slammed back then she caught it. Very deft. We got to the bit where the driver is meant to go right, and he went left, leaving that estate unserved, then we took off into the depths of the residential bit.

Suddenly the driver pulled over, donned a high-vis vest, got out the bus, opened the back of it and declared the bus broken down. Like a rat, I abandoned the sinking ship, failing to think through how the very old lady might get herself out of the situation. I should have made sure she had a plan B but I didn’t think it through. So I am kicking myself about that and hoping that the bus company had contingency plans.

The teenagers and I spilled out into the middle of des res suburbia and started generating solutions. My solution was to walk to another bus stop and start piecing together an alternative patchwork bus route home. I was glad about the DMs for the walking, but could have done with the Birkenstocks for the heat. When I got there and checked the app, it was going to be AGES until a bus came, so I gave up and thought I would walk to the parents’ house and sit in the 17 degrees in their garden and await rescue.

At that moment however, I was rescued by none other than my partner-in-work who happened to be passing. A joy. As ever. Unbelievably fortuitous. Providential.

The gammy hand is pretty good now, so I may well be driving within the week. Exciting times.

So, as I come to the end of my bus-dependant phase, here’s what I think. Buses are great and people should use them. When you are going past all the houses day after day, hour after hour, you think – surely there are people who want to get on here, and go wherever and then get home again with no effort? I think that people should download their local bus app and see what jaunts they could be going on.

I am thankful that, even in the case of epic bus fail, I am fit enough to walk the 10k home from work and have friends, and family who live where I could walk to in a disaster. But for people who are dependant on the buses, we are not quite there yet.

Thanks, Driver. It has been fun.

A Breath of Fresh Air

A year ago I set off for work with a buff around my neck, to use as a mask, before masks were a thing. A year on, I cannot believe just how far we haven’t got in getting back to “normal”, except I now have a wide range of masks in various colours to accessorise different outfits. It is so rubbish. We need a breath of fresh air.

Going into work last year in full expectation of lockdown

A year ago, Mr Salmond was acquitted at his trial. A year on we have been through a Jarndyce and Jarndyce with the weirdly compelling viewing of the big fish squabbling in in the SNP pond. What a bleak phase of Scottish politics. We need a breath of fresh air.

On the plus side, outdoor exercise in groups is allowed again – so that involves breathing and fresh air. While zoom classes kept my strength and mobility on course, my cardio/calorie burning end of things crashed a bit so I am relieved to be back.

Physical church as also set to reopen but it’s so covid-secure/restricted. I think of the hymn writer who wrote the hymn:

O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer’s praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!

I have often found myself this year wondering what he meant – whether he personally wanted 1000 literal (okay metaphorical “literal”) tongues to sing with, to express his praise for God – or whether he wanted 1000 people with one tongue each to praise God together. Either way, congregational singing has been banned for a year which is really shocking, in terms of liberties. Who would have thought that? It’s so dystopian, but here we are. I wonder when I will ever be in a room with 300, 500 or even 1000 tongues, to sing my great Redeemer’s praise… It’s a great hymn. A good one to belt out. I am “normally” belting it out on the violin – but I will maybe sing this one if we are ever allowed to sing it again.

We had tree surgeons in this week and our back garden is looking very different. There is a lot more sky; a lot more sky. I will be interested to see if there is, as well as the vast vast sky, a lot more wind and whether this means there will in time be a lot fewer pieces of garden furniture… We will see. So I will certainly have plenty of fresh air and bright light.

Despite the failure of the world to get to the end of the pandemic, and despite the sickening quagmire that is the state of politics, I hope you are enjoying the longer days and the prospect of spring. Whether we look forward to getting a haircut, celebrating Easter or scheduling some sunny garden visits – hopefully we can shake some of the 2021 scunneration.

I came across this poem by Edwin Morgan which, although it is describing getting scaffolding down from his building, manages to get across my mood at the moment and the lifted spirits that you get from more light, more sky and a sense of greater freedom around the corner.

The Release, by Edwin Morgan

The scaffolding has gone. The sky is there! hard cold high clear and blue.
Clanking poles and thudding planks were the music of a strip-down that
let light through
At last, hammered the cage door off its hinges, banged its goodbye to the
bantering dusty brickie crew,
Left us this rosy cliff-face telling the tentative sun it is almost as good as new.
So now that we are so scoured and open and clean, what shall we do?
There is so much to say
And who can delay
When some are lost and some are seen, our dearest heads, and to those and
to these we must still answer and be true.

Weekends Away

It’s the middle of February. In normal times, I would probably be away the weekend away. I love a weekend away. Not a city break or a jaunt to a holiday house – but a Christian residential weekend away – with children or teenagers. The best times.

My first weekend away was to Comrie Crusader Centre forty years ago. Here’s what I loved about it. Bunk beds in dorms, sleeping bags, singing, daft sketches at the “show”, discussions, hunt-the-leader in the village, a long walk up a hill in the rain, buying sweets at the shop, making crafts – but most of all, and, not just in Comrie but in a large range of weekend-away venues – thundering around the venues – large houses – whooping and hollering, high jinks and hysteria.

When I got too old to go as a teenager, I went as a leader, then as a cook. The kitchen is the best place to be on a weekend away. Well, when you are my current age, the best place to be is in the kitchen. The kids get to do more than thunder about the building, although I suspect that is still a favourite thing – especially when they play hide and seek in one of these big houses in the dark.

I love to meet random people, or have people I know and be with them on a cooking team for a couple of days. You get to talk and talk and talk and make food. You serve it and the job is largely done. You get to clean up and disinfect the surfaces and sweep up and mop and make the kitchen look perfect.

I think it is the talk and talk and talk thing that I like. You are engaged with people in a context that is just social – the “temporary community”, living at close quarters with other people – so you actually have time to talk and talk – and listen to people’s experiences of literally life, the universe and everything.

As a kid and teen I loved the bible teaching, absorbing whatever the theme was for the weekend and having the chance to discuss it, and fill in wee worksheets or gather profundities in a notebook.

As an adult and parent, I now look back on these weekends – as a child, teenager, young leader and cook – I can see so many life lessons and life skills that everyone is missing out on just now.

They perhaps first learn how to make their own bed on their first weekend away. Kids have to learn to take a turn with the chores to make the temporary community work. There is no dead time – the activity and interaction is absolutely constant – it is a rich chunk of life. People learn to negotiate who gets what bunk, when to finally go to sleep, how to all get along. Kids get to try new food – and they generally eat it because their parent isn’t there to remind them of their fussiness.

Then there are the pointedly “together” times – that seem so distant right now. There’s the times of meeting, singing and playing music together, discussion groups, teaching times – and then the necessary ceilidh or party or sketch show or bonfire – all designed to have people together.

In 2020 the weekend away was planned for mid June, rather than mid-February. Normally my three kids would go and I would be in the kitchen, leaving them alone. However, the plan was for my son to miss it – he was meant to be in Tanzania. The daughters were going to go – but one of them would be leaving the weekend sharp to catch a bus to France with the school trip leaving on the Sunday night. I would have missed it too – I was meant to be at a wedding…

Absolutely none of this happened.

I am just thinking of all the hilarity not had, conversations unheard, bonfires unlit, hot chocolate still in the packet. And friendships not made and cemented, memories not made. All quite sad.

However, I suppose I appreciate what we had and look forward to a time when we can all get out our kit lists and pack our weekend bags and head off to some big house in the country, thunder about in it, have a cup of tea, some home baking and a long conversation.

Join me?

In pattern pieces

We made a pair of pyjama bottoms! Yay!

But, boak. Who knew that sewing could make you seasick? By the end of the cutting out part I felt the way I feel when I have sorted out too many old photos or something. Queasy.

It’s a whole new world. There’s a whole new language. Even after successfully making a garment (whoop!) I don’t know what some of the instructions meant. (“…use fusible web or machine-basting to anchor them to the garment within the casing area”… eh, yuh…)

We began by watching many YouTubes on how to make pyjama bottoms and then got the pattern out. We wrestled it to the ground and traced it and cut out our pattern pieces.

More wrestling with the sewing machine, getting to grips with the bobbin winder spindle. There was a part where we lost the will. I can’t remember what element of the process broke us. But as a fun hobby, it was taking a turn.

Of course I got the elastic twisted. Of course we don’t have a bodkin. Of course there are a few bumfly bits here and there. But we have a wearable garment.

I don’t think I know who I am any more, though. This is the most not-me activity I have partaken in since…. nope… nothing…

“This is the way” we fail to diet, on a cold and frosty morning #mandalorian

Lockdown #2 or is it#3? Who can say? Whatever it is, it is not helping with my annual new-year-new-me efforts. It was all going so well, and now I have reached my “Mayday Mayday” weight and need to turn this ship around before it starts to impact on my clothing choices. (Not that I am going anywhere. Still dressed like a stage-hand.)

We are watching Mandalorian and enjoying it more than you’d think. Most of all I am thinking of adopting the Mandalorian’s game-changer of a dieting strategy. He keeps going into insalubrious bars and cafes and ordering snacks for the Child – but he sits there – snack free – as he can’t take his helmet off in front of any living thing. What a win. It would look a little mediaeval though.

The Child on the other hand – that boy can eat! I am still reeling from his behaviour in the episode I watched last night when he was eating the eggs of the frog lady who was trying to save the future of her species. He was SO NAUGHTY! He had been TOLD! Shocking.

So, why the weight gain? I blame the weather a bit. I was doing well with the running and the exercise – but I am not wanting to break a leg so I didn’t go running when it was pure icy and pure snowy. Just doing daily online strength and fitness classes clearly doesn’t cut it. My watch tells me they are only about 160 calories a go. Which doesn’t amount to much in terms of Double Deckers. It has just been too cold. And miserable.

Secondly the working from home is not helping. Too many cups of tea (and the accompanying pairs of chocolate digestives) to be had in between bouts of connectivity – and access to a frying pan doesn’t help with lunch choices. In real life, one can get ahead of oneself and pack a lettuce-based lunch in a box and, when the time comes, that’s what you eat. Faced with bacon, egg, beans, chips, pies, bagels and anything else I bought at Morrisons, I am too easily drawn into thinking hey it’s a lockdown, might as well eat one of everything.

What’s that you’re saying? I don’ t need to lose weight? Shucks. Thanks guys. It’s muscle? Aye, maybe. I know, I know, weight isn’t something worth obsessing over in a pandemic.

But it’s annoying.

It could be worse though. I mean, a garganutan spider might land on top of my spaceship, rendering space travel impossible until there’s some kind of deus ex machina moment…

Hand Sewing on a Saturday Night

So, like, sew, like, tonight you find me (apart from the blogging) sewing. I am some way off from the finishing touches stage, but I have made significant headway in turning a pair of jeans into a handbag. If you know me in real life, you will know that this is uncharacteristic behaviour. I am having a wee break right now on the back of the carpal tunnel, so that’s good.

Doubtless I’ll be running up my own dresses in a matter of weeks, but this comes after a lifetime of very much not ever sewing. Daughter #2 now has a sewing machine and we are on a very 2021 kind of learning curve.

My primary school friends will vividly remember stitching various bits of felt to various bits of hessian, and my secondary school friends will also enjoy a flashback to the girls making a “wall hanging” while the boys made a “tool belt”. Not a life skill that has come in handy until now. Which is just as well. It is only now, at the age of 47, that my short sighted eyes have balanced themselves out, so that when I take my glasses off I can see close up, as if I had reading glasses. Very handy.

So, to document this learning curve, I’ll tell you what I have learned so far.

Firstly, sewing machines don’t seem to have evolved. And the nursery favourite “wind the bobbin up” now has new meaning. Quite a lot of faffing involved before you get going.

Next, I advise caution when giving the instruction “foot doon” which is ambiguous in the sewing context. While one person in control of the machine might take the instruction to mean “get your foot to the floor so as to accelerate”, the person giving the instruction may well be advising the operative to lower the presser foot onto the actual fabric. If in doubt, call anything a “bobbin winder spindle”. It probably is.

So, what have we accomplished so far? Well, we have savaged (not a typo) a few garments from the recycle pile and managed to sew a few bits to other bits. Today we successfully “took up” a pair of pyjama bottoms, so that was, in fact, a useful thing.

Inspired by Celebrity Great British Sewing Bee in the last couple of weeks, we have now got a pattern for making pyjama bottoms and ordered some extremely cool fabric. I hesitate to mention this, in case there is some expectation on your part, dear reader, that you may, in future, get to read about the creation of some wearable garment. We live in hope.

So, Saturday night in lockdown sees us waiting for “The Wheel” to come on and for the carry out food to arrive before Sturgeon bans it and me, sewing together two bits of what used to be a trouser leg. Very less waste. But somehow not very rock and roll.

Happy New Year! 2021

What a beautiful day! – winter sun shining horizontally by the time I was up and about. We went to the windfarm, which was mental. The whole place was sheet ice that we kept thinking would get better as we walked, but got worse and worse. Like fools, we persevered on foot to the viewpoint, keeping to the edges, avoiding the glassy sheen of the paths. Arran looked glorious in white. Cars going vvvvvvp trying to get out and occasional poleaxed pedestrians, looking up helplessly at the clear blue winter sky.

We made it home without having any kind of incident likely to put pressure on the NHS, so that was a win.

I feel compelled to have a reflect on 2020 but feel absolutely scunnered at the outset of writing it and am therefore utterly confident that anyone reading it is scunnered at the thought of reading any further. The blinking COVID has been so pervasive, anything I could say, any angle I could come up with, any life-observation I could have – is so universal, there’s no point in having it. Annoying. But I will give it a go. 

First up, there is the structure of the year. Genesis – when it all kicked off in Wuhan and we wondered whether or not it would be a thing, then it was a thing; Exodus – when we all left where we were and went elsewhere, pitched out of schools, churches, gyms, restaurants; Leviticus – rules, rules and more rules – stay at home – stay alert – FACTS – hands, face, space; Numbers – doomscrolling every day at 12.20 for the day’s stats; Deuteronomy…

Then there are my heroes of 2020 – the people who adapted and persevered and didn’t miss a trick – body, mind and spirit all kept ticking over thanks to the efforts of the BMF whom I love, my amazing colleagues whom I love, and the Church whom I love. I was extremely fortunate to have plenty of COVID-secure “in-person” life going on and am thankful for everyone I physically saw. 

There’s also the thing about what’s normal now and how my brain has been rewired. Isn’t it odd how, when you see something on the telly that was recorded pre-covid, that you sort of wince when you see a crowded place or when people shake hands? It all looks so wrong. 

Despite my lifelong social ineptitude, it is interesting to see how fundamental socialising is for us all as humans. Early in Genesis, God observed that it was not good for man to be alone. The postponement of weddings, cancellations of physical graduations, shows, concerts, parties, trips, retreats and the paring back of funerals showed us that our times of togetherness punctuate our lives; it is the times together that get remembered, that are significant. 

It does make me suspect that the 20s will be, yet again, roaring.

Uncharacteristically, I do hope so. 

How to bridge the gap between left and right

When I was at school studying History, I had a diagram of political leanings. It was a spectrum from left to right with a big chunky centre and really thin tapering bits on the extremes on the left and the right… although it was set out like a crescent – with the extremes of left and right almost touching – with fascism and communism ending up pretty close to one another. 

From my limited understanding the left and the right are oddly paradoxical. The right are supposed to be into the rights of the individual – and the left are supposed to be into the rights of the group. But, the left are all about identity politics and the rights of the individual and the right seem to be more about order and structure, rather than fragmentation. But whaddooIknow?

It is Remembrance Sunday today – which reminds me of a quote about war that can perhaps shed a bit of light on this question. Bertrand Russell said:

“War does not determine who is right. Only who is left.”

I know this has nothing to do with left and right in the political sense – but when there is a gulf between people that could descend into conflict I think it is important to think about how one’s opinion and how correct you think you are is not more important that the fact that your political opponent is a person, a human being – and if your side wins, that doesn’t mean you are necessarily right about everything. I think it puts the onus on the “winners” to extend their concept of “us” to include the opponents. That might take a bit of imagination, but it is important to find a common denominator. Humanity is always a good common denominator. 

I think the first step to closing the gap between left and right is to ensure that people are people first. 

I can’t help but be drawn back to the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In the culture in which he lived, the Good Samaritan  would not have been criticised for walking on by on the other side – but it was better that he helped; it was better that he gave of himself to bring back to safety and health someone he would have argued with, someone he would have opposed in  demonstrations.

To close the gap between right and left will take as many steps as there are people. It takes a Marcus Rashford to persist with Boris Johnson. It takes each individual to be ready to listen and learn and love and be open to understand the fears and concerns of the other. And when that happens, I think the other stops being the other. And that is the trick. 

The solution, as ever:  “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”. 

We just need to learn how to do that. 

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