Thursday, 25 June 2015


Truly remarkable discussion on In Our Time this morning on how life began and why it is unlikely to have formed anywhere else in the entire Solar System. Strongly recommend a listen; the last fifteen minutes are absolutely riveting.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


Image result for hillary clinton 2016

Couldn’t resist putting up this comment piece from today’s Guardian; absolutely brilliant analysis:
‘I will explain for you. In the larger trend in American political life, after a two term Democrat or Republican, there is often a switch to the other, generally indistinct, political group. It is how Americans comfort themselves that they have a democracy at a federal level. [They are the most democratic nation in the entire world, ever, at state and local government levels.] So I believe a Republican will get in. 

As to polls, they are largely lies, and cannot be relied upon in themselves. You would have more chance making money on the stock market, and that is the shadow of a dream for everyone who either is not a billionaire or an insider. As well, American politics is about character assassination. So, good men like Kerry and McCain suffer. Obama was unimpeachable and won, twice. HRC is extremely vulnerable for so many reasons that I will not bore you with them. Jeb Bush is less vulnerable to personal attack than HRC is. The Republicans learned all about the Clintons in the 90's. They have been expecting her ever since, and are ready to unleash hell once she wins the nomination. They are keeping their powder dry now. She knows this, and it explains her diffidence for she is a human being and a political mask is still a mask. She slips every now and then with her behaviour, which cannot be masked. For the Republicans the issue can be parsed as the womens' vote. They see it as capable of being influenced by a purported moral attack on her [do not worry, they have no morality behind it, but all politics can be seen as a pose of deceit, and Obama was invulnerable to that, as a good and decent man who told the truth]. 

So that is why I say what I say. She will win the nomination battle and lose the presidential war, for it will be a war of posturing, and the posturing of the Republicans will be better, and it is their time, anyways, in the great shell-game of American Presidential democracy.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


This is by Lilian Ling and I think it's great.


Image result for the good life

The good life.

I have been learning about Eudaimonics recently. It is the psychology, I suppose of what life is all about. Many philosophers regard the pursuit of happiness as the goal of life, of living, but the ancient Greeks thought that that amounted to hedonism and that the preferred route to happiness was to do good whenever you saw the need; that doing the right thing in any given situation was what mattered, regardless of whether you might profit from it. And by profit, I don’t of course mean financial gain I am referring to how you might be perceived as a person if you say the right thing or do the right thing, always aware of any advantage to oneself. In a way, it’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
John Locke [Father of Classical Liberalism] who lived in the late 17thC is supposed to have argued that, ‘happiness is pursued through prudence’. I wish I had known that fifty years ago. At least I think I do. I might still have started the business but probably wouldn’t have built my own house or converted the railwayman’s cottage in the Borders or the Casa in Italy. Might have thought that trekking overland to Kathmandu was imprudent; and as it turned out, wouldn’t have met my soul-mate. Wouldn’t have nearly died.

In my current novel, Parallel Lines, I have attributed the state of being truly fulfilled to Midori, Kikarin’s mum and have identified her as the one person that Kiri knows who can be described as Eudaimonic. She knows what the point of existence is and what fulfilment feels like and how she can pursue that.
It isn’t something I have seen examined much. Not in contemporary writing, anyway.

It would be fair to say that I am using Midori’s prudence [and ruthlessness in her abandonment, to some extent of her troublesome family] to create a counterpoint to everyone else’s indulgent life-style and so there is a contrast/conflict arising within the narrative arc. Okay, a device perhaps but once I had gone deeper into  Eudaimonics I wanted to develop and use it in my story of these Japanese women.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Sunday, 14 June 2015


Image result for elvis presley loving you

Godfather [1]
Godfather [2]
The Cruel Sea
Bourne Supremacy
Terminator [1]
Terminator [2]
Loving You 

They are not in any particular order. I saw all of Elvis’ early films four or five times; from memory, I saw Loving You ten times. I absolutely adored the sequence where he presses a button on the jukebox and up comes the backing track to Mean Woman Blues. They don’t make them like that anymore. I have seen Terminator [1] four or five times; we studied it on my film editing course. Still not sick of it. I saw Gladiator the first week of its release in San Antonio Texas; everyone in the audience seemed to be blabbing on their mobile phones their cells, unbelievably terrible experience. Who or what could be more interesting than Maximus fighting tigers. So as soon as it was released here, I went to see it. Another film I must have seen ten times is Easy Rider. It was only on in the UK in one London cinema so we hired a transit and drove to London especially to see it. Queues were round the block; you had to wait until the previous audience had exited before you were allowed in. We were so blown away that when we came out, we went to the back of the new queue and waited all over again to watch it for a second time.