Ingmar Bergman – flowers – Red vs Blue pill

When watching any film by the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman I am transported into another world. It is a place where real people exist and challenges us to face them and thus face ourselves. As he informed us in the documentary I’ve just been watching about the film “persona”, this movie saved his life. Until that time he had lost his inspiration, and felt that he could never make another film again. ‘Persona’ gave him the incentive and the stimulus to leave everything connected with his previous methods behind and start afresh. I think this reflects our life. It is not a bad thing when we had to leave everything behind and make a fresh start. We can take our wisdom and experience with this. All films and that all media should ask a question as indeed life itself should. What have we learnt? Do we tend to duplicate our mistakes? Have the years really made us why so?

If I think of most of the so-called entertainment that I watch on TV and in the movie theatre, every second is filled with noise, so-called action, dialogue, violence, disagreements, bad behaviour in that imagery for the sake of it. It flits through our sensory mechanisms at such a rate that we become bedazzled and dazed. One of the many things I love about Bergman films is that there are periods of silence where you are invited to think, reflect, have a moment to yourself, allow yourself to be challenged by the human beings in front of you. In ‘The Seventh Seal’ the image shown here is a tremendous symbolism in the figure of death who invites you to come into his cloak and be wrapped within it. Who has not sought to embrace death, escape from the humdrum and relentless reality?

I think the art of reflection and contemplation should apply to our own lives. Why should we have to “do” something every day. Are we frightened of silence? I would love to take a group of teenagers into the country with strict instructions to leave their mobile phones behind to see what they would do. I suspect that after the initial shock has died down, they would start talking to each other and would thoroughly enjoy the day.


Today I have finished a completely new presentation which I’m going to send out to 1200 people via e-mail on Tuesday. It is the first time I’ve attempted a newsletter, Mailchimp variety, which has links to an accompanying website. The message is all about becoming a full human being and retaining one’s humanity. In view of all the entropic forces around us I think that is almost a full-time job. I was watching a rather dystopian video last night showing how Hewlett-Packard manufacture trillions of dust size particles which function as RFDI chips that can land on people and track their movements. Who needs to inject people with chips when the same thing can be done through the atmosphere. The problem is that these situations are with us but no one tells us. The recent leaking of data from Facebook is nothing compared to what is happening


Francoise loves flowers and a couple of nights ago they had a flower arranging evening at the Gardening club and she brought home a couple of examples.A table decoration with various artefacts beloved of the Snellgrove household.


Deepak Chopra may be the name known to most of you. He’s currently doing a free series on healing and centering and so on. This is generously offered for a period of about a week after it is published and is produced with Oprah Winfrey. It is high-quality audio material. Today’s Centring Thought was “embrace my role as both healer and healed”. Opera introduces Deepack with some thoughts about healing, he then speaks and there is a period when music is played and we are supposed to meditate and breathe in and out as you do normally but more consciously. The mantra that we are asked to chant (with eyes closed) is “Har  Haray Haree” which is a mantra helping us to focus on intentions and thus repatern the mind to higher goals and energies.

At the other end of the spectrum, my very good and courageous friend who runs the Forbidden Knowledge.TV website expressed her horror and disgust at the mentality that breeds the 9/11 event and the creatures that control America. She is certainly in a very fighting mood at the moment.

This is from today’s newsletter:

Looking at that explosion, I see the Seven Deadly Sins writ large. I see a greed for power that is unfathomable and a lust for blood that is incomprehensible. I see the wrath of an elite that hates humanity. I see the envy of those who would deprive us of our God-given rights. I see the gluttony of those who stole everything that wasn’t nailed down. I see the pride of those who think they can get away with this – and I see the sloth of all of us who allow this perverse chicanery to persist.

Its red pill vs blue pill time. Check this video out. Sooner or later we will all have to face reality and its not what most of us want to think.



Is there any positive news?

doing the business

This is the time where Christians celebrate the rising of Jesus from the dead. I don’t know about you but when I bang my thumb with a nail I complain like mad and wait for what seems like an eternity while pain diminishes. In the example of 2000 years ago we have three people being nailed to a post with a cross- member through their wrists and through their feet. We are told that Jesus remained on the cross for about six hours before giving up the ghost. This is the ultimate ‘bad news good news’ story depending on your degree of understanding of the whole life-and-death interface, the nature of the human spirit, the nature of suffering and so on.

Interestingly, although he and all his disciples were killed in various gruesome ways, the faith devoted to Jesus’ name lives on with not just millions but billions of adherents all over the planet.

In order for there to be good news, and there’s plenty of it, it is necessary to actually get together. It is difficult to create a good news item on your own. There are certain magazines devoted to good news not the least of which is ‘‘. Yes, that is the name of the website. I pinched one of the images that they used to illustrate what I think communication is all about. The subject matter is about the Italian branch of the Trodos Bank where people are trying to do ethical things with money.People, please look at the faces and the body language. There is a good-natured communication between people who are thinking about something outside themselves. There are no leaders of followers. There is a common goal that the woman in orange on the left is obviously thinking deeply about. That is what society should be doing. I fear we have lost our ability to think let alone become individuated. Thank you Political Correctness putting so much damage but then it does take two to tango.

In the mainstream media we get occasional bouts of good news in fact it’s feelgood news is not quite the same thing. Feel good news is the assurance, calming the people that human nature isn’t so bad for example someone saves someone from being run over by a train. Actual good news is a decision that has been made in the interests of the public devoid of political trickery and manipulation. 95% of so-called news is about people who have done something wrong, killed somebody, cheated with somebody, declared war on another nation, gone bust, made $100 million, but this is not actual news, it is noise.

I consider most of the utterances of government to be lies, mainly USA and alas not excluding UK. The problem is, once you have told a lie one time, you have to tell another lie to cover it up. In particular and financially in the longer term all the quantitative easing in the world cannot disguise vast spending of money that is not there and for which there is no security. The consequences are wide reaching. The financial services of the world are in general a con trick, charging interest on money that never existed in the first place. What a thing to think about on Good Friday but what a thing to think about on any day come to that.


Making a complaint –

My Volvo chose the perfect time to break down just before the long holiday weekend. The obliging RAC man turned up and quickly (50 seconds) discovered that the alternator had packed up. He accompanied me to my local garage where I left the car for action next week. Interesting synchronicity here. I returned to my home after having been told it would be a three hour wait but 45 minutes later I got a text message saying that Chris, the engineer, would be with me in 20 minutes. There was no way I could get back to the car in that time. At that very moment, someone who I did not know, a carer for the old lady across the road, just happened to be leaving the place where they were working. I explained my plight and they took me straight away arriving just 2 minutes after the RAC man turned up. I’m so grateful for the so-called little events. They do affect the stress level quite a lot, at least with me they do. I’m the person who likes things to be in order. It wasn’t an absolute A1 total disaster but it does disturb my day.


I forgot to mention that I have been a frequent contributor to Soundcloud and have about 85 three-minute recordings on various philosophical matters and 64,000 followers. I need to make an audio for another purpose so I just revisited my past life and I thought you might like to hear one or two examples.


I wanted to mull over the subject of making a complaint. I love the word ‘mull’ which is a verb without an object. It means to study or ruminate or ponder or think about carefully. I have been reflecting on the last half a dozen times that I made a complaint or thought of making one.

The word “complaint” has two types of meaning. The word itself originates in the 14th century where it meant “lamentation, expression of grief” and also “expression of dissatisfaction of disapproval”. Its roots lie in the Old French complainte. The use of the word to describe a body ailment, a cause of pain or uneasiness dates from about 1700. We now talk about something “giving me grief” said that could be seen as the modern equivalent. Anyway, back to my examples.

I thought about complaining that my car was taking rather long time to service. I then decided to turn the complaint into a question to ask if there was any particular problem with the car and tried through gritted teeth to give the garage the benefit of the doubt. In all honesty they have been pretty good to me over the years. It appeared that they were waiting for a part so my patience was tested but that was the extent of it. The receptionist is quite a nice girl and has to deal with all sorts of chauvinist men and I really didn’t want to upset her and as it happened it was not necessary.

I did actually complain to my bank that it took a long time for my text alerts about the incomings and outgoings of my account to be sent. I wrote a secure letter in the normal way and received no reply. I found that I could not bring myself to telephone the wretched banking system where you have to press lots of buttons, being told that the call will be recorded for quality control purposes, listening to the most chinless music you could probably imagine and then finally talk to an 18-year-old girl who just reads a script and uses standard language of apologies and assurances. I dread hearing the standard phrase “is there anything else I can help you with”

I commented adversely about the quality of a photograph of the managing director of a company with whom I deal. I wanted to do my Good Samaritan ‘concerned citizen’ bit and say that the image portrayed would not do the company any good. I disguised the complaint as customer feedback and was very nice about it. I did not complain to the editor of the magazine of which the photograph was a part since she did not know me. I spoke to the manager of my local branch and I know that he had a word with her. Shortly after which she left her position and someone else who has come along seems to be doing a better job.

I made a very minor complaint about papers not arriving during the time of the snow. I have to be careful how I speak to the local newsagents for two reasons. First, I need to keep on good terms with them anyway because they do me a service and secondly this is a gossipy neighbourhood and the word gets around. The parents of the newsagent live opposite me and I don’t want to get a bad reputation with my neighbours. I entered the shop and made a very bland comment about the non-delivery and they said that they themselves had not had a delivery for two days because of the weather so I ended up commiserating with them.

I complained, or should I say asked, someone to provide a mailing list because I wanted to do a large mail out but in spite of being asked four or five times, the person concerned could not to summon up the willpower, the time or the energy to comply. Since I do not know them, there is very little I can do and it is all done on a voluntary basis anyway so I just had to accept the fact that this is an imperfect world and find other things to do. I’m now trying to work through an intermediary who does know them.

In public, I do hear people complaining or should I say ranting and it is quite obvious to a bystander like myself that this is a complete waste of energy because the shop assistant or whoever just stands there smiling and taking it in their stride because they have to. Increasingly, I’ve seen traders and so forth give as good as they get. They would dearly love to punch someone in the face I’m sure but it’s not worth it and they would probably get sued. I do feel sorry for young girls trying their best who get abused because they’re not yet tough enough to avoid taking it personally. Our Doctors surgery has a zero tolerance towards any sort of aggression and they can and do throw people out if they misbehave.

Overall, my wife and I have very little to complain about. We ritually complain about the lack of good weather particularly during March that is more a grumble than anything else. I try to remember that others have far more complicated lives than we do and they have far greater burdens to bear, financially and psychologically no doubt. I trained to be a Professional Life Coach and we were encouraged to draw information from people and not tell them what to do and this has stood me in good stead on more than one occasion.

I think deep down, people in public service want to do a good job but sometimes they are victims of the system. Their wife could have just asked for a divorce the previous evening you just never know.

Something out of nothing – is it possible?

This is what I think will be a brief diary entry (famous last words). I have just finished an hour-long teleconference meeting with 11 other people. I think there are advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that you can get some impression and have some communication with people that live at the other end of the world. Dragging your body here and there to have a conversation with someone is time, energy and money draining.

The problem is that we miss out on the sensory information of the five senses. We can see, we can hear, but we cannot feel, we cannot touch and the whole experience is rather two-dimensional. Is it possible to get to know 10 other people for the purposes of establishing working relationship. I think the much more efficient way of doing this is to have a personal and spontaneous face-to-face meeting where if someone says something that particularly interests you, you can take them off into a corner and have a chat with them without someone else listening.

The session lasted an hour. Most of the time was spent by the focaliser or the organiser giving news and  saying necessary things. It is very difficult to have a conversation about what the main speaker has said even though you agree with it because as soon as you start to speak, someone else. Everyone speaking tends to degenerate into a noise machine and it is difficult to moderate. My conclusion is that remote group conferencing works for up to four people and no more. We see people having conference calls in hospitals but that is where there is a very specific term of reference for example we are fault and we cannot take any more patients or we are going to cancel all non-essential operations. The method is pretty hopeless for open-ended discussion and freethinking.

Nevertheless, something is better than nothing and our weekly meetings always give people some incentive, and some feel that there are other people around on the same wavelength so I would not discourage such meetings but try to limit their size, and not to have too much expectation of them.

My point about something out of nothing. You cannot have nothing. You have an idea which is present on another level, but which doesn’t have the discipline and form, but you know that it can be manifested on the physical practical level if it is discussed. Otherwise there would be no point in having the discussion with other people in the first place. I love the idea that you can start a conversation not knowing where it will end.


Yesterday I did a telephone reading on a lady who had many problems in her life including ill-health, self-doubt, inability to make decisions and inability to sleep.  This morning I received a thank you letter of which I will quote in part ”

Thank you for our talk yesterday and for your email. I do understand that on the whole things can’t happen overnight but I have to tell you I slept nine hours last night and feel a lot more grounded and human today!
What was particularly useful to me was that you showed me how to help my mother without ripping out my heart for her. And your unjudging support for my healing process is hugely welcome and valuable. I feel I have a companion in dragonland who can see the way more clearly than I can at present.

I myself found this encouraging for a number of reasons. When I read her initial letters which was very long and convoluted, I had my serious doubts whether I could help at all but I decided to attend conversation by telephone anyway and see what happened.
As it happened I found myself inspired and was able to say the right things to her including the relationship between her and her deceased mother and what to do about it. When I do such psychic readings I am in an altered state of consciousness and I get all sorts of pictures and impressions which I pass on to the person that I’m talking to.

According to the normal rules of counselling I’m pretty outrageous in my methods but on each occasion I grit my teeth and describe what I see or feel and each time the client confirms what I’ve said makes sense.

A good and full day with plenty of writing and updating my website which I don’t mind telling you is

Photo or Photoshop clone?


The more bumps in the green lens as in the one on the top right then the worse the condition

To RUH in Bath for my monthly macular checkup. Doctors do not have the time to tell you everything; I did not know until today that there is no cure for dry macular but that it comes on unspectacularly over a period of time. Wet macular, which is what I have, comes on suddenly but is treatable. This is about my 16th monthly visit. You go along, your eye is photographed, if it is getting worse you get an injection in the eye concerned. Each time the injection is given in a different quadrant of the eye. My left eye is fairly stable now and only needs doing once every couple of months. Without the NHS I would have probably paid out about £16,000 by now. Something to meditate on if you find yourself irritated by a wait of a couple of hours. Try going private.

As my regular readers will know, numerous photographs and drawings and paintings are posted in the main corridors I suppose to cheer people up and give the place a good feel. By the way, any member of the public can wander in. Just look as if you have a purpose and no one will question you. There is a good Friends coffee room off the main corridor and well signposted.

I really don’t know what you think about this photograph. Forgive me but from being a complete cynic but I think this one was photoshopped. Photo shop is one of Adobe’s the most successful products. It has been available for 28 years now with an estimated 15 million users worldwide.

I see so many photographs “processed to sell” and I find them slightly annoying. Are the trees really that degree of green? Was the shot above made at a slow shutter speed? I don’t know what to trust. If you want a pretty picture that’s fine but what is a picture supposed to do? I must admit I love black-and-white photographs more than any other type. Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) was a brilliant portrait photographer and you believe the results. He knows how to win the confidence of the sitter to get the absolute best out of them. I am missing my favourite one of Leonard Bernstein but look at this one. I believe it. Karsh has caught the soul of the person.

Ernest Hemmingway. This is him. You see the determination and vision in his eyes, almost a peep into his soul. Now look at this one photographed by Annie Leibovitz, for whom I have the highest respect by the way.Sorry guys, this is not in the same category. It is poorly produced. I admit I have not seen the original so forgive me spirit of Annie. It’s the attitude, the lighting, the state of mind they are in, it should all stand out a mile.

What about Cartier Bresson’s photograph of Albert Camus?  To capture the soul of someone you had to be a really great photographer. This example includes a apposite context which I believe helps us to understand something of the man who was a philosopher, author and journalist.

In my opinion, black-and-white photography is enormously underestimated. I think you capture the nuances better then colour because in a way I find colour a distraction. I could say it does too much of the work for you.


Going further down the corridor, I found another image. This work is called “Eastbourne Pier” by Eva Woroblec. It is a framed print on archival fine art paper. There is a good article about types of paper which you may care to read. I find this one genuine because I can almost feel the effects of the recent rain shower, the cold, damp, the almost derelict look of the place which in the summer sees children playing games and eat ice creams.

So, whoever manages the photographs for the Royal United Hospital, Bath you certainly have an effect on me anyway.

Back home to watch yet another Sir David Attenborough nature film. Where he gets the time I have no idea. Maybe he doesn’t go to places any more but just records the voice-over. How old is he? . Let me think now. He was born on 8 May 1926 so that makes him 91 coming up to 92. Not bad.


Up to you vs down to you vs over to you

I note from my stats that there are some readers for whom English is probably their first language. This blog is written for everybody but particularly for those who are bemused or confused about the peculiarities of English.
I just love the English language in all its subtleties. I have quoted the three phrases above simply because they came into my head and this is before writing my diary for the three days prior.
I do have some sympathy with those who attempt to learn English. You can learn ‘mechanical’ English without too much difficulty, but the subtleties must take most of a lifetime to learn.

The first duty of my day, which I might add is bright with a clear blue sky with no wind and just a touch of frost, was to consider writing a response to a complaining partner of an allotment tenant that I had to kick out without the usual formalities of warning letters. The tenant had defaulted twice on failing to maintain their patch in a workable condition. The major mistake the tenant made was to allow the partner to write a letter pretending to be the tenant themselves and mixing in their own views with that of the tenant. Plus, the partner felt it necessary to throw in a few personal comments and accusations. Once you do this, you have blown yourself out of the water. If  anyone has been tempted to do this, my suggestion is that you write such a letter, leave it a bit and then throw it in the fire. Then having got rid of your anger, write a proper professional letter and that will probably get you further.

I made my decision on what to do. The complainant wrote me a letter late Thursday night effing and, wanting to speak to my superior (there isn’t one), accusing me of victimising someone and I realised that this complainant did not have any point to make. The decision was ….to do nothing. I think the storm will probably have blown itself out. Sometimes more harm than good can come if you continue correspondence on a tit for tat basis.


To return to my linguistic theme I would like to play around a bit and see where we go. What do we mean when we say “it’s up to you”. This arises in situations where we have a choice of what to do by way of entertainment or watching a TV programme. I do not think it is necessarily a very empowering thing. It means that I, little me, don’t really mind what I do so long as the other person is contented. I don’t want to stand out in any way as a person having opinions. I will put myself second so, it’s up to you what we do. However, this phrase is not necessarily meant in a derogatory or negative way and it can imply that the other person has indeed the capability of making a decision. Shall we put up a tent now or later? In other words it has to be done, I don’t really mind, but out of courtesy to you do feel up to it at the moment?

We say “what are you up to?” In other words, what have you planned to do. This is an informal question and the opposite is not apply.  You would not say ‘what are you down to’. “what are you up to? demands an informal response for example “not much” or “just hanging out”. A more formal way of saying this is “what are you doing” or more emphatically “what do you think you are doing?” with the implication that you’re doing something untoward which requires an explanation. What are you doing tonight could be seen by some people as being a bit nosy and without an explanation of why you were asking you might get a short sharp response. “Mind your own business” is a retort that springs to mind.

On the other hand, “it’s down to you” implies some sort of responsibility. It is a sort of charge sheet or to-do list. You probably wouldn’t say it’s down to you to do the washing up because that is one step too trivial. An action is down to you because it was your responsibility. You messed up; It’s down to you. It is down to you to check the gas meter. In other words, it is your duty.

Over to you” is even more direct. I cannot continue this radio commentary so it is over to you. I hand over a task. I have done my hour of driving and it’s over to you to carry on driving. The politician has given people the choice, it’s now over to them to make a decision. The implied responsibility or collective responsibility is quite clear. It is a transfer. The person who says “over to you” has had enough of what they’re doing or completed their part of things; they have come to the end of their time. It is clinical and immediate. However, the phrase can be used in a sarcastic manner saying “it’s your problem”.

We speak of “washing our hands” when we hand the responsibility for  judgement over to another party as Pontius Pilate did with asking the crowd to decide who should be crucified, Jesus or Barabbas.

old friends and memories

Sunday morning. A final chat with my sister about family matters and then off to London to see my oldest friend. No time for the Tate Gallery; I will have to return. My goodness, the rail companies are catching up with technology. On the Thames Link train from East Croydon to Blackfriars what do I see? A rolling information screen in each carriage which tells me how full the carriages are, where we are situated on the train, the status of the lines on the London underground system and which of the toilets are vacant.

And so, on to Camden. This is a magnet for tourists. You know that if you get on the Northern line going north, 75% of people will get off at Camden. It does have a unique ambience and is always very busy. There is always something to entertain you at Camden Market which is  good for a takeaway snack from one of the food stands. Competition drives the price down and you can get a decent take away box of food to keep you going for £5.

Graffiti is an art form. Any idea where this is? It’s near the Roundhouse London NW5, opposite Chalk Farm station. Worth increasing the size of the image on your PC to see detail.  I now find myself in my old stamping ground or one of them, Camden Town, Haverstock Hill where my wife used to live. By coincidence, it is the residence of one of my oldest friends if not the oldest. We first met when we were both doing temporary work at Streatham sorting office in London on about 15 December 1964. Our relationship has continued since then albeit with gaps. I make that 54 years which is not a bad record. I think that the person who can understand you most is the person who sees you by default with a vision of and memory of a number of stages both personally and professionally. Very few new friends would have the ability, the wisdom or simply the knowledge to give a wise comment arising from perspective and thus would be limited in the advice they could give.

We decided to go to Hampstead Heath for a walk and to have some lunch. Hampstead Heath is an area of London upon which no building is allowed. If anyone dared to even talk about encroaching on it the penalty for hanging would be introduced immediately by infuriated Hampstedians. The park  is run quite strictly by the City of London and won’t betide you if you even think of using drones. Londoners are fiercely loyal to this area which contains an historic house called Kenwood House which contains a cafe presided over by jovial and sophisticated restauranteurs I think from Spain. I have to face the fact that main courses in London, especially in Hampstead, cost £15 and no less. That is the market rate, take it or leave it. I had a pretty good quarter size chicken, cauliflower cheese, lashings of gravy, lots of mixed vegetables al dente, and roast potatoes to die for.

The place was heaving with people. There were à la mode families with children called Deirdre and Griselda or Josh who were behaving fairly well. The best gauge as to the weather is the number of people that venture on this beloved Heath and so we engaged in conversation, my old friend and myself. One of the features of sophisticated people is that you can engage in conversation with them, intelligent conversation at that, and they are quite happy to take part at the drop of a hat. The same is not true in Midsomer Norton, as you would expect, nor even in Bath which tends to be a bit snobby. I love cosmopolitan people. They may be prejudiced, but they are open to anything and everything especially if it presents a chance for new knowledge which they can add to their collection.

Afterwards, we went to have coffee in one of the upmarket establishments in Hampstead. Me being me, I had to have a slice of cake. You know when you are in upper-class territory by the cost of a portion.

My friend was kind enough to take me to Victoria Coach Station. Travellers please note – as I have said before don’t be snobby about coaches. If you are clever you will have the privilege of paying 25% of what you would normally paid to do the same journey by train. It may take an hour longer but why not use the money you will save on a lovely meal. For example, if I book at the right time I can get a return ticket from Bath to London for £11. A same-day single is £21. Try that on the train. Sometimes, during busy periods, National Express lay on two coaches to depart at the advertised time. We had a choice of going to Bath direct or the coach that went via intermediate stops – in other words the advertised route. I chose the former and we whizzed straight down the motorway then to Bath in 2 hours 30 minutes.Goodbye London, see you again soon. (picture taken going West on the elevated section of the M4 @ 19.25). The coach in front was the stopping coach to Bath, ours was the quick one.


A work of art to die for

J D Wetherspoon’s  “The George” in Croydon is not where you expect to find works of art. This establishment early on a Saturday morning had a very quiet ” the morning after”  feel to it. There was a couple with their child eating breakfast, two people sitting on their own having a coffee and reading the paper and one person of indeterminate age staring into space. I had been looking round for somewhere to have a decent breakfast and because I’m basically a Wetherspoon’s fan I decided to give this one a go. I don’t know what it is about this chain but I feel a type of family atmosphere where you can go in with others or on your own and you will still feel comfortable. I’m sure the spirit of the founder hovers over all his establishments.

We would to breakfast on offer one was an all dancing or jumping breakfast but the other one was a traditional breakfast which I thought I would try which came out at the princely sum or £3.40. I decided to have a self-service coffee which cost £1.25. This is an excellent idea. You pay your £1.25 and get an empty cup to make whatever sort of tea or coffee you want. After a few minutes, the breakfast came. This was not just any old breakfast (see image)This was not a question of someone applying a formula but someone plating something so attractive as to be virtually a work of art. I love the touch of the half a fried slice of bread plus another slice of nutty bread together with a hash browns, decent sausage, generous amount of baked beans, slightly under cooked tomato but never mind and it was a pleasure to eat. You would think there is a limit to what you can say about a breakfast but I called the manager over and congratulated him on the quality of the food and the service. He beamed, and said, ” that’s what we do”. Indeed you do sir and I shall be back for more


Walk to East Croydon station via the Croydon underpass. I must be at Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, at 10 AMI came across a really admirable piece of landscaping to brighten up an otherwise brutalist 60s and featureless walkway. The pigeons obviously thought highly of it but the idea of “brighter streets” sat very well with me and brightened my journey. I’m very much reminded of all the hundreds of paintings that are hung in the Royal United Hospital in Bath. It does raise the spirit, mine anyway, when you pass them.

East Croydon station is one of the busiest in the southern region of our rather chaotic and expensive transport system (sorry visitors from Europe we are the most expensive and the most incompetently run but we manage somehow). I love the idea you don’t have to bother with tickets any more. You just fish out any credit or debit card with the touchless sign. It does just the same job as Oyster Card for the same price. It is important that you use the same card at the end of your journey at the beginning, it’s called touching out, otherwise the system would charge you the maximum fare for the distance you might have travelled. At the end of the day, the system will figure out the number of journeys you made within the zones which will be capped at a certain maximum figure. You can use the card as much as you like and it will not break you. Do not even think of using cash because you will pay a fortune.


We met at the Friends Meeting House. This is the headquarters of the Quaker movement and its size and influence should not be underestimated. We had our meeting courtesy of one of the staff in the offices for which we therefore paid no rent. There must have been about 40 desk positions. Religious and spiritual groups get virtually no press coverage. I was listening to the news this morning and it is more or less a collection of disastrous events, people making falls themselves, people behaving badly, extremist and polarise groups clashing with each other, I have made it a rule to start and end each day with a reading from the Bible or listening to uplifting material such as classical music or a sermon on my favourite radio station, Trans-World International.

The meeting today took 7 1/2 hours, about 10 hours less than the inaugural flight from Perth to Heathrow. A little bit of history in the making. I hear they are going to try a Heathrow to Sydney route. It is a great relief when attendees at a meeting are on the same wavelength, where there is no impediment of politics and infighting, where there is no point scoring, where everyone believes in the supremacy of love and caring for others.

Our main job was to figure out a constitution for Ubuntu which is our sharing of skills, abilities and energy which is designed to be a substitute for money. The main task was to find a form of wording that would be acceptable to the Charities Commission. There are 13 criteria for charitable organisations. We decided to choose one, which was the advancement of education. The Charities Commission is a very conservative organisation and you have to make sure that the wording of your application will not raise any red flags. You would for example hesitate using such words as “consciousness” or “awareness”. They are wary of political movements disguised as innocuous meetings for example.

We also had to figure out the name of the charity. I’m a great believer in cooking time. The brain loves to work but it needs time. We went about as far as we could go but decided that in the forthcoming days we would think about a name. As I often remind myself, there is a time for everything and for everything there is a time.

The London Underground system has been redesigned to accommodate the new crossrail system and I lingered at Tottenham Court Road station to see the changes which will become fully operational sometime this year 2018.

Whoever thought of introducing pianos at stations and other public places needs an award. It provides a gathering point of community, a bit like a flash mob, which appears and disappears. You could call it an instant art installation. On my way back to Croydon I stopped off at Wetherspoon’s, Victoria branch. I have never known this pub to be anything other than full but as I walked around with my drink I espied a table with one man sitting at it of middle east origin. I nodded, got a lot back saying that the place was free and started to enjoy my drink. I think it was he who opened the conversation. He told me he was from Kuwait and when I nodded he asked me if I knew where Kuwait was. I suppose he’s not used to knowing where his country is that I most certainly did. in case you need reminding, here it is, one of the lesser-known countries bordering the Persian Gulf and adjacent to Iraqi.

The man had worked in the Kuwaiti Army for 20 years, to the day he proudly told me, and was entitled to a pension. He chooses to come to England frequently because he likes the people. I asked him how much oil reserves there were and he said ‘about 150 years’. He said that the ratio of visitors and workers to in the indigenous population is about 4 to 1. Had I not needed to catch a train I would certainly continued conversation but he was so friendly I could not resist shaking his hand with both of my hands and wishing him all the best.  This is one of the reasons why London is brilliant. You get people from all over the world who have their story which is normally interesting and different.

Victoria and Albert Museum makeover

When visiting London, we always take the same bus to Bath and always visit the same coffee bar which is that of the Methodist Church a stones throw from the station. I saw a feature in the coffee bar that delighted me. May I refer you to one of my previous diary entries about loneliness
To my amazement I saw a version of the ideaI was given the little stone with a heart on to give to other people and pass on the blessing. There was also a very lovely table placer with lots of encouraging words on.

I believe that there are many ideas that people would adopt if only they knew about them. I think they got this one is slightly wrong because you’re supposed to take a spoon and put it on your table to signify that you would be happy for someone to talk to you but this is almost the very place they don’t need it because everyone talks anyway. I would rather see it in a more impersonal place where more encouragement is needed. Anyway, 10 out of 10 for trying.

The particular bus we normally take, the 403 at 11:15 AM from Bath, takes about three hours as opposed to the train which takes one hour 30 minutes. As discussed elsewhere, the train is more expensive. I can get an off-peak return by train for £79.80 if I  book in advance as opposed to the £11 I paid for this trip. Enough said.

On arriving at Victoria Coach Station I took the C1 bus towards South Kensington. For those of you that are unfamiliar with London, South Kensington has the science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. I was aiming for the latter because there was an exhibition of AA Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh”.

On the way, I noticed that people were queueing up for something that seemed like afternoon tea and I realise this must be a new fashion amongst the darlings of Chelsea.It is very pink and girly and just the sort of thing that Japanese tourists would love. It is strange to see queues at three o’clock in the afternoon.

So here am I swanning into the main entrance of the glorious Victoria and Albert Museum, named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I go up to the desk and see that the beloved exhibition that I was looking forward to seeing is fully booked. It is also fully booked tomorrow Saturday. It is also fully booked on Sunday but there is a chance that if I turn up at 10 AM on the dot I may get one or two tickets if I am lucky. The lady on the desk strongly recommended me to buy in advance on the Internet in future.. It is clear that a visit is not possible and to cap it all the exhibition closes in two weeks time so I am well and truly out of luck. I tried to get some benefit by finding an accompanying book which often accompanies an exhibition but no, no such luck. Not even a postcard

Anyway I decided to wander around and refresh my memory of this museum that I last visited about five years ago I think. I notice that this establishment is always updating itself, new facilities, bigger and better bookshops, all to better serve the very large numbers of visitors they have each year. If I recall,  the numbers are 3.4 million. There was a lot of footfall today and much animated conversation and it is obviously ‘the place to be’ for locals. The tea rooms are extensive an expensive. There are about four types of seating area; you can help yourself to different genres of food anything from coffee to a quite expensive salmon salad.

definitely the place for afternoon tea my dear. enlarge to view.
I have always found the inner courtyard very gracious and well proportioned

This work is entitled “The lamentation over the dead Christ”, a glazed and painted terracotta work of about 1510 – 1515

huge works as you see from the person standing on the left

anyway, after a time, I got indigestion from the sheer number and glory of the works. By the way, admission to 90% of the gallery is free if you do get plenty of value.

I departed and wandered around the French Quarter of South Kensington where there is a large French lycee. I took a picture of some bears to compensate for not be able to see the actual show.And so to South Croydon where lives my sister.

Gloucester Cathedral has a makeover

This is a special day. My wife is treating me to a day out. It is a special day for another reason. She has been invited to a donors’ event for an organisation called World Vision which encourages individuals to sponsor particular children in various parts of the world, and also gives sponsorship to people in country areas in for example Africa who have no water. She has been sponsoring regularly for the last 30 years. This was her first live contact with the organisation as such.

The venue was the Chapter House in Gloucester Cathedral. I was very impressed by the makeover of the exterior has and the call to the mentality of the modern materialist person. Quite frankly, Gloucester itself is a dump. There are the usual allocation of empty properties but there is a lot of unemployment, drug use, apathy I would say which tends to give the centre a rather scruffy look of the county council would be horrified if I said that.

Prior to the event we went to Witherspoon’s which has taken over and converted a huge theatre in the central square just by the bus garage. The food was adequate but no more and the place was very busy indeed. I suspect that Witherspoon’s could well threaten the numerous local pubs that still survive in the various side streets.  Apparently, in the UK about 20 pubs are closing each week.

a goodly crowd gathered in the Chapter House

The world vision event was timed to be from 2 PM to 4 PM we turned up at 1:58 PM  to find everyone seated at circular tables with name tags  immaculately printed with our names. A nice touch.  Tea and coffee had been served prior to the event so we were one of the last to arrive. I learnt a lot from the presentations such as their work but before that I will mention the person with whom I was allocated to sit. She was called Jane. I don’t know whether she had had some sort of advanced neuro disease or had a brain aneurysm or heart attack but she was unable to speak.

She was attended to by her very loving husband who cuddled her 90% of the time. She made strange noises and burst out laughing in a rather maniacal fashion. The husband responded by again putting his arms around her. I was very impressed by the quality of his love. She was in a wheelchair by the way and her right arm kept on flopping over the rest so I gave myself, jokingly, the unofficial task of arm rescuer. Jane was unable to respond to any of my fairly banal conversations so her husband John filled in for her. They had apparently been all over the place doing good work and taking part in projects including several visits to Zimbabwe .

I learned quite a lot from the talks themselves of which there were three, not so much the content of the manner of delivery. The first lady who spoke wanted to tell us about all her life history before and after she came into the movement. I felt there were some personal elements her life that we did not need to know. I feel that sometimes people can become a little bit self-indulgent in what they say. The talk can drag on a little bit. However I think it was about 20 min and it was not so bad. One thing that did irritate me was her description of her own situation and then asking the audience “has anyone had an experience like that?”. It did not really matter quite frankly and seemed to me a little bit contrived but the most important point is that the talk came from the heart and this woman has obviously given an enormous amount.

We had another talk from an Australian who gave many examples of how groups of people sponsored projects and how the life of the recipients increases in quality. He said he had learnt to think in the long term and they would typically make a 15 year plan for a given project or area during which they would come on the scene, evaluate and engage and then review and reflect on what had been achieved. I found his delivery very measured, a bit like music, and not once did he refer to notes.

an apology of a logo

The third person who spoke was fairly high up in the organisation I didn’t catch his name. He had to face the inevitable questions arising from the current scandal with Oxfam and was disappointed that a popular paper had chosen to intermix old with current activities to make an implication about World Vision. He says they always have security checks but that some other people who were accused of bad behaviour had some time ago managed to get into the organisation as temporary staff. Finally, he complained about the invisible profile of this very large organisation.

a complete waste of time as a visual (no connection with World Vision)

I the went up to him afterwards after I realised something. World Vision has no logo. I said that a logo is the most recognisable being and gives out subconscious messages and associations. One picture is worth 1000 words. Without a logo they were at a big disadvantage. People always go defensive so I did say to him beforehand, please don’t hit me. He was not defensive.

What a truly dreadful logo, bad wording, ambiguous, are young women monitoring each other. Is daddy doing the monitoring? (No connection with World Vision)

The boss said that he was aware of internal initiatives to beef up the public relations and the image and I said not before time though not in those words. I said that if they got a logo and a new image even though it would be expensive, they would recoup the cost within six months. Most of the charity logos are not very good in fact very ambiguous and amateurish because the people who run the charity don’t want to spend money or waste money as they would consider it. The artwork is often produced by volunteers or friends who offer to ‘have to go’ and they are then judged by other people who haven’t a clue about anything. This is not the way to go folks.

What impressed me about the whole presentation was the attention to detail. The place names on the tables were lovely. The circular tables were laid out with napkins made from batique by some ladies in Africa. The speakers spoke clearly, kept to the point and did not ramble on. The images on the screen were not big enough to see detail from the back of the hall but then that was not their fault. The speakers were fulsome in their praise for us as sponsors keep the whole show on the road. The meeting started on time and ended on time. Well done, people. Look after your sponsors and people will go on giving. Sponsors need to be valued not taken for granted even though that would never be the intention of the Charity.

The cathedral itself is making great strides as the following pictures will show. The courtyard has been embellished with amazing blocks of stone.Touchscreen controls enable you to find out about more of the history of the Cathedral.

a sculpture of a homeless person lying in the street
above the average quality bench by a long way