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Posts tagged ‘John Lennon’

… with great love

The world feels particularly alarmed at the moment.  The U.S are afeared at what their election will bring given that one candidate is a proven loose cannon  and the other a proven liar.  Last week a woman who I knew for a short while as a colleague was savagely and barbarically shot, kicked and stabbed to death whilst going about her work as a Member of the British Parliament, serving constituents who had elected her for her talent and energy and goodness and days before that a twisted maniac massacred 49 innocents just being themselves in a Gay nightclub in Orlando.  Today my country of birth opted by a slender margin to exit the European Union and exercise it’s right to navigate the world in splendid isolation.   All of these things are quite shocking to digest.  I need not and will not comment – my opinions are of no interest to those taking the time to read my words but I do have something that I hope might strike a different and more harmonious chord.

I am currently in France having been whisked here by a circuitous route to delay my guessing the destination by HB² (my husband) so that we could spend our wedding anniversary in the place we were married three years ago.  Today I am sitting at my table in the place I call home.  My world is rosy.  I am fortunate.  This week along with the delightful, other things have happened in my personal life that could certainly anger me, engender hatred and lead me to feel that the best thing is to curl up in my cave and live my life as a strange old hermit (complete with splendid false beard).  But being the cussed optimist that I work at being, I know that I am better placed and better off endeavouring to find value in the way things are trying to effect other lives as decently as I can.  Last week, the extremely lovely  @Turtleway whose beauteous blog you will find here graced me by beginning to read every post I have ever written.  This is either brave or foolhardy but in any case  remarkably flattering.  She asked me in response to a post I wrote about Oradour sur Glâne in France, which was the object of a genocide in the dying days of WWII how we can avoid hating when we come across atrocities.  Which we do almost daily with modern news transfer being as rapid as it is and Social Media rampantly passing on the attrocious and the marvellous in an entirely unfiltered manner.  I thought for some days before I replied and then I said this:

‘The first thing I must say is that I understand hatred. But it was my youngest daughter, then aged about 10 years old who asked me to stop using the word ‘hate’ because, she said,  we should never actually hate anyone or anything.  By definition it is a cankerous emotion. She is now 21 and her views have inevitably become a little less pure but she remains true to the essence of what she said. For my part, I feel that hating and being angry are well and good but that they don’t resolve anything, they do not bring back the dead, they do not comfort the bereaved and they do not heal the wounded. In fact they probably feed the perpetrators. And I refuse to grace wicked, evil people with anything that might make them feel anything other than the odious bile that they have become. So I try instead to count my own good fortune and to understand what I can do to help. I am a highly emotional person by nature and tend to ricochet between highs and lows without warning. My own balance is maintained by seeking out the good in every situation and by attempting to not fuel the fire with a whirlwind of anger but rather to damp it with the dew of decency. Different people use different mechanisms. I must stress that I am not perfect. I feel anger and rage and bitterness and fury and sometimes I let those feelings begin to tarnish my insides. But I try to remain mindful and conscious and to take a beat and if necessary many many beats whilst I get to a mechanism that can quash the negatives and allow the positive energy to release so that I can be of some use. This is not forgiveness, this is not excusing this is simply trying not to become dissolved by fury and outrage but rather to evolve by maintaining a stance of dignity and warmth of spirit.

The world we live in is full of hatred.  Today Social Media is positively crackling with rancor and bitterness or exultation and self-congratulation depending on which side you take at the result of the self-proclaimed ‘Brexit’ vote.  It turns into yet another reason for people to sling mud.  I choose not to.  I urge others to join me.  I hope one day you will.  And to paraphrase John Lennon, the greatest of pacifists, the most gifted of men, diabolically slain so many years ago by a twisted soul, maybe, just maybe one day the world will live as one.’

Here are two little beetles simply working together, spreading their beetle love and working as partners to further beetlekind.  This ties in nicely to the photo challenge this week of which  here you can find lots and lots of far more admirable examples  And yes, using a picture of beetles when referencing a Beatle is entirely deliberate.

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PS:  The quote comes from Mother Teresa of Calcutta – ‘None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.’

From Russia With Love, Part 14: My fate is to see everything and take it so much to heart

The full sentence in the title is ‘And why is it, thought Lara, that my fate is to see everything and take it so much to heart?’  Pasternak’s Lara, of course in Dr Zhivago.  My father first saw David Lean’s masterpiece film of the book that he had read some time before, in a tiny cinema in Andermatt (Swiss Alps) in February 1966.  He reported that his nose and his toes were cold throughout.  He was wearing gloves and a bobble hat.  I was only 5 at the time so I didn’t see it until much later in the comfort of our drawing room and was I captivated.  The book I read soon after.  The story set the bar for the Russia that I wanted to find.  The politics, the literature, the love, the soul.  I waited what, had I been told I must, at the age I was then, would have seemed an impossible time to visit for the first time (for I am quite determined to go again and see far, far more of this vast and extraordinary place) and she didn’t disappoint.  Not even slightly.  I loved the people, as I knew I would. I love their relationship to art and dance and literature and science and intellect. It is quite captivating.  Their frankness, their ability to feel to the depths of their soul and not be ashamed of feeling so.  To be able to laugh and cry willingly. It is quite beautiful and at odds with the image of the stony faced, ice-eyed KGB torturer of cliché.  We went and we scratched the surface and we returned home a little changed. As you always should be when you have seen something and taken it to heart.

Here are my best bits – each one a character in the little story of my stay:

 

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And some of me enjoying my favourite bits:

 

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Za zdorovje!

Za zdorovje!

 

PS:  At lunch in the summer with local friends back home, we were assaulted with a barrage of the most appalling and misinformed propaganda gleaned from stories on the internet.  Drivel it all was but the venom with which it was thrown at us left us breathless with rage.  Politics is politics the world over and the globe is an increasingly small place but to tar a population with a filthy brush based on no more that what you have read is quite quite wrong.  In any language.

 

From Russia With Love …. Part 7: Georgia on my mind

Today is the last day in Moscow before a speedy trip to St Petersburg.  It is also May 1st which is Workers Day and under the old regime was the day when the ballistic might of USSR was paraded in Red Square for the world to marvel at and it’s people to salute.  These days May 1st is still a holiday – in fact Russians see it as the start of summer, but the parade in Red Square is a simplified affair with no tanks (those will be put through their paces on Victory Day (May 9th) – the day that Russia remembers her WW2 dead – all 20 million of them).  I wake and look out of the window to see many happy people walking back to the metro with red white and blue balloons and patriotic flags.  It feels a little like a day in London when a Royal has a birthday or gets married.

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Here the orange street cleaning lorries are out in force as they ever are but last night they put in an extra spritz to make sure the streets were perfect for this morning and now that the event is dissipating they are again putting in an extra turn to restore the city to its default pristine condition.  Actually, people here don’t lend to litter but the odd thing that slips out of a hand or a sleeve does not stay on the floor for long and neither does the muck naturally created by so many beefing cars on its mega-highways.

Two Brains sleeps on whilst I watch (the street not the sleeper), do a little work and potter in our home suite home.  Eventually the husband wakes and we wander up to the patisserie for lunch – it is heaving with ladies lunching as respite from the rigours of shopping and customers coming in to buy the exquisite cakes and chocolates to accompany festive suppers later in the evening.

Afterwards we  take the Circle Line to experience each of the splendiferous stations our theory being that this holiday day will make them quiet and easy to photograph without the visual disturbance of too many people.  Ignorance is not always bliss and in fact the subway is very very crowded.  We manage 6 out of 12 before aborting at Bellarusskaya and walking back the mile or so to the hotel, on the way passing John Lennon looking happy enough to be Back in the USSR.

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Edward, who was Two Brains first PhD students and now one of his senior staff is joining us for supper.  We had planned to take him to the Armenian restaurant but he has other ideas.  Armed efficiently with a guide-book (we are both chancers and tend to fall on things rather than plan as you may have gathered) he has two choices for us – one a Russian Restaurant, the other Georgian.  I enter into the spirit of this novelty called organisation and enthusiastically choose Georgian (which was on my list of must-do’s before we arrived here).  We stride up Tverskaya almost back to Bellarusskaya before Edward realises we are going the wrong way.  Marching back, I feel rather as though I am parading which is apt given the day.  Past the hotel and my sore feet are screaming for mercy but none shall be granted.  The increasingly determined Edward (who incidentally is extremely slender and looks as though a sweet zephyr would blow him over) refuses to relent and is rewarded finally with the golden prize – the restaurant his guide has told us gets their award for best in the city.  It’s terribly busy and the waitress is terribly direct ‘No – don’t have that it is horrible, have this …. you must drink Georgian wine and the double cheese bread would be what you want’.  The net result is a glass of white wine for me that looks and tastes like very dry sherry and is easily as strong – I resort to the teeniest sips (visualising Hinge and Bracket in order to achieve this alien restraint) to combat the belt between the eyes as I take my first swiggette, horizontal on a busy restaurant floor in downtown Moscow not being a look I favour.  The much better starter is not much better or rather if our own choice was worse then I wouldn’t have eaten it, and the bread is not the Khachapuri I expected but more like a white pizza.  Notwithstanding all those things and the fact that we have had to sit in the smokng part of the restaurant and that the enormous pizza imposter is placed next to Two Brains who can’t tolerate the smell of cooked cheese, we have a lovely meal.  Back at the hotel and Edward kindly points out the cashpoint and in-house bank which we have both failed to notice for almost a week …. he is kind about the fact that we have been chasing down Sperbank which is the only Russian Bank which will accept the 6-digit pin of Two Brains’ US cards (and yes, we do insist on giggling like naughty children as we call it Sperm-Bank) but it is clear that despite the fact that we arrived 3 full days before him, Edward is infinitely more sensible than we are, more prepared and more observant.  He is also tremendously kind and offers to keep our superfluous luggage in his room so that we can take just what we need for our weekend excursion – therefore we hastily pack for tomorrows departure to St Petersburg …. I am preparing for cultural gluttony and unfortunately have slight indigestion.

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PS:  I haven’t lot the plot completely.  I do know where I am in the world and I do know that Ray Charles was singing about Georgia USA but I love the song and the title seems to fit