Monday, 29 November 2010

Share and share alike

An interesting phrase, so obvious in meaning that you don’t have to think about it. This weekend I have been moved to think about sharing. In a previous blog I touched on “The Tragedy of the Commons” and “Enlightened Self Interest”, so philosophically at least I am familiar with the concept of sharing and sharing often being in one’s own best interest. I like to think of my self as a generous person, I never shy from the bar on entering a pub with a group; I like to make sure all people have their fair share or pay their fair cost. So why then, when I am asked to share a small piece of desert with my wife, am I moved to say “no”?

Logically this makes no sense, I bought a piece of caramel shortbread on Friday larger than I would normally have and when my wife asked if she could share a bit, my instant reaction was, “if I’d known that, I would have bought two pieces”. Clearly working on the premise that I would eat any of hers that she was unable to finish but ignoring the fact that the small 10% of the total piece that she was asking for was probably the same amount as the surplus on my piece over the average size – having indicated to the shop assistant to give me the largest visible piece. Obviously my life partner and mentor took the opportunity to explain my mistake and much later, when I had calmed down, I did feel the incongruity between my response to this request and my belief in Enlightened Self Interest. It is probably an infant behaviour pattern that has not yet evolved a more appropriate response mechanism in adulthood. Yes, I admit it, I was being a child.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

An ode to joy

“oo are yuh?”.  I’m not sure really.  May be that answer speaks volumes.  How does one define oneself in the modern world?  Is it by the nation state to whom we pay tax, to whom owe allegiance and in whose borders we reside?  Is it some socio political class probably given a dreadful acronym by the marketeers?  I’m not a DINKY, no really, I’m not.  I’m not “Mondeo man” and last time I looked my pound was neither grey nor pink.  Is it some racial or genetic label that defines us? I’m freckly, my hair has a sort of reddish tint, I enjoy “the beer” and I like swirly patterns, I must be a Celt.  Really, has it ever been so hard to define who you are?  I was listening to the news tonight, confident in the knowledge that I am British.  I believe this to be short hand for a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  This, I have been led to believe, is my country, and is the source of my nationality.  So why do the BBC insist on presenting Scottish and Welsh stories as if they were a separate country.  Short pause whilst I read the Scotland Act 1998. zzzzzz.  Oh yeah, that's why, it's a separate country.  What!  was I asleep? Next you’ll be telling me Wales isn’t a principality and has it own government.  Short pause whilst I read the Welsh devolution referendum of 1997.  Oh.  

So ok, Wales is its own country, Scotland is its own country, what about England?  for that matter what about Yorkshire (population 2.2 million) considering that Wales has c. 3 million residents, is it that daft?  How far will devolution go?  Minority interests fragmenting the Nation.  So we are devolving power to local government, in many ways this is a good thing.  Local people raising taxes and deploying those funds locally but understanding they are part of a larger collective that must collaborate to survive but this is not how government works for us.  So we are not creating mini nations.  Scottish sailors wear the British army’s uniform and go to see on British aircraft carriers (for now), Welsh shoppers spend British pounds (it’ll buy you 1 Euro 15 cents today) and English or Cornish athletes sing the British national anthem.  God save the Queen.  Yes, I know we enter a whole new realm of confusion here, the Queen is English as she burnt some cakes once or was that Alfred, or is she Scottish since she is descended from James the I  or is she Welsh from Henry Tudor.  Actually she’s German, as evidenced by her clear descendency from George of Hamburg or French from our all time favourite King, Guillaume le Bâtard.  
Sovereignty lies at the heart of it.  Again though this is not as clear to me immediately as you would have hoped.  Who has supreme power of authority in the UK?  The Scotland Act deals with this in relation to devolution, clearly retaining sovereignty in Westminster but in reality will economy not drive this, will the size of the economy not dictate that not only will Scotland remain British but eventually Britain will become European?
So there you go, I’ve rambled for a while and decided I’m a Europhile.  Shocking.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Forgive me ether it has been 2 months since my last confession

Despite getting great satisfaction from SHOUTING into the ether, like some poor demented soul, I have been unable to put finger tips to keyboard for 2 months.  Yes, I have excuses; yes, they are all perfectly reasonable; no, I am not happy about it; no, I feel powerless to change it.  Well, until now that is.  Unfortunately, I now discover that I have literally nothing to say.  Actually, this is not strictly true, I have oodles to say but nothing appropriate to share on this medium.  I have struggled to spend quality time with my family, I have hardly cycled, I have read very few blogs, I have missed some games nights, I have not rung my Mum and why have I forsaken all these things?  Short pause whilst I try to grandstand the inevitable, yes you guessed it, like millions of other "saddos" I have allowed work to consume my life.  One maxim that has defined my existence so far has been "Life is about the journey, not the destination".  I feel I have been forgetting this of late fellow ether dwellers, so I herby vow to grab time back from work and share it equally amongst those pursuits listed above....  Look out for many blogs on these subjects in the weeks to follow.