Thursday, October 27, 2005

I put down my Guardian in my muslie and switch on the radio

This blog is entitled representation, reflection and review and we have had some of the first, much of the form and not much of the latter. Therefore I hope to rectify this with a review post every week! That said this is a good intention and I suspect we shall mull this one over in hell, along with all our other good intentions. Anywho, on with the show! BBC Radio 4 is a service like none other on the radio. It manages to fill a slot and a hole in the radio listings that couldn’t be filled in any other way but couldn’t be imagined without. This is because the versatility and variety of the content ensures that if ever there is a dull moment then you can skip off and return in half an hour ready to be engaged, excited, enthralled or enraged by the subsequent programming. The diversity of output is unparalleled. In the course of an evening we can often have our ears drenched in programmes about issues for deaf people, the history of the toilet, the world’s news and interviews whilst still finding time to fit in a tale of average farming folk every night.. Each of one these emotions are represented and embellished. But a particular one that it covers rather well is that of human interaction. Ladies of Letters, that one about the Rabbi, King Street Junior and this weeks 7.45pm show all betray that inner core. What makes the programmes so enthralling is that they are so down to earth. Whilst they may identify their middle class audience well, and I am never denying being that, they also manange to create 15 minitures in which you can easily be dragged from your world to feel for one which you never knew existed. This is not pure escapism though. This is a journey that you do not watch but that you feel to your inner being. Last weeks’ show at 7.45 has been a fine example of this. It has been the story of a lady who writes a blog online in which she vents her anger, fustrations and love of her marrage. You hear snippets of what she has written but you also hear the husband about whom she writes. I have felt I know both of them by the end of the week. The sheer escapist lust from the lady and the unstable yet loving heart of the man. Oh and I forgot to say , they are 70 years old! This relationship of marrage has been slowly exposed not as a sham but as something where they never fully find themselves knowing each other until he stumbles across her blog. Yet through reading her blog and trying out a variety of negatives that sh ehighlights in him they rediscover the joy of each other. They end up a stronger more fulfilled couple and it was wonderful. Through the short snippets I was dragged further and further in and would ensure that I tuned in the next day. Thus ends the ode to Radio 4 If this has whetted your appitite then please click here Take care y'all John


I have been pondering upon this issue of respect for the last few days, indeed months now, as I reflect upon my time volunteering for a variety of causes. The very phrase itself presents many a conundrum of meaning. From being a wisecracking wide-boy down with da yardies, to an upstart political party fronted by a man with a questionable ‘tash, to the wish of an elder for how to be treated. Ultimately what it all comes down to is the art of the human interaction. Now why this issue came up is due to personal feelings of un-respect towards myself accompanied by a reflection upon the work that I put in. The issue with that is that it may then appear on a purely egotistical level when in reality it is the opposite. It is almost to placate the ego but to feel self worth rather than self-loathing. To illustrate a possible over-stretched point I shall recount the following two tales. I stewarded at a festival this year that caters for around 30,000 people and all their needs. One of their obvious needs is the wish all to attend the same event at the same time. Thus it is time for the stewards to shine and establish orderly and decent ques that combine light entertainment with a nod towards health and safety at the same time. This is done through a mixture of head counting and discussion with que members so they know what is going on. Now due to the flexible timing of all events ques do tend to suddenly magnify at certain times and this was one such occasion. The que had leapt up in a matter of second from 50 to 150 and was beginning to present an issue. Therefore I walked along this line head counting to see if there was enough space in the venue for all. Midway along I was stopped by an off duty steward who duly told me that the que was far too disorganised and that it really should be sorted out right now. After quietly telling said person that I was in the process of doing that I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed because that person had belittled me in front of the crowds when I was in the process of doing the job. The steward in question was off duty and yet was clearly identifiable by the large stewards tag being worn. This may not seem like a major issue to some of you. But imagine this – you are put in charge of doing a job and you are in the process of ensuring it is being done. As you are in the process of doing it the person who did it before you, even though they no longer do said job, stops you and tells you that you haven’t done a good job. All this done in front of your work colleges. The humiliation and sickening feeling is still with me. I do not know what prompted that steward to interact with me on this level, no doubt it was genuine concern but it didn’t stop that fundamental line being crossed. That of once you are doing a job you decide how it goes and when you stop you cannot interact with the new person unless they invite it. True respect is about an underlying trust in other people’s abilities. This can be from not attacking me as I walk down the street (trust of an unknown person – often from certain socio-economic backgrounds) to the simple trust that when I switch on the radio I am listening to the news and not just opinion. That sense of respect, which can be shared, has to be earnt; but only by being a passive bystander and commenting post events about alternatives or if the person invites comment. A dis-respectful approach is where another tells others (uninvited) not only how but also why and if about a situation or an action and often undermines the feelings of others. Take Care y’All John

That's The Wonder of You!

Well I must say this week has been an odd one, but was magnificantly improved by the following news from the National Television Awards......Doctor Who wins 3 Major awards. For those of you who know little about me I rather like Doctor Who. It is a show that i can watch and always bob up smiling, so to speak. In it we explore the finer moral points of fascism, communism, collective living, geneticaly modified food, commercialism, killing.........and that was just the original series. The latest series came to our screens after over a decade absence, bar the 1996 movie, from our screens. It burst into the 21st century with the most wonderful episode that had you gripped and opened my eyes to the wonders of Billie Piper! I didn't see all the series but what I did impressed me. The series was one that was not only fast moving but knew the points it wanted to make and made them in a "no hold bars" way that kept it real whilst also being fun. I wanted to shout , scream and cry and for once not because of the script. instead it really connected in an emotional way that few series do. Therefore I applaude the awards and look forward to the return of the series soon enough. Oh and if you want some biblical reflection just watch Fathers Day. Let us say that it manages to make real one of the greatest tests of christianity. Take Care Y'All John

Sound , vision and song!

Hello there everyone I am pondering whilst listening to Zadok the Priest, a most wonderful piece of music. It is wonderful because of the way it exemplifies the wonders of religious music (tm). This idea of religious music could of course be an absolute lie or it could be a reality. For most people their experience of religious music will be the 85-year-old lady playing the harmonium or wheezy organ whilst they trundle through a weighty tome of hymns clutched in the hand. Some of the hymns and songs will bring joy and others will bring rapture and some may even bring a spiritual meaning - but we wouldn't want that to happen now would we! Yet when one hears a piece of music in a truly wonderful church it is amazing. For this I have to take you back to last September when I heard some good friends of mine performing in the wonderful St John's, Edinburgh. This building is one of the churches built with an acoustic that is as good for speech as it is for unamplified (dare I say real....) music. As I heard my friends perform my mind drifted to pieces such as Zadok and the real feel they invoke. For the way the sounds and deviances within the tune, whilst also the words and sounds created by the singers not only echoes but positively blends into the building ensuring that every crevice is reached. Indeed the level to which the music reaches the areas leads you to feel that indeed they are expressing the glory of god, as viewed by the composed, but through the music we all share in the wonder of such glory. For if we cannot all share in the ideas and emotions then we can never fully explore all the feelings. Beautiful, you may cry, but what is the relevance? Well I wouldn't be shocked if most of you attend a space for worship that often has music playing as you exit (at Wesley’s chapel we have Elvis*) and yet most of that is lost in hubbub as ones mind switches to the journey home or the fact dinner is burning etc. Yet in reality you are missing an expression of faith from the musicians. I challenge you all to sit and enjoy the sounds as they explore the building that the community had just created a worship space. Be it a beat boxer at the mic to a full stopped organ in full blast they are all expressing emotion through the only way they truly can and I am ever frustrated by the few people who appreciate and enjoy the music. That said, not all of you will get such feeling but please do try. If all else fails sit and listen to Simon and Garfunkle, for their spiritual writings are something that could and should impress and amaze us at whilst providing some stinking tunes... After all "Everywhere I go, I get slandered...libelled.... I hear words I never heard in the bible!" *Elvis is the name of the organist. If one wishes "the king" then I seem to remember Hillsong in London always blast it out.