Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sporting harmony

What a strange and complex world we're inhabiting at the moment.  Surely few periods in history have displayed more polarising splits?

Society is riddled with divisions, divisions racial, political, sexual and religious . . . divisions often exacerbated by social media.
Even the weather is unpredictable, echoing this theme of general disruption.

Why, I wonder, is so much passion rising to the surface?

Our leaders are contentious, the majority feel sidelined.  Frustrated, many go online and resort to ill-tempered wrangling.

This aggressive state of mind is graphically portrayed by a caption that I came across yesterday in a local card-shop.

Did the shop really think that such a message reflected the spirit of Valentine's Day?

In view of worldwide discord and disorder, it's all the more remarkable that sport, in the form of the current Winter Olympics, has succeeded in its aim
. . .  that of uniting us in harmonious competition.

At the Games' Opening Ceremony, Thomas Bach, the President of the IOC spoke movingly of the powerful message of peace that sport brings to the world.   "Those participating in the Games," he declared, "are stronger than all the forces wanting to divide them".

And surely he's right?
Do we question the politics of an Olympic ice-skater?  The sex of a skier?  The faith of each member of an ice-hockey team?
On the contrary, we watch them in admiration and delight.

So, how is it that sport is such a powerful advocate of goodwill?

The many factors that divide us demand allegiance, obedience and a degree of subservience.
Sport is different.   Within a framework of rules, it enables the personal talents of each participant to be developed for their own benefit, the benefit of a team, and, in the case of the Olympics, the benefit of their nation.

Not only that, in achieving a high degree of skill, each sportsman acquires respect from all those who have chosen the same path.  Sport is competitive, but it is also the place where competitors learn from each other, teach each other, and admire and respect their joint achievements.

Let's give ourselves a brief respite from Brexit negotiations, from harrowing coverage of the war in Syria, from general disharmony and censoriousness, and from the disturbing elements of fake news.

Instead, let's revel in the infectious and heart-warming spirit of the Olympics . . . in the joys and challenges of competitive skiing, skating, ice-hockey, curling and snow-boarding.

But what of the future when the Games come to an end?
What then for those of us with little or no sporting ability?  Is there anything that might continue to bring us together and keep us away from our smartphones?

We could, of course, seek solace and sanity in Nature . . . develop our individual artistic skills . . . or, and here's an idea, perhaps we could encourage each other to sing?
What if we poured our energy and creativity into the harmonious, non-contentious unity of music?

Click here and, in a far from sunny political climate, see if you agree!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A computer-minded Cat

Hello, it's Chloe here.  If you're not busy, may I ask your advice? I don't know what you do with yourself in the winter, but it can be a very boring season for an active cat. It's cold and wet in the garden . . . and, when I do get out, the squirrels and mice are sulky and they won't come and play.
As for my Christmas presents . . . well, even with my very favourite ones, the excitement does wear off a little.

The one thing that really gets my whiskers quivering with excitement is the computer. And this is my problem . . . believe it or not, my Mum doesn't trust me not to mess it up. It's really quite absurd because, between you and me, I'm far more enterprising on the computer than she is . . .  and I'm sure the computer has more fun when my paws are on the keyboard.

Actually, it was my Mum who introduced me to the computer.  She goes on something she calls Skype to meet her friends. And, when she does, she holds me up to the screen.  This means that they can see me, and I can be part of the get-together.

How her friends ever manage to squeeze their heads inside the computer I've no idea.
It's all a bit of a mystery.  But there they are, nodding and smiling at me.

Well, I'm a very well-mannered cat, so I try to be polite.  When I see the faces of Mum's friends I always say "Miaow!" For some reason they seem to love this and they get all excited . . . I enjoy going on Skype.

So, as you can see, it's quite inexplicable why my Mum won't let me play on the computer on my own.

Take this morning as an example. My Mum was in the kitchen getting her breakfast, and I was feeling rather bored. All at once I noticed that she'd left the door open to the computer room. It was the perfect opportunity.  I went in, jumped up on the stool, and put my front paws on the keyboard.

The screen lit up beautifully and I had a wonderful time.  I even found some music, I think it's called iTunes, and this was playing away as I enjoyed myself.

Actually, as it turned out, the iTunes wasn't such a good idea as it was rather loud and my Mum heard it in the kitchen. She came rushing in and you should have seen the unnecessary fuss she made!
It seems that, in addition to being clever enough to find iTunes, I'd created a hundred-and-thirty-two new folders.

Wouldn't you have thought she'd have been proud of such a clever cat . . . one who could create folders as quickly as that?

Not on your life! I sometimes think my talents are wasted on my Mum.

So can you think of a way I could persuade her to let me play with the computer?

It would only be for the winter.  Once the rain stops I'll be out in the garden with the squirrels. And, believe you me, when it comes to quickness and cleverness, squirrels beat computers any day!

But I'd better be off before my Mum comes back.

Advice, please. . . and thank you for sharing my problem.

Lots of loving purrs from your devoted friend, Chloe.