The sweetness of life

Quite often I am told – reprimanded even – for writing columns seen as deeply depressing because they deal with death, its inevitability, the fact that what we enjoy in a lifetime is gone in a blink of history never to return and soon to be forgotten. “Yes,” I am told, “we know these are unavoidable truths but why on earth call attention to them, dwell on them, remind us of them, place them before us so insistently? What good does this do? Life is for living, certainly not for contemplating death any longer than it takes to make a will!”

There is no obviously good answer to this critique – unless you believe that such reminders are good for the health of the immortal soul – and I have to say I do not write such pieces with that in mind.

I write such pieces partly because it is intellectually satisfying to think about and express views on issues which have been the subject of philosophical and spiritual debate from the dawn of mankind. And, after all, to find something intellectually satisfying is very much part of enjoying life, especially the life of the mind – as important, surely, as the body’s life. So there is that – thinking and writing about death turns out to be a quite normal and challenging part of life itself…..



More than once I have quoted what the great historian Edward Gibbon wrote in his Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire: history, he wrote, is “little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.” The latest crimes are as bad as ever.

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The grit that makes the pearl

I am currently sorting old files and papers with a view to bringing some semblance of order into my chaotic personal archive and to preserve what may deserve preserving.

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The great perhaps

Sometimes, not often enough I suppose, amidst the ordinary joys and tribulations of everyday living – the problems of planning for the immediate future, keeping track of what is going on in this beautiful and hideous world, enjoying a few drinks and laughter with the boys, the abundant joys and occasional trials of family life, the harassment of daily living – the mind does occasionally set upon great questions of life and death.

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The promise and the poison of social media

The rapidly proliferating presence of the social media in our lives is transforming how society works – and creating dangers which need to be addressed.

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What is real progress?

Having spent 52 years of my life in the sugar industry, including working closely with governments and regional institutions along the way, if there is one thing I have learned it is the extreme frailty of all grand plans.

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