Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald

Time to simplify

Ian on Sunday

Arriving at the age of 80, so suddenly after being born, I recognize very clearly that I am slowing to a jog if not quite yet a hobble.

Mary’s garden

Ian on Sunday

As golden afternoon transmutes into silver evening and then into velvet darkness fretted by stars I sit to read and think and dream.

The positives deserve attention

Ian on Sunday

Samuel Johnson, that great man of letters and heavyweight of good sense in eighteenth century England, commonly said the people whom we should most beware in the world are those who constantly insist on finding fault, those whose clouds are never lit by silver linings, those who everlastingly “refuse to be pleased.” I am often reminded of Sam Johnson’s suspicion of such people and their moaning and gnashing of teeth when I read the newspapers

What leaders need telling

Ian on Sunday

Sveinsson Knut, Canute the Great, King of England from 1016, King of Denmark from 1018 and King of Norway from 1030 until he died in 1035, was perhaps the most successful and effective of the early rulers of England.

Freedom of expression

Ian on Sunday

The younger generation never experienced, and older people tend to forget, how very limited and how very stifled the media was in the last period of President Burnham’s rule.

An Essequibo visit

Ian On Sunday

Last weekend my wife and I went up the great Essequibo to stay at the beautiful river-home of my brother-in-law and his wife.

The twilight of probability

Ian on Sunday

Consider yourself fortunate if you are right 51% of the time. Listen to the old Galician Jew, settled at last in his old age in a little house in an Israeli kibbutz after a hard lifetime including a brush with the unimaginable horror of Auschwitz.

Grief

Ian on Sunday

At eighty years of age one must expect to factor attendance at funerals into one’s monthly (weekly?) schedule.

The great art of having as much happiness as possible

Ian on Sunday

I was distressed in conversation with a friend whom I admire for his level head, his learning, his insight, and his wit to hear him speak of his sense of being cramped for intellectual space, of his boredom with what seems to him the narrow opportunities in the country, of his disgust at the eternal back-biting and bitter and belittling rivalries which crowd out any hope of civil discourse.

Haunted by waters

Ian On Sunday

I have been reading a book of great beauty given to me as a Christmas gift by my wife: A River Runs Through It, by Norman Fitzroy Maclean.

A good prescription for ordering society

I remember a very long time ago, in the era of Prime Minister, not even then President LFS Burnham, when I was a Director in the sugar industry, I had occasion to enquire from an official at the then State Planning Commission about a request made months before for  approval for the introduction of a new incentive scheme in the industry.

Blessing

Ian on Sunday

Tradition gathers around Christmas. Pageants and homecomings and longed-for preparations repeat themselves year after year and become treasured lifetime rituals.

Poems written in extremis

Out of infinite pain the mind of man can fashion beauty. John Clare, the English nature poet, born in 1793 who died in a madhouse in 1864, was the most poverty-stricken of any major poet who ever lived.

Guyana politics now

Winston Churchill, exasperated by opposition politicians constantly questioning his policies and his own credentials and frustrated by having to consult and compromise on measures which in his judgement were straightforward and ripe for introduction without hesitation, once exploded: “Democracy is the worst kind of government!” Then he paused, thought a little bit, considered the alternatives and ruefully concluded – “Except all the others.” Democracy ensures, or should ensure, that the differing views, varied cultural persuasions and diverging concepts of how the people’s affairs should be managed are allowed expression and none ever squeezed into resentful, and eventually festering,

Genetic destiny

One of the strangest paradoxes in the history of the human race is that while men have commonly dominated simply by virtue of their greater strength and aggression, women time and time again have been the cause of their downfall and defeat.

What is poetry for?

Seamus Heaney, the great Irish poet, whose marvellous collection of essays The Redress of Poetry I like to re-read, writes that WH Auden’s elegy for Yeats was “a rallying cry that celebrates poetry for being on the side of life, and continuity of effort, and enlargement of the spirit.” Heaney believes that one function of poetry is to act as a counterweight to hostile and oppressive forces in the world;  he calls this “the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality.” This is what he calls “redress,” whereby “the poetic imagination seems to redress whatever is wrong or exacerbating in the prevailing conditions,” offering “a response to reality which has a liberating and verifying effort upon the individual spirit… tilting the scales of reality towards some transcendent equilibrium… This redressing effect of poetry comes