Hummingbird

My wife’s garden is as much a work of art as a painting by a master spirit or a poet’s inspired sonnet or a perfectly composed piece of music.

A desperate plea to preserve old records

Concern is constantly expressed about break-downs in the nation’s infrastructure. Previous long-term economic malaise led to wide-spread structural deterioration which is with us still.

Intimations of immortality

When I was young I was ready and eager to follow the advice given by Terence, the Roman poet, a long, long time ago: “I am a man,” he wrote, “and therefore anything that any man does should interest me.” Then life stretched infinitely before me and it seemed there would be time for everything: time to visit every land and sail every sea, time to try every sport, time to read every book, time to love all the girls, to investigate all the mysteries, time indeed to check out the entire universe.

Stupid melons

I know from our newspapers, and from many a conversation, that our political masters and mistresses are going at each other in Parliament and elsewhere as they always have and, apparently, always will, except for Sam Hinds who I find maintains a calm dignity even in his  most adversarial communications which no one else seems able to achieve.

The children

The saddest sight in Guyana is the children you see on the pavements begging, idling, cursing, selling cigarettes and sweets, most of them on their way to perdition of one sort or another.

Should one believe in hell?

When I was a boy there was an old, tall, craggy-faced priest from Scotland who used to preach on Sundays at the parish church in Tunapuna in Trinidad.

Why the arts matter very much

I was reading the magazine Planet the other day and came across an article in it by the Welsh poet and playwright Damian Gorman which made an impression on me.

The very best are never satisfied

I wish I could convey in particular to young people, whose mental appetites seem whetted so easily these days by the transitory and the trashy, the quiet depths, the delights, the leaping excitements of great poetry.

Loss

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

Managing for the best results

Running anything – whether it is a national government, vast state industry, world-circling multi-national, small family business, or private club – involves making choices.

The commonplace beauty of home

When I was a young and bursting with energy and exuberant life-force I was eager to travel far and wide, more than ready to range around the world discovering new places and meeting people of every kind, outlook and temper.

Let us rescue them from the shadows

Not long ago, in one of his endlessly interesting and instructive ‘So It Go’ columns, Dave Martins lamented the lack of recognition given to our heroes and heroines.

Our children

It makes no sense trying to measure the joy which our grandchildren Jacob and Zoey give to my wife and I.

Festive season

I regret I write with grimness in this festive season. Perhaps it is good to remember that for countless millions in the world this is, as T S Eliot reminded us in the greatest poem ever written about the birth of Christ, “Just the worst time of the year.” So this column records an event which I vividly remember once cast a shadow for me over the festival of goodwill and love and peace.

Beauty at home and abroad

Nothing can compare with the beauty and warmth of life at home. Bred into bone, steeped into blood, is the everyday sweetness of living in Guyana with its river-light and forest green and soft air and garden quiet in the sun and rain.

The sun parrots are late this year

A great part of Brazil has been in the grip of one of the worst droughts in its history: reservoirs running dry, water strictly rationed, particularly in Sao Paulo.

The individual and state power

We should beware the over-mighty state. A state that gathers all powers to itself drains initiative away from where it does most good ‒ at the local level, at the level of the small group, the family, the individual.

Give women their true value

For God’s sake, what is going on? Remember: A young Pakistani girl is shot in the head for trying to educate herself and others like her.

What will survive of us is love

Reading is a good friend, whether the wind blows good or ill. There is not a single day it does not yield knowledge of interest, insights of value, moments of surprise, shocks of recognition and even visions of splendour.

Scraps of useless information

Do you find, as I do, that as time passes you accommodate a vast sludge of useless information which remains stored in the brain for no purpose whatsoever?

Anger management

Many companies in Japan have a special room for their employees which is called, in free translation from the Japanese, a “letting off steam and bile” room.

My father

I have been thinking of my father. Since he died in 1995 at the age of 89 I have not written very much about him.

Reading

Even in the worst of times – and who can doubt that the daily, brutal, unstoppable exploits of uncaught criminals have made this time one of widening and deepening fear and frustration – reading comes to the rescue by revealing other worlds of experience where cruelty and mindlessness and man’s inhumanity to man do not continually have the upper hand.

Rectify the names

It is described how Confucius when asked by one of his disciples what he would do if he were given his own territory to govern the Master replied that he would first and above all “rectify the names” ‒ that is, make words correspond to reality.

Life and work

At the ripe old age of eighty-two, when one is fully aware that it is time to make sense of what has happened in one’s life, I am convinced about two major things.

A 4000 year old poem

Good poetry holds its truth and relevance throughout the ages. It may retail the facts and thinking of its own era, but part if it will always express what is eternally true and recognizable.

A generalised anxiety

In Guyana, there is a pervasive anxiety about the state of things in general which currently focuses on the seemingly unstoppable spread of criminal activity and violent crime in society.

Debt and its extinguishment

The burden of debt is overwhelming country after country. Greece is in the headlines now but there are scores of others teetering on the precipice.

What matters by far the most

“The writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honour and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.” -William Faulkner: Nobel Prize Speech, 1950 Once, immersed in the hectic daily round of mostly trivial happenings, hurrahs and harassments which make up life.

How to govern sensibly

Isaiah Berlin, who died a few years ago at the age of 89, was in my view the most distinguished political philosopher and historian of ideas of the 20th century.

The end of solitude

There are, you may be surprised to read this Sunday, more important things than constitutions, the results of elections, the making and unmaking of presidents and the first steps, and missteps, of a brand new government.

Doing jobs properly

The new government is going to need to plan wisely and execute efficiently, but of the two I think the actual doing is where the nation has lately been falling way short and is where a huge improvement is essential.