The Mandela lesson

Bitter party political animosity divides the nation and holds back united efforts to solve the multitude of problems which need our combined human resources. 

Explorations

My tutor at Cambridge, Professor Nick Hammond, authority on the history of ancient Macedonia and on the life of Alexander the Great, used to coach me on what he called “exercises of the mind.” He knew I played tennis for the university and he put it to me that just as I trained hard for the tennis so should I stretch to exhaustion the muscles of the mind.

Meditation on sadness

One might have thought that as time passes the heart might harden as arteries harden and the sense of loss grow less acute as the five familiar senses most certainly tend to do.

Crumbs from the feast

Life at 80 is as full of adventure and interest as it ever was but the adventures and interests are now mostly sedentary.

Colin Campbell

Last week Colin Campbell, an old Etonian and quintessentially English, died at his home in Blackhorse Lane, South Mimms, in Hertfordshire at the age of 86.

Thief of time

In teaching me about life when I was a boy my father always took pains to impress upon me the value of time – more precious than the rarest metal and not something hoardable.

They also ran

Sport is an inexhaustible source of good conversation and friendly disputation. The other day I was conversing with a group of friends who, like myself, find nothing more companionable and enjoyable than holding forth on the latest events and controversies in the world of sport.

The unsung and the unseen

A J Seymour is Guyana’s greatest man of letters. Martin Carter is the nation’s most renowned  poet; Edgar Mittelholzer, Wilson Harris and Roy Heath are our outstanding novelists; and Denis Williams combined in one man a Renaissance range of talents as artist, novelist and anthropologist.

Catchphrase administration

One way or the other, if any nation is to do well, beneath and beyond the rhetoric and the fruitless slogans, the real work has to be done by ordinary people who do not indulge in the rhetoric and who do not shout the slogans.

Re-defining world values

Secretly, like an earthquake underground hardly noticed, a revolution is going on which will eventually change completely the way the world is organized.

Records that never fade

“Records are there to be broken,” Sobers observed when asked how he felt when Lara eclipsed his world record Test score of 365.

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.

Political rhetoric

Ian on Sunday

Right now the temperature of partisan dispute, and tempers on all sides, are rising sharply.

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

The most important resource by far

One man is running a company with the help of three old family retainers, two others who haven’t had a new idea in a couple of generations, and a whole raft of school drop-outs.

The wisdom of Marcel Proust

When I was young, and benefited not only from a fresh and eagerly absorptive mind but also from a strong belief that an eternity of life stretched in front of me, I loved to read big books, books of immense length.

The innings

Two weeks later I am still sweating with the initial nervousness and horror and still dancing in the final exultation of our victory in the World Cup.

A blessing for the whole of life

I remember ‘Read to Succeed‘ was once the theme of the activities and exhibitions organized to celebrate the work of library services for the children of Guyana.