Climate change – the latest scream for help

Do you remember one of the world’s great exercises in futility? In 2007 as many as 20,000 politicians, officials, international functionaries, journalists and activists attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, better known as the Bali Conference.

A fateful and historic mistake

I think there must be a majority of Guyanese deeply worried that the festering animosity between the political parties and the incessant jockeying for position and narrow-spirited search for partisan advantage is greatly harming Guyana’s progress as a nation.

Reflections on another birthday

A few weeks, it seems, since the last one, a new birthday has come along – the 81st no less, hardly believable when one thinks how not so long ago one could joyfully spring up stairs three at a time if the occasion demanded it or party until dawn (very possibly celebrating another West Indies victory as No.

When losing is a kind of death

The fatal flaw in the Duckworth/Lewis formula for deciding unfinished cricket matches is that it makes no allowance for genius, flair and sheer, joyous inspiration.

Selfishness rules

Democracies came to be based on a balanced view of human nature; people are by nature selfish but self-government is possible because we are wise enough to restrain and control that selfishness.

Making progress not just in pure statistics

Like nurses anxiously watching the pulse rate and temperature of patients in an emergency ward, for a long time we were schooled to observe movements in Gross Domestic Product as the indication of whether a country is healthy or ailing.

Ageing

At 80 years old I do not think I can be criticised for writing about ageing.

Preserving our literary heritage

Emeritus Professor Ken Ramchand of the University of the West Indies at St Augustine, eminent scholar and literary critic, the other day sent me the address he gave as Chairman of the Project Committee at the opening of The Naipaul House in St James, Port-of-Spain, on 10th February.

Growing inequality in the world

It is being noticed more and more – President Obama and Pope Francis are currently making it a theme in their speeches – that inequality is growing and that the already rich and powerful are becoming even more obscenely rich (the President and Pope are too diplomatic to use the word obscene but it is the right one) and even more unchallengeably powerful.

Joy

The feeling of joy is a strange emotion. It can derive from momentous events – winning the great championship, realising a long-nourished ambition, owning one’s own home at last.

Do not fail to read this

I have a dear friend whom I admire in all things and who herself writes beautifully and clearly but who has what I consider a blind spot.

The examined life

‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ – Socrates.   When I was no more than twelve or thirteen the feeling grew in me that it was important not simply to live life day by day but somehow to give greater meaning to it by recording what was happening every one of those days and by planning how I should shape and what I should make of my life in the future.

A J Seymour

Today marks the 100th birth anniversary of A J Seymour, Guyana’s greatest man of letters.

Private wealth, public squalor

Who can doubt that in Guyana in 2014 clenched fists of the past must be opened so that hands can reach out across embattled ground for the good of the nation.

Lines for a hard journey

Writing a column on the celebration of Christmas is a little like trying to illustrate the scope and scale of Shakespeare with one or two quotations; you can succeed about as well as the man who tried describing the marvellous cathedral at Chartres by showing a carved stone and single piece of stained glass as specimens of the building’s majesty.

Not fun any more

It is strange how the words sport, game, play, which in the dictionaries are associated with fun and frolic, have more and more lost their original meanings.

Never lose heart

Intermittently through the year, and especially during memorable times up the immense and soul-redeeming Essequibo, I like to read Shelley – as we all should do from time to time since he is pre-eminently the poet of hope.

Changing the nation’s frame of mind

By what values should we strive to live in order to achieve a community in which differences are accommodated, a community where there is diversity of discourse but a recognition of the common good regardless of politics, religion, race and personal beliefs?

`We know not whence they come but they die not’

If you think about it carefully it seems impossible to reconcile two things which most people would very much like to believe – one, that they enjoy free will and in some ultimate sense are masters of their fate, and, two, that the God of all creation is omnipotent and has a master plan for us all.

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.