Monday, 25 June 2012

Sith entity affecting england football performance

Scientists have discovered the source of dark-side sombreness responsible for England’s poor football performances. Readings have indicated extremely high levels of Sith activity precisely located around England’s commentary team in Kiev.

“We’re not naming any names” said Professor Dinkworm of the Institute of Studies, “but there’s one individual who we suspect of radiating negative energy on an epic scale. It’s clearly taken it’s toll on the players”

Scientists believe that this entity calls itself Darth Lawro, and has been clouding the entire teams  thoughts with horrors from the Dark Side.

“This creature must have a colossal midichlorian count,” said Dinkworm, “he’s able to literally depress not just the team, but an entire nation through a trick of the force, using the medium of television”

Viewers phoned in with higher than usual numbers of complaints of headaches, caused by repetition of mantras such as “No shape, no cohesion, no ambition, no hope”.

Readings spiked around the time the commentator concerned said “if his brains were petrol he’d never get out of the garage”

Prof Dinkworm, and his team believe that the waves of dark-side gloom instil the certainty of inevitable defeat that psychically transmits to the players and all England supporters worldwide. “It’s a major discovery”, he said, “If we can overthrow Darth Lawro, we estimate that England will win the next 5 world cups in a row from sheer relief”

“Assuming we keep sacking the manager, of course”

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Ray Bradbury's message

I am finally getting the time to look through the links I bookmarked after the death of Ray Bradbury, and have skimmed through what several people have said about him. Now on another day, I will no doubt have a different interpretation of what he said to us. But today, if I had to fix on a single message in a bottle that he was hoping would reach us, it would be this.

There was always this passion in the things he said, even in the interviews I saw him do he always seemed to be slightly manic and in love with life - like a friend of mine I talked to yesterday. I think he was urgently telling us to be in love with life too, to put everything into life like a love affair, to savour every bit of it. And the reason it is so urgent is that if you are not nurturing your life, if you are sitting there feeling bored, you are letting things slowly fester. You need to keep your joy alive, find new avenues for it, or you are in danger of losing (or at least temporarily mislaying) it.

This is why writing is often better than reading - you are forcing yourself to find something to talk about, and find the words for it, and then think again for better words for the same thing - if the first words you thought of were stilted. It struck me once - on a routine bus journey early one morning - that all the thoughts I had were unformed and lost forever the moment I had thought them. At least if I wrote everything down - what a pile of redundant verbiage that would make - but at least I would be articulating those thoughts. And in the act of writing something down you see your ideas far more vividly, warts and all, and start to refine them.

But do remember Bradbury's law, which I will state as - always be reaching for the sun in some way. It's close to my old school motto, actually, and something I've seldom even attempted to live up to.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ray Bradbury

I think I was 11 years old when some clever soul sent two books wrapped up as Christmas presents through the post. I can't remember who it was who sent these two books, and I had to wait, as usual, until the evening of December 24th - when my family conducted its annual festive ceremony - before I could see what they were

They were a red book and a yellow book of the same size. The stories of Ray Bradbury volumes 1 and 2. My mother was far from impressed with this present - shaking her head portentously, thinking I'd be frightened by the stories. The present-giver had known better.

Seeing one of my more precocious friends reading things like 1984 had instilled in me the desire to read, and to hopefully somehow become 'cleverer' by doing so. But what was I to read? If I were to write a page of advice to my 12 year old self it would certainly contain, in bold letters, the message "read what you enjoy reading, and don't worry too much about the rest. Give it a chance, but if it consistently fails to arouse your interest then leave it"

Reading through those volumes for the first time was one of the periods of inspiration in my life. As the above piece of advice will tell you, I don't think I always followed my nose faithfully enough - too many other things distracted me, and quite often after a period of being interested in a topic, I will get bored - and we're back to square one. But for a while that year I was enthralled.

And when you are that interested as a child, you learn things. You do so as naturally as going to sleep and waking. The next day you are in some sense a new person because your day is lit up with an important piece of understanding that was not there before, and all that you see and hear are linked to this new important fact, so you will remember it for good. It is incorporated into your life.

What I learned I cannot tell you, really. Except that when you read a good writer you get a strong dose of  their personality. And what a personality his was. The preface to those stories was his passionate defence of his creative side. School friends jeered at his stories and comics, till he realised that those were not his friends, but his enemies.

This was eerily close to my own experience - the boys at school laughing at my imaginative life. I was something of a coward, and desperately wanted to fit in. I never could, of course - children are an intolerant bunch. I didn't have his moral courage, but then I never forgot his message in those pages either. The message, and the mesmerising stories stayed with me all my life. I still go back to them from time to time. There really was no other choice over how to live one's life. I clearly can not have the same personality as Bradbury. No one is the same as any other person exactly. But those books helped me find some of mine.

There's not much I can do about it now he is gone. He would want me to turn it to something positive. So I will make his death a spur to remember that lesson every day. I heard the lesson early, I'm still processing it.