A day of thanksgiving

I’ve always been a big fan of Thanksgiving, which is celebrated today by our friends and neighbours ‘across the pond’. And while I’ve failed again this year to get my act together sufficiently to prepare a proper ‘Thanksgiving’ meal – or even just some pumpkin pie – I feel a deep kinship with the festival itself. With this celebration of the bonds between us. Of our deep ties to each other and to the planet that we call home. Continue reading

Changing the rules

It’s becoming increasingly clear that our existing economic order is no longer working. It promotes the needs of capital above those of people. It relies on an outdated notion of unlimited and unfettered growth. And it fails singularly to address the deep-seated social and environmental challenges that we face as a society. Thankfully, there are creative and enthusiastic people working tirelessly to create a more democratic and sustainable economy. And a new project from the New Economics Foundation helps us to find them. Continue reading

Support for the awesome

I read an article a while back in which the author described how she’d explained the UK’s ‘999’ emergency phone number to someone she was interviewing in (if I remember correctly) central Africa. The interviewee couldn’t believe that we have a number we can call and help gets dispatched to us, for free, straight away. It’s something we take for granted. But I think it’s time we gave a little back. Continue reading

Dark days and the black dog

At this time of year, when the days are short and the weather is almost uniformly grey, like many people I can succumb all too easily to a touch of the black dog. Not full-on depression, because I’ve been there and I know what that’s like. More a slight listlessness. A difficulty in finding my usual motivation. A certain lack of, for want of a better word, va-va-voom. Continue reading

Everything travels down the lead

There’s a saying among dog trainers and handlers: Everything travels down the lead. Because working with a dog is about much more than the commands that we give them. It’s about the way in which we give them. About our tone of voice. Our body language. Even the mood we’re in. To work effectively with a dog, we need to be in the right frame of mind. And we need to put everything else aside. Continue reading

Why it’s good to be mortal

Whenever Natalie reads something in a magazine that she thinks I’ll find interesting, she leaves it out somewhere obvious for me to find. And so I stumbled this morning upon a review in the Guardian of Swedish philosopher Martin Hagglund’s book ‘Why mortality makes us free‘. It’s “a sweepingly ambitious synthesis of philosophy, spirituality and politics”, apparently (the book, not the review), which argues that it is not believing in the glorious afterlife promised by many religions that makes our lives on Earth so full of meaning. To be honest, though, this benefit of what Hagglund calls “secular faith” is far from news to me. Or to my fellow humanists around the world. Continue reading

It’s mud-time. Again.

As Ozzy gets older, I’m increasing gradually the distance that she comes running with me. She’s just gone eighteen months now, and we’ve worked our way up slowly to a little over three miles. Well, I run just over three miles, but she races around so much she probably runs about eight. But that’s not the problem. The problem is something a bit less Strava-friendly. The problem, as per usual at this time of year, is mud. Continue reading

Minimalism and me

It was pouring with rain on Saturday afternoon. Natalie had some work she needed to do. And I didn’t much feel like doing anything except hang out with the dogs. So I propped myself up on the bed, a Labrador lying along each leg, laptop balanced on my knees, and watched a movie I’d downloaded a few days ago. It’s called ‘Minimalism: A documentary about the important things’. And it’s incredible. In fact, it’s probably changed my life. Continue reading

Dog tales

As we enter the ‘cold and windy’ part of the rainy season here in Somerset, it’s welly boots all round whenever we leave the house. Especially if we’re walking the dogs, as all of our normal walks are now several inches deep in the boggy stuff.

Pulling on my wellies for this morning’s trundle, I was reminded of a recent visit to one of my consulting clients, an agricultural college with a thriving community of farming and equestrian students. Arriving a little early for a meeting, I popped over to the campus cafe.

I was greeted by a huge pile of welly boots stacked up outside the door. Inside, a horde of students, clearly having just finished their early morning chores around the farm and stables, was drinking gallons of hot chocolate and steaming up the windows with their excited chatter. Continue reading

So I have this theory…

I received a lovely email today from an editor for whom I write from time to time. He has an idea for an article that he’d like written, and he thinks I’m just the person to write it. And knowing that I’m quite busy, he’s even suggested that I provide him with a deadline that would work for me. This sort of email is what writers love. But this particular one reminded me of a theory I’ve been working on. Continue reading