Posted in Culture

200 countries, 200 years

Heartbreaking and encouraging all at the same time.

Encouraging, because overall, people are living longer and healthier lives.  In most places across the globe.

Heartbreaking, because there is and was so much that’s wrong.  The wars that caused so much death.  The selfishness that leaves others behind, across borders and within countries.

Encouraging because there is a lot of good that has come out of medical and technological advances that people have poured their hearts and energy into.

Heartbreaking because there also is a lot of bad.

Beyond all the numbers, there is so much that can never be measured, never be put into statistics – even snazzy ones like this.  All the stories, all the individual lives.  So much smaller and yet so much bigger than the whole.

 

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 7 July 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some of my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Things to watch

“Wild Shepherdess” with Kate Humble.  If, like me, you love discovering how people live around the world, then do watch the first 2 episodes of this!  Kate Humble visits herding families in Afghanistan and Peru, taking part in their everyday lives (in a TV sort of way).  Absolutely fascinating!  Episode 3 takes her to Australia and focusses more on the actual sheep farming side of things.  Not as interesting (to me, anyway).

Things to read

brainAside from the fact that it is somewhat depressing that a book about the “middle-aged brain” seems relevant at all, this is fascinating stuff.  New research into how our brains change and develop as we get older (make that “more mature” 😉 ).  There are things that get harder, definitely, but there are also things that we get better at.  At times, it all gets a bit too scientific for me but overall very very interesting – and encouraging!

Things to listen to

CC Extra: Damascus Diary 24 June 2013

A very moving and personal account by BBC correspondent Lina Sinjab of how the Syrian war has changed both her home city, Damascus, and herself.

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 9 June 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Emoji

Things to read

EuropeansThe Europeans” by Henry James.  Fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable tale of two cultures colliding.  Not dramatically or with fireworks, but in lots and lots of smaller ways.  We’re in mid-19th century New England, and a brother and sister come to stay with their cousins.  Both sides appear to be somewhat in awe of the other, and so have lots of expectations that go unfulfilled.  And so unfold all manner of relational complications.  A good read!

Things to watch

The Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England“.  Amazing documentary on BBC2 about the life of William Tyndale, the first person to translate the Bible into English.  So convinced was he of the importance of his endeavour, that he was willing to live in exile for many years, and in the end gave his life.  Melvyn Bragg (unsurprisingly) does a wonderful job bringing to life the man and the times.  Well worth watching!

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 2 June 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Emoji

Things to watch

I think it was some time back in February that I first started checking when Springwatch might be back 🙂  So you can imagine that I am a tad excited the time has finally come!  For someone who is not normally very interested in nature and science, I have come to really love this programme.  Following the nesting birds in particular is absolutely fascinating!  The characters, the drama – better than any soap opera!  And yet very informative at the same time.  I have learned a lot and have certainly found myself paying a lot more attention to wildlife around me.

Things to read

the-observationsBrilliant book!  Set in Scotland in the 1860s, it’s the story of Bessy, a girl from the slums of Dublin and Glasgow, who ends up working as a maid in a big country house.  Her mistress occasionally gives her some slightly odd tasks.  Slowly, layer by layer, Bessy uncovers what is really going on.  In the process, we also learn something about her own, pretty tragic,  life story.  For all that, the book is not depressing at all, rather there is a lot of warmth and humour.

 

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 26 May 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Emoji

Things to watch

If you missed the the final part of the latest series of Dr Who – watch it!  It was amazing!  Now for a long wait until 23 November…

“This House” by James Graham.  Wonderful play, set in the two Whip’s offices during the 1974-1979 parliament.  Great behind-the-scenes look at the workings of parliament.  Interesting as well to have an interview with Ann Taylor (who features in the play) during the interval.

 

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 28 April 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Emoji

Things to watch

I have only just discoveredThe Villageon the BBC, the story of 20th Century England played out through a family in a Derbyshire village.  Definitely not rose-tinted and thus quite tough to watch in places, but so far absolutely worth it!

Things to read

Earthquake Expert – a moving account of the recent earthquake in China from an almost-eye-witness.  Coupled with a very amusing story, illustrating the perils of language.  Expert and expat – so close and yet so far…Read for yourself!

“Lu Lingzi was living the dream of practically every student that every English teacher in China has had in his or her class. We know them well: the young man who wants to earn an MBA and make his millions; the young woman who wants to become a scientist and discover the cure for cancer.” Very interesting reflection on the dream that brought Lu Lingzi, who died in the Boston Marathon bombings, to the US.

Things to listen to

Very interesting programme on “Crossing Continents” on BBC Radio 4, talking to staff and students at a Belarussian university in exile in Lithuania.