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Friday, March 27, 2015

Heard from Roubaix

The Arts and Crafts Dignity in Care is a European project to enrich the lives of those who tend to be excluded from the general run of life.  These individuals may be young, elderly or disabled and the project will try to make use of the special skills of artists of all types to overcome feelings of isolation and, with their carers, make their lives important again.  At a conference in the magnificence of the town hall of Roubaix in France a group of about thirty of us continued our good-humoured deliberations about how to bring this about.  I was recording little snippets of conversation in one of the discussion groups and I came up with this little poem which may give a flavour of the day.

I am a connector.
Choice is my purpose.
I connect with you and we are we.
Feeling what we do
Is what we do
Feeling To Do.
Our cultures are our stories.
We may not understand
Our story differences
Cultural difference is what we do
We reflect on the reversed picture
In the mirror.

One touch is the warmth of sun
We don’t need more complication
We can reach each other with a low tempo,
Simple basic human interaction.
More activities mean more sunshine.

We care for those we work with and we care with them.
we all have a need to care for each other.
Confronting what it is to be you.
We have been young
We have not yet been old
(When does being young finish
And being old begin?)
As we walk the care full path from young to old together
we are both care givers and care receivers;
An arm, a touch, a shoulder
If I could stumble half a mile with your tension,
I would find there is no cup of tea at the end.
And when we reach the other place
We should not think about forgetting
But be here in this time of memory
And here we are people and in this space
We will accord each other our own Dignity.

Friday, March 06, 2015

The Archers - RIP

It is with deep regret that I note the passing of a great British institution - the world record enduring radio series "The Archers".  Although it could be creaky and melodramatic at times it had the unique quality of continuity of character and event.  One could get to know characters to such an extent that if one was forced to take a break from listening one could easily reacquaint oneself with the characters as if with old friends.  The events in the series just about reflected the rate of change and drama in any rural setting and because of one's long term investment in the programme one could understand how the consequences of such events played out over months or even years.

The series has been replaced with an absurdist comedy parody of the previous programme which, oddly, retains the same title.  The comedy comes from the way in which characters are wildly transformed episode by episode.  The comic effect is heightened by continually changing the actors playing these characters such that it is impossible to work out who is saying what to whom at any point.  Hilarious enough and worthy of early Stoppard but it is the risible piling of event upon event in every episode that makes listening an experience akin to a laudenum induced nightmare that even De Quincy would have shuddered at and Coleridge would have felt too nonsensical to record in a ballad.  In the early days of American soap opera writers were instructed that there should be at least one act of violence in every episode.  If we change "violence" to "madness" The New Archers easily outdoes this.

It has been clear for some time that the BBC wished to rid its schedules of this particular drama in its desire to transform Radio 4 into a rolling "News" channel.  The popularity of The Original Archers meant that it was difficult to shift and so they sent in the hit squad to finish it off by transforming it into a nonsensical laughing stock.  I cannot see the New Archers lasting 64 weeks let alone the 64 years of the original however, I believe we can assist the BBC in marketing this novel confection by suggesting a new name for it. Any Ideas?