Quote Challenge – day 3


Day 3 of the quote challenge. I was nominated by the fab Laurie from the great blog Meditations in Motion, where she writes very thoughtful on a range of subjects. When I started this challenge I wasn’t sure that I would mange it, but I think I have done ok. I think this was one of those instances where it has been good to try something new.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day to do the same

Todays nominations are:

  1. Blue Velvet Jacket – this is a thoughtful blog that covers a range of interesting things.  She recently wrote this lovely post about a pair of pearl earrings as her ‘objects with meaning’, which I liked very much – get over there to have a read.
  2. LA of the blog Waking up the Wrong Side of 50 – I really like the witty posts on this blog, which are combined with some thoughtful posts on gratitude. A great read.
  3. Suzanne of the blog Being in Nature – I discovered this blog relatively recently and have really been enjoying her thoughts on ‘being in nature’.

Today I wanted to quote from the book Empathy: a handbook for the revolution by Roman Krznaric (which I think is now available under the far more boring title Empathy: why it matters and how to get it – I think I liked the other title better but there we are). It’s a long one, so bare with me…

‘The idea of collective empathy is especially relevant today because it counterbalances the highly individualistic focus of modern self help culture, which tends to view the search for happiness or wellbeing as a personal pursuit concerning our own ambitions and desires, rather than one that involved working with others towards common goals. Yet thinkers going back to Aristotle have recognised that we are social animals, and that joy and meaning in life grow, in good part, from being immersed in something larger than ourselves. Human beings thrive on ‘we’ as much as ‘me’.’

So I really liked this section in this book as it spoke very clearly to thoughts I have been having about the social mess our highly sophisticated society appears to have got itself into. While being quite introverted, and craving solitude on a frequent basis, I also believe that the work we put into building rich relationships with people close to us is an important foundation to wellbeing. In my day job I work in mental health research, and while I don’t want to get into reviewing the science here, there does seem to be a growing consensus that social isolation and loneliness are harmful to us. The job we have then, collectively, is to build a society that supports connection more that it supports commerce. I don’t think it is shopping that will set us free.

Quote of the day Challenge – Day 1


I have been nominated by the lovely Laurie of the blog Meditations in Motion to take part in the Quote a day challenge. I have been reading Laurie’s blog for a little time now and really like how she writes and what she writes about, particularly her accounts of the long distance running she does, which I personally find very inspiring. I wish I could be the kind of person who runs, but every time I try to do so I injure something. I am thinking I should consult with Laurie for some tips.

I think this is the first time I have been involved in any kind of blogging challenge on this blog, so this is a bit of an adventure for me. It is also, being a challenge, challenging. Here are the rules:


  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day to do the same.

I am a bit concerned I am not going to be able to nominate enough bloggers as I’ve been a bit shy in making friends on here, and have a fairly developed sense of anxiety about imposing myself on people. I’ve also never been that big on ‘inspirational’ quotes – so will try to pick things that may have a peculiar meaning to me. But I will give it a go. Today I would like to nominate:

  1. Mrs Craft of the blog Craft and other Crazy plans. I love the way Mrs Craft writes about her projects, and her allotment – plenty of lovely creative stuff here.
  2. Scar of the blog Scar. This is a great mix of art, literature, and eating out in London. She was also the first blogger to take on the idea of writing about her own ‘objects with meaning’ which I liked very much, in this post here.
  3. A new blogger, and blog at Smwiddio. I have been watching the development of this one with interest and look forwards to reading more.

My quote for the day is this from the writer of the Game of Thrones series George RR Martin:

“We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

I really loved this quote when I read it in one of his books and it has stayed with me for some time. I think it speaks to my sense of what it means to be human, and the complexity that comes with building relationships with other humans. This is the stuff of life that sustains us, but it is not always an easy task and cannot be done without the occasional (some times more than occasional) heartbreak.



Mark Thomas, The Red Shed, Telling Stories and Emotional Truth


Yesterday we went to see The Red Shed by Mark Thomas as Battersea Arts Centre. We go there on a fairly regular basis. We’ve only started going since a fire consumed the roof of their great hall. They are currently undergoing a painstaking restoration of the great hall, and each time we go it seems there is a little more progress, a little more of the building revealed, which in itself is quite exciting. Because of the fire, we have always seen shows in the much smaller council chamber upstairs, which is small and intimate, and possibly my favourite place to see new writing in London.

Yesterday we were seated right in the front row and so were less then five meters from Mark Thomas as he performed The Red Shed. I loved it. You should see it. I’ll say that upfront. He delivered the story of his relationship with a building known as ‘The Red Shed’, a socialist club in Wakefield. He drew on his own personal history of activism to tell the story of the Red Shed and the people who go there. A winding narrative that took a tour through his activism during miners strike in the North of England. Effectively, he gave a one man performance, but he also bought 6 members of the audience to sit on stage and had them hold up a series faces made of board to invoke different characters through the show. I really like this very stripped down form of storytelling, where the narrative is allowed to do most of the work.

Through out the piece he spoke about the importance of stories. That stories are important in allowing us to remember our history, and so understand who we are. The stories that are told about us can come to define who we are, we may come to live within those stories and that they may come to direct what we do in the future. For this reason it important that the stories we tell about people are true. He made an important point about how the stories about the working class in Britain are frequently told badly or incorrectly, over simplistically, or simply not told at all. Politically this has had great and damaging impact on the working class in the UK. The realities of their lives, their needs and anxieties have been ignored, lost, misunderstood and ultimately somehow seen as irrelevant by many of us. By failing to make space for these stories, and by failing to recognise them as important, we have failed understand, and have failed to see the people and communities behind them as important.

After the show he was in the foyer signing books and I wanted to speak with him but couldn’t quite arrange my thoughts to do so. I was quite upset coming out of the performance. Much of of what he said resonated strongly with me and I wish I could sit and talk with him about this. Some of the documentary and playwriting work I am trying to do is around mental health and disability. These are complicated stories that are frequently seen in the news in only their most simplistic and ‘tragic’ form. My starting point now I think is to try to work with the people whose story I am interested in, so that we tell the story together, rather than have me tell their story for them. I’m not quite sure how I’ll pull this off, yet.

Stories have an emotional truth. We believe or don’t believe them based on whether we feel they are true, so if something feels true it is easy to slip a few lies through with that feeling. In fact it is possible to cynically slip through a lot of lies if you can attach them to an existing feeling, which can have awful consequences. A lot of the racist propaganda emerging from the leave campaign for Brexit last year did just this, and now we have racist hate crimes on the rise. This is why it is important when tell stories about real people, that we make sure what is in those stories is true.