Leaders are Losers

Everyone I know is a loser – including my first wife.

My mother, father, sons, daughter, best friend, plus you & everyone you’ve ever met has been a loser

Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Socrates, Abraham, plus every single living thing that ever existed in the history of planet Earth.

If you think I’m over-egging it, you have the right to that opinion. You have the authority to stick to your viewpoint. You have the power to disagree.

I wager I’ll persuade you – (with inductive logic)

Manchester City lost last night. My friend Gearoid Murphy is gutted. Not only did his team lose but he lost his good humour. Last season he was a loser too.

Yesterday, my dog Louis tried to be friendly with an Alsatian. The Alsatian rejected him, Louis was a loser.

Thomas Edison was a loser. Eventually he became a winner. But after that he went back to being a loser.

Since birth, I’ve been a loser. When I was 16, I fancied Brigitte Bardot. I didn’t even make it to the races. I lose almost every time I try.

In case you think you’ve met a winner.

______________________

Note: The impulse to write this came after I heard the story of how Donald John Trump has been a loser for years, and, as a consequence, has paid no taxes for years.

When I reflect on my life

which is a dangerous occupation, I notice too much. Especially too much time lost. For example, this morning Roger Overall and I were scheduled to record the Business Jazz podcast from 09:30. As usual, every Friday morning, I was running a few minutes late.

Intent on catching up, making up for lost time, I hurried onto Zoom. Laptop booting up while I joined the meeting via iphone7. A man with two joining devices.

A man with no sound. The smart phone was quick, as usual. The MacBookPro slow, as usual.

Here’s how the time of my life, both of our lives, was squandered.

Silence. I couldn’t hear Roger. He couldn’t hear me. We were reduced to text messages. You can’t record a podcast via text. (Poor effort at humour)

Eventually, we recorded the podcast via Skype.

How much time was stolen from us by that unwelcome gift of silence? (Perhaps I am a better person for the unpleasant experience?). But it was a horrid time – so horrid I dare not remember, or calculate, how much of my life was squandered.

This is a theme of my return to blogging: remembrance of lost time. A la recherche du temps perdu – remembering Proust – and the time I was able to speak French well enough to converse (never well enough to be subtle with it).

The time I pause here – the time in between sentences, phrases, and even words – is purposeful. Gathering energy, clarity, and alacrity – that’s time well invested.

The time of my life.

Infuriated

My MacBookPro (vintage 2012) infuriates me.

Not, used to infuriate me – not, infuriates me some times.

All the time.

It’s so slow it’s best for me to make a cup of tea in between keystrokes.

I’m not interested in complaining. Un-inclined to rant. Not given to bile. None of those tension-relieving releases does my emotional health good.

Where would I be without patience?

For the last two years my laptop has been a ‘godsend’ – it has been teaching me patience every day. Continuous coaching.

Be mindful Paul. Take it easy Paul. Breathe my friend. Stay calm, this is a gift of an opportunity to be in the moment, to notice your being – thoughts, feelings, imaginations. Watch your being float by – as if froth on a flowing stream of river water.

I’m fortunate to have such a lousy computer. It’s helped me achieve what I have achieved. Without it, I’d have achieved so much more that I would have been vulnerable to hubris. This bloody machine has kept me safe.

He’s done his job. Soon it’ll be good to put him out to grass, bury him with honours & relief.

And welcome his replacement. I trust she’ll have a smile on her face.

Unless I write this now

I may never write what I want to write now. So blooming obvious. So silly maybe. You see when I started blogging in 2005, I had an audience. I had one person I ‘knew’ would want to read whatever I’d write.

She wouldn’t bother reading me for another 25 years – that didn’t matter to me because all I needed was one human being. If there was one person interested, besides myself, that was enough.

I didn’t care who else read the blog. They would be welcome guests but I wouldn’t write for them. If I started writing for a wider audience I’d be distracted by thoughts that would slow me down.

My mother was still alive.
She wouldn’t even read my stuff and I didn’t mind that. My brothers & sisters, my wife, my ex-wife, my sons – none of them mattered. Of course they mattered. They might appear in the blog but I wouldn’t be worried about them.

An infant was the one person in the world that mattered to my blog. My daughter Grace who was born in August 2005. She was my audience. We were about to move to Cork Ireland. That’s why it was called “From Bath To Cork With Baby Grace”. Such an easy title to invent.

I was in Cafe Beva
in Glanmire this morning, talking with my best friend, talking about his wife. Her writing practices. They are a secret because I don’t want to run the risk that she might find out we were talking about her talent.

What matters
to this blog is that the conversation about one writer’s behaviour has influenced me to change – to stop not writing.

I don’t know who my audience is. It was easy in the old days, 15 years ago. I had confidence in what I was doing. I’ve lose that clarity. Whatever I wrote in that first iteration of this blog is done. My daughter knows enough of me that I don’t find it easy to imagine her reading this.

Without an audience,
I may give up. This may be a flash in a pan. A false dawn. Any appropriate cliche.

Who cares. The future isn’t here yet and I dabble in living in the NOW.

Postscript:
I’m not making time to add a photo to tart up this blogpost. I don’t care. I might do that later.

Mary Oliver read Lucretius

She was well enough to read and walk.

What exactly did she read? Lucretius wrote a lot.

Maybe he wrote about frogs dancing and herons at funerals?

I’ve heard it said Mary danced, out by a pond in her garden in Ohio.

She was natural, a youngster gestated by Mother Nature. With frogs and herons for siblings.

Mary saw the Roman’s sword in the beak of the heron that washed in her shining water.

After reading her poem, I know all this. As if I’m a biographer, historian, anthropologist, archaeologist, drinking tea in Café Beva.

I hope her friends danced in black at her funeral, the way she did after reading Lucretius.

———-

Note (1) In 54 BC, Cicero said: “The poems of Lucretius exhibit many flashes of genius, and yet show great mastership.”

Note (2) You’ll find “AFTER READING LUCRETIUS, I GO TO THE POND” in the slim collection “Blue Horse” (2014) by Mary Oliver RIP

Golf is worth it

Before the second round of the Masters began, I found these 18 holes:

Hole

  1. Gets you out of the house
  2. Let’s you escape housework
  3. Gets you away from family
  4. Unites your outer & inner world
  1. Experience humility, be humbled
  2. Accept adversity, disappointments as core
  3. Lose hubris
  4. Realise you need more practice to become more skillful
  5. Know you need lessons, and a good coach
  6. There are times to shut up
  7. Fresh air is good – whether it rains, shines or blows
  8. . You need balls to play
  9. . You can get the same result with different clubs
  10. . Nothing is certain – and nothing is to be taken for granted
  11. . There is wild life outside
  12. . You can play alone or in company
  13. . You will miss the hole, and you will have near misses
  14. . You have to keep moving forward, even if only to keep away from people coming up behind – or let others through

19th hole

19. You need time to celebrate & commiserate- and treat others to pints

Who are the best known people in the world?

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 12.14.17Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 12.16.59

“It’s obvious” proclaimed the man in the brown suit
“Jesus Christ”

“No so” declared the woman in black
“Mao Zedong”

“What about Hitler?”
said the teenager

“Christopher Columbus”
stammered the drunk

The cyclist interrupted
“Genghis Kahn”

“Leonardo da Vinci”
piped up the painter

“Surely Mahatma Gandi”
whispered the songwriter

“Don’t overlook Oprah Winfrey”
suggested the priest

“Rosa Parks”
cried the astronaut

“The Virgin Mary”
muttered the atheist

“Indira Gandi for sure”
insisted the scientist

“Shakespeare the great”
chipped in the politician

“Catherine the Greater”
quipped the taxi driver

“Don’t we all know Marco Polo?”
asked the hiker

“Empress Dowager Cixi”
shouted the grandmother

“Tiger Woods”
sang the umpire

“You’re ignoring Nelson Mandela”
challenged the chef

“Martin Luther King is a must”
scribbled the poet

“The Buddha begorra”
blurted the CEO.

At this moment the world ended.

 

 

Diary note No 17 – The Dragon

Once upon a time, there was a dragon in Cardiff that chewed shamrock for desert, and spat the roughage out.

He lived on daffodils for breakfast, and cultivated leaks in fields down the Gower.

He was deadly when it came to barbecuing white puddings from Kerry and rashers from Offaly.

When he was hungry, he masticated mouthfuls of minced Irish rugby players during the first half, and farted on substitutes throughout the second half.

He was a champion without doubt.

It never crossed his mind to mend his ways. He wasn’t afraid of Saint Patrick nor the snakes.

His nightcap was cawl, and he slept with a fresh leak under a pillow stuffed with goose feathers.

Evil spirits didn’t bother him.

Diary note No 16 – The loser

I came in last last night.

A loser, comprehensively vanquished, whitewashed, beaten, massacred.

In a phrase, I was thrashed.

Not just pipped at the post

Not just a photo-finish

Not nudged out by a nose.

I wasn’t even placed.

Everyone was better than me in the speech contest.

That’s the end of my effort to become World Champion (for another year).

Was I that bad? Yes.

Was the speech a nightmare? No.

The speech was fine.

A woman

came up to me with tears in her eyes.

Thank you for your wonderful speech. I was so moved by it. Like you said, all I’ve wanted all my life is to be listened to, to be heard. You put your finger on what matters most to me. Thank you ever so much. It was great.”

The speech was well worth delivering.

It meant a lot to at least two of us.

The speech was magnificent, despite my delivery – not because of how I delivered it.

The judges

found my speaking style poorer than every one of the other contestants.

They punctured my self-esteem.

My hubris.

Don’t you love it

when judges do that for you?

How considerate.

How thoughtful.

How generous.

What a gift.

I owe a debt of gratitude, don’t I?

Diary note No 15 – A Social Audio Book Club

What’s the point of joining a book club?

Wouldn’t you be better spending your time writing a book?

What’s the point of talking, when you could be reading?

Today

I invented an idea that’s new to me.

I thought:

How about an audio book club?

“How about a social audio book club, on LIMOR, not WhatsApp?

  • The Rick O’Shea Bookclub is online.
  • There are lots of face-to-face book clubs.

In the whole of human history, there has never been a social audio book club.

If I was sovereign

If I was sovereign, a dictator, over the US of A, I’d make GREEN BOOK compulsory.

I’d compel every citizen to watch* Green Book on a big screen.

(I wouldn’t make this happen overnight)

The draft plan I’m considering is here:

  1. President & Cabinet obliged to watch the movie by 1 April 2019. Penalty for failure – disqualified from office for 100 days.
  2. Senators, Representatives & Supreme Court judges by 1 May 2019. Penalty for failure to comply – disqualification for 125 days
  3. Military generals, Governors & city Mayors by 1 June 2019. Penalty 150 days
  4. Candidates for all public offices (federal & local) by 1 June 2019 – penalty for failure to watch Green Book = disqualified from ballot until next election cycle
  5. All teachers (including kindergarten & higher education) by 1 July – penalty for failure = automatic unpaid leave from office for two months.
  6. All voters by 1 November 2019 – penalty for failure to be determined after Congressional hearing.
  7. All News editors by 1 October 2019. Penalty for failure to publish review of Green Book = Fine of $3,650 rising to $365,000.
  8. All law officers, prison staff & ministers of religion by 1 September 2019 – penalty for failure to conform under consideration.
  9. Exemptions: none, except patients in authorized comas.
  10. Green Book Film studio owners & CEOs – National Medal of Honor presented by President of USA by 1 May

________________

* NB This sovereign dictator will exert no pressure on subjects to agree with

(1) the point of view of the director, or distributor of Green Book

(2) feelings & thoughts shown & expressed by any of the characters

(3) the dictator’s views

(4) anyone else’s values.

The requirement is to watch Green Book (and remain awake in the cinema).

Diary note No 13 – Wanderlust in woods

A few minutes ago, I opened the front door and went out into fresh air.

Gingerly, I shuffled around. I talked to my aching back.

It’s nearly time for Wanderlust – to walk in Moanbaun Wood with Rebecca Solnit, again.

That wind today is a bit too chilly for me to start straight away.

There is the habit to recapture.

Thank goodness I haven’t finished reading that magnificent book, that best of companions.

Diary note No 12 – Cricket, Fish & Chips

What have the game of cricket and fish & chips got in common?

Do people take fish & chips to cricket at Lords or the Oval?

Do bowlers eat chips before taking the new ball?

Maybe some top-class cricket coaches ban teams from eating fish & chips the night before the toss?

Perhaps the conversation in Café Beva between Roger & Paul went from trivia to profound – from pastime to work?

Why did Paul record the conversation about cricket?

Could it have anything to do with the next test match England will play? (Against Ireland at Lords)

What would an eavesdropper have thought?

– the mystery of everyday life.

Are you wearing your hearing aids?

Unless I’m wearing hearing aids I won’t make the great speech you’re hoping for.

You know, my friends, that unless you hear brilliantly, It’s impossible to speak well.

Before I speak I need to put my hearing aids in

  • My mother had excellent hearing all her life. She listened at keyholes. She kept in touch with her children’s phone calls about important matters which might impinge on the extended family.
  • She had phenomenal hearing. She once heard me and Brian Cox lighting up Woodbine cigarettes behind the copper beech tree in our garden.
  • She had patient hearing. She spent hours in the kitchen listening to me spout on about my beliefs, my thoughts, my feelings.  She even asked me questions about my political rants.

My mother couldn’t afford to buy hearing aids.
Her hearing aid was the acute attention she paid to me -whatever & how ever I spoke, plus the attentive ear she gave to others, all her adult life.

—————

And what about you?

The most important thing I know about you, I see written all over your face.

Deeply chiseled into your Toastmasterly character

Engraved

  •  You love to be heard. You are no wallpaper – You are the leading actor in the Oscar-winning movie  “My dramatic life” – you are the Linchpin.
  •  In your deepest heart, you wantthe person sitting next to you to wear hearing aids, before they speak to you.
  •  You want them to listen to you as if their life depended on it

Last evening, I was cooking spaghetti Like my daughter said over spaghetti in the kitchen last night, “Dad, all I want for you is your attention, that’s what I call love.”

This evening, you expressed it through your body language, the way you settled into your seat.

You wanted all of us speakers to pay attention to you our . It was as if you spoke to me “Paul, pay attention to me before you speak.”

Where are your hearing aids now?

Isn’t it so uplifting to be in the midst of a community of friends who listen to each other – genuinely listen.

Friends genuinely listen to you, friends listen well.

Imagine
you’re going to leave here and go out into the garden and hillside of a wider community.

Imagine
you’re going to take your hearing aids with you – just as your best friends do.

Imagine
like my mother,  you have excellent, phenomenal & patient hearing.

I must arise and go now, and take my hearing aids out.

Let me trust you to leave your hearing aids turned on.

Let me trust you to listen well

I trust you to speak superbly and wear your hearing aids with pride.

 

Diary note No 11 – Blarney Toastmasters

I was ‘Master of Ceremonies (MC)” last night.

About 20 people in a room in Blarney Woolen Mills hotel.

All keen to become better at public speaking – formal & informal.

All expecting a good experience.

The meeting was mettlesome.

Two members of our Toastmasters Club introduced themselves to the audience.

They each spoke for about five minutes in prepared speeches. There was plenty of applause.

I felt good to be in the room.

Diary note No 10 – Teamwork

When you get back to Ireland, give us a shout” said my cheeky brother No 2.

Proof positive that I’ve been away from the telephone line that connects Cork to Limerick – since Ireland beat Scotland.

I’m sticking to the lurgy – that relieves me of all guilt & shame.

LOCATION
I’m writing this on Friday morning in Café Beva over a (too) large helping of scrambled eggs on a warmed plate.
Roger didn’t make it. Eoghan is preparing for rugby in Rome. The Wiffe has Louis in the wood. De daughter was asleep.

TEAMWORKING
Compelled to go beyond pony-riding to hockey by an exponentially expanding ambition, I morphed phone-called chat.

Isn’t teamwork in sport ideal preparation for civics & working in a shop?

Don’t shelf-fillers & managers need to work as a team with common sense of purpose, and inter-dependence?

A notion that welled up like lava.

Has the Harvard Business Review published a paper on this?

Diary note No 8 – Indoors

I’m staying indoors for another day. It’s drizzling damp outside. Again I’m missing my Wednesday morning golf.

My biggest concern is the dog. I won’t give him enough exercise today. If he could speak English, he’d surely complain.

Talking about Trump, talking about McCabe, having in an asynchronistic conversation with my friend Victorious in USA – that’s what I’ve been doing from my armchair.

That led me to contact my sister in Arizona via WhatsApp. I’d like to hear her views.

Thank goodness I’m interested in Brexit, and have Sky News. Political crises are good distractions from the state of my health.

I’m only good for recording audio and I’m dictating this straight into this post.

My especially good friend Eoghan O’Leary has offered to drop in and bring me something I’d like. I’ve asked for a small bunch of sweet black grapes.

Daily Note No 7 : Surviving on Audio

I’m staying indoors as much as I can. This morning, I’ve been to Doctor Dara Byrne.

There is nothing to do for my health except keep hydrated.

If my phlegm turns from yellow to green, I now have a prescription for an antibiotic, Amoxicillin.

During the last 48 hours, I’ve recorded & shared audio* on LIMOR about

  • Praising Maria Popova’s new book “Figuring
  • Feeling miserable
  • Getting to see a doctor in Ireland
  • House-swapping for holidays

Recording audio keeps me going and seems to release some energy from a repository within.

(* I’ll put the audio here)

PRAISING MARIA POPOVA “FIGURING”
FEELING MISERABLE – THE BENEFITS
GETTING TO SEE A DOCTOR IN IRELAND
HOUSE SWAPPING

Diary Note No 1 – The blog

image_571833188038767A Thursday morning at 10 am, I’m having breakfast in Café Beva in Glanmire. Eating scrambled eggs and sausages, drinking a black Americano.

In front of me the Irish examiner newspaper.

It’s a dry cloudy day, less damp than usual.

I put a vase containing a small bunch of two red roses, one white rose, and three sprigs of lily in the kitchen.

Louis, our English setter, is in the car. I’ll take him for a walk when I finish here.

Thinking back to 2005, when our daughter was born, and we came to Cork, from BathWith baby Grace – that was another age.

I started blogging, often daily. The good old days when blogs sometimes attracted long conversations on text.

In those days I grew new friendships via the blog, by commenting on other people’s blogs and a few times meeting bloggers face-to-face.

I remember JL Pagano, Paige Harrison, John of Dublin, Sinead Gleeson, Conn O Muíneacháin. I’ll remember more later.

The best way to start blogging is to read the blogs of other people, and connect with them on their blog. I left a lot of comments. It didn’t matter very much to me how many people read my blog posts.

I had an audience. I wrote for my daughter knowing that she would not be interested in anything I wrote for maybe 25 or 30 years.

It’s important to have a focus. It was also excellent writing practice.

Today I find it hard to recognise my own writing. Sometimes I say “how did I write that? Where did those words come from?”

Maybe I was a better writer then.

The words came to me as if they were an organic extension of my daily life, and thoughts, and feelings.

Sometimes poems came. sometimes political invective came. Other times observations about this new country I had returned to.

In February 2019, I don’t know what will come out.

We’ll see.

The Pope is almost here

These are fragments I’ve scribbled down while listening to the Irish national news today.

They came quickly from a fund of anger that festers within my body.

I’m sharing these phrases here in case I don’t sculpt them into verse soon. These are the exact words, warts and all.

The Pope is coming here

Defender of the Faith
God’s Vicar on Earth
Protector of priests
Conspiracy
Defender of pedophiles
rapists
Jesus Christ must be tossing in his grave
Confessor
Propagator of Untruths
Poser for the Poor
Prayers
Celebrator
Defender of Eucharist.

A chalice of putrid blood
the blood of people
abused
destroyed lives.
Destroyer of children
Leader of liars
Bishop of Rome
the central committee for the propagation of vice
7 deadly Sins
Mortal sins.

Salvation from prosecution

Infallible corruptor

The institution of Pope is here already in every parish + diocese

The silence of brother
the silence of priests, nuns
housekeepers
confession.

How shall the faithful welcome him?

longing, flags, reverence, prayers,
adoration