When you hear someone say ‘there are several reasons’ or ‘there is a number of factors’, do you respond pragmatically or with suspicion? I tend to assume the speaker actually has one reason and several rationalisations or that no factor is strong enough on its own so he’s hoping if he throws a kitchen sink of dodgy arguments together, they will make the case. To be honest, I’m talking about myself. As a master of rationalisation I am always suspicious of my ability to stack up the arguments to justify doing whatever I want. I am very fond of the exchange between Jeff Goldblum and William Hurt in the Big Chill:
Hurt: ‘isn’t that a bit of a ratioanlisation’
Goldblum: ‘Don’t knock rationalisations – they’re more important than sex’
Hurt (disbelieving): ‘More important that sex?’
Goldblum: ‘Sure, have you ever gone a week without a rationalisation?’
All this is by way of excusing the fact that I have just gone a longer period without a post than at any time since I began blogging over three years ago. There are several reasons and a number of factors:
• I am on holiday
• I have had other things to write: a piece in the FT today (in my own name not my RSA role), and a lecture on the sixties for the BBC
• My computer internet link is very erratic
• I can’t think of anything interesting to write about
• I feel increasingly uneasy about writing a blog when I read so few of the excellent posts produced daily by other bloggers (sadly Bloggers’ Circle – my idea for a peer reviewed amateur bloggers digest - has joined the list of internet site tumbleweed).
The problem with taking a break is I miss all the people who comment on my site (including those who clearly disapprove of me). I am worried you will forget about me while I'm away and that when I return to regular posting I will be shouting into an abyss of indifference.
So, there was only one thing to do. Choose a subject which I know people enjoy and then let my readers do the work. My most successful subject over the years has been jokes. So this week’s competition – for which the winner will receive an excellent bottle of wine (a gift after doing a talk to some public affairs types) – is for holiday puns. But, perhaps ill-advisedly, I’m setting the bar high with my own corker:
‘ I find that when I have visited one 13th century tower in Majorca I just have to visit another one. They are just so Moorish’.
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.