Monday, August 27, 2012
In the above 1631 painting by Pietro Cortona, Anaias of Damascus is restoring the eyesight to Saul of Tarsus. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the disciples of Jesus Christ around the Jerusalem area and decided to move onto Damascus to perpetrate more of the same. However, somewhere along the road to Damascus, the resurrected Christ appeared to him in a blinding light and Saul was struck by blindness. After three days, Ananias of Damascus healed Saul's blindness and therein began Saul's conversion to Christianity. Saul changed his name to Paul and his life's path took another direction entirely. His writing about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and his missionary activities in and around the Mediterranean Basin, influenced communities to worship the God of Israel; relaxing or abandoning the Law of Moses, that had been previously relevant.
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Regional Secretary of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
(Very telling body language!!!!)
Bashar al-Assad was not being groomed to take over from his father, President Hafez al-Assad. That was supposed to be the fate of Bashar's older brother, Bassel, who was killed unexpectedly in a car accident.
Bashar graduated from the medical school of the University of Damascus in 1988 and worked as a doctor in the Syrian army for four years before taking up postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital in London, specialising in Opthalmology. Bashar was recalled to the Syrian Army in 1994 and the rest is history. When Bashar came to power in 2000, the Syrian people nicknamed him 'The Hope'! He has reportedly stashed 1.5 billion dollars throughout Russia, Hongkong and various other tax havens to avoid possible seizure.
Asma Assad - a British citizen of Syrian descent and wife of Bashar al-Assad
There are thousands of Middle East experts across this globe of ours and I am not one of them. However, I will say that I find it incredible that Assad appears to be more concerned with Syria's foreign policy than with his own domestic policies, and yes, he wouldn't be the only world leader or political writer to say that Israel's refusal to acknowledge the state of Palestine, is unethical and against all human right-minded people. Of course, it is necessary for any nation to look outwards, but surely a government's first obligation is to its own people, in the same way a medical doctor's is to his/her patient.
Following the horrible, horrible massacre of approx 200 children in Houla last May and the massacre of hundreds of so-called rebels in Daraya over the weekend, there can be no doubt that President's Bashar al-Assad's first obligation is to himself and staying in power at all costs and by any possible means.
The irony of this is that Bashar al-Assad graduated as a medical doctor and then went onto specialise in taking care of people's eyes !!!
Perhaps he should walk along the same road towards Damascus just as St Paul did all those centuries ago, as it would appear that President Assad is obviously blinded by greed and power. Any man or woman, that does not possess a genuine LOVE for his/her people, should NEVER be allowed to hold a position of leadership or power, and should be driven out. We live in hope of peace and democracy for the Syrian people.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Went swimming today for the first time in twelve months! I cannot believe how quickly the last year has flown. I was away on holidays in the Dingle Peninsula this time last year, swimming most days in a freezing, but deliciously cleansing Atlantic Ocean
It has been a crazy year, what with musical theatre productions, my father's illness, his subsequent death, and my younger daughter's relocation to Canada. Not normally given to routine, unless teaching or rehearsing, this year was filled with it for one reason or another, and with precious little time for luxuries like writing or exercising. Routines and watching the clock appear to make time pass more quickly. Having said that, I am terribly grateful, there never seems to be enough hours in the day and that I wake most mornings with a sense of wonder about what each new day will bring.
I've spent the last week decorating a spare bedroom, which faces south overlooking the garden and would love to put in some french doors to open out onto a decking that has a small table and two chairs with an abundance of trailing wisteria, roses and potted maples. My idea of heaven would be to put in coffee and tea machines, and then with the help of the french doors, and croissants....of course, I could breakfast on the terrace, without having to shuffle into the kitchen or meet or talk to another soul. Bliss. That solitary hour or so in the morning, which so seldom happens, nurtures a drifting, a floating into the day, and time seems to pass more slowly because of it. Anyway, back to the swimming.
In between coats of paint, I headed over to the pool in Dundrum Leisure Centre, part of Dundrum House Hotel, which also boasts a beautiful golf course. The 50 metre pool is encased in glass, and looks out onto the extremely well-maintained golf course. At the deeper end of the pool, adjacent to steam and sauna rooms, there are several lush plants in blue pots, which persuade of the Mediterranean.
Walking through the foyer of the leisure club, I noticed there wasn't a soul in the pool, and so I changed into my swimsuit as quickly as possible, to have it all to myself, if only for a few minutes. Lowering myself into the water, I stretched out in front and pushed through the water with the curving outwards arm movements of the breaststroke with its customary leg movements akin to that of a frog. Boy did it feel good....did it feel sexy. So what has breaststroke got to do with sex? What has sex got to do with swimming?
The experts or 'sexperts' tell us sex is good for us; that a healthy sex life can add years to our lives and supposedly, helps to maintain a youthful appearance. I imagine the enjoyment of sex is rooted in a sensual awareness, which involves the use of all five senses. If we open our eyes, our ears, our sense of smell and touch, and really talk to people, how can we NOT be sensual beings. If we can also strive to maintain an open heart and mind, and say 'yes' instead of 'no' more often and say: 'I'm not sure how I feel about that piece of music or that work of art, but I shall endeavour to understand what the composer or author is saying, by looking or listening again.' Surely, we need to be stretched and challenged as human beings, to find out exactly who we are. How exciting to eat different foods, to speak different languages, to read new maps, to listen to different bird calls, to smell different spices, flowers and plants. So 'yes' now to swimming.
It's all about the surge, the broadening and the stretch. The surging forward of the arms, followed by their broadening circular movements; the symmetry of the legs as they open outwards, together with the stretch from the tips of the fingers to the tips of the toes, can be compared to the welcoming embrace of a lover; when heart, mind, body and all the senses proclaim together an .....open.....wide....'YES'!
I for one, am afraid to miss anything and remind myself to say 'yes' more. So what has swimming got to do with sex? Damned if I know! Hello....(just slapped my wrist!!!) 'YES' I do know.....my senses told me!
Ciao for now!
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Ireland's Olympic Gold Medal Hopeful - Katie Taylor
I was buying some tiles for a fireplace today, when two rather excited ladies came into the store and exclaimed to the man behind the counter, that Irish Olympic boxing hopeful Katie Taylor, had won her semi-final bout this afternoon against Tajikistan's Movzuna Chorieva. John, I think his name was, didn't appear to reciprocate their excitement. Of course, that may not have necessarily signified a disinterest, because Katie wasn't male; it might just be however, that he was concentrating on doing one thing at a time, since men aren't supposed to be good at multi-tasking. Naturally, I am delighted that Katie and Ireland are at least on for an Olympic silver medal. I just wish it was for another sport.
I have watched very little of the Olympic TV coverage, not because I'm disinterested, but I've just had other commitments. However, I had a houseful of men over the August bank holiday weekend, and whilst they were waiting to be fed and afterwards, the TV and the Olympics were switched on. They called me in to watch the fastest man on the planet, Jamaican runner, Bolt, win his amazing100 metres sprint final. I sat a while then, and a ladies boxing bout came on. This was my first time watching two women box each other, and as much as I believe in the equality of women, I cannot get my head around one woman boxing another woman in the face and around the head. I then watched a few minutes of a ladies soccer match between Canada and USA and there were headers flying into the goal all over the place, and whilst it was good to see an abundance of goal-scoring; it didn't feel natural either. I've been trying to figure out why these two sports, played by women on this occasion, but in particular, boxing, stands out from other sports enjoyed by both sexes. After all, I remember watching Cassius Clay (Mohammad Ali) causing a sensation in the world of boxing back in 1964, as he danced around the ring, before 'stinging like a bee', and knocking out reigning world heavy-weight champion Sonny Liston. I watched every fantastic Irish soccer game during the Italia 1990 World cup campaign with enormous relish. It was quite simply..... unforgettable. So why......???
I think its about OVERT AGGRESSION. The picture of Katie Taylor above is filled with it. The faces of the girls as they scored their goals the other night, were creased with it. Yes, I understand that to win sporting competitions, the individual male or female has to adopt an aggressive attitude towards their own training schedule and with huge personal sacrifices, in much the same way that a concert pianist does if he or she is playing with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Undoubtedly girls can be supremely aggressive in their catty remarks to one another, whereas boys appear to settle their disputes by shoving, punching or kicking each other. Putting aside the exceptions, that being at war with another country can force; women, of course, fight openly with each other sometimes late at night after too much to drink; 'legless' and shoe-less, and quite often over a man, but I would suggest that for the most part, these episodes are not premeditated.
The whole country of Ireland will be behind Katie as she does what she does next.....against the Russian, Sofya Ochigava in the final. The wheel of aggression has already been set in motion with the bitchy, acerbic comments emanating from the Russian corner. Resorting to physical violence rather than a dialogue to settle a dispute is not good, but to walk into a ring, planning to box someone's head in, or punch out their lights, without knowing their opponent and no axe to grind, in the name of sport and light entertainment, is quite frankly barbaric and grotesque, whether male or female.
I have been known to enjoy watching two gals slipping and sliding around in the mud outside the saloon of an old Western or two, trying to land a right hook or tear each other's hair out; all for the heart of one sheriff or gun-slinging outlaw. Unladylike behaviour and violent ... but surely, an example of unpremeditated passion by the very least token.
Imagine the person, that a fighter of either sex faces in the ring, might actually be a friend under other circumstances. Crazy world, ain't it!
Ciao for now!
Friday, August 3, 2012
Can you not hear the ticking;
The frantic fingers clicking,
The stagnant seasons sticking,
The riddled rebels licking,
The banking blaggards tricking.....
Can you not hear?
Can you not feel the burning:
The sickened stomachs churning,
The tangled tempers turning,
The faithless fervour learning,
The hollow heartless yearning,,,,,
Can you not feel?
Can you not see the writing:
The moistened matches lighting,
The bitter battles biting,
The lazy legals citing
The crippled churches fighting.....
Can you not see?
Can you not smell the roasting;
The rotten republic coasting,
The tinpot tipsters toasting,
The lying lectures boasting,
The missing masters ghosting......
Can you not smell?
Can you not speak the talking;
The battered billboard chalking,
The wizened wisdom walking,
The nervous neighbour gawking
The heartfelt horror balking......
Can you not speak?
Maureen Walsh - August 2012
Ciao for now!