Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nosotros también podemos - So can we

Remember "Podemos!" the prophetic cry of the Spanish national football team (and almost every Spaniard and newly arrived foreigner...) last year? It translates as "We CAN!" (Some bloke in the US took his cue from Spain, and look where it got him.....)

El País has done a feature on the desires and prospects of adults with special needs, after Izaskun Buelta, a young woman with Down's Syndrome, put a question to Jose-Luís Zapatero about employment opportunities for handicapped people in Spain. Many people like Izaskun want to work and be independent, and they are showing that they can do it. Or to put it another way,

"So can we!"

Tienen síndrome de down. También proyectos de futuro. la joven izaskun buelta preguntó en televisión a zapatero sobre el empleo para discapacitados en españa. muchos como ella llaman a las puertas del trabajo y la vida independiente. están demostrando que pueden hacerlo.

Álvaro Quintanilla tiene 21 años. Acaba de aprobar la oposición que le ha convertido en funcionario en el Aula de Educación Ambiental del Ayuntamiento de Pozuelo de Alarcón, en Madrid. "Me llevo genial con mis hermanos, pero si no estudian... ¡ahí estoy yo!", asegura Álvaro

Álvaro Quintanilla is 21. He's just passed his Civil Service exams, and started work at the Environmental Studies Workshop operated by the local council of Pozuelo de Alarcón, in Madrid Province. "I get on really well with my colleagues, but if they don't study - I'm at them!" he assures us.
Gonzalo Custodio e Irene Sánchez tienen 23 años y son novios desde hace 16 meses. Ambos trabajan como ordenanzas, él, en Repsol YPF, ella, en su antiguo colegio. "Cada vez que miro a Irene pienso que es mucha mujer para mí", confiesa Gonzalo
Gonzalo Custodio and Irene Sánchez are 23, and have been going out together for 16 months. Both work as clerical assistants. He works for Repsol, and she works at her old school. "Every time I look at Irene, I think she's the girl for me." Gonzalo confides.
Marta Garrido tiene 30 años y trabaja en una empresa de lavandería. Hace tai-chi, le gusta bailar y el karaoke, ý aún le sobra tiempo: "Hago voluntariado en una residencia porque me gusta la alegría", dice.
Marta Garrido is 30, and works in a laundry. She does Tai Chi, and enjoys dancing & karaoke, and still has time to spare. "I volunteer in a residential home, because I enjoy the craic!" she says.
Ana Verde, de 26 años, está digitalizando los archivos de la Asociación de la Prensa de Madrid. "Estoy estudiando el papel protagonista del musical 'Mamma Mia!", explica.

Ana Verde, who's 26, is working as a data input clerk, digitising the archives of Madrid's Press Association. "I'm studying for the main role in Mamma Mia!" she says.
Hugo Aritmendiz, de 23 años, y Álvaro Juez, de 24, trabajan 25 horas semanales en el obrador de las pastelería Mallorca en Madrid. Tienen claro su objetivo: "Hay que trabajar, nos gusta... para formar una familia, ganar dinero"

Hugo Aritmendiz, aged 23, and Álvaro Juez, 24, work 25 hours a week at the Mallorca bakery in Madrid. They know what they want, "You have to work - and we like it - to support a family, to make money."
"Me encanta mi familia, pero desde hace cinco años vivo en un piso con amigas", cuenta Ana Manrique, quien, con 30 años, lleva uno trabajando en la firma de abogados Linklaters. Ana hace fotocopias, encuaderna y reparte el correo en las seis plantas del edificio.

"I adore my family, but for the past five years, I've been living in a shared flat with some friends," says Ana Manrique, who, at the age of 30, has come to work at the legal firm Linklaters. Ana does the photocopying and binding, and distributes the mail around the six-floor building.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

a shared culture of peace

In April 2008, the Fundación Cultura de Paz, Foundation for a Culture of Peace organised an international meeting at the Monastery of Motserrat, just outside Barcelonia, to discuss the role of religion in the building of peace.
Reuters photo: (L-R) Mohammad Khatami, former Iranian President and President of the Foundation for Dialogue Among Civilisations, Spaniard Federico Mayor Zaragoza, president of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace and former director-general of UNESCO, and the Abbot of Montserrat Josep Maria Soler ... at the signing ... of the Declaration of Montserrat.

Not long ago, a friend and I were discussing - ok, arguing about - God; and whether the divine might exist in any of the perceived - or official - forms; given that every society and culture since the beginning of human records has identified and worshipped 'the divine'; and, nowadays you can find both illiterates and college professors who believe that there is a God, or there isn't a God, or they don't know, and (or) they don't much care.

Whatever the case may be, I was struck by this statement, which I came across on the Abadia (abbey?)de Montserrat website, in this Final draft for a Declaration of Montserrat on religions and the building of peace.
As stated in the Alliance of Civilizations Report and others (2) we must enhance efforts to bridge the divides between religions and cultures through dialogue and concrete action, because religions and cultures are intertwined. We must overcome the misperceptions, stereotypes, biased language and concepts reproduced by the media and frequently echoed by irresponsible leadership. Religions must stay together to build a future where religions co-exist harmonically and work together for a common future. We must challenge attitudes that spread the appearance of links between religion and violence, extremism and even terrorism. (my italics)

Towards the end of the document, there is this paragraph:
We are convinced that a culture of dialogue, alliance, non-violence and peace must be
built with full respect to the human rights, the UN Charter and the rule of law. Such a
shared culture of peace needs to give creative expressions to the teaching of the world’s religious traditions: we are all responsible for one another with a sense of otherness and brotherhood. In political terms, the only security that is practically possible and morally sound is “shared security”.
That works for me.

"Love your neighbour. Do good to those who hate you." takes some doing, sometimes,
but we could start withItalic "Do no harm." or "Live and let live."

Maybe not buy any newspaper that routinely prints emotive, self-righteous headlines in five centimetre capitals, and devotes more space to photos than to words (overcome the misperceptions, stereotypes, biased language and concepts reproduced by the media and frequently echoed by irresponsible leadership).

..........................Then again, not all the broadsheets are on the side of the winged spiritual beings of your choice.......... Phooey - better step out of my nice cosy Guardian comfort zone....... I have got to stop thinking about the big stuff on Sunday afternoons........

..ahem.. Where was I? Oh yeah..

Maybe try the food, or the music, or the movies, or the books.
Buy the jewellery.
Adapt the fashions.
Copy the decor.
Maybe let the kids play together.
Wave and smile.
Talk to each other in the queue at the check-out
(enhance efforts to bridge the divides between religions and cultures through dialogue and concrete action).

All the big stuff!
The FCP put it this way.

¡Ojalá! - as they say here in Spain - a word derived, like many Spanish words, from Arabic, and meaning - I wish!


A small group of us got together yesterday - at last - to sing madrigals. We had a lovely time,but I don't know much about music history and theory, so today I thought I'd look up madrigals, and try once more to get my head round the terms polyphony and monophony. We're talking Wikipedia time again.

OK. Now I know what a madrigal is, but the other two terms just won't stick. I expect, though, that once I've sung more of each - with people who do know what they mean - and I've heard and felt how they fit together, then I'll get it. (In my wanderings, I also found homophony and heterophony. Who thinks of these words????????)

Anyway, there were five of us, three proper musicians who could sight read music, and knew their sharps from their naturals (and their troubadors from their jongleurs), and two of us who just like singing. We met in a living room, with a piano, had some tea (Yup, all English!) and had a go at three songs. The female voices were straightforward - one soprano and one alto (me). But one of the three guys, basically all tenors, though one was more baritone, had to sing bass. Whatever - it worked. Four part harmony. It's still very very rough, but we were so chuffed with ourselves.

I found several interpretations of all three on Youtube. They definitely won't help me remember the alto line, but I did enjoy hearing what different groups have done with these songs.

I'm not sure about the frocks, or Gandalf, but this is great fun to sing. It's a walking song for pilgrims climbing up to the Monastery of Montserrat near Barcelona. Most of the other groups sang it much more slowly, and once you've seen the location of the monastery, you'll know why....

Then there was Locus iste (This place was made by God), by the nineteenth century Austrian composer Anton Bruckner. The men practised in the kitchen, leaving us women with the piano in the living room. Next week, we might even try putting it all together.

And a Thomas Morley madrigal, Now is the month of maying, which sounds absolutely manic when taken at speed, but at a rhythm more suited to - maying - suggests all sorts of fun! Morley was a contemporary of Shakespeare, and they may have known each other.

Typical Tudor frock.......


I keep coming across craftspeople who sell their work on Etsy. I can do Amazon, but get very nervous about Ebay, and have never tried it. And Etsy? No clue. Pie in the sky.

I found this today:

Ahhhhh. Now I get it.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Just a thought

Now there was a time when they used to say that behind every - "great man", there had to be a - "great woman", but in these times of change you know that it's no longer true, so we're coming out of the kitchen, (This is a good thing, as otherwise my beloved couldn't get in there, and I would get totally fed up of a diet of fried egg butties - Even though I make excellent fried egg butties.) 'cause there's somethin' we forgot to say to you: Sisters are doing it for themselves; standing on their own two feet, and ringing on their own bells. ..........

Now we ain't making stories, and we ain't laying plans, 'cause a man still loves a woman, and a woman still loves a man................... Habiiiiiibiiiiiii!

P.S. Oh, and this may be a foolish move, but since I generally mean what I say, and more or less manage to say what I mean, and I'm sure none of it really matters anyway, I thought I'd quit hiding behind my adorable little duckie. But for all her fans, I give you the one, the only,


And, as befits one of her extraordinary talents - author of the classic novel of Anatidae adventure, Duckleberry Finn; star of the cult TV series Ducktor Who, and the ever-popular Ducks of Hazzard; director of the groundbreaking movie Sex, Lies and Ducktape, and the more populist Duck Rogers; lead vocalist with the Three Duckies, and composer of that great Motown hit Duck! In the Name of Love - I am delighted to be able to reveal that when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences conduckted a worldwide survey to select this year's recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, MamaDuck was far and away the most popular choice. Donald Duck is coming out of retirement to present her with the coveted statuette.

Of course, MamaDuck thinks the fuss is quite riduckulous, and was heard to mutter, "Cor, luvaduck, what a lot of fuss for little me." at a recent press conference, but for her many, many fans, there never was a happier day than when she was - at last - induckted into the Hollywood Hall of Fame, and left her distinctive signature in the wet concrete of Hollywood Boulevard.
See you at the Oscars!

P.P.S. Annie & Aretha O.K!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cory Booker, Mayor of "the worst city in America"

I ask him for his own assessment of his political weaknesses. He mulls it over.

"Sometimes I can be brash, and I can charge into things without thinking..." He smiles. "And I've had some incredibly good results! There's a quote from Lincoln: 'I've long since come to realise that a man with few vices has few virtues.' I think we have everything we need to be incredibly successful."

I can't help laughing at this burst of politico-speak. "Is that what you actually think?" I ask.

"Look," he says in self-justification, "when

I say 'we', I mean 'we', not 'I'."

"I'm not accusing you of arrogance," I tell him. "I'm accusing you of optimism."

"I say hope," he clarifies. "I'm a prisoner of hope. I don't see us not succeeding."

When I speak to Booker's friend Eddie Glaude, he says that "prisoner of hope" is a phrase Booker often likes to use. I tell him that's all very well, but couldn't you have the hope without the prison? "No," Glaude explains. "To say that is to say that we have the existential armour to hold off despair and doubt. You know, WEB DuBois in his 1903 classic talked about the three temptations: the temptation of hate, of despair and of doubt. Doubt is the most insidious of them all - you begin to doubt your capacity. And so to be a prisoner of hope in some ways is to secure oneself as best as one can."