Sunday, 24 November 2013

Three seater

Caroline looked after the grandchildren again today (they were generally in high spirits), while Agnes and I were once more at Medicine Unboxed.

I found myself flagging by mid-afternoon, after a heavily political hour dominated by discussion of the "Semtex suppository inserted in the NHS by the Coalition." Ray Tallis, author of NHS SOS, came up with this and several other pithy phrases to sum up his view that the Health Service wasn't broke when the Tories took over, "and they tried to fix it by blowing it up."

He was supported by Professor Allyson Pollock, laying in to the BBC for its failure to alert the public to what was going on, and the vocal majority of the audience.

Earlier, Jocelyn Pook had talked about her strange compositions, inspired by ansafone messages. I could just about take these on board, but not the pieces consisting of voices running backwards: as with Eduardo Miranda's robotic music (he was on yesterday's programme), I kept thinking of those who use Photoshop to rob representational photographs of all meaning: you may as well set chimpanzees loose in the artist's studio.

This was the session when we came nearest to a consideration of the role God plays in people's lives: ecstatic singing was compared to prayer - without anyone "confessing" that it could indeed be prayer. I hid my light under a bushel. Shame.

I found myself surprisingly comfortable with psychoanalyst (and author of The Examined Life) Stephen Grosz talking to Sam Guglani: Grosz's conclusion about a bore was simply that "he didn't let the present matter." And the question put to him by his own (distinguished) analyst was, "When are you going to come in here by yourself?"

The other star of today's sessions was for me Eleanor Longden, reprising her TED talk about the voices in her head. "Don't ask what's wrong with you: ask what's happened to you," she urged.

What's happened to the England cricket team? One could certainly ask that.

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