Marshmallows – 1 or 2

In 1973 researchers at Stanford University carried out the marshmallow experiment on young children. Each was taken into a room and shown a plate with two marshmallows. They were told they could have one now or both when the researcher returned after 15 minutes. They were then left alone. The children were tracked through their school years, and it was found that those who were able to delay gratification had better outcomes educationally as well as in health indices. This […]

The War to end all Wars

And did it? The Second World War, Korea, Vietnam, Wars in the Balkans, the Gulf Wars, and multiple guerrilla wars. Of course not. So, what chance has our ‘new normal?’ Other than a soundbite, what is our ‘new normal’ anyway? Ssssh, I had a late breakfast today. Worse, I eschewed ‘Nolan’ and listened to Radio 4. The experts explained how Economic recessions stimulated change in the way we work, more automation, more artificial intelligence, fewer people. And how new business […]

The only legacy that matters

The tragic, unacceptable circumstances which led to the death of George Floyd and the worldwide condemnation which followed, has dominated news broadcasts over the past two weeks. Black communities in England, Belgium and other European countries which have an imperial past, have expressed their disapproval of statues which commemorate the lives of individuals who were involved in the lucrative exploitation of African people who were shipped to the Caribbean islands and southern states of the USA to work as slaves. […]

Chasing after the wind?

I am minuscule, so tiny I cannot be seen by the naked eye. Almost invisible. My beauty is as bewitching as my heart is malevolent. Flaunting my crown, I strut back and forth across this world, subverting order, destroying commerce, and upturning civilisation. No place is too remote. No one is safe. I feed on weaknesses. My proper title is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2. Don’t you ever forget my name, for I am a remorseless killer. And me? […]


Reboot. An action that I usually associate with my computer. Due to the frequent use of Zoom, I have been restarting my desktop more often to guarantee that it will run smoothly and reliably while hosting a meeting. To reboot, I must close all the running programs on the computer, and then reopen them when the restart is finished. Rebooting takes extra time, but it is worth it. At the end of the process I have a more efficient device […]


We’ve all got the message now, social distancing is important and we need to stay 2 metres apart. But what is 2 m? Well it’s about 6 feet, 72 inchs, 0.009 furlongs or even 1 fathom. So how do we know when we’re at the right distance. This is much harder than you might think and it is why we use comparisons. How often do you hear on the news that something is the length of 2 football pitches, or […]

Spring 2020

Everyone loves spring, leaves unfolding, seeds sprouting, birds singing and busily building nests. Spring always arrives, we appreciate and enjoy it or it passes us by, because we are so busy, travelling here and there, with little time to notice anything or stop to look. This year it’s different. We garden, dig, plant and sow and, like children, watch for new growth, for a mist of green. Every day we take a walk along the Comber Greenway, an old railway […]

Open your heart to the sunshine

Many years ago Don and I were members of a dramatic society. Every year we produced two 3-act plays, an operetta and a pantomime. The panto which stands out in our memories was “Cinderella” in which Don was a superb Ugly Sister and I was the Fairy Godmother. During our period of lockdown, we have been enjoying the sunshine in our garden, listening to the birds and being thankful for the lovely area in which we live. Many times, the […]

In a strange land

In 1978 Boney M released By the Rivers of Babylon based on psalms 19 and 137; it became one of only 7 songs that have sold more than 2 million copies. One line especially has resonated with me in the weeks since lockdown. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? It feels very much as if we’re all living in a strange land at present, a land where the rules have changed. Where is God in […]


There can be no return to normal because normal was the problem in the first place. Graffiti in Hong Kong (2020) I find this easy to accept as a comment on society. But is it also true of me? Was my normal a problem? To me? To others? I am still processing these questions as I look forward to a lockeddown, limited future. Without an effective vaccination, I will remain in lock-down unless I decide to play Russian Roulette with […]