Moving beyond ‘No’

Yes, I’ve been reading. But we’ll come back to that.

When I got talking to people in Granby in Liverpool, about seven years ago now, they asked me to help them get over a very specific problem:

“We all know what we don’t want. We don’t want our houses to be knocked down. So we’ve got very good, over many years, at opposing any and all plans to do this. The trouble is though, we can’t agree between us on exactly what it is we do want. So could you help?”

I said “Yes, maybe” and we began to work on something together, loads of us, that has largely worked. Not perfectly and it’s not finished. But we moved beyond that skilfully confident “no” to a curious and more friendly “yes,” and in so doing changed a piece of the Earth very much for the better.

What I hadn’t realised until this week was that in learning that lesson in Granby, that yes is stronger than no, we were beginning to learn something that may yet help to create a better future for the whole of the Earth, if we could be fairly quick about it. Continue reading “Moving beyond ‘No’”

Walking down to the Royal Infirmary

A blog post from a little over three years ago here, where I looked at how our major hospitals are woven into the life and death fabric of our lives. And wondered whether Carillion would be up to the job.

My opinion now is that the people and companies of Liverpool should be finishing the building of our own hospital ourselves. It’s life and death and jobs and it matters.

Anyway, back to my walk down to the Royal Infirmary in October 2014.

Yes I know the Royal in Liverpool isn’t called that any more. But I’m calling it that because it sounds more like a song. You know, ‘St James Infirmary’ and all that classic jazz and blues and country stuff. And, Sunday though it is, I’m shortly off to walk to Liverpool’s biggest and ugliest hospital.

But I wanted to start all this with music. Because I’m delighted to report that my life is currently full of it. After several months of semi-deafness I’m suddenly hearing out of both sides of my head. And my joy is unconfined.

Hank and other treasures not really appreciated until now.
Hank and other treasures not really appreciated until now.

Last night, for example, I played my new-to-me 1950s Hank Williams LP three times on the run for the sheer joy of being able to hear it. This was made easier by Sarah being away at the moment. Obviously, with human company, playing anything three times on the run would be hard to get away with. But on your own? It’s my life, my LP and besides – in the months of hardness of hearing it’s one of a good few LPs I’ve barely heard at all. Until now.

Then this morning, that weird once a year long Sunday morning when the clocks have gone back and you feel all luxurious about time, I’m partly reading. But mostly putting the book down so it won’t interrupt the music. Because Cerys is on and, again, it feels like months since I’ve heard her properly. Cerys Matthews that is. And we’ve even had a short exchange, very, about how delighted I am to hear her and her Zouk and Turkish and Bowie and Dust Bowl Sunday Roast selection.


So what’s the word? Happiness, yes that’s it. About music and about feeling well after several months of sensory deprivation. Even as I write Cerys is playing Richard Burton reading ‘Under Milkwood’ to an instrumental ‘Under Dubwood’ reggae backing. Deep joy.

So why am I about to walk down to the Royal Infirmary for a CT scan as the newly shortened day no doubt darkens? Continue reading “Walking down to the Royal Infirmary”