Tuesday, 30 October 2018


Of course we‘ve no intention of moving but every so often I scan “Right Move” wondering what it would be like to live in Rye, Lewes or Salisbury (near that cathedral which is on every Russian’s must-see list…’spire reaching up 123 metres’). The appeal of cathedral music is huge. Like living next to a free Wigmore Hall.

So when I saw a picture of a rather nice house close to Chichester Cathedral I thought “what fun”. When we were next in Chichester I went to have a look.  Facing the loading bay of the House of Frazer – lorries,  dustbins and mournful signs (“store closing down  January 2019) it didn’t look promising. Nor did it smell good - unmistakably of urine. Sadly the house was next door neighbour to a large and extremely popular public lavatory.

Nothing is quite what it seems. I‘d dreamt of potentially being a neighbour to the incense filled cathedral. The reality was smell of a different kind. Time to stop cropping the picture  and missing an essential feature.

This reminded me of the film called  “The Impossible”. In it a family is caught up in the nightmare of a tsunami in Thailand. One image vividly stuck with me. The mother sees her sons playing in the sea  with the tsunami behind them in the distance. She runs towards them waving frantically in warning. Uncomprehending they wave back in play and salutation.

In a week in which the increasingly strange Donald Trump infuriated his liberal critics by again insisting there are only two colours in an argument - black and white ….only two, only two…there’re no others. In a week in which nuance therefore takes another beating I realise that a bit like the public lavatory in Chichester the elephant in the room is ignored – “what elephant? Fake elephant. I see no elephant.”

We are all guilty of conspiring against balanced arguments. We read newspapers that simplify information. So this week, for instance, there was a headline in the Times on page1 which claimed “Eating organic food makes you 25% less likely to die young”. They’ll  doubtless be one next week saying “Science shows organic food is bad for old people”. It’s the cropping of information that makes the photograph lie. Thus the response of Guy Singh-Watson, who owns Riverford Foods, the organic farm and  veg box delivery company, to the blanket condemnation of plastic saying in some situations plastic wrapping is the best way.

Two of the most potent words in disputing a categoric claim are “not necessarily” . But in this black and white world the response to most offences would be that of Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts “off with their heads.”

Whilst the Chinese as we learnt this week seem keen on mass re-education it’s us who could with some ourselves. It’s time to see the whole picture not just the bit that fits our argument.
To the side of every piece of scenery lurks a metaphorical public lavatory.

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