Wednesday, August 24, 2011

a birthday cake for one...

This year, I shall be mostly spending my birthday on a train - travelling to a client to support them resolve some partnership issues. I'll get to see my 2 boys for a few minutes in the morning (when they're usually only interested in breakfast and morning TV than anything else).

So maybe I'll
be celebrating over the weekend instead? No. I'll be travelling back from working with an emerging co-operative enterprise on friday evening, and then over the rest of the weekend my wife is running market stalls and I'll be pitching in with our adopted town of Todmorden's launch of a new pilgrimage.

Why am I sharing this? Well, it's not to elicity sympathy (as I'm OK with it), but as a moral encouragement to everyone else who finds themselves in a similar time of their lives. The world doesn't owe us anything and we're not automatically entitled to big parties and celebrations (as much as we might wish otherwise...)

So, as the poet Andrew Marvell put it "take your pleasures where you can", 'cos the harsh reality of the world means that you can't always indulge yourself in things you want. And that's a hard truth which many people don't want to accept - but maybe if they did, then we'd all get along a lot easier...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why it’s good to indulge yourself in (unjustifiable) luxuries

I've recently taken out a subscription (posh word for membership) to the Portico library in Manchester after I was invited to lunch there by a colleague and saw, and was allowed access to, their 'members room' (which is highly reminiscent of a bygone age of gentleman's clubs...)

Ultimately though, the Portico is a library (albeit one of great historical interest) so why pay the membership fees to indulge myself in this way when I could still visit and enjoy the rest of it for free as a visitor?

Well, it’s because I think it’s good to reward yourself from time to time (after all, not everyone will thank you for what you do), it's given me a new perspective through having a different context to sit and think and talk with people I wouldn't otherwise meet, and it’s also given me pause to re-consider what I place value on (and why...).

So – it could be a slice of cake, or a new tie, but every once in a while you need to treat yourself.

Who knows, maybe your treat will be a membership to the Portico as well and I'll see you in the member's room sometime...

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Big Society will lead to Anarchy!! (and why that's a good thing...)

Anarchy is a phrase that’s often mis-understood – people associate it with lawlessness, chaos and disorder; with fear and unrest. But it’s exactly what will increasingly happen as the Big Society show trundles on...

You see, Big Society is all about us as ‘mere citizens’ taking ever increasing amounts of control and responsibility over things that affect our lives and upon which we depend – public services, for example. And a chance comment at a recent Co-production seminar in Manchester made me realise that this means we’ll be moving to an ever increasing anarchistic society.

We were discussing how coproduction will see the traditional ‘powers that be’ and commissioning bodies become ever less powerful and loose their control over how individuals decide upon how they want the social and health services they access look and feel. “It’ll be madness – a free for all – pure anarchy!” was the comment made in semi-jest...

But actually anarchy will be a good thing to happen – because anarchy isn’t about the breakdown of society and law and order, it’s about the absence of government control over our lives; it’s about us as ‘ordinary citizens’ coming together voluntarily and co-operatively to decide and agree upon the type of society that we feel it most appropriate and just. And coproduction may offer us the best framework/model by which to achieve this.

But if nothing else, isn’t it therefore about time we starting talking not about the Big Society, but the Society of Anarchy? (who’d have thought it – David Cameron: the anarchist!)