Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Every year I try, for personal reasons linked to my birth, to pump myself up with bubbling enthusiasm for the only real inclusive international organization that exists in the world today.  It is, after all, the only forum in which the so-called democracies and the bloody awful dictatorships can blend their voices and come to conclusions based on the UN Charter which, after bloody all, every single nation has signed before it is allowed to join.

And every year my enthusiasm becomes more and more forced as the terrible reality of the leaders of our world flamboyantly failing to work together for good (thank you Ruskin) becomes more and more apparent.

Syria, for example shows up the frustrating pointlessness of diplomacy.  It is very easy to paint China and Russia (and one or two other nations that I will not pollute my mouth or rather my fingertips with) as the “Baddies” in the Syria Saga – and indeed their actions seem to me to be contemptible. 

But the “Goodies” are secretly delighted that those two nations stymie all attempts to actually do something about the crisis because then the Goodies would have to be seen to do something.  Which they don’t want to do because they are terrified of getting themselves involved in yet another insoluble situation in the East. 

So our Foreign Secretary wrings his hands and sheds crocodile tears, as he and our country do virtually nothing as our hands are tied as resolution after resolution in the UN is vetoed.  And tens of thousands of Syrians die.  And the situation of the surrounding countries gets ever more perilous.

However, what would the situation be like if there wasn’t even the fatuous game show of the United Nations in New York to allow at least a little of the animosity to be released in words and also some sort of diplomacy to exist, even if the absurd posturing of diplomats is like a particularly arcane version of a Japanese Noh play.

One comes back again and again to the wisdom in the old saw, “Anything is better than nothing” so, yet again, I will contain my scepticism (nowadays bordering on downright disbelief) and continue to celebrate the organization which, although it shares my birthday, is older than me.  I wish it well and I wish it was well!

My OU material is now officially lost.  The faint hope that it might be lurking in the recesses of the Post Office here in Castelldefels has been extinguished and I will have to wait for replacements.

As well as being United Nations Day it is also the day on which my OU course web site opens.  The computer, as you might expect, is an essential tool in the make up of the course.  Tutorials, essays, information, exercises and group work all rely heavily on the computer.  The range of information and the access to the OU electronic library links each student into world class learning resources.  I find it quite disconcerting, so it must be absolutely terrifying to neophyte students who are not fully computer literate.  It is an adventure!

The web site has revealed that all of the printed material also exists as PDF files and so I have been trawling my way through and found myself being alternately being delighted and appalled by what I am going to have to do in the twenty weeks following the start date on the 3rd of November.

I have been allocated a tutor – which makes everything much more real.  

The deadlines of submission dates for tutor marked assignments have been set.  

The date of the examination is set, though not where I am going to take it.  

The OU system is gearing up to get going and then it should carry you along (in theory) and spit you out the other end with a number of credits which you are then able to add to, and finally create, a degree for yourself.

Toni’s contribution to my study has been the purchase of a book.  Yes, Toni has actually bought me a book.  I got him to write this fact on the flyleaf and sign it!

“Mil Obras Para Descubrir El Arte” is one of those large heavy Larousse books into which you can screw legs and use as a table.  I love it – even though the actual writing is in Spanish.  My Spanish vocabulary to describe painting, architecture and music keeps on growing – though it has to be said that some of the words are as useful as the Italian that I know from Operas!

We went out for lunch in Sitges – a lunch I might add that seemed good value when we looked at the beguiling list of what we would get for our €12.50, but which turned out to be almost double that by the time we had a drink and a cup of coffee with the meal.  The swine even charged for the bread!  And our sea view was limited! 

Having had a fairly substantial meal at midday we do not want to have a festive meal this evening so we are finally eating part of the Red Cross parcel that Toni’s mum left us which consists of a lentil concoction in a glass jar.  We will accompany this with a cream cake with a candle in it surrounded by thawed out red fruit and topped with vanilla ice cream.  I know how to celebrate!

I had an email from one of my ex-colleagues in the school on the hill who has a disturbing facility for remembering people’s birthdays.  She remembered mine – and I’m not truly convinced that I even told her!  Creepy!

I’ll end where I began, railing at the infuriating character of the human species.

I phoned up the Philatelic Bureau to question the non-arrival of a set of stamps that were issued in late September.  I was told that everything is late and that I shouldn’t worry, my first day cover would get to me to due course.  I then said that I would like to put on record my gratitude to the Bureau for their gift of a free album complete with pocketed pages for the collection of Gold Medal Winners.  It seemed to me to be a piece of simple courtesy for a generous gesture.  I was told my the operator to whom I was speaking that the “gift” had been the subject of complaints! 

I didn’t ask what these complaints were about the “gift” that they had been given, I merely sighed and thought of United Nations Day.  If the giving of a gift caused complications how the hell did that organization get through a day without bloodshed!

Makes you think!
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