Saturday, 29 June 2013
And yet the things that enchanted me about the Imperial City were not what I had expected. Yes, standing in St. Peter's Square or in the Colosseum or among the ruins of the Forum did take my breath away, and all these things were truly impressive, and I'm really glad I've seen them. But what I really loved about Rome was strolling through the narrow streets of Trastavere, savouring the beauty of the buildings and the joy of coming out of a narrow street into a sunlit square with the inevitable little jewel of a local church, or wandering around the lively Campo de' Fiori, looking at all the wonderful flowers and foodstuffs, and trying to decide what to bring home as a souvenir, or sitting outside one of the many restaurants in the sunshine, just people-watching. And the wonderful food, and the statues on every corner. And having the time to talk about life, the universe and everything with our two children-no-longer-children, with us on holiday for probably the last time.
If you had asked me, before we left for Rome, what I was really looking forward to, I would have enumerated the sites I hoped to see, and how impressed I expected to be with it all. But anticipation and reality were very different. The enchantment was not in the magnificent, in the impressive, but in the vivid light, the mellow paint of the buildings, and the serendipity of wandering freely, open to what we might discover next.
Friday, 21 June 2013
· Expecting your child's school to have broadly Christian assemblies.
· Subscribing to the broad ethics of Christianity as taught in schools - the Ten Commandments; the life and example of Jesus etc etc
· Choosing to have broadly Christian life ceremonies i.e. having your children christened; getting married in church; having a minister at a family funeral.
· Quite enjoying singing hymns and carols if you are ever in church.
· Being familiar with Bible stories from both Old and New Testaments, in the same way that you know all the traditional fairy tales.
· Listening to or watching "religious" programmes on radio or television (whether documentaries, religious services, films/stories or even just Thought for the Day)
Friday, 14 June 2013
"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this vase represents your life. The 'golf balls' are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends and your passions. In other words, all those things that if everything else was lost and if only they remained your life would still be full.
Friday, 7 June 2013
The high-tech one is a new mobile phone - the contract on my old one, which I've never been happy with, because I've never understood how it works, ran out at the end of last month, and a friend of mine had just got a very good deal on an iPhone 4. So I made enquiries, discovered that the same deal was open to new customers, and it arrived yesterday.
It feels all wrong to extol the virtues of a consumer item on this blog, but this phone really is a pleasure to use - for a non-techie like me, the interface is delightfully intuitive and user-friendly, and I really don't care that it's not the latest model. I can dimly appreciate the hugely complex programming which must underlie this user-friendly interface, and marvel that the result of such complexity is simplicity.
I gave up smoking (hopefully for good this time) last Friday, so to keep my hands and brain busy, I have treated myself to a new cross-stitch kit. It could not be more different than the phone - there is no electronic technology involved at all - but the pleasure of unpacking it all, sorting the threads and starting to stitch a new project will be one that is familiar to all craft-loving friends.
In a way, it is the most complicated stitching project I have ever attempted - there are 16 different stitches as well as cross-stitch, but the design is wonderful and the chart is clear and easy to follow, and it's going to look spectacular when it's finished. Like my phone, the chart is fit for purpose, and therefore a pleasure to use.
Enjoying these new belongings - the phone and the chart - has made me appreciate anew the pleasure of good design. If an object is well-designed, form will follow function, and it will be simple to use and make the life of the user that much easier and more pleasurable. It has also made me reflect on how comparatively rare such good design is. My old phone is a good example - it had all sorts of wonderful features, but I could never work out how to use them, so I ended up just using it for texts and phonecalls, which was such a waste.
So I'm going to carry on enjoying my two new possessions, the more in that I appreciate the human ingenuity that has gone into their design.