Postscript

Longer-term readers will be aware of my history with Andalusia, which I haven’t mentioned for ages, though I’ve had recent thoughts of Pepe’s Beach Bar, near Estepona; even with a stick I want to paddle again in the Med. (previous:) “I remember times spent in beach bars, where fishermen walked up from the sea with the menu; beads of cool on pitchers of wine; and later we’d drink Fundador into dusk. The saucers would pile up, and ‘la cuenta’ was calculated with chalk on the table-top, in pesetas – and we pretended every day was a fiesta”.

            But it wasn’t just drinking and golf; when I first visited the Malaga province in the 1970s, I quickly felt a deep affinity with these people, their culture, and the spectacular light! Around 1999, I gave serious consideration to a flit. (previous:) “And I remember the high hills and the mountains behind the coast – the forests of pine and sweet chestnuts and cork oak – the steep slopes of Genal valley around Ronda, where eagles and falcons ride the thermals, and where the Moors built clinging villages, which now slumber in a past age”.

            For much of my adult life, Andalusia was the automatic place when I could get away. Every day wasn’t a fiesta, of course, but she never let me down. I’ve moved on from that phase; I’d rather go to the dentist than to Joy’s Piano Bar; for me to visit Estepona now would be little more than a postscript. But then, much of what I do these days has that feel.

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A professor from Glasgow Caledonian University, Michael Roy, has sent this letter to the Cabinet Secretary for the Third Sector, Shona Robison, which is signed by 126 academics from 26 countries in the international social enterprise community. The letter says that Scotland enjoys an enviable reputation for the quality of our social enterprise support infrastructure – which is due, in no small part, to the work, over many years, of Senscot – whom the Scottish Govt has now defunded; a decision which the letter asks to be immediately suspended for reconsideration. The Senscot bulletin, for years, was actively resisting the Anglo-American ‘money markets’ model of social enterprise, to stay close to european social economy values. Scottish Govt has chosen to go with the English model.

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Lesley Riddoch writes that the reason that Scotland has such poor turnouts for local elections is that we mostly don’t have local government, but sprawling region-sized councils; the distant micro-managing of local places is a major disruption of our civil realm. Riddoch gives examples from Norwegian democracy, where they have long associated their own independence from Sweden with community empowerment.

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This extraordinary Oxfam report, ‘Inequality Kills’, reminds us again of how urgent replacing capitalism has become; but discussing post-capitalism is still regarded like science fiction. However, two new explorers have been spotted: ‘How on Earth: Flourishing in in a Not for-Profit World by 2050’, and Mark Blyth’s view on post-capitalism.

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The Conversation platform posts new research on a theme which continues to attract my curiosity; that following the pandemic, over 50s in the UK have been leaving the labour force in record numbers – neither working not looking for work. For two years, we have all been living closer to death, and it interests me that this may have shifted our outlook – sense of proportions.

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Last week was exactly 50 years since Jimmy Reid gave his influential speech as the new rector of Glasgow University. It was titled’ Alienation’, but soon became known as the ‘rat race’ speech (the NY Times printed it in full). Very little original recording of the address survived, but the Jimmy Reid Foundation has archived the full text of the speech.

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One of the core Taoist teachings is called ‘wei wu wei’ – literally ‘doing not-doing’ – which has been seen as passivity. Nothing could be further from the truth. A good athlete can enter a state of body-awareness in which the right stroke or the right movement happens by itself, effortlessly, without any interference of the conscious will. This is a paradigm for non-action: the purest and most effective form of action. The game plays the game: the poem writes the poem; we can’t tell the dance from the dancer.

Tao Te Ching – section 48: “In the pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added. In the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped. Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It can’t be gained by interfering”.

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