I went to the Royal Academy to see the exhibition on Soviet Art and Architecture entitled Building the Revolution - Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935.
It was fascinating and sad in equal measure.
The former because some of the buildings were spectacular and ground-breaking. It was all rather sad to see the state of decay that some of them are now reduced to.
But then some of our best buildings from the era have suffered a similar fate. Although, it is from just after World War II, I once went over Cliff Key Power Station in Ipswich. That was a real pleasure and it was a pity that it couldn’t have been transformed for a modern purpose. But then those power stations, were built to last thirty years and often the foundations weren’t of the best. Just look at the state of the iconic Battersea Power Station today.
In the Courtyard of te Royal Academy, there was this tower.
It is a modern reconstruction of Tatlin’s Tower; a giant tower that was never built.
The statement is from Colin Murray Parkes, who has just received this year’s Times/Sternberg Active Life Award. This summary from Wikipedia sums up the sort of work he has done.
Parkes is a former chairman and now life president of the charity Cruse Bereavement Care. He acted as a consultant and adviser following the disasters in Aberfan, the Cheddar/Axbridge air crash, the Bradford Football Club fire, the capsize of the Herald of Free Enterprise and Pan American aircraft explosion over Lockerbie. At the invitation of UNICEF, he acted as consultant in setting up the Trauma Recovery Programme in Rwanda in April 1995. At the invitation of the British government, he helped to set up a programme of support to assist families from the United Kingdom who were flown out following the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, in New York. In April 2005 Parkes was sent by Help the Hospices with Ann Dent to India to assess the psychological needs of people bereaved by the tsunami.
And much of it was done after he was supposed to have retired.
One paragraph in the article in The Times today is particularly appropriate to my experience.
He has these words of advice: “The most important thing is not to avoid people who are bereaved. They won’t necessarily ask for help, but it is a lonely time. So do take the trouble to invite them out or go in for a visit. Even if all they really want to do is feel sad and have a good cry, it is nice to be able to do that with someone.
“Most people cope very well with bereavement if you give them a chance. Often people do the wrong thing for the right reason and avoid bereaved people because they are afraid of upsetting them, when actually they are upset anyway and sometimes long to talk about it. This is particularly the case at times of celebrations or anniversaries.”
He is so right. You can could the number of my friends, who have come to visit me since I moved on the fingers of one hand. But I did get large numbers of Christmas cards this year.
Am I bothered? Well, yes and no! I know that I’m way down some peoples’ lists and as someone who has always made most of his own entertainment, I can cope. But don’t say you’ll come and then don’t do it.
I was listening yesterday to the BBC’s morning phone-in and they were talking about debts and especially how people have got into trouble over Christmas.
If I look at my finances over the last year, they have improved somewhat and I felt that although I’m living on my savings until my house is sold, I’ve probably got almost a year more before my avings run out, than when I moved here in December 2010.
So what major savings have I made.
The first is the the television, phones and broadband. I like Sky Sports, and the big saving is that I can’t have an obvious dish here, as it’s a Conservation Area. Although, I could probably hide one on the roof! I did try Virgin by cable to get Sky Sports 1 and 2. Now I’ve switched to BT Vision with of course Freeview. I now pay about £50 a month to get phone calls, broadband and Sky Sports 1 and 2.
I don’t seem to miss out on watching anything I want to, but the saving is a thousand on Virgin Media and a couple of thousand compared to Sky.
Note that I only rarely watch films on television and generally stick to the four BBC channels, the two Sky Sports channels and radio.
The biggest saving is not having a car. I don’t miss it one bit, although perhaps it would have helped on Christmas Day to get to my son’s. But with the amount of money I save, I can afford the occasional black cab or mini-cab.
Getting rid of the car has other benefits too in addition to the obvious financial and logistical ones.
You walk a lot more, which is obviously good for you. I always walk with my eyes open too and I see things in shop windows that I might like to buy to improve my lifestyle or things that are just interesting in the street.
Walking is a real joy in a city and in no way inferior to walking in the country. In fact, I think it is more thought-provoking.
So how many people with serious debt problems have still got the expensive television, the full Sky and an expensive car?