Monthly Archives: November 2014

Best Country. Is That Even a Thing? by Mikel Azure.

Hey Abner, thanks for your honest post about how the concept of “best country” has always bothered you.  Reading your thoughts got my brain juices flowing real good.

Abner commented that the media uses the idea of “our country is best/better” to divide people, presumably to create some advantage for either politicians or profit makers to use against their own people or against another country.

I think he’s entirely right about that, the narratives created by media are not without purpose.  As Bob Dylan sang, “You’re gonna serve somebody” and the narratives in any media are serving somebody, they are edited narratives, someone is making choices about what we see and read and those choices are not random.  Plenty of those narratives are venal, basically serving to trivialize people’s taste and to distract them from actual problems and challenges.

What Karl Marx had to say about religion, being an opiate revealing the oppression and pain of the people, might now be aimed squarely at the flood of media, social and traditional (24 hour news anyone?  24 hour sport anyone?  24 hour shopping channel anyone?).

Anyway, back to my main point, so I agree with Abner that the concept of “best country” can be used badly, destructively, as a power tool.

But that does not invalidate the concept or its use.  A hammer can build a house or kill someone, how we use a tool says something about us, less about the tool.

Perhaps when most people say “our country is best/better” they are saying something positive?   Perhaps we can use those words and mean no insult to any other country, being focused rather on all the good we see and value in our own country?  Perhaps there are more accurate ways to express this valuing of the good in our own country, but poor language use does not equate to negative intent. 🙂

I think Abner is correct to suggest that on a nation to nation scale it is impossible and irrational to think that such a thing as a global or generalized “best” can even be established.  Nations are too different, values are too different and anyone who set the standard would be setting it from a particular narrow perspective, all of us stand on our own land, seeing the world from the perspective of a particular place and a particular experience.

I think it probably is possible to compare particulars, it still might not be entirely helpful to make that final statement    “and this one is the best” in any particular, but some things can be measured and some things need to be measured.

I have recently had conversations with friends in some South East Asian countries (I’m not specifying the countries as that would distract from this illustration and I would prefer to speak of the short comings of my country, rather than suggest problems in someone else’s.) and they lament about the levels of corruption in their countries and the impact this has on them and their families.

So is there value in measuring the particulars of legal justice from country to country, or human rights from country to country, or standard of living from country to country?  I think there is.  I also think that there is a “better” standard of legal fairness and a worse standard, there is a better standard of human rights and a worse standard and poverty, at any level is always a bad thing, surely, and the less poverty in a country the better it is, surely?

I also agree with Abner that anyone who has not travelled is in a really weak position to be saying “we are best” and many of us who do travel end up drawing a similar conclusion to the one Abner states – countries are DIFFERENT, not better or worse.

And here is one way Australia is different from most other countries except a few isolated island nations.   Australia shares no land borders with any other nation and we are not “on the way” to anywhere else either, we are stuck down the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere and surrounded by vast distances across water to most other places with just a tip of the South East Asian archipelago reaching down towards us.   For the two hundred years of white settlement we’ve never had to learn a neighbour’s language, or worry about them being just across the border.

Balancing against this isolation has been our traditional orientation towards England and what goes on there seeing as the Monarch of England is still the Monarch of Australia. (You have NO idea how much that fact burns me every time I think about it.)  That outward gaze towards the UK has expanded to include the rest of the world in my lifetime, partially due to the interests of all the “new australians” in various waves of post war  immigration that we have welcomed.   We are interested in the rest of the world and we love to travel and we have a high enough standard of living, and a decent exchange rate that makes plenty of travel possible for most of us.

So, we are a strange mixture of isolation and engagement.

Where am I going with this?   It seems I have come to my conclusion, or perhaps it is a dead end?   No, I prefer to think of this as a free flowing response/reflection on Abner’s post, one contribution to a conversation, therefore, no conclusion is necessary…….


Again into serious matters!

Oh my dear smallword. You are always turning into Big Words. National identity. You have no idea how much that topic has always bugged me! I’ve travelled 55 countries and talking about national identity is always a prime topic of conversation in each culture. It’s a paradox really. In a world where you are supposedly encouraged to find your own identity, individuals always want to relate to a group identity.

I remember when I arrived to the UK the first time, I had to deal with the stereotype of the immigrant who moved to the ‘developed’ world to find a better life, or the one who got a British girlfriend in order to stay in the country! It was hurtful and far, very far from my reality… Sadly, it’s everywhere. The way we are perceived, it’s based upon where we come from.

Unfortunately, media, education, society all use the concept of ‘National Identity’ as a discourse to separate us. Let’s be truthful and I’m sure you would agree, the ‘developed’ countries have grown feeling the ‘better places’, the ones where everyone would like to be. And the ‘developing countries’ have been referred like the ‘disadvantaged’ ones, the ones who need help and charity! So, it’s not easy to feel grateful across those two positions.

I believe people who think their country is the best place to live in is either because they haven’t travelled, so their ignorance doesn’t allow them to see beyond their patio, or because they are suffering a big problem of fixation. Nowhere is better, it’s just different. And what might be hell for me is home for someone else, and vice versa. That’s why I keep insisting, bring down the borders. Forget about national identities. Bring on the individuals and their amazing capacity of gratitude and solidarity!

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Only You – by David Fee

Interesting question to ponder: does such a thing as a national characteristic even exist? I mean, I often felt like an alien in the country I grew up. England. And then in the country I moved to, Scotland, when for a while my Englishness became more important. Now I feel more a part of Scotland, less of England. But in terms of sharing characteristics with whatever group of people I happen to be living amongst. I dunno.

And a sense of alienation seems to be a common experience of many people. It’s why songs about alienation, like Radiohead’s Creep, are so irrepressibly popular. Many of us seem to feel “other”. But at the same time, in our own heads, we like to generalise about various groups, nationalities, or even continents. So it’s kind of comforting to hear of an Australian world where emotions are downplayed and the humour is dry. It’s comforting to imagine all Americans at home, or preferably travelling home through snowstorms and bad traffic, to family and friends for Thanksgiving. An Iran of wondrous  hospitality and heat is cemented in my head. A South African rainbow nation; a melting pot of clashing ethnicity. South American passion, one enormous extroverted Amazonian party. See we’re getting very generalised now. But back in the UK, and despite my protests, I do like to think of a particularly British sense of humour which is…um, well, British. Despite the fact that many of my own jokes wander out alone into a silent ghost town of unlaughter.

All of our generalisations probably have some truth in them. But what purpose do they really serve. Coz when it comes down to it, I can’t sit down for a meal with a country. I can’t share a conversation with a continent. A universal message of any kind only works when it’s able to be translated, filtered, converted, into a language that I and only I (or you) can truly understand. We might think we know the host of our favourite Friday night chat show. We don’t. And he or she doesn’t know us.

Knowing takes time. It takes patience. It takes us to be alone, without distraction, with one other person. It takes, I’ve been thinking, since reading Amanda’s recent blog, gratitude. Because gratitude breeds a generous spirit. One in which we can finally stop staring at ME and MY needs. One in which we welcome in the rest of the world, to a place where listening can happen. Not to everyone, and everything. Because we are people, not gods.

But one at a time, we can experience another human being, and what they have to say and offer. And, yes we will learn lessons when we listen, and we look, and we leave our preconceptions well alone. But they probably won’t be lessons that can be written in a book that would be valuable to anyone other than ourselves. And why would we, any of us, be so arrogant as to think we have a universal “something” to offer the world.

Well, at times I’ve thought, I must confess, that I do have something. But a better life has loomed into my consciousness and my experience when I realise that what I in fact have…all I have…is this moment. This particular conversation.

To be honest that’s a great relief. It takes a whole heap of responsibility away, and it makes life seem almost achieveable. I can potentially get to know Mikel, or Amanda, Abner, Marzieh or Neale. That I could maybe do, eventually, given time. My head is far too small to contain the rest of the universe though.

And there, in a nutshell, is your good ol’ Great British self deprecation…

David Fee

Thanking The Land by Mikel Azure

Australia is, like the US, supposedly a “Christian” country though we are actually thoroughly secular in our public culture and there is a good reason for that.

In contrast to the myth that underpins the US soul – of Christians escaping persecution and finding religious freedom in a new land – the myth in Australia is radically different.

Most of the first settlers in Australia were not Christians, they were “Sinners”, the reprobates, the crims and crooks and the genuinely dangerous rejects from British society.  The “Christians” were the ruling elite, the prison governors, the crooked soldiers and the English landed gentry who took on temporary Public Service positions at the arse end of the world to advance their careers back in Britain.  Oh… and the church that endlessly condemned the convicts for their sins and their flaws and their irreligion.

Now Australia is a migrant culture these days but the numerically dominant bloodlines go back to the UK and the convict myth continues to exert powerful unseen influences on our public culture.

No surprise then that Australians generally don’t consider church or religion to be a public matter, we see it as something best kept locked away safely in private and inside the walls of the churches where it can’t do harm except if you decide to walk inside, at which point we’ll wash our hands of you, you’re on your own.   We sure as hell don’t like anyone preaching at us or telling us we are not good enough just the way we are.   Bloody Wowsers can stuff their pious condemnations where the sun don’t shine because any galah can see that Wowsers are no better than any of us and a damn sight less friendly, so think most of us.

Somewhere between 25% of us and 50% of us claim “no religion” when surveyed.

So, there is a fair old contrast between the situation in the US and the situation in Australia when it comes to religion, thanksgiving, mythology and national identity.

We might not have taken on the British religion but we have taken on a LOT more of the British reserve and emotional constipation than most Aussies will admit.  Which is why “thanksgiving” is not even something we’d generally talk about. Most Aussies I know believe we live in one of the best nations on the planet, this is a fantastic place to live, for most of us white fellas and for most migrants.  Not so fantastic for the dispossessed Aboriginal Australians, the last two hundred years has been hellish injustice for them.

We might love the place but we don’t talk about it that much.  We might love all kinds of aspects of our country and our culture but we don’t really talk about feelings much.  At moments of national achievement we might allow ourselves a brief exclamation along the lines, “God! this is a great place to live.” then assume that everyone around us really understands how deep that sentiment is felt and how precious we consider our Australianess to be and we don’t need to wallow in it for gods sake!

I’m not sure where we are headed, the last twenty years of national political leadership has been ferociously mediocre and in that moral void the worst aspects of our identity have tended to prosper.  We don’t seem as generous, egalitarian and open hearted as we used to be.  I hope I’m wrong.  If I was writing this blog twenty years ago I would have said without pause that Aussies WERE generally a thankful and appreciative lot and happy to welcome others in on all the reasons this country can give you to live well and feel good.  We were thankful, we just didn’t talk about.  Now, if we are still thankful, we still are not talking about it.

Seeing as we are such an irreligious lot, who would we be saying “thank you” to?  No mainstream Aussie would ever say “God Bless Australia” unless it was in a comedy skit, that is just a laughable and irrelevant phrase.  The first white Aussies didn’t come to a land of milk and honey, they came to a burning dry prison hell with the sure knowledge that they would never see their land or their loved ones again. (If you were sent to Australia as a convict you were not allowed to leave even after you had served your term.  Britain never wanted you back.)

Perhaps in a future where white Australia has fully and properly addressed the violence and injustice we have foisted on the ancient race that was here fifty thousand years before us there could come a time when we would express our thankfulness.  I suspect on that day we will be thanking Aboriginal Australians for their unmatched custodianship of this land that sustains us all and we might even be thanking the Land of this great continent for Being and for shaping us and teaching us and re-creating us, for allowing us to say “My Land”.

Perhaps one day.


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Turkeys and Pilgrims and Indians…Oh My

IMG_1660If you don’t get the reference in the title, it’s a spin off of the Wizard of Oz, a true American movie classic if ever there was one.

It dawns on me that it is that time of year when I have the opportunity to discuss one of my favorite American phenomena, which is the season of Thanksgiving. I always forget when I am insulated in my own country (which is most of the time) that November in the U.S. is distinctly wonderful, especially if you have roots in a Christian faith tradition. During the month of November, American party stores are full of faux leaves and big paper pumpkins, paper cut turkeys and pilgrim-themed centerpieces. It is a celebration of the harvest, a celebration of abundance. But it is also a celebration of the practice of giving thanks.

A myth has been passed down to little Americans through the ages that once upon a time a group of English puritans set sale for The New World on a ship called the Mayflower (which interestingly enough was the name of the moving company that relocated my family from Omaha to Lincoln). The trip over was long and difficult and many died of illness. Those who survived the crash into Plymouth Rocks faced the harsh conditions of American New England, where the soil was different and the winters were desperate. Again, many died. Were it not for a fortunate friendship formed between a handful of settlers and a few brave native people (Americans who still refer to them as “Indians” truly mean no harm), all might have been lost. But the native people (Indians) were benevolent, despite the threat posed by the armed and dangerous and terribly ignorant immigrants (Pilgrims). The natives shared a new magical food called corn and the settlers and the natives broke bread (and corn) together and that was the first Thanksgiving.


At least, that’s the way that I remember it. It’s roughly the story that I told my British host family the second time I celebrated Thanksgiving in England (the first was when I was studying at Oxford). I’m sure you could just as easily Google a more accurate telling, but you can do that on your own time.


Rooted as I am in the myth of the first Thanksgiving and rooted deeper still in the practices of the Protestant Christian church, November, for me, is a season of thankfulness. It is a time to recognize abundance of all varieties—material wealth, friendship, family, food, shelter, assets, land, resources, etc. It would be wishful thinking indeed to say that this sentiment permeates the hearts of all US citizens. It is only too easy to make note of the disparity between those who can afford a Whole Foods free range turkey served with organic kale salad, prosciutto wrapped brussels sprouts and rare vintage wines and those who will be begging for a handout the third Thursday of the month. It is too easy to point out that we are grateful around the holidays and generous for a week, but then selfish and stingy the remainder of the year. What is harder is to embrace gratitude, to make it personal, to let it settle; to reflect on the gift of your own life before you start speculating on someone else’s.

Many an American has taken to posing “gratitude challenges” around this time of year. They post them to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. #gratitude flies around cyberspace, dropping little “I’m grateful for’s” on unsuspecting passersby. Again, it’s easy to get cynical about these things. It’s easy to look at abundance and douse it with the cold water of satire and poverty. It’s enough to keep you from joining in, from becoming one of the “over blessed” so caught up in their own gratitude that you wonder if they realize the dire situation the world is in. It seems safer to just stay out.

gratitude journal

This year I chose the opposite. This year I chose to participate. It’s been simple really, hardly an effort and certainly not a sacrifice. Each day I log onto Facebook and scroll through my list of friends, looking for common ties and recalling the origin of our relationships. I post the theme, I reflect on what it’s meant to me, what these friends and contacts and connections have meant to me, and I tag them to let them know. I’m not out to prove anything. No one is anxiously waiting to see if I’ll mention them in a post. It has not changed the world. But it has changed me. I’ll be damned if gratitude doesn’t always change me when I start to practice it. I find myself getting excited for future posts, tearing up when I take stock of how many people I’ve encountered in my life, how much blessing they have brought me, how vital they have been for the survival of my soul. There was one night I posted in advance for the next day. I was just too excited to wait.


This is what happens when we begin to shift our perspectives. Gratitude changes us. And if it can change us, maybe it can change others. Maybe we can change others when we encounter them in humility, when we view them as a blessing even before we know their story. Maybe it’s okay to live with a little myth, to believe the best rather than anticipating the worst. Maybe there is something to telling stories that are true regardless of whether or not they really happened.

Keep On Swimming – David Fee

It’s good to hear that the Zayenderood is flowing in Isfahan again. Living in Scotland it is quite hard to imagine life without water. It  is pretty much unheard of for rivers to dry up. Which just goes to show. One person’s flood water is  another person’s idea of heaven. Or at least a pleasant dream.

I liked Abner’s little thought for the day on the subject of honesty last week. Me and honesty have a bit of a tempestuous relationship. I find a compulsion, often, to say what I think. But at the same time I hate conflict. But I hate pretense just that little bit more. But then I really don’t like to be misunderstood. And yet I keep opening my mouth and finding that what seems like the crystal clear water of enlightenment to me, is somebody elses muddy, smelly, effluent. Or just a dried up river bank.

Knowing myself, as I do a tiny bit, I’m pretty sure that whenever I start to say something I’m simply trying to, you know, make everything RIGHT. That’s all I want. Mutual understanding. A  world where we all have a common view of what right and wrong is. Where your feelings are validated. But where your feelings aren’t so different from mine as to make relationships difficult or stressful. Where we give each other space and criticise our own bad attitudes before anyone else gets round to it. In short brothers and sisters, I seek a world where the idea of a shared humanity of mutual cooperation and creative progress is not merely a pipe dream.

I know. And the trouble is, when I do open my mouth, with all that well meaning utopian intention, I end up becoming a part of the actual messiness of it all. I contribute to the sludge. Or to the drought. I start drowning in the maelstrom of my own involvedness. Or drying up somebody elses heart. What to do? Really, it’s enough to make a man want to become a Trappist monk and spend a lot more time with vegetables.

The answer is simple of course. I just need to become wise! It’s all about picking the right battles. And, to be fair to myself, I’m gradually gaining a little more understanding of which battles are for me, and which ones I need to leave well alone. I’m gradually gaining a focus of what it is that I need to do. Not anyone else. Me.

I did say “gradually”. Because still too often I find I’m jumping into pointless arena’s of connection. The ones which I know, in my inner being, will probably go nowhere, and to which I will only end up bringing hurt or confusion. To myself and others. Even with all of my good intentions.

So it’s important to be able to reflect. Forgive. Let go. Move on. Removing oneself and one’s feelings, before it’s too late, from the little self created whirlpools of hasty, wasted, words. That’s an important skill too. When you haven’t  quite learned the art of avoiding those icky whirlpools in the first place.

Ideally though, the plan is to stay clear of the dangerous eddies, whilst carrying on swimming in the river. Because you never know when it’s going to dry up.

Like this metaphor…

David Fee

Zayanderood – Marzieh Edris

016 Isfahan has had some good news during the past week. Zayanderood is full of water and life again. There has been great traffic around the river during the week and you could see a crowd on and around Khaju and Siosepol bridges most of the day. The city seems full of excitement and energy again. I hadn’t thought how important the river was to my city before it had dried up. It’s obviously important because of its water and its effect on the temperature and humidity of the city, and etc. But there’s more. Zayanderood is the source of life of the city, and it has gained an important place in our daily lives. We spend so much time in the parks around the river and walking on its beautiful bridges, it’s the number one place we think of going to whenever we want to go out with family and friends, even when it’s pretty cold in the evenings here. If you walk in the parks on the riverbanks early in the mornings you can see groups of elderly walking, playing chess and cards, or just sitting on benches and watching the river and chatting. Under Khaju Bridge you can almost always find someone singing traditional Persian songs and their own small audience. And there is always a crowd of people walking on Siosepol in the evenings. The river has affected our way of life and our culture in this city more than we had realized before losing it and Mikel’s post got me thinking about it again today.

Environment and Culture – A Gunshot Style Reflection by Mikel Azure

It’s hot today. Not steaming hot, but still hot enough to make the footpaths too hot to walk on in bare feet. Most of Australia is hot most of the time. All our big cities are on the coast, basically because that’s where the water is and where traditional European grains and livestock could survive in the early decades. Even the green coastal areas are hot most of the year with things a bit cooler in the winter season but never actually COLD.

Inland is basically a huge mosaic of different kinds of desert, except for the far north which gets monsoon rains and has a different ecology than the rest of the landmass.

Heat and space. These are two of the large contributors of the environment to the shape of Aussie culture. Until very recently the Australian lifestyle was “spread out, spread out, spread out”. Until the last twenty years every employed Aussie knew it was possible to buy themselves a “quarter acre block” and build a house on it. These days, with cheap arse governments not wanting to invest in the infrastructure that supports that “spread out” urban sprawl we have started to get more and more “high density” housing. Frankly a stupid movement, to live in an environment where we actually DO have insane amounts of space in relation to the population of the nation and NOT use that space to promote a quality of lifestyle – dumb dumb dumb.

Space not only for each house or family, space between towns, HUGE spaces between settlement areas, even in heavily developed rural areas we are far more spread out than in most European or American rural areas. We don’t think about it until we travel overseas and discover how cramped Europe, and large parts or Asia are. First time European tourists to Australia, if they get out of the cities, often are struck by how far they have to drive to get from one town to another.

I’m not sure what ways this sense of space to spare has shaped us but I suspect it has at least given Australians a different relationship to the landscape than our European cousins have.

Heat – has made our building styles focus on how to be cool, not how to be warm. We like open plan houses and we like the main living area to open out onto a patio or porch or decking or some covered outdoor space.

In my lifetime we have become very aware of the danger the sun poses to us in terms of skin cancers –

A couple of stats – 2/3 (sixty percent) of Australians will be diagnosed with a skin cancer before the age of 70 years.

80% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia each year are skin cancers.

Over 750 000 Australians are treated for skin cancer each year. We only have a population of 23 million!

In my lifetime air conditioners have become an essential house item. When I was a boy they were quite rare. This has made a huge impact on the power demands in our cities in the hot times, which is like half the year at least.

We are famous for being beach lovers and there is a reason we produce so many world champ level surfers and swimmers despite our tiny population. When it’s hot, the water is a gooood place to be. 🙂

A corollary of it being HOT is that it never gets seriously cold. It snows in only a few higher mountain areas for only a short part of each year, no city in Australia has regular winter snowfalls or regular days of freezing temperatures. Despite this, our European heritage means that Christmas time is still overwhelmingly decorated as if it is snowing outside. Santa is in a thick red suit with boots and a wintery hat, riding a snow sled with reindeer pulling it, fake snow everywhere, songs about snow falling, the whole thing, quite surreal actually.

Australian native trees are not deciduous, they stay green all year round, so Autumn here is not a visual spectacle unless you live in an area that is over a hundred years old, those areas often had European trees planted on the streets and in the parks way back then. Upside is that winter is not a time of bare trees, they go on being green and bushy all thru the rain and the grey skies.

Did I say the trees are green? I lied. Australian plants are mostly blue-grey-green, a very different set of colours to the vibrant green/yellow/greens of European and Eastern American/Canadian trees.

Lastly, all that space, all that heat, all that dry, adds up to a lot of bush fires every summer and while most summers the death toll from bush fires is small there is always that one year that comes around pretty regularly when the fires are on a scale and intensity that defies all human management capacity and then horrendous tragedies occur with massive damage to whole towns or fringe urban urban areas and high death tolls.

Aussies are more likely to see bare dead looking trees in summer, after a bush fire has been through, than in winter.

So I’ve just thrown out here a bunch of observations about my nation and how we experience our environment. Anything strike my blogger colleagues as strange or different? Anything spark a thought about your nation’s way of being?




As I write these words, I’m sitting on the second row in the auditorium of one of the most important universities of this country. I’m attending a one-day meeting with different universities and their Schools of Arts, Design and Architecture. Yes, I know, I should be paying attention, but they are talking so many things that are repetitive, unnecessary and pointless, so I thought I better optimise my time and don’t let another week without contributing to the blog. Apologies for my absence.

I have just been reading your latest entries, and I am happy to be part of this community where we can ‘open up’. Funny enough, I was writing something about the big amount of bullshit that I feel I’m dealing with at work and personal relationships, but then I backed off! It felt too personal and too negative. I wish I didn’t delete it! That was my best ‘open up’ shot.

Nevertheless, ‘open up’ can be ‘bullshit’ itself. ‘No one would be able to take another being purely based in honesty’ I read it somewhere, sometime. Being honest 100% would be unbearable, unsustainable, unpleasant! Then I learned that lying is a survival tool in evolutionary terms! What a bless!

To clarify, I’m not defending bullshitting or being honest. I am just defending the position of ‘it’s ok to do any’, at the end, everybody has a different perception of everybody, no matter how hard we try not to… Oh, coffee break!!

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Nuan City – by David Fee

Mikel said: “If we blogged an unreflected, in the moment, traditional blog from our own perspectives and settings would we discover just personal particularities or might something slightly more cultural creep in somehow?”

Me:  I suspect we can’t help but reveal something about ourselves when we wet our cyber quills. Traditionally or otherwise. I suspect we can’t help reveal something of our various cultures. Because our cultures  feed into our “personal particularities”. I feel like I learn a little bit about each contributor to this blog, and their respective cultures, whenever I read their words. Even in between the lines (or the blogs!) is a world of information. The doors have been opened, the curiosity whetted. It’s not a question of what we talk about even. If we stay with it, our willingness and an inherent humanity will work to reveal, are working to reveal, our own little world wide web of newly formed cultures.

Neale said: “Maybe we’re scared that new people won’t get all that nuanced stuff that makes up “me”.”

Me: Scared or not, they won’t get it. I’m gonna pull the age/rank thing again in a very predictable way (even though you weren’t even remotely asking me!) and mention that, after 28 years of a fairly bumpy marriage (which i mostly do not regret ) I honestly don’t get all the nuanced stuff that makes up my lovely wife. And she, of course, doesn’t get my oh so finely nuancey persona either. Surprise!

I have a guilty Sunday night pleasure (it’s guilty to me, not to her) of watching  Downton Abbey with Ineke when it’s on.  Last night I watched it without her. She’s visiting family in the Netherlands at the moment. And to be honest, it wasn’t the quite the same. I missed her when it became clear that  it was Mrs Bates and not Mr Bates who the police suspected of killing her rapist. Coz you have to put up with a lot of “yes m’lady, no m’lord, fetch Carson, it’s for the good of the estate” to get to these moments of revelation. They do it quite well I have to admit. Some great one liners along the way, and some interesting human stories. But it’s definitely a lot better together. Because  over the years Ineke and I have created our own little Nuancity; a collaboritive  sub-culture of highly personal particularities that time and  experience have blended into something unique, but which cannot really be bottled, or explained, or understood. Especially by us.

So… though I am interested in “who am I” and indeed “who am we”, I am genuinely, and without reserve, far more interested in the brand new cultural community that we fellow bloggers can create here on these pages. Given time, patience, input, commitment, forgiveness, understanding, humour, and just a little dash of spicy nuance. I’m fascinated to discover who we are becoming.

In other words…there isn’t a definitive cultural me, or a definitive cultural you…there is simply an ongoing creation of Us.

Or some such words to that effect…