‘Bits and Pieces’ is the title of a hit single by The Dave Clark Five in 1964 (Note 1). The lyrics talk of a lost love – ‘Since you left me’ …… ‘all I do is sit and cry’ ….. ‘I’m in pieces, bits and pieces’. Whenever I see or hear ‘bits and pieces’ the music comes to mind. Additionally it’s a good title to cover some unconnected thoughts for the start of the New Year, some that have been festering in my mental scrapbook.
Last year a couple of particular news items stopped me in my tracks; made me cry ‘Wow’! One concerned the obituary of a chap called Ziona Chana, who had died aged 76. “So?” you might ask, “Who the hell was he?” Well, the Indian living in Mizoram State (Note 2) had 38 wives and 89 children.
Mizoram State lies between Bangladesh and Myanmar
An uncle, Khuahtuaha, had been excommunicated from the local Presbyterian Church sometime in the 1930s for having an illegitimate child. His outgoing charismatic personality led to many people settling near his home and they founded a polygamous sect. Ziona took over in 1997 and the sect currently has some 3000 followers, two hundred of whom live in the main house! Wow!
Ziona Chana and his wives and children
And the other ‘wow’ was news that a 25 year old woman from Mali, Halima Cissé, had given birth to nine babies, two more that doctors had detected during scans. Three months after the birth they were reportedly all alive and well; apparently Halima had said she wanted a big family!
The Hope Café is extremely quiet, the clientele somewhat subdued, the uncertainty of how you identify those who are being selfish and not getting vaccinated permeating into how we behave. Susie comes over and perches on the edge of a chair (Note 3). Discovering I was bringing inconsequential and unrelated notes together, she tells me something she had witnessed the other afternoon. An elderly lady, white-haired and slightly stooped, had come in with a young chap, Susie thought probably her teenage grandson, and had settled in one of the bench seats along the side. Susie took her order “A pot of Lapsang Souchong, with a slice of lemon please, a Cappuccino with extra whipped cream and could we have a couple of rounds of toast, brown bread, and some honey?”
“Is that OK, Stephen?” – who nodded to indicate ‘that would be fine’.
“Later, I overheard the conversation” recounts Susie. On the arrival of the toast, Stephen had taken a slice off the slab of butter and then, using the same knife and disregarding the spoon beside the honey jar, had scooped out some for his plate. The lady was obviously anxious to improve his manners. “You need to take some butter with the butter knife and use a spoon to take some honey. If you don’t you get the result we have, with butter in the honey. No doubt if you wanted more butter you would simply use the same knife to get it, so transferring the honey to the butter probably with some toast crumbs and stuff. It’s called being couth, dear.”
The business world is full of auditors, accountants and advisors, consultants and coaches, motivators and managers, all wanting to improve the way companies work. Accompanying this lot is the large library of motivation sayings, good ideas, buzz words and phrases like ‘blue sky thinking’, ‘pushing the envelope’, ‘going forward’ and general business gobbledygook that means nothing to anyone else and little to those who use it. I hope you’ve read, for instance, the tale of Hem and Haw, the two mice in ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson, or ‘The Tao of Pooh’ by Benjamin Hoff?
Sometimes the ideas are picked up by the general population, to help us deal with ‘life’. One that has stayed with me, as it’s quite believable in its telling, is the one using a galvanised steel bucket.
The bucket’s put onto a table and it’s filled with large stones. When there is no more room, the audience are asked whether anything else can fit in. As the mutterings of ‘no’ ripple through the crowd, a bag of gravel is tipped into the bucket, until there is room for no more. “Is it full now?” asked the demonstrator. There is uncertainty …. as a bag of sand is emptied in, to fill the holes between the pieces of gravel. “Now?” No one commits themselves. And of course a jug of water completely replaces any air holes left. “What does this show?” “That you can always fit in something else?” “Well, yes, but more importantly, that you need to select the most crucial things in your life before you can fit in anything else.
I recently bought a couple of rechargeable stand-alone light discs for an area of our hall.
The lights are made in China but marketed here by Evatost Consulting in Cardiff, Wales. I am unsure whether the original instructions were written in Chinese or Welsh but their translation, obviously by someone for whom English is not their first language, is a wonderful example of how Google Translate doesn’t always work, however charming the result:
“Please closely touch the light where lies the touch sensor with your finger belly and the touching speed should not be too much quick so that the touch sensor could receive your command successfully and sensitively.”
Love the ‘finger belly’!
We started with a memory from a 1960’s pop group so it’s appropriate to end with another. Graeme Edge, the drummer of a rock band The Moody Blues (eg ‘Nights in White Satin’), died in November aged 80. I was amused to read this: “(We) Have to get used to the adoration as we know we are not worth it. We still put our trousers on one leg at a time.”
I hope 2022 brings you all you need and some of what you want.
Richard 7th January 2022
Note 1 The Dave Clark Five had 12 ‘Top 40’ hits in the UK between 1964 and 1967. In addition to ‘Bits & Pieces’, ‘Glad All Over’ and other hits, they produced 7 studio albums in just two years.
Note 2 Mizoram is a land-locked state in the north east of India, sharing international borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar and domestic ones with Assam, Manipur and Tripura.
Note 3 I know all the staff at the Hope Café are fully vaccinated as that has become a condition of their employment.