Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, wasn’t it? The opening of the Olympics was surreal, bonkers, crackpot, with magnificent moments — a punk-trashy take on British culture and history that was also affectionate and very much an insider moment. I loved it, went to bed with my head buzzing, full of spectacle and music.
My favourite moment though was earlier, watching a too-brief BBC interview with the English author Iain Sinclair protesting against the Olympics, talking about the erased working-class communities of East London. The interviewer looked nonplussed, the spokesman who built Canary Wharf looked exasperated and gangling reticent Sinclair just went on trying to say what nobody wanted to hear. How I love that man.
Up at 4am because this is a working weekend. I’m slowly drafting out a blog post on shame, not one of my off-the-cuff dashed-down posts, just a chance to think through what I understand of what is not a ‘single issue’ but a patterning that is hard to shift, a cultural practice that is hard to unmask, a source of long-term suffering.
How we talk to ourselves about ourselves. All the time, some of the time, when we are angry with ourselves, to encourage ourselves, to berate ourselves. Is it possible to end that incessant inner flow of self-directed monologue and give ourselves a break? To pray to an unknown God, to write an imagined letter to a friend, to listen to someone else’s voice in our heads, to stop thinking about ourselves, to stop thinking.
Tim Parks the writer sudden stricken with mysterious pain and debility, wrote a narrative of healing himself through Vipassana meditation. He says: “Teach Us to Sit Still ended up being a criticism of narrative. It was saying that one’s constant engagement with narrative – the presentation of one’s own life to oneself as an ongoing trajectory – is what feeds the frenetic voice in your head. I don’t think of myself as Buddhist, in spite of all the meditation, but I’m attracted to some of the common sense of Buddhism. And one idea is that maybe it’s possible to live without that sort of self-narrative.”
Let me go and have some boiled lentils for an early brunch and think about shame –