All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Florence Nightingale And Mars

I looked at the pictures emanating from the Mars Phoenix Lander, with incredulity. Could it really be possible that I was seeing a picture that had only been taken a day before?

Think about it. We are now able to view detailed photographs from the planet Mars. How cool is that? Is this something that our parents could have imagined when they were our age? Not our grandparents....our parents!

I've written this before but I'm still awestruck at the level of technology I can access these days.

Putting aside the fact that I can pick up my emails on the move (could you have foreseen doing that, five years ago?), listen to whole CD albums on devices the sizes of credit cards and even watch my favourite TV shows in HD on a computer - how could I predict, even a year ago, that I would be picking up freshly minted photographs from another planet on my mobile phone?!

On Monday (the Bank Holiday), we all went to Central London. We walked across Westminster Bridge, braving the pelting rain (well, it was a Bank Holiday after all and it always rains on these special days) and made our way to the Florence Nightingale museum, which Dassi was particularly keen to visit, as she had to put together a school project on this fascinating individual.

Having visited the exhibition, which I would definitely recommend (click here for more info), we were in the shop/entrance browsing the tat when I decided to look at the news on my phone (as one does, in moments of boredom). Lo and behold, the Mars story was featured on the BBC site, so I clicked on the link and saw the the photographs.

It was a strange moment.

For the last hour or so, my mind had been busy exploring the world of Florence Nightingale, and in particular, taking in the detailed information regarding her sterling work during the Crimean War. Yet, here I was, now thrust into the 21st Century, a few yards away from her staid clothes and medical implements, looking at virtually live photographs from Mars.

The contrast between the two worlds (literally!) was stunning. After all, we are only talking about 150 or so years between them.

I wondered what Florence Nightingale would have made of the situation? Here she was, battling the bureaucracy that was the Victorian Age, trying to better the lot of the embattled British soldiers and there was I, looking at virtually live photographs of Mars!

I wonder if she would have approved of how technology had advanced since the dark nights she used to walk the rancid wards with her oil lamp. Then again, would someone like Florence Nightingale be that relevant these days, when the vapidity of celebrity seems to be all the rage?

Would the modern world be able or willing to recognise true heroes like Miss Nightingale?

On the one hand, we can now obtain pinpoint photographs from Mars at the click of the button, whilst on the other, I wonder if we've let modern technology replace a time when people were recognised for their worth, as opposed to the airtime they gather, making idiots of themselves on television.

Finally, I wonder if Florence Nightingale would want to be alive today? I think she'd get more respect from the Martians anyway.

Maybe, she deserves to remain locked in the Victorian Age after all.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

My Victory On Paper

It has taken almost a year, but I think I'm finally making some in-roads, albeit small, in my school. Today, I saw that my Year 10 class, who are pretty challenging (and whom I see a lot!), are finally starting to produce the kind of results that I always hoped they would.

There really is nothing more satisfying than sharing the moment when a student prints out his or work and looks over it proudly, boasting an expression that screams out "look what I've done!"

We smiled at one another, the student and his teacher, in united recognition of a printed piece of paper, that meant so much more than a simple piece of manufactured wood.

That printout had my blood, sweat and tears ingrained into every atom of it's miserable being. However, at that moment, all was forgotten. The student, the teacher and the paper were united in something indescribable.

If you ever wonder why I, or anyone else wants to be a teacher - that piece of paper contains the very essence of why we put up with so much crap in the goldfish bowl we all call a classroom. The pen, the printout, the exam are so much mightier than the most venerated of swords.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Lost For Words

What on earth can I say about the tragedies in Burma and China? How can my pithy words render any meaning the sheer catastrophe of what is going on in the Far East? I guess they can't.

I had however to write something, because I would never be able to face my conscience if I didn't make note of what has happened.

Here's to the families.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen - I Present You The Incredible Dana

I think I'm becoming redundant around the house. Dana has just demonstrated that there are no hurdles she can't jump over. A few months ago, my wife, who hitherto had barely lifted up a paintbrush, let alone use one, repainted the girls' room in such a professional manner that you couldn't tell we hadn't paid for the job to be done.

A few moments ago, she maneuvered her way around the power shower and fitted a replacement cartridge, thus reuniting us with the sheer pleasure that is derived from having a gushing jet of water batter your back for an undisclosable (but classified) period of time.

My wife the mother, teacher, cook, plumber and decorator.

I take my hat off, in sheer awe of her many talents.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Israel in Seconds, Minutes And Hours

I find myself for once, lost for words.

I have been giving great thought to what I could write on the occasion of my beloved's 60th birthday and struggling with the words I could use to express my adoration of the country that is Israel?

I know that anything I say won't be able to describe how I feel.

Words are sometimes inadequate when they are needed the most.

I could say that I'm so proud to be a lover of Israel.

I could continue by stating that I am so fortunate to have grown up visiting the country, year after year, decade after decade.

I would then add that my heart only feels in place when I step off the plane at Ben Gurion.

But I would soon find myself descending into a morass of cliches - because the feelings I have for Eretz Yisrael, cannot be vocalised.

So I'll try something different.

If you think of Israel as being 1 minute made up of 60 seconds (you can see where I'm going with this), imagine how wonderful that minute could be.

What about an hour, with each minute representing one year of Israel's existence. Could one single hour's events be as glorious or heartbreaking as the anniversary we are celebrating in a few hours?

To me, Israel is both the minute and the hour.

It is the minute that disappears far too quickly and the hour during whose duration, entire lives are created and lived. I am proud to be reaching Israel's second minute, second hour.

Maybe in the next 60 seconds or 60 minutes, the ratio of joy to pain will be higher? Maybe the next 60 minutes will allow our souls to soar, without worrying that they may sink to the lowest place on earth?

I'm not going to add any more because in the last 60 seconds, whilst reading this you have spent your precious time sharing my deepest emotions - and I can't think of a better way of expressing how I feel right now about this very very special birthday.

Chag Sameach.
Let the festivities commence.