Thinking Points – 7/11

Oh dear – we are back in lockdown again and although it feels necessary, it does feel rather frustrating. I work from home anyway so it doesn’t feel too different. I’ve had two deliveries from people not wearing masks. They weren’t too bothered about coming right up to my door either.

Of course, we will never know 100% if the lockdown is the right thing to do because we cannot see the results of the other options. But safe to say, we need to accept it, dig in and get on with it.

1. Quote of the week

I wrote: We’re taught at public school that almost any problem – illness, loneliness, being bullied, failing exams, not making the rugby team – can be fixed by ‘toughening up’. These men can’t help themselves – it’s all they’ve ever known – but it’s a dangerously harmful approach to life.

It turns out that people often don’t thank you for pointing out truths that are a little too close to home — James O’Brien

James has written a very personal book about changing one’s mind and being open to different views. The quote is about the idea of Boris Johnson tackling the Coronavirus as if it were a fight. Having written it, James took a lot of criticism from people missing the point of what he was saying. It’s true that having a thick skin and resolve helps with resilience, but there is a tendency to get over-confident and blunder when one is too self-assured.

2. What I’m reading

I finished Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency in the bath last Sunday whilst taking a soak to help with my arm repair. I have to say I lost the thread on the book. It is comparing War Communism and the approaches of Lenin in the early revolutionary times with approaches to our modern situations of Climate and Corona. I got lost in the middle chapter and didn’t really follow the last chapter I’m afraid. I suspect others will get more out of this than me.

I picked up The Downing Street Years again and navigated through the chapters on the early discussions of the single European currency and exchange rate mechanisms. At this point, Thatcher was getting very critical of Nigel Lawson and Geoffrey Howe. You can feel the emotion in the text. Three chapters to go, one of which will be about her exit from number 10.

I cannot read a book the size of Thatcher’s without putting it down occasionally and doing something else. A couple of weeks ago I attended James O’Brien’s book launch and got a copy of the book included. How not to be Wrong arrived a couple of days ago. As I mentioned above, this is a highly personal account of James’s change of approach towards others as he got older. I sometimes wonder what difference it would have made if I’d sat the 11+, passed it and gone to the nearby grammar school. Some of my friends felt that they were more rounded individuals as a result of going to a grammar school. In this book, the first theme suggests that public school education has actually harmed James’s approach. He’s become too self-assured and too tough. I’m still not sure myself – in any case, you cannot go back, change the past and then compare the differences.

3. What I’m doing in my free time/enjoying

In a nutshell, I’m brewing again. This weekend I brewed Barley Wine and bottled up a previous brew. I need to get my finger out and brew something good for the Christmas period. I can feel an IPA coming on.

4. What I’m learning more about

Plumbing actually or rather putting together brewing equipment: after over a year of dallying around, I’ve put together my insulated mash tun. It came without instructions and I confess I had to call the manufacturer to make sense of it. There’s a washer spare still – I’m not convinced it is needed but I guess we will see. The manufacturer kindly talked me through it on a video call. In less than an hour on Friday night, I put it together and tested it with water. It’s watertight and I used it to brew a Barley Wine on Saturday.

It’s insulated better than my icebox mash tun, it has a thermometer build in and it has a scale to measure the contents. Putting the water into the mash tun can be a bit hit and miss – now I will get it nearer to accurate. The thermometer will mean less faffing around to hit the strike temperature.

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