Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Thomas Miller Carol Service 2010

Thomas Miller's annual carol service at St Katherine Cree Church on 14th December was attended by some 60 people - both current members of the firm as well as a significant number of those who had retired. The fine Jacobean church, said to have been built after a design by Inigo Jones (who was also concurrently building the Mansion House) is is the process of being restored. Much ugly wooden partitioning has been taken out and both the organ and the peal of eight bells reinstated (with assistance from the firm). The west door, closed for over 200 years and through which its consecrating prelate, Archbishop Laud once passed, probably on his way to the opens again into Creechurch Lane.

Click here for a links to some favourite carols.

Thomas Miller Carol Service 2008
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2009

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Royal Hospital Chelsea Carol Service 2010

The Friends of the Royal Hospital Chelsea Carol Service held on 10th December is one of the loveliest of the Christmas season. Unusually the beautiful Wren chapel has its candle-lit choir stalls in the centre of the nave, creating a wonderfully intimate atmosphere. This year one of the lessons was a fine poem written and read by Alan Tichmarsh which you can read here. A video of the choir singing the first two verses of 'Once in Royal David's City' can be heard here, but the solist was a woman, who's voice lacked the cut-glass purity of a boy's

Click here for the 2009 Carol Service

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Mission to Seafarers Carol Concert 2010

The Carol Concert 2009. No photos were allowed this time
The Mission to Seafarers concert of nine lessons and carols was held at St Michael Paternoster Royal on 8th December 2010 in the presence of the Princess Royal, accompanied by the chairman of the trustees, Robert Woods. Lessons were read by the likes of Jeffrey Archer and the choir was from the London Nautical School. Unlike last year, it was not a vintage performance and one wished that they would stick to traditional carols and not attempt jumpy tunes from Moldova.

Clic here for some wonderful on-line carols

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Illogical Arguments

One of the things that annoy one most is having a discussion with someone who doesn't follow the rules of logic. The most common error is arguing from the particular to the general instead of the other way round. Here are some more of the logical fallacies we encounter, with examples. Identifying them makes one feel better immediately! 

GENERALIZING FROM SELF: I'm a liar. Therefore I don't believe what you're saying.

THE FEW ARE THE SAME AS THE WHOLE: Some Londoners are animal rights activists. Some Londoners wear fur coats. Therefore, all Londoners are hypocrites.

FAULTY CAUSE AND EFFECT: On the basis of my observations, wearing huge trousers makes you fat.

I AM THE WORLD: I don't listen to country music. Therefore, country music is not popular.

IGNORING EVERYTHING SCIENCE KNOWS ABOUT THE BRAIN: People choose to be obese/gay/alcoholic because they prefer the lifestyle.

ARGUMENT BY BIZARRE DEFINITION: He's not a criminal. He just does things that are against the law.

ANYTHING YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND IS EASY TO DO: If you have the right tools, how hard can it be to generate nuclear fission at home.

IGNORANCE OF STATISTICS: I'm putting ALL my money on the lottery this week because the jackpot is so big.

IGNORING THE DOWNSIDE RISK: I know that bungee jumping could kill me but it's three seconds of pure thrill.

SUBSTITUTING FAMOUS QUOTES FOR COMMON SENSE: Remember "all things come to those who wait." So don't bother looking for a job.

IRRELEVANT COMPARISONS: £100 is a good price for a toaster, compared with buying a Ferrari.

CIRCULAR REASONING: I'm correct because I'm smarter than you. And I must be smarter than you because I'm correct.

INCOMPLETENESS AS PROOF OF FACT Your theory of gravity doesn't address the question of why there are no unicorns, so it must be wrong.

IGNORING THE ADVICE OF EXPERTS WITHOUT GOOD REASON: Sure the experts say you shouldn't ride a bicycle in the eye of a hurricane, but I have my own theory.

FOLLOWING THE ADVICE OF KNOWN IDIOTS: Uncle Horace says eating pork makes you smarter. That's good enough for me.

REACHING BIZARRE CONCLUSIONS WITHOUT ANY INFORMATION: My car won't start. I'm certain the spark plugs have been stolen by rogue traffic wardens.

FAULTY PATTERN RECOGNITION: His last three wives were murdered mysteriously. I hope to be wife number four.

FAILURE TO RECOGNISE WHAT'S IMPORTANT: My house is on fire! Quick, call the post office and tell them to hold my mail!

OVERAPPLICATION OF OCCAM'S RAZOR: The simplest explanation for the moon landings is that they were hoaxes.

INABILITY TO UNDERSTAND THAT SOME THINGS HAVE MULTIPLE CAUSES: The Beatles were popular for one reason only: they were good singers.

JUDGING THE WHOLE BY ONE OF ITS CHARACTERISTICS: The sun causes sunburns. Therefore the planet would be better off without the sun.

BLINDING FLASHES OF THE OBVIOUS: If everyone had more money, we could eliminate poverty.

BLAMING THE TOOL: I bought an encyclopedia but I'm still stupid.

TAKING THINGS TO THEIR ILLOGICAL CONCLUSION: If you let your barber cut your hair, they next thing you know he'll be lopping your limbs off.

PROOF BY LACK OF EVIDENCE: I've never seen you drunk, so you must be one of those weird people.

BAD ANALOGY: You can train a dog to fetch a stick. Therefore, you can train a cat to do the same.

TOTAL LOGICAL DISCONNECTION: I enjoy pasta because my house is made of bricks.

Also frequently misunderstood: 
CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION in science and statistics emphasizes that correlation between two variables does not automatically imply that one causes the other. 
The opposite belief, correlation proves causation, is a logical fallacy by which two events that occur together are claimed to have a cause-and-effect relationship. The fallacy is also known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin for "with this, therefore because of this") and false cause. By contrast, the fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc requires that one event occur before the other and so may be considered a type of cum hoc fallacy.

A wonderful illustrated guide to Bad Arguments here

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Wellbeing of Women Christmas Fair 2010

The Christmas Fair is now held every year at the Drapers' Hall in early December by the Wellbeing of Women charity. About 50 stalls of gifts, cards, clothes, cheeses, jams, chocolate, the best Christmas cakes, jewellrey, bags, small electronics, gardening things etc are set up around the main rooms at the Hall - and you can sit and have champagne and sandwiches when you need a break. A marvellous way to do 90% of your Christmas gift shopping! Click the heading for more photos and here for photos from the 2009 Fair

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Favourite Writings - Gilbert White

Venus, with Jupiter and the Moon 2008 (Bullit Marquez/AP)

Before dawn on these crisp cold mornings Venus has been shining astonishingly brightly, reminding me of Gilbert White's famous line

8th February 1782: 'Venus shadows very strongly, showing the bars of the windows on the floors and walls.'

With Samuel Pepys, Gilbert White is perhaps the most famous of all the keepers of journals. He wrote his Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne from 1768 to 1793 when he died. 'No literary work has ever recorded more precisely, more sensitively and yet with less pretension the changing face of the countryside with the passing of the seasons'. (John Julius Norwich)

Friday, 26 November 2010

A Bavarian Christmas Fair in Hyde Park

The Bavarian Winter Wonderland Christmas Fair in Hyde Park is a great improvement on past fairs. Lots of high quality shops and cafes as well as some impressive-looking rides. Click the heading for more photos.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Fortnum's Christmas Windows

Pieter Claesz.
Still Life with Drinking Vessels

Fortnum & Mason's Christmas window displays are brilliant recreations of Old Master paintings in the National Gallery.

Click the heading to see some more

The Glasgow Boys at the Royal Academy

The Royal Academy's exhibition of paintings by the 19th Century Scottish artists known as The Glasgow Boys shows some charming pictures, though 'pioneering' - the description given to them at original Glasgow exhibition from which this comes, is true only in respect to their British contemporaries.

For instance, their efforts at paintings of rural labourers is easily eclipsed by a single example by John-Francois Millet.

Click the heading for some examples.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Three Questions

One day it occurred to a certain emperor that if he only knew the answers to three questions, he would never stray in any matter.

What is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all times?

The emperor issued a decree throughout his kingdom announcing that whoever could answer the questions would receive a great reward. Many who read the decree made their way to the palace at once, each person with a different answer.

In reply to the first question, one person advised that the emperor make up a thorough time schedule, consecrating every hour, day, month, and year for certain tasks and then follow the schedule to the letter. Only then could he hope to do every task at the right time.

Another person replied that it was impossible to plan in advance and that the emperor should put all vain amusements aside and remain attentive to everything in order to know what to do at what time.

Someone else insisted that, by himself, the emperor could never hope to have all the foresight and competence necessary to decide when to do each and every task and what he really needed was to set up a Council of the Wise and then to act according to their advice.

Someone else said that certain matters required immediate decision and could not wait for consultation, but if he wanted to know in advance what was going to happen he should consult magicians and soothsayers.

The responses to the second question also lacked accord.

One person said that the emperor needed to place all his trust in administrators, another urged reliance on priests and monks, while others recommended physicians. Still others put their faith in warriors.

The third question drew a similar variety of answers. Some said science was the most important pursuit. Others insisted on religion. Yet others claimed the most important thing was military skill.

The emperor was not pleased with any of the answers, and no reward was given.

After several nights of reflection, the emperor resolved to visit a hermit who lived up on the mountain and was said to be an enlightened man. The emperor wished to find the hermit to ask him the three questions, though he knew the hermit never left the mountains and was known to receive only the poor, refusing to have anything to do with persons of wealth or power. So the emperor disguised himself as a simple peasant and ordered his attendants to wait for him at the foot of the mountain while he climbed the slope alone to seek the hermit.

Reaching the holy man's dwelling place, the emperor found the hermit digging a garden in front of his hut. When the hermit saw the stranger, he nodded his head in greeting and continued to dig. The labor was obviously hard on him. He was an old man, and each time he thrust his spade into the ground to turn the earth, he heaved heavily.

The emperor approached him and said, "I have come here to ask your help with three questions: When is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all times?"

The hermit listened attentively but only patted the emperor on the shoulder and continued digging. The emperor said, "You must be tired. Here, let me give you a hand with that." The hermit thanked him, handed the emperor the spade, and then sat down on the ground to rest.

After he had dug two rows, the emperor stopped and turned to the hermit and repeated his three questions. The hermit still did not answer, but instead stood up and pointed to the spade and said, "Why don't you rest now? I can take over again." But the emperor continued to dig. One hour passed, then two. Finally the sun began to set behind the mountain. The emperor put down the spade and said to the hermit, "I came here to ask if you could answer my three questions. But if you can't give me any answer, please let me know so that I can get on may way home."

The hermit lifted his head and asked the emperor, "Do you hear someone running over there?" The emperor turned his head. They both saw a man with a long white beard emerge from the woods. He ran wildly, pressing his hands against a bloody wound in his stomach. The man ran toward the emperor before falling unconscious to the ground, where he lay groaning. Opening the man's clothing, the emperor and hermit saw that the man had received a deep gash. The emperor cleaned the wound thoroughly and then used his own shirt to bandage it, but the blood completely soaked it within minutes. He rinsed the shirt out and bandaged the wound a second time and continued to do so until the flow of blood had stopped.

At last the wounded man regained consciousness and asked for a drink of water. The emperor ran down to the stream and brought back a jug of fresh water. Meanwhile, the sun had disappeared and the night air had begun to turn cold. The hermit gave the emperor a hand in carrying the man into the hut where they laid him down on the hermit's bed. The man closed his eyes and lay quietly. The emperor was worn out from the long day of climbing the mountain and digging the garden. Leaning against the doorway, he fell asleep. When he rose, the sun had already risen over the mountain. For a moment he forgot where he was and what he had come here for. He looked over to the bed and saw the wounded man also looking around him in confusion. When he saw the emperor, he stared at him intently and then said in a faint whisper, "Please forgive me."

"But what have you done that I should forgive you?" the emperor asked.

"You do not know me, your majesty, but I know you. I was your sworn enemy, and I had vowed to take vengeance on you, for during the last war you killed my brother and seized my property. When I learned that you were coming alone to the mountain to meet the hermit, I resolved to surprise you on your way back to kill you. But after waiting a long time there was still no sign of you, and so I left my ambush in order to seek you out. But instead of finding you, I came across your attendants, who recognized me, giving me this wound. Luckily, I escaped and ran here. If I hadn't met you I would surely be dead by now. I had intended to kill you, but instead you saved my life! I am ashamed and grateful beyond words. If I live, I vow to be your servant for the rest of my life, and I will bid my children and grandchildren to do the same. Please grant me your forgiveness."

The emperor was overjoyed to see that he was so easily reconciled with a former enemy. He not only forgave the man but promised to return all the man's property and to send his own physician and servants to wait on the man until he was completely healed. After ordering his attendants to take the man home, the emperor returned to see the hermit. Before returning to the palace the emperor wanted to repeat his three questions one last time. He found the hermit sowing seeds in the earth they had dug the day before.

The hermit stood up and looked at the emperor. "But your questions have already been answered."

"How's that?" the emperor asked, puzzled.

"Yesterday, if you had not taken pity on my age and given me a hand with digging these beds, you would have been attacked by that man on your way home. Then you would have deeply regretted not staying with me. Therefore the most important time was the time you were digging in the beds, the most important person was myself, and the most important pursuit was to help me. Later, when the wounded man ran up here, the most important time was the time you spent dressing his wound, for if you had not cared for him he would have died and you would have lost the chance to be reconciled with him. Likewise, he was the most important person, and the most important pursuit was taking care of his wound. Remember that there is only one important time and that is Now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person with whom you are, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future. The most important pursuit is making that person, the one standing at your side, happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life."

Leo Tolstoy

With thanks to Chris Loker of the Childrens' Book Gallery for pointing me to this lovely story, which has a similar message to Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now

Monday, 8 November 2010

Favourite Writings - Ecclesiastes

The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little business shall become wise. 

How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks? 

He giveth his mind to make furrows; and is diligent to give the kine fodder. 

So every carpenter and workmaster, that laboureth night and day: and they that cut and grave seals, and are diligent to make great variety, and give themselves to counterfeit imagery, and watch to finish a work: 

The smith also sitting by the anvil, and considering the iron work, the vapour of the fire wasteth his flesh, and he fighteth with the heat of the furnace: the noise of the hammer and the anvil is ever in his ears, and his eyes look still upon the pattern of the thing that he maketh; he setteth his mind to finish his work, and watcheth to polish it perfectly: 

So doth the potter sitting at his work, and turning the wheel about with his feet, who is alway carefully set at his work, and maketh all his work by number; 

He fashioneth the clay with his arm, and boweth down his strength before his feet; he applieth himself to lead it over; and he is diligent to make clean the furnace: 

All these put their trust in their hands: and each becometh wise in his own work. 
Without these shall not a city be inhabited: and men shall not sojourn or walk up and down therein: 
They shall not be sought for in the counsel of the people, and in the assembly they shall not mount on high: 
But they will maintain the fabric of the world, and in the handiwork of their craft is their prayer. 

Ecclesiasticus 38 - Read by LTC Rolt at the 100th anniversary of the Tallythyn Railway

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Autumn Beeches

The beeches of the Chilterns are at their autumn best just now. Click the heading for more photos

Monday, 1 November 2010

Favourite Places

The highest of the famous seven sisters of Beachy Head

Almost as lovely are the sheep-cropped fields behind

Click the heading for more photos

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A Month in the Country

A marvellous production of Turgenev's 'A Month in the Country' at the Chichester Festival Theatre on one of the best sets ever seen here. The cast were superb and included friend Joanna McCallum

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Michael Wood's Story of England

Michael Wood's series The Story of England, is brilliant idea - evoking much of English history since the Romans through the story of a small Leicestershire town, Kibworth, to which everything seems to have happened.
Click here for some more photos from the programme

Old Winchester Hill

The views from Old Winchester Hill are some of the finest in Hampshire. Here we are looking over the western shoulder of the hill across Harvestgate and Meonstoke towards Fawley on Southampton Water.

Below the view is from the same spot on the hill down into the valley of the Meon at Exton

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Gaugin at the Tate Modern

A superb collection of Gaugin's work at the Tate Modern in October 2010. Click the heading for more photos

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Treasures of Budapest

The Treasures of Budapest Exhibition at the Royal Academy is full of beautiful and interesting work, seemingly mostly once belonging to the Esterhazy family. Click the heading for some examples.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Hampshire in Autumn

One of the pretty villages along the Meon Valley in early autumn - this is West Meon. Click the photo for a better view

The villages of Meonstoke, West Meon and East Meon lie around the base of Old Winchester Hill, once an Iron Age fort - now part of the South Downs Way - and which used to belong to Stocks Farm.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Raphael Tapestries at the V&A

The V&A's exhibition of Raphael's magnificent tapestries for the Sistine Chapel was greatly enhanced by the exhibition of the Queen's cartoons alongside them, but not by the V&A's appalling lighting. Click the heading for more heavily edited photos

Anish Kapoor in Kensington Gardens

Unfortunately, I chose the gloomiest afternoon for days to see Anish Kapoor's superb exhibition of mirrors spread around Kensington Gardens. Click the heading for more photos

Monday, 20 September 2010

Geography and How We've Lost It

The Mendips seen across the Somerset Levels

I used to love Geography as a subject when I was at school. It seemed so practical and useful. I learned how to read maps and what map features signified, which came in valuable later when I joined the TA. We learned where places were, and why they may have been built there.  We leaned things about the weather; but not too much. We knew the capital cities of every country - even the trick ones like Australia and Canada - and many of the general knowledge questions which we had to answer as part of our annual test at prep school were based on geographic knowledge. And when I began work dealing with people and ships in every part of the globe, I found myself well-prepared to find the tiny ports that no one has ever heard of but where some problem had occurred, and deal with geographic singularities such as the huge and dangerous troughs that form where the Aguhlas current meets the Indian Ocean and into which ships' bows can fall, as well as the astonishingly swift currents that run in Japan's Inland Sea around Imabari and the incredible tides of Bhavnaghar.

Much later, I became astonished at the decline in basic geographic knowledge among the young and then began to realise that despite the beauty and facility of Google Earth and their maps, the rise of the Sat Nav was also causing an apparent loss of interest in the features of the journey. I even wrote on Facebook, 'I wish that my Sat Nav told one the history of the country through which one is passing'.

Now a book has been written - 'Never Eat Shredded Wheat' by Christopher Somerville, which captures my unease. He writes: 'So why don't we see what is there any more? Is it bad teaching of the basics? No teaching of the basics? ...Half a dozen theories:

1. Children don't get out and wander about their local streets and countyryside as they used to, because this generation of parents, bewitched by health and safety, harbours irrational fears about traffic, or stranger danger, or accidents by flood or field. Therefore children never learn to absorb the landmarks, unimportant in themselves - a tree, a gate, a bend in the lane - that make up their own personal geography.
2. We are all frantic to get where we are going quickly as possible. Work pressures, social arrangements, I-can-be-there-for-a-meeting-if-I-leave-home-at-4am - our fast cars and 125mph trains and Edinburgh-in-forty-minutes planes force the pace, and we blindly follow.
3. We don't need to look out of the window at the outside world, because the outside world is now inside the car or bus or train carriage with us: the boss on the mobile, the Stock Market on the mobile internet, the e-mail bleeping on the Blackberry, the news on the laptop.
4. In spite of being more contactable by the outside world, we are more insulated from it. What do the rainy hills, the budding trees or the sun-driend fields, the smell of the earth or the crunch of an icy puddle have to do with the cosy cut-off world we inhabit as we flash by - a world whose sounds, smells, climate, light and shade we can select to suit ourselves at the touch of a button.
5. And that applies to foot and bike travellers too, iPods plugged in, shades on, insulated by Gore-Tex and Neoprene, pumped up by adrenaline advertising, staring ahead and burning calories, using the countryside as a gym - To the Max! Go for it! Rippin' Up the Ridgeway!
6. Planning a journey, and then doing it, have been reduced by GPS, Sat Nav and Google Maps and other positional and directional tools to a matter of a) where to start, and b) where to finish.
Everything in between is taken care of by 'someone else'- namely the little personal servant goblin who lives in the gizmo and tells us exactly where to turn left and how far it is to the next service station. So we read Ordnance Survey maps and road atlases less; we have less peripheral context about any given place because we're missing the wealth of superfluous but civilising and enriching detail inherent in maps, so plump with facts and knowledge, so redolent of our huge heritage of national culture and history. To move through a GPS landscape of grey blanks knitted together by spider lines is to negate the very notion of Stevenson-style travelling. Lay the Google and the OS 1:25,000 Explorer maps of the Stonehenge area side by side. On Google, roads and a ghostly hint of buildings. That's it. On the Explorer, all round the mighty henge itself: ridged and billowing downland, ancient trackways, processional paths, long barrows and tumuli where our distant lordly ancestors lie buried, the mysterious banking of the Cursus track, copses and spinneys bounded by unexplained earthworks.

So we actually need all this stuff to go from Amesbury to Winterbourne Stoke? No, we don't. Should we delight in it and feel grateful to be part of it, and smack our imaginative lips over it and be inspired to come back and explore it with a flower book and an archaeology book on a sunny day soon? Absolutely.'

How much I agree - though I still love the Tom Tom when I'm late and lost!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Leonard Cohen The Master

Leonard Cohen at St Margarethen

I believe that I first heard Leonard Cohen when he was playing his songs on a beach in the South of France in 1964. Ever since he has been the most interesting and influential of singers and songwriters to me and many of my generation.

He disappeared from public life in 1993 and entered a Buddhist monastery. In 1998  he encountered Ramesh Balsekar and spend six months with him before realising his master's teachings for himself.

 Incredibly after almost 50 years, his career now appears to be at its height. From 2008 onwards, he undertook on an almost non-stop concert tour of the world. He's now 75) He's singing in Sydney in November and will give a final concert  in Las Vegas in December (he has avoided singing in the USA until now).  

So powerful are his concerts that when the tour arrived in New Zealand in January 2009, Simon Sweetman wrote in The Dominion Post "It is hard work having to put this concert into words so I'll just say something I have never said in a review before and will never say again: this was the best show I have ever seen." 

His has also been voted the best performance of everyone who has headlined at Glastonbury.

His tour repertoire is roughly the same at each performance and has been beautifully captured in the DVD 'Live in London' recorded at the O2 in November 2008. When he appeared in the 2nd century Roman stone quarry amphitheatre at St Margarethen in Burgenland, on 5th September 2010, the concert was equally stunning, but the performance was the more remarkable in that the temperature that night was only 11C (see the scarf he is wearing in the photo above).

In addition to his songs, his stage performance is characterised by the reverence he shows for his fellow musicians, introducing each of them with gentle laudatory words and often kneeling before them as they perform solo riffs. They have been the same throughout his world tour - a backing trio of Sharon Robinson and Hattie and Charlie Webb,  accompanied by Roscoe Beck (bass, vocals and musical director),  Neil Larsen (keyboards & Hammond B3 accordion), Bob Metzger (electric, acoustic & pedal steel guitar), Javier Mas from Barcelona (bandurria, laud, archilaud, 12 string acoustic guitar), Rafael Gayol (drums, percussion) and Dino Soldo (sax, clarinet dobro – keys) all of who are nothing less than the finest virtuoso musicians in their own right. It says much for his personality and character that the entire group has travelled the world playing countless concerts with him for over two years. If you can't now get to one of his final concerts, do order the DVD. 

Click here for a recent New York Times article 

Postscript: Following his death in November 2016, there has been an outpouring of love and appreciation for his unique talent. Some wonderful eulogies have been written, this one in The Big Issue:

"There are people, a small number of people, who are navigators. They see things, plot the course, and we hitch up behind them. The very best of these people are with us on lifelong trips. They find ways to communicate in ways that the rest of us can't. They are associated with certain memories that are buried deep and hardwired. The great ones, like Leonard Cohen, are also very funny. Without a sense of humour, whether it lands darkly or in crapfalls, we really are lost. The sadness felt at someone like Leonard Cohen dying is really a complex thing. A permanence eroded, the world feeling a little darker, intelligence dimmed. And I have yet to find a Cohen fan that I didn't like.' Paul McNamee.