Geoffrey Mather

Behold! I have turned preacher

The dusts of isolation settled on my life and obscured my purpose... That was the thought at 4am in a sombre flow of conclusions that outdid the weather outside for blackness and bleakness. But as light came and thought became less sleep-burdened, I asked myself: What purpose is there?

And then, with a hint of sun outside, came the thought: Life appears to have a purpose but when you examine it closely any coherent purpose is not to be found. All is fragmented. People go around in circles tending to their desires, aims and misfortunes and it all seems rather empty.

You can say that a purpose is to make money, friends, buy a bigger house, exploit somebody (since one person can only gain at the expense of another), attack somebody (in anger and frustration), defend somebody (the vague thought that we are here to serve others). All these are the pressing ideals of people.

Humans are blood, skin and bone. and vulnerable for that reason. It makes them anxious in defence of what they think of as 'I', and desperate to be comfortably secure; and to achieve that they have to wheedle and wangle their ways through life with conscience as their only spur - or impediment, depending on the individual's assessment of his or her need.

To make ego dignified, we invented boxing, cricket, football, car racing and if you are caught up in any of that you are merely taking on the business of a soldier in battle but without death as a result.

Times change, of course, but principles remain. The bloody battles of the past are not unlike today's big table, and around it, half a dozen (usually) males in suits, shirts and ties deciding on the happiness or desperation of thousands of others who are doing their physical tasks without thought or knowledge of what is happening. War in a different place but war nevertheless. This is not to attack what we have come to recognise as the democratic system. It is merely to point out that wherever man goes there is conflict of one kind or another. Equality is never possible and will never be possible becuase individual ego overrides it. So it is an objective among people that remains a myth.

World leaders through history have always served their own egos through wars. The plodding thousands take up bayonets (or the modern equivalent), climb from the trenches and trudge forward to their extinction. Many of those who died in France during the first world war had never been further than Blackpool. The reality came at Ypres.

Like others down the centuries they marched due to the failure of negotiation to protect them by peaceful methods. And then, when people get too fed up with leaderships, they march against it. There is no end to suffering and turmoil and all of it is man-made.

Ask the climate. If it had a voice it would howl with the anguish that humans bring to it. It would weep. It would ask for mercy. But it has no voice of its own to save itself. Out there are the results of its agony in fire and flood as forests burn and oceans rise.

The planet was created as a companion, not to be despoiled, attacked, ruined. Where is sin in all that? Why in the usual place: in ego, in greed, in mankind.

So where do we go from here? Not anywhere. There is nowhere to go. We mill about in our millions living the day, the night, the life, with no particular purpose beyond serving self, and making a living.

Self. All the troubles are in that one word. So today's sermon is simply this: The purpose of being a living person is not to conquer nature, but to conquer the self "to go beyond the commonly held concept of an individualised personality, to transcend appearances, to realise the untenability and delusiveness of the doctrine of ego, or soul," as a writer of the past put it.

A plain truth has to be realised and it seldom is: it's all One. It is form itself that creates the idea of separateness and forms an illusion


Jack (Lord) Ashley

Sir John Barbirolli

Sir Osbert Sitwell

The Queen and me

Bryson: the words that smile

The boy in Aleppo

The Queen's Speech that never was

Lord Bragg

Donald Campbell

Sir Neville Cardus and John Arlott

Ronald Carter, blacksmith

Violet Carson (Ena Sharples)

"The magic of Shakespeare swept me off my feet. Then I'm back to 'Ee, by gum' in the Street. It trapped me. It made me, if you like: it has gone all over the world. But it has destroyed me, because nobody sees me or anything about me."

Dame Catherine Cookson,

Earls, Dukes and Godly Men

Dame Gracie Fields & me

Ronald Fraser

Dame Thora Hird

Lionel Jeffries

(Railway Children)

Russell Harty

L S Lowry (above)




"You're not getting your ball back," she used to shout. "You'll kill somebody, you lot."

The crucible (climbing)




Grannie Morshead

Pubs and landlords

Wing and a prayer


Genius Family

Lancashire pride

Is democracy dead?

The best of whimsical fiction

North-South divide

The pleasures and agonies of Spring,

George Best at 20


Summer of 2006


Buddhism + life (Manjushri, Lake District) Life and Living 1 Life and Living 2 Life and Living 3

Rant: rumbles and grumbles. Lancashire affairs. Snippets: Bits and pieces.

copyright: Geoffrey Mather 2017

  • Retrospective

  • (collected in one spot)
  • On growing old
  • So there they were - Hollywood dominating the world with its Clark Gables, Jean Harlows, Spencer Tracys, Garbos and Bogarts, tears in its eyes, inventive, vulnerable, blessed by climate, limos and money but tormented, insecure and edgy as fledglings in nests.
  • Bennett's art is to take the apparently trivial - his mother's views of "her betters" and so on - and make them meaningful in much larger ways. Miss Shepherd tested all his beliefs and inhibitions one by one. The two of them existed together, but in worlds apart, like aliens. And yet, I suspect, it was the sameness that reached furthest into the writer's psyche. His long essay on Miss Shepherd is superb. Even on the second reading, I was laughing out loud, to the disgust of the dog,, and in the next sentence feeling for Bennett's own agony. So you have this magic formula, where the relationship between two people over 20 years can match the life experiences of us all. 

  • .

    "I am all for the unusual on Page One. I do not read stories of the type headed ' Bandits gag, tie up woman' very much nowadays because people are always gagging and tying up women. Such incidents are as common as gas-oven suicides." 

    Arthur Christiansen

    became editor of the Daily Express in October, 1933, a position he held for 24 years until 1957. During his editorship sales peaked at two million in 1935, over three million in 1944 and four million in 1949. Each day he wrote a bulletin. It was compulsory reading for members of editorial staff. Here are many of those bulletins.

    The Beaverbrook Saga

    The newspaper crisis


    + Molloy of the Mirror + Clive James + Churchill + Big-ego words + Vanishing language + Noam Chomsky's words + Great words of great events

  • In spite of his own eccentricities, he wanted the world to behave as he expected it to. Big companies, shops, waiters and hotel managers were his normal fodder. He terrorised them. When he snagged a coat on something protruding in Woolworth's, he said to the manager, "This is an expensive coat." "I can see it is," said the manager. "I noticed it when you came in." "Right," said Brian Duff, "I expect you to pay for it. And I don't want it invisibly mended because you can see it."
  • Ian Skidmore

    Sir James Scott Douglas (gossip columnist)

    When an editor complained of his booking into an expensive London hotel - the Dorchester as I recall - at the firm's expense, James merely said, "Where else can one entertain one's proprietor?" and the matter was hurriedly concluded, since no-one was prepared to phone (the late) Sir Max Aitken, who bossed the place at the time.

    I asked Jim (I always called him Jim, to be perverse, though it was obvious that he was entitled to James) to find out something one day - on the phone, I emphasised - and he said, "Oh yes, I shall ring" - go on, guess - "...Uncle Essex." It made me wish I had an Uncle Oswaldtwistle

    James had a habit of living extravagantly and encountering hard times, which is how he came to be a journalist. Both conditions were once almost fundamental to the job.

    Pub Talk with Peter Thomas

    Accrington Observer Observed

    Peter Stringfellow

    Edna the Traveller

    The pearl hunter

    Blaster Bates

    RSM Lord

    Concert Secretary

    Champion eater

    Witch woman

    Railway Children

    Mathers of Salem

    Crown and Kettled

    Railway Children

    Billiards halls


    Holy fizz


    TV to do



    St George's Day

    Selwyn Lloyd

    Lt Gen Sir Oliver Leese

    Theodore Major

    Sir John Moores

    Albert Modley

    Beatrix Potter

    Frank Randle

    Bill Shankly

    Les Dawson,

    Fred Dibnah,

    Dudley Doolittle (comic),

    Lady Anne Clifford

    Maureen Lipman

    The Immortal Griffin


    Soccer language