The highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness

–  John Locke

          One morning at the end of February I look up at the colossal wooden frame mounted above the fireplace and I can see I’ve already used up my Quota Of Joy for the rest of the year.

‘You’re so greedy.’ My mother twists my hair between her fingers. ‘Always wanting more. No sense of self-control.’ She ties the end of the braid with a red ribbon. ‘You get what you deserve; we all do.’
          Sulking makes no difference. Under her name, flashing red in the half-gloom, are a couple of spare weeks. She says she’s saving it for August, in case of fine weather.

          Since she got the Saturday job in town, my sister has no time for me. She bats my hands away as they pluck at the sleeve of her jacket.

          ‘You’ll never learn, if I say yes.’ She wraps a long scarf around her neck and I offer her my pocket money until Easter. Until midsummer. Until the leaves turn red again.

‘Money can’t buy you happiness, Daphne. Keep your pennies.’

         ‘I’m telling Dad.’

         ‘Just you dare. Go on then. Just you dare.’ She slams the front door and I sit in the hallway and howl..... MORE


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Mourning Diary
by Roland Barthes
Reviewed by Thomas Larson

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The funeral ceremony gave a moment for pause, the suspension of urgency and agitation. We sat in the cold church, a packed congregation of silent mouths but noisy minds, funereal stillness disturbed by a sneeze, a cough, a low burp, barely discernible. The breath of a freezing noon hung in the portals behind us and beyond that, it being December, icy air covered our city in a nasty mist. Mankind stirred beneath this veil, a rolling wave of evil and good. They would not hush, my thoughts, as with beatific aplomb the priest unfurled a yellow flag bearing a golden key upon the coffin. I'll tell you plainly, I began to think about what would happen when we got out of there, the people I hadn't met for a long time because you only meet them at weddings and funerals and I was looking forward to having a drink and something to eat while talking a load of nonsense. The hands of the priest, I mean the long, cold fingers and the slow movements, froze my blood worse than the air outside on the steps. His fifteenth century voice, dearly beloved, gathered before, and suddenly I saw myself up there on the altar under the scrutinising gaze of the congregation. Ladies and Gentlemen, I mean Dearly Beloved, I stand here naked before God of my own volition and freely confess that I once contemplated murder, there, over there, that man.... MORE A_Funeral_Edward_Mc_Whinney.htmlA_Funeral_Edward_Mc_Whinney.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1

Largo ponderoso
  Beneath this 892 lb slab of choice Carrara marble lie the mortal parts of 
     whose spirit passed elsewhere
January 29, 2015, in the 67th year of his life. Chairman of the Board, Pantechnicon, Inc.; Perpetual Vice President, Ubiquity, Managed Food, and Pitchblende Corporations; Honorary Secretary, Better the Stock and Thoughtful Development  Societies; Founder of the movements Scour the Land!, Cents Mean Sense, and Speak English Now; Treasurer, Your Brother’s Keeper and Belief in Business. An outspoken member of the
Governor’s Council on Policy... MORE. Grave_Quartet_Laurence_Davies.htmlGrave_Quartet_Laurence_Davies.htmlshapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1
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