Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation

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Pursuit of Happiness

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

So states the US Declaration of Independence written mainly by Thomas Jefferson, however it is believed that Benjamin Franklin may have wrote the phrase

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

Changing it from

Life, Liberty and Property

in Jefferson’s draft. However it was put back to Life, Liberty and Property in the Bill of Rights.

I’m not sure anyone quite knows why the changes occurred. I don’t believe the change was explained during Jefferson’s lifetime. The pursuit of happiness is the better slogan but perhaps legally “Property rights” is a more important (or at least easier to understand legally) concept to legislate for.

It is thought that the phrase is based on the writings of, English philosopher (and other moral thinking of the time), John Locke, who expressed a similar concept of “life, liberty, and estate (or property)“. Locke said that “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” Strong legal property rights are now a fundamental for forging a modern healthy economy and society but were only developing under English common law at the time. At the time, it was probably not readily thought of as an essential component of liberty which we take for granted in many societies today.

However, on a moral philosophy level, I would like to speculate that the phrase was influenced by Aristotle and his Nicomachean Ethics.

Aristotle argued that eudaimonia is the goal of life, and that a person’s pursuit of eudaimonia will result in virtuous conduct.

Eudaimonia has no direct translation in to English but is often thought as best translated as happiness. And so the Declaration also has this ethical dimension.

On this dimension, does the right to pursue happiness also give use the “right” to fall in love and find our life long partner?

I think it does. In this way our pursuit of love and hence happiness is an unalienable right that is self evidently true….

A Day of Engagement

It started with

Cedar Ring

That I made with my own hands from a cedar of Lebanon that lived in the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral

Cedar of Lebanon, Salisbury Cathedral

until it was blown down in a storm, and a shell

we collected from the beaches of east Sri Lanka.

I received in return


Time for a small spot of this


On a bagel.

Then as part of a secret trip going to

Ginger Pig



And La Fromagerie for


Carrying with us this (inherited from the remnants of my father’s collection)

Pichon 1982

Of which Robert Parker claims: “thick, supple, velvety-textured, gloriously decadent, and hedonistic…If [you] need just one wine with which to impress someone, close a deal, or just experience the pleasures of wine, make it the Pichon-Lalande 1982…

Leading to me cooking an unforgettable meal here

For a perfect day to become engaged.

Yellow sidelined for Brown and Black?

“Are artists/practitioners with East Asian roots sidelined in favour of South Asian and Black British work?”

lc, as an actress writes in the comments:

“Definitely! As a performer, so many times I’ve wondered how a friend has got that dream job/audition while I didn’t even get a look in… only to realize later that the company had specifically been looking for a black performer, although the colour of the character was not at all relevant to the piece…

Quite simply, I get the impression that black is cool, brown is quite cool, yellow is not.

But this applies not just to theatre but to a wide range of areas including music, politics, media… East Asian societal figureheads do seem in short supply in comparison with black and other Asian counterparts. I do still think that we are very passive in Britain, despite being (I believe) the third largest ethnic group.

I’m ambivalent about these labels “black/brown/yellow theatre”. I’m all for culturally diverse work, but I do long for the day when I can work with a company composed of individuals from a wide range of racial and cultural backgrounds, when we won’t be known or celebrated because we are all black, yellow, or just “different” but because we are simply producing high quality work that unites people regardless of race, class or nationality.

Idealistic? Of course! And there are flaws in the proposal but I find myself increasingly drawn to notions that unite and not divide us. If theatre is about humanity, then it should be our (shared) humanity that drives it, not our appearance.

And returning to this idea of being “sidelined” – part of me wonders if we are being sidelined, or whether we’re simply not fighting hard enough”

Good Soul of Szechaun / Happy-Go-Lucky

These made an interesting pairing for me in the last few weeks.

Both feature a strong female character trying to do her best in a world full of characters, which may not always really want the best for her.

In the Good Soul of Szechuan, Brecht is articulating a dilemma of the time. Trying to do good when it will most likely drown you at least economically). I’m not sure “free markets” are quite as bad as that… although they do suffer from the “tragedy of the commons” which essentially Shen Te – quirkily brilliant Jane Horrocks – is to everyone. A free resource will be overused – think over fishing of seas.

The visual and theatrical staging (and design, Miriam Buether) is brilliant and I think the director’s (Richard Jones) work in opera and large scale visions shows through.

Sally Hawkins as Poppy is more beguiling in Mike Leigh’s film. She seems drawn to helping people and like the film title is happy-go-lucky.

Like John Sayle’s Limbo, the films says what it is. Happy-Go-Lucky.

Do we looks for Poppy’s dark secret in the film? I think because of general story narrative, we do. But, we don’t find it. This is film as a character study and the character is optimistic and chirpy, and if she wasn’t so genuine she might even be a little irritating but she’s genuinely compassionate and caring. I believe her.

I believe there are many people who are like her some of the time, and even some who are like her most of the time. I’d even venture to say, there are some who have always decided to look on the bright side of life – perhaps in the belief that if everyone did and if everyone remained optimistic, caring, compassionate then the world would be a happier place.

I’d like to think, I try and do that when I can.

Shovelling stones

I’ve been working hard. I’ve been shovelling stones in the garden. I’ve been struggling with many things.

I missed my friend, Penny Skinner’s play, Fucked, at the Old Red Lion although to be fair it was sold out and so I couldn’t get a ticket.

I’ve not seen an awful lot of late for the above reasons. But I have been thinking about some of the similarities between creative processes.

The crafting of a play; its themes, characters, plots, images and the designing of interior architecture.

Trying to create enough ingredients to sustain the interior or the play. Fun, surprise. The constant re-working of ideas. The seeking of inspiration.

I’ve also been asked to write on this posed question: The British East Asian theatre experience; if “brown is the new black”, where does that leave yellow? Are artists/practitioners with East Asian roots sidelined in favour of South Asian and Black British work?

Any thoughts welcome.

I’ll be back when I have something more to say. Lots of good plays around at the moment. Am going to try harder to get out and about. At least the sun is out.

  • About me

    I'm a playwright and investment analyst. I have a broad range of interests: food, gardening, innovation & intellectual property, sustainability, architecture & design, writing and the arts. I sit on the board of Talawa Theatre Company and advise a CIS investment trust on socially responsible investments.

  • Recent Work

    Recent plays include, for theatre: Nakamitsu, Yellow Gentlemen, Lost in Peru, Lemon Love. For radio: Places in Between (R4), Patent Breaking Life Saving (WS).

  • Nakamitsu

  • Yellow Gentlemen