In Matters of Sloth

Smile and Sloth by Vic Briggs Daily Prompt: The Eighth Sin

Acedia or sloth, was first listed amongst eight evil thoughts (the basis of the modern seven deadly sins) by Evargrius the Solitary, a Christian ascetic monk.

Curiously, acedia does not necessarily have to mean sloth. It appears that in the Philokalia, which translates as “love of the beautiful, the good” and is “a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters”,  the term acedia had the meaning of dejection or depression.

While depression may very well dim our ability to be sensible of the beautiful and the good in our lives, I should think that by including it amongst lists of “evil thoughts” and “deadly sins”, we attribute a negative agency to those who suffer from depression that is undeserved. So too goes for the paralysing consequences that depression can have, which prevent those who struggle with it to be as active and productive as they are when they are in a healthy place: being unable to work in such cases can by no means be deemed as slothful.

And while 4th century monks may have been ill-informed as to the causes of depression and its consequences, and could feel themselves justified in denoting it as a sin, I think that it may be time to eliminate it from the list.

So instead of adding another sin to the list, I say it is high time we lobby for the opposite.

As for our name-sake mammals, a few years ago I met one of their number in Peru. They are truly beautiful creatures, with soft, shaggy hair, kind eyes and appear to have a constant smile on their lips.  Certainly, they are very slow in their movements and I suppose that’s where they got the name. Then again, they have no reason to be in a hurry.

I’d like to think that perhaps if we too slowed down every now and then, and took our time to observe and delight in the world around us, we would enjoy life that little bit more.

#WomenAgainstFeminism ?



Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with WeHuntedTheMammoth

It’s been only two days since I found out that there is a new phenomenon on Tumblr and Facebook that carries its standard under the name of Women Against Feminism. I didn’t know whether to find the news upsetting or downright depressing. Having spent some time reading through the commentary, I felt myself torn between a desire to write a dozen hundred messages of “WRONG” in reply to some or adding my own two pennies’ worth to the mix.

The trouble with any such discussions is that it is near impossible to persuade anyone to think otherwise without days of back-and-forths, vast amounts of research to back up arguments and emotional energy to consolidate for potential losses. Plus, the likelihood of succeeding is even then very slim. More often than not the opposition will simply use well-intentioned counter-arguments  as additional fodder for their – dare I say misguided? – cause. They will continue to insist that they know their mind and that it is their right to think however they will. Well… there at least they are right. Since I was already caught in a plethora of projects of my own, I left it all alone.

Until today!

You see, earlier today I was making a much overdue incursion into the world of Facebook  and came across a puzzling article by Katie Halper. (Whoever said that Facebook is bereft of anything useful? Will not be fooled twice.) You may be surprised to find out that this piece was about cats.

Cats? you ask. What on earth could cats have of any use to say?

Alright, alright. But they were not any old cats mind, they were confused cats. Still puzzled? Well… “Like many of the women featured on the Women Against Feminism Tumblr, these cats don’t seem to really get what feminism is,” Katie says and then proceeds with an exhibition of some of their photographs and “anti-feminist” messages:

“I don’t need feminism b/c a woman needs a man like a cat needs a fish. and this cat needs a fish,declares a stripy-grey feline.

I’m against feminism because… wait that’s vacuums. I’m against vacuums,” purrs a moody-looking charcoal black cat.

“I don’t need feminism because I support the oppression of ALL humans! muahahaha”

Ok. That last one was chilling. Brrr… On the bright side, this is how I found the antidote for my upset: humour and Cats respond to #WomenAgainstFeminism with new blog: Confused Cats Against Feminism is just the dish to serve it with. Fishy? Yum.

The project started off quite simply because the blogger of WeHuntedTheMammoth found herself with two anti-feminists in her household: “Against my better judgment, I agreed to take pictures of them with signs spelling out their objections. None of their arguments make much sense to me, but, hey, they’re entitled to make their case on the internet if that’s what they want.

There’s just one little complication: the two antifeminist females in my household are not, you know, human females. They’re cats.

Needs must, however, so this ingenious blogger did not despair, but instead started off a new blog which within days became a phenomenon in its own right. Anyone can add their confused cats to the site. WeHuntedTheMammoth adds a single caveat to this: “your cats must be genuinely confused about why they oppose feminism, and generally unclear about what feminism is.”

There you are: if you have a cat who happens to be harbouring anti-feminist feelings and yet can give no clear explanation for their professed views, now they have a public platform whence to bring their confusion.

And here too is where my own furry companion has decided to take their befuddlement:

Inspired by Monty Python –  

Delivered by Cat.


Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

How do you like your eggs in the morning?


How do I like mine? I’m not very particular about it, as long as they come with a side of FT’s in-depth analysis of the latest financial developments, of course.

Could it ever be a matter of doubt? 😉

Daily Prompt: Adult Visions

I blame Cinderella

PumpkinGrin by Vic Briggs

No. Not today. Thank you.

I was sitting there quietly, minding my own business, when a mad witch magicked me out of the ether to deliver some damsel to a ball. Did anyone ask me what it was I wanted to do? Did they even care that I had a spot of moon bathing planned for my night out on the pumpkin patch? No Siree. Go fetch.

Still. It could’ve been worse. Some maniac may have taken to carving out my ribbed skin and sticking candles in my underbelly just for the fun of it. Oh wait. That happens too. Halloween they call it; a pumpkin’s worst nightmare. You sit there scared half to death, a fake grin cut across your face while a merciless flame burns whatever of your insides survived the pulping. Savages.

I wanted to be an artist. That dream of modest stardom was squashed long ago. All scooped out, I am but the footnote in someone else’s storyline.


Daily Prompt: Teen Age Idol

The dog ate my post

Inspired by Anonymous, created by Vic Briggs

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

Having just pressed the ‘save draft’ button on a post I’ve been working on for quite a while, I was certain that I did want to “do this” i.e. save my post. So when WordPress asked me the question, I didn’t waiver. There were no alarm bells going off in the recesses of my exhausted brain. What could possibly go wrong? I hit ‘yes’ certain of the outcome. Except…

Instead of saving my post, WordPress deleted it.


Clearly our blogging platform did not deem my lovingly crafted post worthy of seeing the light of day. Or night. It is forevermore lost in the virtual cemetery of other posts that have met a similar fate. I can only hope it receives a good welcome, wherever it may be. Doubtful. Very doubtful. I didn’t get the chance to teach it how to survive in the wild. Worse still, it may think that I abandoned it on purpose and with no one to reassure it of the opposite, it may loose heart and give up altogether. Is it too late to give it a fighting chance I wonder?

Dear post,

I am so sorry to have lost you. We had a good run, you and I. It is such a pity that our time together was cut short. You didn’t deserve that and I will do my utmost to put things right. While I figure out how to go about it, here are a few tips on how to survive in the blogging wilderness. I’m coming for you. Just you wait.

1. Don’t waste your energy trying to make it back to civilisation. Chances are you’ll take a wrong turn and then it will be impossible to track you down.

2. Wrap yourself up in something warm and find appropriate shelter. Failing that, build one. I’m told that lean-tos are your best option. I know you are afraid of spiders, but they won’t bite (unless you’ve made it to Australia in which case you’ll have to play it by ear).

3. Since there is no chance of me finding you tonight, you’ll have to improvise a bog-bed (it’s England, you know so it is bound to rain, although you’re better off with one even if you’re lost elsewhere).

4. Now may be a good idea to delve into that pocketful of treats you kept sneaking from my fridge and I hope you didn’t throw away your water bottle. If you’re out of both, do not despair. You can survive three days without water and three weeks without food. Let’s just hope it won’t come to that.

5. Make a fire, keep warm and wait for the rescue team to reach you.

I’m on my way!

And breathe. Relax and don’t forget to breathe. You won’t survive for long without air. Mind though, you are a blogpost… so what do I know?


Daily Post: The Wanderer

Easter Fun & Hunger Games

imagesY5JW5CIUWaking up early in the morning for an Easter feast used to be one of my favourite things about this holiday.

We weren’t allowed to go anywhere near the food until we had washed our cheeks with… one red egg for health, a white one for purity of heart, and a coin for a little wealth. Every spiritual endeavour will have its practical side I suppose.

Grandpa would’ve spent the night in church to bring back blessed treats, and these were without fail the first to be tasted after the “battle of the eggs” was done and dusted. No-No. Not the chocolate kind. These were the real thing, painted the previous day under grandma’s close supervision. We were allowed to pick patterns to add to the shell: usually a parsley leaf cottoned on to its side, or a candle wax design which left an imprint once the egg had its baptism in the die.

Red eggs, blue eggs, green and yellow, even brownish ones and some determinately drunk-burgundy ones made their way to the table: a fashion show of custom-made edible Fabergés. However, we did not discriminate on the basis of colour in choosing our “competitor.” Size matterred, as did the pointiness of the egg; no one wanted to be stuck with Humpty Dumpty types.

For those unfamiliar with it, the “battle of the eggs” is the Easter equivalent of conkers with no strings attached. The best eggs are hard-boiled and pointy. Each player takes turns hitting the point of the opponent’s egg with their own, and the egg that makes it to the end of the round un-cracked is declared victorious. Its owner may allow it to live another day (or at least until it is challenged to another battle).

I rather miss that. Trying to crack a chocolate egg is nowhere near as fun. With hindsight, the original game did not have quite the gladiatorial setup I attributed to it as a child, but then again… for all eggs involved, they were the real “hunger games.”


Daily Prompt: Saturday Night

Forbidden Pleasures

Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul by Vic Briggs

About this image: Dolmabahce Palace on the European shores of the Bosphorus strait. One of Istanbul’s architectural treasures, it is too, the dream of a sultan that bankrupted an empire.

Abdülmecid I – the sultan in question – either delighted in architectural eclecticism or could not decide on a favourite style for his new property venture. Twined with traditional Ottoman architecture, there is a sprinkle of Baroque to quell the nostalgia for 16th century Italian charm; Rococo for a touch of Versailles-style French playfulness; and Neoclassical, because all architectural roads lead to Athens. Apparently.

Every boy likes his accessories and when you wear a crown, spending thirty-five tons of gold on a new toy could hardly be deemed excessive. Nothing says “I’m the Ottoman Empire’s 31st sultan” better than a 45,000 square metre monoblock palace with gold-leaf gilded ceilings to match luxuries and styles that the 19th century could only begin to imagine.

And here’s where the magic happens…

The harem was less of a surprise given the location of this otherwise very European palace, but crystal staircases?


Daily Prompt: You Sexy Thing

The Official #Krew Baseball Cards | Magic Muggles

Chocolate_frog_card_dumbledoreThis must be the funniest blogroll I have ever come across on WordPress. Kavalkade’s “baseball cards” reminded me of Harry Potter’s first journey on the Hogwarts Express and his first ever chocolate frog card.
Admittedly, #Krew cards are Muggle standard as their inhabitants neither move, nor get into the habit of leaving their frames to get up to no good elsewhere in magic land. I do hope however that Kavalkade will add some humorous backstories to the next set. His imagination is boundless and the quirky humour always hits a spot.
Until then, take a peek at how he approaches the sensitive question of age. I am rather fond of the Liz parallel (you’ll know what I mean when you get to it).
Oh, yes. And I won’t say no to a little chocolate either, as long as it doesn’t leap off the screen without warning.

The Official #Krew Baseball Cards!

Which pub does Benedict Cumberbatch drink in?

I fill my cup with as large a measure of amusement as the world can provide, fond as I am of a good chuckle. Every now and then, the WordPress search engine will provide just the right dose.

There is a lady out there, so desirous of meeting the elusive Batch, that she decided to take things into her own hands and seek him out at all Englishmen’s favourite watering hole: the pub. I can’t help but admire her tenacity and feel a little guilty in her supposed disappointment when Google thought it would be a lark to send her to my blog instead. Try typing “Which pub does Benedict Cumberbatch drink in” into the search engine and you’ll see what I mean.

Benedict may very well have patronised Soho’s “the Lab” in the past. I wouldn’t know. Perhaps our lady will be lucky to synchronise her visit with Hollywood’s darling. After all, stranger things have happened.

Having had my laugh for the day, I am rather in the mood for a good deed. So what do you say, dear readers. Shall we help this vixen find her crush?

Benedict Cumberbatch having a drink at the Roundhouse in London

Dear Anonymous,

If you are reading this, then you have not yet given up on discovering Benedict’s favourite pub. I’m afraid I can’t help you with specifics, although if you happen to be in London, you could always give pub crawling in Hampstead a try. I hear they have some delightful ales and a predilection for auburn-haired clientele 😉 . I would recommend half-measures if you plan on doing the job thoroughly or else I will be accused of encouraging irresponsible drinking.

Best of luck with the hunt!

Let’s Talk Opinion | Wanders with Werewolves


“You write well when you’re angry, Vic.”

This was the express conclusion of a friend who had taken the time to read a couple of my Let’s Talk Opinion posts. I was surprised to hear it.

I could not recall an instance when that particular emotion had prompted me to write, at least not opinion pieces. It is true that some subjects I feel strongly about and treading on egg-shells is not my strongest suit. But anger brings to mind a flaring face, augmented to the size of a Halloween pumpkin and gradually acquiring the hue of a ready-to-explode blueberry Willy Wonka style.

My posts I hope are never dispassionate, but I did not believe them to ever be guided by a sense of annoyance or downright hostility.

Pondering with some degree of perplexity on the matter, in re-reading the posts the aforementioned friend referred to, I came to a conclusion of my own. It was my propinquity proclivity to use irony and dark humour as rhetorical devices that must have come across as written in anger.  I do this intuitively, without forethought, and like any writing that gets submitted to public scrutiny, it may at times appear to linger on the threshold of sarcasm, if not crossing it altogether.

The reader is always a better judge than I could ever be of whether that is the case or not, so I will leave you to draw your own conclusions. For now, I will keep the promise of yesterday’s Let’s Talk Opinion | Lunchtime Edition and add the remaining favourites of the series for a complete top ten:


thinkoutsidetheboxcold#6 Clichés | Avoid them like the plague! Laughter is contagious, and having just about managed to pick myself off the floor where I lay in stitches for a while after reading Michael Alexander Chaney‘s “cliché” misadventure, I decided to repay him in kind. This is one of those rare instances (for me at least) where humour went hand in hand with utility.


beach-love-couple-silhouette1#7 Consent is Sexy When it comes to the issue of tacit consent it is difficult to disagree with Queer Guess Code: traditional media continue to portray romantic encounters as the prerogative of silence. If the other’s advances are unwelcome, we are expected to say “no”, but are women given enough opportunities to say “yes”?


blogging_6#8 Danger Blogging explores the dangers bloggers expose themselves to on a daily basis, and offers a few tips on how to avoid them. I have fallen foul of a couple of these myself and the effects were immediate and lasting so beware. In conversation with Idiot Writing.


Vogue Issue Cadeaux#9 Child Pornography and The Sexualisation of Children “Do child pornography websites lead to acts of unimaginable evil?” asks Giorge Thomas in the wake of Ian Watkins – the lead singer of Lostprophets – being convicted of child pornography charges. With this question in mind I consider the impact of the sexualisation of children perpetrated by popular media today. Some readers found the accompanying images disturbing, so please tread with care.


animal-farm1#10 Some are more equal than others In hindsight I wish I had named this article “Wanders with Werewolves”.  If you are familiar with this piece then you will know why. If not: then take a peek and let me know if you think a title change is in order. I believe this is the opinion piece that my friend referred to when she said “You write well when you’re angry, Vic.” Well… angry perhaps not, but a little wolfish, certainly.


Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)