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Simon Callow, Henry Blofeld, Ellie Harrison and Andy Burrows

Chris gets that Friday feeling going with actor Simon Callow, Test Match Special star Henry Blofeld, Countryfile's Ellie Harrison and Andy Burrows.

Release date:

2 hours, 59 minutes

Last on

Fri 29 Aug 2014 06:30

Pause For Thought

Pause For Thought

From Rabbi Pete Tobias of the Liberal Synagogue, Elstree


I saw a sign the other day that read ‘In the event of a fire please leave the building before tweeting or texting about it.’

 We live in an age of instant communication where, it would seem, unless we tell others what’s happening to us by text or with a photograph, we aren’t actually experiencing it.

 Kate Bush, who started her run of London gigs this week, told her fans ‘It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows. It would allow us to all share in the experience together.’

 Roger Daltrey of the Who has also questioned why music fans spend more time filming and texting than watching the actual performance.  He said: ‘Looking at life through a screen and not being in the moment totally - if you're doing that, you're 50% there, right?’

 He’s right - we seem unable to live in the present, operating instead in some kind of future past tense, where we do things simply in order to recall them later.

 If we cannot find moments of value in our days, we may end up living out Shakespeare’s famous words in what I believe I have to call ‘The Scottish Play’ – ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day… a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’

 Maybe that’s why we feel the need to photograph or text so much; to enable us to appreciate that some moments do have significance. Though he lived in the 11th century when there were no mobile phones or cameras, Jewish philosopher Bachya ibn Pakuda seems to anticipate our obsession with capturing special moments. ‘Days are like scrolls,’ he said. ‘Write on them what you want to be remembered.’

 But memorable moments are only memorable if we are fully present in them. And if we spend too much time trying to record them in pictures or texts, we may end up regarding life as no more than a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets its hour upon the stage – or a series of images on a social media site. Surely there must be more to life than that.

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