Tuesday 12 February 2019

Furloughed: Checks, posts and views

A furloughed week
As a consequence of a frank professional assessment of a situation I was working on, I have found myself inadvertently furloughed to work just one day this week, as that is the only billable activity on my schedule. The disadvantage for me is that I do not get paid for days that have no billing, I am dependent on my resource manager to assign new projects to my schedule, or I am technically out of work.
However, not to be idle, I chose to book a sexual health check today, as before now, each visit to that clinic has me spending almost 5 hours there, I seem to always be the last to be seen. They have changed the arrangements from a walk-in clinic to an online appointments system that is open at noon for slots the day after. I caught the first slot of 8:30 AM today and still did not get called by a doctor until 9:15 AM. An improvement, but I arrived first, two people arrived after me and they were seen before me.
In any case, we had a pleasant session from answering questions that were heretofore embarrassing to me giving a detail medical report of my situation. Blood was drawn, swabs taken, and I gave a urine sample; all done in about 30 minutes.
I left to post a letter that was processed as registered post, taking time to ask questions about the normal operations of equipment and systems in the Post Office as part of my activities in the last few weeks included investigating the performance of Post Office environments.
Legacies that last
Then as I made my way home, the Whitworth Art Gallery which had undergone renovations a few years before became a point of interest. I decided to consider some appreciation of art, so I walked in first for a coffee and a croissant before looking around.
The gallery is named for Sir Joseph Whitworth Bt. who donated funds for the gallery and is renowned for setting the standards for the screw thread known as the British Standard Whitworth and the pioneer of the sniper rifle. His name features prominently around Manchester on Whitworth Street; where I live, Whitworth Hall, the Christie Hospital which he funded and is now one of the foremost cancer treatment centres in Europe. His legacy also funds 10-15 scholarships for engineering degrees and now to doctorate level.
At the gallery, is saw prints by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746 – 1828), known to all as Goya and William Hogarth (1697-1764) in a curated exhibition titled Prints of Darkness: Goya and Hogarth in a Time of European Turmoil which runs until August 2019. The subtext is these men challenged orthodoxy and the abuse of power in times when the powerful had an untrammelled ability for impunity without accountability.
History is panels
At the exhibition, I learnt that Hogarth as an active governor of the Foundling Hospital founded by retired sea captain Thomas Coram in 1739, persuaded other great artists to donate works to the hospital and thereby pioneering socially engaged artists.
Then in his moral depiction of the Four Stages of Cruelty, he works progressively from childhood cruelty against pets, to adult cruelty against beasts of labour, then criminality that includes robbery to murder, ending with the reward of cruelty where the criminal having been condemned to disembowelled when brought down from the gallows.
On seeing the print of The Cockpit, I did wonder when the meaning evolved from watching a cockfight to being the helm of a water-going vessel or the flight deck of an aircraft.
We always need rational thought
Hogarth like Goya was a fierce critic of organised religion that held sway over people with superstition leaving little room for rational thought. In his Credulity, Superstition, and Fanaticism, he satirises and excoriates the belief in the Cock Lane ghost and a Mary Toft who was the perpetrator of an elaborate hoax suggesting she gave birth to a litter of rabbits.
One can aver that we desperately need a Goya and a Hogarth in these times to challenge the illogical and mad dash to Brexit along with the lies and terminological inaccuracies that has bewitched the populace into accepting that what is essentially damaging to them is more desirable than the status quo.
Another exhibition, Four Corners of One Cloth: Textiles from the Islamic World, filled me with fascination. On show was a piece of Kiswah, the cloth that covers the Kaaba the holiest shrine of the Islamic world which is apparently changed annually on the 9th day of the month of Hajj, divided and sent around the world.
Until I saw the narrative of the items of clothing from the last nomadic tribe of the Qashqai from Iran, I had always wondered where Nissan got the name for their Qashqai. Now I know.
I guess I made more use of the day than I could ever have envisaged.
Some of the pictures of panels, prints and exhibits I took at the gallery are in this slideshow.

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