KIND THINKER OUT IN THE WORLD: an elegy for Perry Else



Kind thinker, out in

the world, away 

from the white towers; 

down by the riv’r.

Forthright, flexible and firm — 

the three frees.

Living, in the realm

of the possible:

not ‘they should’, only

‘well, maybe we can…’ 

Else we forget, the

value of play

and the value of

his playful life.

Arthur Battram

10:26 AM, Thursday, June 12, 2014, revised 2:02 PM  Friday, September 5, 2014 , and again so the scansion is better Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 2:04 PM.

A fitting obituary is here:





I’d like to have seen Basho at work when he ran ‘Edo Prefecture Children’s Play Garden #8’ in 1674.

He was only there for two years. Argument with management.

Here is a reasonably-well transliterified version of what he wrote, 300 years ago, in a different language, on the other side of your planet:

the first cold rainstorm –

even the monkey seems to want

a little straw raincoat

Basho (1644 – 1694)

That seems an apposite haiku for the cold winter of our dis-affluence and the cold winter of our weather.

Don’t read on, I talk about poetry!

  • too late!

Here is another (older?), version:

Winter downpour
even the monkey
needs a raincoat

Although, I, being both a haiku ponce and nerd, prefer the first version:

The first cold rainstorm:
Even the monkey seems to want
a little straw raincoat.

And notice that I replaced that softer colon with a minidash, to honour the ‘cutting’ of the rules of haiku.*

The first translitation gets to the point, and enables the non-Japanese to ‘get it’, sort of, but Basho is being more specific and allusive (and ill- and el -usive) when he describes the first cold rain and the onset of winter in japan.

Japan is on the same latitude —or is it longi- ?— same -tude, anyway, meaning same distance above equator as the UK, but much colder, because it has no gulf stream, is an island chain in deep ocean not on a continental shelf, and has Siberia and Alaska as cold and distant neighbours.

And Basho would never presume to know what the monkey needs or wants.

Like Wittgenstein, he wouldn’t presume to know what a monkey might say, even if a monkey could speak English (or Japanese), he would merely offer a tentative finger pointing to a possibility…

A bit like a good playworker gently deflecting a child’s request to draw her a picture of a house (except when we don’t deflect, added a wiser playworker).

He might want to make a toothpick from the straw of the coat, or, he might want want to…

This exquisite ‘tentativity’ (!) is present in Basho almost always. And in good playworkers often.

I’d like to have seen Basho at work when he ran ‘Edo Prefecture Children’s Play Garden #8’ in 1674.

footlike notational bottom matter:

  • rules of haiku.

There are several schools, on a continuum. One extreme is the ‘It has to have 17 syllables’ school: this is stupid for about 37 reasons (yes, ask me at break). The other is the ‘Just write what you feel, maan and arrange it like a poem, like’. That one is stupid as well, not in 37 small ways but in a 3 bigger ways.

I like to think I fall between two schools, because I don’t own a chair and I’m on the edge of both their catchment areas. But check out my SATs.**

footlike feetnote to the foot above:

  • SATs

My new acronym for SOCIAL ARGUMENT TECHNOLOGY, which is my NEW management methodology.

THIS IS SOOO COOL WordPress can make it…


WordPress can make it snow on your blog!

I feel overjoyed like an 11 year old kid. It is actually snowing on my blog!

That’s why I changed the background to a late afternoon wintry dark blue – so it shows up better.

I wonder if the snow piles up at the bottom of the webpage?

And slowly drifts higher until all you can see is snow and you can’t read my blog?

That would be even cooler

(both senses. wow and brrr.)





“Toffee Park Adventure Playground, London

“Sutcliffe Play has donated a fire pit to an inner-city adventure playground to encourage children to learn how to manage fire safely.

“Toffee Park right in the heart of London, is an open access playground offering exciting structures, equipment and activities allowing children to play in a safe environment. The playground is open in the evenings and during school holidays and is regularly attended by around 250 children aged from six to 13 years old from the local area.

“Andrea Quaintmere, Manager at the playground comments: “Apart from campsites that allow fires, opportunities for using fire as a medium for working with children are increasingly rare.

“We have built fires in the past and have always received a very positive response. When I heard about Sutcliffe Play’s fire pit I was very keen to trial the equipment.
“The response from children has been fantastic and we’ve used it every day since it was installed, which has been brilliant in this cold weather! So far, we’ve mainly used it for cooking. With the help of the children we made pumpkin curry on Bonfire Night, baked apples and hot chocolate”.

“The fire pit has definitely had a positive effect on behaviour. Children find it relaxing and therapeutic. It also gives them a sense of belonging as part of the team looks after the fire, whether it be making the seating area from logs or collecting bits of wood to keep the fire going”.

“Having the fire pit has enabled the children to challenge their own perceptions of risk and fire. It has given them their own sense of health and safety, and we’ve found that older children have enjoyed safe guarding and teaching those younger than them about our fire policy.”

Playworker wisdom from Andrea there.

Ariel Dorfman and John Sutherland rejecting the texist pomo piffle of 50 years of lit crit (and plugging JS’ book)

Dorfman’s play ‘Death and the Maiden’ (filmed starring Ben Kingsley and Ripley out of ‘Alien’) might be read as pomo in that it leaves open the question of what do you when you met your torturer; yet pleasingly, Dorfman feels that the text is not king and that a ‘fuller appreciation’ of the work of art comes with knowledge of the author’s biography.

Gratuitous link to playwork: to criticise the pomo trappings of the idealistic and autistic towers of ivory is to elevate them absurdly. Simply put, you can’t do pomo until you have mo, and much of what we call ‘Modern’ is essentially (continued in a GCSE sociology class near you…) out of date pseudo-science, at best*.  The solution is to junk it all and only allow back in the stuff that playworkers attest actually really honestly helps them do their job. Can we afford intellectual affordances which do not afford?

Affordances – yet another new play type?

Playwork theory, if it grows up, will start to aspire to the condition of bad alchemy. Or if it wises up it may become the hedge-magic (see Pratchett) of the old witch healer.

There are signs that this is happening: I dubbed it ‘barefoot playwork’ earlier this year. There seem to be more witches abroad…



*As is some Nursing theory –   Rogerian nursing Science exposed as pseudoscience:

the original Raskin article is lost because his site has been hijacked.



”Taken together, these studies suggest that mind wandering is ubiquitous — we spend nearly half our waking life in a daydream — but it’s also a talent we need to develop. (The worst case scenario, of course, is that a serious brain injury leaves us unable to escape from the daydreaming rabbit hole.) Instead of completely zoning out, we should work on staying a little more self-aware, ensuring there’s still some activity in the executive areas of the brain. Ennui is a cognitive gift, but it must be properly unlocked. We can get better at being bored.“


We knew this. Where was I?