Saturday, 19 December 2015

Colourful Coal

Day 20 (Sunday 20th December 2015)

20 standard bottles of wine are needed to fill a NebuchadnezzarThis huge bottle, when full of Champagne, weighs, on average, 83.5 pounds. The above picture is a Nebuchadnezzar of an extraordinary sweet wine, Chateau Yquem, in a cradle to assist pouring. The name is derived from ancient history and The Bible - Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful of all Babylonian kings; he ruled from late in the 7th century to the middle of the 6th century BC. In The Bible he is renown for having his dreams interpreted by Daniel and for going mad, in response to his pride, until he converted; in history he is credited with being responsible for the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and for destroying the temples in Jerusalem.

Today's post is written by Annette Hill, and brings back a favourite character from last year's series, Wizard Oscar. Annette, having taken voluntary redundancy, now runs her own HR Consultancy called Acumen HR, based in the South West of England. She writes an interesting blog that focuses on learning and development called Net E-Learning (but I like its URL You can follow Annette on Twitter, her handle is @familyhrguru.


I was struggling with this year’s theme, ‘coal dust and comet tails’. It sounded wonderful - full of metaphorical possibilities - in fact it had so much potential (for going really well or getting too tangled) that I decided to interview my mythical, mystical mentor and old friend, Wizard Oscar, to see if he could help. You may remember him from last year’s blog, and my dad’s bedtime stories. 

A picture of Annette's dad

Here’s the wizard's bio:

Wizard Oscar
HR Director
Education and background: Oscar joined the top team 6 months ago, following a successful career with Magic Circle Aggregates and other constructive industries. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Positive Demystification, Oscar is passionate about Diversity and Inclusion. When not busy writing his popular blog, Wizarding Wise Words, Oscar enjoys caving.

*Magical powers: A powerful, though forgetful wizard, even Oscar is sometimes surprised by what he is capable of.

Interview Extract:
Me: Hi Wizard Oscar. How are you?
WO: Still helping people to thrive, I think, trying not to have to rely on my magical powers. Not quite ready to move on to my next incarnation yet.
Me: Good. It’s great having you around in real life. And Wizard Willow Wand?
WO: He’s really well, in his element in fact, encouraging mindfulness.
Me:   Brilliant. Anyway, thanks for agreeing to have a chat about coal dust and comet tails.
WO: It’s a pleasure my dear. Now then, I’ll come back to coal dust, nasty, messy stuff. Comet tails however, well those fan tailed goldfish can be rather beautiful and very soothing to watch.

Me: I know, we used to have one, but I’m not sure we’ve been asked to be that literal…
WO: Of course, just encouraging calm thoughts and images, before we get too deep and meaningful. Remember, I have known you, and shared stories with you, since you were a little girl. It’s an intriguing theme I think, but why have you decided to chat with me about it?
Me: I suppose I’ve had quite a challenging year. When I first read what the theme was, I instantly thought of coal dust as negative, and comet tails as positive. That worried me because the image in my head was of an empty coal bucket, by an empty fire grate, with nothing but this dark powdery dust in the bottom… dirty dust as well that could be spread wide and make a terrible mess… hard to clean up. 
Whereas the comet tail was bright, illuminating and beautiful, but also rarely seen and short lived.
WO: OK… Those are quite powerful images. Would you like to say more?
Me: Well, I had to work quite hard to start to get those images out of my head and to think differently. The risk was that the negative image was empty, but not empty in a cleansed way. The powder left over, unwanted, but capable of staining and then hard to remove, could overwhelm the brightness of the gorgeous comet tail…
WO: Remember that I have known you your whole life. Remind me of that story you told me once about Comet Hale-Bopp?
Me: (Smiling) Oh yes, Belinda was nearly 3 when it was visible in the UK. We were so excited. I remember Mr H holding her at her bedroom window so she could see it against the night sky. She was so happy to see the Gromit in the sky, but we had some explaining to do about the whereabouts of Wallace…

WO: So how are you thinking about comet tails now?
Me: Hmmm. Well, the actual moment didn’t last long, but it gave us a lovely and amusing memory and, yes…. a wonderful insight to seeing things differently, with a fresh pair of eyes.
WO: I can visualise that too. Your positive memory and feelings about that are quite contagious.
Me: Thank you. But what about the coal dust?
WO: Well, in some worlds, coal dust can be compressed into diamonds…
Me: What? I had no idea.
WO: ‘Wizardpedia’ comes in quite handy sometimes.
Me: Hang on, I thought you were trying not to use magic these days…
WO: (Winking). Sometimes needs must. Let’s think about the qualities of diamonds.
Me: Shiny! Sparkly! A girl’s best friend…

WO: Yes…. But I’m thinking technical qualities.
Me: I thought we weren’t being too literal?
WO: (Looking stern) Stick with it if you can.
Me: Oh, you mean carat, cut, colour and clarity?
WO: Yes.
Me: I’m not sure I’m with you.
WO: We just talked about seeing things differently and fresh pairs of eyes. Let’s think about all of that coal dust…
Me: Yes, I suppose the challenges did take a lot of energy. They left behind more than a few empty coal buckets… I did my best not to contaminate other part of my life (my family and relationships) with the negative dust.
WO: Several empty coal buckets. That’s a lot of dust. Imagine it was compressed into a diamond. An insightful diamond full of learning. How many carats?
Me: Enough for it to go onto Elizabeth Taylor’s wish list.

WO: Excellent. What about the cut?
Me: Many facets. Very, very many.
WO: And the colour?
Me: It’s not dark anymore. In fact, it’s looking quite colourful and bright.
WO: Finally. Clarity?
Me: Now, do you really have to ask?

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