Day 33 in the corona house: The windmills of your mind.

Thirty three days in Corona Towers

As well as words, I like symmetry and somehow today seems quite a symmetrical day.

I don’t mean the fact that 33 is one of the few horizontally symmetrical numbers, though it is. However, it’s a day on which a number of related thoughts and themes came together to bring a certain symmetry to the day.

As I think of it maybe it’s not the exactness of symmetry that I like but rather the serendipity of the patterns and depths that can be found in things, if you bother to take the time to look. If being inside and with limited interactions has shown me anything is that there is complexity and depth to anything if you give it the time to reveal itself.

A former work colleague and manager used to refer to me as ‘the last surviving member of the flat earth society’. It turns out it was somthing of a compliment, at least I took it as one. He spotted a tendency I have to question the accepted wisdom far more often than not. I should qualify that, it doesn’t apply to everything, I am happy to accept (much to his disappointment) that the world is round and orbits the sun. I don’t challenge everything, but I question far more than most so I’m told.

However, I do question some pretty fundamental truths accepted by just about everyone else. For example, I give far less weight to qualifications (academic) than is typical. Of course they are an indication of how well someone does under a particular testing and learning regime, but I find them less than tertiary in terms of usefulness for the majority of roles or professions. I recall sharing a Saturday job with a masters degree placement student who went out to replenish kitchen stocks, specifically half a pound of tea. The task rotated around the team and most people took 10-15 minutes. However out masters graduate returned four hours later highly stressed but sans tea complaining it was only sold in quarter pound boxes. The thought of buying two had literally not occurred.

It may confirm your view of my bias that neither do I believe in arbitrary figures for the percentage of a population that ‘should’ attend university. Nor on balance do I believe devolved governments in the UK have been either helpful or added to the greater good of the State of Denmark. Both are pretty universally accepted wisdom and ‘good things’ as defined by most other people.

I am, however, luckily not alone. A school friend is nearly as subversive. You will probably have seen the multiple triangles puzzle doing the Easter rounds this week. Most people see 7 or 12 at first glance, many then up that to 18. My sister in law can see twenty though I think not all are of the same nature (avoiding spoiler alerts).

However, Mike’s answer of just one gave me pause for thought as well as a theme for today’s blog post. The triangular puzzle has been interpreted as a metaphor for integrating minority communities or groups others say it shows our willingness (or not) to shift perspectives. Mike’s more stoic and almost Rabbi Bluesque view of take it for what it is and don’t over think it was a refreshing alternative. Ironic as in stating this and giving us the reasons why we should take that route he demonstrates greater thought as to its parallels than have been demonstrated by the majority. .

Accepted wisdom is a well paved road. It is comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow – Vincent van Gogh
To doubt is the beginning of wisdom – Saint Augustine (of Hipo)

Then in perfect serendipity I heard a piece of music that I know both Mike and I consider a personal favourite. Either deeply cerebral or total nonesense depending on your point of view.

Released in 1968 in a hurry (some would say it shows, but I wouldn’t be one of them), Les moulins de mon couer was mashed into a song with music for the 1969 Thomas Crowne affair. The original Beatles strawberry fields option having been felt not to have cut the proverbial mustard by the producers. Quickly settling on a slight re-translation the resulting song focused on the mind rather than the heart. Windmills of my heart became windmills of my mind sung by the late Noel Harrison in the film.

A circle in a spiral

I’ve always enjoyed the inherent ironies in the song. The French consider it a song about unrequited love, the Anglosphere see it more as a stream of consciousness or the description of a sleepless night. Both may of course be correct.

Secondly for a song and film that is so strongly American, just listen to the clipped vowels, the diction on the words snowball, mountain and windmill Plus I can’t think of any other song of the era that might have contained the line ‘but to whom do they belong?’ – Professor Higgins himself would have been proud.

Speaking of which, Noel, the son of Rex Harrison whose relationship with his more famous father was always littered with urgings to gain more focus provides a further layer. How ironic he should find that focus in such an unstructured song, in so doing he equalled the Oscar win of his father three years earlier (best original song and Best Leading Actor for My fair lady respectively).

You can keep your knights in white satin, for me this was always the go to song for enigmas. Now, I must admit its tied with Nik Kershaw’s The Riddle on that front. However, somehow circles within circles and an ever spinning wheel seemed entirely appropriate today.


Today’s post takes its title from the 1968 film The Thomas Crowne affair. – For those who like to hear these tracks, it may be heard below sung by Noel Harrison who sang the version used in the film.

The Windmills of your mind – Noel Harrison (The Thomas Crowne affair 1968)


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