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a blog by Chris Barrow

Early start

I first woke at 2.30am local time – bugger that – and after rolling around for a while managed to fall back asleep until 5.00am local – so now I’m sat at my desk here in the Hilton and starting a true “business and personal development” session that I intend will occupy me until Wednesday.

Of course, I do intend to pop out and get some fresh air and a change of scenery, although if yesterday’s temperatures are maintained, I’ll be sneaking about underground and using Toronto’s “PATH” system to find the shops. As promised, a report on Zoom – and a very good report. Customer service was excellent, very nice team of ladies who were happy to help and pleasant the whole trip. My return fare was £463 even with a late booking and the upgrade to Premium class secured a very big comfy chair with loads of leg room, priority check-in, priority luggage off the flight, free drinks and a private cabin area. It’s not luxury, the food was very basic and a little low on quantity – but for the price I think it’s an excellent deal. Go Zoom!

Even though my laptop and spare battery were to hand, I decided to take a day “off” yesterday and managed something I haven’t done since August – to spend a full day reading and finishing A. C. Grayling’s “What is good?” – a quite fascinating history of philosophy and also the most elegant, simple and convincing explanation of the humanist cause. Grayling suggests that there is no God, that religion is a shameful hypocrisy and that there is no “before” or “after” life. Sounds rather depressing – but he manages to make his arguments in an absorbing way and leave this reader feeling quite relieved that I don’t have to worry about religious morals and ethics any more. Not that he suggests anarchy – he is clearly a humanist himself and answers the question posed in his book by quoting Socrates definition of “The Considered Life” – free, creative, informed and chosen, a life of achievement and fulfilment, of pleasure and understanding, of love and friendship; in short, the best human life in a human world, humanely lived. How fantastic it was to be absorbed for the whole of my flight and through my early evening meal at Jack Astor’s downtown. My day ended with a vodka martini, fettucine alfredo and a glass of Lindemans Sauvignon Blanc. I’m on the 30th floor of the Hilton – with free internet access in my room (invaluable) – the executive lounge to chill in later and a superb view across the city. Sun’s just coming up and it looks awfully cold out there.

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