Susie Rushton: Harvesting calmness in the modern age

Urban Notebook
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The Independent Online

In case you missed it, the first day of this week was "Plough Monday". Traditionally the beginning of the English agricultural year, it falls on the Monday after Epiphany, and on this day in times past farming folk hauled their ploughs to the church door to be blessed by clergymen. In the North and East Anglia, labourers turned Plough Monday into a festive occasion, dragging their ploughs through the villages in procession; locals on the Isles of Scilly meanwhile are said to have marked the day with not only a plough-blessing but cross-dressing, too.

Plough Monday was marked in London this week. The Reverend Canon David Parrott, of the St Lawrence Jewry church in the City of London, not only revived the tradition but gave it an upgrade. He blessed his congregations' essential tools of the trade: their Blackberrys and laptops. It was an act of worship, he said, "lively and relevant to the people who work nearby, in the financial district". Gadgets were placed on the altar and worshippers held up their mobile phones for an infusion of holiness. The blessing reportedly included words: "May our tongues be gentle, our e-mails be simple and our websites be accessible."

True, this is another example of a reasonably bonkers Anglican clergyman trying to give his services a "contemporary twist", with predictably embarrassing results – but there's also something appealing about the Rev Parrott's wheeze. It's time to give thanks. My computer, iPod and mobile phone have all been sworn at, insulted and knocked about. I couldn't live without them and yet I treat them shoddily.

I'm not sure that laptops and smart phones have exactly become the ploughs of our lives, and neither am I generally in the business of praying (isn't it quicker to text?). But I've decided to try and be a bit more composed in my relationship with inanimate objects this year, in the hope of harvesting a calmer state of mind.

Cameron's a smoothie

One of the advantages of living close to a six-lane road is that I get to see all the latest poster campaigns at extremely close quarters. Each morning this week I've walked past David Cameron's face, which is set at eye-level on the side of a derelict house next to the traffic lights. I took a really good look at it this morning and I'm convinced the whole air-brushing debate is a red herring. Every pore and hair follicle is visible – which suggests that any airbrushing is very subtle. I think Cameron is just preternaturally smooth-skinned. Never mind the policies: who's his facialist?

Switching addictions

The gym is crowded with resolutioners this week. They'll have given up by Easter, and I'll have the pick of the Power plate machines again. But I can't feel so smug about my cultural health. It's time to give one of my Christmas presents a work-out: a Tate membership card. Now there's no excuse to miss a big exhibition. Is it too ambitious to hope I'll still be going once a fortnight by the time Henry Moore closes in August?