North Stoke

Clearing the mind and sliding in to that created space, a web of waters streaming over rocks, air misty but not raining, seeing this land from a boat on a lake or a broad slow river, coasting by.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Saturday 4th July 2020

Today is the day we can get out and socially mix within a distance.  Grace restaurants, cafes and pubs.  I hope it goes well for the sake of all those businesses that have suffered under the lockdown.  I will not be taking up the offer but expect a lot of people will.
I have had my quota of people meeting this week, first with the plumber and his young female assistant on Thursday when they sorted blocked drains, though the kitchen sink still has to have strong stuff to melt down a bit more. 

Yesterday I went to our garden centre and eventually managed to keep to the rules when I went to the green grocery side. I use a lot of vegetables in my cooking and this always seems the first thing on my list, though animal food is never far away.  Lucy has decided she doesn't like dog food all that much, so crunching through carrots, broccoli and cabbage stalks keeps the hunger beast at bay, till she joins me in whatever I eat, and then, only then will she touch her own food.

The garden centre owner is a great chatterer, so with the perspex screen between us I learnt of her views on the subject.  Typically she doesn't agree with letting people wander round the country as tourists and with all those holiday cottages up for renting I expect the people in villages will have the same views, with strangers mooching around.  She is short tempered with people who will not abide by the rules, bless her and tales of walking off and refusing to help people are her ways of punishment.

Second wave? we will have to see, but everyone seems to be putting a lot of effort into protecting customers, all we need is sensible people to respond not these idiots quacking about freedom of choice to do what they want.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Chalk; or waiting for the plumber;)

Finding old blogs, this from 2010, Pat mentioned 'meditation' this morning, and to be honest I always need to be doing something, so my acts of meditation were in fact those long walks round places like Avebury, Wayland Smithy long barrow, West Kennet Barrow, I could go on.  Wandering amongst the stones of the past is a meditation.  

So a poem by Jeremy Hooker, and a video on a  meditation on chalk, which everyone should watch.


Chalk; A poem by Jeremy Hooker

This poem came from a library book long out of print, called Soliloquies of a Chalk Giant by Jeremy Hooker.  The book had to go back to the library but I managed to copy a couple of the poems, and I must have written to him about the provenance of another poem.  Hooker came from Southampton but a lot of his working life was spent in Wales as a lecturer.  His heroes were Edward Thomas and  Richard Jefferies and his writing here captures the essence of chalk on the downlands and the long line of prehistory as those first neolithic people settled on this dry upland.  So as I have no title I shall call it Chalk, to go with a youtube video on meditation that Bovey Belle has put up on her blog  and also to speed  BBs recovery too getting better.
Collecting a stone, feather or a shell stays with us from childhood, the act of collecting a wild flower or some token is a reminder of the natural world and our place in it.  Macfarlane would always collect a stone from where ever he walked, the bright whiteness of quartz, or the the dark stones of the cliffs.  Natural chalk figures can be found round Avebury, take the Green Road up to the downs and you can pick strangely shaped lumps of chalk or even flint nodules their shiny surface sometimes like striped toffee. Such collections will litter a window sill with their untidiness, I remember picking up a small bluestone stone, and marvelling at the slaty-blue colour not quite believing that this particular type of stone was quarried here on Carn Menyi  in South-West Wales and transported all the way down to Stonehenge in Wessex.  But at the same time that small fragment of stone held in my hand felt like something special, and now with the new theories they are saying that the building of Stonehenge was a way uniting  the many clans and tribes from all over Britain perhaps those special bluestones were transported down to the sea to follow the paths of sea and rivers till at last they arrived in another land.......
From my walk yesterday, I bought home the barred brown feather of a hawk and some wild oat grass I think, as the grasses and the red flowers of the docks are at their best alongside the pale pink of the mallows...

Chalk

A memorial of its origins, chalk in barns and churches
moulders in rain and damp;petrified creatures swim
in its depths.

It is domestic, with the homeliness of an ancient
hearth exposed to the weather, pale with the ash of
countless primeval fires. Here the plough grates on an
urnfield, the green plover stands with crest erect on
a royal mound.

Chalk is the moon's stone; the skeleton is native to its
soil. It looks anaemic, but has submerged the type-sites
of successive cultures. Stone, bronze, iron; all are assimilated to
its nature;
and the hill-forts follow its curves.

These, surely, are the works of giants; temples
re-dedicated to the sky-god, spires fashioned for the
lords of bowmen;

Spoils of the worn idol, squat Venus of the mines.

Druids leave their shops in the midsummer solstice;
neophytes tread an antic measure to the antlered god.
Men who trespass are soon absorbed, horns laid beside
them in the ground. The burnt-out tank waits beside
the barrow.

The god is a graffito carved on the belly of the chalk,
his savage gesture subdued by the stuff of his creation.
He is taken up like a gaunt white doll by the round hills,
wrapped around by the long pale hair of the fields.




Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Erwin Balz

"In 1902, he was appointed personal physician-in-waiting to Emperor Meiji and the Imperial household of Japan."

There we have it in a nutshell.  Why were there Japanese artefacts in Bietigheimer, because he was the doctor for the emperor. Spending 27 years of his life in Japan and doing what all good men of his time did, collecting goodies in the way of a hoarder.  
I remember going into the room dedicated to Balz in the museum in Bietigheimer and seeing a photograph on the wall with a very 'English dog' in front of the cart that he was sitting on. The Emperor Mejii was riddled with ill health, all down to interbreeding and his family suffered in the same way.  Interbreeding has always been a problem with royalty, you don't marry a commoner, you marry into the elite who may consist of cousins.  Listening to the radio the other day and Cleopatra married two of her brothers before she had affairs with the Roman Caesar and Alexandra.  It is an interesting subject consult the Kennel Club on breeding outwards;)
The emperor had a consanguineous  marriage, which translated means a 'cousins marriage'

cousin marriage is a marriage where the partners are cousins (i.e. people with common grandparents or people who share other fairly recent ancestors). The practice was common in earlier times, and continues to be common in some societies today, though in some jurisdictions such marriages are prohibited Worldwide, more than 10% of marriages are between first or second cousins Cousin marriage is an important topic in anthropology and alliance theory.

The emperor fathered 15 children, most of whom died as infants, his brothers also had early deaths, and as a side note, apparently Charles Darwin and his wife were first cousins, which I find surprising of a man who studied the natural order so much.

So a brief exploration has bought some interesting facts up, the rather hideous scrolls of gods and lesser beings have been on journeys of their own, taken from their own land of Japan, found a home in Germany, been restored in England and now reside in Bietigheimer museum and there are also other Japanese treasures in a museum in Stuttgart.  The magpie instinct of Balz echoes the magpie bird, who just loves a bit of glitter in his nest.
With the help of one of those computer gadgets you can whizz round the room here in the museum.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Meiji







Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday 28th June

We had our storm last night, lightening and thunder and bucketfuls of rain.  The rose petals are like scattered confetti on the lawn.  I worried about the kitten but she emerged dry from what ever shelter she found.
I took some roses to Margaret Woods grave yesterday for there is exciting news in the offing.  The church trustees have been around and two large builder bags of gravel have been deposited in the grave yard.  When I talked to a friend, she said that the trustees have decided to spend Margaret's money that she had left to the church.  This means that a rather ugly wooden painting will go up to London for restoration and that the little coke house will be repaired.  The decision to spend the money is because there is to be a new bishop at York. Bishop Sentamu is retiring from next year, and the new bishop comes from Chelmsford.  The trustees are worried that the church may take the inheritance and so they are spending some of the money.
As my friend said Paul would have been so pleased, he loved the little coke house and even printed out a leaflet for it.


Now with the demise of modern pubs, it is interesting to think that our first ale houses were old ladies in the cottages making ale to sell for the passing drovers.
You note that church wardens still have the right to arrest people causing trouble, perhaps, which I have seen occasionally, males weeing behind the church after a wedding ceremony.
The church now is closed, the door locked sadly, but over the years we had been here the talk of a loo within the church was often under discussion. Now sadly it will sit in the landscape a white elephant like so many churches that hit the bumper of non religious people.

This the coke house three years ago.  The roses and shrubs are so small.  

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Saturday 27th June

Saturday rolls round, we have had some rain but not much, dull and grey and I wish for a storm. Yesterday as I went past the church I met someone from up the other side of the village, and we discussed the latest news.  He was shocked by the news of all these people congregating on the beaches and kept a good two metres from me.  The country is split, those who go out believing they are invincible and those, who are classed vulnerable and stay at home.  I am not sure the ratio of the young and fit in the catching of this virus but the deaths are still rolling in, our NHS service is still there braving a virus that may get the doctors and nurses also in the end.  Surely this is the time to think of others.  America is showing that freedom of movement is not necessarily the answer.
  
I watched the first episode of Mrs.Thatcher, someone I have to say I never liked.  But hindsight softens a viewpoint.  I thought she was incredibly brave, the one and only woman to sit round the table with 40 men, and I recognised the sheer brutality of a patriarchal society that kept women out of office and top jobs which  still makes me cross.  Heseltine summed her up accurately, she was a woman of her class but clever.

The other thing I noted, frivolous I know, were the terrible hats she wore.  She had good hair, this is jealousy on my part, whose hair is fine and blows round my face like mist, meaning I never go to the hairdressers but wear it up in a bun.
Her 'upgrading' - clothes, makeup and voice made me giggle slightly, she was definitely vain I think.  The only thing I can think that was good about her was that she was a woman amongst white, middle aged, men who all seemed to have benefited from being rich and privately schooled.  This gave them privilege!!

What did we gain from her? force, in the taming of the miners and printers, feel good factor when you could buy your own council house, unfortunately it thrust the price of houses up and now the young can't get on the housing ladder.  

Do we have a better Britain - no comment.

But this morning as I made my first cup of tea, looking out of the window and there was a juvenile black and white woodpecker on the feeder, his pale pink hula skirt just showing, life goes on.



Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday 26th June

Yesterday I bought a camcorder off Ebay. I had started to see photos as one moment captured but not telling a story. In many cases we are trying to capture something of the atmosphere but noise is excluded.  So I consulted a good friend in Cornwall, as he always sends me videos of the excavating work they do, he recommended a Panasonic SD80 and I bought a second hand one. Quite excited.  Though I may say that I get completely frustrated with anything technical, so I am looking forward to an easy introduction.

One story that with its gentle humour made Paul and I both laugh at the time,  'The Detectorists', surely an exquisite drama of the subtly quiet lives of two nondescript characters played beautifully by Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones.  The magpie is one of my favourite birds and the song by the 'Unthanks' captures the stories that unwind with these intelligent birds.  Who has not whispered under their breath.......

One for sorrow, two for joy



Thursday, June 25, 2020

mallows



I grew these from seed last year, only a couple have appeared this year self sown but they are a lovely colour.  Called Malva Sylvestris Mauritania (Mystic Merlin) or French mallow, a bit of a mouthful.


Mallow self seeds in the garden, the 'wild' one has produced a beautiful cluster of white and the pink underscore the roses, filling in those spaces that need flowers rather than weeds.




Mallows are pretty,  delicate flowers, a bit like Cosmos,  most parts can be eaten and was a 'cure-all' in medieval times.  And thinking of medieval times, the old striped rose - Rosa Mundi is out.  Named after a princess who was killed by Henry 11, though he must have repented for he would cover her grave with the rose each year.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Back to Normal?

No we will never be back to normal, too much water under the bridge for a start.

The BBC, that bastion of news and so many other things, is hosting what do we want to change in this time, when all systems are slowly beginning to break down.  We were so unprepared for a pandemic, it hangs over our heads like Damocles sword, and though it will bring out the fear in our leaders as they try to cope.
The argument I go with is that we have assaulted the natural world so much it is beginning to kick back and punish us.  As we cut down the forests and force the wild fauna to live closer to us so they bring their disease and it will happen more not less.  The human race's nature to take the mineral wealth of this Earth has left deep scars, waters run with poison from gold mines, we dam great rivers and then empty our effluent into them.  
The pandemic is not just about this small island, the rest of the world is experiencing it as well, we are lucky living in an affluent society we are slightly protected against the furies of viruses.
The need for cheap meat has put meat packing plants high on the list with people catching Covid as they work close to one another.  Cruelty to animals echoed in the treatment of humans as cheap labour.

"Most observers believe that much deeper changes are needed. “The whole system is built on using low-paid, badly exploited workers,” said James Ritchie of the International Union of Food Workers . “They may be charged excessive rent for their accommodation, or for transport from east Europe. It is dirty and dangerous work, and most people don’t want to do it. So companies have to go looking for people who are prepared to do it and put up with the wages.”

Gosh I am depressing myself, outside a myriad flowers exclaim the wonders of the natural world, Lucy is having one of her hysterical moments, she has locked herself in the bathroom -  life is normal.  So let us change the subject.


Stonehenge and Durrington Walls;  You have heard of Stonehenge but may be not of Durrington Walls, a large Neolithic settlement not too far from the great circle but famed for the quantities of feasting material found on site.  Cattle were driven down from Scotland and  people from around the area gathered together and built this 'township' and the various stages of the circle.  Some are beginning to wonder if not Stonehenge is a great religious centre, after all with all the barrows around it it could be called a necropolis.

Well the news is that a large circular area has been marked around Durrington with deep shafts.  Archaeology often explains things in terms of death and ritual, so what are the shafts for?  Later shafts in Iron Age have layers of offering such as birds but coring of the shafts have only revealed worked flint and bones.

"Coring of the shafts has provided crucial radiocarbon dates to more than 4,500 years ago, making the boundary contemporary with both Stonehenge and Durrington Walls. The boundary also appears to have been laid out to include an earlier prehistoric monument, the Larkhill causewayed enclosure, built more than 1,500 years before the henge at Durrington."

4500 years ago, people were gathering, as they do today, for feasting, maybe beer, they were coming together to build a prehistoric cathedral as well.  They spread their genes as well as their viruses, I like to think that humanity does not change.  The state today is letting us out to pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, etc to enjoy life, well that Neolithic crowd had fun as well.

You will note that there was a small circle called Woodhenge, well there is a burial under a stone cairn there of a three year old, somethings echo down through the ages...........

Woodhenge.  The wooden posts are replaced by concrete markers

Grave of the child

Tomb of the unknown child essay by Professor Howard Williams

Monday, June 22, 2020

Monday 22/06/2020

Pale white/lemon roses, orange blossom and Lady's mantle


A contrast too far.  I think the marigolds are 'Art shades' the cranesbill has the striking lines leading to the nectar for the bees.

Bell flowers

White tailed bee, the main bee in the garden at the moment



White mallow though there is a lot of pink mallow in the rose bed

At the back of this photo is self sown Hesperis Matronalis or sweet rocket. I think I just grow it for the name.  My mallows have arrived with the pretty blue wild mallows out on the verge, or was it the wild cranesbill.
The cultivated grown from the wild flower.  We never cease to 'make better', roses under the hand of David Austin outdo themselves in their beauty, but we must wait and be patient.






Sunday, June 21, 2020

Affirmation - Shaking the Tree




Today I have been low but thanks to Jill Chandler this music cheered me up.  The Circle of Life from The Lion King. 

Which led me to Youssou, who I haven't listened to for years.  The Red Clay  of the song is echoed in the photo of the road in Ghana Ephraim must have taken.   
 




But then another songs floods into my conscious, a young Peter Gabriel singing with Youssou - Shaking the Tree.  Perhaps that is what is happening now ;)



  

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Happy Solstice - counting the good things



Sweet Rowan tree,
Grace my land and grow
Ward off evil spirits
And remind me of my heritage long ago.

Patricia Gale


It has once more dawned a beautiful day, and my worries of yesterday dissipated.  Green Eyes was not seen all day, I am so used to her sitting on the wall expecting her early breakfast, that it was a shock to notice her absence.  She hangs round the garden most of the day, trotting after the bantams and her little presence was missed until this morning when..........I opened the garage door.  To be met by her pitiful mews as she sat on top of the car, she is so timid, and I had to leave both doors open till she plucked up the courage to race across the lawn to the church wall.  All is well now, last time I saw  her looking with great intensity down a mouse hole.

No Stonehenge solstice, messy people gathered round the stones waiting for the sun to rise to kiss a particular stone with its warmth.  You may think them crazy, but I have a soft spot for these pagans, a belief in something good, and surely that is important.  Here is 2019 Summer Solstice

The other good thing that happened was I found Paul's gold dolphin in a box on his desk.  I had thought it completely lost the last few months but there it was all the time.  The dolphin was Paul's spirit animal, mine is the buzzard, I shall wear the dolphin on its gold chain though.  Note though they are not animals but bird and fish.

The other good thing is a little five year old boy called Tony, he is a double amputee of both legs but has decided to follow Captain Tom on a walking fund raising for his hospital, now reached the dizzy heights of half a million pounds





Friday, June 19, 2020

19th June.

Walking past the church this morning the Gospel girls walked by with a pretty palomino pony on a halter.  Apparently this pony had been left for years in a field neglected and then the owner of the pony had phoned up the owner of the field to ask her to send the pony to the knackers yard.  Luckily not all people are callous, and after a bit of negotiation, the pony (25 years old) has ended up with Anna.  Who says that she will train the pony for disabled riders, a nice end for an old pony.

Yorkshire Pudding in a heartfelt manner is singing the praises of all those who care for disabled children which of course we should all do. And coincidentally enough I had an acknowledgement this morning from a government petition form I had signed that they were looking into it and (when all the reports come in) will agree on what to do. 

We value the support unpaid carers give to caring for family or friends. We will spend around £3bn in 2020-21 on Carer’s Allowance, and by 2024-25, forecast real spend is over £3.6bn.

 But still no money on the table for unpaid carers.  There is a lot of written words on how employers, charities etc can help.

However, the support unpaid carers need extends far beyond financial help and can’t just come from Government. We also need businesses, local communities, the voluntary sector and individuals to play their part.

Given the amount of debt the country is in as a whole, such matters will no doubt be quietly sidelined but it is a good thing that we can sign these petition forms and when a certain number of signatures are reached it forces a discussion in government.

History and how we should read it, a good article in the Newstatesman by Richard Evans of Cambridge University.  It is a 'long read' not the short term spitting out of social media.  History is about collecting facts and analysing them dispassionately.

History is an academic discipline, with its own rules and procedures. Teaching it in schools means getting pupils to read historical documents critically, assess interpretations of past events and processes intelligently, and make up their own minds about key historical topics so that, at the very least, they will emerge as independently thinking citizens when they leave school.

It is not the same as memory – not individual memory, that is, but national, or collective, or cultural memory. Nor is history a matter of awarding ticks and crosses to the people of the past, canonising some as heroes and damning others as villains. Arguing about whether the British empire was a Good Thing or a Bad Thing is puerile and has nothing to do with the serious study of the past: such crude moralising should have been disposed of forever by WC Sellar and RJ Yeatman’s withering satire on the school history textbooks of their own day, 1066 and All That (1930).


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Thursday 18th June

The day to shop.  Brush the cobwebs from my car, faithful creature's engine always responds, entice Lucy into the car with cheese and we are off across the newly gritted roads.  I haven't bought petrol the last 10 weeks and the tank is still half full. What an adventure!
Our world still in chaos over the virus, there is a sort of will we, won't we attitude.  Will children go back to school, some shops will open but with different rules. Restaurants and pub have different problems.  The assistants in the Co-op glare at us early shoppers we make life difficult for them coming in early, the aisles have trolleys full of stuff waiting to be stacked.
Talked to friend over the church wall, a cottage recently sold, has been put on the market, with a few lies along the way, at an extraordinary price.  Greed where is the end of it?  Surely all those people upmarketing houses to make a profit will come to the end of a line.  
A friend has just pushed some coffee filters through the door, and tears prick at the thoughtfulness of remembering my moan about lack of them, though now I order from Ebay for all those difficult things that have seemingly disappeared.

Photos from 2017

The complicated beauty of honeysuckle, Nigel wants to take cuttings to grow through his hedge, it always reminds me of the wild honeysuckle in Solva


Can you see the mouse?  Mouseman has been here at our church.




Byland Abbey - Cistercian

 
The elegant capitals in the museum

York in 2017


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Wednesday 17th June




Feeling sorry for the pigeons, though they are out there reproducing themselves in the wider world, but it must be bad flying into Whitby and no tourists to attack for their chips.
Today has dawned sunny, and they have been tarmacing the road outside, though it took a while for the penny to drop that the funny machines that kept passing  back and forth were actually laying the stuff.
I stood talking to Nigel on the pavement after they had finished we were both going dog walking, and the little stones thrown up pinged us.  Nigel hasn't been to the shops for the 12 weeks of lockdown, his wife is ill, so a neighbour has done their shopping.  They have no internet and he likes to use cash but he will be one of a dying breed of person as our world restructures itself into a cashless society.  He complains how difficult he finds computers but that hurdle has to be over come eventually.
The village was fairly busy, two sets of walkers went through, the people from the cottage across the road were out walking their dog.  Life has slowly picked up, the motor bikes are coming through but no coaches and caravans.  My delivery did not come though, due to road closure, so fingers crossed Lucy is quiet tonight because I have no calming pills.  I also bought her some joint pills as well, and have decided to stop her  pet insurance in a month on her 13th birthday.

When I have an early lunch I watch 'Life on Benefits' trying to work out in my mind my reactions. As people age and they find it more difficult to find a job they have to go through the misery of social security.  Now it seems to me there are not enough jobs around in all of our towns and cities and therefore welfare becomes imperative we should support them but by how much?  Private landlords can be greedy, the cost of living pricey.  Many people are furloughed at the moment but when that finishes there will be more money to find as some of these people find they have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.  Does 'Basic Income' work or do we have to go back to a more socialistic state in which we become overseen by big brother.  And as if on time Daily Mash has just posted the following......

"Do blue passports double as ration books?"  Funnily enough they were just saying on the radio this morning that stock items are the one thing that are in short supply.  Such things as flour, rice and pasta, it is not that we are hoarding they are having problems with supply - Brexit is also adding to our woes.  I could not understand the total condemnation of chlorinated chicken from America until it was spelled out to me.  The poor creatures live in their own filth until death, the chlorination is about washing them clean.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Things collected along the way

As I clear out the words and sayings in my 'photos' on the computer there is some I keep.  Carl Sagan is one, dead long ago but his words drift down through the years.  Arundhati Roy is another. Messages of hope, the march of the drum maybe extolling us to do better.The things that make you laugh for another time.
  
Yorkshire Tea defence of Black Lives Matter.

“Please don’t buy our tea again. We’re taking some time to educate ourselves and plan proper action before we post. We stand against racism

Carl Sagan. Is it happening?

You have to believe in better things and not be cynical

The cat just debating whether he is there or not..


 A virtual artist friend has just put one of her posters on Facebook to cheer people up after the troubles in London yesterday, the far right can surely show the worst of human nature.  Jane Tomlinson paints almost non-stop, and is probably the only person who has painted the 'Shipping Forecast' coast line.
And probably the only thing that has cheered me up today!





Saturday, June 13, 2020

Saturday 13th June




Well once you could do a whole number of things, but then darkness descended in the form of a virus and life came to a standstill.
What am I talking about, well firstly the loss of my Word facility on my computer, the words have dots following them everywhere.  Then the printer started to play up (this is a long story), it needed ink, but lo and behold, there is no ink out there in computer land.   Hey says HP have you heard of 'instant ink'. Sounds interesting, but unfortunately the make of printer in the study is no longer listed all I wanted to do was write a letter for goodness sake.  Shuffled round in the drawer of my desk and found old fountain pen, soaked it in hot water to make it work again.  Letter written.  
What conclusions have I drawn from this long exercise? I hate built in obsolescence, will not buy a new printer but wait  till W.H.Smith opens in Malton to see if they have the ink, will also practice diligently with my writing to  improve my neatness!

Happy birthday Lillie

It is Lillie's birthday today, she is 14.  I see from the photo that it is Xmas, that is how long I have not seen her.  She has grown into a capable young girl and I miss that young child who could be so obstinate and loved chocolate cake with such a passion.





Happier times, Lillie with the famous 'loser' sign and her furry boots worn all summer.



Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday 12th June



I would recommend anyone interested in art too watch this video on the restoration of this marvellous set of paintings by the brother's Hubert and Jan Van Dyke.   Digitisation plays an important part in the analysis, close up the art of painting is a miracle of realism, its messages still to be understood.

"After eight years of restoration, one of the greatest works of art ever made looks once again as its creators intended. The monumental tableau that is the Ghent Altarpiece, also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, captures the viewer with its intense realism and complicated symbolism. A full immersion into this revolutionary work that looked forward to the modern world."

What else: Looking at lockdown, as its news dominates the airways.  Well Rod and his wife came to mow the lawns yesterday.  I pay him in cash £25 but now have no pound coins or fivers.  As I shop once a week using contactless card and the cash machine only gives me high denominations. He does not use bank transfer, though the window cleaner does, it means the transfer of money on the front doorstep.  I put my money in the milk bottle basket and he places the fiver carefully on the step with a stone on top.  Then I noticed him wiping down the gates with a cloth, bless him but where will it end?  My two cotton face masks arrived as well yesterday, I decided that plastic would be too hot, so a soft grey with white stars material is my fashion accessory.  Though to be honest I have never seen anyone wearing them in the town.
Harriet is doing a leek and chicken pie with vegetables and chips for £7.95 at the pub, so plenty of people will be ordering that, she now opens three times a week.


My runner beans are flowering, courgettes and salad already eaten, and the tomatoes beginning to fruit - not so cold against the warm south facing wall.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Thursday 11th June




Peonies: A great froufrou of petals, so easily shed by this heavy headed flower.  Paul planted it and this is the first year it has  had so many flowers, that rain over winter and then dry sunny late spring certainly did something for the plants.  But it stands on the windowsill that overlooks the graveyard and the grave of a young 27 year old  man, who killed himself.  His younger brother, I think, often comes and sits on the grass underneath the window and talks quite animatedly to the grave.  He did yesterday evening.  Of course I know where he is coming from do not I carry on an endless conversation with Paul in my mind, we are not mad just reaching out.
Jo phoned yesterday and we chattered for about an hour on the genealogy of the various feral cats and kittens that are in the village.  She has four of the kittens in her barn which she feeds but had found a black cat unable to move and had taken it to the vet, it was put down sadly though it was carrying kittens.  Such is the life of a feral cat.   She wanted to find out if it was my kitten, but Green Eyes had been in the back garden all morning (yes she has got her feet under the table) sitting under the bird feeder waiting for a miracle, a bird to fly by her.


  
The above was written yesterday, today dawns a bit brighter than yesterday's continual rain but I was happy to see it, marigold seedlings planted and some cosmos to go in today.  
I quite like the surrealistic aspect of life at the moment, statues to fall left, right and centre.  Feel like putting in my order, the whale bones displayed on the cliff at Whitby.  Slaughtered probably in their thousands through the Victorian times, why should we display their bones?  Also calls for the Captain Cooke statue to come down in Whitby, he was instrumental in the killing of Maori folk in New Zealand. It becomes ridiculous when people don't know their history and just take on a street cause.  It is changing history, but history changes itself anyway, we have to make way for different culture views but we should also keep the history we are trying to throw away.
I did my weekly shop this morning, spacing myself at 7 o clock with the men coming in for their daily rations, and a lady (she was a bit snooty) who was shopping for nine NHS officials refreshments.
Co-op can be a bit boring as far as originality is concerned but their coffee beans are in now, only plain flower but I have some baking powder.  Parcels arrive through the door, already I need to send off for some more coffee filters.  Mark sends me books, Lebanese cook book arrived yesterday, a couple of Aldous Huxley, some fictional and others on 'how to succeed'.  Yes at this end of my life my son thinks I should be more aspirational? Also, this is the time of year when a batch of birthdays come through.  Do I have cards? a few thank goodness. When will we shop properly again I wonder.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Tuesday 9th June - The moral compass



The world and its problems dissolve around us how do we react?  When I am in doubt my mind turns to Con my first father-in-law long gone but he had a gentle presence.  What would he have done? Paul had the same quiet wisdom and I loved him dearly for that.  Was it righteousness, not sure, but it was a combination of choosing between right and wrong and then speaking out.
Con ordering two American couples out of the house in Blonay.  There they were sipping their whiskey and laughing about the bombing strikes on Vietnam, and he just stood up and asked them to leave the house, I had never met anyone put words into action - they went quietly enough, utterly astonished ;) friendships lost but respect gained.

Now we live through a whole load of moral and ethical questions, not only in our own lives but on the broader stage, we argue politics from a left and right bias.  The only optimistic note is that we learn from each other.

Treatment of our fellow human beings is being called into question, as well it should. The small act of throwing a statue into the harbour at Bristol is not really important, though Pritti Patel says it is a shocking illegal act - so be it.  We have black politicians, black newscasters and journalists, also doctors and lawyers - they are there out in the community, so some have made it through the 'glass ceiling'.  But others haven't, they live in the poorer districts, commit crime, just as others in the community, but discussion on black people is loaded against them with statistical evidence that clever dick sociology professors earn their living by
.
My son's best friend is black, they have been friends since university, Ephraim would argue the toss on any subject, occasionally we called him racist - yes it can come from the other side as well!  My son never sees different races, his friends through life have been people from different backgrounds, that is how it should be, Con would have approved.

There is a certain naivety in my writing, I can never condemn easily, but the Black Movement I see at the moment brings hope, I trust it will go somewhere. As Banksy puts it......

“People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs."  We have to open the door. 

Bristol is a lively place, for many years I have watched the hot-air balloons rise from the city and then come over Bath Race course, a safe place to live.




  Hollow by Vanessa Kisuule

You came down easy in the end.
The righteous wrench of two ropes in a grand pliƩ.

Briefly, you flew, corkscrewed, then met the ground
With the clang of toy guns, loose change, chains, a rain of cheers.

Standing ovation on the platform of your neck.
Punk Ballet. Act 1.
There is more to come.

And who carved you?
They took such care with that stately pose and propped chin.

Wise and virtuous, the plaque assured us.
Victors wish history odourless and static.
But history is a sneaky mistress.

Moves like smoke, Colston,
Like saliva in a hungry mouth.

This is your rightful home,
Here, in the pit of chaos with the rest of us.

Take your twisted glory and feed it to the tadpoles.
Kids will write raps to that syncopated splash.

I think of you lying in the harbour
With the horrors you hosted.
There is no poem more succinct than that.

But still you are permanent.
You who perfected the ratio.
Blood to sugar to money to bricks.

Each bougie building we flaunt haunted by bones.
Children learn and titans sing
Under the stubborn rust of your name.

But the air is gently throbbing with newness.
Can you feel it?

Colston, I can’t get the sound of you from my head.

Countless times I passed that plinth,
Its heavy threat of metal and marble.

But as you landed, a piece of you fell off, broke away,
And inside, nothing but air.

This whole time, you were hollow.