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Showing posts from July, 2016

Wee bit of madness in the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Plus tipping the chapeau at heroes in France.

Plants can't speak but sometimes thy do. More eloquent than words - they thank you for unearthing them from beneath the overhang of an over-exuberant neighbour by perking up, covering themselves in buds and waving bright colours at you the next time you pass. So plants repay kindnesses but they are not exactly friendly and proper company while gardening is always appreciated. Four-legged-friend and Bertie Baggins are always happy to sprawl nearby. Watching someone else work can be so exhausting; looking out for strangers or monsters or rabbits or tossed morsels of something delicious is always tiring. But seldom so tiring that you actually fall asleep because you remain ever hopeful and alert to the possibility of one of those aforementioned morsels that might if you're very lucky come flying through the air and smack you on the cheek. And that might happen at any minute. So you fidget. And scratch. And stay awake. And watch. Sometimes you have two people to gua

A cautionary tale. Or not? ... Griselda.

Once upon a time, there was a lady of some importance who went by a name that befitted her position. It was a good name. A name that everyone respected. A memorable name - one filled with fond memories, while at the same time being a name that could strike fear into the heart of anyone foolish enough to misbehave, not because they feared any punishment (that wasn't the lady's way) but they feared the disappointment that their behaviour had caused. One day, the lady decided she would sail for a new horizon; she had done everything and more for the people whose lives she had touched. It was time for new challenges and new beginnings and a new future. But she kept meeting the people who had known her previous name and who still looked up to her and revered her. How were they to address her now? Could they still use her old name? Should they? It was her opportunity - handed to her at the end of a croquet mallet; she was losing badly - to choose a new name. Something literary; c

Ruins, people watching with Lowry, a fetching hat and breakfast for supper.

We do ruins well in this country. Preserved, cared for, discretely showed off, they become things of beauty and a tangible connection to the past that we can all share. Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk was a bit of a surprise on Tuesday, one of the hottest days of the year so far. A surprise because it was a 'that will do' place to break a journey - an opportunity to step out of an air-conditioned car into a hug of hot air and stretch our legs. This amounted to a stroll. Following the maze of shadows cast by the vast sprawling ruins.  What a place! Look up - always - when you visit anywhere. That's where you'll be amazed.  Walk around looking at your feet and all you'll see is grass. And grass is nowhere near as interesting as a communal toilet block for 24, built to straddle a stream where the monks could drop from a height straight into the flowing water. Effortless and silent - being monks, apart from the splash - sewage management. He

No words. Just tears and silence.

I woke on Friday morning with a jolting 'No!' It sucked the air from my lungs as the sleepy fog in my brain was suddenly blown away by the words on the radio. I listened and watched and read with tears flowing down my face, as my coffee grew cold and I felt ashamed to be human.  I cried again when I called my child to hurry up because we were going out and I gasped for a moment as I thought about those homes where children wouldn't be hurried any more because their bodies lay broken. And I wept at the thought of silence in those empty homes. Where are the words to describe what happened in Nice? No word, in any language, is powerful enough, shocking enough or stripped-down-honest enough to describe those utterly disgusting and simply appalling events. No words. Just the feelings in our gut; the choking tears and the sadness that wants to turn to rage but can't because again the wind is torn from our sails and our sails are tattered rags fluttering on a beach and

Remembrance. A poem.

Remember me Help for Heroes This poem in its rambling fractured style is meant to reflect the mood and memories of a wounded soldier of unspecified age and unspecified war. I once asked a youthful love to remember me. To remember me in every minute of her day. I made a promise to remember her.  Did she remember me? Does anyone remember me? Cry out "I remember!" if you do. And in remembering, remember 'us' too. I remember 'us' in my waking and my sleeping I remember 'us' in every minute of my day. That 'us.'  That band of thrown together 'us' - Our friendships forged in foreign land. Across ground rent by battle our torn feet fell, in foul mire slipping; seeking Silence. And escape from hell. Faith destroyed, we lost our way - forgot to stop; forgot to pray. Shivering, we lay, shattered - shot through with seering pain. And exhausted

Stealth, cunning, quotations and stealing strawberries

When Aesop wrote - 'We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office' ... he didn't make allowance for the thief that jumped ship first. Or the one who stabbed other thieves in the back. What happens to them? The one that jumped ship could come back. Some time in the distant future. And be great in public office. The back stabber will be hung. Out to dry. What of other thieves and thievery in general? Thievery - definition: the act of pilfering, stealing or helping oneself to someone else's property.  'Stealing is a crime and a very impolite thing to do. But like most impolite things, it is excusable under certain circumstances.' So says the writer Lemony Snicket.  Bertie Baggins is looking for those certain circumstances . He is in a semi-permanent state of hunting for them; his mission to seek and find and present the certainty of the excusability of those circumstances to me. It would be a permanent state if t

Take care. Inventing words and arguing with idioms.

Is there a word for the things we say repeatedly and if not exactly without thinking or without sincerity, then perhaps without gravitas? Almost with a throw-away, feathery, flippancy that suggests to others that it is not heartfelt. When in fact it might be the most important thing we ever say. It just doesn't sound that way because it is said too often. If there isn't a word in English for this then there should be. What about inventing one? Why not? I can think of lots of reasons 'why not' - but when did reason ever stop a procrastinator from ... well ... procrastinating? To those that have to listen to us, these repeated, overused phrases become our own personal cliché, part of what makes us who we are and something that others, increasingly, grow to associate with us. You're here and you're saying it again. And again. Perhaps it becomes an ear-worm of the voice. We associate the person with what they say. So and so is coming to tea - mental image of so an