Very pleased to be part of Arachne Press’s most recent project which publishes womens’ writing. A big thanks to the endless energy and dedication of editor Cherry Potts. The title poem, originally inspired by Mary Wollstonecraft’s ground-breaking work, continues to support equality of gender rights. Hopefully my own poems contribute to the ongoing themes of social equality and humanism. Importantly, too, this volume is not a rant, which some people find uninspiring – it embraces interesting, varied and skilled artistic expression. Find out more about it here
Sometimes what you see is impossible to describe in words….sometimes, I think, you just have to resort to visuals. For instance, how do you describe all the colour in the woods on a dull February day? A list of the painter’s palette…sepia, ecru, raw umber, burnt umber, brown madder, Mars violet deep?…. .
Well, maybe there is a poem in there somewhere, but if you’re trying to convey the essence of the thing, maybe a different approach is called for? Photography? Oils? In the end, everything is translated, and this, in my opinion, is what makes art. For instance, the above pictures. May not look much to you, but this was a poem in the making, particularly the final shot…the separation of an ivy carcass from the dead trunk of a fallen tree, creating its own magic moment of metaphor. So, for anyone who wants to know about my process this is how it’s done, or not…as the case may be. No coincidence, incidentally, that I lost a close friend to cancer this week:
In the Woods
In death the ivy is a fallen husk
it wastes from the carcass
of the old host tree…
now storm victims beside the track
desiccating already to fallow mesh,
it decorates the wooded path.
What unspoken history between
parasite and host,
the storms that didn’t fell them
the sunlight that didn’t blanch their leaves
the hug through cold and heat,
the essence of which no one else can understand
though onlookers may have commented
what mighty branches
and how green the lush of growth
Now in death parted
making way for other creatures, other lives,
to the eye, a weaver’s basket, empty of fruit.
Strange week this. All the S’s. So Snowy in Scarborough on Thursday that I couldn’t go to work. Another day without pay! However, I did manage to take some pics…
But who’d have thought that the obelisk on the Mount could look like this (above right) one morning and like this (below) only a day or so later?
For those of you who don’t know, you can park at the Mere and then follow paths and the road up to the top. More famous for the road races than anything (my own brother raced there twice in his hay day), the paths are not very obvious for the bog-standard walker.
On the way up, I walked on more tarmac than I cared to and across two football pitches, climbed over a fence (in my ladylike fashion) and then I had to ask someone the way…although that was only for reassurance..my nose was leading me in the right direction…must have been the Stunning views and the Salty air…
Once there, the views are reminiscent of somewhere quite exotic, like some of the Mediterranean cities (such as Nice), and yet here we are in Yorkshire! And there are even some brave sailors enjoying the sea…
and the castle on that funny little spit of land…
…not to mention my flat which is nicely nestled down there…
I know it’s not the done thing to begin with an apology, but apologise I will for the lack of sharpness in these photographs. Too lazy to take my camera out, I thought my phone would do…oh well…and I have so often heard people say their cameras in their mobiles are as good as…Not quite, methinks. However…
Given that I had decided to give the service stations up the M1 a miss and take a very short detour to the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield by way of a break from a long journey, I suppose I might be forgiven a touch of indolence.
The deviation proved to be well worth it. Awarded the title of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017, I can see why. There were some exciting temporary exhibitions such as Howard Hodgkin’s “Painting India” as well as wonderful spacious rooms displaying some of Hepworth’s great pieces, and a variety of other interesting artists’ works, giving an opportunity to view novices, too.
So many angles from which to view the same work…don’t you just feel you are being drawn in by them?
The exterior of the building is something of a statement, given the stark contrast between the new [what feels, at any rate, like the monied] and the decaying mill buildings adjacent, reminiscent of urban deprivation……what might be described by a good friend of mine using one of his favourite words…a juxtaposition…
Built on the banks of the river Calder, there’s plenty of character to the surroundings…
…oh, and the museum’s free to visit! Parking cost a fiver and helps fund the gallery, though I’m sure there must be a handy little side street not so very far away for those who are down to their last dollar. Definitely worth a visit!
Just spent a great weekend at Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival. It wasn’t only a great opportunity to hear a really varied programme with top class musicians, some of whom had flown half way around the world to join us (from Saint Lucia actually), but also a wonderful chance to view the house and gardens and everything Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens has to offer.
Friday night drizzled upon us, so we resorted to the beer tent, but the show went on and we peered out at some class acts, including Portmanteau, a fantastic funk soul band.
Saturday morning, and the weather looked a little kinder. A quick stroll on the beach to settle the previous night’s Caribbean rum cocktail, and it’s back off to the venue, although you can camp overnight if you wish.
Spend time relaxing in front of the main stage, or wander round the grounds as music wafts after you…
The walled garden is magnificent…
And if you feel like you’ve been out too long in the sun, why not try the Great Hall for a change – some class acts in here, too, and some wonderful improvisation, including from the laird himself. Plenty to look at, too, while you’re listening…For a break from the music, take a wander round the arboretum, or go next door to the old church, boasting its very own “dark hedges”…Inside the church there’s a memento mori, just in case we’ve forgotten. Spot the live skull…
But, actually, I didn’t stray too far from the action. Claire Martin was superb and Kaz Hawkins was a stunning contrast. Direct from Belfast she and her band were high energy and power. The New York Brass Band wowed the audience with a carnival atmosphere, not to mention the Saint Lucia guests – Dynamix – simply fantastic! Sadly, in no time at all the whole weekend had slipped away, leaving us to wind down and journey home…
Too many bands to mention, but hey, try it for yourselves next year!
Of course, they’re building the Penny Hedge. This is an age-old tradition (dating back to 1159) in penance for not only hunting a wild boar but also for murdering a monk who chose to protect the poor hunted creature. The Abbot was all for dishing out a far harsher punishment, but, before dying, the gentle soul only requested the construction of a hedge which could withstand three tides… The whole ceremony takes less than half an hour. Just time for the finishing touches….
What else to do on an autumnal May afternoon than try a spot of DIY? In any case, I’ve got my Boy Scout cap on and am set on doing my good turn for the day. This doesn’t altogether preclude my prejudice against embarking upon a traditional province of men. Thus, in contrary mind (my wont), I’m up for it all the more. My egalitarian father (with ideas way beyond Jeremy Corbyn’s) taught me to use a drill and also that a rawl plug isn’t just a convenient improvisation for a witch’s hat on a peg-doll. I’m all for getting the job done when it needs doing, and far too mean to pay a handywoman.
So I hunt around the house for some of that squeezy white stuff which isn’t toothpaste and is used for tidying up shower areas. Bathroom and kitchen sealant, I believe it’s called. Duly, I find a huge tube of the stuff, big enough to clean a giant’s teeth, or rather, to glue them together so that he or she can’t gnash at any passing beanstalk. I take it to the bathroom and having dutifully ensured the area is clean and dry and that my hand’s steady and sure to produce a pure line, I begin to squeeze the handle of the very convenient gun in which it is ready-mounted. Then I squeeze. And squeeze. Harder until my hand hurts with the effort. And squeeze. Nothing. Aha! I realise that the layers of tape that the previous squeezy-white-paste-that-isn’t-toothpaste-user had placed over the nozzle after the last usage must have allowed in some air, and dried rock solid. The contents clearly must be expunged before the fresh soft moist stuff is available. Diligently, I poke it all out until there’s some nice gooey stuff ready to erupt, keen as a racing greyhound before the crate lid opens. Thereby lies, or rather splats, the trouble. I don’t know how it happened, milord, but the more I try to control the tube the more effusive the large vocabulary of the sealant becomes – such as, ‘look here, would you like me to go here?’ and ‘What about a nice patch here?’ and ‘How about I cover these nice shiny taps with a layer of white gunge, don’t you think it would add gravitas?’ Oh.
Within less than 30 seconds the Brighten-Up-Shower Project has morphed into a Damage-Limitation-Serious-Destickify Project. All I can say is, good job I have an apron on. Oh, and that this stuff doesn’t solidify at least for the first six minutes. Oh, and that the serious DIY expert’s hand-cleaning gunk removes the goo from your skin (although I’ve a suspicion that the skin on my hands is reduced to a layer of filigree pastry after this little escapade).
I put everything away and have to confess that my handiwork wouldn’t really pass muster with a B & Q employee. Never mind, I think. I’m a creative. And the Lord knows (well, he might if he existed) I am blessed with the ability to think outside the box, or, in this case, the squeezy tube. What else could this useless-fit-for-the-bin-implement be useful for?
A substitute dog?
An alternative bunch of roses?
A rabbit to scare all rabbits from the rhubarb patch?
Or an objet d’art as a progression from the original concept (see the original blog post….)
Who knows? I don’t. Though I do have an idea that I should be looking out a local handyman’s phone number, or writing that poem I’ve been meaning to write all day…
Has she, you might well ask, finally fallen off her trolley? What possible connection could a match-head have with a cauliflower and a coffee spoon? I guess you could ask the same question about mugwump, mint sauce and Eton mess. There lies the beauty and the depth of the English language and poetic resonance, even for those of you who find resonance somewhat hard to swallow…
But swallow this…a tall story, or rather not such a tall one, about a cauliflower. Sewn last autumn (date imprecise) and allowed to mature in the balmy soil of a North-East coastal garden… Lo and behold! April 28th. A wonder of genetic engineering…possibly the smallest cauliflower ever grown…there must be a prize somewhere (Guiness book of Records?). And here it is. Note the matchstick planted beside it, to prove the size…
And if that doesn’t convince you, note the coffee spoon and the match-head beside the joyful little flower…
I’ve just been out in a driving hail storm. Yet only days ago I was sauntering along beside Scarborough’s lovely mere, gazing at waterlily leaves…
I even imagined I was in deepest Africa, when there seemed to be a crocodile just submerged… Of course it turned out to be a rotten boat or something…but then writers are allowed to let their imagination run wild, aren’t they?
It seems, though, that even the most creative of us find it difficult to “feel” different temperatures…i.e. when it’s cold we can’t quite imagine warmth, and when it’s warm, as it was only the other day at the Mere, it’s hard to imagine the hail against your skin. Yet we have knowledge, don’t we, and can recreate in our minds how it might feel. Which is exactly what you have to do when you’re trying to climb inside the skin of a character in a novel…we have to be that person, so that the reader can gain as much of an insight as they can and BELIEVE in them. I guess that’s the advantage of taking notes wherever you are, stashing away a whole raft (‘scuse the pun) of scenarios, so that you have the detail to hand to provide the authentic character and the authentic scene…
Just trying to figure out how I can use an old rotten boat that resembles a crocodile…
My Lute is a Time Capsule by Dr Richard Wood. (published by Undead Tree Publications, 2016)
Ever tried to imagine what materials go into the making of a lute? Wood, of course. But Wood, the author, lets us into a deeper world of gossip and fascination when it comes to restoring such an historic instrument.
Wood’s collection of musings is a cornucopia of contemporary cuttings presented more or less as they were (or could have been) in real life during this talented individual’s forays into the craftsmanship of lining, and thereby reinforcing, the instrument’s delicate body . Through the centuries, any paper or strip of fine material could have been pasted inside the 2mm husk for robustness, resulting in a revealing body of social history and wit.
A perfect volume into which to browse, with anecdotes and short tales, leave it on a coffee table for a perfect companion with whom to while away an hour or so. Wood’s snippets range from wry conversational style to letters to the editor, both humorous and serious, some of which have been published previously in national newspapers. Topics vary broadly from jazz and the poisoning of Litvinenko through to the world’s biggest egg. Sociology and politics and just plain daftness add to a wonderful blend, all bound together by Wood’s unique glue!
Profits from sales of the book are donated to Freedom from Torture, so there’s a feel-good factor even before you start.
However, one word of advice: if you have any guests staying and leave a copy in the loo, don’t forget to cross your legs – you may have a long wait until they re-emerge!
You can purchase a copy from Amazon here.