Wednesday, January 30, 2013

snow brave red flag

The current batch of photos mostly involves the snow which came and settled but did not stay as long as it has in recent years. Here is Mr Crow with an acorn which was probably buried by Miss Squirrel and forgotten.

A filling has fallen out. I have know Tim my dentist for nearly 30 years and he knows that the less I know about about what he is doing  the happier I am. So I lie back content to let him fill the vacancy without commentary. The drill buzzes and hums. "You're very brave Joe," he says. It is only then that it occurs to me that he has not applied the customary local anaesthetic. I have only the slightest twinge of discomfort. But brave? Me?  Flattery is better than  anaesthetic.

From the top of the park called Calverley Ground there is a good view of the southern part of Tunbridge Wells, The Common gathered round it to the west and the heights of Ashdown Forest in the distance.  The clusters of building are dominated today by a single flag flying from the ramparts of Hoopers the department store. It is a red flag on which is inscribed in white letters  the word Sale.
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
We'll keep the red flag flying here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

fence digging jolly

Another joint in the fence. They don't make them like this nowadays.

In The Grove a squirrel digs  frantically for something it or another squirrel  has buried. It senses me watching. Does it fear competition? It runs off a little way. I walk on and turn round after a few yards.  With me out of the way, the squirrel has returned and is back at work with its fore paw. I understand the excitement of searching for anything buried underground.  A new crop of  potatoes, truffles, or a hoard of gold coins.

In Sevenoaks bus station an old couple cling to one another as they cross the road in the rain. They are a jolly pair. She a pretty old lady.  He a  bit of a card. A large drop splashes down from the roof of the shelter. They both laugh and catch my eye. "Got me in the eye, that one," says the old man. They go off laughing.

Monday, January 28, 2013

doodle flavour dotty


 In pursuit of a lost flavour. My Proustian memory concerns a dish of sweet and sour chicken made with  slow cooked onions, tomato, vinegar, sugar and spices including cardamom, ginger, Cinnamon, turmeric and chili. It was during World War 2 and my Mother, my brother and I were living in Sidmouth in Devon to be away from the bombs. My Grandmother was staying with us. Someone sent some of this sweet and sour dish to my Grandmother in a jar. It incorporated, I suspect,  though I don't think she had read Proust,  her own Proustian associations. Though it was intended as a treat for her, she kindly gave me some, I think  it was cold, though it could have been warmed up. Hot or cold the unfamiliar balance of flavours  has stayed with me for the ensuing75 years. I mentioned this  to my daughter Pippa the other day, and she tracked down  the ingredients on the Internet and the  I was able to bring the memory to life. At least more of less. Now all I have to do when I cook it next time is adjust  the spices for I think that I  was too cautious in their distribution. The last of the jointed chicken - two wings - resides in the fridge smothered in a spicy unguent of onion and tomato sauce. Now to begin a 12 volume novel pivoted on the experience.

The pedestrian crossing in Frant Road is monitored by bleeping traffic lights. The rythm of the bleeps is deliberately timed to make pestrians hurry.  At no cost must motorists be kept waiting. An old man shouts at the  bleeping lights to slow down as he approaches the crossing. "Hey," he says. It isn't me shouting but it could be.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

frost greyhound nursery

Frost and sunshine in The Grove. A photograph I keep taking.

While I am photographing pigeons and a crow, a woman tells me that she has just seen an altercation between a chaffinch and a blackbird in a puddle. They seemed to be disputing bath times.  "Might interest you." The woman is walking a gentle greyhound  which is clad in a green jacket strapped over its back. We discuss the  unseasonal thrush which was singing in The Grove the other day. "Yes," she says, "he comes into  my garden."

Yesterday in the Farmers' Market the stallholder who sells garden plants, has battled into town  despite the weather. She shows me on her camera screen a photo of here nursery. Deep in snow and her in a red jacket trying vainly to clear it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

tulip-tree skipping vitamin D

The tulip tree I see every morning from out bedroom window presents a threatening view at this time of year thanks to the severe pruning which it underwent in the Autumn. It is an old tree as it is several sturdy trunks testify. In the summer when in leaf  with its pale green tulip-like flowers it will look more welcoming. In the meantime I can watch squirrels and pigeons in its branches profiled against the rising sun when, as this morning, the sun is not covered ( as it is in the photograph) by layers of cloud.

In The Grove a woman in her thirties I would guess is taking a skipping rope for a walk. Her progress consists of a series of skipping steps followed by one of brisk walking. Skip, walk, skip, walk.

We sit outside The Compasses at lunchtime absorbing bone-building Vitamin D from the sun and morale-building energy from a pint of Ruddles Best bitter.

Friday, January 25, 2013

squirrel quarter-life dress

Today's squirrel

Mid-life crisis? Having left far behind the age when it is supposed to appear, I have always wondered what precisely the term means. Now I hear on BBC 4 an entire programme devoted to the "quarter-life crisis". It is supposed to affect people between 23 and 3 0.  Apparently they do not know what to do with their lives or if thy do, how they should go about it.Well I never!

In Boots I try to find a replacement foil for my electric razor. The girl assistant goes in search of "the expert." A man in paint splattered dungarees arrives. He knowledgeable and helpful. "I must be careful not get paint on your razor," he says. Having provided me with what I want and received my thanks, he says: "I'm sorry not to be in my normal clothes."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

scrap Anacreon tennis ball


Today's doodle occurs because I don't want to throw away the rough cardboard backing to a notepad which I am about to discard. I like its rough texture.

Yesterday I asked for the connection between the fifth century BC Greek poet Anacreon , sometimes described as the poet of food, wine and harmony, and the inauguration ceremony this week of President  Barak Obama. in his second term of office.
It was to Anacreon that a poem by Ralph Tomlinson was dedicated in the 18th Century England. Tomlinson was a member of the  Anacrontic Society, a gentleman's club whose members wished to promote music and its performance. His poem was set to music by John Stafford Smith  a member of the Society and became a popular drinking song in Britain and America. By now you will have guessed that it was this tune - ranging through one and a half octaves and difficult to sing, certainly for the likes of me - that was eventually adopted to fit the words of a poem by the American Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment by British Navy Ships of  Fort McHenry in Chesapeake Bay in 1814. The refrain goes,
"Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave".

Outside Morrison's supermarket a Labrador waits patiently, a green tennis ball beside its paws. A talisman, a toy, a token that its owner will sooner or later return.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

lichen Sharapova thaw

 Frosted lichen draws on walls. The camera looking close explores new horizons. What do they signify?

Winter is good time to work on my scrap book of random images randomly arranged. The driving force behind it is to include pictures, logos, drawings, photographs, labels and the like which appeal to me, and which I would like to see again. And which entertain, once pasted into position, with unlikely contrasts in style, subject matter and scale with neighbouring images. There are few rules on subject matter. Animals predominate because I like animals.
One notable scarcity in the book so far is sporting photos. Surprising because the quality of  football, tennis, cricket and other photographs as they appear in magazines and newspapers is so high. What I don't like is the way sportsmen and sportswomen appear on camera. Ugly expressions of triumph, mouths gaping in mid-bellow, fists pumping the air, are not for me.
There are exceptions. There is one cut-out of Kevin Petersen, bat above his head, concluding a cover drive, a classic of style and power. And today I find one of  Maria Sharapova, following through after striking the ball during a serve.   As she leans forward , her weight  is on her left foot, her racket swinging past her left thigh. Her right foot has risen behind her,to shoulder level. Her hair flies out  behind her head. Her mouth is open as it emits the piercing scream that accompanies every stroke. Not my favourite sporting personality but a photograph for our times.

Ice is still treacherous on the pavement under the melting snow and slush. But the branches of trees and gutters are beginning to release large drops which explode as they land with a monotonous plopping sound.

Monday, January 21, 2013

huh looking in snow

Just had one.

Snow, slush,  ice, grey skies. A day for staying in and looking inward. On the screen the folk singer Frank Turner is talking about T S Eliot in the Wasteland to whom he compares Bob Dylan. Turner is himself said to have been influenced by Eliot. Youtube provides a video of Turner performing Photosynthesis with a group of schoolchildren. The chorus in which the children join: I won't sit down. I won't shut up. Most of all I won't grow up. Next Dylan: How does it feel to be a complete unknown? Like a rolling stone. You say you never compromise with a mystery tramp, but now you realise as you stare into the vacuum of his eyes, you used to ride on a chrome horse with your diplomat who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat...Now back to The Wasteland, the Fire Sermon, She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.

A few inches of snow in The Grove under a grey sky. Snow brings silence. Trees and houses seem closer and in sharper focus. Birds and people move slower than usual. Nothing is quite real.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

frost why cats aren't cute seagulls

"The frost performs its secret ministry unhelped by any wind." S T Coleridge.

 Avoid cute. Much as I like and admire them this advice to myself applies especially where cats are concerned. Mind you cats are less prone to cuteness than most other animals as Kipling adroitly points out in The Cat that Walked by Himself.. Remember: "He is the cat that walks by himself and all places are alike to him. ...  he goes out to the Wet Wild Woods or up the Wet Wild Trees  or on the Wet Wild Roofs, waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone."

In a corner of The Grove, unusually, a small flock of seagulls circle and swoop. It is however the corner where, I have once or twice seen them before. They do not alight. Rather  they fly low over the snow picking up crusts left by  a bird fancier as though they were fish rising to the surface of the sea. The presence of The Grove's resident crow which dives among them from time to time  may account for their reluctance to land.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

landscape black swan rarebit

Landscape of a sort. In fact as you will see it is..

...abstracted from a photograph of paint peeling from a vent set into a wall.

The Black Swan a book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb about the importance of recognising the random and unexpected  in our lives has been on my reading-list for some time.  Now that I have started it, I see that it has been worth the wait. Consider these words quoted by Taleb as a warning against relying on the unconditional benefits of past experience:
But in all my experience I have never been in any accident ... of any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.
Captain E L Smith of The Titanic.

Toasted cheese is one our household favourites. That or Welsh rarebit. There is a difference. Strips of cheese laid on a the un-toasted side of a slice of bread toasted on one side is the basic. Rarebit is a little more elaborate and worth  a small extra chore. I have tried several recipes but the best and simplest is to break an egg into a bowl containing  about 3 oz of grated  cheddar cheese, add a teaspoonful of mustard and some Worcester sauce and stir together until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Spread the ingredients on bread which has been toasted on one side and place under the grill until the rarebit is golden brown and bubbly. That should be enough for two people of moderate appetite. But beware the addictive qualities of the snack.

Friday, January 18, 2013

roofer watch ginger

Today's blackbird.

On my way to an appointment it occurs to me that I have a curious reluctance to consult my watch. Curious because I feel lost without it, and need it to keep perfect time. This reluctance seems to occur often when I have to be somewhere at a certain time; going for a train for example. But why? It could be something to do with trying to feel relaxed and avoiding the pressure of the minute hand's relentless progress. Or it could be affectation: wanting to appear nonchalant to seem in fact the opposite to the white rabbit in Alice and Wonderland.  There is something about the white rabbit constantly referring to his watch and muttering the words "Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be late", which always seems to me self-important and undignified and the opposite of the manner in which I  want to conduct myself.

At the checkout I hear the cashier chatting to the customer ahead of me, " first husband did that..." she says. Ah a talker! And sure enough as she checks out a ginger root on the conveyor she says to me: "That's a  big piece of ginger! Going to cook something nice?"
 "It's good grated over fruit," I say.
"Have you tried pickled ginger?"
"The Japanese stuff?" "Yes. lovely. Lovely sweet, stringent and sour". 
"My mum used to like preserved ginger.  Stem ginger. That's sweet, too." she says.
"What are these?"
"Kohl rabi"
How do you cook them...?
I knew there was conversation on the way.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

peeling digital bonnet

Landscape with peeling paint and rust.

"What is digital?" a neighbour asks me. She comes past as I take some photographs in The Grove. By way of conversation I remark, as I point mine in the direction of the sun, on the versatility of digital cameras.Hard to explain as I don't really know myself, except that information is conveyed in terms of numbers.  Analogue doesn't really help a simple account just because it is the alternative and conveys information in a continuous wave.  She and her husband are proud of possessing neither a television set nor a computer. RR, How about a sonnet to explain? Or anyone else with similar inclinations.

Joan G greets me  from the driver's seat of her car through the half open door. On her knee is the instruction manual. "I'm trying to find the bonnet release", she says. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

expression thrush logs

In this weather people wear gloves and then drop them which goes to explain the frequency of sights like this. As recent photographs have shown, single glovesturn up on the spikes of railings, but here someone must have dropped a pair which a thoughtful passer-by has spiked. These appear to be  trying to communicate with one another. At least they have company.

Standing in The Grove  (yesterday) I try to locate the source of loud birdsong which is surprsing because of the frost it being so early in the year. "What is it?" says a man who approaches me at the moment when I spot the bird. "I think it's a thrush," I say. "In the laurel?" "Yes. There it is." "Yes it is," he says. We agree  that it is surprisingly early for a thrush to be singing. "I live in Hastings," he says. "I saw a parakeet the other day." He walks on "Happy bird-watching," he says.

As I walk past The Grove Tavern this morning, the smell  of burning logs  floats in the frosty air. One of those smells which one could get nostalgic about. A cliche smell like  the smell of fresh linen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

close-up Canada warden

Yesterday's  round-faced wayside cat shows an interest in lenses.

Several days ago I referred to Richard Ford's latest novel Canada which I had only just started at the time. Marja-Leena asked to what extent it was about Canada.  This afternoon I finished it; and because it was so gripping, after a longer than usual reading session. To answer her question, the last half is set in  Canada. It Saskatchewan to be precise. It has quite a lot to say about the country  and Canadians though in a somewhat oblique way. It is a novel which I recommend without hesitation and will gladly confirm that its memorable opening sentence will not lead to disappointment: "First I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later."

A traffic warden is hanging around a car parked on a double yellow line and half way across the pavement too. He eyes me as though I could be its owner.  Why is it that I feel guilty as though it might belong to me?  It isn't mine and I haven't owned a car for 10 years. I never liked authority. Perhaps the guilt erupts from within from time to time.

Monday, January 14, 2013

wayside recognition self-checkout

 Not the first time this cat distinguished by its round face has posed for me. Who could resist another snap.

Last Saturday  I posted  an account of the conversation  I overheard between  two men of military appearance talking in Sainsbury's (in the biscuit aisle as it happened). Robbie commented on the "awful pregnancy" of the last words in the dialogue, and said that he was nevertheless tempted to suggest a conclusion of his own. I have since referred to my notebook and find that I omitted the final words which one of the men said to the other on parting. These were "Thanks for recognising me." I decided to leave these out because having missed the early part of the conversation I was unable to find a likely reason for his gratitude.

Morrison's is the smaller and the closer of the two supermarkets within walking distance of where I live, Sainsbury's the larger and  more distant.   Frequenting these emporiums over the years you  tend to build up a sort of relationship with check out operators. They know your foibles and you know their enforced small talk and formulaic greetings.  Some are better at small talk than others. Some introduce a personal wit of their own making. Others rely entirely on tired and predictable formulas. 
Now I have a new relationship;  this time with the self checkout machines. I am a little shy to begin with, not wanting to give the wrong impression. Too much self-confidence and they can get nasty. "Simply be yourself ", I say to myself.
Today I come a cropper. I deposit one red pepper on the viewing platform. "Red pepper" says the screen. Number? asks the screen. One, I indicate, touching the screen with my finger. But did it register?  Perhaps I didn't tap hard enough. Try again. I tap again and for good measure once more. To my surprise I find that my purchases have so far cost me £119 .03p.  Aphorism for our times. Tap 1 too often and it quickly becomes 111. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

busy community long-tailed

My present occupations require me to wear a number of different hats. Here are just a few of them.

Community policemen are relatively new features of urban life. They are supposed to reassure the public and deter juvenile misbehaviour. Today I pass two of them in The Grove, a young man and a young woman kitted out in uniform. The young woman is wearing in addition to her uniform an imposing yellow vest which suggests a home for all sorts of gadgets. Weapons I presume are forbidden. A telephone hangs in the middle of it. Curiosity drives me to stare more intently than I should at this garment. "Hello, there, " she says. I feel reasonably reassured.

Twice recently I have seen a tree crowded with long tailed tits. Apparently they congregate at this time of year. If you exclude their long tails the are the smallest of the tits.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

cocktails bottom conversation

Minimalist party.

In the supermarket I bump into a young woman who is choosing herbs from the herb shelf. "Sorry," I say. She laughs: "Me, with my big bottom!" Such is the crush that I do not manage to see what she looks like.

They say that only women gossip. Not true. Men gossip but in a different way. In one of the shopping aisles in Sainsbury's, two middle aged men are talking. Both are of vaguely military appearance. The taller of the two has a white moustache.  .
"You know Paul?"
"Yes," followed by pause.
"You know what I mean?"
Another pause. "Yes."
"He's got more and more that way."
"Yes." Pause.  "I wouldn't dare say it...but".

A book found buried in a cave is probably the only remaining object of its kind. Its original purpose is not known and its contents have no significance. In the new story just posted in One Fine Day it has become the object of an annual mid-summer ceremony.

twitten one-way reality

What is called a twitten in these parts - a narrow path giving access to back gardens behind rows of houses.

I step aside to allow an old lady dressed in pink to pass on the narrow pavement. "One way traffic," she says.

Robbie's response to my reference to  the  New Scientist cover line which I found hard to resist deserves a response. The line which attracted me was Quantum Shadows. No waves. No particles. Reality is even stranger than we thought. I have since had time to read  the article which I find less challenging than I had imagined. It sets out to confirm rival theories over the years about the nature of light. Some say it consists of waves. Some of particles. At different times both theories have seemed to be true.  What the article suggests is that light consists of both waves and particles and that we are not (or not yet ) in a  position to determine its true nature. Elegantly the article draws a parallel between Plato's philosophers, able to see only  the shadows of the real world on the walls of the cave in which they are confined, and physicists to day who can detect only "shadows" of the waves and particles which constitute the quantum nature of light. I may have go it wrong but that seems to me to be the essence of the article which, as it happens, following Robbie's challenge, I am not referring to as I write this. Credit to the article's clarity, not to me, an ignorant but aspiring layman, who usually flounders in such matters.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

outing robin wardens

Walking out. Mr and Mrs Baggers-Ponsonby

In the lime tree opposite our house  a robin sits in a high branch this afternoon and sings at the top of its voice. Its song follows me all the way down Mount Sion.

As I step out of  front gate I see a traffic warden coming up the road towards me from the right. I turn left and walk round the bend in the road. As I pass the entrance to Madeira Park another traffic warden is coming up Madeira Park. I turn to see that the first traffic warden has crossed Mount Sion and is walking towards the corner which the second traffic warden is approaching from the other side. Soon they will meet. They do. They stop and exchange notes. You do not often see two of these birds in this area. Though not a motorist I do not  care for the breed.  A few minutes later I see the two wardens disappearing out of one of the exists of The Grove. Hand in hand. Not hand in hand but I wanted to write it so I did.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

health trivial avoidance

Cheers. New Year drinks. The Guinness on the right is mine. Reduced booze or no, I still cannot bring myself to drink from a half pint mug.

At the clinic which I attend once a year the nurse has a problem with her computer with regard to my smoking. I tell her that I probably smoke between 1 doz and a a dozen and a half cigars ( Montecristo No 5 - they are small ones) per year. "I had better put you down as a non-smoker," she says. And then corrects herself. No. Here it is: 'trivial smoker' ".

On my way home I spot a neighbour who when I greet him always tell me how he is. I see him in front of a shop window and hurry past to avoid an exchange of health news. I hurry on, not looking back. And then it occurs to me that this might be a case of mutual avoidance.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

roof swaying quantum shadows

On the roof.

In the driver's seat of a van  beside the open window, a fat man sways in time to the rock music playing at full blast from the dashboard.

Opposite the newsagent counter in the supermarket my eye is caught by the cover line of this week's New Scientist. "Quantum Shadows. No waves. No particles. Reality is even stranger than we thought." Impossible to resist. I haven't read it yet. And when I do, I wonder how enlightened I shall be.

Monday, January 07, 2013

odd headings story

Odd images pop up from time to time as you take accustomed routes through the town. This one deserves a pause.

When I first began to read ebooks, chapter headings rarely if ever appeared at the top of the page - an irritating if not serious fault, now it seems corrected. Half way through the Kindle edition of Richard Ford's new novel Canada I realise that every new chapter now appears on a new page with its heading at the top.

Today I begin a new story for my second blog One Fine Day. It is all or nearly all in my head which makes writing easier but in some ways rather  more a chore than an adventure.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

crow comptetion hoop

Crow. Tail view.

In the bookshops two big changes are noticeable. Various makes of eReader are displayed for a sale on an unprecedented scale. Real books as distinct from electronic texts are frequently on offer, either reduced in price or available as part of a deal such as "buy two with the second at half price". Clearly competition is beginning to bite.

In The Grove high amid the branches of a larch, a blue plastic hoop, a hula hoop probably, hangs way out of reach, an odd anomaly and an athletic achievement in its own right on the part of the person who managed to throw it there.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

light kindness whippet

Contre jour in The Grove. Dancing  with shadows.

Moved by Phillip Larkin's poem The Mower about a  hedgehog run over in the long grass which ends:
...we should be careful
of each other, we should be kind
while there is still time.

An elegant whippet with a pale dappled coat. It trots on its lead with a confidence that seems to come from knowing how good it looks. All style and tidiness.  I think of Emma Bovary's "miniature greyhound" lost  from their carriage during a stop while she and her husband are moving to their new home.

Friday, January 04, 2013

balance monotony tweeting

Hinge. Gravity and balance.

I am hooked as I have for some time on the music of Philip Glass. Monotonous, hypnotic. On top of the monotony astonishing variety.

After a good lunch in which someone says that tweeting is egotistical I am moved to release a number of tweets which say little or nothing about me or what I am doing but are limited to impersonal observations of the world  as it expands before me. That's lunch for you.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

poseur catalogues begging

Cat by the way. Can't resist its contemplative gaze.

Among my Christmas presents was a kit with which to grow chillies, something I 've always meant to do and now have the immediate wherewithal. Including part of a greenhouse. Must sow the seeds next month. Meanwhile I have been shunning the sodden vegetable garden and rather dread the thought of renewing my acquaintance with it. To  make matter worse seed catalogues have been dropping through the letter box with alarming persistence.  The most dispiriting thing about them is the illustrations. Brassicas, beans, onions, potatoes, carrots, glow colourfully  in the pages in a state of perfection far from what I will ever achieve.

It took me a long time when I was young to fathom the expression "to beg the question". It used to mean to ignore one question and answer another. In the last few years  that meaning seems to have withered to be replaced simply by "to put or pose a question".To my surprise today I find it used in this new sense in the latest  novel by the American novelist Richard Ford. Langage changes and we grow old.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

windows The Wasteland consumers

The window cleaner seems to dance as he wipes away the suds from the opticians window.

When I was at school I first learnt about T. S Eliot from fellow students rather than from teachers. Modern poetry as taught was Rupert Brooke, John Masefield, Walter de la Mare. That dates me I know. But it hadn't discouraged me from reading The Wasteland. This is the Penguin edition of Eliot's Selected Poems,  which I bought at the time for 1s 6d. It contained  among other poems which I grew to love The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. But it was the poet's 1922 masterpiece that I found most difficult and  was determined to fathom. Here is the opening page with my pencilled notes on the blank page facing (the source of which I cannot remember). So it was revealed to me how Eliot fed into the poem strands of his reading from Jessie Weston's From Ritual to Romance to The Book of Ecclesiastes; from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde to Dante's Inferno; from Virgil to Baudelaire. Today, more than 60 years later I acquire an app on The Wasteland which includes: the text of the poem, a facsimile of the manuscript with Ezra Pound's suggested changes, Eliot himself reading the poem, a performance of it by the actress Fiona Shaw and some notes more precise and detailed than I ever had access to. I count myself lucky, oh so lucky to live at a time when technology opens doors the existence of which we never dreamt of in those bleak post-World War 2 years.

As I walk past wheelie-bins bursting with cast-off wrapping paper and card boxes which once contained  the books and clothes, gadgets and toys lavished a couple of days ago as presents, I find myself thinking about returning  to a simple existence where basic things matter and give pleasure enough. How hypocritical or at least inconsistent that I, of all people, who revel in gadgets, apps and DVDs, and consume away with the best and most accomplished of consumers, should  have allowed such a thought to creep into my plump and greedy soul! But creep in it did, and I feel the need to record it. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

search fireworks slug

Looking for something

Yesterday evening we switch on the  TV just  before midnight in time to see the fireworks display on the Thames.  Big Ben stands out against the illuminated sky and the wheel forms a centre piece of the show, at times becoming a giant Catherine wheel. The upturned faces of the crowd packed onto the embankment are more moving than the lights in the sky. Full of wonder and you wonder full of hope.

This morning a fat slug appears on the kitchen work surface. Where it comes from we do not know. Ugly word slug,  for a far from pretty creature. I prefer the French word, limace which suddenly comes to mind, but the creature is the same one.