Wednesday, June 25, 2008
She started the run in 2003, when she was 57, to raise money and awareness about prostate cancer, after her husband's death from the disease. She has long been an adventurer, and has many sailing achievements to her credit.
I don't often do hero-worship but I think she is a remarkable role-model to all women, and to older ones in particular. I shall think of her next time I have doubts about trying something new or scary.
She used to live as if
as if it really were,
in spite of lacking evidence
She lived in wish-horse land
a beggar finely mounted,
on a wild white stallion
in a sordid little house
she didn’t see.
When she died she left the sadness
of a life of might-have-beens:
a pile of clothes unmended,
of stories never written
and a bookcase full of stories of escape.
As I wrote it, it was the simple tale of someone who lives inside her head, ignoring the reality around her, and dreams her life away without attempting to act on either dreams or reality. The saying 'if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride' is behind the second stanza.
Of course there are inelegant parts, and the repetition of 'stories' was pointed out, with justification. Other words could be removed, though I want to keep the rhythm I feel when I speak it.
Then, someone saw it as being about a heroin addict with the references to 'horse' 'white' and stormscapes'
'...horse as heroin, gives wish-horse as the illusory dreams of the drug, a beggar gives me the feel of a desperate person, and again the white stallion as the white powder of the drug itself, windy stormscapes reminded me of references to taking the drug as riding the storm with the sordid little house being the body which she no longer feels a need for as rides the drug-fuelled high.
The last line now reads more as a reference to her secret stash of the drug which still holds all the dreams she never got to have.'
I claimed that my subconscious works in mysterious ways, but am surprised how well the interpretation fits the poem.
One of my daughters on the other hand, looked at it and said - 'Oh no, it's one of your get off your arse and do something poems again.' Time I did, then?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
On Tuesday Marta and I went to Fineshade
and admired the green roof complete with poppy, which you may be able to see by clicking on the photo below...
a Spotted Orchid (not , as I thought, an Early Purple Orchid)...
a rogue grey squirrel - foiled in its attempt to steal the bird food ...
an interesting entry in the wildlife hide's logbook ...
a woodpecker - I really need a better zoom ...
I didn't manage a picture of the jay, which we also saw close up. Oh and I bought a slightly sad tomato plant for 50p - photo may follow.
Monday, June 23, 2008
As interesting as the topic itself are the reasons why people start looking into their origins. For me it was around the time of my mother's death.
Years before, she had compiled a family tree from information gleaned from her own parents and in-laws. At that time further research would have involved a lot of leg-work, travel to record offices, and parish churches across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. As she had had no car since divorcing my father, and we three 'kids' were spread out across England, she didn't follow this up. I'd been fascinated with the idea that a name with a bald date of death represented a person, who might, just possibly be someone like me. Rather unlikely, as I spent much of my youth trying to be as unlike anyone else in the family as possible. The fact that some of them lived in a picturesque and rugged part of Derbyshire added to the enchantment. Some of these guys seemd to head for the highest point and settle there.
In the weeks before she died, my mum helped me to identify a few people whose photographs were lying loose in an old black box. Her death eventually gave me the impetus to start looking into the family myself.
In 1995 this still involved a certain amount of poring over microfiche readers in Nottingham and Matlock County Record Offices, though internet newsgroups were springing up, and made the process much speedier - you could usually find someone with some of the information you were looking for.
For three or four years I was totally obsessed with this, following leads, wandering around Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire taking photographs of gravestones, chapels and farms, writing half fictionalised stories about my ancestors.
Since then I have let it lapse, but each time someone emails me , they rekindle my interest. Now I just need to make sure that particular file is in order, and start to expand it a little more.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Bristol will receive a share of £100 million in order to
Excellent news for the city which started Sustrans, and well done all those hill-climbing cyclists in the town. It will certainly encourage me to cycle more when I'm there. Last week's score - 2 rides of about 30 - 40 minutes.
Other areas which will receive funding for cycling include York, Stoke, Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton, Shrewsbury, Southend, Southport and Woking.
I reckon that Leicester should be in there. They're pretty keen on encouraging cycling as well.
For further interesting comments on Bristol and cycling look here
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Of course it's only part of what their new initiative will do, but it seems to me that there's too much admin, too many initiatives, and not enough support for those who do the work.
What price a smile?
So you’ll rate me on compassion,
give me grades from one to five?
Wanted – one compassion rater
to make this thing go live.
Never mind the fact we work hard,
we must look as though it’s fun.
Now, how much do you earn ,pray,
for getting this job done?
So you tick a set of boxes
as you follow me around.
Am I smiling and polite
though my feet don’t touch the ground?
Is my sweet smile smooth or plastic -
does it reach into my eyes?
Is the measurement elastic -
can I try it on for size?
Will you interview the patients?
Your job could take all day -
will it really solve our problems
and make them go away?
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
plastic ghosts of drinks long drunk,
cardboard memories of fast-food feasts,
packaged to go for the car-borne.
Carefree, they cast their cans
for others, less carefree, to carry.
I curse their castaway ease -
may their dross return in dreams
and wrap them in tendrils of plastic,
bitter blossom on so many hedges.
May they all be reborn as cleaners,
pittance-paid for the shit-work.
May their cars be recycled as cycles,
and their legs be blessed as they ride.
This looks like more purposeful dumping of rubbish...pic taken at end of Feb.
'...don't expect every poem to be better than the one before. Few poets are consistently good. Some of the best produced very ordinary stuff along with their brilliant work.'
It fits in well with Stephen King's advice that you need to be there working regularly, to stand a chance of the Muse dropping by.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Naked Bike Ride ‘to protest against car culture and oil dependency.’
I have no problem with that …, but then it adds
‘herds of naked cyclists will be scaring old ladies around Britain’.
My hackles rose – hang on folks, I bet some of those ‘old ladies’ will be joining in the ride! Less of the sexism and ageism in your 'humour', please.
(Copied from my post on our women's blog... )
At any event the thought of it got me out, fully clothed, and on a borrowed bike, to hone my urban cycling skills for forty minutes this afternoon.
I couldn't persuade Tilly the dog to take up naked cycling.
According to an article in the Independent today, swifts are declining in Britain, because houses no longer have eaves where they can nest - one remedy is nest boxes like those pictured. (From the newspaper) It would be a great pity if we could no longer experience the shrieking of squadrons of swifts between May and July. Maybe that's why we noticed them so much in May at Montebuoni , where there were nest holes in one of the walls.
We have housemartins at home now, although they arrived quite late in May. The same nest has been used for four years or so.
Friday, June 13, 2008
At the top of the hill were these pieces of wood with cryptic bits of words on.
A pub on Gloucester Road The observatory? and camera obscura?
The Clifton suspension bridge
Looking down to the river. Then over the bridge...to the Leigh Woods area where there are some unbelievable houses. Hmm - Victorian Gothic?...You can travel from the heart or rural England on a grand scale... ...to a Swiss chalet, an outsized cuckoo clock or a gingerbread house called Alpenfels.
When I feel inspired I must correct the lean - it's the photographer's fault, not the builder's.