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Wednesday, 7 November 2018
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Oh, a false clock tries to tick out my time
To disgrace, distract, and bother me
And the dirt of gossip blows into my face
And the dust of rumours covers me
But if the arrow is straight
And the point is slick
It can pierce through dust no matter how thick
So I'll make my stand
And remain as I am
And bid farewell and not give a damn
Wednesday, 3 October 2018
|Photograph of Mont Saint Victoire overlooking Aix-en-Provence, France|
However, the camera cannot easily capture mood, atmosphere, feeling or imagination. The French artist, Paul Cezanne returned many times throughout his career to re-paint this view over and again and he found something new to say about it almost every time. I don't want to say anymore now because I want the visual to be dominant in this post. Just luxuriate in the beauty of the paintings below here...
I'm listening to the original version of Rivers of Babylon by the Jamaican reggae group The Melodians.
You can listen here. I like it loud!
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
My uncle John the fence died
When I heard I felt quite sorry
It was poetic justice though
As he fell off the back of a lorry
Copyright © Paul Curtis. All Rights Reserved
This is a lovely little poem which may need some explaining for non-English readers. In Wales 'John the fence' would be a man who erected fences; in England and elsewhere it would be a man who received stolen goods.
And in British English (I'm not sure about elsewhere - please let me know), something that 'fell off the back of lorry' means it was stolen so I can sell it to you cheaply!
Friday, 31 August 2018
Thursday, 23 August 2018
I'm listening to Brinsley Schwarz, led by Nick Lowe, singing Happy Doing What We're Doing. Listen here.
Monday, 20 August 2018
Saturday, 4 August 2018
How Beer Saved The World
Many scientists and anthropologists now believe that it was not the desire for bread that kick-started the agricultural revolution that ended hunter-gathering 9,000 years ago; it was the yearning for barley to make beer. This led to inventions such as the plough, the wheel, irrigation, mathematics and even led to writing! This cascade of world-changing innovations was brought about by the desire for beer.
In ancient Eygypt workers were paid in beer so we could say that we wouldn't have had the Pyramids without beer. There are those who claim it is one of the major food groups because of it's nutritional content.
In modern times it played an important role in refrigeration, the discovery of germ theory and modern medicine.
However, in Medieval times when water was too dirty to drink, possibly it's most important function was to support the population. Beer was safe to drink and men, women and children drank it morning to night, certainly in England.
That possibly is still the case in some parts! Cheers.
Monday, 23 July 2018
“Accordion Crimes” (1996) lovingly tells the story of a succession of owners of an accordion. Annie Proulx is a dispassionate observer of life but she does not shy away from unpleasant scenes and can be brutally honest in her depiction of those who are the losers in life’s lottery.
“The Shipping News” (1993) is a magnificent novel that demands a lot from the reader, whose attentiveness will be richly rewarded. At the start of each chapter a picture of a different type of knot is shown and this turns out to have a metaphorical reference to the content of that chapter. It was turned into a successful movie with Kevin Spacey in 2001. In a similar way “Postcards”(1992) showed a drawing of a postcard at the start of each chapter with a message that was sometimes directly relevant to the story and sometimes just added background colour. In 1997 she wrote a short story which was published in a collection of her work called "Close Range: Wyoming Stories" (1999) which was filmed in 2005. That was the very successful "Brokeback Mountain", in which she typically tackled a subject that had hitherto been taboo in mainstream literature.
Tuesday, 26 June 2018
|Can you spot the made up fact?|
- Japanese research has concluded that moderate drinking can boost IQ levels.
- The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth is called Arachibutyrophobia.
- Macadamia nuts are not sold in their shells because it takes 300 pounds per square inch of pressure to break the shell.
- Florida: An elephant tied to a parking meter must pay the regular parking fee.
- In Samoa, it is illegal to forget your wife's birthday.
- In Alabama it is illegal to stab yourself to gain someone's pity.
- In the UK it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.
- Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
- London taxis (black cabs) must carry a bale of hay and a sack of oats.
- Descendants of Sweeney Todd, the cannibalistic barber, founded a sausage factory in Somerset, England after the First World War.
- The word "queue" is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.
- Queen Elizabeth I regarded herself as a paragon of cleanliness. She declared that she bathed once every three months, whether she needed it or not.
- An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain
Monday, 11 June 2018
Reposted from February 2013.
This post is especially for All Consuming. But of course anyone is very welcome to comment!
|Wendy Cope. Born England 1945.(www.goodreads.com)|
Some men never think of it.
You did. You’d come along
And say you’d nearly brought me flowers
But something had gone wrong.
The shop was closed. Or you had doubts —
The sort that minds like ours
Dream up incessantly. You thought
I might not want your flowers.
It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile.
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.
From Serious Concerns, Faber & Faber, 1992
Wendy Cope, born 1945, is an English poet, the kind of whom it is easy to dismiss as lightweight or superficial but I would like to make the case that she is neither of those things. Although clothed in humour and wit, her words carry the weight and gravitas and of more serious matters. She cleverly uses the easy appeal to make a point, often about men: Men are like bloody buses-/ You wait for about a year/ And as soon as one approaches your stop/ Two or three others appear.
The poem centres around the themes of remembrance and intentions that were never carried out and there is a deep underlying sadness present. I think it is saying that the thought counts as much, or more, than the deed. The last stanza is heart-breakingly poignant.
I am listening to the late Kevin Coyne's brilliant recording of Blame it on The Night. He was a bit of a wild child who had been a psychiatric nurse and he sang about mental illness with deep insight. Listen here.
Tuesday, 5 June 2018
The Book of Exeter is the oldest extant collection of Old English literature. The copy in Exeter Cathedral was made after the year 975; so it's well over a thousand years old. Some of the poems it contains have been dated back to the seventh century. It was presented to the the Cathedral by Bishop Leofric who died in 1072.
It contains religious verse's and many riddles, some of which are full of cheeky double entendres that would make you blush so it's a strange mix of the spiritual and the secular side-by-side!
Here's one more:
I am a wondrous creature for women in expectation, a service for neighbours. I harm none of the citizens except my slayer alone. My stem is erect, I stand up in bed, hairy somewhere down below. A very comely peasant's daughter, dares sometimes, proud maiden, that she grips at me, attacks me in my redness, plunders my head, confines me in a stronghold, feels my encounter directly, woman with braided hair. Wet be that eye.
Scroll down for the answer!
Tuesday, 29 May 2018
Wednesday, 9 May 2018
|Song of Solomon, Sir William Russell-Flint, 1909|
It is not generally realised how much the Old Testament's Song of Solomon pervades modern culture. It contains some of the most beautiful love poetry ever written:
It is important to know that this is just the first chapter and that the 'voice' of the poem switches from person to person. Biblical scholars argue whether or not this was written by Solomon or for him. Here are just a few of the references that have been made:
- Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy's 1985 song Kiss Me quotes directly from the Song of Solomon.
- · Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon was instrumental in her winning a Nobel Prize.
- · Chapter 2, verse 15 (not reproduced here) provided the title for Lillian Hellman’s 1939 play Little Foxes.
- · Also the opening line of Chapter 2 provides the name 'Rose of Sharon' used by Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath.
- · Countless number of (mostly obscure) rock groups have taken their names and song titles from Song of Solomon.
- · One of Kate Bush's songs from The Red Shoes is Song of Solomon
- · In his poem When I Hear You Sing, Leonard Cohen refers to the Song of Solomon.
- · Many writers and composers through history have taken inspiration from this work. They include Geoffrey Chaucer, JS Bach and up to Steeleye Span and Neil Diamond (in Holly Holy).
I find it amazing how these ancient lines reach out across the millennia and still have resonance today. Be inspired by this poetry and remember that love is better than hate!
Friday, 4 May 2018
Saturday, 21 April 2018
I've been a bit busy lately so I'm re-posting this from five years ago. It's one of my favourite places in London.
The Royal Parks of London (1) St James Park
|A magical view across the lake in St James Park, London|
St James Park is the second smallest of London's eight Royal parks at 57 acres. These parks were originally owned by the Crown and used for sport, mainly deer hunting. In 1532 Henry VIII purchased some marshland owned by Eton College in an area that had formerly consisted of a female leper colony and pig farms and he enclosed it to create a hunting park on his door-step. Successive monarchs improved the park until Charles II, upon the restoration of the monarchy after the English Civil War, had the park laid out in the way he had seen in France during his exile. Today the park is pretty much as improved by the architect and landscape designer John Nash in 1827. It's full of the most charming range of trees, shrubs, flowers and wildlife.
In 1664 the Russian Ambassador presented a pelican to the Court of St James (any Ambassador or High Commissioner to the United Kingdom is officially "Ambassador to the Court of St James") this began a tradition of presenting pelicans as gifts and today there is an island of rocks in the lake, especially for them. There are also Egyptian geese, Greylags, Wood Ducks and many other beautiful birds. At one end of the park is Horse Guards Parade famous for the ceremony of Trooping the Colour and at the other end the best view of Buckingham Palace is to be seen.