Sunday, 16 December 2018

Bird Of My Loving

Dear Reader,






A very dear friend of mine, Mary Sheepshanks, poet and author, wrote the poem I am sending to you this week.  We met on the Island of Iona many years ago during a week's retreat from the world. And we have been friends ever since although it is difficult for us to meet because she lives in Scotland, a long way from Oxford.  The theme of the poem is one that has always interested me.  


I think we want to belong to someone without being overprotected by them.  We want to feel free to go wherever we want to with their blessing and so to return to them, refreshed, with a happy and loving heart.  There is a moving poem by Richard Lovelace (1618-58)  writing from prison which says in the first line of the poem:  Stone walls do not a prison make/nor iron bars a cage.  He says if he has freedom in his love, then his soul is free.  In this very technical and practical age we tend to forget about our souls - what are they after all?  But my soul plays a large part in my life and I take heed to what it tells me.

                                                                        *

The Bird of my Loving

To all the air I vainly cried:
"This octopus possession strangles me.
Can't I be loved and love
And still be free?"
But no one heard or listened
None replied.
Until upon the green horizon of my view
You came to stand.
The bird of all my loving flew to you.
You held it for a moment
In your hand,
Then opening up our fingers
To the sky you said:
"Our love is liberty.
feel free to fly
But know that I am true."
Because you never tried
To pinion it
The bird of  all my loving
Stays with you.

                                                                        *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Overheard

                                                                              Happy Christmas to you all

Dear Reader,

After our lovely summer and glorious autumn, the weather has decided to step in with rain and storms
to remind us that this is a sceptred island and that means fog, damp, rain and snow, as well as  exceptional beauty when the sun shines.

This is a piece I read from Francis Kilvert's journal, 1872.

" ...... at about half past four began the Great Storm of 1872.  Suddenly the wind rose up and began to roar at the tower window and shake the panes and lash the glass with torrents of rain.  It grew very dark and we struggled home in torrents of rain and tempests of wind so fearful that we could hardly force our way across the Common to the Rectory.  All the evening the roaring S.W. wind raged more and more furious.  It seemed as if the windows on the west side of the house must be blown in. The glass cracked and strained and bent ...... Now and then the moon looked out for a moment wild and terrified through a savage rent in the Storm.

Glad I didn't live then.
                                                                         *

Overheard

The woman sat
on a number 3 bus.
She settled comfortably,
the seat next to her vacant.
Another woman got on
not known to her.
She squeezed over and the
two sat cosily together.
'I'm off to the doctor', said one,
I need new tablets.'.

'Yes,' said the other:
'tablets keep me going too.'.
The two women talked animatedly
about their ailments, until one
of them reached her destination.

'I'm off now', she said, 'but lovely
meeting you.  Such an interesting talk.'.

Both women were happy.
Exchanging tablet talk
had invigorated them,
their shared experience
made them feel content.

                                                                    *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 2 December 2018

A Curse





Dear reader,

The emancipation of women is generally considered a relatively modern phenomenon but a new burial site in Lincolnshire has shown that females were already enjoying high social status, wealth and power in their own right.  Obviously these sites were only used by the rich and in Scremby, women buried at the 5th century cemetery were extensively dressed and surrounded by riches including amber necklaces, hundreds of glass beads, silver buckles and ivory clasps.

Dr. Hugh Williams, senior lecturer in European historical archaeology, from the University of Sheffield said:"What is particularly interesting is the significant proportion of very lavish burials which belonged to women. In what is seen as a masculine warrior society, the women were clearly held in high regard"

I suppose it should be of some comfort for us females to know that at least one time in history, albeit the 5th century, women were held in high regard.

                                                                             *

A Curse

on those who plunder the earth,
and violate sacred places.....

A curse on those who disturb
and steal gently-bandaged skulls,
legs, arms, and finger bones,
jewels: perhaps a pearl bracelet,
a coral ring, hair pins, or a mosaic plate,
set out lovingly with food
for the long journey home.
Who have lain there, at peace,
for many thousand years,
the sand, the desert winds, the rains,
nature's bed.

A curse on those whose
laughter and excitement
fills the air, stealing these remains,
transporting them to people
in white coats,
who dissect their dignity,
stick labels on them,
give them to museums
to enlighten an ice-cream-licking public.


                                                                         *


With very best wishes,  Patricia


Sunday, 25 November 2018

Hotel Room


                                                                              Affronted sheep in the village of Wool?



Dear reader,

If you haven't read or heard about the story of the village Wool in Dorset this week, I feel I have to tell the story to those who haven't heard it because it is so absurd.  And so amusing.  Animal rights activists have declared the village's name an affront to sheep the world over, claiming it promotes animal cruelty.  They have asked that the village is renamed Vegan Wool, forcing the local parish council to debate the issue.  Elisa Allen, director of Peta (the animal rights charity) has written to Wool parish council to request the change in order to "promote kindness to sheep".  Cherry Brooks, a member of the Dorset county council said the proposal would be discussed at the next council meeting. What.....?

Incidentally, the name 'wool' was derived from the ancient word "welle" and had nothing to do with the wool industry. Wool in Dorset takes its name from the Anglo Saxon word Wyllon meaning spring or well, because of the many springs that rise nearby.  The name is first said to be referenced in Saxon writs fro 1002 to 1012, where it appears as Wyllon.

And I also read that you could be prosecuted if you feed your cat on vegan food .

Has England gone mad?  It certainly seems so to me.

                                                                              
   * 

  
Hotel Room

Imagine the cellars, 1718
storing meat
fruit and onions,
apples on slats
maturing, ripening
within peeling walls.
Mouse holes and
a smell of damp and decay

A smaller room attached -
a game larder,
where pheasants, snipe,
partridges, rabbits, hares
and ducks are hung on hooks
or from the rafters.
Large clay pots sit in the corner
full of earth and potatoes.

See the rooms, basement now, 2018.
Pristine white walls, Farrow and Ball,
arches and pillars over large bed
black sofa, black cushions,
lush bedside lamps,
the bathroom heats underfloor,
large bath, rolled white flannels
gold taps.

Which is most magical?

No prizes for guessing.

                                                                                              
                                                                                                           
*


With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Collection

                                                                                     Afternoon Tea


Dear Reader,

It seems as if the British seagull has decided to leave our shores and depart to France.  At the French seaside there are much richer pickings than there are, say, in Bournemouth, because, perhaps, of the many notices there are around our seaside towns and villages alerting people to nefarious seagull activities.   Notwithstanding the fact that the gulls ignore such notices, the French authorities are trying to get rid of the offenders too.  For instance in Trouville-sur-Mer in Normandy, northern France, claims  have been made that it is the first town to test a special drone that can spot seagull nests and spray them with steriliser, as its deputy mayor warned that the birds could "make off with a baby".

Seagulls are profoundly changing their living habits from eating fish and building nests on cliffs, to livings in towns and becoming carnivorous.   In England local fishermen in seaside locations
say the gulls regularly dive-bomb them on their trawlers but they can do nothing but shout at them because the gulls have been a protected species since 2009.

David Cameron is said to have called for a "big conversation" on the issue after gulls killed a Yorkshire terrier in Newquay, a chihuahua puppy in Devon and a pet tortoise in Cornwall.  British MPs recently called for a change in the law to allow the protected status of seagulls to be axed so that their populations could be better controlled.

                                                                            *

D.H. Lawrence wrote this in Oxfordshire, 1915, and I thought after Remembrance Sunday last week it would be of interest.  Lawrence was a conscientious  objector.

"When I drive across this country with autumn falling and rustling to pieces, I am so sad, for my country, for this great wave of civilisation,  2000 years, which is now collapsing, that it is hard to live.  So much beauty and pathos of old things passing away and no new things coming: this house (Garsington Manor)- it is England - my God, it breaks my soul - their England, these shafted windows, the elm-trees, the blue distance - the past, the great past, crumbling down, breaking down, not under the force of coming birds, but under the weight of many exhausted lovely yellow leaves, that drift over the lawn, and over the pond, like the soldiers, passing away darkness of winter -no, I can't bear it.  For the winter stretches ahead, where all vision is lost and all memory dies out."

                                                                         *

Collection

The little girl waits
peers down the road
sees the other children
collected
as mothers hug them
help them into cars
drive away for family teas
to houses where
warmth and love abounds

she puts her satchel down
takes out a sweet for comfort
a small tear rolls down her cheek
someone will remember, surely
she thought,
but the dusk gathered
and nobody came.

                                                                         *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Soldier's Meditation


Dear Reader,


As it is 11th November today, Armistice Day, and all my thoughts are for the fallen in WWI,  I always think about my father, Harold Huth, who was a soldier in that terrible war.  He served as a major with the Royal Army Service Corps and was mentioned in Dispatches on three occasions.  I have a letter written in January 1916 congratulating my grandparents, from a Colonel Harrison and his other officers, on their son's distinguished conduct and gallantry.  So today I am thinking of you, Dad, and thanking you for the part you played to give us the freedoms we now enjoy, and am sending you my love.


                                                                               *
When you go home,
tell them of us and say:
For your tomorrow
we gave our today.

                                                                               *


Soldier's Meditation

My cigarette time-burns,
my body trembles,
only minutes now
until the action starts.

Am I brave? No, not brave
I am shit-scared,
my body reeks.
The last drop of whisky
wets my parched lips.
I light another cigarette.

I hold this gun to hide behind.
With it, I will aim and slaughter
someone unknown, someone's son,
mother, father, daughter.

If killed, I want no part in bands playing,
or speeches glorifying my sacrifice.
I want no weeping, seen or unseen,
pitying those who were,
those who had been.

Go, action, ready, time to start.
Dear God, do leaden wings always fly
a universal soldier's heart?

                                                                                 *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Bath, Somerset

Dear Readers,

I am going to be away in Bath this weekend so won't be able to write a blog.  It is a small holiday after traumatic summer in hospital and in recovery.  I am stronger now and hope to see some wonderful  things in Bath with Francis, my good friend.

I will be back on Sunday, 11th and hope you will join me then.

Best wishes, Patricia