Sunday, 21 July 2019

That was then










Dear Reader,

On July 15, 1786, Gilbert White wrote in his diary:

Made jellies, and jams of red currants.  Gathered broad beans...... The cat gets up on the roof of the house, and catches young bats as they come forth from behind the sheet of lead at the bottom of the chimney.

On July 15th, 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in her diary:

Arrived very hungry at Rievaulx......at an exquisitely neat farmhouse we got some boiled milk and bread; this strengthened us, and I went down to look at the ruins.  Thrushes were singing, cattle feeding among green-grown hillocks about the ruins.  These hillocks were scattered over with grovelets of wild roses and other shrubs, and covered with wild flowers.  I could have stayed in this solemn quiet spot till evening, without a thought of moving, but William was waiting for me, so in a quarter of an hour I went away.

                                                                        *

I will not be writing a blog next Sunday as I will be on holiday in Lyme Regis.

                                                                        *

That was Then

We made our way home
where the west wind blew
and the sun shone sometimes,
we walked where people
we met in the street
or in the country lanes
exchanged news,
people well known to us
growing from infants to children,
teenagers to married couples.

We walked by the Evenlode river
up into the fields where
butterflies gathered in the clover.
We saw horses grazing,
wheat fields full
of red rememberance poppies,
the first primroses and bluebells
in the spring, foxgloves,
cow parsley dressing the hedgerows,
summer roses,
the first autumn leaves
fluttering to the ground,
the winter snow.

He walked ahead,
I followed.
We held hands, embraced,

 but that was then.

                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Rose Coloured spectacles






Dear Reader,

There were two extraordinary stories in the newspaper this week, and both, I think, are absurd.

If you did read about them skip this bit but if you didn't here is the gist:

A Christian doctor who is suing the Department for Work and Pensions says he lost his job after a recruitment agent asked whether or not he would call a bearded man 'madam'.  "No I would not," he said.   He was then sacked for refusing to call people who were born male 'she' even if they now identify as female. He was suspended as a disability claim assessor said it would be irresponsible to address people based on preferred pronouns.
                                                                         
                                                                      *

The other story is about a senior Northern Ireland civil servant who was paid £10,000 compensation for having to walk past portraits of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in his line of duty  Mr. Hegarty's complaints are said to have led to the portraits being removed and replaced by pictures of the Queen meeting people.  One of those was Martin McGuinness, former Deputy first minister of Northern Ireland and an ex-IRA commander.   The case brought by the complainant was settled secretly and the sum of £10,000 was handed over,  presumably for hurt feelings and distress.

I just wonder where the UK is going.  It all seems so mad to me, and so sad.


                                                                      *

Rose Coloured Spectacles

For her he was such a hero,
caught the biggest fish,
rode the fastest horse,
made people laugh,
procured lots of money,
knew the elite
made them his friends,
no weaknesses were known
or seen.
Yes, he was somebody.

But who is without a flaw?
He was insensitive to others,
spoke out of turn, hurt feelings,
and didn't care or notice.

She sadly learnt her hero's crown
was not made of gold.
Found her spectacles had slipped,
that she needed a new pair
with clearer vision.


                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Moment




                                                                                         Nomad Bees


Dear Reader,

It seems that Britain's rarest bee is under threat because of habitat loss at the only location it is found.  It used to be scattered across southern England but is now only found in one place. The location is on the cliffs at Prawle Point in South Devon.    Nomads are known as 'cuckoo' bees as they lay their eggs in other bees' nests.  When the nomad's larvae hatches, it eats the pollen stores that the host bee gathered for its own young.  The nomad's choice of host is the long-horned bee, which is threatened itself, since it only feeds on a few wild flowers in the pea family such as everlasting pea and kidney vetch.

In the nomads last refuge in South Devon, the cliffs provide the perfect habitat for the long-horned bees to breed.  But even here, both species are disappearing.  Farm fields have squeezed closer to the cliffs, removing legume-rich grasslands the long-horned bees depend on.  If this continues, the nomad bee faces extinction in Britain.

With wild animals disappearing, and birds and butterflies fewer every year, what kind of world are we
leaving our grandchildren and great grand children?

                                                                          *

Moment

The church is cool from the summer sun,
organ music plays.

We walk down the aisle
enjoy the scent of lilies
filling the holy air
point out ruby stained-glass windows
depicting Christ on the cross,
examine oak and stone carvings
plaster heads of saints
the altar cloth rich in green and gold.

He runs up the pulpit steps
says a few words in Latin.
I laugh
then we kneel together in a back pew
say a prayer.

He takes my hand.

                                                                            *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 30 June 2019

A Proud Family Portrait

Dear Reader,







We went to visit Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire,  this week in lovely sunny weather, and what a treat after the rain of the last few days.  This was the summer home of William Morris,  signing a joint lease with Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the summer of 1871.  William loved the house as a work of true craftsmanship, totally unaltered and unspoilt and in harmony with the village and the surrounding countryside.  He considered it so natural in its setting as to be almost organic,  and it looked to him as if it had " grown up out of the soil".  Its beautiful gardens, with barns, dovecote, a meadow and stream, provided a constant source of inspiration.  In the house there is an outstanding collection of the possessions and works, including furniture, original textiles, pictures, carpets and ceramics.

We had lunch in the village pub, The Plough Inn, and it was excellent with good and quick service.

                                                                               

                                                                         *

A Proud Family Portrait

It wasn't a Reynolds or Gainsborough.
There were no silk or satin dresses,
no elaborate hairstyles, large jewels,
or velvet neck ribbons.
There was no piano,
and no one reading a book.

Sitting at a wooden table
the ladies wore dull cotton dresses,
the man a black suit.
There were no silk hats, no smiles.
Solemn-faced this family
was merchant class,
had succeeded with hard work.

They were a proud family
painted as they were,
to remind themselves
and others what they had achieved,
their dining table
a treasured possession,
their oak coffer,
their mahogany sideboard,
a Bible,
their precious gems.

                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia


Sunday, 23 June 2019

A Valediction









Dear Reader,

Visiting Lyme Regis museum again last week I found out about an amazing woman called Mary Anning and I thought I would tell you a snippet about her.


Mary Anning was born on 21st May,1799 in Lyme Regis, Dorset.  Her father, Richard, was a cabinet maker and amateur fossil hunter.  He often took Mary and brother Joseph fossil hunting around the cliffs of Lyme Regis.  They sold their finds to tourists.  Mary became an expert fossil hunter and found her first complete Plesiosaurus skeleton on December 10th, 1823.  Over the course of her life she made incredible discoveries and this made her famous among scientists of the day.  She died of breast cancer at the age of 47.  Her death was recorded by the Geological Society (which did not admit women until 1904) and her life is commenorated by a stained glass window in St.Michael's Parish church in Lyme.

SEAGULL news.   Whilst we were eating our lunch on the sea front we saw a seagull swoop onto a man's bread roll and the bird took it clean out of his hands.  And I read that an elderly couple, Mr and Mrs Pickard, from Morecombe Bay, have been forced to stay in their home because otherwise they are attacked by two herring gulls as soon as they open the front door.  At one point Mr. Pickard was so viciously attacked that he ended up with a head wound which required hospital treatment. 

The gulls seem to be winning.

                                                                        *

A Valediction

To innocence
to childhood
to youth
to skipping about
to making daisy chains
to looking in the mirror
seeing someone pretty
to wearing gypsy clothes
feeling exotic in them
to flirting and being flirted with
to kissing someone new
drowning in that indescrible
feeling of lust and love
to smoking king-size cigarettes
to being passionate about something
daydreaming about a bright future
to changing the world
making poverty unknown
the poor rich.

But knowing now the truth
about old age being shite
hello to fudge and ice cold gins,
small pleasures and quieter things.

                                                                              *

With very best wishes, Patricia

P.S.   You can get my new book  'The Ragbag of a Human Heart' on Amazon.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

The House



                                                                                  Frida Kahlo

Dear Reader.



I went to the most interesting lecture this week about a Mexican painter called Frida Kahlo.

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (1907-1954) painted many portraits, self portraits and works inspired by
the nature and artifacts of Mexico.  She employed a native folk art style to explore questions of identity, post colonialism, gender, class and race in Mexican society.  She was disabled by polio as a
child and had a traffic accident at the age of eighteen which cause lifelong pain and medical problems.  In 1927 she joined the Mexican Communist Party, where she met and married a fellow
artist, Diego Rivera.  Her work as an artist was relatively unknown until the last 1970s when it was re-discovered by art historians and political activists.

                                                                             *

The House

Was it the sound of Chopin
filling the street air,
escaping from a large keyhole
in the weathered front door,
or the first glimpse of pale
stone flooring and a rocking horse
in the hall corner, or was it the
Easter lilies rising tall out of
white enamel jugs, and books
everywhere, everywhere?

Was it the ancient dog
in front of a small log fire,
protected by a staunch Victorian fireguard,
or the scrubbed table and gentian-blue
hyacinths peeking out of a copper bowl,
Rockingham pottery plates
each one different,
or the sculpture of an unknown woman
young, rounded smooth,
placed lovingly on a window shelf
catching a flicker of the January sun?

Or was it the smell of beef stew,
a nursery smell dredged from childhood,
or the sight of home-grown pears
floating in sugared juice?
Or was it the feeling of safety,
warmth and love
everywhere, everywhere
that overwhelmed me?

                                                                       *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Bus Stop Princess




Dear Reader,

I thought this piece from Francis Kilvert's diary on June 12th, 1874 was rather funny and hope you do too.

'Bathing yesterday and to-day.  Yesterday the sea was very calm, but the wind has changed to the East and this morning a rough troublesome sea came tumbling into the bay and plunging in foam upon the shore.  The bay was full of white horses.  At Shanklin one has to adopt the detestable custom of bathing in drawers.  If ladies don't like to see men naked why don't they keep away from the sight?  To-day I had a pair of drawers given to me which I could not keep on.  The rough waves stripped them off and tore them down round my ankles.  While thus fettered I was seized and flung down by a heavy sea which retreating suddenly left me lying naked on the sharp shingle from which I rose streaming with blood.  After this I took the wretched and dangerous rag off and of course there were some ladies looking on as I came out of the water. '
                                                                           


                                                                             *



Bus Stop Princess

She waited, unnoticed, invisible.
Her fluffy green jersey egg-stained,
uninteresting trousers and sensible shoes
inviting no attention.
She was a brown paper parcel,
loosely string-tied.

But she smiles at me
with such sweetness,
such a smile of goodness,
I saw her sensible shoes
become sparkling slippers,
her shabby clothes
turn into a ball dress
fashioned from sunlight,
stitched up with love.

Not then a story-book princess
but a real princess
glimpsed at a bus stop.


                                                                            *

Very Best wishes, Patricia