Sunday, 19 June 2016

A curse

Dear Reader,

                                                             The Mad Hatter

As a bit of a recluse I had, for me, an adventure this week.  I travelled up to London on a Great Western Railway train to Paddington, where I was going to meet my very dear stepson, Jeremy, who was taking me out to lunch at a smart restaurant in Baker Street.  So sitting on the train I had plenty of time to observe the other passengers, who seemed to be pretty ordinary until we got to Long Hanborough station, where crowds of young people got in.  Presumably they were all going to Ascot Races, since they were wearing an assortment of amazing hats.  There were bright flowers and feathers, big hats and small hats, all worn with tremendous confidence, the wearers chattering loudly like magpies.  

Thinking of hats, I wondered why those people who made hats in the 19th century were called 'Mad
Hatters', and the reason seems to be that mercury was used in the making of hats.  This was known to have affected the nervous systems of hatters, causing them to tremble and appear insane.  Apparently mercury can cause aggressiveness, mood swings and anti-social behaviour.  The use of mercury compounds in 19th-century hat making and the resulting effects are well established.   Mercury poisoning is still known today as 'Mad Hatters' disease.

Incidentally,  I read that another search for the lost remains of an English King, Henry I, is about to begin in another car park.  He has been buried since 1135, probably quite peacefully, and I think it is a travesty to disturb his bones.  My poem this week you may have seen before, but it does tell you just what I think about this, to my mind, unlawful act of plunder.


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 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 best wishes, Patricia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do so agree with the sentiments of this poem Patricia. And love the story of the Mad Hatter, though in the illustration you've shown here it's Alice who looks the more deranged!
Thank you as always for such a thoughtful piece. Xx