Saturday, December 31, 2011

December holding feathers

Posted by PicasaThe Grove in December,  contre jour.

In the convenience store in Grosvenor Road, the owner lays the telephone on the counter. It is emitting  continuous, nagging,  tinny sounds. "I am trying to sort something out," he says. "I'm holding on. They keep playing music. I hate it."

On the TV last night are Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers  in the "dancing cheek to cheek" episode of Top Hat and Tails -  that surpassing moment of movie elegance. Among the commentators in the documentary of which this clip is a part is Astaire's, daughter Ava. "It is not true," she says that Ginger Rogers and her Father quarrelled.  In fact they were always good friends. Though it is true that Astaire did lose his temper on the occasion of the "cheek to cheek" scene because the feathers came off her flowing, white dress. Though the dress filmed so well, following the couple's movements, the feathers flew into  the air and got into Astaire's eyes and nostrils. Of such detail is history made.

Friday, December 30, 2011

incident starlings abandoned

Posted by Picasa In my archive today I come across this photograph of a painting which I did some years ago. It is one of a few pictures of which I am reasonably proud. It is called Incident on the Beach. Looking back on it I realise that it focuses, on my relationship with women and with beaches, both of which are important to me.  Perhaps that is obvious. I rather miss having it around.

Starlings in The Grove again. Today they occupy a different tree. Before seeing them I hear the gentle whistles and fluting sounds which so appeal. There are only a few today. Larger groups make more of  a din. I remember when  they used to take  over Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, Nelson's Column and the trees in St James Park. I remember in particular meeting my friend Anna  by appointment on the steps of the National Gallery on one such day when the starlings were in charge. "They are making  a noise like breaking glass," she said.

On a pillar in front of a house in Mount Sion someone has abandoned a paperback. It is called Double Decker. It is by Jacqueline Wilson whom I know of  as a best-selling author of children's books. I pass it twice. On the first occasion it is closed. On the second I note that someone, or maybe the wind, has opened it exposing the title page. It is raining  and the paper is sodden.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

bread medical dunandunate

Posted by Picasa  At the Pantiles Farmers Market.

Because someone very close to me requires a hip operation I ask a neighbour about a similar operation he has undergone. It is dangerous territory because it means that I will receive a full account of his medical history. He does however let drop the name of a surgeon which I am looking for. A few minutes later I escape with a smile and a cheery "happy new year". The art of ending a conversation is sometimes harder than that of beginning one. Both need to be cultivated.

A word floating around at the moment is dunandunate.  It means to over use a word that has recently been added to your vocabulary It is apparently at present a failed candidate for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary. But how long will that last? A Google search reveals its growing popularity.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

roof response action

Crow on finial communes with chimney stack.

Reflecting as one does at this time of year on people you have known and their behaviour, I recall a certain sort of person, who makes a study of how to unnerve people by not responding to them. I am thinking in particular  of someone I knew  years ago who used  simply to  stare back, keeping his face as expressionless as possible when you made a point. You did not know what he was thinking, whether he disagreed or agreed or thought your opinion not worthy of his consideration.  When you are young and unused to such treatment it is extremely unpleasant. Nowadays it is identified as "passive aggression" or something of the sort, and a proper response might be a punch on the nose or better a lengthy quotation from Finnegans Wake.

As another year heaves into view I am nudged by the thought, driven by a sense of urgency, that there are still things  to do and places to visit. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

friends sticks shrubs

Posted by Picasa The  friends whom I described a few weeks ago.
Some of the people I see most days round here, I stop to speak to. But some I see in the distance, when you can't easily greet them. Today on the other side of The Grove I catch sight of the man who used to walk with two sticks.  About three years ago he  had slipped and broke his hip severely. For a long time he barely ventured out, and when he did, he moved very slowly helped by the two walking sticks. Later he graduated to one stick, a great mark of progress. Today I note with pleasure that he is walking without the aid of  any stick. His  walking stick is  held parallel to the ground,  and rather than lent upon, it  seems to be, a token  or charm carried against chance.
Two new shrubs appear in The Grove. A passer by who lives opposite the location of the new shrubs, says that he asked the young man, who was planting them what variety of shrub they were. He didn't know. I remember that a few years ago I had a similar experience with a tree-planter, engaged in giving a permanent home to a number of saplings.  "What are they?" "No idea," he replied. "I just do what I am told."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

And very best wishes for the New Year to everyone.
All summer long we watched while we sat in the garden in the evening, three pigeons - a couple and a hanger on - on the roof of the house opposite. This morning, as on previous mornings recently,  the three are still in there, performing some sort of territorial routine. The couple sit close together on the parapet looking down on the street below.  The hanger on is on the chimney.  They could of course be different pigeons behaving in a similar way, but I like to  think that they are the same ones.

In the convenience store this morning a woman is shopping with a  small white dog on her shoulder. It is, she says, a cross between Yorkshire terrier and something which I didn't catch, but which sounds oriental.  "She likes sitting there," says the woman. And I can see that it one of those treats that this little dog cannot do without.

Friday, December 23, 2011

tough cats pies

Posted by PicasaTrue grit. So far it hasn't been needed to spread over the roads and pavements in these parts.

I like cats, even love them, but sometimes cat- love can seem to go too far. This is the last paragraph (names, cat, human and geographical have been changed to avoid possible embarrassment) of one of those round-robins full of news, good and bad, which sometimes  accompanies Christmas cards. It strikes me as being rather well written:
 "Our seven cats became 8 in May, when we adopted Marianne, a poor stray who turned out to have bone cancer. The vet amputated the affected  back leg and gave her six months  to live, but she seems to be doing well and is very happy. George, one of our long standing cats, was diagnosed with pancreatitis in April and underwent extensive tests. Although he was also given a grim prognosis, we put him on a special diet immediately, removed everything possibly in the garden and he is still going strong. I always take any ill cat to our wonderful homoeopathic and conventional vet outside Cambridge for a second opinion, Even Joan has benefited from his expertise, and, like  the cats, takes her pills every evening too."
I am not sure that the nearest and dearest who are staying with us this Christmas like mince pies very much. But I have nevertheless made a dozen and half and dusted them with icing sugar, because it is something I like doing. If they are not eaten at home they will make nice presents for neighbours.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

bridge sleep volubility

Two pigeons on the bridge above Tunbridge Wells station.

Yesterday I referred to a book of classical Persian folk tales told by Shusha Guppy. I bought it on impulse from Hall's bookshop two days ago and it is proving, like much else of my reading at this time, greatly rewarding. In particular I love this traditional way of ending Persian stories:
Our story is told and you must rest
Though the crow has not yet reached its nest.
There could, surely, be no lovelier or more peaceful thought on which to drift off to sleep.

As a voluble person I increasingly love silence. I am reminded of the Victorian  cleric and wit, Sydney Smith, who remarked of Macaulay's conversation that it was enlivened by brilliant flashes of silence.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

river sleep clash

Posted by Picasa Thames scape. St Paul's, unusually in a photograph taken from this viewpoint, is  tucked away on the left. On the extreme right is the unfinished Shard. Click for full picture.

"'Close your eyes so that sleep doesn't get into them,"' said Zahra, as she gently closed my eyes and continued with the story." So begins the introduction to Sasha Guppy's The Secret of Laughter, subtitled "Magical Tales from Classical Persia. How better to invoke the atmosphere of the bedtime story, and to whet  the appetite for mystery and excitement, and to recall childhood contentment and ensuing drowsiness!

Talking of Jack Russells, among the bizarre news stories of the year, I read of a woman who returned her Jack Russell to a rescue centre in Kent, because it clashed with her curtains. The woman told the staff that she had "spent a lot of money on the curtain". (From the current issue of The Week). Lucky Jack Russell.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

saucer thinking anticipation

Posted by Picasa This flying saucer is hovering just over the fence beside the pub. I have not tinkered with the photograph, but I had drunk  a couple of pints before taking it.

In his book Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman illustrates the difference between the two modes of thinking in which we engage, with the following: "Do not, " he says, "try to solve it but listen to your intuition".
   A bat and ball costs $1.10.
   The bat costs one dollar more than the ball.
   How much does the ball cost?
"A number came to your mind," he writes. The number is of course 10: 10c. The distinctive mark of  this easy puzzle is that it is intuitive, appealing and wrong.  Do the math and you will see. If the ball costs 10c then the total cost will be $1.20 c. (10 c for the ball and $1. 10 for the bat). The correct answer is 5 c." I confess I puzzled over this longer than I should have done.
This is just a taste of an intriguing book which is far from being one of those cure-all recipes for how to live. Rather it is serious science presented in a way which we can all understand, and which explains much about our thought processes, decision-making and how we often manage  I speak for myself) to be wrong as often as I am right, if not more often.
I have often thought that I am not very intelligent, yet intelligent enough to know the limits of my intelligence. This book helps me here.

This afternoon I pass a Jack Russell on its way to The Grove. It trots eagerly ahead of its man. In its mouth is a tennis ball. I know Jack Russells' amazing capacity to catch balls in the air on the first or second bounce, and admire them for their speed and enthusiasm. This one reminds me of  how I used to feel when on my way, racket in hand, to the tennis courts, hardly able wait for the feel of the grass or tarmac beneath my feet, and the the thought of a backhand drive or low volley in the game to come.

Monday, December 19, 2011

cranes brute my lady

Posted by Picasa Cranes above London in  the declining sun.

Bollards in Mount Sion are designed to deter motorists from parking on the pavement. They often also provide target practise for motorists attempting to reverse.  Evidence of brute force carelessly applied is seldom absent in the shape of a leaning bollard and up-ended bricks in the surrounding footpath.

 For too long now my interest in the written and spoken word has distracted me from listening to music as much as I would have like to. Lorenzo da Ponte  with his new blog Tone Deaf has ended all that. My head is full of music, my ears are ringing with it. For the sixth time to day I am back with "Did you not hear my lady, go down to the garden singing ..?."   Not for a long time had I heard her. But now all that is changed. I hear her all the time. Thank you Lorenzo.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

roots language resolved

Posted by Picasa Among the roots. Oh those little claws. So useful.

A blond woman whom I often see in The Grove walks a snow white Pomeranian on a lead. She has an accent which I take to be Polish and I have heard her talking fluently in a language which I think is Polish. This afternoon I see her with her dog. And note that she addresses it  in  English. "Come on," she says, " as it sniffs and shuffles among some leaves at the end of the lead. "We're going home."
 I ask Heidi  who speaks fluent English to me all the time, in what language she would talk to a  dog if she had one. "German, " she says, "of course."

Problems resolved are cheering  and welcome at Christmastide.   Friends who have had a disagreement with someone close to them, and have barely been on speaking terms, are to have a Christmas meal together, and the news now percolates that yesterday a case of drink  has been delivered by one to the other. I ask no questions but feel a warm sense of satisfaction.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

chanterelles dream Christmases

Posted by Picasa Poached duck egg and chanterelle  mushrooms on toast at Brawn restaurant  last week. The impression still resonates.

The last dreams you have during the night are the ones you tend to remember. I wake convinced that I have lost the top of  a Waterman ball point pen, which I have become fond of as one becomes fond of frequently used tools. I am in Piccadilly but  the shops are shabby and there are worrying things going on. The top drops off the pen and neatly falls down a drain. I wake up saying " oh dear, oh dear" to myself. I am  regretful rather than  distressed. It is cheering however to wake up properly and to find the black, gold-trimmed pen intact on my writing desk.

Like Christmas, Father Christmas tends to be in the singular; you think each  of them as separate from others of their kind, belonging to a particular time and place. The old man is usually of ample proportions, rosy cheeked and a little ponderous. But this afternoon the sight of two father Christmases striding across The Grove side by side, with their bright red garb fringed with white,  brings a note of cheer to the darkening scene.  They are young, lithe and brisk and their beards and moustaches are all over the place.

Friday, December 16, 2011

shard wrong pronunciation

Posted by Picasa The new sky-scraper near London Bridge Station slices into the sky beneath a crane which dwarfs other cranes at work nearby.

At Charing Cross  without realising it I insert my return ticket into the automatic exit barrier instead my "out" ticket. The machine seems to  swallow the ticket without raising the barrier. I explain to an railway official and she lets me through. Only when through do I think of looking to see if  I  used the wrong ticket , which of course I had done. Back I go. "See if it's still there," says the young woman. It is lying there in all innocence spat out by the machine and I feel relieved out of all proportion  to the importance of the incident.

Twice in the last two days I am corrected in my pronunciation ( this is nothing to do with accent) of  the names of products. In the first instance without telling me that  I am wrong, a young relative twice says Riesling as though it were Reisling ( the first syllable rhyming with lies) after I have just used the accepted pronunication twice. And this afternoon, a salesman who says that he works for the company, pronounces Braun as though it rhymes with Brawn, after I pronounce it to rhyme with Brown.  I suspect that in this instance he is half right because almost certainly in English speaking countries, the German company accepts that it is unlikely that Braun would be pronounced as it is in Germany. Well I try.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

clams inspiration holly

Posted by Picasa A dish of clams at the restaurant called Brawn  in London where we meet for a family lunch.  The restaurant, on the corner of a street in Bethnal Green is full of sunlight.  We drink Sauvignon de Touraine.

A neighbour rather apologetically offers me a book in a blue cardboard box.  It is a gift from shop in the town of whom he is a customer. "It's of no use to me," he says. It is bound in leather and has a tongue which feeds in to a loop to close it. The leaves are gilt edged.  Is it a diary? Or a bible? It is just a book with plain leaves, no lines, no squares, just blank pages. I gladly accept. I find it hard to resist such things. Blank pages call out for words to make them happy.

The holly trees round here are laden with berries. Such displays ares supposed to promise a cold winter. But perhaps they just  mean that it  is a good year for holly, as one might say in June, it's a good year for roses.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

off cuts news queuing

Posted by Picasa First there were the Christmas cards. Then the trimmings, and the fine trimmings from the guillotine. Here are the fine trimmings. The trimmings are used for book marks.

Today's news is dominated by two things.
First, the reaction in Europe and the UK to the British Prime Minister's rejection of a treaty designed to bring European countries into closer union, particularly fiscal union, in order the avoid the collapse of the Euro currency.
Second, by possible sitings of the Higgs Boson, the missing particle which the Standard Model of the universe requires to explain mass in sub atomic particles. If the Higgs Boson, sometimes known at the God particle, doesn't exist, will someone have to invent it?  Research is carried out  in the Large Hadron Collider which forms a huge circle under parts of Switzerland and France, and fires particles at one another at speeds approaching the speed of light. It seeks to recreate the conditions which existed when the universe was formed by a big explosion 13.8 billion years ago.
Which item of news is more important?

In the post office unit in the newsagent at the bottom of Mount Sion a queue stretches between magazine racks and shelves of assorted goods. "I hate queueing," says the woman in front of me. But she doesn't appear to notice the magazines of which there us a vast and tantalising choice. For example: Nuts, by appearances, a lads' magazine; Model World; Auto Express; Muscle and Fitness; Golfer; Tattoo life.  I pass the  time writing down the titles. 
The woman in front of me reaches the counter and hands over her letters for weighing and stamping. Most have addresses in mainland Europe. "We're out of Europe stamps," says the woman behind the counter,  without apology, breathless and with that note of triumph, which certain people whose job it is to serve the public,  reserve, in moments of stress, for the public.

Monday, December 12, 2011

magpies Cotan Hazlitt

Posted by Picasa Two's for mirth.

Some years ago I was fortunate enough to see  at The National Gallery an exhibition of paintings by the Spanish artist, Juan Sanchez Cotan, a contemporary of Shakespeare. His canvasses are  almost all  simple accounts of vegetables and other food items. Unlike the exuberant Dutch still lives of the same period,objects in his pictures are often arranged on a shelf with a dark, blank space behind, and shows  them  lit  from the front, the viewpoint of the artist. The shelf is not quite a shelf for, examined closely, it seems to have no wall behind it and to have uprights to left and right which make a sort of frame. |One of Cotan's  paintings reproduced and analysed  in The Independent a week or so ago, shows:  a quince and  a cabbage hanging from a string above a shelf or ledge, and on the shelf; a melon, from which a slice has been taken, a slice of melon, but  not the entire segment; and a cucumber protruding over the edge of the shelf. They are lined up from left to right, one beside the the other in the order which I have described them without  an apparent  attempt at composition, but one feels a considerable amount of thought and no little reverence. I  describe the painting rather than reproduce here it because it is another way of bringing home the extraordinary presence of  the subject matter. Google will doubtless show you the painting which is called Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber.

Here is an often quoted  observation  made by the English essayist John Hazlitt.  No apology for quoting  it again: " Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; because he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

production vegetarian garters

Posted by Picasa The end of the Christmas card production line Chez Plutarch.

Vegetarians I confess scare me even when they apologise. I ask my spiced apple juice, selling friend at the Farmers' Market if he knows what had happened to the stall selling meat from rare breed animals. "I'm a vegetarian," he says "I'm afraid I wouldn't know"  Part of me admires those who refrain from eating their fellow animals. My only excuse for not being a vegetarian myself is that I admit to being a carnivorous animal. Metaphysically speaking blood drips from my fangs, as I stalk among the market stalls seeking flesh.

When I was a lad in short trousers, our school uniform required us to wear long socks which  were pulled up just below the knee.  Inevitably they would come down, as we ran and played, and ended up twisted round the ankles. (Pull your socks up was widely heard  in those days and  was more, or perhaps less, than a  metaphor).To avoid this happening garters, made of elastic, were provided.. Images of long legged gaiety girls with frilly garters holding their stockings in place round their thighs, supervened in later years, and almost entirely expunged memories of the little bands of elastic below our knees.  Until, that is, my socks begin, the other day, to be sucked down into my otherwise comfortable fleece lined winter boots. Long socks still fall down. Only elastic bands - garter substitutes  - save the day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

silver station barefoot

Posted by PicasaSunlit webs. (Click for whole picture).

Do you believe that profitability is not the only criterion for the running of public utilities? And that certain public utilities like the railways should be kept  well clear of private ownership and the profit motive which drives it?  If so read the chapter called Railroads: a Case Study, in Tony Judt's polemic in favour of social democracy called Ill Fares the land. (Penguin).  It is made all the more haunting by the quotation from Marcel Proust at the beginning:  "Railways stations do not constitute, so to speak a part  of the surrounding town, but contain the essence of its personality just as upon their signboards they bear its painted name."

A tall girl wearing black leggings strides up the somewhat uneven, brick pavement of Mount Sion. Despite the cold morning, she has no shoes on her feet. Instead they are in her left hand. They are black and their long, narrow heels explain the anomaly of their position.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

harnessed irenic stop

Posted by Picasa Two ponies and their traps ready to go, unlikely visitors to the convenience store in Gosevenor Road a few days ago.

Irenic is the word I want to remember today.  It means peaceful and suggests reconciliation in argument, the opposite to polemic.

The little water colours which I have started as a project have no purpose other than to show form and colour which attract, please and in the long term, interest the eye. Sometimes they are abstract and sometime representational.  Simplicity is hard to a achieve. Knowing when to stop, and when to continue, as in other activities, is the secret of success. The beauty of water colour as a medium is that it cannot forgive transgression of this rule.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

floor meeting unfound

Posted by Picasa"Get a shot of the floor," says L d P, drawing my attention to the worn linoleum at The Blogger's Retreat, a little feted but still potent attraction of the place. This is some time ago when he is still Barrett Bonden (How difficult the present tense becomes, when blogs fall and new ones spring forth). I oblige, not  realising how much the peeling surface fitted in with my attraction to layered and peeling render.

Every morning recently Mrs Plutarch draws my attention to a chimney stack down the road crowded with pigeons. For some reason they like to gather there as the day brightens.Why, we don't know. Perhaps because at the base of one of those chimney someone is stoking a good fire. After a while the pigeons give the impression of looking at their wrist watches and saying in chorus: " Goodness me, look at the time. Must be off to work."

Walt Whitman is quoted in the leader of the December National Geographic:
"But where is what I started for so long ago?
And why is it yet unfound?"
Sometimes questions are more satisfying than answers.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

leaves found melting

Posted by PicasaHanging on until the last.

A Parker ball pen of which I was fond disappeared a few weeks ago. I kept it in my pocket and used it to make notes when I saw anything of interest while walking about.  I assumed I must have dropped it after scribbling in my notebook,  until today when I felt something in the lining of my jacket. Something believed lost and then found is something gained.

Mid-morning, I am standing in The Grove where I have stopped for a minute to listen. All the sounds of the town meld into a  murmur, interspersed with more immediate sounds closer too, an accelerating engine or a voice. It is quiet but very far from silent.

Monday, December 05, 2011

crow rubbish cheese

Posted by PicasaCrow on finial.

At the market in The Pantiles a stall displays animals put together from old cans and other rubbish and presented as sculptures. "Recycled rubbish," says a notice.  It reminds me of a time a year of so ago when I took a series of photographs of discarded cans and cigarette and sweet packets in the gutter and on the side of the road, and presented them as discrete and shining images. Born again.  I am glad that someone else has had a similar idea.

A market stall displays freshly opened cheeses. I remark to the stall holder on the smell which sharpens the appetite. "I can't smell them", he says; "I'm  too used to it."

Sunday, December 04, 2011

evening rose-buds Newfoundlands

Posted by Picasa This evening in The Grove.

Chinese tea, perfumed and decorated with rosebuds, was a Christmas present last year. Today I realise that I have neglected to drink it. The donor will be with us in a couple of weeks time, and will doubtless inspect the tin. Every day now it is rose buds mid-morning. And it is no hardship in case you get hold of the wrong end of the stick. The tea is wonderfully fragrant. And lovely to behold. Dried rose buds reside among the leaves and come back to life when hot water is added, like Japanese paper flowers.

Two Newfoundlands live on the periphery of The Grove. They are called Seal and Sophie. They are not related but are good friends. Sophie's man stops to talk. "She has just had a bath" he says. "It takes three hours.  It has to be entrusted to a specialist. We can only have it done three  times a year, because otherwise  it would dry up the natural oils in her coat." 

Saturday, December 03, 2011

escape model sheep

Posted by Picasa Whenever I go to the Bloggers' Retreat I like to take a peek out of the window at the end of one arm of the L-shaped restaurant. The view looking south across the river largely consists of this fire escape and the half landings on which are accumulated mops and buckets, old chairs and other detritus. I can never refrain from photographing it, if only  because it is a reminder of how the rear of buildings differ from the front. In one you see something approaching the truth and in the other what others would like you to believe is the  truth.

In the bay window of one of  the pair of bow-fronted 18th Century houses at the bottom of Mount Sion there has, for as long as I can remember - about 25 years -, been a model sailing ship peeping out from behind  partially drawn, dusty curtains. Today I notice that the window is empty and there is a "for sale" notice outside the house.

People who live in the same area all their lives are to be envied for their peace of mind and calm. At lunch time today  at The Compasses, Bill recalls  an old man in the Yorkshire Dales. He was nearly 80, he says, and he remembers him saying how "with a little old widow, he ran a few sheep nearby". Apart from a stint in World War 1 he had never left The Dales. He had not even been to the local towns of Leeds or Skipton.
Until a few years ago there were people  living here, in the so called "village area" of Tunbridge Wells, who had never strayed further than the High Street, let alone visited London.

Friday, December 02, 2011

company why good morning

Posted by PicasaMr Crow with pigeons.

Why  do I blog?  I am asked.   Because...
  • .  I like to look around me and to share what I see, hear or smell  what may be of interest to others. Or may amuse them at least.
  •   Describing such encounters is rewarding. Words are always a pleasure to use as well as to read and hear.
  •  I like to record what is about me. The place where I live becomes more interesting the closer I look at it. That must be the same for most places.And apply to most other  people wherever they happen to live. The principle of looking closer is easily extendible to taking photographs of what is discovered and to using the macro lens as well as zooming out. Invariably it is to compose a picture which includes only what is necessary and excludes nothing that might be unnecessary.
  •  I like, this blog in focus,  to go to sleep thinking about what I have encountered during the past day and wake up wondering what I will find in the coming day..
  • There are certain things that greet me first thing in the morning like old friends eg a pigeon on the parapet of the roof of the house opposite, the tulip tree through which at this time of year the sun climbs like a silver monkey. They would not be the same without the presence of a blog through which they may be shared.
  • Of the choice of ways to turn when walking out of our front gate both of which offer Now's the Time  their distinctive pleasures and promises. 
  • Of The Grove, a small park on our doorstep where there are trees, birds, people, dogs and squirrels to watch and comment on.
  • There is, in a blog like this, always the opportunity for a gnomic pronouncement. Brevity is for me one of the great virtues. I like the aphorism, the one liner, the pithy summary. My concentration span is probably  too short for anything more. 
  • Of other blogs. I owe the word "gnomic" which I have only just learnt to use to a fellow blogger, who has recently transmigrated into the personage of Lorenzo da Ponte. His blog Tone Deaf and its predecessor Works Well are instances at once of the charms and the perils of blogging. A world which is all charm and peril free is barely worth living in. So long live blogging.
  • It is an exercise for the mind as well as for the senses. There is much to be missed if you don't look and listen and even more if you don't think about what you have heard and seen. And without the exercise there is the risk that the mind and the senses will go to sleep and snore.
  • I have got into the habit of it. I have blogged almost daily for nearly six years. Without it something important would be missing from my life, like being without  tea or The Archers.
  • It brings news friends and keeps in touch with old ones. To both I sometimes think that I am sending postcards daily from where I happen to be which is usually the same place.
  • In occupying the mind, it is a therapy against the awful noise of crisis and war, cruelty and lies, wickedness and stupidity, that streams out of the TV and newspapers, and which it is hard to escape unless you cover your ears with your hands and scream, or accept it with the detachment which comes from enlightenment or from indifference.
  • ....because, to quote Kathleen Raine, my favourite poet at the moment, Because I love, all night long the river flows/into my sleep, Ten thousand living things are sleeping in my arms/ and sleeping wake and flowing are at rest."
This morning there is a mist rising which is silver tinted with gold. Good morning. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

London fish balance

London skyline from Waterloo Bridge. (Click for whole picture)

Three young women are walking with push chairs side by side in The Grove.  As I pass I hear one say: "Families are like fish: they go off after a few days."

Walking towards me up Grosvenor Road is a young man in a leather jacket. Round his neck is a baby sling with a very small baby pressed against his chest. In one hand is a take-away coffee and in the other is a sandwich. He is walking slowly and very carefully.