Precipitate Companionship

As it has been raining a lot here recently, it brings to mind one of those thoughts that is made for just such days.  The creative flows when the rainwater does…

Precipitate Companionship

The ‘pock’ sounds on the fabric of the umbrella,
jarringly unlike the gentle susurrus of those
which thud on the ground.
Surroundings tingle all the senses,
the rising scents
the tangy taste on the air
the cleansed colours.

The walk is a glorious thing
especially shared with the closeness of a companion,
shoulders sometimes touching,
Perhaps an entwining
of hands on handle
A sense of total togetherness, intimate,
through delicate and momentary caresses.

The way that makes one feel
in no particular rush to be anywhere
time slackened
just existing
under the brolly,
a closed world,
Shared solely between two.

 

 

*Picture found for free at wallpaperbetter.com

Woken Up

I recently had a moan about all the meaningless (and prolific) ‘inspirational’ posts that clog my Facebook feed, when all I want to do is have a quick and peaceful nosy into what people are doing in their lives.  I’m sure some find such slogans helpful and positive but stop to give even a brief thought to the actual content and it quickly becomes irritating.

After posting a somewhat, ‘grumpy’ status about the situation, (and having no one really react which, perhaps, tells its own story) I came across another nettlesome post on Instagram, that was originally a Tweet.  I’m assuming some of you came across this statement over the last week or so,

You’re not well read if all you read is white authors. 

It didn’t take long to analyse the flaw in that statement.  Whilst it is probably (hopefully) a well-meaning encouragement to people to read widely, the stench of identity politics is overwhelming. Substitute the word white for fantasy, people of colour (or your group of choice), gay, women, or men, and the point could still be taken.

White is the word that will get the most traction in terms of comments though and is most likely the reason behind the wording which will guarantee the fifteen minutes of internet viral fame so craved.  On reflection it strikes me as lazy, picking an easy target. Like Trump or George W. Bush jokes back in the day, for example, it lacks finesse and plays only to the easily pleased crowd. Continue reading “Woken Up”

The Library Book

Whether brand new or steeped in history, real or imagined, libraries feature in everyone’s lives.  In memoirs, essays and stories that are funny, moving, visionary or insightful, twenty-three famous writers celebrate these places where minds open and the world expands.

Public libraries are lifelines, to practical information as well as to the imagination, but funding is under threat all over the country.  This book is published in support of libraries, with all royalties going to The Reading Agency’s library programmes.

Fetishes, a (natural) death, streakers, and the occasional ram raid by an old lady on a mobility scooter, libraries can sometimes be dramatic places to work, although in the main, peaceful citadels of book worship.  The Library Book, is a celebration of our best free institution, long may it continue.

As books of this nature usually are, this tome ends up being a mixed bag, my favourite essays were the personal reminiscences of libraries from writers such as, Susan Hill, Stephen Fry, Hardeep Singh Kohli, and Val McDermid, to name a few. Even so, many of these memories take on a similar vein and as such are probably best enjoyed over a lengthier time than the two days in which I flew through this book.

The insights featured are mainly focused on British libraries, which makes it as much of a nostalgia trip, as it is a quirky insight into our national character. There are plenty of interesting facts on offer too, for example, during World War Two, a disused tube station in Bethnal Green was turned into a library during the blitz so people could distract themselves with a good book.  Perhaps surprisingly the readers were most interested in Plato’s Republic, Burton’s the Anatomy of Melancholy, as well as Schopenhauer, Bunyan, and Bertrand Russell. Continue reading “The Library Book”

House About That!

At last we have the internet connected!

Having moved house this time last week (not the one above, which is our holiday home, Hardwick Hall), its been a torrid time with the usual accompanying stress and chaos.

The most important thing to do has been to order the books, this was achieved by placing them in a haphazard arrangement, as I rather enjoy browsing through the collection these days, rather than going straight to where I know a particular title will be.

Next up has been to explore the local library, which is adequate, and to sample the closest Chinese takeaway. They made a decent effort but it wasn’t overly impressive, except for the reusable containers. Continue reading “House About That!”

New Editions

To keep in theme with the blog, a book pun is always welcome start.  After going into hospital on a Tuesday, we got to see our Amelia Cyrene three days later when she finally arrived via C-section on a Friday at 4.22am and weighing 7 lb 14 oz, in old money.   It was a long ordeal but we got there in the end and have been well supported by friends family and all the workers, midwives and phalanx of other helpers from the NHS.

Before we went to the hospital we just has to time to find out which of those two Michelin star chefs had made the most accurate Kit Kat on that TV show, and then it all went a bit mad.  There was inducing, sleeping through contractions, a Tikka Masala, random bleeping alarms, and finally with baby refusing to come out, some surgery, just to make sure that our stay in hospital didn’t get too uneventful.

Having been surprised with the speed with which baby was extracted, I had the ordeal of walking around Crissy’s still being operated on body to get my hands on little Amelia.  I admired the painted walls intensely so I wouldn’t see anything to make me pass out. I had in mind a vision of the surgeon with Crissy’s intestines slung over his shoulder as he worked to pop everything back in.  In my peripheral vision I did see the surgical team hurriedly moving things like instrument tables out of my way as I keep my eyes firmly on the lovely white paint and blundered about.

Its been a hectic week.  We are still extremely dishevelled (the photo below is pretty much how we look now, minus Crissy’s sexy hospital gown) but elated to be well into day six, with our hungry, bundle of joy.  Amelia has already been enjoying the cool breezes and the sun, as well as discussing when she is allowed a boyfriend and in which order she will be accomplishing her career goals, which are: model, astronaut, ninja, spy, and pilot.

Nightscapism

Stood at the bus stop one Monday evening at 7:05pm, the traffic rushing by, and the fine spray of rain hitting my face, misting my glasses, I realised how much I had missed this weather. After the relentless sun in Asia, it was lovely to feel the cold wind blowing through my bones, and seeing a leaf lazily drop to the wet pavement, reminding me of the pending closure of another chapter of life, a handy metaphor, in many ways.

On the bus with a work colleague, small talk done,  she, lost in music, earphones blocking out the natural roar of the bus. And I gaze through the window and my own reflection, and take in belit pubs, the chairs and tables outside abandoned after the brief use of summer.  Melancholy car parks, empty save for a lonely vehicle, flash by, yet remain imprinted on the memory. I wonder what the owner is doing at that moment.

And then the pitch black as we leave the city behind.  Careening along at what feels like a dangerous pace in the rain, even the well worn bus route seems strange and mysterious.  Glimpses of trees and houses captured for a second in the lone street lights before the darkness consumes everything back into itself. We speed along yet never progress further than I expect us to be.

My mind wanders back to the time I spent working in a cinema,  on occasion I would get the job where I would be alone, but able to gaze out past the gaudy neon lights of the ‘Funstation’ that shimmer on the portals of glass, my one link to the outside world.  The falseness of human endeavour at odds with nature.

Branches slap the front window of the double decker as we pull up to a cheap looking bus shelter, drawing me out of my revelry.  As I ready myself to brave the full blown rain storm that now rages outside, I just have time to reflect on the onset of another season, and the underrated  bus travel  – which I for the most part enjoy – which helps me fully appreciate life.  Sometimes its good to close the book and just gaze outwards, and inwards.

 

*Image found on Pixabay

UK RED

Whilst helping students get sorted for their studies, I had the good fortune to stumble upon a great resource called UK RED, that will interest anybody who has a curiosity in reading, it’s history and the myriad contexts that make up the rich fabric of our cultural experience.

From the about page:

UK RED is an open-access database housed at The Open University containing over 30,000 easily searchable records documenting the history of reading in Britain from 1450 to 1945. Evidence of reading presented in UK RED is drawn from published and unpublished sources as diverse as diaries, commonplace books, memoirs, sociological surveys, and criminal court and prison records.

UK Red captures the literary experience as told by everyday readers.  The search options are comprehensive, covering century, socio-economic group, whether the source is from a reader, listener, or reading group.  It even goes so far as to check through translations, publishers, etc.  The choices allow the reader to go deep into history for study, or just for curiosity.  The room for context of a particular book to a specific group of people at a specific time (and also the changing opinions of society over time) can be fascinating.

Poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon spoke of her experiences reading Robinson Crusoe: Continue reading “UK RED”