I visited Ernest Hemingway’s house on Key West last year and bought a fridge magnet as a souvenir. It didn’t make the fridge but has instead attached itself to the shelf bracket next to my writing desk. I have reblogged this post from artist and writer Luke Otley because he has done such a great job with the likeness. The quote on the fridge magnet reads “Good writing is true writing…” The same can be applied to portraiture. If you agree why not pop over and give Luke’s drawing a like. Here’s my fridge magnet and Luke’s Daily Sketch.
And by complete coincidence a friend posted a link to this beautiful paint-on-glass animated version of The Old Man and the Sea on Facebook today. It was made in 1999 by Russian animator Aleksandr Petrov. All these coincidences are making me feel like I am in some sort of weird inspiration loop.
Lying here under a warm sun
Everything seems so far away
Pink Floyd are playing with my ears
“a cloud of eiderdown draws around me softening the sound”
I like to write dreamy word poems
Imagine them painted on your mind
Know that they touched you in a certain way
That maybe only my words could set you free
“and I rise like a bird in the haze and the first rays touch the sky”
But it seems the moments may just have been illusory
The dolphin’s dive just a memory
A silenced splash in a forgotten sea
“Behold a dream, the dream is gone”
The cicadas fill the night with their incessant cries
Each one sounds so lonely and lost
As the full moon slips over the hill one last time
“and the candle dies”
(italicised lyrics taken from the song ‘A Pillow of Winds’ by Pink Floyd
from the 1971 album Meddle)
with his ivory foot resting
on a polished rock
the great wave off Kanagawa
breaks over his toes
one knee bent
a look of serene intention
with roped neck
and fish filled bill
sits in the crook of his arm
wings etched in black
he cannot swallow
his master’s livelihood
not now, not yet
not the big ones
but where is his boat?
his lantern, glass river?
gracefully bent forward
right hand clasping the rope
that leashes the bird
to his will
a playful smile
accentuates his cheeks
we can almost see
his beard twitch
the wave crash
the night closing in
the burning lantern
there to attract fish
cast rippling reflections
as it dives beneath
and all within
the mock Tudor walls
of this suburban bungalow
the cormorant fisherman
has found a home
and stands alone
a lost tourist amongst
the royal wedding tea set
and Sylvac shire horses
in a mahogany alcove
Nan’s nik-nak shrine
where us children looked
but never touched
his imagined past
(Antique Japanese carved ivory
okimono cormorant fisherman
the father that is
the father that was
that came before
the future to come
that fashions the son
Like fathers before
(it’s Father’s Day here in the UK. I was searching relevant poems on the internet but finding only soppy greetings card ditties and tragic he’s-dead-and-I-always-hated-him dirges. It got me thinking about the future of the son once the purpose of the father has been fulfilled – rather like obsolete technology. Oh dear, that doesn’t sound so good put like that! Anyways, my own little ditty came out as above.
There always seems a touch of pat-him-on-the-back generosity from teenage boys on Father’s Day. Here, put your feet up Dad, do what you like; read the Sunday paper and have a rest because you deserve it. Gosh, how I feel tired and old and somewhat redundant. As they say, what goes around comes around but hey, don’t write me off just yet young laddie!
Of course, I cooked our meal tonight, I usually do, it’s my job. Reheated samosas from the food fair we visited yesterday, salad and couscous. And a bottle of wine. Like birthdays, I don’t really celebrate these yearly markers but deep down I smile that at least I have made it to another one. Now where’s my slippers?)
Layered hills one beyond another beyond
The rising sun from smokey green to
Pellucid pink wands of paper folded clouds
Hung above a waterfall, framed by pine
“Where nothing in the cry of cicadas
Suggests they are about to die”.
I hear the chime of the meditation bell,
The sweep of rush brushes on gravel lawns
And sliding, the screen wall opens, reveals
Mountains too high to climb in one lifetime;
Ink splashed, an empty space silenced,
Unanswerable, mysterious, islands, islands.
She clips the wings of the bonsai tree,
Feeds red crowned cranes from her palm,
Gifts cherry blossom kisses to the wind.
Gone in a week, flown away to the north
On a gold foil sunset, venerated, veiled;
We link our arms around the cedar tree
But the wave engulfs us, octopi fingerlings
Fan out with great speed in straight lines,
Bullet fast in perfection, twisting the aesthetic,
The seas, skies and conscious far horizons,
Entering the shrine, contemplating nature,
We are animated and energised by the land.
She takes hold of my hand, flickering
Spirits reshape on a forest path winding
Upwards, summiting the vast view of blue
Bewildered hills, layered one beyond
Another beyond her eyelids and fingertips,
Blinking into a future migrating heartbeat.
(Quote by Matsuo Bashō, 1644 – 1694 Japan.
‘Haboku-Sansui’ ink on paper by Sesshū Tōyō,
or more precisely, almost finishing – just a few more pages to go. Some negative reviews almost persuaded me against taking up this book after it arrived in the shops in paperback form but a visit to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Llanelli was too good an opportunity to turn down. I steered my mother towards the gift shop and to the one orange-spined copy left on the bookshelves. Well, it was my birthday and mothers like to buy gifts for their sons. For a few weeks it sat next to my bed whilst I finished whatever it was I was reading – you will have to search back to my previous Currently Reading post to find out. During that time those negative reviews kept finding their way into my inbox. And so, with some trepidation, I finally opened the very appealing bright orange cover and started on the first chapter, ‘The Collector – July 1966′ and all those harsh critics’ words immediately began to ring alarm bells.
Chris Packham is a remarkable man; a naturalist and television presenter with an encyclopaedia brain who has lived and breathed and been a strong advocate for the natural world since his early boyhood. His extraordinary creativity, work ethic and attention to detail has led to a successful career encompassing photography, film-making, writing, conservation and campaigning. Personally I am hugely grateful for the breadth of subject matter he has undoubtedly brought to the BBC ‘Watches’ – Springwatch having just finished its current three week run last night. We now have the most informative and relevant natural history programme on UK television which increasingly is unafraid to tackle some of the man-made issues that our wildlife currently faces.
But back to the book and those less than complimentary reviews. The problem is in the structure, the wordiness of paragraphs and endlessness of some of the sentences; tenses chop and change from chapter to chapter and we are hurled from first to third person from year to year and back again. It can all feel a little jarring, dizzying, confused – until you stop fighting the prose and slip into Chris’s mind and only then does the beauty of this book really shine through. There are so many moments of pure joy and innocence, like the first time he flies his kestrel, but for all of these there are as many times of heartache, rejection and loss. His whole world is turned into confusion when that same beloved kestrel dies. Perhaps the most revealing passages are the italicised therapy sessions from the summer of 2003, a brave opening up to the demons and insecurities that he has dealt with all his life.
Finding a ‘voice’ when reading a book is often integral to the enjoyment. With a novel one usually creates one’s own character voices as the author’s is generally unknown and unimportant to the story. But with a memoir the author’s voice is a bonus. Anyone who knows Chris from his TV work will be very familiar with his voice, mannerisms and humour. You might not ‘get’ his jokes or be a big fan of his presenting style or musical preferences but he has an individuality which sets him apart from many of his contemporaries and with this book he has offered a unique glimpse into his private world Find the rhythm and pace and you find the man. Find the man and you find something special.
So thanks to Mum for gifting me this gem of a book and to Chris Packham for his relentless thirst for knowledge, through scientific study and sheer dedication to his love for the natural world. If anyone can fill Sir David Attenborough’s shoes then it must surely be this man.
Hi there, we’re sorry for the inconvenience
But like, we’re trying to CHANGE the world
You know, only the people can FIGHT injustice
We NEED system change not climate change
We are the 99% – TOO BIG TO FAIL
The corrupt FEAR us
The honest SUPPORT us
The heroic JOIN us
For ALL our grievances ARE connected
And you have the right NOT to remain SILENT
BLOG / TWEET / POST / SHARE / SHOUT
TURN OFF your TV and PAY ATTENTION
DEFEND human needs over corporate GREED
We are YOU
We are THE PEOPLE
We OCCUPY your HEART
We are the TOTAL PARADIGM SHIFT Generation
With the power of LOVE over the power of MONEY
The 99% that won’t go away
For these streets are OUR streets
And WE are NOT disposable
(original photo c/o Getty Images / Independent)
A big thank you hug to each and every one of you.
Help me get to One Hundred Fabulous Followers and I promise another bigger hug.
The lungs of London were punctured today,
A metropolis struggling now for breath, gasping
As the acrid smell of sad news fills its airways
To cast its black spectre of smoke under doors,
Through multicultural neighbourhoods, stunned
Communities reaching out with bottled water,
Blankets, toys, prayers and shocked disbelief.
The muffled alarm bells have been silenced.
Questions lay unanswered in the pools of grief
Flooding empty halls and children’s bedrooms.
Playgrounds emptied, laughter all but cancelled
For the foreseeable future, in respect of the dead.
I can only turn and stare at the clear blue day
A clear blue day that for some would never arrive.
Here the air feels good in my lungs, gratefully
Accepted, far enough away, not having drifted
This far, not on the sombre airwaves connecting
And redistributing their grim suffering from afar.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe some more.
My lungs are unaffected, my soul much less so.
A cloud passes overhead and cries a single tear.
we lit the taper to light the fuse
igniting passion that would suffuse
the kiss we blew fanned the flames
of love’s desire that spoke our names
and when the fire was burning bright
we came together with much delight
but shooting stars that come and go
will taper out and lose their glow
so when you light the flames of love
remember what you’ve seen above