Wednesday 31 March 2010

Almost back to normal.

(Whatever that is)

Here, although there are plenty of signs of Spring in the garden (at the last count primula wanda, Jacksnipe daffodils, anemone blanda, aconites, snowdrops, tulips, pulmonaria and lenten roses andwinter jasmine), yesterday was a November in March day with thick fog which was very slow to clear and today is a December in March day with a cold North wind blowing straight down from the Arctic and a chilly sleet falling - commiserations for anyone from Scotland reading this, for I believe you have quite a lot of fresh snow.
I hope to be completely back to normal next week. The Physio has signed me off but told me not to lift anything at all and to do plenty of exercises and the plumber, as a Iwrite, is fitting the shower screen in the new bathroom.
This afternoon ten friends are coming as it is our Poetry afternoon. I have just been choosing what to read and decided, although the weather is awful, to have a Spring theme. Locksley Hall - just the first few verses, as far as the famous line about a young man's fancy lightly turning to thoughts of love (or as we always say - to things he has been thinking about all winter). A John Clare poem about Spring, a section of the Shropshire Lad and finally, my favourite April poem - Browning's Home Thoughts from Abroad. Wish you could join us, I can't tell you how relaxing it is to read out and to listen to poetry all afternoon.
We had a ride out over our local moor at the weekend and I forgot to take my camera - I did wish I had had it with me as they were burning huge stretches of heather on the grouse moors. It was hard to see where we were going but the smell was divine. They burn a section each year to help the heather to rejuvenate - grouse feed mainly on heather. Have you every eaten grouse? I can't bring myself to try it (that applies to pheasant too, one of which is standing outside my window this very moment) but I am told it tastes strongly of heather. I don't mind my honey tasting of heather but I don't fancy a heather-taste with gravy and game chips!
Have a nice day - it is good to be on the mend.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Jump on the poetry bus!

Choose a word and write a poem around it - that is the instruction this week. I chose the word Scrimshank - a nineteenth century military word to mean a backslider, an avoider of work.


Dust lies thick
where the sunlight falls;
it also falls on the apple blossom
on the old tree by the window.
Go out,
touch the blossom,
smell the Spring,
watch the bees
(those models of work and efficiency)
leave the dust on the shelf.

Weeds grow fast
in the garden.
fat hen,
groundsel and
Bend to weed,
touch the yellow flowers,
hundreds of
miniature suns -
what right have I to destroy?

Will someone clean the windows?
Sunshine shows up
See that gossamer web in the corner?
See that busy spider plying his trade?
Leave the spider where she is -
she will not notice the smears.

Out of milk,
out of bread,
out of butter!
The road to the shop has
stupendous views of
The Vale of York -
hazy sun, slight mist,
trees etched in charcoal.
Sit awhile and
drink in the view.

I'll do the work tomorrow,
or the next day,
or the next....zzzzz.....zzzzz.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Close encounter with the wild things.

One morning this week, as I was coming downstairs I happened to glance out of our landing window and there it was, not moe than a yard from the glass, perched on top of a Berberis bush in the front garden - a Merlin. He saw me at the same instant that I saw him and we were both transfixed.
This is not really Merlin territory - they are birds of prey who revel in the high hills and moors; but this is not the first time I have encountered one here. Two or three years ago a young merlin flew into one of our windows and broke a wing. We rescued him and took him to a vet but he was too badly injured to survive and the vet put him down. So I can only assume that we must be on the flight path between their Summer and Winter habitats. But whatever the reason for his visit, when our eyes met I don't think I have ever seen a more wild look in his. He gave me a couple of moments of pure joy before he took off - and that taking off told me that he was indeed a merlin and not a female sparrowhawk, for he soared up into the air - up, up and away - none of that low, threatening sparrow hawk flight about him.
Spring moves on apace here. Today the Lenten roses are out (Heleborus Orientalis), so are the Primula Wanda, the Pulmonaria (soldiers and sailors) and the first of the little Spring tulips. The tulips were given to us some years ago by our Dutch friends (if you are reading this F and R, I can tell you that all your bulbs are thriving still). Little do they know that the weather forecasters tell us that the wind is coming from the North tomorrow and there may even be flurries of snow.
Lovely to be back in harness. I am visiting one or two of you each day - and so enjoying what I am reading. Have a good weekend and don't miss tomorrow's bus.

Friday 26 March 2010

The first field walk.

My first walk in the fields today, in Spring sunshine. How things have changed in the month when my back has confined me to lane walks. On the beck the marsh marigolds are coming into bloom and along the bank, here and there, lesser celandine open to the sunshine.
In the hedges the catkins are shaking their pollen - in places it lies thick on the ground. The rabbits that have survived our bitter winter are now fat and healthy and - judging by the way the dogs have their noses down rabbit holes - there are baby rabbits down there.
In the garden the snowdrops are now a faded white and in their place are drifts of crocus - my favourite are the purple and white striped ones and the shiny purple ones, both of which always remind me of old fashioned humbug boiled sweets. Do you remember them?
On our walk we set up a pair of mallard on the beck. In the hedges, where Tess likes to squeeze under, blackbirds pepper the stretch, one every thirty yards or so - many with beakfuls of moss and grass - nest building is in serious progress.
Yes, I think Spring has arrived. And with it, an improvement in my back. This is only a short blog as I don;t want to sit too long at the computer. But thank you so much to all of you who have sent me your good wishes and given me suggestions for improving my condition. I really do appreciate it.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Waiting at the bus stop!

Still struggling back-wise - so am posting a day early for the Poetry Bus - added to which the plumber is coming in the morning to fit us a new bathroom - so it is all stations go here - back or no back!
As for the poem on "rage" - well, as you will see, I find it hard to get really angry about anything these days:-

Rage through the age.

At thirty I raged
about the bomb;
Hiroshima still raw -
Coventry, Dresden -
horror of warl
I held my protest banner high
and dared to be counted.

At forty, immersed in
Eng. Lit, I raged
at censorship. How dare
"they" limit what I read
or saw?
I marched with fervour for a
change in the law.

At fifty - in Florence -
we saw
a march of workers waving
communist banners and
red flags;
we joined in - for the thrill -
round and round the Duomo-
but the fire had gone, and anyway
we couldn't read their banners!

Is it just me, or does
advancing age
water down the rage?

Now I think
was there any point where
my protest changed anything?
Now I let everything
vanish in thin air;
no more rage
just despair.

Sunday 14 March 2010

The Poetry Bus moves on a Monday morning.

I am overwhelmed by the twenty one "Get well soon" messages you have sent me today - have just had to have a little cry - I feel so privileged to have you all as friends. Yes - it is on the mend but the poetry bus will probably be my only entry this week. TFE gave us all the first two lines - so here is my interpretation (tongue in cheek - what else could you possibly do with such a first two lines!)

He was wearing Georgio Armani,
I was drinking a pink gin:
we were opposite ends of the cocktail bar
as the glitterati came in.

I saw him glance at his Rolex watch
as the crowd milled round the bar.
He didn't seem to notice them -
he had his eye on the door.

She came through the door at a gentle pace,
walking hesitantly with a stick,
she positively dripped with diamonds
and her make-up was laid on thick.

He stood up as she approached him -
he gave her a cool embrace.
She took his arm when he offered it
and they both walked out of the place.

I finished my gin and paid my bill
and I followed them out of the door;
but once outside there was no sign
that they had been there before.

So I got my coat and I hailed a cab
and I thought as we drove back home -
Was he a gigolo meeting his old lover,
or was the old lady just his mother?

Thank you.

A quick blog to all my blog friends to say how much I have appreciated your messages while I have been laid up with back problems. There is an improvement - at least I can get out of bed in under half an hour now, which is pleasing! The only blogging I am doing is TFE's Monday Poetry Bus - other than that I am avoiding touching the keyboard. But I really do appreciate the way you have all sent me good wishes, remedies and little snippets to cheer me up. You are friends indeed.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Catching the Poetry Bus.

Still troubled by severe back problems, I am not writing my blog at the moment. But I have to put on something for the poetry bus - I can't possibly miss that. So here I am, waiting at the Bus Stop, poem in hand, all ready for Monday morning. A poem about Trains, he said. Well this one is about trains which don't come - but it is an incident which did happen to me five years ago - and one which I often think about and wonder what happened next.

Birmingham New Street.

In ones and twos
they stand among their
tawdry luggage, waiting
for an hour-late train.

From a cold, wet
November funeral, I
join them, bringing the raw wind
with me.

The wind shuffles the day's detritus
along the platform and piles it up in
dirty corners.

Announcements rattle between the
tiled pillars. No-one listens and
nothing moves but the second hand
on the station clock.

A woman standing by my side
tells me she is sixty-three
and going North to meet her lover.
"I have never felt like this before,"
she says.

Monday 1 March 2010

Plus ca change........ c'est la meme chose! Yes - the more things change the more they are the same.

I have always had difficulty with that saying; not easy to understand I thought. But this morning it came to mind when a New Look Times arrived. (for New Look read go up 10p a day!)
Why is it that people need to change things when they are going well. Schools and education also spring to mind - you just get a system going well and whatever Government is in power will bring in a new system, or what they call a "new" teaching method (those of us who have been teaching for many years have usually seen it all before). What, of course, doesn't change is the students being educated - and the teachers educating them. They stay the same and have to adapt, often at the cost of some part of the overall care of the students. When I listen to friends who are still teaching and the amount of paperwork they have to get through, I am jolly pleased I have retired.
But, back to the Times. It is, from today, an All-in-One paper. I am quite pleased about this as frequently the second part is missing and I have to return to the shop and ask for it. This will no longer happen. But I know for certain that come tomorrow morning there will be letters of protest in the Times - and a corresponding number praising the new format (they must be seen to be impartial and show both sides of the argument...ha...ha)
When they went tabloid the readership went into overdrive. Now all the fuss has died down things are just as they were before. Irate crossword doers wrote in to say that when the cryptic crossword was on the back page they could fold the paper horizontally to do the crossword. Now it is on the inside back cover and the paper has to be folded vertically, which is not so easy!
I shall not be writing in. Inside it is just the same as it always was - the same editorials, the same attitudes, in other words I suppose a perfect example of plus ca change wouldn't you think?
Do you like change or would you prefer things to go on in the same old, sweet way?

Thank you so much for all the commiserations about my back pain. I have printed off all the replies so that I can sort through suggested treatments and remedies. You always come up trumps you lovely people. One thing is for sure - I am not alone in suffering back pain and that in itself is a great comfort. As for the heavy cold = it is only a light cold today and I am sure that by tomorrow it will have gone. But I really do appreciate your concern - thank you so much.