21 October 2020
20 October 2020
by Louise Glück
The part of life
devoted to contemplation
was at odds with the part
committed to action.
Fall was approaching.
But I remember
it was always approaching
once school ended.
Life, my sister said,
is like a torch passed now
from the body to the mind.
Sadly, she went on, the mind is not
there to receive it.
The sun was setting.
Ah, the torch, she said.
It has gone out, I believe.
Our best hope is that it’s flickering,
fort/da, fort/da, like little Ernst
throwing his toy over the side of his crib
and then pulling it back. It’s too bad,
she said, there are no children here.
We could learn from them, as Freud did.
We would sometimes sit
on benches outside the dining room.
The smell of leaves burning.
Old people and fire, she said.
Not a good thing. They burn their houses down.
How heavy my mind is,
filled with the past.
Is there enough room
for the world to penetrate?
It must go somewhere,
it cannot simply sit on the surface—
Stars gleaming over the water.
The leaves piled, waiting to be lit.
Insight, my sister said.
Now it is here.
But hard to see in the darkness.
You must find your footing
before you put your weight on it.
19 October 2020
Rules connected with "high" zones are manifold. Some of those rules are clearcut but others are vague and open to interpretation. What I do know is that we are not meant to visit other people's homes. We must stay in our household bubbles. This means that Shirley and I cannot visit our lovely daughter and her equally lovely husband and they cannot come here. Who knows for how long? Perhaps a month, maybe longer. Ideally, pregnant women enjoy family support as the birth day approaches.
Over in Wales, their devolved government have decided to enforce a two week shutdown. I just heard the First Minister of Wales on the radio. He declared that people - with few exceptions - must stay in their own homes and only venture out to buy food or to visit a medical facility. As an aside I should say that the infection rate in South Yorkshire is significantly higher than in Wales. Maybe we are heading for a similar "fire break" period.
It's a bit glum outside. Not raining but overcast. I went to the big Sainsburys at Millhouses earlier on to buy some supplies - including "Red Label" tea bags and my first ever jar of "Marmite" flavoured peanut butter. As Frances is a fan of both, I bought her a jar too. Well, you have to have something to look forward to when you are in the "High" tier. I wish that being in the "High" tier meant that that we received free bags of marijuana from our beloved government so that we could get "High" and forget about The Plague till tomorrow.
18 October 2020
It seems that Monsieur Paty had very legitimately devoted some teaching time to considering cartoon depictions of Mohammad and Allah. They were creatively slid into a citizenship module for pupils to consider and debate.
An ignorant Muslim parent, whose daughter was not even present when this lesson happened, launched a social media campaign against Monsieur Paty - even naming him and the school's location. The killer must have encountered this toxic stuff and headed to Conflans-Sainte-Honorine to mete out what he misguidedly saw as revenge.
In my way of looking at things, Samuel Paty represented light, freedom and truth but his cruel killer belonged to darkness, ignorance and misunderstanding.
You might quietly be thinking that Samuel Paty was partly the architect of his own death. Perhaps he should not have brought attention to the cartoons. Perhaps he should have avoided any reference to Islamic fundamentalism and the arrogant bigotry that clings to it like an infected rash. But keeping quiet and saying nothing is surely a form of submission. - giving in to the forces of darkness. That cannot be right in free societies.
In memory of Samuel Paty with love. Liberté, égalité, fraternité! May he rest in peace and may his legacy be one of courage, togetherness and illumination.
17 October 2020
There are lots of things one needs to do before a new arrival in the family. Another thing I have done is to write a story for the baby. Let me share it with you:-
Once upon a time there was a lovely world. It looked rather like our world but it was different in lots of ways.
In that lovely world nobody needed to wear horrid face masks because the air was not filled with the scent of death. In supermarkets, people would mingle happily, gaily filling their trolleys with all manner of nice things to eat - pineapples, sausages, cans of soup, chocolate ice cream and kale. There was no tension amongst customers and no big stickers on the floor reminding shoppers to keep two metres apart.
Out in the streets, the jolly townsfolk would hug, kiss or shake hands when they met and you knew when people were smiling because as I said before - nobody wore masks.
In the lovely world of which I speak, there were buildings called theatres where people would go to watch plays enacted on stages by actors and actresses. The actors were men and the actresses were women. There were also other nice buildings called cinemas where people went to sit quietly in darkness watching films shown on big screens. They ate popcorn in silence, not wishing to spoil the enjoyment of other cinemagoers.
People did not have to wash their hands all the time - nor did they have to see graphs about infection and death on their TV screens every night. Instead, there were stories about rescuing cats from trees and men and women reaching the ripe old age of a hundred. They smiled into the camera before blowing out candles on their big iced cakes. They looked so happy.
In that lovely, lovely world, everybody had a job and a home to live in. There was no starvation, no murder and no suicide. Leaders were universally respected and countries helped each other out as much as they could. Rich people did not evade tax. The seas were filled with cod fish and the air was graced with all manner of birds. Elvis Presley still lived. In the jungles of South America, members of indigenous tribes trod silently along ancient forest pathways, never seen by outsiders and like the rest of humanity, they were so happy to live upon this Earth that their hearts might have burst with joy.
Yes. That is how it was. Once upon a time before...
16 October 2020
As I donned my trusty walking boots, Clint again asked how long I would be.
"At least three hours," I responded. "It's hard to say."
A small but culturally diverse herd of cattle had come to take a look at us. They peered over a drystone wall.
"What the **** are you looking at?" said Clint as I strolled away.
Though I had my A4 hand map, my circular walk was not made any easier by poor signage and by the obvious fact that some of the paths I walked upon were rarely trodden. At Booth Farm, a stocky young farmer questioned me.
"Are you lost mate?"
Helpfully, he directed me to remote Laycote Farm. Again there were no signposts. What I find is that some county authorities have better signposting than others. For example, paths are usually well-indicated in Cheshire and Derbyshire but in comparison Staffordshire's signage is poor. It's the same in Nottinghamshire. All over England's vast network of paths there are small guidance discs with yellow arrows upon them. They are very helpful to walkers but many that I saw yesterday were so weathered that you could not even make out the arrows. Come on Staffordshire! Get your act together!
I made the young farmer laugh when I retorted, "I am a bit lost but it's not the Amazon jungle is it?"
The weather played ball. There was no rain but there were intermittent spells of sunshine as the BBC online weather forecast had promised. I was back in Sheffield by five o'clock ready to prepare a quick and simple midweek meal for Nurse Pudding and her house husband: baked potatoes, baked beans and Cornish pasties.
As Wallace might have said in the "Wallace and Gromit" animated films, it was another "grand day out".
15 October 2020
The tiger appears to be hugging the old tree - possibly leaving her scent on the bark. Perhaps she is marking her territory or signalling her availability to any fertile male tigers in the region.
Of course we are all painfully aware that in ten or twenty years time it may prove impossible to record a similar image as the Siberian tiger is a severely endangered species. There are perhaps only five hundred Siberian tigers left in the wild and with each passing year their territory is reduced. Like polar bears, rhinos, blue whales, river dolphins, eagles, hedgehogs, koalas, pandas, pangolins, harvest mice and elephants the odds are stacked against the Siberian tiger.
Sergey Gorshkov's wonderful image looks rather like an oil painting. Perhaps in the future that is the only way we will get to see new pictures of Siberian tigers in the wild - as oil paintings, displayed on walls alongside pictures of unicorns, dragons and griffins.
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