31 March 2007
30 March 2007
The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyr'd dead
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts' blood dyed its ev'ry fold.
Then raise the scarlet standard high,
Beneath its folds we'll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying here.
Look round, the Frenchman loves its blaze,
The sturdy German chants its praise,
In Moscow's vaults its hymns are sung,
Chicago swells the surging throng.
It waved above our infant might
When all ahead seemed dark as night;
It witnessed many a deed and vow,
We must not change its colour now.
It well recalls the triumphs past;
It gives the hope of peace at last:
The banner bright, the symbol plain,
Of human right and human gain.
It suits today the meek and base,
Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place,
To cringe before the rich man's frown
And haul the sacred emblem down.
With heads uncovered swear we all
To bear it onward till we fall.
Come dungeon dark or gallows grim,
This song shall be our parting hymn.
26 March 2007
2. Do you know Pink Floyd? I once borrowed Dave Gilmour's "Daily Mirror" on the island of Rhodes in order to catch up with the cricket scores and when I gave him his newspaper back I still didn't recognise him - "Cheers mate!" Left Dave Gilmour with his CBE in 2003
24 March 2007
21 March 2007
Sunday afternoon – waiting for Shirley to come home from her trip out to Lincolnshire to see her mother on Mothering Sunday. Saturday night – waiting for the lottery results to tell me I’m free, waiting for a pint of ale at The St Patrick’s Night Party. What party? And why did Guinness boast that they’d produced three million green badges specially - along with one million of those dumb felt Guinness hats. Would St Patrick have admired such pointless waste of Mother Earth’s resources.? If put side by side in a line - those badges would reach from our house seventy five miles – right out into the North Sea.
Waiting for the years to pass. Counting the years on your mortgage, the years to retirement. Waiting for the weeks to pass – till the next holiday, the next birthday, the next anniversary. Waiting.
At the football waiting for the bus to come, waiting for the players to come out and at half time , waiting for them to return and waiting for the goal that sometimes never comes. Waiting for a season when we shine. Waiting.
Lying in bed listening to the wind, thoughts swirling in your head as you wait for sleep to come. And at work waiting for the clock to tick on to lunchtime or to the end of the day. Waiting for Easter. Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for a parking place. And we have sayings – Guinness again – “Good things come to those who wait”, “Wait a minute”, “Wait a little bit longer”, “Waiting for Godot”. And we have waiters and waitresses, people who wait on us.
But the best of life is when we are not waiting but doing. Living the moment, happy in the here and now, not wishing our lives away and waiting for something else, something beyond this moment. I’m a waiter and that’s my tip of the day.
14 March 2007
12 March 2007
Hull is at the end of the railway line, at the end of the road. It's out on a limb. Hull is fiercely independent. You don't go through Hull, you go to it. Between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, Hull was England's second port after London and in the sixties it was the world's number one fishing port in terms of the sheer weight of fish landed annually at Hull's docks.
I am so pleased that our daughter Frances may end up going to university in Hull where they have an excellent American Studies course.
This was a good weekend for Hull. City beat Preston 2-0 and I was there to watch this joyous event. Hull Kingston Rovers beat Leeds in the rugby and Hull FC beat Huddersfield. Overshadowing all of this is the gathering momentum behind an international celebration of the life of William Wilberforce - Hull's most famous son. He was the local MP and for twenty years he worked tirelessly to bring an end to the Slave Trade. His leadership brought about The Slave Trade Act of 1807 which finally began to see an end to England's involvement in this barbaric activity.
Hull isn't England's crappest town, it's England's best kept secret. You can keep your Canterbury, your Solihull and Richmond-on-Thames - give me Hull any time. It's real, it's honest and it's unique.
Pictures - Humber Bridge from beneath and painting of William Wilberforce.
8 March 2007
7 March 2007
This is just an opportunity to share a few more photos of our garden last summer. And what a wonderful summer it was over here in the UK - sultry heat, meals out on the new decking, shorts and flip flops, the hum of insects, starry skies, lying in the grass, pruning unruly briars and thorns, digging hard white potatoes from the earth... Let's hope we get the same this year. Thank heavens for global warming!
Sonnet by John Clare (1841)
I love to see the summer beaming forth
And white wool sack clouds sailing to the north
I love to see the wild flowers come again
And mare blobs stain with gold the meadow drain
And water lillies whiten on the floods
Where reed clumps rustle like a wind shook wood
Where from her hiding place the Moor Hen pushes
And seeks her flag nest floating in bull rushes
I like the willow leaning half way o'er
The clear deep lake to stand upon its shore
I love the hay grass when the flower head swings
To summer winds and insects happy wings
That sport about the meadow the bright day
And see bright beetles in the clear lake play
3 March 2007
So how were the lads at Sheffield Arena? To tell you the truth, they were A1 f-ing brilliant! Considering it's just three guys, they make such a big sound. The concert was nicely varied with a semi-acoustic section performed at the end of a walkway that extended from the stage into the crowd and there was also an imaginatively utilised and slatted rear video screen that showed the guys doing their stuff. They were on stage for nearly ninety minutes.
Tom Chaplin was amazing. To possess a voice like that and to hear it amplified in a hall that holds nine thousand people! There was not one bum note, just a plaintive voice soaring up and down, somehow tuning in to the fears and the aspirations of our world, connecting with those who want to sing away their pain and their joy but do not have the vocal chords to do it. Wow! Keane!