Sunday, September 30, 2007

Poetry in Motion

I can't pretend to be much of a judge of poetry. I'm an English teacher, not a homosexual - A Bit of Fry and Laurie

I can't say that poetry is my 'thing'. There may be one or two pieces that I like. But today I have read two poems, both of which have found their way into that part of my brain labelled 'Things to Keep Forever'.

The first one, which is untitled, was written by a young man named Johnnie, who died three years ago in a tragic accident, aged only 17. As a young child he was clearly very bright but struggled in school and was later to be diagnosed as dyspraxic. It was not until about a year after the death of his sister Anna, from cystic fibrosis (a condition also suffered by his other sister), that his talent for poetry was discovered. He was about 7 at the time and started to write poetry in his school books. The poem that made its mark on me is untitled and he wrote it when he was 11:

I have nevar seen a flower cry
Or see a wild thing give up
but try and try again
until they
have done what they set out to do.
Or seen an animal feel sorry for itself.

I have nevar seen
a flower consider how un-fair life is.
I've nevar seen a animal look scared or daunted.

So prehaps man should try to bace
part of his soul on a animal.
Prehaps, but he nevar will

(spellings and grammar original)

The book (published by Constable Robinson) is now available from bookshops or by post from Peta Nightingale, 32 Holly Grove, London SE15 5DF (£10, £3 postage - cheques payable to The Anna Trust). Proceeds go to research into cystic fibrosis.

The other is this:

Mary Cornish

I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.

I like the domesticity of addition--
add two cups of milk and stir--
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.

And multiplication's school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.

Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else's
garden now.

There's an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.

And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.

Three boys beyond their mothers' call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn't anywhere you look.

For this and more fascinating stuff go and visit Andree here.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sorry it's been so long..

Well, hello there. It's been a little while I know since I bored you rigid with my thoughts, musings and general nonsense, but I've been busy, busy, busy. In the garden, doing theatrical stuff, and all the other mundane little chores that life throws at us.

So, what have I got to tell you? What wondrous things have I seen and done in the last 3 weeks?


There's been two theatre trips, a touring production of Chicago (average) and Slava's Snowshow (wonderful). Jo has posted a short piece about the Snowshow which says it all!


I've had my 44th wedding anniversary. We all went to a very nice Chinese restaurant but, just as the starters were being served, Thomas suddenly began to feel unwell and I volunteered to take him home, where he went straight to bed and completely zonked out without even getting undressed. I had a sandwich and watched the telly!


I've joined Slimming World, but have yet to see a weight loss. I can't go for the next two weeks because I'm doing Front of House duties for the Woking Drama Festival but I'm hoping to stay on the straight and narrow nonetheless. Unlike Jo, I'm not going to start a special blog about it 'cos I'm not clever and witty like wot she is.


I've worked really hard in the garden and I think I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, although there's still a lot to do. Every year I promise myself that I will wrap up warm and work at it all through the winter, but at the first hint of cold or damp I find that I'm making excuses and staying indoors. THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT.


Last weekend Jo, Thomas and I went for a circular walk along a short stretch of the Basingstoke Canal followed by a visit to Brookwood Cemetery (see Photo Hunt post). As the walk started and finished at a pub it was followed by a very nice and tasty lunch! I managed to get a few photos but I'd forgotten to charge my camera battery. hmmph!

This is one of the gravestones that caught my eye:

Did that mean his horse was buried with him? Were they both killed in the line of duty? The grave wasn't particularly large, so did they bury thee horse standing up? When I related all of this to my husband he gave me a withering look and informed me that the initials O.C. stood for Officer Commanding and Lumsden's Horse was the name of his regiment. Pretty stupid name for a regiment if you ask me.

There were loads more interesting things to see and read and, as we only covered a very small area, I can see that the next visit will have to be a day trip with a packed lunch and camera fully charged and ready.


Right, what else? Oh yes, I've had some bits of colour put into my hair..... twice in the last couple of weeks. You see, I get very bored, very quickly, with my hair. I can't really change it by growing it as anything other than a short style looks awfully awful on me, so over the years I've messed about with the colour. About this time last year I was a brunette with lots of different reds going through it. But because my hair grows at a mile a minute the lighter coloured roots were showing through very quickly indeed. So, I decided that it would be interesting to see what my natural shade was after all these years and that turned out to be very much a whiter shade of pale. It's actually a very nice colour, but sometimes nice can be, well, boring. So, I had a few coppery bits put in. Nobody noticed. A bit too subtle. Another appointment was made and yesterday I went along for another makeover. "Let's be a bit bolder", I said, poring over the colour chart. "How about that lovely, plummy, mauvy colour with one or two of that coppery shade thrown in". All went well until the towel was removed from my head and John started on the styling. I had a dark purplish stripe on either side of my head, just above my ears. I could easily have played the part of Badger in Wind in the Willows. (Funnily enough the top was fine). I was swiftly moved back into the colouring area and my Badger stripes were banished!! I was in there all afternoon.


Treasure Island is the Ottershaw Players next spectacular at the end of November. The posters and flyers have been delivered and are awaiting distribution, the box office is now open and the phone has started to ring, and I have got to seriously buckle down and think about what I'm doing for costumes. Lots of pirates and a couple of big frocks. And in the middle of it all Christmas will be lurking.


Oh, and I've booked a weekend break in London, visiting the British Museum to see the Terracotta Army exhibition and the 02 (Dome) to spy on Tutankhamun.


So. dear friends, if my blogging is a bit sporadic please forgive me. Even if I don't post for a while I do make sure I read all of your fantastic writings, just so I don't miss anything. And you know I'll always be back; you won't get rid of me that easily!!!!!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Saturday Photo Hunt - Original

Oh dear, another late one. Sorrry!!

This is a picture I took on a visit to Brookwood Cemetery last weekend. The cemetery was opened in Victorian times specifically for the purpose of burying London's dead, due to lack of space in the capital's graveyards. Trains ran from Waterloo Station directly into the cemetery and this length of railway track is taken from the original line.

The cemetery is a wonderful, peaceful place with lots of grand examples of Victorian 'over-the-top' splendour. Now it is a multi-cultural burial site, serving many different religions and races. The American Military section was used for the final scene in the 1976 film The Omen. There is also a section which contains a monastery, home to the Saint Edward Brotherhood. This was established in 1982 to prepare and care for the church in which the sacred relics of Saint Edward the Martyr, King of England, are enshrined. A small community of monks hold daily services, joined on Sundays and weekdays by a number of Orthodox believers residing in the area.

A few more pictures for your enjoyment:


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Saturday Photo Hunt - Music

Photo Hunt

Better late than never.............

For those people who have only recently started to visit, I should mention here that I belong to a local amateur dramatic group. Every year, usually in February or thereabouts, (with the exception of this year, for reasons beyond our control) a rather raucous, rowdy and rude show is produced for the people in the neighbourhood, who all obviously love it as all 4 nights are a sell-out. This makes us enough money to help finance our summer productions at a local theatre which are a bit harder to sell.

The format of the Farrago, for this is what it is called, is usually supper of fish and chips (a British delicacy) followed by a short play, written by a member of the group, with help from the cast as rehearsals unfold, illustrated with well-known songs which have had the words ever so slightly slightly altered. Double (and sometimes triple) entendres abound. Great fun to do.

The last one was based on the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was called Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Crimson Cock. This may give you a clue as to the standard of the production.

Roberto - Pianist & Musical Director

Dr Watson & Cast Members

Sherlock & 'goings-on' backstage

Mrs Hudson belting it out



And a good time was had by all!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

As the gardener, by severe pruning, forces the sap of the tree into one or two vigorous limbs, so should you stop off your miscellaneous activity and concentrate your force on one or a few points - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I made a quick trip to Woking last week and thought that I'd take some pictures to sh
ow you. However, Woking is a pretty boring town, most of the old buildings demolished to make way for modern shopping malls, similar to those seen in their thousands all over the country. So for now I thought I'd show you these and try to find some other stuff when I have more time:

These sculptures represent The War of the Worlds, the novel by HG Wells which is set in local surroundings, Horsell Common being where the Martians landed. Interestingly, the story begins with the narrator visiting an observatory in Ottershaw, home to the Ottershaw Players!

Then we have this building, an office block which replaced the Regal (?) cinema. The name always strikes me as very glamorous and perhaps a bit out of place.

Finally, we have this structure, still being built, spanning the road by the railway station.

I think it's a solar panel device but I'm not sure. It is fairly attractive in its own way, all shiny and sparkly.

Poor little wounded soldier. I did offer to give him a plaster or an eyepatch but he was not amused!


I read recently that a restaurant has opened in Pisa, in the local high security jail, Fortezza Medicea.

Most of the staff are murderers and the head chef, 17 years into his sentence, said that when he entered the prison he couldn't cook but now he produces 5 course meals and "I get no complaints". It is very popular and people have to book well in advance to dine under the gaze of guards behind the 20m high walls with watchtowers, searchlights and security cameras. But they are serenaded by Bruno, a pianist doing life for murder.


Another piece was the story about councillors in Atlanta who want to be the first major city to tackle 'offensive dressing' by banning low slung, oversize, underwear revealing trousers.

At a recent meeting the audience was divided between young and old in scenes described as 'nothing like it since rock and roll'. A 76 year old member of the audience volunteered to start a 'belt brigade' to patrol the streets looking for inappropriate trouser heights.


Just to finish - some pictures from my garden this week:

A place to sit

Fairy corner

Papyrus in the pond


Heron looking for his lunch


Sunday, September 02, 2007

A grand day out

Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing - Sir Ralph Richardson

Some while ago Thomas expressed a wish to see Lord of the Rings, the musical. Nobody else really fancied it so the subject wasn't mentioned again. Then I read about Kids Week in the West End, a summer promotion aimed at making London Theatre more fun and accessible for families and offering free kids tickets. So I booked it and we went last Monday. (Mind you, it cost me £60 for my ticket)!

I'd like to say that we both thoroughly enjoyed it and I must say that as we took our seats I did think we were in for a treat. But, apart from the technical excellence of lighting, set, special effects and spectacle, it was disappointing. The clever, spectacular bits were far outweighed by the tedious, long and often very boring other bits. Running for over 3 hours it was far too long and by the end it was a relief to escape.

However, the day was an overall success as we arrived in London fairly early in the morning and headed for the South Bank area, the site of the 1951 Festival of Britain. Avoiding the queues for the Aquarium and the London Eye, we made our way past Jubilee Gardens towards the Royal Festival Hall, the only remaining building left from the 1951 festival. We made fairly slow progress as street theatre performers were out in strength and Thomas found himself assisting in an escapology act! We finally arrived outside the Festival Hall where Thomas amused himself (and got very wet!) interacting with the water sculptures.

By now a short break was called for so we had a browse through the books on a large stall being looked after by one of the biggest men I've ever seen. Then a quick appreciation of the Latin American music being performed outside the National Theatre before returning to the County Hall area, stopping only to observe the skateboarders in the specially constructed arena, also for the use of graffiti artists, under the Hayward Gallery.

A slow stroll back and then it was time to go for our tour on the Duck, an amphibious vehicle left over from WW2 and converted to carry passengers. Our very well-informed guide pointed out all sorts of lesser known buildings and sights around Westminster, Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace before we splashed down into the River Thames right next to the MI6 building, where James Bond made a spectacular entrance in a speedboat in The World is not Enough. A trip as far as the Houses of Parliament and back again, then a taxi to Covent Garden, pizza in Pizza Hut and off to see Lord of the Rings.

Later, when asked what the best part of the day was, Thomas chose the final treat. This was a trip back to Waterloo station in a bicycle rickshaw, great fun, twice as quick as a taxi and not a great deal more expensive.

Excellent day; shame about the show.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Saturday Photo Hunt - Dirty

Photo Hunt

We recently had to clear our garden pond from weed and a giant water lily that had taken over. This is half of the plants, muck and detritus excavated:

This is George, who sits on the back doorstep smelling the flowers:

He doesn't eat much so is easy and cheap to keep, but he is a bit grubby!


These are 'specially for Carver, as promised to her last week:

Hypericum calycinum, known in the UK as the Rose of Sharon. It is also called St John's Wort which is used as a homeopathic remedy for mild depression and problems with the circulatory system & nervous system.

The one on the left is a low growing, spreading shrub which does well in the sunny side of my garden, whilst the one on the right belongs to my neighbour but is climbing up a chain link fence, in the shade, so I luckily get the benefit of its lovely flowers.