Category Archives: discussion

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Schools. Or “Of Course It’s Bloody Privatisation”

This week, Nicky “I’m not Michael Gove, Honest” Morgan and her chum George “I’m not Satan, Honest” Osborne, announced that every school in England would be force…

Source: The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Schools. Or “Of Course It’s Bloody Privatisation”

On a nightingale floor…

mhfl.jpg

Two people sitting on a nightingale floor.

One is a sinner, the other’s a whore.

Ten candles flicker, flames kissing the wall

Frozen in quiet, dark shadows dancing

one second still and the very next leaping.

in silvered quiet,

tarnished by fear, hate and crescents of wildness .

Polished by black velvet words

Silently spoken

Broken she shudders and judders

retelling the violence

through this, she’s healing

whilst sitting in silence.

Her face tells the story of

years of lost childhood

decades of darkness

splintered nights of full blackouts

where the memory is vanished

furled up in corners

foxed, stained and dog-eared

they shy from the light

the sound of kind voices and

unbidden caring.

Two people sitting on a nightingale floor.

Which one’s the sinner? Which is the whore?

Lines, bruises, tears, scars keeping score.

There a brief sound, the shadows stand silent

Another lonely Londoner, soul torn in quarters

Of moth-eaten cheesecloth, stained by salt tearfall.

Her mouth purses, fights with the silence

It opens, then pauses, lips forming vowels

Her cheeks grimace, forming those valleys

Where rivers run downward,

the spring source her eyelids.

Her shoulders pause, hitch, dip, rise

and then let go.

Is it the floor’s song?

A sigh of intrusion, or a cry from her darkness?

The ghosts, linger and circle and

test, try her patience.

They tease her and taunt her and

deride all her courage.

They hide in the not-light, that space between shadows

The gap between words

The pause before promise

the stop before first step.

She stands, covers mirror,

and kicks out the candles.

And strides out a-singing.

Laughing at shadows.

She’s not what she was, she’s now the lightness of

purpose, sweet self worth and courage.

She faced up the shadows,

And looked in the mirror,

disposed of her future,

the one they did tell her

was all she could hope for.

And laid down her past hurts

with a soft kiss of parting

and a promise to remember

and revisit the painhouse

to retain the power to

tell them to quiet

And let her regain life.

The floor is now silent as she leaves for

whatever may follow…

She is quickly…

dance 3

Here pulls a pulse, without and within you

harder than words and

softer than shadow in a warm, sun-day meadow.

There!

She stands, clothed in a smile

poised to unfurl like the newly made fern

Which springs with the speed

that a smile reaches heart

or jump-jewelweed’s gift to the world.

Soft as the touch of a warm summer night

Yet strong like the grip of cub’s mother jaws.

there is no north, south, east, neither west.

Nor have we up or down, day, night,. month or year.

There is a moment, stretched out in steps,

Pauses and pulses and gaps between notes.

Forwards and sidewards and on to tiptoes

Half seconds of gossamer iron

with thistledown drifting

And suddenly but

Slowly

she is quickly

she is pause

Then she is

The sum of everything

the universe around her

the music within her

She is, in this moment

All that does matter

circle, half circle,

sideward and forward

spinning and speaking

words without meaning

feel without feelings

All that does matter

Is she is and I am

Lost in a movement.

dance 2

Above lies an attempt to understand the way dancing makes me feel; or the way that dancing is experienced by me.

Everything stays, but lingers on the outside, like the encouraging circle of a birthday jam. So I may have a bill to pay, a friend to worry about, toxicity from elsewhere. These don’t vanish, but they step back, like a minor role in a play, lines spoken, lingering in the background, quietly susurrating, a part still to play in the seasoning of the drama.

Remains an understanding that, the circle serves to sweeten the dance in the middle.

Remains the knowledge that sweet would not be sweet if sour did not exist.

Remains the realisation that the moment of joy relies on normality to serve as a marker.

It’s taken me a long time to find my still point, this silly, funny, infuriatingly difficult dance that is lindy hop. I am glad that I found it, found the warm and smiling circles, throughout the country, that happily part ranks and embrace me, wherever or whenever I wander into a club or a dance hall. We need no words, just the sprung steel anticipatory connection. The journey changes with each and every dance, even if the song was the same one played on repeat.

How do I dance? Sometimes I mess it up, sometimes the pulse eludes me, sometimes it’s nerves when I dance with someone who I’m a bit in awe of. But it’s all worth it, and the dance muscle strengthens with each dance, each missed step, each acknowledged ‘reset’.

Now, I’ll not worry too much about what I’m going to do, it usually seems to happen. Every now and then my brain will go, “ooh! remember you know how to do ‘kick the dog’!”

And I’ll do that move, whilst accepting that another move will shuffle off the rolodex of my dance memory, for a short time.

What has it taught me? Well, it’s helped me to realise that, despite being introverted by nature, I can still jump around a public place and make mistakes; that I can blend into the background when I want; that I can forget, forget, forget, just for the phrase, the 32 beats of musical perfection. I can make new friends, wherever I go, regardless of age, sex, class, race, colour or creed. It levels me.

And the people, the amazing people. Thank you, each and every one of you, including the ones I’ve not met yet. dance

She is fierce…

Where do we go in search of peace and solitude? Where do we go to relax and connect? Where do we go to find answers to the questions we weren’t even sure needed asking?

haxby.jpg
Hawnby Hill, North Yorkshire

 

It depends who you are I suppose. Some find solace in noise and bustle. Some find solace in the molecular bonding of a stadium full of like minds.

Some sweat in a gym. Some run, walk, dance, meditate. Some do all of those things. Some medicate.

Some find, through choice,or lack of choice solace in the unfathomable depth of the mind.

I am one of those who heads into the countryside. I know that the meditative step step crunch crunch squelch squelch will free my mind and help me to balance and work my mind in a way that allows me to find peace. I might not find answers to everything. Not all problems can be solved immediately. But, even with those ones, I am able to find perspective and an acceptance of the situation.

Lets say I have a certain problem which is preying on my mind. It’s easy, so easy to think and keep on thinking and get lost in the worry.

The moors save me from this, every time, they save me.

The meditative walking helps a huge amount. And peril. Peril helps me a great deal.

I remember having a walk with a friend last year, and we got to talking about how every walk we had together always ended up with a certain amount of peril. Genuine peril.

Enough to make me think, even for just a second, “oh, this might be painful or, possibly, terminal.” (usually in a more sweary way, if I’m being completely honest).

So in those situations, two things happen. Firstly, I totally forget about the bill or stressful situation. Completely.

Secondly, my mind connects totally to my body and lives in the moment. It’s Zen I guess. I become hyper-aware. Switched on and full of purpose.

And afterwards, well, my mind looks at me, and waits, like a patient parent, waiting for me to come to the realisation all by myself. My problems, while they may, on occasion be very difficult and hard; they aren’t as bad as others have it, nor will worrying about them solve them.

Take away the power that unkind and toxic people have. They won’t occupy my mind, except on a very fleeting basis. Also, and this is vital. Forgive them, even if it is hard. In fact, especially if it is hard.

After that, I take a pretty photograph and enjoy that hot cup of tea from the flask and sit and drink in the sheer beauty of the world.

Now, of late, the North has been given a stark reminder. Peril and disruption, as well as a reminder that, yes, She has teeth. We don’t own the world. We are tolerated but can be evicted at the snap of a finger.

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Glenridding, Lake District

 

We have been reminded, starkly, terrifyingly, viscerally for many, that we have stewardship of our world. No more.

The green valleys. How did they get there? They were carved by water, pounded by rock, boulders and storm-torn trees. The land is scarred by the power of water. The world is shaped by water.

And the world, our Mother Nature, is taking it back. We have failed in our stewardship and we are being reminded about this.

So what can we do? Plant trees, conserve energy, recycle, reduce CO2 emissions, dredge our rivers & stop spending money on exploding orphan-makers.

We are on our final warning.  What are you going to do? If we don’t do something soon, the decision will be out of our hands…

glen
The water reclaiming a tree.

It’s lighter in the dark…

This wizened bough bent and hollownight tree

Willow waving  and whipping

Twisted Haw-

-thorn May bud and holly berry

My footprint is silent

My footsteps are loudly

The church she sings proudly

warmly bell ring

The lane it is

silent yet far in the village

A laugh runs towards me

A laugh lights the darkness

Warms the silence.

Walking in the night. I followed the glisten of the puddles and the sky-pointing arms of the hedges. It is dark. Night. December night. But walking without light from a lamp, well, it doesn’t take the eye long to realise the secret of night.

It’s not dark  at night.

Light makes the night dark.. It pushes and condenses it into a choice. Here is the bubble of light; there is the sea of dark. This makes it a constant struggle as the night leans into the glow. The light makes it harder to see out of the bubble.

No light means that there isn’t a line, there isn’t a state of here or there.

It becomes light enough to see, navigate, walk. And it opens your ears, heightens all the senses. And it gifts you a glimpse of a vole; or a hedge pig. The sounds from afar come and go but, and this is true, the ears work better when they are not lulled into lazing by the vigilant eyes in light. This is much more of a co-operative effort. The body working as it should, with every part doing it’s fair share of work. I sensed a little obstacle, didn’t see it, but, sensed it. So I stepped over it without a thought.

So what can I learn from this? That the world isn’t made to work to extremes. It works in shades, graduations. There is room for people to have different points of view and both people can be right. Or no one can be wrong. And the other point of view- if you create a bright light, you will create darkness.

Take from that what you will.

And let me know what it is.night tree two

Here we go again…

Here we go again,

Living at the same address,

Picking up the same old mess.

in the sky

Here we go again,

Shouting at the lying press

Touting store-bought happiness.

Here we go again,

MPs cheering  their ‘success’

War’s boots forced acquiesce…

Here we go again,

Sickened at the bombs progress

Making worse this worlds distress.

(Now I’ve had my fill)

I’m talking to you

I’m talking to you

Can’t you hear me?

(This is what you’re causing)

A shout-

“Bring out your dead!”

“Bring out your dead little sister.”

“Bring out your dead!”

“Bring out your dead little brother.”

(This is what your bombs cause)

He cries-

“I’m the one feeling alone

I’m the one sitting on stone

I’m the one without a home.”

 

This is what we are causing. There will be people dead now that were alive yesterday. Killed by bombs that we paid for.

What’s a life worth?

How many families would each bomb have paid to look after if we had spent the money on them, rather than building something whose only purpose is to kill and destroy?

Each bomb we are using costs £800 000.

That’s per bomb.

What’s a life worth?

 

 

 

I see you…

I see youtree

Tree from the old days

Guarding the byways

You see me

You tree from the old days

Watching my hair grey.

 

I see you

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Road from the old days

Making the highways

You see me

You road from the old days

Feeling my gait sway.

 

I see youstone

Stone from the old days

Marking the old ways

You see me

You stone from the old days

Hiding my shade away.

 

This post is about looking. The gaze. Eyes. The eyes within the mind.

The idea that, as we look, so we are being looked at.

We rush through our lives, ascribing varying amounts of import to the concerns that are whooshing though our grey matter at that moment in time.

I live in an old place. The Romans were here; they buried their dead below the windmill a quarter of a mile away. They built the road less than a mile from me. This road was called Dere Street, running from York up to Scotland. It was built in the 70s AD, after Boudicca was savagely dealt with.

It’s humbling to know that history marches through the lanes and streets that I wander. Lives will have been made, lost, broken, saved and joined right where I stand, looking at the undulating road surface.

Trees watching me, each breath they take a month in the inhale, seasonal exhalations. What concerns the mind of a tree? Do they notice the scurrying people, flashing by in their rushed lives? Or is each week long eye blink of an oak too ponderous and serene to even notice the day I walked by, lost in grief, or the day I strode by, found in love?

And yet, even the Romans were new to here.

This road, this march, this ribbon of trodden earth has the age of an eon. Ten thousand years. For ten thousand years people have followed the line of the lane, Sneck Yates and the high drove road to the right, skimming the curves of the river Ure. (This river, once called Jor or Yore has gifted (in my opinion), the once capitol of Viking England- Jor-wick. The town on the Jor.)

Marking the way, the old folk left stones. Up on the tops, there’s a long barrow I visit, where rests someone from then. I sit and look out, overdown on this place I call home.

On the route, the Devils Arrows pierce the earth; standing proud, so tall that they hide my shadow when I stand under them. A short walk takes me to Thornborough. The henge there is special. Three henges, linked.

The number 3 is sacred to the people we call Celts. It represents the three-fold marriage of earth, sea and sky. The trinity, so central to Christianity, was taken by St Patrick from the Celts, appropriated as a marriage between the old lore and the new. We keep them still.

On the count of three.

Three is the magic number.

Weave a circle round him thrice.

The stones watch, their inhalations so slow that they barely register the sapling as it grows into a half centuried oak. Do the stones remember the forming? The heat and the flowing?

The worries of a stone are nothing to the earth; the worries of the tree are nothing to the stone; the worries of the man are nothing to the tree. Next time you look; look through the eyes of something older. There may be wisdom. There will certainly be a different perspective.

The road marches on. The river washes stone. Time to look anew.

 

After a storm…

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After a storm comes a new sunrise.

After a storm

Comes a pause, a deep breath.

a moment of blissful

Unknowing.

a conscious step

survey  damage, tread boundaries and

take stock,  the next breath.

 

After a storm

Comes applause, a steep path

a moment of mindful

Knowing.

unconscious steps

repair damage, strengthen boundaries and

make stock, a new breath.

 

After a storm

Comes a new you.

After a storm

Comes renewal.

 

Life, like a storm, can be unpredictable. We can be bumbling along, blissfully unaware that, all of a sudden, a storm is going to hit. Then life can change, on a penny. I started considering this after the horrendous slew of events that have happened in the world recently.

Those people, innocently living. Unconsicously only breaths away from their time of dying. It’s the randomness that strikes home. And it strikes hard. What if they had missed a bus, lost their keys, gone to the toilet?

And then I started thinking about aftermath. That’s when the mettle shows. What do we do after a storm?

Sit and wonder what on earth the first step is going to be? Take a deep breath and just start?

Over the years, I have weathered many storms. I won’t go into them, but I will say that they have taken me right down to the bedrock of who I am. I have been broken. Shattered. Excoriated and ravaged.

I kept on breathing and took the little steps. Because those are the hardest ones. I heard a song, many years ago. It is called ‘Keep Breathing’ by Ingrid Michaelson. I suspect it may have been on a TV programme, but I heard it during a wander through You Tube. Please listen to it:

“Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson

I then came across the Japanese art form called Kintsugi. This amazingly beautiful process takes broken items and repairs them. But the wonderful thing is that it doesn’t try to hide the repairs. It highlights them by using gold to make the repairs.  It’s breathtakingly beautiful. And it’s a superb metaphor for how we act after a storm. Don’t hide the scars, the stretch marks, the wonky bits. Polish them and be proud. They show that you survived…

kink2

Patience is a…

Patience is a natural human state. This is something which I have realised of late. We have been inculcated since the Industrial Revolution into thinking that we aren’t, and that patience is some lofty virtue, almost unattainable in the modern world.

This is the view from inside my village bus stop.
This is the view from inside my village bus stop.

Patient people are portrayed as being highly spiritual, wise, often mature in years and wrinkled of countenance. ThinkMother Theresa, The Dali Lama et al.

There is a lot to think about here, and, here I sit, the words are unformed as yet. I have to explore this and I’d appreciate feedback and discussion.

So what is patience? Patience is freedom, Patience comes with freedom and it makes you freer.

It makes you appreciate the things which you have. I currently am hungry, so I have started cooking some food. I know that I will have to wait for longer than would perhaps be usual because I am cooking, as is my wont, over the fire. This takes longer, but, with patience, I am free to sit and write this, look out the window at the swaying trees, smell the onions and chilli wafting from the fire place.

So I am hungry but happy knowing that this is the best seasoning. When it is cooked (an hour? Two? I honestly don’t know how long it will take), I will enjoy every last mouthful and be thankful that I have food.

I am just brewing my second cup of tea. I had to wait until the kettle boiled before I could start cooking my break fast meal. But I have time and time is patience.kettle whistling

And I think thats the trick of it. Time. We are so constrained by time in this modern world. We judge people by their ability to be on time. And we have broken it down to time units. A minute. “He’s five minutes late.”

Are birds late? Do snails berate each other for tardiness?

Consider dogs. Dogs have patience in spades. They can sit and sit and sit. And when the time comes, or the owner comes back from where they have been, what does the dog do? Act cross because he’s been waiting? No. the dog is rewarded and happy and this joy is seasoned by the anticipation.

“You’re late.”

We all have heard this in the workplace. Yet somehow, it’s ok to stay late. If being on time was such a valuable skill, surely managers and bosses would value leaving on time too. Other wise, staying longer at work means that you are late somewhere else.

So whats it about? Control. Plain and simple.

Patience then is power and generosity. It gives pleasure and takes away other people’s worries. If you are late, I don’t mind. why should I? I have no right to control you, no desire. If I’m late, maybe I stopped to look at a pretty scene, or help someone who was lost. Maybe I forgot my bag and went home to get it. If you’re waiting for me, look up or look inwards and look forward. It’ll be worth it.

What do you think?