Monday, October 31, 2022

Just quotes


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Altering the face of the world

Well, they've seen off the liar, thank goodness, but, but...

We cannot rest easy. 

One reason to start you off? Sunak's put Suella Braverman back in the Home Office - the woman who dreams of refugees being flown to Rwanda. She's got plans for other horrors too such as draconian punishments for protesters, but I won't go on.

Here instead is this:

And here is some graffiti from the Berlin Wall:

Monday, October 24, 2022

I am not resigned

A good friend of mine died in August and I was ill and couldn't go to her cremation. Yesterday we held a memorial service for her at Meeting, and I came home feeling flat. And today I've been trying to engage myself in some meaningful activity that is satisfying. I've been doing usual stuff that makes me happy but it hasn't, and I've just felt cross.

I discussed it all with Dave and said that a 50 minute Quaker meeting in which perhaps 9 people spoke very briefly about our F/friend did not feel adequate. How can you pay tribute to a multi-faceted person and their very rich life in such a short space of time?  You'd need a lengthy essay.

We carried on discussing the problem and how sad I am about Chris's death and  that I didn't get to say goodbye to her, and then Dave said; "The truth is that you just don't like it when people die, do you? That's what the problem is."

He was right. 

"That's it. I don't think death is acceptable. I don't agree with it." 

So... here is my favourite poem about death.

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:

Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned

With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.

Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.

A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,

A formula, a phrase remains, - but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,

They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled

Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.

More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.


 Edna St. Vincent Millay

Friday, October 21, 2022

Batten down the hatches

I'm coasting to the end of a favourite good-time read - Mary Wesley's Part of the Furniture - before moving onto something more serious (Do not say we have nothing by Madeleine Thien). 

The Wesley book is set in WW2 and it's reminded me of all those non-fiction books about life at the home front in WW2 that I read at the start of lockdown. I was reading them to see how ordinary people coped during desperate times. I thought they might have some tips for me.

We are still in desperate times. 

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 

22% of the UK population are living in poverty

Of these, 8.1 million are working age adults, 4.3 million are children, and 2.1 million are pensioners.

31% of children in the UK are living in poverty.

Raw sewage is being pumped into our rivers and our coastal areas, the NHS is collapsing through lack of funding, public services are threadbare because of austerity cuts, 90% of schools say they will run out of money within a year, the economy has shrunk because of Brexit, millions of people are having to choose between heating and eating, and the government is bringing in draconian, authoritarian measures to stop the public from protesting.

Yes, the country is falling apart and the Tories are about to bring back the shambles of a leader who left in disgrace in July. 

What's to be done?

Up donations to food banks and to refugee charities, protest as much as you have the energy for, and batten down the hatches until we finally get a General Election. I am not a fan of the current incarnation of the Labour party under Starmer but anything has to be better than the chaotic shambles of the nasty  party in power at present.

And...I refuse to be miserable. The Trail is as lovely as ever:

The Monsal Trail this morning

Painting continues to be an engrossing occupation:

Acrylic on canvas board 42 x57 cms

Yes - I am still obsessed with grasses. 

And I don't care if people think:  

"the grasses are too much in the foreground "in your face", for want of a better expression, with no depth to the picture and secondly, the whole painting draws the eye to the bottom right hand part and out of the picture.  Everything is leaning to the right - the hill in the background, the grasses behind the wall, the wall and the grasses in front of the wall."

which is what a talented artist said when I asked for his honest opinion of the panting above. I don't care because I like the grasses and I like the light and the energy and I think the fact that it's all moving right and downhill emphasises the energy. And I am pleased he could be honest and will always be honest when I ask his opinion. What's the point of anything else?

He likes this painting I finished recently, and I'm rather 'meh' about it, though it was huge fun to paint.

Acrylic on canvas board
46 x72 cms

I'll leave you with this, which I saw on Twitter

Monday, October 17, 2022


"Why haven't you blogged?" my big brother said in our weekly, early Sunday morning Facetime.

"Because I'm scrabbling around trying to think of something to blog about."

"But what about our holiday?"

"What is there to say? I become less and less willing to post about personal stuff."

"You could always post photos of Wensleydale."

"I didn't take very many."

I was too busy walking the footpaths in the sunshine feeling happy to be alive, like Fotherington-Thomas in How To Be Topp ('Hullo clouds, hullo sky'), to want to stop and take many pictures. 

But here's one of the aforementioned brother snapping Mill Gill Force.

My big sister was looking at a similar stream when a student came up and said "Look at the colour of the water! The pollution!" She calmly explained to him that the water in the dales is the colour of beer because of the peat, not pollution. 

But back to the question of why I haven't blogged. There was a lot to think about when we were all together last week, but I don't want to share it.

This last ten days has been a magical blend of blue and gold October, and family - not just my sibs - and I have felt so happy. And our family is set to increase, because there's a brand new grandchild expected in November. I've been thinking a lot about family, and on Saturday when I was painting I was listening to an old edition of Poetry Please on the radio and was moved to tears by a poem called Grafters, by Nora Hanson. She is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother and her poem reflects that. It also reflects how I am feeling.

I chased up the poem and have permission from Valley Press, the publishers, to share it with you here.


                by Nora Hanson

You can hear the poet read it in her lovely northern accent here.

And you can see more about Sparks, the anthology it comes from here.

Lastly, here for my big brother are two pics from our holiday:

View of eastern Swaledale

The river Swale

Saturday, October 08, 2022

A trip with the sibs

 It’s that time of year again - when I take a trip with the sibs to Wensleydale. We’re staying in Askrigg, up the dale from where our parents lived. As I’m on my hols, this is not a carefully constructed blog post: it’s a collection of happenings, and you’ll have to make do.

Last time we were here, I left a drawing of a mouse in the tiny art gallery:

Yesterday I left a copy of one of my books in the roadside library and it’s already been taken.

This is me at Mill Gill Force:

Photo by my sister Kath

Yesterday we went to the Nearly New Cashmere shop in Masham. With the amount of frank advice and snarky banter that went on in there, if Kath hadn’t told the sales assistant we were siblings, she surely would have guessed it.

Out on a walk today, I met an American who didn’t know about footpaths or public rights of way and had never heard the word ‘stile.’ I was showing him the way to Aysgarth Falls and we came across this stile in the middle of a field. Of course it used to be in a wall, but the wall has gone and the stile has been left to mark the route of the footpath. As you can imagine, this took some explaining.

Kath, on a previous trip

I’m having a fabulous time, snarky banter or no.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

My dream is different from her dream

Here I am, sitting in bed at 6.49, first mug of tea drunk, Wordle completed, headlines read, wondering how it is that a person can say she would:

“love to have a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession.”

Does this person - Cruella Suella Braverman,  the UK Home Secretary -  not understand what refugees have been through? have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire...*

How can she ignore the fact that most people who come over the channel in small boats have a legal right to sanctuary here, to claim asylum? 

My dream is different from hers. My dream is that a UK government will treat refugees kindly, that the many who have been tortured will be cared for with sensitivity and tenderness.

Refugees seeking asylum need safe routes so they don't have to risk their lives in small boats crossing the Channel.

The government eventually gave safe routes to Ukrainians by screening them abroad. They could do it for all people fleeing war and persecution and seeking safety here in the U.K.

My line drawing

If you care about this as much as I do, please consider supporting one of these charities:

Safe Passage works to unite child refugees with relatives here, and campaigns for safe routes for refugees.

Refugee Action has been supporting refugees and people seeking asylum since 1981.

Care4Calais and Detention Action support refugees and are challenging the government in court on the Rwanda policy.

*excerpt from the poem Home by Warsan Shire

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation

Oh, for another Oliver Cromwell to dismiss our current crazy, cruel and incompetent government who are clearly intent on making the rich richer while grinding ordinary people into the dust.

20 April 1653, London, England

"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place,

which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God's help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!"