Saturday, February 24, 2024

Weather and art

We’ve had sooooo much wind and rain this week with a few bursts of treacherous sunshine that lure you into going outside and then disappear and you’re buffeted by hail. 

But the colours of both sea and sky have been beautiful nevertheless. And this wonderful house allows you to enjoy it all without getting wet.





Het capturing the sky while finishing off her Cornish pasty.

We saw Andrew Scott in Vanya at the Newlyn Filmhouse after a delicious dinner in the quirky restaurant there. He performed solo for two hours without a break and was mesmerising. He played the parts of all the characters! Now I need to find a copy of Uncle Vanya and read it.

I’ve been really enjoying my new oil pastels, and am already running out of white. I’ve never used oil pastels before and have found that I adore them. I’m going to really let rip once I’m home in my studio and not sitting at Het’s kitchen counter trying to stay clean.

And I now have a use for the giant canvases that Dave encouraged me to buy: I can’t wait to paint some dramatic seas and skies.


Oil pastel sketch

Today we’re going to Newlyn Art Gallery for more sustenance. I’m looking forward to it.

Here, to finish, is the full moon this morning…




Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Sea, sand and art

 Guess where I am…


I am staying with Het in Sennen Cove, Cornwall.

This is the view from the sofa:



And this is the view from the kitchen:


Isn’t it stupendous?

Het and Chris bought a near-derelict house here seven years ago and after many trials and tribulations they finally moved into their fabulous new eco-house in November. 

I could sit on the sofa and watch the sea all day. It’s mesmerising, and so relaxing. And I’m loving it.

Today we went for a swim (indoors!) and then hit St Ives, which was beautifully quiet, because it’s February. We visited the Tate and this time we enjoyed the exhibits. 

I particularly liked this Winifred Nicholson painting called Recollect





 And this work by Patrick Hughes called St Ives: Reflection


Those yachts are real 3 D toy yachts bought from a toy shop.


But as well as the art work I love the view from the gallery:




And here’s me, feeling happy, clutching a new sketch pad and some oil pastels to have some fun with:



Thank you, Het, for a super day.











Saturday, February 17, 2024

Today's letter

 

Letter to the Prime Minister from the Humanitarian and Human Rights Sector on Rafah

Alongside other charities and faith organisations, Quakers in Britain have written to the Prime Minister calling on him to use the UK's diplomatic pressure to urge Israel to change course.



12 February 2024

Dear Prime Minister,

Subject: The UK must demand that Israel immediately stops its offensive into Rafah and call for a ceasefire now

We write to you as international humanitarian, peacebuilding and human rights organisations. Many of us have worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for decades, with our staff and partners among those currently displaced and fearing for their lives in the Gaza Strip. Since October 7, the Government has heard all of us and many, many more – including in real time from Palestinians themselves in Gaza – give warnings or briefings of the following: 1.7 million people forcibly displaced only to be bombed again, more than 11,500 children killed and a catastrophic number of orphans, with a new acronym unique to the Gaza Strip – WCNSF: wounded child, no surviving family – and evidence of widespread starvation and infectious disease.

As you know, following Israel's 'evacuation' orders for areas in northern and central Gaza, many Palestinians fled to the south, to Rafah, a designated 'safe zone' by Israel. 1.3 million people are currently trapped in Rafah. It is one of the very few places where extremely limited humanitarian aid is able to enter the Gaza Strip.

We are writing with urgent concern about the overnight attacks on Rafah following Israel's announcement that it aims to conduct a destructive military campaign on the most densely populated stretch on Earth. The military operation intensified last night, with Rafah subjected to the Israeli military's increasingly intense bombardment with a further 67 people killed by Israel, mostly civilians, including women and children. This number will continue to rise. The beleaguered and strained humanitarian system will fully collapse as need will only rise and access decrease.

We ask you now to use the UK's full diplomatic pressure to demand Israel halt its military campaign, which has already resulted in the killing of 28,000 people.

Will the UK act now, as red lines are being continuously crossed despite warnings from the UK to Israel on the toll of casualties being "too high"? Or will the UK continue its current path, which each day further is enabling Israel's actions with impunity? Will the UK risk further moral complicity in the ongoing death from Israeli attacks?

We are extremely dismayed and profoundly alarmed after having met with UK senior officials, including the Foreign Secretary, over the last 128 days, explaining in clear terms the scale of the catastrophe and the consequences of the current UK approach towards Israel. We, as agencies united, attempted to work together with the Government towards leveraging what the UK can do to halt these atrocities. We are losing confidence in Ministers as the UK appears utterly incapable of restraining Israel in its current attempts. We write with immediate demands for the UK:

  • Call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, including calling off the Rafah offensive. This is the only way to prevent further loss of civilian lives, to secure the release of hostages, and the entry of life-saving humanitarian aid.
  • Suspend all arms export licences and any other forms of military support with immediate effect.
  • The UK should ensure Israel fully implements the International Court of Justice orders.

We call on the UK Government to do all it can to persuade the Government of Israel to finally change course. Over a million people in Rafah are at grave risk. We know from history what happens when states stand by and do nothing. We urge you to act now.

Signatories:

1.     ActionAid UK

2.     Action For Humanity

3.     Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding)

4.     CAFOD

5.     Christian Aid

6.     Elrha

7.     Embrace the Middle East

8.     Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS)

9.     Humanity and Inclusion

10.                        Interpal

11.                        Islamic Relief UK

12.                        Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

13.                        Minority Rights Group International

14.                        Muslim Aid

15.                        Oxfam

16.                        Peace Direct

17.                        Plan International UK

18.                        Quakers in Britain

19.                        Saferworld

20.                        SCIAF

21.                        Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice

22.                        Trócaire

23.                        United Nations Association - UK (UNA-UK)

24.                        War on Want

25.                        Welfare Association

26.                        WILPF UK

27.                        Women's Platform - Northern Ireland

 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

A good day

I began yesterday in tears while chatting to Dave about the state of the world and Gaza in particular.

After that it got better.

I picked some Lenten roses from the garden for Mary’s bench, as yesterday was nine years since she died. I then drove to Sheffield and collected my thirteen tickets for my trip to Cornwall next Monday. I had to sit on a bench at the station while I checked I had every stage of the journey covered, and as I did, I fell into conversation with a lovely stranger about the benefits of split ticketing. I like talking to strangers. It’s invigorating.

I thought I’d pop in the Millennium Gallery on the way up through town, to see their latest exhibition, but I had to wait outside for it to open and in doing so had a conversation with another stranger. More interest.

Then I went to the Fronteer Gallery to see my painting. (Mine is the one of daisies.)



After that I had one last stop - the bench at the park to leave my flowers. It was bitterly cold with the odd spot of rain as I walked down the hill and I was thinking ‘Do I really want to sit on the bench with a coffee and look at the pond and the ducks and have a little think, like I usually do? It’s horrid! It’s so cold!’

But when the bench came into view, I saw Mary’s husband John sitting on it, and then I saw his two small and delightful grandsons and Mary’s daughter Jessie. What joy. We exclaimed and hugged and John said ‘I wondered if we’d see you here’ and Jessie went to buy the boys ice creams and coffee for us. 

 

Jessie and me


There’s a page in my comfort/encouragement book Keep Moving that says




And the day continued with pancakes for lunch at home (dear overseas readers, it was pancake day) and then I continued work on my latest painting which is in its very early stages but is coming along nicely




And then in the evening it was fish and chips with a catch-up at the pub with Chrissie.

A good day.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Haunted

Look I'm sorry that the blog seems to have morphed into something that doesn't do the biz like it used to do, but I am haunted by what is happening in Gaza.



 

And I am haunted by the fact that the western world is doing nothing to stop it.

As Dave said in his latest missive to our MP:

This war is terrifyingly unhinged, and almost psychopathic in its unbridled and feral ferocity. But is also morally wrong and deeply inhumane. That the government is eager to support it is a stain on us all.

I am continuing to read the book Active Hope and I do commend it to you, even though its focus is on the environment and not the state of world wide politics. 

But let's skip to the home front...

The only news is that for the first time in years I am eager to plant my sweet peas. Normally I groan at the thought of all those yoghurt cartons cluttering up the windowsills. This year feels different. I am looking forward to doing something that is positive that I know will bring joy in a few months time: I think watching something grow right in front of me is going to make me feel better. 

As Jo Shimwell, a young farmer in our village, said 'Nature is a great source of certainty and comfort.'









Thursday, February 08, 2024

Wednesday morning at Hepworth Towers

I am in bed reading this




and I’m finding it constructive. I need to tell you that I rarely read non fiction because I need a story to pull me along but I’m having no trouble sticking with this. It focuses most strongly on the environmental crisis (which is not what is troubling me right now) but it is generally very helpful, so if you’re in need of hope, I recommend it.

I have a filthy cold 



and it’s snowing (almost horizontally) and we are forecast 20cms here in the Peak District today. I’m not convinced. 




Dave kindly went out to Aldi early and bought me some lemons so I could have lemon and honey drinks. When he set off he asked me how much they would be and not how many I wanted, and he brought back 25. 🤔 I’m hoping my cold doesn’t last so long I’ll be needing them all, but I do need more lemon curd so it will all work out. Plus - ooh - it’s pancake day next week!

I have nothing more interesting to tell you I’m afraid, except that I’ve been searching around for something positive to do about Gaza, and I am ordering greeting cards of some of my paintings and will donate the profit from sales in the next two months to the UNICEF Gaza appeal. The link to the UNICEF appeal is below the photo. (Blogging in bed on the iPad has its drawbacks).

Goodbye, and I love you all.



https://www.unicef.org.uk/donate/children-in-gaza-crisis-appeal/?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAiAlJKuBhAdEiwAnZb7lYK0p3q1rdW106HIcmaYkAJMHesNONA0Y3QGp6KHNO1EUjKinFywXhoCeegQAvD_BwE





Wednesday, February 07, 2024

The Israelis who refuse

There are people living in Israel who do not support the war against the Palestinians, and nor do they support the occupation.

I have been on the circulation list of the Refuser Solidarity Network for some years now. Here is the latest email I received...

My name is Maya Eshel, I just joined the Refuser Solidarity Network team as the international solidarity coordinator. I want to share a few words about myself and also tell you how you can amplify the voices of Israelis against the war on Gaza and call for a ceasefire.

I moved to Israel at the age of 16 and six months later I was already sent an initial draft order from the Israeli military. About two years later I was drafted into the Israeli military where I served in the West Bank for 9 months. During my time there I witnessed several detained Palestinians being brought to the detention center on my base. While waiting for the military doctor one day, a young Palestinian boy was escorted into the clinic. In the middle of winter he had just one long sleeve shirt on. He was blindfolded and handcuffed and could not have been over 11 years old. This very moment, sitting just centimeters away from a boy who could not see me, who was alone and was kidnapped from his community, stayed with me. 

Over the years I would often think of this boy. I would think about the trauma he may have from those exact moments and my participation in such a brutal system. I looked deeper into myself, into my environment and at the violent occupation that we as a society here in Israel have normalized. After educating myself and learning about the supremacist policies Israel uses to uphold an oppressive military rule over millions of Palestinians, I decided to join the resistance movement against the occupation and apartheid. You can also support the resistance by following our instagram page, voicesagainstwar, and our other social media pages where we provide a platform to document and publish anti-war protests and individual testimonies of Israelis against this war.

My solidarity work led me to living in Palestinian villages in the Southern Hebron Hills, located in area C of the West Bank, documenting demolitions and settler and military violence against Palestinians. I witnessed settlers violently abuse and threaten Palestinians, uproot hundreds of olive trees, dance with guns on stolen Palestinian land while the military was standing by. I also witnessed soldiers tasked to demolish homes, abuse small farming communities, and arrest men in the middle of the night. 

Since I started visiting the South Hebron Hills the situation has escalated tenfold. The horrors of October 7th have shaken the Israeli ethos to its core.  And with no time to grieve, the Israeli government is weaponizing our pain, enacting a revenge war on Gazans, killing thousands of civilians and displacing over one million people. 

Today, more than ever, we need to resist the war from the bottom up and we need to do this together. Please help us amplify Israeli voices who resist the government's violent manipulation of our pain. Please watch and help share our various social media pages, to spread the voices of Israelis protesting this war. 




Monday, February 05, 2024

Statement from Quakers in Britain

Official statement of Quakers in Britain


UK must take urgent action after ICJ genocide ruling 

Quakers in Britain welcomes, though with a heavy heart, the historic ruling by the International Court of Justice. In making their interim ruling in South Africa’s case against Israel, charging it with the crime of genocide, the court has stated unequivocally that there is a plausible risk Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and that it must stop killing Palestinian civilians with immediate effect. 

The court also stated that it is gravely concerned about the fate of the Israeli hostages. Quakers in Britain joins it in calling for their immediate and unconditional release. 

Our government, alongside other signatories to the Genocide Convention, is now legally bound to ensure that the measures ordered by the court are taken immediately. As the former colonial power in the Holy Land, the UK bears particular responsibility for the decades-long violence between Israelis and Palestinians. This ruling makes clear that UK actions since 7 October in support of the Israeli military campaign put the British government at risk of complicity in genocidal acts. Rishi Sunak must order the immediate suspension of all UK arms sales and military support to Israel, and put all the pressure at his disposal on Israel to immediately cease fire and abide by the measures ordered by the court. 

The court also found that the withholding of basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza could amount to a serious violation of the Genocide Convention. Quakers in Britain notes with dismay the UK government’s decision to 'temporarily pause’ all funding to UNRWA – the UN agency providing urgent humanitarian assistance in Gaza – following the dismissal of 12 UNRWA staff accused of involvement in the 7 October attacks. We hear the words of the UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini who said, “Our humanitarian operation, on which 2 million people depend as a lifeline in Gaza, is collapsing. I am shocked such decisions are taken based on alleged behaviour of a few individuals and as the war continues, needs are deepening and famine looms. Palestinians in Gaza did not need this additional collective punishment. This stains all of us.” Quakers in Britain calls on the UK government to immediately reverse its decision. Anything less is not enough and could once again put the UK at serious risk of complicity in genocidal acts. 

Over three months have passed since the launch of the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza following the 7 October attacks by Hamas. Quakers in Britain continues to grieve all the lives lost and irrevocably shattered. 

We hold in the Light the memory of over 26,000 Palestinians, including 11,000 children, and 1,200 Israelis, including 36 children, who have been killed since the horrendous attacks by Hamas on 7 October. We hold in the Light the thousands more Palestinian men, women and children buried – some already dead, some dying – under the rubble. We hold in the Light the 1.7 million Gazans now homeless and suffering forcible displacement. We hold in the Light the 136 Israelis held hostage far from home. We hold in the Light all Palestinians and Israelis affected and traumatised. The devastation of human life in Gaza that we are witnessing live on our TV and phone screens day after day goes against our fundamental Quaker belief that every life is sacred. 

As the scale of events threaten to overwhelm us, Quakers in Britain takes the moment of this historic ruling to reaffirm our determination to work for an end to the violence. We do this by accompanying, in our personal relationships and corporately, communities affected by the violence here at home, in occupied Palestine, and in Israel. And we do it through urgently advocating for de-escalation, de-militarisation, for nonviolent means of resolving the conflict, an end to the occupation of Palestine, and a just peace. 

Quakers pray we will not need to keep writing statements like this calling on the British and other governments to act, and calling for the senseless killing and destruction to stop. But until peace prevails, we are compelled morally and spiritually to speak out and take action. There is no time to delay, the violence must end now – tomorrow is too late to save the many precious lives at risk today. 

30 January 2024




Saturday, February 03, 2024

On being hopeful…

 I’m trying…





Thursday, February 01, 2024

Today's letter to my MP

Letter to my MP today, flawed as it is...


I am writing to protest at the UK government’s decision to stop supporting UNWRA.

It is well documented that the people of Gaza are suffering from starvation and lack of shelter. They need food and shelter NOW.

If it is true that 12 people working for UNWRA were involved in the horrific Hamas attack on October 7th that is not an excuse to stop supporting UNWRA. UNWRA employs 30,000 people and 12 of them have been accused. You don’t stop funding the UK police because of widespread racism and sexism and corruption. 

The UK especially should be supporting UNWRA because the UK has a historic responsibility to the people of Palestine because of the forced  displacement and dispossession of Palestinians after WW2.

The halt in funding for UNWRA compounds the UK’s complicity in the genocide being carried out by Israel. Your government has explicitly said they are “on Israel’s side” and have been allowing the sale of weapons to Israel for years, despite the fact that it is an apartheid state, and despite the fact that it has been breaking international law for years by demolishing Palestinian houses and expanding settlements.

(But then it is also obvious in the government’s treatment of refugees that Mr Sunak thinks obeying international law is optional.)

The UK government has also disdained the ruling of the ICJ: that Israel’s war on the people of Gaza could lead to – or be later labelled as - genocide.

Your government is out of step with the majority of ordinary people in the UK.

Most British people are compassionate, and can clearly see what is happening in Gaza and want Mr Sunak to call for a ceasefire and to send aid to the people of Gaza.

I cannot believe that in 2023 I am seeing what is happening in Gaza. It haunts my days. And I am not alone. It is not just the people who march week by week in London who are distraught with anger and sadness at the West’s heartless stance on the plight of Palestinians.

In despair

Sue Hepworth 




Tuesday, January 30, 2024

At home

The headline that struck me this morning at 6 am was that 1 in 9 UK children are reported to be disabled, and the politicians are worried. Are they worried in the way that they are worried about people starving and having to turn to food banks, and others dying because of mouldy accommodation? (ie not worried at all). 

They are worried because of the implications for the economy. Wouldn’t you know it?

After reading this I went down for my first cuppa and met Dave in the kitchen who said “I’m going to tell you two bits of exciting scientific news, one of which you’ll be interested in and one which you won’t.”

“Well, don’t tell me the one I won’t be interested in. That’s an Asperger thing.”

“I’ll tell you anyway because you OUGHT to be interested in it.”

Friends, it was about there being signs of past life on Mars. Not dull, after all. And very brief. 👍

The second was about Alzheimer’s and I’d already read it.

I then told Dave about the disabled children statistic and he said, “Well you know what the politicians will do, don’t you?” And before he’d said it I had jumped to the same conclusion. “They’ll do the Rwanda thing-“

“Yes!” I said, interrupting, “they’ll change the definition of disabled.”

“Yes, they’ll do a Humpty Dumpty and say this is true because I say it is true.”

All this before I had had my first restorative swig of Yorkshire Tea.

I am back in bed now and he has gone off for the day to help someone with DIY. I shall enjoy the quiet house and paint. 

Last week was unpleasant. I spent most of the week a tormented combination of angry and sad because of the western world’s insouciance about the genocide in Gaza. I feel the same now but I have my feelings under control so they’re not spilling out and ruining the days.

I got some paintings back from the framer on Friday and was really delighted with one in particular, one I hadn’t been that keen on before…



I like it but not enough to keep. Next time I am exhibiting it will be one I offer for sale. I’m currently trying to loosen up and be more impressionistic and am working on a painting without brushes, but using a palette knife, cotton buds, cocktail sticks and my fingers. It’s fun! And fun is what I need in these dark dark times.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

A spark of hope

Thank God for the chink of light that came from the International Court of Justice yesterday.

Perhaps it’s the beginning of the end of the lies that Israel tells the world and that the UK and US repeat.

So many dead. So many orphaned, homeless, injured, displaced and starving. Perhaps one day in the future there will be justice. There is a spark of hope. It is something.


Friday, January 26, 2024

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Poem

Please will you watch the prize-winning poet Fiona Benson read one of her poems on Youtube?

It's here







Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Obscenity

I expect you would prefer to arrive at my blog and find a cheery post about everyday life at Hepworth Towers and the harmless humorous skirmishes between the odd couple who live there. I much prefer writing such posts.

Today I can’t. All I can think about are the children, women and men in Gaza. 

The Israeli army continues to kill innocent civilians, to destroy their homes and to target hospitals. Yesterday I read in the news that they even arrested medics in one hospital and another hospital is under siege. Because of shortages of medical supplies, children are having limbs amputated without anaesthetics.

The majority of people in Gaza are starving, thousands upon thousands are wounded, and 1.9 million (the majority of the population) are displaced. Meanwhile western countries stand by and watch. 

In four days it will be International Holocaust Memorial Day. In years to come will there be a similar day for the obscenity that is happening in Gaza? No, because the western world does not care about Palestinians. If they did, they wouldn’t have supported Israel for years and years while they broke international law and created an apartheid state.

Please stand up for Palestine.

Please follow this link and donate to Medical Aid for Palestinians.

https://www.map.org.uk/





Thursday, January 18, 2024

Losing it

Last year I was given a five year diary/journal with a difference. On each day you are asked a question. Yesterday’s was ‘Do you prefer the sea or the mountains and why?’ The day before, I was asked ‘What do you want more than anything else?’ 

Today the question is ‘What is special about today?’ And my answer is:

‘There is nothing in my diary - which means I can paint. Also I can stay in bed and read as long as I like.’ 

I have had some good things in my diary lately - such as trying out a class of QiGong yesterday, run by a friend, and having breakfast with Liz at Hassop Station last week. There have also been quite a few errands and appointments and duties, not hardships, but not fun either. 

Dave’s brain is wired differently from mine. I relish the idea of an ‘empty’ day when I don’t have to schedule, and I can please myself. He likes to have the day buttoned up, parcelled out, ordered. Certainly he likes it when no one comes and when he can please himself, but he likes to have a plan. And he wants to know what my plan is - phrased as the shape of the day - and at 6.30 in the morning when I have stumbled downstairs for my first mug of Yorkshire Tea, I am in no fit state to be thinking of plans or shapes even if I wanted to.

I know this is a rambling post but there we are. I have an empty day, and possibly an empty mind as well. All that is on my mind right now is that the turquoise in the painting I am working on is far too intense. 

Dave has just come in the bedroom and said I left the (sliding) back door open on the car last night. On Monday he left his wallet in full view in the car when he parked in a hospital car park. On Tuesday I left the hot tap running by mistake. Last week I left the kitchen light on all night, two nights in a row, although I was sure I had switched it off.

We are both losing it.

After two weeks of scattered, ill ordered and desultory hunting for it, accompanied by the wailing and gnashing of teeth, Dave has now completed rigorous crime scene searches of two of our sheds to find the bazooka he uses for splitting logs. The first shed - where he does all his woodwork - is so full and cluttered, it took two days to search. I wish he would let me show you what the inside of this shed looks like. 

What I can show you is the new bazooka he just bought from Chesterfield while I have been cosy in bed.



A bazooka. 
Not an Oscar.