Pandemic Pondering #255

A funny thing happened overnight on Thursday.

©Karen Mills

The picture above was taken at sunset. My Thursday evening started well, witnessing these amazing skies, but then took a more arduous turn when I joined in with a Zoom AGM. The meeting took serpiginous routes through regular business and decision making and lasted three hours. Not many important decisions were made and, as can happen at these things, some folk got on some high horses and rode the poor things into the ground. Thankfully I am not a chairman , I fear my finger may have inadvertantly grazed the mute button on more than one occasion.

Safe to say three hours prepped me very well for sleep. Not the restful sort though. I woke myself up reciting a poem, almost word perfect, that I had no idea was still stored in my brain.

Who could guess why such a volatile poem hijacked my sleep . Maybe that dramatic sky or maybe an AGM where raging and raving were bobbing just under the surface.

Do not go gentle into the night.

By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning theyDo not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

After all that nocturnal culture it was good to wake up to a calm morning.

©Clare Law

Pandemic Pondering #254


A commission went off to its new home a little over a week ago. It was a birthday gift so I can only reveal it now. It is the first big painting with washes of colour and a figurative element. Something I’ve been dabbling with since the beginning of the pandemic. If anything the abstract landscape element is simplified in all these pandemic works and the figurative element is symbolic rather than a perfect rendition of an object or person. This was a commission with some guidelines and thoughts from the customer. In an uncertain world many of us like a little certainty. In this picture the certainty is provided by Smeatons Tower and by the words hidden in the rocks.

In other Pandemically created works the certainty is provided by the human form.

I wanted the human to be as serene as a Budha and sexually ambiguous.

One of the things I love about commissions is that they come with a set of conditions that I would not give myself and consequently force me a little beyond my own boundaries. I’ve learnt from bitter and expensive experience not to stray too far from my boundaries to satisfy a customer at the cost of my integrity. All commission’s are a risk but I’ve learned to manage that risk now.

The two pictures seem quite far apart but they are part of my current need to inject something solid and certain into colourful abstracts and they are both an explorative part of future paintings.

For now I’ve just created an apocalyptic high tide.

Pandemic Pondering #253

It was another blue sky day today. So blue in fact that any photograph would just have been an expanse of blue. November in Britain is a great time for staring at the sky at night too.

Fireworks light up November skies for many reasons in multi cultural Britain. Divali, Guy Fawkes Night, Lord Mayors Show and Thanksgiving are all a fine excuse to gather together to eat, drink and stare skyward to be amazed.

These pictures are fireworks I captured at The Lord Mayors Show in London a few years ago. I’m not sure why I succeeded to capture something worth looking at that year, I’ve tried and failed since. It is almost never worth the effort.

This November, of course, is marked by an absence of big firework displays.

As I write this, my home city of Plymouth should be excitedly planning an evening of lights and Fireworks to mark Mayflower 400.

400 years since the signing of the Mayflower Compact. Thanksgiving Day.

50 years ago, The United American Indians of New England declared the 4th Thursday of November The National Day of Mourning, as a reminder of the slaughter of millions of Indigenous people and the theft of their lands by outsiders.

It has taken a Pandemic to allow that day to pass quietly as perhaps it should. Below is a link to a ceremony held in Plymouth last night.

I will just leave that thought, and walk away.


Pandemic Pondering #251

This is a little bit of a one trick pony of a pondering. One of my favourite Facebook History Pages, asked the question. ” What is your favourite street name?”

No other name comes close to Grotto Passage in Marylebone. It was on one of my regular work walks. As an aside but slightly work related, some of my work colleagues were big fans of post work hook-ups using the dating App Grindr. If it were me there could only ever be one address for a liaison post work. ” Meet me in Grotto Passage’ would be my first choice everytime.

As it happens history got there before me. In the 18th Century Grotto Passage led to a Grotto. A pleasure garden, greatly embellished with sea shells by the owner John Castle, an acknowleged expert builder of such things. The fashion was brief and after John died the grotto fell into disrepair and was eventually built over. Most notably in 1846 by a children’s home and school entitled ‘ The Grotto Ragged and Industrial School’ and later ‘ The Grotto Passage Refuge’ It was around this time the area became known for the sort of sexual liaisons I jokingly referred to at the beginning.

But not necessarily in a good way, in TripAdvisor of the time the sort of sexual entertainment that could be had in Grotto Passage was considered to be inferior to the services available in Haymarket and was described as ” Depraved in every sense”

That seems as good a place as any to finish this ponder.

Pandemic Pondering #250

A cobweb as a metaphor. Planning in a Pandemic has been unbelievably strange. Things that we thought were certain in March 2020 have proved to be not so certain at all and yet in November unplanned things have become certainties.

This jewel encrusted spiders web made me think of the randomness of planning at the moment. Without this web each of these droplets would have splashed on the ground and amounted to nothing but by being caught in the web they exist as beautiful crystal jewels.

If raindrops are plans in 2020 then only the ones that are caught firmly but randomly by the fragility of our situation will survive long enough to come to fruition. I’ve given up trying to predict which ones will fail and which will move on from plans to achievements. Conversely some things seem to succeed without any plans. It’s baffling and uplifting all at the same time and it makes me very grateful for the real world versions of cobwebs. Strength in fragility.

Pandemic Pondering #249

A funny thing happened between Lockdown I and Lockdown II. @theoldmortuary took to the water.

As spring turned to summer and swimming pools stayed resolutely closed we took to the sea for swimming and bobbing about while talking as soon as it was permitted in mid May.The habit stuck and by November we were part of a ‘thing’ a massive increase of people wild swimming. Not only that but by persisting with it we were able to do it in skin, until mid November.

This weekend wetsuits were purchased, and that is the result of the funny thing that happened between Lockdown I and II. Why did we not just stop swimming in the sea in September just like any normal year?

We’ve cut down on the post swim reward. Black coffee without the embellishments of doughnuts, Eccles cakes or cinnamon buns. Wet suits are not as forgiving as bathing suits. 2020 is notorious enough without being the year two wetsuits were purchased. Whatever next!

Pandemic Pondering #248


Oh my goodness, I’ve completely missed my year anniversary of daily blogging. As regular readers know , daily blogging was never a plan but the Pandemic has stepped in and daily blogging is where I have ended up. It would be tempting to leave a missed anniversary as just that but admitting my error allows me to share some photographs of an area I’ve loved since long ago when it was shabby and even more since the rest of the world has discovered it.

1 year and 12 days after my blogging course I bring you Spitalfields. A year and 10 days ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to write a random blog. On the 9th and 10th November 2019 none of us had any idea what was coming; a Pandemic that has given me the time to ponder.

What thrills me is that the amazing Palimpsest that is all over Spitalfields inspired a friend of mine, Anne Crozier, to create Palimpsest for an Art Exhibition in Tavistock.

Pukka Palimpsest © Anne Crozier
Spitalfields Palimpsest

Great images just happen in this special corner of East London.

My relationship with the building the course was held in goes back many years . The Townhouse , Spitalfields is an antique shop with beautiful contemporary pieces sprinkled among older items. It is an art gallery and cafe and holds some resources to demonstrate the importance of the area to families linked with Hugenot migrants. Accomodation is also offered in unexpectedly comfy rooms.

On a previous visit, before he knew how to behave, Hugo hid in a corner pretending to be stock.

Here is the back door of The Town House.

And some more street art that was just around the corner.

And a link to the website of the Gentle Author who ran the course I attended.

And another to the townhouse, I don’t know how it has fared during the pandemic.

Both links show beautifully why I am inspired by them.

Pandemic Pondering #247

Pondering ruminating.

Underneath the Millennium Bridge, London

It’s been a dull day so I thought I would #lightupnovember2020 with some light photos from Novembers past while nattering on about ruminating. I’ve pondered a bit about what comes after Pandemic Pondering. I’ve already accepted that my extended Advent will not occur this year as I’m already committed to pondering . Christmas 2020 dusted off the decorations and TV adverts early without warning me. I have already missed that particular boat.

Looking beyond Christmas and into 2021 the news on many potential vaccines suggests that a post pandemic life may be a little closer, the end to Ponderings needs to be considered. Recently I stumbled on Random Ruminations as the eventual successor to Pandemic Ponderings.

Initial research has taken me down an unusual path involving a cows four stomachs and the fascinating information that cows belch silently. If there is technique for learning this?

©Oxford Languages

To me the deep thinking and the chewing of the cud are interchangable. How can we possibly know if cows are,or are not, thinking deeply whilst they chew the cud. Are they the even the same word in many other languages?

The SouthBank, London

Beyond this early research I don’t believe I need to worry overmuch about rumination. Pondering looks set to carry on for a little while yet. Perhaps I should start collecting photographs of ruminants though!

Illuminate Festival, Plymouth.