Pandemic Pondering #204

These were harvested from a friend’s garden yesterday. The vibrancy of my harvestings is a reflection of the wonderful weather we’ve had in Cornwall throughout the Pandemic, that, and the green fingers of my friends Ed and Mel who are currently in Turkey, Lotus eating.

Lotus Eating fascinated me as a child, there was a TV programme, broadcast in 1972 , the story evolved around expats living on Crete. I was too young to take in the nuances of the plot, but watching the programme from a small Essex market town, I was enchanted and the glamour of Crete wormed its way into my head and has never left me.

The link above takes you to the Wikipedia page of the TV Series.

Lotus Eating has been a life long escape for me. For a long while the bookish Essex Girl that I was and am only did it with imagination. Then foreign travel became easier, and my diligent reading of books gave me a career that could facilitate actual Lotus eating. Just as my childish imagination had shaped it permanently in my head. Lotus Eating in this Essex woman’s head requires travel to anywhere in Greece or Turkey, hopefully not too touristy . Sunshine and swimming are the two essentials that the location needs to provide, I will bring a mountain of books and painting materials.

The reality of becoming my own version of a Lotus Eater has shaped me. I spend way more time imagining myself as a Lotus Eater, particularly in the brutally wet Cornish winters than I ever do actually basking in Mediterranean sunshine.

Our interior design and storage is influenced.

The whole extended family yearns to be owners of goats.

My love of rust and palimpsest probably started with that TV programme. Both are more vivid in sunshine and better preserved in a Mediterranean climate.

Lotus Eating is not, of course, expats living a hedonistic lifestyle or me reading in the sun. In fact it was only ever a myth. See link below to a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

But the fantasy and holidays in the sun make it real, often enough, for it to be as tangible as reality, and for everything else there is memories.

Pandemic Pondering #151

Wave is the prompt word of the Art Group. It would be easy living, as I do, close to the sea to share pictures of lapping waves. But today the word Wave gives me a direct link with our other home zone, Lambeth, London.

Not Waving but Drowning is a poem I loved as a teenager. Filed in my mind but not actually reread until today. I find it’s exquisite accuracy even more moving with a perspective altered by many years of adulthood, and the growing understanding of the fragility of young male mental health.

It is the most famous of Stevie Smith’s poems,published in 1957, it addresses death, as much of her work does, without sentiment.

And so on to the Lambeth connection.

Not Waving but Drowning is the second album by Loyle Carner a Lambeth born Hip-Hop artist. I’m not sure I’ve worked out why the album shares its name with Smith’s poem but Loyle is an Ambassador for CALM which is a charity working to support mens mental health. Hip Hop might not be your thing but Carners lyrics are as sharply accurate as Smith’s poetry.

Both the poetry of Smith and the lyrics of Loyle Carner use words to create a wave of emotion

I am in awe of their ability. I hope you are inspired to read more Smith and listen to Loyle Carner. Follow this link.

Not Waving, but drowning is the inspiration for this painting #mensmentalhealthawarenes

Not all creative ideas go to plan.

I wanted to push this image into a less figurative work. Unlike poetry or music some things are not great when reproduced. This print only really works if you can see it.

Man overwhelmed @theoldmortuary

Loyle Carner on Table Manners Podcast.

Pandemic Pondering #125

Launceston, the town of happy thoughts. My first happy thought linked to Launceston was unknown to me for many years.

Charles Causley is a poet that attracted me as soon as I met his poems.’ Timothy Winters comes to school with eyes as wide as a football-pool’My first experience and a memorable first line. The rest of the poem is beautifully descriptive in an ugly way.

Launceston was Causleys home town and in this portrait painting he is leaning on another favourite of mine, the highly textured walls of St Mary Magdelene.

Appropriately in a Pandemic Pondering the Charles Causley Trust has the most amazing office tucked above one of the ancient gates of Launceston.

In the current pandemic people are giving up offices in favour of working from home , but surely this one is way too cute to give up.

Happy thought number two happened soon after I moved to Cornwall from Brighton.My dad was a real ale drinker and long before the days of instant research on Google he discovered an off licence in Launceston that sold locally brewed ale by the gallon. Several Christmases running a Christmas Eve ritual for him was to drive to Launceston and collect several gallons for the Christmas festivities.It’s a bit shabby now but worth a picture for a happy thought.

Happy thought number 3 involves the Castle. There is nothing more exciting to a pair of six or seven year old boys than being given wooden swords and a whole genuine castle to defend.

Something my son and one of his friends were able to do if we were lucky enough to be the only visitors to the castle on the days we visited.Today the castle is chained up indefinitely protecting its volunteers from the onslaught of Covid 19.

The map of happy places.One final happy thought . A great extended night out of Bollywood Dancing in the Town Hall with RSVP Bhangra.Extended because the band set off the fire alarms and we all spent twenty minutes outside.

After the final happy thought, a final ponder on the beauty of driving to Launceston. Launceston is at the high point of the landscape, which is why it has a castle, the drive to it in any direction is through beautiful countryside, well worth an excursion.

Continue reading “Pandemic Pondering #125”

Plymouth Literature Festival 2017

JB Barrington at the Hutong Cafe

Plymouth has an established and vibrant Performance Poetry culture. For Plymouth Literature Festival 17 there is a new venue on the block. The Hutong Cafe, which opened earlier this year, is building a reputation as an intimate location for evening events. Saturday saw the arrival of JB Barrington, a performance poet from Salford, a particularly interesting area of Manchester, he was supported by two local poets and a surprise extra poet from Hull.

The evening kicked off with Antonia Raine, a local poet who flipped misogyny on its head, shining wit and humour on the cliched comments and behaviours of some men that really piss women off. She was followed by another local wordsmith, Andy Blackwell who weaved local and carnal knowledge into brilliant and narrative poems, told in a range of accents that were superbly accurate.

The surprise extra of the evening was Jim Higo, a poet/ comedian from Hull, as a salve to the pride of Plymouth which lost the chance of being City of Culture to Hull he suggested that the only perceptible change in his City, now it is cultured, is that there has been an increase in the street price of heroin. Jim’s set was lively and left me an earworm that was hard to shake. His rant “ I Hate a Floating Voter” was a polemic, and although I didn’t completely agree with it, I was hooked by his performance. His incomplete Ice House Road, a tale of prostitution, left me wanting more and the poem about a lonely aged boxer cadging drinks in the pubs of Hull was unexpectedly moving. He told us that his mum thought that a Plymouth audience wouldn’t ‘get’ him when he told her where he was performing. She was wrong, the audience at Hutong definitely ‘got’ him, his tales of deprivation and humour struck a local nerve.

Wearing a brown Mac and clutching a carrier bag of stuff, the main man, JB Barrington wandered to the front of the room for the third part of the evening. He cut a stylish figure with steel grey hair and modish good looks. The previous night he had performed at the 02 at Sheffield with the Sleaford Mods, and tonight 50 lucky people at Hutong had a much closer encounter.
JB is from Salford, an award winning performance poet known for his satirical, lyrical, ‘working class’ poetry. His poems feature dole and debt, dockers and unions, proud men, strong women and the love, fun, misery and fragility of normal life where he comes from. His mum is a huge source of inspiration. Things Me Mam Used to Say might be the words of a Salford woman but the motherly advice and discipline all seemed pretty relatable. Nostalgia conjured for humble icons like the Spanish dolls that resided in countless Council homes depicting the glamour of European travels long before Easy Jet. JB points out the obvious things that it’s all too easy to overlook and forget; yet these are the things of recent social history.

You Had Me, is the tale of an ex lover-note to many, never upset a poet you might become a performance! Truly I was lost for words, it was such a great evening. Not only because it featured poetry from a man who is such a high caliber performer – I don’t know why did he agree to perform in such a tiny venue a seven hour drive from his home but I am glad he did. JB Barrington came to Plymouth Literary Festival, he was brilliant and incidentally brought another wonderful poet with him and they were both ably supported by some seriously good local talent.