The Equinox has been and gone, the clocks gone forward, the daffodils, the hawthorn, narcissi and tulips have all burst forth. It’s Easter and Spring has sprung. Oh the relief. The days grow quickly longer and the sun is warmer. A year has passed in the company of Covid and our lives have changed.
Restrictions are gradually lifting and we have walked, tea’d and outdoor’d with friends in greening gardens, a strange nervousness underlying all as if some boundary had been crossed into unknown territory with a departure from such tight and familiar routines. Like that feeling of apprehension setting off to school after a long break. Odd.
We have both now had our second jabs of Astra Zeneca and hope the rest of the world can have them all soon; after all – no-one is safe until everyone is safe. Our reactions have varied – not good for either and particularly bad for Tony. They warned us that they who had it may react badly. They were right!
“Cut flowers…….heavens!” my arty Aunt used to jokingly ape her grand- and my great grandmother who regarded such things as decorations for weddings and funerals. Why bring flowers into your home when they look better in the garden! This of course pre-supposes that all people have access to herbaceous borders in walled gardens and vast bucolic vistas across tree-lined greenswards easily viewed from drawing rooms and terraces.
My arty Aunt arranged a good bowl and thought our granny and great-granny a snob!
Artiness runs in that branch. Such talent all round. My wonderful DoP Cousin turned 70 this week! Congratulations Stephen!
These are our “cut flowers” and here are Gerard Manly Hopkins’ Binsey Poplars felled in 1879:
My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled, Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun, All felled, felled, are all felled; Of a fresh and following folded rank Not spared, not one That dandled a sandalled Shadow that swam or sank On meadow & river & wind-wandering weed-winding bank. O if we but knew what we do When we delve or hew — Hack and rack the growing green! Since country is so tender To touch, her being só slender, That, like this sleek and seeing ball But a prick will make no eye at all, Where we, even where we mean To mend her we end her, When we hew or delve: After-comers cannot guess the beauty been. Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve Strokes of havoc unselve The sweet especial scene, Rural scene, a rural scene, Sweet especial rural scene.
There has been much felling in our woods too. Some of it good but much of it ominous. More housing, more roads, more people and their cars; more rubbish for this gentle land with it’s soft, green contours, thrown carelessly down or out to lie indestructibly in ditches and on paths with dog shit in black bags being offensively foremost. But I’ve had this rant before I hear you say, my friends! Enough!
The confluence of the Roman & Colne Rivers at Wivenhoe & Rowhedge.
There has been such a lot of time for reflection, hasn’t there?
We have of course, like you, carried on with the endless films and TV programmes that have enlightened, entertained, enraged and moved.
Here are a few since last I blogged. Not all, but a few.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Black Messiah
Flare LBGT Festival @ the BFI, Tove and all!
The Valhalla Murders
Me & My Father (Nick Broomfield’s Homage to his Dad)
Ute Lemper on Marlene Dietrich
Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time (Hungarian)
Line of Duty (of course)
Maggie Smith in Conversation (naturally)
And more webinars, Friends: Blithe Spirit with the Oxford & Cambridge Club and a sweet interlude with the young ladies & gentlemen of the Stukeley Meadows Primary School, to whom I read Mitch Johnson’s new book Kick , a touching story of Budi, an enthusiastic supporter of Real Madrid, from the slums and sweat shops of Jakarta. The children were so appreciative and sent me this beautiful card along with 54 letters! So touching. I’ve never had feedback like that in 45 years!
While on the subject of books, Damon Galgut’s newest book has just been published in the US and the UK. It’s wonderful. Queue for a copy!
Then The Father finished us both off. Achingly sad as anyone who has experienced any or all of the dementias would surely agree?
“……..What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust…………?”
When we lose our reason, we are nothing.
It’s been It’s a Sin that has most affected me though. It so reached into my memory and what I discovered there was not entirely happy. I know some of you were unimpressed by this series and found it “inauthentic” and “unrealistic” and “unbelievable”. I did not think so. It chimed with my own experiences and I found its essence all too true and sad. It was of course, heightened drama but even so, its points were clear – to me at any rate.
That is another story for another time!
A touching story from Friend Maud in Amsterdam:
“This afternoon I listened to a podcast called ‘Sterk Water’ (Strong Water, by which they usually mean alcohol/jenever in Dutch).
But this time it was about Terschelling, my favourite island.
Thirty years ago a boy from Harwich called Peter threw a bottle into the sea with his name in it. The bottle came ashore on Terschelling.
The man who found it gave it to Coby the girl next door.
Peter was 14 and Coby 15 I think. They started a correspondence.
Five years later Peter visited Coby on Terschelling for the first time. Love at first sight. They married, started a drugstore on the island and got a daughter.
In 2010 Peter died.
I thought what a beautiful story. Since he was from Harwich I had to share this with you.”
Miraculous. Thanks Maud!
To London for Bloods and Dentistry yesterday! The Gasman did not cometh!