● Lady Percy moves me - might she move you? CLICK TO FIND OUT
● Plus my novels, stories, verse, vulgar interests, apologies, and singing.
● Most posts are 300 words. I respond to all comments/re-comments.
● See Tone Deaf in New blogger.

Tuesday 24 September 2019

The sun supreme

Brexit! How that clicket-clackety word deadens the spirit.

Brexit will allow us to "take back control" we were told. Failing to add we would find ourselves in a circus where a clown had become the ringmaster and was insisting the audience too should don the motley and paint a big red smile on its face.

This morning I was in the Forest of Dean, a place my father warned us about just before our honeymoon tour. "Bogeymen will come through the trees and carry off you and your bride," he said. More on that later but don't hold your breath.

My needs today were more mundane. For reasons other than the most obvious, my car needed a new cigarette lighter. In the stylish if austere dealership waiting-room a huge TV tuned to Sky News burbled almost inaudibly. For a while I ignored it, Sky was once owned by the saurian Rupert Murdoch and my antipathy still persists.

The clocked ticked on beyond 10 am and abruptly I was transfixed. Today was THE day! And 10.30 was THE time! Britain's supreme court would rule on whether Clown Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament was lawful. And here we were: court president Baroness Hale, a gilded spider brooch on her right shoulder (Bad omen for the political right?), spoke the momentous words clearly but almost silently. It's considered bad form to turn up the wick on a waiting-room TV and I strained every ear muscle.

In a phrase I, a wordsmith, could not have bettered the suspension was deemed to be "unlawful, void and to no effect." The future is still cloudy of course but briefly the sun broke through. A happy morning. The bogeyman held at bay.

Saturday 21 September 2019

Recumbency: yea or nay?

Young people (ie, 75 and below) won’t make head nor tail of this.

Should one feel guilty about dozing while the sun shines? Especially after lunch or, in my case, brunch.

Drifting off on the couch is one of the most seductive experiences I know. It’s not just a matter of parting (temporarily, one hopes) from an increasingly defective body, one also discards the carapace of history. The memories of commuting, of wearily contemplating some unattractive DIY project, of reminding oneself about the need for toilet rolls. That delicious onset of heaviness as we descend... In dozing we are shriven.

But the question about guilt remains. In becoming an atheist I passed briefly – in my youth - through various Christian institutions, mostly Noncomformist. All seemed to suggest that pleasurable experiences should, perhaps must, be paid for. I believe it is a Calvinist tenet and somehow I’ve never shrugged it off.

VR is in two minds about dozing. Yes it happens, but she finds the abrupt return to wakefulness so traumatic that any delights are immediately swept away. While I, alas, find reality’s renewal almost as seductive as its disappearance.

My maternal Grannie was born into the mid-Victorian era and died at 96. She dozed but, when awake, sought niggling tasks. Were these two things related? I doubt I’d have got a straight answer.

Here’s the crux. Awake, is it likely I’d devote this “saved” time to useful work? It’s true I wash up (and dry!), occasionally water the garden, prune the more obstreperous bushes – all unwillingly. But rehearsing An die Musik, writing a sonnet or struggling through Bertrand Russell can’t be regarded as useful activities.

The question is of course rhetorical. I shall continue to doze. Framing rejoinders to a Calvinist figure of authority as the eyelids subside.

Monday 16 September 2019

Marly - Salutations

In religion, some literary tastes and politics I’m Marly Youmans’ polar opposite yet it doesn’t seem to matter a damn. She doesn’t blog much now but earlier I was tempted into long comments at The Palace at 2 AM to which she always conscientiously replied. For me a window on an entirely different and civilised way of life with strangely Faulknerian roots. We both write novels (she much more professionally) and that was a bond.

I bought Marly’s The Book of The Red King, suspecting it might not be my cup of tea, poems written by Fool en route to the Red King’s palace. I’m not into myth/fantasy and my fictional characters include a former production manager at a washing machine manufacturer. Not social realism y’unnerstand, but slightly gritty.

However in my sere, yellow and almost-dropping-off years I write verse. Marly’s good at that except hers is poetry. Red King may emerge as a narrative but in the interim I’m treating her poems as separate entities. Looking for what races my motor. Plenty does. It’s not exactly news but Marly loves words:

And beauty – golden perianth,
Blown glass, the bending trees
A marble fairy on a plinth.

But they don’t have to be exotic

The water let him down. It took him in
The water waved his hair as if with love
Cold lensed against his eyes as if to show...

Marly’s eclectic in this cento (ie, a patchwork)

A different kingdom, whole words apart (Proust)
Voices in the waves always whispering (Dickens)
And murmuring of boughs, and sleepy boughs (Yeats – a Marly trade mark)

Edges into my Schubertian world with The Miller’s Son

The arms are strange, almost a pair of legs
Borrowed from a horse...

And there’s The Twelfth-night Fool but I’ve run out of...

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Goodbye Continong

Whatever happens to Britain, it’ll take ages – perhaps for ever – to suggest
we’re not a bunch of oafs. Since oafishness prevails, here’s another tranche*.

*French for slice.

Damn Brexit, curse Brexit,
And all the votes that spawned it,
To seek a past that never was,
And bring us this Hell's armpit.

Not Europe, they whimpered,
They'll do us down, unhindered.
They envy us our history,
And all the duds we've knighted.

Those rightists, those Tories,
Those half-told fairy stories
Who gave a crown to butch BJ
To choke half Kent with lorries.

It’s fear that’s behind it,
It’s foreign and they mind it
Un-English is what scares their pants
Although M. Thatcher signed it.

No grand thoughts, no culture,
Just relish for a rupture
A love of futile loneliness
And pickings for a vulture.

Oh England, you shame me
I don’t care if you blame me,
I care for European peace
And, yes, I am the same me

To the tune of A-tisket, a-tasket.
For a sprechstimme version click HERE

Tecno-note. For several years, thanks to MikeM, I've used dead simple Picosong
to post audio files to my blog. But Picosong has closed down. No worries,
Soundcloud is even simpler

Friday 6 September 2019

Blessed surcease

It's Friday, VR's art group day. This afternoon I'll drive her 11 miles to the village hall in ultra-middle-class Ewyas Harold, two hours later I'll pick her up. Since I'll have the car out of the garage we'll pay a morning visit to Tesco for any necessary weekend shopping. A Friday like hundreds of others since we moved to Hereford over twenty years ago.

I get up slowly to ensure I don't enrage my lower back. I'd like to pretend I may get up without reflecting on my age but my back prevents this. Yup, I'm old! Even though going downstairs slightly eases unwelcome messages from the Malign Kingdom of the Lower Lumbar Delta. God rot them all down there.

One cannot consciously forget one's age but one may - temporarily - replace that awareness. How? By doing something new, never attempted before. There's a general election in the offing and I could vote Tory. Risky! Very risky! My left hand would reach stranglingly for my throat as my right hand wielded the pencil.

I could Google the rules of lacrosse. Read a whodunnit by P. D. James. Count backwards from a thousand. Try to play Wiegenlied on the keyboard with my toes. A multitude of novel experiences.

In the kitchen is a fruitcake, cooked yesterday and scattered with almond flakes. It's VR's cake day at the art group. I could bake a cake, that would be new. I imagine the procedure. Obtain a mixing bowl, yeah I know where that is. Then... what? Crack an egg. Then....? Beyond is only a void.

But never mind. For the first time ever I've imagined baking a cake. Forgetting my age. And the MKLLD messages have become fainter.

Simple really.

Tuesday 3 September 2019


Monday's singing lesson was hard. And mildly unbelievable. The last seven notes of Gaelic Blessing ("Deep peace of Christ to you") are all the same pitch – B. How hard is it to sing the same note seven times? Fact is, the notes have different lengths yet must hang together as a musical phrase.

Also, in singing any note you are not only influenced by what went before, you’re anticipating what's to come. A "time travelling" state of mind I’m still coming to terms with.

"I've worked you really hard today," said V.

Quite true, I thought.

"You've done really well."

It hadn't seemed like it.

"It's amazing how far you've come."

Have I? But then I'm nearing four years of solo tuition, that should be the case.

The room was silent from our labours. V sat at the piano (“It needs retuning,” she fretted.) and, because of intermittent back pain, I sat on an upright wooden chair. The much-scrutinised score, source of all rewards and difficulties, stood near-vertical on the music stand.

V said, "The better you get, the more picky I have to be."

I thought. "The better I get the more pickiness I must be prepared to take."

Not a brilliant aphorism but it would pass.

V said, "Don't work on Gaelic Blessing at home. We're going to forget it for a while."

That was a blow. There were answers I’d envisaged trying, but V's the boss. She’s the one who has brought me this far. As I drove home the embedded words of Gaelic Blessing rose unbidden in my mind/throat and I mumbled them before I realised and stopped. Same again, today, as I waited at the hairdresser’s.

I don’t actually possess music, it possesses me.