Tag: grandchildren

Each life a voyage

Each life a voyage, sailed without a map,
Into the wild blue yonder.

                                           Ports of call
Are all we have by way of destination.
Island hops, our only means of travel,
Lean on local knowledge for successful
Landfall or else we fail to make the coast
And drift in wishful dreams of lucky chances.
Winds and waves the drivers, all our hopes 
Depend on how our skills of trim and tack
Hold up against the flow.

                                          Ashore we meet
The ones we come to love and vow to journey
On beside, for nothing stays the stream
Of time and tide. Our voyage side by side
In shared navigation carries us
To further havens: cradles for our young
Who come aboard and sail with us awhile
Until the charms of other charts take hold.

An archipelago of choices lies ahead
And intermingled courses take us on
A mystery tour where curtains hide the truth
That all of us are borne at equal speed
Into the dying light, a great armada
Floating as one ship but fighting shy
Of what this means: that there will come an hour
For each of us when sailing arts and crafts
Begin to fail. Perhaps we hit the rocks
Or sink in open water without trace
Unless another vessel bears away,
To hazy far horizons, memories
Of sailing days and island ways with us.

And what of our own recollections, isles
Of long ago whose colours glow as bright
As ever in our dreams? Unless they're told,
Such visions fade as if they've never been.
But who would want to hear of days gone by
Unless the telling strikes a chord with here
And resonates with now? To stay in tune
And keep in time, no better way than watch
And hear the young at play and - best of all! -
To join their games and find our inner child
Still knows the way!

                                 And when does childhood end?
For some of us, the adult moment comes
Along with our first child into the world.
As new-born grown-ups, all our energies
Are spent in readying our kids to face
The full-on life we somehow just fell into.

Second-time around, when grandkids come,
Our adulthood is worn more lightly. Now
We see the children that we were more clearly
Mirrored in them and shining just as bright,
Such innocence a refuge - then as now -
From worldly weariness and dulled belief.
But hope is never lost that's been deferred
And springs eternal in the risen seed.

Such innocence a refuge from the storm
Though no hiatus, not a moment saved
From time's relentless flow that carries all
Before it: people, islands, planets, stars.

Borne on by winds and waves to our conclusion,
At the last we salvage consolation.
Childhood can bring our little lives full circle.
Sailing days and island ways recycle.
From early on, our rhymes are primed with truth.
We all dip heads into the deep blue sea
So love the whistling wind and glancing spray,
The creaking timberwork and flapping sail,
The peril just beyond the safety rail,
The expertise that keeps mischance at bay.

To live with death in life, our human lot,
We seek out life in death: the power to love
The more because we know that time for us
Is running fast and we are running slow.

In age, what joy to watch the young at play
And hear their puppet parody of what 
We seem to be when who we really are
Inhabit realms more like their own than they
Could well imagine! Little do they know,
Beneath our senior surface dwells a child
Rejoicing in the sight and sound of kids
That keep the flame of life alive and well.
Our powers passed, we glory in their constant
Urge to run and leap and race and climb
And ride and dance as if we danced and rode
And climbed and raced and leapt and ran beside them.

Thus, what draws them on to unseen futures
Resurrects in us our vanished pasts.

                                                               Dave Kingsbury                        


image: Mama Lisa’s World


What follows was inspired by questions from my little granddaughter who, like millions of other children, is a big fan of Moana.

So you – sights set on far horizons – ask
for tales of years gone by when I was young
and just set sail myself. This shore you’ll leave
me standing on, it’s easy to forget,
is where I ended up when time and tide
grew tired of play and cast me like a doll.

Please don’t confuse salt streaks upon my cheeks
for tears, nor think me mindless when I let
fine sand fall soft and free between my fingers.
The voyage was long that brought me here and full
of stories, some you may not care to hear
and others I’m not ready yet to tell.

That fog far out at sea is what’s to come
for you, uncertain here. For me, it shrouds
the past – makes dim and distant days I’d love
to lay before you clear as here-and-now.

Just wait awhile. Let sunshine burn through haze
and scents upon the breeze bring memories
so sharp they entertain and teach by turns.
Let nature take her course and nothing’s hid
which hidden ebb and flow cannot reveal.
So ask once more and what was lost I’ll find –
foresee a future from a past restored to mind.



Image result for moana sets sail


Image: Everything Film – WordPress.com


A Change in the Weather

With a little help from online friends, I’ve figured out that the glitch in my blog-post production-line is down to disappointment with the world.

Not the natural world, of course, but the rowdy human element that threatens its stability. Crown of Creation, my arse! Oh, we know enough as a species to make things better but currently we seem hell-bent on making them worse. We resemble nothing so much as a bunch of toddlers throwing our toys out of the playpen.

I say we but too often it’s us and them as our much-vaunted global communication network splinters into weird cabals, soundproof silos and oddball obsessions. Knowledge itself is under attack, with truth obscured beneath a toxic cloud of clueless prejudice and wilful falsification. Once upon a time rules governed what was published. Nowadays, it seems, anything goes! I suspect today’s most widely-read author is named Anon.

As a matter of indisputable fact, I have just become ruler of the universe and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it …

Fake news, of course, because Donald Trump beat me to it. Probably.

As to genuine tidings, here’s an update. My loss of voice – notwithstanding this hysterical babble! – is really dismay that nothing I can possibly come up with will make a blind bit of difference. My mum’s withering comparison for something – or someone – utterly useless springs to mind:  like a fart in a colander!

Come to think of it, that’s a handy descriptor for a fair few things you read on social media. Wind and hot air. Let’s hope the warming doesn’t go global … whoops, too late!

Ha, now there’s an example of my problem. Everything, it seems, plays out on the big stage. And here am I, waiting in the wings for a walk-on part afraid of fluffing my only line and dropping my spear.

Those encouraging responses to my cry for help previous post come back to me … start from where you are … stick to what you know … keep it short and sweet … write what makes you happy … all of them solid-gold suggestions when the currency of public discourse is so debased. A world in uproar is a good place to set your own house in order. Home truths hit hardest, they say, and shine brightest … enlightenment is the only thing denialists truly fear.

This isn’t to limit what you can write about. Reading some short stories by Herman Hesse, I learn that his childhood ambition to be a magician stemmed from a dissatisfaction with what people conventionally called ‘reality’. Later in life, by magic he came to mean the transformation of reality – the creation of a wholly new reality – in his writing. Northrop Frye observed that ‘fantasy is the normal technique for fiction writers who do not believe in the permanence or continuity of the society they belong to.’ JRR Tolkien defined fantasy as ‘the making or glimpsing of Other-worlds’ and Hesse’s stories often display the ‘arresting strangeness’, the ‘freedom from the domination of observed fact’ that Tolkien called the essential qualities of fantasy.

All of that leaves plenty of wriggle-room, I reckon. Truth doesn’t have to be mundane. The other day I was puzzling over my very young grandson’s invariably scatological response to perfectly reasonable questions like Who did you play with at nursery today? and What would you like for your dinner? Instead of admonishing him, I decided to have a little fun myself. Adopting a cod French accent, I would launch into something along these lines:

Ah yes, your words, zey take me back to zose far-off times in gay Paree – in 1923 – ze Café Royale in Montmartre – oh, such music, such dancing! – and ze most beautiful dancer of zem all, ze leetle French ballerina Pupu – what was eet we call her for short? – ah yes, Pu – and Oui we cry as her lurvely leetle dance ends Oui Oui Encore Une Fois Pupu Oui Oui …

You get the idea. It wasn’t long before my peculiar little outbursts started to do the trick. Now he gives a straight answer, more often than not. Like most audiences, he may be aware something has gone on but he won’t know exactly what …


Image result for colander


Image: Amazon.ca

Non, je ne regrette rien (3/3)

Brave title, huh? And what a carefree fool was I to fill the first two parts of a three-part series with random musings in the vain hope that I would somehow be able to pull them all together in the third! My cousin’s beagle springs to mind, that sad mutt who follows threads of criss-crossing scent in the vain hope of catching something significant.

Do I regret starting this wild goose chase? Not allowed to, am I, with a title like the one above? So, nose to the ground and away we go!

My confessed failure as a systematic thinker means that I set great store by the intense moments of revelation that James Joyce called ‘epiphanies’ where all is seen, felt and understood in a flash. Art has a vital role in deepening our receptivity to such moments – my previous examples were the Charlton Heston character watching Woodstock and Joni Mitchell’s characteristic flashes of insight, so what better than to bring the two together?

You had to be there, right?

Well, no, Joni never made it to Woodstock because of the chaos on the roads. Frustrated by their absence from that epoch-defining gathering, she and Stephen Stills wrote this anthem while holed up in a New York hotel. It’s a song not of complacent hedonism but of aspiration and desire, the sources of its undeniable power. The future has yet to be found.

Just as great art is never an expression of unalloyed joy, so breakthrough science is never satisfied with untested hypotheses. We trust art when it confronts pain and we trust science when it battles falsehood. Fundamentalists of all stripes seek to limit the freedom and scope of art and science in favour of their own unquestioned nostrums.

Intolerant versions of all the major religions threaten to plunge the world into a new dark age of childish irrationality. Runaway nationalism threatens to raise the drawbridge behind globalism’s lucky winners, leaving the losers out in the cold. These scourges are the twin evils of Ignorance and Want that Charles Dickens unforgettably personified as two poor children 175 years ago in his deeply moral fable A Christmas Carol.

Image result for ignorance and want

And behind all this – some might say, a root cause of these problems – lies the pernicious philosophy that humankind is no more than the sum of its wants and preferences as expressed in a global market place. Inequality within nations espousing these mean-spirited notions is as bad as it was when Dickens worked himself to death in a supreme artistic effort to change hearts and minds. A new dark age looms where there is no such thing as community, where price is mistaken for value and where austerity bears down on the poor.  Here children are taught that the only status they can expect to be conferred on them in life is as consumers. Their parents, hardly less brainwashed, pass on a model of lifelong infantilism where the only gratification is consumption of poor-quality products.

Forgive my intemperance. I’ve just been reading a newspaper article which exposes the shortcomings of neoliberalism. It’s long but worth the effort, in my opinion.


And tomorrow we look after our 3-year-old granddaughter. We probably won’t play with her shop-bought toys but instead devise scenarios using pebbles, sticks from the garden, string, coloured chalk and kitchen pans. This will be her idea. I just go along with it. She seems to know what she’s doing.

Oh, and clothes-pegs … she loves the Woodentops. She can impersonate that baby to a T!

What I would regret would be to leave her with a world in an unstoppable vortex of ignorance, want and greed … or, more precisely, to leave her in such crazy turbulence without saying or doing something about it.

So here’s a shot across the bows. Whatever happened to freedom, equality and solidarity? And what on earth is so funny about peace, love and understanding?