Tag: ramblings

The Play Way

It’s almost three weeks since my previous WordPressing and so – concerned that I might be starting to run out of steam – have just gone back five years to my first ever post in search of fresh inspiration …

My voyage of exploration begins. I want to recapture the spirit of childhood, when we would set out from home with the deliberate aim of getting hopelessly lost. No point in going over old ground, after all …

freerange

Reading that again, I’m somehow reminded of these opening credits to a groundbreaking TV show:

Many people of my generation will know every word of this off by heart. Back then we wouldn’t have missed the adventures of the Starship Enterprise, ha, for the world! Pre-moon landings, outer space was still sexy and post-Beatlemania but pre-Woodstock we were eager for alternative experiences. Boundaries were boring and Star Trek, by definition, didn’t have any. Plus it employed some clever sci-fi screenwriters to explore some radical new ideas … well, radical by comparison with the fusty old 1950s of our childhood! Yes, in 1966, Warp Speed was the only way to travel …

In many ways they were confident times in which to grow up. The following opening credits feature two stylish special agents with a refreshingly chilled-out attitude to the Cold War hanging over their – and our – heads:

Looking back, the appeal of both shows was their optimistic and playful approach to serious subjects. Escapist, even naiive, their exploration and make-believe brought welcome extensions to our childhood. And come to think of it, much of our playing had involved pretending to be grown-ups. Adults appeared resourceful, capable, powerful. The very last person you’d want to be was Peter Pan – I mean, what sort of lunatic would want to stay a kid forever?

But now, looking back with a nostalgic eye, how we revere those precious moments of innocent discovery! As so often, the philosopher Nietzsche nails this idea:

‘In every real man, a child is hidden that wants to play.’

Ironic, isn’t it, that children yearn for adulthood while adults still feel like children? I suppose this doubleness in our nature is the basis of empathy between the generations. I find in playing with my grandkids a way to re-live my past through younger eyes as well as sharing in their fresh discoveries. I’ve just read what follows and every word of it struck a chord:

Play is the most valuable way that children learn. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.

As young children struggle to create a desired effect with a toy, they discover that it isn’t always easy. They realize that there is perhaps a problem to be solved and that they have to practice to acquire and improve the skills necessary to achieve their goal.

Studies have proven that play with other children is also critical for the development of children’s social skills, They are developing skills and habits and attitudes that will stay with them throughout their lives. Play is children’s work, and they give a tremendous amount of energy and effort to it. It promotes emotional well being – awareness, acceptance, personal integration, coping skills – and builds values including empathy, trust and respect for others while they play.

It’s good to know that even an old codger like me can help in this valuable process! And through it I learn that life goes on and – who knew? – that it isn’t all about me!

Appy Days!

After far too long struggling with the slowness of my WordPress link, I’ve finally got around to downloading the WordPress App.

No idea why it took me so long. The difference is striking. Typing this now, letters and words appear instantly instead of several seconds later – in effect, I was writing blind and trying to marry what was in my head with whatever eventually showed up on the screen.

The link was so slow that I couldn’t access my list of followed sites, which made managing them well-nigh impossible. Now I can whizz through them – just been unfollowing those who haven’t published in a year or more. The number of these surprised me, as did the higher number that haven’t posted for several months.

also noticed many sites with no information about when they last posted. Does anyone know if such sites are disused? It seems sensible to unfollow redundant blogs and so make it easier to concentrate on active sites.

I haven’t been visiting as much as I should and would be happy to receive heads up and links to posts you think I might like. I well remember doing just that in the early days to build up my readership.

Ah, the boldness of youth!

What am I talking about? That was only three years ago … or was it four?

Ah, the forgetfulness of age! Listen, did I ever tell you about that time at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival when everybody went skinny-dipping?

did?

Oh well … won’t hurt to hear it again, will it? You see, in all the excitement, nobody had thought to pack their cossies …

[That’s enough excitement for today, time for your Ovaltine … Ed.]

 

 

Ovaltine Mug Shop Collectibles Online Daily

Melodious Mirth 7

The Barron Knights are a British humorous pop-rock group, originally formed in 1959 as the Knights of the Round Table.

They started out as a straight pop group and spent a couple of years touring and playing in English dance halls. Bill Wyman, later of the Rolling Stones, has written that the Barron Knights were the first group he saw with an electric bass, at a performance in 1961, inspiring him to take up the instrument. In 1963, at the invitation of Brian Epstein,  they were one of the support acts on the Beatles’ Christmas shows in London and later became one of the few acts to tour with both the Beatles and the Stones.

They first came to fame in 1964 with the number “Call Up the Groups” (Parts 1 and 2). It overcame copyright restrictions to parody a number of the leading pop groups of the time including the Searchers, the Hollies, Freddie and the Dreamers, the Dave Clark Five, the Bachelors, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

The Barron Knights have continued to tour over the years and indeed perform to this day, with some personnel changes, having the occasional hit record along the way and earning from their fellow-musicians an admiring nickname – The Guv’nors. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but having the micky taken out of you could be better proof that you’ve really arrived!

Would current performers relish being sent up like that, I wonder? And with such a homogenous product, would anyone actually bother to try?

Nowadays the scene is awash with tribute bands and their word-for-word/note-for-note imitations – enslaved to the originals and forbidden to go beyond their frozen example. Flies in aspic, you might say, stuck fast in a heritage model …

OK, rant over! Oh, perhaps it’s just that old people have all the money and are choosing to spend it on the past. Old people? Hey, that’s me! And where am I up to in this not-so-little survey? 1964!

Aspic, or what?

Steady on, I am looking at the real thing and not a bunch of clones … or puppets … aren’t I? I mean, sure, this has it’s cheesy moments … all those Xmassy references … and any satire is pretty soft. Frank Zappa it ain’t.

Mind you, it soon will be! How could I cover musical comedy and miss out the Mothers?

And now, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado I give you – THE BARRON KNIGHTS!

 

I Poured Myself A Drink

The idea is that I keep typing until the glass is empty and then stop. It’s one way to galvanise myself when more than a week has passed since my previous post and I can’t think of what to write.

Not that there’s nothing to write about. If anything, there’s too much. I mean, where do you start? And anyway, my pesky inner critic continues, what good will it do when the world is already awash with unread words and you can barely bring yourself to read any of them – much less actually add any of your own to the swirling soup?

Ah, what does he know? He doesn’t get out much.

Besides, I don’t have to write about anything. All I need to do is follow one word with another. A sprinkling of commas and full stops (periods over the Pond) and Bob’s your uncle!

“Bob’s your uncle” is a phrase commonly used in United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries that means “and there it is” or “and there you have it.” Typically, someone says it to conclude a set of simple instructions or when a result is reached. The meaning is similar to that of the French expression “et voilà!” or the American “easy as pie” or “piece of cake“.  (Wikipedia)

Hmm, this is easier than I thought it was going to be! With so many words online, there’s no danger of me running short. And now that I’ve mastered Cut & Paste, well, ain’t no stoppin’ us now …

Hey, better and better! This interweb thingy’s outasight! Ya don’t have to get bogged down in present-day doom-and-gloom when you can still party in more innocent days gone by!

Maybe I should take my tune from a social media acquaintance whose one contribution to the Brexit, er, Debate is to post cheery stuff from 1972 – the year before we joined The Common Market, as it was then called. Ah, happy daze … well, happy if you’re a victim of arrested development … gee, remember when songs off commercials went to Number One instead of the other way around?

Wow, just to think, three or four sips ago I was in the throes of a colossal communication breakdown and now I’m well and truly plugged into where it’s hot and happening! I’m even starting to discover a youth I never had. Is there no limit to my potential cultural reach? Running out of words? I should cocoa …

Question:  Perhaps you can help Americans with a phrase, I should cocoa, that at least one of us finds rather bewildering.

Answer:  Since few Americans know of or use rhyming slang, that isn’t surprising. It originally stood for “I should say so!”, a sarcastic exclamation to express disbelief, derision, scorn or indignant negation. You might also render it as ““You must be joking!” “Not on your life!” or “No way!” …

… It appeared in London in the 1930s but became more widely known in the 1950s through its use on the BBC radio programme The Billy Cotton Band Show. Many people were reminded of it as a result of the Supergrass hit with that title in 1996.

It’s an odd example of the type, since it’s a straight rhyme of cocoa with “say so” without the bipartite phrasing usual in terms like apples and pears (for stairs), daisy roots (boots), or plates of meat (feet) that leads to their being abbreviated as — for example — plates, as a further level of in-crowd obfuscation. Though it has been recorded in the longer forms coffee and cocoa and tea and cocoa, these look like afterthoughts, attempts to force an existing saying into the standard mould (if these were genuinely the original forms, one would expect to hear coffee and tea as short forms, but one never does).

My thanks to World Wide Words for that informative infusion of wise words. But let’s not be picky. Any kind of words gratefully received, as it happens, and with at least a  mouthful of beer in my glass who knows where I’m going next? Time and space are as nothing to a cybernaut like me who’s just remembered how to fly … eat your heart out, Orville!

Not, of course, to be confused with the early aviation pioneer and brother of Wilbur:

Wilbur and Orville Wright were American inventors and pioneers of aviation. In 1903 the Wright brothers achieved the first powered, sustained and controlled airplane flight; they surpassed their own milestone two years later when they built and flew the first fully practical airplane.

Well, that’s quite enough excitement for now!

Besides, I’ve swigged the rest of my beer …

 

Sweet Dreams

Image may contain: people sitting and plant

Ouch!

The brutal truth behind this comic representation is hard to face – any laugh the cartoon evokes is likely to be a bitter one.

By way of preparation for my own writing I’ve been reading the poems of John Clare, an agricultural worker whose life was blighted by the forced enclosure of common land almost two hundred years ago. People fled the countryside in droves for the towns and cities.

In his rough verse with its gentle dialect, Clare describes somewhat sadly how a sustainable way of life lasting many centuries gave way to the first stirrings of capitalist agribusiness. With hindsight we can glimpse in his words the beginnings of the process whereby relatively balanced ecologies mutated into sterile farming factories run by machine.

Is it too far-fetched, I wonder, to imagine a future where this process is reversed – where humankind and the natural world have once again learned to co-exist in symbiotic harmony? I read this from a report on the Hay book festival in today’s Guardian Review:

Climate is at the forefront of the minds of novelists, particularly John Lanchester and Amitav Ghosh, the latter recalling being caught in a freak tornado … ‘In novel after novel, I tried to write about this … and I could never do it … What happens in real life is more improbable than what happens in a book – and this is the paradox of the modern novel,’ he said.

Lanchester … championed the ‘moral obligation to be optimistic, because … if we despair we won’t act’. Most of the people set to be affected by the climate emergency are yet to be born. ‘That’s why works of the imagination are so important,’ Lanchester said. ‘In effect we are having to imagine these people into being and then act on behalf of their interests. This is a new thing.’

In the spirit of this, I wonder if it’s possible to read John Clare’s words not only as the chronicle of a tragic past but also as the prophesy of a more hopeful future?

 

The Moors

Far spread the moorey ground a level scene
Bespread with rush and one eternal green
That never felt the rage of blundering plough
Though centurys wreathed spring’s blossoms on its brow
Still meeting plains that stretched them far away
In uncheckt shadows of green brown, and grey
Unbounded freedom ruled the wandering scene
Nor fence of ownership crept in between
To hide the prospect of the following eye
Its only bondage was the circling sky
One mighty flat undwarfed by bush and tree
Spread its faint shadow of immensity
And lost itself, which seemed to eke its bounds
In the blue mist the horizon’s edge surrounds
Now this sweet vision of my boyish hours
Free as spring clouds and wild as summer flowers
Is faded all – a hope that blossomed free,
And hath been once, no more shall ever be
Inclosure came and trampled on the grave
Of labour’s rights and left the poor a slave
And memory’s pride ere want to wealth did bow
Is both the shadow and the substance now
The sheep and cows were free to range as then
Where change might prompt nor felt the bonds of men
Cows went and came, with evening morn and night,
To the wild pasture as their common right
And sheep, unfolded with the rising sun
Heard the swains shout and felt their freedom won
Tracked the red fallow field and heath and plain
Then met the brook and drank and roamed again
The brook that dribbled on as clear as glass
Beneath the roots they hid among the grass
While the glad shepherd traced their tracks along
Free as the lark and happy as her song
But now all’s fled and flats of many a dye
That seemed to lengthen with the following eye
Moors, loosing from the sight, far, smooth, and blea
Where swoopt the plover in its pleasure free
Are vanished now with commons wild and gay
As poet’s visions of life’s early day
Mulberry-bushes where the boy would run
To fill his hands with fruit are grubbed and done
And hedgrow-briars – flower-lovers overjoyed
Came and got flower-pots – these are all destroyed
And sky-bound moors in mangled garbs are left
Like mighty giants of their limbs bereft
Fence now meets fence in owners’ little bounds
Of field and meadow large as garden grounds
In little parcels little minds to please
With men and flocks imprisoned ill at ease
Each little path that led its pleasant way
As sweet as morning leading night astray
Where little flowers bloomed round a varied host
That travel felt delighted to be lost
Nor grudged the steps that he had ta-en as vain
When right roads traced his journeys and again –
Nay, on a broken tree he’d sit awhile
To see the moors and fields and meadows smile
Sometimes with cowslaps smothered – then all white
With daiseys – then the summer’s splendid sight
Of cornfields crimson o’er the headache bloomd
Like splendid armys for the battle plumed
He gazed upon them with wild fancy’s eye
As fallen landscapes from an evening sky
These paths are stopt – the rude philistine’s thrall
Is laid upon them and destroyed them all
Each little tyrant with his little sign
Shows where man claims earth glows no more divine
But paths to freedom and to childhood dear
A board sticks up to notice ‘no road here’
And on the tree with ivy overhung
The hated sign by vulgar taste is hung
As tho’ the very birds should learn to know
When they go there they must no further go
Thus, with the poor, scared freedom bade goodbye
And much they feel it in the smothered sigh
And birds and trees and flowers without a name
All sighed when lawless law’s enclosure came
And dreams of plunder in such rebel schemes
Have found too truly that they were but dreams.

John Clare

The Dog Ate My Homework, Miss!

Well, a nomad in cyberspace – true to his online monicker, at least! – has been going AWOL of late, wandering zig-zag byways through the mists of his mind in search of old memories and new memes with a view to writing a magnum opus that his kids and grandkids might one day care to read.

That’s his excuse, anyhow, for the relative paucity of posts. Wonderings and wanderings, it appears, aren’t always adjacent. But he does appreciate the value of sharing his thoughts on the interweb and intends posting occasional observations about this project to help him maintain focus and perhaps gain a little feedback.

So here’s a taste of a philosophy that could be useful, both to structure and to theme. He – ah, what the heck! – have written about it before but hit this link for a succinct summary which may be of interest to other would-be writers.

https://www.sgi.org/resources/introductory-materials/ten-worlds.html

And finally, a fresh new update on the tired old canine alibi …

 

No photo description available.

Tree Story

After an enjoyable school-reunion lunch the other day, I was making my way back to the mainline station on a London Underground train. It suddenly struck me there was plenty of time before the mainline train was due to depart and, on a whim, I got off the tube-train near a large park where I used to play as a young child.

I hadn’t been back in 60 years and the wild, overgrown place I remembered was no more. Streams we used to dam were culverted or piped underground, rough meadows had become manicured sports pitches, sheep or cattle paths turned into tarmacked walkways and the wonderful trees we loved to climb – yes, you guessed it – all long gone!

Back home and continuing my rummage through old papers, I unearthed a draft poem that seems to fit my faint feeling of hollow disappointment. I present it here unedited. The form involves repeating end-of-line words in every verse and adding an envoi – perhaps someone reading will know if this has a name.

 

Last Refuge

When you were younger every tree
Was yours to climb right to the top
Where all alone you’d view the world
As if she was a brand-new place –
Her secrets open to your sight
With nothing there for you to fear

But as you climbed so grew your fear
That you began to hate the tree
You really couldn’t bear the sight
That lay below so watched the top
As if there was no other place
You’d rather be in all the world

You told yourself the whole wide world
Was greater far than any fear
For up above there was a place
A gift to all who climbed the tree
And dared to reach the very top
Which opened up its secret sight

It made you gasp that sudden sight
So deep and far into the world
A bird’s-eye vision from the top
For now you’d flown beyond your fear
As if you had become the tree
And found you somehow owned the place

You never since have left that place
Nor lost one detail of the sight
If foresters have felled the tree
It still lives on within your world
And death for you is not a fear
While you are still there at the top

So still – still at the very top –
That time runs backwards to the place
Where there was not a gust of fear
So far and wide and deep your sight
For you had there become the world
And all because you climbed a tree

Envoi

Your new world more than just a place
Where each new sight gives rise to fear
When down you came from the tall tree top

 

Dave Kingsbury (2013)

 

Image result for phantom trees

 

Image: The Crichton Street Gallery