Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Song of the Watcher & The Star

Song of the Watcher

On a hilltop against the star
Are columns of granite, rudely hewn;
Set in a lofty ring,
Upholding architraves:
Stones of unequal size
Between which blaze the stars;
Orange, steel blue, and vivid green,
As beads of dew on sunlit grass.

On a hilltop against the stars
Alone on the altar stone,
I shake out my nets of song
To catch the stars therein.
The stars of midnight joyously
Blaze like the flame of midday
That kindled in my heart;
They leap and trail out wide arcs down the sky.

On a hilltop against the stars,
In the roofless sanctuary,
Wakens the sacrificial fire
From the blazing stars drawn down.
The stars that were caught and fallen
In my flung net of song,
Kindle upon the altar-stone
The sacred blaze, apart.

On a hilltop against the stars
I dreamless sleep on the smooth grey altar-stone;
And the songs in my heart are as winds that go through the world,
The fires of my life are as stars that sing round the walls;
Bright centuries keeping watch, they grow
drowsy, the stones of the temple look dim,
And the world will soon foret the song of the
watcher of the stars.
But I shall sleep, still shrouded, on the broad
grey altar-stone.
Till tow eternities meet together, the shadows
of life and of death.


The Star

There was a star which watched upon my
The great blue peaks were shrouded,
The sea was merged in haze, but, far apart,
There shone a single star.
And it burned steadily,
Watching through the night in silence;
It hung above the dusk
Whence I secretly came forth.

The peaks in the morning
Had thundered for creation;
The green sea had risen,
And swept clean the strand.
Now the wide earth was silent,
And silent the horizen;
When, between the ninth wave and the land,
I was brought forth.

There was a star which watched upon my coming,
I put forth my hand to seize it;
And, instantly the sky
Broke, and was ribbed with light;
Lightening ran down the peaks and smote the narrow valleys,
Wandering blue flames flickered about the
The mountains danced in scarlet,
The earth roared with deep joy.

There is single star that burns to-night far in
the longely heavens;
The sea is hidden beneath it;
The mountains draw their capes of grey wool
closely about their shoulders;
There is no breath of wind.
Only the thought of one coming
Over the oceans in silence,
Wandering under a darker star
Than that which saw my birth.


John Gould Fletcher ~ The Black Rock ~ 1928

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Lady into Fox

"Wonderful or supernatural events are not so uncommon, rather they are irregular in their incidence. Thus there may be not one marvel to speak of in a century, and then often enough comes a plentiful crop of them; monsters of all sorts swarm suddenly upon the earth, comets blaze in the sky, eclipses frighten nature, meteors fall in rain, while mermaids and sirens beguile, and sea-serpents engulf every passing ship, and terrible cataclysms beset humanity.
But the strange event which I shall here relate came alone, unsupported, without companions into a hostile world, and for that reason claimed little of the general attention of mankind. For the sudden changing of Mrs. Tebrick into a vixen is an established fact which we may attempt to account for as we will. Certainly it is in the explanation of the fact, and the reconciling of it with our general notions that we shall find most difficulty, and not in accepting for true a story which is so fully proved, and that not by one witness by a dozen, all respectable, and with no possibility of collusion between them.
But here I will confine myself to an exact narrative of the event and all that followed it. Yet I would not dissuade any of my readers from attempting an explanation of this seeming miracle because up till now none has been found which is entirely satisfactory. What adds to the difficulty to my mind is that the metamorphosis occurred when Mrs. Tebrick was a full-grown woman, and that it happended suddenly in so short space of time. The sprouting of a tail, the gradual extension of hear all over the body, the slow change of the whole anatomy by a process of growth...." Pages 1 ~ 2. First published 1922.
Unfortunately this book is out of print ~ shows how gems like these can be lost. I did find it on
It was awarded prizes and much praise. I rediscovered it after doing a late summer clean of my books. The etchings are delightful.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Big Green Gathering Cancelled

The Big Green Gathering has been going for 15 years. A Peacefully held and sustainable run event accessable to all including those on low income and families. However this year under the so called threat of Public Safety and Crime + Disorder ~ the event was forced into being cancelled. Why after 15 years is there this now apparent threat? Threat of what to what?
I fear that this will set a precedent. This is a drip drip drip of an extremist fear ridden run state. I have to include myself in tuning out the sound and sensation of this slow rising alarm. It is an ocean that would cry and rage. It can also be an ocean of joy and song.
I think how timely is Jez Butterworth's Jersusalem ~ at the end Jonny pounded on the drum ~ calling on the heart ~ calling on the ancestors who hold memory in the blood and earth. We are left with this sound growing louder and louder until darkness falls.

I wish for courage and creative solutions. To drink in this ocean. Be carried by it's depths.
I am drawn to quote from Shambhala - The Sacred Path of the Warrior ~ by Chogyam Trungpa ~

"The ideal of warriorship is that the warrior should be sad and tender, and because of that, the warrior can be very brave as well. Without heartfelt sadness, bravery is brittle like a china cup. If you drop it, it will break or chip. But the bravery of the warrior is like a lacquer cup, which has a wooden base covered with layers of lacquer. If the cup drops, it will bounce rather than break. It is soft and hard at the same time" P50.
Here is an article from

"The Big Green Gathering 2009 Cancelled after Council Injuction Threat Flagship green event, The Big Green Gathering was threatened with High Court injunction proceedings if they were unable to satisfy a number of concerns that Mendip District Council had. In a statement released today, Directors of The Big Green Gathering have been forced to cancel the 2009 festival, surrendering their license for the event.
The much loved and well attended family friendly green festival, which attracts around 20,000 visitors, caters for most tastes and covers many aspects of sustainability and environmental concerns. Activities on site would have included arts and crafts fields, a healing area where people can try alternative therapies and treatments, a children’s area and campaigns fields, as well as providing a range of eating and entertainment experiences for those attending, including music presented in tents powered by renewable energy.
Mendip District Council threatened the injunction, supported by the police, on grounds of concerns about security, requesting that The Big Green Gathering employed a security firm to satisfy their concern. Further concerns such as dissatisfaction that adequate signage directing visitors to the location of the festival and sufficient risk assessments, fire, policing and ambulance services were in place or could be put in place by the start of the festival on Wednesday added fuel to the council’s argument and left the directors of The Big Green Gathering with no alternative than to cancel the event.
Councillor Tom Killon said the council had tried to work closely with the organisers of the green festival to ensure smooth running of the event, and although the license for the event was granted on 30th June with the organisers being under the impression that any problems had been resolved, Killon said that the emergency services and council had remaining unconvinced that enough had been done to enable safe running of the event. He said,
“When there is a risk to public safety and the potential for crime and disorder then we have no other option but to ensure that the event does not take place.
“Although I accept that this will come as a disappointment to some, we have a duty to protect the public.”
The director’s statement echoes communications from Avon and Somerset Police, and urges people who were planning to attend the event not to make the journey as police would likely turn them away. They are keen to discourage confrontation and public disorder despite being fully aware of the unhappiness the decision to cancel the event will cause."
"The Darker the Jewel the Brighter the Light" Victor Anderson

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Tree of Life

"The man has become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" {Genesis, 3:22-24}

"Man loses no worthiness for possessing a mortal part, but very much on the contrary, mortality augments his possibility and his power. His double functions are possible for him precisely because of his double nature: because he is constituted that it is possible for him to embrace both the divine and the terrestial at the same time" Corpus Hermeticum, 9, 4.

Jerusalem ~ Jez Butterworth

I watched Johnny take out a red handkerchief ~ a parcel in his bloody hand ~ Torn out. Pumping, beating alive held against his heart. Roaring against his own.
'But he had just taken it out from the box ~ how could that be?'
He paced the earth and shook the red cloth open. Nothing inside.
The Beating resounded in the darkness.
The end...or is it?
This was no theatre of escape. Or time for forgetting.
But a daring for intimacy.
Naked, for the wild, for the heart.
"I felt its urgent demand in the blood. I could hear its call. Its whistling disturbed me by day and it's howl woke me in the night. I heard the drum of the sun. Every path was a calling cadence, the flight of every bird a beckoning, the color of ice and invitation: come. The forest was a fiddler, wickedly good, eyes intense and shining with a fast dance. Every leaf in every breeze was a toe tapping out the same rhythm and every mountaintop lifting out of cloud intrigued my mind., for the wind a the peaks was the flautist, licking his lips, dangerously mesmerizing me with inaudible melodies that I strained to hear, my ears yearning for the horizon of sound. This was the calling, the vehement, irresistible demand of the feral angel - take flight. All that is wild is winged - life, mind and language - and knows the feel of air in the soaring "flight, silhouetted in the primal".Wild - Jay Griffiths

Saturday, 1 August 2009


Kettles Yard ~ Camerae obscurae by Issam Kourbaj

Definitions of Reflections:
1. The return of rays, beams, sound or the like, from a surface
2. The reverting of to the mind to that which has already occupied; it continued consideration; meditation; contemplation; hence, also, that operation or power of the mind of which it is conscious of its own acts or states; the capacity for judging rationally especially in view of a moral rule or standard.
3. The transference of an excitement from one nerve fibre to another by means of the nerve cells as in reflex action.
4. The phenomenon of a propagating wave (light or sound) being thrown back from a service
5. A remark expressing careful consideration

Jayne Parker - Horse hair and cello Scroll.

Yesterday was a work 'team building outing' to Cambridge. The day before I decided I would go. In the group I was in the minority - most of my colleagues being non White British - Black British and one Asian British. However in Cambridge it were my colleagues who were in the minority. Armed with pictures of my Cambridge 24 years old ~ married with childhood stories I was met with another Cambridge. Could I call this home?
We had booked a punting trip with a guide listing out snip bits of history of the different colleges - who had founded them - who had been there. Traditions of students climbing the buildings and leaping off bridges, a trap for swans for the only college given permission aside from the King/Queen to be allowed to kill and feast on this bird and a Grade II listed 1960's concrete halls of residence this was the end of our tour in 45 minutes. I was surprised how shallow the boat and water was. How close I was to the water and how clear. As the boat moved along the river I failed to see the bottom and I failed to see my face in the water. I asked was this history part of me, did it define who I was?
My colleagues asked if I punted when I was a child. No. Did I hang out in the gardens. No. My life was not part of the University. I did not see the carved buildings or the people who lived in the University. Instead, as we walked down the road to Jesus Green I could have pointed out the spot where my mum's hip bone broke ~ her bones made fragile from the spread of her cancer ~ and almost crashed the car; or the street where my father ran a pub with a gay bar at the back and the fights in the male toilets between the regulars of the front and the men from the gay bar. The toughest was called 'Mother' over six foot rugby built man with chandelier earings and tatoos - no man from the front would dare to fight him. There were many stories I could have told of that time; or when I was 14 sitting in the Social Service asking for money to pay for bed and breakfast as I was homeless ~only to be told I was too old to be adopted and too young for money; or the place where I persuaded a council official to give me a grant to go to art college even though my parents lived in Suffolk and I lived in a Bed and Breakfast in Cambridge. I just answered no.

After lunch I made my excuses and left the group in a pub and made for Kettles Yard. I knew what to expect. Even if it looked different to how I remembered it I knew I could rely on the house being just the same. Frozen. Not dusty or laden with cobwebs, but loved. As I walked along the road, picking out all the shops that were no longer there I arrived full of questions. What would I see? What would be different? Would the house speak to me? I pulled the door bell and was ushered in with questions. Had I been before? Yes about 20 years ago. Did I know about the exhibition? No. For the first time some of the objects in the house had been taken out and placed in the exhibition space and artists had been commissioned to have work placed in the house.

I rushed around the house, gobbling up. Amazed and excited. My eyes widening. Slowly my rhythm changed to allow my taste buds to adjust. But there was so much to see! I felt had been starved. It was all so beautiful. Sensitive and thoughtful. At the same time thrilling, delightful, witty, touching. The new work was so tactile ~ sensual though we were told 'not to touch'! (with the exception of the Director who when I asked who the horse hair/cello piece was, promptly picked it up and stroked the hair, moving it in his hands, he placed it back in a completely different place on the table. I was agahst. I had thought that the piece had been placed specifically by the artist. I was furious by the Director's casual handling of the piece. So he could touch but not me?) I found I loved all the work ~ responsive to the environment, the house, the memory of the Mr and Mrs Ede intention/expression. The contemporary work was new but at home. A wonderful dance. A new lens to experience the 'old' as new. And the new as old?
Yes the house did speak to me. I hid in the upstairs room ~ after making my way past a 8 -9 year old girl crouched on the stairs. Staring out of the window. I am reminded of myself at that age of taking the time to ~ take in. Notice. Analyze. She said " Look a squashed ladybird. Its so squashed really flat". Her mother answered " Yes so many people would have trodden on that ladybird thats why it's so flat". Was she responding to how many people had not noticed the ladybird? Or was she responding with an explanation. The little girl replied " I've never seen a ladybird that is so squashed, look its so flat ~ look Mummy!"
I met up with my colleagues at the end of the day at the crowded bus stop. It was like rush hour on the tube. A silent panic to get on the bus. One of my colleagues remarked that they had been thrown off the previous bus as she had been eating an ice cream. Apparently the bus had a sign inside stating no eating. She had refused to get off until the bus driver said please. My thoughts went to how after I left Cambridge ~ its city centre had been 'cleaned up' ~ 0 tolerance to the homeless and begging. And so my day ended in Cambridge as we again pushed onto the train ~ back into London in 45 minutes.