24 July 2020

Fairy Tales

Sometimes reality eludes us.....

My wife, the tiny Amanda, and I, were fleeing through the dark woods, our wings encased in our wink aces, for fear of the dreaded contamination, the noxious virality that plagued our footsteps.

We had travelled long and soft, and were nearing the brinkling of exhaustion when we lighted on an enchanted grove, where trees seemed to be free to embrace doorways and rope ladders evaded the wired barbs....

We was done in, true, and the need was for restoration and recoups.  But it was unnervingly quietish.  I feared an entrapment, and wonted to stay away, but there was a dreary muse issuing from an hole in an house affronting me.....

No bode introduced theyselfs, and I beginned to wander.  There was signs.....

And the drear muzak revealed its Elf for some reason (don't ask) to be Townes van Zandt warbling Forever, For Always, For Certain :

Foresaken must sometimes befall us
For sorrow sometimes will call
Four seasons go around on a pinwheel
And tomorrow ain't nothin' at all

But no fairies flitted dancingly in the shards of the dying lights.

Instead, as a variation of uncertain pleasantry, an elderly Pixie presented himself, rattling two silver spoons in thyme.  Hi Ho! he cried, welcome I think!

I tiredly smiled and asked if he loved Townes van Zandt as much as we;

And if he had refreshing powers.

In a dialect that betrayed his distance from my homeland he offered the following, which I craved instanta:

Mine Ost enquired, in his tripped tongue, of our quest, and our story, and as I felt the golden liquor slip sliding into my necklace, I told him all I knowed, little that it was.  Rising from hell to high walter was where we were and we needed shelters.  Where are they that should live here being?  I asked.  

They have fleed, he cried, his anguish a little above normal.  

Flewed?  I suggesterised.  

No, fleed, for sure.  There was no winging.

But why?  No winging?  And fleed they are?

The monster Goblin Boris is their problem, sire.

Ahh, I sighed.  But do you have anything to eat?

Most assuredly, sire.  (and, in parenthesis, I have no fear of the Goblin Monster Boris as I am pixelated).  Please dine from my pictomenu:

I have whole roast shrew (what I shot myself yesterday)

And wild plum

Or two

Nuts from the hazel tree

Delicious flowers of the nettled stinger

Prickly blackflowers

And bitter sloughs....

For me, I cried, I'll have it all, and share we will the platter. Then bed we must as the tomorrow way is heavily uncertain and we know not where we are bound.

And so, dear reader, we dined, we wined, we semi-caroused in this enchanted glade, with our pixie host, and then we fell to sleep at our post, our heads filled with sweet cuttings.  

Then in the dead of night, as cool dew was beginning to settle on our eyelids, a sudden fright arose and shuddered me.  Our host was shaking and shivering us and saying we had to get right away as the Great Goblin Boris Monster was afoot.

I scrambled to my foots but too late as I felt the grasp of a leathery paw, the outer skin haired as a dog, the nails as harsh as a bear. It clasped around me, squeezing my supper and popping mine eyes, lifting me to its vast moon face. Spinning towards the broken yellow teeth, I was gassed by an exhalation of lying halitosis, the spiteful virality of a monster given to selfish disconcert, the air of conceit and unconcern.....

I knowed my time was up and the last thing I remember was thinking the shrew had died in vain....

And that was it.  End of.

But mirrorcules do hippen.  

I woke, with my wife, the tiny Amanda, at my side, at the bus stop.  There had been an intervention.  The Boris Monster Goblin  had been tripped and slashed and his mophead had been scoured and scored and his floppy headdress lifted and we been spared.  Weasels and Kites, Jackdaws and Squirrels and butterflies and moths and stinging beasts in their multitudes had arisen from Ultima Thule to put the Goblin back in its bogs.


We are now....

Awaiting the tin-thirsty bus to elsewhere.....

(Don't ask!)

And the moral of the story is.....

Don't believe a word they tell you.  

Nothing is what it seems.....



The first time that I came by lovin' 
Forever was all on my mind 
And I never got used to the hurting 
Or the searchin' for some love in kind 
And it seems like I'm still chasing rainbows 
It seems like I'm still on the run 
Forever don't mean much in passing 
Forgotten don't mean that it's done 

Forever, for always, for certain' 
For someone forsaken for sure 
For any old plan you got workin' 
For any old pain you can cure 
Forever, for always, for certain

Guy Clark

18 July 2020

Streets of London

Let me take you by the hand....

In the winter of '71 (I think - it was some years ago.....) I stayed with my second (?) cousin Jasper and his wife.  They had a flat on the third floor in Vauxhall Bridge Road and I was a wayward sixth former with pretensions towards further education...

Anyway, it became dark, and it became quiet, and we realised that it was snowing.  All of a (what's the opposite of sudden?) we realised that this was a Dickensian moment.

So we hurried to explore the city in their Ford Prefect, and soon the headlights were blinded by snowflakes and the wheels were slathering in the slurry of dying snowmen in deserted squares.  

It was an eerie, timeless experience.  I don't believe that anything similar has happened since, in London.....

Until, perhaps, now.... In a curious way, the Covid 19 blight has recreated the silence of those city streets.  I have not walked undeafened in London until now, and it is extraordinary.  This very morning I wandered across the Western centre of our greatest metropolis, and you could hear a bee buzz...

It is (almost) possible to breathe...

It is almost possible to pause and greet a passer-by without feeling it's all improper....

One could almost be enticed to catch a bus  on Regent Street (though there is the fear that that may not be all you would catch....)

And there is also the thought that you could pitch camp on the street and not really cause any harm...

Though the churches are closed, they still embrace wanderers in their porticoes....

And for those with access to wheels, it's a free paradise at the moment...

But, though you may have to crane your neck for them, there are signs that all is not well.  It's a sic-fi world.  Butterflies were trampled years ago for this....

I am about to reach out to this young woman to say beware, this road is dangerous.....  But before I make a fool of myself I see the emptiness around me, and remain a lonely cameraman....

Nearing the great pile of Gilbert Scott's St Pancras Hotel I am almost taken in by the shiny marble, but find that all is not what it seems....

And down the road I am brought back to Ralph McTell's new verse of his legendary hit Streets of London .

First recorded in 1969, the song at one point sold 90,000 copies a day and has been covered by more than 200 artists. It also won Ralph an Ivor Novello award for best song and continues to feature in folk music's "best of" playlists.

In March of this year Fergal Keane talked to his neighbour, and as a result Ralph added a verse to his career-defining hit song.

In shop doorways, under bridges, in all our towns and cities
You can glimpse the makeshift bedding from the corner of your eye
Remember what you're seeing barely hides a human being
We're all in this together, brother, sister, you and I.

Despite, or inspite of, the attempts of the gods of government, the city has lost its heart.  There are signs of life, but they are insipid, and there is no way they will pay the price of this virus.  

I know this will infuriate some, but at the Eurostar terminal things are quiet, and I cannot help but feel that this muffled disaster is like a suppurating wound hidden by the gangrenous bandage of Brexit.  

John Betjeman stands aloof on the first floor, a master of words, but a set of bones sticking through the flesh of the world he loved.  If he were here today, would he understand Dylan's Murder Most Foul?  Or would his attitude be that of amused and befuddled bystander where German Bombs were acceptable on Slough?

I have had enough of this heartless city.  I follow a cyclist down the escalator to happiness...

I wait upon the departure platform to hopefulness...

And then, on my walk home from the station I find traces of life that simply didn't make it....

In shop doorways, under bridges, in all our towns and cities
You can glimpse the makeshift bedding from the corner of your eye
Remember what you're seeing barely hides a human being
We're all in this together, brother, sister, you and I.

So how can you tell me you're lonely,
And say for you that the sun don't shine.
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind

Ralph McTell

It's strange that those we miss the most 
Are those we take for granted.

John Betjeman

12 July 2020

What A Wonderful World.....

And I think to myself.....

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you

Yes, the human beans are back in the field.... And all is rosy. Nothing could be finer (than to be in a care home diner....)

All this lock-in/up/down we have been yearning for the things we missed. And now, perhaps, we can see clearer. Yes we....

 can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day

Johnny Nash

It's a glorious morning....

And it's so good to bee

A live....


Even in the dark woods

Where the nettles blow

And old chestnuts die

Who would be a Red Admiral?

Or a Marbled White?

A Small Skipper?

A gatekeeper?

Or even a Large White?

[Size isn't everything....]

It's too much to swallow....

But it's better by far,
than being in a car.....

Or in some fairy shanty town....

Please don't be a teasel....

Give us a rye smile....

And move over darling.....

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying
"I love you"

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Oh yeah

[Written by Bob Thiele and George Weiss]

Oh, yes I can make it now the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I've been praying for
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
Look all around, there's nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead, there's nothing but blue skies

Johnny Nash

Oh Yeah!

Thanks Louis!

I remember, in 1971, I was on a train, and I saw a discarded newspaper with the headline Louis Armstrong dies.  It was 1971.  I was 20, you were 71, and no more.....  

It was a wonderful world