18 February 2022

Stormy Weather

Every Grain of Sand (again....)

Almost a year ago, settling in to our new home in Norfolk and exploring the area, especially the   never-ending sandy beaches on the north coast, I pieced together some thoughts and pictures and quoted from Bob Dylan. You may remember. You may be tired of my rehearsal of these words. You may, as many do, gloss over the words and leaf through the pics as if it were a well-thumbed magazine in the dentist's waiting room. However, this time I am not questioning Dylan's Christianity.....

There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair

I am still wandering the windswept/stormy acres of sand. Still trying to catch the birds.....

It's stormy weather, as the wind whips the bamboo at the head of our garden and scours the beach at Holme-next-the-sea. It's February, but not cold, not like it was sixty-plus years ago when I was a kid.

In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand

I have respect for Bob Dylan: his thoughts, his words, his music.  I don't always love his work; I have doubts, sometimes, about the lasting value of some of his observations, but that is chicken feed when you consider the wealth, and breadth, of his output.  

I have always loved this particular song (in all its versions - whether a dog barks in the background of the 1980 demo; on 1981's Shot of Love, live on Trouble no More; in Nana Mouskouri's quavering waterfall impression; in Emmylou Harris's limping soprano, Barb Jungr's crisp Rochdale air  or Chrissie Hynde's smoky contralto) notwithstanding details of the text and the way it arose during his uncertain support of reborn christian dogma.....

A Drift of Snow Buntings

I relate to the essential message, which, I think, is that (regardless of whether or not there is a god) we should not exaggerate our importance.  We humans, like every sparrow falling, should only see ourselves as tiny fragments of the world; an insignificance that should never merit more than a moment's attention...

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer

My days may be in the yellow leaf, but our sandy walks are invigorating, the birds showering past....

A Deceit of Lapwings

I feel tired a lot of the time. It has been a weary two years, and little in the news brings lightness or relief. For some reason an image keeps recurring to me.  I was about twelve years old, and a friend had roped me in to being a runner at the Bucks County Show, carrying results from the rings to the judges tent. I was careering along with a fistful of dockets when I noted four men walking purposely against my direction.  

As I passed I saw that one of them was Harold Macmillan, the then Prime Minister.  He wore brown brogues, greenish tweed breeks and a loose jacket. His moustache was stained with nicotine and I felt his eyes, though heavily lidded and hooded by his hat, seemed to be taking in everything around.  It was a fleeting moment in time, but it has stuck with me.  He was, I cannot help but feel (though what do I know?) a man of energy and integrity.  The shame of it is that I also feel that that moment in time was perhaps the last when we had a Prime Minister worthy of the title - certainly the current incumbent is a national disgrace....

The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay

Shadowy thoughts bother my mind, randomly troubling my days. Our daughter Sarah is over from her home in Australia to spend a little time with her mother.  

.... onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand

When we walk in the Norfolk air, especially on blustery days, I breathe deeply and am grateful that things are not worse.  My own story is nothing like these lines: 

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer’s dream, in the chill of a wintry light

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

Though I can share something of these:

In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face

Putting things into perspective is a part of learning to live. Stepping out on the tidal sands, looking out to the cold North, we are at the mercy of the elements, and, though we may aspire to control climate change, the probability is that our collective efforts will have little impact. We may perhaps slow the pace of global warming, but we could never have stopped an Ice Age, and I fear that as things are the progressive greed of generations will lay waste this beautiful planet.

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand

Bob Dylan

Copyright © 1981 by Special Rider Music

Oh, yeah
Life is bad
Gloom and misery everywhere
Stormy weather, stormy weather
And I just can get my poor self together
Oh, I'm weary all of the time
The time, so weary all of the time

Stormy Weather
Harold Arlen / Ted Koehler

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