30 April 2023


 Underneath the arches.....

Flanagan and Allen.... The great couplings.  Wilson, Keppel and Betty (no that's three....). Wilbur and Orville Wright, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Homer and Marge Simpson.....  Oh, and Gilbert and George....,

Whose new gallery just off Brick Lane is a joy to visit, whether the

Pavement is our pillow
Without a sheet we'll lay

Underneath the arches

We (will) dream our dreams away

And dreaming is what it comes down to.....

I'm in London for a day or two, paying respect to the great and the good, and offering disrespect where it is due:

I laze a little, with Italy in mind:

Then wander a while in Hyde Park:

Reminiscing a little of the days when I visited this Police Station for reasons I won't go into here:

Then relaxing a moment in the shade of FDR in Grosvenor Square:

While young things prepare themselves for the upcoming celebrations of the unctions of Konig Karl von Battenberg:

Ah, but I'm not here for the fun nor the unctions.... 

The Ritz we never signed for
Savoys they can keep

No. I'm trolling (Shome mishtake?  Ed) along the South Bank with Simon Ellingworth (Multi Award Winning Photographer & Educator), in an attempt to steal some images of life as it really is.....

Starting with the Tate Modern, where concrete brutalism decapitates the passer-by:

A screen in the old oil tanks continuously plays with the shadows:

The structure of the Turbine Hall puts all in their place, section by section:

While windows obscure stories that could be interesting - or which may be just so:

I like to think that Love exists: but as with all art, maybe it's just a passing fancy - a flash between two mobiles?

Upstairs the clouds are gathering.  A shy guardian marshals the strays, while the ceiling lowers:

Sleeping when it's raining
And sleeping when it's fine

It's nice to see people quietly reflecting:

Or letting time coil by:

In colour, or in black and white:

And it is good to know that, despite the brickwork, there is a world outside:

Then we are outside, again, and 

Underneath the arches
We dream our dreams away (bon-bon-bo-da-be-do)

Sleeping when it's raining

And sleeping when it's fine

Trains rattling by above (bon-bo-bo-da-bi-da-bo)

There are truths in lies. Perhaps:

Earth has not anything to show more fair


these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

London and I have been friends, of sorts, for over sixty years. There have been, as in most friendships, moments of friction, but I am not (yet) tired of life, and our relationship continues to grow. I accept that everything changes, from black and white:

To colour:

From noughts, to crosses:

Some people walk down concrete stairways, as if they're under orders:

While others indulge their tastes with clear expressions of delight:

The young record their progress:

And life goes on, whatever we may prefer.....

Underneath the arches


We dream our dreams away (bon-bon-bo-da-be-do)

There's only one place that we know
And that is where we sleep......

Pavement is our pillow
Without a sheet we'll lay
Underneath the arches
We dream our dreams away

Bud Flanagan, Joseph Mccarthy Jr. and Reg Connelly

With many thanks to Simon Ellingworth, Gilbert and George and Flanagan and Allen

15 April 2023

Spring again.....


The Resurrection (Piero della Francesca) c 1460

I have this fresco on my bedroom wall (there is a copy in the Museo Civico of Sansepolcro, Piero della Francesca's native town).  Every morning I wake to the haunting gaze of the risen Christ, while I still feel as asleep as the four soldiers at his feet (the second from the left being Piero himself).  I am reminded that it is time to make a refreshing pot of tea.....

One reason I so love this painting is that resurrection does not just refer to the man arising from his sarcophagus (though I do feel a bit like that some mornings) - there is the resurrection of the natural world from dormant Winter (on our left) with its bare trees to verdant Spring to our right as life regenerates. Here is Persephone. Here is Osiris. Here is Eostre.....

This Spring, however, is different. The past winter was, for me, the hardest I remember.  Not in terms of the weather, no.  But in terms of loss, of dying.  In December, for the first time in almost forty years, I spent our wedding anniversary alone. Then Christmas, in the company of our two daughters, was again a first without Amanda. New Year; my birthday; Amanda's birthday..... these anniversaries passed in colourless silence. Yes, we visited Amanda in her Care Home. But, no, she could not really participate, or communicate, or recognise.

On top of which, for one reason or another, I didn't feel so good, and the darkness dragged on, well into March, with little sign of hope.

But then the days began to brighten, and, haltingly, there were signs of regeneration. The world seemed to be coming to life again - even if not for everyone. At Easter I took Amanda for a wheel along the prom at Hunstanton, and there were people on the beach!

And across the Marsh there are walkers on the Flood Bank - still attired against the wind, but enjoying the open air, with a blue sky reflected in the ground water.....

In the woods I hear the hopeful chant of the Chiffchaff:

 In the trees I spy a Nuthatch:

And then a busy little Treecreeper:

There was action all around. Birds displaying, and birds hunting, feeding, perhaps providing for the family:

Barn Owl

Marsh Harrier


Red Kite


Birds everywhere.  At Titchwell RSPB I saw a distant  Spoonbill:

And Avocets combing the water:

A Redshank in the mud:

And a Meadow Pipit on a post:

And at home, in my garden, the Rosemary is in flower:

And the Cherry trees are blooming:

In this resurrection life is affirming, and the depression of winter begins to lift. My personal grief is nothing compared to others. It is very sad, for me, that I cannot walk across the land with Amanda as we did a year ago, and all the past years that we shared. But she is being looked after, and still has moments of cheer:

Things could be worse, and, I guess, it's best not to think too much about the future. I don't know how many more  Springs there will be - for you, for me, for the planet itself - so we must make the most of what we have today, and be grateful for the wonder that is this resurrection:

The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf 
Like something almost being said; 
The recent buds relax and spread, 
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 

Is it that they are born again 
And we grow old? No, they die too, 
Their yearly trick of looking new 
Is written down in rings of grain. 

Yet still the unresting castles thresh 
In fullgrown thickness every May. 
Last year is dead, they seem to say, 
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Philip Larkin