Darkness Echoing

One of my earliest memories is of dabbling in the waterbutt at the back of my great uncle’s house in Whickamford. He grew plums and his orchard seemed to begin right outside his veranda in a clutter of hosepipes, baskets and tools.
His waterbutt was an old steel drum, full sized and black as pitch. It was all surface glitter and reflection above an unknown, unexplorable depth.

Water has always fascinated me. Mum called me a waterbaby – happy and absorbed, splashing and pouring, up to my elbows in sinks and bowls.

Later swimming became my thing – especially underwater. I was inspired by Hans and Lottie Haas to practice holding my breath in the bath. It was a constant grievance that flippers – let alone snorkels – were strictly forbidden at the local ‘bathers’ – although I still went everyday that they were open in the summer.

I was disproportionately proud of swimming a whole length underwater. In my defence it was almost the sole sporting achievement of my boyhood.

All of these memories came flooding back this summer when I installed a waterbutt in my own garden and found myself – not much changed in truth – gazing into its depths, still drawn to – well, I still had no words for what it was that drew me – until I came across this poem of Seamus Heaney’s, and there seemed nothing more to say.

Personal Helicon
for Michael Longley

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.

One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.

A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.

Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.

Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

Darkness Echoing

Kakistocracy: A word we need to revive – Amro Ali

“Stupidity does not consist in being without ideas. Such stupidity would be the sweet, blissful stupidity of animals, molluscs and the gods. Human Stupidity consists in having lots of ideas, but stupid ones. Stupid ideas, with banners, hymns, loudspeakers and even tanks and flame-throwers as their instruments of persuasion, constitute the refined and the only really terrifying form of Stupidity.” – … Continue reading “Kakistocracy: A word we need to revive”

Source: Kakistocracy: A word we need to revive – Amro Ali

Thanks to Sibling3 for sharing this post.

Kakistocracy: A word we need to revive – Amro Ali

A pair of pale blue pants

For weeks now, due to some obscure malgorithm, I’ve been pursued by this advertisement:

I begin to feel haunted – just like that fellow in Dr Seuss’ Pale Green pants…

Well…
I was walking in the night
And I saw nothing scary.
For I have never been afraid
Of anything. Not very.
Then I was deep within the woods
When, suddenly, I spied them.
I saw a pair of pale green pants
With nobody inside them!
I wasn’t scared. But, yet, I stopped
What could those pants be there for?
What could a pair of pants at night
Be standing in the air for?
And then they moved? Those empty pants!
They kind of started jumping.
And then my heart, I must admit,
It kind of started thumping.
So I got out. I got out fast
As fast as I could go, sir.
I wasn’t scared. But pants like that
I did not care for. No, sir.

I’m looking for a Bickle Bush as I write…

You can see the whole book on YouTube here

A pair of pale blue pants

Things you learn on Twitter #2 – that winds have names and colours…

I came across this lovely thread a while ago. It began with Robert Macfarlane again, choosing as his word of the day, ‘Helm Wind’ – the UKs only named wind that blows from the North East and pours down off Cross Fell in Cumbria.

@AnneLouiseAvery responded:

In medieval Ireland, the winds were each said to have a particular colour (see Saltair na Rann, a collection of 162 Early Middle Irish poems)

So the north wind is black and the south, white, while a wind from the SSE is greyish-green. IMG_0300

Fascinating enough – then @iandhig adds this from Flann O’Brien – scholar and poet that he was:

‘People in the old days had the power of perceiving these colours…a better occupation than gazing at newspapers’ (From the Third Policeman)

I feel guilty about passing on these conversations – albeit they are public ones but, as John Aubrey says:

How these curiosities would be quite forgot, did not such idle fellowes as I put them down.

Things you learn on Twitter #2 – that winds have names and colours…

Things you learn on Twitter #1

Úht-cearu is Saxon for early morning cares. The sort that flood into the mind as it wakes.
Úht-floga is a creature that flies before dawn…
@ClerkofOxford and @RobGMacfarlane

Things
There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.
There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,
committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things
than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.
It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in
and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse
and worse.
From Selected Poems (Oxford University Press)
copyright Fleur Adcock

Things you learn on Twitter #1