smokingboot: (anger)
My cousin and his wife have returned from visiting the relatives.

There's a little sad news, or rather, not-sad-yet-but news.

The first is that in less than 2 months the Termagent has deteriorated considerably. She sleeps most of the time now and is very slow when she speaks, occasionally seeming to be elsewhere. He describes her as 'Looking like Uncle One,' and he thinks it's Alzheimers, but the description he gives of her appearance and behaviour is more like someone who has suffered a mild stroke. They need to get her to the doctors, see what's going on.

Also, at some point, he and his wife are giving up on GB and returning to Spain. They can make as much money flying over, working through agencies on 10 day stints and taking the money back than trying to stay here, pay huge rents and nursery/childcare rates. Besides GB isn't a great place for foreigners right now.Though my cousin's wife has never really adapted here, this does make me sad. It's like a parent you praised to your friends turning up in front of them drunk and abusive. I am embarrassed and ashamed of this country.

Yesterday I accompanied my cousin's wife to the Dr's. She works at St Thomas' so she is taking advantage of the hospital's excellent antenatal care; however, St Thomas' is in a different borough to the one in which she lives. At the 25th (?) week, and a few other similar points, her GP (within the borough where she lives) is supposed to do a check up, as opposed to the midwives, and it seems that the surgery with which my cousin's wife is registered does not provide this service; technically the GP is refusing to see her. So who will do it? Or will it just not get done?

To cap it all, we were approaching a bus stop where our bus was waiting. As my cousin's heavily pregnant wife waddled towards it the driver saw us and then studiously looked elsewhere as he drove off. It made me think that he was the embodiment of Brexit Britain, smallminded, petty, mean.

I wish we'd leave.

Harvest

Jul. 31st, 2017 06:21 pm
smokingboot: (Default)
I fell down in a faint by the cornfield
where the men were carrying a girl
between them, sheafbright
apple parings in her hair

They were singing, the hop men,
bringers of barley and
all the hedge cottonbeards
leaned forwards in a thirst

They called her 'queen',
her gold head tilted once
towards the fields, and once
in my direction.

When I woke, there were clouds
the girl was scattered to light
Like broken honeycomb in my mouth
Or a sun on the horizon.
smokingboot: (Default)
Channel tunnel. Easy. Who knew?

We were going acrosss to Bruges to pick up a piece of art we had seen in an expo in Beaugency. Got there, found that we'd arrived on Belgium's national day and everyone was celebrating at a free gig in the main square. Safe to say the night floated away on a sea of beer and music...

Next day we met the artist. He actually lives in the South of France, and promptly invited us to go spend time there with him, so we may well do that sometime. The piece itself is bigger and heavier than either of us recall, so we agreed to leave it in the Belfry until it was time to go. It's called the Faun Venetiane, and is a carved piece of wood with a bronze mask attached, and two old antelope horns given to the artist by his father long ago. Venice and masks and fairies and Africa... It is like a sculpture of our story. Is it beautiful? I think so, in a very Pans Labyrinth sort of way. I am expecting my cleaner to hand in her notice the moment she sees it, because there is no denying it could be seen as sinister to such a Christian soul (she received good news while at my house earlier in the week, and sank to her knees thanking god, full of joy. I wish I believed in anything so passionately) Anyway, the sculpture is still wrapped up because it's mainly wood and until we have a plinth/case/some way of keeping cats off, we need to keep their claws away.

In Bruges we also saw the Dali expo, with many of his sketches and designs...Hmm. In my considered opinion, he wanted more sex than he got. Dali's spurting sketches and floating sky vulvas seem a little desperate and dated - but then they would now, I guess. It never was about him being ahead of his time; he was his own time, and all there was in it. I respect that, though little of the work on display stayed with me.

The city was the star, with more holy iconography adorning walls than I've seen anywhere except the street shrines of Katmandu. Most corners held a statue on the upper walls, modern Maries, classic Maries, renaissance Maries, medieval Maries... On streets named after saints they might get a look in, but Marias were everywhere. There were also many depictions of workers and guilds. I know there is a story there in the little cobbled streets and alleys. Some call it the Venice of the North - then again some say that of Ghent, or Amsterdam - but no, it is not beautiful the way Venice is beautiful. You can still feel the village heart of it and a kind of wit too. Bruges has great prettiness, with maybe a few surprises of its own. Seems to be the way with water cities.


Bruges rainbow

Patience

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:43 am
smokingboot: (Default)
On the day before I travel to Bruges, my cleaner can't come, I have yet to get supplies for the cat sitter,there's a dispute over a broken ipad which has led to a tiny amount of odd behaviour and half the apple tree has split away; a fine meal for the local pig farm out of all these inadvertent windfalls, while I've spent the morning carving off the huge old branch and applying what can best be applied as an arboreal poultice in the pouring rain. Solutions for the tree include vaseline and duct tape. Part of me thinks they might also be useful re the dispute.
smokingboot: (Default)
This summer I've been making a real effort to go to free festivals in London. There are loads, and they're charming. The Lambeth Country Show was no exception, except that it had the most wonderful herb stalls of the lot. I wanted to buy things like mullein, skullcap and woad, stuff you don't see anymore, but I bottled out after buying some favourites of mine, Thyme and Vipers Bugloss for the bees, Catnip for kitties, Fennel and Dill for food and feathery loveliness, Roman Chamomile because it's irresistible. I should have bought southernwood and pennyroyal too. I should have just buried myself in a forest of herbs for the rest of the day...

And of course, always good to meet friends; the bro joined us, and all was great. The next day was about rest and catching up with someone who wanted to tell me some private stuff. Both nights I had terrible dreams.

Saturday night I dreamed I asked my father for some help with a hurt robin. One of its wings had been sheered right off, as though it had never had a wing there at all. It just hopped around while I tried to keep cats away. I wondered if the merciful thing was to kill it, then I looked down and saw on the ground one little dead bird, on top of which was another, smaller, dead bird, respectfully placed. Was I just collecting dead birds out of pointless cherishing?

Last night I dreamed I was having an interview with an old lecturer of mine: He was a small gentle man in real life; here he was berating me about my bad behaviour in the past, a paper of mine he had marked 17 and a half out of something. The paper was about fairies, but he said it wasn't pointed enough, and he had written awful comments about me. One was something about raging/flaming/some adjective describing overwhelming depression and there was something about psychopathy, which, in the dream, made me wonder if I was my father. Having realised that I wasn't, I took the lecturer to task, asking him how he thought these comments would help me at all. I reminded him of the room I had stayed in, where there were problems with ghosts. He laughed. 'Well, you would have trouble in that room,' he said, but agreed his words had not been helpful. I tore a strip off him. We were travelling with a group somewhere. I didn't care, not about the group, not about him.

Maybe this had to do with me having a PTSD episode last night, my first in a long time, triggered by something on TV. I don't know. But I feel very uncomfortable today and once again feel a kind of coldness around me.

God I need some decent sleep.

Festival

Jul. 14th, 2017 10:28 pm
smokingboot: (dreams)
Let's go swimming in music
The castles will come to us
even a brick wants to move
That's the reason things fall down

Show me your dance of passion
Cross my palms with smiles and silver,
I'm a black cat on the pavement,
Treat me well and you'll be lucky

And you may call it nonsense,
While I smile and pull you closer,
Going nowhere, Ima kiss you
By Carnival and Moonlight.
smokingboot: (Default)
I haven't quite taken to Dreamwidth, so find myself engaging with it less. My discipline is lax, and too much is happening. It has always been a point of mine to record my dreams, and even that isn't quite working despite my dreams being lurid and almost lucid.

There was one of some kind of crocodile birthing place, full of baby crocs. One full grown croc rose and grabbed a boy in his jaws. I didn't see any eating or pain, and in my dreams I felt a dismay but no tragedy. The croc had to eat, the boy was in the water...

Then there was yesterday's dream, where I saw an old friend (CD) and then woke up convinced R had gone to work. He hadn't - he was in the bed beside me. But I wandered round the house convinced I was alone till I heard phantom noises in the kitchen. Then it gets muddled between sleeping and waking.

Last night I dreamt I was in 15th/16th century clothing, except it was costume rather than real because the top and bottom were separates. I recall an ornate cape/cloak with slits through which I put my arms. In the dream I was marrying someone very unlikely from long ago, but it wasn't real... it was an elaborate staged part of a role playing game; people were meant to attack during the wedding. I saw the attack beginning; I was perfectly safe of course.

I had so many rings on my fingers they kept dropping off - the rings, not the fingers. I got them confused but didn't lose them.

In real life, visits from friends have been charming, dinner on my birthday was at a fantastic Japanese place in town, and a stranger cat is hanging around the house. He is very wounded indeed, a huge gash in his neck which stinks of infection. I have called the RSPCA who might be able to bring a cat catcher round today, but haven't been that helpful so far. He is too wary for me to catch him but he sits and stares at me. I have fed him a bit; if he dies - and he will die, if that infection goes much further - at least he will have a meal inside him. But I hope I can catch him, gangrene is a most unpleasant end.

Pride

Jul. 9th, 2017 08:07 am
smokingboot: (Default)
Well, that was fabulous!

It's a side of London people don't often get to see, exuberant, kindly, outre!The route was the same as the anti-austerity march last week, but much prettier. Rainbows and unicorns and glitter and sequins and little dogs and costumes...the usual suspects and many more. It was wonderful. I was there with a friend and her toddler; the little girl was not all that interested in the parade until the bikers rocked up, and then she was all eyes and ears, stunned and delighted.

There was a moment, 10 minutes before the parade was due to begin, when a small Movement For Justice march tried to crash the barriers. It's the first I have really had to do with these people; what a bunch of plonkers. Held up the march for half an hour because they wanted to join it at the front, to 'lead' it. Their cause? That Pride should be less of a celebration and return to being a protest. When it became clear that they were not going to be allowed to put their wishes before everyone else's, they wandered off down Regents Street and later declared all over twitter that theirs was a famous victory. Very odd.

Long after, I wandered down the streets towards Charing Cross, where people sang and danced and drank; the party was everywhere, the city smiling. I was given the glad eye a couple of times, which is always pleasant for my vanity. One was a dancer with exceptional moves. He and another were writhing expertly around in what I can only conclude were, um, enhanced underpants, because they were exactly the same brand and exactly the same shape. Soho was full of people being extraordinary and happy. Next year I will put on some sparkles and stay longer.
smokingboot: (Default)
It's Old Friend Time, as well as Not Doing Much On Account Of The Heat Time.

So that's me done, and this is my song today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMnYZIlLra8

Joy

Jul. 6th, 2017 07:35 pm
smokingboot: (dreams)
I do feel it, magic, luscious, fierce.

It's the part of me that laughs at absurdity; sometimes it spike up in fire, in wasp stings, in the observation of pretence. Sometime it bares a fang or two. But that's only half, a quarter perhaps, a fifth even, of my joy.

My real joy is just about happiness. Yesterday I went with an old friend wandering over Hampstead Heath, where they threw Gerald's ashes over a bush long ago. Trouble was, there were an awful lot of ashes and the poor little bush was grey as a wraith by the end of it. I recall dreaming of him, as an ingenue, learning something, fresh faced and happy. Yesterday what we thought was the very same bush had grown huge. Or maybe we got something wrong.

We found the wild swimming places. I am not convinced about wild swimming...but yes, it looked glorious. Bound to be cold though and of course, untreated, so the water must needs be full of whatever. Still, got to try it.

But still, green country, trees, water, people lying on the banks like colonies of seals, and so much happiness, just that.

It is a wonderful thing. Grand, grand to feel it. I become myself again.
smokingboot: (individualism)
Nothing like a bit of White Stripes to see one through a march...

Though the mood was ebullient I didn't join in the song, because... well, because of my uncertainty about Jezzah. I was there because it's impossible to accept a billion pound bribe to the DUP, Theresa May's denial of a 'magic money tree,' and 8 years of frozen wages for public sector workers, without parallel realities colliding.

But I was delighted to learn that he would be speaking at the end of the march. There were thousands of people, biggest and most well organised march I have ever been on. Len McClusky and other union leaders spoke of a General Strike. It's my hope that they don't do that; it squanders public goodwill on a given. Too many tory mps are weeing themselves over local disapproval for May not to surrender. The cap is on its way out.

Anyway I got to see the man himself. Owen Jones, who also spoke, is a pedagogue, Jeremy Corbyn is an idealogue. His hair is more white than it appears on TV, his face more determined looking. He speaks very well, ordinary clear language, confident but not too polished, not smooth or political sounding, even if he is obviously profoundly political.

He spoke of a new vision for Britain and I think he means it; if he gets into power he will push a strong very socialist agenda. His vision of a post-Brexit Britain is, I think, an entire change of political system, a different way of running the country. No wonder the tories are wounded and worried; but they are to blame for creating a scenario that gives their enemy such strength. This is another thing that was miscalculated by the tories and the mainstream press, this idea of Corbyn being 'unelectable.' It was hyped to such a hysterical extent that the reality of the man in interviews, at rallies, in person came back to bite them. They believed their own hype. I don't know what has shocked the mainstream media more, being wrong or being ignored.

He is very electable indeed. Those who lambast him should instead blame the ineptitude that led to such polarisation of opinions. This government is a travesty. It is no surprise, though some irony, that Corbyn can capitalise on it.
smokingboot: (Default)
I met a woman down on Thorney Isle
And she was cold of skin, of eye, and hair
Ice-like her frown, upon her head a crown
For all her feet were mud-splattered and bare.

So elegant her bearing, my surprise
questioned the strangeness that she seemed to choose.
Why be so grand, with coinage close to hand
Then wander down the Thames bereft of shoes?

She said, 'I who gained mastery of the world
Was once a child scanning the reed-edged foam
for flotsam, meat, or anything to eat,
A beggar without provenance or home

I who was here er Saxon found his way,
Or Caesar sent strong armies passing by,
I who first ran before the dreams of Bran
and heard the river raven's piercing cry,

Then I had nothing, rats and whelks beside,
Til blood and bones were ground to make my bread
And I grew bold, lustrous with kingdom's gold,
Adored by all and all my hunger fed

But I have not forgot what it was like
And this is why I stride the dirty flood
For I who shine and made the whole world mine,
Was once a starving child covered in mud.'

With that she turned and wandered far from me,
May all the folk of London feel her smile
though thieves and whores go scurrying through the doors
Of her old palace, built on Thorney Isle.

Pah!

Jun. 28th, 2017 08:16 am
smokingboot: (anger)
I am angry, so angry.

It would have been wise to record the wonders of our French trip here, I should do it to bring my fury levels down. But instead I am going to rant.

ID cards for foreigners? Air strikes against hackers? A bribe to an anti-gay, anti-women's rights, climate change denying bunch of not-quite-crooks with connections to 'dark' money and terrorist activities? And these get a billion at least. 'Investment in NI is good for all of us,' says that goon Fallon, aye, so good that it wasn't even mentioned in their manifesto. They've been ignoring NI for years only to suddenly consider 'investment' there a grand idea provided it gets them 10 votes. 10 votes. Even if it imperils the good Friday agreement, if it imperils the peace that reigns so tenuously there, 10 votes. 10 fucking votes. Cos they dare not face the commons without guarantees because they have no mandate from the people. Theresa May had the face to tell a nurse who hadn't had a rise in 8 years that there wasn't a magic money tree. Couldn't budget for kids school meals beyond 7 pence. Let's not even talk about Grenfell tower and the like. Ah, but come the hung parliament, the magic money tree suddenly appeared, and by god it's bountiful when a conservative government's collective fat arse is on the line. And still they lie, gaslighting us, pretending nothing has changed and that this is all normal.

I don't like Conservatism generally, but know some decent tory voters. They are quiet now, very quiet.

And that's wise.
smokingboot: (snail)
Under trees and dinosaur balloons
waiting for the band, tripping over
face painted kids,disaster!
There's no more jelly coconuts,
and that dog's nicked my ice-cream!
Might as well have a beer then.
Music's starting.
This is who we really are,
Not termite gods of cash
or savage mouths farting onto screens,
But dancers, story tellers, families,
Picnic blanket people playing
And everyone of us a king of summer.

One of the nice things about London in summer is the number of free festivals that pop up everywhere. The Crystal Palace Overground one was fab. It's so weird, how happy I was in France, then I came back and everything seems to be such a tense mess in the UK. The solution's to go somewhere with art and music and beauty and fun, and remember that's what real life is supposed to be like. Or at least that's my solution.


crystal palace free festival
smokingboot: (Default)
Things have been so good. The holiday was delicious, with chateaux and history and May roses everywhere...Then I came back for operation number 1, then I had that weird heartc lutchy thing again, more blood tests, more ECGS. And the summer is beautiful anyway.

My cleaner turned up on my doorstep and collapsed in tears. The tears grew more intense; She knew someone who died in the Grenfell tower fire, along with her 3 year old boy. She and others were going to go there and leave flowers and messages, when a friend told her that it was like the war in Sierra Leone as they remembered it. He described the smell, burning matter, some of it human. The fear of that smell stopped her from going with her friends.

She cried for hours. She told me about the war in Sierra Leone , the multiple rapes, the 'short sleeved or long sleeved' mutilations, her home burnt to the ground, and the tower brought all back to her.

'So far away,' she said, 'I thought it was so far away...'

She cried more, speaking of the fire, burning, dying, the feeling of fear, and it came back to life in her face. 'I remember the rebels sneaking past our village going to the British. They would sell them diamonds in return for cocaine and ammunition.'She stared at me. 'To kill us. Kill us. And then the British would try to 'liberate' us from them!' She laughed, a terrible sound, 'But we are not stupid, we know you. We know you.' Her eyes didn't see me. Then she came back, and wept over the tower again, again, again.

Sometimes she seemed strangely matter of fact. 'War comes. We know that in war, all is madness. We know what to expect from war. A bomb doesn't know where it is going to drop. And we left all that to begin our lives here again. And we are not safe.' Her tears flowed as she showed me pictures of the lost little boy and his mother.

'We are not safe. Here, in this rich country, the poor are not safe. This is not a war! Why were people not protected in their homes? Why? For money?'

I listened and comforted as best I could. She stayed for around 4 hours then went to collect her daughter. I watched footage of Theresa May walking quickly away from crowds calling her a coward.

God, I wish I was back in France.

Paddy

Jun. 10th, 2017 08:56 am
smokingboot: (unreasonableness)
All this palaver only for that silly woman to have to kowtow to the DUP! There's commentary everywhere. I am going to talk about my own memories.

Dad was a fierce catholic from Glasgow. He trained to be a priest. I never heard him get involved in sectarian arguments, and I knew nothing of them myself, except for my father joking that had I been born one day later he'd have disowned me. My birthday is the 11th July. The nearest he came might have been something about Ian Paisley, and I had no doubt that the horrible old creature would not fare well if my father ever got near him. It wasn't anger so much as a strange smile my dad used to get. I've seen him beat a man's head into the bonnet of a car before, blood splashes all over the metal and windscreen, I knew to respect that smile.

Growing up in a small west country town, along came a man called Paddy, related to someone in the neighbourhood. I had met Irish people before, was proud of my Irish ancestry. Paddy's accent was different, sharp and very fast, melodic but not as musical. One day he was in our local park showing off his orange regalia, and he draped it on me, chuckling. 'Your father would be furious to see you got up like that,' he said. He tried to kiss me at some point and I ran away, not only because I knew adults were not supposed to do that, but also because I knew it wasn't about me. He wanted to get at Dad.

Paddy was nobody much. Met people from both sides of the border, some became good friends some didn't, same as everywhere. I only remembered him yesterday, when May ruined herself.
smokingboot: (Default)
IN ALBION
In Albion the wind that cuts the shore
bone white, then riven by the sky and sea,
runs inward like the moonshod horse
lopping the grass upon old Dragon hill,
And when the sun comes up, it moves the land
around the stones, so honeymen may say;
Twisting the tale with open lip and hand
grown fat as sheep among the beanfields fed.
Albion's bard is wind on moor and wave,
And for her love, both George and Arthur bled
Who speak no more but tourney endlessly
From unknown barrow to old iron keep
And from Drakes drum no bidding beat shall come,
though many turn in an unquiet sleep
smokingboot: (Default)
It is difficult, just a bit. Operation yesterday, but it's all precautionary rather than anything else. Still, it has left me tired... As does coming back to Britain.

Of the London Bridge/Borough attack, I have only three things to say. 1) It is a regular stomping ground of mine and 2) We aren't 'reeling,' anyone would think we hadn't been bombed before! We carry on with life. 3) Hush now Mr President, you aren't helping anyone, and certainly not yourself.
smokingboot: (dreams)
It seems I must start at the end, in more ways than one. After a wonderful holiday in the Loire valley, full of history, beauty, relaxation and sunshine, I came back to the need for a very minor operation. Due to, er, dramatic changes shall we say, in my intestinal routine (there, that's as delicate as I can manage) a colonoscopy was required; the idea being to see if anything odd was happening, snip out any polyps and take a couple of biopsies from right and left colon. I hated the idea, but remembered Mark McCann. So I fasted, took the movitrip and along I went. Problem: they didn't want to sedate me without having the number of the person who was going to pick me up. No problem, I said, he would be along in about 2 hours, cos the procedure takes much less time than that. Ah but they needed his number they said, or they couldn't sedate me. As none of the paperwork had mentioned this and I didn't have my mobile (Cos the paperwork did specify not to take anything valuable) their preferred solution was to offer me gas and air instead of sedation. I agreed.

This did not work. During this procedure, the nurses endlessly encourage one to flatulate, because air is being pumped into the bowel to expand it in order to allow the wee camera to do its thing. Well, I tried. But gas and air did not help the pan,and I screamed, 'Fuck! Get it out NOW!' and unwittingly demonstrated a new verb 'To Shart' all over the doctor, who got splattered with random movitrip remnants.

He asked what the hell was going on, the nurses explained, I apologised, he said, 'Don't, there's an obvious and easy soution,' and they stuck a canula full of painkillers in the back of my hand and started again. After that, apart from a phantom lady singing some glorious trill off-screen in my head, I was fine.

The best thing was watching it all on screen. Truly fascinating, watching them take out the one polyp they found and the two biopsies. I ache a little bit, but this is better than not knowing, so it's just about waiting for results now. The incredible thing is, I don't have to pay for any of this beyond taxes and N.I.And if we all pay together, we all get what we need without being terrified of huge bills.
Don't tell me the NHS isn't worth voting for.
smokingboot: (Default)
That was wonderful. Who knew the Loire was so interesting and beautiful? And I want to write about it, but am so tired from the operation yesterday. I will try again later.

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