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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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 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.
smokingboot: (Default)
About to head to the Loire for a bit, after health issues I'm too tired to talk about. Not serious issues, just painful ones.

It's been busy but fun, with friends and art and Arturo Ui. Took a mate to the Tate, where he found himself enraptured by Turner, Constable, and Gainsborough. I found myself staring at my once beloved pre-raphaelites and not really seeing them, same with Richard Dadd's Fairy Feller's Master Stroke...

No, instead I found myself gazing fascinated at Stanley Spencer's Cookham Resurrection: Jesus in a white doily dress holding babies, his father behind him, children playing in coffins, a man who appears to have wooden trousers, paddle steamers to Heaven... I don't know quite what I am seeing here.

Then it was time for The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. This versions's the one with Lenny Henry, and it was well acted and crafted with plenty of audience interaction. The disturbing part for me was right at the end, where a corrupt vote is being forced, and few give their support to Arturo. The smiling thugs tell us that if we just sit, we are essentially abstaining, and if we want to specifically not vote for Arturo, we must go stand in the centre of the stage. So about 20 of us did just that.

And even knowing it was just a play, I felt...uncomfortable. It made it easier to imagine what it must have been like, what it's still like, for conscientious objectors, how hard it is to say no.

I am a little sombre. Tired perhaps, with too much to do today. Taking this laptop to France with me, where I hope to rest and read back through all the entries I have missed.

And now, time to get moving.
smokingboot: (helmet)
Increasingly I'm interested in trying one of those ancestral DNA test things...Deep ancestry interests me, as does genealogy to a dilettante extent. My scampish retired detective uncle is trying to do some factual research on our history - no mean task with the plethora of counts, wars, tin mines, lost fortunes, brick factories, women with hatchets sticking out of their foreheads and other strange tales that pass for background in our family. His idea was to present each of his 4 siblings with a family tree; he'd best get a move on as his elder brother is dead, his eldest sister is aged, and his eldest niece is impatient.

So far as I understand it, he seems to think we could be descended from Sephardic Jews who fled the edicts of Queen Isabella the Catholic after her conquest of Andalusia, and found their way from Granada to the Alpujarras. But this is at odds with the whole legend of our ancestor the knight who fought in the crusades, or indeed the family's background in Jaen. The Spanish habit of double naming can be at once useful and confusing. There are two oddities in the hyphenated and ever-lengthening family name: One is Olascoagga, and one is Italaiturre. The first I can find easily enough because it is Basque, the second makes no sense. Ostensibly it could mean the Tower of the Italians, but I can find no such surname anywhere, nor is 'Italai,' a word outside of Lithuania to describe Italians. When I asked what led my mother and aunt to consider these names connected to us, they looked blankly at me; apparently Gran told them or something... I suspect misspelling, mishearing or misunderstanding. Anyway, it's my uncle's riddle to sort!

Dad was studying genealogy too, though I think his was more about finding relatives, the aspect that interests me least. His widow was going to send me the material, but never did. Maybe I should ask her, but it's been a couple of years - she's probably thrown it out. And we never exactly got on.
smokingboot: (Default)
Less than two days back and I'm a bunged up snuffler once more. It's really odd. I wonder if I am developing an allergy to England. Local Council elections have an element of Alice through the Looking Glass about them; Somehow the SNP getting 431 seats and the Tories coming in second at 276 translates into some kind of Tory win in the eyes of UK mainstream media. I am not at all surprised at the demise of Labour; Labour unionists might well become Conservative unionists if they want to stay in the UK, and turn away from info about food banks and the like, because factual history is unfashionable right now. I don't know and I give up trying to work out why some turkeys vote for Christmas.

The thorny question of my next project is still bugging me. There are options but few really captivate me. I wonder what it takes?


smokingboot: (Default)

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