Review of me, hens, ducks, pigeons, Russian, nostalgia etc

Beware stream of egotistical consciousness alert ……………

It feels like time for an annual me review. It must be coming up for a year since I was diagnosed, to be honest I cannot remember as I have no interest in dates. I am ashamed to say I still cannot reliably cite my children’s birthdays – Maria is disgusted. Anyway I am certainly much fitter than I was a year ago, my spirits are excellent and the outlook is positive. I am bored with having cancer and would like to move on but resigned to that not being possible ever. I have been very powerfully supported by my wonderful family, near and far. End of review. Bored with that idea.

Much more about me – I feel less mouthy than I did when I first started this blog. Being off steroids may account for that. I keep thinking I am going to get ‘blogged out’ but actually the blog, the poetry, the compositions, the shopping, the new style reading are my way of hanging onto a new kind of me. I much prefer this me to the old, pre-ill me. I am extremely clear about what I want, what I like, what makes me happy. Previously I thought purposeful work was the meaning of life, now purposeless dreaming seems closer to the truth. Like the chap in this picture of my birth place. The fact that the image is not very scenic (the village itself is famously scenic) means I find it extremely resonant of my childhood. It seems dreamily real, if that is not an oxymoron.

Very near where I was born - but this is probably 1900

Very near where I was born – but this is probably 1900

Having time to read the news, having time and the inclination to read fiction has led me firmly toward a radicalisation of my previous limp self, politics and philosophy. I am much more aggressive about what I think but as fundamentally inactive as I ever was. All that political nonsense I spout on about – It really is all hot air! That’s a shame – I am an ‘inactivist.’

I am newly inspired by nostalgia. Memories of this, that and the other have become distinct and powerful as though they needed time and space to crystallise. I think creatively in sepia tones (great spell correct – septic tones) like the picture above,- conversely George showed me some absolutely amazing pictures by a pioneering Russian photographer Prokudin-Gorsky who invented a colour photography process. The pictures speak for themselves. I cannot describe how ruthlessly they strip away sepia memories and bring the past into the now – effectively the opposite to all my current creative work but incredibly powerful even so.

Daily Life in Russia from The Russian Empire, circa 1907-1909 (3)

This girl was photographed in about 1909 – time collapses in this image – it/she is here now

This antithetical force between the then and the now, driven as it has been by my attic discoveries will be one of the lasting gifts of this illness – it’s a bit of me that has been missing and I really value it.


Pigeon lamp. Famous for not exploding.

This is actually an exact replacement for an attic discovery. Its a French ‘Pigeon Lamp’ given to me by my Uncle George when I was about 8. The original leaked so I sold it and replaced it with one that didn’t. Harsh perhaps.

My favourite recent E-Bay purchase – look at the cute face. 4.99

Animals – Hens have appeared in our back field right outside our windows. I adore them.


Outside my study window – no zoom

I have always wanted geese but hens will do. Geese partly because they are so  bad tempered but also such a beautiful shape. I was a student at York university that has loads of geese coz of the the 1960’s open plan, listed, ugly, giant, water features. The geese do not want to be petted at all. I tried many times and dodged many a peck. For some reason the Chinese students are infatuated and more persistent and I have seen many a PhD computer scientist in flight from an angry mummy goose in full hissy fit. Back to the hens Nonna, an expert on such things is concerned about the fox. I am more concerned about our cats eating them, one has already been ‘clipped’ by a greyhound, but happily our two cats seem completely uninterested or possibly frightened. True the cockerel is big and  scary but I find it very curious that the cats don’t chase the hens. Is this some kind of ‘Ardman’ or ‘Babe’ style pact or are country cats naturally respectful of farmyard animals? It feels so rural to have them scratting about just outside the window. I often wander round the back of the house to check for rats and enjoy the company of the hens who are wary but not afraid of me. I am determined to pet them eventually. On the subject of birds I read a story in the news about the habit of jackdaws delivering shiny presents, toys and trinkets they find, to people who have been kind to them. It seems there is quite a lot of anecdotal and recorded evidence. If it’s true I am certainly seeking one out and offering charity in the hope of finding a discarded chewing gum wrapper left on my doorstep. This quasi toy town existence, hens, jackdaws, poodles, cats is not…. Oh I forgot. I have been bought a fountain and it now works. Proper stone, cherubs, the works. It’s brilliantly kitsch. For those of you who have seen ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ – more modest than that – but you get the idea.

Bye for now x





4 Responses

  1. cfarrowsmith March 14, 2015 / 3:50 pm

    Nostalgia is a subject I nearly applied for PhD funding to write about. Some material you might find interesting from what I read about back then [early 2012?]:

    Greil Marcus, in Double Trouble: Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley in a Land of No Alternatives: “Once, listening to [The Beatles’ ‘Real Love’] on a bad day, I felt waves of nostalgia sweeping over me like nausea: the feeling was that physical, that irresistible. It was too much. I dug something the poet Robert Hass once said out of the back of my mind, trying to make sense of the moment. Hass was describing himself as a child, discovering a poem by Wallace Stevens: ‘It made me swoon, and made me understand what the word “swoon” meant. It was the first physical sensation of the truthfulness of a thing I had ever felt.’ ‘Real Love’ felt like that — just like that — just like Hass saying he read the Stevens poem again and again, ‘exactly like the way I lined up for a roller-coaster ride with a dime tight in my fist.’ But nostalgia is something like a yearning for that first time, isn’t it? A yearning for something you probably never experienced, a sentimentalized false memory. Hass was talking about discovery — isn’t nostalgia the opposite? Isn’t it worse: a taste for discovery in ruins, an emotional decadence, the refuge of a crippled soul or an impoverished heart? Hass spoke proudly; isn’t nostalgia embarrassing?”


    Svetlana Boym, in The Future of Nostalgia: “Nostalgia (from nostos — return home, and algia — longing) is a longing for a home that no longer exists or has never existed. Nostalgia is a sentiment of loss and displacement, but it is also a romance with one’s own fantasy. Nostalgic love can only survive in a long-distance relationship. A cinematic image of nostalgia is a double exposure, or a superimposition of two images — of home and abroad, past and present, dream and everyday life. The moment we try to force it into a single image, it breaks the frame or burns the surface… By the twenty-first century, the passing ailment [in the seventeenth century nostalgia has been considered a curable disease] turned into the incurable modern condition. The twentieth century began with a futuristic utopia and ended with nostalgia. Optimistic belief in the future was discarded like an outmoded spaceship sometime in the 1960s. Nostalgia itself has a utopian dimension, only it is no longer directed toward the future. Sometimes nostalgia is not directed towards the past either, but rather sideways. The nostalgic feels stifled within the conventional confines of time and space… The nostalgic desires to obliterate history and turn it into private or collective mythology, to revisit time like space, refusing to surrender to the irreversibility of time that plagues the human condition.”

    Plenty more where that came from if you’re interested!

  2. Patricia Routh March 16, 2015 / 1:15 pm

    Very nice! I love the sound of water, whether from a natural body of water or a fountain!

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