Hilary Q, North Norfolk
Yesterday we moved back into the Winter Sitting Room and lit the wood burner!
As a response to my pleasure in this journal (my first venture into the world of social media) I decided to use the rainy season to open an instagram account. I have not used my name and am hiding behind a photograph I took for my 2019 Christmas card. It features a book title and three Staffordshire sheep and is called Stars at a Glance. This, of course, is a reference to the heavens but my provocative sister said she thought it would attract people interested in celebs! I was horrified! Anyway, early days. My horror though became manifest when I discovered how easy it is to spend hours just scrolling through the beguiling photographs of others! What I have liked is that every morning it advises me with a catalogue of my own activity. I have to say that I think it is quite brilliant BUT more than anything I am determined to discipline the time I spend on it. It’s almost as addictive as this journal!!!
Speaking of which, I was charmed to read the biographical note provided by Bookbinding yesterday... and was also reminded that I haven’t had a choc ice for years! Thank you!
James Oglethorpe, Virginia, USA
Take a knee
Hate is not invisible,
the virus is evident.
It is complex but not
Symptoms are profuse: living with
pollution, poverty, hunger, sickness,
and alienation from education,
and parliaments of lawful inclusion.
Social distancing and quarantine
only exacerbate. There is no vaccine,
only superficial topical applications.
This is a pandemic of exclusion by
ranks of elderly white men, occasional
woman: the only face of color, orange.
Derek Chauvin’s matter-of-fact knee
on George’s Floyd’s neck suppressing
the life from him, a spot of ultraviolent
light illuminating the plague
of fear and ignorance.
After that the pathology is inevitable:
protests at a heinous act; feet on the street,
unbreathable gas, bricks to butterflies,
barbed wire around the People’s House.
No teargas is needed in order
to weep for the world
nor cry for the dispossessed
nor grieve at the ascending
dark side of the moon eclipsing
these once fruited plains
stretching from sea to darkened sea.
From a very small Island
Michael Johnston, Isle of Wight
It is Saturday! I keep on saying that to myself, because this past week my mind has tended towards muddliness in that respect (...and yes, I invent words!). I don't know why this happens, but it seems to be a common occurrence amongst my friends. Lock down has exacerbated a tendency to lose track of time I find. Maybe it is the least of our problems, either real or imagined.
Enjoyed a delicious breakfast - very simple - of poached eggs on toast It was cold this morning and I had to put the heating on for a short while, which is not something I have been doing lately.
The new computer is working a dream and, because of its arrival, I have achieved something I've been considering for some time, namely cleaning my study. So, the new kit is now in its permanent location and running perfectly so far. Must keep my desk tidy from now on - some hopes!
I like the idea of us putting pictures of ourselves in the journal. Consequently I shall send Sheila one of me a couple of years ago and ready to go Spitfire flying from Goodwood. Perhaps best beloved will be included another day.
Sheila, I really hope your back is hurting less and on the mend. Thank you for keeping us all on air!
Annabel, A village in North Norfolk
Various sentences and subjects I've heard on the radio in the last few days, not in any order.
Lost the plot
Making it up as they go along
On the hoof
Off his rocker
Two months too late
Mass anti racism demonstrations
Black Lives Matter
Madeleine McCann (There are a couple more children who disappeared like Madeleine McCann)
Meghan Markle appeared this week talking somewhere. Poor Harry, he must be feeling weird not being at home. Think it's so sad they couldn't have stayed here and found a way through. I miss Harry.
NHS upset with the government about bringing in the new face masks law with no consultation with them.
Quote from Metro: "Hospitals were not consulted on plans for all staff, visitors and outpatients to wear face masks and coverings from June 15, a healthcare chief claims."
It is illegal now to have sex with someone not in your household.
Oh no, the socially distanced queues at the gate will be sorely disappointed!
We have slipped into a police state quite willingly really. What annoys me about this though is the same thing as being asked what is in my parcel at The Post Office. We know things get sent by aeroplane which is why they don't want lithium batteries etc.
We know there is a killer virus and there is a 2 m rule so surely we can work out the rest without a law being imposed.
Prince William has been doing text counselling.
Infection rate has come down a bit and is in the 5000's now but the R number is approaching 1 in the North West of England.
Trump is being Trump, you can guess which couple of comments above go with him.
I didn't have to water the garden last night so came in about 8.45 after I had planted quite alot of dahlias and watched Gardeners World. Sad without Nigel. The evening seemed long and I still fell asleep on the sofa, then fell asleep in bed with my glasses on.
I must go and lock my self in the shed when I've walked Earnie hopefully between showers. It is pouring again at the moment.
Love Annabel xxx
John Mole, St Albans
Not even the sound
of one hand clapping
from empty seats
that need each other.
The absent teams
are hungry for applause
and the pitch
is green with envy.
Accustomed to a roaring
the stadium awaits
its gradual return,
for players to fill
this wilderness of silence
with thundering boots
and welcome heavy breath.
Then and Now
Beating the bounds. Once upon a time there were street friends, garden friends, house friends... Now there are garden friends, but I am not making thickets of twig and grass with them for our toy soldiers to lurk in, or setting up my clockwork Hornby to run on the Rockery Line. We are all oh so polite, perched on our unsocially-distanced chairs, munching and drinking our food and tipple, while the trees slowly shift their outfits from fresh Spring flimsy to their darker summer dress and the grass still hums and flutters with bees, cabbage-whites, small blues, orange-tips and a vivid brimstone. I think of my father, who didn’t need tigers or huge flowers on parade: a beetle would do, or any small patch of greenery which might hold some tiny leaf-pattern he had not previously noticed there. It’s all a matter of scale, he would have said, perhaps quoting Blake’s Auguries of Innocence:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
At 87, I can feel like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island, with Margaret as my Girl Friday, though my axe and hammers lie idle. I have no musket and have never killed anything larger than a wasp or mosquito, though when I was toy soldier myself I had moments when I wouldn’t have minded having a go at the Sergeant-Cook. How large our garden now seems, with its little copse, small field, cutting garden, pond and bits and bobs. How can a human being possibly get round it all, I wonder, reading of the splendid walks the journal entries show people are taking? But polymyalgia, a couple of hip replacements, a spinal fracture and ankylosing spondylitis do slow one down a bit. So what. How small my grandparents’ garden would now seem. 75 years ago it seemed a huge Blakean world, with its lawn, soft-fruit walls, paths between beds and vegetable garden. I needed no larger fauna than wagtails, a chrysalis twitching in the hand’s palm, the dance of mosquito larvae in a water-butt; no larger flora than my favourite nasturtiums, mignonette and night-scented stock. That was a gardened garden, unlike our own scrubby wartime patch, where my father pumped out a brown stream of cess from our septic tank each evening.
So, I look round our garden, quiet in this early summer. Jackdaws pluck out thatch ties for their chimney nests, there are newts in the pond, but no frogs that we can see, swallows are plucking flies from the air - are we unpeopled? The garden, though, is full of ghosts, not just the formal, brocaded Tudors who once owned this place, but all that throng who came to our Poetry Days and who took part as cast and audience in our Shakespeare in the Garden productions. Crusoe and Girl Friday are less alone than it seems. Theatres may now be going dark, but our green theatre is a full house of memories.
Trees push up high
for an upstart crow.
Narrow a sharp eye,
they look like scenery:
those trunks bold, undulant:
a wooden O
to make less pliant
this love-locked greenery.
Take the old house away,
its bricks, lit panes
too full of yesterday.
Untangle a space
for new love and laughter,
dancing in chains
where words trip by
but always keep in step.