Friday, December 1, 2006

Oh My Corazon

First a picture of Tim Burgess because I couldn't post one for yesterday. Take a moment to appreciate him. That's better. And he can sing. Beautifully. I'm going to put his album on my wish list right now. Click his name above and it will take you to his MySpace site, where I have been hanging out listening to his song, the title of tonight's blog, in fact.

Tonight's blog is all about the poetry.

I have already had some great recommendations for poems. I am currently learning William Blake's The Poison Tree, which rhymes and rhythms (technical poetry terms) so is easier to learn. Very powerful this one though I may have to meditate on it for a while.

The spirited and spiritual Mark Wright has suggested Rumi's quatrain:

"Light the incense. You have to burn to be fragrant. To scent the whole house, You have to burn to the ground."

Which I love. At first I thought it would be cheating to just learn such a short poem, but then I thought about the comments from Nick Seddon about the joy of allowing a poem's meaning to unfold at its own speed, and I think Rumi's poem will be perfect for this.

Kit Kat Kate recommended a much longer poem, and this, I suspect will be the real challenge of the weekend. Alice Walker's 'Expect Nothing':

Expect Nothing

Expect nothing. Live frugally

On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out

Take only enough

Stop short of urge to plead

Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart

Or greater than a star;

Tame wild disappointment

With caress unmoved and cold
ake of it a parka

For your soul.

Discover the reason why

So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

It's such a beautiful poem though, and the reference to 'tiny human midget' sounds like one of the Chief's terms of endearment for me.

The lack of sleep accrued (can you negatively accrue? I'm not sure, let's chance it together) over the last few weeks has heartily caught up with me and I intend to spend the weekend indulging in some serious R&R. I was due to catch up with a couple of old friends tonight, but we've decided to postpone til Monday when I don;t have to cut the evening short for an early night. We've all decided to go out for some drinks, or some dinner, maybe both. I will not be seriously boozing. This ladette is on the rehab diet! I have decided to follow the words of Seneca and "
Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones."

Today's Beautiful Things

1. 999 Red Balloons in the Square and projections on the Guildhall for World Aids Day

2. Talking Christmas over coffee and admiring honesty

3. House. I love House. I mean really love him. Why are all the men I love best fictional? Am I this damaged? (Answers on the comments page - this is an official blog vote)
Those of you who read yesterday’s comments will know the struggles of Miss Sally and her hangover. I think she’s an absolute starlet for going to work at all, it’s more than I would have done!

I didn’t have time to post last night as I was at a Charlatans gig at the Guildhall with the ever-delicious Glenn. It was a nostalgic evening in the main, as Glenn and I used to listen to the Charlatans in our formative years together (and the Stone Roses, Oasis, Blur, Pulp and any band we could find from circa 1967). I had forgotten how entirely beautiful Tim Burgess of the Charlatans is (that boy defines the act of a perfect smile). Glenn has seen them loads of times whereas this was my first evening in their company.

The Guildhall is a very intimate venue for such a huge band to play in and by sheer fluke we managed to get to the front, with the lovely Tim only a few feet away. I think he may have had a bit of a crush on me, actually, because he spent most of the time at our end of the stage, directing every song to me (ok the first half of the sentence is true, the second half is embellished). Fabulous night.

The Chief dragged me into work at 7.45 this morning, which scuppered my ideas of sleeping in and catching up on the approximately 80 hours sleep I’ve lost over the past couple of weeks. I plan to go home early though, so it all balances out. He hasn’t mentioned the Sherlock Holmes idea yet though, so I think he’s definitely considering it and I’m sure there was a pipe and a violin hidden in his rucksack this morning.

I’ve just discovered a really interesting article in the Books Blog of the Guardian this morning on memorising poetry. There’s only one poem that I know off by heart and that’s ‘This Be The Verse’ by Phillip Larkin, but I used to know The Tiger by William Blake, The Windhover by Hopkins and ‘Crossing the Bar’ by Tennyson. Where do the learnt poems go when you forget them?

I agree with Nick Seddon that there is something about learning poetry by heart that utterly changes your understanding of a poem, that frees it from its constraints and sets it free. He comments:

“But once you have them by heart - which is of course by head - the poems stay with you, resonating in what Seamus Heaney calls the echo chambers of the mind. They unfurl and display their self-delighting inventiveness: time and again, walking down the street, I have little insights and epiphanies.”

So, I have decided to learn three poems by the end of the weekend. Any suggestions? Today's poem du jour is by the fearless, fickle and funny John Hegley, who I would heartily recommend you never miss an opportunity to see perform live.

Love Cuts

Love cuts

love juts out
and you walk right into it.

Love cuts
love comes and goes
love's a rose
first you smell the flower
then the thorn gets up your nostril
love gives you the chocolates
and then love gives you the chop
it doesn't like to linger.

Love cuts
love shuts up shop
and shuts it on your finger

Love cuts
love's very sharp
a harpoon through an easy chair
a comb of honey in your hair
just wait until the bees come home
and find you just relaxing there.

Love cuts, love guts the fish
of what you wish for
and leaves it in the airing cupboard.

Love cuts
love huts fall down
as all the walls get falser.

Love cuts
Love struts around on stilts of balsa
wood love cuts
love gives you a sweeping bow
then ploughs a furrow deep above your eyebrow
love cuts
love curtseys
then nuts you
where it really hurtseys.

Love cuts
love butts in
When you're in full flow
and you're so glad
your heart's aglow.

But like it comes
it likes to go
without so much as a cheerio
and you miss it so
until next time.

Today’s Beautiful Things

1. Tim Burgess

2. Tim from the Charlatans

3. The lead singer of the Charlatans, Mr Burgess

Support World AIDS Day

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Because things are the way they are...

What a wonderful day for commenting today was! A big hello to all my commentors today: the gorgeous and talented Mark Wright, the fabulous Norma, Lou and Lorraine and of course, the wickedly wonderful Shonagh (who has introduced a new feature of her own, I notice - now that's what I call interactive participation!).

The comment from the women of the office was on the money, I'm sorry to say. Getting up this morning was a vision of hell in a hand basket and I had rather intended to get an early night tonight to make up for it, but I seem to be reluctant to sleep at a decent hour at the moment: I'm obviously going through some sort of tired toddler crisis.

I learnt this afternoon at the Naval Museum that my base pass entitles me to free entry into the Festival of Christmas this weekend, which means that I have a busy weekend to look forward to. On Saturday I'm travelling up to Bristol to see their exhibition on slavery with the women of the African Women's Forum, to assist them with their first fact finding mission in preparation for their own project on slavery next year.

On Sunday I think I will pop into the Festival of Christmas as I have been reliably informed that the Dockyard intend to re-create a Christmas Victorian street. I have been overdosing rather on the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection - Lancelyn Green Bequest, I suspect and I fully intend to go as Mrs Hudson. If I can persuade the Chief to go as the Great Sherlock himself, than I can follow him around the Victorian Street cackling, "Lor, Mr 'Olmes, 'ow d'ya get to be so clevah! 'Ow's about a nice cuppa tea before I 'as to go and scrub the doorstep again?"

I'm not entirely sure yet if the Chief will be up for this, but I've hired the deerstalker and cape just in case.

The area to be transformed into a Victorian Street is the alley behind the Royal Naval Library, where I have spent many happy hours digging up facts on the subject of the slave trade. Today I was back there for a few hours, photographing some images and items for the exhibition panels. I spent some time searching for images of mosquitoes in the historical medical collection today, which took far longer than I thought it might.

One of the books I found during my image quest was called 'Bats, Mosquitoes and Dollars' by Dr Chas A.R. Campbell. It's all about an idea of Dr Campbell's to build Bat Roosts in Austin, Texas in order to prevent malaria. Apparently bats love mosquitoes (to eat, not to keep as pets or anything) and loads of these towers were built, in Texas at least. You couldn't make it up.

Tonight's inspirational quote is from Bertolt Brecht:

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. Monkey Dancing

2. Face ache

3. Defying expectations

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christmas Culture Club

Today was my Symphony course with Steve Hender, held at the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth. As expected, and as ever, Steve H was absolutely marvellous, the man is an inspiration. It's strange, because I first met Steve Hender over ten years ago, when he was the training consultant for Vardon attractions - I was a 19 year old sales assistant with aspirations. He as much a tour de force then as he is now and I consider myself lucky to have been fortunate to encounter him more than once in my lifetime.

Once again today, Steve made me think about the power we all have to influence our own futures, even when it means making the unpopular or the risky decisions. The Square Tower is the perfect venue too, and I hope the Council can maximise its usage over the coming years, so that more people can experience the power of that environment. I was over the moon to have been placed on the course on the same day as the ever gorgeous Lisa Clark, who teaches me more and more about love, kindness and communication every time I see her. To spend time with her is a gift and I love the fact that we rarely stop talking and race from topic to topic with equal gusto and enthusiasm. She makes being positive a walk in the park.

And did I mention Lisa's book is out in January and you can pre-order it from Amazon??

Tonight was the Christmas Culture do and I must say that it revealed the hardcore party goers amongst us. Queens of the evening were Miss Sally and I, who did not stop drinking until a cute little barman summoned the tenacity to ask us to leave as the place was closing. Some people left as early as 20.30 and almost everyone was gone by ten. Shocking!

Fortunately, Miss Sally and I were there to preserve the party-going face of culture; even the Chief whistled off early, though with fortune in his favour. Personally, I could not help but be glad of everyone's early departure, for the last hour or so spent with Miss Sally was the perfect end to a lovely day.

In the (early) Christmas spirit, you'll have to forgive me for a brief post tonight, but Miss Sally insisted on buying me a double gin before we went home and it was rather the end of me. I'm not sure gin is what they mean by the spirit of Christmas!

Oh, and before I go, just to get something on the record, Miss Sally is officially one of the most intelligent women I know.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. Shonagh. Just because.

2. Writing my first poem in months.

3. Late night laughter with Miss Sally - this should be available on the NHS.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Rule of Three

What a strange day. The after-effects of the alcohol I consumed at the weekend caught up with me in one chemical rush of mood swings and mayhem.

"No beers for you tonight, Junior!" The Chief advised cheerfully.

I've never been good at taking advice so I wrinkled my nose in reply.

There's no getting away from the fact that on this issue, however, the Chief does know best, so no more crazy ladette beer drinking sessions for me (there's a very interesting article on ladettes, chavs and modern notions of class in this month's Subtext, btw, and they're new so you should cough up the £3.50 for a new magazine and do your civic duty!)

Today has been a day of friendship in three's (well, technically, 4, but why let reality get in the way of a good life lesson).

This morning, Kit Kat sent a text message with a fabulous quote from Richard Bach:

Can miles truly separate you from friends... If you want to be with someone you love, aren't you already there?

At around midday I had a phone call from the beautiful and wise Shonagh, one of my oldest and dearest friends, who literally, just called to say 'I love you.' We talked for ten minutes or so, and made plans to go up to an exhibition on prostitution in London in a couple of weeks.

When I got home, a letter arrived for me, hand-written and hand-delivered from Heather, who is my oldest friend from childhood. She had enclosed an article on best friends and a touching, heartfelt letter.

The fourth member of the Coven of my childhood, Pids, called me tonight too and after months of our schedules never tying up we've finally arranged to get together on Friday.

So, today has been a day of friendship and I'm grateful to the crazy spin of life that I have days like this to remind me of what I have. I know tomorrow will be a great day too, because I'm taking part in the final part of a personal development course with Steve Hender, called Symphony. It's impossible (for me at least) to spend time near Steve Hender without feeling an incredible rush of positive energy, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to count my blessings today, being surrounded by so many good people so that I can go into the course tomorrow already feeling wildly positive.

Quote of the Day

There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.
Mary Wilson Little

Unsurprisingly my poem of the day is all about friendship. In honour of one of my Anonymous commentors, who may not, I suspect, be a woman, it's by Dante.


Guido, I wish that you and Lapo and I

Were carried off by magic

And put in a boat, which, every time there was a wind,

Would sail on the ocean exactly where we wanted.

In this way storms and other dangerous weather

Wouldn't be able to harm us -
And I wish that, since we all were of one mind,
We would want more and more to be together.

And I wish that Vanna and Lagia too

And the girl whose name on the list is number thirty

Were put in the boat by the magician too

And that we all did nothing but talk about love
And I wish that they were just as glad to be there

As I believe the three of us would be.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. The best ships!

2. Getting caught (three times) by the Truth when I thought I'd been subtle and crafty

3. Remembering

Sunday, November 26, 2006

C'mon You Blues

Last night at Jool Holland was amazing. I was hungover and tired by the time that evening came around and I wasn't sure I'd last through the night. However, an evening with Jools Holland tends to wake you up and none of his magic was lost on me. My dad has bought tickets to see Jools Holand for the last few years that he's played the Guildhall (Jools, that is, not my Dad) and it's fast becoming an annual tradition. As ever the soul soaringly talented Ruby Turner was supporting the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and the special guest was Lulu, who looked so good on stage that even I fancied her.

I got home at about eleven and thought I would treat myself to one glass of wine. Note to self, there is no such thing as one glass of wine. As the fates would have it, someone I've known for a long time was also awake and called; as a result, my friend came over, and before I knew it, it was four o clock in the morning and we were both very drunk.

I spent a gentle and relaxing next morning catching up on my equivalent of the Sunday papers, my feminist mags: Bitch, Bust, (both American feminist pop culture magazines) Mslexia (for women what write) and the younger sister in the feminist magazine hood, Subtext. Although the new Subtext magazine is a bit rough around the edges - this is only their second issue - the energy jumps off the pages and they include a wide and diverse range of articles on various subjects referring to feminism. One to watch.

In the afternoon, the ever handsome Glenn came to collect me to escort me to a nearby public house. We went to watch Chelsea play Manchester United, which as you may know or have guessed, is not a usual pastime of mine. When we arrived the place was full as the Portsmouth game was still on ( the less said about that the better, I think) with a ration of men to women of about 75:25. Although I initially found this a little intimidating, the natural relaxation of my hangover helped and it quickly became fascinating. And I think Jose Mourinho is cute. He reminds me of Yul Brynner with hair.

Watching the guys around me interact reminded me of the large amounts of time I used to spend with my brother and his mates when I was younger. And besides, there were a lot of cute guys there. The football was great and all, but cuteness always helps. And good names. One of the Chelsea players is called Didier and Glenn looked both bemused and amused when I interrupted his viewing to discuss whether he liked the name or not.

I really enjoyed it, which surprised me, and I can't think of anyone else I would have spent a similar afternoon with. He's promised me next time we can go and see a real game in the New Year at Stanford Bridge, which, I am reliably informed is where Chelsea FC live.

The evening ended gently and beautifully with a few glasses of wine at my neighbours' flat. They solved one mystery at least. The late night soundtrack I've been hearing of late has not been due to some new nocturnal habits of my next door neighbour, but the entirely new midnight requiem of new neighbours on the floor beneath me. I have yet to meet my new neighbours and would very much like to put faces to the names and noises.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. It's Sunday!

2. Talking with an old friend

3. The fascinations of football fandom