Alexander Averin

Friday 30 November 2007

Christmas: A Daughter's View.

My daughter and I have been having a bit of a 'discussion' about Christmas. Now I am a Grown-Up I freely admit that my middle name is Scrooge and I despise the commercialism of this time of year with its emphasis on spending and the material.

V is doing her best to remind me of the magic of the season which I agree is still there for children.

I have taken the liberty of copying the email she has just sent me.

The question I asked was What IS Christmas?

An extract below:

tradition, history, innocence (well my kids have it), occasion, family get togethers, wrapping paper, tinsel, ribbon, colour, lights, trees lit-up and decorated; inside and out, the smell of pine needles and woodsmoke, magic, anticipation....and the transcendence of everyday ordinary bleak British winter blues.

The kids have just come in and I 've asked them what they love about Christmas...

Shauna...Exciting time to share with family.

Kayleigh... Ohh, I was going to say that Shauna...the special food and...MAGIC!...and the feeling when you can't sleep because father Christmas is coming...and leaving him a mince pie

Emmie.. Family, going to Nanny's house.

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

- Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

Thursday 29 November 2007

A Letter


Mr. A. Graduate

Thatcher Cottage

Blair Way

Dumbingdown Road


Less-than-Great Britain

Dear Mr Knowbetter,

In my defense can I first say that I haven’t received proper stationary yet ordered from eBay and I am fed up of waiting for it to arrive.

Im sorry this is late but on route I was held up in my journey to deliver this and had to wait for an accident to be moved to the side. It was a near-miss. Someone had been shopping and must have brought a lot of thing’s because they were all over the road.

I am writing to convince you to except my principal license application to practice as a color therapist. I could of wrote more on complimentary therapy’s like, as I practice and look at these treatments from a personnel prospective. They are very unique. I always try and insure my patience are well cared for and looking after there happyness is my principal roll.

Less people are using conventional treatment’s as their bored of it and fed up of the side affect’s. People who visit me at the center harbor serious affect’s.

I have read loads on it as I have a m8 who’s got loads of book’s on the subject, I havent got none myself and I cant let you lend them as you might loose them, but if your desparate tell me and I will ask. Their certainly fully comprehensive and convinced me to be a therapist.

I could of mentioned a lot more but I will sign of now and wait for your advise.


A. Graduate

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Warmth and Returnings

Dear Diary,

“Let me light my lamp,”
Says the star,
“And never debate
If it will help to remove the darkness.”

Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet.

I dedicate this entry today to J who was very ill and has now moved on from this world. She was a regular borrower at the library, a member of our book group and a dear and supportive friend. She was one of those special people who was perhaps too gentle, too good for this world.

May God rest her soul.


Back home again.

We drove home from Surrey sunshine yesterday and when we reached Wales we encountered the White Stuff: fields, hills and cars covered in real snow! The air turned very damp and chilly and we were reminded that it was indeed late November. We had been warned of course because my daughter had kindly phoned to forewarn us in case there were problems on the journey. The famous reversal of roles kicks in when you reach a certain age and your kids start to worry about your safety in the same way that you (always) worry about theirs.

It was M’s birthday so, when we were not too far from home, we treated ourselves to a pub lunch near Hay-on-Wye. The Hollybush Inn, we hadn’t been in it since 1988 would you believe, when we were house hunting in the area and planning our escape from the other world. The present owners have been there for three years and I can really recommend the food, there is a wonderful menu, a simple and tasteful interior (Country Living would approve) and they have varied live music evenings too. M let slip it was his birthday and a diner played Happy Birthday on the piano as the staff sang along. It was a very pleasant stop on our journey.

But it’s always good to be back home. I am such a home bird, I am like a fellow blogger friend who says she gets homesick walking to the post box. I have two more days off work as I am having to take all my leave that is owing to me. I shall also be taking some time off in December so I can finish my main and long-outstanding writing project.


The stone walls of the cottage quickly lose their heat and take even longer to warm up again. A joy in the hot summers, the cottage is pleasantly cool, but not so pleasant to return to in these dark Winter days and I secretly vow to not go away in the winter again.

Come Home to a Real Fire, Buy A Cottage In Wales.

A few daft sayings enter my head. Do you remember years ago that was an in-saying, when there was really bad feeling in some parts of Wales towards the English incomers. Never ’twas round here, I hasten to add.

But joy of joys! Our dear neighbours have lit both our fires, the ancient Rayburn in the little snug and also the woodburner in the parlour. They are so kind, they’ve also cared for the two dogs and Molly the cat. The dogs have spent the days in their house, probably being spoilt and lying in front of their fire. It has been known for Finn, our lurcher, to sleep on J’s bed!

Wet leaves are knee-high in the yard outside the back door and are a bit of a death-trap so I don warm clothes, gather up the broom and barrow, sweep them up into a huge pile and then put them to rest and decompose on the compost. I like a mixture of materials on there. I always find leaves less of a hassle to clear if they are wet as they merge together in a soggy mass and can be pushed easily to where I want them to go. The light is fading but I just have time to go over the road to the old forge and fill the wheelbarrow with logs, some are freshly delivered by E our local wood angel. I have blogged about him in the past. He has left us offcuts from fencing posts and now we have a real mix of woods. Silver birch, ash, pine and oak which is the best of course as it is slow burning. There is also some applewood from a tree our neighbours took down; that smells divine when it burns. We are lucky to have such a selection of wood for the fires as we also get some delivered by a local person .

When I take the logs back to their little winter space in the open front porch, I notice that M has also been there before me so we have a huge pile ready to burn. M says that’s OK as they all burn too quickly!

I haven’t posted any Blessings for ages so I think there had better be some today.

Home. Hiraeth, as the Welsh say, though I am told that there is no real English translation for that word as it is more a feeling in one’s soul, much like the love I hold in my heart for Ireland.

Our neighbours and their kindness.

I missed my computer too, how sad is that? Or rather I missed my purple coo friends and look forward to catching up on their news and their blogs.

My own bed, there is nothing like it is there, however comfy anyone else’s is. That leads me to my last blessing which is my new acquisition.

My new patchwork quilt. I will plug a local firm here, Pretty Practicals and try
and do a link, I’ve never done one before so please let it work.

I notice the owner of this company also has a blog that would be quite at home with purple coo, I will maybe send her a link. I am ashamed to say I ordered the quilt over the Internet and asked for it to be delivered through the post when I could quite easily have driven to pick it up as their unit is in a local market town, not that many miles from me. But I was very busy at the time and what with the ever-rising cost of petrol I decided it wasn’t too much of an extravagance really. But I see that they are opening a shop very soon and feel sure that V and I will be wending our way to Rhayader to have a look.

I’d best not forget the joys of our weekend away, it’s not all about the coming home. It is good to be with my brother and sister-in-law. We were both adopted and had little to do with each other when we were growing up, there was a big age difference, but we have become close since we have been adults. We share the same strange childhood with its terrible memories and when we get together we always end up talking about it. We laugh as well and that is the best therapy! We also enjoy good food and wine and much time was spent talking, either reminiscing or putting the world and especially the UK to rights. Isn’t that what most of our generation (and those younger!) seem to do all the time? I also met my nephew and his wife and their two young and beautiful children.

Life goes on and too quickly passes. Makes me feel old. Stop me now as I am sounding like a real wrinkly.

Before I go, here is something topical but please don’t think I am a supporter of royalty. I do steadfastly refuse to be anyone’s ‘subject’. I don’t even accept the sentiment in the poem. I just like the wording.

Diamond Wedding

Love found a voice and spoke two names aloud -
two private names, though breezed through public air -
and joined them in a life where duty spoke
in languages their tenderness could share,
A life remote from ours because it asked
each day, each action to be kept in view,
and yet familiar in the trust it placed
in human hearts, in hearts remaining true.
The years stacked up and as their weight increased
they pressed the stone of time to diamond,
immortal-mortal in its brilliant strength,
a jewel of earth where lightnings correspond.
Now every facet holds a picture-glimpse;
In some, the family faces and the chance for ordinary talk and what-comes-next;
in others, shows of pomp and circumstance.
And here, today, the diamond proves itself
as something of our own yet not our
own -
a blaze of trust, the oneness made of two;
the ornament and lodestar of the crown.

Andrew Motion

Enough of paradox, I shall sign off now. An unexciting blog, I admit and I do apologise that mine are always a tad too philosophical with not enough ‘content’. But personally I don’t want an exciting life but rather a quiet and peaceful one.

Peace and blessings to you,
Go mbeannai Dia duit

Monday 12 November 2007

Lyrics to Polly Come Home

If the wild bird could speak
He'd tell the places you have been
He's been in my dreams
And he knows all the ways of the winds

Polly, come home again
Spread your wings to the wind
I felt much of the pain
As it begins

Dreams cover much time
Still they leave blind the will to begin
I searched for you there
And now look for you from within

Polly, come home again
Spread your wings to the wind
I felt much of the pain
As it begins

Polly, come home again
Spread your wings to the wind
I felt much of the pain
As it begins

Polly Come Home

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

Sunday 11 November 2007


Dear Diary

My thought for the Day
11th November 2007

Racism is a Weapon of Mass Destruction
Faithless lyrics

Here are some Poems about War and Peace written by poets from all over the world.

Juan Lopez and John Ward

It was their luck to be born into a strange time.
The planet had been parceled out among various countries, each

one provided with loyalties, cherished memories, with a past
undoubtedly heroic, with rights, with wrongs, with a particular
mythology, with bronze forefathers, with anniversaries, with
demagogues and symbols.

This arbitrary division was favorable for wars.

Lopez was born in the city beside the tawny river; Ward, on the

outskirts of the city where Father Brown walked. He had
studied Spanish in order to read Quijote.

The other one professed a love for Conrad, who had been revealed

to him in a classroom on Viamonte Street.

They might have been friends, but they saw each other face to

face only once, on some overly famous islands, and each one of

them was Cain, and each was Abel.

They were buried together. Snow and corruption know them.
The incident I mention occurred in a time that we cannot understand.

by Jorge Luis Borges
Argentina (1899-1986)

General, your tank is a powerful vehicle.
It smashes down forests and crushes men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm

and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.

by Bertolt Brecht


Harry Wilmans

I was just turned twenty-one,
And Henry Phipps, the Sunday-school superintendent,
Made a speech in Bindle's Opera House.
"The honor of the flag must by upheld," he said,
"Whether it be assailed by a barbarous tribe of Tagalogs
Or the greatest power in Europe."
And we cheered and cheered the speech and the flag he waved
As he spoke.
And I went to the war in spite of my father,
And followed the flag till I saw it raised
By our camp in a rice field near Manila,
And all of us cheered and cheered it.
But there were flies and poisonous things;
And there was deadly water,
And the cruel heat,
And the sickening, putrid food;
And the smell of the trench just back of the tents
Where the soldiers went to empty themselves;
And there were the whores who followed us, full of syphilis;
And beastly acts between ourselves or alone,
With bullying, hatred, degredation among us,
And days of loathing and nights of fear
To the hour of the charge through the steaming swamp,
Following the flag,
Till I fell with a scream, shot through the guts.
Now there's a flag over me in Spoon River!
A flag! A flag!

by Edgar Lee Masters
USA (1868-1950)

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!-An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

by Wilfred Owen
Britain (1893-1918)

They speak of the art of war,
but the arts
draw their light from the soul’s well,
and warfare
dries up the soul and draws its power
from a dark and burning wasteland.
When Leonardo
set his genius to devising
machines of destruction he was not
acting in the service of art,
he was suspending
the life of art
over an abyss,
as if one were to hold
a living child out of an airplane window
at thirty thousand feet.
by Denise Leverton

Speaking: The Hero
I did not want to go.
They inducted me.
I did not want to die.
They called me yellow.
I tried to run away.
They courtmartialed me.
I did not shoot.
They said I had no guts.
I cried in pain.
They carried me to safety.
In safety I died.
They blew taps over me.
They crossed out my name
And buried me under a cross.
They made a speech in my home town.
I was unable to call them liars.
They said I gave my life.
I had struggled to keep it.
They said I set an example
I had tried to run.
They said they were proud of me.
I had been ashamed of them.
They said my mother should be proud.
My mother cried.
I wanted to live.
They called me a coward.
I died a coward.
They called me a hero.
by Felix Pollak

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.
Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed – or were killed – on this ground
hollowed by the neglect of an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.
by William Stafford
USA (1914-1993)

Give Back Peace
Give back father, give back mother,
Give back grandpa, give back grandma,
Give back boys, give back girls.
Give me back myself, give me back men
Linked to me.
As long as men live as men,
Give back peace,
Peace that never crumbles.
by Sankichi Toge
Japan (1917-1953)

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won't
straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to push the rubble
to the sides of the road,
so the corpse-laden wagons can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone must drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone must glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it's not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

Again we'll need bridges
and new railway stations.

Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.
Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls how it was.
Someone listens
and nods with unsevered head.
Yet others milling about
already find it dull.

From behind the bush
sometimes someone still unearths
rust-eaten arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must give way to
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass which has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out,
blade of grass in his mouth,
gazing at the clouds.

Wizlowa Mborska

A Polish poet

She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. She died in 2002, at the age of 101.


War is our hardened hearts,
war is our sickened stomachs
war is the Devil’s laughing eyes.
For so often are we near the edge
that when Evil may betray us
into Satan’s den we stray.
So easily unresisting and sheep-like.
Taking the easy way,
the path of least resistance,
crossing the thin line that we humans oftimes tread,
into all manner of cruelty and sinfulness.

Cait O'Connor

Bye for now,

Go mbeannai Dia duit

God Bless,