Alexander Averin

Monday 28 April 2008

More Musings on Fear

Dear Diary,

This may contain cliches.

Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.
Guillame Apollinaire 1880-1918

Apollinaire was a French poet and critic who helped to direct poetry into unexplored channels

I have been musing some more on Fear and here they are. It is revised homework for my writing group.

Let's start with a poem.

When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high - piled books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

John Keats


Fear. A great abyss. Deep and wide. Shivers, jitters, butterflies. The knocking of the knees. The creeping of the flesh. The chilling of the blood. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

True to the synchronistic formations that seem to always surround my life: as I type these words Jack Savoretti is singing these lines

To Hide all my fears
in his song Chemical Courage.

Is it telling me I hide all my fears? I admit I have fears that are far too personal to write about. I am sure we all have secret fears of which we dare not speak…….to anyone. Demons I call them. Perhaps these demons are only worries, but what are worries, are they not just baby fears?

I had a fright yesterday morning when I opened the back door to call the dogs in from their first-thing-in-the-morning outing. There were two red kites, a male and a female, circling the tall pines by the river, close to the back door. They were swooping down into the branches of the treetops where the pair of collared doves have made their nest. I blew the whistle I just happened to have in my mouth. (I blow it to call the dogs sometimes).

I blew it furiously, standing at the base of the trees, waving my arms about frantically at the same time and in the end the kites moved somewhat reluctantly away. The male was just huge, the biggest one I’ve ever seen. I did feel fear then. Fear for the doves and whatever may lie in their nest. But it is Nature and I have to harden my heart.

This is one of my favourite quotes.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
Marianne Williamson

Fear causes hesitancy or is it hesitation? A shrinkage of the doing of things. Sometimes it is Nature’s Way of Warning, then it wears a sensible coat.

Perhaps when I was a child I felt instilled with fear of a God (a man-like creature sitting high in the sky perhaps?) He always ruled by fear so I had to be Good. I see now that’s how any authority can impose rules and controls (ring any bells?). My whole childhood was spent in a state of apprehension, is this just watered-down fear? A sort of uneasy anticipation and expectation of failure, caused by the lack of necessary confidence.

I am no longer fearful. Stop. Delete that. I tell a lie. I fear harm coming to my loved ones. I fear their loss and of course the loss of my children would take away my very lifeblood and I would most certainly die. It would be a final straw in the stakes of loss. Because I am a mother, a grandmother and a born worrier too, most of the fears I experience are for others, not for myself. No-one was around for me to warn of this, how the umbilical cord is never truly broken and that there will always be a connection between a mother and her child, both in this world and the next. So I am fearful yes, but timid never. My O’Connor family motto:

Nec Timeo Spurno.
I neither fear nor spurn.

But I am fearful sometimes, of course I am.

What else do I fear?

Death is a little scary, especially as I have been close to its abyss on more than one occasion. However it is unavoidable, rather like taxes. I believe that dying is a journey to a new and a most probably better form of existence, so if I am to be honest it is not death that I fear but rather the leaving of the known and the leaving of the loved. I suppose, like all control freaks, I fear losing control. I fear losing my memory, or any of my faculties. I fear becoming ill but then who doesn’t? Hardly worth the wasting of the ink to put that down.

I know I am brave because bravery is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. We all do that don’t we? There is nothing I wouldn’t do if I HAD to, I would even overcome my fear of heights and walk a tightrope if it meant saving someone. I could most easily kill in cold blood to protect myself or my family.

There are degrees of fear and types of fear. They range from the mildest of phobias to full blown terror. Talking of phobias mine is emetophobia which is the fear of being sick. That is one I cannot always suppress and the fear is not as uncommon as I had always thought. When I was nursing, I had to deal a lot with vomiting and the like but luckily that did not affect me as it was not me doing the retching.

Spiritual writings have taught me that fear dissolves in the light of love. How true that is. Anyone who resides in a dark place should come out into that light. I have also learned that what we fear is drawn to us - like attracts like and all that.

Fear of the unknown caused by ignorance fuels scaremongering, hatred, racism, mass hysteria, mob rule. Panic. I have never panicked in my life. Another lie - maybe I have a wee panic when a mouse is loose in the house or a bat or a bird.

Fear has many partners. Fear and intimidation for one. A lot of fear is instilled in others by bullies; abject cowards who can only work in groups with others - sheep like individuals - who also only feel brave in a group. The only way to treat bullies is to stand up to them I am afraid.
Some fear is healthy in my opinion. The fear of heights and crazy funfair rides go into this category. The way I see it is our bodies are being sensible and fighting for self-preservation. It would rather we did not take risks. But there are those folk who get some kind of kick out of being near the edge, of being in dangerous situations. I’ve never really understood that myself and can think of better ways to enjoy myself.

I am afraid I must stop now. I am afraid - that slipped out - I am not afraid to say it at all - isn’t the English language peculiar sometimes?

If you are ever nervous, New Age gurus will ask you to think:
What is the worse that could happen?. That’s good advice.
Remember there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Fear is just a monster that lives alongside you, a demon that is purely imaginary.

Face him head on.

And nothing matters in life - except love.

Bye for now,

Monday 21 April 2008

The book group - on children's books.

Dear Diary,

Our book club met in the library last Monday to discuss our favourite children’s books and it turned out to be a very successful evening. I had been a bit worried that the subject, chosen by me, would not be of particular interest to our members as we are all middle-aged or older and none of us have young children any more. Quite a few of us are grandparents though and all of us are parents and believe it or not all of us had been children once. I need not have worried.

Because of my concerns I had broadened out the subject somewhat to ask how they had been introduced to books and reading and how their love for literature had developed. I drafted out a very last-minute and hastily-put-together children’s book survey (see earlier blog). Purplecooers also gave me their views which was a great help as we could compare their replies with the book group’s. This comparison went down very well, I had done a similar thing when the Purplecoo book group also discussed Margaret Forster’s Diary of an Ordinary Woman. It helps to widen the viewpoints and bring in new opinions.

What struck me most though in this case was the similarity between the answers by the library book club to the answers from the online survey. Time and time again, as we chatted, the same book titles were being mentioned and the same kind of experiences in childhood were coming through. It became obvious that we are all like-minded souls, a special breed of bibliophiles, never happy without a book or books close to hand. A lifelong passion rooted very early on in our childhood.

We disagreed over Roald Dahl. In the past, as a book group we have read his autobiography and perhaps we feel that we know him well. I had to defend him again last week and did my best to explain his appeal and why I consider him to be my number one classic children’s author.

I was also alone in that I was the only person in the group who had not been read to as a child (everybody say Aaaahhhh) but in Purplecoo there was one other so I am not completely alone in that respect.

A few people brought in very old, rather obscure children’s books, some were school or Sunday school prizes passed on to them by their parents. Funny how we all hang on to these prize books. One or two were very old indeed and made for interesting reading, very un-politically correct some of them! Some were beautiful classics.

Our discussion ran over the clock. We usually finish at ten but were still chatting at twenty past and could have gone on even longer.

The response online from Blogland and in Purplecoo was amazing too. The discussion in that forum is still ongoing.

So what were the best loved books/authors according to this random survey in the library group?

You won’t be surprised, here are a few.

A A Milne
Dear old Enid Blyton
C S Lewis
Treasure Island
Alice and all her adventures
Arthur Ransome
Mallory Towers
Black Beauty
Anne of Green Gables
Winnie the Pooh
What Katy Did and what she did Next and at School.
Little Women
Adventure Stories
Mabel Lucie Atwell
Grimms Fairy Tales
Hans Andersen
Boarding School Stories
Malcom Saville
Christine Pullein Thompson
Little Grey Rabbit
Robin Hood

It seemes that Wind in the Willows would be most people's Desert Island choice.

When we got to talking about books the younger generation enjoy, more names emerged.

These are a few, pretty obvious aren’t they?

Jacqueline Wilson

J K Rowling

The Daisy Meadows Fairy series.

Roald Dahl

Horrid Henry

Illustrators got a mention too, Quentin Blake for one.

Alison Uttley, remember her? There are so many, I feel a blog coming on.

We discussed (and looked at) some of the wonderful picture books around for very young children. Board books for tiny babies and touchy feely ones as they grow. We talked about how important the library was to us when we were children and how it fed our appetite for books, for a while anyway. Most of us had soon devoured everything on the shelves.

I did mention that boys on the whole go mad for non-fiction,
( girls like it too but not as much, they generally prefer fiction).

The children have a love of poetry books here in Wales, I don’t know if it is a Welsh thing?

What I gleaned from all this is that the love of books about adventure both in real life and as a fantasy lives on. Also stories about animals and fairies. Witches have always been popular as well, even before Harry Potter. And funny books are always enjoyed.

So a real winner of a book could maybe combine all these?

Is the new J K Rowling out there somewhere?

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Monday 14 April 2008

On Reading.: A Love Affair

Dear Diary,

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, 1811
English novelist (1775 - 1817)

There has been much talk at our book group tonight of reading and of children’s literature in particular. I just want to pen a few words on the subject.

Reading? Words? Books? Stories?

The love affair started when I was still very young.

Around the nineteen- fifties classroom we all sat while letters and their sounds became ingrained within us. Was it a kind of foreplay, this everyday recitation, a for apple, b for bat, c for cat, d for dog?

Moving on apace I soon realised the repetitious time had been well spent. Soon, with Janet and John’s help, I won the class prize for reading and was presented with a little book called Little Kanga’s Pocket about a mother kangaroo and her baby. I still have it.

Arithmetic never moved me in quite the same way, for it was a case of trying hard but getting nothing from it, though I did enjoy learning the times tables by rote, it was almost musical, all this recitation lark and I could let my mind wander as we all spoke the numbers together, into the air. Over and over. Every day.

Why don’t the children do this nowadays?

I was hopeless at handwork (what a quaint expression that was, ‘handwork‘). I have always been cackhanded in the extreme, all fingers and thumbs that’s me.

So to get a prize for reading was very nice. But there were more than literary prizes to be achieved; I also gained the thrill of adventure and a secret way to escape from my own sad circumstance. And I found the path that led to a space within my head which led to my heart or was it my spirit? Where do these things lie? It set something free in me anyway and my love just grew and grew.

And now, many years have passed and we are still together and still in love…… reading and me. We have never ever been apart and yet still my passion is unspent. I even work in a library, the place I call a keeper of dreams, not just for me of course. I share my lover with everyone.

Generous aren’t I?

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Sunday 13 April 2008

When you were a Child - A Literature Survey

When you were a child.

A Very Last Minute and Hastily-Put-Together Survey on Children’s Literature

Our library book group is meeting tomorrow evening (Monday) so I need this information quite quickly. I have chosen a general subject - children’s books - and to broaden the discussion I would love to hear your views and opinions.

If you could take a few minutes to answer the questions below I would be so….. pleased.

There will be a prize for the 'best' entry.

You can copy and paste your answers as it might be easier. If not just write as much as you can.

Thank you so much.


When you were very young, did anyone read to you?

Did you have a favourite picture book?

Did you read to yourself, can you remember what age you started doing that?

Why did you read? To escape or experience adventure? Or another reason?

Did anyone ‘ignite’ a passion for reading, a teacher/relative/librarian for example?

Were there any book characters who influenced you and your behaviour?

Were there any places in a book that you longed to be?

Were you inspired to read poetry or were you put off the genre?

Did you enjoy fairy stories?
Which fairy story or myth, if any, has stayed with you?

Was there a book you hated? More than one?


Can you think of any modern writers of children’s literature who you think will survive the test of time? Any that won’t?

Do you think that a love of reading as a child made you want to become a writer?

If you wrote for children in the future what form would it take? Poetry, novel, film, quick read, short story etc? Have you ever done so? Been published?

Do you have children, grandchildren or young friends/ relatives? Do they enjoy books? What do they prefer? How do you encourage them? If you do?

Do they visit a library on a regular basis?

If not why not?

Do you buy books for children? What was the last one you bought?


And finally, congratulations if you have read this far, not long to go now.


Is the love of books becoming rarer?

Has the computer/TV/DVD screen taken over from the written page?

If so, will it herald the decline of imagination?


Last but not least and this may be impossible to answer.

Do you have ONE favourite book from your childhood?

Whether you have one particular favourite or not, can you take a few minutes to list as many titles as you can remember that you loved or that have stayed with you, for whatever reason. Just the ones that come into your head at this moment.

If you were sent to a Desert Island and were only allowed one children’s book what would it be?


Thank you for taking part in this survey.

There will be a prize!

(I will be doing my own later, I promise)

Thursday 10 April 2008

Just Four Questions

Just Four Questions

A Tibetan Test

Try it and see.

I found it to be amazingly accurate

and in parts, scarily so.

Click on this link:

Tibetan Test

Monday 7 April 2008

Waxing Moon

Dear Diary,

Worry not. It’s a really short one today.

It’s a New Moon! The sap is rising and it is a time for growth so it’s meant to be the best time for sowing seeds and carrying out planting or potting. Not a good time to prune though as the plants and trees ‘bleed’ more. Grass is meant to grow well now, but perhaps not in the current weather. (I know the farmers round here would be very pleased to see some green shoots as they have not been showing recently!).

The New Moon is supposed to be a favourable time for our bodies to be both strengthened and revitalised. It is a time to be healed. You may feel tired but it is the body telling you to rest or relax more in order for these restorative qualities to manifest. Sounds good to me. Any excuse for a little lie down. Don’t worry if you feel this way. You will feel more energetic during the waning moon.

Wounds bleed more heavily as the Full Moon nears. Animals born at this time are stronger than those born in the waning phase.

On the plus side for us, it is a good time to be creative and there is real magic in this period which leads up to the Full Moon. You may feel the rise of returning energy along with the swelling and the growing of the Moon.

Before I go here’s a song to cheer you, it’s Andrea Corr and Bono singing live. Not new but a good one. Summer Wine. Now that’s something to look forward to……… summer and wine…….

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Thursday 3 April 2008

A Sort of Where I Live - Part Two

Dear Diary,

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

W B Yeats

I am typing this out now listening again to the album Between the Minds by Jack Savoretti, one of my all-time favourites. This new artist has his second album out this week and I have ordered it already, just a wee present to myself.

I wake not knowing what day it is.

This is probably caused by:

(a) advancing age and the probable onset of senility.

(b) the fact that I only have to work every other day.

I prefer to think it is just (b). Please say it is.

Luckily I have M to put me right and he tells me it is Friday.

Whoop Whoop. It is a no-work day.

I have been sleeping deeply and having such vivid experiences, dreams where I am working for the Liberal Democrats, how weird is that? Probably it is because I stayed up late watching Question Time, one of my (strange?) passions. And then as I made my way to bed the computer called to me. I pass it on my way to my bedroom and it always calls me with promises of messages, blog comments too if I am very lucky, or some dear cyber-friend to chat to.

Why is it that an hour can pass by so much more quickly when one is ‘on the computer?' It doesn’t pass as rapidly when I am reading, another of my (solitary) passions. Are all my passions solitary? Probably. (Showing my age again now). I love walking alone or with canine company, gardening, doing my yoga. I even work alone though I do see a lot of the public and that I love, so it might not count. What does it say about me, this love of solitude and independence, I wonder? I think it is because, from a very young age, I learned to be self-sufficient and I guess I am doing what comes naturally. Also our genes dictate whether we are introvert or extrovert, of that fact I am in agreement. I believe that most people who enjoy writing are introverted for surely you have to dwell a lot of the time ‘inside your own head’. What do you think?

I can see Sammy Squirrel and his ‘wife’ playing chase up and down the trunk of the pine tree outside my bedroom window. M says that there will be baby squirrels before long. (What are baby squirrels called?).

Woody the woodpecker is pecking at the nuts. Here is a pic hot off the press!

Let’s have a break from writing.

This is my wee cottage.

I’m posting a few photos that I have half-inched from M. Carrying on from my Where I Live blog homework (Part One - see earlier entry). I should have posted some pics with it then but I am just not that organised.

The first are of my little mountain river in all its moods. I am tempted to write her moods but I am not all that sure of her gender. Is she an ’it’ or an ‘he‘? You will see from the pics that ’her’ moods can change rapidly. Here I think she is feminine you will notice, I am not being sexist, I just think she resembles me here. Do not be taken in by the summer’s air of quiet and gentleness for her soft song can turn and become her powerful roar, the size and speed of her flow can instil real fear at times of flood.

This one below is my favourite. I put my seat right at the edge of the river, in the shallows in the summer. Can you blame me for not wanting to go away?

But I love my river so, it’s what attracted me to my tiny cottage, the bit on the end as I call it. The place has always attracted funny nicknames apparently. Some of the locals use to call it Ty Twt (Tut? sp?) which means ‘little house’ which has the double meaning of ‘outside toilet’ apparently! Just a wee joke (excuse the pun) but it used to upset the previous owner M, a dear lady who lived here with her lovely husband B, for well over forty years.

I am digressing again.

I have attached some snowy pics too. I love snow and have felt quite deprived this winter as we have only had a few flurries. So I content myself with looking at these old photos and showing you what it has looked like in the past. Having said that, snow is forecast this weekend for the whole of the UK - we shall see. I hope it does though because it is my birthday weekend - As I’ve said before, when I was born ?? years ago it was actually a very snowy day. I only know this because I met someone once who was born on the same day, in the same part of England.

But birthdays are sad days for me; I could not put into words why this is so but it is nothing to do with getting older, that is not a worry at all for me.

Tomorrow I hope it stays dry though as it is the annual Food Festival in Llanwrtyd Wells. Always enjoyable and well worth a visit, especially if you are a foodie. There is much to see. Derek Brockway is opening it (or Uncle Derek as we have named him in our house). Only Welsh readers will know who I am talking about, he is a very popular TV weatherman. He will also be signing copies of his new book.

Other pics?

One of the parlour in the morning sunshine.

A few snaps of my garden.

Bit of the field

I’ll sign off now, but first a few Blessings.

Photos. They differ from words as they say it all and leave nothing to the imagination. Some capture a moment or a person, some are works of art but all are history.

Communication, which is what it’s all about, this writing/blogging business. We are so lucky too in this modern age as we can blog, speak or email in an instant. Can even chat live online or on Skype.

Finally what I love that lives in my cottage. Apart from any human or animal of course.

Pictures, books, knick-knacks, plants, pieces of furniture. An atmosphere of peace and calm. All those things that make a house a home.

To end now here is a song I love.

Feels Like Home to Me. Ignore the video, it might be a tad sloppy but listen to the wonderful voice of Bonnie Raitt.

To watch the video first click on the Play arrow on the other music player in the right panel of the blog page. It will turn into a PAUSE button. If you don’t you will get a cacophony (love that word).

I’m off now to bath my collie, I fear she has been rolling in something nasty as she reeks of fox, yuk!

Have a good Friday,

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Wednesday 2 April 2008


Dear Diary,

We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.

Stephen R Covey

These are photos captured this morning of a goldfinch (taken from my kitchen window).

I wake up feeling good. The weather prospects are also good. Mild and dry weather is forecast.
However the weather is a bit on the ‘soft’ side at the moment.

Still the garden calls to me. Much tidying still to do. Pansies and primroses to buy and pot up as I feel the need for cheerful colour and brightness about the place. I buy daffodils regularly now as I am too mean to pick any of my own from my garden. Mine are making a fine show; I love bulbs as each year they increase which is ideal for lazy gardeners like me. It won’t be long now until my beloved bluebells start to appear.

Everything is budding, the lilac, the peonies, the magnolia, well the whole garden really I won’t list them all. Lungwort is in flower, the blue and the white. Tulips just coming out and other little bulbs in odd corners.

The view through the window is of soft rain which I do love.

I am reminded of the saying:

Wet before seven, fine before eleven.

I am quietly confident that these soft showers will pass away.

Talking of passing away. I have had an exciting few days since last I blogged. I should record what has happened, it is quite momentous and the only blessing needed today.

M and I went with two dear friends to an evening of clairvoyance held a week ago in a back room of a local hotel. I had seen this particular medium in action before last year, at a similar evening’s demonstration and had been quite impressed.

Last week she was even more impressive. During the first half of the evening she was spot on with her messages for quite a few of the people in the room, including a couple of sceptics (of which there were only three in the room out of about forty people). I’ll say right here that I am not a sceptic as M and I have visited mediums and clairvoyants on several occasions over the last twenty years, both individually and also in group situations in spiritualist churches and have had what can only be described as amazing experiences.

I know there are charlatans out there, I have even been to one in Wales in a group situation last year. An experience with someone like that would put anyone off. I would only go to someone who comes highly recommended.

From witnessing C, the clairvoyant’s performance last week I would say that the two sceptics left that room with a changed view, such was the accuracy of her demonstration of mediumship to both of them. They were local people known to a few people in the room but I can vouch for the fact that they were unknown to C.

After the interval M and I were ‘picked out’ and again I received messages about things that C could neither have guessed or had prior knowledge of. She started with my mother’s name. I won’t divulge all the details. Some are too personal , some are indeed too trivial but I was, once more, very reassured. As soon as I got home I wrote down all she had said to me before I forgot and it filled one side of an A4 sheet of paper.

She did say that there were things too personal to discuss in a group situation and I am planning to go for an individual sitting later on in the month as she lives and works quite near where I live. She comes well recommended as I have friends who have visited her and been very impressed (and helped spiritually I have to say).

So this last week I have been mulling over what was said to me and also to M and I am looking forward very much to my private visit.

If you’ve read this far, congratulations, especially if you are sceptical or an unbeliever. Suffice it to say that twenty years ago I was told information that, as an adopted person, I didn’t know or even understand until I consulted newfound relatives and had it confirmed. However, information that came to me was just confirming what I always knew really and that is that we are not parted from our loved ones when they die. They are always with us.

Before I go, a poem.

We would ask now of Death

Than Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Kahlil Gibran

Bye for now,
God Bless,