Alexander Averin

Sunday 31 January 2010

War on a Whim

War on a Whim

A Recipe

Do not entertain any alternatives to war.

Be polished; hone your obvious acting skills and make sure you are always well-rehearsed.

Mix up one full pail of pride and lace it with wishes for a future sense of achievement  and national greatness.  Madness helps.  Believe in yourself.

Convince yourself that 9/11 was instigated by Saddam Hussein.  Or rather convince others  - you have already convinced yourself for the sake of convenience.

Spice the lies and sex them up as much as you can over the few months leading up to the invasion.

Keep the 45 minute mantra going, it will persuade the weak and scare out living daylights.

Hold private meetings away from Cabinet, exclude those in opposition to your plans.  Some will resign anyway, some will die.

Disregard all international legal experts and most senior civil servants when they say military action is contrary to international law.

Override the rules of the United Nations Security Council at all stages.  Call them ambiguous.  Ignore the fact that there is no legal basis for regime change and send in the troops, however ill-prepared.

Play down any mass protests on the streets of Britain and abroad.  People must not believe in such a thing as a democracy.  Ignore all protest, your self-belief will hold the cake together, however fragile the base.

Come the invasion.  Label it with shock and awe.  Be macho. Swagger alongside the Bush man with your coat off, hands in pockets and shoulders wide.

Talking of Bush, keep all your correspondence with the man forever out of the public domain.

After it is cooked, ignore the burnings.  Play down casualties, especially civilians, women, children and babies, young boy soldiers… and their mothers’ tears.

You will have to keep this up for years and years.

And years.

At any possible future enquiries spend your time arguing over pieces of paper.  Bring your professional skills to bear here.  You are so good at this you could win an Oscar. 
Again ignore the tears and the anger of bereaved families by so doing.

Never feel, show or admit regret (this will come easy to you).

Remember that the law is always the law except in an imperialist’s war.

Above all never mention the O word (OIL).

Cait O’Connor 2010

Saturday 30 January 2010

Another Good Read

Dear Diary,

Two things. First is a poem that I promised to post for the wonder that is Willow and then a book review. Well not a proper review, just a little mention really.

First the poem by a much loved poet Czeslaw Milosz

On Angels

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe in you,

There, where the world is turned inside out,
a heavy fabric embroidered with stars and beasts,
you stroll, inspecting the trustworthy seems.

Short is your stay here:
now and then at a matinal hour, if the sky is clear,

in a melody repeated by a bird,
or in the smell of apples at close of day
when the light makes the orchards magic.

They say somebody has invented you
but to me this does not sound convincing
for the humans invented themselves as well.

The voice -- no doubt it is a valid proof,

as it can belong only to radiant creatures,
weightless and winged (after all, why not?),
girdled with the lightening.

I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draw near

another one
do what you can.

Czeslaw Milosz

And now the book.

Guernsey is a place I have visited only once but it left a real impression on me and I loved it. My brother-in-law and his family have lived there for many years, they are lucky so to do. We spent a holiday staying with them many moons ago.

My son was conceived there and he is a young man now. I always remember the feeling I had as the boat set sail from Guernsey back to England at the end of our holiday - I just knew that I was ‘with child‘. So it holds fond memories for me. Apart from that it is a beautiful island; it is genteel, quiet, full of gorgeous bays, magical coves and pretty countryside. Island life is very appealing to me though some say it can be claustrophobic. I guess nothing is perfect.

Enough about me and Guernsey; it is a book I want to promote. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You may have already read it as it is not a new one but if you haven’t I would like to recommend it to you.

It is our library book group's latest 'book of the month' and we meet in a week’s time to discuss it. I must say that I am very grateful to the person who put it forward. Someone else had suggested it to her and I find that word of mouth is always the best recommendation. I had picked the book up before in the library but not been tempted. This has happened to me before, with The Secret Life of Bees for example - that was also recommended to me (or rather forced upon me!) and it also turned out to be another must-read book. I digress.

When I finished the Guernsey book I was bereft. I felt I had left a host of close friends behind and I had that awful feeling ‘What can I read now?’ Nothing will live up to this, And the author Mary Ann Shaffer died a few years ago so there will be no more of her writing to look forward to and she has written nothing else in the past.

I turned again to Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka, a book I had put aside for a while, I had been enjoying it very much prior to switching to the Potato book (I call it the Guernsey book or the Potato book for short). But now Caravans was really too harsh and depressed me greatly, so much so that I couldn’t read it - the description within of the lives and deaths of battery hens didn‘t help. I have put it aside for a time in the future when I am over my too recent literary bereavement.

Mary Ann Shaffer wrote her novel as a series of letters sent to and fro between the characters in the story. It builds gently and softly, layer upon layer and you get to know and love each one of the people purely through their correspondence. As a would-be writer I love this kind of writing. I always love books that are constructed from letters or diaries I won’t give much away as I think it spoils a book to do so; I would like all to unfold for you as it did for me but I will tell you is that it is based upon the story of the Nazi occupation of Guernsey during World War II and a literary society that was set up by a few islanders during that period. It is informative, well-written, light of heart, uplifting, romantic and very moving, everything one needs from a novel. A perfect read really..

So that’s all, if you haven’t yet done so, do read and enjoy.

I started with a poem by Milosz so I may as well fnish with one. It seems appropriate somehow.

And Yet The Books

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are, ” they said, even as their pages

Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

Czeslaw Milosz

Bye for now,

PS What are you reading?

Friday 22 January 2010

A Home

Dear Diary,

My little Welsh cottage is writing today.

(She writes in Welsh but I have translated).

I am of the riverside, Ty’r Gof is my proper name which means 'home of the blacksmith'. My other half, the Forge is set apart but not far away. Happily I nestle not too near the water’s edge, I know her moods too well and am always prepared for those rare days when she can quickly roar, flood and turn against me. There are sandbags at my door.

Do come and visit me. Everyone says I have an aura of calm and I will surely welcome you in like a long lost friend. The locals used to call me 'little house' in Welsh for I was not much more than a cabin once, if truth be told, but I have been added on to overtime and always very much loved. I am built of river-stone, no-one knows my age but it is over two hundred years at least. A road of the Romans is in my pastures, I may have dwelled here before but in some other form, a past life is highly likely.

No word like property defines my soul (I am a home) and there are no en suites to be found. My mistress would not allow the words master bedroom over my threshold. She is a feminist and she is rather eccentric She cares not that all about me is offbeat and quirky, all is small. But I do have a big heart (but then between you and me she does too).

I am built of ancient heartbeats, there is buried silver in the ghosts of passed children’s laughter and the sound of the blacksmith’s anvil breathes in my rough-hewn walls.

My kitchen has walls of deep red now, she is like a scarlet woman who comes into her own at night. Her bare wood shelves spill over with staples and pots and pans hang over the cooker. Everyone and everything is just comfy here,not grand but comfy. It is a place to eat, to watch birds at the feeder outside the window, to mull and to moodle or to lose oneself in music or the radio, to cook even and to maybe bake a poem from a dream.

My tiny snug is rough-ceilinged but walls of gold adorn her and the view past the river is of an ancient wood. A very old Rayburn lives here. She is an easy-sleeping and a peaceful reading room, I cast a spell on all who enter here as I sit upon a magic spring.

Come into my parlour where fairy lights adorn the walls and crystals dress the windows - like dogs they are not just for Christmas for the angels love them all year round. They love my bright colours, candles, music too.

My bedrooms have not much room for more than a bed of brass with patchwork thrown across them but there is a vast patchwork of green without for the tiny windows open on to a river-view, the tops of the pine trees and a field with hills beyond.

My garden is still sleeping but as if from a dream has been reluctantly emerging from the deep snow which adorned her for weeks. She was beautiful and magical then, I miss it so, we made such a pretty pair. And now she is just a soggy mess. But Spring is nigh and I promise to show you round her then when she is looking her very best.

For now she must not be disturbed……..

Remind me, do.

Bye for now,

Ty r Gof.xx

Sunday 17 January 2010


Go to this blog, Poet in Residence for a brilliant idea, spread the word.

Friday 15 January 2010


Each day I climb my hill to meander through a wood of oak

but I cannot see much below me on this grey December morning.

All is shrouded in silver and even I am lost in meditation,

dry-wrapped in a white and frost-ridden silence

which seems holy and most soothing

for it dulls the senses and muffles tears

with a sound that is something like Peace.

Its soft blanket of comfort embraces and protects me,

over and over till I am warm and safe again,

snug in its womb-like cocoon.

It is starting to clear now and

I believe that with its inevitable lifting

will come a dissipation and true inspiration,

a renewal,

a different view of things

and warm, warm sunshine.

©Cait O’Connor

Friday 8 January 2010

A Walk in the Snow

White snow, blue sky, black trees, hoar frost.

The bride of Nature is dressed in white from head to toe
and she is calling the tune.
Miles and miles of white, her train is a work of art
and her icicles parade decoratively from the branches.
Across the edge of the frozen river
the Sun picks out the jewels that sparkle on the moor.

It is a day to pause as we put our extra layers on
and other layers are peeled away, like the dour reserve
of adulthood as our eyes widen, our faces glow
and we smile as our childhood selves are found beneath.
I want to be Heidi on a Swiss mountain
and I do not stroll or saunter, I simply tread and tread
and joy fizzes up through my woollen socks and my boots;
up and up, all the way to my heart.
My dogs gallop with white moustaches
as they race and taste the drifted snow,
just right in its pure crunchiness.

Dear Mr Media,
don’t make a crisis out of this season
for it is a gift of special days,
a drama rare enough to rise above
and we can all become as players on its stage.
It’s only winter once a year
and at least the rain has left us for a while.

Back home now at the cottage door
my stone angel is white-capped as she sits and blesses me.
Still deep in her book and deep in snow as well.

White snow, blue sky, black trees, hoar frost.

Cait O’Connor