Alexander Averin

Friday 28 January 2011

Thought for a Friday

Tony Bliar speaking about Egypt on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning.

Yes we want change but it must be ordered and stable, we have got to keep people together. You have got to take account of the fact that when you unleash this process of reform, unless you are going to be very, very careful about how it's done and how it's staged, then you run risks as well.  If you open up a vacuum anything can happen.

Whose words?

Tony Bliar.

Yes Tony Bliar.

Three words come to my mind.

Pot, kettle and black.

Saturday 22 January 2011

The Reading Season

The Reading Season

It is the reading season;
we do not ask for much
our call a plea for human hibernation.
Come Winter-tide, Wales tests us all.
When snow is forecast, all is gloom
and libraries fill with starving folk.
All seeking words to warm themselves upon.
All seeking books to lose themselves within
and so it is fine weather for the words.
Beloved books will always be a loyal friend,
a blanket of pure comfort, an escape,
a goose down duvet or a featherbed so soft,
a touchstone for the soul when life is hard.
Our needs are simple now and fill one tiny space:
a fire of logs or coal, a comfy chair, a throw,
a mug of cocoa, hot toddy or a glass of red,
a book or two to raise the spirit, test the mind,
cause blood to warm, bring hearts to ease
and keep us from this season’s dark and chill.

Cait O’Connor

Monday 17 January 2011

Mood Music and More

 Royal Academy Artist Ann Fawssett-Atkin,

Dear Diary,

Perhaps it is the waxing of the moon that makes me crave music this morning; it has a strong emotional pull and sometimes I just have to have music,  I could certainly not live without it. (My Moon is in Scorpio and the Moon rules the emotions).  So far I have been picking out favourite songs by David Gray, Robbie Williams and at the moment Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen.  Ah, Leonard Cohen his words are almost to die for, though what would be the use of death if I couldn’t hear his words?  I will put one of my faves at the end for you.  So the  music is ongoing and I sing along as I type, just as well you can't hear me.  The laundry sorting can wait, ditto the cleaning, dog walking, bird feeding etc.

There is much news of film in the news today and the wonderful Colin Firth has won an award (but only his first for this particular film I promise you) -  his role in The King’s Speech.  I have only seen him in a short clip of this film and I can tell you that this taster alone brought a tiny tear to my eye, what a great actor he is.  I am afraid I shall have to be patient and wait for the DVD to come out because I don’t like going to the cinema.  Not enough leg room and I get fidgety and uncomfy, also I don’t like being amongst a lot of other people, I prefer to be cwched up on my sofa with soft lights, drinks, nibbles (and oftimes tissues) and without the prospect of a fair drive home in the cold.  Also, with all these flu bugs around I don’t want to risk catching anything!

Talking of films a fellow blogger was asking for film recommendations.  Here are a few of mine that I can think of so far.  In absolutely no kind of order, here are some of my favourites:

I shall start with anything with the late great Pete Postlethwaite in, God rest his soul, he is sadly missed. Here are three to be going on with:

In the Name of the Father
The Age of Stupid
Brassed Off

Anything with Robert Mitchum in because he was (and still is) a crush of mine.

Any films directed by Mike Leigh.

The Railway Children
Lady and the Tramp (original version)
Beautiful Mind
Fahrenheit 9/11 -
(Any Michael Moore film).
Brief Encounter
The Snowman
Dead Poet’s Society
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Love Actually
Pretty Woman
The Remains of the Day
Notting Hill
Local Hero
You’ve got Mail
American Beauty
The English Patient
Bridget Jones Diary
The Green Mile
Field of Dreams
Whistle down the Wind
Calendar Girls
Rabbit Proof Fence
The Quiet Man
Ryan’s Daughter
Ladies in Lavender
I have loved you so long (French with subtitles)
The Invention of Lying
Ghost (Ricky Gervaise)
An Education
The Blind Side
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

There are loads more but I am in music mode and can’t think of them at the moment.  I agree that there are many really terrible films out there and so often they are the ones that are hyped up and in the bestsellers too. They are like books in that respect, the most feted are not necessarily the best,

I have also been asked by a friend to think of fifteen authors that have inspired me so I will do that here as well.

I tried to do as I was told (hard for me) and think quickly so here goes.  Of course I got carried away and have got too many but who cares, in my opinion you can’t have too much of any good thing.  You can’t have too many books, too much garlic, too much chocolate, too much music.......

Louisa M Alcott
Enid Blyton
A A Milne
D H Lawrence
Edna O’Brien
Tony Benn
Germaine Greer
Colm Toibin
Sebastian Barry
William Trevor
The Brontes
Carol Shields
Leo Tolstoy
Rainer Maria Rilke
John O’Donohue
Philip Larkin
Bob Dylan
Leonard Cohen
Laurie Lee
Pablo Neruda
Czeslaw Milosz
Emily Dickinson
Khalil Gibran
Mary Oliver
Dylan Thomas
R S Thomas
Carol Ann Duffy
Julia Cameron
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Deepak Chopra
And a special mention to Nancy Verrier

So many more poets,  so many more writers…..I had better stop.

I will leave you with that song I promised with those die-for lyrics.   I have two versions, the one from my CD Famous Blue Raincoat where the great singer Jennifer Warnes sings the songs of Leonard Cohen and another version by Alison Crowe, whose voice I adore.  This is a bare version, just a piano for accompaniment, it is just beautiful and it brought tears.  Thanks Leonard.

Joan of Arc

Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark;
no moon to keep her armour bright,
no man to get her through this very smoky night.
She said, "I'm tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
a wedding dress or something white
to wear upon my swollen appetite."
Well, I'm glad to hear you talk this way,
you know I've watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win
such a cold and lonesome heroine.
"And who are you?" she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke.
"Why, I'm fire," he replied,
"And I love your solitude, I love your pride."
"Then fire, make your body cold,
I'm going to give you mine to hold,"
saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride.
And deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and high above the wedding guests
he hung the ashes of her wedding dress.
It was deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

Leonard Cohen

Sunday 9 January 2011

Marriage Funeral for a Friend

This is dedicated to a very dear friend.

Marriage Funeral for a Friend

Like a man recently returned to the world
he walked back in (again)
and butter-wouldn’t-melt (again)
for he was quite reformed (again).

He of the drunken rages,
the kicking-down of doors
the jumping on ceilings
and the breaking of floors.

Theirs was a mismatch made in hell,
that created for him a saint
but for her a brute.

(She of the far-too-forgiving).

His ways are wild;
she goes in gentleness
and believes the meek are blessed
though she dreams of her escape

as she tiptoes over eggshells,
creeping by him with only her halo shining,
as she trails fine angel dust in her sweet wake.

She sweeps it under carpets
along with all her heartaches,
and together they fall
and fall
and fall (again).

Down to a grave they fall
from her pure but over-burdened  shoulders.

Cait O’Connor

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Musical Interlude

Music was my refuge.  I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.  
Maya Angelou 

Without music life would be a mistake.  
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Just two songs for today.  The first is Baker Street which is a tribute to Gerry Rafferty who sadly died today aged 63.

The song Baker Street always reminds me of January 1978, the time my first baby, my daughter was born, I remember it was playing when I began having labour pains at home. It is funny how music can 'take you back'.

God rest your soul Gerry, you are going home now

Don't you just love that saxophone?

The second song is one I heard on the radio this morning. Another old song that I love by Billy Joel.  I love the music and the lyrics so wanted to include both here.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Of suns and stars and things that go bang.

 Starry Night Vincent Van Gogh

Dear Diary,

One kind word can warm three winter months.

Japanese Proverb

Just lately the earth and the surrounding space has had us in its thrall.  Did anyone see the eclipse? I didn’t because our Sun was acting shy this morning, cloud-covered, her veil grey and dull, an altogether unattractive spectacle and a little higher up the valley the whole countryside was downright misty.

The messages coming out from the media were conflicting, look at the sun, don’t look at it - telling us not to miss the chance of a lifetime but also saying don’t look at it because the Sun could possibly blind you unless you wore special glasses. 

And did the Earth move for you?  There was another earthquake in the north of England yesterday.  We sometimes get little earthquakes here in Wales, I have experienced the crockery on my dresser shaking more than once.  We had a mysterious ‘explosion’ in these parts just before Christmas, all sort of stories are being bandied about as to what caused it.  Some say it was a sonic boom but I have heard those and this was nothing like a sonic boom.  I thought something had crashed into the library roof and the building shook.  My cottage also shook and that is six miles from the library.  The ‘blast’ was felt over a very wide area and seemed to originate from a mountain range used by the Army but they say they don’t know what it could have been.  It wasn't an earthquake, but what was it?  I doubt we will ever find out the truth.

I am lucky to live in an area unpolluted by artificial light and it is a great place for sky-watching.  I like to go out last thing at night with the dogs (unless it is very cold as it has been of late) and  look at the night sky. Last night was fairly warm. I have become that hardy in these last few weeks that freezing point or just slightly above is now considered warm!) so I went out looking for the promised meteor showers but there were none to be seen.  But I did see a truly  magnificent sky, completely clear and filled to bursting with stars and planets. I had never seen so many at one time. I always remember that stars twinkle and planets shine but I wish I knew all their names and more about their arrangement in our night sky. 

So much in life to learn, so little time.

I will leave you with a poem by the Cherokee poet Diane Clancy.

Solar Eclipse

Each morning
I wake invisible.

I make a needle
from a porcupine quill,
sew feet to legs,
lift spine onto my thighs.

I put on my rib and collarbone.

I pin an ear to my head,
hear the waxwing's yellow cry.
I open my mouth for purple berries,
stick on periwinkle eyes.

I almost know what it is to be seen.

My throat enlarges from anger.
I make a hand to hold my pain.

My heart a hole the size of the sun's eclipse.
I push through the dark circle's
tattered edge of light.

All day I struggle with one hair after another
until the moon moves from the face of the sun
and there is a strange light
as though from a kerosene lamp in a cabin.

I put on a dress,
a shawl over my shoulders.

My threads knotted and scissors gleaming.

Now I know I am seen.
I have a shadow.

I extend my arms,
dance and chant in the sun's new light.

I put a hat and coat on my shadow,
another larger dress.
I put on more shawls and blouses and underskirts
until even the shadow has substance.

Diane Glancy

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Monday 3 January 2011


Dear Diary,

Fear less, hope more;

Eat less, chew more;

Whine less, breathe more;

Talk less, say more;

Love more, and all good things will be yours

Swedish Proverb

It’s over, come closer and you might hear me whispering thank God for small mercies.  Tomorrow life will be back to normal. For the first time ever I have taken down the few  decorations I have about the place, even the new fairy lights which I found too bright  - before the Twelfth Night.  I fear there is no hope for me. I know I am Mrs Scrooge but part of Christmas was taken up with worry about others’ health, including one of the dogs and I seemed to have suffered much tiredness from too many broken nights.

I have been thinking about those New Year resolutions though, I think most people do secretly but not everyone will admit it.  I plan to economise, correction, I HAVE to economise.  I am dreading our leccy bill  because of te extreme weather we have been having and everything  has already gone up or is going up in price very soon.  Petrol, electricity, VAT, council tax, rail fares etc.  And all these rises will make everything  else cost more.  It’s not just the weather - my salary is frozen and my job is under threat so I must restrict my expenditure to what is absolutely necessary.

Our elderly dog has just gone on to heart medication and has three week’s worth of pills to take before we take him back for a review. I would pay whatever it takes to extend his life as long we can keep him well and pain free and to be honest (as they love to say in these parts) the effect of these tablets has been instant and amazing.  We had to pay £80 for the pills and the consultation so we wonder what we will pay in three weeks time.

I am going to cut back on everything, not just economically but rather on things that are a complete waste of my time but I am hoping to walk more, do more yoga, get more sleep, read more books and get more writing done.  Blog a little more often and  find more time to read others.  But in most things in life less is definitely more and I aim to pursue simplicity as much as possible.

I did have a lovely walk this morning, just me and the younger dog Kitty, the border collie.  We followed the river downstream and walked along the way of a  Roman Road which passes through our field.  I didn’t see a soul and there were no sheep in the fields which is most unusual.  There are more sheep than people in these parts.

Most of all in 2011 I am going to try to remember to think positive thoughts, turn every negative over (I think the phrase is flip it), count my (many) blessings and concentrate only on what is really important to me.  I shall resolve to live in the moment and enjoy it.  There is so much gloom and doom around but if we all tried harder to be optimistic then I am sure the ripple effect would be felt around the world.  I wonder if the Eclipse will help it along?

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
I wish you All a Very Happy New Year,