Alexander Averin

Friday 27 July 2012

The Olympics


Dear Diary,

Excellence can be obtained if you:
care more than others think is wise,
risk more than others think is safe,
dream more than others think is practical,
expect more than others think is possible.


Here’s a thought, an early morning, listening to the news on the radio thought.

On a day when everyone is (unavoidably) thinking about the Olympics I got to thinking about a word (as you do) – the word is excellence and I wondered (as you do) if everyone probably excels at something, they surely do? What could each of us represent our country at and I am not talking just sport.

What could I excel at?

I struggled here and could only think of spelling and the use of correct grammar and that is not inborn but is the result of an excellent (that word again) South London grammar school education back in the mists of time.  I also have a talent for walking at a very fast speed – I have long legs and walked a lot (everywhere) from an early age and I really enjoyed what I think they now call ‘power walking’. Apart from that I am not sporty at all so could not represent my country at anything in that field.

Tell me one, two or three things at which you think you excel and please don’t be modest. Be objective and reveal your strengths and talents.

Before I go, here is a little bit of excellence from the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.

Eton Manor

 The past is all around us, in the air,
the acres here were once 'the Wilderness'-
"Blimey, it's fit for a millionaire"-
where Eton Manor Boys Club came to train;
or, in the Clubhouse, (built 1913)
translated poverty to self-esteem,
camaraderie, and optimism similed in smiles.
Hackney Wick-
fleas, flies, bin-lids, Clarnico's Jam; the poor
enclosed by railway, marshland, factories, canal-
where Wellesley, Villiers, Wagg, Cadogan came,
philanthropists, to clear a glorious space;
connect the power of place to human hope,
through World War One, the Blitz, till 1967...
on this spot, functional, free, real- heaven.
This is legacy-
young lives respected, cherished, valued, helped
to sprint, swim, bowl, box, play, excel, belong;
believe community is self in multitude-
the way the past still dedicates to us
its distant, present light. The same high sky,
same East End moon, above this reclaimed wilderness,
where relay boys are raced by running ghosts.

Carol Ann Duffy

Don’t forget to reveal to me your excellence and hide away all modesty but if you are really stuck then tell me what you aspire to be excellent at (I am sure that 'at' at the end of the sentence is very bad grammatically, so no Olympic medal for me today).  I think it should be at what do you aspire to be excellent? :-)

Bye for now,

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Poem for today

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

Thursday 19 July 2012

All things bookish

Moonlit Flit 

I discovered this wonderful local artist recently.  Hares feature a lot in her work which pleased me no end.

Dear Diary,

Perhaps, when we’re half-asleep
the same hand that sows the stars
trails across the galactic lyre...
the dying wave reaching our lips
as two or three true words.

Don Paterson

All things books today. Perhaps I am in the mood for escapism from this vile weather. Never mind, a heat wave is coming soon or so they tell me.  I will believe it when I see it.

What is beside my bed?

Selected Poems by Don Paterson
Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure by Joanne Harris a kind of follow-on (a return) from Chocolat which I adored).
The News Where You Are by Catherine O’ Flynn
The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price.

What have I been reading lately?

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan.  I took this with me to France recently and read some of it while I was on the ferry to St Malo. Probably not the book to read while you are at sea but I did survive. Like the sea, this book can be disturbing, dark and deep and it certainly got me thinking; it might be a good choice for my book group to read. Do try it.

I have been back from Brittany a few weeks now but I left a part of me there so I have read a few books with a French theme. I can heartily recommend The Price of Water in Finisterre, it’s not new and I did hear parts of it on Radio 4 a long while ago but the book is fantastic. More of a memoir, it is beautifully written by a poet, do try it if you haven’t already whether you love France as much as me or not.

I am starting to listen to Book at Bedtime this week which is Ancient Light by a favourite Irish writer of mine, John Banville. I am hoping that I will benefit from some early nights and listening to a story being read to me is lovely except that this one ends far too soon, fifteen minutes is just not long enough.

I have ordered from the library:

Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie (another poet) who has written a memoir.

Wild Geese and Swan by one of my most-favourite poets Mary Oliver (re-reads of course).

Witch Light by Susan Fletcher, she of Eve Green fame, that was such a good book and this newer one promises to be the same.

Now I have given up my job at the library I have all the time in the world; I just wish the sun would shine and the rain would stop. My plans for a lazy summer in the garden have gone out of the window – my roses are plentiful but they just rot on the bush they become so sodden. Plans to go off on jaunts with my camera have also gone awry.

 I have been given (by my borrowers) a big book token and would love suggestions as to how to spend it.  I am tempted to get all of Mary Oliver’s poems but am open to ideas so do tell me what book(s) you would choose to own if you were in my position. I know I will enjoy browsing in bookshops but need to get geared up for a journey as we have no decent bookshops close to where I live.

Before I go, if you haven’t yet read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce or Mr Rosenblum’s List by Natasha Solomons do check them out  – they are both very ‘feel-good’ stories, slightly quirky and I recommend them highly for summer reads.

Time to restart the blessings again I think. How many a day?

The weather is set to improve.

For the first time in my life I have all the time  in the world....for  me. What is there to hate about early retirement? (apart from being broke).

I will be able to blog more and read comments.

The river has not flooded in spite of torrential rain yesterday.

My lovely friend and hairdresser who cut my hair, she lives close by, works from home and always cuts so well. I always used to hate going to the hairdressers but V is a treasure, now it’s just like visiting a friend for a chat and coming away feeling ‘lighter’.

I can smell the coffee.................

Before I go here are some words for a special someone whose birthday is today. Often on my mind, always in my heart, I wish we had been able to meet.



Starry starry night, paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer's day with eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills, sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills, in colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for you sanity. How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they did not know how, perhaps they'll listen now

Starry starry night, flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue, morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand 

For they could not love you, but still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight, on that starry starry night
You took your life as lovers often do,
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night, portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls with eyes that watch the world and can't forget.
Like the stranger that you've met, the ragged man in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose, lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow 

Now I think I know what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for you sanity How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they're not listening still
Perhaps they never will.

Don McLean

And guess what?

The sun is out.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Thursday 12 July 2012

PMQs: Anne Marie Morris's outburst in House of Commons

Don't you despair when you see how our parliamentary representatives behave in the House of Commons?  They were discussing education - if children (or teachers) behaved like that (or come to think of it anyone in the real world at any kind of meeting)what would we think?

Monday 9 July 2012


She wore  a medieval patchwork dress,
honest and unpretentious,
its shapes and colours appeared to be random
with squares and triangles, stripes and stitches,
silks and gingham, checks and flowers,
all recycled treasure, a respected art from a byegone day.
She chose this dress for her wedding  on
a Full Moon day, a forget-me-not day,
a kaleidoscope day when anything seemed possible,
when even a rainbow might pale into insignificance.
She refused to wear white,
no earthy muted shades for her either;
instead she wore her joy like Joseph’s coat in a a riot of colours,
sexy scarlet, forest green, lapis lazuli and robins egg blue.
She wore a wreath of cornflowers in her hair.

She held a patchwork of flowers close to her heart:
bluebells, anemones, peonies and violets
lightly laced with scented herbs, criss-crossed with ivy for eternity,
all gathered from the meadow which was
part of a patchwork of greens, yellows and gold.

They met upon the mountain with their friends and kin.
Their hands fastened with patchwork ribbons
they leapt over the fire and later
when they lay down  on their marriage bed,
they kissed and pledged their love,
Casting aside the patchwork quilt
which would become their heirloom from this day,
he teased her in his very special way.
We need nothing but our love, my sweet soulmate,
you are my patchwork coverlet,
we are betrothed, we overlap,
we have now become as one,

Cait O’Connor

Sunday 1 July 2012

Le Minihic Sur Rance, Brittany

Dear Diary,

I have just returned from a lovely holiday in a beautiful part of Brittany (on the genealogy trail) and I have to say that part of me is still there.  What a civilised country France is; they definitely have life sussed; would that the UK was the same.

I returned to even more bad news on the banking front and to learn that the head of my own bank, Barclays, is accused of being one of the worst fraudsters.  If it is proven that the banks have been manipulating the interest rates and diddling people out of lots of money shouldn't that mean that everyone affected by this manipulation should be reimbursed or compensated? And surely criminals who commit fraud should be behind bars? Why on earth should there even be a debate about an enquiry for God's sake?  I have been fuming at the seriousness of the latest banking criminality which is what it is. And another thing - Barclays have been fined nearly £300 million by the Financial Services Authority - so who gets that money, in whose pockets does that money land in the end?

To brighten my mood I was looking on the Internet for this pic which a friend had posted on his Facebook page (and I loved it) 

I stumbled on this pic too which I also loved and which I should perhaps try to concentrate on but it is hard sometimes.

Perhaps if it would stop raining we would all feel a little happier?

How is your Sunday?

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,