Alexander Averin

Monday 17 September 2012


(Warning: I apologise in advance because this post contains far too many anyways). 

I went to Morrisons on Saturday morning  and when  I arrived at the till the checkout lady asked if I would like help with my packing.  I declined her offer as I had M with me and although we had got a lot of shopping in our trolley it was not as much as I sometimes have so thought we would cope nicely.  There was (then) no-one behind us in the queue and anyway I always refuse to be rushed, having  usually spent a small  fortune with their company and being a fairly regular customer I will take as long as I like thank you( I even buy petrol  from them too – and it is an 80 minute round trip just to shop there).

Anyway, as we started packing I saw there was a girl at the end of the conveyor belt with the customary bucket and I realised that yet again here was someone collecting from some charity or other.  I still didn’t want help with packing as I had  not that long ago decided not to feel coerced into this from of charity giving.  I am becoming increasingly irritated by these people attaching themselves to the checkouts, getting in my way and trying to make me feel beholden to put money in their damned buckets.  I know I am not alone as several of the borrowers at the library have voiced similar concerns.

Let’s get it straight, I do give to certain charities and like to think of myself as kind and caring. I have even worked as a volunteer years ago for Save the Children.  However, only recently M had to phone Morrisons to complain about the charity collectors approaching him on his entrance or exit from their store –.  I have also been approached and on principle I ignore them.  Anyway, the staff member from Morrisons said that they have a policy of not letting  collectors go within a certain distance of members of the public.  This seems fair enough if it is adered to.  So why have collectors on every checkout right up close with their damned buckets.

Anyway back to Saturday – we finished our packing – M politely asking the girl to move out of our way so we could pack (!) - she only looked about fourteen.  I could then see written on her bucket what she was collecting for, it was the local High School’s Geography and Business Studies department (s)!

Is it me?  I thought we paid for education in our Council Tax – I know the bulk of our council tax goes to education in this area (and it’s a lot of money). Good thing.  Education is, (well should be) the basis of a humane and well functioning society.  So why on earth should I want to give money to a local high school which gets money from the State, one my granddaughters don’t attend anyway and even more to the point -  where and how the hell is the money going to be spent? When I was at school teachers were paid to teach and we learned. End of story.

And Business Studies? Will Morrisons have buckets at their exits asking for charitable donations to run their business next?  It is not exactly entrepreneurial to beg with a bucket while using a form of emotional blackmail to get people to part with their money (or is it nowadays? Perhaps I am missing something). I would prefer it if my grandchildren spent their free time studying (when not relaxing) and not going out fundraising for their education.  Am I missing something here?

I would have thought that these students, if they had to stoop to such activities, would have gained more by going to supermarket and other business fatcats and asking them for money, instead of targeting the low paid, the unemployed and the old age pensioners – this county (and country) is full of them - let those with all the money support proper charities with donations or sponsorship. But isn’t that what the (ex public school boy) Cameron wants – the end of State control and to let Big Business and Big Brother run the world in their own way.  

Anyway, the upshot of this was that when we had finished packing,  M felt sorry for this girl and ended up giving her some money after all –even though  he had no idea what she was collecting for (!) - and on our way home a row about it ensued between him and me -  so it was not a good start to my weekend.

Where will it end I wonder? Should  folk go begging at checkouts for help with dental treatment costs or operations which they being made to wait for because they can’t afford to go private.   Or money to save public libraries or public toilets.

What do you think? Do you think I am heartless?

Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Thursday 13 September 2012

People Power

I was thinking this morning how everything is being shaken up this year, perhaps 2012 really is the end of something, not the world exactly but perhaps the world as we have always known, accepted or tolerated it.   What is it that they say? You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs?

People's faith has been shattered in so many elements of our society that should be respected and relied upon: bankers, politicians, journalists etc and today of course we are shocked to hear more about the actions of some of the police in this country.  Deception, cruelty and corruption seem to be the order of the day and it almost reminds me of Stalin's Russia.

I have put up a song in a previous post - Read All About It sung by Emile Sande, (she sung it at the Olympics closing ceremony). The words are quite appropriate for our times.

I also found this poem The Justice Bell  online today; it was written ten years ago and it is for all those families who have been deceived and their loved ones vilified. The people of Liverpool have always been special -  fighters who will never give up whether  fighting for their loved ones or for justice, or for both -  after all there are many Irish genes in their blood.

The justice bell has started to toll, I hope it never stops ringing from now on.

The Justice Bell

A schoolboy holds a leather ball
in a photograph on a bedroom wall
the bed is made, the curtains drawn
as silence greets the break of dawn.

The dusk gives way to morning light
revealing shades of red and white
, which hang from posters locked in time
of the Liverpool team of 89.

Upon a pale white quilted sheet
a football kit is folded neat
with a yellow scarf, trimmed with red
and some football boots beside the bed.

In hope, the room awakes each day
to see the boy who used to play
but once again it wakes alone
for this young boy’s not coming home.

Outside, the springtime fills the air
the smell of life is everywhere
viola’s bloom and tulips grow
while daffodils dance heel to toe.

These should have been such special times
for a boy who’d now be in his prime
but spring forever turned to grey
in the Yorkshire sun, one April day.

The clock was locked on 3.06
as sun shone down upon the pitch
lighting up faces etched in pain
as death descended on Leppings Lane.

Between the bars an arm is raised
amidst a human tidal wave
a young hand yearning to be saved
grows weak inside this deathly cage.

A boy not barely in his teens
is lost amongst the dying screams
a body too frail to fight for breath
is drowned below a sea of death

His outstretched arm then disappears
to signal thirteen years of tears
as 96 souls of those who fell
await the toll of the justice bell.

Ever since that disastrous day
a vision often comes my way
I reach and grab his outstretched arm
then pull him up away from harm.

We both embrace with tear-filled eyes
I then awake to realise
it’s the same old dream I have each week
as I quietly cry myself to sleep.

On April the 15th every year
when all is calm and skies are clear
beneath a glowing Yorkshire moon
a lone scots piper plays a tune.

The tune rings out the justice cause
then blows due west across the moors
it passes by the eternal flame
then engulfs a young boys picture frame.

His room is as it was that day
for thirteen years it’s stayed that way
untouched and frozen forever in time
since that tragic day in 89.

And as it plays its haunting sound
tears are heard from miles around
they’re tears from families of those who fell
awaiting the toll of the justice bell.

© Dave Kirby 2002

Emeli Sande Read All About It

Monday 10 September 2012

Welsh Writings

On Wales

Why I love it by Niall Griffiths, author

Because it’s like nowhere else on earth. Because the mountains aren’t remote humps on the horizon; they’re what people live on and among. Because those airborne crucifixes that soar and mewl in the mist are predatory birds. Because water is the country’s blood; the rivers and sea lap at your ankles and elbows wherever you are. Because of the food; the laver bread and cockles and cheeses and lamb and samphire and herbs and fish which have been prepared in the same way for centuries. Because the language’s refusal to die offends those who should be offended. Because of the calmness to be found on peaks and pinnacles. Because of the age of the rocks, pocked and stippled by the movements of the very first multi-cellular creatures. Because you can drive from Amlwwch to Newport in a day and see mountain and marsh and plain and moor and valley and city and mine and dam and lake and river and sea-cliff and bog on that one short journey. Because the country once drove Blair to blaspheme. Because it can be home.

From the Guardian 12th May 2007

One of my favourite bloggers Nan of Letters from a Hill Farm fame has asked me for recommendations for books set in Wales or by Welsh authors so I am beginning by mentioning a few off the top of my head which I have enjoyed reading.  These are just a taster to be going on with but I shall try and post more at a later date as I think of them and I hope other folk will make suggestions. Coincidentally I see that today Nan has blogged about my favourite poet Mary Oliver, I wonder if she has any Welsh genes?

Before escaping to Wales from England many moons ago I read a lot of ‘escape to the country/self sufficiency’ type books. John Seymour (not actually to my knowledge a Welsh writer) was the ‘God’ to people like me in days gone by. Among a lot of others I also enjoyed Jeanette McMullen’s books and must mention the classic Hovel in the Hills by Elizabeth West.  I have to say that being Irish I am more into Irish literature but there are of course many fine Welsh writers.

Poets to start

Dylan Thomas (of course)
Gillian Clarke,
Gwyneth Lewis
R S Thomas
Dannie Abse
Owen Sheers

Some fiction (and non-fiction)now:

On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
Running for the Hills by Horatio Clare
The Presence by Dannie Abse
Eve Green by Susan Fletcher
Blue Sky July by Nia Wyn
How Green was my Valley by Richard Llewellwyn
Rape of the Fair Country by Alexander Cordell
People of the Black Mountains by Raymond Williams
All Phil Rickman’s crime/supernatural novels – set in Wales/Herefordshire.

I hope this is enough to be going on with, I have had a busy weekend (guests staying) so I  am a little brain dead today.

Bye for now or should I say Hwyl?


PS While writing this post I have sadly just discovered that the lovely lady Elizabeth West died two years ago   She used to broadcast about her escape to the country on Radio 4 years ago and she wrote two fine books A Small Country Living and The Wind in the Ash Tree (you would love then Nan). She lived not that far from where I live.

Rest in Peace Jeanine.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Indian Summer

My Indian Summer Day

You must have been a gift, a reward, for 
surely some things are earned, or just deserved? 
The martins are breeding one last time, the
bees and butterflies proliferate and 
though full to bursting, even the river
relaxes, glinting so sweetly in the 
sunshine, its tune so melodious, that 
now even the aspens are applauding.

More an answered prayer than a dream or wild 
imagining, you are the summer season’s final fling
before the knife of winter slowly slides its way in.

So it's a wish-you-were-here kind of day,
a red-shoes-on-get-up-and-go kind of day, 
when to be alive or just bathe in the sun is all I 
could ever hope for or would ever, ever need.

Cait O’Connor

Monday 3 September 2012

Two Very Good Reads

Dear Diary,

I promised that I would recommend some books to you and here are just two of them.  I have more in the pipeline.

The first one is is about a part of the west of Ireland coast I know well as my mother came from quite close by.

The House on an Irish Hillside: When You Know Where You've Come from, You Can See Where You're Going


Felicity Hayes-McCoy.

From the moment I crossed the mountain I fell in love. With the place, which was more beautiful than any place I'd ever seen. With the people I met there. And with a way of looking at life that was deeper, richer and wiser than any I'd known before. When I left I dreamt of clouds on the mountain. I kept going back.'

We all lead very busy lives and sometimes it's hard to find the time to be the people we want to be.
Twelve years ago Felicity Hayes-McCoy left the hectic pace of the city and returned to Ireland to make a new life in a remarkable house on the stunning Dingle peninsula.

Beautifully written, this is a life-affirming tale of rediscovering lost values and being reminded of the things that really matter.

Here is the second book.

The second is fiction, historical at that, not a genre I usually go for but this writer is special. She is quite a ‘new’ author but one of the most ‘lyrical’ writers I know and I think this one is worthy of the Booker prize. This book is certainly better than last year’s winner The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes which I would class as run of the mill ordinary.

The Silver Dark Sea
Susan Fletcher

The powerful new novel from Susan Fletcher, award-winning author of the bestselling Eve Green and Oystercatchers.

A profound tale of love, loss and the lore of the sea.

The islanders of Parla are still mourning the loss of one of their own. Four years since that loss, and a man – un-named, unclothed – is washed onto their shores. Some say he is a mythical man from the sea – potent, kind and beautiful; others suspect him. For the bereft Maggie, this stranger brings love back to the isle. But as the days pass he changes every one of them – and the time comes for his story to be told…

Tender, lyrical and redemptive,The Silver Dark Sea is the dazzling new novel from the author of Eve Green (winner of Whitbread First Novel award) and Witch Light. It is a story about what life can give and take from us, when we least expect it – and how love, in all its forms, is the greatest gift of all.

I recommend all her books, do give them a try if you appreciate poetic writing and a great story, well researched too.