Modern Hotels

There is something about the modern, automated hotel. I thought I had a reservation at Premiere Classe, and rang the bell, the woman who came out just pointed to the machine. It said I didn’t have reservation but could have a room anyway. So I chose, paid and received my key card.

I am not going to complain. I am in France three hours from Calais and my ferry home. I am just going to note the room is tiny and fits three sleepers. The entertainment is the motorway and the digger in the garden outside and my preferred evening is to sit and write this and other things on the free wifi. Which comes at the cost of giving them my email.

I really must start using the use once email services.

I wonder if I will sleep at all tonight.

Loneliness

When my mother told me many years ago I didn’t know what loneliness was I was argumentative as I thought it meant being alone, an I knew how to do that. I knew how to be alone for long periods of time. But being alone can be a choice and the quietness of being alone can be a book to artists.

On 11th I hugged goodbye a friend I had spent two weeks with, cementing our friendship, our love of the arts, and being easy in each others company to the point of long periods of silence. We asked each other questions, tested our views, adventured out of our comfort zone up mountains and I swam in the sea more times than in my whole life.

Watching her walk away to her plane made me realise saying farewell to someone you care for is true loneliness. My mother felt that every time I went away to school. The only thin that lightens this feeling is the knowledge that, all being well, we will hang out with each other again. I have sometimes wondered how many people one can care for in this life. I now know the answers would be the number that doesn’t leave one saying goodbye all the time.

That would be unbearable.

For J B

There is an ambience in my lover’s
Room which even in this stillness feeds my
Imagination, seeds the bed covers
With anticipated motion and lies
The floor with nakedness, enticing sounds
Only our ears hear to reverberate
Around the walls, till energy abounds
And two bodies moist and insatiate
Taste the air, feed on eyelid closeness, cap
The rhythm of the turning earth and turn
In time around the sun like an hour wrapped
In living, which is able to affirm
That souls may kiss and minds like limbs entwine
And time decant like any other wine.

Night Driving

In a right hand drive on Austrian roads is not the easiest thing to do. It is not the most difficult. The most difficult seems to be putting up a tent late at night with only headlamps to light up the pitch and no clue what pole goes where.

The overall image of the tent was more useful that the intimate instructions but even so when a tent comes out the bag in five pieces you know you are in trouble. I really should have done that at home first not when high in the mountains in the rain.

That said, the car was comfortable enough 🙂

For CK

So much of nature loves and loves so much
So much of nature loves and loves so much
May I love you? As the moon moves the sea
Timing tides and seasons without a touch;
As the sun sweeps the earth with the deep, free
Warmth of life; as the clouds bless the breeze to
Give it purpose and seeds seek the rain which
Moistens their growth to flowerhood. If you
Allowed I’d love you with a love as rich.
I’d be another moon, sun, clouds and seed
To your sea, earth, breeze and rain and we would
Love and from our love, a world we would feed
With happiness, if you but said we could.

The world’s turning, like a ballet dancer
Caught in her flight, waiting for your answer.

from The Love Poems of Daniel Nanavati\published by FootSteps Press

New Art Examiner

I am editing a magazine.

It after all, a writing skill I have never cultivated before.

The magazine is a journal of art criticism but as editor I have to ensure I have one skill above all others. I must never takes sides. No matter the feelings I may have about an artwork or a philosophy or about the general milieu i must never allow my thoughts to skew the fact that we comment and discuss with reasons.

Giving reasons is the most telling thing a thinker can do. It shows all our weakness and all our strength. It also makes us face our own self and our own assumptions on a daily basis. No one can ever be wholly right, or completely wrong and a magazine that purports to be international must be ethical in its dealings with its contributors and its readers.

It’s a good way to be. It will improve my own writing, sharpen my mind and illuminate my society for me.

I have no idea what it will do for you.

Success

You know how I love to talk
About myself –
My ego is ulcer-ridden,
But I have organised my
Conversation to suit my moods –
I’ve worked for years to get where I am –
Many caught my kick on the way up!
I live now in the twilight of
Half-truth daring to tell no one
Too much in case I lose my mystery
And become like everyone else –
I am ruthless –
Well, you know that’s how one must be –
19
Nothing must stand in my way –
I have no compassion
For king or beggar –
I put puppies out in the coldest rain
And watch tears fall down
Lovely cheeks without wiping one away –
I am skin deep –
I last only for today –
If I stop for one brief moment and take a rest,
They will forget my quest
And my ego will become obsolete –
So I must rush, must haste,
Must pack my case and flee –
Towards the winds that beckon me –
But I see a threatening, impending doom –
Standing silent in my room –
And I struggle with my laces
To make my getaway –
Without looking back –
I hurry, hurry to any convenient station
To catch the eternal train
Back to where I started from –
There was the same doom –
And the train had gone!

 

Shänne Sands, part of Shadows and Realities a Dramatic Poem, in Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press.

The Rose Garden

There are grey doves here and a pong with a fountain that hides two golden carp. The roses are turning but still full and, according to Jennika, ‘smell ridiculous’. It is the perfect place to sit and have breakfast, serene and if there are people here, they too are quiet. Not that Prague is a noisy city. It bustles in places but it is not dirty and noisy to London standards.

Amusingly three people here, who didn’t wish to be understood by their fellow Czechs, spoke in English. The details of a young woman’s sex life heard with half an ear while I was looking for couchsurfing hosts in Zagreb, was beyond amusing. She was bright, fed up with her boyfriend and detailed everything she had to say to her friends who listened and replied only occasionally.

I hope she sorted her immediate problems out. I have never had the angst to sort things out quickly because time is flying. Maybe that is my failing in this life, I do not feel the pressure of so short a time to live I am too busy just engaging with what is around me.

Maybe I am just too simple minded.

Prague

Prague doesn’t use the compass points like other cities. It long ago decided its pathways and routes and thinking would wend like the river, though descriptions will\always tell you the Vltava runs North into the city, believe them if you will.

The churches flow across the city in no particular order, the National Gallery starts on the second floor and you circle around rooms and down a floor being told the exhibition continues from door to door until it ends. As you walk into an old palace you find birds of prey being exhibited to the public, dancers on the promenade, singers on the boats that slide along the river with tourists far out-numbering the locals. Prague flows, with all the bustle and camera pointing of tourist cities and with its own,  growing mindfulness of the world outside.

Half an hour driving from the centre you are still in the countryside. Twenty minutes and you are still on unmarked roads looking at dilapidated houses and seeing people ‘getting by’ in a landscape rich in colours. This is not a major city but it seems with all the building it is a city that wants to know where it is going.

Hercules

In the town of Kassel in the middle of Germany there is a castle renown for its waterfalls that are set facing the wide sweep of the landscape as you climb the castle. There has been a lot of work down on this castle to make it safe of the public and atop the highest point stands a Hercules.

This statue is ugly to say the least and the arm looks from afar as if the hand is gone and our Greek demi-god is disabled. The closer one gets the sight gets no better. Beneath this demi-god, on the large paved areas, there stands a cardboard/wood replica with a space in it to place ones head.

Here tourists in the it clothes and sporting their fabulous cameras can pose as a naked, green Greek god. The sight of women for a joke pretending their have a penis is quite strange outside a bedroom. But the fact of its kitsch nature tends to make me think the joke is more about who would choose to have such an image.

The view of the town and the landscape is breathtaking. It is worth the climb.

On a Lock of Keats’ Hair in a Texas College

Poor dear Keats your hair, silken red-gold still –
As Leigh Hunt snipped that lock with kind respect –
Long ago, were you standing on a hill?
Your weak chest aching from pale love’s neglect –
As Leigh Hunt spied your glittering hair sun-bright –
And for us kept this strand of silken poetry –
With other poets’ hair, who fl ew like kites
Their thoughts across heaven to set us free –
Now, in a Texas college this relic stays
For American students to glance at –
Keats would not have understood their modern ways –
Their ‘sophistication’ would leave him fl at –
Beneath a Texas moon, no high Greek song is sung –
Keats’ red-gold hair is wound around an English tongue.

Shänne Sands, Moonlight on Words, published by FootSteps Press

 

Fantasy is a Serious Art Form

The beauty of animation is the ability to portray a reality that doesn’t exist. How can that even be said?

Like all fantasy the base line for the writer is what we know and what we have experienced either explored to its ridiculous conclusion or stretched to maintain what we recognise and to allow us to enjoy what can never be. Writers and storytellers always do this.

This is one of the drivers to make computer animation of human beings more and more real. Eventually your most loved film stars will come back to life and to the annoyance of many of us, the new ones will never die.

This stretching of reality is also the basis of a lot of humour which we see in many Greek plays of two and half thousand years ago. In fact their themes are still ours – the lost cause, the unexpected hero, the klutz who gets the girl. They are all there down the ages in every culture.

But what animation also does, which is what the very best fantasy does, it helps us see who we actually are as we enjoy the story. We engage with the better charters while enjoying the beguiling nature of the bad ones.

And, of course, as every fantasy writer knows, you cannot beat real life stories. That is why the best fantasy has a core philosophy that relates directly to us. So in Tolkien the idea that every road leads into every other road is a wonderful explanation of life’s interconnections. The Mahābhārata will teach you all about famlies and Monkey is the first story to detail evolution of the feeling.

I am not sure about Ruzniel. I think it is about the love of a poet.

Slavery

The figures are down for migration into the UK from eastern Europe. Not surprising as who wants to go where they are not wanted to work now for less pay in jobs the native population don’t want to do?

Indians go to the Arab Emirates where they are still enslaved but they can send a bit more money back home. This is the way of the world. The British have not been enslaved this way since the Crusades when they were taken captive and as a nation not since the Romans, though we could suggest the Normans made the country distinctly class conscious.

But whole cities in the UK made their money upon slavery. Famous named families founded part of their wealth upon it. Of course ‘they all did in those days’ is the cliché trolled out by people still preaching the same religion they had ‘in those days’ which also taught all were equal in the sight of god.

So much for believing.

The thing about ethical behaviour is that its standards have never changed. Like truth it has always been there it is just peoples have not subscribed to it. And we know this is true because we know, given the right circumstances, the so modern man would revert to having slaves in an instant if they could enrich themselves by doing so and not be charged.

They all still are in these days.

The Big Idea

What is it to have a big idea?

I was talking with friends who said the immense political ideas have gone from the world, the days of Communism versus Fascism dominated the first half of the last century. I suggested we tend to think of big ideas as bigger if opposing sides fight it out on the battlefield but we should not belittle the ideas that are ruling us today, good or bad.

To restructure our relationship with nature is the most fundamental change to the thinking of the human race in its known history. To redefine what money is for and how we apportion it the most challenging thing humanity has done with the financial system since its creation.

Either one of these immense structural changes to our thinking will reverberate down the centuries whether we are in existence to hear it or not. They will change the way we develop and run society and they will lead us into conflict in their own way, in their own time.

How we come out of that conflict will define us.

The Sea, The Sea

I have a friend who collects hearts.

You may assume men fall at her feet and I am not going to say they don’t, but these hearts are always stones shaped as hearts she finds on her walks across the beaches in Cornwall. She is phenomenally good at this and has a collection of different size stones outside her house all propped up against the wall. One so large she had to have help carrying it, other small enough to fit into her pocket.

I have been with her on days she has found three or four heart shaped stones and pebbles in one afternoon. Agreed some look like Picasso made them and some would better fit certain art styles than Hallmark, nonetheless her collection grows.

I think she also has fairies in her garden.

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