Tuesday 3 September 2013


A movie in the making

So it’s September the harvest is upon us and autumn beckons. This summer has been viewed through a time-lapse camera, London with its all consuming consumerism, conflict and conformity, work with its want it yesterday attitude and the salty squeeze of a holiday has conspired to keep me away from the cottage.

The city is busy exciting and hectic but sometimes for those of us with a natural bent, seasonally quite stagnant, the changes signalled by a state of dress and the amount of tourists attacking the attractions with digital weaponry. In sharp contrast, a few weeks of summer in the countryside makes all the difference.

I’ve been rushed and pushed through some of my favourite episodes, helpless before the onslaught of the seasons scheduling. Hints of promise and glimpses of what was to be were badly edited, cutting straight to the faded grandeur of some of my most reliable stars.

I caught the opening scene, summer lapped at the country lanes with its gentle waves of long grasses bennet and blossom, the garden filled with young green starlets ready and willing to please in their up coming roles. Swifts swallows and house martins took their place in the food cue, even the occasional optimistic bee started visiting the set, the next instalment was sure to be award winning but I missed it. 

No catch up TV or rewind facility just fast forward, so suddenly verges had receded being engulfed by hedgerows turned into untidy tsunamis. The lupins and delphiniums had let stardom go to their heads, loosing their colourful fresh complexions and being brought abruptly back down to earth. It was fortuitous that the slow spring had held back those plants that I had nurtured from seed and though only in a supporting role at the moment, show promise.

It is easy to miss the importance of the supporting cast and this is how it is with the fields, for some reason they have stole the show for me this year. Green and pleasant, turned to warm and welcoming before sadly jump to the last episode, cut and print. Mighty machines are shaving and plucking them, leaving golden straw bricks or perfect pills where once the thick scenery shone out. These are piled high to form oversized stacks or left to cast old fashioned shadows over the stubble.

There seems no time anymore to enjoy these fields and the fantasy’s we created there as kids, the giant building blocks were castles walls that we hid from our enemies behind, the haystacks monuments to prove your bravery by jumping off them.  Now they are gone as quickly as they arrived, yet more monstrous machines are invading the lanes and shaking the house to the foundations, making their noisy way into the fields to plough with surgical precision, peeling back the surface ready for new growth.

I'm being optimistic here because with all this fabulous summer weather the reviews have been good so a lot of the plants have come back for an encore and with all such successes I know there will be a sequel coming to our eyes next year, so look I forward to the spring previews.

Sunday 23 June 2013

London Calling

It’s been a strange few months of hospitals, high streets and an awful lot of hooha. Poor Dom was taken ill and spent a week in a medical facility that seemed a million miles from anywhere but especially from here. This unforeseen sojourn sadly for him coincided with the bank holiday, the only free weekend before a very busy period. Work has been intense and a little surreal as I’ve spent the last week or so installing an indoor garden in a studio in Covent while yearning for my real little garden in Belleau. Oh and on top off all this, we’ve moved to a new flat in London

London is a place I still love, but like with any long-term relationship it’s sometimes soured by familiarity, all those cute nuances that you found so appealing at the start of the romance annoy the hell out of you now. It’s a city that sucks you back in and sucks away any amount of patience you’d built up being away from it.  All I could think while trying to move around the West End was for a city of hurry up there sure are a lot of lumbering people here.

It’s very unusual that I’m in London at the weekends so I’d forgot how it operates, people go about their business with intensity and no small amount of showmanship. As I travelled into town in the early mornings to work, I passed through Regents Park, watching the exercising tribes, the joggers, the skaters, the cyclists, all, almost sweating but not enough to spoil the designer sportswear. The dawdling young created a slalom course to the runners, while they moved their legs slowly but kept their thumbs in shape with rapid ‘textasising’.  

Then on to the heart of the city with the coffee shop chains serving the early rising tourists or the late to bed revellers, the tired looking traders trudging head down to work while the traffic tunes up for its noisy opera of revving engines and hooting horns. I must admit all this activity gave me teensy tinge of sadness, that is the memory of youth and the good times had.

I went out last weekend, watching the nectar rich bars delivering buzzing and bumbling drones with uneasy, queasy flight paths to the fast food stops to pick and then puke their greasy choices onto the ever-growing mounds of litter.

I rubbed shoulders with the young and desperate to be different, as long as you’re in a gang of similars that is. In my day it was no less tribal but I was a part of it. On Saturday though I noticed something, the invisibility of the grey moving unnoticed between the flocks of the coiffured and quiffed. Watching these older wraiths silently slipping past the noisy preened and pickled made me feel I had some sort of 6 sense until I had the awful realisation in a Bruce Wills fashion, that behind the beard, beneath the hair and under the Paul Smith jacket I was one of them

Age can be a strict tutor, the lesson the realisation that I have nothing to offer but memories, nothing to give but bad advice, a man out of place and out of time, ‘why’ instead of  ‘why not’ ‘who’ instead of ‘its you and of course you can come in’ late but not in the fashionable way.

However, it wasn’t always like this, there was a time as a young club promoter when this town felt like mine and I just chose to share it with everyone. Wrists ached from nameless handshakes, lines were jumped and drinks were free and free poured, not a door closed or a bar dry but this is a game you have to keep playing, nobody saves your place in this queue.

It’s a marathon and a sprint, a tough race to run, you have to train endlessly with smiles and all the latest styles. You have to push and gush, check your emotion in with your bespoke jacket and always look like you could spend a packet.

There was of course the winners and the losers, the losers boozed and oozed charm but didn’t hear the alarm and clung to the ship while the winners left with the rats for their careers and sneers.

Admiration turned to aberration, not dinner party material but strangely still cocaine fuelled dinner party conversation. A middle class medal to be worn until the kids wake up and the business trip calls.

It’s amazing how quickly high on hope can become high on dope, a little pick me up becomes ‘should we pick him up’,

Wide eyed with wonder becomes wide eyed with powder and no matter how glamorous the surroundings the toilets soon were the best seats in the house.

The phone rang like tinnitus, pleading for attention and a place on the guest-list no matter how pissed. Their demands ate answer phone tape and fuelled phony friendships. 

If childhood is remembered through days, youth or at least the impression of it is recalled through nights, nights where music played, lights flashed and threw possibilities in and out of focus, but maybe age isn't so bad as I can say thanks for the memories but an even bigger thanks for the safe haven I now have to reminisce from.

This is dedicated to all those who didn't make it.

Thursday 2 May 2013

Spring Break

I’ve been waiting for Spring before I stuck my words above ground, but what with the delay of that and the fact that melancholy had seeped into me like treacle over the winter, filling my veins and slowing my pace, four months have shot past before I’ve used my computer for anything but work.

Now I’m not one to wish my life away but I was so glad to see the back of 2012 and to be honest I’m still not sure the Mayans did get their dates wrong, the world kept turning but there were times last year it felt like mine was ending but more of that in a later post.

Late though it is, Spring has been doing its best, stabbing at Winters hold with its knife of colour, the blade is still quite dull but seems to be sharpening now with everyday that goes by, bringing more and more coloured highlights to the cuts from below while lengthening the days by peeling back the nights. However, winter hasn't quite given up, healing the wounds with an occasional covering of snow or washing them clean with an icy downpour or two.

I seem to have often talked about weather and it's odd behaviour over the last few springs, but possibly this is the new norm and not odd at all. I think the term is ‘global weirding’ not about hot or cold, wet or dry, just the crazy pendulum swings between them. Anyway the daffodils on our front verge, usually as predictable as can be, took forever to come into flower this year and then rushed through their glorious golden grin in a week and are now brown and battered. I think from the look of things we may be leaping over spring and landing feet first in summer, but lets wait and see.

Some wise soul told me that we’re a month behind, which seems about right but with a couple of sunny weekends at last, I’ve finally mown the lawns, planted a few plants and visited one of my favourite seasonal markers.

It was good to see that even my old friend has finally got into the spirit of things and is bristling with leaf buds.

This old tree sits in the Lady Hills. Now why these fields of lumps and bumps, dips and scrapes has this name I don’t know, but I used to visit them in another life, where, the hills seemed as high as mountains and the dips as deep as gorges and all of it  a long way away from home in Aby.

There was a story told about the fairy ring that sits on the higher plain that it was the site of a child sacrifice, the victim’s handprint still frozen in a stone at its centre. I’m sure this is just one of those things made up by kids to scare other kids, probably started by one of my siblings in fact, but whatever the source, it certainly used to work on me, many a time did I dally too long and had to race the night home, chased by my own beating heart.

Anyway, we still use these hills for sledging in the winter, the occasional picnic in the summer or for me chatting to the tree all year round.

Now he’s a great listener so good in fact to that rudely I’ve never bothered to ask what type of tree he is, as usual always too busy am I talking about myself.

He seems to have grown for purpose, roots twisted and exposed forming an ergonomic seat perfect for surveying the landscape from his vantage point on the top of the hill, branches drop low for shade and close enough to hear your whispers.

The land next too him drops away into a scrape, which he stretches an arm over to hold the rope swing that dangles over the drop. No one seems to know, or at least own up to tying it on there but it has had various guises over the years, even at one point having a comfy carseat attached. 

On this particular occasion as I chatted away to him, I thought this tree so old what tales he must have to tell, stories of hope and honour, dreams and deaths, lives lived or those full of regrets. These secrets kept with a hush of his leaves, or struck dumb within winters freeze, or shook with a golden sigh to the floor, I do wonder if all this discretion is rewarded, who does he tell his problems to.

Does a memory have a memory of you, as you have of it.