My partner Sarah’s just had a birthday, one due to be spent doing something she loves, being out in her beloved sea kayak off the coast of Wales. Well as you’ll read, that didn’t happen. Instead she spent two happily quiet days walking on a beach, gardening and reflecting on life and death.
‘The fact that I work with death informs me with an urgency and impatience which does not compel me to rush, it compels me to slow down – even more. To be happier with less. Not more.’
A birthday reflection. By understanding the meaning of death, we shall come to appreciate fully the meaning of this life – which is unrepeatable and so to be treasured above all else.
If I were to simply share this photo then the viewer might (correctly) assume that I had been to a beach for my birthday. And yes, that it true, but – for me – it doesn’t fully tell the story behind the photo and also the reflections that birthdays bring.Continue reading “Life is short: Happy Birthday to me”
A meditation on hospitals, allotments and the National Health Service.
While I’m writing this I’m listening to the ‘NHS Symphony’. A new choral work commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of our health service. It contains a collage of sounds from two Birmingham NHS hospitals, routine sounds and major life event sounds. From the cradle to the grave. From birth to death with the NHS. Humanity’s greatest creation.
All day until coming home and listening to this I’ve been at Sarah’s allotment. Together with Sarah this time though so often on my own these past weeks of her sea kayaking journeys to the Western Isles and Anglesey.
It’s the greatest thing that we possess, you know? But what does it look like and feel like? Well here goes.
For my screen saver at the moment I’m using all the photographs of Granby that Nick Hedges took for Shelter around 1969. Because they’re some of the best photographs I’ve ever seen and because day in day out, at quiet moments, they remind me of how bad life can get and also how good. Like the day the people of Jermyn Street got Ken Dodd to come and visit.
A perfect picture of happiness from a long ago Granby to get us going then.
Now if you’ve been around this blog for a while you’ll know that I have a tendency to be depressed from time to time. Continue reading “Happiness”
‘There are times I think I would gladly die for a glimpse of sky’
Or at least that how the song goes in my memory. I also think it was written by Judy Collins. And though neither of these memories turns out to be true it’s Judy Collins who’s singing the song in my head, having added the word ‘glimpse’ to Stephen Sondheim’s original lyrics, while I work on Sarah’s allotment in Liverpool this afternoon.
The sky is the great gift we get for spending a lot of our time outdoors. You get on with whatever it is you’re doing, and on this afternoon that has meant a lot of digging and looking at the soil, then when you look up there’s the sky, different every time. Continue reading “A Glimpse of Sky”
The day before Christmas Eve I wrote and photographed a poem called “Letting Go: A Quiet Breath” and the quiet days have continued here from then through to this new year of 2018.
These beloved souls are my three grandchildren: Finn, 3; Theo, 8, and Eleanor, 11. In the park with their parents, Simon, with Finn on his shoulders and my daughter Clare, who took the beautiful photograph.
A little later I’m on the other side of The Mystery, gazing up at the Moon.
The evening passes in quiet thoughts of what was good in 2017, what didn’t really work out and what might change as the year gets called 2018. We call these new year changes resolutions, but of course some of them are nothing of the sort. While we can all change stuff like what we eat, how much we run and, maybe, the work we do, much else that we’d like to happen is in the realm of wishes and dreams, like always.
Still, we can all change some of what’s immediately around us, so this morning finds us back at Sarah’s allotment, where we’ve spent several of these quiet days.
Three days of quiet Christmastime on Sarah’s plot of Liverpool land.
This has been a clearing kind of year for Sarah and I. Our sequence of Clearing posts back in October and November recorded a time when we were clearing things and activities from our lives to focus better on what really matters to each of us in our different ways. And the news from here in Sarah’s shed on her allotment at Greenbank Lane Allotments this Christmas Day is that we’re still clearing.
Sarah’s been gardening this plot of earth now since 2001. Over these sixteen years it’s been her passion, her joy, her refuge and her sanctuary. Others have helped over the years, hi Bren, hi Gemma and even me. But this is Sarah’s place and over the last few months, along with so much else, she’s been clearing it. Continue reading “A Christmas Clearing”
I’ve loved using this space I have to write more deeply these past few months. To change the balance between words and pictures on here and have more to say. I’ve particularly had more to say during this time for the reasons many of us will have more to say during times in our lives when we are ill or things generally are not going so well. From late July onwards things did not go well for me and I found myself, to my own relief and slight surprise, trying to write my way through my own doubts, illness, depression and unhappiness. It’s turned out I had a lot to say.
Now, come this weekend in early December, things are much better. Through the love and help of friends, the passing of time and perhaps the writing, my life is in a better place. So I’ve decided to write from this better place. For myself as much as for you who might read this. So I will remember, the next time depression darkens my door, that happiness, sometime soon, can always be a tangible possibility. Continue reading “A Weekend in Early December”
As 2018 gets properly going ideas for Liverpool’s parks are starting to emerge. I’ll be able to tell you more soon, more about this story and what happened next. Listen…
There is magic all around us. Stories waiting to be told. In every park & street the future is waiting. Listen, while I tell you a story.
“In what would yet come to be looked back on as the early years of the 21st Century the people of Liverpool woke up to the beauty all around them. Gathering first in small groups in Autumn 2017 and telling each other stories of what they might do, in the parks and other places that had been around them for all of their lives, and many lives before but in the huddle and muggle of everyday busyness had been all but forgotten.
Here they began the re-membering and the re-doing of their place.
From early 2018 they started. Small things at first & many. The growing of things, the gatherings and re-gatherings. A litany of possibilities and a story-tellings of dreams. Dreams that got planted, stories that grew. Knowingly and quietly they began the re-growing of their Liverpool.
There will be a glorious sunset later on. But today’s follow up to Saturday’s Smithdown Stroll starts on an ordinary, grey sort of day. One of my favourite kind. So here we go, off out for more aimless & pointless wandering around Liverpool. It’s what I do.
Mushrooms and spinach in filo pastry, which I’ll eat when I get to the park.