Thursday, 31 May 2012

Happy Birthday Sally Dog !

Good Morning Dear Friends!

And what an absolutely special morning it is; for it was a mere seven years ago today, in amongst a litter of big burly chaps that the small bundle of weeness who was to become The Famous Sally Dog saw the world for the very first time; five short weeks later she came to live with Yours Truly and has hardly left my side for a single day since!  In terms of birthday celebrations - and in line with her mature and sedate years - plans are mainly based around lying on the sofa, snoozing and eating treats, especially since the weather which has been so beautifully hot of late has taken a turn to the damp ready for the diamond weekend ahead . . . oh hum! Anyhow, I hope you all have got your birthday cards in the post for Sal to rip up as the postman delivers them, if not I will happily accept financial donations on her behalf . . . no? Oh well, it was worth a try!

Today being a Thursday should be tea and cake with Sister Cate but I am involved in a wonderful World Food Day hosted by Shirley from Food Positive, a simply scrumptious organisation based just underneath us in Ashland House; I am evidently due to be overseeing the production of fried rice -  outside - in a car park -  in the rain . . . Hmmm . . . wonder what kind of cake Cate wants today? No, I shall be brave and don my waterproof Cheffing outfit and shortly, courtesy of the lovely reflexes and aromas of Vikki - not to mention her vehicle - be on my way rain-wokking, hence the brevity of today's post.  I shall hopefully manage to scribble more upon my return but need now to go and beautify.

Hope you have a wonderful day wherever you may be; please telethink you birthday wishes to my most lovely canine companion and spare at least one thought for me as I attempt to become a sort of Jacques Cous-Cousteau 

'til next time

Be Seeing You!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Loving The Questions

Good Morning Dear Friends!

I'm so glad you popped in; please do help yourself to tea and toast (there's even a splodge of Orange and Ginger marmalade if you so desire) and we'll pass a wee while in conversation . . . 

It was while wondering around the Parish Church Gardens photographically represented here  - but sadly, for this morning at least, bathed in a veil of low cloud and drizzle -  and listening to some music-based quantum physics - for such things do exist - that I came up with the idea for today's conversation piece.

I better elaborate: There's a project of which I am very fond and which I have mentioned here before.  It's called The Symphony of Science and is basically a fantastically innovative way of spreading scientific ideas to members of the non-scientific community via music.  Clips from programs and films are taken and edited together to make lyrics and the voices treated with synthesis so that the people appearing in the clips - from Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox to Alice Roberts and Carl Sagan - appear to sing.

Anyhow, there I was, strolling and pondering about life, death and the Universe with Sal Dog (though, to be fair, I think she was more interested in sniffing actually) and listening to a song called Onward To The Edge which is ostensibly about space travel, the chorus of which is:

"Onward to the edge
We're moving onward to the edge
Here we are together;
This fragile little world"

and it occurred to me that, like a lot of the concepts about the universe,  it could be taken as a metaphor for our journey through life here on Earth . . . after all we are all made of the universe, the elements that make up our bodies come from the Big Bang and the particles that make up our bodies are a sort of universe; one might even fantasise that the universe we catch the tiniest glimpse of in the night sky could simply be the particles of some other body! 

The overarching feeling I got from the song though was one that occurs to me a lot; the story of the Universe, how it was formed, how it will die is the same story as the story of our life and death.  As Richard Dawkins says in one of the songs Our Place In The Cosmos:

Matter flows from place to place
And momentarily comes together to be you
Some people find that thought disturbing
I find the reality thrilling

So all this matter and energy comes together and for a short period of time we exist; it then changes and we cease to exist, we die; but as energy cannot be created or destroyed only transformed, we never really die which I too find, thrilling! At the end of Onward To The Edge, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says:

When I reach to the edge of the universe
I do so knowing that along some paths of cosmic discovery
There are times when, at least for now,
One must be content to love the questions themselves

and that is exactly my view of our journey though life; it is the journey itself that is the reward and no matter how many answers you seek maybe sometimes we just have to be content with loving the questions.

I suppose such questions concerning our mortality have been brought even more to the forefront than usual by a series of meetings with the lovely folk at the Me2You Bereavement and Loss Charity this week. It seems that they are keen to work with our organisation and we are truly madly deeply wishing to be involved with the stunning work they do and so a passionate partnership has been formed.  Should you want to find out more about their work or even pass on a few hard-earned pennies you can click on their name and be whisked magically away to their website - please do visit; they are totally self-funded and the work they do is remarkable and so desperately needed.

But look, how remiss of me! I haven't wished you a Happy 17th May! Now why, I hear you ask, would he wish to do that? Well, because today is Norwegian Independence Day and an occasion for much frolicking and fun . . . at least it should be, though with the shadow of the Utøya massacre in July last year and the current trial of the perpetrator hanging over the whole country, it's hard to imagine there will be much celebration.  However, I have been very proud of the people of Norway's attitude; they were intent that life should carry on and that security paranoia be kept to a minimum which, to me, seems very typically Norwegian. I remember when I lived there in the 1980s it was rumoured that the old king Olav Vth could often be found pottering about in the supermarkets and shops in KarlJohansgate, just down the road from the Royal Palace - lovely!

It's also time for me to be about my business and, as a meeting with Sister Cate looms, that business is with cake!  I hope this lot of blather made some kind of sense and that your day is filled with love and swamped with memories of those who have touched and continue to touch your life.

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Friday, 4 May 2012

Alice Pleasance Liddell

4 May 1852 – 16 November 1934

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July--

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear--

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream--
Lingering in the golden gleam--
Life, what is it but a dream?

Lewis Carroll 1871

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Everything's Got A Moral, If Only You Can Find It!

Good Morning Dear Friends!

Welcome, once again, to a somewhat sun-bedecked study on this Thursday morning. Although marginally later than originally planned, I am up and about in order to cast my vote at the local elections - I always feel it behoves one to do so especially when people in other cultures and countries risk their lives in order to be able to do so freely . . . anyhow, this somewhat mundane and very much taken for granted task will also encompass Sal's matutinal micturating meander and a quick call in to see my two favourite purveyors of Tea and Retail Therapy in order to pick up the second five volume load of Arthur Mees's Children's Encyclopedia; I somehow managed the first five yesterday with only a light dusting of damage to my skeleto-muscular system and the Famous Sally Dog is, as you can imagine, always mysteriously busily engaged in tree-sniffing when called upon to help . . . 

So what is the connection - you may ask, and I'm sure you do - between Arthur Mee's ancient, weighty and paper-based version of the internet and the somewhat faded but nonetheless beautiful collodion print above? Well, for one thing, they both featured quite strikingly in my childhood but it has to be said that the major reason for the inclusion of this photograph is that tomorrow, Friday 4th May 2012, will be the 160th birthday of this rather fragile creature . . . it is, of course, the wee girl who would become Mrs Reginald Hargreaves in later years but who began her life -  and was in mine from practically the start - as Alice Pleasance Liddell.  Those of you poor souls who have suffered my scribblings for a time or two will know the enormous impact this little ghost has had  (and continues to have) on my life and will, I'm sure, join with me in wishing her a very Happiest of Birthdays - wherever she may be.

Apologies are due for my absence at the start of the month; I'm not sure how you managed to get through this event without my usual cheery greeting of "White Rabbits x 3" but hopefully you did - otherwise I am talking to myself; a practice not without merits as often the listener does understand, for a change, what the orator is blathering on about but sadly one frowned upon in polite society - unless one takes the precaution of wearing headphones (which need not be connected to any device) when it seems it is permissible to speak loudly and gesticulate wildly wherever one may be . . . anyhow, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you a somewhat belated but heart-felt May Day and, to my pagan friends, a blessed Beltain . . .  Oh fie! Tempus Fugit and I must away . . . I shall see you after a short chronistic corridor otherwise known as a passage of time . . .

And, indeed, at the end of that particular ginnel is where you find me now! Some ten hours later and the day is descending into gloaming and I am back in the study finishing off todays mantlepiece.  Things today went more or less according to plan; the voting was accomplished sadly without passion as it is always a case of the lesser of evils - why are there no Green candidates in the Wigwam? - Sal Dog walked, wagged and widdled to her hearts content and Sister Cate was met and, following hugs and chats with the lovely Sharon, Maîtresse D at Costacake was indeed consumed.  So, all in all, quite a satisfactory day - not that one would be able to ascertain such facts by viewing the above mug shot of Yours Truly; it is a sort of Serious Author shot ( or deserves to be!)  and - if the phisog is ignored - quite pleasing artistically!

So as curfew tolls the knell of parting day I shall leave you to enjoy your evening in peace; please try to remember that tomorrow is dear Alice's anniversary as well as being Star Wars Day - a wee ʞǝǝƃ Ô reference there* - and I hope that the ensuing Bank Holiday finds you relaxed and well, with sunshine and love flooding your hours!

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

wee ʞǝǝƃ Ô A trademark for very trendy things I've just invented!