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Dear Brassica,

Hope you are not inundated in the South.  Read about all the flooding,

power cuts and trees coming down.

Yes, I like being in The Cotswolds.  Might bump into David

Cameron in Waitrose at Witney.  Recognised Church Green the other

day as his backdrop, when he was telling the world that he was giving

up as an MP.

Remembered the shock (some years ago) of seeing a photo in The

Financial Times of Michael Portillo, posing on the bridge at the end of

my garden in Suttonford.  I think he must have been visiting his

associate, George, who lived nearby.

Well, I needn’t fret: I am evidently still at the centre of global events.

Mind you, sometimes taking early retirement and leaving your old pals

for pastures new (ghastly euphemism pinched and abused from Milton,

who employed it freshly) can be a bit daunting.  That’s why it was

wonderful to come across a veritable burning bush of hawthorn berries

above Dragon Hill – you know, where St George allegedly slew the dragon.

I kept thinking of U. A. Fanthorpe and her witty, GCSE anthology-

endorsed poem on that subject.

I was compelled to approach this crimson phenomenon as it was so

vibrant and it reminded me of Moses and his encounter with verbal,

auto-combustible branches of boscage.

I wondered what it might say to me and checked on the original tale.

So, Moses was over 40 years old and no longer a bigwig.  Instead he was

caring for his father-in-law’s sheep, which did not exactly utilise his

expensive Midian education.  (I suppose he might have been having a

crisis, like David Cameron after loss of power.  But I don’t think SamCam

would like Dave taking to pastoral studies unless she got a discount on

wool for her new fashion line.)

I wonder if Moses’ wife still wore her kohl in the backside of the desert?

Or had she already been yummy-mummified by then?

However, the encouraging thing is that, in a moment of paying

attention – I’m not going to say ‘mindfulness‘ – Moses was called to

a new commission, namely to be leader of the Israelites, as they were

to be delivered from slavery.

So, Brassie, what do you think I did?

No, I didn’t apply for leadership of UKIP, or any other party,

hoping to take my people through the wasteland of Brexit

No, I wrote another sestina on the epiphanal moment when I

realised that I am not past it.  I mean, I knew it, but I had not felt it

in recent days.

My friends who were staying with me had just been to Highgrove,

where it has been suggested Prince Charles talks to plants, so people

may accept, that, in a way, a bush spoke to me yesterday. and said

something like, Fool, look in thy heart and write!

(Okay, so I know I am appropriating Philip Sidney, but it was a poetic

moment and who better to prompt you to get on and do something with

your life than the original Renaissance Man?)

It was in the news yesterday that trees communicate with one another

and, in Fanthorpe’s poem, the dragon speaks, so, suspend your disbelief,

dear Brassie.

Here’s the poem inspired by a communicative Crataegus, namely the

humble hawthorn, except that it was an acacia in the case of Moses

and they have the original (they allege) at St Catherine’s Monastery:


The Burning Bush Speaks

So, how was I to get his attention?

Ah yes, an acacia bush on fire-

though plenty self-ignite and are destroyed,

he’ll notice that I actually sustain

and it is not consumed.  Thus I will speak:

that ought to alert him to my presence.


He feels that he no longer has presence.

The world has ceased to pay him attention

as he minds in-laws’ sheep, over a fire

on Desolation Mountain, so to speak.

It’s not an activity to sustain

a man’s confidence, which has been destroyed.


A Midian education, doubt-destroyed;

his eyes blinded to Shekinah presence-

he has to be convinced that I sustain.

He is not paying me due attention;

the smoking flax is no longer on fire.

Moses!  Can he believe a bush will speak?


He cautiously approaches tongues of fire.

Confidence that had been all but destroyed

re-ignites, as I re-assure him, speak

my name:  I Am Who I Am  (The Presence)

and creator of all hope.  I sustain


the universe.  The Egyptians I sustain.

The Israelites I will refine with fire

and, in order to gain his attention,

I’ll speak to him from something not destroyed

by elemental powers.  My presence

is going to give him confidence to speak.


I have a message; words for him to speak

and laws which I will give him to sustain

my people.  He will convey my presence;

cause them to follow my pillar of fire;

ensure that other gods are all destroyed.

Now, Moses, I need your full attention:


Speak! For the Egyptians will be destroyed.

Sustain your attention.  Heed my presence.

The fire of Adonai will burn in you.


(Image: Dieric Bouts)