Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Dixon-Stuart books have just made this anthology available on Amazon.
Candia thoroughly recommends this insightful read to all her followers.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell,
A Hell of Heaven…
John Milton: Paradise Lost, Bk 1.
Another re-blog as it is the same season…
Brassie and I set out one sunny afternoon last week,
to savour the fresh air and to visit Steep Church with its
memorial windows to Edward Thomas, the poet.
Imagine our shock at finding one of the exquisite little panes
shattered by vandals-apparently some time ago.
It made me return to my online file and I managed to find
a poem written about these works of art several Springs
Let me share it with you:
ALL SAINTS’ CHURCH, STEEP-GOOD FRIDAY
It is steep, but we find it after all
with memorial tablet on the wall,
listing old choirboys – Cranstone, Applebee,
whose treble piping trills continually
in shrill birdsong. Death’s head kneelers proclaim
memento mori. We don’t forget name,
or words from the believer whose etched glass
invites us to see less darkly, to pass
through the pain, through the pane, beyond the moss
of an Easter garden, with central cross,
till our gaze follows glaze to Downs and sky,
clouded momentarily by the sigh
of some Hampshire widow, for whom the coat
on washing line; the unsmoked pipe denote
an absent man and yet a spirit nigh,
the daffodils bugling in Reveille.
Back to Candia and her expressions of thwarted ambition. Some years ago she and a friend- not Brassica, Carissima or Chlamydia- went to the silk mill at Whitchurch in Hampshire and be-moaned their sacrificed careers. Her friend had been brought up against a backdrop of weavers and the cotton industry and Candia- perhaps surprising to some who know her- also had childhood experience of living among those who served in factories and the shipbuilding industry. Lord Denning had also worked his way up in society, to live in the rarefied (?) village where the mill is situated. Though we moaned about what we could have achieved, we thought that we had come quite a distance, courtesy of our education.
WHITCHURCH SILK MILL
(THE TEA ROOM)
No mulberries, no worms, visible bolls.
This is the factory that supplies
those who take silk, like Master of the Rolls,
local Lord Denning and those who can rise
above their circumstances. We haven’t.
Somehow the rapid mill race passed us by;
we failed life’s test. So, now we sit, lament
lost law careers, trying to work out why
the Fates have tangled our life threads, greased yarn
of domesticity, snarled warp, woof
and pirned the weft to create our pattern.
Sitting among redundant looms, the roof
low overhead, our conversation weaves,
shuttles back and forth; our run-of-the-mill
cocooned existence slubbed. This achieves
little. And yet the vibrant daffodils
on the riverbank are so glorious
that they elevate despondent mood
oppressed by term time’s laborious
routine, family worries, motherhood.
We’re not chained to the bench: we leave by car;
though working class, we have left industry-
two northern lasses who have come quite far,
should we review family history.
We take for granted cotton, silk and wool
(which used to take two hours to spin a yard).
We escaped the tyranny of the spool
and heave no bales. Our lives are not so hard.
Isn’t it incroyable that I can see the theme from one of my most famous novels visually sculpted on the face of the Tournai font, just opposite my place of rest? Yes, dear Reader, it shows an impoverished nobleman who cannot afford to give his multiple daughters a grand dowry. St Nicholas steps in and saves the day. (Not saves the bacon: that is shown on the other face, where the boys are preserved from becoming sausages, organic or otherwise. I did not like to borrow that particular myth for any of my novels, however.)
I am aware that I have the best social position- a place that may not be recognised by the critical Mary Crawfords of this world, who know nothing of worship, who speak insolently of men of the cloth and who seat themselves prematurely during processionals.
I still scrub up well, as the Holy Dusters employ some vim and vigour in polishing my brass plaque with Duraglit and elbow grease. Shadows of the clergy and laity cast their shades across my stone, revealing in their rites and rituals the universal foibles and fancies of humankind. My joy in observing how we all rub along together has been passed down, along with my writer’s mantle to my handmaiden, Candia. Hear her and follow her blog with due diligence and enthusiastic approval, for I being dead yet speak!
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012
(A continuation of our previous musings on Jane Austen’s eavesdroppings culled from her position beneath the floor of Winchester Cathedral.)
I see that there are to be seasonal floral displays in various churches in the Hampshire region, including St Cross. The last word on flower arranging was probably given by Alan Bennett in his Talking Heads 1 monologue, Bed Among the Lentils, about Mrs Shrubsole and the precise placement of a fir cone in her floral arrangement, Forest Murmurs.
Nevertheless, again I can imagine Jane Austen tuning into covert cathedral discussions conducted while masked by arrangements of Venus Fly Traps and burgeoning bocage.
Flower Arranger 1:
I daresay floral occupations are always desirable in girls of your girth, as a means of affording you fresh air and more exercise than you would normally take. A passion for agapanthus may be deemed somewhat amateurish, but Alan Titchmarsh may yet attend and then, who can tell where your newfound skills may lead?
Ah Pansy, you enquired as to when my grand passion first surfaced, so to speak. It developed gradually, but particularly after my first visit to my paramour’s enormous estate in Eastleigh. That is, East-leigh, as in “count-ee”; not as in “beastly.”
He is, sadly, a fit and extremely healthy older man, notwithstanding his vast cache of stocks and shares and general lack of penetration. I could endeavour to live with him, however minimal his funds, providing that I should have access to them all. I would prefer Winchester, but a villa in Sandbanks would, of course, be preferable and might prove an initial rung on the property ladder.
Yes, it would be wrong to marry for money, but foolhardy to marry without it.
How I would love to expose those furtive rummagers in designer handbags who rapidly switch off their mobiles before the bidding prayers, lest their lovers interrupt their devotions, or who use their fumbling as an avoidance technique when the offertory bags circulate.
At some of the local school services, one often hears some young prodigy, called Alethea or otherwise, make a smug, sententious remark to her doting mater. Through over- attention, the chit’s natural self-confidence has been honed into haughty assurance. Catherine Morland’s conviction still stands-ie/ that there is a violent and uncertain life which lurks under the veneer of society.
I am constantly privy to rehearsals of accomplishments and marvels of female students who all play musical instruments, achieve A*s and who compete in equine sports at the highest level. Yet, I have never heard a young lady spoken of, for the first time, without her being lauded to the Empyrean. Yet, deficiency of nature is often little assisted by education or society. A greater influence seems to be perpetrated by the expectation of property, usually acquired through trade, or, dare I suggest, a lottery ticket.
Nowadays, such nouveaux positively display themselves in society magazines, besporting themselves at various charitable functions of questionable taste. Their double-barrelled nomenclatures can scarcely be fitted into the copy without a prodigious profligacy of paper and ink.
Other self-appointed, knowledgeable women offer their medical knowledge to others, whether invited to, or not. They remind me of Lady Catherine de Burgh:
Ah, yes, my experience of the lifelong care of my valetudinarian husband has led me to recommend Echinacea during the winter months and Glucosamine throughout the year.
Their nerves command a high respect, as they have evidently been old friends with whom they have been intimately acquainted for a number of years. Truly these are women whom one cannot regard with too much deference.
And so we must leave Jane at the moment as she is a little fatigued by this peroration , but she promises to continue to amuse us on the morrow.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012