From Crimthan, sly fox, to Columba,
dove of the church, was a coracle ride
and a conviction that the battle was His.
So the prince swapped his pillow for a stone,
his blackthorn cudgel for an olive branch,
dying daily till oratory steps
were illuminated with a white light.
And he who refused all wool and linen
was comforted by robes of righteousness
for his ultimate peregrination
in the hold of one who calmed the waters
and who was true High King of all Ireland.
* Celtic Christians called a spiritual journey which involved self-sacrifice “white martyrdom”.
Alexander Beetle, Alice in Wonderland, All Shall have Prizes, Christopher Robin, Cottleston Pie, Dr Giles Fraser, Eeyore, genealogy, Jesus, John Tyerman Williams, Malt extract, Pooh and the Philosophers, Popper, Prince Harry, Prince William, St Paul’s Cathedral, St Swithun's Day, The Prodigal Son, The Queen, Thought for the Day, Tractatus, Winnie-the-Pooh, Wittgenstein
Dr Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor to St Paul’s Cathedral was on Thought for the Day and he spoke about The Caucus Race in Alice in Wonderland and the Dodo’s ethos of All Shall have Prizes.
It is forty days after St Swithun’s Day and I must say that we have not had constant rain, so there is a level of truth in the old adage.
Anyway, the Rev Dr declared that rewarding everyone undermined a sense of achievement. However, success should not influence the degree of parental love. The Prodigal Son found that the Father’s love was not dependent on his performance. Dr Fraser spoke about the apparent unfairness of the parable of the workers in the vineyard all receiving the same wages, but explained it as how love behaves. You can imagine Wills being annoyed that Harry gets away with his signature behaviour while he, closer in line, is expected, as the Elder Brother, to keep his nose clean.
Talking of lines to the throne, isn’t the genealogy bug gripping more and more people? Apparently, if you go back 30 generations, then you would find that Jesus was related to King David, after all. But so was every other inhabitant of Israel.
Trees become ever more branched if one widens the search and includes friends and relations, such as Rabbit and Alexander Beetle. Very Small Beetle was obviously staying overnight at Christopher Robin’s at the time of a census, but he may have gone round a gorse bush the wrong way and so disappeared off ancestry.co.uk and the International Genealogical Index. That was why Rabbit couldn’t find him in subsequent records.
Too many amateur genealogists are not paying sufficient attention to Popper (Sir Karl, 1902-94) and his theory of falsifiability. He said that no accumulation of instances could prove a theory to be correct. However, one counter-instance could disprove it, at least partly. Got that?
You see, all swans might be white, but an instance of a black one would falsify the proposition.
We need a conceivable test for our propositions. So, if we place a Rover robot with a plutonium battery that lasts ten years in a Las Vegas hotel room, we can verify if all Royals are white sheep, or if one black sheep exists. That means that we can make a scientific judgement. (see Pooh and the Philosophers by John Tyerman Williams, p 103-4)
So, Harry must return to Grandmamma and hear what the Crustimoney Proseedcake is to be, for he is a bear of very little brain and long words probably bother him. When he is asked why he behaved so stupidly, he will in all likelihood reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken? I don’t know why.
Eeyore could explain the whole sorry activity as Bon-hommy.
The Palace could refer to Wittgenstein and his observation in the Tractatus that what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.
Eventually HM might find a form of words:
Hello, Harry, wasn’t that you?
No, says Harry in a different voice.
Harry, says HM kindly, You haven’t any brain.
I know, says the Prince, humbly and then sort of boffs nervously as he swallows a spoonful of Extract of Malt. It’s just that it’s bad enough, granny, being miserable, what with no presents and no cake and no crown and no proper notice taken of me at all…
Well, now you know how your father feels We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it
Can’t all what?
Gaiety..song-and-dance…bon-hommy.. There it is!
So what shall I do with this pole?
Give it back to the nice girl at the club, Harry. These friends – they are the wrong sort of friends..so I should think they would make the wrong sort of headlines.
So, what should I do now, Grandmamma?
Go on an expotition and keep out of trouble
It will rain tonight
Let it come down!
(Exit Harry, pursued but not bare.)
It is going to be squelching over the Bank Holiday Weekend.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012
Ah, what it is to live in the Isles of Wonder, I mused. We are so lucky, except for those immigrant workers who are ripped off by rotten landlords in Newnham and squeezed into Supersheds, with no planning permission. I hope that, post-Olympics, they will be offered de-commissioned flats in the defunct Olympic village. At least those didn’t have missiles on their roofs. Will those weapons be taken down afterwards? I wondered. Maybe the security services are hoping that people will not notice if they leave them in situ, like Gormley rooftop sculptures, going rusty.
The Chinese seemed to be taking most of the gold medals at this juncture. I wish that they would stop biting them in their photo sessions. Maybe they think that they are chocolate Euros, like the ones in plastic net bags. They might think that they are worthless and had better be eaten quickly before the sell by date, which no one, not even Mervyn King nor Robert Peston knows. It is like the Day of Judgement, where even the Son does not know its precise date of arrival, though plenty of American evangelists claim that they have insider knowledge of the same.
I was devastated to read that the gold medals were actually silver with a thin gold coating. After all that the athletes had renounced, they might have given them real gold. Later I was outraged that The Bolt hadn’t been allowed to keep his relay baton. He could have got a lot for that on eBay and, let’s face it, he has expenses, and clubbing in London isn’t cheap, especially when you have to treat a bevy of beach volleyballers.
The American coach looked as if he wanted to bite the Chinese girl who had suddenly shorn five seconds off her personal best. The Chinese National Anthem was played and the victors lined up, dutifully mouthing every word, unlike Brits, who universally tend to get stuck on verse two of their own.
Maybe I’ve got it wrong, I considered. Maybe it is Ben Ainslie who is going to carry the torch. At least he won’t be fazed by a little water, since he is practically a Merman. I admired his full page b&w endorsement of sunglasses in the How To Spend It section of The Financial Times, with his sexy stubble.
I like cool shades as much as I like cool dudes. My optician advised me to wear sunglasses, even in the rain, as you could still be affected by glare. A medic had commented, however, that over-use of reactive lenses was positively linked to high levels of neuroticism and madness. Oh well, they are cheaper than a blepharoplasty and Jackie Kennedy carried them off. The only problem is that I fail to see much in the murky gloom of the present summer and so I fell to wondering how Posh Becks could keep an eye on what her husband was up to, if she continually resorted to those owlish lenses. They probably don’t prevent her from seeing well enough to put in his pin number, however.
You don’t see the Queen wearing sunglasses much. Not that she’d needed to for her Regatta thingy, when a soaking band of singers stood before the Royal party and Prince Philip had nearly burst his bladder trying not to wet himself, laughing at the state of them. The old boy had become extremely enervated at the hornpipe music, what with having been a naval officer. At least the rain had held off for most of the day, though you couldn’t have seen anything from the bank side, whether you were wearing sunglasses or not, I’d heard.
I also wondered if the Queen was a fan of Who Do You Think You Are? Clearly, she is fully aware of her own identity, but she might have been alarmed that she was related to Boris Johnson. Matthew Pinsent is less embarrassing. So long as there are no Germanic links to Boris Becker or Angela Merkel! As Pinsent rowed by, with his back between his knees, did she wonder if he had more of the seed of the Conqueror in him than she did? All that barge stuff and burnished throne imagery might not compensate if he had.
As for Philip, he was Greek and possibly partly responsible for their huge deficit and possible default. However, he has always shown a good example as to how to survive a rainy stint at Balmoral, or wherever. You’ve got to admire the man’s resilience: all those damp corgis and midge-infested puddles! Still, the water is soft in Scotland and gentle in a good malt. So there are compensations. But even a stalwart such as he had to be hospitalised after his thorough soaking. The medics didn’t tell him there was no such thing as a chill or invite him to phone NHS Direct. He’s probably got BUPA.
Water- there is so much of it about this summer, I concluded. People used to say when I was younger that I had so much enthusiasm that I could have bottled it. Now, with all the talk of water meters and reservoir repairs and Victorian pipework renovation there was a certainty that prices would rise. The fashionable thing was to dig a bore hole. I could produce my own label: Suttonford Soft – straight from Izaak Walton chalkstreams. In smaller print: culled from the countryside of the Compleat Angler. Maybe Alan Titchmarsh could launch it. He seemed to be everywhere. Raymond Blanc and Jamie Oliver might take a few bottles for their local eateries. It would be good to exploit the stuff that was ruining my life. Maybe I could light a candle to St Swithun in Winchester Cathedral, begging for financial success, and, as a back-up, apply to The Bank of Dave for a handout. If Theo is to be let down by his investment in Dyas, he may be interested in-say-a 40% stake for £100,000, reducing to 10% after three years of unmitigated success. The thought of Duncan Ballantyne and Peter Jones fighting it out for my attention gratifies me. Step back, Deborah Meaden.
Hello! I blinked. I’d wakened up and found that it was St Swithun’s Day. Perversely, it wasn’t raining-at the moment- I qualified. I was getting into the swing of Mark Tully’s aquatic compilation of watery readings on Something Understood on Radio 4 with the joys of The Raindrop Prelude. One had to admit that Tully compiles an interesting melange. He included Longfellow on the dreariness of rain, protesting that behind the clouds, the sun still shone. Yeah, right. Maybe through a Flybe porthole, but not this far down.
Ella Fitzgerald had sung:
Into each life some rain must fall
but too much is falling in mine.
Now I could identify with that.
It was all very well for Thoreau to say that rain made us feel at one with Nature or God, but he was referring to the Spring or Fall variety, not the unseasonable cascades we had been experiencing. Yet I seemed to recall an old part song called As torrents in summer, so all this perception of climate change might be old hat after all.
There might have been something Romantic about a full-blown orage, such as that portrayed in Debussy’s Jardins sous la Pluie and something very like special pleading in Sitwell’s positive focus on the rain at the Crucifixion. Apparently it could not dampen Christ’s love for us. Maybe it helped to wash away our sins.
Well tried, Mark. You must have had some kind of placatory response from the Rain God after your paeon of praise for the pluie. You seem to have held it off for one day, but let’s not get up our hopes too quickly.
In the couple of hours in which the drizzle desisted, I stepped out gingerly into my back garden, tripping over my Coltsfoot wellies, which I’d forgotten were sitting on the doormat and which were now waterlogged. Cascades of rotting rosebuds and blossoms required dead heading. However, the hostas were- as yet- ungnawed. The dispersal of coffee grounds from the trendy shop had caused the slugs to limbo under someone else’s fence, in a caffeine-induced high.
Every time I type wellies into my computer, it corrects me and produces willies. What is going on? I thought willies was an acronym for people who work in London yet live in Edinburgh. Somebody is having a laugh.
It had been announced by The National Trust that this year had been apocalyptic for birds and other wildlife, but slugs and mosquitos were lovin’ it. I congratulated myself for having given them a hard grind- literally-by emptying out the cafetiere straight into hostas at my back door. (Or is that hostae?)
I tried to harvest as many redcurrants and blackcurrants as I could, before the wood pigeons descended. They were not having any kind of Apocalypse now, as far as I could determine.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012
4x4, Andrex puppy, Andy Murray, Antiques Roadshow, Barrier Reef, Big issue, cashmere, CERN, charity shop, Chewbacca, Co-Op, compassion fatigue, David Battie, Feeding of Five Thousand, Fiona Bruce, Galilee, Jesus, merino, Nanking wreck, neighbour, Oxford Brookes, Roger Federer, Shakespeare, SIM, Suttonford, tennis, Tesco, texting, tramp, vegetarian, Wimbledon
CANDIA, CANDIA, WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOUR LIFE?
I may have had love at thirty and even love at forty, but there didn’t seem to be such a score as love fifty. I even thought that my name was a cross between a sexually transmitted disease and an artificial sweetener. Or was it that, as a femme d’un certain age my frankness and candour had become eponymous and self-fulfilling?
I looked out of the window. The rain it raineth every day. I wondered if it had been the wettest June and July since Shakespeare’s time, let alone since records began. (My English degree sometimes surfaces like a rogue shark on the Barrier Reef of my endangered intellect.) I decided to venture forth to surf the main street of Suttonford.)
The lure of Tesco Express hooked me in. Yellow stickers on a few packets of prawns helped me to rationalise that what I saved on comestibles would subsidise the purchase of a few designer garments in the sales.
Co-op or Tesco? Difficult, as I’d have to negotiate the Charybdis of a Romanian Big Issue seller who had taken to making himself very comfortable on a teak garden chair, right outside the entrance to TE, causing the automatic doors to go into overdrive; or I would have to steer clear of Scylla, in the form of Suttonford’s designer tramp who sat cross-legged, texting his currency dealer, or checking his Visa account on his mobile. I was in danger of extreme compassion fatigue. It was no use asking myself: “What would Jesus do?”
Probably He would have been able to address the Romanian in his own language and could have introduced Himself as the original Big Issue, or He could have given the technological tramp advice on a hotline to heaven that didn’t involve indulgences in the form of top up cards. Maybe He could have transformed intermittent reception owing to SIM malfunction, rather than to sin. Anyway, I doubted that the tramp would have appreciated being told to take up his bed and walk. I thought he’d prefer another can of the lager that the public-spirited locals tended to supply.
The Son of Man once had nowhere to lay His head either, but things might have been improved if Nevisport down sleeping bags had been around two millennia ago. Mind you, maybe the Apostles hadn’t needed such protection, as climate change hadn’t made camping in Galilee as warm and wet as in the present time.
Furthermore, I wasn’t sure if I should offer the indigent, if not mendicant, anything, since I had witnessed my neighbour’s dismay on proffering him the leftover sausage rolls from the Jubilee Feeding of the Five Thousand street party. He had politely, but firmly declined: No thank you, madam. I’m a vegetarian.
My neighbour wasn’t used to a tramp taking the moral high ground. The cheek of it!
Oh well! Better trundle off with my funky trolley out and head for Help the Ancient, before any of the rapacious so-called pre-empt me and bag all the bargains.
I used to find lots of treasures in charity shops before the prices rose in the time of austerity. Even the rich are feeling the pinch, so why do charities double the price of clothing, which is then unsold and has to be re-distributed to lowlier branches in less salubrious areas, where it is offered at half the price to the same rich bounty hunters, who simply have the plastic wherewithal to put enough petrol in their 4x4s so that they can travel further afield in their materialistic slash and burn forays?
No, not all the elderly are rapacious. Some volunteer in such shops, but find multitasking challenging. You must never distract them at the till and it is essential to check the chip and pin, or you can end up paying £8,000 for a pilled pullover, already pricily tagged at £8. The manager usually has to be summoned like a genie from some steamy esoteric activity behind a back curtain. Then, to the accompaniment of impatient dismay from a line of jealous vultures who have just spotted your potential purchase of a Merino, or Cashmere find, but who haven’t noticed the moth holes, a till roll with Cancelled, the absurd length of which would delight any Andrex puppy, will be issued. I always doubt the assurances that a sum that equals the deficit of Spain will not appear on my next statement as an outgoing. Still, I can’t keep away from the places of temptation.
It was my least favourite volunteer. Rather than thanking people for donating sacks of goodies, she delighted in deterring them from depositing bags after some arbitrary time of day and she could spot an electrical item faster than a Heathrow sniffer dog uncovers a kilo of cocaine.
When a breathless woman whose twins were squabbling in a vehicle on a double yellow line came in, gasping as she heaved a bulging black bag, the do-gooder delighted in delaying the drop-off by asking all sorts of intrusive questions as to whether the donor was a UK taxpayer or not. Eventually the woman snapped:
How can I be a taxpayer when I have never worked?
I didn’t know the volunteer’s name and she wasn’t wearing an identification badge. I launched in, nevertheless:
You know that Ming vase that I was cajoled into buying last week for a fiver? Well, it had a hairline-no, not an airline- crack.
She turned up her hearing aid. I continued:
That means that it isn’t fit for purpose and David Battie always says that there is a difference between a firing crack , which wouldn’t affect the value of a piece materially, and a hairline. I know you are a charity shop, but the Trades Description laws apply to you as well. Can you give me, at least, an exchange note?
Certainly. Do you still have the receipt? Fifteen love.
I hesitated. Well, no.. You see, it said £500,000, so I destroyed it in case someone thought I was into money laundering. Thirty love.
Ah, well, I’m sorry. We can’t do anything without it. As a decorative item, I’m sure that it is worth what you paid. I stopped scoring. The ball was in. Okay, they were not going to get my old Manola Beatnik slingbacks that I’d bought in a Moroccan souk. I will take them to the next Roadshow valuation day. They might be worth something in the very distant future. Maybe Fiona Bruce could try them for size.
My next stop was Costamuchamoulah, a trendy “must-seen” coffee shop, where the price of a cappuccino was commensurate with the cost of one of the rare beans from which its beverages were produced. A single example had excited more fever on the Stock Market than a tulip bulb had raised in Amsterdam at the time of the girl with the pearl ear-ring. They sell other things too- such as sprouted beans that might be Ming rather than mung and could featured in a barter system where rare porcelain Nanking wreck discoveries could be exchanged for one millionth of a gram. Still, as the adverts keep reminding me: I am worth it. Instant gratification here I come!
It was a deeply insincere parent of a dreadfully dim girl that I had once taught.
Look at this amazing double egg cup in goose, hen or quail sizes. It has such cute little sheeps’ heads on it.
Sheep plural, I scoffed silently.
I simply must buy one for Becca’s Biology teacher. He really helped her to get an A* with all those extra lunchtime sessions he provided.
The ones which she didn’t bother to turn up for with me, I brooded.
(This A/ A* obsession was becoming as annoying as having to observe all those Chinese silver medallists blubbing because they feel they have let down the Motherland.)
Yes, that’s what got her into Biological Sciences at Oxford, the proud progenitor persisted.
Brookes. I silently supplied the post-modifier.
Instead I said, How marvellous! And how is – I fudged the name– doing now? As if I cared.
Oh, she’s landed a superb internship for next year at CERN. She wants to research Botox particles and can’t wait to jog around the collider when it’s not switched on.
She was at a party in London and met a girl who babysits for Roger Federer- you know, the tennis player..
(Yes, I do know, you patronising… This sotte voce.)
..when he is at Wimbledon. Now she’s really into all things Alpen.
Muesli for her, I muttered in an embittered tone. Must dash. Say her old English teacher was asking for her. (Maybe Becca or Chewbacca, or whoever, could get me a discarded sweat-drenched towel from Wimbledon.)
I will, darling, if she remembers who you are/were. Ciao.
I couldn’t help wondering who babysat for Andy Murray’s mum? Presumably Kim.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012