(Photo:Flickr- Euro Realist Newsletter, 2008)
you’ve been hiding in your garage
ever since the leaked news about your private life.
Stay there: we are all on the side of your long-suffering wife.
acacia, Adonai, auto-combustion, boscage, Brexit, burning bush, Church Green, Cotswolds, Crateagus, David Cameron Witney, Desolation, Dieric Bouts, hawthorn, Highgrove, I Am Who I Am, Israelites, kohl, Michael Portillo, Midian, Milton, Mindfulness, Moses, pastures new, pillar of fire, Prince Charles, Renaissance Man, SamCam, sestina, Shekinah, Sir Philip Sidney, smoking flax, St Catherine's Monastery, St George and Dragon Dragon Hill, U A Fanthorpe, UKIP, Waitrose
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,
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)
It was Suttonford’s Big Day on the calendar: the annual ‘Ale n’ ‘Arty Festival.
Shopkeepers in the town had been checking the weather forecast for over a
week and potential stall-holders had been trying to determine if they could
recoup the fees for their stands, by studying past records of footfall and
A celebrity chef had been booked to demonstrate some recipes for recession
and Suttonford Morris Men had been bleaching their hankies and checking the
clappers on their bells. Their wives were keeping their fingers crossed, as well
as their ankles, and were hoping for fine weekend weather. They were always
pleased to have their domestic space to themselves.
Gary, the modern equivalent of a Town Crier, had remembered his lesson from
the previous year and had set the volume of his megaphone to a kinder level.
He would be commenting on the relative merits of real ales, such as Crushed
Badger and Roadkill and Hop It! Hopefully, he would have the chance to sink a
few samples. He firkin well hoped so.
There was even going to be a stall featuring wine from a local vineyard. The
grapes which were pressed were a variety based on Rot ‘Em Pinot, a vine
whose leaves sported white hairs, making it entirely in keeping with the more
mature population of Suttonford and environs. Wine historians had linked its
introduction to the South of England to Roman deserters who had planted
stock on the sunnier slopes of Wintoncester, before rolling down them.
The Duchess of Cornwall, in her capacity as President of the UK Vineyards
Association, had declined an offer to open the festival, but she had sent a
hamper of Duchy products as a donation towards the town’s adopted local
charity: Anacondas in Adversity!
Gary peeked through the wicker. He didn’t think that anacondas would
particularly appreciate oaten biscuits. But what was he to know, compared to
globally itinerant Royals? Frankly, if he were to be transformed into a
reptile-and many people, including his spouse, thought that he was well on
his way in the metamorphic process-he was certain that he would opt for the
Stem Ginger and Dark Chocolate variety. Oaten hadn’t done so well in this
At least the anacondas wouldn’t be expected to pay in excess of £7 a box for
the luxury. He wasn’t sure how their currency compared to the euro. He hoped
it was holding up and that they hadn’t had to resort to quantitative easing.
They were evidently suffering enough. He surmised that they must be in crisis
if they were the focus of the town’s support.
Gary raised a finger to check the wind direction and he thought that he could
detect a spot of rain. The Morris Dancers were supposed to welcome Spring,
but they seemed to have missed the boat somewhere along the line.
He noticed a stall which seemed to be selling nothing but umbrellas with the
UKIP logo. They seemed to have been discounted by the proprietor, who told
Gary that he thought they would have sold well a few days ago, when he was
at a fair just south of Edinburgh. There had been a constant deluge, but it had
not been of a precipitation nature, but had rather been characterised as being
a torrent of anti-Farage abuse and now he was left with the entire batch,
which he was hoping to shift. Gary was somewhat dubious about his optimism.
He was pretty certain that even an anaconda wouldn’t be seen dead under