The Rake’s Progress



I have downed tools; writing tools that is and no longer sit for hours with pencil and paper, or rattling the virtual keys of a laptop. Writing used to be a joy. Increasingly, over the last months and especially into the new year, joy has morphed to aversion; that exam feeling, impending doom, futility. Ugh.

Now there is the rake. It’s probing fingers scrawping weeds, trails of ivy and fallen leaves to satisfying heaps hour after hour. The repetitive sound and action soothes as it productively, seductively whiles away time.

I look now at denuded swathes of what was euphemistically called the wild garden and feel a deep calm. Why ever did we make paths here, lined with the granite stones that proliferate above and below the soil? Without the stones there is more unity, more peace. The garden plot sweeps majestically to its finale – the road and, with a squint, the sea.

Barrow load after barrow load of stones large and small is tipped into the insatiable stream. Admittedly the stream is fuller and faster following recent rains, but even so it swallows these incomers as if it can never have enough. (Just as well, I have nowhere near finished.)

Perhaps those rough hewn stones strewing the garden are metaphors for stumbling blocks, words, and life and the garden are simpler without them.



Crawling Through Thorns



I almost didn’t read this book. The title was off putting. It sounded to my prim ears a tad self inflicted, self indulgent.

But what did I know. it is a quote from a Welsh poet Waldo Williams and not as I thought a life style choice… The trials of being homosexual. It is about forgiveness and the lengths needed in order to forgive injustice. Rather than chose bitterness one must do what it takes even crawl through thorns.An image of the First World War comes to mind. Crawling through barbed wire.
I understand the title of this book now and my prejudice and misunderstanding

It was uncomfortable reading too, at first, for a convent girl with a conventional, sheltered upbringing.

Set in Barmouth, a town I have visited most of my life and now live close enough to visit daily should I chose. The experiences of a boy, pretty much the same age, growing up with the realisation of difference was uncomfortable reading.

Growing up a homosexual, with the guilt that engendered with trysts and casual sex hard to reconcile with a ‘normal’ childhood. Perhaps there is a gender difference, too. Sex simply wasn’t on the agenda in the all female household I grew up in.

Memory can be a false friend, but despite being labelled as from a broken home we did well enough. What constitutes an idyllic childhood anyway? Day trips to Barmouth lying on the beach with my sisters in thick jumpers breaking our teeth on sticks of rock from the rock shop. My mother was preparing us for the first of several road trips to the south of France and so the four or five hours drive to and from Wolverhampton, were about right.

I stuck with the book and glad I did. Mostly an absorbing read with some very moving and lovely writing, it is a coming of age story,  the life of John Idris Jones, who happens to have been born a homosexual. Coming to terms with what that means in his community and the wider community makes a compelling read, as he and the wider world find acceptance, including aversion therapy by electric shock treatment as a cure and the dawn of AIDS and that devastation, written from the perspective of a gay man in San Francisco.

There are powerful recommendations to live by to take from the book:
‘kindnesses are for passing on’,  or if of religious bent, ‘God finds us where we are, and ‘The journey is home’, which I take to mean the journey of life is your life, not a stepping stone.

The eulogy for his dead friend is testament to both hero and friend.
Of how many people can it be said we are better people for having known them?

It shows a closeness born of true friendship that not everyone is capable of.

the beauty of peace


This is the view from my window this New Year  in beautiful Onich near Fort William and I am mindful that the beauty of peace is not afforded to all.

re blogging Michael Rosen’s post.

A reminder from Wilfred Owen about the politics of war
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
[The Latin phrase was used at times of war in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It means roughly “It is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country.”]