Definition of ekphrasis from Merriam-Webster.com: a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art
Ekphrasis was on my exceedingly long list of things to do sometime (along with sorting out my bedroom, refilling the trenches in the garden, cleaning the oven…) however a visit to the Royal Academy is unlikely to inspire a fit of wanting to tackle the tasks in the brackets… Fortunately, a recent trip to the Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined exhibition at the RA did remind me I wanted to try working on a poem to describe an artistic experience. It’s my first attempt at ekphrasis; I make no claims for it, but it was fun to do.
The exhibition runs until the 4th April 2014 and is recommended if you are that neck of the woods (Piccadilly, London, The World…)
Playing with Light
I come to write
With corniced eyes…
My brittle, bad, habit
But the ink stays wet.
Explore these mindspace secrets
Containing voids for our flesh
Spiralling into the firmament
To face down gilded mood angels
Inside, glean the skinned wood groaning
Tread the knotted smooths made of splinters.
I’m a noise hum-thrumming through
In search of softening spaces
Always, never, diverted
To forgotten whorls, loops and arches
Pressed against the lost twins in satin concrete
Both wearing the scold’s bridle
Trapped under hollow sheaves
And mussed-up smartphones
Reclining lovers plait
Hair into straw rainbows
Squeezing between valiant hazelnut switches
Close-by, a disconcerting grumble of beaches
Where the Sentinel reflects, only, One Way!
To the #Zen Garden
Lenticular clouds beam
Making me blink. Or think. Inverted
Clusters bustle under pointing corners
As we abrade our hides
Lurk behind bamboo ogees
Watch the game with cedared curtains,
Plus silhouettes… slow-dawning…
All playing with light.
They are meant to stay just out of reach, surely? Because if you try to live them out, they end up all weird and not making sense, just like the ones you have when you are asleep. If by some miracle, in waking consciousness you get your hands round the throat of your dream, truly, then all you end up doing is throttling the life out of it. Don’t you? Or is that just me?
Everyone says have a dream. Maybe I am done with them now. Perhaps I shall just switch to purpose. My purpose. This blog is called On Wishes & Horses, a bit of a play on words, where the next line is that beggars would ride. I am still out on wishes. I was very anti-them a while back, now I am not so sure…
And it’s at this juncture I’d like to insert a picture of a porpoise, just as a small sign that I have not disappeared up my own arse and had my sense of humour surgically removed circa 2010. But I just quite can’t bring myself to do it. Sorry.
You, the dear reader, may expect this kind of blog post title to lead into a fervid description of some event of relative or even national importance.
Let me warn you now, it’s not going to. Not today anyway.
Rather, here is the place I choose to record that I was there when…
My youngest daughter came home and told me she had had X education at school (with a heartfelt shudder and a grimace)
My oldest daughter came home from school with a bag full of vegetable soup (which she drained and ate)
I was there when… and it felt like we could probably sink no lower as a family unit, for just a second, before we laughed quite immoderately, truth be told.
How can you not when the book your daughter is receiving her X education from is entitled ‘My Mother Laid An Egg’ and next week’s will be ‘Hair in Unusual Places’ How can you not curl up with laughter?
For the record I should like the world to know that the X-educated daughter was not entirely ignorant of the facts around procreation (and who ever thought the Facts of Life covered either sex or life must have been either a) a nun b) insane) but that she is of squeamish disposition and felt that she would rather have been appraised of the situation in Year 6. She is in Year 5.
She also reported that the boys showed a great deal more interest in the subject than the girls (apart from one who ran away) and that the girls had worked out that they would have ‘a lot more to do’ growing up than boys. The girls gave X education a thumbs down; the boys a thumbs up. Such is the way of the world?
For my own record, I would like to add that ‘Hair in Unusual Places’ is a terrible title for what I imagine will be a book all about hair in all the usual places, were it not for society’s obsession with women, and now men, going about their daily business like skinned rabbits.
My other daughter ate her vegetables, formerly known as soup. She has already done all this X education stuff at school and it is of no interest to her currently because her school is full of Munchkins and she is an Amazonian warrior. Good. Now I’m off to grow my moustache.
I’m not joking.
(There’s not really a photo for this post – is there?)
I’ve had a few, over the years. My mother has always said, ‘There’s dignity in every job – even cleaning.’ She’s not wrong, of course there is, but cleaning is the job that I find most soul-destroying beyond all others; although like most right-minded people, I like things to be clean, if not tidy. You wouldn’t be able to tell that if you came round. We have an open fire. We have a dog. We have a cat. I have muddy boots. And inside I wear, not slippers, but more boots. It’s not what you’d call pristine, especially in winter.
No-one would pay me to clean – not if they were in their right minds anyway… which is how I came to be paid to be a cleaner… more than once. Actually, I was never employed in that role straight, because, knowing my shortcomings, I would never have applied. No, I have ended up being a cleaner, by default, and more than once.
My worst job was washing plates in a very posh restaurant. When they advertised the post, I am not sure what I thought I’d be doing. Maybe I didn’t imagine there would be that much washing up to do. There was and I was bad at it. I got to prep vegetables, once. The rest of the time I was ducking as the bad tempered chef, Roger, yelled ‘Hot!’ and chucked a sizzling pan over my head into the large industrial sink. They sacked me from that job.
Another time I was a kennel maid. Again, I don’t know what I thought I was going to be doing – stroking dogs and cuddling cats probably. Perhaps walking the former too, on occasion. Wrong. All I did was clean up after dogs and cats, and feed them and clean up after feeding them. After all that, there was no time for cuddling or walks.
I worked in a saddlery in Mayfair. Jeremy Irons came in once, as did Princess Haya of Jordan (now the wife of Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai). I loved being surrounded by polo saddles and boots and bridles and riding hats and jackets. Except there’s not so much call for that kind of thing just off Savile Row. So we weren’t very busy – ergo cleaning. Ugh.
And then, what brought me to this post, was the memory of working as a mother’s help. You can’t be called a nanny without the qualification really. Anyway, you are taken on to look after children, but inevitably your employer finds a window in your week where you can do some lovely cleaning. I was reminded of all this today when I cleaned out all the hair caught in the shower trap. There really should be a name for that phenomenon. A name that fully encapsulates the smelly and disgusting slime ball that I have to deal with. Fair enough, these days, its my hair and the girls. But back in the day, when I was a mother’s help in Darling Buds of May land, it was mainly my employer’s hair.
This morning, I could not help but think, that even if I was ever as rich as Croesus, I would always clean the hair out of the plughole myself. Always.
Just imagine, I’ve taken more than a week off proper blogging and that is all I can come up with. Sorry.
Blog as filing cabinet. Kind of where the whole thing started, years ago. We’ve come a long way baby.
Still putting one foot in front of the other… For good, or ill.
Originally posted on Lucretius, ver. 21c:
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I have nothing to add, other than read the comments if you have time as they illuminate matters even further. I believe this country, rather than being on a ‘moral’ crusade as David Cameron would have it, has sunk to a corrupt low. I am with Archbishop Nichols on this one http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26237798
Originally posted on Slutocracy:
There is 100% no specific target at all, however it is and has been mentioned before that each signer…
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Me and my dog have got a prejudice: we don’t like bull terriers of any variety. In one way it’s quite fair because I freeze up with any type be they English, Staffordshire, American or any mixed up version with a strong bull terrier genetic inheritance. In another it’s a bit irrational and makes life tricky. I’ve tried to unpick where it all started for us, whether it was me, or him, because now it’s definitely both of us.
I’ll be honest, we had an English Bull Terrier at my Dad’s house and it was a cussed sort of beast. It also attacked the goats. This ended up with both the dog and goats being rehomed, which seemed a bit unfair on the goats, but there you go. One day I had to pick up a housebrick and bash the dog on the head with it, to try and release it’s grip on the poor goat’s leg. You get the picture. Now, I come to type this, I am starting to see where it all started. Obvious really. Anyway, those dogs have a very strong jaw and equally thick skull – the brick put him off his stride not hardly.
Since then we’ve had this proliferation of these dogs in urban settings – I can only speak for urban settings because I don’t know about the countryside – and there has been a marked increase in young people having these dogs and I think, it’s fair to say, choosing the breed for the wrong reasons; whether that be street cred, or as a weapon, to make some money breeding, or in some cases as fighting dogs. I suppose the combination of my experience and those factors has made me wary. Enter my own dog, a very timid rescue from Navan, Ireland. He’s taken against them, I think, partly because I’m a bit on edge but also because they have a manner of bowling up to us when off the lead, tail up, looking pretty sure of themselves. It doesn’t mean they are aggressive, but it makes my dog nervous because he likes to check out a new ‘friend’ from a distance – he does not like the other dog going nose-to-nose without the chance for an introduction. So the upshot is, we steer well clear.
If I see a bull terrier (and round here it’s usually a Staffie, or two) we go somewhere else. I don’t let my dog off the lead near them, and if the terrier is off the lead already, we clear the area pronto. I don’t suppose the stories in the press help – sad to say the dogs that often ‘turn’ and injure or even kill people are of this type. There are also the Japanese Akitas but they are seen around less and most of those owners keep them on the lead. Maybe it’s something to do with the cost of the Akita compared to the Staffie, and the size of the breed. When I type that I realise I am making appalling classist assumptions about the types of people I think own Staffies, but in my defence it’s also my personal observation.
Anyway, this is all rather a lengthy preamble to explain what happened yesterday. I walked the dog in the rain, which tends to delight me because there are fewer other dogs out then and that makes the whole thing less stressful. We had our walk and were nearly home, dog on lead, when a man came round the corner with two black staffies, also on leads. We were still some distance apart and the two dogs started to growl and strain at the leads. I made to cross the road, but then the man with the pair did likewise so I stayed put. Unfortunately, he was moving in slow motion (probably because he was out of his box – another observation not straight assumption). Staffies pull like a train, which is why so many wear harnesses, and in split second one had pulled the man over in the road and had come after us, snapping and biting my dog who was trying to retaliate as well as run down the street with me. The dog pursued us into the middle of a T-junction, whereupon I went down like a felled oak, onto my right knee, hip and shoulder.
The aggressor backed off then, looking quite startled and a boy came up on his bike and grabbed the lead and took the dog back to the house down the road where it lives. The man was still sitting in the road with the other dog, saying nothing as if he was stunned. I have always had a temper on me – if it comes to flight or fight – I am naturally set to the latter. I manage myself much better these days, but I roared at the man, the only repeatable bit being that he was lucky I didn’t have the kids with me.
My poor dog has had his feet nipped and was rather sorry for himself in the aftermath, although that may have been more about my angry reaction to the other party. I have a very sore knee and hip which kept me awake a bit. I love having a dog; I have had dogs for nearly twenty years now and walked dogs for other people in London and consider myself fairly ok with managing them. However this incident has reminded me what happens when idiot brains take on the responsibility of a dog, with teeth. Lately, it just seems like that there are too many of them about here for comfort. I have a dog, in part, because getting out for a walk every day is part of how I manage my mood and health. Now, the stress it creates almost offsets the benefit.
Time will pass, my knee will heal, hopefully my own dog will suffer no ill-effects. In the meantime I am just left with the uneasy feeling that I may be getting too old to be a dog owner in the kind of town we seem to have on our hands lately.