Monthly Archives: December 2011

Old catholic habits…

Take the saints, for example. Here’s something from St Bernard of Clairvaux

Experto crede: aliquid amplius invenies in silvis, quam in libris. Ligna et lapides docebunt te, quod a magistris audire non possis.

‘Believe me, you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from masters.’

Everything is wonky

Photography with the Blackberry is a hopeless pursuit, yet still I persist. Strange that, when I cannot stick at anything…

The House at Pooh Corner

I once knew someone who had never read any A.A. Milne and had no real conception of Pooh, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, Owl, Kanga and Roo, let alone Hundred Acre Wood.

This, to me, was like the the Unimaginable Sadness of Cristiano Ronaldo. In fact, it’s worse.

Wind on the Hill

No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.

It’s flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn’t keep up with it,
Not if I ran.

But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.

And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.

So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes…
But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.

A.A. Milne

You can put off reading classics, I suppose. Or you can re-read them in a different context, but I don’t think you can catch up with A.A. Milne’s world after childhood. It just wouldn’t work. Parents, read your children a little of it, please, before it is too late.

Eeyore was nudged to the front by E.H. Shepard

Turner: A Painter of Light

Rain, Steam, Speed - oil on canvas 1844

A Turner painting is like a vague childhood memory, a romantic pre-cursor to the impressionist period of youth which is, in its turn, seen off by the hard edges of distracted abstraction in middle age.

The original work hangs in the National Gallery, London.

No snow, yet

This time last year, there was plenty.

Personally, I can’t stand the stuff. The only things that should be wet and cold are a dog’s nose or a *insert spirit of choice* and tonic.

I have been introduced to…

Vodka. I already knew tonic and lime.

‘Every wall is a door’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘Mind’ by Richard Wilbur


Mind in its purest play is like some bat
That beats about in caverns all alone,
Contriving by a kind of senseless wit
Not to conclude against a wall of stone.

It has no need to falter or explore;
Darkly it knows what obstacles are there,
And so may weave and flitter, dip and soar
In perfect courses through the blackest air.

And has this simile a like perfection?
The mind is like a bat. Precisely. Save
That in the very happiest intellection
A graceful error may correct the cave.

I got up this morning wondering about Wittgenstein’s idea that if a lion could speak we couldn’t understand him. This makes sense because, sometimes, when humans speak my own language I can’t understand them either. It seems that Wittgenstein meant we could not begin to conceive of a lion’s experience of life and the older I get, the harder it is to conceive of another human’s experience of life, unless it is a sort of metaphysical understanding – something beyond words. I wonder if I could apply that to a lion, despite Wittgenstein.

Thus, you will see that Richard Wilbur’s poem gave me some small clarity for the day; although I did wonder if language, rather than the mind, was more like a bat. I do not believe all thought is language-based…which brings me to another of Wittgenstein’s ideas which was that language is the cage whose walls we keep climbing. Whichsoever, the cave is dark enough for silent contemplation.

Cailin Rua by Dervish

It’s a song I liked from a long time ago, probably stemming from the Raggle Taggle Gypsies in my formative years. Carries a folk music warning if you are not of that persuasion.

I had always found the lyrics more or less incomprehensible, so I looked them up.

As I roved out on a summer’s morning a-speculating most curiously
To my surprise, I there espied a charming fair maid approaching me
I stood awhile in deep meditation contemplating what I should do
‘Til at length recruiting all my sensations I thus accosted the Cailin Rua

Are you Aurora or the goddess Flora, Artemidora or Venus bright?
Or Helen, fair beyond compare, that Paris stole from the Grecian sight?
Oh fairest maiden, you have enslaved me, I’m captivated in Cupid’s clew
Your golden sayings are infatuations that have enslaved me, a Cailin Rua

Kind sir, be easy and do not tease me with your false praises so jestingly
Your dissimulation and invocation are vaunting praises alluring me
I am not Aurora or the goddess Flora, I’m a rural maid to all men’s view
Who’s here condoling my situation, my appelation the Cailin Rua

Oh were I Hector, that noble victor, who died a victim to Grecian skill
Or were I Paris whose deeds are various, an arbitrator on Ida’s Hill
I’d rage through Asia like Abyssinia Pennsylvania seeking you
The burning raygions like sage Orpheus to see your face, my sweet Cailin Rua

From the album ‘Playing with Fire’

The Tatling (bows out on his 176th race with a win)

The Tatling seems to have been around forever. It hardly seems like yesterday he was group winner; arguably his finest hour coming at Ascot in the King’s Stand in 2004. I say arguably because anyone who saw him motoring wide up the home straight yesterday for an unbelievable, yes really unbelievable, short head win, would have to allow that, aged 14, he really has still got it all going on in the heart-racing stakes. SP returned at a massive 16/1. No-one really expected he was going to win… That he did, just shows. What, I would not like to say. Perhaps that there is hope for the most jaded of us all.

The sight of him yesterday, his woolly winter coat starting to come through, was enough to warm a cold heart.

He’s a really bonny horse too, with a dished head that looks a little like an Arab, or a Welsh pony. Most of the photos on the web are of him racing, head stuck out, ears back, showing all the determination in the world but not his prettiest side. I’ve therefore gone with this one of him from a win earlier this year, by far the most handsome of them all (including Hayley Turner). Photos from yesterday here

The Tatling: 23 April 1997 Perugino – Aunty Eileen

176 races: 18 wins (4 Group races), 53 places
Career Earnings: £687,763

At Yarmouth after one of his 18 career wins