Monthly Archives: September 2014
A week is a long time in politics. Last Friday my heart was breaking that the majority of good people in Scotland voted to maintain the status quo, proving the science on bias in decision making is nearly always right. My heart was breaking, and my mind was fuming as the Westminster elite, who had shamelessly manipulated the media discourse over the last couple of weeks of the Independence campaign, entirely for their own benefit (and not that of Scotland) immediately altered the conversation from one of further devolved Scottish powers to English votes for English MPs.
That long sentence shows that I still cannot speak of it, not really. Not without getting almost incandescent with fury and indignation about how easily the establishment continue to distract and manipulate the majority.
Anyway, now all the conversation is about air strikes in Iraq and whether they will be expanded to Syria. I have views on this, I am just not sure exactly what they are. I could not help but wonder how the wife of the captured hostage Alan Henning felt about the vote yesterday. My heart goes out to her, him, and their family and I hope his story turns out better than that of others. I just can’t understand man’s inhumanity to man. Do we learn nothing?
Coincidentally, this morning my daughter decided she wanted to draw ‘scary things’ and a quick google came up with some inspiration. She did this freehand whilst I was busy with the other child. It’s a pretty horrible image, and depicts, for me, the truly ugly side to some humans’ nature. Some people are just better at hiding it than others, I suppose.
For those of you who have not read Alice Through the Looking Glass, or seen the Alice in Wonderland film starring Johnny Depp, the Frabjous Day will mean nothing to you. It is from the poem ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll and appears in the Looking Glass part of Alice’s adventures.
The Frabjous day is momentous because the Jabbberwocky is killed.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
It has all made me think of Scotland. Whichever way the vote goes, and I have nailed my colours to the mast, nothing will ever be the same again. If the Union survives, it will be different. It if does not, it will be different. Whichever way the vote goes, Scottish hearts will be broken.
I was cutting an onion earlier. The onion in question was not content to be a mere vegetable for supper, instead it wanted to send us a sign (well it is the Frabjous Day after all). I only noticed the message through my tears, just as I wielded the knife to cut through the very heart of it.
This is the top of the onion, intact.
Funny what you notice when you aren’t really looking for it.
This might be the title of a poem. In the meantime, here’s a groovy infographic.
Listening to the radio today I heard the English for, and the Scottish against.
The English sounded like a bunch of hysterics, crassly trying to appeal to the emotions with words such as divorce, and family, of being ripped and pulled apart. The Scots simply stated they were taking full opportunity to re-engage with democracy by stepping up to the plate – their plate.
I think the English have sealed their fate. Serves them right. David Cameron won’t be remembered for much, but his name in history is assured. He will be the Prime Minister that blethered us right out of the Union.
My father’s family are Scottish, but long since expatriated. There is nothing, apart perhaps from a riffle through our surnames, that would give the game away. Oh, and the fact that both my great-grandfathers on my paternal side were called James, as is my actual father.
I’ve not been to Scotland since a child. We went to Fife and I can’t say I liked it too much. It was singularly dreich and cold, even in summer. The week was saved by one thing, the glorious sight of a golden eagle soaring above us, on an otherwise unremarkable and seemingly interminable tramp across moorland. That eagle was in the wild. It was probably the most spectacular thing I had ever seen, in the true meaning of the word, and most of all, it was free.
I can’t claim to know anything much about the Scottish Independence vote, not really. I have no idea about the intricacies of what it would all mean, were Scotland to become independent from the United Kingdom. What I do feel in my blood and my bones is that the vote will be Yes, and if I was a resident of the country that’s what I’d be voting for too. Even without knowing much about it, I would be voting for social justice and an overthrow of the hegemony run by Eton posh boys. I would be voting for national identity too, and even though it is something of a cliche thanks to Hollywood, I would be voting for freedom.
Who knows, one day I might even move across the border.
I have never had writer’s block, but I certainly have a deep fear of editing – which makes writing rather awkward. Ernest Hemingway used to smooth the previous day’s efforts off before moving forward to the new pages. Once you get to the end of something in excess of a hundred thousand words, that approach makes sense. My method is to press on, and then rewrite and edit from the beginning. By the umpteenth time around, I am dizzy.
Chief amongst my editing fears is missing the what I call the backwards on a donkey moment. This is when some word, or phrase, or sentence jars the reader up. Either by a lack of clarity, poor imagery, the wrong idiom, or sheer clumsiness of composition. When writing first drafts the backwards on a donkey moments are inevitable. It is the job of the writer to edit them all out later. I fear I will not. The fear stays my eyes, and my fingers. Nothing gets done.
There it is out.
Now it is out, I must press on.
The backwards on a donkey description for words that don’t work well came to me, when I misheard an Anne Sexton poem, read out late one night on the radio many years ago. The poem was called Flee on Your Donkey. It’s long, and confessional, as her poetry was. In it, she reflects on being in a mental institution, again.
Sexton was a Pulitzer prize winner. She committed suicide aged 45. She suffered others; others might say they suffered her, including herself.
We call it life I suppose. Here are the lines – they are the last of the poem. The ‘hotel’ is the hospital. My problem has always been one of imagery – the backwards bit – she is sitting backwards, and the donkey gallops, as they do? The first time I heard it, I did not hear the word backwards, and could not understand her description at all. Of course, now, it all makes perfect sense. I think. One word, misheard, not said, can make so much difference.
flee on your donkey,
flee this sad hotel,
ride out on some hairy beast,
gallop backward pressing
your buttocks to his withers,
sit to his clumsy gait somehow.
any old way you please!
In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
That’s what it means to be crazy.
Those I loved best died of it—
the fool’s disease.