The River by R. S. Thomas

And the cobbled water

Of the stream with the trout’s indelible

Shadows that winter

Has not erased – I walk it

Again under a clean

Sky with the fish, speckled like thrushes,

Silently singing among the weed’s

Branches.

I bring the heart

Not the mind to the interpretation

Of their music, letting the stream

Comb me, feeling it fresh

In my veins, revisiting the sources

That are as near now

As on the morning I set out from them.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from H’m (1972)

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As I Walked Out One Evening by W.H. Auden

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.’

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

 

by W.H. Auden (November 1937)

from Another Time (1940)

The Cool Night Air

Once more spring has passed and it is now summer. A cool breeze drifts past the window.
I think of childhood and how the days of summer did not end back then.
Now, when the light begins to fail, I want to go for a walk in the cool night air.

Where to? I do not know.
Until what time? I do not care.
If I left I would not return. What is there to return to?

People have dreams and make memories in the dark hours. Especially during the summer when the darkness is a soothing comfort not a sign of insensitive death.

As a child you think adults have freedom while you yourself have routines and people to answer to.
You answer to your parents, your teachers, you community.
When you are an adult you still have chains but now they are invisible.

The barbed wire of etiquette twisted around you harming you every time you allow others to treat you as an inferior for decorum’s sake.
The razor blades of financial worries giving you the death of a thousand cuts.
The pressure of self-inflicted moral restraints contorting who you were, are and will be.

Existentialism poses the question asking what exactly is stopping you from dropping everything and walking away. These tethers we bind ourselves with are not real, physical, things. But they are there all the same.
An adult answers to their employer, to their family, to their peers and to the government that cannot see them as anything other than a statistic to be checked off the page.

The night air soothes the skin. Caresses it like a woman placating the injured thinking this tactile moment of amity, invading the solitude of suffering, will ease the tormented and assure their soul.

I will walk away from the lights of mankind’s pointless struggle against the beautiful night but in the end, no matter what direction I walk in, eventually I will return to it.
The only other choice is to blindly walk off a cliff into the awaiting pitch black sea who will claim me for her own. A phone will ring at the chapel down the bottom of the slope and the Samaritans will be told it was too late but they will go home in the end and sleep peacefully.

I cannot go because I will not return. There is nowhere to go. I am ensnared by responsibilities others have foisted on me because of the choices I made and the indecisions I allowed. I am in a gilded cage of my own creation and soon the night will past. I will wait. Wait until it returns once again. The cycle will continue until autumn kills it once more, dressing the floor with its golden red entrails and we bow our heads during the winter songs where the world is washed away to muddied grey and white tones.

The air is stale in here. I can breathe – but only with a heavy heart. I will embrace the night and sleep. I know when I awake the light wll have been victorious over the night and the cycle of maturity will repeat once more.


I have the past few evenings wanted to go for a walk. I have not though. I don’t know where I would go. There is nowhere but to the town with its glittering lights and dirty covered paving. To sit in a bar and drink until the ring of the bell for last orders and the long, lonely, walk back home. Tomorrow is another day – a day like any other day.

Unplanned piece. Flawed but then it fills the blog until the next entry.

Like, Comment, Follow – Any of these are welcome.

Walk Around The Wales Coastal Path

I would like to one day walk the entire Wales Coastal Path route and see all its historical sites. If I could do so all in one go over a number of days, without having to go home and then ‘pick up’ as a designated check point, it would be the experience of a lifetime.

http://www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/?lang=en

wales-coast-path

What would I need for this? I am not 100% sure. I would think the following:

  • A fold away green poncho. I would wear this when it was raining or as a wind breaker.
  • A scarf for warmth or to use as a makeshift sling if need be.
  • A wide brimmed hat to keep the sun out of my eyes.
  • A full length, light weight, waterproof coat to deal with the Welsh weather.
  • A fleece for heat retention if the wind chill increases.
  • Hard wearing jeans – but comfortable clothing really is the key.
  • Suitable walking shoes or boots.
  • A flask with water to drink so I do not become dehydrated. Another small flash with something a bit stronger in it too.
  • Snacks – likely peanuts and biscuits for their high fat content to keep my energy levels up.
  • A first aid kit with the various necessities and maybe also a small book about common issues and how to patch them up until I can get medical aid.
  • A working mobile phone fully charged. Although no one would want to contact me so it would make no difference.
  • Change in order to use pay phones should the mobile phone fail. Some money nonetheless for food etc.
  • Perhaps a book or working knowledge of stop gaps where I can rest, possibly sleep safely and get food and drink. Not a map. Those restrict you and the coastal walk is basically ‘walk along the shoreline’ so it would be hard to get lost. If it became boring I just may set off in another direction entirely…
  • A sturdy backpack in which to carry these items.
  • A good camera to take photos on my journeys. Memories are important.

Wales_Walking_Map

I have most of these items ready and waiting already on a chair in the living room except the backpack, first aid kit (except plasters/band aids) and knowledge of the route. I just may set off in another direction entirely anyway… Adventure awaits!

I guess what I am saying is that at heart, without realising it before, I have always been Snufkin from the Moomins. Snufkin is also known in the original Swedish version as Snusmumrik[en] or Mumrik[en] and in Finnish as Nuuskamuikkunen or Muikkunen. When my hair grows too long it begins to look like his and I did learn to play the harmonica too a few years ago. I don’t place much importance on possessions (except books) and would rather not have a set goal in my travels but just go wandering wherever life took me though I would return to certain places seasonally. I suppose that is what is important – having somewhere to return to where people will welcome you no matter how long you spend apart. Snufkin wandered but he always came back to Moomin Valley eventually.


On a side note this song from the 1972 version makes Snukfin sound like a Wild West badass… Like ‘The Man With No Name’ wandering into a desolate town.

This isn’t a serious post… I just considered the matter and realised it. I like the concept of being a wanderer. It’s a romantic notion but the reality is a far harsher matter altogether. This following song I always enjoyed though obviously it is taken out of context here. It is one of my all-time favourite songs.

Bonus points if you realised the connection of Clint Eastwood who played the ‘Man With No Name’ and who starred alongside Lee Marvin, who sang ‘I Was Born Under A Wandering Star’, in ‘Paint Your Wagon’! Although I don’t say it at the end of every post, I assure you, comments and likes are always welcome. If you would like to follow me that would also be welcome obviously!

The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race 2015

The Oxford-Cambridge boat race. Big day. The women’s team, for the first time in the history of the event, not only row the same course as the men’s team but also on the same day. This is reported as if some great achievement has been made but it only serves to demonstrate how backwards these elite academic institutions are and how they indoctrinate the best and brightest of each generation into maintaining the old, if now ancient, status quo of conservative mentality. Other events had made such changes for equality decades ago but these icons of prestige now expect to be congratulated and lauded on having finally done this rather than offhandedly informed it was about time so they know their place.

The announcer at one point, after Cambridge’s loss, declares something to the effect that he couldn’t think of anything worse than this loss they have suffered. Cancer. Acknowledging you will never achieve your dreams. Death of a loved one. Witnessing first-hand the decline of someone mentally day after day until no glimmer of hope is left that they will be the person you knew and all you are left with is a stranger you are responsible for. Death of a child you raised. Knowing that you will never belong anywhere no matter how much effort you make. Loss of hope. Racism. War. Ignorance. Elitism. Prejudice. Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. No there is nothing worse than losing this boat race which in no way affects the careers of the people involved. What they suffered was a momentary tarnishing of pride. The announcer reiterates that they have been studying and exercising. If only we lesser mortals had such dedication to improvement but alas we are but the lesser order concerned with base matters of surviving day to day unaided by the wealth accumulated by our ancestors nor the grants offered by government which often are gone within the first few weeks as students prioritise establishing social connections (which ultimately will serve them far better than their academic achievements) than budgeting and establishing their tuition.

It is mourned that the women’s team has had to make do with a lean-to in which to practise. This is stated over footage of them sat in a row on top-of-the-line rowing machines practising in synchronised motions within the confines of a well-lit, immaculate, gym. Truly there is no humanity that they are forced to train in such inadequate conditions. At such a rate some common person with wooden shovels tied together, just doing the motions of rowing while sat on their council flat floor as the mould clinging to the windows and water stains, brown like diarrhoea, descending the wall may have a chance at competing with them. Neptune, Poseidon, all gods of the waters will you not aid your daughters in their hour of need? Rather than those in true need let us raise alms unto this sisterhood forged in rowing! Let not one moment more pass in which they strain unnecessarily emitting sweat using the obsolete equipment which had led their predecessors onto victory and achievement previously in less enlightened times. Let carbon fibres be formed, let electronic readouts herald their speed and calories burned. But let not the effort of training show upon their brows, for lo, are they not but women? Do they not know their place and now expect to be considered equal unto their menfolk? Truly a lean too is less than inadequate to these goddesses of galoshes, these muses of the mind, these Amazonians of academia! Give them their custom built training resort and let the lesser people of weak flesh rot for only those of perfection in form and figure should be made into living gods cascaded with a cornucopia of offers and made not to suffer the indignity of we lesser beings. No do not entertain that the disabled, the poor, those unfamiliar with the proper order of things need more aid and this allotted money could ease their desperate burden. Nay I say and nay again! Those who excel, even amongst those who already are proving themselves amongst the best of us, should only be given more and more than expected to endure the strain of physical training and suffer the indignity of hard work as might be expected of others when training. Where is the ever present medical staff? Where is the cool chamber so they may train more efficiently? The masseuse? The dietician? The personal assistants? Man cannot live on bread alone and these paragons of virtue cannot be expected to train hard to achieve, as the lesser orders would, but should have every boon money may buy so not an ounce of their effort is wasted.

The captain of the victorious Oxford men’s team ascends the stage. A blonde giant of a man, legs like tree trunks, chest like a barrel, mounts the stage as if it was a step and holds the gigantic trophy as though it were a baby’s feeding cup. Sir Steve Redgrave, 6 foot 4 inches, 36th greatest Briton ever according to the BBC, 5 time gold medal winner, Britain’s greatest Olympian and a rowing demi-god made flesh stands next to this successor of his legacy, cup in hand ready to hand over the reins unto the captain ceremonially. The announcer declares the captain a meek man as he speaks in booming, confident, tones that echo across the river’s waves and can be heard by those upon the other shore without the aid of microphones. As the fountain of champagne his team mates douse him in cascades off his form, the likes of which ancient Greek sculptures would immortalise and poets celebrate, truly there can be no lesser an image of modesty and restraint as he lifts the trophy aloft and casts it carelessly aside to one of his lesser team mates as the midget cox man looks lovingly if not longingly up, from the monolithic shadow drowning him, at his captain’s Herculean visage is framed, in shiloette, by the sun’s light. This is no rowing captain. This is a saint in the flesh whom we should all aspire to be akin to. Including the ill-fitting wellies.


The boat race was a nice event despite my vitriol. It was more about the mindless ramblings of the announcers making out everything was such a great struggle when this boat race is more about friendly completion between the two academic institutions than being a serious sporting event. Everyone seemed to have fun although Cambridge lost they seemed to take it in good their stride. A ‘nice day out’ sort of gentlemanly event. It is just unfortunate that because the BBC were reporting on it for so long prior to the event they ended up having to fill the air time with ill informed rambling and supposition. Inevitably it becomes a lot of didactic rhetoric embellishing any minute piece of known information rather than being able to give concise, enlightening, information in preparation of the event. The competitors are not professional athletes with established, recorded in detail, careers to comment on admittedly so perhaps, as it is a once a year event, they could have discussed the history of the race or some better form of preparation for the announcers to fill the time would have been adviseable rather than rely on them to fill it on their own with small talk. Everyone seemed to have had fun though so overall it was good coverage with all the technical aspects of it being performed exceptionally.


Walked 2 circuits equating to 12 km in one uninterrupted walk. It wasn’t as far as I thought as I hadn’t done it in a while. The air was cold and there was a stiff breeze and so not at all taxing so I should have kept going and just kept doing curcuits all day until I could walk no more. At least I mixed it up a bit and went down one or two alternative, but parallel routes and found some random religious graffiti. I could have easily kept walking but I wanted to see a film. Later I ooked at an online calorie calculator and it seemed as if it was nothing. I couldn’t even afford to have a soft drink according to the calculator…

Watched some films. Watched Saturday night television. Watched some Welsh programmes. Wrote blog. Wrote other things. Read. Had a nap. Went to bed early. Had tried to talk to someone about one or two things but ultimately that was pointless.

I can tell how things will progress now and know who will be awarded what… as the elite of Oxford-Cambridge learn: Work smart not hard. Make sure people notice every little achievement and bit of effort you make. Social skills are far and away more important than merit. We do not living in a meritocracy. Meritocracy was the basis of the Soviet/Communist system and quickly became corrupted within years so that the old order of keeping the elite and the lower classes separate was reinstated. The faces changed but the attitudes remained. It’s just human nature as a social animal.

It hasn’t worked. It is just that way…The darkness encroaches and you are expected to put up and shut up and not be a burden to others. ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you’ is a lie. Survival of the fittest and most capable of adapting is the only rule that is true. T. S. Eliot, in The Waste Land, considered April to be the cruellest month. Maybe he was right albeit obviously he was talking about post World War 1 where an entire generation had been lost. To see the renewel of things, new life and potential and the abandonment of the old which is soon forgotten. That which is no longer of use to people is cast aside without hesititation. Spring cleaning for both one’s house and life.

Woke up frequently during the night with pain in my ear as the cat watched over me from the window sill pulled by by his paw. Not an infection but something has happened to the external part… Maybe Ican apply heat or cold to amend it I do not know.

My cat goes in and out the window today. He wanted access to the outside but now seems to have quickly grown bored of it. He destroyed his fishing line toy and now brings me the soft toy bird shaped ‘lure’ to throw for him. He is becoming a dog…

I was hoping to do something today but the ear thing has put me off. I may have done another few circuits but I will leave it for tomorrow and just try to not eat more than I need today. I already eat 4 doughnuts this morning so that has already failed… Everyone would be better off with me removed from the equation. All people want is happy stories and to be surrounded by positive people even if they do nothing but speak negatively of others in order to forge an alligiance through shared opposition. So is life. Just accept your lot in life. Don’t aspire. Don’t complain. If you wanted it enough you would put more effort in even if it broke you. Its just how life is…

This was suprisingly long for something I hadn’t planned to write.

Merry Christmas in a few languages

English: Merry Christmas

Welsh: Nadolig Llawen

Russian: Счастливого Pождества! (с рождеством being the more informal version)

Japanese: メリークリスマス

Polish: Wesołych Świąt

Christmas time is not one for me. It is a time for children and those who have others to share it with. To me it is the days of film repeats and being told how I am not part of the greater society. I worked Christmas Eve so I had no ‘run up’ to the celebration and it will pass like an anomaly.

During the Victorian times, when many of the Christmas traditions were first created or at least solidified as Christmas specific traditions (tree, cards, stockings hanging, decorations, caroling, mistletoe, etc), it was common to tell ghost stories and go for a walk after the dinner. Hence why Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol featuring the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. I think going for a walk in the fresh air would be a good thing to bring back as it seems people just hole up in their houses for the next few days rather than enjoy the Winter weather.

On My Walk Home…

On my walk home…

I saw two men dressed in the colours of Mario and Luigi…
On my walk home…
I smelled burning and knew it was Autumn…
On my walk home…
People walk their dogs on long leashes…
On my walk home…
I smelt fish and chips though there were no shops around…
On my walk home…
A man in a wheel chair hurtled down the slope making an old woman step into someone’s garden…
On my walk home…
I smelled burning plastic…
On my walk home…
I unconsciously race anyone who overtakes me…
On my walk home…
It should be a healthy walk but as it’s alongside a major road may be walking in a corridor of fumes from vehicles…
On my walk home…
A school girl waits near a bus stop for someone to meet her…
On my walk home…
There is a part hidden and unlit behind tree cover where someone could attack in the bleak midwinter undisturbed…
On my walk home…
There is no cover from the harsh sun of high summer…
On my walk home… I am alone.


A short vignette based on things I have seen while walking home from work. Written without editting. A ‘flow of consciousness’ piece I suppose you might call it.