Category Archives: Ramblings

In Memory of Violet May, Order and Method and a Lesser Known Poet.

I have a compulsion to rearrange our books, I would not go as far as to say it was a disorder but it is a desire to bring some sort of order to what has all the appearance of chaos.

The dilemma I have is do I catalogue them in alphabetical order, by author or should Dorothy L Sayers creation Lord Peter Wimsey sit dust jacket to dust jacket next to Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

Now there is a thought I could follow the great Belgian detective’s principles and arrange them in order of size.

If this all seems rather indecisive I am not completely without resolve in that I have separated the poets, not on the top shelve as some would wish, on the understanding that poetry is one of the highest forms of art but on a dedicated shelve next to the fire-place, ideal for the likes of Dante’s Inferno.

There are always some surprises in familiar stanzas by Wordsworth, Keats or Clare and even more in less familiar  as Auden, Spender or Smith.

As I placed each with the care owing on its rightful shelve position I came across a newspaper cutting from the early nineteen eighties nestled between Dryden and Eliot. It was written in nineteen seventy nine in memory of a lovely lady who was called to meet her maker in May of that year and was written by the author of these ramblings.

MAY TWENTY FITHH
I looked at you today,
And cursed the evil pen
That wrltes with twisted hand
The lines of pain upon your face.
Sleep on, druggrd sleep.
I know you think of those
Even through your pain,
That never had the time to share
From their seasonal warmth.
Sleep on.
But merciful is the Lord,
The flame you carried high,
Was from His lamp.
Sleep on today,
Tomorrow we will meet,
Sleep on today.
MAY THIRTIETH

J. P. Miller


A Sentimental Journey , A Taste For Scott and True Patriotic Fervor

March 23, 2009_Cambridgeshire-1148_001.jpg

I am feeling disorientated, I put it down to feeling over nostalgic, yes it could be explained as an effect of reaching an age where grey becomes silver and elderly is an acronym for wisdom or is it just the plain simple fact that being away from what is vaguely called home if  your place of birth is home, for more years than I care to remember.

It would be ludicrous to try and blame my craving for a breath of Lowland air or Highland hospitality on all this talk of independence for Scotland but it certainly is having an effect.

I have always had moments when I  have lusted after Heather Honey, Macroon Bars and Tablet made in Fintry but it seems more fundamental than a sweet tooth.

Now when this feeling is rationalised it has to be admitted I have been reading too much Edwin Muir not to mention Sir Walter Scott, so perhaps the solution is a Shakespeare Sonnet, a chapter from The Pickwick Papers or a paragraph of Laurence Sterne but I do not believe I can ever erase the sentiment in the following which flows through my veins.

“Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand! “

Extract for: Lay of the Last Minstrel. Sir Walter Scott


 

W B Yeats, The Kinks and Natural Recall

June 16, 2011_Cambridgeshire-1612_001

I have a confession to make that I am having a great deal of difficulty remembering the events of a week ago not to mention that yesterday can have all the appearance of a complete blur

There are certain elements that always have a tendency to stand out, the appointment with the optician who recommends an increase in bifocal strength so I can read the news that the cost of living is increasing on the hour every hour, the unexpected meeting with a friend who tactfully informs me that my hair is whiter (not grey) than the last time we meet and the all important doctors consultation where he advises you when complaining about the pain in your left ankle on wet september mornings “what else can you expect at your time of life” I would hate to contemplate what his reaction would be to my memory crisis?

I have been taking comfort from the fact that my recall cannot be that severe as I can vividly recount every scrape and abrasion I received to my elbows and knees fifty years ago not to mention the long ever ending warm summer days strolling in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens or the tree-lined paths of The Meadows with the strains of Ray Davis escaping from open windows.

Perhaps I should reach a conclusion that this phenomenon is not a softening of the grey matter but a mechanism to cope with the realities of everyday living, the momentum of a headlong rush to reach a undefined destination in time or maybe I should bow to the inevitable.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

W. B. Yeats


 

Dylan Thomas, A Different Generation and An Illusion to be Cherished

Kersey From Church Hill

I am slowly coming to the realisation that what appears to be reality is no more than an illusion, a trick of the senses and as much a figment of the imagination that our school and teenage years were the best days of our life.

Although when comparisons are made between the present ethics and attitudes to that of over 30 years ago, it has to be concluded that morality, respect and even religious expression are all measured against a different template.

It is unreasonable to expect that the youth of today, should live the lives that a different generation experienced but on the same token when we reach that certain age where the illusion that our school and teenage years were the best days of our life becomes a reality, we should be allowed to cultivate the realisation and live the life that our own generation cherished.

There is nothing more depressing than being afraid to grow old in grace and wisdom but hastened to add I am also not adverse to the sentiments expressed by a welsh poet;

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”


 

Human Nature.

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Is it not human nature to justify a mistake or an error of judgment, although nine times out of ten it feels as if you are being wrong footed and on the defensive.

It takes a skilled practitioner to handle the argument that what was said had been misconstrued or taken out of context. Should it be defined as a form of courage to be applauded and encouraged when all it does is to polarize opinion?

Surely it would be more courageous and laudable to apologies as soon as we are aware that offense has been given and defuse a pointless battle that will only divide loyalties that should be strengthened and cherished.

Then there is no accounting for Human Nature it is primitive instinct.


 

In Praise of Parchment and Mahogany Bookshelves.

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There must be a debate raging in certain circles of the benefits of the electronic E-Reader versus the printed page.

I do not class myself as old-fashioned, computer illiterate or even a luddite but I have this aversion to the thought of reading say Henry Fielding or even Dickens on a LCD screen, give me a hard backed book or even a paperback any day.

The whole experience of selecting, handling and may I be so bold as to mention aroma is in my opinion of a higher sphere of indulgence and pleasure than sitting down with a plastic coated liquid crystal formatted script.

I know this is not in any way a full debate on the pros and cons and I am sure there are benefits for and against both, perhaps the best that can be hoped is that they can live together and we are spared the headlines that the end of the book as we know it is imminent.

Perish the thought, would it be too much to add if that was the case the inevitable would be the end of civilization.


 

The Mysteries of Udolpho and A Modern Banking Principal.

Oxburgh Hall

Oxburgh Hall, Oxburgh Village, Norfolk, England

It is not that I have been procrastinating but my defence is that I have been immersed in the gothic world or should that be domain of Mrs Radcliffe.

I have left our heroine Emily and her Aunt‚ Madame Montoni in the power of the villain of the piece who is holding them in his castle with no ready means of escape. Monsieur Valancourt is with his army comrades and is unaware that Emily is being repressed and that Montoni’s intentions are less than honourable.

It is therefore with an element of regret that I have had to close the pages of this 18th century masterpiece but it is more by necessity than willingness to live in the real world.

We have been having trouble contacting our bank, it appears that everything in this 21st century has to be done through a call centre and the old-fashioned idea of speaking to your branch direct seems to be a thing of the past. Why is it that if call centres are peopled (politically correct terminology) that you have to select numbers on your phone on the instructions of a machine before ever hearing the dulcet tones of a homosappine stating that for training purposes this call my be recorded.

I am sure this is not an original rant as I can not be the only one in this enlightened age that has an aversion to automated services, canned music and call centres whither they are in a far continent or based in the homeland.

In the end the archaic concept of meeting face to face at the branch, although time-consuming did solve the problem and provided a certain amount of experience to return to the ghostly apparitions in the castle of  Udolpho when returning to the enthralling pages of  Mrs Ann Radcliffe.


 

Perfection, Perfectionist and a Genius called Mozart.

I have an empathy with those who seek perfection but not those who are perfectionist. There is a virtue in perfection as long as you keep before you the fact that the ideals you hold dear will not always be achieved, not meeting the mark should not be considered as a failure but a set back and a catalyst to try again, like the legend of Robert and his cave companion.

The difficulty I have with perfectionist is not their evangelical fervour to obtain perfection for themselves but it is their ardent belief that it should apply first and foremost to others and they have prerogative to compile or amend the tablets of stone. Perhaps it does not apply to all perfectionists but it has been my experience to date.

Therefore it probably is more desirable to endeavour to set your own standards and try to treat people as you would like to be treated yourself and enjoy the perfection that is a piece of  Music by Mozart, a work of art by Titian or a poem by T.S Elliot.

I hasten to add this list is not meant to be comprehensive, if anything we are spoiled for choice and fortunately it has to always be a personal preference, so if you wish to include The Beatles, David Hockney or Henry James I have no objection, so go on list away.


Picture: Lyveden New Bield, National Trust, Northamptonshire.

Dreams of Peace, Tranquility and Cat Named Fergus

There has to be a place where you can retreat in comfort and experience peace, tranquility and a pace of life that is not performed at the speed of sound.

Traveling has to be at such a pace these days that even a quiet drive in country is achieved at motorway speeds. A walk in the dales, on a hill-top or a valley can be fraught by the sonic boom of the swooping aircraft practicing their military manoeuvres and if you believe a walk along the sea-shore would be any better, do not be surprised while walking around the Wash in Lincolnshire you encounter jet formations looping the loop.

Some people believe that the only place to seek peace is within the precincts of the cloistered temples of middle England. I hate to be a Job’s comforter but be prepared at some point in time as was our experience the other day while seeking sanctuary from the mayhem of the A1 road network, that the parish priest has called in the builders and you cannot get near the altar for wheelbarrows, lifted rotten floor timbers and mugs of tea and the clamour of hammering is hardly an aid to inner peace and penitence.

This only leaves one place for retreat, beneath the duvet at night. Don’t count on it as the cat snores and dreams of mouse manoeuvres.

Fergus

Picture:

St Kyneburgha, Castor, Cambridgeshire,


Golf, Youth and A Playwright named Oscar.

I keep keep getting asked or to be to be precise my good lady wife keeps getting asked, “has your husband taken up golf”. It is not that I have shown any inclination to explore the environs of old Tom Morris although we are very found of St Andrews. Is it that Golf is considered a suitable occupation for a gentleman at this stage of retirement that prefers reading to gardening and therefore needs some encouragement to undertake exercise?

I could take up jogging, stepping into shorts and trainers but I am afraid I do not have the constitution never mind the physical development for shorts or the desire to make a spectacle of myself in the hedonistic pursuit of remaining young.

If my goal was to gain enternal youth I would seek out an artist by the name of Basil and have my portrait painted. To my way of thinking it would be much more to my preference than ruining a good walk with a Niblick or damaging my knees not to mention my ear drums as I believe it is compulsory to listen to the I Pod will pounding the pavement.

Picture:

St. Brides, Traquair Kirk, Scottish Borders, Scotland,