Category Archives: Streams of Consciousness

Hard [sic] by a mighty pine tree

Hurrah for olde smutte.  (I heard this performed by TSSAI to the tune of the Friar and the Nun.)
It was my chance, not long ago,
by a pleasant wood to walk,
where I unseen of any one
did hear two lovers talk;
& as these lovers forth did pass,
hard by a pleasant shade,
hard by a mighty Pine tree there,
their resting place they made.

” In sooth,” then did this young man say,
” I think this fragrant place
was only made for lovers true
each others to embrace.”
he took her by the middle small,—
good sooth I do not mock, —
not meaning to do any thing
but to pull up her [smo..] block

whereon she sate, poor silly soul,
to rest her weary bones,
this maid she was no whit afraid,
but she caught him fast by the [stones] thumbs ;
whereat he vexed and grieved was,
so thai his flesh did wrinkle;
this maid she was no whit afraid,
but caught him fast hold by the [pintle – you can guess] pimple

which he had on his chin likewise; —
but let the pimple pass;—
there is no man hear but he may suppose
she wee]re a merry lass.
he boldly ventured, being tall,
yet in his speech but blunt,
he never ceased, but took up all,
and caught her by the [c***] plump.

And red rose lips he kissed full sweet :
quoth she, “I crave no succour.”
which made him to have a mighty mind
to clip, kiss, & to [f***] pluck her
into his arms. “nay! soft!” quoth she,
” what needeth all this doing ?
for if you will be ruled by me,
you shall use small time in wooing.

“for I will lay me down,” quoth she,
“upon the slippery segs,
& all my clothes I’ll truss up round,
and spread about my [legs] eggs,
which I have in my apron here
under my girdle tucked;
so shall I be most fine and brave,
most ready to be [f-] ducked

unto some pleasant springing well;
for now its time of the year
to deck, & bath, & trim ourselves
both head, hands, feet & gear.”

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The Hawkstour

The brace of Hawks are winging it (well, driving in an old Volvo) across northern Europe.  Read all about it here!




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Otto Dix at the De La Warr Pavilion

It was raining in Bexhill; nonetheless, the De La Warr Pavilion was promenading splendidly.  It’s a spacious and grand building, but inside it feels (and smells) rather municipal.  It suffers from too many blank walls, giving it an air of emptiness:  a few paintings (by artists and local school children) would make it busy and warm, and add to, rather than subtract from, its grandeur.  A few signs wouldn’t go amiss, either:  we found the Otto Dix exhibition through sheer perseverance (it was, rather ungrandly, next to the cafe-cum-restaurant).

The first and second Galleries were taken up with contemporary art of variable quality, with an exhibition name of stunning crassness:  ‘I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart.’  Yes, really.  Those who are familiar with the poem, and even more so with Butterworth’s amazing setting of it, will know how heart-rending and horrible it is.  In the gift shop there were for sale yellow t-shirts with – I kid you not – ‘I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart.’  Sack the person who thought of this:  they clearly have no soul, no understanding of poetry and little of life and death.

And now on to life and death.  When we finally found Otto Dix, he was 19 pictures of Great War hideousness.  19 was about the right number:  enough to illustrate all sorts of war horrors, but not too many to dilute them.  There were corpses from gas attacks, bombs, guns, hypothermia;  soldiers and civilians.  The pictures (aquatints and etchings) were crafted so that they took some looking at to let their full stories emerge.  The – from the distance – beautiful mountain scene was in fact a load of dead soldiers strewn over mud.  The abandoned trench was a sinking grave with rags turning into vultures and grim reapers.  The retreating soldiers were stepping on corpses, not ground.  Was the poor soldier sitting by a skeleton on a freezing mountain eating his lunch or spewing it up?

These images should be known to every pupil studying the First World War – not least as a reminder that the Germans had a foul time, too, and that the whole thing was utterly pointless and grim.

A slight disappointment was the accompanying leaflet.  It gave very little contextual information, and was in several instances rather confusing.  A woman asked me what the things were in the ‘Gefunden beim Grabendurchstich’ (translated as ‘Found while digging a trench’), as the leaflet had said ‘To this day, the ground along the Western Front is filled with surprises’.  She’d seen them as bodies, but thought from the blurb that it was a more optimistic picture.  It wasn’t.  They were bodies – as the German caption makes clear:  ‘Graben’ means ‘grave’.  This word featured in another caption:  ‘Zerfallender Kampfgraben’, translated as ‘Collapsed trenches.’ ‘Collapsing war-grave’ would be more accurate and less blandly neutral.  The ‘Appell der Zurückgekehrten’ (‘Roll call of returning troops’) was a line-up of mentally and physically wrecked soldiers, being called by a smartly-dressed, intact sergeant.  Presumably these troops were returning to the front line, and the point is that they should not have been.  The leaflet said ‘The war took a great toll on all its participants.  Here the living are barely distinguishable from the dead.’  What dead?  There are no dead in this picture.

Unfortunately, the leaflet was written by a moron.  The pictures, however, were drafted by a genius.


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It’s a mothtery

This is the loveliest time of the year.  Everything is bursting with life, and the moths have started flying.  I’m just getting into moths, thanks to Jon’s moth trap, which is a strong light with a basin underneath, in which you leave old egg boxes overnight.  In the morning, your egg boxes are covered with moths.

Then you spend the next three days trying to identify just which brown thing that one is.  A combination of the Lewington moth book, and Sussex Moth Group helps.  We’re sticking to the macro moths – micro moths are a whole other universe.

So far, in April and May, we have seen:

(April) Pebble prominent, Pale prominent, Spruce carpet, Hebrew character, Common Quaker, White ermine, Chocolate tip, Birch mocha, Yellow horned, Lunar marbled brown, Scorched carpet, Swallow prominent and several unidentified brown jobs.

(May) Great prominent, Cinnabar, White ermine, Chocolate tip, Poplar hawkmoth (aka Klingon Warhawk), Poplar grey, Ingrailed clay, Common (or possibly Powdered) Quaker, Flame shoulder, Miller, Muslin, Waved umber, Scorched wing, Blood vein, and several unidentified brown jobs.  

Here are some.

Here are some I can’t identify.

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The Tyranny of the Skirt

The British Army has declared that women can kill people just the same as men can.  More women are joining the Army; there are more female officers; women can now be submariners in the Navy.  Equality is making leaps and bounds.

On the other hand, the tragic story of Anne-Marie Ellement shows that there are still fundamental problems – problems not confined to the armed forces.  Part of the problem is that female soldiers still wear skirts.


This is not a trivial matter.  Skirts are restrictive of movement and therefore not practical army wear in any case.  (Kilts are different:  they are cut to allow great freedom of movement.)  Notice, in this picture, that one out of the three soldiers is kitted out fit for battle.  He’s the bloke.  Ideally you wouldn’t do battle in ceremonial garb, but he could; she and she couldn’t.  Joanna Lumley managed to do all sorts of stunts as an inappropriately-dressed Purdey in the New Avengers – but that’s telly.  A barrister friend said that at a case the other day, the small hearing room was strewn with suitcases full of briefs (the paper kind), and one Lady Barrister asked them to move the cases as she couldn’t open her legs enough to step over them, owing to a ludicrous ‘smart’ skirt.

More than this, however, is the fact that skirts differentiate the sexes on sight.  Surely soldiers are soldiers, whether they’re male or female?  If you’re going to allow them the same duties, and treat them the same in law and war, then you must allow them to wear the same uniform.  It’s called ‘uniform’.  Not ‘biform’ (see my post on school uniform for further ranting.)  Women in skirts are sexualised objects; women dressing different to men are different to men.

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Scotland the Free

And another thing.  Why did the British Government let Scunner Salmond get away with Scottish independence being the ‘yes’ option?  How STUPID is that?  Give them the positive answer, and the far more sensible option, to stay within the United Kingdom, the negative ‘no’.



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Scottish Independence

I’m awfully afeared that the Scots will vote for independence, simply because humans have an inbuilt propensity for making bad decisions.  Fiona Laird’s article in the Grauniad today (April 30th) was stonking, pointing out that we have to divorce Scottish independence from short-term politics:  it’s forever, not like voting for the next 5-year government.

Tom Heap’s programme on Scotland’s power suggested that English/ Welsh fuel bills would see a sharp spike if the Scots detach themselves, as we’ll have to pay for new nuclear power stations (WHY does anyone think building new nuclears is a good idea?????), whereas much of the renewables infrastructure is already underway in Scotland, and renewables are cheaper to build, anyway.  (I think I got that right.)  In effect, we’re paying for Scotland’s past fuel consumption, because the Scots used the same sources as every other Brit and the decommissioning and recommissioning of power stations is all our expense.  No doubt there are other cases like this:  the rest of the UK will have to foot the bill, while the Scots go free.

If this is the case, surely Scottish independence should be voted on by every UK citizen?

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