Monthly Archives: November 2016

“My crystal silence”!

I walked in the crystal silence that this my morning,

With minus temperature scolding me ,but inviting me to feast .

This sound,made hollow by the leafless trees,by the vibrations of nothing,

But ,although cold,I’m alive,my breathe meshing with the ambient air.

Can I imagine that this day will mark my way,that’s not what I say,

Clearly,as the crystal silence walks with me,my hopes are that I will learn my way.

When we are not certain,the cold tends to galvanise us,we do ,we ,by instinct protect,

We make a fire,the scout or guide in each of us to survive in the human soup of us.

As the days of advent become a sketch,as children manifest excitement for the fest,

We must keep their nest warm,we must ,we must,we must.

So tending our nests,we must feed,we must build with materials that insulate from the cold,

But,sayeth the preacher:”Thou  will reap what thou have sown”.

So,in the building of a nest among the crystal silence remember you ,yes,you there with a personal pronoun,

Remember your worth on this cold day,remember that you deserve to be insulated,remember that you deserve to be :LOVED!


My Old Uncle George!

As a child of say 8,I first became aware of my extended family and their habits so to speak.Of a Saturday afternoon,I would be taken to visit my gran in her rented Cornish cottage in the village of Ruddlemoor outside the town of St Austell.There,sat in her chair,would be gran,or Granny Smith as we would all call her.

It seemed to me at least,that my Granny Smith was always old,as she had a very wrinkled face from decades of smoking.Her disposition was ,on the surface warm and friendly,but her principles were deeply religious and steeped in the “Wesleyan tradition” that had been popular in the South West for over a hundred years.As this last sentence would,I believed ,become far more salient as the years progressed,I make the point at the outset of this piece by way of emphasis.

Although there were many visits when we would just sit with Granny in her very spartan cottage drinking tea made from Carnation evaporated milk,there were other times when another person would be hoovering around outside in her garden.This man,who would become known to me as uncle George fascinated me.Uncle George was,at that time,and ,to some extent continued to be,a sort f hero to me.You see,uncle George was clever,he had skills,talents call them what you like for mending no things,and for sorting no thngs out of a practical nature.As a boy,I liked that very mcuch,and I looked up to him.

After one such particular visit where uncle George would show me how to mend a puncture,how to set up the brakes on my agenda no bike,and how to adjust the Sturmy Archer 3 speed gear switch I was to ask why I hadn’t seen uncle George for such a long time.Although he ,to at least I thought he didn’t,outrageous gut lie to me,it struck me that he wasn’t being entirely honest in his reply.This sort of bothered me for a while,but my mother was extremely good,as all are when your younger,at give nag me an account of just why uncle George went away so much,that I accepted her account of the matter,and got on with my life in the meantime.

It was only what seemed liked months later when I asked quite innocently how uncle George could afford to go on such lovely holidays,that the proverbial penny began to drop.You see,my mother had told me that my Uncle George had taken a foreign holiday.Now that ,in itself seemed quite an incredible thing given our families economic status and the dire situation of our extended family.So that couple with a letter that my uncle sent my mother with a Princetown Postmark made me ask one of my teachers.You see,I copied the spelling because I really couldn’t read the word at all.At first,my teachers were reticent to tell me anything above us the origins of the word,but after some persistence in my part I was told that it wasn’t a foreign land,and that I should ask my mother to tell me .Now,as I was convinced of the truthfulness of my mother’s initial explanation of where my uncle was,I was ,by now,quite confused about having to ask here again.Granted,I had only seen the envelope,and I had not really understood then what it would all mean and imply.Thngs were complicated to put it mildly,and I hadn’t really contributed to the deception.As my sisters were all sworn to secrecy about the matter,I felt that life wasn’t easy to navigate as an 8 year old.

As Christmas approached ,my dearest wish was for a bike that had “drop handlebars”,and normally,my sister would all club together as it were to help my mother,but this year it was different.My mother was silent about what I wanted .This perplexed me as my birthday was on December 15th so it was part of my expectation that my birthday and Christmas present would be in one as it were.As nothing no was said at all,I began to think that it wouldn’t be a bike for me.

As the date loomed ever larger,my very large family got ready for the celebrations.All my sisters got very excited about X-mas,and there always seemed to be food and drink and a Christmas tree ,and they all seemed so much happier to me.

As I was,by then,signing in the choir,I was involved in quite a few carol concerts in various locations around our Cornish village.One such concert coincided with a visit to my Granny Smiths and as uncle George hadn’t been there for such a long time,I felt that it would be alright to miss seeng her just this once.

When my mother later returned that evening from grans she told me that uncle George was home from his “Holidays”,but I couldn’t see him until after Christmas as he would be very busy with his work.Again,the fact that I would see him after Christmas,although odd,was a good enough explanation for me.As X-mas eve approached,I wondered if I would get a present.Our family were,like many around back then,poor,and we didn’t have much,but I didn’t mind that as I had interests in music and also going to the coast.It was this love that interested me in getting a better bike as I viewed it as my passport to getting nearer the coast .

So Christmas Eve came around with the usual drinking sessions at the pub that my family indulged in,while I was at home .Our large council home always seemed deserted of a Christmas Eve while my sisters were out with their respective boyfriends at that time.Oddly enough,I didn’t feel lonely as I lived in a little world of my own ,cocooned on my world of sound.

So,as the evening came and went,I settled down to sleep,and for what seemed a couple of hours I slept soundly.My recollection of be no woken up was only to be told to go back to sleep by my sister Donna,and I must have done so,or pretended to,but not brave enough to go downstairs,I stayed in the bedroom.

When Christmas morning came ,my excitement was muted really,but I tried not to show my lack of joy as that would have caused a bad atmosphere.So,on the bidding of my sisters Lorna and Donna I went downstairs .Although it wasn’t dark by any means,it was only just after 7.My curiosity got the better of me and as it was x-mas,we were allowed to use the front room where the tree and decorations were.There against the far wall of the room was it.It gleamed,it was my passport to the hinterland,yes,it was a drop handlebar bike.It was ,to me ,at least,the most wonderful of bikes,it was far to big for me ,I knew,but I knew that I would grow into it,I just knew that it would be fine.Surveying it,I realised that someone had put so much work into getting it ready for me.The frame was solid,it was sturdy,but I just knew that if I looked after it,that it would see me through so many years of happy times.

There was a tag on the bike ,it had all the names of my sisters and my mother and step father,but also in such neat writing ,it had the name of my uncle George.As I knew that he could basically weld and make most things,I soon realised that he had prepared and renovated my bike for me,and it meant so much.To this day,I still remember it vividly.As I have grown up and lived the life of an adult,I have to say that material things have never figured greatly in my radar.Yes,I love to see the joy that things can give to others,but I don’t pursue them for myself to be honest,preferring to have music,art,and in recent years,books.However,I loved that bike,and I kept it for years until I grew out of it,and then it was passed on to my sister’s son who again would grow into it.

So,yes,I never fully appreciated just how much my uncle George did for me.Yes,my uncle George had serious life issues,resulting in difficulties throughout his life,but he was truly good to me,and he always had time for me.In fact,my uncles ,unbeknown to them really,were a great influence on my life from a distance,and looking back,they taught me so much that often fatherless boys often miss out on.

“Ode to the Human being in all of us”!

When you think of what you’ve done in the way of activity try to be content,

Why yes,it’s easy for me to say that,it’s easy for him you know,and I’m not the cement .

No,I’m just a human being,just trying to explain what that means to me,

As much as I might point a finger at you,why there are three giant phalanges pointed straight back in my face.

Oh no,I write not to preach,not to impeach,but to teach and inspire ,and tell about my failings as well as my successes,

For in the telling of these life events,you may extract the kernel of a working truth that you might use,so as not to confuse.

Now,I’ve not accumulated riches,or material food stores a plenty,I just know that I need food,clothing ,and shelter,

These things I share as a human being with folk and animal kind.Now,I reckon that folk might think that a little foolish.

There is no law against them thinking what they like,as our country protects freedom of speech,and that is something I love,

No,I like to be me,I know that I have capacity to love,to work,to listen,to create,to debate but not hate,to be a HUMAN.
Nothing is that bad in my life,and many things are truly wonderful,

I have helped people as best I can today,and they have helped me.
Thank you.

Alfie’s day in Padstow and memories of the challenges on the water!

As Alfie declined another mug of builders tea,he made his way to the Harbour front,as the smells of this place seemed to draw him.If memories can be fed,then today,he would ,as the Voctorian would say;”Have an elegant sufficiency”.You say,as a boy,Alfie had found the goings on of the folk who made their money from the sea such a magnet.He would often think of people that he had known who had made their living-and ,at times,at such personal danger-from the sea.Nowadays,the boats that put out from Padstow Harbour seemed far more substantial to Alfie,and he felt so good about that because knowing he that the men who fished these waters were as safe as possible was truly important to him.Alfie had had a working life where he ,at times,had worked long hours,and especially when his sons were younger,but he never thought that his life was in potential danger.Now,deep sea fishing,also with mining,are still two of the most dangerous occupations you can undertake.Alfie knew of the dangers,as members of his family had been affected by them,and one beloved relative,had been a fatality.Fishing is,in many ways, could be said to be quite romantic.Why,the sheer open space of the ocean,the “Human being fighting against the elements”,has attracted many from other parts of the country to act as crew persons.However,the daily grind,the sheer hard work,the dicing with the tides,the difficulties of getting enough fish ,then selling it for a liveable price.When your boat can be your mortgage ,wth so much money ties up in it,it is far from romantic to a skipper really.

As a young boy at school,I knew many who would follow their fathers into fishing in order to perpetuate the tradition and industry that has been the life blood of the country’s industry for so many years.However,its not an easy option for them,and Alfie knew of many younger men who didn’t follow their fathers.Some did so with the blessing of their father,but as others didn’t,it taught me that sometimes ,just sometimes ,us Cornish can ,and are far too narrow in their expectations of their families.Yes,it’s great when family businesses can perpetuate down through the generations,but it isn’t always possible.Alfie ruminated on this as he observed the diminishing number of boats going out of Padstow these days.Why,in the 1970s,there seemed to be reems of boats.Now,the boats were ,on the whole of better quality than they were then,each now fitted with radar to locate shoals and general safety.Of course,the investment in these boats made them be a capital expense that would drawf even a fishermen’s cottage.Alfie thought about the changes in his homeland ,and he thought about the fact that Padstow was now on the international food map as it were.However,he was aware that others had fallen by the wayside as it were because of the sheer weight of expectation.

As Alfie looked at Padstow now in 2016,he realised that change was inevitable,and sometimes,we all struggle with changes,as he was well aware.These days,you can not expect to have a job for life,and even if your good in your chosen job,you can’t expect to still be in it for the rest of you working life.As we all have a self life in this extremely competitive world,we all have to be modest in our opinions of ourselves,as one day we might be secure in our jobs,and the next,through a merger,or just because of your age,or health,you have to rethink your life and your goals.

As Fishing is totally dependent on weather conditions,so to our lives are far more dependent on external factors than we ever fully realise.As Eoropen quotas have hit the Cornish fishing industry profoundly,so to the onset of micro-technologies have severely affected what we do as people now.Why,when my sons were born,if someone would tell me that my sons would live away from me,I might have thought ,”Oh,why is that”!But now,we just take it for granted that young people will not only go away to University,but stay away too.

Now Alfie knew what it meant to leave Cornwall,but now ,young people follow an almost mosaic exodus from the county almost akin to the exodus of miners followed no the demise of the tin mining industry.Alfie felt for  the Cornish families who would say goodbye to their children yet again,and maybe see a further eroding as f the cultural bonds that glued these small communities.Aflie realised and respected the people who had helped him when he left the county,those whom he might have thought of as “Goliday makers”,those who embraced him and appreciated his talents as a musician.He had formed friendships away from his Cornish community that had left an indelible mark on his soul.

So,now,as Alfie realised that memories of yesterday had fuelled her their thughts,he realised that this journey to his homeland had elicited many pleasing things on the one hand,but he had lived nearly 59 years come December,and he thought that  Cornwall and the Cornish,Although with a unique identity,needed to fuse more open relationships,and guard against their ,and his,county’s insularity as it threatened to self destruct.

These thoughts were on Alfie’s mind,and he wanted to devote more time to people who weren’t native Cornish ,but who had made a tangible difference ,in his opinions n to the growth of the county.This would be the subject of his next post on his journey to his destination .

Thank you for your attentions to Alfie’s journey.


Never forget from whence you first came!

You can’t ever really judge your fellow man,you just can’t!

Even if you feel you know all the facts,there will always be stuff I do not appreciate.

So,teaching the young and sometimes vulnerable has pulled me up numerous times,

Whatever I might see,I will not t see the full picture,there will be things that I might have missed.

If I ever get to thinking that I’m doing it totally really right,then I start to question myself and my motives,

Where is that lost teenager in me?Have I forgotten him in my adult pseudo maturity?Oh no,prey not!

You see,if I ever forgot from whence I came,then I would be a lesser man,a lesser motivator,a half-man,a sad excuse for a man,

So,let me never forget,let you never forget from whence you came!!

My Day!

As this day nears its end,I look back on it with mixed feelings.Its been a long day in many ways,with different things happening to me.Although non of these things were really negative,they nonetheless gave me food for thought for another  time.

From taking a short cut to my Pupil just outside of the town of Wimborne,I realised that I had missed the fact that a B road had been closed ,leaving me to arrive at my pupil slightly late.This is something that I dislike,and I will endeavour to rectify that in future.That said,my actual lesson went well,and I love teaching singing very much as it gives me so much joy.

You know,singing is a wonderful thing to do,and I’m glad that we covered the songs that we did today.With the proliferation of community choirs,I have enjoyed encouraging my choral pupils over the years.Singing is a combination of an absolute raw musical expression,but,at the same time,the techniques to sing well have to be fully grounded.To me,this combination is a tight robe and it is a constant challenge to me to do this well.

Never have I felt though that teaching wasn’t for me,never.Even when you don’t get the response that you desire,it is still worth it,it is always buzz driven.When I think of where I came from,and my family background,I am so very lucky to teach music.Smetmes,I have to pinch myself as to the fact that I’m here doing this.However,I really am here,and I can deliver on my promises.

Yes,I will learn ,even at 58 ,from my mistakes today.also,I look forward to tomorrow.
    Adrian Smith..

For the love of Teaching!

We pass on what we know,you know,those years,those times when you could have been just doing nothing,

You willingly accept that teaching is a vocation,that it’s  about giving and sacrifice.

As the years roll on,you reflect:”What more could I have done for him or her”,

Maybe,your teachers said the same thing,you know,that inward conversation ,”Did I really explain it well”?

So,you busy yourself with your mental gymnastics,and you try to enfuse,but not confuse,

When you think about them,they are work in progress,not the finished article.

They are sometimes shy,introverted,but always,they observe,they test you out:”Are you genuine,or just in it for the pension?”

Or ,they might be in your face ,appearing to be oh so confident,but ,underneath,they are really not that,

You try to remember your teenage years:Then you realised  that life was oh so different in 1975.

In 1975,you could mess up ,do something really crass,but hardly anyone knew,

Now,you make one tiny slip,and the world potentially knows through their phone,their snapchat,their instagram.

So,all that,that “must be connected,must have an online presence”,I reckon that is truly a tough gig for many teenagers,

It’s that ,you know,the stuff of 2016,it’s not easy to be young.

Well,what’s to do,give up on them,say it’s not my problem,well,if you teach,you are at the coal face of their daily lives,

If you can’t see it,then you can’t teach them anything.

Have all the theories in the world,but if you can’t at least try to feel some of their anxieties,then go work in a bank,just go do something else.

For me,I’m not a quitter,non of my teachers gave up on me,and I was a right pain,trust me,I was,

So,keep going,do your best,teach,listen,and feel something .
Thank you.

Alfie’s looks beyond the sea mist into a bright day!

As Alfie traversed the coast path towards Padstow,his mind allowed for an excursion too.Wether it was the early morning mist,or just the juices of his imagination,it was like he was in a mental whirlpool of the best days that he had ever spent in the county of his birth.As if by magic,all the sadness,the angst,the heartaches had been airbrushed out,leaving him with wonderful sights and sounds that stimulated his sensory nerve cells,leaving him in a mental paradise at it were.At first,these were sound bites,vague entrances in a show of which nderfuo colours and sounds.The first me,Roy was of Bedruthan steps on that wistful August day in 1972″that day when he caught the tide just right ,when he got himself right down on to the waters edge,that day when the Atlantic spoke to him with that roarkthat roar that said,”Coke on over,but watch I did not bite”.Yes,that day when the weather ,the sounds,the chemistry fused with my mood to replenish me from “the other stuff,”as I would term it.As I walked further on,and as the sea mist began to lift,an adorable memory of hearing the sights and sounds of Padstow Obbyhorse,that I was fascinated with as a boy,and the people flooding nag into the town to witness us Cornish folk grapple with our unholy alliance between the sacred and the pagan.Like a cocktail that you know will give you a huge hangover in the morning,but you just can’t resist the taste.This was the Mayday celebration at Padstow.As if by another conjuring trick,my mind took me to Tintagel-a fair way along in my journey,but I was looking forward to it-and that great fusion between legend and Cornish a myth that was King Author and the knights of the round table.As a boy ,I dreamt of being a knight in the manner of Lancelot ,and my sister Shiela often told me stories above the knights of the round table.Yes,in hindsight,I’m sure that there were embellishments,but they added to the flavour of those  depictions,and they glued me ever more to the narrator.

As if by fate,I spied the morning fog lights of a Padstow boat as it made its way out of the harbour.Fishing is,and has been,the staple industry of this small harbour town,and I have always had a deep affection for the place.Many members of my family can be cynical about the place now,and of the business pursuits of the towns favourite son,and they love that rather cynical rebranding of the place as Padstein.However,I a fan of Rick,I would say that he has not only put, Padstow on the map,but exerted a positive influence on the county as a whole.We Cornish are rather fond of knocking what we often say tongue in check,Emmits,but to be honest,without people like Rick and the tourism that his enterprises bring,where would the county be?

As light was now upon him,Alfie decided to spend the day at Padstow soaking up the life of the place,viewing Rock from across the water and generally feeling that he could be at peace there.He needed a place to get some breakfast and scouted around for a while until he spotted a Cornish greasy spoon just off the Harbour.Alfie knew that in Cornwall a cafe by the Harbour meant a 15% hike in prices,so he went off piste as it were to locate a place that was frequented by fishermen.He knew that those who went out at 4 to inspect their Lobster Pots would be inshore for a while,and would be requiring feeding.He liked to think that he was one of them,but ,deep down,he knew that when he left the county decades ago that it would never really be the same.He was ,on the road he hand,a lover of the Cornish culture,the scenery,the food even,but he was far more English or even Eoropean than any of his sisters,who preferred these shores,and had made them their life long home.

As he stirred his tea,awaiting his breakfast,he thought of Sir Malcolm Arnold’s composition “Padstow Lifeboat”,and he always admired the respect that Armoldnhad shown to the Cornish while he lived in the town.He admired how he had encouraged young musicians like him and in so many ways,played a part in Alfie’s musical journey.As Alfie’s muse took him further into the good past as he saw it,he was oblivious to Tricksy,who had managed to ingratiate himself into the hearts of two Fisherman lFor these moments,Alfie’s was able to pidgeon hole the bad past,lock it away,and enjoy this moment,and he would look forward would look forward to planning the next part of his adventures along the Atlantic way.

Thank you for your attention to Alfie’s return to Cornwall.

Homage to one tree in Earth’s Plantation!

When the colours of the trees freeze,when the leafs release unto the ground,you hope,

You hope that the trees will shoot again in the springtime,but you don’t know.

As the dark invades every pour of your body,the artificial light burns bright,

Now our 24 hour world churns around,we feel connected by devices,platforms.

Because of pressure,self inflicted or from our peers,we indulge in the active stuff,

But can there be anyth no more active than nature?

Yes,as I observe nature’s light show,it’s sonic concerts,I feel humbled,

Humbled by the sheer breath of talent on show in nature,why,can I ever hope to emulate?

No,I can’t,and I shouldn’t,I should,however,marvel at the natural things that I see.

As each day unfolds for me,it is this marvel of nature around me that affects me,it just drives me in,

So,in our efforts to be part of the crows,make sure it’s the right one,the one that talks the talk about looking after our planet,and not those who posture.
Thank you.

My Big themes day!

As it’s the time to reflect on my day,I recognise that much of it has been with my son and daughter in law.As they live an hour away from me,it means a two hour round trip to their home in North Hampshire.As this is their first home,it delights me to see them making plans to improve the interior,to tidy up the garden,and to generally put their stamp upon the property.

In many ways,this large ex-local authority property reminds me of where I was brought up in Cornwall as a child.Each if the rooms appears to be substantial and spacious and it is what estate say “A property with lots of potential”!So,each visit there reveals more improvements as a when they are able to afford to do these things from their monthly budget.As they are both in their 30s,their conversation is vibrant and intellectually vigorous.As I am apt to struggle with that level of academic rigour,I like to try to help with lifting no things ,move no stuff about,going to the tip and such like.However,as I’m still getting over my operation,I had to refrain from such activity,and this meant that I had to really concentrate on what was being said.

My son has been involved in medical research for ten years now,and although he has had a battle with congenital heart disease,this hasn’t stopped him from making advances in his particular field.Yes,at times,it has involved huge sacrifices on his part and adjustments that many of us would really be polaxed by,but he has stoically accepted these and kept going despite profound difficulties.This resolve and fortitude makes me extremely proud of him,and I consider everything that has been done for him to have been quite minor when you think of what he has contributed to society as a whole.

So,as I sat there this afternoon,it helped me to think that ,as a father,I had done a good job in encouraging him ,inspiring him,and accepting him and his humanity,Both of my sons have achieved things in their own fields that have truly dwarfed anything that I might have done in over 35 years of teaching.However,I sincerely feel that I have tried to pass on to them both a sense of whatever they do in life that it should have a motive or goal that is beyond the acquisition of just stuff.To elaborate,I encouraged them to develop a social conscience ,to view themselves and their talents as things that might help,and inspire others who were less fortunate than them.Both my boys were aware of my feral upbringing,and although I was proud of my roots,I was ,nonetheless,even prouder of those who helped me to contribute to society and I wanted my boys to do what they could to help others.Yes,along the way,I made mistakes,and usually,my sons knew that.However,they knew that I loved them very much.Also,I always felt that it was important to them to find out things themselves,and I encouraged them to be intellectually nosey as it were.This questioning of others was,at times,very challenging,but as they got older,they developed their personalities to adapt to the changing world that we now live in.

As I sat and listened to my family this afternoon,yes,the technical details were lost to me,but the passion for what they do I liked to think that I had a hand in that.To me,if someone doesn’t have a passion for what they are doing,then that will be noticed almost immediately,and their going through the motions will render them less able to adapt to this changing world that we all live in.

So,usually,I have always busied myself when I have visited my son to help him with the practical jobs that he can’t do,but today ,I listened and was truly grateful that I had.
Thank you for your attention to my blog.