Monthly Archives: April 2017

“Southbank recollections come back”

As the dulcet tones of the busker underneath the bridge at Blackfriars travels down stream,I captured the moment in time.This moment,this late Friday morning drew me to imagine another time in an altogether different time of life,but somehow,it still had its affect on me.

As the tidal Thames seems to be returning to its dirty water days,if all but a pemporary impression,my memory of 1977 along the Southbank was given to be as if by an unintended gift from our busker.You see,he was a musician really from a different time.His voice,rasping,desperate almost,but with a genuine emotion that conjured up within me a voice that I could associate with.In that moment,in that sanitizer Southbank as it is now,I remembered the old Blackfriars,the old OXO building,the old London,and then I remembered the history of the place.You see,when I first went there,it was a far different South bank,with the Thames still a working river,with the Warfs in business as such.Its concrete buildings look tired now,and when I first frequented the Royal Festival hall,these places were the artistic hub of London before the onset of the Barbican centre.As I walked from Blackfriars. Really the bridge in a few seconds of nostalgia,I realised that back in the 1970’s life was less complicated,less troubled by ideological fanaticism that now affects our capital so much.Yes,the Skyline is so changed since those days,but as the Sunlight on St Paul’s reflected back at me,I can see why London still is a magnet for so many foreign tourists.

Of course,in the 1970’s,London grappled with its identity but in different ways.It had the sleese of Soho to root out ,the East end gangs and the like,but the South Bank was then,the place where Londoners came to relax and to be entertained,with the National Theatre opening in that decade,the national film theatre and the breath of artistic endeavour that these centres have brought us.

Having had my time as a young man listening,watching and just soaking up this atmosphere,I’m trying not to compare the two South banks so to speak.On the one hand,the place was looking tired,in need of a make over ,so to speak,and with ITV making their headquarters there,the presenters present a sheen to proceedings.As I look back on my school friends,it always surprises me to see just how cool Philip Scofield is now,as I knew him as the younger brother of Susan at Newquay school in the early 1970’s.

So,my brief visit to London on Friday conjured up some memories that attest to a different London.Is it a better one?Well,that might have to be left for others to decide.

As I reflect on this Sunday afternoon,I’m resigned to the success of the Southbank ,with its pleasure park “eye”,its licensed street vendors with their supposedly top grade food hygiene ratings,but I wonder what the old Londoners would make of it now,the ones who visited it when it was opened as the “Festical of Britain in the 1950s”.Would they think it was too cultural now,or too exclusive for their co servative tastes.Its intriguing to me as a curious person.

Wether the nannies are too busy to venture down the South bank now who knows.Maybe I need to read “Time out ” again,,or just accept that I’m a country boy now with a love for culture and jellied eels.Like all working class boys,you can take them out of the council flat,but ,deep down,they are still working class.

So,I wonder if my Joe Cocker acoustic guitar guy is still singing with that natural rasping voice and carrying on when you drop your silver into his case because ,deep down,he would sing anywhere,and anytime.His dulcet tones in G flat fit more to the 1970’s ,that “this is me,you have to bleed with me ,or you can …k ..f.These types of people don’t make much money,probably don’t care,but somehow,they survive and have survived.As my mind was ,on the one hand with him as he bled,he wasn’t aware that I knew him in the abstract ,that I knew what he knew.It kind of felt obstusely real to me though.Like a young Gerry Rafferty with the Stealers wheel in a grotty folk club .That was real,in the moment.That musical all or nothing thing that those folk guys had then and never compromised.

Yes,in a few years time Gerry would burst unto the scene with “Baker street”.That i too,like Dylan going electric,seemed to be to be a revolution in folk music from the previous.All that thought,that registration,came from one guy belting out his stuff,his folk ,his spunk under Blackfriars.

So London still has the affect to make me feel musically.Now,of course,we are in the “age of the acoustic song”,or so we are taught to believe,but then,the music industry was gripped with “New Wave music”, the “Rough trade,stiff little fingers labels ,where the independent labels were at war with the established giants of EMI,CBS and Polydor.As I write this now,I Marvell that this post literally came out of a few minutes of this busker ,this artist from my time,this guy stuck in a time warp.But,do you know what really got me was:He just didn’t care,he was absolutely safe in his skin.

To conclude,London ,along with Paris and New York, are known as centres for artistic endeavour.I would also like to add that they are also centres of individual expression too.

Thank you for your interest in my rather protracted and self indulgent muse today on this lazy Sunday.

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Scaling our musical heights.

There is a scale in music called the Pentatonic scale.From the prefix before tonic it means five tones,as in the word Pentagon,or a Pentangle.

In Western classical music ,the favoured scale is the Diatonic scale that spans an octave.Obviously,you would be aware that an octave with its prefix oct means 8 now tes,as in octopus,

Most modern music uses the diatonic scale,either in the major  or minor form which satisfies the composition needs of composers for this genre.These scales act as templates for songs and instrumental solos that have stood the test of time for centuries now.

However,with the onset of the Jazz genre that grew out of the first part of the 20th century,the Pentatonic scale became a unique compositional mode that began to affect those musicians and inspire them.As Jazz in its different forms has incorporated various Greek modes that have ,as their origin,the pre -renaissance period and medieval era.

As all Western classical music is the pursuit of sound and interrelationships,we are all attached to the relative sound of scales and modes and these forms allow us to dress our music in organised shapes that our mind has grown used to understanding.Thus,when we listen to say Vivaldi ,we immediately associate his music with patterns from a related mode,and that applies to Bach and Handel.If there wasn’t a system by which we could place the sounds of the instruments,then ur brain would struggle to comprehend it.

So,when we can to taught to crack these scales and modes rather like a sound code,then our listening begins to make sense to us.We start to recognise repeated patterns ,and we understand the artistic intent of the nature as f the music.We surely have so much wonderful music to tap in to.Life along with music,can add lustre and joy to living.When other forms and f communication becomes tough,we have so much to enjoy when music is central to our communication.

As I have seen the joy that music brings in people’s lives,I am thankful that we have these scales and modes and this is the subject of my muse today.

The little Band of Zeolots from Land’s End to London.

In the 19th June 1913 edition of The Cornishman,sandwiched between a report on the output of black Tin from Botallack Stamps and a hysicians advice about curing indigestion,was a short notice headlined MRS PANKHURST RELEASED.

Emmeline Pankhurst was the suffragette leader who had been on hunger strike,enduring the torture of force feeding,while being incarcerated at Holloway Prison for centuries nspiracy to commit property damage.Emily Davison had also tragically lost her life while trying to pin suffragette colours to the king’s horse at the Epsom Derby barely a week before.

The tragedies of Emmeline Pankhurt’s treatment and Dividon’s death rallied peaceful Suffrgists into action and on Thursday June 19th an amazing th No happened.

Seven women gathered at Land’s End to start the suffrage Pilgrimage,a gruelling march through Cornwall and up I try to London.

This little band of Zeolots comprised of Miss Misick(organising secretary),Mrs Ramsey(Plymouth),Miss Raby(Exeter),and Miss Helen Fraser(London),and Mrs Robins(Edith) Bolitho,who is actively interested in the non-militant movement gave a hearty speech to signal the start,whilst a number of men who had assembled raised a cheer.Along the route to Penzance,litreturewas left at the houses,and the idea of the movement explained.

As we have already been introduced to Robins,or ,as we know her,Edith Bolitho,there would be a further reinforcement to the Marchers in the form of Morwena Penpraise from West Cornwall.

As a record of their march,Edith had commissioned an artist to first of all sketch each of the marchers by way of a record,and later,to provide a full study in oils of the collective band of women.

We note,that this was the year before the onset of the Great War,and the sheer guts of these women would be at the vanguard of a truly remarkable journey that would contribute ,along with the supreme war effort of all women to the eventual granting of the right of women to vote.

It is also of great interest that the first ever women to be elected an MP represented Plymouth ,ensuring that the West Country continued to be at the vanguard for women’s rights and equality.

Morwena would go on to play a very important role ,and her place among Cornish Women ,although hidden from the public gaze ,nonetheless,was essential to the movement.While,it is true,that at the top of many of our organisations today,there is a glass ceiling for women,but we have to understand just how far ,thanks to these women ,our society has come.

As has been written earlier,there were men present at Lands End who were sympathetic to their cause and supportive,and one such man,a republican from Paris,was to have a part to play that would surprise many,but,in particular,it would affect  Morwena Penpriase to a profound extent.

We await the next day in Penzance and the filling in of further events as a prelude to the main march.

Thank you.

Thankyou my Cherry tree.

Pink Petals from my Cherry tree descend to the ground and another year of beautiful

Display is over.

Thank you Cherry tree,for your display of Pink pleasure,your life show has had many admirers.

 

As the firethorn next to you prepares for its show,I will remember the good vibes you brought me for another year.

As the day of early Summer move ever onward,you were my prelude to tree spring,

you once again said:”It’s that special 10 days,your in the Pink”.

I said that I wouldn’t be seen dead in Pink,or was it my sister Shiela,I forget,

but the Cherry tree was her favourite one,and I reckon it’s up there with yours too.

So thank you Cherry tree,thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there ,

and you there makes me stare,and you don’t mind,you like being stared at,you drink in the praise,the anthems of song in your honour.

 

The appearance of Pierre at Penzance.

“What is a struggling artist to do”? thought Pierre as he mulled over the nature of this commission.Yes,he really needed the money as Mrs Tregaskes was getting impatient about his rent that was now way overdue.He had no comprehension of the lady,who seemed to be obsessed with money and was constantly complaining about artist materials being kept in the hallway.In his defence,Pierre lived in a tiny box room reserved for her single lodgers and she also fed him with what he termed gruel instead of proper food.

When Joyce Hambly,in the lady in waiting of Edith Bolitho sent a letter to him about a commission,it was worded as if her mistress was the queen or something.Pierre,a staunch republican,didn’t take much stock with titles and such like,but he was now completely down in his uppers,and the revenue from the  Newlyn harbour scene had now been completely spent.It appeared that if he could provide five sketches of 5 woman that were of the correct likeness and pose,then he would be paid 10 Guineas.As he was now quite desperate,he came to the sad conclusion that he’d better turn up tomorrow morning sharp in the centre of Penzance high street,or he would be destitute.His curiosity was piqued as to the motive of this lady,and of the identities of each woman.

Contrary to the stereotype of what me might think of artists,Pierre was still hopelessly in love with just one woman,all be it,a woman that was now married and that had told him that she couldn’t ever see him again.Wether she had ever given him any thought since their days at Newlyn or not,he was still beside himself with love and he had struggled to let go of this area where they had met and enjoyed so many memories.So,the thought of him painting 5 women of influence as such wasn’t someth No that he was relishing.However,things were bad for him in the pecuniary sense,and he just had to bite his emotional lip ,and stir himself,Easle and all.His preferred medium was oils as he felt he could express lines and facial shapes far better than the more exacting water colours that he had struggled with at “The Slade school” all those years ago.

It appeared that he would meet Joyce Hambly at the hotel in Penzance at 8 o clock sharp,as the women would be needed at 11 for a special gathering.He had no idea what all this was about,and quite frankly,his only concern was his commission fee.Since Morwena had left him,he had drifted along through life really,lost his confidence for his major works,and was,in truth,heartbroken.He knew though,that he would have to put a brave face on things,and try his best to present an image of a serious artist.As he gathered his artists materials together in preparation for tomorrow,an image of “his Petite Mori” came into his mind.He heard her voice,the way she smiled,her soft lips,her warm embrace…….As these thoughts rushed into his mind,his heart was hurting,aching.

When a young man falls in love,and when a young woman supports him,loves him,consoles him,and that is ripped away from him,then that leaves deep wounds.As Pierre was considered extremely handsome in his artistic community around Newlyn,and they were shocked when Morwena ditched him,but Pierre had never harboured animosity,He had remained ,from then until ,smittened.

Morwena is in demand.

“Would madam like to taste the wine”? Said the waiter to Morwena as he served her for the evening meal.This experience,if it hadn’t had been of such importance,could have been termed an adventure.Morwena sat with Edith Bolitho ,who had been mentioned as her point of contact in the letter of introduction from Marilyn Graham.

Edith Bolitho was from Cornish aristocracy,and here Morwena was eating and discussing the role of women in the mining villages of West Cornwall.We would be forgiven if the term West Cornwall only had association with a certain purveyer of Cornish Pasty.However ,in the early part f the 20th century ,West Cornwall had tin mining as its main claim to fame.Edith Bolitho ,a blue stocking with an intellect to engage any human on the planet,was firing questions at Morwena about the outlining villages and the women’s interest in the movement there.Morwena,never one to feel intimidated,readily engaged in the conversation.As she communicated her thoughts to Edith,there was a chemistry beginning to develop between the two women.

As the meal progressed,Edith just wasn’t concerned about how Morwena ate her food,or what cutlery she used,or the order in which he chose each piece.No,Edith was 100% committed  to the furtherance of the movement,and she detected in Morwena a kindred spirit.

When Morwena had finished her synopsis of the outlining villages from her own observations,fuelled as well by Marilyn,something happened to her that had last occurred when she had explained her dreams of votes for women to Pierre.Miss Bolitho had actually listened to her with an intensity that drew her to Morwena.This hotel in Penzance was probably the finest building that Morwena had ever entered in her life,but Edith made her feel so much at home.

Morwena had initially thought that her place tomorrow would be to hand out leaflets to those who were in attendance,and then to pass out provision NHS for the first part of the March up to Saltash ,where the women would cross the ferry over the river Tamar.This would have been counted as a wonderful privilege but Edith a Bolitho had their ideas,and she wasn’t a women who was easily persuaded against.

Edith Bolitho,unbeknown to Morwena had had a number of conversations with Marilyn on Saturday last as this was her regular social occasion.You see,Edith was the reason why Marilyn would travel to Truro each week,but convention dictated that these visits had to be of a clandestine nature.However,Marilyn had sung the praises of Morwena to such a degree that Edith wanted to meet her with a view to her being asked to march with the women to London.Obviously,this was like a bolt out of the blue for Morwena.

Morwena was truly taken a back with the trust had been placed in her by these women.As she went to the bathroom,she thought of how her life had thrown up these events,and how she felt that now she was on the threshold of something very important,nod as she reflected ,the voice of her dear Pa rang out :”Follow your dream Morwena,follow your dream”.As no man in her life,apart from Pierre,had truly measured up to her Pa,she knew what she must do,she just had to March for freedom,but not just for herself,but for all the memories of women past ,present,but more so ,for their future.

Seeing beyond the clouds.

As the thick clouds outside my bedroom window seek to obscure the identity of the day,I fear that I need an injection of positive thought.Now,as a realist in many ways,but with that overwealming sense of needing to grasp the good things,I wonder what lies behind.

When I was a child,the weather played a primary part of life then,as I relied on getting out as much as possible during the day,either to the church at Newquay,or just to hang out along the hinterland that is the North coast from Porthole beach over to Crantock.At the time,it seemed a huge distance on foot,but,of course,our perspective as a youngster is so very different.Then,I felt that I was very brave-or maybe,a little foolish-but I wasn’t checked up that much outside my home because the was always other things going on as such.So,I used that freedom to walk,and climb ,but mostly ,to listen.As I have a propensity to dwell on the past to maybe take something to move forward in my life,this is what is happening to me as I write this now.So then,although the clouds were obscuring the coastline,I could still hear the Atlantic roar as I like to call it,and now,I can still hear quite clearly the birdsong outside my bedroom window .Their songs are for everyone,there isn’t any entrance fee,and we all be if it from their concert.If I were to think this moment now,and also this week,I’ve had so many free concerts from them as I have shuffled my way outside each day on my run.

From an early age,I’ve accepted quite a lot of things that I couldn’t do much about,and it is one of my life lessons really.

Now,my mind has a residue of thought of precious pupils that I have had the pleasure of teaching over the years.Many were from the Poole area of Dorset,where I taught for well over 15 years.Many of those young people came from the less sought after parts of the town and many had tough life circumstances to cope with.Sometimes,with those starts in life,it can be a challenge to motivate pupils to take advantage of the chances that an education affords.However,I still remember with fondness those pupils,those days,and the sheer energy that those young people showed for their life.

Now,in this particular moment,I know young people of great ability and fortitude who are approaching their exam terms with all the obvious stresses that will ensue.Why,I know this,because I experienced those stresses when my sons completed their schooling in preparation for university and eventually for their chosen careers.Yes,there were stresses,strains,and tensions,but ,just like these clouds this morning ,behind the stresses and strains and bad moods ,there is a special human beings no ,that person who lives with us,who is part of us,belongs to us,ignites our deepest emotions.

As I wrote that last sentence,a memory of a parent from one of those areas of Poole that we don’t associate high art with comes to mind.You see,his son didn’t pass the grammar test for various reasons at the time,and so was then a pupil of Ashdown school.This young man loved the keyboard and guitar and he just happened to cause quite a stir with his innate ability to programme computers.You could say that he was ,as we say,a late developer.Anyway,although he could be extremely rude on the surface,that was just a mechanism that he employed because his home life wasn’t good.So much so,that teachers on the whole didn’t really ever venture to question him too much.Well,I knew that he had talent,particularly in the stem subjects,it was just not considered “cool” to be smart in the area of town where he lived.So,one Saturday,I managed to ,along with many others in this area,to get him a place on a science day at Salisbury and although he was,to begin with,his usual lippy self,he settled down when he realised that these people were actually interesting and they were trying to help him.

At the time,I didn’t think too much of it,because this pupil deserved his place on that science day Knut I had to take responsibility to try to keep him in check.Now,at the time,he didn’t fit the mold of the “model” pupil,in fact,he could be feral.However behind the mask as it were,there was a human being when th special needs ,and as I think of young people today,I see similar things in all of the young people that I’m privileged to teach.

Sometimes,we have to try at least to see beyond the clouds as such,and I am grateful that teachers affected me profoundly to help me at that time.So,yes,maybe,it is vital now as teachers and parents along with relatives and careers to offer ourselves,and maybe we will remember things,people,instances where there have been turning points along the way that have affected us positively.

As I raise my eyes,the clouds are still there,but my memories have brought a glow to my face and well that is my personal muse for today.

Vernon takes stock.

As Vernon slowly walked home from Miss Graham’s house,his mind raced with the goings on of the day and of their meanings.As she had explained to him that his wife ,Morwena would only be away for a couple of days,it seemed reasonable.However,as the heavy tread of his boots on the tarnished rubble underfoot imitated the heaviness of his heart,he got to thinking.What if Morwena didn’t return?Could he really trust that what Miss Graham had said was true?

Vernon reluctantly entered his cottage.It seemed like a shell,not a home without her.She had been the pulse,the heartbeat as it were.She made things happen.In truth,she wrote all his letters,she was proactive in getting things done.That evening at Bill and Gwen’s made him realise that she had the control,and that his emotions,his lack of education and his total lack of self worth was now so apparent.

Being proud,he had refused sustenance at Marilyn Grahams ,leaving him famished.He couldn’t really cook,and he hunted around the scullery in search of something to eat.There,in the conrner of the Pantry was some soda bread and butter.He devoured half the loaf and almost a pot of tea with a feeling that he just had to keep his strength up.Sitting in his chair,he allowed himself a measure of calm:”What if Morwena came back tomorrow,no-one would be any the wiser,and the men at the mine needn’t ever know.You see,we often attribute motives to people that really aren’t there,and Vernon suffered from what we now term as paranoia.He just thought that people were constantly talking about him behind his back,which he invariably wouldn’t dream of doing.Granted,Vernon suffered from a stammer that he had grappled with since childhood,and in moments of panic,of as we say today,stress,he would revert back to an inability to get his words out.So after a while,Vernon began to see the wisdom of amiss Graham’s words,and he had to admit,reluctantly ,that she was probably right.So,his plans to walk the journey of 15 miles to Penzance were put on the back burner as it were.No,he would sort his crib for tomorrow’s shift,and get an early night.

As he lay in their marital bed,tossing and turning,he felt that pit in his stomach,that ache for the company of Morwena.Yes,she hadn’t wanted to allow him his marital due for a while now,but she had ,every evening,read from the bible to him,and her voice,her perfect diction,and just that flow when she read the scriptures always soothed him.He picked up their family bible,but he struggled with the words and managed the beatitudes of Matthew chapter 5, but was unable to manage his other favourite stories.He loved ,time and time again,almost like a child,the repeating of the story of David and Goliath,Samson and Delilah.He existed in her voice and lived the characters as she read to him and he missed her.As in those moments,in those feral mining villages at that time,the sight of a mans wife reading bible stories to her husband,the foreman of South Crofty tin mine,and a Penpraise.Why,that reality in a very brutal world,contained an essence of love,a love for family,and understanding almost that embodied the beauty of a water droplet when the dew of the morning spring day reflects upon the daffodil and crocus,As that dew was emblematic of Vernon tears,we will leave him to his thought nod his tears for now.

Meanwhile,not 15 miles away,Morwena is awaiting her chance to affect history all best in a way that would surprise everyone and seal her place as a woman of action.

Just wanted to say.

Just wanted to say that life is never just dealing with the bad,it can have so many pluses too.

just wanted to say that people are better when they are not judged and looked down on.

Just wanted to say that our teenagers need our support over the next few weeks.

Just wanted to say that it’s good to talk,but even better to listen.

Just wanted to say that good health trumps money and things any day.

Just wanted to say that I’m very lucky that I can just say and people accept me .

 

So thanks again all.Thanksfrom the bottom f my heart.

 

Gwen Penhaligon has another side to her.

Gwen Penhaligon knew not to disturb Bill when he sat in his favourite room of the house,it was a tacit agreement.She was looking forward to Mrs Trenbath arriving to carry out her house cleaning duties at Pengelly.Gwen loved her house,and its decor had been her project as it were,and although Bill could be insensitive to her wishes,on the interior of the house,he had given her cart Blanche to do what she wished,leaving her with a purpose after her inability to conceive a child.

In Gwen’s eyes,she was a failure,a woman who could provide her husband with an heir to the family ,to perpetuate the dynasty of the Penhaligon family.It had ,nonetheless,bothered her much more than Bill,who remained pragmatic about this,and felt that the destiny of the family lay in his hands.This was a better situation then Gwen could ever had imagined,so her gratitude was such that she was obsessive about providing Bill with everything that he wanted.This now included that Gwen provide his eyes and ears in the village community as it were.She was to use her feminine influence to extract from the local woman information as to the standing of the Penhaligon’s in the village.This  Gwen didn’t really relish,but she knew that Bill wanted to be elected in the council elections as a springboard to becoming an MP in years to come.

Gwen had heard about the women in the village and their support of the national suffragette movement,and this had piqued her interest.So much so,that she had purposefully invited Marilyn Graham for afternoon to pick her brains.Initially ,she had been refused because her invitation for tea had been rigidly set for a Saturday and she was refused by Miss Graham.However,upon being told by Mrs Trenbath that Miss Graham always went to Truro on Saturdays she was determined to make an alternative arrangement which she duly did for this afternoon ,Tuesday,at 2 p,m.

Sometimes,I have observed in my life that it is never truly a wise thing to assume things about a person.Gwen portrayed herself as a woman who loved her house,her cloths and her station in the community,but there was far more to her humanity than that.Her great great grandmother had been disinherited by her brother who then saw her confined to domestic service simply because she was a woman wth no reason gets to hold property ,or demand the vote and thus achieve independence.

For years,Gwen desperately wanted women like her relative to be treated with dignity,to enjoy human rights,basic rights.She knew that Miss Grahman acted as a conduit for the views of the women’s movement in her community.

Gwen carried these things behind a mask of respectability and her facade had appeared to many to be her true self.We are,in oh so many ways,people with different selves,and Gwen was no exception in this.But how would she explain this to Bill,and what would be his reaction?