Monthly Archives: May 2017

We need more culture in Great Britain post Brexit!

As if to touch this note,it vibrates from my fingers,into my mind,and internalised into a thought ,a blazing no thought of hope.That one note,from the opening figure of Elergy,by Grieg,signalled my permission to feel a passion from this mans great music.

Sometimes in an effort to arrive at an analysis of form and structure,we can miss the affect of just one short musical figure,preferring instead to digress into a long winded attempt to justify our own musical intellect,but that can’t always be the main driver for artists and musician alike.

Proust knew the value of just moments,excelling experiences that defined his art and  enabled him to elaborate on these singular moments in time to great mastery.My impression of single figures of music lead me to observe their affect on me,and when experienced in company with others draw me to the Zenith of my appreciation for just being alive.

No-one,in my way of thinking,should ever be deprived of the opportunity of hearing,seeing,feeling,reflecting,and living art because that,to me,is the life blood of everything else.When asked by one of his junior minister during the war why we were spending money on the arts,Churchill lamented:”What are we fighting for if not for the arts”

Now,as one who has known poverty in my life,I can attest to the importance of sustenance and the arts as handmaidens of our destiny ,of our future genuine prosperity.

Recently,the European Baroque Orchestra ,once based in Oxford,returned to Belgium to base their. Performances In that country.When once that great city of Oxford was their home,the early casualty of Brexit didn’t have a gigantic fanfare,wasn’t part of the election diatribe,but ,if you love the arts as I do,then you know that they won’t return,they will be world leaders in another country,the clue to their existence lies in their name.

But ,I hope that I’m wrong,and I hope that this country ,this spectured Isle,this forever England will discover its stamp of great art and music once again and recognise that it’s people need culture in their lives as well as any other .

End of rant.

kernowsmith,

Can it ever be too quiet?

It doesn’t seem a week,does it?You know,a week ago,I was in a remote farm cottage in darkest Devon,shut away from civilisation investing in the feral nature of my surroundings.As the birds,the sheep and the cattle competed for their space,I didn’t want to claim any for me ,as it seemed to be theirs.You know,the countryside ,with all its richness and tapestries of colours and plants species does seem to exist in a completely different world.

As the owner replied to my request about Wi Fi at the cottage with a “You’ll just have to soak up the quietness” I thought in my cynical way that it was her way of not addressing my question.As the week went on,I didn’t fully accept that I have to have complete quietness either.

 

Why,on arriving at the Atlantic coast,it was anything but quiet,it roared in and off all week.In the mist of Tuesday,it spoke as if to say :”Don’t come too close,or I’ll swallow you up”,so yes,nature,or the forces of nature ,are not always quiet.Yes,they are punctuated by quietness granted,nut never truly quiet.That got me thinking about the need to communicate,and how important it is to communicate to one another.As we do,we hope that their emotional intelligence will really listen to what we say,our concerns,our cares,and our worries.However,it is imperative that we listen to them with the same amount of emotional intelligence ,accepting what we must want to give.

So,yes,it was good to have quietness,to be in a rural retreat,but it is never good to isolate ourselves,taking ourselves away from others.

There were days when the Atlantic felt at ease with itself,able to be a partner in sound as it were,and you could hear yourself as you looked at its splendour in front of you,but you always knew that just like someone with a temper,it could flare up at any time,ready to surprise,alarm,inspire,but also jolt you into respecting its power at the same time.

So,I wrote in the visitor’s book,that I had a lovely time,but need to interact more now that I have recharged my emotional wind power from the Turbines of my soul .

i wrote that as a metaphor as there are so many wind turbines in the Devon and Cornwall countryside now.But,I wonder if the owner would have read ,or if she did,I wonder what she might have thought !!!!!Then,after that nano second,I realised that it didn’t matter what she thought because I knew what I meant and I had experienced the silence ,but that too mush of it isn’t good for me and that was a life lesson .

We all learn lessons ,don’t we,I like to think that I learn them from different sources ,but we all need to learn.

 

Postscript!

silence reflects back at me,through the middle ear of my heart,

pictures of a lng lost palette,engraved in love sands from a day trip meeting.

my image of softness goodbyes from school friends to yonder journeys,

where are they now?Wish I’d said :”Your cool”, “Your funny”, “You made me think”.

Im a hand on the heart guy now,I say what I feel,because if I don’t,I might regret it,

i hear the washing machine,the flush of waste,the dripping tap,the long lost vowel,

 

The I did care,the I do want to be happy,the I am there for you,

you know that you ,that everlasting that I am !!!!!!

 

Nite ,nite silence,see you in the morning.

Building for the future!

From a previous time in my life,over 15 years ago,I looked up at the Spinniker tower.All those years ago,I used to test concrete for a multi national minerals company,Anglo-American.It wasn’t a difficult job ,it wasn’t a demanding job either,but it was something that had to be done correctly.As I looked up at the tower upon the Waterfront this evening,I remembered that I tested over 50 samples of concrete at various stages of the construction.

As I looked up,I thought of the various tests of character that we all face in life one way or another,and I realised that what we might see of people from the outside is rarely the true picture.Sometimes,the tests that people face might seem insignificant to others,but to those who are grappling with these things,they are immense.As comparisons rarely enlighten us,it’s imperative that we see the good in others as we do not know just what they are going through.Constructing a tower is a major civil engineering project because it has to withstand the elements from the spectrum extremes,but our extreme tests are many and varied in nature.Just when we might feel that we have conquered a specific thing,then another one comes up.With me,I thought that I had conquered stage freight in my early years,only to have it rear its ugly head in my late teens,and I use those personal obstacles to help my pupils now.No adult is immune from weakness,no man or woman is without flaw,but when can easily forget the mistakes that we made in our youth to the detriment of our usefulness to the young.

Really,bringing up children is like building a tower.,with many many tests along the way,some motor,but so many that test our resolve as parents.Along the way,I made many mistakes as a father-not ever having a proper role model,and no manual didn’t help-but I made it my aim to admit my mistakes and tell my children that I truly loved bed them each day .That,you might think,isn’t anything out of the ordinary,and you would be right.However,there were tests along the way for me ,many of which I worried if I would ever measure up.

So with the Spinneker tower,as with us,we have to build using the correct tested materials,and I sincerely hope ,just as with the tower,all our families are standard nag in decades to come as testimony to the power of overcoming tests,and coming through them stronger.

Vernon confronts himself.

Vernon wasn’t coping with the shell that was his cottage.Its unwelcoming walls,it’s dark void of nothingness akin to the mine shaft affected his thoughts,his mood,his spirit.His usual entreaties to The Lord,the one who knew all ,hadn’t affected him with peace.Having been prostrate for what seemed over an hour,he let out a scream,a passionate cry for help.

Those terrace cottages ,with their back entrances housed families,miners all of which he knew,all,to him,his family.Why,as he was on his own,these men were with their wife’s and children tonight:Would they be talking about the mine and the shift that they had had.Would they be whispering about Vernon,would they?

Vernon knew that they looked to him,but as his disposition,once so strong and dependable and true,now seemed to be vanishing ,he felt that he was acting like those creaking mine props that spooked him today,he felt that as the shaft might well have given way today,so to,him,Vernon Penpraise,the giant of a man ,the man mountain of Illogan was now a shadow of his former self.

This state couldn’t continue,and he feared for the repercussions of Bill Penhaligon and he knew that it might well mean the end of him being a foreman.Why,there were men who could take the helm underground,with Tamblin,Henwood,and Rowse,all capable,he wondered just how long it would be until he was called into Penhaligon’s office and ordered to step aside.

His prayers over,he rallied himself to get something to eat,frantic in his search for sustenance.Morwena had left him,all but temporarily,but she had left gimWhen this got out in the village,then he would be finished as a man,he just knew.If only,he had been less demanding he thought,less forcing himself and his needs on her,then maybe she would have stayed and read to him again.Oh,how he missed her voice,those soft tones,those bible stories that she made come alive.No one read like Morwena,she was a proper learner,she was so clever.Oh how he wished that is rough ways hadn’t got in the way ,and he wished that he hadn’t had slapped her when she wouldn’t give him what he wanted after the babe died.He felt remorse,he felt emotionally destitute.Morwena had been the best thing that had ever happened to him,and he wasn’t worthy of her,and now,she had gone.

In his way,he did truly love her,it was just the weight of expectation on him to be what his family expected,what the community expected and what the Lord expected.These weights dragged him down to such an extent that he could lose his temper and when that happened,he didn’t know his own strength.He was afraid now that if his  other and Father found out that Morwena had gone that they would disown him ,as they had never approved of her.They had always thought that she “A will of the wisp” ,that she was flighty,that she had been seen comforting with those lazy artists down Newlyn way.His mother had even called his Morwena a hussey,and his mother had a sharp tongue with a temper like Vernon to match.

We,in the 21st century,might find the actions of a man who beats up his wife,insists on sexually relations against her will as utterly deplorable,as beyond the pale.These things today ,with all their incumbent problems for the police and social services,are being brought out into the open,and our society rightly repudiates anyone who might engage in acts of violence in the domestic setting.But back in 1913,in a tin mining village in the depths of West Cornwall,there were no such civilities.Life was truly feral,with violence in the home often than not being the norm.As the lives of Vernon,Morwena and those associated with them become clearer,we see the desperation of life for communities such as these.Its ever so easy to judge folk,and many might judge Vernon ,and,for that matter,Morwena,but the truth of the matter is that these were profoundly difficult times.Yes,the industrial revolution had reaped many benefits,but the recipients of those were almost exclusively ,the upper classes,the Lord Falmouth,the Bolithos of the county and definitely not the Vernon Penpraises and Morwena Penpraises of the community.No,their dreams,such as they ever were,would be discarded as aimless dreams ,cut off from the grim reality of the mine.You see,the mine was the only employer in that part of West Cornwall.Today,we might question their enterprise or their lack of drive to better themselves,but back then in Cornwall,and for much of the early part of the 20th century,there was no alternative.

Vernon struggled with his temper,but that had been fuelled by ignorance and lack of education in oh so many ways.He had ,up until this point in the account ,been totally dependent on Morwena to communicate the meanings of printed words to him.His frustrations with being able to communicate to Bill Penhaligon about mine safety was a reflection of that total lack of education.It reminded me of my career as a teacher ,dealing with youngsters who would act up,and sometimes show violent tendencies because they would do that to hide their inability to read and write and thus communicate their thoughts and feelings to others.So they would tend to lash out because they couldn’t express themselves any other way.

Morwena was exceptional as a human,left alone a woman at that time,because her father had encouraged her-something just not heard of in those villages-to read and write and to draw,She wasn’t a hussey,as Vernon’s mother had labelled her,she was informed,intelligent,and very artistic.She wasn’t a bad person. Let alone a bad woman,but she wasn’t really able to live within her station.As the writer of this account,I know only too well,the stigma even in a working class family of appearing to be clever.In my case,because I had talent for music,my teachers and the like showed so much interest in me ,but that was granted with suspicion by my Mither and step father,and it was a hard path for me.

My life,however,was nothing compared to Morwena’s ,and her decisions and absolute strength as we arrive at the end of this tale is a testament to the human spirit ,but it is also the strength of so many women that I have known from my background and my family as such.

Thankyou for your attention to this story thus far.

Mining for emotional Teflon.

Bill ate his meal in silence,almost as if the weight of the whole world rested upon his shoulders.It had been a very long day,a very long day indeed,with the new seam throwing up a nasty surprise deep underground.He was sure that the problem could be fixed,but his foreman,Vernon Penpraise just wasn’t himself.In fact,as he asked around among the men,their reticence to communicate with him about Vernon alarmed him even more.

Normally,Vernon was the man who would always encourage the men when difficult excavationproblems developed,but today Vernon looked and acted like a defeated man.From his discreet enquiries among the men,he had gleaned one nugget of information though and that was that Vernon must have made his own crib today.His food for the shift was a chunk of cheese and a piece of dried bread with no cake or even a drink.His men had remarked too that Vernon seemed tired,and had ignored the knocker up leaving Bill Tamblin to throw shade me gravel against his front  dorm to wake him up.Vernon hadn’t explained why,and when he gave you that look,you just knew not to push it.Vernon was known as the strongest man in the village,a former Cornish wrestler and alas,a man with a very short fuse when roused.

As Bill tried to digest this,he knew that as the mine manager,he had a duty to ensure that production was always at its optimum levels,and having Vernon like this was a threat to the Production of the whole mine.But what could he do?He had known that since Vernon and  Morwena came for tea,Vernon had kept his distance from him.Because of the costs,non of Vernon’s proposals regarding the safety of the miners had been acted on,in fact,short cuts were being taken and the atmosphere deep underground was now compromised.Now mining accidents sadly in the early part of the 20th were part and parcel of life in Cornwall,but memories of previ Us disasters,with their casualties ranging from one or two fatalities,to those in their 30s to 60s deaths or even more.This environment meant that the overall spirits of the miners was one of caution to say the least.Today,Vernon,his taciturn foreman had uttered two words to Bill :”Remember Botallack”.Those words rang in Bills ears,as this had been the worse Tin mining disaster for decades and had been caused by over production of an u familiar seem.Bill knew not to press Vernon,but his paymaster,Lord Falmouth wasn’t a man to be appeased.Bill needed to keep the Lord on his side as his Political aspirations would surely be damaged terminally if he decided to withdraw his support for Bill’s desire to sit on the local council.

As Bill ruminated on these pressing matters,Gwen,his wife,looked into his eyes and saw a darkness in them.She wondered if her inability to conceive a child was contributing to Bills depression of late.She desperately tried to make sure that Bill had everything that he needed,so much so ,that she had decided to keep to herself the fact that she planned to travel to Penzance to see the Women marchers as they set off for London.

Gwen struggled with her role as a subservient wife on the one hand,and her profound need to be involved in the women’s movement.She knew that Bill provided her with so many comforts and security,but it didn’t entirely reflect the person that she was.Gwen had thoughts of her own too,yes,hidden behaviour Jed the veil of respectability and social station,but her desire to see changes for women was,indeed,a genuine one.

That moment of silence,with Bill quandary about the mine,and his ambitions one hand,and aspirations for public service on the other in many ways mirrored Gwen’s stress too.You see,they were both victims of the expectations of the life that had been foisted upon them,They were,on the surface ,in a very enviable position .They appeared to have everything,but that would be to judge them incorrectly.You see,people indeed have depths to them,but you can’t have emotional depths without surfaces,and you have to accept the whole person for what they are dealing with in their life.

Both Bill and Gwen now looked up from their dinner,both forced a smile,both glanced up to the painting of Newlyn harbour but they weee each thinking of their own dreams,their own desires.In that unity of opposites there can often be a bizarre harmony,and sometimes live together with problems that might appear to be bizarre to others,but convention ,or security,or just habit keeps them together.This was the state of Bill and Gwen now,but little did they know that down Pengelly hill,Vernon was in a mental state that was to potentially change the whole lives of so many in this account that I have been writing about.

Once there was a ……

There was once a rather portly piano teacher who loved cake:Well ,to be exact,he loved cake,scones (with clotted cream,obviously) chocolate of different varieties and some.In fact,this piano teacher ,you could say,was like a child who never stopped having a fascination for all things SWEET!

Now,weight gain catches up with him and following a rather forthright discussion with his friendly GP of over 25 years,he was told in no u certain terms that he was now,and this won’t surprise you ,Obese.That word has a certain connection to bad news doesn’t it.You know the O bit,that vowel ,4on the list of vowels that I learnt from my English mistress Miss Husband back in Cornwall decades ago.So,I was an O ,and O dear,an O my,and O heck,it was just that following my O came the best part.As I reflected on the word,I thought of a beast.Somehow I added that twist to the tail of my GPS statement.Yes,I was now the O man ,the O man who had grown his own beast.

 

As my rather childish reading in my life had always included a love for the BFG,I wondered wether if I could change my perception of being an O beast,then maybe I could be a tourist attraction,like “The Beast of Bodmin Moor”,but no,no such pseudo celebrity awaited me as I came to terms with my new found definition.

Sometimes,labels have a power to affect us profoundly,don’t they.You know,my favourite ever Pianist ,John Ogden,was a large man,a portly man,a cuddling gentle giant as the guardian critic described as,but he was never an O ,never the 4th vowel,never a slight annoyance to Miss Husband who revered him as a Greek god.

“Play like Ogden boy,she would say”,she would never ever comment on his obviously Big O.But now,in this doctors surgery,I was confronted with the Big O designation.Now,for reasons that I can’t truly edit that well,I’m very friendly with my GP,and he has sat in my home on numerous occasions ,and I know his sons well too.However,I still remember the O day when he looked me in the eye and told me that I was an O.

Since then,I’ve talked to the O side of myself numerous times,you know,o says :”Ivory  tinkerer,I just love a bit of cake,don’t you”.look at that chocolate over there,go on Ivory ,just a small bit,it won’t do any harm”.

Do you ever have conversations like that,or do you sail through life in a charmed existence without a care in the world.?

Well,I’ve still got my love of cake,and as my daughter in law has made one and it sits in the kitchen ,resplendent in its lighthouse position away from my dogs,I am still having that co versation with my O,and my O is still saying:”Don’t you just love a bit of cake?”

So,you vowel number 4 ,you grasped of all things sweet,I know you take no prisoners,and you don’t care about your affects either,but I’m on to you .So,I’ve got my A for Adrian,my E for energy,my I for intensity,my Y for Youthful.

Now,I’m a tad weird at time,I grant you,but if you have ever been told that you have a label ,or someone has given you one as they are apt to do,just remember the power of semantic language and think of other good things about your self.

Lets take some now:

K for kind,

C for compassionate.

U  for unique,

Have a day every one.

 

Pierre and Morwena prepare for the Long March.

As the disturbed sleep of a troubled artist might well had been put down to over indulgence in drink,but Pierre was more concerned about his commission to sketch a group of women ,presenting them in a favourable light on the one hand,but not cowtowing to the establishment too much as that would give a message of subservience.As Pierre ruminated on this ,his mind went back to his childhood,to his days in his French town and to his mother.

Marie Chaulde La Mar to Pierre was ,to him,his greatest ever influence in his early life.His father had left the family home to join the legion,but that was often French code for desertion and Pierre knew that.His beloved mum,however,was,to him,his Diana ,his light,his beacon.From an early age,she had encouraged him to draw,to paint,to live in a world of colour,of beauty.This world had non of the obscene trails that life had thrown at him in recent times,it had been devoid of malice,it was compassionate,gentle ,and soothing.As he meshed these thoughts in his head,he tried to focus on the following morning ahead and as he did,questions came to him.What were these women like?Would they be like him beloved mum?Would they be like his  one and only “Mori”?Artists tend to feel emotion ,but it doesn’t destroy them,they are able to use that emotion to express in their art,and it was to this energy that Pierre hoped to feed off.As he tossed and turned,the rickety bedstead moved in a concertina way,causing his slumber to be co Stanton interrupted.As these thoughts dovetailed into dreams,and the reality of what he was experiencing affected him and he began to almost hallucinate and sweat as if he had a fever.

Waking at daybreak,he stirred,immediately inspecting the light in the bay.He knew that the train ticket had been promised to be waiting at the station.He hurriedly fixed himself some coffee,and dipped his bread into his huge coffee bowl,a remnant from his time in the Dordoyne.He was half asleep,have excited,half intrigued about these women,half scared truth be told,half the man he was now that “Mori” wasn’t there.

Gathering up his materials,he realised that his dreams hadn’t kept up with Father Time,He had to run to the station and was grateful for the train being late.He was breathless as he arrived at the ticket office,where a official looking officer proceeded to promptly deal with his request.

Upon receiving his ticket,he noticed that it was marked :”First Class”,he felt good about that and his seat in this opulent carriage rejuvenated him and he remembered what his precise us mum had once said to him:”One day mon Pierre,your talent will be recognised by important people”.Those words rang in his ears,and she could hear them ringing in his mind,and those words fondled his soul .He felt that he could paint like Michelangelo today,he was walking on air,and his cadence was of a man with a purpose.As the train sped towards Penzance,he noticed the lush Cornish countryside,the fields ,rain drenched ,but emerald and full of richness.He felt that he could be falling in love wth Cornwall all over again,and he was in a sort of Renaissance as an artist.Could this commission be a turning point for him,could he now start to put the unhappiness behind him?

 

If  Morwena had been aware of Pierre and his journey towards the hotel where she was now residing,then hearts would surely have missed stereo beats.She had slept in opulent splendour,in an environment that made the Penhaligon’s abode look ordinary and she wondered what she had done to have had so much grandeur bestowed upon her.There was a maid who had discreetly brought her tea with a copy of “The Cornishman”,and also “The Times”,and as Marilyn had introduced her to this broadsheet paper,she had developed an interest in the topics of the day.As she drank her tea-scented as it was with the oil of bergamot-she still savoured every comfort,not deterred in anyway by her surroundings.She knew that Edith Bolitho was next door,and her commanding voice bellowed out instructions to the maid rather akin to a Sargaent Major,and Morwena realised that she was a lady used to getting what she wanted,and she knew that if you crossed Edith that her tongue could be like a razor.Not that she minded,because she knew that their mission would never be realised without determination and fortitude.Morwena was focused on what she could do for the cause,and she had quite forgotten about her appearance,so much so,that Edith bellowed out to her that breakfast would be served in 20 minutes and she needed to get dressed and ready to accompany her and the other marchers as they would be expected to be in the lounge of the hotel for 10 for the arrival of the artist.Just fafter those words reached Morwena mind,her thoughts turned to her dad,her pa,and how proud he would have been of her,and what she was embarking on,and his words rang out to her:”You show um Wena,you show um,don’t you be put off by their station,you show um”.As the timbre of her pa’s voice vibrated ,it touched her heart and her kidneys,causing a tear to form that almost threatened to become a torrent.Morwena composed herself,talking to herself and in this mental toughness that she possessed ,she thought of Vernon ,wondering if he had been able to speak to Marilyn,and wondering if he would ever,ever forgive her for what she was now doing.She thought about Pierre too:Would he be proud of her?Would he ever forgive her for refusing him?

Weights can come in different ways:Why the heavy weights that miners and Fishermen literally carried could render them exhausted,but the emotional weights that women carried were also debilitating.She thought of Vernon,his inability to cope with Bill Penhaligon,his stupidity on the one hand,but his almost childlike love for his LORD.As she dressed,these thoughts came into her mind,mingled with those bible stories,but also with the role of women in Cornish society now,but ,in particular,how women,just like in the bible stories were often considered to be under the thumb of men and she dispised this and this was why she just had to March,and this was why she had been chosen,because she got the issues,u derstood the struggle,and was prepared to stand up and be counted.

But ,as she brushed her hair,arranged her bodice,looked at herself in the mirror,she knew that she a woman,that she needed something that transcended the March in many ways,like the hugs that her Pa would give her,the wholeness ,organic and lifeaffirm.Why,the other other man that she had ever wanted to hold her like that was Pierre,and she had spoilt that forever.

kernowsmith!

 

 

On hearing The Cuckoo!

Today ,while walking my dog she in the forest,I heard “the Cuckoo”.It seems that those two words have less amplitude than in previous generations,but it’s funny how the words of family members long departed reappear in our minds.

To say “The Cuckoo”,seems to imply that I’ve heard the only one.As if there isn’t another Cuckoo to be heard,but it’s how I remember it being said.Personally,on May Day,my thoughts are centred on the fishing harbour of Padstow in Cornwall,where,as a child,I would always visit ,either woman the Brass Band that I was in,or with my sisters to the Obby Horse celebrations.Although it’s decades since I’ve been now,the first of May still has echoes of those times.With the sheer noise of the parade,the excitement,the indigenous nature of the day-Cornwall at its most intriguing and its most superstitious too-always attracted me.That day was always a time when whole families would be ur on the streets,enjoy No themselves.

But today,on this bank holiday,life seems quite a sedentary affair,quite a downbeat pulse to it,but the hearing of that solitary bird in two splendor,in is forest idyll attracted me,allowing my mind to indulge in its own brand of escapism.

As we get older,we are apt to reflect on previously us anniversaries,with all their memory prompts and now as the years creep by,I’m happy that these memories can still come to the surface.We can all be negative at times,and in that state,that glass half full and so easily erode the good that we have with th our life,causing us to miss the truly important things.

So,my Cornish family will,no doubt ,we raising a glass or two,or three at Padstow today and well into the evening,and I will think of them,and that solitary Cuckoo,and ,to me,it will be what it is to me,not a Cuckoo,but,The Cuckoo.

 

Thank you .

 

Kernowsmith.