The soul of the village!

What followed might only be described as a car crash,both of intent and of accident.You See,the effort he put into his speech seemed to be completely lost on his audience who just couldn’t believe what they were hearing.In that small Cornish village in East Cornwall mothered was a proud tradition of brass band boasting representation in each of the competition sections .So why had Denzil Polmounter caused such a stir?What could this quiet,normally unassuming man of 30 possibly have done to cause audible gasps from the audience?

That last sentence might have been an enigma to you for any number of reasons,but if you were from a culture used to its roots being perpetuated,you might find this unfolding shocking too.As you take time to process the proposal,the very word in modern day parlance seems to be part of everyday life,particularly in the business world.That word was :MERGER!

Picture if you may indigenous brass bands from the clay villages of the St Austell area ,with their proud heritage stretching back decades :Their very lifeblood was the village band .It provided the entertainment for the village carnivals,the teatreats, in fact,every village wheeled out its members to entertain the inhabitants ,all proud of their singular heritage,their autonomy.

Now,Denzil Polmounter,That local boy made good ,having studied music at the Royal academy in that there Lo don as the locals affectionately called it had returned to the county to take up a music teaching post at the local sixth form college.Upon arriving,he quickly got snapped up as a soprano Cornet player for the Indian Queens band,as well as helping out with the training band too.Denzil had intelligence drive and ambition,all admirable qualities.He was an exceptional musician who could have continued working in music in the city,but chose to return to the county of his birth,and also to the Eastern part of the county.His father ,Albert,had been a fine trombone player ,so much so that he could have played for the Black Dyke Mills band but instead stayed in his beloved Cornwall,seeing out his days there as a respected member of the community.Denzil had a sister,Gwen ,who had shown promise as a musician too,but ,like so many of her peers,had married a local boy,settling Darling wn in the village near her mum and dad.It was Denzil who had spread his wings as such,and it showed in his ideas about life and in his wanting for things to be better.

To understand the culture of Cornish village life is to respect its musical traditions,but maybe more importantly,it is to understand that village life is at the centre of what they did back in the 1970s when Denzil made this speech,or his pitch for change ,as they say.Why,each village seemed more than able to support a brass band of some standard,and although they might be rivals in competition,there was never a thought about merging ,in fact that would have been abhorrent.So there was poor Denzil,an exceptional musician himself,but a person for whom the status quo meant little because of his training and emphasis on excellence,trying to persuade his own people ,those whom he had grown up with,to think about fracturing their institution,their centrepiece,their heritage if you like.His intentions were so noble,the formation of a Cornish band to rival the best in the country:Denzil wanted a Cornish band to be spoken of in the same company as Brighouse and Rasteick,GUS footwear,and the sainted Black Dyke Mills Band.

Having sounded out Mr Williams from the Dennis Band,and having made a visit to Malcolm Arnold at Padstow,he felt confident that the feeling among the musical elite of Cornwall might be such as to realistically move forward with the venture.He felt that his approach to Geoff Richards to compose a special March fr the band might spur on new members,and the promise of sponsorship from English China clay to purchase new instruments,seemed to be energising many of the talented younger players.

From these soundings ,he had received positive feedback from the county music advisor regarding a possible venue for rehearsing .Denzil had worked so hard with every ounce of ability he had to get things going,but this meeting tonight that promised oh so much,was fast becoming a disaster.As he spoke about his vision for the band,he could see that his audience were suspicious of the vision of a super band that Denzil had put forward.Many were menand women who had been in the same band for decades.You See,it was as much a social occasion for them as it was a musical one.They loved to play in the old band room,but they didn’t want to practice too much,and were wanting to retire to the pub .Now Denzil,although a king and warm man,wasn’t the most ebullient,preferring to arrange music toning out with the lads to the pub.In many ways,it was a battle that had to be fought on two fronts,you had to win their minds to the concept,but not only that,you had to have touched their hearts .They had to feel the need to make changes .

Denzil was to learn a lesson that education and talent are one thing,but a village community runs on its cohesion ,it’s soul.


We need others,

My dogs have taken to star gazing in the cold night sky,following in a long line of our dogs that have graced the home over the past 30 years.My patience has often been tested as,unlike cats,they need to be let out to views their night time Astronomy festivals.Tonight,all told,they must have been outside at least 6 times,and always with the same old scratching at the door,To he dependent on you like they are in quite interesting to me.It teaches me to realise that we are all dependent on one another far more than we realise.Yes,we might pride ourselves in our independence ,as we forge a life for ourselves where we fool ourselves that we are masters of our own destiny.Paradoxically,when we take stock of ourselves by just observing our pets,we might be surprised about just how much we do indeed need others.Granted,we might have all the provisions sown up .What I mean is this,the acquisition of hygiene factors might fool us into thinking that we have all we need,that we have by the work ofour hands,provided these things,and thus we don’t need anything else.

One Day!

Under the cliffs at Lusty Glaze beach,the sound trap holds you in a basin of sound that sets your mind on edge through the signals from your ears.Oh Lusty,my joy aboundeth as I soak up your waves energy,encased in the caves with jutting spikes ,contoured by the Atlantic,and washed in its spray of pure white foam.

We stand in awe of its spendour it’s Ardour,it’s tidal conversations with our soul.If the tides were each an individual word,what would they be?If each waves were as words too,then what would they say:Dream,Fantasy,Mermaid,Pirate,surf,body board,sand-castle,frisby,knotted handkerchief,windbreak,ice -cream.So,my quirky view of the waves might not be yours,and that isn’t the point.What is the point is that the waves are magical,they take us away to something far less than the banal,something altogether more more more fulfilling,

Hiding behind the glaze hotel,a new addition to me since my immigration to Dorsetshire,I spied the wire supports for the cliffs to the top of the beach towards Porth,again,new to me,and the product of potential cliff falls ,or just the potential of falls.When I was younger,I would attempt to climb up these.These dangers never struck me too much,but nowadays I guess they were and the lifegauards ,If on patrol,would quickly disperse any would be Chris Bonnington from attempting such an ascent.But then,especially in November,Newquay was quiet, very sparsely populated,with the tail wind of hardy visitors all but a distant memory,dwindling from the August bank holiday,If I thought about it back then,you could walk ,when the tide was out from Pentire,across Fisty ,to the Harbour,then Tolcarne,and Towan and eventually to Lusty without meeting a soul,with out communing with another human,

Last week,even in the cold of November winds,there were people ,fresh faced young people,with their surfing garb and warm smiles,and it lifted my mood ,my yearning for yesterday year,those days of “Raining days and Mondays”.Why these young people,making lattes and special cocktails dressed Lusty in human splendour.If you didn’t know what the high tides could do,you might think that it never floods,but it does,and always will do,but the Hotel takes it all on the chin,serves up another latter,and lives on.Yes,the old place lives on,now with the Atlantic battering luxury flats where the hotel Riviera once stood,where I played the piano for the visitors,now,the private domain of private flats with glorious views of mother Atlantic.Triple glazed apparently,it will need to be ,or they won’t hear their tales in the winter storms.

Dwelling on that day a little after my visit to the chapel of rest,I wondered why uswe

put such stock on being Cornish.After all,there aren’t too many of us ,and we have our quirky ways,but somehow we “get on”,we make do,we mend ,we fish,we make music,we draw,we paint,we eat and make pasties,cream teas,and the like.We know what poverty is like,but it’s Poverty with a view ,the best sort.

Driving back to my nieces home near Eden ,maybe East of Eden,I’m reminded of how Cornwall has changed since when I moved away in 1988.Back then ,tourism in Cornwall was important,but not on the scale to which it is now.As I drove to St Austell,I was reminded of the redundant Goss moor,the plain of desolation from Indian Queens to Roche,the rock ,and the clay villages of St Dennis ,Nanpean,Foxhole,and St Stephen.Now,the A30 carries the visitors to the depths of the county,allowing coverage of the compass points with ease.Why,gone are the days when a holiday to Cornwall would mean two days travelling as the A30 now links you to the M5 and further to the north,or the M4 to Wales or London.We forget,or should I say,I forget,that 30 years ago,the A30 was still “conjestion paradise”.Now,it is Cornwall’s savour,just one road can make such a difference.

One day can have a profound affect on the way we process things,and I feel that I must record that Monday a couple of weeks ago.As a boy,the roads seemed so quiet,as my weird hobby,popular at the time ,especially amongst young boys in Cornwall,of collecting license numbers in a book would be impossible now as the sheer volume of transport has proliferated to such a degree.

Cornwall has a way of embracing change that other more sophisticated areas and their environmental lobbies resist with an enviable robustness.As i observe the wind turbines driving from the top of Mitchell heading towards Truro,I realise that the county ,rich in mineral deposits,still gives up so much of its beauty to further the economy.Im not aware of the u employment figures in the county anymore,but I knew at one point in the early eighties that they were twice the National average.These figures are one thing,but living them is another thing altogether.

From my own family there,I thought how education and opportunities for young people are still a problem,with some schools faring well,but others struggling in their wake to deliver the education that these young ones desperately need.

Thinking of my sisters,of their industry,that they all left school without basic qualifications that are entry level now,and yet,they worked so very very hard ,and they are a credit to themselves.

My leaving the county was,to me,vital,and from Indian Queens I took with me the feelings of a Celt,the arrogance of insecurity,and the will Power of the miner,mixed it all up,and out I popped.That Pasty of dreams,,that filling of marvels,that pastry of hope .

Yes,That day, fought it all back .

Thank you.


To observe the little emotional lights!

As the week progresses,this never ending propulsion,I dwell on the past acts of love and kindness from my memories of others in that crystal maze that is my imagination,my consciousness,my mental enclosure,Finding time to reflect on the good that has been done me is a form of emotional battery charge,as it equips me to live ,what I might term,a better life.That life,with all its emotional terrains is made so much more palatable by the numerous acts of kindness and care that have been afforded me in my sojourn on this Earth,my own bit of Terra Firma as it were.

Focusing intensely on the important things isn’t a fantasy,it isn’t ignoring the sadness that we all can feel,but it is giving due weight to the value f each day of life,and how just to savour it for what it is.As has often been said ,it isn’t necessarily the pursuit of a good day as such,it’s the finding something that is positive in it.Its the Autumn colours,that optic feast ,that free light show these past few days.Its that sheer zest for life that my dogs show every morning ,that “What are we having for breakfast thing they do”.

Yes,although we all carry that potential of negativity within each of us,we can,as such,harness the good in others,their support,their kindness,their empathy in ways that energise us ,keeping a perspective in our lives that we so desperately need to carry on .

Living of itself can be a challenge for many,but after numerous observations critically ill people in hospitals from Cornwall to London it has always made an imprint on my mind that their desire to overcome,to fight ,to grapple,to give it a go this thing called life,is an extremely wonderful thing to observe.So,I make this plea to myself today,and maybe it might help your day go slightly better,I’m choosing to look for small things every few hours to lift me,be it ,in my environment,an animal,the sounds that I hear,the hints of happiness that we sometimes observe as a soft smile from a pleasing text message is read,or a greeting ,or an emoji of support,I’m going to notice,yes,to silently feed of that positive life emotion to recharge my beating life batteries.

Thank you for your attention to my muse today.


Telling Stories.

It’s another day ,another clean slate as it were,or ,to use the same mineral metaphor,another chance to wipe the slate clean.When I was a child,my uncle would talk about this memories of schooling in the coy villages of Cornwall,and he would talk about his mother using a slate at school.Recently,while on a visit to Cornwall,I paid a visit to the slate quarry that I worked in during my school holidays as a teenager ,and it crossed my mind what prominence slate used to have in the lives of people back then.Now,in the 21 st century ,when alternatives are used ,when there isn’t a need for cold rooms with their slate shelf’s ,it all seems a bye gone age,but the phrase “wiping the slate clea” has survived .

Maybe,when more generations pass on,more and more of these life phrases will too,but I hope that they don’t ,and I hope they survive.Maybe,just maybe,when someòne dies,people might start to forget them,but I would like to think that we don’t,that we treasure their humanity ,their characters ,their inner ness,Yes,I really would like to think that.As the lessons that my uncle taught  me still echo in my mind,I was so grateful that he talked to me ,that he wasn’t taciturn,that he told me about what it was like to pass the grammar test ,only to be told that he couldn’t attend it because they were poor.

As we approach rememberance Sunday,let us never forget what people did for us,how they taught us how to live with few means ,but with big hearts.

Sometimes,stories keep us going ,like the bear  in Michael bonds book,who needed a story every night to settle down.Let us continue to retell the stories of òur family members ,so that they live on in our memories.Oral stories are a wonderful way to excite and love children,and it’s not expensive. It is the price of our time though .

If you have children or gran children ,read to them,spend time with them ,and if you haven’t ,wipe the slate clean with them and write another life story with them again .

My Week.

Travelled to Cornwall,to Kernowsmith,the pride of the Southwest,

Said goodbye to my sister Donna,and one and all stood tall ,

Meditated on the fragility of life,

Felt the need to take stock ,

Took an emotional stock check,

Tried to learn from the past,but not to be defined by it,

Kept my routine of exercise forwards ,

Looked to the tunes and pictures to blast my senses,

Smiled at my mistakes,realised that I’m not all that,

Checked that my heart still beats,

Said hello to the waves of Fistral,Lusty and Co,

Walked up to Eden and beyond,

Sang a hymn or two in concert with Diapason,

Returned my sister to the bowels of the Earth,

Got back home to Dorset ,to my pupils,with their glow,

That was my week,my life,my sparks,my imprints n the sand of existence.

Farewell to my mermaid of the North coast!

When on Monday I returned to Fistral bay because of a family bereavement,I felt that the place had gone “up market”.Not that is wasn’t before time,don’t get me wrong,but it just always had that time warp thing in my head as a younger man like it would always be Fisty!Well,everything changes,that is accept the very thing that I looked and listened at,the Atlantic.Why,that hadn’t changed at all,it had that essence,that Poseidon ,that roar from its bowels ,that come to me ,if you dare.

Walking out to the cribber,the old lifeboat station ,the place where the launch was a leap of faith self,I had a mental explosion of sea faring memories,the tides dicing with my synopsis ,playing poker with my feelings tossing my Waldorf salad of emotions through the ringer of my tears. It,do know,it did me oh so much good,that roar,that rush of tidal energy,that cocktail of foam Cointreau with a dash of lemon and sea salt ice.

So,I returned from the funeral home and left a memory of my sister with the “mermaids of Great Western,and the slopes of Lusty glaze ,nestling in her bosom of hope and finery”

Fairwell my lady ,my mermaid of the North coast.

To Rest.

It’s not the done thing ,you know,to Rest,

Why ,there is always oh so much to do,

Beds to makes,heads to shake,minds to inflate,

No,no time to rest,no time to desist to slumber,

For in the life moment,nothing should own industry,

To be active,to rush,to flourish,to pursue,why ,such noble pursuits,

No,that kind act,that visit to the sick,the squeeze of the infirms hand can wait,

Wait,I say,wait,………until ,it’s too late,until the diary is closed,until our mortal coil breaks,

Then,and only then,does the rest beckon,the industry stops,all lines become dead,

Rest awaits us all,but ,now,in this life,in this moment,can be,are we ,at peace with ourselves,our fellowman?

Oh,we talk to ourselves,convince ourselves that we are cool,that we have all the emotional intelligence,

But,but ,but………What have we given today?What good have we done?

When true rest comes,we make peace with our fellowman,our kinsfolk,

For by their peace,their security,we can rest,we can :Rest ourselves.

That golden hour.

So,we had an extra hour to wile away,or sleep away.We had it ,it came and went without much of a fanfare.Its presence and affect didn’t register with us that much at the time,but now it’s Monday,I’m beginning to think that Summer is now completely behind us.Yes,it’s been sunny today true,but the light is destined to to fade that much sooner each day.For commuters,they face the prospect of a dark morning commute and a dark return journey,a tough time all told.For those who suffer with SAD,or seasonally adjusted depression,it can be a real challenge of the highest order.

So,like all states in life,there is a good side and often a negative one to factor in.Yes,when the clocks go back,we might relish that extra hour of slumber,that is,if we have luxuriated in bed and slept,but if,like me,you struggle with sleep,then the thought of not actually getting your needed shut eye tends to negate any remedial benefits.

When we are younger,oh how time drags on,we seem to dream more ,to wish our life away.That sorrowful state is often repudiated as we grow,causing us to suffer from the :”I’m pushed for time type sentiments”.So,this hour that we’ve all had over the weekend,these 60 minutes,these one revolution of the minute hand,tempis frugit,That metronomic 360 degrees cycle has happened for all of us in term,but maybe we each find our own passage of time.We were all aware of the extra hour ,but what we did with it largely comes down differing experiences.

As I think of the symphonies that I have listened to that have lasted an hour,the paintings in galleries that I have looked at for an hour,the conversations that I have had for an hour ,it imprints on my mind just what is done in an hour.We often equate our worth to an employer by our hourly rate,and this is a standard measurement.

My blog post conclusion centres on “The listening hour”:By that,I mean,that emotional gift that we can bestow of ourself by just giving of ourselves  to another for  one hour.It is,on the surface ,a small thing ,but if we were to call it that golden hour ,that might well make a different to the recipient of our time.

Thank you for your attention.