Monday, 8 November 2021


Officially winter starts on December 21st. Yet first thing on Friday it was really chilly with a frost. I recalled a poem First Frost by Edwin Curran an American poet born at the end of the 19th century:

The flowers grow in the garden pied
Velvet, imperial, laughing-eyed,
While on them all hovers a breath,
The whistling frost of silver death.

A Frosty Morning | At the Write Time

I’d been feeling pretty mouldy for several weeks so I empathised with phrases like “silver death” but more to the point the blue sky, the bright sun and that familiar ‘Brrr!’… feeling as I wound my scarf more tightly round my neck, made me feel so much more alive than I’d recently felt. I love seasons. Autumn, like claret, is my thing but I also recall the thrill of bleak midwinters as imagined by Christina Rossetti.

School Gate Etiquette: Five Do's and Don'ts

I was up early as we were taking our 7-year-old granddaughter to school. The children all “laughing eyed” were waiting patiently at the gate looking eager, happy and expectant. The tired dismay I’d been feeling earlier, based on a mess of dismal news about institutional racism, sleaze and sheer stupidity, together with unexpected Republican victories in America, ebbed away. These children were the future, and it was lovely to see. No prejudice, no-isms  just a joy in life and the present. There was also a sense of humour that was rich in wicked fun:- 

“So what did you do in school yesterday?”

“Oh, fighting and cutting up butterflies.”

Fall is yet to happen. The leaves are still withering but green on the trees. Winter is waiting. As are our fuel bills. Ours I’m told will be over £5,000. Eyewatering but it’s my wine cellar that will take the hit to accommodate that.

I’ve decided to stop grumbling about the racism, sleaze and sheer stupidity journalists are slavering over.


Blood & Beauty: The Borgias by Sarah Dunant

Instead I’m thinking about reading a good book – currently Sarah Dunant’s “Blood and Beauty” about the Borgias, sipping a chilled Pinot Grigio – tiny ones to savour - and listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.  His music has such a sense of fluent certainty about it.  He makes it sound easy.

The story of our times is not that complex; it’s happened before; it’s a perennial story. Old v New; Past v Present; Continuity v Change. As people get older they’ll often lament “why do they keep changing things?” The answer is because old naturally has to renew; because humanity is creative and keeps on trying to improve things and the sheer economic logic of change which creates work, money and jobs.

The biggest difficulty in life is people. Understanding them, hearing them and speaking to them. Persuading billions of people to be poorer more uncomfortable and colder is difficult. We are wealthier, healthier world than we were a century ago because we’ve worked harder, more creatively but also created more pollution.

But things are changing. In India a 15 year old has invented a solar powered ironing cart to replace thousands of previously coal powered ironing carts. Enterprise and determination win again.

A picture containing text, tree, outdoor, bicycle

Description automatically generated

In the Dominican Republic a start-up business is working successfully on cultivating coral on land, making it more resilient to changes in temperature and acidity and then transplanting it to the ocean. Great story. 

Finally read Jeremy Paxman’s Black Gold.  It tells the story of coal and how it transformed us in the Industrial Revolution and then propelled us globally to where we are today. But we have changed. Coal is of yesterday as the horse is a mode of transport. And we can change further because, remember… winter is coming.

Hard Graft By Jeremy Paxman


1 comment:

John Eustace said...

If your heating bill is £5K I'd recommend you go around and close few windows, physical ones that is, keeping the mental ones wide open as ever