July 2020

Third month of lockdown and of ‘micro-life’: I say ‘micro’ but really it has gone both ways: certainly, one’s world shrinks to everyday surroundings and becoming very attentive to things at the doorstep. I have followed nature this year in a way I have not done before – the days, the weeks, and months. For a while there was great stillness, but things became unsettled this month. Various reasons for this: the enormity of the situation became clear to people – and this virus is going nowhere – also, the strain of lockdown became evident. As I write, things are being relaxed: pubs, shops, art galleries, public spaces. There are also mounting crises: theatres for example and various other employment places are shedding jobs. So, we still wait and see,,,,,



June was the month of the Summer Solstice in my part of the globe: 22.53 on the 20th to be exact, but the day is normally celebrated on the 21st. We have had weeks of sunshine and blue skies, but the Solstice was suitably grey and rainy. Still, I was up at 04.15 to greet the event. Some rain and a little dawn chorus from my resident blackbird:







Skies later were spectacular:







The Forest too:







A ‘grey mare’ celebrating. And a cow too!!!:







Sun re-established itself and we hit the highest temperature of the year: in my garden at least:







One result was that the Lavender bush burst forth: Beautiful colours and sounding like a Beehive.










My plants are coming on too. Courgettes – care of a special fertiliser I have been manufacturing:







Sadly, one result of the extra sun is that people go crazy for the beach. A major incident was called at Bournemouth when they were invaded by thousands of sea-seekers. 







One understands the sentiment, but ‘social distancing’ clearly has gone to the wall. We shall see if this affects the infection rate!!





Someone sent me a photo of a previous time:







Looking at this, one might think it was last year – it could be. But, actually, it around 1966 – yes, that is almost 55 years ago – and is a photo of the Folk Cottage in Mitchell, Cornwall – a celebrated and now famous folk club. Those were the days when the post-war generation were full of energy and spirit. Everything seemed possible.

Actually, this room was/ is upstairs in the building and many folk singers performed there. In fact, there was almost a folk club everywhere. Various ones in Bristol, where I lived and other famous ones in Cornwall where my family came from.

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of visiting this place and speaking with the now owners/ residents. They showed me around and now this is one of their bedrooms. To think that the mermaid painting was somewhere beneath their wallpaper!

Incidentally, the singer is the middle is Ralph McTell, who I also had the pleasure to speak with this month.

Of course, I wrote a biography of him a while back. Parallel Lives:








Inside my house, I am cooking a lot…… Like Gooseberry Crumble – a rare treat.






Lots of cultural consumption as well – again, some procured from inside the house and others on the Internet. Of the latter, a very good production for the National Theatre in London of A Mid-Summer’s Night Dream by Shakespeare. A very weird play, perhaps apt for mischieviousness and madness of summer nights.








Such long days, full nature, and soft summer evenings have also inspired me to listen to Delius with his ecstatic pieces: Walk to the Paradise Garden, Summer Night on the River, A Song of Summer and On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. The titles speak for themselves. Incidentally, I have also been listening to his Requiem, Mass of Life and songs based on Whitman poems – Songs of Farewell.






With all this, and somewhat following up on last month with Robert Simpson, I have also been listening to other English composers: Nicholas Maw and Bernard Stevens. I love the way they are both radical and pastoral.








More follow up in reading as well. First Jung’s Red Book. I have had this pretty much since it came out but it is almost impossible to read since it is enormous. So, this edition is ‘reader friendly’: small sized so that one can easily handle it – and read it!!







The other book has been by Barry Lopez: Of Wolves and Men.

Readers of this page will know I have been enthusing about him for a while. His prose is like fine porcelain. When I suggest him to people, they just look at me oddly. I think it is the name. I mean what is it? A kind of mix of the mundane and the exotic. This book focuses on ‘the Wolf’ – not an obvious topic of course. Through the pages, he shows how it has become the focus of mythology, faery tale, wonder, fear, and, incidentally, almost hunted to extinction. One such legend, is that the gods were to turn them into humans but only got as far as the eyes. I mean, look at the photo.




As with other books like Arctic Dreams, bit by bit Lopez gets into the ways of these animals and show their sensitivities. In the end, one gets a picture of the subtle dynamic of life itself and how far human beings have gone in destroying it.