Five months in to the pandemic.
Things have gone two steps forward and one step back. In the UK, society went from complete lockdown to easing a little. Where I live, shops have opened, even pubs and restaurants – and people have tried to provide conditions that are safe. What ‘is’ safe is a moot question however and there has been a lot of swinging around – other cities in lockdown again. We are to wear masks – although no-one seems to be clear when and where. As the photo of Bournemouth beach shows – some throw caution to the wind:
Kinda’ weird when the ‘enemy’ is invisible. Everything looks so normal but it is clearly not.
I have stayed put with very little use of the car. The seasons change – now we move into full summer. But, really, it is autumn for nature – the countryside has done what it is going to do. Last weekend was Lammas or Lughnasadh.
This festival or sabat marks two things: the celebration of the beginning of harvest; the first stirrings of the darkness – the death and resurrection of the Holly King. His influence will only grow more apparent as the days, weeks and months go forward now.
Spectacular skies and sunsets in the forest:
The forest is now dark green – it has lost that fresh spring green. The berries are also out. Like the Rowan Tree: a tree for protection against wicked forces!
As for my own ‘harvest’, the plants have grown well but produce has been modest so far. One courgette on my courgette plant!!!
Still, I have been active with cooking with summer things. A favourite – Pea and Broad Bean Risotto with parmesan:
Reviews coming in.
One from Meyn Mamvro – a magazine which deals with prehistoric sites in Cornwall – stone circles, holy wells, etc. Unhappily, exploring these has had to be virtual and at a distance.
Also, the latest from the Powys Review – an association dedicated to that extraordinary literary family from Dorset.
‘Magical’ best describes their rural parables and tales. I am down to speak at their summer conference next year – assuming we can actually meet. Although, by then, I guess Zoom will become a norm for social interactions!!!
Some good theatre this month ‘At Home’: a fine production of Terence Ratigan’s The Deep Blue Sea; and then that Shakespearean tales of jealousy, Othello!!
Other virtual events included, WOMAD At Home – in lieu of the actual festival. All the usual was there: performance, workshops, talks, shops, recipes, etc.
Lots of writing this month. I shall be posting some knew chapters on Bourdieu later this month – as a forerunner to the new book, and looking for responses and feedback. No one who looks at my work would be surprised at this focus; but actually, they would find further developments in my thinking about him and his philosophy. http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/bourdieu/
For me, his books are ‘canonic’: each time I read them, I find new insights and understanding.
Lots of reading and listening this month, too. So, two CDs and two books.
The CDs are: a collection from classic Lee Konitz – modern jazz and swing with a high level of smooth sophistication; and another collection of country blues players. The latter is amazing with some names I definitely had not heard of – Little Hat Jones, Papa Egg Shell, the Two Poor Boys and ‘Funny Papa’ Smith. If not classic, the 25 pieces are still beautiful songs from the 20s and 30, spirited singing and excellent guitar.
Music features also in one of my books: Mahler – The Eighth – by Stephen Johnson. Johnson is a fine musical journalist but he is also a musician himself, which means he can get inside the piece and explain what is going on. The symphony itself – surely a masterpiece of the Mahlerian oeuvre – is analysed section by section. But, then, there is analysis of the socio-cultural background of the day and his personal state. The eighth was actually written in 1907 but not performed until 1910 – the year Mahler in fact died. One does get a sense of mounting crisis – partly precipitated by his health problems and discovering that his wife – Alma – was having an affair with Walter Gropious. Quite a lady was Alma!! Read her diaries and letters!!!
The other book was a biography of Pamela Colman Smith. Who? Yes, not that well known but actually she designed and painted the Waite-Rider Tarot card deck that has become a principle source to go to for those looking for divination. PCS turns out to be quite an individual as well: she used to perform recitals of Jamaican faery tales and plays with her toy theatre. She also knew Yeats – Jack and William Butler – as well as Ellen Terry and Henry Irving. She also had successful exhibitions of her art – one was the first non-photographic exhibition to be held at Arthur Stieglitz’s gallery in New York. Her style is very original – a kind of mix of Japonese, Pre-raphaelite, and Comic book. Faery! Anyway, she was born in 1878 and her style did not survive the onset of modernism from the twentieth century. Although being a member the Golden Dawn, she later converted to Catholicism and spent most to the second half of her life in Cornwall – first the Lizard and then Bude, where she died penniless. Even her grave was unmarked!! Anyway, a fascinating read from Dawn Robinson: