Making sense of it.

Sunday 22nd January 2017 – was a-get-back to normality day. First on our agenda was Sainsbury’s in Barnstaple to get some pastry-free food. As wholesome as they were on the day – my boys had had their fill of microwaved sausage rolls, pasties and mini-quiches – left-over from Dad’s wake. Sainsbury’s on a Sunday afternoon was predictably busy – so much so – I suddenly thought of Dad – and envied him his peaceful position.  I usually venture out on late-night forages – to avoid the daytime throng.

Instead of going directly to the food aisles I strayed into the quieter home department – and immediately thoughts of Dad sprung to mind again – in the shape of two neat rows of faux Houseleeks – or Sempervivums.

Sempervivum literally means always – forever alive – however this was not the case with Dad’s clump.  All through my childhood and early adulthood – I remember a small outcrop of Houseleeks growing on our porch roof until our toilet’s overflow misbehaved once too often and completely undermined them. I don’t think Dad’s weekly application of grease to the antiquated ‘Armitage Shanks’ cistern helped either – his twenty-odd year cultivation of Houseleeks finally slipped off – never to be reinstated again!

Of course I had to buy a faux one in his honour.

Two neat rows of Sempervivium -

Then there were seven.

I think it will be impossible to not think of Dad too often -because I seem to see reminders of him around every corner – even on a supermarket shelf.Rolling wooden track to Crow Point. Something about Dartmoor

After shopping – we went to our favourite seaside escape – Crow Point near Braunton – on the North Devon coast.  Setting Sun from Crow Point Dunes. Something About DartmoorCrow Point Shack. Something about Dartmoor At sunset – the estuary beach was deserted. Just three of us – a thousand or more seabirds – and the remains of a campfire that still had a glimmer of life.  Campfire Crow Point Beach - Braunton. Something about DartmoorWith no more ado – my sons set about rekindling the fire while I decided to go in search of treasure…

Instead of walking on the smooth sand – I decided to walk on the difficult bit where all the debris gets washed-up at the stony edge beneath the dunes; here I found a rusty axe.  As I held it aloft – I wondered what it could tell – and hoped it was nothing too gruesome – especially as I was taking it home. Wow!Crow Point Rusty Axe. Something about DartmoorEar-shaped stone. Crow Point Beach. Something about DartmoorI also stumbled upon a stone in the shape of a perfect ear – and immediately started to muse about Dad again – and our severance from one another. It is ridiculous to ever imagine that he can see me and what I’m doing now; besides there are things I wouldn’t want him to see me doing!  We are lost from each other’s sight and that’s the way it is now.  As I turned the smooth stone over several times in my hand – I got to thinking that maybe the ear-shaped stone was a clue. I’m not able to see him – but it’s plausible that he can still hear me. Hearing is our first and last sense – perhaps it simply carries on. And though it’s a one-way arrangement – that’s alright because he’d have got to hear the curlews too.

Holding that thought – I threw the stone high up into the air and caught it – then carried on walking – to where the sea shimmered in hues of rosy-pink and mauve.

Beautiful, restorative Crow Point beach.Crow Point Beach near Braunton. Something about DartmoorRosy pink Sea at Crow Point. Something about DartmoorCrow Point - near Braunton North Devon. Something about DartmoorCampfire Crow Point Beach - Braunton. Something about Dartmoor

The Golden Hour.

Yew Tree.

A small golden window of light.  The Great Yew in the Churchyard winked at me.

When I was making arrangements for Dad’s funeral – I remember the Reverend telling me about  ‘The Golden Hour’. The first hour after a person dies – when their body remains soft and warm to the touch. It’s that magical hour when their spirit is close-by – before they leave the room…

My Father died in the morning and his body stayed at home until after nightfall when the undertaker came to collect him.  Two more Fridays have passed since then – and yesterday was the day he was laid to rest in our village churchyard.

In the morning – Friday 20th January 2017 – I was granted one more Golden Hour ‘alone’ with him inside the church – the peace inside was sublime.  

Order of the day; wall-to-wall sunshine for Dad's funeral.

Order of the day; wall-to-wall sunshine for Dad’s funeral.

Outside the weather too was God-given – not one cloud between Earth and Heaven; how Dad must of enjoyed his uninterrupted view of the day’s proceedings!

Blue sky all the way...

Blue sky all the way…

I’d gone to the church to light some special incense before the service – ‘Basilica’ from Prinknash Abbey in Gloucester.

As I watched the smoke curl in shafts of sunlight coming through the stained glass – I felt at one – like we were three again.

During the long night before the morning he died – I asked Dad who was in the room besides just us – because he kept looking over to the other-side of his room – like someone was standing – waiting there.  He couldn’t say – he could hardly speak; but I pressed him for an answer. I said names of family that had gone before but none met with a response – so I could only think perhaps it was The Good Shepherd himself come to collect him?  At my suggestion – Dad immediately opened his eyes wider and nodded his head firmly forward towards me – while his tight lips confirmed what I’d asked.  I’ll never forget his reaction – like he’d suddenly recognised – remembered the name of the ‘stranger’ in the room.  

The Good Shepherd shining whiter than white above Dad.

The altar window.  The Good Shepherd shining whiter than white above Dad’s coffin.

My Father stayed in the church overnight facing the altar and towering ‘Sanctuary Window’ up above.  Again – I love to imagine that moment when the rising Sun came flooding through the colours – and filtered its rays through the weft and calico lining of his Willow Coffin. I like that about a Willow Coffin – that they are both penetrable and es-capable; my Father’s earthly remains will soon return to nature – to the soil and the little creatures that he loved.

I finished the day in usual mode – with a night-walk with my two sons around the block – about three miles. It was really cold – and slippery underfoot in places – but totally invigorating; the clear moonless sky was peppered with light.  When we came back through the churchyard around midnight – we stopped by Dad’s plot.  All around a cacophony of noise suddenly broke the stillness; owls from every corner of the churchyard were serenading us – telling us Dad is alright.  Although he certainly wasn’t getting a quiet night-in with the racket that they were making!  It was the perfect end to a perfect day; Dad’s death – his funeral – has been a positive experience in so many respects – most of all because he is free – no longer confined to his room.

I hope that my entries over the last two weeks will continue to be a comfort to Dad’s wider family that regularly visit here – I hope it brings us all closer.  Thank you to everyone that came to Dad’s funeral from near and from far – and to those that were with us in spirit – especially Dear Uncle Peter – Dad’s Brother. Special thanks too – to Dad’s brave young band of bearers – who steadily carried him from the church and lowered him carefully into his final resting place under the expert supervision and guidance of wonderful Mr. Gist – well-done all!

Grandpa lives on.  Through Tom, Archie, Tobias, Jason and Araminta – his five only Grandchildren.

  Here are the pictures of ‘The Golden Hour’…

I love the rainbow colours of light on the left of this picture. That is the light streaming through the alter window.

I love the rainbow colours of light on the left of this picture; that is the light streaming through the altar window.  Of course I can only see it now because my camera has picked it up – in the moment though I could feel it only.

Dad's faithful old walking hat atop his coffin.

Dad’s faithful old walking hat atop his coffin.

His campaign medals.

An old soldier’s campaign medals gleaming in the light.

The Bible Lectern.

The Bible Lectern.

The aisle and arches of St. Edmund's. Something about Dartmoor

The aisle and arches of St. Edmund’s.  Willow Coffin made by Somerset Willow – England.

Saint Edmund's window...

Saint Edmund’s lancet window…

Exquisite detail at St. Edmund's feet.

Exquisite detail at St. Edmund’s feet.

“Rosemary for remembrance” – something that my Dad always used to say – he even named his youngest daughter after it.  Simple spray of Rosemary from sister Caitlin’s garden coupled with faux snowdrops because you can’t force Nature; Dad died too early in the New Year for real Snowdops.

Love liveth.  Simple Mulberry Cross made from Dad's tree that grows in the garden at home; the sapling was a gift from 'his' Sallie many years ago.

Love liveth.  Simple Mulberry Cross made from Dad’s tree that grows in the garden at home; the sapling was a gift from ‘his’ Sallie many years ago.

Frankincense and Gold. Dad died on the 6th January 2017. Feast of the Epiphany - Old Christmas Day.

Frankincense and Gold.  Dad died on the 6th January 2017. Feast of the Epiphany – Old Christmas Day.

Photographs of Dad on the sill of 'The Epiphany Window - The Adoration of the Magi'

Photographs of Dad on the sill of ‘The Epiphany Window – The Adoration of the Magi’

Incense burning on the sill of 'The Transfiguration Window' St. Edmund's

Incense burning on the sill of ‘The Transfiguration Window’ St. Edmund’s

With Helen and Lauren; we three handmaidens. Together we witnessed Dad take his last breath. In that moment – in my mind’s eye – I see them both with long archangel wings down to the floor – standing on either side at the head-end of Dad’s bed.  While I was stood at the foot…

Blackbird seen on the church wall – in ‘The Golden Hour’ 20th January 2017.   Dad is all-around – everywhere.

Well, two whole weeks and a day have passed since Dad passed away – and I have involved myself in most aspects of planning his funeral…

'Got the t-shirt' - and the hat! (Photo taken by my good friend Sallykins at the wake.)

‘Got the t-shirt’ – and the hat and the flag! (Photo taken by my good friend Sallykins at Dad’s wake.)

The one thing that I had absolutely nothing to do with was the eulogy – so before I draw a bold line under all of this – my final thank you goes to my wonderful mother – Sallie, for her ‘off the cuff’ eulogy to Dad. Mum – you were so composed – so brilliant – only you could have remembered so much and delivered it so eloquently. Why did I – we – ever doubt you.  Because you do digress from time to time!  

My Mum chose a beautiful parting song that was played at Dad’s funeral – it is called – ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ sung by Isla St Clair – never to be forgotten.  Regrettably not available to share here via YouTube – you’ll have to buy it!

Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever.

Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever.

 


 

Black and Pink.

Lloyds Bank Black Horse - Something about DartmoorTuesday 17th January 2017 – I went to Bideford – ‘The Little White Town’ – to officially close my Father’s ‘Black Horse’ bank account.

After that I enjoyed a quick look around a couple of charity shops – and then I went to the Burton Art Gallery – to see Madeline, Gabriel and the rest of the crew…ST833100 Bagpuss and co exhibition at the Burton Art Gallery Bideford. Something about DartmoorST833095 Clangers at Burton Art Gallery Bideford. Something about Dartmoor ST833097 Clangers - Burton Art Gallery. Something about DartmoorI can’t tell you how happy I felt to finally meet Bagpuss face to face – and gaze into his bright blue eyes and remember the magic of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. I only wish I could have picked up that saggy old cloth cat behind the glass – and given him a great big hug like Emily – the little girl who loved him.  Bagpuss didn’t look a day older!Bagpuss at the Burton Art Gallery Bideford. Something about Dartmoor

My Father was a bit like Bagpuss come the end – he slept a lot and was rather loose at the seams but we all loved him.

My Dad putting on one of my hats and making us all laugh.

Dad putting on one of my felt hats and making us all laugh.

He was a wizard at pulling silly faces!

He was a wizard at pulling silly faces!

As another kinda pussycat - 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'!

As another kinda pussycat – ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’!

 

A photo of a photocopy of a precious photo.

Today – Sunday 15th January 2017 would have been my Dad’s ninety-third birthday – he didn’t quite make it.  We had a little celebration get-together – and my sister gave me a copy of a long forgotten photograph – age probably early twenties.  Gosh Dad you were a looker!  

A photo of a photocopy of a photo.

A photo of a photocopy of a photo.

Play it again! Countless times I must have heard the roar of this engine accelerating away – out of your open bedroom door – down the stairs – and into my room!  Happy Birthday wherever you are – your favourite track ‘one’ more time! X

The lights were on GO. Friday 13th January 2017.

Snowy Dartmoor - January Friday 13th 2017. Something about Dartmoor

Left for Okehampton. Dartmoor covered in a blanket of snow – Friday 13th. January 2017 – registration day.

I woke up to BBC Breakfast News – and reports of inclement weather conditions up and down the country except in the South West.  I was so relieved when I drew back the curtains; the forecast was clear and the roads to Okehampton from my direction were ice and snow free – although Dartmoor itself was white.  

Okehampton Town Hall on the corner of the four-way cross.

Okehampton Town Hall on the corner of the four-way cross yesterday.

I had an important appointment to keep – to register my Father’s death at the Town Hall which is situated on the main crossroads in the heart of the town – and to collect the ‘green paper’ for the undertaker – which without – no funeral could take place Friday week. My sister Rosie and her family in Vienna have already booked and paid their fare – it was a very important appointment to keep. Even the weather was on Go.

I knocked once and waited. A very nice man opened the door and went through the registration with me - all very easy.

I knocked once and waited. A very nice man opened the door and went through the registration process with me – all very easy and pleasant.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

The glass roof of Okehampton Arcade yesterday.

The glass roof of Okehampton Arcade yesterday.

Okehampton was Dad’s favourite town in the west-country – where he’d done his weekly shop for years – followed by a gentle amble around beautiful Simmons Park beside the East Okement river. After registering his death – I walked up the Arcade to the park to do a morning lap in his memory. Over many years we must have lapped Simmons Park a thousand or more times together – and then with my boys – when they were younger.  Okehampton was wide awake – people were all about the business of the day – the World doesn’t stop. 

The day had an energy of its own – everything flowed – apart from my camera! I take it everywhere – even with me on this official day.

These are the photos. Each one hurriedly snapped because my camera kept frustratingly turning itself off; I’d neglected to charge it the night before!  I offer no scientific explanation as to why I was suddenly able to turn it back on again – and then again – and squeeze just one more shot before the viewfinder turned black and the alarm went beep beep beep again – using up its last vestige of energy. I’d walk on a bit more and then I’d see another ‘memory’ I wanted to keep – so I pushed my luck again…

Another unanswered question - why is there a number 13 above the lantern? It's always been there but on this occasion it seemed especially significant.  I think I probably think to much!!!

Another question – why is there a number 13 above the lantern? Today it seemed especially significant although it’s probably been there for years and I’ve just never noticed it.

My faithful old camera did ‘flatline’ eventually.   Here though – are the precious photos from Dad’s official day – the energy came from somewhere… 

The way in...

The way in…

By the ponds - and the fountains - and the wooden park house...

By ponds – and fountains – and the wooden park house with a red roof…

Over the East Okement - to stand on 'our' bridge...

Over the East Okement – to stand on ‘our’ bridge…

Something about Dartmoor - East Okement RiverST833039

Another promise of Spring. Bulbs pushing through the earth…

Concentric circles - Time.

Concentric circles – time.

Winter Crab Apples. I picked up a fallen one from the grass - deepest t red and muddy - and put it in my pocket.

Winter Crab Apples. I picked up a fallen one from the grass – deepest red and muddy.  I put it in my pocket for ‘keeps’ – although it too will decay eventually – everything does.

One for sorrow. Not really - Dad knew he was dying - wanted to die - he couldn't go on anymore.

One for sorrow; not truly.  Dad knew he was dying – he asked to die near the end – he had endured enough – and I knew he could’t go on anymore – not even for all his family.  It was time.

The way in and the way out...

The way in and the way out…

Back through the arcade - to the shops...

Back through the arcade – to the shops…

My favourite shop in Okehampton. I 'bought' three items. A mysterious canvas painting of a cave opening - and a copper bangle with a Maltese Cross on it and a wooden, hand carved Holy cross. These two items the ladies gave me with the picture.

My favourite shop in all Okehampton. I ‘bought’ three items. A mysterious canvas painting of a cave opening – a copper bangle with a Maltese Cross on it and a wooden, hand carved Holy cross. These smaller items – the ladies kindly gave me with the picture.  I love this place!

The White Hart Hotel on the other corner of the crossroads.

Finally back to where I started – at the four-way cross.  The White Hart Hotel.

Cave painting. I know why I was drawn to it even though it looks dark. To me

Cave painting.  I know why I was drawn to it even-though it looks dark in there.  To me – its Birth and Death – and the eternal mystery of both.  I’m not sure where I’ll hang it just now!

THE GATE OF THE YEAR by Minnie Louise Haskins

God Knows

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

 

Heaven-sent.

Today it is pouring with rain again – it’s suitably dismal. Yesterday though – Wednesday the 11th of January 2017 – was Heaven-sent. For the first time since Dad’s passing I woke up to blue sky and white fluffy clouds.

The tower of St. Mary Magdalene's Church South Molton.

View from the yard at work 11-01-17. The tower of St. Mary Magdalene’s Church – South Molton.

I took Wednesday off from funeral arrangements – the undertaker came Tuesday, the vicar is coming this afternoon – and on Friday I shall register my Father’s death.  Wednesday was a work day. It was business as usual – apart from receiving a large bunch of Spring flowers on my arrival from all the gang.

Promise of Spring from 'The Gang'

‘Promise of Spring’  They smell divine.

During a quiet spell – I went out into the yard – where all the scrap metal items are piled ready for sorting and collection.  I pulled out an old lantern that had bits missing – and no glass – but its shape instantly reminded me of Christ’s lantern – in my favourite painting ‘The Light of the World’ by William Holman Hunt.

Holding my lantern aloft to admire it.

Holding my lantern aloft to admire it.

When I held it up to admire it – the wind caught it and blew through it sideways – and I noticed its shadow on the sunlit wall; I’d struck Gold – and Silver…

Renewed and gleaming in the sunlight.

Renewed and gleaming in the sunlight at the back of the yard.

I wandered up to the back of the yard – with the lantern still swinging in my hand – to where some grubby old fridges also await recycling. The wind was really blowy – cold and fresh – and invigorating.  After several overcast days I felt alive and happy to be back to normal. It is hard to feel truly sad about my Father’s passing because I knew Death was coming and he’d reached a great age. I saw Death which I think makes it easier. To stand at the foot of my Father’s bed – before him when he died was a privilege – as seeing someone being born. It was profoundly mysterious – and I’ll never forget how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time 10:50 am – to pronounce him dead. If it had happened a day earlier – I’d have been at work.  Just knowing that he’s not here in person is sad enough but I don’t dwell on that thought because he feels very near in a dimension that I can’t explain; yesterday at the back of the yard my Father was with me in spirit. There have been several uncanny experiences since his passing.

SIlver Birches and Sky.

Silver Birch – ‘Lady of the Woods’

I stood under January’s trees and watched the wind stir through them. I could feel their down-draught sweep over me, around me and through me – it was a feeling of complete euphoria. I spun around with my lantern still in my hand like I used to when I was a child – until dizzy –  I should have been working really – and serving in the shop – no matter! So many things pass through our recycle shop; how could anyone know that by donating that broken lantern it would come to mean so much to another person – me. I guess that’s the ethos of our wonderful shop – SMR Phoenix. I’m glad I went back to work if only for one special day until everything is sorted for the funeral. 

Here are the ‘Ladies’ at the back of the yard – how lucky am I to have them so close in all their moods. On some days their long hair hangs perfectly still but yesterday they had the wind through it – Dad.  You can almost hear the rush in these photographs – imagine my feeling – and feel joy too. Here is the sequence – we reach our crescendo near the end – enjoy!ST832974 ST832968ST832969ST832975ST832976ST832979ST832981ST832984ST832986ST832989ST832990

Going home time.

At going home time.

Home.

Home.

 

Unending Circle.

Many happy days on Dartmoor remembered. With Tom in 2008.

Grandpa and Tom – and me!  Dad in his eighties atop a Dartmoor Tor – 2008.

Yesterday, 6th. January 2017 at 10:50 am – my Father died peacefully at home.  He saw me being born and I witnessed him die; our circle is complete – unending.  

One of the things I’ll miss about him the most – is showing him my finds.  It is something I’ve done since girlhood and something that he loved to share in.  When he couldn’t get out on his daily walks anymore – it helped to keep him connected with the outdoors through my eyes.  

For me – the greatest loss of all was the thought that he wasn’t able to go outside and see nature for himself.  I hope he can see now – now that he’s got out through the open window.

Showing Dad my eight-pointer antler find. April 2016.

Bringing the outside in.   Showing Dad my eight-pointer shed antler – April 2016.

Catch you later Dad. X

Dad sitting by his fire. December 2009

Dad sitting by his fire.  December 2009

 

New Year New Moon.

dartmoor-pony-on-walkhampton-common-dartmoor-something-about-dartmoor

Walkhampton Common Alignment: Moon, Hawthorn, Pony. Dartmoor – 2nd January 2017.

Today was my first sighting of the New Moon – of the New Year – and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be to see it than Dartmoor. If that wasn’t lucky enough – I touched it too.

dartmoor-pony-on-walkhampton-common-dartmoor-something-about-dartmoor

Chance meeting with a Dartmoor Pony.

'Once in a Blue Moon.

Once in a Blue Moon.

White Light.

Yesterday – 30th December 2016 – I went to Exeter – to the Sales. Not to buy anything cut price – rather – a pair of expensive moss-green trainers for Tom – that predictably were not reduced! They were my Christmas present to him which he’d been patiently waiting for since Christmas Day. Buying post-christmas presents – is just something that we traditionally do now – like putting up the Christmas Tree – or taking down the decorations on Twelfth Night – it takes all the pressure off – and lets us enjoy the said simpler pleasures. His challenge was to buy me something for one pound or less but it mustn’t be something to eat – his gift to me is still outstanding!  Something else to look forward to in 2017!

the-exeter-christmas-spider-something-about-dartmoorBy the time – we arrived in Exeter – the light had faded fast – and the illuminations were shining brilliantly in the gloom.  Our first port of call was the big John Lewis emporium – where I instantly fell for a completely ‘useless’ item that was dumped on a sale stand with some other leftovers from the sale.  All of them soiled or broken in some way.  The item that caught my eye was a bronzed armadillo candle with a broken tail. the-john-lewis-pangolin-something-about-dartmoorHe may as well of had a broken wick too because my intention is to never light him. To me – he stood out because he was broken – other than that I don’t know why I wanted him – I just did!

He could almost be the star of a John Lewis Christmas advert – he was so cute and woebegone. After some further negotiation at the till point – I managed to get him for the knock down price of just two pounds!  He is really an Armadillo – but to me, because I can – he is a Gold Pangolin – I just like the sound of the word! 

Moving out of John Lewis to Next – I bought another adorable creature in the form of a cushion.   next-new-season-harvest-mouse-cushion-something-about-dartmoorIf there is one ‘vice’ I need to give up in 2017 – it is my cushion habit. At least I’ve acknowledged my addiction here – so that’s a start.

Our next stop was the sports shop!  All I can say is – mission accomplished; Tom got his desired trainers.

What an unfamiliar world the sports shop was! The young woman that served me must have been one of the most unanimated individuals that I’ve come across – my purchase from her must have been such an effort.  I’m looking forward to the time when Tom has grown out of the ‘Brand Stage’ – and I won’t have to hang-out in these places!

Further on – I made eye contact with a quiet, homeless man – I ‘met’ him down a gloomy alley near the cathedral. He was sitting in a dark doorway – huddled among his belongings.

I had gloves on – my wallet was in my bag – and it was all too much effort.  I – and the moment passed – I didn’t give him anything.

Homeless dossed outside BHS Store Exeter. Something about DartmoorFurther on again – there were some more verbal homeless people dossed outside the BHS entrance.  What a sorry sight on a bitterly cold night between Christmas and New Year.  An indictment on our society if ever I’ve seen one.

I just followed my two sons – and thought my thoughts.  Tom led the way – and we enjoyed one last tour under the Christmas Lights before they’re packed away ‘under the stairs’ for another year.  Tom led us up and down one side-street after another – then suddenly I noticed those soulful eyes again; unexpectedly I was back in the gloomy alley. This time – I didn’t walk passed. I just quickly handed him a crisp new fiver and left without wishing him a ‘Happy New Year’ – that would have been crass. The quiet man said ‘Thank you’.

Well this year has nearly come to its end – and I find myself thinking about what resolutions I’m going to make.  Perhaps – I should stop buying cushions for starters!  I’m going to try to get my priorities right too – like the example of ‘The Gold Pangolin’ and ‘The Homeless Man’ – one cost me just two pounds – an impulse buy that I don’t need even though he’s undeniably cute – where as my crisp five pound note went to someone that needed it more.  With any luck it was one of those special ‘Jane Austen’ notes – I wouldn’t begrudge him a penny off it whoever he was. I’ll never forget those eyes.

One of the most notable things about 2016 – are the number of famous people that have died this year.  I’ll miss the stars that made me laugh out loud. I say miss – I won’t truly miss any of them because I didn’t know them personally.  In one shape, form or another they are still here – on cd, vhs and dvd – and Dear Terry is even on a mug! white-lights-2016-something-about-dartmoorThe exception is a favourite singer who died on Christmas Day.  I keep my George Michael collection in the car – because I like listening to him when I’m in my bubble – driving to and from work.  It’s George and me only time.

I have called my imperfect ‘Gold Pangolin’ – ‘George’ in his honour.  It is symbolic of a man that I think was perhaps too vain – too sensitive for this cruel world.  One only need look at the newspapers that used the least flattering image of him – to announce his passing. So unnecessary.  If only ‘Big George’ had had a suit of gold armour like ‘Little George’ – he may still be here in person. 

little-george-something-about-dartmoor

Now I know why I needed him so.

Never too funky – always absolutely ‘flawless’ – forever handsome, eternal white light – George Michael.

Goodbye 2016. 

* * * * * * * * * *

One thing I know I’ll not be giving up in 2017 – is going outside.  My favourite track… 

 

The Immersive Brontes!

At home with the Brontes feeling their pain.

At home with the Brontes: feeling their pain.  (Graphite study from my collection.)

A couple months ago – my colourful nephew came to visit us from London. I remember listening attentively as he enthused all about his latest ‘money making’ venture – ‘Immersive Cinema’ – apparently it’s a sort of audience participation thing – where you enjoy a meal while being immersed in a fantasy world that has been brought to life around you – as if straight out of the silver screen.  Apparently – being entertained in this way is a booming culture – especially in trendy London circles. Without wishing to pour cold water on anyone’s fire – I kept my thoughts to myself – but couldn’t help wondering who on earth needs to be spoon fed an imagination in this way – and pay for the ‘pleasure’.  I wished him well with his venture of course!  He is such a tonic – always fizzing with ideas – and dreams – and that’s wonderful.

Last night – I immersed myself in some TV – I think it is the first time in over a year that I have actually sat down and watched a television programme of any sort – apart from catching the odd bit of breakfast news in the mornings while on the move.  

What a treat was in store…  

The Bronte Sisters on my widescreen.

The Bronte Sisters on my widescreen.

Everything had been organised like a military operation so that I could sit down and watch – ‘To Walk Invisible’ at 9 o’clock – on the dot.

'To Walk Invisible' on my telly.

‘To Walk Invisible’ on my telly.

Two whole hours of uninterrupted telly – while my two sons set about building a ‘do it yourself’ Gingerbread House – they are twenty-three and sixteen – nearly seventeen. It was a present from eldest son to youngest son who is learning bricklaying at college; an inspired gift that kept them happily amused. While they busied themselves in my cosy parlour downstairs – I retired upstairs to my bedroom where the telly is.  Rather stupidly – the window had been forgotten and was still on the latch from earlier – my unheated room was cold and offered as much comfort as Haworth Parsonage in the 19th century!  I sat down in the armchair with two hot-water bottles – two cups of tea and a blanket around my shoulders – and immersed myself in their unforgiving world.  It would have been nice to have had some powered heating but somehow the realism of seeing my breath condense while still inside – only added to the two hour drama – I was rapt throughout as well as suitably numb!  I thought that the actress who played Emily was particularly powerful – brilliant.  All of them were.

How cold those three sisters must have been inside that roomy Parsonage; wearing long dresses with rising damp – and necklines that exposed them to the grip of every sneaking draught.  My god – I felt their pain!

Something that warmed me up. Two hours later - the Gingerbread 'Parsonage' was complete

Something that warmed me up.  Two hours later – the Gingerbread ‘Parsonage’ was complete!

Back to the modern-day – to where I started.  I guess – I kinda see where my nephew is coming from – although I think immersive cinema is really about this 21st century’s unrelenting pursuit of pleasure and always having ‘a good time’ no matter what the cost is. I don’t get it.

"O dreadful is the check--intense the agony-- When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see; When the pulse begins to throb--the brain to think again-- The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain." Emily Bronte

“O dreadful is the check–intense the agony–
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb–the brain to think again–
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.” Emily Bronte