A heavy frost this morning but it has been followed by a glorious day – not a cloud in the sky; winter in its finest clothing. This morning’s paper has a headline, two fine days in a row. That sums up three weeks of bleakness, lowering skies, drizzle and heavy rain. Watching the abutilon leaves thawing out, however, I wonder if that plant will cope. Cabbage tree and camellia are naturally evergreen. The oak is deciduous. But the abutilon hovers in between. It's covered in flowers. Stupid tree, it doesn't realise it's winter. .
Octopus Paul got it right. Spain won. South Africa has successfully hosted the World Cup. Indeed, it has confounded the critics and doom sayers. I cringed at being a New Zealander when that country missed out on holding the last one. Helen Clark had assured the South African Government that our vote would be for the African republic. The local authorities had told her that was this country's position. But Dempsey their representative on the FIFA had other ideas and voted against – a blatant and willful act of disobedience.
I’ve been drooling over a handout in the paper about the fortnight food festival in the Capital City at the end of the month. I know it’s all marketing hype but there are some mouth-watering treats in the offing. My restaurant days are over. There have been many meals out down the years, celebrations or lonely ones by myself through necessity. Taste, like the other senses, is a fleeting affair. But memory retains images and thoughts from a considerable number where food and occasion coincided to be retained and cherished. .
This time last year my computer was playing up. Our guru took it away for a week. I felt bereft not being able to do my daily blog or read my emails. It has functioned well since then. Its use you may say is addictive, but I find it hard to envisage existence without it.
I’ve been watching on DVD the Ken Burns documentary series on 'The National Parks: America’s Greatest Idea', six years in the making. I have only been to one, the Grand Canyon but the arresting images and the description of the struggles and efforts to establish them make good viewing. I had never heard of John Muir the leading advocate. He is a great American. I found the idea of President Theodore Roosevelt and Muir sleeping out in the wilderness intriguing. From Yosemite and Yellowstone the series follows the development of the Parks and the servicing of them. While I find the preachiness of the text a bit off-putting and I would welcome more variety in the background music the ideas and issues are important.
I’ve finished 'Lark Rise'. A first-class read! Compulsory school – with its consequences – the inspector’s visit, the vicar, May Day and harvest day, a wealth of childhood experience lovingly presented. She was obviously close to her brother Edmund. And so to the last paragraph which reminded me of Byatt’s 'The Children’s Story' – all that youthful vitality growing up to be cannon fodder in the forthcoming carnage. The waste of it all.
‘And all the time boys were being born or growing up in the parish, expecting to follow the plough all their lives, or, at most, to do a little soldiering or go to work in a town. Gallipoli? Kut? Vimy Ridge? Ypres? What did they know of such places? But they were to know them, and when the time came they did not flinch. Eleven out of that tiny community never came back again. A brass plate on the wall of the church immediately over the old end house seat is engraved with their names. A double column, five names long, then, last, and alone, the name of Edmund.'
The 2018 Book Council Lecture
2 days ago