Tuesday, 31 July 2012

In the name of Beauty.

I do a lot of my learning on the hoof.  Inspirations have a habit of falling into my head at unexpected times, a lot like the lobster claws and odd shells that appear in the garden dropped off by seagulls even though we live seven miles from the sea. It is a rather ramshackle way of gathering information but there are some wonderful detours along the way.

Mr Mark Cousins.

Let me give you an example starring my newest socks, a beautiful film and  Walt Whitman. I went to the cinema to see the premiere of  What is this film called Love made by Mark Cousins. The result of a few spare days in Mexico City,  a couple of quid and a laminated image of Sergei Eisenstein. WITFCL is a glorious wide open invitation to wander through the mind of the director, finding common ground as you go.  Everything is imbued with importance, from children playing to a fly on a ledge. Heroes and heroines, poems and imagery, are celebrated with a full on enthusiasm that made my heart happy.  Best of all, the film was a lesson in sticking to your creative guns, a note to self to believe in your own ideas.

A discussion after the film led me to look into Walt Whitman, shamefully all I knew about his poetry came from my teenage exposure to the Kids From Fame. This was not likely to be the best example of his work so I decided to get hold of a copy of Leaves of Grass. The introduction to the book was by E.M. Forster. You can read it here and I would recommend that you do. I haven't read any of Whitman's poetry yet but I've read the introduction six times and found an uncanny echo of what I had learned watching Mark Cousin's film. This is what Forster says:

" The average man needs to be just a little braver. He loses so much happiness through what might be termed "minor cowardices". Why are we so afraid of doing the "wrong thing," of wearing the "wrong clothes," of knowing the "wrong people," of pronouncing the names of artists or musicians wrongly? What in the name of Beauty does it matter? Why don't we trust ourselves more and the conventions less?"

and the scrappy bits.

One thing I am never afraid of is wearing the wrong socks and I knitted these beauties in a fit of Fair Isle enthusiasm that I hold Mary Jane Mucklestone's book entirely responsible for. They are made from the scraps leftover from other sock endeavours and I had been struggling to find a name for them when E.M.Forster came to my rescue. During one of my many re-readings, I found this. Happiness, Forster suggests will not be with us all of the time, it would be unrealistic to hope that it could. "But" he says " we may hope for intensity of beauty; that is absolutely certain." there will be "what one may call the irreducible minimum, the inalienable dowry of humanity: Beauty in scraps."  I looked at my socks, looked back at the page and thought that's exactly what I have. Beauty in scraps.

In other news, I've been spinning.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Quick Pics

Oh heck, I meant to post days ago but I'm still thinking. Please accept these photographs in lieu of words.

First raspberries of the season.
Fennel weather forecast.

Usual post breakfast spot.
Redcurrants - already in the freezer and in my tummy.

Friday, 6 July 2012


When the sun shines this place is beautiful.

 I'm in a really good place right now.  Not in any new-age self-help sense,  I mean in terms of bricks and mortar. Some chums have taken themselves off on holiday and left me in charge of their home. I am also responsible for the well being of a collie with a tail like a Burlesque dancer's fan and a sweet tempered cat who has all the food removal skills of the smartest sneak thief.  My joy would be complete if the sun was shining but as the rain and mist bring with them the smell of the sea only a few minutes walk from my door,  I can hardly complain. It reminds me of growing up in another small Scottish seaside town where the bovine call of the foghorn would be heard on damp days.

Spinning challenge.

This place is peaceful in the way that only a house that is normally filled with family can be. The fridge hums, the dog clicks her way across the kitchen floor and the bird themed kitchen clock hoots like an owl at twelve. There is a strong sense of hiatus, a feeling that the house is just taking a breather and at any moment three boys will rampage through the front door to inhabit the coats and hats that hang empty in the hallway.  Their absence is everywhere, from the snooker table folded up and stored behind the sofa to the plastic lizards who keep an eye on the plant pots in the garden.  Peaceful with a hint of melancholy, perfect for reading, reflection, and staying up too late watching all the TV channels I don't have at home.

Bob - fond of a food grab.

 In other news, I have been spinning, it is the Tour de Fleece and my challenge is to spin enough to make myself a jumper. To this end I have been working through a giant ball of shetland/angora roving. There are socks too, using Mary Jane Mucklestone's book for inspiration and a ton of scraps that needed a purpose. So far I'm one and a half socks in. If the sun shines I might manage a whole pair. 

Champion darts player Jazz.