Tag Archives: london

… friends …

P1080320 - croppedAugust –

my birthday month tends to be a time of remembrance and gratefulness for the friends in my life, close, far, cherished or neglected,  people that taught me to be a friend to myself, people I bonded with through heart-sparks that left indelible marks. My friends are soul companions that became part of my journey, they form a flowing web of connections I’m held in.

So far it’s been a social month. Having reconnected with two primary school friends from Germany aDSC_0472 from Lieselotte few years ago during a reunion,  they sprang a surprise visit (their first to England.) We had a lovely meal in an excellent pub, with my son joining us. I toured the girls through the woods of a nearby sculpture park, through my town, and, of course, through London. We started with a riverboat journey (my first) under London’s time-honoured bridges, got lost in Covent Garden, which eventuated finding a café that served Black Forrest cake, which delighted Lieselotte, and surfaced at Trafalgar Square.

P1080394 - smallerFrom there we wove our way through St James Park and ended up at Buckingham Palace.

The girls had a great time, and good laughs, especially when, embarrassingly, I fell into talking German with Londoners, attracting the occasional blank stare of incomprehension.

What struck me was how ‘in essence’ we had not changed since we were children.  Intrinsic qualities stay with us throughout P1080361 - smallerlife, shine through our energy field, temperament, movement, voice, characteristics and life-interest. The qualities my friends nourished in me as a child, I still value today, the unconditional kind heart of Gaby, and Lieselotte’s ability to assess situations quickly and get things done. I saw that they also nourish these qualities in each other. Sadly they had to return home and miss my party last weekend.

P1080425 - smallerThe Party… lovely sunshine, guest coming and going. An unknown sponsor even ordered a birthday balloon to sail above my garden 🙂 My good-weather-wish came true. Some of us kept a circle outside until midnight among sparkling lights. The occasional apple dropped.

My favourite deckchair folded  under more weightP1080413 - smaller than my own. Glasses clinked. There was silliness, acknowledgements, revelations.

Seen through the eyes of our friends’ imagination, do the lissome fleeting shadows flitting through our personal frames influence us, each other? I wonder, but guess they do.

As the years crawl along, heart-spark moments never dwindle. Stories are transformed and woven into a new context. Life stations glide by and return as in a spiralling carrousel.

Even friends not present were with us in spirit, remembered, since, like Kahlil Gibran put it … for that which you love most in (a friend) may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

P1080431 - smallerFrom The Prophet …

And the youth said, Speak to us of Friendship, and he answered, saying:

Your friend is your need answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and fireside. You come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the ‘nay’ in your own mind, nor do you withhold the ‘aye.’ And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart; for without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live. For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Kahlil Gibran

Advertisements

21 Comments

Filed under Blog

… physical books I loved to bits…

Aged eighteen, while staying with a family friend in London, I came upon the catalogue of the greatest photographic exhibition of all time – The Family of Man – a mirror to the essential oneness of mankind throughout the world.

The exhibition was assembled by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art and contained photographs from sixty-eight nations …

P1060180 smaller

 

 

There is only one man in the world

and his name is All man

There is only one woman in the world

and her name is All Woman

There is only one child in the world

and the child’s name is All Children

 

The inspiring collection of images decided my first career as a photographer.

P1060181 smaller

Ironic, given that my parents’ photographic business had held no interest for me. I realised my search was for what shone through reality, the essence in people and situation. I was inspired by poetry, story, light and shadow, movement, point of view and framing.

Fully embracing this passion started an active and adventurous period of my life, with opportunities to travel and mingle with groups of highly eccentric and creative people.

 

A decade later, at New York’s Kennedy airport, after a several momentous months in Washington DC, while waiting for a flight back to Amsterdam with my husband to be, a title on a book rack screamed for my attention … well, it jumped at me like a dream tiger.

P1060064 lowres

Man and his Symbols.

You couldn’t find a better window into the ideas of Carl Gustav Jung.

It was Jung’s last project, addressed to a wider public, readers who would not normally come upon the over 17 volumes of his work.

Due to its pocket size, as you can see, the yellowed pages of my copy travelled and have been well-read over the years ….

The book came about through the persistence of the remarkably diverse John Freeman: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/politics/2013/03/john-freeman-face-face-enigma

He interviewed Jung in a Face to Face programme for TV: https:/ /www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPGMWF7kU_8

Seeing the programme, Wolfgang Foges (Aldus Books,) urged Freeman to persuade Jung to write a book for the general public. Jung firmly refused – until he had a dream. He consequently asked Freeman to act as editor and co-ordinator with the average reader in mind. So it became a collective project between Jung and four of his followers, M L von Franz, Joseph L Henderson, Aniela Jaffe and Jolande Jacoby, and was completed before Jung’s death in 1961,

In his introduction Freeman suggests the reader will find it a persuasive and profoundly absorbing journey … which, for me, was true from the start. During eight hours on the plane, with an occasional glance at my partner, the receding skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the expanse of oceans, my interest in dreams and the unconscious were powerfully validated. The book makes a convincing case for the imaginative life as the most distinctive characteristic of human beings. I totally grokked this: The unconscious is no mere repository of the past but also full of germs of future psychic situations and ideas … they grow up from the dark depths of the mind like a lotus and form a most important part of the subliminal psyche.

Two years on, having become a mother, and living for five years in rural Somerset with treasured time to study, it was C G Jung’s work that inspired me to delve into cultural and mythological research, leading on to my training in psychotherapy, and later still, to write novels.

My shelves contain many more books I loved to bits, and I wonder if digital version of these publications would have had the same lasting impact.

Frankly, I doubt it.

Only today I shared a tattered copy of Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ with a supervision client. She had never heard of the poet and was delighted.

Do you have books that fall apart through love and physical touch and still inspire?

 

15 Comments

Filed under Blog

… interludes – and poetry by W S Graham …

I’ve neglected you, my reader friends, immersed in writing the sequel to ‘Course of Mirrors’ and a few interludes. Like, my writing fixation was pleasantly disrupted last week through meeting my son at Covent Garden, and later attending the launch of ‘The Inflatable Buddha’ by András Kepes at the Hungarian Cultural Centre in London.

Armadillo Central launches 'The Inflatable Buddha.'

Armadillo Central launches ‘The Inflatable Buddha.’

 

It is the newest project of my to-be publisher http://www.armadillocentral.com/  András’s novel offers a more subtle perspective than officially recorded history, showing the fictional lives and wits of three ordinary, idiosyncratic Hungarians during the twentieth century. The sample readings enticed me, and I’m now looking  forward to reading the book. The well-attended, grand launch event also gave me a taste of what is to come – being exposed to questions about my own epic .

 

Then came a traumatic interlude to my writing …

I mourn the shimmer and music of its leaves.

I mourn the shimmer and music of its leaves.

During the last two days, to the grinding noise of chainsaws and a shredder, I mourned the loss of a beautiful poplar/aspen tree in my neighbourhood, which has grown too high for its owner. The now mutilated tree (the image shows a third of its size) will be gone completely next week. I’ll miss the shimmer and the watery music of its leaves, produced by the slightest breeze, and the golden hearts trailing into my garden come autumn. I picked a few early leaves to treasure, pressed to dry in my dictionary.

Today a most pleasant surprise … a poetry book arrived unexpectedly in the post, sent by a Scottish friend/poet, who is at this moment working with a visual artist on a project about Tin-mining in St Ives. Due to blank spots in my education I rely on stumbling upon poets less publicised, and was delighted to receive this gift of an expertly edited ‘New Collected Poems’ by W S Graham. So I thought I’ll share excerpts from his poems – on themes that will chime with fellow writers .

W. S. Graham (1918-1986) grew up in Clydeside, Scotland, and initially followed the footsteps of his father, who was a structural engineer in the ship-building trade. However, a year studying philosophy and literature at an adult education centre outside Edinburgh set him on the path of writing poetry for the rest of his life, irrespective of meagre financial rewards. He travelled to London and New York City, but later lived with his wife in Cornwall.

W S Graham, image by Sally Fear

W S Graham, image by Sally Fear

I was delving into the book this morning. Here some facets, unconnected lines, the first from THE NIGHTFISHING    (1955) – a melodic composition, speaking to the seen and unseen,  from a night in a herring boat out on the North Sea.

… Gently the quay bell

Strikes the held air …

Strikes the held air like

Opening a door

So that all the dead

Brought to harmony

Speak out on silence …

I am befriended by

This sea which utters me …

… Far out calls

The continual sea.

Now within the dead

Of night and the dead

Of all my life I go.

I’m one ahead of them

Turned in below

I’m borne in their eyes

Through the staring world.

The present opens its arms …

… Each word is but a longing

Set out to break from a difficult home. Yet in

It’s meaning I am …

… The bow wakes hardly a spark at the black hull.

The night and day both change their flesh about

In merging levels …

The iron sea engraved to our faintest breath

The spray fretted and fixed at a high temper,

A script of light …

… The streaming morning in its tensile light

Leans to us and looks over on the sea.

It’s time to haul. The air stirs its faint pressures

A slat of wind …

… The white net flashing under the watched water,

The near net dragging back with the full belly

Of a good take certain …

 

Some of the last lines of – THE NIGHT CITY – a turning point … I found Eliot and he said yes … T S Eliot was then with Faber and Faber. He became Graham’s publisher.

… Midnight. I hear the moon

Light chiming on St Paul’s

The City is empty. Night

Watchmen are drinking their tea …

Between the big buildings

I sat like a flea crouched

In the stopped works of a watch.

 

From IMPLEMENTS IN THEIR PLACES (1977) I picked a refrain from WHAT IS LANGUAGE USING US FOR ?

… What is the language using us for?

It uses us all and in its dark

Of dark actions selections differ …

 

And last – AIMED AT NOBODY – Poems from Notebooks (1993)

PROEM

It does not matter who you are,

It does not matter who I am.

This book has not been purposely

made for any reason.

It has made itself by circumstances

It is aimed at nobody at all.

It is now left just as an object by me

to be encountered by somebody else.

 

*    *    *

This may well be how it feels for most writers who simply can’t help sculpting experiences into words. What do you think?

6 Comments

Filed under Blog

coffee – crocodiles and snakes

Occasion: St Martin’s graduation ceremony at London’s Southbank Festival Hall. Tasha, my son’s girlfriend, received merits for her post-grad animation course, an event sprinkled with celebrities and a few rousing speeches. With no rain for once, we went on to roam in Covent Garden.

Delicious Thai food at Busaba in Floral Street, eye-bright tincture for my computer-stressed eyes from Neil’s Yard, and – I can’t just keep this for myself – the best coffee in London is to be had at the Monmouth Coffee Company in Monmouth Street. All in all a memorable day.

Tasha grew up in Darwin. Her adventurous mum satisfied my curiosity about Western Australia’s wildlife today. Here’s what sticks in my mind. Crocodiles are happiest in rivers where they find plenty of delicate morsels, including humans -such tragic accidents can happen after torrential rains when crocs stray to places where people don’t expect them. An occasional old croc appears in salt water at the coast. It would be a pensioned-off one, chased away by younger males. Crocs found in wrong places are put into croc-sanctuaries. They are also eaten, crocodile meat tastes like a cross between chicken and duck meat.

I wanted to know about snakes, too. The black ones are fatal, the brown ones less so, and then there are the beautiful ones, sparkling and colourful, that live in trees. They’re harmless.

On reflection, Darwin’s wildlife is no different to the wildlife found in the underbelly of UK’s cities. Common sense and well-tuned intuition apply. And Western Australia has a few advantages, vast open spaces, and no fragile Euro currency.

On-line again, befriending my new laptop and getting back into the swing of writing and editing. A heavenly scent ascends from a cup of freshly ground Guatemalan coffee brought home from the Monmouth Coffee Company.

2 Comments

Filed under Blog