Sunday, 31 March 2013

Monday, 25 March 2013

More cold spring shadows

From that same afternoon ten days ago - don't think we've had enough light since then to cast a single shadow.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

What the snow fell on


treasure in the grass
the gold and the rainbow's end -
what the snow fell on

Saturday, 23 March 2013

We come to bury Chinua Achebe

I want to end by saying: don't let Achebe die - read his wonderful books!, Nadine Gordimer interrupted the sign-off of the BBC man interviewing her this morning about Chinua Achebe. She always has something memorable to say, was his friend and is of his generation. I was thinking, though: couldn't they have interviewed another Igbo writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (here reviewing his recent memoir), for example, whom many Radio 4 listeners would be familiar with?
I don't think I imagined that Nadine Gordimer sounded a bit exasperated by the subtly exoticising discourse that has characterised the coverage of Achebe's death. What made him a great writer?, the interviewer asked her. She mentioned the oppression and suffering he experienced and witnessed in Nigeria - why he wrote what he wrote - and followed this with a mini-lecture on the temperament and vocation of a born writer - why he WROTE. Her tone implied, I think: in this context, should I really need to say this?

Last year I read an interesting Masters' dissertation on the subtle racism of the 'better' British media: harder to pin down and combat than the more overt variety.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Cassandra at 10: my window on so much!

Quebec Winter by Beth at Studio Cassandra
For almost a decade now my computer screen has been a window not only on the world at large (a mixed blessing), but into the minds and lives of a wonderful group of friends I met through blogging. It's a fluctuating group, but some have been there from the start, like Beth Adams of the cassandra pages (which is ten years old this week - like some other peace-lovers among my friends, she first began blogging to express sad and horrified dissent from what was happening in Iraq). She's inspired me all these years and continues to do so. Ten years of committed and beautiful writing; of photographs, drawings, prints and paintings; the foundation of her press, Phoenicia Publishing, and online art store, Studio Cassandra: such riches, shared in this intimate, still evolving online format. Beth and people like her are why, even in wobbly and close-to-wordless times, I'm still hanging out here.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Lemon leaves

These made me think of the bitter-sweet Israeli film Lemon Tree.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


Well, it's been a year. An endless, timeless, time-suspended year out here beyond the life dominated by commuting and the office. It's not been what I thought, but sobering, numbing, sometimes hopeless. I thought there was a person, a life-force, just waiting to be released, and there wasn't. In all those years focused on surviving, on resisting, I had not learned to do anything else. Remove the object of resistance and what remains? not much.
Work is necessary, not only to earn money but to mobilise and structure energy, and at the same time it's the enemy because I sit down before it and re-enter resistance mode. To work and also live is the challenge, and I've only just begun to see that this is the challenge, never mind to meet it.
Not what I expected, then: of course, in some important sense, it's never too late for change; and, of course, how late it is already makes a huge difference to what is possible. Instead of a stepping - however tentatively - forward, this has been a frightening and reluctant plunge into what went wrong long ago. The best I can say is: not given up yet.
The soil is frozen on the surface, they say, and waterlogged beneath; the farmers cannot plant.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Friday, 15 March 2013


I go out for a walk to try and touch reality, and often it works. The greatest gift of working at home, perhaps, has been the new freedom to do this at will.  Even if going out means briefly leaving urgent work, then working harder, working later to get it all done, it usually feels like the right decision. Touching reality matters if you live in your head a lot.
Around now, though, the paradigm falters. It's such a visually strange and disorienting time of year, this cusp of winter and spring. Going out for a walk still pushes upwards on the feet and teases the inside of the nostrils, but, even in this mildest of suburban places, a lot of what you see is rather odd.
It's the season of shadows, of flattened tree-prints stamped across the roads and footpaths, lawns and walls and doors. Shockingly, the shadows have greater definitation than anything else. 
 There are random daubs of intense colour - green, yellow.

But mostly there's an awful lot of drained and wavering grey - a 
bleakness beginning to blur into something finer and softer.

An eccentric picture, shifting and patchy.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Still life at lunch - note

Why I like this: the spare, cool texture of winter light on the steel jug and beaker; the way this is almost too chill, too plain to make a picture; but not quite, because frail sunshine penetratres (just barely) the café windows, casting odd reflections on the jug and lighting up (just barely) the terracotta-painted walls. This is how it was. A steel jug on a cold day should be a utilitarian, unlovely thing, but at moments it was lovely, which is why it kept catching my eye until I fished out the camera.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Discarded glass

(Propped against a big pile of builders' rubble and domestic rubbish.
Why are they throwing this out? I hope someone makes off with it.)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Hepworth Wakefield

The other day I watched a film about an architect. Seeing Louis Kahn's National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, stunningly reflected in the water that is both the beauty and the curse of that low-lying country, reminded me of a watery reflection on a smaller scale, that of the Hepworth gallery by the river in Wakefield. And I remembered that when there in 2011 I took photos of the gallery and never got around to posting any here.

I remember too that, as I lurked at the roadside taking photos, a number of local people came up to me to say how much they disliked the building, which they saw as a charmless, grey, forbidding, series of boxes. I think the Hepworth Wakefield is beautiful: its angles and movement; the silky, subtle texture of its walls; its endlessly changing reflections in the water - a light and lovely place for art.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Saturday, 2 March 2013


As I sat all day at the computer, the outside world was reflected faintly on the screen and visible, just, in the corner of an eye. Since that breath of sunshine and warmth a couple of weeks ago, the weather has been cold, the sky unvaryingly flat and grey. So, focused though I was on deadlines, I could not but notice the slow changing of the light as it threaded through a sky still grey, but a much paler grey, and finally, briefly, dappled with blue; as the colour of everything was subtly lifted. 

Friday, 1 March 2013


March, already. I want it to be March, sigh for the shift away from grey winter, but time's headlong gallop also frightens me - the reins that trail in the dust, that I can't catch hold of.

A fair-sized work project to be completed in just a week means really cracking on with it every day until it's done, and this is a good challenge, which I seem to be up to. The brain is in a better state than it was a year ago. But the heart is a different matter, and everything that matters, really, comes from there.

In the coming season, will time slow down a bit, revealing doors to be pushed open? - and what will be written on those doors? - or will it continue to flash past, ungraspable?