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 In the year 2017


25 January
Burns Night

Thomas and Tanya's last night in the Uk before returning home to Cape Town just happened to coincide with Burns night, what better excuse for a bit of dressing up and a party?


burns_1760.JPG  Assembled


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burns1765.jpg  Awaiting the haggis.


burns_1766.JPG  Here it comes, preceded by the piper.

Haggis, neaps and tatties disposed of and now its time for some poetry readings, a few of which can be found below. David started us off with a poem about retirement and the announcement that this would be his last year of full-time employment.
He has lots lined up to do.

from Ulysses by Alfred Tennyson

Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are---
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

and lots of new things planned to do

I followed that up with a poem on a similar theme, remembered as a poem on the underground from when I was still 'boy commuter'.

Almost without Noticing

Almost without noticing,
without thinking, it seems,
you've arrived where you see far.
Thirty years back, more, the path vanishes,
thirty years ahead, more, the path vanishes:
and you're forced to sit down in your own shadow
to think.
Memory,
mother of truth and myth,
tell how the terrain divided the stream.

Eira Stenberg (b.1943) Finland, translated by Hervert Lomas


burns_1768.JPG  

Then Paul read what has to be the epitome of scottish poems which struck a chord with all present recalling memories of scottish holidays.

To a midge on a summer's day

What could be [or might not be] an hitherto unknown poem by the Scottish bard himself, Robert Burns.


Ye flittin' fleein' unseen thing
Risin' like some speck o' dust
Borne up on microscopic wing
Come light on me, come do your worst


My red bluid's tae drink is yours
I shall not miss your drap o' it
Whilst walking wi, my lass outdoors
Some verse in mind as yet unwrit


It's yours, this health'ry, grassy land
Just now nae breeze blaws ye away
Still, bonnie Jean I'll tak her hand
And lay her doon amangst your hay


Ye midgy ticklin' friend o' oors
That needs the bluid to procreate
Ye are the smallest price to pay
For love sublime, I speculate


But stay! I didna count on this
One thousand of your kith and kin
To interrupt our lovers' bliss
Sharp needle points unwelcome in


Ye buzzin' clouds o' miscreants
Ye've frightenened off the lovely girl
She'll no return despite my wants
Around my face you bastards swirl


I'm hoppin' roon, myself to dress
I'm wavin', slappin', cursin' loud
Ye've had your fill to vast excess
Awa ye go ye nasty crowd


Ye flittin' fleein' unseen things
Risin' like some storm of dust
Borne up on microscopic wings
Awa! ye've done your bluiidy worst.


burns_1769.JPG  Paul was very suitably attired for this reading as it seemed to evoke the very prescence of the little beasts.


burns_1770.JPG  Allie continued with the midge theme. I have been unable to find any of the midge poems on the internet so they remain un-referenced.


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  Thomas started a theme of his own on TURNIPS.

THE TURNIP-SNEDDER by Seamus Heaney

In an age of bare hands
and cast iron,

the clamp-on meat-mincer,
the double flywheeled water-pump,

it dug its heels in among wooden tubs
and troughs of slops,

hotter than body heat
in summertime, cold in winter

as winter’s body armour,
a barrel-chested breast-plate

standing guard
on four braced greaves.

‘This is the way that God sees life,’
it said, ‘from seedling-braird to snedder,’

as the handle turned
and turnip-heads were let fall and fed

to the juiced-up inner blades,
‘This is the turnip-cycle,’

as it dropped its raw sliced mess,
bucketful by glistering bucketful.


s-l1600.jpg
  A turnip snedder.


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burns_1773.JPG  Anne gave us 'Silly Old Baboon.


“Silly Old Baboon” by Spike Milligan

There was a Baboon
Who, one afternoon,
Said “I think I will fly to the sun.”
So, with two great palms
Strapped to his arms,
He started his take-off run.

Mile after mile
He galloped in style
But never once left the ground.
“You’re running too slow”
Said a passing crow,
“Try reaching the speed of sound.”

So he put on a spurt-
By God how it hurt!
The soles of his feet caught fire.
There were great clouds of steam
As he raced through a stream
But he still didn’t get any higher.

Racing on through the night
Both his knees caught alight
And smoke billowed out from his rear.
Quick to his aid
Came a fire brigade
Who chased him for over a year.

Many moons passed by.
Did Baboon ever fly?
Did he ever get to the sun?
I’ve just heard today
That he’s well on his way!
He’ll be passing through Acton at one.

Rosemary gave a spirited rendition of 'Scissors' by Allan Ahlberg, made us all glad we were not in her class.

Scissors – by Allan Ahlberg

Nobody leave the room.
Everyone listen to me.
We had ten-pair of scissors
At half-past two,
And now there’s only three.

Seven pair of scissors,
Disappeared from sight.
Not one of you leaves
Till we find them.
We can stop here all night!

Scissors don’t lose themselves,
Melt away, or explode.
Scissors have not got
Legs of their own
To go running off up the road.

We really need those scissors,
That’s what makes me mad.
If it was seven pairs
Of children we’d lost,
It wouldn’t be so bad.


I don’t want to hear excuses.
Don’t anyone speak.
Just ransack this room
Till we find them,
Or we’ll stop here… all week!

From: District and Circle
Publisher: Faber & Faber, London, 2006



25 January
Family News

Rather pleased by this bit of family news as confirmed by this email from tw.

Family News....

... is to be gained by careful scrutiny of Tanya's left hand:


image.png  Pic taken in the middle of a cloud on a mountain in Wales...


"Very us" apparently, and very appropriate too!

Love to all,
t&T

Yes 'very them indeed'



17 January
Murmuration

Tw and Tanya straight off the plane from South Africa and as they are full of the wild life they see when walking up Table Mountain from their day job in the physics department at the University of Cape Town we decided to take them to see what is available here in the form of the starling murmuration at the RSPB reserve at Otmoor. They thought that it was just a little bit cold although I was able to point out that the numerical value of the temperatures in both places were the same. As long as you switched units. [They left Cape Town at a temperature of 39 degrees celsius and we enjoyed the murmeration at a balmy 39 degrees fahrenheit]


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0115murm_1743.JPG  Not leaves but starlings in the oak tree.


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0115murm_1746.JPG  Wrapped up warm...well maybe.


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