‘Birdsong’, ‘The Tree of Life’ and ‘April Fool’s Day’…

Love, life and the futility of trying to own your love, your life…

‘Birdsong’, ‘The Tree of Life’, and ‘April Fool’s Day’… 

Well what can you say? That’s why art exists to hint at what it’s hard to say or hard to truly conceive of.


I read ‘Birdsong’ by Sebastian Faulks a good few years back now while quite ill and dosed up on strong pain killers – the experience was far more intense as I was just laid-up in bed and ‘living the read’, I recall that the drugs just made it all the more vibrant!

As you  might expect, the book differed, was much more intense and the story was much more involved than the TV adaptation.

One of the whisps* that I took away was the constant juxtaposition of hell and heaven. In many ways it played with loss and ownership, freedom and control, heaven and hell etc… and of course passion. Personally I did not engage with historical detail however the resonance of the tragedy of war rang very loud. (When the film ended and minutes later the BBC news showed explicit reportage film of current war elsewhere in the world, life did momentarily seem ridiculous and hopeless!

For me, amongst other things, alas it was about love, life and the futility of trying to own your love, your life…

The Tree of Life

I watched ‘The Tree of Life’ the night before and I guess that’s coloured my wondering…

‘The Tree of Life’ starts and ends with a mysterious, wavering light/flame flickering in the darkness. It seems to be underpinned with a quote: “people must choose to either follow the path of grace or the path of nature”. Again I felt it was juggling freedom and control, choice, construction and creation…

It represents nature/creation against man’s efforts and constructions. It juggles gentleness with strictness, and wonder with discipline.  It represents memory and relationships.

Again I come back to love, life and the futility of trying to own your love, your life… ?  amongst other whisps*:

April Fool’s Day

Merge the above with my recent reading of ‘April Fool’s Day‘ by Bryce Couretnay.

I can’t can’t comment much on this read – it’s seeped into my being – but was an amazing read.

I recall the quote ‘…more than the heart, the bowel, the knee joint… …more than flesh and blood…” 

Courtenay has been a  favourite author of mine since reading “The Power of One” in my 20s. Poor film, great singing, great Book.

“April Fool’s Day” is an altogether different read; a true and rich account that naturally still emits the character of BCs world. In the end, love is more important than everything and it will conquer and overcome anything. Bryce’s son Damon Courtenay died on the morning of April Fool’s Day. In this tribute to his son, Bryce Courtenay lays bare…

Quite unlike any book I’ve read before!

Again I hear whisp*ers of love, life and the futility of trying to own your love, your life… ?

*whisps – my intangible and imponderable but pervasive semi-thoughts… ish…



“There’s nothing more sir, than to love and be loved”



Elephant Juice


Elephant Juice

As a teenager, I watched the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. This is a tradition I try to keep up each year. It’s a bit like reading Usborne Guides for children; entertaining, bite-size, palatable info that I find much easier to swallow.

This year the RICL was about ‘the brain’, and was entertaining as ever. It reminded me that “what we perceive” is but a subjective notion and that what others perceive might be similar but not the same. In fact what we conceive of seeing is sometimes at odds with what was ‘true’… A minefield I know! …but fun!
It illustrated that our brains ‘memorise’ (encode) stimuli, map patterns, and retrieve or create perceptions etc. (neural activity, chemicals, electricity).
Take a look:–whats-in-your-head
It was fascinating to observe visual illusions that illustrated the limits of our visual perception.
That we only clearly see a visual tunnel of a few inches at a time and via stepped saccades we build up our idea of what we’re experiencing. The Change Blindness illustration was enlightening:

And so we are what we think and we think what we are… the paralysis of analysis – my Achilles heel.
And so… thankfully, enter the conciliating creations of myth, song, fable and assurance.
The logic is fair enough and indeed wondrous, but I also wonder what we might do if it were not for the colouring, soothing, palliative artistry that culture, art, nature, and meaning give us.
Without my dose of coffee, cheese, music, fiction and wonder, I would be more lost that I am.

Turn to your friend and silently mouth the words “elephant juice” to them while they watch you… what do they see you say?

Thank ‘heavens’ for mystery.


I was lost, but now am found

“I was lost, but now am found” said my banana.
(pronounced in the Cornish manner ba-na-na, with the ‘a’ as in jam)

The mystery of the lost banana was solved this morning, as mid-commute I spotted it lost and forlorn on the wayside. It must have dropped out of my pannier yesterday!  I got to work convinced that I packed it and was baffled by its desertion.

I muse that:

We guide our baggage through both well and less travelled pathways…

We believe that we packed the baggage, we control the tiller… and know the map…

We are ‘guided’ by soft hegemony and cultural info-tainment…

But still our banana’s can fall from our backpacks and confound, amaze and hopefully cause us to reassess our predicament?

However, I am still blind I see.

PS. Today’s banana was energizing.



A shark and a seal! Did you see this?

Did you see this on the BBC TV?
I sat there jaw dropped and had to replay it half a dozen times – quite stunning!

Felt I had to share it again… it speaks volumes.
(watch it FULL SCREEN with the sound DOWN, we don’t need Attenborough mumbling on)

Which way would you go? And why?

On my commute yesterday, reluctantly, I had reason to take another trip through suburban leicester rather than my usual rural route, as the crow (or barn owl) flies.
You’ll be aware of my previous reaction to the experience of this specific suburban cycling route.  However, having ridden this route again, I still have the same opinions…
But I was led to think….

In life generally, I guess it’s my nature to generally take the easier more pleasurable option. Surely would it not be madness not to?

My usual choice, is relatively comfortable; I enjoy flowing familiarity with negligible hurdles and man-made encounters. It is raw, spatial and rich in the spirit of something ‘natural’ (?)… It’s relatively smooth and takes me where I intend to go… skirting intriguing worlds and lives with little incident… yes, it does have has it’s unforeseen encounters but it’s a an enjoyable option.

An alternative choice is a way populated with life in abundance. Much of what you’ll find is in either in need of care and attention, badly designed, or both. It’s past is evident, daily life and common culture are stamped on walls and faces. You’ll encounter raw humanity… ‘warts and all’, but also what you find is rich in living lives, both sweet and sour.

Do Robert Frost’s thoughts apply? Challenge? Avoidance? Survival? Common Sense?

Which way would you go? And why?

Feeding Eli…

You may be aware that we have a menagerie in the household with the beloved Cheese, Pickles and Bryher, (as well as umpteen inanimate bears and things) but our wet friends always give us cause to chill and wonder.
Over the years we’ve had a healthy tank and been lucky to only seen a handful of residents depart for the tank in the sky (bin). One of the oldest present residents is Dyson the 4″ Bristlenosed Pleco Ancistrus, alas not seen in the above vid as he hides under a log now and lets the younger fish strut. We have a Cameroon Armoured Shrimp who again resides mainly in his hole, but does venture forth to shed his skin occasionally. Another oldie is Cory the Corydoras who we’ve had from early days, about 4 years. The others are an assortment, with this spring’s addition of a few Guppies now continually populating (and feeding the big boys) with live young! Talking of big boys, of course there’s the prowling Sharky the Red Tailed Shark, who the little-ones let believe ‘is in charge’.
The video above shows the bidiem ritual of feeding Eli the Fire Eel. We got Eli while almost an elver about 2 years ago, then ~ 3″, now you see he’s about 6″ but he could grow to 20″…  w-e’ll see.