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on January 17, 2013 in Diary, Did, Thought No Comments »

Too tired tonight to say much but after nearly eight months of no posts here at all it struck me as time to at least get back to some free writing that isn’t just short comments on FB or such. Tired, as after an energetic floor mopping front door through to back I decided to try to fix the cooker so that it didn’t slide forward off its plinth when we pulled too strongly on the oven door, thus threatening to precipitate anything on the hob all over us – hasn’t happened yet, by sheer good luck. After much raunging about (yes it is a word, I just wrote it) the oven now seems safe.

My literature group this ‘term’ is called “A Half Century Remembered: 1900 to 1950”. Our wonderful tutor Morag Jones asked us to vote for one of three works from each of the five decades, which was a very interesting exercise for the eighteen or so members present at the last class of the previous ‘course’. The chosen works constitute quite a strange mixture of subjects, styles and authors (all male, I see, sorry Virginia Woolf and E M Delafield). Here’s the list – The Secret Agent – Conrad, for 1900-1910; Greenmantle – Buchan, for 1910-1920; The Waste Land – Eliot, for 1920-1930; Love on the Dole – Greenwood, for 1930-1940 and The Pied Piper – Shute, for 1940-1950. Incidentally, the group that voted had twice as many women as men in it. I’ll try to post some notes here about our consideration of these works, as the weeks go by. [We’ve “done” Conrad but I’m leaving that for when I’m not so tired. Supper and bed calls].

Feeling a bit stir crazy yesterday so went off to Hem Heath Woods, part of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s complement of reserves.

Leaving behind the infernal race of modern life in the car park on Trentham Road, between a railway track and an electricity sub-station, I took the leaf-covered path, all orange, brown, yellow and black. To the left, or East, is an industrial estate, just discernible through the undergrowth, but audible with hums and rattles from time to time but soon left behind.

Two discreet information boards helped to nurture the growing sense of history such, sometimes ancient, places evoke after a few minutes walking. For example Wedgwoods and all their doings are involved, as the Reserve is leased from the Wedgwood “estate”.  I wish that I could have not noticed the rogue apostrophe or ‘Crewe Comma’ on one board though, where whose had become who’s.  Too much proofreading over the years for that to slip through, unfortunately.

Anyway, the path between the trees suddenly reached a beautiful place aptly called The Glade, just occupying its time there, getting on with being naturally attractive to any human eye that cared to visit.  So far the only others enjoying the woods had been a couple ‘walking’ a very energetic, bouncy and obviously happy dog. Then further on into deeper darker parts was a woman on her own apart from her small dog. She had walked these woods for 45 years but had come in from the southern end and had never been up as far as where I explained my car was, all of half a mile or so. We parted after a short chat, as it was getting late into the afternoon and we both needed to find our ways out in the twilight.

Such an experience of peace clears the mind and spirit. That’s what it felt like.

[photos from the website]

We went to our local library in Alsager for an hour this morning, on National Poetry Day in the UK, to see and listen to W Terry Fox read some poetry. I consider it well worth visiting that link to some YouTube performances. It was a fine way to spend time and Barbara also enjoyed it. He talked quite a bit about Mow Cop where he lived for a time and still lives “down bank” a bit at Whitehill.  The event attracted an audience of about a dozen, two of whom had travelled from Crewe. It was a free occasion, funded by the Friends of Alsager Library.

Poetry has always been a minor interest of mine, humming quietly along in the background to a life, ever since that A Level course in Eng. Lit. at school with good old “Gabby” Hayes where he introduced us to the beauty of John Keats’ work. Alongside many of his own fine poems, W Terry Fox read Keats’ Ode to Autumn today, (read and hear here) which took me right back to those days in that particular seat in that particular classroom, as clear as if  I were there now.

I remember those times with Gabby (middle row, second from the right) as a bejewelled island in a murky sea of dark drudgery and suffering from the rest of my schooldays. There were only four of us in the class, as I remember, which added to the privilege and sheer pleasure of coming from a bookless and often cheerless home to that highly skilled introduction to classic literature over two years that probably helped to nurture whatever semblance of sanity I ever had. Thanks Gabby and Thanks Terry.

Poetry in Chicago? Well, here’s a poem by

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Pinsky featured on the excellent website of The Poetry Foundation based there; from such a simple thing like the next time you put on a shirt or skirt, he has fashioned simple but resonant words.

Someone local dropped off a cupboard at Age UK and Barbara could see through the scuffed, stained, old and dark polish and varnish to an attractive piece of furniture for somewhere. It looked pretty good in its original state but here’s a small gallery of some stages in its rapid transformation to quite a satisfying object.

Not bad before treatment, but crying out for some TLC aka Nitromors and Stanley blade - crude but effective.

 

 

 

"Advertising" the beeswax before applying it

The finished job, with the door folded away to reveal great shelves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The door is made of slats stuck to a strip of leather so it can roll down and around in a channel in the base. Not sure what we’ll use the shelves / boxes for yet.

Just a few more random shots to show some of the beauty of the wood and perhaps to evoke the response, “They don’t make’em like that anymore!”:

The brass door catch and lock. No key unfortunately, but looking good.

 

Better just read the instructions before applying beeswax

 

Pre-waxing door, showing the beautiful grain in the slats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit more buffing up now it's indoors....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and there's the shine

Photographer: Barbara Mary Granter

 

Took a rail trip to Coventry last Monday to see if all was well with the Granter gravestone in London Road Cemetery. It was and after a few nice moments there I had a good look round at the Cathedral area,which includes the forecourts of Coventry University and the Herbert Art Gallery. The Gallery foyer featured this attractive grafitti:The History Centre holds Electoral Rolls but is closed on Mondays so I will return another day to try to establish when my Dad moved from London to Coventry, sometime before 1918.

We had a visitor to stay recently who brought 2 wheelchairs with her and it was interesting to say the least to observe the interaction of two female friends with physical disabilities. (Somehow I’ve just managed typos which gave rise to “fiends” and “diabilities”).

One of our neighbours had her 4th birthday and we went round for the celebrations including a barbeque.

With their new boxer puppy,

another visiting boxer and numerous children of all ages it all made for an enjoyable evening in familiar physical surroundings (borrowing light from our outside lights) but unfamiliar social surroundings.

Met up yesterday with two old student colleagues from Brighton days back in the 60s, for lunch at Salford Quays / Lowry Centre.   We took Dave, another friend from those days

Mag and Dave Futcher at the Lowry, Salford Quays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so there was lots of reminiscing and “Do you remember so-and-so…?” which with some reasonable food made for a great hour or 3.

Dave Clifford with the Futchers at the Lowry, Salford Quays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mag Futcher at the Lowry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later that day Dave and I went to the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent for the first of our season of orchestral concerts. The programme was a delight as usual.

Rushing out now to another meal with friends, such is the social whirl these days. Harrogate next weekend to meet up with two more friends, who are definitely not fiends.

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