Political headaches

So a general election has been called. The Prime Minister thinks its a good idea to test the will of the people regarding brexit, and her premiership.

To be honest I don’t like her.  I don’t know many people that do. She is too much like the “Milk-Snatcher” of my childhood.  But I’m not surprised that she’s done  what she’s done.

I will vote in June of course. I even am fairly certain who will get my vote. But….

But there is a but. There is always a but. I am tired of seeing nothing but politics covered by every media format I see. From my facebook feed to the redtop papers in the barbers shop, politics dominate discussions.

Some people want the Tories to go and champion Corbyn as the next PM. Others think this ballot will mark the end of the Labour party as we know it and result in nothing  more earth shattering than an overdue resignation by Corbyn and a Conservative consolidation of power. Some think the SNP will take every Scottish seat . Others think the Conservatives will capture several seats back. Some want Plaid Cymru to rise from the Welsh valleys or Lib Dems in English heartlands. Others think that UKIP will do better.

I have heard all the arguments. And they tire me. More than that, they bore me. I don’t want to feel bored of politics but there you go.

Don’t get me wrong, I am angry at many of the actions of Ms May and her government.  But more than anger, I am so very, very tired.  I am tired of the rhetoric and tired of soundbites and tired of all the shouting and arguing and childish-sounding slanging matches.

I want to be engaged in debate, be a responsible citizen, do everything we’re all supposed to. But more than that I just want June to roll round so I can put my X in a box and be done with the whole circus and rid myself of what promises to be a 6-week headache.

Am I alone in this? I very much doubt it.

 

The screen insists, ‘look at me’

The screen insists, ‘look at me’.

‘Come, see devastating news, read about heartbreak’.

And I look and engage.

I see people dying – needless, tragic, horrific deaths

I see people starving – needless, tragic, horrific hunger

I see people lying – horrid, shocking, pointless lies

The world’s suffering held in my hand, on my screen, in my news feed picked especially for me by powerful computer algorithms.

And I look and try and engage.

I see images that I wish I could unsee.

I read stories I wish I could unread.

I learn of corruption and terror and wish I could unlearn.

The world’s horrors held in my hand, on my screen, in my news feed picked especially for me by powerful computer algorithms.

And I look and feel impotent.

I wonder, ‘what can my voice do?’

I ask, ‘will this click, this “like”, this signature on this petition, make any difference?’

I start to think, ‘are online engagements just there to make me believe that by continuing to look, I am somehow helping?’

And I stop looking.

I know the world can be a terrible place

I know people hurt.

I know of the insistent call to see, to witness, to be part of a multitude of button  clickers and petition signers.

But I stop looking because to continue to look hurts too much.

Instead, I look at my family –

My husband, asleep beside me,

Our sons eating breakfast.

I look at the natural world – plants and trees and new life everywhere

I think of my faith, the promise of resurrection,

And the wonderful commandment, ‘do not be afraid’.

The screen insists, ‘look at me’.

It says, ‘I have the world, right here, everything you need to think held in your hand, on your screen, in your news feed picked especially for you by powerful computer algorithms.’

And I ask, ‘what can you tell me that I do not already know?’

The screen insists, ‘look at me’.

And I remind myself, ‘actions can be taken locally.

I am far more use attending a committee in my village.

At least there, I know I am heard,

At least there, people take note of my opinion.’

The screen insists, ‘look at me’.

And I quietly, carefully, turn it off.

And I pick up my bible, my prayer books,

Or my wellingtons and a coat,

Or the agenda for a local meeting.

Or, I go looking for my loved ones or my neighbours,

And I have ‘real’ contact with ‘real’ people,

People who remind me that it is still okay to smile, to laugh, to joke,

Who remind me that caring for the world requires care for oneself too.

The screen insists, ‘look at me’.

‘You hold a portable window on the world, a selected bit of the world picked especially for you by powerful computer algorithms.’

The screen insists, ‘look at me’.

‘The screen can tell you what to think, what to expend your energy on, what is important in your life.  There is no need to go looking for original thought. The screen can tell you everything your mind should contain.’

The screen insists, ‘look at me’.

‘Look at the screen. Let it distract you from reality.  Let the horrors of the world make you pliable, then let it remake you in a useful form.’

The screen insists, ‘look at me’.

‘You are useless unless you know what you are fed, unless you believe what you are told, unless you act as you are dictated to.’

The screen insists, ‘look at me’.

And I say ‘no’.

 

One of those days

Its one of those days where spring feels like summer,

as long as one stays out of the shade.

In places where the sun shines uninterrupted

the heat of the sun falls, intense, on newly sprouted leaves.

Trees look too sparse for the weather.

Bare twigs adorned with tiny buds are too skeletal for a true summer’s day.

Grass still sits brown and withered,  recovering from the winter,

though with half an eye closed, it could be summer drought parched instead.

April brings lengthening days and lengthening warmth too,

a joint chorus that sings, ‘throw off winter’s shroud.  Summer is coming to claim you.’

Winter aconites could be summer buttercups, complementing the illusion,

but the nodding trumpets of narcissus proclaim the season like the most strident herald.

Its one of those days where spring feels, and could look, like summer.

But don’t look too closely.

 

 

What if

What if…?

What if people hadn’t died?

What if it had been Dumfries town hall, or Leeds town hall, and not the Palace of Westminster?

What if the perpetrator was not a muslim?

What if the perpetrator was a Christian, a white guy, an atheist, a Belgian who was angry about brexit, a Scot who was angry about (in)dependence?

What if that policeman had run the other way?

What if a politician had been killed?

What if it had been a massacre of hundreds?

What if we didn’t sensationalise the horror but instead collectively prayed for peace?

What if our instincts had driven us to every church, synagogue, gudwara, temple, monastery and mosque to gather in respectful silence, remembering?

What if we didn’t blame, but instead left it to the authorities to seek justice?

What if we lived a life of forgiveness?

What if we didn’t hate?

What if we remembered that we are all human, thrown together on a tiny ball of rock, and decided, for a change, to love each other?

What if the archbishop of Canterbury was the one person we wanted on our TV screens right now?

What if we love?

What if we cry?

What if we are tired of the blame game and tired of the culture of fear?

What if we just want to live and let live?

What if we stopped letting the media tell us what to think?

What if……

 

Seasonal Blogging

Its been a while since I wrote anything. My garden has kept me busy and the early spring flowers and myriad spring birds have kept me well entertained and kept my thoughts away from my blog.

 

Perhaps blogging, like hibernating, is a seasonal thing. As bears enter their dens, I enter my wordpress site. My mind curls up in defence against the dark and what thoughts there are, be they sporadic and fleeting like a half frozen stream, or roaring like the Nith and Kent in full flood combined, they get committed to bits and bytes.

 

There are other activities in my, and indeed any other, life, which are seasonal. Seed sowing is for springtime. Lawn-mowing is for spring, summer and autumn. Holidays are best taken in the summer. Roaring bonfires are usually enjoyed as winter approaches. Curling up by a hot fire with a warm drink and a book is a joy on cold days, and sipping something over ice while lounging in the garden is best when the sun is high and threatening to wither your lawn.

 

So it stands to reason, in my mind at least, that writing can be seasonal too.  Different things spur different people to write. For me, writing is cathartic, it enables me, along with several other tools,  to work through the dark days when daylight is at its most fleeting.  Its a piece of my armour. And some, which can hold my armour together, gets shared on my blog whilst other pieces, which might prove armour-piercing, get deleted.

 

I have one – or a few – pieces of writing that I composed over the winter with the intent of publishing them later. It was an exercise in restraint, identifying things which might cause hurt rather than give help, and then putting such things to one side. I still don’t know if I will ever actually publish them. Much of my writing, especially anything controversial, is contextual, inspired by friends or by events in the media. Publishing some of it would be irrelevant, now. Writing things that no-one would see is then, perhaps, also a reflection of winter.

 

My blog will likely be idle for weeks at a time, now. I will write when something burns at my fingertips to be shared. Or I will save up stories and thoughts in a summer-made memory, to be used as the light fades again. But I ask, faithful readers, stay with me. As the seasons roll, I will return.

 

Tea

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There is nothing quite so civilised

As a cup of hot peppermint tea.

Sweet scented steam curling gently up

From the infused, herb-steeped cup,

The leaves, green-brown, once grew in sunshine

And add warm summer rays to the pot.

Liquid, once unadulterated,

Becomes a crystalline forest green

As clear takes on the clean mint green hue;

Not expected, a darker colour,

Hints of autumn drying, crumbling.

Green.  Yet not. Not the green of ice cream,

or paint or artificial coloured

thing labelled erroneously mint.

Mint, mint of plant and scented teacups

Is subtle. It carries reminders

Of summer sun, of autumn, of care,

Of the gleeful anticipation

Of teacups to come. This is what tea,

My tea, my cup of peppermint tea,

Deliciously fragrantly steaming,

Means to me. Carries in its colour.

Shows every time I pour a cup of

Home grown, cultivated, harvested,

Carefully dried, stored, brewed, steeped and poured

Civilisation.

 

 

 

Waking the garden up

Its at this time in the turn of the seasons that gardeners and allotmenteers the world over start to turn their attentions not to the crops carefully brought through the winter but to the new crops to be grown the forthcoming year.  As the last of the brussels sprouts are harvested, early peas and lettuces and parsnips all have their seeds sowed in the cool, moist earth.

I am no different. My garden has fed us every single Sunday of 2016 and every Sunday in 2017 so far, with delicious seasonal crops. In early spring, the so-called hungry gap saw us enjoying broccoli and kale florets. Late spring and early summer gave us peas, broad beans, cauliflower and salad by the tonne. Summer proper gave courgettes that had to be picked every morning lest they became marrows whilst my back was turned. The greenhouse was at its most productive in high summer too, giving cucumbers and tomatoes by the score.  As autumn approached, squashes ripened and we enjoyed cabbages and kale as well as long, plump runner beans. By Christmas we had parsnips for roasting and the sweetest brussels sprouts for steaming.

Right now, my veg patch is filled with rows of green shoots, autumn planted garlic carefully overwintered and growing strongly. Broad bean seedlings reach for the weak sunlight, winter lettuces grow strongly, ready to give us our first spring salads, and parsnip seeds are buried in a line of dark earth.  Standing tall and straggly are last years kale and some sprouting broccoli, yet to deliver its purple jewels.

And buried deep in my seed box, locked in their packets and envelopes, are more seeds for this year, a lot of them harvested from plants allowed to run to seed and fill my garden with buzzing bees, and more bought as Christmas and birthday gifts and carefully hoarded.

Its going to be a year free of brassicas, to give the veg patch a break and confuse the cabbage white butterflies that visited in such profusion last year. The flittering white insects will have to be content with what brassicas I am able to squeeze into the borders.  In the veg patch itself, the alliums dominate, garlic and shallots. Between them will be root crops and legumes, carrots and parsnips, oca and salsify, broad and runner beans both and courgettes and squashes will spill from the corners and onto the lawn.

Whether the garden will still feed us weekly, I do not know. I do know it is loved and that it feeds us with seasonal produce, sweet and delicious, as much as it can. And that is as much as I can ask.