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Ton up!

One-hundred years old today.  Happy Birthday!

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Rachel’s tale

See this, and be renewed. See this, and live afresh.

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A Happy New Year

Just a note to wish everyone a Happy New Year. ‘May your days be merry and bright’.

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It must be the snow that is giving rise to this nostalgia.  Wasn’t every winter as white and as angelic as this long ago when we all knew our sweet love of youth?  I know that I then first came to meet the sweet Deanna Durbin when I was in my teens and just beginning my rebellion against the order of the day.

Of course, I would never then have admitted to anything more than a musical interest in her ; but lads don’t tell their mates everything, do they?  At any rate, I was surprised and rather disappointed to learn that she had also been a favourite of my elders and betters.  Good grief!  She was old enough to be my mother.  Born in 1921, she retired in 1949 to live in peace (near Paris) with her husband.  As far as I know she is still there.  I hope so, and I hope too that she reflects shamelessly on the pleasure her singing brought to so many.

Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852) wrote the lines that Deanna here sings.  He was Irish and a poet ; what more need we say?  Only that he was much more than that.  He worked for the Admiralty at some stage ; he knew Byron ; he got into the most horrendous debt and had to flee to Paris until he had paid it off.  And he must have known that Miss Durbin was on her way to the world ; for who could sing his poem quite like this?

’TIS the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

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It goes without saying that war is never pleasant, and yet history from the earliest times and in all places is very largely the story of wars.  Such is the testimony to the nature of Man.  It is a wonder that the more-or-less peaceful civilisations ever got off the ground.

And yet they did get going and they even flourished to produce wonderful works in all the arts – building, literature and music – to name only three.  But it seems to me that all civilisations have been martial, even when refined ; and their soldiers were looking two ways : outwardly to deter foreign aggression : inwardly to deter dissent.  Just as amidst life there is death, so amidst peace there is armed force.  Much can be written about why this was so ; and much also about the periods of exception.

Given the polarity that exists in Man’s nature – the willingness to fight and the desire for peace, it is perhaps not surprising that poets and playwrights have tried to capture the dilemma.  And not only capture it, but to tame it, not least in the imagination.  Thus it is that we have some wonderful literature to meditate upon.  And it seems to me that the best came out of those violent times of wild kings and ambitious princes – the Middle Ages.

Here’s a piece by Chaucer in which he maintains the tradition of encouraging people to think always of talking themselves up towards becoming more peaceful, honourable and honest with themselves.  Literature like this must have acted as a continual persuasion which, over many centuries, did lead to the general improvement in us.  This kind of writing is far from unique in those days.

As Saint Augustine said, “To become the person you want to be, you must first pretend to be that person.”

A Knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the tyme that he first bigan
To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,
As wel in cristendom as in hethenesse,
And evere honoured for his worthynesse.
At Alisaundre he was whan it was wonne.
Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne
Aboven alle nacions in Pruce ;
In Lettow hadde he reysed and in Ruce,
No Cristen man so ofte of his degree.

Geoffrey Chaucer

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Time and place have mystical qualities.  If we consider an eclipse, for example, its occurrence depends upon the more or less exact relation between three or more objects ; but what is surprising is that the appearance of the eclipse is more or less exactly predictable long in advance.  This suggests a mechanical sort of universe.

It suggests a universe where everything runs like clockwork.  Indeed, a universe that is a clockwork ; a clockwork that was wound up long ages ago and which has been running its predictable revolutions ever since.  All motion came from that primal winding-up.

One might expect many interesting things from a mechanical universe ; but voluntary motion is perhaps the very last thing one should expect.

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Well, everyone knows how I like Freud.  🙂

A straightforward diagnosis

My dear Doktor Freud, you must come to my aid,
For  disequilibrium makes me quite fade.
When I fly in a plane or ride on a bike,
A bott.  of best brandy I must first tike!

Professorial knowledge, I’ve heard it well said,
Is your hallmark, dear Freud, so to you I have fled ;
Will you tell me now clear how you practise your art,
So that I, on vacation, may sober depart?

———-<>———-

“How to use psychological principles free
From suggestions that might so happily be
Of ze greatest potential for doing some good
Is a question of seeing ze trees from ze vood.

“For particular problems pose purposive pains,
While pandemical ponderings put people on planes
In a panicky predisposition to pine
For ze pleasing and practical fruit of ze vine.

“Now ze plane and ze pine are not multiple things,
For the one comes in squadrons, while t’other has rings ;
The collection of nouns and the tension of verbs
Gives a dual condition to specialised herbs.

“But you dendritophobia is mostly a mask
For concealing profounder conditions which ask
For a more comprehensive review of your past,
So enabling my science to give healing at last.

“That you ruminate deeply while high in a tree,
And expect to find solace in swigs of brandy,
Is suggesting neurosis involving a beach ;
For, while dad was a fisherman, mum was a peach.

“If my best psychological therapy’s well,
Then the interconnections should come to gel
The traces of reason that pull in train
The idea of my fee, which will free you from pain.”

Jamie MacNab

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