Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Water Table


Filmed at home in Penarth, South Wales in July 2009 Philip Gross reads two poems about the Severn estuary from his T.S. Eliot Prize-winning collection The Water Table, 'Sluice Angel' and 'Atlantis World'.





Other books by Philip Gross: Changes of Address; Mappa Mundi; The Egg of Zero; The Wasting Game

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Urge to Go - Joni Mitchell.





I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town,
It hovered in a frozen sky then it gobbled summer down.
When the sun turns traitor cold
And all the trees are shivering in a naked row
I get the urge for going, but I never seem to go.

I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown,
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in.

I had me a man in summertime,
He had summer-colored skin
And not another girl in town
My darling's heart could win,
But when the leaves fell on the ground
And bully winds came around, pushed them face down in the snow
He got the urge for going and I had to let him go.

He got the urge for going
When the meadow grass was turning brown,
Summertime was falling down and winter was closing in.

Now the warriors of winter they gave a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying, all that lives is getting out
See the geese in chevron flight flapping and a-racing on before the snow,
They've got the urge for going and they've got the wings, so they can go.

They get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in.

I'll ply the fire with kindling now, I'll pull the blankets up to my chin,
I'll lock the vagrant winter out and bolt my wandering in,
I'd like to call back summertime, have her stay for just another month or so,

But she's got the urge for going and I guess she'll have to go.
She gets the urge for going when the meadow grass is turning brown
And all her empire's falling down.







(Read it next autumn too).

This Land is My Land? An Old Fashioned Not-Given Right Not Rightly Assumed.

This land’s not your land, this land’s not my land
From California to the New York Island,
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land wasn’t made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway,
I saw below me that golden valley,
But this land wasn’t made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding,
But this land wasn’t made for you and me.

When the sun came shining and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting and the fog was lifting,
But this land wasn’t made for you and me.

This land’s not your land, this land’s not my land
From California to the New York Island,
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land wasn’t made for you and me.

When the sun came shining and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting and the fog was lifting,
But this land wasn’t made for you and me.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Bicycle cargo trailer. And driftwood.

Last autumn, having had no replies to a couple of over-optimistic wanted ads, I bought a new cargo trailer via eBay. It cost £65 (w p&p from Germany), is well built and has an enormous load capacity of 220lbs = 100kgs = 15st (ish).




On the flat and empty, but with its lidded canvas "bag" fitted, it makes me drop 2 or 3 gears. Very fully loaded with driftwood it makes me drop 4 -5 gears. On steeper hills I drop to my crawler gear and sweat like a waterfall. The tyres are rated at 35psi. I immediately took them to 40. It's important esp. with a heavy load to make the trailer nose-heavy. This might occasionally cause the bike's front wheel to want to lift off the road, but that's much better than contending with the annoying and difficult rocking motion which can develop if the load is evenly balanced or heavier at the back.

A cycle path runs along the estuary shoreline where there's a lot of driftwood. It's not so far from home and I can get out and back with a lot of wood in little more than an hour. I take with me a small bow saw and, because I'm only 2 - 3 miles from the city centre, 3 cable bike locks so I can lock the bike to the trailer and both to something else, and then wander away.

Once I'm home any seaweed which comes along with the wood gets put into the compost bin. I use the chainsaw to get the wood down to stove length and because it's nearly all dry I bring some of it straight into the house where for several days it gives off a pleasant, fresh and salty smell.

I imagine the trailer will double as a garden wheelbarrow occasionally.

A bicycle trailer, post manufacture and delivery, and heating with (free) biomass together amounts to some useful carbon footprint shrinkage, I think.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Wolfgang's Vault, My, oh, my......

Five weeks earlier with two schoolfriends I'd stood about 8ft back from the stage and watched The Rolling Stones play in The King's Hall at Bellevue, Manchester. Mick Taylor was on top form, Billy Preston was amazing (and his band which included Mick Taylor), and Keith looked in many respects frighteningly close to very nearly dead. I have this gig on a semi-officially released CD, but you can listen to it here:


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Winter '62 - '63 (the coolest since 1740)

I'm sure we had some days off school in rural Gloucestershire, but when we went back we made ice slides as long as the whole sloping playground, as BIG as commerical runways along which we took turns to be towed by friends either side in the grippier snow. The bruises were enormous. And what about the firey cold pain under your skin which became so much worse once we got back into the warm?

Drifts outside our isolated house were 7 (seven) feet high and extended 20 yards or more from the wheatfield, through the laid hedge and across the wide verge and the road too.


Two coal fires, no radiators even in a modern house, no double glazing, of course, thick ice inside the windows, (cold lino floors), handknitted mittens and balaclavas........ But those weather conditions amounted to one of the most sustained periods of excitement ever!


That xmas I'd been given a sledge made by my dad in clumsy secrecy in the outhouse. The runners were recycled staves from a 5ft high barrel. Although strongly made, I don't think it was a very good sledge but good fun, all the same and I still quite often wonder how I slid below the lowest strand of that barbed wire fence and only lost my hat.

Here's a website dedicated to the winter weather of 1962 - 63.