Well Dressing 2019

Posted: July 14, 2019 in John Stammers Page

It’s July – so it’s Well Dressing time in my part of the world.
The theme this year is Nursery Rhymes – with one commemorative exception.

A change this year: smaller boards; some displays that usually have two or three boards: main image and smaller side panels, have been pruned to the major board.

All, again, constructed from found and ‘scrumped’ natural products. I love the way sheep wool, gathered off hedges and fences, has been used to great effect for cloud etc.

 

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I have long felt that the term Nursery Rhymes, likes Fairy Stories, do a great disservice to what are very potent and stimulating works. They have lasted longer than the majority of more ‘deserving’ works. There’s a lesson to be learned, there. Every so often it is taken to heart; but often the stories and verses are relegated once again.

50 Years of Apollo!

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Mary, Mary – though not very contrary in this image. The only contrary input was my camera’s inability to handle the July light (‘Blaming the tools, eh?’ they say).

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The local school’s board – I did not note which school this time. Jolly spider, though – more of a tickle than a fright, I’d reckon.

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Very pleased to see the wide display of flags. No one fought alone, despite how the later (nationalistic propaganda) War films had it.
We have in our possession articles left by soldiers going off to D-Day. So poignant – they were not collected afterwards. That’s when it comes home to us with a punch.

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A lot of effort has gone into ‘explaining’ such songs as this. The explanations may make the sober-minded and practically-inclined feel better – but to lose the sense of mystery, possibility, seems a crime to me.

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The light defeated me getting a consistently lit photo – apologies.
Vinegar and brown paper – I could tell you a contemporary tale of someone trying to use those. But won’t.

This was the last display – and there were trestle tables of homemade cakes, and fresh teas and coffees, for the doughty travellers!

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Image result for tanabata festival

On the 7th day of the 7th month, every year, is the Tanabata Festival in Japan.
Why only then?
It is all based a story from early Japan.

This is the story, one of the many, connected with the Milky Way in the night sky. In Japan it is known as the River of the Sky.

It is the story of two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who represent the stars Vega, and Altair. They are only allowed to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month, every year, at the River of the Sky.
It is a based on poems in the Manyoshu volume, ‘Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves’.  It can be traced back, in turn, to an old Chinese tale, The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The corresponding Chinese festival is the Qixi Festival, of the 7th of the 7th.

The Weaver Girl,  was, of course, a princess, and… was she weaving the pattern of the stars and constellations? Her father grew concerned that in her lonely profession she was not able to meet any young men. He invited the cowherd (who herded the cows of heaven?), to meet her.

The meeting went very well, and in time they fell in love. They were able to marry.
On marriage, however, they neglected their duties.
It was thought best for all if they were separated, and only allowed to meet once a year. On meeting, though, they found themselves on opposite sides of the Sky River. Orihime wept so much and so hard that a flock of magpies took pity, flew down and made her a bridge with their wings.

If it rains on the seventh day of the seventh month, though, the magpies may not be able to come.

 

Tonight he takes his one journey of the year
             Over the Heavenly River, passing Yasu Beach –
He, the love-lorn Oxherd longing for his maid,
Whom he can never see but once a year,
Though from the beginning of heaven and earth
They have have stood face to face across the Heavenly River

……………………………………………………………………………………….
 Tonight, this seventh night of the seventh moon – 
Strangely it thrills my heart.

(excerpted from: Japanese Love Poems, Selections from the Manyoshu. Edited by Evan Bates, Dover Publications Inc., 2005)

People write messages, poems, prayers, and hang them from trees on this day.

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Astronomically, on this date, the distance between Vega, part of the Harp constellation, and Altair, The Eagle constellation, is bridged by a group of stars called The Coathanger, more properly Brocchi’s cluster.
This arrangement forms a straight line with a few dotted stars above this in the centre.
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brocchi%27s_Cluster

 

 

Is this the magpie bridge?

Shirt

Posted: June 30, 2019 in Chat

Unaccountably missed from my Suit-Shirt-Tie sequence. I’d set it to Publish… but nothing.

 

Circa ninety-five, a hot long evening
the Edinburgh Festival, the auditorium,
a Peter Handke play with no script;
and scanning the crowd for a feel
of the vibe of the night, saw
a man decked out in a Bob Dylan shirt,
from circa sixty-five.

‘Hey!’ I said, ‘scuse me, ‘scuse me, Hey….’
‘They were big in Berlin. Last year’, he said,
then the house lights dimmed, and so crept
to my seat, my son, and the set
of a desert town: was it Mexico?
The actors passed hesitantly, afraid,
then more boldly; so we read, misdirected,
recognising-not-recognising
a character, storyline, place;
stringing together a time-line as the desert ebbed
and flowed in the light over… Sinai? The Negev?

Back in the back places of England
where nothing ever happens, more than twice,
I saw one, that shirt –Yes!
heart in hand, hand on card, card flexing in the reflex
over debits and credits… bought it.
Black, with large white spots. That’s it!
‘In the press photos’ my son said, ‘it’s green.
With white spots.’ ‘You misread it!
You’ll have the shirt off my dream!’ I snapped,
‘with your new generational take
on an older generation rap!’

The child is father, and I the man,
he pointedly didn’t say
before leaving for the city; where things happen,
they say, every day.

 

APPS

Posted: June 23, 2019 in Chat
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Something is speaking, but you don’t know the language.
Your body does, trips you, its knowledge
coding through into nerves of muscle, to balance.

You will need an app to help you stop, listen.
What is it saying?  It’s saying
you’re stretched beyond your limits, a wire spring
about to buckle. It’s saying
listening is no good, but there’s still time
to save the debilitated, ruined.

Listen, and then act
by stopping doing.

Falling is just the beginning.

Night Thoughts

Posted: June 16, 2019 in Chat
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To be able to say, ‘Here was where
I had made a wrong decision.
And at this point, see, I was right’

to admit, ‘Here I had not thought through
to the consequences of everything
that I was going to do.
It was only half done – but then,
everything I’ve done’s been half done.’

And here: ‘Something said five years ago
toppled my equilibrium, much later
when poise was essential.’

And admit at times I have maybe become
the kind of person I most hate.

 

Alteration

Posted: June 9, 2019 in Chat

The inward look on a smoker’s face
handling their experience.
Hood up, young smoker, suffering it
to know it, the burn, nausea,
the rush, and the altering.

Vacant faces of seasoned drinkers
so far down their road only fellow travellers
know them. To touch back down,
common ground,
sentimental, and vociferous
describing emotional landscapes
passed through at speed, but continually:
thread-bare, neglected, divorced.

*

Silver studs in black velvet, the night streets
and their litter. Come day and come-down,
rubbish strewn wastelands.
How world mirrors mind’s furnishings:
modish, recycled, tat. The drugs corrupt
that innocence you bartered for experience.

It’s not what you meant. There is nothing else
they whisper to you.

Tiananmen Square

Posted: June 2, 2019 in Chat
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ts

 

Leaving the city for the student quarters
was to postpone grief, hold off horror,
by all the arts study finds emotion capable.

That night’s examination caught us all heads down;
ours the unquestioned rights to question,
our right to rights.

We woke to outrage,
found time had stolen our innocence;
witnesses, unable to act, found space
had made us impotent.

Made old
by the escalation, that morning,
between immediate loss, and the long,
slow, discovery of loss.

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