Sunday, August 15, 2010

Half a dozen somethings for the weekend

Accident spot

On the barrier where the road bends round
the edge of the hill, over the long sloping field,
someone has changed the artificial flowers.
Their polyester red and white and yellow
is loud once more, shouting, vulgar
with the intrusive bad taste of a fresh grief,
among the tired, turning season's speckled
weeds and seeds: the rusted spikes of dock,
hawksbit and knapweed, ragwort,  mallow,
ladies' bedstraw, Queen Anne's lace,
and here and there still the pale scarlet
bloodsplash of a poppy.


Anyone going into Tartapain bakery in Yffiniac, and possibly other bakers here, with a large baby or small toddler will be offered 'a piece of bread for the baby?'.  This comes from a prepared stock of handy-sized chunks of baguette behind the counter.  Tom says that the London bakers of his childhood also used to give away ' a bit of bread and buppy for the baby.'  Here though, the bread is unbuttered, and probably chewier than that was.  Presumably a child weaned and teethed on baguettes would never have to be cajoled or fibbed to about curling hair to be persuaded to eat its crusts.  Indeed, with much French bread, refusal to eat the crust could mean going rather hungry...


I allow myself momentarily to succumb to the lure of the Vitrine Magique catalogue.  Though almost tempted by the 36 tiny stick-on wooden ladybirds, the hand-weeding tool with the specially angled metal blade (both at a euro), and a rather sleek little olive stoner (2 euros, and I have one on the garlic crusher anyway), I do not give in, emerge triumphant and throw the catalogue in the recyclables bin.


A most excellent Archers omnibus.  I've not listened to 'The Archers' much of late, but it's a well-known truism that this doesn't matter a scrap, since like riding a bike, once one has ever learned to listen to it, it is possible to pick it up again after an interval of weeks, months, years or even decades with very little difficulty.  From Jim's sublime lachrymae rerum chat with  Kathy ( "it can be hard to be not quite in the inner circle of mourners...") which had me shedding tears into the breakfast things, to the deliciously ridiculous Aldridge/Carter clash of the snobberies - Jennifer's posh landed airs and graces against Susan's rural working class aspirations - over their children's wedding party, happily resolved in shared excitement at the prospect of a multi-coloured cupcake tower wedding cake, which had me giggling into my Sunday midday sherry, altogether a hugely satisfying listen.

Who knows this knows.


Rock, shadow, water, root.  From the old railtrack, found on the Cheapcam.


And finally a bit of Rilke:

Praise the world to the Angel, not what's unsayable.
You can't impress him with lofty emotions; in the cosmos
where he feels more feelingly, you're a mere novice.  Therefore show him
some simple thing, formed by generation after generation
until it's truly our own, living in our hands and in our eyes.
Tell him things.  He'll stand more amazed; as you stood
beside the ropemaker in Rome or the potter by the Nile.
Show him how happy a thing can be, how innocent and ours,
how even lamenting grief decides finally on form,
serves as a thing or dies into a thing...

(9th Duino Elegy, trans. Snow)

He might well be right. 


andy said...

It's a very long time since I visited - my loss, I know - but I'm so glad I chanced by today. That photo is just amazing - beautiful abstract art. I could perhaps wax lyrical about colour and texture and form (well, I could if I knew how to, which I don't) but really the whole thing just seems to interact with my brain in the way good music does, so that one knows one appreciates something without having to dissect the whys and wherefores.

Fire Bird said...

I may be odd but I read the Rilke as referring rather touchingly to the Archers. I've been rather loving it of late too. I confess we do listen fairly consistently 6 times a week...

christopher said...

My friend, I love your ways. They feel like pathways out into the countryside. This one spins off a memory from my childhood visits to my grandmother's home.

The Abandoned Track

I stand on the track,
the rusted rail under my
right foot, a tie my
left, me on the raised
weedy bed of abandoned

I stand in
sun, late sun, autumn's
late light thinking how it must
have been for my Dad
when he walked these tracks
before that War came for him,
took him far away,
there to meet his fate.

Dale said...

Oh my God what a magnificent poem, Lucy.

and here and there still the pale scarlet
bloodsplash of a poppy.

That makes me dizzy, it's so good, so right.

Roderick Robinson said...

Such a mixed gesture. Are the flowers there because the donors have seen other alfresco memorials and think it's the thing to do? Perhaps. But possibly the gesture has come from the heart; in which case, why leave the plastic wrapper on, obscuring the flowers? But these are intellectualisations which is what we get up to once behind the volant. Whatever the reasons these sad cheap clusters, dying flowers and plastic notwithstanding, marking some otherwise unexceptional length of road, do the job - achieve poignancy and suggest an unnecessary death. A more professional symbol would not do it better. Un poeme de nos jours. Well observed and well subsumed, Luce.

rb said...

Did chuckle re crusts and baguettes. I went through a phase in this house of finding baguettes completely hollowed out. When Joe was about 2 or 3 he would get a chair and climb onto the kitchen counter and pick bits of bread out of the centre of a baguette. He'd make the smallest hole so it always came as a real shock when I went to break a hunk off to have with some cheese to find it was all crust and no innards!

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

Andy, good to see you again. I'm glad you like the photo, it's a place where springs run over the rock, with a lot of ivy and stone pennywort. The textures of it always interest me but it's often rather dark and difficult to capture. Surprising that the little camera worked so well really.

FB - funnily enough I read it that way as I was doing it, though it didn't occur to me initially, Especially the 'generation after generation' bit! And indeed why not?

Christopher - makes me happy when you do your Johnny Applepoem thing again! Glad you felt inspired, it's a very touching one.

Dale - thank you, that is worth much from you especially.

BB - these roadside flowers certainly provoke mixed reactions; Tom is uncomfortable with them, I find them quite interesting. I think they come from quite an old tradition of shrines at the site of fatalities, and I'm inclined to separate them from the kind of hysterical and exhibitionist slews of outpourings that are now de rigueur for murder victims and dead celebrities. Apart from anything else, they do serve as warning and reminder on dangerous stretches of road, an idea which the authorities here have more recently taken on by planting life-size black silhouette figures with red lightning strikes down them in the spots where people have been killed.

These particular flowers have been there for as long as I can recall; they are polyester silk - not plastic wrapped - and are renewed every year or so, and always contain the same colours, and at
least one large sunflower-type flower. They've always made an impression on me, I've sometimes thought of photographing them, perhaps as part of a series of roadside oddities, but it's a dangerous place to stop and get out of the car, of course.

Thanks as ever for your thoughtful response.

RB - what a quaint and devious child your Joe is! I can remember picking the bottom out of the tin loaves my mum got me to fetch on my way home from school. Oddly, I'm not sure I ate the bread! I think it was the act of picking it I enjoyed.

RSA Certificate said...

Call me odd but I always liked the crusts best ;)
I love the poems you posted, such vivid imagery!

marja-leena said...

I love your poem, Lucy! And the bread post makes me hungry.

Beth said...

Dale is right -- it's a very fine poem. I admire how the botanical litany suddenly gives way to the shock of red, real red.

Nimble said...

Makes me want to take a class on Rilke. Whenever I stumble across some it's ravissant and loving, I know so little.

HKatz said...

turning season's speckled
weeds and seeds: the rusted spikes of dock
hawksbit and knapweed...

I love this, the poetry in the names of the flowers and plants.

And I too love bread crust (dipped in something, like humous).

He'll stand more amazed; as you stood
beside the ropemaker in Rome or the potter by the Nile.

I hope we keep our own sense of wonder and amazement about things, and their origins, labor and craftsmanship.

James said...

The poem is amazing. Like Dale, those last lines really grabbed me. I also like the list of plants, I don't know most of them but the words are delicious and it reads like an incantation almost.

Dick said...

What a feast of a post! A sharp and vivid poem; a piece of French/Breton folklore; an Archers appreciation piece (the Archers are a far-from-guilty pleasure of mine too); a beautiful photo; and a bit of Rilke that I would sew straight onto a sampler, if I could sew.

Bee said...

My husband is a devoted listener to The Archers -- which is out-of-character in many ways -- but then I don't think you can really predict who will adore (find comfort?) in that program. (If asked, he always says it's because his father -- beloved, and long gone -- listened to it.) Despite the fact that I've never consciously listened to The Archers, they are, nevertheless, part of the background of my life. I can recall snatches of the drama from long drives . . . and when I am pottering in the kitchen on Sunday, I can hear it drift down.

Clare said...

My grandmother used to give us 'buppies' at teatime -- a slice of bread and butter.

And I love the Archers, too -- but since we moved, my husband's considerably shorter walk from the station means that he comes through the door in the middle of it, and somehow (it's still our first year of marriage), he is so much more exciting than anything Ambridge has to offer!