A slowly buried pulse from history taught me
Sometimes love endures beyond what is mutually good -
As I again felt the inclusion of your laugh,
The safety of your head on mine,
The walk beside the water hand in hand at dusk,
The giving, naked bed …
© athinkingman 2012
I sing in a local choir and at the moment we are preparing for a Christmas Concert. We normally sing in English, but occasionally we sing in other languages, and are quite used to not completely understanding the words, but just having a good, general gist of what we are singing about.
However, one of the songs we have planned to sing at Christmas is causing more than a bit of discussion. The words that have been set to music are a poem by Charles Causley, and it is written in English. And the discussion is about what it means. We seem to ebb and flow, thinking we have grasped the meaning and then seem to lose it. Normally it wouldn’t be an issue, but it seems to matter this time as there is a general consensus that we like it - and because we like it, we want to get to the bottom of it.
See what you make of it. I have published the words below.
Lord the snowful sky
In this pale December
Fingers my clear eye
Lest seeing I remember
Not the naked babe
Weeping in the stable
Nor the singing boys
All round my table
Not the dizzy star
Bursting on the pane
Nor the leopard sun
Pawing the rain
Only the deep garden
Where green lilies grow
The sailors rolling in
The sea’s blue snow
I felt the need to try to unravel it for myself. For what it is worth, here are my thoughts. Continue Reading »
The Story of English: How an Obscure Dialect Became the World’s Most-Spoken Language
I liked this book, and although I used to teach the subject to undergraduates for over 10 years, I managed to learn a few new things from it. It achieved what it set out to do - provide an enjoyable and informative broad survey.
The strength of the book for me is the summaries of key literary figures (and occasional works) that the author provides along the way.
My main minor criticism is that more space is given to people and general events than to language. Although language is discussed, in my view it needed more detail and more explanation. For example, in my view, two of the most important things to happen in the story of the English language are the loss of Old English inflections and the move from grammatical to natural gender, and yet these important happenings receive little attention.
Despite this criticism, I can recommend this book, especially to the general reader who wants to get an overview of the field.
I downloaded this as a free ebook from Amazon yesterday and spent most of last night and all of today reading it. I like thrillers, and this was certainly a well-written, interesting page-turner. Because it was free I had low expectations of it, but I couldn’t have been more mistaken, and am already looking to get other books by this author (who I had not encountered before).
What I liked about it:
* A really good plot based on well-researched possibilities. It was interesting.
* The plot was delivered well. It was complex, but fast, and executed in a way that didn’t confuse. I genuinely didn’t want to put it down and wanted to know what happened next.
* The prose was good. It didn’t seem trite, banal, or lazy. The author studied Modern Languages at Oxford, and it showed in the quality of the writing - accessible, but with precision and class.
* Most of the characters seemed believable - well, the goodies, at least. I cared about them. Continue Reading »
If, like me, you are annoyed that it takes you a while as you fumble with your phone in an attempt to answer it, then you will be pleased to know that you can increase the time it takes before that same phone diverts to voicemail.
I have a new iPhone5, and thanks to the helpful online Gurus at my Phone Network provider, I know that if you dial the following code, it will lengthen the amount of time before the divert to voicemail kicks in.
The default length of time is 20 seconds, and the above code changes it to 30 seconds (the maximum allowable). It worked for my phone on O2.
Continue Reading »
I have reproduced in full an email I recently received:
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain would like to make public its support for Tom Holland’s Channel 4 documentary ‘Islam: The Untold Story’ (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/islam-the-untold-story/4od). We are indignant to learn that due to threats made on Holland, Channel 4 has cancelled a repeat screening of the historical inquiry into the origins of Islam similar to the kind of inquiry that has been applied to other religions and histories in Britain for many years.
The threats and concerted attempt to stigmatise the documentary and its producers by attacking its credibility and even legitimacy as a field of inquiry is nothing less than an attempt to impose a blasphemy taboo by stealth and coercion against programming that scrutinises Islam.
Caving in to the coercive pressure of Islamists will have catastrophic effects on free inquiry and expression where it pertains to Islam. It would not only further silence academic, historical and theological scrutiny of Islam but would also have the chilling effect of exerting added pressure on Muslims and ex-Muslims who wish to dissent from and question Islam. Continue Reading »
I really enjoyed this book. The author created a vulnerable protagonist who succeeds in the mammoth task of clearing a cemetery, against entenched opposition and distractions. I found the relentless progress through careful and difficult work inspiring. The engineer grows through the pages and the quality of writing and detailed observation of his inner struggle endeared him to me. Many of us scratch fearfully at closed doors. I was reminded of Camus, both in theme of freedom through action and love, and through the use of extended allegory (La Peste).
Antony Jay’s and Jonathan Lynn’s stage adaptation of the TV sitcom, Yes, Prime Minister, at the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, is well worth a visit. Having enjoyed the TV series I went with high expectations, and the production didn’t disappoint.
The classic combination of a controlling Sir Humphrey (Henry Goodman) with beautifully crafted lengthy speeches of confabulation, and the hapless, and increasingly desperate Jim Hacker (David Haig) produced some merciless satire on political life. Continue Reading »
Geoffrey Roberston’s book is both compelling and shocking. I finished reading it about a fortnight ago, but because the content was so disturbing and complex, it has taken me some time to let the material settle and for me to be able to begin to write about it.
Terry Eagleton’s review in The Guardian best summed it up for me: “Devastating … a book that combines moral passion with steely forensic precision, enlivened with the odd flash of dry wit. With admirable judiciousness, it even finds it in its heart to praise the charitable work of the Catholic church, as well as reminding us that paedophiles (whom Robertson has defended in court) can be kindly men. It is one of the most formidable demolition jobs one could imagine on a man who has done more to discredit the cause of religion than Rasputin and Pat Robertson put together.” Continue Reading »
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