Mixing up the Medicine

I’m not here, I’m back there – I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.  It feels like a personal vindication – I am twelve again.  I shout down the stairs to my mum and dad – “I bloody told you so!” 

“We will have none of that sort of language in this house!” – it is the voice of my mother echoing down the years.  There is no need to respond.  I know when their argument has lost its foothold; they change the subject.

In response to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize, The Irish Times brought together the response of forty Irish authors, poets and scholars to his literary honour.  I have long been a consumer of Irish fiction, it is in my head as much as the work of Robert Zimmerman.  These reactions from The Irish Times will now provide a future guide to my consumption of Irish literature – those with a churlish or superior response will disappear from my reading wishlist.

But what of those I have already read and admire.  What, in particular, would Anne Enright have to say, would I be obliged to never open her books again.  I need not have been concerned – not only did she approve, she came up with a one-liner worthy of the man himself – “And once you “get” Dylan, you can’t get away”.

On the day his Nobel Prize was announced, Migrant in Moscow, on Blipfoto, clicked on the tag ‘BobDylan’ and a stream of ‘likes’ came pouring into my mailbox.  I had forgotten just how many times I have used his words on Blipfoto.  Many of these images have already appeared on WordPress but, I repeat them here in celebration – good on yer Bob!

Ballad of a Thin Man

You see somebody naked
And you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?
Ballad of a Thin Man

 

Black cows in the meadow Across a broad highway Black cows in the meadow Across a broad highway Though it’s funny, honey I just don’t feel much like a Scarecrow today

Black cows in the meadow
Across a broad highway
Black cows in the meadow
Across a broad highway
Though it’s funny, honey
I just don’t feel much like a
Scarecrow today
With apologies to Black Crow Blues – Dylan

And I answer them most mysteriously “Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”

And I answer them most mysteriously
“Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”
Ballad in Plain D

... for playing electric violin on Desolation Row

You would not think to look at him that he was famous long ago
For playing electric violin on Desolation Row

... the bells on the crown Are being stolen by bandits I must follow the sound

Farewell Angelina, the bells on the crown
Are being stolen by bandits
I must follow the sound

... now over 50 years old

… now over 50 years old

I'm not there

I’m not there

When the jelly-faced women all sneeze.<br /> Hear the one with the moustache say Jeez, I can't find my knees.

When the jelly-face women all sneeze.
Hear the one with the moustache say Jeez,
I can’t find my knees.

Rainy Day Flowers #12 & 35 ...

Rainy Day Flowers #12 & 35 … (or Women)

And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain

And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Not when you have Egger.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

This wheel's on fire, rolling down the road.

This wheel’s on fire, rolling down the road.

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Heaven’s door …

One of the joys of Golf in the Wild is the unexpected connections I make. A recent exchange with a fellow golfing/motor racing/railway enthusiast (yes, we exist) whose father also worked for ICI, put me in mind of Trafford Park and my Dad, not that he is ever that far from my thoughts. This picture dates from his early career at ICI, just inside the entrance to the works on Westinghouse Road – he is standing far left among his fellow members of the Works Council; sadly none of the names mean anything to me but the location does.
Trafford-Park-wordpress
The door to the immediate left of my Dad opened onto a tiled corridor and up the stairs was the cashiers’ office where I collected my first pay packet – I had a string of holiday jobs on site which included internal postman (the best), toilet floor cleaner (the worst), working in the canteen kitchens and serving in the tuck shop. I had grand plans to use the money to buy a go-kart but was actively discouraged from such ‘dangerous’ ideas. Instead, I saved up for a Mini 850 and promptly went ‘racing in the street’ – the world would have been a safer place had I been confined to a track.

Outside the gates the open moorland that was Trafford Park is still visible. A section of the local goods railway ran parallel to the road and terminated near the entrance to ICI – to the end of the 1950s, Westinghouse Road went no further than these gates.  This is an aerial view of the original British Alizarine Co Ltd works taken in 1929, courtesy of Britain from Above (the bottom left of the inserted image marks the location of the gates). The Google Earth view of this area today is utterly changed and ICI gone.

Alizarine-site-wordpress

To the rear of the site is the Bridgewater Canal, the first commercial waterway in Britain. On the open moorland opposite the main entrance, men with horse-drawn carts would cut damp dark peat.  Dried and soaked in paraffin, it was sold to the housewives of Lancashire and north Cheshire to light their coal fires which fed the long winter smogs. One such horse-drawn cutter was Piccolo Pete (I had always imagined him a ‘Peat’), a regular visitor to our street and my mother an avid consumer of his wares and philosophy – ‘a very intelligent man’.  He attributed the severe changes in weather patterns to a spate of nuclear tests – I forget if it was getting hotter, colder or wetter. The fear of climate change is nothing new.

Piccolo Pete, the rag ‘n’ bone men, the Corona lorry, the Kleeneze rep, gypsies with pegs, French men with onion strings, the electric milk float and the occasional tramp – once the world came down our street, now they go knocking on heaven’s door.

Summer to Autumn

In parallel with this blog I have another compulsive disorder called Blip.  This is a mini-blogging site designed to encourage a post/photo per day.  My written input is very limited, I struggle with a picture per day and sometimes I cheat with duplicates of images on WordPress but, by and large it does provide an interesting (for me 🙂 ) picture diary of our year. Without any forethought it seems I have captured the season as it drifts from summer to autumn, all from one particular viewpoint over Hexham.  It is a few hundred yards from our home and looks over the Tyne Valley towards the Shire. The steam emanates from the Egger chimney – as it says on one of the Blip posts, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows:

30th July 2014
You don't need a weatherman ...
29th August 2014
Evening ...
1st September 2014
Evening ...
17th September 2014 (a cold day with the wind blowing in from the east)
We plough the fields ...
1st October 2014 (early morning)
Steamy, misty morning
(click on the images to enlarge)

The kindness of strangers

“Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”  – Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire.  Blanche Dubois has been committed to a mental institution and utters this signature line to the kindly doctor who leads her away.

It is the kindness of strangers that is the most uplifting and purest form of altruism.  It is this that allows us to take solace from tragic events, stories of the unconditional kindness of strangers that emerged from the victims of 9/11 and 7/7 counteracts our despair.  There is also the nagging doubt, would we, in the same circumstance, find similar courage.

On a more mundane level, it is one of the joys of travelling the Western Highland single track roads, the opportunity to interact with a complete unknown who has taken the opportunity give way, to ease into the passing place, to give you priority, to make your passage, however briefly, that much easier.  You wave your appreciation and most will acknowledge with a wave in return – we proceed, uplifted.

And then there are those who give of their time and energy without even realising.  I feel I owe these two girls a debt of gratitude.  They are street performers on Las Rambla, Barcelona and I have used their image on a whole variety of occasions, even on business cards.  Whoever you are and wherever you are now, thanks for your uplifting bizarre performance.

The lyrics are courtesy of Robert Allen Zimmerman and the observant will appreciate that the words don’t match the song title – poetic licence.  Mr Z, an unlisted passion since I was 12 – from the timeless joys of Blonde on Blonde through to Not Dark Yet and beyond.

And then there are those strangers who ‘like’ my blog or even take time to post kind comments – thanks to you as well.  I proceed, uplifted.