Things Around

I’ve started putting food diary stuff over here: 

http://jackrecipes.tumblr.com/

It’s a bit of a mess. 

Two new posts. 

On the train I hold the pink, metal pole, it feels hard, solid, in my hand. But it is not. It is a vast maelstrom of unknown particles, repulsing, spinning, attracting and held together by the force of unfathomable, ancient and arcane truths.

On our walk this morning, just before the bridge to Sainsbury’s, Rio and I noticed a moorhen.

The moorhen, a puddle of blackness pointed by a red and yellow beak and a shining black bead-eye, was carrying shimmering green pond weed to a nest that it had built on the cage of a half submerged shopping trolley, whose rear wheels and red handle stood out of the water like a wire-frame shipwreck. The little bird, who I had often seen chased and bullied by the coots on the towpath of the Limehouse Cut, was calmly and industriously building a home for it’s little ones.

I had no camera with me, so I came back a few hours later when the summer sun had burnt through that mornings smokey yellow clouds. The nest was there (whilst I had been gone it had been decorated with a Snickers wrapper) but the moorhen had fucked off. As I was taking a few pictures of the nest, which was being investigated by a mallard and her chicks, another nosey bugger pointed something out to me, below the bridge. I went to look, and, nestled on an uncomfortable looking rock, between a small algae-streaked waterfall and the bridge, was a clutch of moorhen chicks. They huddled together, their black bodies like a swarm of dust sprites and their colourful, wrinkled, bald heads were like curious, masked wrestlers. Mum and Dad were fussing around them, feeding them, swimming off for a while, and feeding them. I took some photos and left.

“Or the wild fishermen of the Outer Hebrides will sing in their intense, concentrated way, by the fire. And again, usually, the songs have words. Yet sometimes not. Sometimes the song has merely sounds, and a marvellous melody. lt is the seal drifting in to shore on the wave, or the seal-women, singing low and secret, departing back from the shores of men, through thc surf, back to the realm of the outer beasts that rock on the waters and stare through glistening, vivid mindless eyes.”
Another one from Mornings in Mexico
“The strait course is hacked out in wounds, against the will of the world.”
David Herbert Lawrence, Mornings in Mexico

tumblrbot asked: ROBOTS OR DINOSAURS?

Robo-dinosaurs. 

A few weeks ago it was the sikh new year, Vaishaki. We have a few big Sikh temples in Hitchin and one of the biggest is just up the road from us, in the industrial area.

I don’t know much about Sikhism, and Sikh beliefs seem to be intricate and mystical, but how I’ve come to understand Vaishaki is that over the course of a few hundred years the Sikh people had ten Gurus. The tenth decreed that there would be no more and then the ten Gurus combined to become one eternal Guru (i can’t help thinking of transformers and power rangers). Sikhs celebrate the day that this happened as their new year.
I like the story, and how the mix of recent history and spirituality adds a spark of realism to it.

On the day of the parade S and I had fallen out and during the argument I had gone out into the garden to escape from it. I stood in the garden, which was wet from the morning rain, and I could hear horns blowing from the direction of the Gurdwara. They sounded muffled and far away, like the echo of the ancient horns that must have sounded in Punjab, 200 years ago. I went inside and we made up.
S and I walked up to the park, slowly, because S was 34 weeks pregnant. It was a bright and cloudy day, the tarmac had not really started to dry and the metal railings by the park were still shining wet. We walked past the white, pillared housed of the Sikh families who lived on our road. They were standing outside, minding trestle tables which were piled with cardboard boxes of samosas, crates of drinks cans and plastic buckets of sweets.
We stood by the park and watched as the parade unfolded itself through the arch of the railway bridge. The police came first. A marked carrier, a riot van, driving slowly with it’s blue light bar flashing lazily. Then clusters of young Sikhs who handed out sweats and chocolates, leaflets and papers flags, to us and the other onlookers. The men had black beards or black stubble and their heads were covered with orange napkins that were pulled tight across their scalp and knotted behind their heads. The women had their long black hair tied under colourful head scarves and saris.
The first thing one noticed of the procession itself was the slow lumbering of a heavy motorised float as it passed under the bridge. It was covered with shining silver domes, fluted spearheads and a spiked crescent that is a symbol of the Sikh world. In front of the float was a bright, whirling, joyful press of people. School kids wearing orange turbans and midnight blue uniforms twirled blue rope-webs that were weighted by silver balls and spun in cone shapes above their heads. An older boy and girl took turns in spinning a larger net, made from yellow and blue rope, and they were followed by teenage girls wielding plastic swords. Then came a big warrior of a man who was dressed all in black with an impressive black beard and an orange turban. He walked alone and swung a heavy silver metal ball; a mace.
Next was the drum. A flatbed lorry drove past with a huge, round, skin drum on its back. Standing behind the drum, hitting it with big bent sticks, was a very serious looking Sikh with a wide neck and a round, heavy chest. He had a brilliant glower at the camera as I took his photo.
Then came two ranks of old Sikh men with grand mustaches and long, pointed, grey beards. They stood very strait and wore robes and orange turbans that were spiked by shining metal pins. The first rank carried tall saffron flags that were emblazoned with the crescent emblem in bright blue- the Nishan Sahib, the flag of the Sikh nation. The second rank held long, curved swords with highly polished steel blades in front of them.
Finally came the float, which was carrying musicians (I think) and old men who squatted cross-legged in a sumptuous cushioned and tasseled space, which we could glimpse through the float’s scalloped blue and orange arches. It was surrounded by banners, one of which made S cry as she read it. I can’t remember what it said.
My favorite said, in bright orange letters  “He may be cut apart, piece by piece, but never leaves the field of battle”.

Behind all the swords, banners and orange turbans came the people. Hundreds and hundreds of Sikhs, and a few locals, came in a good-natured flood of colourful saris and knotted head coverings, prams and balloons, jeans and hoodies. To keep the marchers strength up (For the walk into town and back again) the local Sikhs pressed busily into the crowd and handed out sweets and cans of coke and home cooked samosas from fat-stained cardboard boxes.
Walking with the crowd were stewards in hi-viz jackets who tried  to keep the pavement clear by  shooing people into the carriageway. One young Sikh lad was about to shoo us when he noticed that we weren’t Asian.
“Are you with the procession or just walking?” He asked.
“A bit of both!” We said. At the same time he said “Or a bit of both!” And laughed.
He let us stay on the pavement.

It was bizarre and wonderful to walk beside this procession, with a paper flag sticking out from the pocket of my jacket, and watch it flow past our house, with the silver domes of the float shining in the sunlight like the housing of a lumbering elephant, adorned for ceremony.   

This was the day before Ada died.

Rio in Walworth

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