Friday, 30 August 2013

Mid-term break by Seamus Heaney

RIP Seamus Heaney 1939 - 2013

It's hard to choose a favourite Heaney poem, but when I read Death of a Naturalist as a teenager I never forgot this one. It's a great collection, go out and buy it.

Mid-term Break by Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Taken from Death of a Naturalist buy it here
Link to Obituary on BBC website

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Star Wars and sunglasses - the Gallery

I've got a son and a daughter. In my ideal world they'd indulge in non gender-specific play and my daughter would be as happy playing Star Wars as my son would be dressing up.

Life doesn't always work out that way. Here, dear reader, is my reality.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words........... :-)


This post is part of The Gallery, a weekly photo link up on the Sticky Fingers Blog.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Beloved - 20 years on

"Where words could be spoken that would close your ears shut. Where, if you were alone, feeling could overtake you and stick to you like a shadow. Out there where there were places in which things so bad had happened that when you went near them it would happen again."

It's 20 years since I read Beloved. I remember loving it then and that it made a huge impression on me. But what I remember are the sights, sounds and smells. Where it was set more than what it was about.

A couple of weeks ago I saw it again. It hit me hard, the memory of the book and I remembered feeling drained once I'd read it.

So I picked it up and started again. Twenty years on, knowing more about the world and less of a romantic. Less time to spare but not in a rush to finish.

It's the story of slavery and the experience of slaves. How impossible is to ever be free of it. How one mother kills her child rather than let it lead the life she lived and how that ghost - and many others - come back to haunt her.

It's a story full of pain and it's so much worse now I'm a mother, an aunt, a godmother. I'm hearing, feeling and responding to a completely different story than the one I read before. A story about the desire and drive to protect your children from pain, whatever the cost. 20 years ago I just read it. This week I feel I've lived and breathed every word.

It's stunningly beautiful and just brilliantly written and it carries you along at a sing-song pace - but makes your heart ache. It's packed with detail and full of character. It's a heart-breaking story that you hope ends in peace. Quiet, restful, let-out-a-huge-sigh peace. But when you finish it's impossible to get out of your head.


So I'm going to continue this theme and go and find more books that made an impression on me 20 or 30 years ago and see how I like them now.  Next stop is a book my Grandad gave me as a teenager, To Sir with Love. If you do the same, let me know.

Beloved by Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.