Sunday, 19 February 2023

Enter Sam

Welcome to the world, Sam

Filling dreams
And so, something unique happened this last week – unique to me, but an astonishingly common occurrence throughout history and across the world. But this thing has never happened to me before. I took on a new identity –  Grandfather/Grandad/Grandpa/Poppa/some other word – when a new member of my family arrived. I’m assuming Sam – for that is he – will decide what to call me at some point in the next few years. Sam is a lucky little guy arriving in a loving family in a lovely (new) home in a lovely corner of Planet Earth near shops, woods, a meadow, railways (big and miniature), a canal, a river, a valley, hills and dales and enough sky, clouds and wuthering weather to fill his dreams.
Arriving home

At first the infant
What can I say in a blog about my first grandchild? My brain, heart, guts and soul are rollercoasting with thoughts, imaginings and feelings. Shakespeare’s most famous quotation about babies is negative (but funny):
                                   All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms….
Cuddle with Auntie Em

Things to look forward to….
Sam’s in his First Stage of Life and as well as mewling and puking, I’m sure he’ll do some drinking, feeding, looking, tracking, gurgling, babbling, chortling, biting, reaching, gripping, grabbing, staring, hugging, kissing, tickling, waving, clapping, dancing, pushing, pulling, rolling, sitting, crawling, holding, pointing, smiling, laughing…. And hopefully a goodly amount of sleeping. And that’s before this time next year. Until then, a couple of poems.
"I thought we'd agreed," said Cora, "it was just the three of us...."

Joy is my name

Infant Joy
by William Blake

‘I have no name.
I am but two days old.’
What shall I call thee?
‘I happy am.
Joy is my name.’
Sweet Joy befall thee!

Pretty Joy!
Sweet Joy but two day’s old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile.
I sing the while.
Sweet joy befall thee.

First Meetings
Dark, peaceful, sacred…
Although Carol Ann Duffy (like Blake, one of my favourite poets) writes the following to her daughter, it’s easy to imagine beyond the pronouns to any child, any time, any where, any when…

A Child's Sleep 
by Carol Ann Duffy
I stood at the edge of my child's sleep
hearing her breathe;
although I could not enter there,
I could not leave.

Her sleep was a small wood,
perfumed with flowers;
dark, peaceful, sacred,
acred in hours.

And she was the spirit that lives
in the heart of such woods;
without time, without history,
wordlessly good.

I spoke her name, a pebble dropped
in the still night,
and saw her stir, both open palms
cupping their soft light;

then went to the window. The greater dark
outside the room
gazed back, maternal, wise,
with its face of moon.
Samuel Miles Grimley

Saturday, 10 December 2022

Glad All Over

Thousands of thunderous claps
About a recent graduation day I’ve got little to say. Neither has Sally. Those who know us, know how profoundly proud we are of both our daughters. But this day… oh, on this graduation day… there was such a realisation… oh my… And I’m feeling Glad All Over.

Don’t mention the….
And the Vice-chancellor mentioned the pandemic and used Hashtag Hero Tropes (LOL). But she did avoid mentioning the (historically unprecedented) forthcoming strikes by health professional (and many other hard-working groups of people.) Wasn’t it funny how the government helped settle the lawyers’ strike in October with very little press attention? (Look it up if you don’t believe me.) Wasn’t it funny how MPs received a no-dispute, guaranteed 2.7% increase? Wasn’t it funny how big industries paid bonuses to their shareholders? Wasn’t it funny how PPE contracts were awarded to…. Oh, shut up. What's most important?
Looking the other way
There are people who spend countless hours gnashing teeth because of some royal nonsense (and I’m a royalist, don’t forget) because the newspapers want us to focus our rage on celebrities and not on government decisions (or lack of decisions.) The government (and the majority of the newspapers) want us to focus on Meghan and Harry. So we will forget food banks, child poverty, the rotting fruit and vegetable fields of England and the understaffed, underfunded social care system and understaffed, underfunded NHS. Look the other way, everybody. We’re in this together. But just because it’s my blog, please see below:

  • the Brexit bus promise (lest we forget) (LOL)
  • UK hospital beds compared to Germany, France, Italy, Spain (2005 – 2019)
  • a right-wing newspaper doing my statistical work for me
  • UK Food Bank use (just Trussell, not independent) (2009 – 2022)
  • MP’s salaries (2010 – 2022)

I’m Glad All Over for my Echo Chamber, but Distinctly Unglad for our (Potentially) Great (Diminishing) Nation.

Graphs: hospital beds, food bank use in UK, MP's salaries over time