Trivia.

I’ve not been doing much photography in the last few weeks; probably just fedup with all the restrictions we seem to have had placed upon us.
Although one bonus is that I have been reading a lot and listening to music on my headphones.

Here is a book that was sent to me by my daughter, a completely unknown authour. ‘Amor Towles‘ who published a novel in 2016 with the title A Gentleman in Moscow .

Click cover for Amazon link.

The story of Count Alexander Rostov who is brought before a Bolshevik tribunal in Moscow: condemned for being an unrepentant aristocrat. Saved from the firing squad by a poem whose sentiments seem to coincide with the revolutionary desire for change. Instead of being shot, he is sentenced to house arrest in his current place of residence: the Metropol Hotel. He returns to the hotel after his trial, determined to make the most of his reduced circumstances. As the reader, we follow the Count in his day to day life within the confines of the hotel.


Two quotes from the book:-

“The principle here is that a new generation owes a measure of thanks to every member of the previous generation. Our elders planted fields and fought in wars; they advanced the arts and sciences, and generally made sacrifices on our behalf. So by their efforts, however humble, they have earned a measure of our gratitude and respect.”
 
“For as it turns out, one can revisit the past quite pleasantly, as long as one does so expecting nearly every aspect of it to have changed.”

A book that I thoroughly recommend,

 

The music was Max Richter:

A thought for today.

She lifts the lid. A dense mist rises from
the chest, and fills the room. PANDORA
falls senseless on the floor.

Yes, the moment shall decide!
It already hath decided;
And the secret once confided
To the keeping of the Titan
Now is flying far and wide,
Whispered, told on every side,
To disquiet and to frighten.

Fever of the heart and brain,
Sorrow, pestilence, and pain,
Moans of anguish, maniac laughter,
All the evils that hereafter
Shall afflict and vex mankind,
All into the air have risen
From the chambers of their prison;
Only Hope remains behind.

From: The Masque Of Pandora by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Richard Feynman – The World from another point of view.

Shown when TV companies assumed that those watching, had more than
two brain cells.

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird

This video shows exactly why Richard Feynman was held in such great esteem for his ability to convey complex ideas in an easily understood manner.

 

 

Always question certainty.

I have spent time during this isolation period, reading the CALTECH  Feynman lectures.

He had an ability to make the most complicated subject understandable. Although he is famous for saying “if you think you understand it, you don’t!”.

feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/

‘We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty’ . Richard P. Feynman.

Makes a change from all the doom & gloom found in the media at the moment.

The world is FUBAR !

The days of innocence and fun. Then again there was the Vietnam war (remembering the French with  ‘Bataille de Diên Biên Phu’ being ignored by America / UK / Australia, et al.) the shadow of the The Bay of Pigs invasion, The Cuban Missile crisis and J.F.K assassinated, not forgetting a positive “one small step for man….”, and the present generation think they’re badly done by.

I don’t think so.

……I can see by your coat, my friend you’re from the other side
There’s just one thing I got to know
Can you tell me please who won?
Say can I have some of your purple berries?
Yes, I’ve been eating them
For six or seven weeks now haven’t got sick once
Probably keep us both alive……

“purple berries” (potassium iodine pills) taken prior to radiation exposure and help counter the effects of radioactive iodine on the thyroid.
Happy days.

I digress.


Reading Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England: and in book 1 “The rights of persons” I came across a quote that I thought rather pertinent for what’s going on here in UK at the moment:-

England can never be ruined except by a Parliament.

It was said by the lord treasurer William Cecil, 1ˢᵗ Baron Burghley (1520 – 1598), the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572. (From The Encyclopædia Britannica).

For those wondering why I would read such a book, curiosity got the better of me after noticing it being refereed to rather a lot just recently.

“Tommy” by Rudyard Kipling.

“Tommy” 1890 poem by Rudyard Kipling.

I went into a public ‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, ” We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, go away ” ;
But it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, wait outside “;
But it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? “
But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be’ind,”
But it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! “
But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

 

Samhain.

Dreamland
by Lewis Carroll

When midnight mists are creeping,
And all the land is sleeping,
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.

Lo, warriors, saints, and sages,
From out the vanished ages,
With solemn pace and reverend face
Appear and pass away.

The blaze of noonday splendour,
The twilight soft and tender,
May charm the eye: yet they shall die,
Shall die and pass away.

But here, in Dreamland’s centre,
No spoiler’s hand may enter,
These visions fair, this radiance rare,
Shall never pass away.

I see the shadows falling,
The forms of old recalling;
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.

Stand & stare.

Nikon F4: T-Max 400. Old UV filter with Vaseline.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies. (1871 – 1940)

A tree on the move.

An Onodrim or ‘Tree-Host’ ?

Things have changed. Some of us are still true Ents, and lively enough in our fashion, but many are growing sleepy, going tree-ish, as you might say. Most of the trees are just trees, of course; but many are half awake. Some are quite wide awake, and a few are, well, ah, well getting Entish. That is going on all the time. (Treebeard)

I think I was about 17 when I first read this book and have enjoyed reading it on many occasions since: liked the film series, not so much the several wireless versions that have been produced over the years. But the books remain the best way of enjoying the adventures of ‘Middle-earth’ and Hobbits.



Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien.

Click book cover for link:
More information on books.

St George’s Day.

St George’s Day (England) & the death of William Shakespeare.
This precious stone set in a silver sea
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England…..

John of Gaunt’s death-bed speech – Richard II (William Shakespeare)

WordPress improves my photography.

I did hope that we could have a year of very little change by WordPress for us struggling bloggers; but they have done it !! with a change to the Reader format.
It is so good that I cannot understand why after all the years learning the subtle art of composition, I didn’t think of cropping all my images into letterbox format. It is such a brilliant idea that I am now going to mask all my lenses to this format so I can save myself even more time & trouble.

 

5th of November.

People sometimes joke that Guido Fawkes was the only man ever to enter Parliament with honest intentions.

I remember the nursery rhyme:
“Remember, Remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot”  fireworks, bonfires with hot roast potatoes: childhood memories  🙂

For those unfamiliar with Guido Fawkes, aka; Guy Fawkes or John Johnson: On the 5th of November 1605 a failed assassination attempt was made against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of English Catholics led by Robert Catesby. It’s a long story starting with King Henry the VIII, the Pope, Queen Elizabeth I & ending with James I. These three monarchs were considered to be persecuting Catholics. True in the case of the two Kings but Elizabeth did try some form of unanimity but to no avail.
A group of Roman Catholics led by Robert Catesby conspired to end Protestant rule with a big explosion. Their plan was to blow up the King, Queen, church leaders, along with assorted nobles and both Houses of Parliament, by using 36 barrels of gunpowder which had been strategically placed in the cellars beneath the Palace of Westminster. It failed and most of the perpetrators were arrested & sentenced to death.
Why did they do it ?  – all I can say is plus ça change.

St. Crispin’s Day.

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”
Shakespeare.

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and “Beggin’ your pardon,” he said,
“You wrote o’ the Light Brigade, sir. Here’s all that isn’t dead.
An’ it’s all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin’ the mouth of hell;
For we’re all of us nigh to the workhouse, an’ we thought we’d call an’ tell”.
Rudyard Kipling.

Two stones.

Two-stonesNikon 35Ti: made on Ilford Xp2.

Each man has his own preferences:
All things seek their own companions.
I have come to fear that the world of youth
Has no room for one with long white hair.
I turn my head and ask a pair of stones:
“Can you be companions for an old man?”
Although the stones cannot speak.
They agree that we three shall be friends.

From a poem by Bai Juyi: 772–846, Chinese poet.

I posted a similar photograph of these two stones some time back: but with the big stone turned the other way. I prefer this one as it’s how I found them.

Reading: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera.

Product DetailsThe Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera.
(Click the book for a link)
Two quotes from the book:

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”

“Children, Never look Back!” and this meant that we must never allow the future to be weighed down by memory. for children have no past, and that is the whole secret of the magical innocence of their smiles.”

George Orwell gave a similar warning in his novel ‘1984’ the only thing he got wrong was the date !

“And when memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested…….”

 

The Masque Of Pandora.

I don’t normally mention much about politics but could not resist after our dear leader  (Cameron) came back from Europe last night, clutching his piece of paper……..

It made me think of  a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: here is the section that seemed to sum up his machinations.

The Masque Of Pandora.

PROMETHEUS (entering.)
Who was it fled from here? I saw a shape
Flitting among the trees.

EPIMETHEUS.
It was Pandora.

PROMETHEUS.
O Epimetheus! Is it then in vain
That I have warned thee? Let me now implore.
Thou harbourest in thy house a dangerous guest.

EPIMETHEUS.
Whom the Gods love they honour with such guests.

PROMETHEUS.
Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad.

EPIMETHEUS.
Shall I refuse the gifts they send to me?

PROMETHEUS.
Reject all gifts that come from higher powers.