Another story about hospitality to finish the season. Re-reading an old email reminded me that I was going to write a blog about this pub, or rather its sign: The Gate. I used to cycle this way when I was at college, and one more time about ten years ago to visit two friends who were unwell.
There is a verse that accompanies the sign of the Gate; there are various versions around the country:
This Gate hangs high and hinders none,
Refreshment take and then jog on.
Did I ever stop there for a drink? I don’t remember but I’m glad to say the place has not been converted into flats!
Gates were set across roads in 19th Century England to collect toll charges – money to pay for construction, upkeep and improvement of the highway. If people had to stop anyway, the pub would hope to invite them in to ‘refreshment take and then jog on’. There is another story, told by Jesus:
I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures. John 10.9
My youth was my old age,
Weary and long;
It had too many cares
To think of song;
My moulting days all came
When I was young.
Now, in life's prime, my soul
Comes out in flower;
Late, as with Robin, comes
My singing power;
I was not born to joy
Till this late hour."
W. H. Davies
Another Welsh poet today, this one writing in English. Davies was famously discovered as a poet when he was living in a homeless hostel, walking through London, selling a little booklet of verse from door to door. Before that he had shipped cattle across the Atlantic and tramped over much of North America: the Supertramp.
Not a life conducive to singing power.
Never give up on life! Joy comes to many at a late hour, and with it perspective and understanding of the trials and depressions of youth.
The European robin sings through Autumn and Winter to defend its territory but is less vocal when moulting - growing a new suit of feathers.
Saint Augustine opens his Confessions with these words:
‘To praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.’+
Some 1500 years later the prologue of Dylan Thomas’s Collected Poems tells how, through his poetic imagination, he would overcome his fears to:
'... build my bellowing ark
To the best of my love
As the flood begins,
Out of the fountainhead
Of fear, rage, red, manalive. +
Dylan’s work is religious, laid out ‘with as much love and care as the lock of hair of a first love’.* It is confessional, in the meaning Augustine intended: a recounting of his experiences and a praise of God.
Under Milk Wood portrays Llaggerub, Dylan’s imaginary Welsh town with its roots in Laugharne where he and his family were based in the last years of his life. Is it the Chosen Land? Reading the play as a parable, Llaggerub intertwines Dylan’s earthly and heavenly towns. Dylan drank at the same source as Augustine; if philosophy opened the wells for the bishop, poetry served the ‘spinning man’ with a flood to float his cockleshell ark, and, indeed, Dylan’s work gives hope that ‘the flood flowers now’, for him, beyond the ‘breakneck of rocks’ that was his life.
+ Augustine: ‘Confessions’, Tr. Henry Chadwick, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998, p3.
+ All Dylan Thomas quotations from: ‘Prologue’ to Collected Poems, p1–3.
The saint rose to go on his way but those slugs would not leave him and began to follow the holy man wherever he went. On that same day, Saint Francis had been invited to dine at the house of the bishop. When he arrived there, a large number of slugs followed him into the house. The bishop, that holy pastor, was greatly astonished at this new wonder of nature and looked all about him for a shovel …until the saint asked: “My lord bishop, have you met my sisters?”
After they had been following him for two days, Saint Francis dismissed the slugs with a blessing, saying:
“Go now in peace, my sister slugs. Although you are lowly and despised among creatures, unwelcome in human society, there will always be a place for you in the Lord’s creation.”
At these words, the creatures turned and went on their way.
Not long after this, several slugs became renowned for their holiness. People came to consider the signs of their presence as a blessing and began to tread more carefully upon the earth.
Doctor Johnson said to Sir Joshua Reynolds, ‘If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.’
from “Life of Johnson, James Boswell.
It must be my guilty conscience that makes me choose letter boxes to illustrate this post. Not all my friends are on-line, so where is my pen?
There’s a lot of it about; nostalgia that is, but we also want to go deeper than that; what has shaped us, or our parents, in the past, how will it work out for our children. What seemed like normal life back then is a source of fascination and indeed joy today, and not just the frocks and hairstyles!
The London Irish Centre has partnered with the Irish Film Institute to bring film heritage to Irish communities in London and across the UK. Under the headings ‘Ireland of Yesterday’, ‘Watch Irish History Unfold’, and ‘Rediscover Television Adverts’, the Reels from Home collection includes materials which date as far back as the early 1900s. It includes both professional and amateur films documenting all aspects of Irish life including tourism, industry, sport, entertainment, and much more.
The films have been selected to engage with the London Irish Centre’s objectives to promote and advance education in Irish art, language, culture and heritage.
Reels From Home contains materials from IFI Player collections including The Bord Fáilte Film Collection, The Irish Adverts Project, The Father Delaney Collection, The Loopline Collection Vol. 1, and The Irish Independence Film Collection.
Speaking about the collection’s release, Gary Dunne, Director of Culture at the London Irish Centre, said: ‘”The London Irish Centre is delighted to partner with the Irish Film Institute on the Reels From Home initiative. For over 65 years, the Centre has been a cultural bridge between London and Ireland, and strategic and programming partnerships like these play a key part in connecting our audiences with high quality Irish culture. The Reels From Home collection is bespoke, dynamic and engaging, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences in the UK through a series of co-watching screenings.”
At a time when many people are spending much of their time indoors due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Reels From Home brings a new channel of content to the Irish community that is free, entertaining, informative, and easy to access and navigate. The project follows in the footsteps of the 2018 Reel Memories initiative, presented by the IFI in partnership with Nursing Homes Ireland, which brought a selection of curated IFI Player material to nursing home residents across the country.
Commenting on the project, Kasandra O’Connell, Head of the IFI Irish Film Archive, added: “We are delighted to be able to bring the collections of the IFI Irish Film Archive to a new audience in the UK , particularly at a time where people may be feeling more isolated than usual. As someone who was born in London to Irish parents, the UK’s Irish community is one that I have been eager for the archive to work with, and partnering with the London Irish Centre gives us a wonderful opportunity to do so.”
Highlights of the collection include Alive Alive O: A Requiem for Dublin, which captures the colourful street traders of Dublin and their fight to maintain their merchant tradition in the face of aggressive economic development;
Ireland in Spring presents a celebration of all things Irish and a delightful window on 1950s Ireland;
and a 1970s advert for Bass ale featuring the legendary band The Dubliners performing in the iconic Dublin bar O’Donoghue’s.
Reels from Home is now available free-to-view on theIFI Playerand via the IFI Player suite of apps developed by Irish tech company Axonista. More details will be on the London Irish Centre.
There was a cheering story in the London Evening Standard the other day.
Brompton cycles have made available to NHS workers in London hundreds of their classic folding bikes so that they can safely get to and from work, with a little exercise in between. And then came this interesting observation.
Julian Scriven, director of Brompton bike hire, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many people embracing cycling. What I find so inspiring is the comments from NHS staff and who say it gives them a moment to decompress from a long shift at the hospital to coming back home.
“If we can help the NHS team have that moment to clear their minds and avoid taking their work home with them then I consider it a job well done.”
We at the Mirror did not need Mr Scriven to tell us how good cycling is for our physical, mental and spiritual health. See May 22 last year. As far as I’m concerned, once I’m zoned out in the saddle, senses on autopilot keeping me safe, I can let the Spirit blow within. It was always good as a barrier for not taking work home. So Bravo Brompton! This link takes you to the article in the Standard and the crowd-funding appeal for more bikes. Ross Lydall ES 1.6.20
This story continues the account of what happened after the Golden Calf episode. Moses is speaking to the people of Israel; and we have here a Biblical foundation for devotion to the Sacred Heart.Deuteronomy 10:14-19
Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
Many things follow from this text. But let’s take just a couple: firstly that God does not love us because of what we do, or what we give him to ‘bribe’ him into doing what suits us, but because he set his heart on our ancestors in faith – and so on us to this day.
Secondly, we are to love the sojourner – the migrant. We all have migrant ancestors, even if we can trace them no further than just across the Welsh border. Worker or refugee, the migrant is a brother or sister. If we see the world as God sees it, we will find ways, such as the local food bank, to support the migrants in our communities, whom God loves as surely as he loves us.
After a couple of weeks off, I took the litter picker for a walk. There has been less litter about because there are fewer litter louts about. There are even fewer cigarette ends – maybe people are living more healthy lives. I suppose wearing masks to avoid infection is another manifestation of that. So, if you are so tuned into the need to be safe from germs, why throw your used mask down in the street?
A Master of a house (as I have read) Must be the first man up, and last in bed: With the Sun rising he must walk his grounds; See this, View that, and all the other bounds: Shut every gate; mend every hedge that's torn, Either with old, or plant therein new thorn: Tread o'er his glebe, but with such care, that where He sets his foot, he leaves rich compost there.
Robert Herrick lived in turbulent times: 1591-1674. In other words Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I; the revolution and Cromwell; Charles II and the Restoration. ‘Husband’ here means householder as well as spouse. Looking after one’s estate, however small, was important then, and so it is now. Happy gardening and DIY!