Buster Keaton, Steve McQueen, Nina Simone


stevemcqueenBuster KeatonI listened to a great episode of BBC 6 music’s Sound and Vision with Steve McQueen the film director.

At minute 22 or so, they play a Nina Simone track that was new to me – Wild is the Wind. The piano, the voice, the atmosphere were so strong I felt quite obliterated for a moment.
McQueen’s long ago Turner Prize win was mentioned in passing – in a series of photographs, a house is falling on his head, but he is standing just where an empty  window frame will save his life. This desperate trick was originally Buster Keaton’s.
I urge you to spend a minute or two watching Buster Keaton. The sheer beauty of it – and we should all have a bit of beauty in every day, shouldn’t we.
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Blending in

Episode 3

This is the life!

No cars. No. Cars. Life is better without cars.

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Travelling in style

Smug feelings on my way to and from classes. Yes! This is really what my commute looks like! (It hasn’t rained yet – ask me how smug I feel when it’s snowing sideways.)

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Cardboard Boxes

The New Life Episode 2

Son at 07:30 this Monday morning (we moved on Friday, his Dad helped him unpack his clothes on Friday evening, school starts in 40 minutes) : Mum! Where are my underpants?!

Me: go and have your breakfast, I’ll look for them.

Son at 07:52 (still no pants,  school starts in 18 minutes) : I think these are OK, I’ve only worn them 3 days.

Me (in the garage, fruitlessly searching the 3000th cardboard box) : éè%%%**-è’-(è&èè-‘è(è&*ù$^llp!!!!!!!!!!

Son at 07:55 : It’s probably OK to go to school without pants, right?

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The New Life

Episode 1

There will be no more apologising for having chosen to live in suburbia.

Last night, just before midnight, cycling along a lane on my way to pick up the oldest from a birthday party, I saw, not one, but two barn owls hunting along the hedges.

They swooped ahead of me, crossing from side to side. I was thrilled to see those ghostly faces.

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Clinging on

Life on the edge.


As I passed it, this desert was getting a good soaking of herbicide

If you’re interested in nature you probably watch Countryfile or listen to Farming Today as you boil your kettle of a morning. From those I get the idea that since WWII we have seen devastating habitat loss which has massacred our wildlife. But I’m afraid that the focus on trying to show alternative ways of farming that let nature in, might not be inspiring everyone who works in agriculture, and is rather working on us – it’s the opium of the people. O Yes, we think, we’ve been sinning since the war, but we’ve turned around and are going in the right direction once again, aren’t we.

I’m sorry – we’re just not.


These photos show the green desert that results from intensive dairy farming. It’s 10 years since it last saw a cow and the earth is compacted boulder-hard by the passage of tractors. A rye-grass monoculture squeezes right up to the last inch. An old holloway was filled in and all the hedgerows grubbed up. The streams have been pushed into underground pipes and the soggy patches drained. This has all happened in the last 15 years.

I don’t think farmers watch Countryfile. I think they look at their bottom line and they are struggling to break even. Only 9p in every pound you pay for farm produce in the supermarket ends up in the farmer’s pocket.*

We humans have pushed other life to the edge.


Isn’t the edge lovely?

A neighbour has a patch of land where he runs hens and geese. Something about the way they graze must encourage the flowering plants and he’s got the best bramble patch.


* http://peopleneednature.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/A-Pebble-in-the-Pond-final.pdf



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