Sunday, 28 November 2010

Human kindness

To continue the snow saga, it duly snowed early this morning and I did not know how I was going to get into Edinburgh. Snow too deep for my car, and I was wondering whether I could carry a large if empty suitcase a mile through snow to the station. By a miracle, a UPS driver appeared (on Sunday morning 8.30!) to deliver parcel to neighbours and he kindly took me down to the town.

Then a long wait, two hours, as I just missed one train, and the next one was an hour late. Much commiseration and exchanging of experiences among the stranded. People were concerned about missing connections, some gave up altogether and went home. Not an option for an extended Nigerian family who had come to Stirling to celebrate the graduation of a young woman (Master of Science) and accompany her back to Nigeria. I was interested to hear more about Nigeria and Lagos and about the new capital that has been built.

Managed to get to Edinburgh by 12.30, but all pretty quiet at the show due to dreadful state of city pavements in the snow. A friend agreed to take my stand home in her car once her husband had managed to get into town through 12" of snow in his village. I packed everything else in my trusty Poundstretcher maxi-case and headed for station.

There I managed to drop my return ticket under the train, but the train driver kindly gave me a reference both to the conductor and to the people on ticket barrier in Stirling, so I did not have to pay extra. How kind was that? Finally, my taxi driver, who had parked at the bottom of the little driveway here to avoid getting stuck in snow, carried my heavy suitcase right up to my front door, carefully placing in a dry place on the step.

So a mixed day. Mostly positive. I enjoyed being in my home patch after experiences in London and Newcastle, and catching up with friends and acquaintances.

This is not my usual blogging style, but the snow does something to me, creates a sense of helplessness and insecurity.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Back on home turf

To the cinema last night, to see "Winter's Bone", a film about a bleak backwoods community probably in Appalachians, USA. A young woman is threatened with the loss of her home and the care of her younger brother and sister (as well as her sick mother). She needs to contact her father or prove his death to avoid losing her property, and the story is about her search for him as she approaches members of the local community, most of them with a secret to hide.

I found the movie most inspiring because of the courage of the hero in the face of prejudice and bullying and powerful criminal vested interests and because of the respect she eventually gains.

When I left the cinema around 10 pm I was dismayed to find small ominous sparkly flakes of frosty snow falling. This usually indicates more serious stuff is on the way, and so it proved around midnight. I had to drive into the city this morning for a fair and spent most of the night awake wondering whether to repack my stock and take a taxi/train, or whether to hold on and drive in.

I did the latter, but I was in the minority. The motorway was restricted to one lane and for several miles I did not see another car. Everyone was doing around 50 mph, most unusual. In Edinburgh the pavements were slippery with ice.

But it was good to see the local craftworkers and have a blether. And I got home safely, though the back road up to my cottage was still covered with snow. I am now debating what to do tomorrow morning, as it is a two day show! Not a taxi to be had, so if forecast snow falls overnight I shall have to walk to station with empty suitcase and collect my things in that when show finishes.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Will power or inspiration?

Alan Bennett writing about Auden and Benjamin Britten in his play "The Habit of Art" discusses what this habit means - "the need to sit down and work every day, even the muse has gone walkabout". Bennett says that will power is more important than talent:
"Talent you can dispense with, but not will. Will is paramount, not joy, not delight, but grim application. Without grim application you get nowhere, but one would like to think one has more than that"

Comforting words
. But I don't think there is anything wrong with like some joy and delight as well!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

And more..

This weekend I was in outer London, near Kingston-upon-Thames, at the Landmark Christmas craft fair. A long way to go, but I wanted to explore a different part of the country. I knew the area slightly from teenage and early
twenties, so many memories.

I travelled there with my stock on public transport, so it was a tight fit to get everything in and
still reasonably portable. I used a basic concertina clothes drier for the display (this is just visible in the photo). It all worked well! I only forgot a mirror, but I found one in Kingston.

The fair was held in a old Victorian Gothic church (now an arts centre) near the Thames river at Teddington Lock.

Catching up

It has been an extremely busy time, much travelling to north of England and way beyond, and no time for blogging. Something like normal service resuming and today I was at Printmakers Studio in Edinburgh. Cleaned off my lithography stones but also need time to regroup in mind body and soul, so left it at that. Pleased to see that my two lithographs submitted were both in the Christmas exhibition. Pace my classical followers!

Pythia 1 Pythia 2

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

This is it

My, how this lifts the spirits. I saw this film on the big screen a few months ago, loved it because of the music and dancing and the creative rapport of a talented team. Now, how strange, it is as though I am watching it for the first time, seeing it differently.
Loving it again for the passionate involvement of the players, especially for the fabulous and sensitive and dynamic rhythm of MJ and his dancers and singers. Perhaps there is less poignancy now and we can just appreciate and enjoy.

On a different note, I also enjoyed the move, The Social Network, very different but exciting too.
A young man, Mark Zuckerman, with a big idea (Facebook) plucked from almost nowhere, follows his vision to the stratosphere.

On an even more different note, I have been watching Downton Abbey on ITV. Well acted, beautifully photographed and well written saga of Edwardian Britain. Echoes of this society still exist even in modern Britain, in my opinion, even just in folk memory. Maggie Smith holds the stage/screen with amazing presence.

But how far we have come in 100 years. In 1914 women had little overt freedom or opportunity, and the majority of the population, both male and female, had little choice or education, and their limited prospects depended on the approval of their live-in employers - or on that of draconian factory managers.