A silver cord

Originally posted on The Silent Eye:


As soon as I was considered old enough to wander alone… a ridiculously young age by today’s standards… I would knock on the doors of the various elderly relatives that lived within a stone’s throw of home or school. Their doors opened onto another era that to my young eyes qualified as the ‘olden days’. There would inevitably be a cup of tea; none of your new-fangled tea bags or ‘gnats water’, but the rich mahogany brew that seethed in perpetuity beside the flames of the range. If I was lucky and timed it right, there would be a slab of fruit cake topped with a slice of tangy cheese or perhaps a curd tart, or we might toast a teacake in front of the fire on the toasting fork and I would sit and listen, fascinated as the old ones spoke of their lives.

Between my great-grandparents and their…

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Magic remembered

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Graeme Cumming started me thinking with his article about the Christmas spirit. I can recall a lot of my childhood Christmas gifts, including the four foot golly my mother bought me when I was fourteen. I never knew why, just that it was wholly inappropriate on every possible level… I remember the Britain’s zoo and its garden … and the great big board my grandfather made for me to lay it out, complete with plaster mountains, that doubled as a battle ground for the knights. A prophetic mix. But the ones that ‘meant’ Christmas were the family traditions of handknitted jumpers, hand embroidered handkies, tins of toffee (the ones that came with a hammer) and the yearly diary with its key.

It was the little things that have stuck and resurface first when I think back. With my own children it is the family gifts that stand out… the ones we bought so that we could all play together. Like the snooker table. Christmas always started with the carols in the market square, organised by the local Rotary Club. Townspeople gathered with their children to sing in an atmosphere of friendliness so palpable it typified the Christmas spirit and always brought tears to my eyes. Mince pies, soup and mulled wine were shared and Santa arrived on his sleigh with little gifts for every single child and a chance to tell him their Christmas wish.

I never wrote a Christmas list… after all, it shouldn’t be up to the recipient to choose, but the giver… and anyway, I always liked surprises. Although I have no doubt at all there were many things I desperately hoped for but didn’t get, I don’t remember either them or disappointment. That in itself says a good deal…both about the inherent lessons of children not getting everything they want, but also about what it is that sticks in the memory.

What I do remember is visiting the grandparents and collecting great grandma before we gathered for lunch. The feeling of magic and anticipation, the corny jokes in crackers that we all read out anyway and memories shared of childhoods and Christmases older than mine.

I remember too the feeling of going Christmas shopping with carefully hoarded (and usually supplemented) pocket money, in darkened streets with lights that seemed magical to young eyes. The living nativity under the portico of the Town Hall, Christmas carols in every shop, the market dripping holly and mistletoe and smelling of pine… and a feeling of friendly excitement everywhere.

Not so now when Christmas starts midway through the year in the shops, when people are stressed by the credit still hanging over them from the Christmas before and decision makers are so fearful of being seen as politically incorrect that the traditional Christmas has almost disappeared from our towns.

Even with the tensions, the commercialism, the heavy handed bullying of advertisements, I don’t think the spirit of Christmas can be wholly undone, even by the PC brigade. Christians will still celebrate the birth of Jesus, for pagans it is an older rite, for many, regardless of faith, it is a time for the gathering of families and friends; and for those who keep Christmas whatever their reason, at its heart is always an underlying vision of shared joy and peace.

There will always be the Christmas argument between Great Aunt Maud and Uncle Harry… or whichever faction decides to glare over the turkey. There will always be the child who prefers to play in the box rather than with its contents. And it will always be the little things, the human things, that remain in memory. Or at least, that is my wish for Christmas.

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A circle of earth in a river of asphalt, yet still she dances

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Apostolic Succession…?

Originally posted on Stuart France:

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‘Joseph of Arimathea a wealthy Metal Merchant first traded here for lead and copper from Priddy and Greenore in the Mendips, and for tin from Cornwall.

The two former would ship from Pilton’s Harbour which was situated just below where the present Manor House stands and on the way out to sea, he would pass Glastonbury, then an island south-west of Pylle Bay.

After our Lord’s ascension and Pentecost, Joseph would naturally return to preach the Gospel to his old friends here and at Glastonbury and to build a wattle church at each place.

Here, he built a chapel on the side of the hill above the harbour, where probably he baptised his first converts.’

Traditional History of Pilton Church.

“Does the Pope know about this,” says Wen, her eyes alight, “I can’t believe it’s so brazenly presented and on an information board as well.”
“We may be able…

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River of the Sun, Chapter Seven – The Crystal Air

Originally posted on stevetanham:

River of Sun 7 Crystal AirV4

Chapter Seven

The Crystal Air

The great candles hissed and spat, casting off acrid fumes that were masked by the sweet incense rising from the copper burners, made to an ancient formula which spoke of purple flowers in the night. Their light was bright, and cast flickering shadows off the sacred objects in the temple which became dancing forms that flowed across the walls like the mental ghosts of the shadow, the enemy within that the young priests had been trained to see.

The silence in the temple of Isis was so profound that the slightest variation of breathing on the part of any of the temple officers could be heard. Anzety turned to face the eastern wall of the temple. In his mind, Neferaset came forward from the darkness of that inner east and stepped up to meet him, taking his hands and her usual position as the head…

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The many and the one

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My dog is a cheese hound, though chicken attracts her
But show her a tennis ball, nothing distracts her.
She’s partial to cuddles, and happy to nuzzle,
Likes having her ears scratched and strokes on her muzzle,
But soon as the mystical ball is in play
Obsession takes over the rest of her day.
There is but one focus, one point of attention,
Two eyes quite determined, no chance of abstention.
One furry paw raised like a typical setter,
She shares her excitement (you’d think she’d know better)
Her neck is extended, her tail like a compass,
If you take too long she’ll start making a rumpus.
Eyes flick back and forth betwixt you and the ball
As if nothing else matters in her world at all.

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She has many balls in the house at this juncture,
Some new ones, some chewed and the one with a puncture,
There’s green ones, but mostly they’re luminous yellow
And heaven forfend should you throw the wrong fellow!
She’ll just sit and look at you full of reproaches
And watch your discomforture as guilt approaches…
You’ve done with explaining they all look the same,
Identification is part of her game.
She doesn’t quite get it that your paltry senses
Mean any old ball can get past your defences;
You can’t make the right choice and she gets frustrated
You’ve throw every one and she’s waited and waited…
Then goes straight towards the correct ball at once
While you feel confused and a bit of a dunce,
For to her the right ball shines as bright as the sun…
Though so many she has… there can be only one.


P.S. You can buy Ani’s books on Amazon worldwide, in paperback and for Kindle, and help her purchase the automatic tennis ball launcher of her dreams: Laughter Lines: Life from the Tail End, is a collection of amusing verse and in Notes From a Small Dog; Four Legs on Two Ani offers her own unique view of the world and the vagaries of its human inhabitants.

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Maidenly blushes As dawn draws back the covers On naked beauty

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