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Tony Grist

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Citizenship [Apr. 24th, 2018|10:33 am]
Tony Grist
 Ali Smith's Winter has several epigraphs- one of which (showing how up to date it is) is from Theresa May- something she said in a conference speech in 2016: "If you believe you're a citizen of the world, you're a citizen of nowhere."

Wrong but worth arguing with- or simply nonsense?

Nonsense of course.

Because we all have multiple loyalties- to entities both large and small. 

One simple example: if I were a Catholic (which I'm not) I would owe loyalty to a transnational organisation as well as to my country. In favourable circumstances those loyalties would be complementary and not in opposition. 

Anyone who has seen the pictures the first astronauts took of Earth from the vicinity of the Moon- (and that's most of us)-  knows what it is to be a citizen of the world. There's our planet- small and not big, suspended in the darkness- our home- and the heart goes out to it. But having that feeling doesn't cancel out our loyalty to the little bit of the planet where we happen to live. Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins didn't cease to be Americans because they'd seen the planet whole.

When I was a kid we used to write our addresses inside our school books- and the trick was to make them as long as possible. Mine went something like this:

Anthony John Grist
23 Croham Valley Rd
South Croydon
Surrey
England
Europe
World
Solar System
Milky Way
Universe

If I were doing that now- because I know more than I did in the 1950s- I'd add Multiverse to the list.
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The Rural Scene [Apr. 23rd, 2018|12:30 pm]
Tony Grist
 Ailz has been saving coffee grounds to use as fertiliser. Today I forked two jars full into a patch of flower bed and planted sunflower seeds. 

Five days of sunshine have dried up the area round the water butts that the horses had churned into a morass and I no longer have to put on wellingtons to access the fields.

It's cooler today. I'm wearing a jumper.  The outlook is cloudy with sunny intervals. The forecasters say it won't get seriously hot again until the beginning of May.
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Remembering What One Reads [Apr. 23rd, 2018|08:57 am]
Tony Grist
 I've started Winter- the second book in Ali Smith's Seasons tetralogy- and I've been trying to remember what happened in the first. I know I enjoyed it, but.....  Let's see: there was a girl... and she was being mentored by a delightful older man who had been a dancer I think... and he was very wise... and...no, it escapes me....

It's only a few months since I read it.

Immediately after finishing Autumn I read Smith's earlier book- Why Not Be Both? I remember that a lot better. It's about the Renaissance painter Del Cossa- with whom I rather fell in love. Does this mean that Why Not Be Both? is the better book- or simply that it spoke to me more nearly? I wonder whether Winter will stick? It has a highly promising opening- with an elderly person- a  prim retired businesswoman- being haunted by the head of a child. It's not a disagreeable haunting; in fact the head is really rather charming, and bobs about like a balloon and performs aerial acrobatics and makes big doggy eyes at its hauntee....

I get through quite a number of books. Some stick, others don't. I try to pick substantial books- ones that are more likely to make an impression- because what's the point of spending time with them if they don't? One might as well be doing crossword puzzles. Even so, some of them fade very quickly. I get Graham Swift mixed up with Julian Barnes because I find them equally forgettable. 

Unforgettability: perhaps that- when all else is said and done- is what makes a book a classic. Books can be beautifully written, skilfully constructed, technically brilliant- and as insubstantial as mist. Style is never enough- not by itself. Neither is psychological insight- or any of those other things that critics praise. The classic is the book that sticks like a burr. It may have all sorts of things wrong with it- it can be really badly written- but there's something about it- a character, a situation, an atmosphere- that clings to the mind as if it had claws. I have a pretty good memory for Dickens, for the Brontes- those sort of people. Wuthering Heights is a horrible book but I defy anyone who isn't suffering from dementia to forget it.
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It Continues [Apr. 22nd, 2018|05:08 pm]
Tony Grist
 The April heatwave continues. It got very heavy yesterday afternoon- when Mike and I were playing piggy-in-the-middle in the garden with Ivy- and it rained a little in the night- but the threatened thunderstorms didn't happen. Today has been a little cooler- with a pleasant breeze. We were told to expect two summery days and have now had five. 
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Not To Worry After All [Apr. 22nd, 2018|11:33 am]
Tony Grist
 The Internet is a place people go to let their hair down.

And among the things they do when letting their hair down is say mean things about politicians and the actions politicians would rather keep secret.

So when a politician-  Jeremy Hunt for instance- talks about regulating the Internet in the interests of morality and keeping children safe and their parents free from worry- I suspect him of ulterior motives.

But I comfort myself with the thought that politicians- Jeremy Hunt for instance- are old and slow and the upcoming generations so very much smarter.
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Grown-ups Are So Weird [Apr. 22nd, 2018|10:52 am]
Tony Grist
 Another really boring thing grown-ups like to do is sit around and talk about other grown-ups- mostly ones whom aren't present- which makes the  exercise highly speculative- and what's the point of that?

They also like to talk about things that happened ages ago and so can't be helped.

One has to feel sorry for them. They have no idea how tedious they are. It's tragic, really 
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A Change of Perspective. [Apr. 22nd, 2018|10:13 am]
Tony Grist
 Ailz and I walk round the garden admiring the plants and what they're up to- just as my parents and their friends used to do. When I was a kid those perambulations used to bore me silly. Why look at green things when you could be duelling with bamboo canes- something that adults- inexplicably- have no taste for....
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Suspense: Joseph Conrad [Apr. 22nd, 2018|09:01 am]
Tony Grist
 A high-minded young English milord (who is more interesting than this brief description makes him sound) arrives in Genoa in February 1815. Napoleon is in exile in Elba- just across the water- and (I'm paraphrasing here) makes a third wherever two men come together.  He meets again with a French girl he knew in childhood (possibly his half-sister) who is now married to a parvenu Piedmontese Count. They fall in love. Almost everybody else he meets is an agent- secret or acknowledged- of some faction or other and those who are not active agents are spies. He falls in with a bunch of carbonari- Italian patriots who aspire to create an Italian empire with Napoleon at its head- and has a night-time adventure involving boats...

And at this point Conrad dies.

As far as it goes it is a wonderful book- full of atmosphere and feeling and vivid personalities. 
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Political Stuff In Brief [Apr. 21st, 2018|08:46 am]
Tony Grist
 Charles got the gig as head of the Commonwealth. Well of course he did. As Ailz said, "It was easier for all concerned".

May created the hostile regime at the Home Office. Rudd promised to give it extra teeth- and then blamed civil servants for the cruelties that resulted. Neither showed any interest in sorting things out until the storm broke over their heads. They should both resign. 
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Scorchio [Apr. 20th, 2018|03:25 pm]
Tony Grist
They said the April heat-wave would last two days- and it's lasted three already. All the things that might be expected to break into leaf and flower at this time of the year are in the process of doing so. My mother and I sat out on the patio yesterday afternoon and it was uncomfortably hot so today we sat at the front of the house where there is shade. According to the weather watchers yesterday was the hottest April day since 1949.  
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