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Tony Grist

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As If... [Jul. 20th, 2019|08:30 am]
Tony Grist
All that game of thrones stuff- that makes up so much of history as we teach it and current affairs as we report them- from the six wives of Henry VIII to tankers, speedboats, frigates and drones playing tag in the Persian Gulf- we treat it with such seriousness- as if the people involved were grown-ups and their actions actually meant something...
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Real News [Jul. 18th, 2019|10:10 am]
Tony Grist
"I thought you didn't read newspapers," says Ailz.

"I don't," I say, "But this is important- not like the minutiae of Brexit or the empty speeches of Tory leadership contestants. It could be the most important thing to happen this year. A game-changer. A harbinger of cultural shift. A declaration and a sign that there are certain bloody awful things that have been going on for ever in our world which we will no longer tolerate."

Or, if I don't actually say it as neatly as that it's what I'm thinking.

"Well, don't gloat over it so..."

Am I gloating?

Is the Magnificat a gloat?

Perhaps...

What we were discussing was the up-coming trial of Jeffrey Epstein. Want to see the mighty put down from their seats and the humble and meek exalted? Well, pull up a pew.
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Dampish [Jul. 18th, 2019|09:50 am]
Tony Grist
We have four big rainwater butts dotted about the property. I don't know how much they hold but it's a lot. I draw from them when I'm watering the garden. Three of them have now run dry- which brings home to me how little rain we've had this summer. I lifted the lid on one of them and there was several decades worth of muddy gloop at the bottom. I don't suppose they've been moved from their positions or swilled out since my father installed them. They're heavy; I'm not going to attempt it.

It's raining now. Well, just about. It's more like a dampness in the air. I was out in it, trimming the edge of a flowerbed- and hardly got wet. There's more on the way, we're told- maybe even some storms. I think it's what we need.
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The Economist Book Of Obituaries: Keith Colquhoun and Ann Wroe [Jul. 17th, 2019|09:58 am]
Tony Grist
The Economist is a weekly paper that publishes a single obituary per issue. Clearly the editor has to be selective- and the dead people who make the cut aren't always the obvious ones. Ted Heath is here- as are Gerald Ford and John Paul II but they rub shoulders with the last surviving British cavalryman of the Great War, a Frenchwoman who lived to be 122, a monk who bred a disease resistant bee and a spirit medium who took dictation from dead composers. Often the death is used as a peg on which to hang a little essay on cultural and social attitudes. Judgement is skewed towards the personal. Whoever wrote the piece on George Harrison isn't much of a Beatles fan and Alan Ginsberg is treated with something less than full seriousness. There seem to be rather a lot of Catholic priests in the mix and a paucity of the 57 other varieties of religious leader. Taken as a whole the book amounts to a quirky, frequently amusing overview of the 20th century. I've been dipping in and out- and my mood on putting the book aside is always a little less sunny than it was when I took it up.

We have lived through dispiriting times.
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Six Months Later [Jul. 16th, 2019|10:03 am]
Tony Grist
The very centre of the old bonfire site- where the compacted ash lies inches thick- is uncolonized- but all around- in a three-quarter's circle- is a thick stand of wild growth- mostly nettles and thistles- and I'll hear nothing against either- five to six feet tall, with bindweed starting to do its opportunistic thing among them. You'd need a machete to hack your way through. The pollinators are very keen on the thistles.

In the middle of the wild stuff are two magnificent poppies- dark red in colour. They're winding up their very short blooming season now and the seed pods are ripening. Heaven only knows where they came from because we've nothing else like them on the farm.

They put me in mind of Browning's poppy that

"...blows out its great red bell
Like a thin, clear bubble of blood."

In this case its deoxygenated, venous blood we're looking at.

I decided, around about the beginning of the year, that I'd rest the site and not burn anything on it for a while- and this is what happens...
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Different [Jul. 15th, 2019|09:56 am]
Tony Grist
We were watching Federer walk out onto Centre Court yesterday- and someone had just reminded us how he flies everywhere in his own private jet and how his winnings from sport are only a fraction of what he gets from commercial endorsements and all that sort of thing- and for a moment I had a sense of him moving- almost floating- within a wonderful, cushiony bubble of wealth- able to buy anything he wants and never even having to ask the price- and I wondered what that feels like and if- having lived within that bubble for years- he even knows it's there?

One thing it can't do is win him tennis matches, of course...

"The rich are different" That's Fitzgerald, isn't it? Some of them wear their money with grace- and others live in fear. How unpleasant it must be to feel you can only go out if you have bodyguards walking in step with you, protecting the wall of your bubble from the world- or do you simply stop noticing that the bodyguard thing is not the norm?

I suppose that great wealth- like war- is something you can only really understand if you've lived it.

I should try it sometime...
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Of A Summer's Evening [Jul. 14th, 2019|08:27 am]
Tony Grist
Someone nearby- but not next door- was having a party last night- featuring a live rock band. Voices were still to be heard at three o'clock in the morning. I don't mind listening to far-away rock and roll- it's the music of my generation and feels friendly- and it doesn't seem to have stopped me sleeping. File this with other recent posts about how noisy the countryside is.

A hot air balloon passed overhead in the early evening. It came so close I could hear the roar of the burners. I have loved hot air balloons ever since David Niven crossed the Alps in one on the first stage of his trip around the world. I've never been up in one- and am reluctant to try in case I totally embarrass myself. If standing on top of church towers- which are not so high and are connected to the ground- make me go all funny how would I cope with being in an wicker basket at a height of thousands of feet? Let's not go there...
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Well, I Never... [Jul. 13th, 2019|05:37 pm]
Tony Grist
My sister recently got back in touch with a childhood friend who fondly remembers being cast in one of the silent movies I wrote and directed in my late teens. It was a jolly little drama about black magic and demonic possession- and we shot it with a wind-up 8mm movie camera in and around Hadlow Castle- which is as gothick a location as could be wished for. The film is a lost masterpiece and my ambitions to be the next Jean-Luc Godard soon faded but this woman credits her involvement in the project with firing her life-long interest in the performing arts.

Which goes to show you never fully understand what you're doing or how you may be affecting and influencing other people...
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Public Beatings [Jul. 13th, 2019|11:10 am]
Tony Grist
Can it really be the case that watching tennis makes me irritable? 

Could be.

Sport works on the nerves- and wakes the tribal instinct. I would like to think I watch tennis as a display of skills- and am indifferent as to the outcome of matches- but the fact is I did want Roger to win.

Or- to use less regenerate language- to "beat" Rafa. Not very high consciousness: to enjoy watching one man "beat" another. And not so far from what went on in the Roman circuses. 

Here's the essential difference between sport and art- that no-one ever came out of the theatre wanting to beat someone up because Lear and Cordelia are dead. 
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Political Maxims [Jul. 12th, 2019|10:44 am]
Tony Grist
Only the weak grab at power.

The one who cannot rule himself aspires to rule others.

No throne was ever designed for comfort.

The only possible defence of the hereditary principle is that those who are accustomed to power may have their appetite for it blunted.

Would you build on rubble? If not why would you build on fear?

The more you hurt others the more you hurt yourself because we are all One.

Censorship silences the censor.

A wall imprisons even as it excludes.
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