January 28th, 2019


 Ikkyu was a rogue. He drank, he went with girls, he looked like a tramp. He was also a holy man- and acknowledged as such in his lifetime. This state of affairs is almost unthinkable in any of the Christian sects - where- in spite of Jesus's fondness for whores and crooks and beggars- holiness has always been bound up with middle class morality. 

There are lots of stories about Ikkyu. He was the kind of person around whom stories accumulate; some of them may even be true. Here's one of them.:

Ikkyu turns up at a rich man's house dressed in rags. The rich man gives him a small coin and tells him to bugger off.  Later he comes back in the robes of a zen abbot (which is what he was) and the rich man invites him in for dinner. Just as the meal is being served, Ikkyu strips of his robes, puts them on his chair and makes to leave. "What are you doing," wails the rich man. "What you wanted," says Ikkyu, "it's my clothes you asked to dinner, not me."

Well Swum, Swan

 My godmother died.

After a short illness, in her sleep, at the age of 98.

She was my mother's old army buddy. And one of the few adults from my childhood whom I remember as being fun; in fact the only one who was never on the high horse- an honorary child, in fact.

And I'd rather be an honorary child than a knight commander of the British Empire.

The last time we saw her she was standing outside her apartment building giving us an army salute as we drove away. But not in a  military manner, more in the style of Benny Hill. 

I thought at the time this was probably a last farewell. 

It's odd, I'd been planning to write her and invite ourselves to visit her in her nursing home. This morning I woke up thinking "I'm not sure I see the point". And then the card arrived.

She is one of the loveliest people I've ever known 

Nicely done, Hilary, 

Well swum, swan.