miércoles, 30 de septiembre de 2009

In my grandfather´s garden there was an apple tree

and there hung a swing from one of its branches. The apples were sweet and delicious and my grandfather would place them a few inches apart on a shelf in his workshop so they would ripen fully if they fell early. The aroma in the workshop combined fruit and coal tar creosote which he used to maintain his garage at the bottom of the garden, where the Triumph was kept. He would stew the apples and give them to us with the thick cream which formed inside the top of the milk bottles, which came out of the ice chest icy cold.

Also in his garden he grew hydrangea and he told us they could change colour if you buried a rusty key by the roots. He liked to take our photograph in front of the hydrangea, in our school uniform all pressed and new.

In our school uniform all pressed and new we could volunteer to collect for charity, door to door. I volunteered always. My motives were not necessarily altruisic. It meant I had a chance to fill my lungs with the smell of home cooking and catch a glimpse of a domestic evening unfolding, just for a few moments while the person who opened the door turned to open her purse and then place the pennies in my collection box. The scene was suggested; lit by the yellow glow from the lamp on the hall table or the shaft of light beckoning from the kitchen door not quite pulled to.

lunes, 28 de septiembre de 2009

It rained on Buenos Aires

This Sunday it rained on Buenos Aires. Relentless rain and cold, which meant we had the city practically to ourselves. I saw behind the scenes of a city I´ve inhabited for the last three years. "Esto es Argentina".... Caballito... preparing for customers who will pass through on their way to family gatherings. I´ll take a photograph to them. The windscreen of a Fiat 600 reflecting the grey clouds enveloping the city; the guard dog languishing in the doorway of the parking lot; a car wash, apparently abandoned, but just waiting for the rain to stop.

sábado, 26 de septiembre de 2009

Postcards from my grandfather

As a girl I attended a boarding school in Scotland. My grandfather was an important figure in my life. He would send me postcards every week, sometimes more than one a week, even though he lived a few miles from the school. I would see him every Sunday. He would sometimes take my sister and I out for drives around the Ayrshire countryside in his brown Triumph. We would learn a little more each time about his beloved Scotland.

jueves, 24 de septiembre de 2009

From The Immoralist by André Gide

"... and so they live in a state of psychological distortion. It is his own self that each of them is most afraid of resembling. Each of them sets up a pattern and imitates it; he doesn´t even choose the pattern he imitates: he accepts a pattern that has been chosen for him. And yet, I verily believe there are other things to be read in man. But people don´t dare to - they don´t dare to turn the page. Laws of imitation! Laws of fear I call them. The fear of finding oneself alone - that is what they suffer from - and so they don´t find themselves at all. I detest such moral agoraphobia - the most odious cowardice I call it. Why, one always has to be alone to invent anything - but they don´t want to invent anything. The part in each of us that we feel is different from other people is just the part that is rare, the part that makes our special value - and that is the very thing people try to suppress. They go on imitating....".

"..mais il faut cultiver notre jardin" from Candide by Voltaire

"... Voltaire....was neither an Optimist nor a Pessimist, he was essentially a Meliorist - one who strove for, and believed in, the gradual improvement of the human condition..."

From the introduction to Candide, OUP, by J.H.Brumfitt, Senior Lecturer in French, University of St. Andrews, Nov 1967

martes, 22 de septiembre de 2009

Federico García Lorca

"... Algo que tambien es primordial es respetar los propios instintos. el día en que deja uno de luchar contra sus instintos, ese día se ha aprendido a vivir."

Federico García Lorca

Matthew Parris, July 2006

"....the boredom arises from neither carelessness nor apathy, but the quiet anger we may feel when a subject is endlessly and passionately debated by disputants who are unlikely to change their minds and, if truth be known, mentally armoured against opposing thoughts. The rest of us wish we could walk away..."

Matthew Parris
´Why I cannot bring myself to write about the Israel problem´
July 20, 2006

From Brazaville Beach, by William Boyd

".... She had forgotten this facet of her personality; the dogged application of, and exultation in, her expertise. This was what she had trained herself to do; this was why she was educated. Problems were presented to her and she found a way to solve them...."

William Boyd

from Armadillo by William Boyd

"... You sometimes feel your job dirties you, you´re unhappy at the levels of duplicity and manipulation the work demands. You feel corrupt and at that moment the world seems to sink where only the powerful and ruthless flourish and ideas of justice and fair play, of honour and decency, of bravery and kindness are like childish fantasies...."

William Boyd