Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up.. John Wick 3 -Spirits in the Sky, Polar Bears and Apple Daiquiris


Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed during the week on Smorgasbord.

We have had another busy week on the back garden work… a little unpredictable but we are fitted in between other jobs, weather dependent such as gathering silage for next winter’s feed. We live in the country and one has to go with the flow… but I will be glad when the job is finished and the digger is gone…We will then be able to sit out and enjoy the summer sun which is there until 10pm at the height of summer.

We also had visitors this week.. old friends from Portsmouth. Adrian and I were co-presenters on radio and on Internet Television and we became friends with his wife Chris too at the same time in 2007. We had a lovely two day catch up… and also rehashing fond memories. We discovered a new place to us locally .. a fabulous spa and hotel with a wonderful grill which we visited for lunch… they all had the tempura batter fish and chips which was apparently delicious and I had the goats cheese, caramalised onion, apple and walnut pizza… They also did a range of non-alcoholic cocktails and we all had Apple Daiquiris which were stunning… a bit of an ice-cream headache but what a way to get your 5 a day..

We then went to see John Wick 3 at our local cinema, both David and I loved John Wick 1 and 2 but were very disappointed with this third outing. We knew there would be a lot of action and quite a bit of violence and the stunts and the effects were amazing, but the fights in particular went on far too long.. 10 minutes and despite complex and brilliant choreography they became boring… It was more of a video game than a movie and the script was sparce. The problem is that is was stand alone, it is two years since the previous film.. and it literally picked up where it left off leaving you trying to remember what happened the last time. So if you have not seen John Wick 1 and 2.. I suggest you do before you see this one at the very least.. and be prepared for lots of action, most that is stretched out too lon and is very much more violent that the previous films.

Anyway a fun week and will be looking to recreate those apple daiquiris asap.

Just a quick note to say that I will be serialising Tales from the Irish Garden from next weekend… it will take around 13 weeks and I am hoping that you enjoy.

There is a new series of the Sunday Interview coming up at the end of June and I have set a slightly different challenge this time… Human in every sense of the word.

As humans there are five main senses that we rely on to navigate through this world.  And there is one that we all possess but do not necessarily use all the time…

Sight, Hearing, Touch, Taste, Smell….Sixth Sense.

For some people however, one or more of those senses do not function and we can only imagine the challenges this results in.

I don’t know about you, but I take my senses for granted, expecting to see my surroundings when I wake up each morning, hear the birds sing, feel the bedclothes as I throw them back, and the carpet beneath my feet. I expect to taste the marmalade on my toast, and smell the coffee I am about to drink. I also rely on my sixth sense, the one that people cannot really define, that somehow keeps me from making an error of judgement.

Scientists believe that we have other senses that are also important but that we have lost touch with over our evolution. But for this interview series I would like to focus on the six senses I have mentioned.

I would like you to write from 300 to 600 words about one or more of these senses.

If you head over to the post you will find my own interpretation of this challenge and details on how to participate… hope you are up for it…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-new-sunday-interview-series-human-in-every-sense-of-the-word-starting-sunday-june-30th-2019/

Time for the posts from the week.

As always my thanks to the contributors and everyone who is participating in the current Posts from Your Archives.. 50 bloggers and counting. As you can imagine I am having a blast reading everyone’s archives and I am managing to post 15 authors a week. So apologies if you are not featured yet, but you will be in the coming couple of months.

This week I share another two posts from Paul Andruss on the subject of poetry.. and the first is William Blake.. A man born before his time.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-william-blake-a-man-born-before-his-time-by-paul-andruss/

The second is Lord Byron.. a complicated man....

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-lord-byron-mad-bad-and-dangerous-to-know-by-paul-andruss/

Personal Stuff – Short Stories – Flash fiction stories in response to Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills

Carved in Wood… a widow returns to a wood and tree with carved initials..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-carved-in-wood-by-sally-cronin/

And this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills 

A Mother’s Dilemma – Disappearing Ice.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-a-mothers-dilemma-by-sally-croninranch-flash-fiction/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/smorgasbord-music-column-one-hit-wonders-spirit-in-the-sky-by-norman-greenbaum/

My intention with this blog was to create a watering hole where writers could gather and exchange experiences and knowledge and so delighted with all that I am discovering by delving into your archives.. and finding some gems even you have forgotten!

This week Robbie Cheadle takes us on her trip to London with her husband, and shares three parks and Sherlock Holmes house.

London Day 1

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-uk2018-three-parks-and-sherlock-holmes-house-by-robbie-cheadle/

USA Today bestselling author Jacquie Biggar with one of her guests Roxanne St. Clair…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-guest-posting-with-jacquie-biggar-roxannestclair-new-york-times-bestselling-author/

Financial expert Sharon Marchisello explores the link between financial and physical health.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-finance-the-link-between-financial-and-physical-health-by-sharon-marchisello/

This week Diana Peach shares a rather wet weekend with a grandson in charge of the garden hose and open window… what could go wrong!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-my-rug-cleaning-fiasco-by-d-wallace-peach/

I chose a poignant poem by Miriam Hurdle that touched many hearts…

Beautiful Tiny Baby written by Miriam Hurdle at Spillwords.com

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-poetry-beautiful-tiny-baby-by-miriam-hurdle/

Pete Johnson, Beetley Pete reviews the original Titanic film from 1958 – A Night to Remember.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-retro-review-a-night-to-remember-1958-by-beetley-pete/

Carol Taylor introduces us to their forever dog Saangchai and his early antics…

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-dogs-are-not-our-whole-life-but-they-make-our-life-whole-by-carol-taylor/

The Story Reading Ape with another of his guests over the last six years.. author Billy Ray Chitwood, who shares his life story.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-the-story-reading-ape-and-his-guest-billy-ray-chitwood/

D.G. Kaye with another of her down to earth posts on social media and the impact on our lives. Are we getting lost in social oblivion ?

Social media sharing

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-are-we-lost-in-social-oblivion-by-d-g-kaye/

Darlene Foster gives us a tour of her home town… Medicine Hat in Canada..

CityofMH

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/24/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-travel-ten-reasons-to-visit-medicine-hat-canada-by-darlene-foster/

A short story from Christine Campbell… The Thing Is.

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/24/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-short-story-the-thing-is-by-christine-campbell/

Charles Yallowitz with another of his compelling poems..Fear

Yahoo Image Search

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-poetry-fear-by-charles-e-yallowitz/

The final part of D.Avery’s linked story The Fold.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-the-fold-final-part-by-d-avery/

We continue the story of the Hollywood auditions… courtesy of Jane Risdon and it is always useful to have a brown paper bag to hand.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-the-auditions-part-three-blow-into-the-paper-bag-by-jane-risdon/

Mary Smith had a wonderful trip to Canada for a special birthday celebration and shares some of her trip with us.

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-marysmithsplace-canada-part-3/

New book on the shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-the-escape-series-book-2-catching-butterflies-search-for-home-by-sandra-j-jackson/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/24/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-soap-on-a-rope-cold-cream-murders-book-3-by-barbara-silkstone/

Author Update

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-ann-chiappetta-richard-dee-and-lyn-horner/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/24/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-claire-fullerton-c-s-boyack-and-balroop-singh/

The estimated consumption of fizzy drinks around the world is 50billion units a day!  The American Soft Drink Association was proud to say a few years ago that the average American consumes over 600, 12oz servings per year. Children are consuming many more fizzy drinks than adults and they estimate that the average teenager drinks an average of 160 gallons of soft drinks per year until their late 20’

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/smorgasbord-health-column-worldwide-market-for-fizzy-drinks-is-an-estimated-340-billion-a-year-but-at-what-cost/

The start of a updated series on the major organs of the body.. starting with the brain. This week an introduction and the anatomy.

Stem-&-Arteries-72dpi

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/smorgasbord-health-column-top-to-toe-revisited-the-brain-introduction-and-anatomy-by-sally-cronin/

This rescue cockatoo is found a new loving home and renewed joy of life and music..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-some-jokes-from-sallys-archives-episode-12/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-gone-fishing-and-some-jokes-from-the-archives/

Thank you very much for dropping in today and I am off out and will check in on everything this evening.. thanks Sally.

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – MarySmithsPlace – Canada (part 3)


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Time for the third post from the archives of author Mary Smith who manages two blogs for me to browse and select posts from.  This is the third post of three that Mary shared about her trip to Canada to celebrate a very special birthday and you can find the two previous posts about that trip Part one and Part Two

MarySmithsPlace – Canada (part 3)

Quite a while before I went to Canada I read a book,  Travelling to the Edge of the World by Kathleen Jones who travelled to the islands of Haida Gwaii, off the northernmost coastline of British Columbia. She went (and now I’m quoting the back of the book blurb) to talk to a nation who have lived in harmony with their environment for more than ten thousand years. They have a saying ‘everything is connected’ and their philosophy ‘Yah’Guudang’, is about “respect and responsibility, about knowing our place in the web of life and how the fate of our culture runs parallel with the fate of the ocean, sky and forest”.

But there is a darker side to Haida history. Kathleen Jones uncovers the story of how the British Colonial administration reduced the population from more than twenty thousand to just over five hundred by a policy that has been identified as ‘cultural genocide’. Haida artist Bill Reid, whose sculpture ‘Raven and the First Men’ appears on the cover, wrote that, “It is one of the world’s finest tributes to the strength of the human spirit that most of those who lived, and their children after them, remained sane and adapted”.

When I finished reading Travelling to the Edge of the World, the first thing I wanted to do was re-read it immediately. I also wanted to visit Haida Gwaii (previously known as Queen Charlotte Islands). I knew when I made my trip to Canada it wouldn’t be possible in the time I had to include a trip there – and I still want to go – but I was able to visit the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. There I was able to see some of the Haida carvings and totems as well as work by acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid.

My cousin Grace and I went to the museum. Several galleries showcase thousands of objects from all around the world. As well as exhibits on display other objects are in drawers beneath the s cases which you can open to explore even more artefacts.

Outside are examples of Haida houses and Musqueam house posts which are fascinating. DSC00152 (Custom)

Inside, the Great Hall, with its displays of totem poles and carvings, is truly spectacular. Spellbinding. Light pours in from the floor to ceiling glass walls highlighting the totems, which are so much more than I expected. Taller, so much taller, and so intricately carved.
DSC00143 (Custom)We all had to crane our necks to see the tops of the totems.

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Bear by Bill Reid. It was hard to obey the ‘do not touch’ order as this – and other sculptures – are so tactile.

One of the highlights was seeing Bill Reid’s sculpture of Raven and the First Men, which depicts the story of human creation. Carved from a giant block of laminated yellow cedar, it took two years to complete. Bill Reid, goldsmith, carver, sculptor, writer and one of Canada’s greatest artists was born in 1920. His mother, Sophie, was Haida but was sent away to school on the mainland where she was not allowed to speak her native language. She became an English teacher before she married Bill’s father who was of German Scottish descent. Bill was raised as ‘white’ by a mother who had assimilated western ways. On a visit to Haida Gwaii in 1954 Bill came across some carved bracelets by his great-great-uncle, carver Charles Edenshaw and the world changed for him.

In Haida culture, the Raven is the most powerful of mythical creatures. His appetites include lust, curiosity, and an irrepressible desire to interfere and change things, and to play tricks on the world and its creatures. According to Haida legend, the Raven was alone on Rose Spit beach in Haida Gwaii when he saw a clamshell inside which were small humans. The Raven coaxed them to leave the shell to join him in his world. Although hesitant at first, the humans did come out of the clamshell and became the first Haida.

DSC00149 (Custom)Raven and the First Men

Several First Nations carvers also worked on the project, including Reggie Davidson, Jim Hart, and Gary Edenshaw. Sculptor George Rammell worked on the emerging little humans, and Bill Reid did most of the finishing carving.

One day I might actually get to Haida Gwaii but at least, in the meantime, I’ve had the opportunity to see some of the fabulous work and learn a little more about the culture of a people I first read about in Kathleen Jones’ book.

Another piece of Bill Reid’s fabulous art is in the International Terminal at Vancouver Airport: The Spirit of Haida Gwaii. The Jade Canoe, a traditional six metre long Haida cedar dugout canoe in green-coloured bronze represents the Aboriginal heritage of Haida Gwaii.

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The canoe carries the following passengers: Raven, the trickster, holding the steering oar; Mouse Woman, crouched under Raven’s tail; Grizzly Bear, sitting at the bow and staring toward Raven; Bear Mother, Grizzly’s human wife; their cubs, Good Bear (ears pointed forward) and Bad Bear (ears pointed back); Beaver, Raven’s uncle; Dogfish Woman; Eagle; Frog; Wolf, claws imbedded in Beaver’s back and teeth in Eagle’s wing; a small human paddler in Haida garb known as the Ancient Reluctant Conscript; and, at the sculpture’s focal point, the human Shaman (Kilstlaai in Haida), who wears the Haida cloak and woven spruce root hat and holds a tall staff carved with images of Seabear, Raven, and Killer Whale.

The variety and interdependence of the canoe’s occupants represents the natural environment on which the ancient Haida relied for their survival: the passengers are diverse, and don’t always get along, but they must depend on one another to live.

I like that. I like the acknowledgement that we may not always live in harmony but we are dependent on each other. The sooner we accept this truth, the better for our world!

©Mary Smith 2018

What a fascinating place and my thanks to Mary for permitting me to delve into her archives to share..

A selection of books by Mary Smith

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A recent review Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni

Jan 24, 2019 Janice Spina rated it five stars

Drunk Chicken and Burnt Macaroni is a remarkable story of the lives of Afghan women as told by the author. She shares her adventures when she visits Afghanistan with her husband and son to start a clinic for women.

This book is a moving tribute to the courage, stamina and resilience of these women before the Taliban came to power there. The work that these women do to make broad changes to their lives is incredible in such adversity

The author’s work there helped these women realize how important it is to take care of their children’s health and their own. A school was set up to give these women the medical knowledge that they needed to.make a difference in their lives. It also enabled them to become stronger and more knowledgeable to help others and spread the word about the importance of being healthy and clean.

This book is a testament to women and their strength when they are needed to come forward. The Afghan men feared the women and their strength because it was not the way of Islam for women to be stronger than men. With some encouragement the men learned to be proud of their wives and what they were capable of doing to keep their family healthy and strong.

An engrossing read that makes this reader happy to be an American and live in the land of freedom and plenty. A must read for anyone who wants to learn about the difficulties women face in other countries.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Smith/e/B001KCD4P0

Read more reviews and follow Mary on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith

About Mary Smith

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

Connect to Mary Smith

Website: http://www.marysmith.co.uk/
Facebook addresshttps://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/marysmithwriter
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5239367.Mary_Smith
New Blog: https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/
Blog:   https://marysmith57.wordpress.com/2014/07/

Thank you for joining us today and Mary would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#PotLuck -The Auditions: Part Three – Blow Into The Paper Bag by Jane Risdon


Welcome to the  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the third post from author Jane Risdon and since you enjoyed the audition posts over the last two weeks here is part three and you can find the link to part four and five on Jane’s blog at the end of the post….

The Auditions: Part Three – Blow Into The Paper Bag by Jane Risdon

The guys didn’t get the chop, though judging from the expression on the super-star singer’s face, it was a close shave in more ways than one; the guillotine loomed over their heads, but she didn’t get to taste blood – yet!

After a lot of not so gentle persuasion the bass player, under threat of a good thumping from the drummer, and their management, managed to get through Rock n’ Roll with plenty of attitude.

The super-star beamed with delight. They all breathed a sigh of relief.

Next, he wanted a medley of his greatest hits and so everyone tuned-up ready.

His biggest hit was about half way through when suddenly the drums came to a deafening halt.

Everyone stared at the drum kit. Where was the drummer?

They soon found out; he was lying beside the kick drum, puffing and panting, puce in the face.

Looks were exchanged, they all ran towards him. Had he had a heart attack?

Management knew he wasn’t drunk or drugged, so what else could it be? They wondered if someone need call 911 and the Paramedics.

He sat up, grasping his manager by the shirt, pulling him close.

Everyone leaned forward, straining. Wondering.

‘A what?’ His manager shouted.

Then he turned round.

‘Anyone got a brown paper bag?’

Everyone stared, wondering what the hell he was on about. ‘He needs a brown paper bag, fast.’

Luckily a runner had been out to get Mexican food earlier and soon the drummer had a greasy, smelly, brown paper bag covering his face as he blew frantically into it.

Everyone watched, fascinated.

Soon his management realised what had happened

‘He’s hyperventilating.’

The super-star singer looked at him as if I were losing the plot.

‘They recommend blowing into a paper bag if you hyperventilate.’

‘Oh, right.’

The band crowded round and watched as gradually the drummer recovered.

The super star’s manager chewed frantically on his gum.

‘Happens when I get over-excited, I can’t breathe, so I’ve got to blow into a bag.’

The drummer beamed.

Oh God. Why us? Why us? Management stressed.

The ground remained solid despite them both wanting it to open up ad swallow them.

‘It’s so cool playing with you guys, just thinking about it, playing your stuff. I can’t help it.’

The drummer gushed.

The other musicians tried not to giggle, unsure what sort of illness this English guy had.

Violent thoughts filled his manager’s mind. His business partner was having similar ones.

‘Jeez, can’t imagine what you’re like getting over-excited with a chick.’

The iconic guitarist commented, sending everyone into fits, except the bass player.

He glared at the drummer.

‘Make sure you blow Poison, so you’ll remember it in a minute.’ Management fell about; the others looked puzzled.

The super-star regarded the drummer for a while and then asked him if he’d be all right to carry on.

‘Yeah I’m good to go now.’ Getting behind the kit again, he gave the thumbs up.

‘Why a brown paper bag?’

The super star didn’t get it.

‘Do you need any more?’

The drummer thought for a moment and then said, ‘No I think I’m OK now.’

He smiled at everyone in the studio, and flicked his hair, obviously feeling so much better.

‘It doesn’t work with any other colour; brown is sort of cool, sort of beautiful.’

Dear God.

After they’d run through all the songs the super-star singer wanted them to play, it was time to leave and let the next hopefuls take their turn.

The super-star and his management called both managers, and they chatted for a while.

They loved the guys, thought they looked cool, and were fun.

The managers felt their hearts sink…but…

The super star’s manager nodded enthusiastically, the musicians’ managers groaned.

They’d been around the block a few times don’t forget.

The super star stood next to them and smiled.

He agreed.

They could certainly play to the standard required, they were sort of really cool.

They’d audition the other hopefuls and they’d get back to the guys (management) by the end of the week.

Everyone shook hands, got their gear sorted and waved goodbye.

‘Don’t forget to take your brown paper bag with you,’ someone yelled.

The drummer called back, ‘Thanks, it’s OK, keep it. I’ve got loads back in the car.’

©Jane Risdon 2015

I know that you are dying to know what happened next…. well the next two parts can be found  in this folder on Jane’s website….

Books by Jane Risdon.

About the book

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

One of the early reviews for Undercover Crime Shorts

Fast-paced, well written, page turner that had me so engrossed my train journey flew by. The author clearly has done a lot of research, these short stories all felt very authentic and each had me gripped and on the edge of my seat wondering how they would play out. It’s been a long time since I read anything quite so intriguing and twisty. It certainly got my heart beating faster and I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great murder, mystery.

Also by Jane Risdon

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Risdon/e/B00I3GJ2Y

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Risdon/e/B00I3GJ2Y8/

Read more reviews and follow Jane on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5831801.Jane_Risdon

About Jane Risdon

Jane Risdon began writing five years ago having had a successful career in the International Music Industry which has taken her all over the world working with everything from Rock, Thrash Metal, and R&B/Pop to Chinese Opera. Her work has taken her to North America, Europe, and Singapore: even to Taiwan.

She’s been involved in Television, Radio, and the Movies around the world.

Travelling extensively and living overseas she draws upon her life experiences when writing Crime/Mystery novels, short stories in all genres – including humour, and she has dabbled in flash fiction.

Some of these experiences have found their way into her short stories about the Music Business, and she is presently working on a novel which will bring a lot of her more crazy ‘rock ‘n roll’ experiences into one tome.

Her main focus remains crime however, and she is working on a series of novels called ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates’ centered around a glamorous ex MI5 Officer forced into early retirement, who is trying to keep a low profile in a rural village in Oxfordshire. Her past experiences come to the fore when she finds herself investigating murder. Soon she finds herself back on old territory with Russian Mafia, Ukrainian People Traffickers and an old flame to deal with.

Connect to Jane Risdon

Blog:  https://janerisdon.wordpress.com/ 
Facebook: http://wp.me/2dg55 http://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2 
Accent Press: http://www.accentpress.co.uk/jane-risdon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jane_Risdon

Thank you for dropping in today and I know that Jane would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Spirit of the Hills Festival of the Arts – Guest Post by Felicity Sidnell Reid…


Felicity Sidnell Reid is the guest of The Story Reading Ape today and is sharing the news of the Festival of Arts in St. Coburg with Cynthia Reyes and her daughter Lauren designing and running the new blog for the event… Head over and find out more….

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog


Have I mentioned the Spirit of the Hills Festival of the Arts that we are planning to put on October 24-26, 2019?

I am chairing the Festival Committee and we are pleased that our programme is set and that we are now negotiating with artists of all kinds, whom we have invited to participate.

Of course there is still an enormous amount of work to do on the dramatic and musical events, our multi-media show, the anthology, the art show and all the other activities we have programmed for that weekend.

And of course we have to publicise and stir up excitement about the Festival, so this year we decided to set up a festival blog, taking people behind the scenes and letting them into some of the madness and fun of turning ideas into actual events.

The blog has been designed by Lauren Reyes Grange and administered by Cynthia…

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Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Lord Byron – Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Paul Andruss


Following on from recent posts on poets and poetry, I am sharing two more on the subject from Paul Andruss in 2017.

Lord Byron – Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Paul Andruss

 

Byron in Greek National Dress

No, not me… but I’m flattered you considered it, even for a moment.

‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’ was how Lady Caroline Lamb described her lover Lord Byron after he dumped her. Caroline Lamb was as mad as a box of frogs. Even Byron couldn’t handle her, which, God knows, given his track-record should be proof enough.

Caro Lamb (Wikipedia)

During one vitriolic public spat with Byron, ‘Caro’ attempted suicide in the middle of a ball by slashing her wrists with a wineglass. Talk about hell has no fury; she then took it on herself to blacken his name with a public eager for any breath of scandal from this rock-star.

Hang on, rock star? Well famously, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll makes you a rock-star. All you gotta do is substitute poetry for rock-n-roll and….

What d’ya think the big appeal was for people like Keats? Consumption?

Considering we have a song for every occasion from weddings to funerals, with lyrics so personal they are meant only for us, is it really so hard to image getting the same chills from a poem?

In the days before I-pods, Discmans, Walkmans, transistor radios, dancettes, radiograms and even wind up gramophones (not though I’m implying any of you are that old) music was not personal, but public. After all, you can’t take a piano on a picnic. But you could a poetry book; to be read aloud or even in dreamy silence.

Ken Russell brought home the idea of poets as rock-stars, as only he could, in his film Gothic: about the summer Byron spent with fellow poet Shelley in the villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva. A holiday that saw the creation of Frankenstein and the first inklings of vampire fiction based on Byron’s remembered folktales from his travels in Greece. In the opening scene two prim young women sneak into the villa gardens, spot the poets, start screaming hysterically and throw their bloomers at them.

Mary and Percy Shelley; Byron and John Polidori (National Portrait Gallery)

Due to the huge volcanic explosion of Mount Tambora the year before, 1816 was called ‘the year without a summer’. Byron and Shelley, along with the Wollenscroft sisters, stayed in the Villa Diodati. Imprisoned in the house by the appalling weather they did what any self-respecting rock-stars would do: got drunk and off their heads on opium, and no doubt hashish from Ottoman Turkey.

George Byron was born in 1788 with a club foot, something that caused him acute embarrassment and violent fights at school. It also added to his allure an adult: sure proof he was the Devil. His deformity possibly gave him the idea of controlling his image when famous. He personally approved all portraits, only allowing himself to be presented in certain studied poses that gave rise to an ideal of a Byronic hero: mean, moody and magnificent.

Byron Portrait (From Britannica)

So, we know Byron was a poet, even though we can’t quote any lines of poetry (*see footnote); that he was devilishly handsome (remember he approved his portraits); and a thoroughly bad lot. But who was Byron and why did the very mention of his name make men, as well as women, want to lie down and reach for the smelling salts?

One of the first things you come across is Byron’s bisexuality. Although, I think that term is a bit post-Freudian. People are sexual, and of course opportunistic. In an all-boys school with hormones raging, then…

Byron confessed to ‘violent passions’ with school friends and had a protégé at university. In later life, he admitted believing ‘consciousness of sexual difference made England untenable’. In those days, homosexuality and sodomy was not just social ruin, but also hanging offences.

Byron also had women: lots of women. One was a distant cousin, Mary Chatsworth; another was his half-sister, Augusta Leigh. Rumours of incest abound. It was claimed he fathered a child on Augusta. His introduction to sex started at the age of 9, when a serving girl visited his bedroom to ‘play tricks on his person’: her way of ensuring he did not tell his mother of her drunken binges.

Underpainting sketch for portrait of Byron’s half-sister Augusta Leigh

During this time his widowed mother’s suitor Lord Grey De Ruthyn also made sexual advances on him. The first vampire story, and possible origination of the genre, was written by Byron’s physician John Polidori during that fateful summer at the Villa Diodati. The vampire, a suave nobleman based on his employer Lord Byron, is called Lord Ruthven, making one wonder what Bryon confided to his handsome, young doctor and under what circumstances.

At the age of 21, Byron headed off on a European Grand Tour as did most young noblemen. An influencing factor may have been a friend downing himself rather than risking public exposure of his sexuality. Byron later admitted sexual freedom was also a lure.

In 1809, with Napoleon rampaging through Europe and Wellington fighting the Peninsula War in Portugal, Byron headed to Italy and through the Ottoman Empire to Turkish Greece. (Greeks and Turks still hate each other.) Here he took up with a 14 year old boy and a 12 year old girl in Athens.

(Even writing this leaves me feeling contaminated – child abuse: one of the many unpalatable facets of history. The past is not just a foreign country; it’s your worst nightmare.)

On a brighter note the Pasha of Greece allegedly wanted to make Byron his catamite. Byron only managed to evade his advances because of his title.

Returning to England, Byron wrote of his travels in the first cantos of his ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ and became instantly famous. Of course despite mounting debts, Byron, being a gentleman, refused payment for his work, which must have made his publishers very happy indeed.

Annabella Milbanke

During this time came his scandalous affairs, mounting debts and unhappy marriage. His wife’s wealthy family were ‘trade’. They had the cash: he the title. Annabella Milbanke, a ‘blue-stocking’ (i.e. educated), their heiress was their pride and joy.

She was also Caro Lamb’s cousin, which couldn’t have gone down well with her deranged relative once she realised Byron had no intention of revisiting that pasture. Fervent, pure-minded and madly in love with Byron’s poetry, Annabella believed she could cure her husband’s excesses and thereby save his soul.

Hmmm… guess what!

Eventually Byron was forced to flee rather than face prosecution for sodomy with his wife. Society gasped to learn Annabella was prepared to face such public humiliation merely to punish her husband. They suspected Caro was behind it. A trifle hypocritical considering Byron had also indulged himself in that way with Caro before marriage and Caro rather enjoyed it, even dressing up as a young manservant to facilitate the illusion.

However, exile did allow Byron to escape his ruinous debts – so it wasn’t all bad.

While living in Venice in 1816, he learned Armenian, co-authoring an English-Armenian Grammar, and eloped with the young wife of an old count with whom he resided until he left for Greece 7 years later. During this time he wrote many important works including Don Juan. His friend Shelley died in a boating accident as did his illegitimate daughter to Mary Wollenscroft Shelley’s sister. Dead of fever at the age of 5, while under her father’s loving but negligent care.

Memorial to the drowned poet Shelley in Oxford

In 1823 Byron joined the Greek fight for Independence from the Ottoman Empire. While sailing to the Greek mainland from the island of Kefalonia, Byron’s ship, fleeing the Turkish navy, landed to Messalongi where Byron joined the rebels. The following spring he caught a chill which may have resulted in pneumonia. With unsterilized instruments the usual medical practice of bloodletting left him with blood poisoning. He died on the 23 April 1824 aged 36.

He left instructions in his will for all his personal papers to be destroyed. His executors carried out his last request: making him even more of an enigma and ensuring the myth of the Byronic hero influenced generations of poets, writers and bohemians. Although lauded by the Greeks and an object of endless fascination to the British public, the establishment never really forgave him.

Byron Memorial Messalongi Greece

Byron had a daughter with his wife Annabella: the famous ‘blue stocking’. No surprise Ada turned out to be a brilliant mathematician, developing computer programmes for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine (1837): the first general purpose programmable digital mechanical computer of the modern age. The size of a small palace it was worked by gears and handles. Due to its size and complexity Babbage only completed a small part of the Analytical Engine, before his death. But all this of course is another story.

Ada Lovelace (nee Byron)

*Footnote: Opening lines of ‘She Walks in Beauty’ by Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;

©Paul Andruss 2017

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/paul-andruss-myths-legends-fantasy-and-gardening/

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – #Poetry – Fear by Charles E. Yallowitz..


Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Today the final post from fantasy author Charles E. Yallowitz who has a wonderful blog where you can find stories, thoughts on life, book related posts and poetry.  This week I have selected another poem from Charles that I thought was fantastic..Packs a lot into a few lines.

Fear by Charles E. Yallowitz..

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The darkest depths of the mind are my playgrounds

I am omnipotent

Spiders, heights, and death are my faithful minions

I am everlasting

Both strong and weak fall before me

I am destructive

My power will consume the cosmos

I am unbeatable

This world would be nothing without me

I AM FEAR

©Charles E. Yallowitz 2014

I think he nailed it.. Spiders, heights and death…..

A selection of the most recent books by Charles Yallowitz

 

A recent review for War of Nytefall: Book Three – Rivalry

Apr 16, 2019 Ionia rated it four stars

I am not someone who typically loves books that are centred around vampires. I have never had much of a fascination with them, (perhaps this comes from Romanian roots and the eye-rolls that go along with those roots,) however, I feel like the author has created a new and interesting breed of vampire in his Dawn Fangs. They extend the normal parameters that one expects with vampires and I like that they are not all simply humans, but other species as well. They have a range of personalities, which, is nice to see.

This book is not light on action and there is always something happening to capture the reader’s attention. It is a bit gorier than some of the other works set in Windemere, but one should probably expect that when the book is about vampires. I like the various settings in the book and the author does a good job of visual imagery and transporting the reader to a new location each time the characters move on to a different place. There has been quite a lot of character development and some fantastic new arrivals since the first book in the series.

All of that being said, I do have some fundamental issues with this book, as with the other books by this author. I want his characters to take themselves more seriously. I can appreciate a moment of levity here and there when it is called for, but sometimes, I feel like you never get to feel the pain these characters truly feel, because there is usually comedy of one variety or another involved. For me, this takes away from a serious situation and makes it seem superficial, casting the same unfortunate glow on the characters. I want to hurt and feel pain when the characters I have grown to love are feeling it. I want to feel their joy and triumph when they overcome an obstacle or share something special. I don’t always want the two things to be mixed.

It seems to me, that the author is fully capable of producing material that will shock and please an audience and could grow these books into something much bigger than they are. Still, I feel he is holding back. Perhaps is afraid to offend the audience with too much darkness when exploring the depths of his characters? I personally think any author with the talent to write such creative works, should not be afraid to express themselves fully and take ordinary to extraordinary by not worrying so much about what the audience may think.

In any case, there were a lot of good things about this book, and a lot of reasons that you might want to pick it up and give it a read. I, for one, love the tournament style fighting–which is kind of Roman Colosseum with added magic. I enjoyed the suspense of those fights and never knowing what kind of opponent the characters were going to face.

Overall, this is a good book, written by a highly talented author who is good at provoking the reader’s imagination.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Charles-E-Yallowitz/e/B00AX1MSQA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Charles-E-Yallowitz/e/B00AX1MSQA

Read more reviews and follow Charles on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6965804.Charles_E_Yallowitz

About Charles E. Yallowitz
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire Stare. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. ‘Legends of Windemere is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

Links to connect to Charles on websites, blogs and social media.

Legends of Windemere Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
Tumblr
LinkedInCharles E. Yallowitz Website

My thanks to Charles for allowing me to delve into his archives and I hope you will head over and do some of your own browsing.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – The Fold – Final Part by D. Avery


Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

I am delighted to share the first post from the archives of D.Avery who is the author of three short story and poetry collections.  I have selected a wonderful serial that I am sharing across four posts… Part three can be found here:

The Fold – Final Part by D.Avery

Image Pixabay.com

Making Hay

“Hey. I’ve got dinner warmed in the oven. You’ve been haying since before sun-up till after sunset. You must be exhausted.”

“No, just tired.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Hmm. Well, this is good work that matters. It had to be done, especially with the rain forecast. Luciene helped us then I helped him. Our cows are provided for and our families. I’m sore and tired but it feels good. Especially coming into this kitchen seeing you, knowing our Hope’s asleep upstairs, safe and sound.”

“Hmm. Are you too tired? For more good work?”

“Heck no. Never too tired for you.”

Star of the Show

Hope made her guess. When her mother had incorrectly guessed Mary, Joseph, wise man, sheep, donkey, cow, inn keeper, and even baby Jesus, Hope finally told her what part she had in the Christmas pageant.

“It was my idea, Mommy! I got them to let me do my idea!”

“What Hope? What role can possibly be left?”

Hope smiled broadly, her eyes radiating her pleasure. “The star! I’m going to be up on a ladder behind the stable dressed up like the star!”

“Do you have lines to memorize?”

“Nope. I just have to shine.”

“Oh, Hope, you do. You’re a natural.”

“Yup, our Hope is the star of the pageant.”

They hadn’t noticed him enter the kitchen, still in his boots, still dressed for outdoors.

“You girls get your boots on, let’s go snowshoeing.”

“What? Now? It’s so dark out.”

“Maybe I have a surprise for you.”

“Ok. Let’s go, Hope. I’d rather tramp after him in the snow and dark than have to go through guessing again.”

He led them behind the house and up to the top of the meadow where the sugar woods began. Lights from neighboring farms and houses twinkled from the rolling hills that framed the frozen lake that was now an empty blackness in the moonless dark.

Below them they could see the glow from their own kitchen window.

Suddenly the cupola of their high barn lit up, beaming out over the bare trees and snow covered fields. The beams reached across to where they stood in the snowy meadow.

“Daddy! You put a star in the cupola for Christmas!”

“Think I’ll leave it throughout the long dark winter, Hope. We’ll shine our light every night.”

***

Temple Builders

He found them outside, each with shovels, each pink cheeked, strands of black hair stuck to damp foreheads. “What are you two up to?”

“Come see what Mommy and me made Daddy!”

Hope led him around the mound of plowed snow where the bank dropped away. Once he’d crawled through the entrance tunnel he could almost stand up.

“Is that a skylight?”

“No Daddy, just a vent. Mommy’s gonna build a fire and we’ll cook dinner.”

While his wife and child continued carving out their snug snow house he stacked snowballs and shaped two elegant colonnades at the entryway.

***

Reflection

“Narcissus?”

“Yes, Hope, a fellow who fell deathly in love with his own reflection.”

“Mommy, that’s silly.”

“Then we’ll call them paper whites. Do the blooms seem papery to you?”

“Yes, and they stink.”

“Ha! Kinda, Hope. And I kinda like the smell. I don’t know why.”

“I like the way they stand in their pots, Mommy.”

“Me too, Hope. So bold and defiant on the cold windowsill, trying so hard to be spring. But they reflect winter.”

“If Winter falls in love with his reflection, he’ll pine away.”

“Then Hope, we’d best start ordering seed packets for spring.”

***

Ashes

“La grange aussi? Totalement? Tres bon. Merci.”

He and Hope looked on as she set the phone down. “What’s the news?”

Startled, she brought them into focus. “Oh. Do you think Luciene would mind the animals? I want to go across the border in the morning. I want you and Hope to go with me.”

The next day he and Hope stood back while she walked among the silent ashes, all that remained of her past. Embers of memory flashed fire in her eyes. “There’s nothing left.” She smiled at them. “It’s all gone. We can go home now.”

***

“That must have been one hell of a hot fire, to leave nothing behind like that.”

“Oui. The neighbor said the firemen came but just watched it burn, there was no point in putting it out, an empty abandoned house, nothing around it to catch fire except the barn and when that caught they let it go too. It ended a lot of mess.”

“Mom, do you wish you’d seen the actual fire?”

He raised an eyebrow at Hope in the rearview. She’d asked what he’d been wondering.

“Not really, Hope. I saw exactly what I needed to see.”
©D.Avery 2018

Books by D.Avery

One of the recent reviews for Chicken Shift on Goodreads

Feb 01, 2019 Ritu Bhathal rated it Five Stars

Made me giggle. A whole poetry book, crammed with verses about chickens crossing roads!
Loved this one:

A chicken crossed the road, as happens now and then
Philosophers and passersby
Did their bit and wondered why
But the farmer wondered how it escaped the pen.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Avery/e/B00IXZIX3U

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.-Avery/e/B00IXZIX3U

Follow D.Avery on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/410086.D_Avery

About D. Avery

D. Avery (196?-20??) has long been a compulsive poet. Despite a very important day job educating public school children, she is often distracted by this compulsion, as well as by life’s great questions, such as “Kayak, or bike?”. Though she has come to realize that nothing difficult is ever easy, she believes that it’s all good.

From the author

I live on an island off the coast of Massachusetts with a husband and a cat. I am a teacher of middle school mathematics. I enjoy kayaking, yard-saling and reading. I sometimes write. People sometimes read what I write. ShiftnShake is a place for you to read some of my writing.

Connect to D. Avery

Website: https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/
Poems: https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/prompted-poetry/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/daveryshiftn

Thank you for dropping in today and please join D. Avery again next Saturday for the final installment.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – A Mother’s Dilemma by Sally Cronin


A tough challenge this week from Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills 

Following on from a wonderful post about Charli’s daughter and her life of adventure on a number of Norwegian arctic islands… it is a trifle cold there.. and encounters with mammals who are struggling to survive the loss of ice and change in their environment are becoming more frequent.

The challenge was to write 99 words (no more, no less) about disappearing ice….

A mother’s dilemma…

My cubs and I swim further each day between melting ice floes. Some are only strong enough to carry the weight of my babies as they rest, at the limit of their strength. The seals that I hunt are also disappearing without a safe place to gather between fishing. I need to eat soon if we are all to survive. I may have to return to land and into the world of humans. Their waste food may be our only chance. They fear and hate my kind and there is great risk. But soon I will have no choice.

©Sally Cronin 2019

If you would like to participate in the challenge.. please head over to https://carrotranch.com/2019/05/23/may-23-flash-fiction-challenge/ and enjoy the post from Charli too..

I have a number of short story collections and you can find my books and their reviews: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you have enjoyed my story….thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – William Blake A Man Born Before his Time by Paul Andruss


Following on from last weekend’s posts on poetry I am sharing two more on the subject from Paul Andruss in 2017.

William Blake A Man Born Before his Time by Paul Andruss

Ancient of Days (Frontispiece from Europe a prophecy- Blake)

William Blake 1757 –1827 is best remembered for lines from a handful of poems.

Jerusalem

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green?

The Tyger

Tyger, Tyger burning bright,
 In the forests of the night;

Auguries of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand
and eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all of heaven in a rage

The Sick Rose –   

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm…
  Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy

William Blake 1757 –1827

William Blake was born in 1757 to English Dissenters who had separated from the Church of England over State interference in religious matters. At the age of 10, he had his first brush with the spiritual and mystic realm that came to dominate his life, experiencing a vision of a tree full of angels on Peckham Rye Common. Blake continued to have visions throughout his life.

Around this time his parents sent him to drawing classes. When the young Blake developed a preference for engraving, his father apprenticed him at 14 to a print-maker. As a printer and engraver Blake was able to print his own poetry books illustrated with hand-painted watercolours.

Dismissed as idiosyncratic, his genius was ignored during his lifetime. An exhibition of his paintings was poorly attended and the only review hostile. In his twilight years Blake gathered a small group of disciples who kept his flame flickering until his biography in 1865 introduced him to the poet Swineburne, luminaries in the Arts and Crafts movement and the Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Pre-Raphaelite revival during the hippy era ensured Blake’s rediscovery. His unique artistic style and mystical poems struck a chord with a generation yearning for spirituality. Today he is chiefly remembered for his hand-tinted etchings and two collections of illustrated poems: Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794).

A large part of his work languishes unknown. These are his visionary books, a series of almost incomprehensible interrelated illustrated poems. Described by Blake as prophetic and apocalyptic, they show him to be a revolutionist.

A prophet is not a fortune teller but someone God uses as a mouthpiece. For Blake, God was the embodiment of natural truth and justice, while the church was no better than the Biblical Great Whore.

Babylon the Whore mounted on the Great Beast from Revelation (Blake)

In the Greek, Apocalyptic means to uncover or reveal; accounting for the Apocalypse of St John’s other name: the Book of Revelation. Having said that in Blake’s day the word meant the same thing we understand today: the end times. Yet in Revelation, when the old world is swept away, the righteous inherit New Jerusalem. Rather than the penalty of sin, it is the harbinger of heaven on earth.

Blake may have deliberately sheathed his work in allegory because his radical political views were considered treasonable. He was tried for sedition in 1803 after an altercation with a soldier where the old man was supposed to have cried out: ‘Down with the King!’ He was acquitted.

Blake was an advocate of the Free Love Movement, which wasn’t about throwing your car keys into a fruit bowl – I’m pretty sure Mrs Blake would have had something to say about that. Rather it espoused the political equality, and social and sexual freedom of women. It also advocated the removal of all laws against adultery, homosexuality and prostitution. And was the director ancestor of the Suffragettes and Family Planning.

Blake believed marriage was slavery. This was a time when marriages were often arranged. A woman was required to be obedient and subservient to her husband. Her wealth became her spouse’s on marriage. More or less considered her husband’s property, she was obliged to fulfil his needs and condemned to perpetual pregnancy.

It wasn’t until over a century later, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth Control Clinic in New York City in 1921. The police closed it down. A year later, Marie Stopes – scientist, academician, campaigner and author of the best-selling female sexual health manual, Married Love – opened a Birth Control Clinic in West London that fared better.

Blake was an admirer of the radical English philosopher Thomas Payne whose work ‘The Rights of Man’ played a significant role in the American Revolution and provided the blueprint for The American Constitution and The Bill of Rights. He also admired the French Philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who most famously said: Man is born free and is everywhere in chains. He may have even met Rousseau during his exile in London during the 1760s.

England was the birthplace of revolution. In 1215 King John capitulated to the barons in the Magna Carta. In the 1649, Parliament executed King Charles who believed he was directly appointed by God. In 1688, the Glorious Revolution saw Parliament overthrow of the Catholic sympathiser James II in favour of a restricted monarchy by his daughter and her husband: William and Mary.

Yet, the American Revolution was viewed as a unique and radical event in that it enshrined the rights of citizens and created an egalitarian society. Although women were not in actuality much better off, the ethos of Revolutionary Motherhood gave women a say in rearing their children and eroded the patriarchal rights of paterfamilias. Marriage focused on love and affection rather than wifely obedience; allowing the next generation to choose their spouses and use birth control.

Educated in the newly translated Greek classics, and struggling to shake off the last shackles of absolutism in religion and politics, Europeans looked on the American Revolution as a renaissance of (in their idealised view) ancient Athens: the birthplace of democracy (rule of the common people). That was in fact a slave owning society that denied rights to women.

America a Prophecy Frontispiece (Blake)

In ‘America a Prophecy’ Blake lauds America for overthrowing tyranny, considering it a beacon of liberty and equality. In ‘Visions of the Daughters of Albion’, he has the women of England look to America, where he believes all discrimination one day will end and where they will receive equal rights.

From the Visions of the Daughters of Albion (Blake)

Blake created a whole mythology around his romanticised version of England. He renamed the country Albion, after a giant who settled here island and whose sons and daughters inhabited it for a thousand years until Brutus came from Troy… the story which begins Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘History of the British Kings’.

Blake was very much in tune with contemporary historical ideas when he created his mythology, borrowing heavily from the Bible, including the newly translated excluded books, fragments of classical myth and medieval works such as Geoffrey of Monmouth and the ancient Welsh Black Book of Carmarthen and Red Book of Hergest.

As with all his work, at the heart of his mythology is a lament for the loss of the traditional rural past and a condemnation of the industrialisation and urbanisation ruining England’s once green and pleasant land. Blake’s poem Jerusalem (in full below) is a plea to end the madness of modernity and return to Eden, where Adam and Eve were equal.

It references the medieval story of Jesus visiting Glastonbury in England with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea. Christ’s presence made England a holy land; a New Jerusalem. Where, in the words of John Ball’s sermon preached 400 years earlier during the Peasant’s Revolt…

‘When Adam delved and Eve span who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men… I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty’

During his life Blake saw the agricultural villages and cottage industries that characterised Britain since the Middle-Ages, being overturned by farming machinery and more efficient practices requiring fewer workers. Common land was enclosed by landowners – preventing tenant farmers and smallholders the right to graze animals on common ground – denying an important source of additional income and effectively reducing them to servitude.

Abandoning the traditional way of life, the rural poor flocked to the newly expanding squalid overcrowded cities. Here they were forced to work long hours for little money and less consideration, as unskilled labour in the new steam powered manufactories – giving us the modern word factory.

Is it any wonder the French industrial poor threw wooden clogs into the machines that destroyed their livelihoods? The wooden clog or sabot gave rise to the name Saboteur.

Some analysts equate the ‘dark Satanic mills’ of Blake’s Jerusalem not with the new manufactories but the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford – spewing out the new-age men of science and engineering, and the clergy who enslaved Christ’s own Englishmen for the greedy landowner and fell industrialist.

Others, less given to allegory, point out he could be referring to Albion Flour Mills the first big factory in London, situated close to Blake’s house. When it burned down, possibly due to arson, a contemporary illustration showed the devil squatting over the burning building.

In 1776, France had helped the American Revolutionaries. This was more to piss off the English than for any genuine fellow feeling. The French Monarchy was far more totalitarian.

Thirteen years later it seemed only fair the Americans should in turn help the French Revolutionaries … despite their actions not displaying much gratitude to the French king. (In thanks, the French Republic later gifted America with the Statue of Liberty. Constructed by Gustav Eiffel, a copy gifted by America to France, stands in Paris not far from Eiffel’s Tower.)

With the French Revolution came another prophetic book ‘Europe a prophecy’, where Blake praised the French, as he had the Americans, for having the courage to do what the English would not: embrace liberty, fraternity and equality. This has led some to consider ‘The Tyger’ (in full below) a paean to the French Revolution.

Blake’s fervour is evident in lines like:

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

A reference to Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods, putting man above the rest of creation; which begs the question: if man is the pinnacle of creation why are some less than others?

And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand & what dread feet

The French Revolution began among the poor and disenfranchised – the labourer working with his hands to produce a wealth he does not share. His tools, used to make profit for others, will now smash his chains. Its revolutionary anthem was the marching song ‘La Marseillaise’’ calling volunteers from Marseilles to fight tyranny-

“To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let an impure blood
Soak our fields!”

The Tyger’s concluding lines can be simultaneously read in two contradicting ways.

Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Is Blake parodying his earlier poem The Lamb’ (from Songs of Innocence) with a jab at the complacent and long-suffering English working class; unfavourably compared to their French brothers?

In his complex mythology Blake thought Christ visited England. If Christ is the Good Shepherd; we are his flock. Unlike the tigers of France, Englishmen are content to be sheep and so he wonders: Is the god of universal justice, pleased to see his chosen people bought off by boiled beef and carrots?

By the time the poem was published in 1794, the ideals of the Revolution were lost to the Reign of Terror. Aristocrats and citizens alike where daily denounced and guillotined to the clack of les tricoteuses’ knitting needles. Worse the Terror played into the hands of the English Establishment who had always belittled the Revolution. The English press jocularly compared English Slavery to French Liberty in contemporary cartoons.

French Liberty and English Slavery (a satirical cartoon)

Because the Tyger is a savage beast who knows only how to destroy and devour, do we, in Blake’s last lines, hear his despair that man, by his very nature, is incapable of embracing the universal justice of brotherhood, equality and freedom?

End-piece to Jerusalem (Blake)

JERUSALEM

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

THE TYGER

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

©Paul Andruss 2017

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

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