Seamus Heaney



When one thinks of a favorite, for me I cant help just adding one more till it’s a list which by length may appear to dilute any one member.

However, Seamus Heaney unfailing stirs the depths more than most.

Kafka said, ” I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.”

Albeit that he was of Jewish tradition the axe and ice are Teutonic, central continental images. Heaney is of the West.  Irish, Celtic, where the spade and the peat replace the axe and the frozen sea. Nevertheless to read Heaney is to do the same and more. Kafka’s Germanic soul appears to leave out joy, delight. That even in dark forests there are groves of light. There’s also, the oak, the ash, the yew, the alder, the elder, the hazel, the apple.

In fairness, he is perhaps reminding us of the need of cultivating the “Yin” to counterbalance the “Yang” rather than dismissing it. I read the quote as a polemic.

Anyway, Heaney is special. Here is a BBC presentation that portrays him well.



Confession. Led Zeppelin launched 1969. They formed from the ashes of the Yardbirds and were considered a supergroup from day one, even though, unlike Blind Faith, only Page had a reputation.  They were touted as a blues band. There were many bands at that time considered to be playing a British variant of electric blues. Most musicians on this scene had their start  with Alexis Korner or later John Mayall [or both!] The list of such musicians is stellar! It was literally all electric blues styled on Chicago Blues but given a twist and shake. Mostly the label rock would be a “cleaner” description but its roots were in the blues.

Now I was a purist. The passions of youth. If it wasn’t from the Mississippi Delta or New Orleans or Chicago then it wasn’t  THE BLUES.  I reacted to the hype given Zeppelin and argued they were just rock NOT blues and consequently didn’t listen too hard at the time.

Whereas I did listen say to Cream because Clapton was constantly paying homage to the great bluesmen as did Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac.

I have mellowed still not Blues in my book but groundbreaking music for all that Page and Plant are undeniable talents and I really enjoy their duo work of later years. Studio or live I’m happy with both.

Here’s a live Kashmir with its great dramatic riffs and crescendos. The lyrics which often get lost are worth a read suggestive of a spiritual journey which of course Kashmir envokes

Pushing the boundaries

The following video presentation is way over the top almost euphoric! But the subject matter calls for a mad wild prophetic presentation.  Immortality, breaking the bonds of biology, the purpose of sentiency to trump entropy. A wild dream  –  Rage on!  Rage on!

Note may either have to right click and unmute or right click in the bottom right and increase volume.



Memories 3



Llangorse Lake. Sailed my first sailboat. Paddled my first canoe. Potholed my first…… cave. [spelunking but 13-year-olds shouldn’t use such language] Got a crush on a girl called Dawn Light [honestly]. Had my first pint of cider.  OK, maybe it was a half.

Spotting an afanc would have made it the best holiday ever. Later on in life, I learned that my ancestors were from close by to the north, Lyswen on the river Wye. Have a cousin who lives to the east at Tretower.

The Handmaid’s Tale

“What is needed for really good tyranny is an unquestionable idea or authority. Political disagreement is political disagreement. But political disagreement with a theocracy is heresy.”

The Handmaids Tale got an Emmy. Musing about the book this morning, thinking maybe I should re-read after 20 years or so and came across a Bill Moyer’s post on my Facebook. Included an interview with Atwood from 2006 in which she draws some conclusions about society that I think are increasingly pertinent. Plus here in NZ its women’s suffrage day which also adds a flavour to my post.

BILL MOYERS: I keep in my notebook something you said once. You wrote, “What is needed for really good tyranny is an unquestionable idea or authority. Political disagreement is political disagreement. But political disagreement with a theocracy is heresy.”

MARGARET ATWOOD: That’s exactly right. If your government says, “Not only am I your government, but I represent the true religion,” if you disagree with it you’re not just of another faction. You’re evil.

Seems to me this illustrates the problem and the danger with Islam. There are no doubt dissenting voices within Islam to its content which most disturbs us in the liberal and mostly secular western democracies. But as Atwood comments as with other totalitarian leaning ideologies the power holders wipe out those closest to but different enough to be a challenge to their hegemony. Bolsheviks and Mensheviks for example or Nazi’s and Brownshirts. Leaving the only true “church”. Islam with its major schism between Sunni and Shi’ite at its root; then splits into yet more factions, some of which have become the ruling elite and theocratic power in nation states. In others, they fight each other for supremacy in civil wars as surrogates for those theocratic nation states or through their hidden support for various terrorist and fanatical movements.
So any movement for change not supported by the theocratic hegemony will be suppressed. Islam and its attitude towards and direct suppression of women particularly fits the sort of society portrayed in The Handmaids Tale.
Am I, in considering this being fair to Islam? Sometimes the Islamic woman’s voice is used to support the structure of their society. Such women state they feel protected, respected and valued for their role within Islam and are happy with that prescribed role. I suspect these women’s voices come from within a sort of middle-class, prosperous, relatively well educated, part of Islamic societies. I suspect rural women in the villages and more impoverished parts of the world experience an entirely different set of conditions that are still fully compatible with Islam. Nevertheless, there is this accepting woman’s voice indicative of a possibility within Islam that life can be acceptable and enjoyed. I would feel more comfortable if I could feel that was by choice rather than prescribed. I certainly don’t think its representative of all women living within Islam who don’t have a voice. But perhaps it is a slow step towards eventual emancipation.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a powerful story not just about the repression of women by men. But also how Authoritarian and Totalitarian societies can twist and corrupt human nature essentially by manipulating belief/ideology towards an end either desirable or necessary or perceived as both.

Memories 2

Dad was a teacher so summer holidays were long and we would go camping for as long as a month I seem to remember. Touring Wales was always popular and if the weather turned bad we would caravan.  The coast from the Mumbles westward and up through Pembrokeshire to Aberystwyth, Snowdonia national park and the Llyn Peninsular before home to Lancashire.

Heres a nice clip of 1965 Aberystwyth which would have been as it was when I visited. I do remember the pier and as the commentary says its bracing atmosphere!

Note for some reason need to right click when playing to un-mute.

Brain Chill

If Listening To Music Gives You Chills You May Have A Unique Brain


Read and Listen to the above. Interesting research. Major problem is its potential subjectivity.  Raises the question “Doesn’t everyone”. Not all the time of course but certain songs and perhaps at certain times. Does the song create the emotional response or does the emotional mood chose the song? Whatever I consider certain music does cause some form of special emotional response that takes a physical as well as emotional form. I haven’t specifically thought along these lines but on reflection, two spring to mind that I have refered to in my previous posts.

Roberta Flack “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and Sandy Denny  “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”

Then an entire album demands attention  Miles Davis  “Kind of Blue”.  Sublime!

I will give some thought to creating a list. Will be fun research.



· LLandudno Pier

The Llandudno Pier Pavilion opened on 16th September 1886.

The 2,000-seat theatre quickly became successful, with hundreds of top acts, such as George Formby, Petula Clark, Arthur Askey, the Beverley Sisters and Cliff Richard, appearing there over the years. The theatre also hosted political conferences, which were attended by such political heavyweights as Lloyd George, Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain, Oswald Mosley, Winston Churchill and Edward Heath.

The basement of the Pier Pavilion housed what was then the largest indoor swimming pool in Britain, but it did not prove successful, as there were problems with the water quality. The theatre closed in 1984 and was destroyed by fire in 1994.

Memories. I remember going to performances there but the only one that sticks out was Arthur Askey. I went up on the stage and recited something or sang something can’t remember what but won a Davy Crockett hat. Bit of research suggests might have been summer 1956 when I would have been almost 5. There was a Walt Disney film/tv production  that was very popular –

“Walt Disney Productions launched a massive marketing campaign in the UK in 1955 to publicize the film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (released in Britain in 1956) and to make the country’s youth “Crockett conscious”. There was already a “Crockett craze” in the U.S., where the episodes had become wildly popular. Crockett merchandise was produced en masse, the most iconic item being the imitation coonskin cap. The craze became immensely popular amongst schoolchildren, and the ballad made its way across the Atlantic Ocean.[5].” Wikipedia

Thus the coonskin cap maybe I had to attempt to sing the title song which became a big hit and I can still remember the tune but nothing but the words of the chorus .

The Ballad of Davy Crockett
Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee
greenest state in the land of the free
raised in the woods so he knew ev’ry tree
kilt him a be ‘are when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!
In eighteen thirteen the Creeks uprose
addin’ redskin arrows to the country’s woes
Now, Injun fightin’ is somethin’ he knows,
so he shoulders his rifle an’ off he goes
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don’t know fear!
Off through the woods, he’s a marchin’ along
makin’ up yarns an’ a-singin’ a song
itchin’ fer fightin’ an’ rightin’ a wrong
he’s ringy as a be ‘are an’ twict as strong
Davy, Davy Crockett, the buckskin buccaneer!
Andy Jackson is our gen’ral’s name
his reg’lar soldiers we’ll put to shame
Them redskin varmints usVolunteers’ll tame
’cause we got the guns with the sure-fire aim
Davy, Davy Crockett, the champion of us all!
Headed back to war from the ol’ home place
but Red Stick was leadin’ a merry chase
fightin’ an’ burnin’ at a devil’s pace
south to the swamps on the Florida Trace
Davy, Davy Crockett, trackin’ the Redskins down!
Fought single-handed through the Injun War
till the Creeks was whipped an’ peace was in store
An’ while he was handlin’ this risky chore
made hisself a legend for evermore
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!
He give his word an’ he give his hand
that his Injun friends could keep their land
An’ the rest of his life he took the stand
that justice was due every redskin band
Davy, Davy Crockett, holdin’ his promise dear!
Home fer the winter with his family
happy as squirrels in the ol’ gum tree
bein’ the father he wanted to be
close to his boys as the pod an’ the pea
Davy, Davy Crockett, holdin’ his young’uns dear!
But the ice went out an’ the warm winds came
an’ the meltin’ snow showed tracks of game
An’ the flowers of Spring filled the woods with flame
an’ all of a sudden life got too tame
Davy, Davy Crockett, headin’ on West again!
Off through the woods, we’re ridin’ along
makin’ up yarns an’ singin’ a song
He’s ringy as a be ‘are an’ twict as strong
an’ knows he’s right ’cause he ain’ often wrong
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don’t know fear!
Lookin’ fer a place where the air smells clean
where the trees is tall an’ the grass is green
where the fish is fat in an untouched stream
an’ the teemin’ woods is a hunter’s dream
Davy, Davy Crockett, lookin’ fer Paradise!
Now he’s lost his love an’ his grief was gall
in his heart he wanted to leave it all
an’ lose himself in the forests tall
but he answered instead his country’s call
Davy, Davy Crockett, beginnin’ his campaign!
Needin’ his help they didn’t vote blind
They put in Davy ’cause he was their kind
sent up to Nashville the best they could find
a fightin’ spirit an’ a thinkin’ mind
Davy, Davy Crockett, choice of the whole frontier!
The votes were counted an’ he won hands down
so they sent him off to Washin’ton town
with his best dress suit still his buckskins brown
a livin’ legend of growin’ renown
Davy, Davy Crockett, the Canebrake Congressman!
He went off to Congress an’ served a spell
fixin’ up the Govern’ments an’ laws as well
took over Washin’ton so we heered tell
an’ patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein’ his duty clear!
Him an’ his jokes travelled all through the land
an’ his speeches made him friends to beat the band
His politickin’ was their favorite brand
an’ everyone wanted to shake his hand
Davy, Davy Crockett, helpin’ his legend grow!
He knew when he spoke he sounded the knell
of his hopes for White House an’ fame as well
But he spoke out strong so hist’ry books tell
an’ patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein’ his duty clear!
When he come home his politickin’ done
the western march had just begun
So he packed his gear an’ his trusty gun
an’ lit out grinnin’ to follow the sun
Davy, Davy Crockett, leadin’ the pioneer!
He heard of Houston an’ Austin so
to the Texas plains he jest had to go
Where freedom was fightin’ another foe
an’ they needed him at the Alamo
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don’t know fear!
His land is biggest an’ his land is best
from grassy plains to the mountain crest
He’s ahead of us all meetin’ the test
followin’ his legend into the West
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!
Songwriters: Tom Blackburn / George Edward Bruns
The Ballad of Davy Crockett lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company
davy crocket

Loved that hat!

Surprising connection remove the tail and it’s my hat as a Laketowner from the Hobbit movies.

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