sacred and secular

Today is Palm Sunday – the Sunday before Easter, when the Christian church remembers Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and the welcoming crowds strewing palm fronds in his path. In the UK, there are no native palms, so traditionally we use willow branches; I remember as a child picking branches of grey pussy willow catkins to decorate the local chapel my family attended.

This year, whether it’s due to climate change, the vagaries of the English weather, or simply a later Easter than sometimes, the sleek fur catkins are already fluffy and yellow with pollen.
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needs and wants

All this talk of only shopping for essentials has got me thinking. After all, what is essential?

The shelves in the supermarket suggest that my needs are quite different from others. I don’t think I can remember the last time I ate dried pasta and I probably don’t open more than two tins in a month. But flour is essential for me to be able to follow my usual lifestyle, and so are milk, eggs and cheese.
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flowers and leaves

In the UK, we have had the most glorious sunshine for much of the last week, although some days have been quite blustery. It’s been the sort of weather that calls to you through the window to get out and blow the cobwebs away.

Although I don’t have a garden, I’m fortunate enough to have a park just across the road. It’s a small, semi-wild park, without much in the way of attractions: no café, no boating lake, no rides for children, no exercise circuits etc. It’s a short cut for me to get to the station or to the doctor’s, and the picturesque route to the supermarket. In fact, I find plenty of excuses to go there, and it’s not usually very busy.
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Notes for the apocollapse

Everyone deals with things in their own way. For me, saying things aloud or writing things down gives them form and allows me to look at them a little more objectively. I have always appreciated the “How can I know what I think till I see what I say?” school of thought.

So, back when the coronavirus was little more than a Chinese whisper (am I still allowed to use that expression from my childhood?) I started making notes and gathering anecdotes. At the time, I wasn’t sure I’d ever put these thoughts into any kind of order or make them public. Now though, I’ve decided to go back through them, make some corrections and changes, and see what happens when I string them together.
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on poetry and puppetry

If it weren’t for social media, I would probably have blithely continued to not update this blog. But today my Twitter feed is full of hastags trying to distract us from global concerns and help us focus on other, more enlightening and uplifting, matters and I have been nudged into action.

Without the reminder from Twitter, I would probably have forgotten that it was #WorldPoetryDay. After all, in the UK, we get a lot more excited about National Poetry Day, which happens some time in early October. But I haven’t written any new poems for ages, so why should that make me want to post here after months of silence?

Indeed, it probably wouldn’t have been sufficient if I hadn’t also seen another hashtag and realised that it is also #WorldPuppetryDay. That seems to me to be a day worth celebrating.
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unintentionally untitled

(Edited some 12 hours after original posting to add a post title.)

For the last month or so, scarcely a day goes by without another news story about a once-in-a-decade phenomenon, a record influx, a mass migration… the huge clouds of painted lady butterflies that are appearing across the UK.

And for the last month or so, I’ve been watching hopefully – but in vain – to observe this “butterfly bonanza”.
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(not very) centred

Apparently today is World Oceans Day, in honour of which, I have spent a stupidly long time researching things online. I started with the innocent question “How far am I from the sea?” and then fell down the rabbit hole of “What’s the centre of England?

The answer to the latter question is by no means clear cut: according to the Wikipedia page on centre points of the UK, depending on the calculation method used, and on how much of Great Britain or the UK is included, you can even find a centre that is in the middle of Morecombe Bay. That would be a centroid point, the calculation of which is described by Rob Andrews from the Ordnance Survey in a BBC article as: “If you imagine cutting out the whole of the UK with a giant pair of scissors and balancing it on a church spire, it’s the balancing point.”
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