train of thought

Trains were a major feature of my childhood. I don’t know how many times I’d actually been on a train before my first birthday, but I do know that I had already travelled from the south east of England all the way to the Highlands, a journey that, even today, would be likely to take the best part of a day.

Even when we returned to live in the south a few years later we didn’t own a car so my father commuted to London by train and underground each day, and any holiday we took tended to feature traditional black cabs and card games played in waiting rooms at railway junctions.
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day’s end

The day’s nearly over, but I still have time to publish a post commemorating the anniversary of the birth of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones. The main image above is a detail from a stained glass window he designed for St. Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham.

I knew I had a photo of one of the Burne-Jones windows, but had forgotten that it was entitled The Last Judgement. Now its subject matter has reminded me of the sky I photographed one evening recently, which was a beautiful, if somewhat disturbing, brimstone yellow.
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late again

Birmingham library exterior with owl (owl parade)

I had already written yesterday’s post – four days late for Candlemas – when I realised that it was National Libraries Day and I probably should be writing about that. Instead, I am doing so today, which is why this post is “late again”.

When I realised, it was nearly four in the afternoon, by which time I suspect most UK libraries are closed on a Saturday. (I certainly know of at least one local independent library whose Saturday opening hours are only 10 till one. I wonder how they crammed a whole day’s celebration into a mere three hours.)

Out of interest, I checked to see what the opening hours of my local library were and was surprised – and impressed – to find that it’s open until 17:30 most weekdays.
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light relief

Midnight Moths owl: Birmingham  Big Hoot Art Trail. Artist: Alyn Smith
When I told a friend that I’d been looking through old poems trying to find one to send to a competition with the theme darkness, he laughed and said I should find that easy: after all, I write lots of dark poems.

In fact he was wrong. The subject matter isn’t always the most cheerful, but I do tend to find a bright twist to things. Like the owl in the photo – the Midnight Moths owl from Birmingham’s Big Hoot Art Trail – I can’t help but see the stars.

Coincidentally, yesterday I came across the word eigengrau: the colour that we see when there is zero light.

It seems that even in perfect darkness we don’t actually see black: our optic nerves make us see a dark grey instead. Perhaps we should re-name them optimistic nerves. Perhaps I should write a poem about that.

Sanfermines

Although I am in Spain, I will not be attending the controversial running of the bulls in Pamplona. Instead, to mark the San Fermín festival, which started yesterday, I offer this splendid statue from Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre.

Bull statue, Birmingham Bullring

it’s a plane; it’s a bird…

Edward Burne-Jones Judgment Day stained glass window, Birmingham Cathedral

Actually, the figure in the sky that has caught the attention of this crowd is the Archangel Michael.

The scene is from one of the glorious stained-glass windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones for the Cathedral Church of St Philip, Birmingham, UK. Specifically, it’s from the window illustrating Judgement Day, so it seems a good picture for the last day in the Mayan long calendar.

If you’re still around to want more information about the windows, you’ll find that, and more about the Industrial Revolution in the West Midlands, over at the Revolutionary Players website.

(Just in case the world really does end, this has been programmed to post automatically.)