the words we use

They say that language shapes our view of the world: if we use sexist and bigoted language, it is difficult to avoid becoming sexist bigots and if we don’t have the words for a concept, we find it hard to understand.

Certainly my own experience of learning a second language revealed a different personality: I was free to say things I could never have said in my native English because the words and the grammar permitted it and because I came fresh to the new language with the opinions and ideas of an adult but with no personal attachment or aversion to the words.
Continue reading “the words we use”

it’s complicated**

“[T]here is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

As Shakespeare clearly understood when he had Hamlet say the above line, everything in life is affected by our personal perspective.

And our perspective depends very much on where we were born and brought up, and on the social and family values we were exposed to as children. Even beauty is a learned concept.
Continue reading “it’s complicated**”


Sometimes, all you seem to be able to focus on are the thistles:

cardo : thistle Continue reading “attitudes”


SunsetI rather think April, with its traditional alternating showers and sunshine, should be the Brits’ favourite month, as it gives us plenty of weather to talk about. This year, it’s done even better than usual, with snow, hail and torrential rain highlighting some mild summery days, beautiful crisp mornings and glorious sunsets.
Continue reading “april”

bright beginnings

I usually only post to the blog at the weekend, and I’ve already posted this Saturday and Sunday’s updates. But I don’t think the picture of a mouldering red chili pepper that accompanies the last post is quite what I want to stay as the top image for the first week of the New Year.

So, in an attempt to brighten things up, here is a photo of a rather fresher red pepper that seemed to reveal an appropriately seasonal enthusiasm for life, growth and general personal development when I cut it open:

red bell pepper cut through centre


I’ve mentioned the children’s poem Dorothy Rose on the blog before now, and how the world can seem very different, depending on where you choose to look.

These photos, taken within a few yards of each other this morning, serve as a reminder that the bare, dripping branches of winter don’t tell the whole story.

raindrops on a bare branch
periwinkle flower and leaves

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.