It’s two weeks tomorrow since the UK General Election which saw Theresa May’s hopes of domination crumble into dust. Today was a shorter than short State Opening of Parliament with the Queen in her Ascot gear, eschewing the robes and crown.
She delivered a speech shorn of some of the nastiest proposals by the Tory party, though Brexit dominated and although some people are making hopeful noises that it may not, in the end, happen, I’m not holding my breath.
It was the defeat of Mrs May’s dreams that my cousin Russell and I celebrated on 9th June, a day we had planned to spend far from news and celebrating Tory voters, hoping walking and nature would be a balm to our European, Green voting souls. i have already written of our gleeful grins, of our alcohol consumption that lunchtime during a scrumptious meal where we toasted the many, not the few, but I have not got around to posting pictures.
This first might give you an idea of our route.
Give me a sign
On the other hand, it may not. Continue reading
It’s a strange time. A man who preaches the politics of fear has achieved creditable results in both the local and European elections. Across Europe the far right has done well. Racist, xenophobic, homophobic just-about-any-phobic parties have received lots of votes. Though not, sigh of relief and some pride, here in London, where we know a thing or three about living in ethnically, sexually diverse communities made up of people of all colours, creeds and nationalities. And hey, you know what? We like it. We don’t feel threatened. We reforge our national identities all the time as new influences enrich our lives.
The idea that Englishness is somehow immutable is a nonsense. It doesn’t take much understanding of history to know that.
I looked at my fellow passengers on the bus the other day after hearing yet another speech about how how national identity was threatened and I felt proud. The two women sitting front of me were in their early sixties, obviously friends, chatting about their families, their homes. One black, and from her accent from west Africa, the other south London to her core. There were school girls of different races, some wearing the hijab, giggling and jostling each other just as remember doing with my friends decades ago. Tuning into other conversations, there were a number I couldn’t understand. The languages sounded eastern European, but I wouldn’t know what they were.
Mother would have been 94 today. Obviously I didn’t have to buy a card, but the day couldn’t go by without something to mark it and remember her.
After my post last week, Memories and Memorials, I had a bit of a think. I like Ruth’s idea of a small volume of Mother’s favourite poems, but there are copyright issues.
So today, I had some copies of poems with me. When I met a likely person, I offered the poems face down in a fan shape and so they could choose one. Beneath each one I had written this:
This is a poem that my mother Anne, 26th November 1919-1st May 2013, loved to listen to. Please enjoy and share it.
I hoped people would read them aloud to someone else. One person did and I stayed to listen. Maybe the others will do so later with friends and family. Over the next few days, I plan to distribute some more copies in the pub, a local café, a shop. As I write this I am wondering if 26th November will become my owm personal Poetry Day. So if you are reading this and nodding, grab a poem that you like and read it aloud. If there is no one with you, share the words with yourself and the day, and feel the power of poetry. Continue reading