Sunday 31 May 2009

Tumbleweed and Blues

A couple of days of sun and my mental faculties are all to pieces - it's always the way. I am, as it were, sitting on the stoop, watching the tumbleweed blow by across the wide empty space between my ears. I'm so far gone I can't even vote. Having acquired a postal voting form for the forthcoming EU thing, I proceeded to make such a complete horlicks of it that I had to throw it away. Whoops. I console myself that the EU Parliament is less a democratic assembly than a very expensive collection of rubber stamps. In fact I'm probably doing my democratic duty by not voting for any of them. So there.
As it happened, democracy was the theme of (sadly) the last of Clive James's stint on Radio 4's A Point Of View - the usual procession of dunces and dullards will resume next week. It was a good finale - full text here - but it struck me that, by both Popper's and Camus's definitions, we can scarcely be said to be living in a democracy just now. Our government can't be changed 'at the people's whim'. At present it's the people's overwhelming will - never mind whim - to have an election and change the government, but we can be sure this will never be allowed to happen till the very last minute, as the incumbents know they will lose power when it does. Also, I have an awful feeling that Brown - like Blair before him - is firmly convinced that actually he does know everything, and if people would only listen, rid themselves of 'false consciousness' and stop putting obstacles in his way, this fact would become apparent to all, and all 'problems' could then be 'solved'. The instincts of both Blair and Brown are deeply undemocratic. Both men have seen themselves as heads of state rather than servants of the state - but at least Blair had the sense to remember the formalities. He would never been arrogant and insensitive enough to have the Queen left out of the D-Day anniversary celebrations. He'd have been there alongside her, jutting out his chin in his brave, grown-up, serious look - but at least she'd have been there too.
Never mind - walking on the downs yesterday I saw four species of Blue, including the Adonis, which is in the picture.
And now I must go and stare into the middle distance for the rest of the day...


  1. I enjoyed your use of the attractive Dutch-derived word 'stoop'.

    One of my favourite signs was seen in Amsterdam. It was an injunction to dogs, or possibly their owners, and featured a phrase something along the lines of 'net poep om der stoep'. Lot of it about at the moment.

    BTW I keep our small London garden under close observation. I can't recall the last time I saw a butterfly in it.

  2. 'Net poep om der stoep' is good!
    Have you got plenty of nectar-rich plants in yr garden? That's what the butterflies want - that and sun (which for once they're getting this year). Those Painted Ladies are still everywhere - even on London streets...

  3. There there Nige, Clive has a wonderfull piece in Standpoint, restores the faith etc, and more good news, Stevie baby steps into Humphs shoes in June, the 15th ?, even more good news, the wine flies are back, early again and the swifts are attempting to nest in the garage (the one where Mary queen of Scots stayed for a spell)
    Ref the Euro thing, we have also had some junk mail on the subject, apparently we have to choose the next person to have access to our wallets and bankrupt our fishermen. May the bird of paradise fly up their snouts.

  4. Interesting to read your post and this column on the same day. Something in the wind?

    (sorry, i don't know how to directly link yet)

  5. Gaw, plant buddleia. The butterflies *love* it and it grows like a weed.

  6. Nige and Susan: I do have some plants that I believe are nectar bearing: honeysuckle, orange blossom, lavender. But I will try a buddleia when I work out where it'll fit. Thank you to the panel, as they say on Gardeners Question Time!

  7. Ah, the good old Middle Distance. My favourite thing to stare at too. Can't understand why I keep getting told off for it.

  8. Apropos of the black fringe, your butterfly put me in mind of this Irving Layton (arguably Canada's finest poet) poem:

    "Butterfly on Rock", 1963.

    The large yellow wings, black-fringed,
    were motionless

    They say the soul of a dead person
    will settle like that on the still face

    But I thought: The rock has borne this;
    this butterfly is the rock’s grace,
    its most obstinate and secret desire
    to be a thing alive made manifest

    Forgot were the two shattered porcupines
    I had seen die in the bleak forest.
    Pain is unreal; death an illusion:
    There is no death in all the land,
    I heard my voice cry;
    And brought my hand down on the butterfly
    And felt the rock move beneath my hand.