Sunday 21 March

Census day here in the UK. And we shall all go to Bethlehem to be counted. There always seems to be a huge margin of error in counting an entire population, but of course it is not just a head count but all kinds of other information as well. It takes 5 years to analyse the current information, and the next five years to prepare the next census form. We are so brain washed with numbers at the moment, I am not sure that the census figures hold the same fascination which they once did.

A very jolly experience this morning: a new farmers’ market in North Ealing. In the grounds of St Augustine’s Priory School, which also very unusually has a mini farm with sheep, a pig and chickens. The stalls were just too tempting: artisan bakery, olives, greengrocer’s, plants, Lebanese food, coffee kiosk, what’s not to like?

We were there early so it looks quite empty here, but later it filled up. Last Sunday was their first day and they had a footfall of 600 which I think is pretty impressive. People are definitely looking for open air entertainments. It was very agreeable and “normal”, whatever that might mean nowadays. I returned from Ealing with some chimney pots, which are to be turned into planters. Recycling is us.

Today is also World Poetry Day. As an aside, I have been told that yesterday was National Frog Spawn Day: I looked it up and learned a new word for my efforts: herpetological, which means pertaining to amphibians and reptiles, so they are definitely in favour of a national day. Any of you who have had recent dealings with a two year old will know they wake up early, but it is sunny and bright in the mornings now, and I am more a morning person than a night owl nowadays. This poem by Mary Oliver was recommended:

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

The other poem I had reason to recall recently was The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. We were watching the jackdaws at Nymans, and they too are rather sinister looking birds. I remember teaching this, and explaining the Gothic horror of it: I have just re-read it, it is a truly spooky piece.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48860/the-raven

Thank you for the suggestions of favourite film music, I have been listening to some. The “A Man and a Woman” theme is so well known but I would not have known the name of the film. Pulp Fiction, The Highlander, Star Wars, Lara’s theme, they’re all up there with the greats. This has to one of my favourites from “Out of Africa.” I love it because it is Kenya, it is a romantic yet sad story, and John Barry’s music seems so totally appropriate.

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