Recent blog entries for marnanel

Write a story about the sum...

A primary school test asked me "write a story about the sum 6+4=10". I had no idea what it was asking me to do, so I made a guess and wrote "One day 6+4=10 went for a walk. Then it came back. The end."

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/319582.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-12-20 23:56:35 from Monument

Region mapper

Something I've wanted to do for a while: You know those sites where you can fill in which states/counties/whatever you've visited? I'd like to generalise that. You could zoom to a particular area and it would say "counties of Wales" or "police force areas of Wales" or "wards of Salford" or whatever. Then when you chose one you could colour the regions in as you wished, and make a key. And then you could save them as SVG or PNG, both with enough metadata that you could reload them back into the site and get your editable state back. Some sort of integration with Wikimedia Commons would be nice too. What do you think?

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/319179.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-12-16 21:37:55 from Monument

marnanel @ 2014-12-16T01:59:00

Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 7
15th December 2014: the strangest whim
What I’ve been up to

I've been dividing my time between writing, contacting potential literary agents, and being asleep-- this last because they're trying me with a new antidepressant. So far it seems to be going well, but time will tell.

Two special offers for your attention, especially if you're looking for last-minute ideas for presents:

1) Because my partner Kit and I are still both too ill to work, I've reissued Time Blew Away Like Dandelion Seed, a collection of over a hundred of my poems. You can buy the paperback from Lulu. A signed and numbered hardback edition is also in the works: I'll let you know when it's ready. (The best regular way of supporting Gentle Readers, and me, financially is still through Patreon.)

2) My good friend Katie, who is a talented photographer as well as a nursing student, was due to study in the Netherlands next semester, but then she was unexpectedly sent to Finland instead. The Finnish cost of living is rather greater than the Dutch, so she is selling prints of her work to make up the budget shortfall. Please do go and check them out.

A poem of mine

FOR NIGHT CAN ONLY HIDE

When once I stop and take account of these
that God has granted me upon the earth,
the loves, the friends, the work, that charm and please
these things I count inestimable worth;
when once I stop, I learn that I am rich
beyond the dreams of emperors and kings
and light is real, and real these riches which
exceed the worth of all material things...
   when thus I stop, I cannot understand
   when few and feeble sunbeams cannot find
   their way into that drab and dreary land,
   the darkness of the middle of my mind.
yet darkness cannot take away my joy,
for night can only hide, and not destroy.

Something wonderful

The City of Westminster is one of the towns that make up Greater London. In 1672, its population was growing very fast, and builders were anxious to buy land for housing. George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, owned a mansion in Westminster called York House, and he agreed to sell it for demolition and redevelopment. The price he named was £30,000-- around £6 million in modern money-- plus one extra condition: all the streets built on the land had to be named after him.

The developers agreed, and set to work. Soon they had built George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street, and Buckingham Street, at which point they were running out of naming possibilities, with one small alley yet to be named. Thus, in a moment of desperate lateral thinking, they gave it the ingenious name of Of Alley.

Something from someone else

Chesterton wrote quite a few poems about depression. I like this one particularly because it starts humorously-- literally using gallows humour-- but once it's drawn you in, it ends on a serious point about hope. Ballades are a difficult form, but Chesterton makes it look easy, though in fact he's made it even harder for himself by his choice of rhymes. It's conventional to address a prince at the end of a ballade, who is often assumed to be the Prince of Darkness (i.e. Satan): thus the end of the poem is about the downfall of evil, and perhaps the Second Coming.

BALLADE OF SUICIDE
by G K Chesterton

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall.
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours— on the wall—
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me... After all
I think I will not hang myself today.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay—
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall—
I see a little cloud all pink and gray—
Perhaps the rector's mother will NOT call—
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way—
I never read the works of Juvenal—
I think I will not hang myself today.

The world will have another washing day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H. G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational—
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small—
I think I will not hang myself today.

Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even today your royal head may fall—
I think I will not hang myself today. 

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/318874.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-12-16 04:17:50 (Updated 2014-12-16 04:20:09) from Monument

major rode ahead

I can remember going through that stage fairly clearly. I was about five, and I'd read a cracker joke at a party that said:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Major.
Major who?
Major road ahead.
This is because there used to be road signs that said "major road ahead", but I didn't know this-- they'd been obsolete before I was born. I assumed it meant that a major in the army rode ahead of the rest of the soldiers. That seemed a bit odd, but when I told my parents the joke, they laughed. Can anything compare to that moment when you make someone else laugh on purpose? So I told the joke again the next day, and it somehow wasn't funny any more. Clearly, then, I had to learn new jokes, but how? I determined to experiment by changing the joke slowly to see whether I could work out what made the original joke funny. My first attempt was:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Major.
Major who?
Major curtains.
Of course when I told my parents that joke they laughed as well because of the surrealism, which made constructing a hypothesis about the nature of humour rather difficult.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/318668.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-12-14 13:29:19 from Monument

Wordsworth

For an English Lit GCSE assignment I wrote the diary of a policeman who was following Wordsworth around the Lakes in the belief he was a Napoleonic spy. At one point our hero attempts to get the suspect to prove he's a poet by quoting the piece he's working on. It goes:

"Behold her, single in the field,
Reaping and singing by the hedge;
Reaping and singing by herself;
It really sets my teeth on edge.
Her notes are flat; it gives me pain
To hear her solitary strain."

"If she improves," he adds, "I may revise the stanza."

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/318322.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-12-11 22:04:37 (Updated 2014-12-11 22:04:50) from Monument

Time blew away like dandelion seed

A few years ago, I collected 110 of my poems into a book; I'm bringing it back into print for a few months in order to pay bills since my partner and I are both too sick to work. You can buy it from Lulu in the UK, US, and many other countries-- usually it's US$20, about £12, but at present it's discounted to US$17, about £11.

There will also be a numbered and signed proper hardback edition of fifty; I'll be doing that through Kickstarter and announcing it later this week.

Let me know if you have questions. And tell your friends!



Reader comments:
“It's happy, sad, funny, thought-provoking and occasionally groan-worthy.”
“Overflowing with beauty, sadness and joy.”


This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/318047.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-12-11 02:42:27 (Updated 2014-12-11 02:52:51) from Monument

Gentle Readers: fold your hands

Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 6
27th November 2014: fold your hands
What I’ve been up to

As I mentioned last time, I've been down south for the funeral of my grandmother Joy.

My brother Andrew and sister-in-law Alice, who are wonderful, have made an Advent calendar about how churches can be welcoming to everyone, with each day written by a different person and discussing a different group: the Inclusive Advent Calendar.

A poem of mine

This is the poem I read at my grandmother's funeral.

 

ODE TO JOY

Our Joy has left us. Should we say goodbye?
Not while we smile recalling what she said;
not while the sharp remembrance of her eye
surprises us through all the days ahead;
not while the greenest branches of her tree
still show her love for living and for learning;
not while each grandchild welcomed on her knee
holds hope the world should never tire of turning;
not while our Joy lives on. The Prince of Peace
who holds her safe until we meet again
will call us too, where separations cease,
and builds a bridge between the now and then,
a bridge that even death could not destroy.
So lives our love, our hope, for peace for Joy.

A picture

 

https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/sidney-formal-hall

I wanted to show you a happy photo, so here's one of my grandparents when they came up to Cambridge for formal hall at my college. I think it's from 1998.

Something from someone else

This is Kipling's biography of Napoleon Bonaparte.

"Gay go up, gay go down" in the third stanza is a rhyme that was used at the time by children on seesaws. Can anyone explain the odd stress pattern on "Trafalgar" in the fifth stanza?

A ST HELENA LULLABY
by Rudyard Kipling

"How far is St. Helena from a little child at play!"
What makes you want to wander there with all the world between?
Oh, Mother, call your son again, or else he'll run away.
(No one thinks of winter when the grass is green!)

"How far is St. Helena from a fight in Paris street?"
I haven't time to answer now– the men are falling fast.
The guns begin to thunder, and the drums begin to beat.
(If you take the first step, you will take the last!)

"How far is St. Helena from the field of Austerlitz?"
You couldn't hear me if I told– so loud the cannons roar.
But not so far for people who are living by their wits.
("Gay go up" means "Gay go down" the wide world o'er!)

"How far is St. Helena from the Emperor of France?"
I cannot see– I cannot tell– the crowns they dazzle so.
The Kings sit down to dinner, and the Queens stand up to dance.
(After open weather, you may look for snow!)

"How far is St. Helena from the Capes of Trafalgar?"
A longish way– a longish way– with ten year more to run.
It's South across the water underneath a setting star.
(What you cannot finish, you must leave undone!)

"How fair is St. Helena from the Beresina ice?"
An ill way– a chill way– the ice begins to crack.
But not so far for gentlemen who never took advice.
(When you can't go forward you must e'en come back!)

"How far is St. Helena from the field of Waterloo?"
A near way– a clear way– the ship will take you soon.
A pleasant place for gentlemen with little left to do.
(Morning never tries you till the afternoon!)

"How far from St. Helena to the Gate of Heaven's Grace?"
That no one knows– that no one knows– and no one ever will.
But fold your hands across your heart and cover up your face,
And after all your trapesings, child, lie still! 

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/317256.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-12-02 00:36:53 from Monument

Bonka, the Alphabet, and the Dreaded Balloon

When I was in Year 5 at primary school, though we called it third year juniors in those days, we were all given an assignment to write a picture book so that we could go into the infant school and read it to them. I have just found the picture book I wrote. It's called

BONKA,
THE ALPHABET,
AND THE DREADED BALLOON

http://thomasthurman.org/pics/bonka0

So of course I realised I had to blog it. I'll only do a few pages at a time, but feedback is very welcome.

http://thomasthurman.org/pics/bonka1
Here is Bonka. He is a slug.


http://thomasthurman.org/pics/bonka2
Here are the alphabet. These are the small letters.

http://thomasthurman.org/pics/bonka3
This is The Dreaded Balloon. He is BAD.

http://thomasthurman.org/pics/bonka4
One day, Bonka tripped over something.

http://thomasthurman.org/pics/bonka5
"Who are you?" asked Bonka. "I'm i," said i.

Let me know if you'd like to see the rest.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/317158.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-12-01 23:49:07 from Monument

Gentle Readers: the land of green ginger

Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 5
27th November 2014: the land of green ginger
What I’ve been up to

I've been preparing for the funeral tomorrow of my grandmother Joy, who died earlier this month. I've written her a poem which I'll be reading in the service; I'll post it in the next issue of GR. I shall miss her a lot.

I don't have much of a Something Wonderful to write this time, except that in York there is a street called Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, and in Hull there is a street called The Land of Green Ginger. Suggestions of other excellent street names are welcome to the usual address.

A poem of mine

SOLSTICE

Perhaps I might compare... oh damn it. No.
It's four, and it's already almost night.
The land lies suffocated under snow:
they say "the dead of winter", and they're right.
My life's on hold until the first of May:
until that morning comes I have to cope
with dragging on through every darkened day.
July will come: I have to live in hope.
No. You're the one I'm missing, not July.
Yours is the warmth, not April's, that I miss.
I miss your smiles far more than May, and I
lie longing, not for June, but for your kiss;
I'm cold and tired. I don't know what to do.
Shall I compare a summer's day to you?

A picture

https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/emotional-rollercoaster
Emotional rollercoaster

 
Something from someone else

Because it's that time of year, and because I remember that Gentle Reader Toby likes it:

NO
by Thomas Hood (1799-1845)

No sun — no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day —
No sky — no earthly view —
No distance looking blue —
No road — no street — no "t'other side the way" —
No end to any Row —
No indications where the Crescents go —
No top to any steeple —
No recognitions of familiar people —
No courtesies for showing 'em —
No knowing 'em!
No travelling at all — no locomotion —
No inkling of the way — no notion —
"No go" — by land or ocean —
No mail — no post —
No news from any foreign coast —
No park — no ring — no afternoon gentility —
No company — no nobility —
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member —
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
November!

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/316863.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-11-27 23:15:09 from Monument

Spell

SPELL
by Charles Causley

When I was walking by Tamar stream
the day was as sweet as honey and cream.
The air was brisk as a marriage bell.
(Kiss if you must, but never tell.)

When I was walking by Tamar flood
I plucked a rose the colour of blood.
The red ran out and the thorn ran in.
(Finish all, if you begin.)

When I was walking by Tamar brook
I met a man with a reaping hook.
The beard he wore was white as may.
(The hours they run like water away.)

When I was walking by Tamar race
I met a maid with a smiling face.
Out of her eyes fell tears like rain.
(You will never see this road again.)

When I was walking by Tamar lock
I picked a bunch of sorrel and dock,
Creeping Jenny and hart's-tongue fern.
(Days they go, but cannot return.)

When I was walking by Tamar spring,
I found me a stone and a plain gold ring.
I stared at the sun, I stared at my shoes.
(Which do you choose? Which do you choose?)

[I don't know whether Causley thought of the Tamar as magical because it's liminal, but I do. TJAT]

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/316543.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-11-21 22:06:42 from Monument

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