Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

OCCAM’S RAZOR…

…a maxim named for a Franciscan friar,

William of Ockham, from the Surrey village –

and from London, Oxford, Avignon,

Munich – Pope’s enemy, Emperor’s friend,

dying just as the Black Death was scourging.

 

It is a metaphor, not logic chopping –

best summarised, perhaps, as ‘less is more’,

‘don’t over-egg the pudding’, even

‘fine words butter no parsnips’. He was

the radical philosopher of his age,

a nominalist – words are words, ideas

ideas,

share

MONKS AND TOURISTS

Sheltering from a summer shower

beneath the portico of the Tunsgate Arch,

Guildford, I looked down the steep High Street

towards the bridge over the River Wey

and saw three bespectacled Buddhist Monks

emerge from Dolland & Aitchison and,

lifting their saffron robes, run to Jigsaw.

 

Enjoying my pan fried sea bass and Guinness

in The Faulkner, Hoole, and watching the rain

trickle down the Walker Street Co-op’s facade,

my view was suddenly blocked by a coach

from which a party of middle aged

Japanese tourists descended and,

share

AS GOOD AS IT GETS

After we have booked our whale watching trip,

we spend the afternoon at Yoko Ono’s

‘Imagine Peace’ in the Hafnarhús

gallery, where we put peace stickers

on maps of the world and our grand daughter

writes on her label to hang on the peace tree

‘I wish I could have lovelyness for ever

and ever and ever and ever’ – then she

and I play the war game chess. Later

we have fish and chips – battered in spelt

and oven roasted respectively –

share

A WINTER’S JOURNEY

Driving northwards, driving homewards, we pass

inundated pasture – mercurial

in shape and colour – its sheen reflecting

the late morning’s rare roseate sky.

Bared trees and bushes are a dull amber.

 

In time, cloud cover becomes leaden –

then snow falls: the downy flakes like weightless

seeds, which the windscreen wipers flail clear

again and again. The empty fields fill,

remorselessly, as early evening comes.

 

Miles on, the snow no longer falls. It has

settled.

share

A SHROPSHIRE LAD…

…is the first book of poetry I owned –

a breast pocket sized hardback, slightly foxing.

It was my father’s: his name neatly

in capitals on the inside cover

in indelible pencil – a Londoner,

the son of immigrants. When I was ten

my mother gave it me. I liked the first line

‘From Clee to heaven the beacon burns’,

imagining it set to music.

 

Following his death on active service, the book

was sent back with all his other things.

share

THE SORES OF WAR

‘…sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments…’ President Donald J. Trump

 

In a letter to the New York Times three years

before the war General Robert E. Lee

described slavery per se as ‘a moral

and political evil’ and, in the States,

‘a greater evil to the white man’

than the black. In 1857 Lee

had been his father-in-law’s executor.

George Custis had manumitted his slaves

on his death bed there and then but ‘no white man

was in the room’.

share