Roman oil lamp

An awkward, graceless, hand made thing,
pot bellied, with a spout
and glazed in muddy brown.

It was a gift.
Who from, I can’t recall.
I kept it on my desk for years.

I’d pick it up sometimes
and feel the grittiness
that lay beneath the glaze,
marvel at the clumsy spout,
all caked with soot,
where once the flame had flickered.

I gave it away to one
whose life was shadowed then
and cold.
An amulet against the dark
two hundred decades old.

On reticence

A group of gap-year tourists climb someone’s holy mountain, then strip off and wee on it. A female journalist starts a campaign to have a woman on the new five pound note ( hardly a wild rebellious act) and is made the butt of obscene, misogynist abuse. The result of an international football match provokes floods of tears and hysteria from some of the fans. Novak Djokovic almost reduces one of the ball girls to tears because she’s late with a towel.

Let’s deal with our Novak first. He’s immensely rich, the height of a tall building, and he tears lumps off some kid who will be paid the princely sum of £160 for the whole Wimbledon fortnight.
This looks like self indulgent bullying to me. What bugs me even more is what he said when confronted with his loutish behaviour.
“ I’m definitely going to try to apologise to her, if I’ve done anything wrong.”
I’ve never seen so many conditionals in one sentence “ try” to apologise ? How hard is it Novak ? “ If I’ve done anything wrong.” – If ? You mean you don’t know ? You don’t realise you acted like a psychotic five year old ?

Not nice.

Nor was the weeping and wailing when England was defeated in the Womens’ World Cup. It was a football match, not the massacre of tourists on a Tunisian beach. Save your weeping and wailing for something like that.
“ Ah,” they say but it’s so emotional ! “ That’s not emotion,it’s self indulgent mawkishness. It’s wallowing in icky sentimentality.

And the crazies who threatened to rape the lady who wanted Jane Austen ( or some other uppity woman) on the five pound note ? They worry me, they really do. I never realised that misogyny could run so deep and so dirty..

And finally the mountain widdlers. They didn’t know it was a holy mountain, of course they didn’t. But maybe they should have. Maybe they should have recognised that there are bits of the world which don’t belong to them, but to someone else, and shown a bit more respect.How would would they feel if someone pissed on their front room carpet ?

Freedom of speech and action is a wonderful thing. Never have the boundaries been so relaxed. We should have those freedoms, certainly, but they bring with them a responsibility to use them with thought and consideration.

A bit more reticence, a bit of quiet restraint, could work wonders in our daily lives

College Green. 6.30pm. Urban fox

Bone white stone bleeds
shadow on the grass.The air dulls.
Outside the coffee shop, a girl
is stacking chairs. A scooter putters by.
The tourists have gone back to their hotels.

A shifting of the light. A slur
of movement, and he’s there,
trotting past the sundial.

No Reynard in a red coat.

Ash grey, sandy flanks
all smudged with mud,
his eyes ink black, cautious.

Rat-back snapper, chicken slasher,
worm chewer, sparrow splitter,
knocker down of bins,
lurking in the shadows
by the pub’s back door.

He stops there in the sunlight,
eyes me over.
Resolving I am neither threat
nor promise, trots away
down College Street and into Minster Yard.