I was very lucky in my working life. I couldn’t put it better than Mary Poppins’ friend Bert the chimney sweep: ‘I does wot I likes, an’ I likes wot I do’. As a girl I liked books. I liked libraries. No, I loved books and I loved libraries. I volunteered in the school library, in the local public library; I trained as a librarian, I studied, and qualified; I worked in public and university libraries, until one fine day I found a niche where my profession met and matched another passion: poetry.
Life has changed immeasurably for many of us since the arrival of Covid. Not only have we had to properly examine how vital and indispensable our essential workers are, and finally understand who they are, but we’ve come to appreciate more than ever the role of unpaid labour and the things that don’t get done … Continue reading Not Giving Up Giving Back
If I offered you a slice of bread smeared with goo which had been regurgitated by insects, would you accept? Does bread and honey sound more appealing? I’ve been reading about cleptoparasites, inquilines and parasitoids: exploiters of bees. Technical vocabulary can be as off-putting as explicit descriptions of food production. Put simply, in the complex … Continue reading Noticing nature: writing
Yesterday, I listened to the clamour of wintering geese and watched Swallows preen hard-used flight feathers. Sometimes, it’s enough to delight in sound and sight, but often, questions come to mind, unbidden, persuading me to listen more carefully, look a bit longer. Watching birds, I automatically ask, ‘What’s it doing?’ ‘Defending territory? Nest-building? Feeding itself? … Continue reading Noticing nature: asking questions
Ken Cockburn is a poet, translator, editor and writing tutor based in Edinburgh. After several years at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, he has freelanced since 2004, working in schools, colleges, care and community settings, and collaborating with visual artists on book, exhibition and public art projects. He runs Edinburgh Poetry Tours – guided … Continue reading N is for noticing
‘At least one good thing has happened this year,’ said a friend, ‘I’ve got to know my neighbours better.’ It’s important, isn’t it? If neighbours greet us by name and stop for a friendly chat, it can cheer us up. What about our non-human neighbours? Can you name the trees you pass? The birds you … Continue reading Noticing nature: by naming
A healer with a unique understanding of the human mind told his worried followers to consider the ravens and the lilies of the field. Roll on 2,000 years and Phil Hammond, an NHS doctor, prescribes CLANGERS: eight habits for a healthy life. N is for noticing the beauty around us. ‘Try to be as still … Continue reading Noticing nature: sitting still
In primary school I dawdled on my walk home, gathering conkers or twirling sycamore seeds. I fed our garden birds and pestered sea anemones in rock pools. Attempts to find a wildlife career were thwarted until I met my husband, Rick, and together we wrote several books on early naturalists. Then, from 1997 until 2017, I … Continue reading Guest blogger for April
Last week I said that when I’m ninety-nine I’d like to do something as impressive as Captain Tom Moore. That’s if I can live an active life until then.
There’s a new mood in the air, a call to action that’s different from BC – before Covid. Maybe it’s the enforced stillness allowing us to view in a new way those things that aren’t right. Or perhaps the individual sense of threat we’ve all experienced has stimulated a desire to act. In many spheres, … Continue reading (Be) Active – Older People’s Activism
The room was buzzing. All day we’d been blowing up balloons, hanging bunting and strings of coloured lights, and erecting a wobbly screen for the slideshow of her nine decades. On every table, tea lights flickered in a sea of twinkling confetti 9s and 0s, and pots of daffodils stood ready to rejoice in my … Continue reading The Covid Party (or being active before we had to stop)
I read once that there seems to be something in their primal make-up that makes women long to be in a supportive and helpful group: somewhere they feel they belong outside their family group. The writer – whose name I can’t remember – thought that it may come from the need in early tribal groups to have childcare in case of illness or the death of the mother in childbirth.
No one in the UK is going to forget March 8th, 2021 in a hurry. Parents in all four countries will be celebrating children being back at school or shortly to return. It’s also International Women’s Day, and as women have borne the brunt of home-schooling, the phrase ‘women’s liberation’ will ring with particular jubilation for those mothers.
‘Make It New’ is a slogan widely attributed to Ezra Pound and assumed to be one he used to lead the charge for the modernist literary movement of which he was a champion. But the phrase is very old: There is nothing new under the sun.’ Ecclesiastes 1:9 ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Revelation … Continue reading Make it New: The Art of Unlearning (taiji)
One of the many questions that students ask their taiji teacher is ‘who was your teacher?’. I’ve had many teachers and have learned equally from my taiji sisters and brothers. Taiji is a social art as well as a martial art and I enjoy talking about my teachers.