Categories
Penwith Psychoanalysis West Cornwall (and local history)

Battered Britain- confused Cornwall

Very likely it is the mood I find myself in at the moment. Arriving in town just a few minutes earlier than expected. The bus driver must be keen or perhaps a manic denial of boredom. Then the bus is blue -quite unusual and reminiscent of a bus service locally that years ago was renowned for unreliable and battered buses. The service now appears to have hired a range of peculiar vehicles – this one has shiny black leather seats somehow suggestive of the aspirations of another era.

Need to top up with a little cash but a scrawled notice- and I mean a scrawled notice says “Out of order” and you almost expect it to add….” this is Penzance boy….carry on waiting for Godot”. Thank goodness for the Co-op.

As I stroll on I think of the latest large Tory leaflet that has been pushed through the door. Green naturally. Telling me “together we are successful” or words to that effect. What at precisely? Schools where there are very few fully qualified teachers and pupils marched before the moronic inducing banks of second rate computers or various mad pods and pads. Successful with 12 hour waiting times in A and E. Bleak visions of rooms that would be like Scutari drawn by Daumier. No Florence- instead the only visible care comes from the worried looking young Security Staff in front of lengthening lines of ambulances. Successful for the Mme Defay who made a fortune out of her Government Grant for pathetic PPE.

Everywhere recently my eye has been captured by curious clumps of electrical apparatus. These somehow have a certain lyrical attraction even or especially when accompanied by patches of viridian lichen or intriguing pipework, transformers and untidy wiring. In other countries with technological competence they might be safely enclosed.

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Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews German Matters West Cornwall (and local history)

Capturing Images of Apple Harvest

Fruit crop – Ludwig von Hofmann

I have been contemplating this painting from the mythical world of this not well known German painter who lived (17 August 1861 – 23 August 1945) As Wikipedia informs us “In 1889, he attended the Académie Julian in Paris, where he came under the influence of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Paul-Albert Besnard.” Certainly the Art Nouveau and Symbolist styles are present but the general impression of this work is one of tranquil gathering from fruitful nature. After a summer of disturbingly high temperatures and draught it seems a pleasant reminder of what seems a different age. End of summer and Arcadia can exist and as I have recently discovered in the rich orchards of Trengwainton still in existence.

As I have been reading recently about Stanley Spencer and the aftermath of the First World War, I came across the following painting as a comparison. Von Hoffmann’s painting is dated 1906, and according to Boyd Hacock’s “A Crisis of Brilliance“, Spencer’s Apple Gatherers is dated 1912.

To anyone familiar with Spencer, the chunky figures have a certain primitive attractiveness- a robust Bob the Builder robust quality. The abundance and timelessness is achieved by the composition. The sketches upon which it is based shows the time and thought which went into the work. The plenitude of fruit and the couple linking arms around the apple suggest some kind of Eden restored.

In this part of Cornwall we have a special feast referred to as Allan Appletide https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allantide

Categories
St Ives West Cornwall (and local history)

Some Cornish History Sound Links

Michael Bird is an engaging and perceptive writer and broadcaster and his work deserves attention. Here are some impressive sound programmes-

https://michaelbird.info/broadcasting/

This programme on the Solomon Browne Lifeboat Tragedy is at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0012plp

Categories
Penwith Poetry Uncategorized West Cornwall (and local history)

Schools out!

Schools out and all that entails.

Sun shines on mountains of tomatoes, avocados and oranges.

Tourists looking for something shuffle up Causewayhead.

Locals mostly look a bit lost- some injured or otherwise afflicted.

Seems that about a quarter of shops are closed;

no carpets, no papers and no haircuts.

Pigeons warble and peck under

regimented baskets of scarlet petunias

adding a patina of civic cheer.

In here, a voluble teenager

pronounces and pontificates on

the unlikely history of India,

seemingly annoyed that the food

has not turned up in time.

Lost in the gap between fantasy

and the arrival of the fatty sausage sandwich.

September, results and Speech Day await.

Categories
Art and Photographic History Penwith St Ives West Cornwall (and local history)

Day 3. Land’s End, Porthcurno & St. Ives, Cornwall — Love Travelling Blog

It was a bright and sunny morning as we pulled back the curtains in our hotel room and after tucking into some tasty bacon sandwiches we were back in the car for another day of sightseeing.  Our starting point was to be Land’s End, the headland that sits at the most westerly point of England […]

Day 3. Land’s End, Porthcurno & St. Ives, Cornwall — Love Travelling Blog
Categories
Art and Photographic History Poetry West Cornwall (and local history)

Some thoughts on “resilience”

The splendid Penzance Literary Festival has chosen this topic as the inspiration for this year’s event. I have taken out my larger dictionaries and looked a little at its usage and etymology. The latter is not difficult as it derives directly from Latin and basically means something like the capacity to jump back.

The term resilience was introduced into the English language in the early 17th Century from the Latin verb resilire, meaning to rebound or recoil (Concise Oxford Dictionary, Tenth Edition).

resilience (n.) … 1620s, “act of rebounding or springing back,” often of immaterial things, from Latin resiliens, present participle of resilire “to rebound, 

From Ovid we read  “saepein gelidos resilire lacus, sed nunc quoque turpes” which Loeb gives as  meaning in Metamorphoses Book VI as Often they sit upon the sedgy bank and often leap back into the cool lake. This comes from a rather beautifully poetic passage at https://www.loebclassics.com/view/ovid-metamorphoses/1916/pb_LCL042.315.xml

We get the English expressions ‘Salient’ and ‘To sally forth’ from the Latin verb Salio -to jump. In Cassell’s Latin Dictionary we learn of the Salii who were apparently a college of priests who jumped and leapt about worshipping Mars in a procession accompanied by singers and armed dancers. Instituted bt Numa Pompilius apparently.

Returning to the concept of Resilience we can distinguish its meaning from something like Endurance or Durability; it is more springy, elastic and perhaps energetic. Principally, of course, the concern around the concept relates to the inner resources for coping with Covid and the restrictions consequent upon it. It is the psychology of resilience which makes it a concept current in the zeitgeist. Without much prompting Google asks –

What are the 5 skills of resilience?

Five Key Stress Resilience Skills

  • Self-awareness.
  • Attention – flexibility & stability of focus.
  • Letting go (1) – physical.
  • Letting go (2) – mental.
  • Accessing & sustaining positive emotion.

Additionally it further questions-

What are the 7 C’s of resilience?

Dr Ginsburg, child paediatrician and human development expert, proposes that there are 7 integral and interrelated components that make up being resilient – competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.

Also from the Mayo Clinic-https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/resilience-training/in-depth/resilience/art-20046311

Whilst thinking about this topic, I came across these lines from a poem entitled Women Running, based upon Picasso’s painting entitled Deux femmes courant sur la plage which seem apposite and uplifting-

That arm laid across the horizon,

the racing legs, an unstoppable quartet, pull

me from my skin and I become one of them,

believe I’m agile enough to run a mile,


believe I’m young again, believe age

has been stamped out. No wonder, I worship

at the altar of energy, not the energy

huge with hate which revels in tearing apart,


in crushing to dust but the momentum

which carries blood to the brain, these women

across the plage, lovers as they couple

and tugs at the future till it breaks into bloom.
Myra Schneider

Categories
Art and Photographic History Book Reviews Penwith St Ives West Cornwall (and local history)

“Women to the Rescue” by Jenny Dearlove-A Review

Madron Workhouse

Women to the Rescue by Jenny Dearlove

Memories of the recent past may not always be resurrected with pride. Indeed, they may be suppressed in an attempt to avoid guilt and pain. When it comes to the rough treatment of young women, unmarried and with child, in the years before the establishment of the Welfare State, recalling matters grows still more uncomfortable. The recognition of the catalogue of penury, ignorance and pain which led to unwanted babies, abortion and infanticide in the not so very distant past is not  easy to absorb. However, there are advantages in looking over such painful  issues. Firstly to discover that other brave women, in the form of a local society whose members responded to give succour at a time while others simply condemned “moral weakness”. Secondly, some such misfortunes; broken relationships, fear of infection and addictions  plaguing  our Grandparent’s generation remain today. What then can be usefully learnt from the records of the “Refuge for Girls in Trouble” set up in 1907 in Penzance?

In assembling an overview of the work of the Penwith Rescue and Preventative Society, Jenny Dearlove clearly demonstrates the often makeshift approach to the social care of young women in dire distress through unwanted pregnancy. It outlines one solution by the good folk of one Cornish town. This story contains an interesting medley of personal statements from care workers, committee members and others attempting to relieve distress. In giving a panorama of these dark times, it is necessary to deal with the uncomfortable details of dire distress; abortion, drunkeness, severe poverty, prejudice, dirt and disease. However, without such charitable interventions how much worse would the situation of these girls and babies have been?

It seems that often the young women were moved out of the area, quite often separated from their babies. Many alternative institutions beside the Penzance Rescue Society appear somewhat dire. The photograph of Madron Workhouse ( the text is liberally illustrated) in particular looks like the forlorn last hope that it undoubtedly was. In addition to illustrations there are several appendices with a very useful timeline that conveys the benefits of the development of the Welfare State and changing regulations toward contraception. Material inventions such as effective plumbing, electric cookers and later still, the washing machine were an obvious boon even when relationships between the occupants of the care homes and hostels were not always as they might be.

Doubtless, one  beneficial aspect of this book are  the questions which it raises. For certain men do not come out of the account with any credit.Not only those who left their girlfriends with unsought pregnancies but those who had forced their attentions on vulnerable women. Women’s suffrage and following campaigns, although limited at first, helped create a climate for change which went on to benefit children. Additionally, the book encourages thought about the difference between un helpful moralistic stances and more  neighborly generosity expressed by giving practical assistance. 

Some of the most interesting issues concern the differences between the organisers and what would nowadays be called, front line staff. There is early evidence of multi[ple pressures on the latter. Professional Social Work really only took off in the 1960s and its resourcing remains subject to political control and financial cuts. Currently, bearing in mind  profound lapses in child care and paucity of welfare provision we might do well to acknowledge rather forgotten  women who got down to the task of sustaining others who, in the parlance of the time, were considered to have “fallen”……..

All are one now, roses and lovers,

    Not known of the cliffs and the fields and the sea

Women to the Rescue

A Penzance Refuge for Girls in Trouble

Available from The Hypatia Trust https://hypatia-trust.org.uk/contact

ISBN 978-1-872229-76-8

Categories
Penwith Poetry West Cornwall (and local history)

In memory of J.M.

A tall donnish schoolmaster enters the gate

only a little late, dismounts

with a certain characteristic style

steering between the other master’s cars

He holds both bars and stomps,

observed by some third form boys, behind

the staffroom, past the prefect’s den

and parks his velociped in the cycle shed.

Allons enfants! We foregather before him

in serried desks- pupils in pupitres.

and listen to his high voice entreating us

to sing a folk song about a peasant soup.

Pacing the long dias by the grand piano

he encouraged us to belt ’em out. Pronunciation

rather than grammar was his choice forte.

We embraced “Auprès de ma blonde

Qu’il fait bon, fait bon, fait bon.“, the

Marseillaise and Sous le pont d’avignon

The lyrics he swiftly chalked above

the staves on the board in the Music Room.

Thinking back, he may have been batered

by the War and tough times along

with the Chinese Inland Mission.

Appearing himself like a cross between Ho Chi Min

and Ezra Pound.

Even then I thought he may not

have fitted in with the other masters

being deemed eccentric he would not have minded

entirely blinded to such bourgeois mores.

“China Reconstructs” tucked under his arm

and head full of ideograms, I wonder

just what I might still learn from him now.

Humphry Davy School - Marnick Builders

https://studycli.org/chinese-characters/types-of-chinese-characters/

Categories
Art and Photographic History Penwith West Cornwall (and local history)

The Discrete Charm of Temporary Huts

Two schoolmasters sat shredding their gowns in the late afternoon in the hut and during the urbane conversation fed the torn off pieces into the gap at the top of the stove. In such a manner, a little more warmth was afforded to extend their discourse for another few minutes. Their talk was conducted with epigrams in various European languages and spiced with the odd Latin tag. The stove added to the convivial ambience and the prevailing gemutlichkeit.

Let us move on from this staffroom tale, occasioned as it was by a copy I had made of some features of a well-known painting by Braque. Here it is:-

Here is the small sketch that I made several years ago:-

The painting with its lovely colours may be found in Yale University Art Gallery and is discussed at https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/50855

I wondered why this painting held my interest and began to recall that a good number of my lessons at Grammar School were delivered in the damp but sometimes warm and cosy Temporary Huts. In my memory these seem to have been in the late afternoon and within the sound of the games field outside. One of these was the so-called Prefect’s Hut which I cannot ever remember actually entering. A good deal of R.E. seems to have taken place in such huts which were on raised piles of concrete blocks. There may have been a coloured oil map of Paul’s Journeys or the Middle East on a roller above the blackboard. Then there was German that I was supposed to be cramming for Oxbridge Entrance. All of which was rather a failure although I was quite interested in Scientific Terms like Bremstrahlung-(German: “braking radiation”; electromagnetic radiation produced by a sudden slowing down or deflection of charged particles (especially electrons) passing through matter in the vicinity of the strong electric fields of atomic nuclei. Nowadays my German has somewhat improved and in particular psychoanalytic words like durcharbeiten hold greater appeal.

In recalling particular lessons in cosy atmospheres, one in particular springs to mind taught my my own Form Master- a retired Wing Commander who had an intriguing time in Special Operations and would frequently preface remarks with “As my old friend, Bill Penny used to say…….” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Penney,_Baron_Penney Anyway, this lesson was an attempt to demonstrate measuring the acceleration due to gravity. It involved a swinging lath on a pin supported by a retort stand and a falling lead ball which left a mark on said lath when released using a string mechanism. A pipe smoker and hence possessing a lighter to burn through the thread, his use of the rather ersatz apparatus combined the master’s cricketing interests effectively. It produced a reasonable estimate of “g”.in those days in centimetre- gram-second units and we proceeded to consider some of the sources of error in the value we obtained.

Humphry Davy Grammar School, pre 1980 | Picture Penzance archives

The huts may be seen in the bottom left hand corner of the pre 1980 view of my Grammar School. Whilst not actually Nissen Huts these rather shabby buildings brought to mind the many black and white Second World War films that were much in vogue in the Sixties.

Categories
Penwith Poetry St Ives West Cornwall (and local history)

Lament for Cornish Cafe Society

Perhaps it exists only in the imagination. I remember visiting the Cafe Central in Vienna with its wide variety of journals and literary magazines, gorgeous variety of coffees and its habitués. Mostly tourists when I visited but there were the ghosts of writers and revolutionists from Krauss to Trotsky. Then naturally the confectionary of all types and colours. Not quite Penzance but in its many transformations at lest one or two establishments have provided an atmosphere conducive to reading, talking and day-dreaming. The creative aspect of the latter sometimes under-rated.

In my youth it was a pasty on the beach with a towel before large bath towels were in vogue. Before we began to worry about the depletion of the ozone layer and the St Ives Times and Echo would boast about the town’s high monthly U.V Index statistics.

Sweet pastries filled the mouths
of those who sat beside us
and stayed for a while.

How the hours went by,
people just passing through
The descending sun ending
a forever with you.

(See Lily at https://hellopoetry.com/words/cafe/

The décor seems to change frequently. Decorators and interior designers must make considerable profit with properties so frquently changing hands. Different styles come into vogue, multiple mixes of gin followed by martinis with names as hot and suggestive to suit. The patrons change as does the topics loudly conversed. The rate of change changes until suddenly they become silent, empty and inaccessible. No more ladies who lunch with sleeping babies in stylish prams.

Their salads come and their forks they deploy
you can tell this is a luncheon they will enjoy.

They catch up on all the news
Sharing with one another their views.

No gossip here – they are not that type
But occasionally you will hear a gripe.

About a husband , son or some other man
Someone who should be hit over the head with a pan.

http://jsimser.blogspot.com/2007/10/ladies-who-lunch.html

Elections come and go and it seems the wrong people get elected over and over. Those who don’t enjoy cafes or approve of culture and provide illusions about taking back control, whose egos are inflated by a sterile nationalism that was out of date at least a hundred years ago.

There are some animals whose presence seems to fit in with the soporific state of the nation. They represent perhaps the affectionate tranquillity which is more English than the butcher’s dogs and greased pigs of the contemporary age.