There is no rest in the street…

Autumn always make me think of T S Eliot.

There is no rest in the house. There is no rest in the street. I hear the restless movement of feet. And the air is heavy and thick. Thick and heavy the sky. And the earth presses up against my feet…

Here I am deep in the copper, rich reds, golds and fading greens of an English rural autumn with its misted mornings and purple brooding skies playing christmas music and drawing christmas sketches and browsing ebay, pinterest et al. for inspiration and items for the craft room at the Christmas Fayre contemplating the various stages of turning a sock into a snow person. How on earth do you make it all for a small profit? Even sourcing craft items eats the PTA budget. I wonder how many school fayres and fetes would turn a profit without the generous donations of the parents who not only donate their time and expertise but also quite often the raw materials? But I’m glad we’re having a home produce stall this year, I love trying other peoples chutneys!

It has also been the Rugby World Cup 2015 championship. Christmas and Rugby in October is quite a strange combination. I may have been marred by the experience. I am dimly aware of events in the Middle East and in particular Syria, attempting to inflame my inner moral compass but stoically resist as I contemplate how it must feel to flee my country, un-prepared and in fear, not just for myself but my family, the vulnerable. Would I really be prepared to accept the traditions and culture of the country that offers me sanctuary, almost certainly in the immediate aftermath but in the long-term? Is re-settlement a long-term solution… In the same way that I struggle to be at ease in hot countries where women are suppressed and treated as second-class citizens, can those used to such a culture deal with our climate, our ways and fully integrate towards a harmonious community?

Despite all our technology and knowledge we haven’t yet solved hunger and poverty but there, I’ve digressed. Plenty of questions, not enough answers yet.

If you’re feeling open to reading something on poverty and inequality, can I recommend this; a speech by Sir Michael Marmot ending with the Pablo Neruda quote “rise up with me… against the organisation of misery” Sir Michael Marmot

But what about you? What have you been doing this autumn? Have you escaped Rugby fever or embraced it? The more ‘live’ matches I go to the more ‘sport speak’ I pick up. This year it’s all about how the Northern hemisphere game isn’t up to the Southern hemisphere game. I’m neither an expert, a rugby player or a particularly avid sports fan but it seems to me the northern hemisphere teams get penalised for things the southern hemisphere teams are adept at not getting penalised quite so much for.  ‘Playing the Ref.’ a term which saddens me because it’s why I can’t watch football anymore and which refers to a most un-sporting box of tricks that I’m told everybody does at some point – is a term I wish I hadn’t come across. I saw South Africa play a match in Cardiff some years back and was amazed to see them punching and kicking as they tackled, mauled and rucked, largely without reprimand. The males around me shrugged it off as part of the ‘intense physicality of the southern hemisphere game’. References were made to the tribal idea of nationality and pride and battles won and lost on the sports ground rather than the battlefield. I’m not so sure about that, look around you guys! I thought that I wouldn’t be very proud to win a game on that basis rather than on my skill at dodging, passing and kicking the ball, which South Africa also do very well, they were beautifully choreographed as a team and to be fair, it was just a few that I saw being so ‘physical’. I know, it’s a contact sport but really should it be acceptable? It has been great to see how Rugby has striven to make this very physical game safer for players and more consistent in terms of the technology it employs to monitor the games but ‘playing the ref.’ is too reminiscent of the bone crunching, gore spattered rugby of the seventies which I grew up with and was appalled by. As the players get bigger and teams like Japan come bounding into the rugby spotlight I suppose I’m fairly confident this will be addressed.

After Scotlands defeat by Australia on Sunday I was informed that Rugby is largely a sport for the privately educated according to a Daily Mail article (which I couldn’t access as my spam filter wont let me do Daily Mail links – who said technology isn’t humanised;0)) That’s not my personal experience but it doesn’t change the fact I wouldn’t take my daughter to a football match but we’ve safely attended several rugby ones. Would I let my daughter go to a party at the Rugby Club? Possibly not, as the inherent machismo of “tell her no means yes” is not yet eradicated from male dominated sport but maybe in my lifetime it will be. I feel the restless movement of feet….

Murder in The Cathedral by T S Eliot

I’ve Been To A Marvellous Party…

Enicholls  LNichollsJemmagoodbye2

Actually, it wasn’t a party it was a funeral in celebration and remembrance of the Artist Jemma De Vere Cole aka Jemma Dorella Tetley, an altogether heart achingly beautiful and deeply sad affair which reflected the life of a wonderful, funny, passionate and loving woman whose own life touched the lives of so many and which the packed church stood testament to.

You can view her self portraits and other works here:

Jemma’s heritage is colourful, old and rich with history as her surname hints at but none of that history, eccentricity or ‘colour’ could hold a candle to the reality of Jemma; she loved, she never judged, she took everyone as she found them without pretension, she waded onwards throughout the tough times and delighted in the good times with a refreshing innocence of purpose. Jemma was not a woman with hidden agenda’s, art was her mistress but not her queen and her feet were very firmly planted in the real world; she was a mother, a sister, a daughter, she worked at the hospital, she was a carer… many things to many people. She moved in many circles but danced always to her own tune.

Her paintings are lovely; vibrant, sensitive, perceptive.  At forty nine years of age Jemma has left the party far too soon. I know her sons, Lucas, Elliot and Jo-Jo will feel the reverberation of that vibrancy and the empty space with the same passion and emotion that Jemma relished on her daily life. I know her family too, will struggle to overcome her absence.

Today we heard from family and friends, who celebrated the essence of Jemma in poetry, music and song, their voices quavering their loss. I loved Lucas’s poem “…Mum, you are fading away… ‘I can’t believe this is happening’, we say and out of the cloying fog of confusion, a brief moment of clarity as you tell us, ‘neither can I….”

I smiled as Dudley Sutton painted his own picture of Jemma in our minds, his broad brush strokes stitching together memories and epitaphs and I wept as Bill Benham (violin) and  David Power (piano) played Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part eloquently mirrored by Canon Jeremy Davies ‘Homily’.

Later, standing in our small town Market Square today, on the steps of our Guildhall raising our glasses and crying out “thank you Jemma!” as the Hearse edged back out into the afternoon traffic I was reminded that life, the flow of the universe – finds the strangest ways to remind us of what matters.

I have a framed newspaper cutting in my loo, a picture of Dee (Jemma’s mother Diana) and my mother dressed as agricultural labourers for a promenade theatre performance of ‘Larkrise to Candleford’ staged at Salisbury Arts Centre (St Edmunds Church as was) along a Yew-lined path in a momentary shaft of golden sunlight, looking like something straight out of the eighteenth century not the 1980s as it was. My mother also died from cancer. But that picture reminds me that no matter what suits we choose to dress ourselves in, we are all the same underneath. Life is theatre, Jemma knew that and rejoiced in both the costumes and the people underneath them. That is what matters. People. Love. Joy.

Post Script

Two things:

It was remiss of me not to also include this link to Salisbury Hospice, whom support people and their families at challenging times in the process of medical intervention the concept of ‘Hospice’ goes back to the fourth century when Christian orders welcomed travellers, pilgrims and those in need. It remains a valued and much needed service in all communities. Every age has had it’s ‘cancer’ – human nature has proved that despite our ability to empower ourselves we will always fail to eradicate ill health throughout the world, through our own greed and weaknesses “Man’s inhumanity to Man”. A place where the weary and terminally ill can seek respite and comfort deserves our support.

Also, I forget that sometimes people I don’t know read my posts – I was thinking about the tendency we have to really ‘beef’ up peoples good traits at funerals – to set them on pedestals which they may not have enjoyed in their daily lives. That is perhaps, part of the point of ‘celebrating’ a persons life, to focus on their best characteristics and achievements. I wasn’t a close friend of Jemma’s, I knew her all too briefly in the greater scheme of things, our lives bumped into one anothers every now and again but she came and went with all the vibrancy and impact I have described in my post. Someone said, during the service that she was always at the centre of any party, that is generally true but not in my experience in any attention seeking way but  through sheer vitality and integrity, with a genuine interest in people and experience.

Christmas re-visited

I hope you don’t mind but it’s time to refresh some old Chritsmas favourites this is a link to a Christmas poem “Christmas Rushing in… on tumblr:

and this is about one of my favourite Christmas poetry books ‘Light Unlocked’

and this…. – Merry Christmas everyone – let it be about kindness and peace and friendship for all

Young Leaders Programme Chohort 2


Kirsty is a quiet, hard-working superstar and I am delighted she has been invited to complete her “Creative Young Leaders’ experience. Thank you for the kind comments Kirsty, it is easy to give when the rewards are so humbling it’s been great to see how you’ve grown in confidence and esteem – you will always be an asset to any team lucky enough to work with you – Jx
(see link for full blog from Kirsty)

Originally posted on Creative Kirsty:

I have the absolute honour of being given a place on the young leaders programme again this year! WOOOHOO!!

I am so lucky to have the support of everyone at OYAP Trust and my incredible mentor S. Mayhew Craddock. It is so good to be able to build upon the foundations that were built with H. Le Broq and S.Mayhew Craddock last year, with the safety net and invaluable knowledge of the incredible OYAP Trust family, without whom I feel I would be lost. The encouragement and support I receive from these wonderful people is amazing!

This time around I am much more aware of where I want to be and what I want to do. I feel the Young Leaders Programme will support this and develop me and my specialism further. I can put all of the learning into practice and understand more of what is being taught to…

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