The God of Tarzan

I am not sure exactly how this works, but I hope I may be permitted to quote a few words from Edgar Rice-Burroughs:


“Among the books of his dead father in the little cabin by the landlocked harbour, Tarzan of the Apes found many things to puzzle his young head. By much labour and through infinite patience as well he had … discovered the purpose of the little bugs that ran on the printed pages. He had learned that in the many combinations in which he found them they spoke a silent language, spoke in a strange tongue, spoke of wonderful things which the little ape boy could not by any chance fully understand, arousing his curiosity, stimulating his imagination and filling his soul with amighty longing for further knowledge.”

Thanks to our daughters and the perchance winning of an i-pad I have downloaded freebooks versions of some Tarzan stories and have been re-reading them.

Reginald Road

Hot sun pie

Squats on

Blood ‘n’ honey road

Across the brown,

Splintered river.


Though the thief keeps

Takin’ the joker’s words, still

His house is falling down.

Nobody truly lives in a golden age

And you don’t beat city hall by

Cleaning your front step

Every day.

P.L. Higgs (6th June 2012)

“The Cobbler’s Children* …”

Driving along a familiar road earlier today I noticed something I have seen so many times before. Made a connection that has been in the neurons but not the synapses – until now. There is the headquarters of an electrical contractors – the sign used to say the name of the company and “established “then the year. I used to be able to quote the year, but since the sign has gone I really cannot bring it back. But I can now remember all of the digits of my mobile phone, so maybe something goes-in-something-drops out these days.

But now the connection that I have now made is that on the long white rendered above the car park wall facing the one way road there is a large, simple circle-faced clock. Conspicuously electric because of the cabling going to it, made more than obvious by the conduit and sparkling clean white background. The clock always says the same time. Well, of course it will be right twice a day! I am reminded that some wise person once said “give a man a watch and he will know the time, give him two and he will never be sure” … who was that? But the clock has been stalled for at least three years.

Now I would recommend these contractors. In another left-behind life they completed very professionally two contracts for me – but a “dead” electric clock on the wall of an electrical contractor’s yard? Old English adage: The cobbler’s children are always the poorest shod.

Finch Treasures. (27th May 2012)

A survey of garden birds for (I think the British Trust for Ornithology) commented on the increase in numbers of goldfinches in gardens. This is certainly true in our case. We have seen a flock (technically a charm) of the little beauties in front and back gardens over winter, on the buddleia and teasel particularly. We are still seeing them now – and it is my guess that at least one pair are nesting nearby. But this morning as I lay in bed one of the birds came and clung on, in the way that birds can and will to the edge of our bedroom window. In the top corner and proceeded to peck at something. Do I remember that these birds use cobwebs to build their nests ? I am certain that chaffinches do, but goldfinches? Maybe it was simply taking some mortar, for trace elements or to replenish material in its crop, or finding a spider in the wall. Whatever: it was a real joy to lie there while the bright plumaged bandit performed so, so confidently so very close. I was reminded of a book that Mr “Nobby” Clarke our teacher in what would now be a Y6 class recommended for Roy (a friend) and I: Interesting British Birds. It had a jacket with an illustration of Goldfinches on it (Tunnicliffe I think). While the jacket has disappeared I still have the book; one of the first boos I ever bought on someone else’s recommendation.

Burning History, reviving memory. (26th May, 2012)

Blazing hot day again today, satisfying amount of “stuff” accomplished in the hot weather, then the barbecue came out, followed by the fire-pit, both stored away, buried almost in the shed. Got into the habit last year of carrying glowing coals from the barbecue to the fire-pit to light it (shades of carrying fire up the stairs in winter down Little Wyrley). Carried the “log sack” out of the shed. It’s filled with bits and pieces and during the evening we pretty much emptied it. But my attention on this, what I hope will be the first of many fire-pit or chimnea sun downers, was drawn to what we were putting on the fire

MDF, will burn, but there are weird shaped pieces, joined with all the Scandinavian plugs and technology invented for MDF. It was the ornate legs of a TV and video stand Margaret had asked if we could burn. (I mean what kind of a question is that??) I remembered as it was burning how we lobbed it over the eight foot fence between out gardens. Then, very small the stub-end of a Christmas tree (cutting the end off before putting it into the stand (with water) helps the tree to take up water and hold its leaves). It was wrinkle-barked, like a fingerprint, a dinosaur leg fragment. Next, matt-blue paint peeling was a section of fence from my last school, followed by the rotting roof of a bird box that hung on the fence and was shelter for broods of blue tits for five years. The root becoming stem of a plum tree that once grew (not very fruitfully) in the allotment hedge and failed after I laid the hedge. I am happy to report that we replaced it and last year anyway had more plums than we have been able to eat or turn into wine. There will be other pieces of history when we get to the (double) log pile against the wall, but maybe this evening I was in a mood to notice.

Avengers … wet drive through Bloxwich.

One of those wet late evening drives. Heading to the cinema (Avengers Assemble, may be the 3D version). But the rain making everywhere damp and different: a fine avenue with a great variety of tree types under lit and backlit by the streetlights. Always loved this road, past the golf club on the edge of town, sprawling into meadows and pasture then downhill to the abattoir. In spring a lovely panorama of town-planted trees, an experience. Big cloud-like horse chestnuts, in spring with wedding cake tiers of white, so-white blossom, copper beeches, mature and turned to dark honey in this light, silver birches, like slim candles and the few willows around the pond. I know that there will be beautifully flowered cherry trees lining the drive into the park on the right as we pass, but the wrought  iron gates are closed and locked.

But it’s been raining now consistently for over ten days; it started as soon as the water companies announced an official drought (the definition of drought changed somewhat, like I guess the term friends (in a different context) has been changed by Facebook). And the rain brings on a melancholy state sometimes (at least for me) and has a mesmerising effect. As passenger in a car I am being brainwashed by the beat of the windscreen wipers and seeing the scenery in windscreen or side window shaped pieces. Traffic lights, a skip outside someone’s garden, and traffic. As a driver I like to think I track the traffic … oh yeah same car in front, one pulling in behind a white van two cars ahead … turning left but not signalling perhaps … don’t all drivers do the same? But this evening I miss a few seconds and am not sure whether the car in front is the same one that was there in the fifty miles an hour section, or one of the same make. I did not clock the registration. But realise that I am never aware of where the vehicle was in the time the before or after our encounter. There’s a white sided van in front of us. We follow him through some local rat-run, so I guess a la Sherlock Holmes that, at this time of night, he’s a local, knows the area, is driving home. So a little bit surprised when he continues on to a major road then indicating properly pulls off and joins the motorway, going south. Where to? What purpose? Work? Burglary? Terrorism? How far is he travelling? Where has the van been? Delivered? As if it were possible to hold so much information for every car I ever encounter!

Sleepless … no Seattle.

It’s maybe four in the morning … and I cannot sleep. Obviously! We were at our daughter’s this afternoon, house sitting while the Sky man came to install satellite TV. I am allergic to cats. You’ve guessed it – our daughter has cats – two! Some advice about allergy medication, from a practice surgery nurse friend, however seemed to have worked.

Then some hours ago I woke up, struggling for breath. So here I am in the spare bedroom, waiting to fall asleep, get my autonomic breathing back – or die! That’s hopefully just graveyard shift humour because I have suffered this before, wheezing and concentrating on something I usually take for granted. Imaginative story ideas are racing through my head – I have had half-finished plots and scenarios in my head for years and in my desperation for sleep I am reviewing them; it does the opposite of help actually. I started reading a library book at my daughter’s, Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston. I guess it was one of many Crichton had on the go but died before he could complete. But it has the urgency and realism of all Crichton books (which does not always transfer into film in my opinion. I have no doubt there will be some holes in the science somewhere, but what the Hell – it’s a story. About people being shrunk to a half inch height. It’s Michael Crichton, so it’s obviously more complicated than that. But at the stage I am in the book – they have just been attacked by “big-headed ants” (they are scientists so must know what kind of ants they are, however unrealistic the name sounds) I am wondering if this will be just a PG version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids. In my pre-pre-dawn tossing and yearning I think back to a story I read  called Tarzan and The Ant Men, Edgar Rice Burroughs of course, but cannot recall all of the detail. But start to wonder who was the first writer to imagine characters smaller than life size. Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels, the Lilliputians? Or were they the big ones? Alice shrunk and grew in Alice in Wonderland of course and my mind wanders on the the stories of Ray Bradbury. Did he write anything along those lines? Also running through my mind are questions, like how can I make the ladder reach the guttering to sand down all of the soil pipe instead of just-so-far-and-no-further? But I remind myself: you will certainly not be climbing ladders unless you get some sleep.

It doesn’t help, but then you already knew that, didn’t you? I look at the horizon, the yellow sodium streetlights sand imagine I see lights in the sky – but my eyes are fooling me – there are no lights there. The trees outside are not visible in detail, but move quote vigorously in the wind. It has not been raining but the sky is simple grey cloudwash. The trees at first seem to move like the masts and rigging of ship masts in a windy harbour. But looked at more closely show different characteristics. The honeysuckle festooned pear moves as a whole, rocking gently, the rowan branches react to the wind individually so they may actually be moving in contrary directions, the ash trees still stubbornly refusing to open buds hardly move at all, like a stalled half-finished grey skeleton. In complete contrast to the flowering cherry which still has a mass of pale pink blossom despite the recent torrential rains. There is almost no colour in the world yet apart from grey tones and dull Tudor brick red of house walls, but the pink is established vividly. My mind is not working logically. I have given up trying to get some sleep. I wonder whether deciduous trees can sense the future weather and do not open full leaf canopy until all danger of storms and strong damaging winds has passed. Or do the ones that survive do so because they leaf up after the storms have gone? Desire or design? I know what I believe but for a while balance the arguments. Even though I know, deep down I need to be trying for sleep. Which doesn’t help. At all. Startlingly, from nowhere – the piper at the gates of this dawn – comes the golden song of a thrush. I cannot see the bird, but there is joy in the tune – and such volume from such a small bird. The song is enchanting and goes on, riff and riff and changes repeated. Truly beautiful. It would be too much, and completely untrue to say I am no longer tired, but it does lift the spirit. Undeniably. I expect the full dawn chorus to follow, but nothing is there to follow the song thrush lead or to take up the challenge. Some minutes later a pair of crows appear in the sky, with that languid flying-in the-grvity-of-another-planet characteristic style they have. They appear to be sculling through the air. I had expected the first birds airborne to be gulls from the rookery nearby. Mostly black-headed gulls there. But no the crows have the stage such as it is. One lands on a ridge top nearby and goes through a  head swinging, wing flagging ritual. He (I presume male because of the exhibitionist behaviour) marches stiffly to the end of the roof and caws loudly, harsh sound echoing around. I fall, eventually asleep and am woken later, but still not refreshed by the coo-coo queries of our resident woodpigeons. Definitely no ladder climbing today then!

First Words (28th May, 2012)

First Words (28th May, 2012)

At college I remember doing a child-language acquisition module (how children learn language/how to speak) and remember the whole session on how our vocal equipment makes some sounds easier to make (plosives, fricatives etc.) so was both stunned and fascinated when a new thought filtered into my brain unbidden this weekend. “Mo … mma” is usually the first (structured) sound babies make and repeat (repetition is evidence of use of proper language of course) and we now take it to mean “mother”; indeed our words mother, mommy, ma and similar are based on this word. Now me I had always assumed that this was us teaching babies our words, but actually (it now occurs to me) we give the babies first carer this name because the baby can say it! Now, if the male members of the family had been – in early times, and traditionally, the baby’s first carer we “fathers” would now be universally called “mom”.

Hello world!

With a great deal of encouragement from friends (some simply distant but nonetheless trusted ethernet buddies) I have mustered up some kind of courage to have a go in this arena.

I have toyed with e-publishing of poetry (, performed some pieces in public (remember a radio programme advising that one waty to keep fit was to do something each day that scared you; hey for me that fit the bill!)

I will try (when I get a bit more familiar with this electronic horse) to put some poetry on here and publish some stuff I simply typed in as “journal” articles on this machine.

Hope you enjoy the ride, come back every now and then to see what’s happening eh?

Would love to “see” you.