Amazing Aretha

Back to the beginning…

Where Aretha found her voice, sung out her soul. She imbues energy, faith and passion.

Uplifting.

Taking people from their ordinary lives and transporting them somewhere higher and making them believe….

Featuring the great comedic spirit of reverend James Cleveland, in the presence of Aretha’s father and Jesse Jackson. Even spotted Mick Jagger waving his hands to the choir and the small band… this intoxicating rhythm of gospel.

Love is on the cards, St Valentines Day #Valentines #hearts #poetry #love #cards #february

St Valentine (died Rome, 14th February 273AD) is widely associated with romance and devotion; many legends surround this saint and martyr. 

Mid-February is also the time birds begin to pair up. Look out for their springtime busy-ness. They are the natural sign and symbol of a new season, breaking away from winter, spreading their wings and preparing for new beginnings.

For the humans amongst us how about a little love poetry to delight and soothe the senses and to remind us that everyone, somewhere, needs love in their life. To find it can be hard, to give it, well a wonderful gift.

Tobias Menzies reads ‘In Fields’ by Kate Barnwell

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Play your cards right, it’s one day, however anti-materialistic you feel: ‘show some love, you ain’t so tough…’


In England – now! #England #Spring #blossom #seasons #poets #writers #weather

‘Seasons change winter to spring’ (so they sang in the film, Moulin Rouge).
Spring leading to summer warms the spirit and the pen, and becomes an inspirational and contemplative period for poets and writers, thinkers and dreamers, wanderers, followers and gatherers.

In May the world’s spin passes The Great Britain of temperate climate, through a gloriously green, flowery, abundant and prospectively fruitful season.  

Whether the weather brings sunny rapture or cloudy repulsion, there remains a gay, optimistic, signal of hope for this early part of the year.

From, Robert Browning, 1845

‘And after April, when May follows,

And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallow!

Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge

Leans to the field and scatters on the clover

Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge- ‘


To, A. E. Housman, 1890, whose diaries cover two areas of interest, “the variety of the seasons – mainly Spring and Autumn – the weather, and the dates at which flowers come into bloom.”

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough…

About the woodlands I will go 

To see the cherry hung with snow.”

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White Apple blossoms framed by the dotted blue of forget-me-nots, in England – now!


Rhymes and Reasons #nursery-rhymes #theatre #Easter #moral #happy


‘Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the Kings horses and all the Kings men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again…’

This sweet little nursery rhyme actually has a more sinister overtone. Often you find that when you dig a little deeper into the origins and meanings of nursery rhymes, they are not the innocent, dainty tales we enjoy humming and reciting.

Let’s look (photo below) at this Humpty – one too many glasses of wine will tip him over the edge of the wall, on which he precariously balances; in turn his ‘Easter egg’ head will crack open and no matter what help can be provided, no one will be able to mend him.  

Moral: watch your drinking.

But let’s not be sour on a day like today, Easter Monday: the sweetest and stickiest day of the year. The days are getting longer, the gardens are getting brighter, and I am seeing a play tonight called ‘Reasons To Be Happy’ at London’s Hampstead Theatre … start counting your reasons.

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‘Fare thee well!’ #travel #song #ballad #poetry #London #India

Here is a charming 18th century English folk ballad, to beat away the blues of January.
The first published version of this song appeared in Roxburghe Ballads, 1710.

‘…stay a while with me

For if I had a friend all on this earth

You’ve been a friend to me.

And fare thee well my own true love

And farewell for a while.

I’m going away but I’ll be back

If I go ten thousand miles.’

And on this cheery note, I must bid a 21st century friendly farewell as I depart London, England for Goa, India for 3 weeks of intrepid adventures and exciting discoveries. 

Sunny climes and warm skies beckon beyond and over the horizon – actually, geographically speaking, lying north of the Equator, just beneath the Tropic of Cancer.

New friends to meet, old friends to greet: ‘But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep…’ (poet, Robert Frost).

There are many ways to part and many paths to wander…

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Having a blast! A rhyme for a reason… #BonfireNight #GuyFawkes #OnThisDay

‘Remember, remember 

The 5th of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot

I see no reason, 

Why gunpowder, treason

Should ever be forgot!’

In 1605 (410 years ago today) a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, His Majesty James I and Their Lordships was very narrowly avoided. It was hatched by a conspiratorial group of Catholics, headed by Robert Catesby, in protest at the increasingly oppressive treatment by the King and his ministers. 

The date was the 5th November: the State Opening of Parliament.

The plot was foiled.

It is Guido (Guy) Fawkes (a 35 year old Yorkshireman) who was discovered in the tunnels under Parliament with piles of wood hiding 36 barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes, noted for his coolness and bravery, was consequently stretched and tortured on the rack, then hung, drawn and quartered in Westminster Yard on 31st January 1606.

He is sometimes toasted as ‘the last man to enter Parliament with good intentions!’

Traditional Bonfires and Fireworks are lit all across the country on 5th November, and a good old ‘guy’ (‘a penny for the guy’) is made and burned to rapturous delight!
Lights, fire, explosions and danger all for a plan that never succeeded…how the course of history ignites us!

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Ps These dashing men dressed in hats, leather and exhibiting masterful beards are not Musketeers but Conspirateurs