Pirates & Piracy #pirates #Hastings #records #drummers 

Piracy in Hastings Old Town has become a mid-July, summer celebration and each year, along buccaneer mile, a little variation keeps it ever-exciting and wildly entertaining. Pirates from all over the country, county, cities and o’er the seas come to revel and rollick.
This year includes, ‘The Tigers’ free-fall parachuting, and landing on the end of Hastings pier; fierce and feisty drummers – Section 5; drinking gin before 11am; beards, parrots and real wooden legs; the creation of the largest pirate flag in the world on the beach and filmed from air; drinking whisky after 11am and everything else onwards; dancing and a full pirate orchestra performing Pirates of the Caribbean music as well as folk band, The Pyrates from Holland, and ‘light’ Opera (Pirates of Penzance); Jack Sparrow and entourage in drunken swagger parading along the seafront. He really looks like Johnny Depp.

Arrrgh…a jolly good time had by all!’

Please take note Hastings features in The Guinness Book of Records for the most recorded pirates in one place … that’s 14,231 Pirates.  I was one of them.


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Pirates party before pub refreshments.

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Signs that Stick (Out) #OnThisDay #War #signs #life #death #Hastings

Speedy lives, racing around, lots to do, no time to stop, then one day or some odd day, or some particular day comes along and in it there’s a sign; you stop to read it – twice, no more than a simple 3 minutes of your time, but what it says is striking…

On this site stood

The Swan Inn

& 1,2 & 3 Swan Terrace

destroyed by enemy action 

at about mid-day on Sunday

23rd May 1943 with consider-

able loss of life.

After that, you walk away much slower, much softer and much more removed from all around you, and furthermore you contemplate a situation of absolute pain, horror and devastation precisely 83 years ago, down that same path you casually wander today.

The land on which you stand has played many a-parts.

Pass with a new eye and a different tread.

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Devotion and Emotion #Spain #France #poetry #poets #OnThisDay #pilgrimage

Spanish poet from Seville, Antonio Machado, died in Collioure, the little fishing village in southern France on 22nd February 1939.  
As a boy and without financial support, he and his young brother were driven to write and to act to make money. Later as a supporter of the loyalist cause, and living in Madrid at the outbreak of The Spanish Civil War, he was subsequently forced into exile. He and his family joined thousands of refugees on a long, perilous journey on foot over the Pyrenees. One month later he passed away, aged 63.

No, my soul is not asleep.

It’s awake, wide awake.

It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,

it’s eyes wide open

far-off things, and listens

at the shores of the great silence.

From ‘Is my soul asleep?’ by Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly.

A his grave is a site of pilgrimage for the Spanish, French and Catalan communities. All year this man, this poet, is visited and adored; his resting place is a shrine of devotion, emotion, and poetry…

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John Keats, Reflecting on A Star #OnThisDay #poetry #JohnKeats

John Keats born 31st October 1795, (220 years ago today).

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen…’

From, ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ (sonnet) composed by Keats in October 1816 after a night spent reading aloud translations from Homer. These translations were completed by George Chapman in 1616, precisely 200 years prior to Keats, then add another 220 years and you reach our 21st century.

That evening Keats parted from his school friend, Cowden-Clarke, walked over London Bridge back to Dean Street (present day fashionable Soho) and at once wrote this sonnet.

Keats died of tuberculosis aged only 25 years in Rome, 23rd February 1821.

‘When I have fears that I may cease to be,
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain…’ 

He never got his girl (Fanny Brawne) and, in true romantic fashion, he strove to write and achieve the very best poetry; believing he had failed in his lifetime as a poet.

‘ – then on the shore 

Of the wide world I stand alone and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.’

Keats wrote some of the most beautiful lines in the English language.

Today he is considered ‘a bright star.’

Stars, whose fires corresponded with his own ardour (Latin ardere = to burn), were an endless preoccupation for Keats; he had a kinship with the transcendent world – a place where he might continuously exist outside the created world; free from life’s limitations and restrictions and ultimately death… ‘A Bright Star.’

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London’s Autumnal Reflections: ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever…’

  

Nelson triumphs at sea, then falls on Victory #victory #OnThisDay #Nelson #history

“Now gentlemen, let us do something today which the world may talk of hereafter.”
Lord Collingwood, British admiral, before the Battle of Trafalgar, 21st October, 1805…210 years ago today.

After four hours of fierce exchanges and superlative manoeuvring by British commanders off the south west coast of Spain, the French Admiral Villeneuve (Pierre-Charles-Jean-Baptiste Silvestre de Villeneuve – a man not short of names, but short of ideas) was humiliatingly beaten by the British. Of the combined Franco-Spanish fleet, 18 ships were destroyed, more than half its strength; they were no match in this game of battleships. The superb strategic moves and unconventional tactics of the British Naval Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, were masterfully winning.
  

“First gain the victory and then make the best use of it you can.”

However our Inspirational leader (now aged 47 years) had already greatly suffered in Napoleonic battles-of-the-seas, with the loss of an eye at Corsica and an arm at Tenerife. On this ‘Trafalgar‘ day, he was mortally wounded by a French sniper as he stood on the deck of his flagship Victory.  
V for Victory and sadly, V for Victim.
His body was first preserved in a barrel of brandy and then transported back to London from Gibraltar in a lead-lined coffin filled with spirits of wine.  

He was buried in St Pauls Cathedral on 9th January, 1806.

Toast our British hero with a swig of brandy, maybe in one of the many Lord Nelson pubs?!
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Going hoarse for a Horse! From Car park to Cathedral. #onthisday #RichardIII #history

On the 22nd August, 1485 (530 years ago today) on Redmore Plain in Leicestershire (now known as Bosworth Field) the 32 year old King of England, Richard III (King for less than 2 years) lay slain, beaten and betrayed.
‘Pity the man who waves the white boar’

It was Shakespeare’s play, written with enormous Tudor biase, ‘Richard III’ (1592) that coined the desperately-pleading phrase: “a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”
This was not officially recorded as truth but it’s a most likely understated request.
His remains were only recovered and confirmed, after a great deal of forensic analysis, in a Leicester council car park under the letter R in 2012 and he was respectfully and ceremoniously laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015.
He was the first King to have died in battle since the Norman Conquest (1066) and the last since; he was the first to be found under a car park and the most historically misunderstood and misrepresented King. His death marked the end of The Plantagenet dynasty and the War of The Roses: the Yorkist White & the Lancastrian Red. Henry Tudor (Henry VII) united the two sides with his Tudor rose (red & white combined, NOT pink) both the House of Lancaster and the House of York were very closely related.

The life and times of King Richard III are a fascinating subject.
Today we must picture him on a valiant stead, with his banner of St George and his emblem, The White Boar flying high on a windy plain,
‘this glorious son of York.’

William Blake (28th November 1757-12th August 1827) #poems #songs #London #onthisday

Devout Londoner, poet & artist William Blake died on the 12th August 1827, missing his 70th birthday by 3 months. He was a mystical, artistic poet and an experienced engraver. He exercised his craftsmanship with great delicacy in his books Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, illustrating his works in the supernatural sense. His wife Catherine assisted in hand painting and binding the books.
Blake’s poetry was creative, energetic and evocative, perhaps infused and inspired by his vision of God, when aged four, and his communications with other religious figures throughout his life. A metaphysical nature is not always an easy one to grasp on first reading; there is the strong use of metaphors and conceits, elaborate images or far-fetched comparisons.
On dying he was extremely happy, singing loudly and ecstatically “Hallelujahs & songs of Joy & Triumph.”
It is said that in Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of The Sunflowers, each flower represents a different stage of life…
In Blake’s poem Ah! Sunflower, we also feel the passage of time and age…

‘Ah! sunflower, weary of time,
Who contest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done…’
From Songs of Experience

Filled of Philips!

Philip Larkin born in the suburbs of Coventry on 9th August, 1922. He was named after the Renaissance poet Sir Philip Sydney.

Days

‘What are days for?

Days are where we live.

They come, they wake us

Time and time over


They are to be happy in:

Where can we live but in days?’

Sir Philip Sydney, the well-connected, charmed, ‘silver-spoon’ Elizabethan gentleman, was born at Penshurst Place, Kent in November 1554. His godfather was King Philip II of Spain.

In 1586 he was fighting in battle for the Protestant cause against the Spanish when he was wounded in the thigh; he died 26 days later of gangrene aged only 31 years. Whilst lying there he composed a song to be sung on his deathbed. Forever the poet.
From Astrophil and Stella XXXI

‘With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb’st the skies

How silently, and with how wan a face!’

…end

The joke’s on me: Robert Graves #poets #onthisday

Check out my blog of 24th July 2015: Dead or Alive? Rescued by poetry.

In brief it states that on Robert Graves‘ 21st birthday (24th July 1895) he opened The Times newspaper only to read his own obituary.  

He had been pierced through the chest and groin by shrapnel at the Somme in July 1916 and was written off by the battalion doctor has having “no chance.”

However it was on this day, 5th August 1916 (12 days later) The Times made good their mistake, announcing Graves had actually survived.

Thankfully, out of this ‘grave’ incident (pardon the pun!) he claimed, “the joke contributed greatly to my recovery. The people with whom I had been on the worst terms (with) during my life wrote the most enthusiastic condolences to my parents.”

Sometimes we may forget that previous generations also had a sense of humour as well as being both adored by some and despised by others. That’s life.

Here’s Graves’ poetry whilst in buoyant spirits…

‘Why have such scores of lovely, gifted girls

Married impossible men?

Simple self-sacrifice may be ruled out, 

And missionary endeavour, nine times out of ten.’

Has God’s supply of tolerable husbands 

Fallen, in fact, so low?

Or do I always over-value woman

At the expense of man?

Do I?

It might be so.’
from ‘A Slice of Wedding Cake’