Saturday, 27 December 2008
Just a brief update first, on the pollution of our beautiful river on Christmas Day. Our neighbour by the river spoke to the Environmental Agency inspector yesterday morning and they know the area upstream where this took place and their investigations are ongoing. She was told she will "read all about it on the front page of the Carmarthen Journal in due course". He intimated that the book would be thrown at the culprit as this was "the worst case of pollution he had seen in his 30 year career". I hope he has to sell up to pay the fine.
Meanwhile, I had some splendid books this Christmas, although one of them was a present from me, to me - intended for a present from my son, but he bought me something else. It is a looooooooong poem - "Dart" by Alice Oswald. I seem to remember hearing it on Radio 4 a year or so ago, and as we used to camp beside the West Dart many years ago on Dartmoor, and fell asleep to its gurgles and glugs and shifting pebbles, I just HAD to have this book. Interspersed with the poem are short bits of prose, and the history of events on the moor, and people of the moor, woven into it:
at Staverton Ford, John Edmunds being washed away, 1840:
. . . . . all day my voice is being washed away
out of a lapse in my throat
like after rain
little trails of soil-creep
loosen into streams
if I shout out
if I shout in,
I am only as wide
as a word's aperture
but listen! if you listen
I will move you a few known sounds
in a constant irregular pattern:
flocks of foxgloves spectating slightly bending . . .
o I wish I was slammicking home
in wet clothes, shrammed with cold and bivvering but
this is my voice
under the spickety leaves,
under the knee-knappered trees
rustling in its cubby-holes
and rolling me round, like a container
upturned and sounding through
and the silence pouring into what's left maybe eighty seconds
From Alice Oswald's epic poem, "Dart". . .
I love the dialect words - my dad (a Devon man) always used "shrammed" and I still do too. I love "slammicking home". "Slammick/slummick/slommick" is untidy, sluggish. A very omnomatapaeic word . . .
Next is a wonderful New Forest local-produce recipe book which my friend Gay saw at the New Forest Show, and knew it was just "up my street" as we used to say. It has some lovely recipes in it. Think . . . Raspberry and Amoretti Ice Cream Torte, think . . . Carrot and Cumin Soup, think . . . Pumpkin Chutney. I think I am going to be returning to this again and again.
Lastly, this one came from the just-before-Christmas car boot sale. The moment I read the title, I knew it was one for me. Who would DREAM of calling a book "Delightsome Land" in this day and age - it sounds very much of its period (1945). It has charming illustrations (as seen below) and the most wonderful (Yorkshire) dialect speech - "All them brassened browls have been taught by their mallywallops of mothers to behave like that," said Hannah, seceptically. "Doant daddle. We can't stay here all neet. Put t'lile bowdykite doon and coom alang." (The bowdykite was apparently the little gypsy baby . . .) I guess you know why it came home with me now!