I could not resist plugging this unusual and quite brave new comedy about the life of an inner city vicar. True to life last night’s episode dwelled on the issue of parents seeking to obtain access to a church school by any means possible. Although I have never yet come across anything as extreme as the MP featured who decided to bribe the vicar for the desired school place! And it was funny!
It looks certain that both Riversdale and Sheringdale schools will be involved. Because of Ruth Padel’s Darwin connection and Tracy Chevalier’s fossil connection it seemed appropriate to commisiion some art work on the theme of beasts of Southfields- now and long ago. Ammonites once swam in the sea above where we now live, much later hippos bathed in the Thames and now we have a surprising amount of wildlife in a very circumscribed area. Stag beetles , parakeets, swifts and peregrine falcons . Not to forget the brown trout and the damsel flies.
I was surprised by a comment made by a naturalist during a programme on radio 4. Apparently a survey revealed that most people questioned had no idea what the word biodiversity means. Is it just my own obsession with wildlife that makes such a remark a shock? I who have spent two weeks counting small tortoiseshells- and who been horrified by my failure to make double figures? And who have experienced a strange regretful delight that I missed being in the presence of a bee-eater on the Dorset coast by only 2 days? More significant to me than any near encounter with a human celebrity!
But then we have just witnessed the startling effect on the print media of the realisation that the urban fox is actually a wild animal!
I have just picked up my old and battered copy of one of my favourite books, The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen, and was very struck by the quotation on its first page. Some words from Rainer Maria Rilke.
That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called ‘visions’, the whole so-called ‘spirit world’, death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out by life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied. To say nothing of God.
Peter Matthiessen is still alive and well at the age of 82 and is a zen priest, has twice won the US National Book Award, was part of the first team to photograph the Great White Shark in its own underwater domain and wrote a stirring and saddening hymn/elegy to the Crane.
It is a fairly scary undertaking,trying to set up the first ever Southfields Arts Festival. There are 3 events definitely on and happening at the church. On the 18th September Ruth Padel will be talking about the different challenges that poetry, travel writing and novels bring to the writer- with extracts from some of her works and a chance to ask questions.
I was just browsing Tracy Chevalier’s web- site and discovered that her latest novel, Remarkable Creatures, has been picked up by a film company. Her vivid account of Mary Anning’s pioneer fossil hunting with its cast of eccentric scholars-all authentic historical figures- and beautiful setting at Lyme Regis being ideal for translation into celluloid!
The author herself will be with us on the 25th September to talk about Remarkable Creatures and her other celebrated novels.
Both events will be at 8pm in the New hall. Tickets at £10 each with a complimentary glass of wine and nibbles. Tickets will be available from the church office from June onwards.
Our third event will be another concert from the Haydon Orchestra on the 3rd October. Programme yet to be devised.
Although in the background all the old tribalism is twitching there is at this very moment hope that we might get a loose coalition government. Certainly we need an arrangement that will give us market security as the financial snakes in the grass close in and a national deficit looms over us, but for the majority of us the particular arrangement that emerges will not be the one we desired! Maybe this will be a good time for us to stop playing the new national game of blame the politician.Surely we all have a role in creating the sort of country we can be proud of and the last thing that will help in the circumstances we face is an increase in the habits of cynicism and individualistic atomisation which have fostered a blame-ocracy and a not my problem-ocracy. If you will excuse the barbarism?