Who Is Like God?

 

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Who is like God?

Love was the father and love the mother.

You arrived in December, anticipating another Christmas

A reward in yourself rather than a present

A pilgrimage more than a journey

Because we cannot find love in ourselves

Only with another

And you were the purest love

The world of love in a moment

To complete the place that was prepared for you

A place shaped, breathed into, palpitating, anticipated for you

And you arrived linking Winter with Spring

A week after Mandela died and two days before his burying

You arrived, your hair already hinting of gold

Woven like the wealth of the Transvaal on the South African flag

You arrived to separate the before from the after

The Anno Domini

Dividing the past from the future

You arrived to say that there was no going back

As the Ukraine edged westwards

After the charge of the dark brigade in Crimea

And your mother wrote the gospel of your life

Like a scream of joy

As the Scribes and the Pharisees fled back to the Old Testament

Making way for the new covenant of love

Turning over and seeding the soil of hope

Too big an enterprise now for the old scythes and hoes

‘We need a tractor’ you said in almost your first words

And we realised that the lines and the furrows

Could mean happiness after all.

Roy Stannard for Michael’s Naming Day 21.8.16

For a version of this mixed with music please visit Soundcloud at:

The Language of Us

 

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The Language of Us

Before you, I walked at the edge of the group

A straggler in strangers

My life didn’t fit, held together with an unsafety pin

I was made not to measure

A bird not of a feather

And my hesitant shadow held back

Expecting never to be expectant, half a step behind

Like a skittish kitten, playing with fear

And then, amongst the bubble wrap multitude

Issuing and popping with importance

Was a face that emptied the page, cleared the stage

And invited me into your dressing room

Shutting out the mob that scratched and mewled against the door

And said sit down, I have a place for you

In my heart

Come and try it on

And I tried it on

Inviting you to lunch without waiting for an answer

Knowing that the glistening still water waves of the Marina

Would caress our conversation

And lap at our bruised emotions

As we refused everything on the menu except love

We had been things to other people

We had appeared as guests in others memories

We were both in a foreign country

But as the first twitch of feeling shivered between us

We found we had the language of us

That said yes whenever we touched.

Roy Stannard for Natasha

20.8.16

For a recorded version with music on Soundcloud please click here:

How do you interview the 20th Century?

How do you interview the 20th Century?

Roy Stannard and the 20th Century in human form - Lord Denis Healey

Roy Stannard and the 20th Century in human form – Lord Denis Healey May 22nd 2014

By day I work in advertising – but by night – and Thursday evenings in particular, between 7-9pm I sneak away to host ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ on Seahaven FM 96.3 in Seaford, Peacehaven, Newhaven and the more rarefied parts of Lewes. It can be heard live around the world on http://www.seahavenfm.com

Through a mutual friend the opportunity arose recently to interview in a kind of Desert Island (Denton Island?) Discs format, the former Chancellor and Deputy Labour Leader, Lord Denis Healey, who resides at Alfriston. One of the dominant figures in Twentieth Century politics, Lord Healey of Riddlesden has been Chancellor of the Exchequer, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Defence Secretary and one of the leading thinkers in the post 45 transition from collective economic thinking to an economics combining social justice and progressive taxation. He is credited with saving the UK economy after five years of chancellorship in the political firestorm of the seventies and has been criticised by others for not scrutinising the need for the IMF £4 Billion bail out in 1976 more closely.

Most agree that he is the best Labour Party Leader that the party never had and was responsible for preserving the democratic centre of the Labour Party during the divisive times of Militant and the SDP breakaway.

However, for the purposes of the radio show that aired on the 22nd May Denis Healey is also a local resident, a keen consumer of music, poetry and art, an enthusiastic photographer and patron of local groups such as the Corelli Ensemble. At 96 years young he demonstrated amazing wit, recollection and the ability to tell entertaining anecdotes. Although I remember with embarrassment my attempt to show off by recounting his involvement in the Barbara Castle authored ‘In Place of Strife’ Industrial Relations policy in the 70s and loftily announced that Denis supported it. To which he replied, “Did I?”

I collected him from home, sat him down in the studio and spent two hours listening to his amazing stories that ranged from stories about Helmut Kohl, Khrushchev, Ted Heath, The Bloomsbury Group, Picasso to his forthright views about Tony Blair and the UK membership of the EC. We listened to his favourite (mainly classical) pieces of music and the time flew by. Denis was the author of the famous law of holes – when in one stop digging – and this was covered along with the apocryphal ‘Silly Billy’ line that Mike Yarwood ascribed to him.

I asked whether if he had left the Labour Party in 1989 with the rest of the SDP departees, it would have meant the end of the party – and whether, as most people agreed, he should have been the Leader of the Labour party. His bruising encounter with the IMF and the economic restraints it imposed may have been the result of a Treasury calculation error and led to policies that anticipated Monetarism by a decade.

I prepared for it by reading every article and interview available, reading his Autobiography ‘The Time of My Life’ and by listening to the two ‘Desert Islands Discs’ that he had participated in.

The range of topics and opinions on display was encyclopaedic and it stretched my presenter/historian/political commentator skills to the limit.

It was like interviewing the 20th Century in human form!

If you would like to listen to a recording of the programme, it can be listened to here:

On the 3rd October 2015 Lord Denis Healey died aged 98 at his home, Pingles Place in Alfriston, East Sussex.

As a tribute I wrote a poem called ‘Eden Again’ and posted it on this Blog:

http://wp.me/pCEKG-iZ

 

Moment

Leigh

Who knows when that moment will occur?

Moment

 

There was a New York moment
An ice-splinter in a sheet of sunlight
When without the aid of smart devices
Using dumb mind trails and heartstrings
We managed to connect
Like two sparrowhawks circling the Downs
Two wayfaring strangers caught in eye contact
A brother and a sister separated at the orphanage
The tramrails of recognition in a train carriage
Two carvings divided by centuries on an ancient Ashdown Forest oak
Together but alone, two flights scribbled together, trails in the sky
Lattice-work moments that we didn’t recognise then
But now in our Hadleigh twitchers hide they start to form letters
on the Estuary horizon as we look across the marshes of Foulness
And in the distance the iron-toothed refineries and the Essex tides
wash dreams from the tarnished golden mile to Thorpe Bay.
Do you remember being scared by thunder in the same storm?
Before grammar schools dressed us in new ambitions
That hung off us like extravagant hand-me-downs
And we didn’t know each other then
And yet we did, somehow.
We heard the strains of the same songs
drifting through our different worlds
echoes in adjacent rooms then
but hearing them again now,
as our eyes dance in the same places.
And as the shadows lengthen
The midges rise and the fairy-tale forest draws in
We let the thought hang in the air
There is a new Wealden moment
An iceblink as the glacier shifts
And the sun traces our faces,
our shadows merge, becoming one
as all of the things we always meant to do
collide here like carriages of a train
in its silent Beeching siding
but there in the car reserved for lovers
two people who have not known each other
all their lives
finally have their moment.
 
Roy Stannard 6th June 2013
(the 50th anniversary of the Beeching cuts)
 
Listen to a live recording on Soundcloud
https://soundcloud.com/roystannard/roy-stannard-moment-final-mix

Scarecrows

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Scarecrows

On days like these

When we check the condition of our hearts

And look back across our scarecrow lives

At nervous futures scattered in fright,

It would have been so easy to be lonely,

Miming to the multiple images of ourselves

In the infinity of mirrors

To hide in the nearest designer crowd collection

Turn pages in a corner, flock to a hidden place

and narrate our tales of what might have been

to an audience heading for the doors.

But today, of all days, we celebrate

The accident of intersection

When two lives crossed paths and connected

When sentences starting apart end together

Where thoughts form in each other’s imaginings

And become real

No longer ragmen to scare the birds

Our eyes light up

When everyone else is looking down

Sentinel in the barren fields of the everyday

Whilst the sensual blood-reared touch of our hands

Transform the ragamuffin tatters of the past.

We have ploughed our disappointments into the fields

And scattered regret to the winds

The blackbirds and the crows now peck in other places

As we pulse to the beat of this heart-felt, heart longed-for day

and the flotsam, jetsam, floaters, jokers and pieces of hope

that used to adhere to our detritus dreams

and hodgepodge passions

No longer see straw men

But the beauty of lovers

Making hay while the sun shines.

 

Roy Stannard 14.2.13

Winter

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Rodmell 5.12.12

Winter

 

 When Winter dons its black cap

and passes judgement on Autumn

and the landscape loses its colour certificate

I can trace the Summer synapses in the leaves

shorting in miniature Nagasakis

as the ground melts into uncertainty beneath my feet.

The flower negatives freeze into graven images

that no-one can hear but all can feel

This is the bitter seasoning spooned by designer ladle

We count the minutes of daylight like poll station misers

And watch birds shiver in mid-flight

Sometimes the time of year becomes a time of life

As we read the meteorology

And protest as the sundial ratchets out our fate

We sniff the spirits

hovering above the heather blankets on Rodmell Down

As they absorb us into their private mythology

So many beaten paths trodden by beaten men

Splinters of nearly victories stream by the hardworn path

December pedestrians discover a spring in the step

to ordnance our way into the future

Provisioned against the cold in the souls

of the waking, sentient dead

enjoying the golden lottery ticket of their birth

in their far away Westminster palaces

where there is no Winter

written out of some long forgotten manifesto

when principle became pragmatism

and faith could be fathomed.

And now we tremble in the face of Winter

But in that shivering lies the first spasm of chlorophyll

biology and squalling protest

Reaching selfishly for a measure of selflessness

Springing from the ground in a kind of baptism

Because even in this special death,

there is the first baby wriggle of life.

Roy Stannard 5th December 2012

Listen to it live here:

https://soundcloud.com/roystannard/roy-stannard-winter

..and again a year later on December 12th 2013

The End of Failing

The End of Failing

 

The Winter tide nibbles at a toe-dipped shoreline,

Above, the lowering sky grumbles at the lack of light

smudging a moleskin horizon.

A couple embroider loose stitches along the waveline

emerging like creation from the waters

half-way between the depths and the heights,

not quite fact or fiction

holding hands, in comfort as well as exploration.

Your heart asked God to place a pound in your path

if it was meant to be

and he said yes by giving you two.

On the Adur estuary skimming dreams across the surface

counting them as they bounce

not sinking or needing to come up for breath

In the perfect frozen stillness

we watch a lonely cormorant float across the sky

The sun is still a distant promise

but we feel the warmth of future fires igniting

And later in a wind-whipped harbour we watch

the sailing fantasies of absent mariners

moored together for warmth, as the north-east trades

blow us together, forging our shared heart as it shivers into being.

We take photographs, as if present at the birth of a great event

and we follow the currents to Bosham,

reading the runes in the seaweed signatures,

seeing etched

on the gulls-egg horizon

a tale we would not have dared to write

in the oblivion of yesterday

the hope, the honouring of a promise and the end of failing.

Roy Stannard 7.2.12