You can’t beat East Asia for power lines. When we arrived in Seoul for our South Korean adventure three years ago, we were stupefied by the skyscrapers, charmed by the traditional hanoks. But what we couldn’t take our eyes from were these.
Are there enough lines here for you Becky? Hey Jude? How about you? It was your post that put me in mind of these beauties.
On Saturday, about a million of us descended on London, all committed Remainers, demanding a Final Say on the Brexit Deal, which even as we marched was being debated in Parliament with as much dissent as usual.
Our own little patch of Yorkshire sent three coaches. Nineteen coaches from Yorkshire altogether. Everyone had their own important reasons for being there.
But the Yorkshire Remain Voice Choir had come to sing. We had permission to commandeer Wellington Place, right next to Trafalgar Square, and sing below the Duke of York Monument. And that’s what we did.
We’d come into being about two years ago in two ways. Over in York for Europe, Martin and Gill were crafting clever lyrics with a view to starting a Remainers’ choir. And in North Yorkshire we began to sing at our street stalls. Arnold conducted a few singers, a tuba, and a guitar. Small beginnings …. but now it’s county-wide, with members from Settle to Sheffield – almost 80 miles apart. Dozens play their parts. Composing lyrics; practising; arranging; securing singing spots; keeping song books up to date; booking coaches.
We have SODEM’s support in London, and an official photographer in Bedford-based Chiara Mc Call. We’ve sung all over Yorkshire, in London, even (thanks to Louise in South Yorkshire) in Brussels. Whenever the going’s got tough, we’ve had North Yorkshire’s Richard S’s boundless enthusiasm and hard work to keep us going. These days, apart from the original small team, we have a Yorkshire band’s worth of brass, and drums and various stringed instruments.
In London on Saturday, we had a large and pretty much captive audience. Slow-motion marchers inevitably listened – enthusiastically – as they passed. Many stopped off specially to listen, applaud and join in too. Demonic Cummings and Boris Johnson, those two splendid images fresh over from Germany, unsurprisingly pushed off towards Trafalgar Square as we began.
There are thirty eight songs in our repertoire – all, with one exception, pastiches of well-known numbers. Our signature number is of course:
‘We’ve come from Yorkshire just to say (just to say)
Your Brexit deal is naff…‘(to the tune of ‘On Ilkley Moor’, naturally).
But we can do other folk songs:
‘What shall we do with….‘, not a ‘Drunken Sailor’, but ‘this Rotten Brexit?’
…..drinking songs: ‘I’ve been a Remainer for many’s the year’ rather than the more traditional ‘Wild Rover’.
We can do Old Time Musical: ‘I’m forever European’ (‘I’m foreverBlowing Bubbles’).
Radio Two standards such as ‘Delilah’ ask:
‘Why why why deceive us?
More lies won’t appease us’.
We can reference American traditions:
‘We’ve had quite enough of Brexit it’s a con’. (‘She’ll be coming round the Mountain’)
While ‘The Battle Hymn to the Republic’ becomes ‘Our eyes have seen the threat to all the freedoms we hold dear’.
Hymns too …. ‘Bread of Heaven’, and the Last Night of the Proms (‘Land of Hopeless Tories ‘).
There’s one song in our repertoire that’s not original: ‘Ode to Joy’. It moves many of us to tears every time we sing it.
Brexit or no Brexit (no Brexit please!) we’d like to continue. A pro-Europe Choir and Band for Europe?
Photos and videos labelled ‘CM’ are by our wonderful friend and supporter Chiara McCall. Follow her on Instagram @chichi76.myreflection
I’m looking for lines. Most obviously, they call to mind buildings, railways, pavements, washing lines, power lines: man-made kinds of things. But Mother Nature does lines too, as we observed yesterday at Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate. Lines of still-summery oak leaves edged against the sky. Veins, dark against the now-glowing colours of the leaves. A tree trunk reflected into the water as one long sinuous line.
It was Apple Day at Ripon’s Walled Garden on Saturday. We went along.
For me, it was a chance to revisit my childhood. Every Saturday, I’d go shopping with my mother to the Tachbrook Street Market. My favourite stall was the greengrocer’s. I’d try to add to my collection of prettily-decorated tissues used by the citrus fruit growers to wrap their produce. I’d wonder at expensive exotica such as lychees or passion fruit. But really, we’d come to buy.
And my mother taught me that apples aren’t simply apples. There was something new to look forward to every month in autumn. The eagerly anticipated first apple of all – the bright red Discovery, quickly followed by Beauty of Bath. The Cox’s Orange Pippin of course, which we had to shake: it wasn’t ripe unless the pips rattled. Blenheim Orange. Laxton’s Supreme. Laxton’s Superb. Worcester Pearmain. Charles Ross. James Grieve. Egremont Russet, which I always associated with Bonfire Night, but which nowadays is already in the shops. Ribston Pippin. Ellison’s Orange. I learnt to love them all: some sharp and juicy; others more mellow, slightly less crisp; white-fleshed; creamy-fleshed; small; large; knobbly; oval; round – such variety.
Many of these have all but disappeared from the shops. It’s all about large, white-fleshed, crisp apples. Jazz, Pink Lady, Granny Smith – even Cox all seem much of a muchness. And half the time, when apple season is at its peak in England, they aren’t even from the UK. Cookers these days are Bramley Seedlings. Excellent of course, but where are the Lord Derbys, the Newton Wonders, the Grenadiers?
In places like Ripon’s Walled Garden, that’s where. Look at my Rogue’s Gallery of all the varieties they still grow.
This display below piqued my interest. I recently read Tracey Chevalier’s At the Edge of the Orchard, a partly-true story which begins in Ohio in Pioneering days. A bit-part in the tale is played by an apple variety, Pitmaston Pineapple, that had been carefully brought over from Herefordshire. I’d never preciously heard of them, but … they’re still grown in Ripon. I tasted one. The so-called pineapple taste eluded me … but I was still glad to have eaten a little bit of history.
Ripon Walled Garden is Ripon’s best kept secret. It’s a a charity supporting young people and adults with learning difficulties to learn horticultural and catering skills in a sheltered environment. Come here for a delectable tea-and-cake moment or a light meal, made using their fresh garden produce: sit at a table in the shade of the old apple trees in the well-tended and colourful garden. You’ll go home refreshed and happy.
Catching a baby in an unselfconscious moment is a bit of a cop out. Zoë doesn’t care. It’s far more important to squirrel away a few choice morsels in case she’s hungry later, rather than pose for the perfect shot.
Nearly forty years ago, we lived in Sheffield, next-door-but-one to Bryan. He was and is a carpenter. His wood never came from the woodyard though. It was always scavenged. You’d find him investigating skips or nosing through derelict buildings. Not for him IKEA generation pine and MDF. No, Bryan looked for weathered oak, warm-toned cedar, maple, cherry, iroko. He’d pick up a walnut floorboard or a broken mahogany cupboard door. He’d squirrel away a fragment of marquetry or a shard of polished ebony. Who knew when they’d come in handy? Everything was carefully organised next to his workshop: it might wait years and months for its moment of glory, but every piece of wood would find a use … one day.
He wanted projects he could put his personal stamp on – no identical sets of anything for him. And he liked to try things out and experiment. So he made a deal with us. We’d get the dining table we wanted if he could try a few techniques that might or might not work. No money would change hands. In exchange for being guinea pigs, we would get a table – for free – that might fall apart within the year.
Forty years on, we’re still using it. We still enjoy the almost-game-of-chess to be played on its surface. We fondle the dome of wood rising gently along one side. We smile as we remember the small marquetry lines that punctuate one of the legs: they show the knee heights of Thomas, then four, and Ellie, then two. We invent tales about the stick-man water carrier and enjoy the pretty mother-of-pearl buttons embossed into the surface. Look at the legs. Each is different – one made from pillars of the checker-board assembly scattered on the surface.
The stick man.
The exploded chess board.
That sensual polished nipple of wood along one side.
Tom’s leg height.
Another detail from the side.
… and another ….
… and another …
One of the table legs.
A small detail.
Crawl underneath. The table is dedicated to everyone in the family. There’s a further notice: this one.
We’ve called in one 10,000 meal service, as promised on the dedication notice. Sadly, Bryan now lives in Wales, and we have moved north from the Sheffield street where we once all lived. Bryan and I each have a different partner now, and we’ve rather lost touch. But that table ensures that he’s never forgotten. And when I go, will it have to be chopped in three? Each of my children wants it. Perhaps it’ll be a Judgement of Solomon moment for them.