I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Well, as a follow-up to my rather bitter last posting I would like to share something from his interment service - which was, I thought, well done (but should have been in York Minster).

Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor, who is distantly related to Richard read a specially composed poem by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Here it is:


and the words:
My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
an incense, votive, vanishing, your own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.

These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end if time - an unknown, unfelt loss - 
unless the Resurrection of the Dead..........

or once I dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death,
as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.

Profoundly well done, I thought.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Although (or because) I have a deep interest in Richard III the latest shindigs in Leicester were not at all to my liking. This circus makes me almost wish we had never found his body.

The obvious place for his final resting place would have been York Minster and the internment should have been a dignified and quiet one. Having been paraded around the streets of Leicester his coffin is now to be interred in Leicester "Cathedral" - once a parish church smaller than many town churches I know.

However, no doubt the town (hardly a city) worthies are already counting the income generated  (they are hoping for £150 million a year) 

An article in the "Telegraph" just about sums it up:

"To judge by the brouhaha, the reinterment of Richard III is the most exciting thing to have happened in Leicester since the king’s death at the nearby Battle of Bosworth over 500 years ago.

The Plantagenet monarch, whose remains were discovered under a Leicester city car park in 2013, will be reburied in Leicester cathedral on Thursday.

The reinterment is a big deal for Leicester, which – to put it politely – has never been much of a honeypot for tourists. Tickets for the service have sold out, but it will be shown live on Channel 4 and on two large screens in the city centre. Visitors can also get a glimpse of Richard’s coffin in the cathedral from Monday to Wednesday.

As if to shore itself up for the next 500 years, Leicester and its surrounding villages have gone all out to make the most of Richard’s last hurrah, with a week-long programme of city, castle and battlefield tours, talks, church services and an art show. A local escort agency, Midland Belles, has even cashed in by offering people the chance to visit the reinterment with one of its “educated and beautiful” team.

All of which has caused howls of disapproval from those who feel that the royal remains deserve more respect and should have been left in peace under the car park. Not to mention the Yorkists who want Richard to be buried in their city, or the lobby calling for a state funeral and burial in Westminster Abbey.
Despite this, there will be no halting the pomp and circumstance in Leicester next week.

Monday, March 02, 2015


My Australian son-in-law recently emailed me on the subject of pipe smoking. He is not a frequent smoker, liking a good cigar about once a month for relaxation. Perhaps he relates to Kipling's view of the subject, "A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke". He thought he would try a pipe and knowing that I once smoked them he asked advice about keeping the things alight. (The difference between a cold filling and a furnace which burnt the tongue).

I never smoked them to excess (and never smoked cigarettes), but enjoyed the relaxation and meditation of an occasional smoke. Gold Block tobacco was my preferred filling and the smoke's fragrance still brings back memories. (not often smelt these days though). About 35 years ago, one Christmas, I found I had run out of tobacco and never bought any more. Thus I gave up with no withdrawal symptoms, but preserved my pipes and paraphernalia as a memory (see image above - my favourite pipe being the one at the "south west" position). It was one reason for using the "Gandalf" self - image at my blog head.

I have no regrets. An old work colleague of mine smoked a pipe incessantly, it was seldom out of his mouth. He used to say that it was a marvellous ploy, when confronted with a difficult question, to gain thinking time by filling/ lighting/smoking the pipe, looking ruminative and sagacious. He died at 70, painfully, with cancer of the tongue after suffering operations to cut away most of his cancerous stomach - all caused by the lethal "dottle" which he imbibed over a lifetime.

Churchill smoked 8-10 large Cuban cigars a day throughout his life, but seldom smoked them more than half way (a good habit since the stubs through which the smoke has filtered contained concentrated carcinogens), giving the stubs to his gardener.  He lived to over 90 - his gardener died of lung cancer, but Churchill's constitution was not as other men's.

My advice is "never take it up".