Old Friends

Last week I wrote of the passing of a kinsman and how my world seemed to shrink, but the warmth of our association remains.

This week I write about old friends with whom my wife and I spent time over the weekend.

Old as in ‘older than us’ from where we lived before, who are still good friends.best old ones

We were neighbours and shared a love of plants, summer lunches, sometimes heated discussions, poetry and word plays. We shared similar Southern African origins and discovered that we were almost related, with a sister and an uncle romantically linked for a  while.

alphabet friendsThe word “friend” comes from Old English “frēond”, which is actually the present participle of “frēogan”, which means “to love” and “to honor”.
a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

Synonyms: 1. comrade, chum, crony, confidant. 2. backer, advocate. 4. ally, associate, confrere, compatriot.

Tick all boxes!

goodbye friend

 

 

 

Our world shrinks as we age

I mourn the passing of an icon in my life today.
Energy and efficiency and focus were his middle names. Fast, impatient and so competent.
I bet he chastened his surgeon about the workings of his pacemaker and circulatory system that failed him!
catch-fishAnd generous with his skills and abilities, especially with his bumbling brothers in law.
What a fisherman! And a sailor who instilled a love of the sea and sailing.

That’s 3 brothers in law I have lost in recent years. Good men, generous and competent engineers, all of them. Heaven will be much improved!

We mourn the circle of life as we enter winter.
But a new Spring will come – different, somehow smaller, but renewed and growing new shoots and flowers.

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” – Rabindranath Tagore

 

Autumn Leaves (one for my brother – he ain’t heavy)

 

This time of year brings to mind that song sung by Doris Day on her Day by Day album, released in 1956, music of my older brother who went to boarding school in a far-away city. He also introduced me to Rosemary Clooney’s (yeah, Georgie’s auntie!)  Come on-a my house and Irma La Douce, a fairly risqué musical about a mec (cool dude/pimp) – who fell in love with his poule (prostitute). This is the story: Valse milieu

Inadvertent education for a 6-year old (me); my brother was a sophisticated sixteen.

Talk about being led astray… this was supposed to be about the changes in nature that Autumn brings, but I wandered away down memory lane. Oh well, I enjoy doing that!

We don’t have a dramatic leaf colour display apart from a few exotic trees in public places that I try to avoid. However, trees like the paperbark gumPaperbark flower and the Golden Penda, come into flower and lure birds in flocks; driven to fatten up before winter. golden pendas tree

The ground below the trees is littered with flower wreckage. The raucous Rainbow Lorikeets are there and thus absent from our garden, so Bluebird, the ring-necked Indian Lovebird who has adopted us, comes to dine 5 or 6 times a day!

We are also visited by the Butcher Birds who gather in choirs and sing and whistle at each other in some sort of boundary identification ritual. Sometimes a few of them will fly straight up, high into the sky, then tumble and glide back down in graceful arcs. They too drop in for a crust quite often. Butcher Birdsong.

Magpies also start policing their boundaries, viciously chasing away juveniles. A pair swooped onto a young bird in our garden recently, pinning it to the ground and stabbing at it with their vicious pointed beaks.

Lulu 22 Oct 2016Fortunately, Lulu took exception and ran over and barked them away. I watched them chase the bewildered bird into the distance at great speed. A hard way to start adult life away from home

 

I suspect my thoughts are about growing old gracefully and accepting nature’s inexorable cycle.

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Good Friday Feelings

I must confess to a great sadness that hangs around me as the week nears Good Friday. My mind echoes with the sad hymns of Easter which describe the jesus crowntorment, mockery and suffering that Jesus endured; learned during the torturous (for young boys) service of Stations of the Cross.

There is a green hill far away

I am almost mystified by the full moon and the still, chill Autumn Easter season heralding winter.

This is the influence of a Catholic upbringing in which Good Friday was a sombre day for repentance and sorrow; icons were covered, the altar was bare and the bells replaced by wooden clappers.

The joy of Easter Sunday is a marked contrast which puzzled my schoolboy mind. Vestments are white and candles and Easter Eggs abounded, representing the new life of the risen God.

easter joy

The Easter Bunny too played its part:  “originating among German
Lutherans, the “Easter Hare” originally played the role of
a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in  at the start of the season of Eastertide.”easter rabbit

The holyday weekend usually sees an exodus to the pleasure domes and sultry sea, so the churches should not suffer for space, like at Christmas. But in fact they do – as Christians celebrate the new life and re-commit themselves to spiritual focus and fleshly discipline. Not a bad thing, for we are a decadent bunch.hallelujah chorus stand

And here is a wonder to uplift you!

Hallelujah Chorus

Will you take a tint, Paddy?

guinessWell it may not be a surprise to some of you, but I am an Irish citizen. With a name like Malachy, you might have thought there was a hint of Guinness somewhere. Mind you some in the Wes-Transvaal thought it was a Jewish name.

The first of my family name invaded Ireland as a Norman knight. Family
service to the Crown was duly recognised in 1328 by granting of the title of Baron of Loughmoe with even a castle in Tipperary. Purcell_crest
The medieval Irish genealogist Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh wrote that our family genealogy begins with Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

The family supported the Catholics after Henry VIII and lost the title. So there is no need to refer to me as Your Grace.

My great grandfather was a stonemason in County Clare. Just after my grandfather was born in 1861, the family left for Leeds in Yorkshire.

He became a soldier and served in the Cape Mounted Rifles, commanded the Rand Rifles Regiment in South West Africa and then served as a Brigadier General in the South African Expeditionary Force in World War 1. He retired to Ireland but sadly the IRA suggested he should leave because of his senior service with the British Army.

shamrockMy father was taught the Gaeilge by Mrs De Valera herself. And if you ask me nicely later today, I might sing James Connolly.

 

Today is a day for joy, a drop, appreciation for the the skilful word and a limerick or two. The thing about limericks is that one needs to read them aloud.not calm

It is an old maxim in the schools,
That flattery’s the food of fools;
Yet now and then your men of wit
Will condescend to take a bit.

(Not mine but that of Jonathan Swift).

 

O long life to the man who invented potheen –snoopy paddy
Sure the Pope ought to make him a martyr –
If myself was this moment Victoria, the Queen,
I’d drink nothing but whiskey and wather.

(Anon)

Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain,lovely day for a guinness
With grammar, and nonsense, and learning.
Good liquor, I stoutly maintain,
Gives genius a better discerning.
Oliver Goldsmith

Have you heard about the Irish boomerang?
It doesn’t come back, it just sings sad songs about how much it wants to.

It’s not that the Irish are cynical. It’s rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.
Brendan Behan

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
Oscar Wilde

I have particular regard for this pithy aphorism by George Bernard Shaw which seems to apply to all media today:

Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.

irish harp

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig ort! Saint Patricks Day Blessings on you