Christmas 1996, Valerie used some of her redundancy money to pay for a holiday in Egypt, hotel in Cairo then sailing down the Nile. I was stunned by how beautiful and sensuous the bas relief in the stone walls and how delicate the statues. How could the artist create diaphanous robes in stone, such desirable bodies? Four years later, I wrote a poem “In Egypt” which has just come joint third in the Barnet Poetry competition and this prompted me to post it illustrated by photos.
In the folder in My Pictures dated 1996 are photos scanned in from negatives I took during this trip. Unfortunately none show a good example of what inspired me but I hope this blog will still be of interest.
We started in Cairo, one or two nights and, of course visited the pyramids where we saw police on camels whipping away civilian men on camels; they were pestering us tourists. The museum was wonderful and it is there that I saw the brightly painted clay votive figures. The next stop was the boat, I think we flew or took a coach to Luxor to meet it. Not too big it was great, good food and a pleasant group to travel with. It was lovely sitting on the deck in the early evening chatting and drinking, watching the Nile go by. I was surprised how close the banks were and how green they could be.
We visited temples along the way to the Aswan Dam and during our frequent dockings that I saw the bas relief and statues that inspired my poem.
Many of the images and writings were gouged out. The new king, in political censorship, would obliterate the name and face of his predecessor and Christians, in moral censorship, would deface what they thought immoral imagery. There was still much left to admire and enjoy.
The Felucca were beautiful, serene, silent timeless.
We sailed in one to Elephant Island I think it was. This is not Elephant Island but I like the picture.
About 10 years later I discovered Enheduanna the first poet who wrote in Sumer in about 2350BCE. It was an amazing civilization who invented and developed so many things, writing was just one. Later I found Egyptian love poetry written soon after this. Both are beautiful and have an unabashed sensuality and eroticism. This lead me to write some poems relating to both civilisations which perhaps I could write about in another blog.
We have many woods and open spaces in Enfield, one is Hadley Wood which is an old beech wood a remnant of the hunting Ground of monarchs including Henry VIII.
We often go for a walk here absorbing energy from the trees, just enjoying being in the wood.
I love the way trees make patterns against the sky
and to see the eager young leaves bright green against mute brown.
When the grandchildren were young they would run in the small brook their boots full of water, now it is dry.
By the Green is Monken Hadley Church.
It is a beacon church and has a brazier up on the roof. When lit it formed part of the navigation system enabling travellers to find their way about. It had an order of nuns who had some healing function. They would precess down and then up the hill, just over 2 miles, to Camlet Lake by Trent Park. There is a healing well in one corner of the square island. People still hang offerings, scraps of fabric, toys, crystals, all manner of things in the trees there.
Last weekend we stayed in Thornbury Castle, a genuine Tudor castle whose facilities were, thankfully, up-to-date. Our room was at the top of a spiral staircase, no lift, and had an enormous steel key that Valerie weighed in her hand. We were almost at the top of a tower so
the room was circular with a wonderful view and I spotted a small vineyard in the castle grounds. It was a large space and had a big four poster bed with a canopy and a wonderfully comfortable mattress.
The grounds were lovely and had an ancient yew hedge that was in the shape of an arch with interesting slits rather like the castellation of the castle walls.
Henry the VII was the first of the line of Tudor Monarchs (1485 to 1603) and in a way it reinforced the creation of England concentrating power and wealth in the Southeast and enabling the development of English as a language a process which had started over 100 years before. On leaving the hotel we travelled to Bristol to celebrate a family golden wedding anniversary. From the venue I could see the second bridge into Wales shrouded in mist and mystery.
Henry VII came from Wales and fought his way to the English throne and the union with Wales was signed in 1542 during the Tudor period so seeing the bridge was a natural progression after a night in a Tudor Castle. I also remembered how we had to drive through Gloucester to get to South Wales and now there are two bridges.
So on to Bideford to stay with some old friends. The town is very photogenic and has a medieval bridge whose arches are of different spans. The wider the span the richer the merchant who built it. I like being there though the hills are demanding.
Jukebox Poetry is going strong at the Dugdale. I have just added volume 5
which means, with the other albums we have over 100 or more recordings of poems. This includes a wonderful Cd by Rik Wilkinson, Flight.
As well as recordings we have a poem of the month displayed on two A1 posters, one in the window and the other on the front of the reception desk This month it is a poem by Ruth Padel, Capoeira Boy. It is a tremendous poem and it looks great. The photograph is of the poster in the window.
Well, I have remembered how to embed a video into WordPress and have added the A/V of all 28 translations of Londinium with music and images. It has been fun choosing images, deciding how to present each language and, of course, struggling with the programme.
Difference gives us strength and I am proud that I live in a city that has people from all over and speaks 300 languages even though I struggle with languages myself.