Thursday, March 12, 2020

They Call Him Japhy Ryder

Quote by Gary Snyder.

It was Jack Kerouac’s birthday today. Jack was born on March 12th, 1922 which means that if he hadn’t drunk himself to death in 1969, he would have been 98 today. I would have forgotten about his birthday if I hadn’t been reminded of it by a Facebook friend. Purely by chance I had a Jack related parcel arrive today. It contained two books by Gary Snyder. They are called The Back Country and Earth House Hold. They are American books, published by New Directions in 1969. One book is poetry and the other is prose. I got both books for a total of 99 pence on eBay. That is what I call a bargain.

Gary Snyder was the real-life person who was portrayed as Japhy Ryder the hero of Jack’s second most famous book The Dharma Bums.  He was born on May 8, 1930 which means he will soon be 90 years of age.  Although best known as a poet associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance, he is also an essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. He has been described as the ‘poet laureate of Deep Ecology’ Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the American Book Award. His work, in his various roles, reflects an immersion in both Buddhist spirituality and nature. Snyder has translated literature into English from ancient Chinese and modern Japanese and was an academic at the University of California. ( I found a lot of that info on Wiki.)

I’m looking forward to reading both these books before I sell them. I have always liked Gary Snyder, ever since reading the Dharma Bums about 45 years ago. He didn’t have the self-destructive side to his nature like Jack and other people associated with the Beats and he practiced what he preached. With his interest in ecology and being aware of the need for humans to live in tune with nature he was decades ahead of other writers. I bet Greta Thunberg would have got on well with Gary.

Talking about being in tune with nature, I have been doing a bit of gardening in between rain showers. Just tidying up mainly. I’m still planning to get out walking soon if the weather cheers up a bit. I’m on day 8 of my yoga as well. This week I have been following the horse racing at Cheltenham, but I haven’t picked a winner yet. It’s the final day tomorrow with the Gold Cup as the big race. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Secret Heart Of Music

I received a couple of interesting books in the post recently. They are both concerned with Sir George Trevelyan. If you haven’t heard of him, he was a British educational pioneer and a founding father of the New Age movement. In 1942, after hearing a lecture given by Dr Walter Stein, a student of Rudolf Steiner, Trevelyan discovered a spiritual worldview. During his lifetime he explored beliefs in angels, the calming effects of crystals and the power of ley lines, alongside organic farming and communal living. He carried out his pioneering work in the teaching of spiritual knowledge as adult education. The courses ranged from chamber music and drama onto esoteric subjects such as 'Finding the Inner Teacher' and 'Holistic Vision'. He was involved in the establishment of the Findhorn Foundation, the Gatekeeper Trust, and through his friendship with Wellesley Tudor Pole, the Chalice Well  at Glastonbury and the Lamplighter Movement. In 1971, he set up the Wrekin Trust to promote spiritual education and knowledge.

I heard Sir George speak at Glastonbury Festival in 1981, but I can’t remember a word of what he said. What has got me interested in him recently is curiosity about a weekend conference at Loughborough University in 1987 called The Secret Heart Of Music which the Wrekin Trust organised in collaboration with Van Morrison. I have written about this event previously on this blog site. You can find a recording of Van performing at this event on youtube. I hoped I might find further information in these publications. The first book is called Sir George Trevelyan And The New Spiritual Awakening. There is one paragraph on page 161 about the Loughborough event, but sadly nothing that I didn’t know already (See pictures) 

 The other publication is a pamphlet called A Curriculum For Spiritual Training Combining The Ancient Wisdom With Modern Developments In Psychological And Scientific Knowledge. It contains the trust’s agenda for Autumn 1986 and Spring 87. Sadly, there is no mention of the event I am interested in. I don't think the Wrekin Trust exists any more, so I can't contact them.

It would be great to hear from anyone who was there on that weekend. I know there was a brochure published to accompany the conference. I haven’t been able to find a copy of it. If you have a copy that you would sell or loan to me, I would be delighted to hear from you. Also, I would love to see any posters or photographs of the event. Cheers.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Mermaid Avenue.

A nice spring like day. I hadn’t left the house yesterday, so after I did my half hour of yoga this morning I went for a stroll up town. I bought a bag of compost from Davies and an anemone from Andrea’s plant shop. In one of the charity shops I found a CD by Billy Bragg and Wilco called Mermaid Avenue for only £1.50 which was a bargain. In Lidl I also bought a bag of bulbs for my garden.
When I got home, I planted out my anemone and a tray of primulas in some pots and did a bit of tidying up. It’s great to see a little bit of colour. My clematis looks nice, in full bloom and growing over my shed. A day like today fills one with a feeling of optimism after all the rain and storms we have endured recently.
pots by back door.

I played my new CD when I got back indoors and I’m very glad I bought it. Mermaid Avenue was the name of the street in Coney Island, New York where Woody Guthrie lived with his wife Marjorie. His daughter Nora approached Billy Bragg with the lyrics to 1000 songs which Woody had written but never recorded. Woody had promised the lyrics to Bob Dylan in the early 60’s, but when Bob went to the house Marjorie was out and her son Arlo didn’t know about them. Anyway, Billy Bragg approached Wilko to work on the music and the result is this very enjoyable album which was released in 1998. I was pleased to hear Natalie Merchant on a couple of the tracks and also Eliza Carthy help out on violin.
clematis on shed.

The news is a bit depressing at the moment because of coronavirus. There has been one death in Britain and 166 cases. I just hope it doesn’t get so bad that Glastonbury is cancelled. We shall see.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020


The rain has returned, so there will be no pottering in the garden today. The sound of the Kora is filling the house with nice vibes. Some African music was needed, and this is perfect. The kora is a beautiful instrument from Senegal and other West African countries. It has 21 strings which are plucked to give a sound similar to a harp. The CD is called L’Atlantique and was bought many years ago from a guy called Moussa Kouyate who used to busk in Bath.
Some African music was needed because today is the birthday of Miriam Makeba who was known as Mama Africa. She was a great lady and her autobiography is well worth reading.

Sadly, here is a lack of music by her in this house. Her version of Brand New Day by Van Morrison was played earlier on youtube though. In my humble opinion it is the best cover version of a Van Morrison song. Tupelo Honey by Richie Havens is pretty good as well. I don’t know what to do this afternoon. If I think of anything exciting I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020


January and February have been and gone and finally the rain has abated, and the sun has begun to shine. Trouble by Ray Lamontagne is playing in the kitchen. What a nice album it is. Bought in a charity shop several months ago and only now being played regularly.
It's that time of year again. Ventured out into the yard yesterday and planted some violets and primroses. It is humble beginnings, but you can feel Spring is on the way. In Lidl they had some primulas which will be planted tomorrow, and a few packets of seeds were purchased. The back door had swelled up with all the rain and wouldn’t close which was annoying until a friend who knows what he is doing came around and sorted it out.

Corona virus is sweeping around the world, so any crowded places will be avoided for a while if possible. That isn’t a problem, there is plenty to do to keep one busy indoors, and in the garden. Twenty minutes yoga this morning which had never been done before. Muscles are aching a bit now but feel better for it. Must try and get out walking in the countryside as well soon.

Ray LaMontagne Perfoms "Trouble"

Friday, February 21, 2020

A Rainy Day In Salisbury.

It was pouring with rain when I set out for the train station yesterday morning. There was travel disruption due to the weather but luckily the 10.05 to Salisbury was running on time. From the train window I could see the effects of weeks of rain. Some of the fields had turned into lakes.  On arrival in Salisbury my plan had been to look in the charity shops, but I abandoned that idea and sought shelter in the Wetherspoon’s pub. After half an hour of staring out of the window in there I was bored, so decided on a brisk walk to the cathedral.
World's oldest clock.

It must be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Britain. The spire is 404 feet tall, a sight to behold. I saw the Magna Carta, one of the most famous manuscripts in the world. It has been in Salisbury since 1215 which pre-dates the present cathedral because work on building the cathedral didn’t begin until 1220. The signing of the Magna Carta by King John marks the beginning of democracy in Britain. Previous to that the king had absolute power.
Another fascinating thing I saw inside the cathedral was the world’s oldest working clock which has been ticking away since 1380. It hasn’t got a clock face but has been chiming on the hour for 640 years. It has ticked about 13 billion times. There are some very interesting graves in there as well. I saw one of a Knight who had fought in the Battle of Crecy in 1346. You could spend hours in there reading about the history of the building.
Here comes the Knight.

I had to go though because I was meeting my friend Odele in the Bishops Mill pub at 1.00. The last time I was in Salisbury it was sad to see this pub closed and abandoned after the Novichok nerve agent attack. It has been reopened now which is great to see. Odele is a friend from the Glastonbury Festival re-cycling crew. I hadn’t seen her since the last Glasto, so it was great to see her again and have a catch up. We had lunch and after a couple of hours the sun miraculously came out, so we had a stroll about the town. We looked in about six charity shops, but I didn’t see anything I wanted to buy. When I tired of the shops, we had another sit down in the Ox Row Inn and chatted about all sorts of matters for an hour or so.

I couldn’t believe how fast the time went by. When we left the pub, it was beginning to get dark. Time to make my way home. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long for a train and that was the end of my trip to Salisbury. It was nice seeing Odele. I just realised it is only 120 days until we set off for Glastonbury. Bring it on!

They Call Him Japhy Ryder

Quote by Gary Snyder. It was Jack Kerouac ’s birthday today. Jack was born on March 12 th , 1922 which means that if he hadn’t drunk...