Monthly Archives: February 2010

A Valentine’s song for recessionary times

Love in the Red (Recession song)

The shop fronts are all empty
The house-hold names are gone
They boarded up old Woolworths
And stripped it to the bone
The brand new cars are rusting
in car parks by the sea
And all that we’ve got left is love
At least our love is free

The bankers took our money
For their mansions on the hill
And lent the poor that funny cash
That makes them poorer still
They taught me not to trust them
It cost me quite a fee
But we’ve still got some love in tryst
At least that love is free

Come over from the window
Come over from the door
Come over to the mattress
I spread our on the floor
The bailiffs, they might take our bed
But the bastards cant take me
And we can make love in the red
Because our love is free

And now they’ve thrown our taxes
Down the city’s silk-line hole
While the bosses throw the workers
To the dogs and on the dole
starlets still throw their parties
For the moguls on TV
But throw me out the lifeline
of a life-time’s love for free

I remember when we started
In the times that went before
We spent our ingenuity
In making love not war
And I was all the world to you
You were all the world to me
So lets make love not war again
And set the new world free

Come over from the window
Come over from the door
Come over to the mattress
I spread our on the floor
The bailiffs they might take our bed
But they cant take you and me
And we can make love in the red
Because our love is free

Now we’ve still got a little room
To play at boy meets girl
While I pick out this little tune
I picked up from Steve Earl
I know its just a cheap guitar
And a borrowed melody
But I can vouch for every word
And all my love is free.

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Filed under Current affairs, Music, Poems, Songs

Brave Black Squirrel: A Girtonian Ode!

There has been great excitement of late at the Discovery of the Girton Black Squirrel, many sightings, a facebook group, and even a motion from the parish council to adopt the black squirrel as a logo! If Girton had existed in Lord Byron’s day I’m sure he would have been a frequent visitor, and perhaps instead of the bear he kept at Trinity he might have adopted the Girton black Squirrel instead. So, borrowing the Ottava Rima stanza form that Byron used for Don Juan, and indeed the first four words of his epic, I have penned a little ode to the Girton Pioneer (with apologies to Lord B!)

The Girton Pioneer

I want a hero! Byron had Don Juan
As vehicle for all his fantasies
Each pleasure led him on to find a new-one
Inventive always in his ecstasies.
Byron’s  the  hero here,  at least the true one,
Pleasing his friends, teasing his enemies!
But now we’re all post-modern and ironic
And no-one ever dares to be Byronic.

Where shall I find a hero for our age,
A figure to inspire my eight-fold rhyme?
Where is the debater? Where the sage?
Oh who will mend this deep-disjointed time?
Our putrid politicians strut the stage,
Admiring one another, mired in slime,
They only mend their pre-election fences
And charge the said repairs to their expenses.

And what about the heroes of my youth,
The rockers who once moved me heart and soul?
Dylan delivered darts of daring truth,
The Rolling Stones were total Rock’n’roll!
They all wear slippers now, long in the tooth,
(Those years of sex and drugs have taken toll),
Now ageing rockers huddle round an Aga
And leave us in the grip of Lady Gaga.

I find no human hero for my themes
They all fall short, they shrivel, faint and fail.
But lo! A mystic voice spoke in my dreams:
“In Girton’s grounds you’ll find your holy grail
There dwells a creature all the world esteems,
A tribal totem, with a bushy tail!
Bright and dark, and wild and free and feral
An epic hero: Girton’s Brave black Squirrel!

Here is the hero for our modern times
Here is the one to set the world to rights
Here is a subject worthy of your rhymes
No silly superheroes in their tights
Could rid the world so well of all its crimes!
Put Girty, Girton’s squirrel up in lights.
I see the headline now, you’ll see it then:
“The First Black Squirrel enters Number Ten!”


Filed under Current affairs, Girton, imagination, literature

Lente, Lente, take it slow and gently

I’m choosing songs for an acoustic night at The Blue Ball in Granchester this Sunday, its a a free gig starting about 9pm and all are welcome! Anyway, as a follow on from my Brief Meditation On Time, I thought I’d post the lyrics of my  song Lente Lente here together with a little note of its genesis.
I had read and begun to absorb Carl Honore’s excellent book, In Praise of Slow, when Karen Wells, who designs beautiful websites as well as making lovely felted things with her friend Rebecca sent me a link to her site which is called Lente. Carl’s book describes how all over the world people are rediscovering the goodness and benefit of savouring time and life, finding the Tempo Giusto for each thing, and Karen and Becca’s work seemed to embody that whole philosophy. I felt that Karen had lent me the lovely word Lente, meaning, slowly, deliberately, with care, and the rest of the song just flowed from there. Here are the Lyrics:

Lente, Lente

I’ve been running from the past
I’ve been living way too fast
But I’m coming home at last
She says slow down, take it gently
lente lente lente lente
slow down petal take it gently
We have world and time a plenty
slow down flower, lente lente

don’t do so much on the run
stop awhile and have some fun
heres a friendship just begun
we’ll take it slow and gently
lente lente lente lente
close your eyes and count to twenty
lente lente lente lente lente

lets take time to gather wool
gently tease and softly pull
when the harvest moon is full
and the felts are forming gently
make it lente, lente lente lente

see the green things how they grow
teach you all you need to know
first and last say take it slow
take it slow and gently
lente lente lente lente lente
slow down petal take it gently
lente lente lente petal lente

my ears are ringing like empty shells
my heart’s an open like the book of kells
I’ll draw sweet water from deep wells
draw it slow and gently
lente lente lente lente
lente lente lente lente
we have world and time a plenty
lente lente lente lente

here’s a rich collaboration
Careful slow deliberation
Lovely long elaboration
There’s no hurry, take it gently
lente lente lente lente
there’s no worry take it gently
lente lente lente lente

all those guys who set the pace
disappear without a trace
taste a different kind of grace
when you take it slow and gently lente lente lente lente
when you take it slow and gently lente lente lente lente


Filed under imagination, Music, Songs

A Brief Meditation on Time

When I walk into work I do so, for part of my journey, under the gaze of a huge black locust, visibly devouring my time!. I refer to Corpus Christi’s magnificent golden Chronophage, which I pass on my way to St. Edward’s and in particular to the monstrous locust perched on top of it, which is constantly, as the name chronophage suggests, eating time. This bizarre and beautiful clock, or rather public sculpture, is certainly a great success for the college and attracts a more or less constant crowd of intrigued onlookers. I was there at its unveiling by Stephen Hawking, and enjoyed his brief reflections, not on the science, but on the mystery of time, indeed his reflections seemed richer to me than the rather closed message delivered by the Chronophage itself,  I would like in what follows to reflect for a moment and to challenge what the Chronophage seems to be saying about time.

The Chronophage sees only that time that is constantly consumed, it sees our minutes hasten to their end; it measures ‘the years that the locust hath eaten’. This is certainly one aspect of our experience of time, but only one. Time is fleeting, but it is also constantly renewed, and for every worn and spent moment that is taken from us another is given, pristine and beautiful.

So having walked past the Chronophage, I imagine, as I continue on my way to St. Edwards, a different image. I see in my mind’s eye,on the tower of St. Edwards another beautiful clock with round golden circles like the Corpus Choronopgage. Like the Chronophage it takes its motion from a point beyond itself, but unlike the Chronophage, in my imaginary sculpture, time is not being clawed back and consumed; it is being poured out liberally and constantly renewed. I have Christened it my Chronodor, my time-giver. It  witnesses to God’s promise, in the book of Joel: ‘I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.’

In my imaginary sculpture the figure above the golden circles is not a ravenous locust but an angel of God, taking the riches of eternity and pouring them out in a flowing stream moment by moment into the circles of time. Such was the vision of Dante, who saw time and motion as ultimately given and renewed by Divine Love, by what he called, in the last line of his great poem; ‘the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.’

The Corpus Chronophage cost a cool million. My Chronodor is completely free, an image of God’s mysterious liberality reminding me to receive and cherish each new moment as a gift from a loving God


Filed under christianity, imagination, St. Edward's