Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Yesterday. A wasted day stuck in the stuffy confines of Shrewsbury's Music Hall at a meeting. A meeting where small and pointless detail was being ground particularly fine. A meeting which started with the singing of Jerusalem. This was the WI.

Amidst that formidable army of women (not wimmin, definately not wimmin...) in their sensible shoes and no-nonsense clothes I was that lumpy sulky teenager again; in assembly, at speech day where this was our School Song. Back in the school hall again singing with 600 other female voices that ├╝ber-patriotic paean, hearing the ghostly voice of music mistress, Miss Wallace pounding the piano and booming down the years 'BREATHE! Breathe girl! ARMS BY YOUR SIDES!' Actually it really sounded quite good. There's nothing like a bit of singing to start the day is there?

But the day went downhill rapidly after that as speaker after speaker droaned on. My inner teenager summoned up hidden reserves of resentment. Financial Statement. Was I bovvered? Amendments to the constitution. Durrr? Sub-Committee Announcements. Puhleese.....The voices on the platform became distant in my head and I was away to a land of dreams - a secret place where birdies chirruped, flowers opened creased paper-fine petals and the soil grew warm and inviting to the hand's touch.

This drifted back to me from years ago. Not strictly relevant, but in the spirit of things.
Naming of Parts

To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning
We shall do whatever we have to do after firing. But to-day
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens.
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you can see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For to-day we have naming of parts.

Henry Reed

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