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The Tree

4m1W7GThe tree remembered being planted in the churchyard those many summers ago. For he saw the young daughter of the squire slipping in a copy of that new book on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to wile away the long sermon. This blissful rural scene was oblivious to the battles being fought on land and sea to fence in the tyrant Napoleon.
The tree brought to mind the parishioners chattering excitedly having been told of a war far away over whether humans could own humans; trees never own each other more than they can own God’s sunlight.

He then lived many summers and slept for many winters before Johnny, the blacksmiths boy, proud in his khaki uniform marched off to France.  A few months later, his family came weeping to the yard even though Johnny had no grave there.

It seems hardly any summers at all after the Great War, that his branches were swept back by a gaudily painted plane sprouting smoke and crosses flew overhead with another firing in pursuit. Now he saw the night sky filled with new stars, all talking to each other as they silently rotated above.
More recently, he was overjoyed when a young family came to stay in the disused church which had been converted to a house.  They played in his shadow and touched his bark in games. And so, he felt the pain even more as the chainsaw cut into his flesh to make way for another room for washing, games and fitness machines. But through it all, he knew sorrow for humans who neither live for summer or sleep in winter but destroy or are destroyed in ever season.

 

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Discovering times gone by

This afternoon, I did something terribly old fashioned. I just sat in the garden reading a book with a sun hat on. Old fashioned because everyone else seems to be doing something. In fact, it seems positively sinful to sit at home and enjoy the sun’s warmth. Actually, I was reading the witty an enjoyable ‘The Perfect Summer’ by Juliet Nicolson. Its a social history of the summer of 1911; the last beautiful season before the Great War. No wonder then it is subtitled – dancing into the Shadow. However, despite the growing storm clouds, there was something appealing about those years. In particular, the less pressured life when personal news came through the letter box and world tidings via the newspaper. No social websites, emails, mobile phones and satellite TV for them.

Of course there is much from that age that we would not tolerate for a minute today. Yet their pace of life with its weekly routine must beat our 24/7 obsession. Their seasons must have the pleasure of reacquaintance ship that our unbroken desire for the fruits of the globe dulls. Their joy at a perfect summer must have been greater than ours faced as it is with a constant stream of days that all seem the same in their rapidity of passing. So maybe we should,from time to time, bring some of the peace of nearly one hundred years ago back to our living of these frenetic times. Hopefully then we too will rediscover a perfect summer by visiting times gone just by being still.

 

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Customer Waiting?

“Assistant to electricals – customer waiting!” – the supermarket loudspeaker blares out and that half amuses and half annoys. For the suggestion is that if some unfortunate doesn’t get themselves amongst the kettles ‘tout suite’ then something unspeakable, possibly lingering, will happen to them. It’s all nonsense, of course. They’ll finish their cuppa and amble along in due course. Yet the illusion has been maintained – you are a valuable, even an invaluable, customer whose time is as rubies.  Moreover, the company’s fiction is sprayed around like fake coffee aroma – our clients have status instead of just being till roll receipts.

It’s for these reasons too we lap adverts of smiling call centre staffs, waving shop-keepers and bank tellers who are family friends. For deep down we want to be part of a community of which we are real part – where the people we meet have some sort of concern for us as humans. Needless to say this type of community is possible even sustainable; it just takes investment. That means the spending not of money but time and emotional energy. Since the bottom line is we get what we pay for. The question must be is there a “customer waiting!”

 

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