Outside the studio we’ve planted runner beans and lettuce, beetroot and courgettes. On the other side of the path there’s two rows of kale, garlic, broadbeans and some pac choy. I scattered over organic slug deterrent, I lay sliced cucumber on metal trays to deter the snails – they don’t like the smell. This morning I noticed a couple of leaves had been nibbled, not so badly that I despaired – anyway what’s a couple of leaves between friends?
The rain comes and goes. The garden is sodden. The apple blossom is out and all the herbs, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, are growing magnificently from the continual watering. Monty Don said to mow the lawn once a month to encourage wild flowers and insects so I’m heeding his advice.
So now the lawn is covered in daisies, blue bells have taken root, Lily-of-the-Valley are shooting out underneath the bench, dandelions and mint have self seeded whilst the grass is shin high under the garden table. My mother would sit on the swing set and look forlorn when I mowed the lawn.
“The daisies are so lovely it’s sad to see them go.” she would say. “They’ll grow again.”
Now that the lawn is festooned with damp daisy heads she would be delighted. The romantics would say she is looking down to see them. But I don’t know whether God is up, down, all around, or anywhere at the moment. Although I mostly believe that perhaps there is a Divine element in everything, but to be honest I just don’t know any more. There are those who say if there is a God then what’s he/she doing letting us destroy ourselves? And the certainty in the response of those who say it ain’t God’s fuck-up, it’s man made – fuck ups made by men that are causing man made fuck ups. The inside of my head feels like an overloaded cutlery drawer.
I don’t understand how India, with Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism could be so stricken. The believers amongst us would suggest that a country with so much religion would be protected from the likes of a stuffy old virus – it seems not. ‘Karma’ claim the Buddhists. ‘Mother Nature’s payback’ claim those who see the destiny of our existence in the hands of invisible forces. Lack of investment, corruption and overpopulation claim the realists.
I’m all of a jangle with Stopathome Fever. Forty years ago the old git and I would sit fag in hand nursing a mug of wine, and discuss the pros and cons of all kinds of philosophical brouhaha, swilling and shouting into the wee small hours, after which we’d fall into bed, grab a few hours shut eye and wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed, caring not a jot about the cliches of youth. Now a serial drama or a Netflix box set is preferable to talking about what happens the other side of the veil or how to organise ourselves for the long sleep. It’s not that I don’t like a good hearty existential conversation but what with Covid and Conservatives, Cummins and Corona I’ve had efuckinuff. The inside of my head needs tranquillity and serenity.
I have a young girl who visits me, we sit at the piano and I accompany her pre-teen songs that she writes in a sequinned journal. On Monday she sat quietly as I opened the piano lid, my 1938 Hoffman boudoir grande had been tuned and cleaned. I’ve always used milk to clean the ivories but my piano tuner advised washing up liquid or a wet wipe – how things have changed. I bought the piano from an old man in Carshalton thirty years ago. Its mahogany wood polished and shiny – I bought it after he played me Schumann’s ‘Scenes from Childhood’ and the top ‘A’ opened my heart, after last weeks tuning that top ‘A’ still rings out like a bell.
My young friend sat looking into the middle distance then asked;
“Do you think that playing the piano is worshipping God?”
I was nonplussed, called in the old git to answer her intelligently since all I could think of was ‘Maybe.’ I didn’t feel I could explain that lots of singers believe they get closer to ‘God’ when they sing, or cellists, or guitarists. That Stormzy geezer dedicates his phenomenal stuff to his Creator. Maybe I should have told her that most artists believe that every act of creation is a hymn to the Divine, whoever their Divine is.
Why even Mr. Scientist himself, Albert Einstein, said he believed in the ‘Pantheistic God of Baruch Spinoza’. Spinoza described himself not as a Jew but as a philosopher and argued that ‘If God is infinite and self-subsistent, then everything in existence must be an expression of God. Spinoza’s God is nature itself: all pervasive, impersonal, and unmiraculous.’
So is nature all pervasive, impersonal, and unmiraculous? It’s a good chat to have round the table when visitors start arriving again. I’ll let the younguns come up with a conclusion. As for me, the older I get the more miraculous I think everything is. Getting through a night’s sleep and waking up to find I’m not dead is pretty miraculous. Watching mushrooms grow in Chernobyl is pretty miraculous, thank Whoever for their pervasiveness. And as for nature being impersonal, tell that to George the Robin who visits my friend every day and sits on his arm to have a mealworm and a chat.
I visit a 7 year old boy. I told him that ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Food’ is a sentence to help him learn the notes on the lines on a stave. When I asked him could he think of another “F’ word, I saw the glint in his mischievous eye and rejoiced when he said ‘Every Good Boy Deserves FARTS.’
I may be Spiritually confused but I’m certain that humour and youth are miraculous and that a good fart, in the right place, is surprisingly enervating.

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