Bright Sea Media

This website was set up to help promote and sell my new books. Bur unfortunately the above company has failed miserably to achieve this. They were asked to include a blog back in June, but it did not include stats or any working links to social media to promote the blog posts. Eventually this was achieved, but there is still no means for me to follow or to be followed, which utterly defeats the purpose of it. They don’t seem to understand this.

So, 4 months after this blog should have been working, they decided I should link it instead to my long-running blog series texthistory, which I had already signed off from, and which I had explained was impossible to save any posts. They told me to move my posts and part of the website to my old site. They also linked it without my consent but have now unlinked it.

So this has now become a waste of time and money floating in the void instead of doing the job I invested so much time and money on. Well done Liz and Aelryd!

Cycles of Life

Cycles of Life

The Bible is scattered with imagery of the natural world. Church walls often depicted human life as the growth cycle of corn, where seeds were sown and grew to maturity only to be harvested by the grim reaper. Such imagery is often seen as grim, gruesome even, but it helped our ancestors deal with the fact that they lived in a world where death was a constant presence. Any small accident could prove fatal, a broken limb could prevent a person from working, so could effectively mean the same thing. Though the Bible mentions a life expectancy of 70, death could strike anyone, any time.  The Black Death was horrific not just for the numbers of people who died, but for its lack of discrimination. The rich were struck down just like the poor, the pious with the criminals, so the very nature of prayer and of living a good life was shaken. 

The church of Rome still practices communion, when worshippers ingest the body of Christ as a shared ritual. But it is not cannibalism as critics often claim, but a much older concept, because if humans are embedded in nature, the boundaries between species are less clear. One of the oldest, and strangest, of British folk songs is John Barleycorn Must Die. It describes how grain must die for us to live, so is part of the circle or cycle of life, but a recognition that humans were embedded in nature, as the highest form of life, but still negotiating their way. This is Steve Winwood & Traffic’s incredible version of it.

When people moved to towns, the links with the cycles of the countryside were weakened and today very few people have any links with natural cycles. Our concept of time is a mechanised one, it is more linear, with time being perceived as separate events following each other rather than following repeating patterns. The cleric Ronald Blythe describes this beautifully at the end of his book Word from Wormingford: A Parish Year: 

 It gets harder and harder in rural life to keep liturgy and everyday experience in meaningful rotation, to keep worship out of the theme park, to get a chilly wisp of November into the church. Out of the all-the-year heatwave of the car and into a vast old room which, in spite of switching on, at enormous expense, every bar an hour before the service, strikes, if not exactly cold, well, as though the days are pulling in. the congregation is annually puzzled by the everlasting circle and can never make out why it should run from Eloi to Andrew and not from New Year to Old Year. 

I walk in the woods. They are perfectly liturgical. By late November their leaves are down and they are structurally naked and soaring. Homing creatures scuttle about. I wade through this year’s leaves, through a damp sinking and senescence, and past this year’s nests all open to view. and in what the poet John Clare describes as ‘the doubling light’. He wrote an everlasting circle book called The Shepherd’s Calendar, but his idiot publisher complained of its realities. There’s no avoidance of these in the Faith-According-To-November, I tell the congregation. The countryside may be running down but we have to stir ourselves up. It says so here – ‘Stir up the wills of thy faithful people.’ ‘But’,  they protest, ‘you say the year is at an end with young Andrew!’ The year but not the circle. Every oak knows that. Round and round we all go, the living, the departed, the abundance, the dearth, the planets, the prayers, the holiness of things, all our new toys and comforts notwithstanding.  

Apples and Eve

Apples and Eve

We all know what apples are: firm, round fruit ranging from tiny crab apples to crunchy eaters to the big, floury cookers. But the word is a very old one, apparently brought here by the North Germans as apfel. In English it appears as pineapple and even oak apple, the galls of which were used to make ink. Further afield, we can find terms such as the apple of discord – a cause of envy and dispute, derived from the golden apple inscribed with ‘to the fairest’ thrown by Eris, god of discord, to Aphrodite, Pallas, and Athena. The apple of Sodom/Dead Sea apple was claimed by the ancients to be fair to look upon but turned to ashes when touched. 

The Dutch call potatoes aardappels, or earth apples, suggesting the term extended to vegetables, or a vague group of edible plants. The pomegranate is an apple with many grains. The Italians call tomatoes golden apples, as the original imports were yellow. There is even a hybrid, pomato made by grafting a tomato plant onto a potato. 

But the definition should be straightforward, as the apple was the fruit that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But this is a mistranslation.

I have been reading Ronald Blythe’s wonderful book Word from Wormingford in which he claims that William Tyndal remains more influential than any other English writer, Shakespeare included.”  This is a huge claim. He continues by noting how he gave us “In the beginning was the word”, and is responsible for most of the Authorised Version of the Bible.  His opening up the Bible to commoners was so radical he was martyred at the age of 42. 

Blythe ponders how the apple got into Eden, as Tyndal described it merely as “the fruit of the tree… desired to make one wise”. Somehow it became an apple. Blythe blames St Jerome’s version of Genesis in which malum is used to mean both apple and evil. Malus is the Latin genus of apple, from which malicious is derived. 

The Countdown Begins

The Countdown Begins

The books are completed, and now this website is live, so I am moving here after my 6 year run at texthistory.com. This will be bigger, brighter and more informative, but right now I am unbelievably tired. Wrangling 3 books into 5 formats and getting the cover designed and to required size has seen me blundering round in the dark, bouncing off walls and nursing bruises, but it’s all done.

Now the really hard work begins: selling these strange stories to you, dear readers and to a largely unsuspecting world. For anyone hoping to publish, I can assure you there is nothing like the arrival of your first proof. Of removing the wrapping and seeing your name in print, flicking through the pages that you wrote, the photographs that you took and converted, all in the font and design that you chose. And the cover. The beautiful, unique cover.

Some people talk of their books as being their children. I don’t see that. Because in a strange way they’re not mine at all. Especially with the story of Henry Bridges, it’s more like he came to me and wanted – or needed – his story told. Does that sound weird? I am also mindful of the final line of Henry Miller’s play The Death of a Salesman which ends with something like, attention must be paid to him, he does not deserve to fall into his grave and forgotten.

So maybe my role has been that of a midwife, or even a medium. I am bringing these extraordinary people and their stories into the modern world. As an author I cannot really judge how well I’ve done. That’s up to you, dear readers. Enjoy!

 

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