Exempt from public haunt…

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Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The seasons’ difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile, and say
’This is no flattery. These are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.’
Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything. 
         – As You Like It, Act II, Scene i

My fridge ‘poetry’, cobbled together on a sleety cold afternoon in the absence of anything outdoorsy to do, doesn’t come close to the magnificence of Shakespeare’s words. But the sentiment is remarkably similar. For the Duke, the woods brought restorative peace from the perils of a court that ousted him. For me, the vibrant Lancashire village to which I have returned offers something similar.

It’s been a tough four years, possibly five, maybe ten… either way, retreat to the woods was a judicious move. I’m now settled back on home turf, surrounded by the familiar and gloriously historical landscape of my formative years, welcomed back by family and long-standing friends after 33 years a-wanderin’… and it feels great. Tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

My fridge poetry offering expresses – surprisingly more subconsciously openly than intended – the inspiration that now drives me to rise and enjoy each day. Life is good. Life is fun. Life is a tangible joy. Sweet are the uses of adversity indeed. Salut!

 

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Hiatus

Travelling backwards on the 10:54

the past blurs in sideview

stretching ahead, growing distant

True passing.

What’s yet to come hides behind,

emerging into low sun cutting

winter boughs. Life stirs within.

And being blind to the future,

beholden to anticipation

alone, without clear sight

of a past speeding by

too fast to revisit,

doesn’t really matter.

None of it matters.

There is now.

~ Sandie Zand, February 2019

Hope is a dangerous thing

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‘Hope’, George Fredric Watts

I’ve been tearing around in my fucking nightgown
24/7 Sylvia Plath
Writing in blood on the walls
‘Cause the ink in my pen don’t work in my notepad
Don’t ask if I’m happy, you know that I’m not
But at best, I can say I’m not sad
‘Cause hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have
Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have

Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it, Lana Del Rey (album: Norman Fucking Rockwell, 2019)

You are not lost

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.

First the blow, then the huddle.

Wrap up, fold up, tight away

from the fray you hunker down,

productive till wakefulness

comes, zest revived, able to

discover anew a lust

for life, for love…

Wait. No. Perhaps not that

but life at least is good enough.

The sky looks beautiful today

cat antics make you smile

dashing beneath the bed covers

telling tail poking out and

doesn’t food taste good today?

Music soothes the soul.

Forwards.

Onwards.

Not back there, where hurt lurks

and familiarity breeds its contempt like

rabbits on heat or flies in summer or

festering black mould that can’t be

shifted no matter how you scrub

and bleach and think it gone.

It always creeps back

once it has a hold

You should know that by now.

Relax

It’s okay

The worst is past.

~ Sandie Zand, January 2019

A thousand tiny pieces

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Just play this one out until it explodes into a thousand tiny pieces
What’s your story, universe, you are melody in numbers
You are shapes, you are rhythms, there are signs that we can learn
To place over the heavens, to predict how long we’ll burn
How long will I last, can I turn up the heat?
What star am I circling, what’s circling me?
Now my ebb and my flow, my lack of control
Turning on, turning off
Saying yes, but playing no
Things keep changing…

The Be Good Tanyas, A Thousand Tiny Pieces (album: Hello Love)

A circuitous route…

999098_646811505347080_714063448_nSo I was in Glasgow this week and actually got beyond the station entrance to walk on streets I’ve not seen in over 23 years. And it was a curiously emotional experience, which I hadn’t expected – to view with old and simultaneously new eyes the glorious sight of Glasgow’s truly beautiful architecture, and feel revived, joyous, happy.

Clearly and thankfully, I’ve reached a ‘rose-tinted-glasses’ view of a time wherein I lived for several years in this city during the early 90s and latterly experienced so much pain and sadness. I’m free of that old woe, free to view the good memories (there were lots!), see it anew… and with this came a level of affection that really took me by surprise.

Anyway… I arrived at HQ slightly late, on account of the deviation into street exploration, and gushed perhaps incoherently to colleagues, before continuing the day without any further startling emotions. But the feeling morphed into a circuitous ramble when I later listened to some favoured music on iPod shuffle and remembered how I’d come across it.

The album is a weird one, I can almost guarantee nobody who’d see this (apart from my estranged husband, kids and the friend who gave it to me) will know this person and her work. The album is ‘Napoli Mediterranea’ by Pietra Montecorvino and is one I’ve been listening to since about 2003 – the year it was released.

It was first acquired by a Scot called Douglas – a dear old online friend who sent it to a mutual friend, Marilyn, with a message along the lines of “tried to like this, but failed, perhaps you’ll enjoy it”.  She almost immediately sent it on to me with a message along the lines of “Jesus, Douglas sent me this, awful, what do you think?”

I played it, was utterly hooked, and have listened to it a thousand times since.

Which just illustrates how taste is a fluid and perhaps even random preference, and friends are friends for many reasons but there’s no definitive set of shared criteria… they hated it, I loved it, and yet we all got on.

And thinking about how the CD came into my possession, and subsequently became part of my ‘very special’ collection of favourites… and how these two old friends had entered my life and ‘lived’ with me through some very difficult times… and how we’ve all sort of largely drifted out of touch… and how I was there, back in Glasgow, remembering all this stuff from so many years ago… and still loving Pietra’s music… and now able to re-love Glasgow again… well, I thought it worth sharing in case anyone else can also be moved to adoration by Pietra’s music (for every 9 folk who detest it, there’ll be one lucky soul who ‘finds her’, gets it, and loves it).

Pietra sings in Neapolitan, a distinct dialect of Naples, and I’ve asked fluent Italian-speaking friends to translate her lyrics and they can’t. Neapolitan is perhaps to Italian what Cornish is to English… an utterly separate language. And I love that she sings in such a distinctive and belligerent way – it’s clearly about the music and not the sales.

Here’s a taster… a sexy little duet:

The picture on this blog, incidentally, is a wonderful house I lived in for part of my time in Scotland – probably the most simultaneously happy/unhappy part. Weird. I’d moved out of Glasgow after 3 years or so and headed to the coast – where my novel The Town That Danced is set. And, indeed, this lodge house and the gorgeous castle to which it’s attached, are the very ones fictionalised in my novel. As are some of the local folk. But I could get sued for that, so I’d add that they are all very fictionalised.

And I spent a lot of time, at that point, working freelance for the organisation that now employs me, and so resulted in my recent visit again to Glasgow…

All things come around. All is linked. Circuitous is defined as a route or journey longer than the most direct way. In life, perhaps the circuitous route is the only route to take. Viva Glasgow, viva old friends, viva (re)finding my work tribe, viva life, and viva music that lives with us and stays with us throughout all other turmoil.

Viva to all o’it.

Perfect darkness.

Often late to the party, I persist in exploring new music (that’s new to me). Partly it’s because I subscribe to Apple Music and feel I ought to get my money’s worth – and so each month I make sure to find at least one new band or artist to justify the £9.99 fee. But equally, it’s about the continued quest, which mitigates against becoming stuck in a rut (of which I am eternally fearful as I think it leads to decline).

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me, with my gorgeous headphones

So I’ve amassed a large collection of old, new and oft experimental stuff and, more recently, have invested in an amazing bluetooth player for the house and some totally funky and fabulous can’t-get-enough-of-them headphones for the rail travel I’m now doing lots of… and also for in the bath.

Which is where the “perfect darkness” comes in, as I love to lie there, by candlelight, cosy and warm, and lose myself inside these gorgeous headphones. It’s also the title of album and song from one of my more recent band finds.

A tiny taste of what I’ve found over recent months:

Adna – multiple albums – this song ‘Overthinking’ is from the album ‘Closure’ and is perfect bathing music. In fact, I think I only ever listen to Adna in the bath.

Agnes Obel – no idea how I came about this one, but again multiple albums and this song – Poem about Death – in particular is of the experimental vein, only enjoyed when in the right mood and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea:

Bear with me, they’re not all as weird as this one…

Ah, but dammit… there’s Camille – utterly fabulous, but also utterly weird. So many of her songs I adore, and she sings the best version of Too Drunk To Fuck’ ( as Nouvelle Vague). However, today I’m sharing her wonderful cabaret-to-punk-esque ‘Cats and Dogs’, which is just amazing, I love it. Here she is singing it live:

ElsianceNobody Knows – wonderful sound… another bathing toon. I just love her voice, though too much of it becomes melancholy.

Fatoumata Diawara – I think I came across her on a Radio 3 music show – wonderful sound, lots of albums to choose from, this song is called Sowa.

Finally… though I could easily go on… a fantastic band I discovered (late, yes!) through being an avid fan of Walking Dead – a brilliant TV series with a fantastic soundtrack. The band is Fink, the album the Perfect Darkness of this blog title, and the song is Warm Shadow.

I do love finding ‘new’ music, and I love sharing it – if you have any fabulous finds, please post them in the comments below!