Five more essential reads – Opher’s favourites

Five more essential reads – Opher’s favourites

36. D H Lawrence – Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Although this book is most notorious for its sex scenes I felt it was probably the book that was closest to Lawrence’s philosophy. It was set in the post-war Britain and was in many ways an anti-war book. The injured officer deprived of his manhood through injury. It was also about the class system and the purity of love. A lot of things going on.

37. Ken Kesey – Sometimes a Great Notion

This was the second masterpiece of Ken’s. A totally different book in a different setting. Unlike Cuckoo’s nest this was set in the big outdoors and logging. The story was captivating. I liked the was he depicted the same scene from different viewpoints in the same paragraph. It was very Faulknerish.

38. Salman Rushdie – Midnight’s Children

This is the second of Rushdie’s masterpieces. I read this at the same time as Gunter Grass’s Tin Drum and felt that they both carried that same multitextured, multilayered wonder. It was a tale to get lost in and one of those books you did not want to end.

39. John Steinbeck – East of Eden

The second work of genius from John Steinbeck. This told the tale of brothers and a big ranch. It was another sprawling tale that sucked you in. One of my all-time favourites.

40. Iain Banks – Whit

This seems quite topical when we’ve got cults like ISIS running amok in the world and a Marxist cult leader imprisoned for rape and imprisoning his own daughter. Iain is a brilliant story teller in both Sci-fi and mainstream. This is the story of a religious cult done brilliantly. I love all his books. They were all so varied. It’s a sad loss.

Well these five selections went against my original plan to try to stick to one book per author.

Rules? There are no rules!

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Photography – Henry Millers place at Big Sur

Photography – Henry Millers place at Big Sur

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It was great to pop in to Henry Miller’s place at big sur.

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We went to the beach nearby and looked at the pebbles and the rollers crashing in. I could picture Henry doing the same.

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There was a flourescent humming bird around the flowers

My beliefs – Wonder and Awe

My beliefs – Wonder and Awe

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My beliefs – Wonder and Awe

I believe wonder and awe play a big role in making life rewarding.

There are lots of things that fill me with wonder and awe. Here are some of them:

Comtemplating the universe and infinity.

Lying back and looking up into the dust of stars and imagining the countless numbers of galaxies and stars. What might all those planets be like? I am fascinated by black holes, quasars, bent space, the speed of light, infinity, dark matter, Stephen Hawkin, Einstein and Newton, and anti-matter universes.

I was told that the estimate is that we only see 4% of what is there.

There are days when I could fall up into the sky and float free.

Contemplating the microcosm.

All around me and inside me is an ocean of subatomic worlds. I appear to be solid yet energy and matter is zooming in and out of me all the time, radioactive particles explode within my brain. There is no solidity. Inside it delves to a different infinity. There are molecules instead of galaxies. Energy roars. Quarks are perpetual motion machines that will keep going until the end.

Rocks, mountains, gorges, canyons, waterfalls and icebergs.

I am attracted to them. Volcanoes, geysers, minerals and watwerfalls. They thrill me. Standing on the rim of Grand Canyon or the Blue Mountains is awesome.

Ancient monuments, temples, churches, mosques, castles, walls, and crumbling ruins.

I am moved by their beauty, their history and the tales they could tell.

Music, art, drama, writing, dance, photography, poetry and all creative outpourings from the spirit and passion of creative people.

I can walk round an art gallery in wonder or rock out at the front of a concert or sit and listen to the words and my spirit soars.

Trees, wild-life, animals and the natural world.

It breaks my heart to see the way it is being trashed. The majesty trees felled, the animals slaughtered, the land raped.

Love, sex, friendship and relationship.

Love gives substance to my life. My loves and friendships are the lodestone of everything I do. My family is a magnetic pull that centres me. Sex is the nearest I get to magic.

Travel.

New people, new places, new customs, new sights – it is stimulating. It is mind expanding. It puts your life in perspective.

 

I do not need religion. I do not even need spirituality. Spirituality for me is this wonder and awe of being in the midst of such a wondrous place with stupendous experiences.

I fill my life and am sated by it.

Anecdote – My first kiss.

Anecdote – My first kiss.

 

My first kiss

I’m going to cheat here. To start with I’m going to discount all those parental smackers, and embarrassing smackeroos from salivary grandmas and aunties. They simply do not count.

For the first nine years of my life the thought of kissing girls was absolutely horrifying. Indeed you looked at older boys and shuddered. What on earth were they doing?

Technically my first kiss was during ‘kiss chase’. The girls loved it, and so did we, but I suspect for totally different reasons. To the girls it was about kissing boys. To the boys it was all about escaping from this most terrible fate. If you got caught and kissed that was horrendous. It made it exciting.

So I’ll rule out kiss chase as well. That was a game.

By ten my hormones were kicking in. Suddenly girls were not to be run away from; they were alluring.

But I’m still going to cheat – because I’m going to separate my first kiss into two types.

The first girl I kissed was Liz Staines. She was ten, like me, and in my class. She was sweet on me and I liked her. We would play together. I kissed her on the mouth.

It was a worrying thing. How were you going to manage it? Where did you put your nose?

I remember being concerned. In the event it was sweet and noses weren’t too much of a problem.

But tough I liked Liz, and that kiss was experimental and OK, it was a long way from the real thing. That came shortly after.

Glenys was a Welsh beauty. I was ten and a half and very innocent. She was the older vixen with the wanton ways who led me astray. She was eleven. I think maturity had arrived early for both of us.

I feel for her dark sultry looks and flashing eyes. She was my first love. She made my stomach churn and sent me into a whirly spin. I loved her.

I have no doubt that her hormones were just as active as mine, if not more so.

We spent a lot of time together that summer. I even gave up playing cricket in the street. We built dens and lay down in the long grass in the fields staring into each other’s eyes.

In her garage, my garage and those dens we kissed. It was just like in the films and went on for ten minutes or more. We called them real lover’s kisses. We shared twenty seven of these blood boiling embraces.

They were the hottest.

I count those as my first real kisses.

Photography – A few More San Francisco – Coit Tower & the art

Photography – A few More San Francisco – Coit Tower & the art

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I love Coit Tower. Not only do you get a great view over San Francisco but the art (painted by a bunch of local artists) is superb.

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Global Warming and a punch on the nose!

Global Warming and a punch on the nose!

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The next time I bump into a global warming denier I am going to punch them very hard on the nose.

I have just completed mowing my lawn. It was luxuriant, damp and muddy. I had to do that because the grass had become so long.

Mowing grass in November is bad enough but I had to do it in December last year – in the North of England!!!   That is absurd!!  The only time I’ve ever done that before was when I was living in Los Angeles!

Perhaps the deniers will start to believe now? One too many ‘once in a hundred years’ events. Perhaps they have to be flooded, blown away or burnt out before they start to see the obvious!

Photography – San Francisco – a few shots from January 2013

Photography – San Francisco – a few shots from January 2013

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Our last trip to San Francisco was in January 2013. It was good to be back even if January wasn’t the best month. These are a few pics from our visit.

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Anecdotes -My first Singles

Anecdotes -My first Singles

Opher's World tributes cover

My first singles

I was eleven when I bought my first singles. They cost me 5P each and I bought five of them.

They were second hand off my older friend Clive Hansell. He had a limited taste in music. The only artists he liked were Buddy Holly and Adam Faith. I didn’t notice at the time that Adam Faith was modelling himself on Buddy Holly. He put that same little warbling affectation into his songs. I also didn’t notice that the quality of the British production was naff. My eleven year old self was not as discerning.

While America, used to authentic country music, was great at producing Rock ‘n’ Roll, Britain was out of its depth. The backing and arrangement was crap. Very few British Rock releases from the late fifties and early sixties came up to scratch on that front. What the producers were aiming for was a more middle of the road market. Raunchy, raw and rockin’ weren’t in their vocabulary.

My friend Clive unloaded all the singles, which he had played to death, on me. That was probably a good deal for both of us.

Over the course of a year I got to inherit the entire output of Adam Faith and Buddy Holly. I still have them all. I’m a collector.

For 25p I bought five Adam Faith singles. I remember playing great numbers like Who Am I, How About That, Someone Else’s Baby, and What Do You Want, on my old Dansette. I loved them.

I progressed to Buddy Holly when Clive became tired with them. For a while they were my only singles.

The first single I bought new was From Me To You by the Beatles. I had been knocked for six by the Please Please Me album and rushed out to buy the album and single.

After that I bought every Beatles, Kinks, Downliners Sect and Stones single on the day of release except for Honky Tonk Women. I was given that in Hyde Park for helping clean up the litter.

I did not tend to buy too many singles. I was always looking for the best value for money (having a limited amount) so I tended to buy albums. But I still have a collection of around five hundred singles that I have accumulated over time.

I miss that excitement of rushing back from the shop and putting that single on the record player in my bedroom with the arm up so that it played on repeat. It would blast out and I’d play it endlessly until I had absorbed every note. Then I’d flip it over and do the same with the B-side. Those singles are seared into my mind.

The experience these days is just not the same, not so visceral. Those singles captured the vitality of my youth.

Every morning I would load my Dansette up with six singles of choice. They would blast out as I got washed, dressed and breakfasted. I knew I had to be out of the house by the time the sixth finished.

Singles were the start to my day.

Poetry – Cosmic Dance

Cosmic Dance

 

Life is a dance,

Without rehearsal,

Moves of beauty

Elegance and eloquence

Play out

On a green jewel

Pirouetting

Through a void.

 

 

Each step

A glide

Into the unknown

Each gesture

A motif of defiance

Expressed

In joy.

 

Opher – 8.11.2019

 

 

My wife is a dancer. She sees the world through movement.

I too see it that way. It is beautiful.

The ripples of corn, the waves in the sea, the waving of branches, the shimmering of leaves.

A murmur of starlings, a shoal of fish, the breaching of a whale, the sprint of a leopard.

The waving of hands, the creases of a smile, the grasp of a handshake.

The orbit of planets, the radiance of a sun.

All life is a dance.