Port in a storm: essay from George Monbiot

In the middle of the depressing medieval bear-pit that’s the winter festival of Consumermas, there’s a beautifully-written and beautifully-presented essay by George Monbiot, over at the BBC, here: http://www.bbc.com/earth/bespoke/story/20141203-back-to-nature/index.html

Douglas Coupland had a memorable sequence in Generation X where the lead character tries to capture a moment of meaning at Christmastime. He buys lots (and I mean lots) of candles and fills the room. Described like that, it’s just a horrible Hollywood gesture – but that’s why we need great writers, for however worn, jaded and tired the message, they bring fresh life.

I wasn’t always at ease with Mr Monbiot’s Feral, but I’d say everyone should read his BBC essay. It’s not ‘just’ the environment, it’s about being flesh and blood. Given the human race as it is, you might as well settle down in your armchair and read Hamlet to a goldfish, ad infinitum.

Forget Christmas, look bravely into the darkness, and search for the light.





Down by the sea…


Wild campion, among the coconut scent of gorse. The southern part of Cornwall near Plymouth, as yet un-noticed…


A hut or hostel, left to settle into old age and gaze happily at the ocean…


Back and forth in ocean blue…



Future's so bright...

Once you get over thinking of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, the liberally scattered plastic is not without a ghoulish charm, smoothed and faded and gathered into swathes of similar colours (how?) that melt easily into the fly-blown, gently grilling weed. The result is that none of it seems synthetic. A kind of unholy soup, packed with man-made additives…

A romany sky and a house with roots

Two album covers from the early 1970s, unconnected, although there’s a good contrast of the anchored home and the perceived freedom of an open road. Both bands are from the era of electric folk.

Mr Fox - The Gipsy

I don’t know the Mr Fox album. The band came from a background of Yorkshire folk music: the artwork suggests the stereotype of a dark satanic north. The gipsy is dressed in industrial landscape – mines, factories and terraces – with fewer trees and streams. Quite interesting when you look at the current fascination with folk that goes hand in hand with more rural dreams.

Trees - Jane Delawney

The Trees’ cover for The Garden of Jane Delawney is fascinating. Are these the roots of a home, or the over-riding latent strength of nature in our built environment? (The tree through the window reveals a facade…) Or do the art-nouveau swirls against a perfect doll’s house suggest an Edwardian childhood innocence? In this way it chimes with the turn-of-century imagery and design that often danced with the more contemporary visions of the late sixties and early seventies.

The design and artwork is by David Costa, impressive artistic control by a member of the band. The title track is mesmerising, a trip through Keats’s ‘verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways’…

The poet’s voice lingers on
His words hang in the air
The ground you walk upon
Might as well not be there
Might as well not be there

I’ll take you through my dreams
Out into the darkest morning
Past the blood-filled streams
Into the garden of Jane Delawney
Into her garden now…

Otters bearing the woes of the world – Ring of Bright Water

This is a Czech version of the poster for the 1969 film of Gavin Maxwell’s book Ring of Bright Water. It’s incredibly melancholy, and beautiful in its depiction of how humans and the wild fit together – with the scarlet, hand-drawn leash on quite possibly the most emotive image of an otter ever. I read his expression as ‘I killed a few salmon, but you invented the atom bomb’. Are all Czech film posters like this? I hope so. I believe the artist is Hrdina Miroslav, but I can’t find any more information.

Just to illustrate a point, here’s the British version of the poster for the same film. God help us.