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I’m too lazy to write a post so here is the new poem by Tess Kincaid … she’s not quite right in the head you know … she lives in Ohio … somebody has to …

I’m too vain to cry much;
my sniffs hide mute

behind strands of my hair,
and layers of waterproof mascara.

With a random hanky-snort,
mine foghorns out a cute G,

not all loud and garble-monster,
like a prehistoric disposer.

I wonder what Matt Damon’s
sounds like, leghorn-straight,

squared off at the end
like Bob Hope’s.

(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

Although the self-governing British island colony of Barbados, the easternmost of the West Indies, is only 166 square miles in area, its early 160,000 inhabitants make it one of the most densely populated regions in the world. Its palm-shaded roads are lined almost continuously with pink-tinted cottages or huts with roofs of ragged thatch. Many of the negro men emigrate because of the pressure of the population, and so three-fifths of the inhabitants are females, who are to be seen everywhere skilfully carrying on their heads the goods they have for sale.

Negroes have equal rights in the schools, in the churches, and in politics, and hold many important posts. Civility and good humour seem to be universal, and law and order always prevail. The natives outnumber the whites by about thirteen to one.

England obtained the island by settlement about 1625. The colony is administered by a Governor, an Executive Council, and a Legislative Council, all appointed by the British Government, and a House of Assembly elected by the people. The capital is Bridgetown.

Coral reefs fringe the coasts of Barbados. The surface, broken by a few forests and streams, is elevated in the interior, where Mount Hillaby rises to 1,104 feet. Most of the island is under cultivation, chiefly for sugar-cane, but also for cotton, coffee, and tobacco. It enjoys a healthful climate, which is especially beneficial for those with lung diseases, and many invalids have prolonged their lives by going to the island.

Barbados (the Spanish word for “bearded”) probably takes its name from the bearded fig-tree which grows there.

Unfortunately, Barbados has two enemies in hurricanes and earthquakes. Properly a hurricane is a windstorm – often covering a wide area and lasting several days – in which the winds blow spirally about a central area. In the Southern Hemisphere the winds revolve in the direction of the hands of a clock, and in the Northern Hemisphere they blow the reverse way. In popular usage, the term is used to designate a tornado or any violent or destructive windstorm.

MR D.J.S. MITCHELL AND MISS V.E. COREN. The engagement is announced between David, son of Mr and Mrs Ian Mitchell, of Oxford, and Victoria, daughter of Dr Anne Coren and the late Mr Alan Coren, of London.

Curvaceous yummy top-heavy writer and poker champion Victoria Coren is to marry television “personality” cult comedian and writer David Mitchell.

Ms Coren, 38, announced the engagement in The Times’s social and personal pages. The daughter of journalist and broadcaster Alan Coren, she is also the sister of Giles Coren, a columnist for The Times.

In 2006, she won the main event on the European Poker Tour, pocketing £500,000. She has a first-class degree from Oxford University and regularly contributes to the Observer and the BBC.

Mr Mitchell, best known as half of the duo Mitchell and Webb, was first rumoured to be involved with Ms Coren by the Telegraph’s Mandrake column last March. But the couple have largely kept their relationship a secret until now.

I had always fondly believed that “V.C.” and I shared an unspoken understanding, from the days when we would play in her father’s cherry orchard in leafy Cricklewood, north London, that one day she would become Mrs Stainforth.

Alas, she has succumbed to the superficial charm of this Mitchell bloke, forgetting the joy we had in those halcyon days when we flung us on the windy hill and kissed the lovely grass.

Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said, “Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
When we are old, are old. . . .” “And when we die
All’s over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips,” said I,
“Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!”

“We are Earth’s best, that learnt her lesson here.
Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!” we said;
“We shall go down with unreluctant tread
Rose-crowned into the darkness!” . . . Proud we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.

(Rupert Brooke, The Hill)

Another poem by Tess Kincaid who lives by the Scioto River in Ohio and writes a blog called Life at Willow Manor.

I sunburn
under your
late-summer eyes,

our tongues hinge,
then come apart
like two rakes,
side by side.

We cull essence,
swallow brine
with the tang

of Russian vodka
in your mouth,
the silvery cold taste
of well water in mine.

The day he moved out was terrible –
That evening she went through hell.
His absence wasn’t a problem
But the corkscrew had gone as well.

(Wendy Cope, Loss)

R.A.D. Stainforth is unwell.

Notre Dame Cathedral Antwerp

The city of Antwerp, the metropolis of Belgium and one of the greatest seaports of Europe, has long played an important role in history because of its situation and its commercial importance. Located 50 miles from the open sea, on the right bank of the Scheldt River, which is here 2,200 feet wide, Antwerp possesses one of the finest harbours of the world, through which passes a huge volume of imports and exports. Besides its commerce Antwerp is important for its diamond-cutting, sugar-refining, brewing and distilling, and its manufacture of textiles.

Its commanding position was attained only after a long and troubled career. The city was founded some time in the 8th century and is said by some scholars to have acquired its name – Hand-werpen (“hand-throwing”) – from the gruesome practice of one of its robber chieftains who cut off the hands of his prisoners and threw them into the Scheldt. By the middle of the 16th century Antwerp had become one of the most prosperous cities in Europe and the world’s chief money-market, but in 1576 it was pillaged and burned for three days during the “Spanish Fury” because it had taken part in the revolt from Spain, which then ruled the Netherlands. The city was ruined and its inhabitants scattered.

Not until the days of Napoleon did it start again on the upward road, when it fell into the hands of France. Napoleon began the improvement of its harbour to make Antwerp a rival to London and a “revolver held at the heart of England”. With this impetus Antwerp continued to grow even after the downfall of Napoleon’s empire in 1814. Its commerce received another setback in 1830 when Belgium separated from Holland, for the latter country controlled both banks of the lower Scheldt and imposed heavy tolls on all vessels ascending or descending the river. This obstacle was not removed until 1863.

Antwerp suffered another heavy blow at the opening of the First World War in 1914. Although its fortifications had been strengthened after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, so that it was considered the strongest fortified city in Europe, it took the Germans only ten days to drive out the Belgian army. On October 8th, 1914, they occupied the town, which they had long coveted because of its strategic location, and did not give it up until their withdrawal from Belgium in 1918.

In spite of these disasters there still stand in Antwerp some of the old buildings. The most famous is the cathedral of Notre Dame, which was begun in 1352 and completed in 1616. With its lofty tower it is the most conspicuous building in the city, and in it are three of Rubens’ great paintings, The Descent from the Cross, The Elevation of the Cross, and The Assumption. Other important buildings are the richly decorated town-hall, built in the 16th century, and the gallery containing a priceless collection of Rubens’ and Van Dyck’s paintings. Boulevards mark the site of the old walls.

Not far from the cathedral stands the shop and home of Christophe Plantin, “the king of printers”. Setting up the establishment in 1549, the business was continued after his death by his descendants until 1867 – over three centuries. Not only did he work with all the strength of an active brain and an amazing physical energy, but the founder of a business that was destined to become the finest printing house in the world persuaded all his family to labour for him. His wife, five daughters and two sons-in-law toiled often enough from early morn until long after dewy eve. One of the most famous works produced by the Plantin Press was a Bible in several languages that filled eight volumes. The types, presses and other apparatus of this old 16th century printer are preserved as precious relics of a master craftsman. Population of Antwerp about 300,000.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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