Category Archives: Green cities

A poem on the loss of my First Friend and our wild childhood in West London

I have been inspired to write this poem because of two posts on the loss of friends and the importance of making sure in our busy lives that we spend precious times with those we love and care for.  These are Victoria Slotto and A Poetry Pub Post.

It is almost a year that I lost my oldest friend. She was just 60 but we had known one another for almost 56 years. We were neighbours  and friends in our childhood and were neighbours again when my children were young.

In our childhood we were always playing outside and there were many open spaces for us to discover. We grew up in a place that was not so popular and posh then by the river Thames. We had the streets, alleys, allotments, reservoirs and Barnes Common when older to run off to with friends.

MY FIRST FRIEND

My first friend is the first, of my friends, to leave me,

And how I miss the mulling over of mindful memory.

Different understandings of the way things were.

Unlocking distant sounds, intensifying colours

To share for tea or coffee in our November years.

First, we would have played inside each other’s houses.

In mine, there were the many furry beasts to care for.

In hers, we taught and tended to the tiny dolls.

With mothers close by, ready to prepare our tea.

From the inside to the outside, first, we went into our gardens,

Or were these more just backyards behind the tall terraces.

A sparkling outside toilet I got locked in.

A perfect patch of grass was all we had to sit on.

Further first we ventured, out beyond the gates,

Into a shared back alley and a ruined place.

A building for our nightmares an alley for our games.

Budge, In the River, Hide and Seek and planes.

A first to wander further, faster up the street,

Legs pushing scooters or roller blading skates.

Further on we ventured towards the open skies

Into the green spaces of our childhood friends and games

First we wandered near her father, digging deep into

The turf of his allotment, just up the terraced street

Dodging folk along the paths to our mysterious marsh,

To the deep dug out waters of the then so many laughs

Further first when we were older with guide dog pups to walk

From Surreyside to Middlesex, to Hammersmith upon

the bridge of dreams, suspended from its mighty girders,

Staring through the gaps down to the swirling currents.

First to go together to Saturday Morning Pictures.

First to take the bus to different swimming pools.

First to take ourselves to picnic on Barnes Common.

First to wander wild along the river’s Surrey side .

We shared a kind of childhood that we think should be remembered,

A childhood that was free to explore green and vibrant spaces,

Letting us run so far and deep in the breath of the wild.

With the passing of the years we pray we don’t lose that child.

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Consider the lilies: Consider the bins! A walk through the mean streets of Manchester!

imageimageConsider the lilies:  Consider the bins!

imageA walk through some Manchester streets to Whitworth park showed an interesting variety of care for the environment. In some key streets there were so many gardens with great  white lilies and other flowers, but certainly the lilies were outstanding. Unfortunately there was also a lot of litter and overflowing bins not far away.  How some people can show so much care and then so nearby there are bins that could be cleared of the rubbish shows the variety of human attitudes there are. It  is not fair on those that take a pride in their surroundings and go the extra mile to grow and water flowers.  Manchester City council has a system similar to North Lincs where the bins are only collected every other week. Well!  Well done to the London Borough of Hounslow that collects and recycles every week. Sad to say the streets here in my local area would be far worse if this was not the case.

Whitworth park was founded by Joseph Whitworth around 1890 and as an industrialist he gave the land and created a park with a boating lake for the people of the city of Manchester. How many corporations are buying prime real estate in cities and  giving it to the people who live there as a green open space ?Are the city planners allowing for more green space as the need for building more homes, bigger schools increases and developers want to gain as much profit as possible from land bought?   Are there any more benevolent capitalists like Joseph Whitworth?

imageThere are charities like the wildlife trusts that buy land for conservation of wildlife and rely on the contributions of ordinary folk.

 

 

Some of the photos show how people in Manchester do care about having gardens and alleyways with flowers, small plots of green, and support for their green spaces. Manchester City Council has recycling bins but could maybe step up to having some of those bins collected more often than twice a week!

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And the symbolism of Lilies? Well, one was Cleanliness!  From a bit of Internet trawling the biblical lilies of the field in Palestine might not have been white; possibly red.  It seems that lilies might have been a very generic term like daisies.  Maybe Jesus was referring to a wide variety of flowers from the Liliaceae family with a variety of colours.

 

So from the sacred insight to the more profane. We humans love to appropriate the world around us. If lilies are used to represent death, loss and funerals they can also be symbolic of birth and reproduction Look carefully inside the lily. White Lilies are supposed to have a pistil like a phallus and be highly erotic. This is from the Greeks who also felt the pollen symbolised fertility. No close up photos at present! Well I was asked to spice up my blog!

Some extracts from internet on Lily symbolism and myth.

Purity, modesty, virginity, majesty, it’s heavenly to be with you. The white lily is linked to Juno, the queen of the gods in Roman mythology, by the story that while nursing her son Hercules, some excess milk fell from the sky creating the group of stars we call the Milky Way, and lilies were created from what milk fell to the earth. The Easter lily is also known as the symbol of the Virgin Mary.

(I have just read  an  intriguing fictional insight into a Mary’s  grief , by Colm Tobin ‘The Testament of Mary’)

 

And from the Tarot, there are three cards which have lilies portrayed in them!  The magician one looked the closest resemblance to white lilies in the background.

I have been told my garden in Spain is surviving my absence while visiting family and friends in the UK.  Thanks to friends there! Maybe I will be back in time to see if my lilies are still in bloom. The wild part will hopefully have had some rain but from now there can be long periods of dry weather.