Saturday, 23 July 2011


The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has picked up tantalising fluctuations which might - or might not - be hints of the sought-after Higgs boson particle... Without the Higgs, physicists cannot explain why particles have mass. BBC News, 23/7/11

One inverse femtobarn of data
May have revealed
The Higgs boson particle to be real.
Massive news. More later.

Wynn Wheldon

This poem is included in the collection 'Tiny Disturbances', published by Acumen on 1 June, 2012

Saturday, 16 July 2011

RUNNING by Richard Wilbur

1933 (North Caldwell, New Jersey)

What were we playing? Was it prisoner's base?
I ran with whacking keds
Down the cart-road past Rickard's place,
And where it dropped beside the tractor-sheds

Leapt out into the air above a blurred
Terrain, through jolted light,
Took two hard lopes, and at the third
Spanked off a hummock-side exactly right,

And made the turn, and with delighted strain
Sprinted across the flat
By the bull-pen, and up the lane.
Thinking of happiness, I think of that.

Note: "keds" is the brand name for "the original sneaker".

Saturday, 9 July 2011

News of the World: A Devil's Advocacy

I am reminded of Captain Renault in 'Casablanca': "I'm shocked - shocked - that gambling has been allowed on the premises" Claude Rains tells Bogart, before accepting his roulette winnings with a gracious "thank you".
The News of the World is a muck-raking organ. That is its point. In order to muck rake well it is necessary to be a) unscrupulous and b) unsentimental. If we do not want muck-raking, fine, let us let the muck settle. The sanctimonious outpourings of the public (and of course politicians, for whom the death of the News of the World will be most welcome) is symptomatic of that sentimental view of the world which believes that things ought to be perfect. Kill the News of the World and you bury all sorts of nasty stuff that will never see the light of day.

NB I have not personally bought a copy of the News of the World for about 35 years. We liked to buy the Observer for the sport and the NOTW for what had been raked from the muck.

"Keep the world from running backwards"

I came across the following in an essay by Joseph Epstein in the New Criterion. It is a quotation from a book by F.L. Lucas, called Style (1955). It is a paragraph that could be used as a definition of sanity.
It is unlikely that many of us will be famous, or even remembered. But not less important than the brilliant few that lead a nation or a literature to fresh achievements, are the unknown many whose patient efforts keep the world from running backward; who guard and maintain the ancient values, even if they do not conquer new; whose inconspicuous triumph it is to pass on what they inherited from their fathers, unimpaired and undiminished, to their sons. Enough, for almost all of us, if we can hand on the torch, and not let it down; content to win the affection, if it may be, of a few who know us and to be forgotten when they in their turn have vanished. The destiny of mankind is not governed wholly by its “stars.”

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Street Photographs by Nils Jorgensen

Those who are fond of Cartier-Bresson (that's one of his above) will have an extremely engaging half an hour or so here:

Not Adlestrop by Dannie Abse

Not Adlestrop, no - besides, the name
hardly matters. Nor did I languish in June heat.
Simply, I stood, too early, on the empty platform,
and the wrong train came in slowly, surprised, stopped.
Directly facing me, from a window,
a very, very pretty girl leaned out.

When I, all instinct,
stared at her, she, all instinct, inclined her head away
as if she'd divined the much married life in me,
or as if she might spot, up platform,
some unlikely familiar.

For my part, under the clock, I continued
my scrutiny with unmitigated pleasure.
And she knew it, she certainly knew it, and would
not glance at me in the silence of not Adlestrop.

Only when the train heaved noisily, only
when it jolted, when it slid away, only then,
daring and secure, she smiled back at my smile,
and I, daring and secure, waved back at her waving.
And so it was, all the way down the hurrying platform
as the train gathered atrocious speed
towards Oxfordshire or Gloucestershire.

from Collected Poems, 1948-1976, Hutchinson, London 1977