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The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

Whilst reading the final drafts of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice it struck me how words, and in particularly poetry, when committed to paper can transmute over time to adapt to current situations and environments. Whereas some of the poems within the book where written many years ago, in some cases missing out on being included in Flowers by the Road, they seem more relevant to the times that we now find ourselves witnessing.

Take the title poem for example: initially created around a global theme of climate change and environmental disaster, who could have predicted that any season would be lost without sound.

There is a slight apprehension that The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is launched into a world where our futures are unknown and ill-defined. The reason for writing and publishing work is so that somewhere, someone may find it and gain something. What that something is remains unwritten, undiscovered, but without the artists, poets and musicians existing then there would be nothing left to explore. Imagine that.

 

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

There are somethings I will never understand:
the secrets of the beehive; a dying sting;
the apiarist’s hand at the signal
of the last swarm guided from the under-land

where life peels away from the new colours
mixed on a rough-sawn palette;
a violent history that understood
the bitter-sweet taste of flowers.

Inside the butterfly collector
spears her latest catch;
euphemised in chloroform,
displayed in plastic on the door.

December once brought cold,
once brought the first frost,
rain, hardship and a hunger
for the bleak winters of old.

Outside the greyness suffocates ground,
deadens the call of birds
now left to winter it out.
Of all the seasons to be lost without sound.

 

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice will be released on the 23 April as a special limited edition of 100 copies.

Stay safe,

David.

 

beekeeper (2)

 

the hawthorn halls – power lines

Power Lines

I was disappointed that the anesthetist didn’t ask me to count to ten so that I could try to beat the drugs so instead I focused on the clock directly in front of me as I felt the familiar sharp scratch on the back of my hand. It was ten past nine exactly as I began to count the seconds. I think I got to seven before they pulled the tube from my throat and offered some more oxygen. It was ten to ten. A heavily bandaged knee gave the game away – the operation was done and so, hopefully, was two years of increasing pain and decreasing miles.

It turns out a pesky little bit of bone (now gone) and a twangy little Plica – no neither had I – (also now gone) had been the root cause of my ever increasing vicarious lifestyle over the past couple of years.

Whilst I don’t often blog bout walks and adventures – there are far more better blogs out there already, see Mark Kelly’s excellent halfwayhike for instance – they do remain the backbone of this blog (title, clue) and the source of inspiration for much of my creative work. So it’s fair to say that I’ve been getting a little grumpy and not being that productive.

Hopefully a course of physiotherapy should deliver me back on to the hills by late autumn. In the mean time I’m using the time to finally get to grips with Lightroom – I still miss the old darkroom techniques – and for the first time in over twenty years I’m exhibiting photographic work alongside some excellent photographers from the Marsden Photographic Group. The exhibition runs throughout July at Marsden Mechanics Hall. For those unable to make the show both my prints, Power Lines and Crosby Sands are also available through the excellent photo4me.com site where you can purchase the images as canvas and framed prints.

I’m also delighted to be part of holmfirthartweek which runs from the 5th to the 11th of July by exhibiting two brand new paintings in the main exhibition. This is the first time I’ve exhibited in the main hall during art week so apart from not being able to walk, the last couple of weeks have been very exciting. News of the paintings which I’m displaying are on my Facebook page here, facebook.com/davidcoldwellart.

Whilst I usually like to finish by pointing towards some music that I think all the world should hear, this post is a little different. In the wake of Kanye’s performence at Glanstonbury I couldn’t help thinking that, from an armchair point of view, this year’s festival was missing something. I then came across this video which somehow seemed to fill the gap.

Flight Dream

Flight Dreams

Flight Dream

Look closely and you can just about make out the three para-gliders. Flight Dream is just one of a number of photographs that are now available to purchase online at Photo4me.com – please look at the Gallery page for more details and also new information about the launch of my Artfinder shop where a selection of paintings and limited edition giclée prints will be made available. The photograph was taken just off the Pennine Way at Marsden, West Yorkshire and features the famous Pule Hill.

At a similar time last year some friends introduced me to the wonderful music of Bill Callahan who was playing live in Manchester. Unfortunately work commitments forced me to miss the show and the name slipped to the back of my mind until a year later when, in these post-Yule tide days, I started to scour the furthest recesses of my music collection looking for something to inspire. Fortunately I only needed to get to B for Bill; music collections are like that.

I’m please to say that I’ve now re-discovered Dream River and think that the rest of the world should also do the same. Headphones ready…

 

The many layers of landscape photography

andyhemingway

What is it about landscape photography that makes me keep going back for more?

I spent much of one Sunday morning asking myself this question, as a ferocious wind did its damnedest to blast me off of Marsden Moor.

A wind blasted morning at Millstone Edge A wind blasted morning at Millstone Edge

Crouched behind a large rock, which provided at least a little shelter from the grasping fingers of the Pennine wind, waiting for a break in the clouds, I began to ponder just what it was that had coaxed me out of bed at 4.00am and up on to the moor on a day like this. I spotted a jogger approaching, the only other living soul that I saw all morning. We waved at each other in grim solidarity, in recognition of each other’s battle with the elements.

It was this that made me realise that it was a question of motivation. I could have…

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The Hawthorn Halls – the Oscar and Tony edition

Just why I had left it so late to buy the usual array of books, CDs, DVDs and the much hinted perfume to go with the big present (similar to the big light or the big shop) for the better half back in 2007 is beyond me now but there I was, waiting in the queue on Christmas Eve of our now dear departed HMV, with arms full and a budget stretched to almost breaking point. That’s when I saw the DVD for the first time.  A film that, over the course of the next six years would lead me on a quest overseas to Dublin, New York and back to Manchester and London. Well, almost. Certainly Dublin, Manchester and most recently London but New York, well, that was for another Marsden lad.

Regular readers will know, any film that claims to be ‘the best music film of our generation’ is going to grab my attention and in the twenty seconds (see there are themes for regulars) whilst in that queue I couldn’t think of one reason not to buy the film, Once. The characters looked good, he was carrying a guitar, it was set in Dublin and I was vaguely familiar with the song, Falling Slowing by The Frames which in fact was found later languishing in a dark corner of the Halls.

Starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, the film was written and directed by one time Frames bassist, John Carney and filmed on a budget of around £100,000. Every film, music and performing arts student needs to see this film. It became an instant January Saturday birthday night hit and possible one of the best music films I’d seen in a very long time. Falling Slowly went on to win an Oscar in February for best original song. The music sits somewhere between folk rock singer song writer piano pop grunge which is general why no one has ever actually heard it.

Glen and Markéta went on to form The Swell Season. This, a couple of years later, is when our quest took us to Manchester where, in the intimate surroundings of the Lowry, the stage became a curious space where reality slipped back and forth into the realms of Once fantasy which was fascinating. Glen currently tours solo. During the intervening years, our quest as also taken us to Dublin where open top buses have assisted with grand tours of the city and locations used in the film. I know, I’m stretching the point but yes, we are fans.

A history lesson:

In the mid eighties my parents took on the task of running the Marsden Bandroom, locally known as the Band ‘ole; a large club with members’ bars and rehearsal rooms. It is home to the Marsden Silver Prize Band who are one of Yorkshire’s finest bands and have recently celebrated their 125th anniversary.  You can find out more at http://www.marsdenband.com/

There are many fond memories from those days: the reward of half of Tetley mild for bottling up every Sunday morning and the free game of pool on a Tuesday night but none more so than the people involved both with the band and the club. Christmas mornings would be filled with bandsmen filing through our small terrace for ‘a little sommat to keep cold out’ before shuffling off ‘round streets while we went and opened up for the regulated two hours. With community and the club came children and lots of them and as such there was never any shortage of friends. The children’s Christmas party was legendary for two points: that it was held in mid-February when all band commitments where over and that there seemed to be hundred of us.

John was the son of a bandsman. He was a couple of years younger than me, which is a big deal when you’re thirteen and fourteen, but as he had a sister my age we all seemed to be friends. He seemed to be a musical lad.  That’s the last I heard.

Until:

That John was staging Once the musical in London. The fact that John Tiffany had left Huddersfield and gone off to become a world famous theatre director had somehow passed me by. The fact that he had won a Tony award for the Broadway version of Once seemed a nice way to find out. The fact that the show was now coming to London seemed an opportunity (as part of our quest) too good to miss. I happened to mention it to Mrs C. So it was with bated breath on Christmas morning that I opened the envelope to reveal two tickets to the show and a night in London, together with a flutter of coupons from the Yorkshire Post to ensure our ten pound return rail travel.

There is nothing better than a mid-winter trip to hearten the soul and remind you that life goes on outside our valley. The fact that we travelled through one of the worst winter storms the country has ever seen seemed to cause little fuss. It was a whirlwind tour, quite literally. Starting off with David Bailey’s (almost) retrospective, Stardust at the National Portrait Gallery before a craft beer with a tester on Shaftsbury Avenue (was it me or is London much happier and more welcoming nowadays?). Next day was the Constable collection at the V and A before lunch at the Troubadour – a special treat because I keep reading about all these great events and can never get down – and then on to the show. I’m not going to spoil a thing; you can do that by You Tubing. All I’ll say is arrive early to enjoy one of the most innovative creative devices I’ve ever seen employed by a musical performance. I can see where he gets his Tony from.

A standout moment from the soundtrack, enjoy.

Ammon Wrigley

As mentioned in Mark Kelly’s brilliant Marsden Poetry Trail: http://halfwayhike.com/2014/02/03/a-marsden-poetry-trail here’s Andy Hemingway’s fantastic original piece about Ammon Wrigley.

andyhemingway

Ammon Wrigley Ammon Wrigley

If you venture up on to Millstone Edge, at Standedge on Marsden Moor, you will be in good company. This little corner of the Pennines was so loved by local poet, writer and historian Ammon Wrigley, that his ashes were scattered near the Dinner Stone.

The views over Saddleworth overlook the places where he was born, raised and lived his whole, long life. Look closer and you will spot his memorial plaque. Now sat between those of his two daughters.

The Wrigley Plaques

THE ASHES OF
AMMON WRIGLEY
BELOVED WRITER OF SADDLEWORTH
FOLK-LORE, PROSE AND POEMS,
WERE SCATTERED FROM THIS SPOT

ON THE 14TH SEPTEMBER
— 1946 —

HIS WAS THE SWEET AND GENEROUS SOUL
THAT LOVED NOT SELF ALONE
BUT TO OUR POORER NATURES GAVE
THE FRAGRANCE OF HIS OWN.

WINDS OF THE PENNINES FRESH AND FREE
YOU WERE EVER GOOD FRIENDS TO ME
OUT ON THE…

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