Miscellaneous writing


On clear nights, whenever I have the chance, I like to look at the sky. At stars whose names I know not, the Southern Cross whose location continues to perplex, at planets whose orbits remain a mystery to me. To look with thrilling hope I may spot a shooting star or, and for this I have an app, the space station blinking as it chases through the blackness. The disorder of the night sky with its clumps of what I suppose are galaxies seems to mirror the state of my mind, even though I know there is a beautiful symmetry to it all, a mathematical code so simple it has eluded us for centuries.

When the moon is bright and full, or nearly so, I reflect on those who have travelled there, walked the surface, left mementos of home. Yet the one I think of most is the one who never landed there. I think in particular of Collins who, as his male companions cavorted for the first time on lunar soil [no woman’s ever been] was the loneliest person in the world as he flew round the dark side.

What’s it like to be truly alone? I was seven when Armstrong and Aldrin walked the Moon like it was a Sunday stroll. I remember being at school, herded to come and watch a TV that had been set up outside under cover on the warm concrete floor. I was transfixed, unable to look away even though others near were bored, fidgeting, being told to ‘shush’ by the teachers, some of whom, too, were impatient to return to their lunch. I though was drawn to the picture box with its doors opened wide, the first time a TV had been switched on at school, even though the pictures were like shadows.

Miscellaneous writing

Launch time

The orange moon is not orange.

More rust than orange.

There are clouds too.

They didn’t mention clouds when

They said go watch the orange moon.

It’s more rust than citrus actually.

Miscellaneous writing

Icarus moment

About suffering they were never wrong,

The Old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position: how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

For the miraculous birth, there always must be

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

On a pond at the edge of the wood:

They never forgot

That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course

Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse

Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Miscellaneous writing

Change of name

To those who have subscribed under All About Lettering, an explanation.

All About Lettering has been extant 10 years – the anniversary was November 2020. In that time I published more than 350 posts on lettering related themes. These remain.

However, as I stated at the start of this year [2021] I am eager to explore other areas. I have therefore taken the decision to rename the site All About Creativity, which expresses where I am now.

I hope you will continue to follow, but understand if this change of direction is not what you are after. Take care and thank you for your interest.

To new subscribers of this blog.

Do browse the historic posts on lettering and other typographic related areas. You may find something of interest.

Miscellaneous writing


The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes— 
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands—
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Snow by Louis MacNeice


Miscellaneous writing

Dover Beach

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

First stanza of Matthew Arnold’s poem of 1867


Miscellaneous writing

Seaborne: ever more

For Alfred Wallis, who drew and painted without ever moving from his native Cornwall in the English west.

My thoughts turned to Wallis after reading about the Ever Given stuck in the Suez, with economists tearing their hair out at the prospect of gaz-illions being lost in trade – mostly trade in stuff we don’t need.

Wallis painted on left over scraps: he couldn’t afford much. But he knew the sea and he knew boats and he knew the people who sailed the boats and he painted what he saw, what he remembered.

I was thinking about Alfred Wallis after I had been thinking about John Skelton and after I’d been thinking about David Jones, both of whom you’ll find mention elsewhere in this blog if you search.

I’d also been thinking of Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, which has modest collections of Wallis and Jones, through the zeal of Jim Eade.

Miscellaneous writing

I left it here

The race to ‘normal again’ is on – economic normal. The graphs have been pointing down a while and now the politicians are eager to see those lines heading north again. Some commentators point to the V effect, and to resume that upward tick is about pumping out more growth targets – more shovel-ready projects. Hopes for a rational re-think of how we pursue our lives [shops are open again and the TV news shows crowds gathering outside before the doors are thrown open, the pent-up frenzy palpable through the tube] gone in an instant.

Yet I think I caught a news item [by caught I mean spotted fleetingly a flash on my mobile of a news item seeking my attention; or I may have been browsing a news site and caught this ‘flash’] somewhere about scientists emphasising we have ’50 years’ before climate reversal becomes untenable.

Miscellaneous writing

Walking away from that

Miscellaneous writing

Pandemic memories: Australian version

Pandemic memories from Australia.

Stuffed fluffy kids animals tied to tree branches or gate posts outside houses where there are children; passing at a ‘safe’ distance other walkers; no toilet paper in supermarkets, then the rice and pasta empty; flour too, and cleaning materials/fluids; only certain numbers allowed inside the supermarket at any one time, staff counting and checking; shops empty/closed up at the shopping mall; no planes in the sky, sound of their engines as they throttle up or back; fewer vehicles on roads as people are at home; no using cash; nightly bulletin or morning presser by State and Federal politcos and medical officers; Zoom comes into its own as a virtual platform; driving and thinking am I infected? And if I am what then? People lining up outside Centrelink early on [before it opens its shutters at 8.30am]; marks on the ground where people need to stand to observe social distancing – looks like where actors stand in a film shoot. Have a drink while at the hairdresser, since both bottleshops and hair salons remain open.