Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A thought provoked by The Grapes of Wrath

Between the narrative of The Grapes of Wrath, wonderful and beautiful as it is, John Steinbeck includes many interesting and insightful comments, many of which still apply today, some seventy-four years after it was first published. Here is one I came across:

"If this tractor were ours it would be good - not mine, but ours. If our tractor turned the long furrows of our land, it would be good. Not my land, but ours. We could love that tractor then as we have loved this land when it was ours. But this tractor does two things - it turns the land and turns us off the land. There is little difference between this tractor and a tank. The people are driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must think about this."

Now few people today (at least in Britain) could say they are being, or have been driven off their land by tractors, that do the same job at a cheaper cost. That I suppose happened many years ago, as it did in the USA. Now though we complain about the cost of food; food that is largely imported, making it more expensive and less fresh.
     This attitude fits closely with the western way of living, i.e 'someone else can do the planting, growing, harvesting, packing, etc., we'll just do the eating, preferably without having to pay too much. Meanwhile we do small jobs, that don't necessarily improve life, but often help us to do as little as possible.
     There was a time when each family grew their own food, made their own clothes, built their own homes, did things that were actually essential to life. Now we want other people to do this for us, preferably overseas where we don't have to see how hard it is. Oh and if you could make me the latest iPlod macro extra, with all the trimmings, that would be excellent.

Is the world going to change, no, or at least not over night. What I would like to suggest, however, is that we should take back our land from the tractor, which is itself a dying breed in England, where more and more fields are being built upon by our generous government. If farms cannot provide us with food, we should provide it for ourselves, as many already do.
     A small vegetable plot can produce a mass of food, enough to supply more than one family for a year. If every garden in Britain grew just one type of crop, we could stop importing so much food, which in turn would save a lot of money. Yes, we wouldn't have all food at all times of the year, but the food we would have would be fresh and probably much better for us.
     I hope that some day this is how we will live, because if we can improve our way of life in this way, perhaps we can improve it in other ways.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

People don't change

The Grapes of Wrath is an American classic and was first published in 1939. Here is a paragraph though, that I did not expect to read:

"The doors of the empty house swung open, and drifted back and forth in the wind. Bands of little boys came out from the towns to break the windows and pick over the debris, looking for treasures. And here's a knife with the blade half gone. That's a good thing. And - smells like a rat died here. And look what Whitey wrote on the wall. He wrote that in the toilet at school, too, an' teacher made 'im wash it off."

Such a paragraph would not be out of place in a novel set in the twenty-first century, because people don't change. Houses are still left empty and boys will always be boys.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Down by the Weir

Outside of the town and on the far side of the hill the river ran in twists and curls. Trees shaded each bank and in places large rocks protruded from the water. In the summer we would go down to the river and lie in the sun or bathe in the cool water. It wasn't deep and the current wasn't strong and it would have been perfect except for the noise of traffic on the nearby road.
     One day while exploring further down stream, away from the town and the cars we discovered an old weir, still in perfect condition. The water flowed over the smooth rocks and tumbled noisily down the far side. Below the weir the river became very shallow for a while and we paddled about and watched for fish. Then someone had the idea of sitting in the cascade of white water, which we did, letting the flow cool our backs, hot from the sun.
     We stayed all day swimming and wading, enjoying the peace. The next day we came back, and almost every day that summer when the sun shone. It was our secret place. Our garden, our play park and we shared it only with the birds.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ashes - Day 1 from Trent Bridge

An interesting day of test match cricket. It was always going to be nervy and exciting but I didn’t really expect 14 wickets, or even half that number.

Anyway, got the ground well in time for the toss, England won, although it might have been better to lose. Cloudy conditions made it a good time to bowl.

Then there were the national anthems, the Coldstream Guard, fireworks and perfectly timed, the Red Arrows.

Finally got the first ball, a wide, good start and after that everything settled down for a while.

Plenty of Aussies in the crowd kept the noise and the tension up but with England 98-2 at lunch everything seemed as per normal.

After lunch though it got a bit mad. England played some bad shots and seemed to get intimidated by Siddle. So they threw away their decent start and early in the evening session collapsed completely. 215 all out was bad, very bad, and the England fans were very quiet. Sadly this made the Aussie fans sing even louder.

However half an hour later, however, everything changed. Finn took two in two and Anderson bowled Clarke and there was a rousing rendition of ‘You’re not singing anymore’ to the much subdued bunch from Down Under. It was still cloudy and chilly but then a cameraman turned up next to me and the guys I was with. We tried to act normal… but failed...

Anderson got another wicket, possibly a bit luckily and that was about the end of it. Hoping for something a bit more steady tomorrow, not sure I can take another day like that! Still, COME ON ENGLAND!