Thursday, 27 December 2012

It's Christmas time

... so what better reason to potter back to my old haunts and hang out for a while? Since late October, when I last blogged, I confess to a mixture of overwhelming work and solid disinterest in blogging. It's hard to describe the place I've been in, but it might be word-fatigue or something like it. Language has been peeling off experience like some bad Foucauldian wallpaper. I've been needing different outlets. Blimey, I've even started baking!

Domestically, life is rather full. My wife and I are expecting twins in February so daily life has been more complex than expected. On the work front, I've been doing my own duties and filling in for various absent colleagues, so there was no respite there.

It all makes one wonder whether the old truisms about creativity and academia are true: that they are not compatible with family life! Then again, I feel they certainly are; I just haven't cracked the solution yet.

Spiritually and mentally - the reasons for which this blog began - I suppose I have been focusing on getting on with life, rather than blogging about it here. I hate blather more and more each day. The Twelve Days of Christmas are providing their own opportunity for some focal practices. Today, we celebrated St John's feastday with blessed wine and lamb's heart for supper. Why can't our days be always filled with such symbolism? My wife and I toasted each other the traditional St John's toast: I drink to you the love of St John, and while I took a swig, she just tasted a little, having committed herself to avoiding alcohol and caffeine while pregnant. I have a menu planned for the rest of the Twelve Days. Tomorrow, the feast of the Holy Innocents, we will have pigeon. On Saturday, feast of St Thomas à Beckett, we'll have a good English stew of beef shin - even though St Thomas was a Norman!

What is the point? Ultimately, it is about the depths of things. It is about the depths of things, when all we feel we have to hold on to are the fragments and ruins, the flotsam and jetsam; it's about being the rogue dandelion on the crumbling brick edifice of a wall set for demolition. How much our functionalist and pragmatic world clamours for us to live on the surface! How much we are stifled by living at such low altitudes!  

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars, as old Oscar said. I think, however, I prefer Gerard Manley Hopkins's version of the same idea. It's less cynical and less self-conscious.

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;       
  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
  And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;       
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


  1. Yorright or what?

    Best wishes and prayers what what is likely to be a very eventful, very busy, and extremely Happy New Year.

  2. Cheers, ower kid! Same to you and yours.

  3. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    May the Baby- God and His Mother smile upon you and yours this new year and always.
    Congratulations on twins. You are more than academically prolific!
    Three babies already; talk about Catholic Action.
    Warm wishes, thoughts and prays from Chicago.
    PS- You do need to blog more. Maybe just a little for your cousins across the pond

  4. Cheers, Nick! All our best wishes to you in Chicago. I'll do my best with the blogging!

  5. I just read your comment to my wife about Catholic Action, at which she grinned and applauded!!!