Living in a small town there is a tendency to think that the circle of people with whom one is familiar are themselves ‘the community’, especially if you belong to different organisations within the town. For myself, Theatr Mwldan, Menter Aberteifi, Cardigan Castle, Cardigan Writers, Tivyside Advertiser, Small World Centre are quite central in my life, and then there are those where I know some of the members, Cardigan Art Society, Square Pegs, Cardigan Theatre, Opera Teifi, Allotment Society, Soroptimists, Jig-so Mother & Child, and so on. Sounds like I know a hell of a lot of people, and I do. But today was Barley Saturday a big annual celebratory day in the town’s life, and I went to meet up with four or five friends for lunch, and we watched from one of the best spots on the High Street, as the horses and ponies and tractors, went by down the town’s main street. There were throngs of people several deep on both sides of the road, and as I looked round I could only spot the very occasional one I recognised. The rest were complete strangers. So who were all these people? Obviously some would be visitors from outside. But many of them knew what they were there for, and seemed to have opinions about it, applauding the best of the horses, cheering on the man with the only donkey, calling out to one of the men leading a rather frisky looking pony and it occurred to me that today was what Barley Saturday has always been, despite us townies thinking its ours, its a day for the farming community, which actually is in a circle all of its own, and has on the whole very little to do with the town, especially since we have had a Tesco, and they no longer need to shop on the High Street. Undoubtedly many of these people come from families who have been here for generations and will consider themselves to be ‘the community’. Sharing Barley Saturday with them is one of those rare occasions when town and country come together. Watching the pride with which some of the farmers rode through on their refurbished antique tractors it is obvious that they are looking for appreciation from us all, recognising that the town, albeit not knowledgable about what it may do on the land, can and do enjoy a thing of restored beauty just as well as any farmer. For this one day a year all the circles come together, and make one big community, bilingual, town, country, old, young, man and animal, celebrating the day when the Barley Fair would have begun the hiring year for farmers centuries ago.
Somehow the idea that those of us who choose to live in the rural depths of the uk are somehow less cultured, less stylish, and less in touch with the doings of the outside world, continues amongst those who visit us from the city. Art is at the heart of life here in the country and with very good reason. What else are we going to do as darkness descends on the hills and the fields around us? Everywhere, people are working to create things whether together or individually. Within a mile or two of me, are a number of first rate musicians, painters, sculptors, published writers, film-makers, photographers, silver and gold workers, and more and more. But recently the same old misconception reared its head when I was talking to someone on holiday here who asked me what it was like living in a ‘cultural desert’ and who thought that all the lovely things she was enjoying whilst here were in fact put on merely for benefit of tourists like herself, and put away presumably when the season is over. Let me make it clear. The countryside is seething with new arts and new thinking, and wonderful talent. What we don’t find in quite the quantities it exists in the cities is the ambition and drive to make loads of dosh, perhaps because we do have the hills, the rivers, the sea and the beaches; the woodlands, the castles and the gorgeousness of the great outdoors on our doorstep. More on this again.
Today I had an opportunity to talk to Sam at Small World, and to share with Maggie, the thoughts I have been having about trying to capture an overview of the connections between individuals who work alone and yet also work together with others, around us. Whether it is in the field of film, painting, photography, theatre or writing, it is there, apparent, that a good-will feeling exists which exercises what could be called a magnetic influence on the people who, despite having their own ambitions, plans, idea of work, projects in the making, will set them aside to work with a friend on a major show, or a commitment which requires support. Whether Cardigan and the surrounding area are any different from anywhere else we cannot possibly know and we only know about what happens here because we live here. It does seem however, that it is likely in many places the same mutual admiration which leads to willing sharing and occasional working collaboration occurs. Perhaps after all it is universal; a thought which makes me feel an immense sense of optimism. Sam said she thought it was a good idea to record some of the things that happen, and also she said she would think around it. One thing she said which I thought was so true is that these are not people in groups, let that never be the thought. These are the non-joiners, those who ‘walk alone’ except that their contemporaries, their mates, are also artists. They make the best company for conversation and what they produce when they put it before the local audiences is always more than is expected.
My last book signing in Awen Teifi, Cardigan’s Welsh bookshop. This was when ‘A Court in Splendour’ had been launched on the castle site the week before. My next book is now finished and I hope soon to have a picture of me signing it at the launch of ‘The Bardic Monk’.
From feedback I have had about my new novel The Bardic Monk and the Grave of King Arthur I have become interested again in the concept of ‘analepsis’. In the dictionary the word is only used in the context of film and drama and describes a ‘flashback’ a section of film where we are transported from the present action, to perhaps show its genesis in an earlier experience. In esoteric teaching however it means far memory, not in one’s own lifetime, the term ‘forgotten knowledge’ is used in the context of analepsis and is usually observed to be sub-conscious. It is not necessary for the person to realise they are remembering. Robert Graves says it is constantly visible in the work of poets, and genuinely believed that he himself was sometimes privy to experiencing ‘time travel’ in this way.This idea has been put into my head by the things others have said about reading my book and feeling that I ‘lived’ it. It’s a huge compliment. I do hope it will attract a publisher and not sit in a drawer for years like so much of my other material.
A consequence of being a one-time astrologer and tarot reader is that out in the world are hundreds of tapes made by myself for clients who came to me for sittings. Today for the first time since I gave up the work over twenty years ago, one of my tapes, with a reading on it, turned up on a market stall. It was a shock to see it amongs a pile of music tapes and when I told the stall holder he was so pleased, he gave it to me. It was a full moon, and it may sound fanciful but the number of times unlikely coincidence has put me in touch with my past or my future, has most often been when the moon was full as it was yesterday. I keep thinking about the elements and wondering if the current assumption that water=emotion, earth=action, air=thinking, and fire=intuition, is not necessarily the way it is – water is under the moon’s sway. The reason I made those tapes in the first place came back to me as I handled it. It was the beginning of the end when I employed them on a regular basis.It was not only as a reminder for my client of what I had said, it also gave me feedback from them the next time they came. I needed the feedback because the veracity of any statements made from the intuition are questionable and the ‘seer’ is never able to say ‘of this I am certain’. But worse for me was the fact that when the evidence of the feedback suggested a 60-70% success rate that I had to recognise that this could not be improved upon. Intuition is not a faculty over which we have control. It stems it seems from some area of the forgotten self and rises to prominence for most of us when situations demand something extra from us. Seers can train with practise to trust the intuition but it seems that when we try to control it and use it to predict the future or assist in decision making that we make as many mistakes as we do in everyday life. So it is over twenty years since I relinquished the role of astrologer and decided to take on something I could become good at by practise and hard work.I do not remember the person whose life I am listening to again on this tape but I am somehow blown away by my optimism and confidence and that makes me feel happy.I intend to select a picture to insert and to recommend some of the other blogs I am visiting, and that’s for tomorrow.
Thursday evening – Rushing to pay my Council Tax today and faced with one of their aggressive letters for being two days late, I mentioned it to an acquaintance who reminded me that the Council are collecting their money in advance. So their unnecessarily upsetting correspondence is not actually for something I have already had, but for something I may never even get! I wish it didn’t make me so angry. There are enough things to get angry about without me getting hot under the collar about the Council. Do people everywhere hate their local councils or is it just here and there? Maybe we are just programmed to hate authority. It seems to me that there is a great deal to congratulate our local council for; their recycling programme is exceptionally good, their environmental services up to date, and their local councillors are generally extremely approachable on their home ground. Recently an item in the local paper informed us that our County Council had been congratulated by the Auditors on their well-kept accounts and the way they manage their money. I’m delighted that is the case but I do wish that their finance department would learn to stop threatening people with jail when they are two days late with council tax, try writing standard letters which do not talk down to people, stop treating the jobless as though they are there on purpose. Is it too much to ask. Patently the answer to that is yes. The tragedy is they won’t listen to anyone who is not in their enclosed world so they wouldn’t take advice on letter writing from the Queen’s own secretary if it was at odds with what their own departmental head says. Bitter? Me? No. Trying out my new Blog, which is not likely to carry much about the Council in the future and is more than likely to be about my real interests – Creative writing, Celtic mysteries, Local History, The age of Saints, Astrology, books, and magic places and even the odd poem and short story.