Friday, June 21, 2013


Wow! I found the lost Post, in Drafts! 

You may notice that I have done precisely what I told everyone else not to do at the end of my last post. "Don't procrastinate", said I. And lo, I procrastinated. Mitigating circumstances there may be, but your true blogger is always ready with a new entry. Not I. A blog can't be, for obvious reasons, a genuine diary. So the catchcry goes round - "What on earth will I blog about next?" Since age is one of my excuses, I'll note that I am taking steps to prevent the onset of senility. To learn something new, we are told, creates new synapses in the brain. So, for my "learning" process, I've decided to memorise a poem now and again. I like doing it, if I like the poem. There are a lot of hidden gems out there too. To date I've memorised exactly two. First was the famous folk ballad, "My Grandfather's Clock". Love it, and it was sheer serendipity to find the words in a second-hand antique magazine. The second is one of those hidden gems I mentioned. "The Horses" by Edwin Muir. It tells a story, and I l-o-v-e stories. How survivors of a nuclear Armageddon discover a herd of horses. Or rather how the horses find them. But now, I have to find another poem to commit to memory, but this time I think I'll cheat and go back to a couple of favourites from past years and re-memorise them. After all, there's no point in the exercise if one doesn't like the lines. And I'm gracious enough not to hurry, being old enough to have learned to give myself time! Pity I can't remember the names of occasional people, and have these blank spots where something entirely escapes me. It's no good, of course, to concentrate and try to chase it down. It will pop up at some time when I'm NOT thinking of it. A scientist on a T.V. program once said, and I do remember this, that when we work out how this happens we'll have advanced a long way toward understanding the workings of the human brain. In the meantime, irritatingly, I still remember phone numbers, books I read years ago, and the precise dates of many events in my life. Equally irritatingly, I have forgotten what it was my husband asked me to remind him about tomorrow. He has this wonderful habit of relying on MY memory, and my short-term memory is no longer to be relied upon. And he always asks me to remind him about things when there's neither pen nor paper within sight or reach. Yes indeed, I am at the point where I must WRITE THINGS DOWN. Now, if I can just train hubby to write notes to himself too, we may yet cope with this particular disfunction of old age. In the meantime, happy remembering everybody!


Yes, I do recall that in my last post I said, "Don't procrastinate!" And I have done just that. I actually did write a blog a couple of months ago, but, being technically unskilled, lost the whole thing!

These unusual paintings are the work of my late mother, Reene Conroy. The style is called Naive, or Primitive. Think Grandma Moses! The point is, she didn't know she was an artist until she was sixty-two, and began taking art classes. The instructor wisely pointed out that her style was not ordinary, and told her to simply go home and paint what she wanted. She felt her way at first, and then began to hit her stride. The result? The decade when she was age in her sixties and early seventies proved the happiest and most productive of her life.

She had never considered herself more than an ordinary housewife, and in the 1940s and 50s women were expected to have no interests outside their homes, husbands and children. (My father, by the way, was an excellent carpenter, and a skilled fisherman!) Talent, therefore, can crop up in anyone. We are born with it, but often do not know it, or discover it, until time and circumstances bring it out in us.

I, for instance, had known I wanted to be a writer since the age of six, but time and circumstance, and again the expectation loaded into women's lives, were still very much in evidence when I married. (And my own husband is the most talented man with his hands I have ever met. He built our house, he makes clocks, he can build boats, etcetera!) It was unthinkable to put oneself first; the house, husband and family must be one's first concerns. So, I did not have a book published until I was sixty-one. Oh, a few short stories and magazine articles, but how I wish I had knuckled down to work on my own talent earlier in my life. All those stories still buzzing in my head may be finished and in print! Alas, talent on its own gets nowhere. The extra requirement, across the whole panorama of all artistry, from ballet through poetry to song, is persistence and hard work. And a little luck helps!

But there is talent abounding that receives no publicity, no worldly success. I live in a small town, population 1200, and it is home to both a writers group, a photographers group, and artists. And musicians and singers, flower arrangers, the whole range. Yet the work of most of them has not received the recognition it deserves. That is the way of the world. In this day and age, compared to say a hundred years ago, or even fifty, there are thousands of people who attempt to make themselves, and the products of their activities, known. Too many talented people, so most of us must be pleased with mild, or local, success.

The world of book publishing is a brilliant example. It is a constant struggle for writers to be accepted, and  to stand out from the crowd of their peers. (Without resorting to grab attention by means of sensational and often salacious subject matter!) But publishing has become more and more a commercial enterprise. Of course it always has been, but now the consideration of a book (by print publishers, less by electronic-based companies) is only, it appears: Will it sell 50,000 copies?

I recall reading that Jane Austen's original manuscripts were not good, that her publisher had to encourage her to revise and improve her work until it could decently appear in print. I have heard the same of the Australian autobiography "A Fortunate Life", by A.B. Facey, initally unacceptable by today's standards but nurtured by its editors into a classic. Hans Christian Anderson, the great Danish teller of fairytales, in his youth wanted to write only great tragedies. Someone read them and, I quote, "saw gleams of gold among the rubbish." And now who doesn't know his name?

I think of the difficulties modern writers must face. Not only in writing their novels, but also marketing and publicising them. And I remember what I have learned about our long ago nomad and tribal ancestors. Their lives were much simpler. Those who could sing, sang. Those who could dance, danced. Those who could draw pictures, drew pictures. And those who could tell stories, told their stories.

Their existence was not a settled one, like ours. We have fixed homes to take care of, jobs to serve to earn the money to put food on the table, pay for our shelter and clothing and a thousand other things. The nomads had no such difficulties in their way. They could possibly leave their paintings on cave walls - what modern artist would not like to be responsible for Lascaux? They could compose music on simple pierced reeds and drums of hide and wood. They could tell tales which, for all we know, are the basis of all the legends of the world. Their names are unknown. It does not matter. Their works remain, if not in physical form, in the memories and traditions of the human race.

How many people since the beginnings of civilisation have possessed talent, yet not had the chance or education or will to use it? I remember a girl who attended high school at the same time I did, and sang like an angel. I heard many years later she had lost her voice. If not used, a gift is lost. Not everyone can be an artist of some kind, but all of us have areas of skill, no matter how humble. If we create a garden, if we scribble a letter to a friend, if we cook well for a family, if our house is comfortable or we dress ourselves attractively on a slim budget - oh, in many other ways, we have created. And creativity is never lost. No matter if no one sees it, or it is not recognised or appreciated, it has been added to all the productivity of talent on Earth. It is invisible, but it is immortal.