Friday, 9 October 2009

Heysham, Lemn Sissay & The Manchester Blog Awards (again)

I've cheated in my task of viewing the everyday for revelations of truth and beauty. That I'm a cheat is the first disclosure.

On a Sunday in September I travelled with my youngest child to register at university. After the queuing and form filling we drove to Heysham, an old village on the bottom corner of Morecambe Bay. The area is dominated by two advanced gas-cooled nuclear reactors; structures so implausibly big that they are almost certainly visible from everywhere on the planet.

We parked and walked for (about) half an hour and came to the ruins St Patrick’s where we photographed this group of rock-cut graves. The chapel was in use 1200 years ago; it seems very close to the water now but I suspect erosion has brought the sea a lot nearer.

St Patrick's Chapel

The two of us scrambled down to the beach and chanced on a man and a boy dabbling in a rock pool with a net. We chatted for a while. My youngest child has helped at an environmental centre and knows a bit about nature and stuff, and I like facts to be straight. The father was telling us the (incorrect) names for some of the tiny swimming things with great assurance but we didn’t contradict him. We tacitly agreed that it’s fine for that little boy to believe his super-dad is omniscient – at least for a little while longer.

I photographed this coastal rock formation because I believe it shows an unconformity; probably at least two unconformities. An unconformity is a buried erosion surface dividing two periods of deposition which may have been separated by millions and most probably billions of years. The underlying sedimentary rocks in the photograph are thinly-bedded siltstones, sandstones and mudstones which have been folded over by heat and tectonic activity deep underground. Over time those rocks have been exposed at the earth’s surface by a process of attrition. I think the top layer of sediments under the turf will have been deposited in relatively recent times, at the end of the last ice age, as little as 12000 years ago; virtually within living memory.

We had a go at skimming stones but the pebbles are mostly hearty chunks of Millstone Grit and not very bouncy. But then, I would say that.

'They're the wrong sort of stones...'

'Yes Mum, that'll be what the problem is...'

On the way back to the car we visited the most peculiar shop. The lady sews dog coats and peg bags on a machine, on the counter. There are the oddest assortment of things for sale; used buttons, medals and improbable jewellery and CDs that come free with the Mail on Sunday. I was tempted to ask for a packet of pea-flavoured crisps, just on the off-chance. I’m only sorry I didn’t think to photograph her emporium.

A perfect day; my youngest child going to learn more stuff, a deity dad, 1200 year old rock-cut graves, 12000 year old glacial deposits, sediments so old and folded it hurts my eyes to think about them – and a curious shop.

This piece of writing first appeared at The Culture Cheese and Pineapple an arts discussion blog I've recently joined . The remit was to leave the house, walk for about an hour in an unfamiliar direction, take pictures and notice things. Apparently, it is based on the idea of le quotidien; that the everyday can reveal truth and beauty.

As observed, what it initially revealed is my tendency to bilk. But I was pleased with the result. I'm always trying to be as candid as I can but somehow this writing seems more gentle and honest than my usual stuff, Maybe it's because I'm not striving so hard to try to be funny or clever. I'm more calm.

A friend sent me this link to Global Poetry System an idea that began with Lemn Sissay. Poetry isn't quite my thing. I've only really written one poem; and that was an accident, but I love the idea of poetry revealed in the everyday - along with truth and beauty.

As I've repeated to death,
I'm on the 2009 Manchester Blog Awards shortlist. My youngest child will attend The Event with me; even though I've warned her I'm likely to collapse in grief, beating my fists on the carpet and wailing,
'It's not fair! You've let talented people in!' when I don't win.
I'm not sure she believes me...


Susan said...

I think you're right, sometimes you write better when you are just enjoying it. 'The wrong kind of stones' could be the title of a book.


kim mcgowan said...

Yes, I'm sure you're right, Sue (and maybe sometimes when you're heartbroken?)

What’s strange to me is that I felt I was writing simply (almost innocently) on the arts blog, which I liked.

But when I transferred the piece to my own blog I started to make corrections and adjustments which I feel made the tone more cynical and calculating. And I've actually been very restrained; I don’t know what’s wrong that I think I have to complicate things.

Hoorah! A title; now I just need the words to go in it.

Thanks for commenting, kim

parklover said...

If you ever see me trying to explain any nature stuff to my daughter, please feel free to jump in and correct me. I'm a useless townie, but as a goodly teacher, I believe in being honest with kids - therefore my 2 1/2 year old's vocabularly contains the words "might be" and "probably" as I try to give her possible explanations to her many questions.
Lovely post and congrats on the shortlisting. Think glitzy award do tonight, so good luck!

kim mcgowan said...

Thank you Parklover,

I know you're right, but at that moment on that day...

Have just seen photographs of CJ on a range of wheeled vehicles and it’s my guess she'll be correcting you herself in a short while.

What a positively lovely and USEFUL blog yours is. Glad I've found it!

Glitzy award do next Wednesady, I think. Will I see you there?