Monday, 18 December 2017

Strange Kingdoms. An Autumn Gallery.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
One morning I awoke to Strange Kingdoms.
I dressed quickly and rushed outside.  A horse chestnut Stonehenge.
The 'Last Rose of Autumn' was still in bloom.
as was my heart....
filled with the magic of childhood returned.
What child doesn't remember the powerful glory of any humble stream. No Niagara was ever better than this discovery 'at a certain age and time.'
Young forever, I sat down in the glade and awaited the arrival of Esmeralda, the 'Faerie Queene'.
But I was not alone, and never have been at any time, in this 'Wood of Knights'.
My friends will always find me there.
Altar prepared, spells appropriate given,  and food laid out... we waited for she.
And so, eventually, she came...
transforming the glade with her wondrous gifts of euphemism and allegory that would daunt even Spenser.
For food there was in this strange kingdom for those who could see it.
but not for all ---- as some were 'beauty bewitched.'
and danger lurked in every mouthful took and swallowed... which or 'witch' to choose... wisely?
Boundaries, landscapes, forms, and traditions may be mixed and merged together- then blurred...
as we slipped on a journey down Carroll's rabbit hole into sweet smelling caverns and caves of  jet, jade, yellow ruby and musk.
no 'golden dawn' for us...
but sweet the tingling memory of Esmeralda's first kiss as she departed.
as wherever she sat... wherever she walked... whatever she touched- turned white overnight. As did I.
Remaining leaves dropped around me...and at her departing heels the little 'mice of the woods', the nimble hedge accentors, followed in hopping, darting flight.
soon joined by tinkling goldcrests in abundance, swinging and sneaking through the pines.
leaving behind a faint scent of angels...
and a multi coloured sunset.
of dazzling form.
as reflections of her own complex personality.

Christmas treats. Five excellent books of the imagination I've read in the last few years that are easily the equal of any of the well known children's classics. Alice, Oz, Pooh, etc...  I would even hesitate to call them children's/ young adult books as they can be read and thoroughly enjoyed by anyone of any age. This post is a homage to them.
Philip Pullman- Northern Lights..... Already a well known  modern classic. This can stand alone or as the first book in a trilogy. Terrific read and great memorable characters.
Wicked. Gregory Maguire..... Once you get past the first 30 pages and start to develop a sense and feel for the olden style language used, this book is a marvel. Funny, poignant, moving, intelligent and profound. The story of the green witch in the Wizard of Oz but also a mirror held up to society at large. Are people who are simply born different into a closed community automatically destined to be labelled 'evil' in some way by others?  Are they likely to find themselves subjects of gossip, suspicion, and conjecture throughout life just for being so and thereby judged and found guilty by speculation, rumour, and inbuilt prejudice without a voice of their own in return? This book gives a credible answer to that question. Utterly brilliant writing and imagination used to fill out the many blank spaces in Oz.
 Itch. Simon Mayo.... A real surprise find. A teenage boy obsessed with the Periodic Tables and collecting elements is plunged headlong into a world of danger, darkness, and intrigue through his hobby. A cracking fast paced thriller and very different from anything else I've read over the years.
Cold Magic. Kate Elliott.... Enter another world completely- like post medieval, dawn of industrial age central Europe but with marked differences. Reassuringly familiar yet also very exotic and strange in turn. I loved this book.
Flood and Fire. Emily Diamand.... A true children's story as good as any before or since. It's the year of our lord 2216. A young girl and her pet cat travel through a partly submerged London holding the last working computer from the teknological past on their boat. Chased by outlaws, pirates and warring factions they plot a course that may change the drowned city and the reverted half- savage people around them. A lovely creative book for any age. Winner of the Times children's fiction competition.


Anabel Marsh said...

Beautiful pictures! I’m glad you like Philip Pullman: I loved that trilogy and have just read the first of his new trilogy, La Belle Sauvage, in which Lyra is a baby. Maybe not as good as the others, but still worth reading.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel,
I did and was disappointed that The Golden Compass was not a bigger hit to allow the three to be made. Sometimes it's not how good it is but the groundswell and the names/spin and or backing behind it, plus the public's fickle tastes and moods. The Golden Compass is far better than the filmed Hobbit trilogy but was panned on release, probably because not enough people knew about it or the name. That's why I rarely take the advice of professional critics until I've watched something myself. Some of the best films, books, music, plays etc have all been rubbished by critics then went on to be favourite annual classics.
All the other books mentioned in the post are easily the equal of the Pullman trilogy with vivid characters and story lines so I'd be surprised if you didn't enjoy them as well.
Lyra is such a strong character it's not surprising she doesn't have the same impact as a baby but I'll look out for that one.I had heard it was out.

Ian Johnston said...

Absolutely superb series of images Bob, just brilliant....

Kind Regards

Kay G. said...

Wow, great photos as always!
One thing, is that a little alien on the streetlamp in the last photo?
Do I win anything for finding him? :-)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Ian.

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Kay,
yes it is... and another one on the lamp post in the first sunset photo... plus references to a landmark late 1500s English epic book/poem called the 'Faerie Queene' full of allegorical stories about knights in ye olde forest glade and castle tempted by womenfolk. My particular 'Faerie Queene' here is of course Elphaba from Wicked who was born with vivid green skin- hence Esmeralda or in jewel form...Emerald. Alice and the Mad Hatter's tea party is in there somewhere as well as a general concept inspiration for the post.
Do I ever win anything for my elaborate and time consuming posts... no! :o)
So you are not getting a prize... "on your bike pal", as the saying goes and Merry Christmas :o)
Thank you for spotting it though...

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Lovely, Bob; really. The Philip Pullman trilogy was excellent - you've made me think I may want to read it again. Interested in your thoughts on Simon Mayo's book - I assume that's the DJ; intelligent guy, excellent presenter. Have a wonderful Christmas; I think we might pop into Braehead, just for laughs...

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Mike,
Itch is a brilliant book for any age,easily as good as Northern Lights.Itch Rocks the sequel not quite so good but I thought that about Pullman's middle book as well but the trilogy finished well with the third P.P book. Wicked is also a fantastic book and asks questions on a deeper level about the nature of society itself, with echoes reflected in the witchcraft trials(the last of them happened in Paisley incidentally :)and more recently concerning the Rohingya people- or anyone else seen as different or powerless to stop them. Happens today on a lesser level here with the poorest in society as everyone knows. They always bear the burnt of any cuts or austerity as the rich are too powerful, organized, have better lawyers, and would kick up hell if they tried it on with them. I can think of several cases recently where the current government had to back down after protests from the middle rungs and I learned recently the main reason the Vietnam War stopped was that they started conscripting middle class kids because they were running out of poorer ones willing to fight and these more influential parents soon kicked up hell when their kids died and swayed political attitudes.
I never laugh much when I go to Braehead- always crowded at weekends and around Christmas- nice short walk outside along the river though downstream to Renfrew Ferry Park which is its best feature IMHO. 1 to 2 hours easy pace.

Carol said...

Wicked looks good - also thought another one did too and commented but Kaptcha decided otherwise obviously and removed my comment :-(

blueskyscotland said...

Sorry Carol,
I hate it when that happens. I've put fairly long considered messages myself on other blogs then it's not got through so then I'm pissed right off and I just put 'good photos' or the like rather than type it all again. Wicked is a great book but it is a fantasy with a distinctive quirky writing style you may not like. If you do read it you have to get 30 pages in before it starts taking off. A bit like Moonrise Kingdom. Before the Poison is one of the best mystery/ crime novels I've ever read so far and its set in Yorkshire. A Tap at the Window by Linwood Barclay is also a straight forward cracker in the same mystery/crime genre. I bought 'Wicked' full bookshop price and loved its style and elegant writing- the rest I picked up in local library book sales. Good for long bus journeys.

Anonymous said...

Great combination of pictures and prose :)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Andy.