Grebe in­spires op­ti­mistic song at my Low Ebb

Middleton Guardian - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

IT is a rare priv­i­lege that I have al­ways trea­sured be­ing a writer, you have a plat­form, a voice, a medium to share with the world the things you love, but these de­lights come with a re­spon­si­bil­ity, not least to tell it as it is, and never try and pull the wool over your read­ers’ eyes.

Writ­ing is like singing in front of an au­di­ence, some­thing else I have been lucky enough to do for 40 years, and is another ex­am­ple of shar­ing your favourite things with oth­ers. Both medi­ums are heart on the sleeve stuff, and your head is well and truly above the para­pet for stray shots from left of cen­tre, and be­lieve me in four decades there have been a few near misses and one or two di­rect hits.

In the mean­time, I just wanted to say thanks to the read­ers who showed con­cern and asked af­ter my well­be­ing when I pub­lished the piece about 2017’s down sides, which cul­mi­nated in the pass­ing of the mighty Oaf just be­fore Christ­mas.

I was very touched, but as grate­ful as I was the ar­ti­cle was no bid for sym­pa­thy; as noth­ing is surer than there are many, many peo­ple much worse off than me.

It was more of a eu­logy to life, a trea­tise, a gen­tle ca­ress of the soul be­cause in spite of rel­a­tively grim times, there are of­ten rain­bows and sil­ver lin­ings around the cor­ner; in my case in the mid­dle of the quite re­mark­able Blan­ket Bog of Carna in Con­nemara, Co Gal­way.

Half-a-mile away my son, Cu­lain, was propos­ing to his Chloe on Moyrus Strand, while my dar­ling grand­daugh­ter Or­laith built cas­tles, my friends lit a drift­wood fire and my daugh­ter and her Sam were film­ing for their A-Lev­els.

I watched on, saw noth­ing and drove off be­fore park­ing up and re­flect­ing on the days long gone from Yes­ter­day Land.

Wal­low­ing will of­ten get you nowhere, al­though hav­ing said that, ‘Low Ebb’, was writ­ten on the side of that coun­try lane near a fast-flow­ing tor­rent be­tween the At­lantic and a small lough; twice a day the fresh wa­ter com­bined with the salt to create a soup of brine whirlpools.

In spite of the wa­tery tur­moil, my lit­tle crit­ter, a lit­tle grebe in fact, was al­ways div­ing, al­ways hope­ful of another mouth­ful.

The bird, a tiny op­ti­mist, me, a 19-stone heavy treader with more in com­mon than you might think.

‘Low Ebb’ will soon be a song and I hope you en­joy it, but if not go gen­tle on this rufty tufty prop­for­ward.

Hello lit­tle crit­ter in the fast-flow­ing river, to the sea from the lake and back again. How deep can you dive? Not as deep as me I fear, sit­ting here as I do be­tween the Devil and the blue. How deep can you dive? Is that all, di­shev­elled shal­low fel­low, to the first rock and back, and you with the cad­dis sup­per and me with my last. How deep do you dive? One fathom from the beach bon­fire, first love and the Claddagh band bathed in gold across the strand. How deep you can dive? Not as deep as me lit­tle crit­ter but, you made me smile on a dark day, threw me a line and I’ll be back as sure as the tide turns and sends you home be­neath the two-way bridge.

Carna Bog, Con­nemara, main pic­ture, and in­set, a grebe

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

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