LES BLANCS

FRIDAY 3rd JULY 2020 

BLOG POST 

   Here is my take on the eye-opening performance of the play ‘Les Blancs’ written by by Lorraine Hansberry., currently streaming on YouTube by the National Theatre. I think this is what reality theatre should be highlighting. The unacceptable face of a whitewashed history.

LES BLANCS


    Take a shack, place it in the middle of a revolving stage. Surround it with throbbing beating African music and let the story unfold.
  Except this was no story, this was the largely untold and hidden history of the horror and abject cruelty of racist imperialism. The hidden history of many European countries who colonised parts of Africa and bled the inhabitants dry of resources and treated the inhabitants as slaves or lesser members of humanity. This play obviously focussed on British imperialism, although it was written by an American, Lorraine Hansberry.
  Three African brothers are drawn together to attend the funeral of their Father. The shack represents a mission, where the local hospital is located. At the same moment an American writer arrives to research a book he’s writing on the situation in this unnamed part of Africa. The brothers are all from different spheres of life. The first of the brothers we encounter and who plays a leading role in the play has traveled from the USA, where he is married to a white woman, with whom he has a child. The second brother we meet is a priest who is preaching the white man’s religion and is thoroughly imbued with the white man’s culture. The third brother is a helper in the mission and appears to have a relationship with one of the white medical staff who provides him with alcohol and cigarettes. He is a half brother, conceived as a result of a rape of their Mother by an Army officer.
There are a melange of important characters who make up the white colonial cast, including a blind elderly lady missionary, two doctors, one male and a lady doctor.
The dialogue and the interaction between the various players is a powerful statement of the undercurrents of racism and revolution running through the country at a certain point in time. Revolution against the imperialist invaders is always in the background. The music and the scenes of cold blooded murder, by both the oppressors and the oppressed. There are rumours of white families including babies slaughtered by the rebels as the revolt against imperialism builds apace.
    Watching and recording everything as it happens in this racist microcosm of African life is always the American writer. Observing and questioning the background and behaviour of both the native rebels and the imperialist invaders.
  The language and the portrayal of the white supremacist treatment of the natives is shocking and the murders take place openly. The background culture of the lady missionary and the lady doctor as they try to make sense of an insensitive situation is an education in itself. The military presence is portrayed brilliantly by a cruel, racist military officer who has no qualms about shooting and killing a suspect in cold blood.
  The tension builds as the revolt draws closer and closer to the mission and the white population are ordered to evacuate and leave the area.
  As the American writer leaves, the  lady missionary pleads with him to, ‘Write it and tell it as it is.’
  The play makes its way to the final scenes.  The remaining two brothers are arguing in a passionate scene and the priest is killed by his brother, who returns to his tribal roots and joins the rebels. The revolution arrives with fire as the mission shack is engulfed in flames.
The reality behind this extraordinary play is the hidden history behind the story the author has vividly brought to life. This is the reality of a history that is never taught in schools, perhaps because the establishment is ashamed to draw attention to a past that will always be a stain on the conscience of imperialist colonialism.


  Sadly I think very few people will see this performance as the bulk of the viewers will be too busy watching soaps to tune in.

© Written by John Yeo

WINDOW TO WALANCHA

THE WINDOW TO WALANCHA

by John Yeo


‘What’s Walancha?’ Asked the English student.
‘What do you mean by what’s Walancha?’
‘ Well, this prompt setter M, has given a cue for a prompt including the word Walancha. ‘The Window to Walancha.’
Mr Sampson wiped his forehead, actually his whole head was a shiny dome, since his wife had shaved all his hair off during a dream.
‘Walancha,’ he mused, you say there’s a window involved?’
I can’t say I’ve come across this word. It sounds just like a place I once knew in the Himalayas. Tibetan monks used a high resolution mirror to reflect the sun into the eyes of their initiates. Thus inducing a state of mind known as Walancha.’
‘Oh!’ Exclaimed the student ‘Walancha is an altered state of consciousness that can only be reached by getting dazzled.’
‘Exactly!’ Sampson replied.

© Written by John Yeo


SUMMER SOLSTICE

Image was a screenshot I took from the English Heritage live video.

SATURDAY 20th JUNE 2020 ~ BLOG POST

SUMMER SOLSTICE

by John Yeo

  Today is Midsummer day and the celebration of the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire. I’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of experiencing this amazing sight in reality. To my delight, English Heritage announced they would be setting up a live stream to enable people to view and virtually celebrate the Solstice at Stonehenge. We tuned in to YouTube and set the live video stream going. At first it seemed to be something of an anticlimax. The sky above the iconic stones was quite cloudy at 21:10; sunset was predicted to be a 21:27. There was no commentary but the camera occasionally panned around the standing stones. At one angle the setting solstice sun was quite bright and obviously the view from the other side was almost black, full of interesting evening shadows. I remarked to Margaret that it would probably feel quite uncomfortable if you were there alone.  

 The wealth of mysterious legends and fables based around Stonehenge are enough to fill the culpable mind full of awesome dread of Stonehenge. The Druids are a religious sect who once used Stonehenge as a temple, in fact I believe the modern day equivalent Druids still use the ancient stones. The famous sacrificial stone is a highlight of every visit, although there is no direct evidence it was ever used for sacrifice. 

  The sunset was incredibly dark and obscured by a cloudy sky. 

The sunrise in the morning will be at 04:52 and should certainly be more of a spectacle.

Sunday 21st June 2020

I woke up in time to view the live stream video of the sunrise over Stonehenge. The sun rose at 04:52 but unfortunately the sky was covered with thick clouds and the spectacular sunrise didn’t occur.

I snapped a screenshot from the live video. Sadly a gray dreary start.

HAPPY SOLSTICE!

Another screenshot of the unspectacular Summer Solstice sunrise.
I downloaded this image from the internet to remind me of things that might have been.

© Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

A SMALL ISLAND

Image from the net credited to the Financial Times.

FRIDAY 19th JUNE 2020 ~ BLOG POST

A SMALL ISLAND 

by John Yeo

  We watched a performance of ‘A Small Island,’ screened by the National Theatre. This is a play based on a novel by Andrea Levy, who sadly passed away from Cancer before she was able to see it. 

   This play is based on the Windrush scandal. A reflection of the time when many people from Jamaica in the West Indies arrived in England as citizens. Many of these people had earned their citizenship by fighting for their colonial Mother country of England during the Second World War. Jamaica was a colony of the British Empire and this gave these people the right to take up citizenship in Britain. 

 The play focussed on a few unfortunate people who had arrived in England from their homes in Jamaica to live and work. 

 The play started in the West Indies by highlighting the shortage of employment and the frequent hurricanes and tropical storms that afflict Jamaica. England became something of a paradise, where jobs and houses were freely available and the expectations of these people’s dreams were clearly evident.

 Some had dreams of taking up professional careers or joining the forces when they reached England. 

 The play focused partly on one couple. The man Gilbert, joined the Air Force and had plans to study to become a lawyer. The scene when he was interviewed for his career was illuminating as he was promised a high position. This never materialised as he was immediately placed in a menial position as a driver. The first example of the huge letdown most of these people would experience. 

  A young light skinned, half caste lady, named Hortense, wanted to go to England but single young women were discouraged from applying and she was at her wits end. The only way she could get accepted was to go through a marriage ceremony with her friend Gilbert who would then send for her as his wife. Hortense was a teacher and she planned to continue her teaching profession in England.

   Meanwhile Gilbert had settled in England and after he had left the Air Force, he desperately tried to get a job. He had little success, due to the overt racism of the times. He was subjected to some terrible racial abuse during his employment and was attacked at his place of work. 

  He tried everywhere to secure some comfortable accommodation to rent but once again ingrained racism reared its ugly head with landlords refusing to let their properties to black people. He finally managed to rent a shabby one-roomed bedsit from a landlady named, Queenie, who desperately needed the income from a few rooms in her house and she was happy to accept black and coloured people. 

   Eventually Gilbert sent for Hortense, who arrived and was shocked to discover the living conditions in the bedsit. 

 The racism and the trials and tribulations this couple went through were harrowing to say the least. This story is riddled with some obnoxious scenes of the horrible challenges facing black people in England during this period.

 Queenie, the landlady gives birth to a black child, the result of a liaison with a former tenant. Meanwhile her husband had unexpectedly returned from a forces posting in India and is revealed to be an extreme racist. He demands that Gilbert and Hortense get out of his house immediately.

 Gilbert and Hortense find somewhere else to live and the play finishes with Queenie, the landlady, begging them to take her black child with them as she believed this would be the only way her child could ever expect to be accepted into British society.

 I was vaguely aware of the so-called Windrush scandal, when thousands of black people arrived in England looking for a better life. This eye-opening play revealed the shocking depths of racism that was ingrained throughout society at that period in time. I’m sure there are residues of these cruel, unfortunate, unforgivable attitudes running through all strands of our society still. I think by screening this play the National Theatre has done a powerful service to the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

DEVASTATION

WEDNESDAY 17 JUNE 2020

BLOG POST

Write a piece describing the devastating effect of the Coronavirus Covid19 on a single family.

DEVASTATION 

by John Yeo

 Jose was a successful hotelier, his wife Maria was his backbone and his inspiration. They had built up La Casa del Puenta. The hotel was excellent and attracted many tourists from around the world. They had a reputation of being the first hotel in Spain to have been awarded a certificate of excellence by Jules Fargo, a well known travel experience organisation that could make or break the future of a hotel. 

 It was during the high season that the rumours of something nasty began swirling around the media waves. It was Maria who became worried first, her sister had suddenly become seriously ill and was in a large hospital in the city. 

    ‘Jose,’ she said, out of the blue one day, ‘I have to take the day off tomorrow to go and visit Consuella in hospital.’ 

     Without hesitation, Jose said. ‘Of course darling, I will manage. You have built up some wonderfully adaptable staff to cover for you.’

    ‘Thanks Jose, I will give her your love and take a few things to ease her stay while she’s in hospital. I don’t know quite what’s wrong with her exactly but I’m sure she will get over it.’

 Little did either of them realise what life-changing events were about to happen that would have untold repercussions on their comfortable everyday life.

 Later that day the news broke of the serious infectious disease that was sweeping through Spain. The news bulletins on the media were frantically warning people not to travel. To stay put, and keep themselves isolated from everyone else. The hotel emptied over the course of that single day, as guests checked out. The hotel reception desk telephones were constantly busy with people ringing to cancel their bookings. 

 Some members of the hotel staff immediately packed up and left, to be with their homes and families, contrary to the official advice.  Suddenly everyone who Jose and Maria came into contact with was wearing a medical mask. Maria had instantly dropped her plan to visit her sister in the city, as the significance of what was happening became clearer.

 The food deliveries suddenly dried up except for a few local farmers who dropped off their produce directly to the hotel.

  Information began to become clear, the country was in the grip of a worldwide pandemic. A deadly disease was sweeping the world and had reached Spain. The advice was to stay put and not go outside. 

 Over the next few days the hotel became like a large hollow shell, the swimming pools were deserted with the bars and the restaurant permanently empty. None of the loyal hotel staff remained as they had slowly fled home to their families, contrary to the government advice. Jose and Maria kept to their suite. The freezers in the kitchens were full of frozen food, and the wine cellar was reasonably stocked. However they had to spend a long time just destroying the fresh food and filling the bins.  

   Horror-stricken, they had kept up with the news of the deadly outbreak and as the body counts grew on a daily basis they became increasingly frightened.

 One positive thing that was happening was the continued visits of Farmer Lorenzo, bringing fresh milk, eggs and bread and most importantly local news.

 Apparently many local people were sick and there was much sadness and the streets were deserted wherever you went.   

  Lorenzo  said, ‘I dare not walk on the streets of town as some young men are breaking into local shops to steal food.’

  Maria replied, ‘Oh no! Where are the police?’

    ‘The police are forced to keep the peace, but there is a lot of sympathy for the hungry people. Food stocks are running short, due to stockpiling by the wealthy.’ replied Lorenzo.

    Two weeks later when Lorenzo arrived with his fresh produce he found the hotel deserted. The local postman shouted from his van parked across the road. They are both in the general hospital, seriously ill with this evil virus. Lorenzo couldn’t control the tears that formed in his dark brown eyes.

© Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

~~~~~~

PERFECT ASPARAGUS

TUESDAY 16th JUNE 2020 ~ BLOG POST

PERFECT ASPARAGUS

By John Yeo

  Today I will focus on our Asparagus beds on the allotment The photograph above was snapped earlier today after I had spent a couple of hours weeding and manuring the beds with compost. 

 The compost I’ve used is a mixture of well-rotted horse manure and some of our waste kitchen vegetable matter. There’s also a good portion of grass cuttings and some shredded paper. A good combination of nutrition for these greedy feeders. Over the past 25 years of growing Asparagus on allotments, I find this is a potent mixture indeed. In my opinion it’s wise to feed the plants twice a year. I choose to feed them in the early Spring and again when I’ve finished cutting the spears. 

   The nutritional benefits of eating Asparagus are many and this makes the effort of persevering with growing these attractive plants, worthwhile. Asparagus is a low calorie vegetable that is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals especially folate and vitamins A C and K. 

 The cutting season for me lasts about eight weeks, from the moment the spears first appear in the middle of April until the 15 June. This cut-off date is extremely important as the spears have time to develop into the attractive Asparagus fern. The ferns soak up the sunshine during the remainder of the Summer, which swells the roots to encourage a good crop of Asparagus spears the following year. 

 The most important threat to Asparagus is an infestation of the dreaded Asparagus beetle that lays its eggs on the emerging spears. They eat the spears as they lay their eggs, they also excrete a substance that is unsightly on the spears and the plants. The larvae eat the centres of the red Asparagus seeds and strip the leaves of the fern.

  Over the years I find frequent cutting during the harvest season keeps this pest from laying eggs in the early part of the season. However the danger of infestation for me lies in the period directly after I’ve stopped harvesting, when the spears first appear before they transform into the impressive ferns. On the neighbouring allotment gardens there are many small patches of Asparagus plants growing and as the Asparagus beetle is a flying pest there’s a good chance of infestation from these sources. The only organic cure for the Asparagus beetle appears to be physically  plucking the beetles and their eggs off the plants by hand and immersing them in soapy water.

  At the end of the season the ferns turn yellow. This is the time to burn them, as opposed to composting them, to prevent any further infestation of the Asparagus beetle.

 When first planting Asparagus crowns its best not to cut and harvest the spears for the first two years. Once they’re established Asparagus plants will continue to crop for over 20 years, if they are well looked after.

  ‘In mythology, Asparagus has been renowned since ancient times both as an aphrodisiac and medicinally, for its healing properties. … With its active compound asparagin stimulating the kidneys, bladder and liver, Asparagus is a powerful detoxifier.’

(Myth information from a Google snippet)

© Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

A VISIT TO FELBRIGG HALL

SUNDAY 14th JUNE 2020 ~ BLOG POST

A VISIT TO FELBRIGG HALL

   We decided to book a parking slot and visit Felbrigg Hall, a National Trust property.. We did try to book a visit to Sheringham Park, also part of the National Trust but there was a high demand for parking slots and we were unlucky. The after-effects of the partial lifting of the lock-down restrictions due to the Coronavirus has created a high demand for places in these open air environments.

  We parked our car in a lovely spot overlooking acres of  fields full of cows, sheep and lambs munching the luscious green grass. 

  We set up our chairs and sat ready to enjoy our picnic lunch. We were a little early and we spent an hour seated, reading and taking in the sounds and sights of Nature. It was a pleasant day to spend doing very little, just relaxing, watching the grass grow as it were.  

  After lunch we took a stroll towards the main building where we came across a small herd of cows feeding on and under some trees. 

  As we passed a large black cow stepped up towards me with her head down.

    I stepped back and she took another step forward. I would have given her a friendly stroke or a pat on the head but I noticed her head was full of flies, she was that close. Margaret and I decided it was time to move on and we made our way to take some photos of Felbrigg Hall.

  We passed a pretty, well-cared for garden at the front of the building. There was a notice to inform visitors that although the walled garden was closed to the public, the Head Gardener was still working.

 I snapped a lovely photograph of a small tortoiseshell butterfly sipping nectar from a large lavender bed. The plants were literally covered in insects and butterflies.

We continued strolling around the front of the house.

 Finally we made our way to our car where we enjoyed a nice cup of hot tea from our flask before we made our way home.

© Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

HOME

HOME

The war was over, family life was in a turmoil. Betty was at her wits end. She was pregnant and in overcrowded lodgings with her two babies, Peter and Penny. The landlady, a widow with three daughters, was sharing her house with Betty.
One day a man wearing a dark blue overcoat arrived and spent a long time with Betty in the parlour. Her children, both under five, were waiting with the landlady, playing games in the kitchen, oblivious of the life changing decisions being made by their Mum. Finally with tears filling her eyes Betty announced the heartbreaking decision she had arrived at. Her babies would have to go into a children’s home.

(114 WORDS)

© Written by John Yeo

 

CABBAGE TREE

WEDNESDAY 10th JUNE 2020

CABBAGE TREE

These photographs show an amazing tropical tree that mysteriously appeared in our garden about 10 years ago. It grew from a tiny shoot and became larger and larger until it is now over eight foot tall.

 Our next door neighbour has an older, even larger version of the same tree and we can only draw the conclusion our tree is an offspring of that splendid specimen. We think somehow a seed, perhaps delivered from a passing bird or insect was transported to our garden and took root.

 This year is special though as it has burst out with a huge white branch of small white flowers. Google lens identified it as a Cordyline australis, or a New Zealand plant.

‘Cordyline australis, commonly known as the cabbage tree or cabbage-palm, is a widely branched monocot tree endemic to New Zealand. It grows up to 20 metres tall with a stout trunk and sword-like leaves, which are clustered at the tips of the branches and can be up to 1 metre long. (Wikipedia)’

   I came up with the following information from the internet. Some comprehensive facts on the edible parts of the tree and how the Cabbage tree got its European name and the many interesting uses discovered by the native Maori people.

https://www.tropicalbritain.co.uk/cordyline-australis.html

 The huge flowers are too high on the tree for us to experience the reputed fragrance. There are many bees and insects visiting this unusual tree so there should be some interesting flavoured honey in a hive somewhere nearby.

Written by John Yeo © All rights reserved

HEADLINES

FRIDAY 5th JUNE 2020

HEADLINES

by John Yeo

The entire head took the message

Then responded with a united reply,

The nose addressed the eyes,

I will balance the glasses

You read the words.

I will sniff out the story, 

Pass the result on to the brain.

The brain will interpret 

The meaning of the words.

The magic of the poetry

Will be expressed by the mouth.

~

The ears will balance the glasses

Listen carefully to the response, 

And adjust the result accordingly.

The eyes looked down on the nose

We have no need of your sniffing,

We are reputedly 

The windows of the soul.

The light of truth

Shining directly to the brain

A shining light reflecting 

The light of creativity.

~

Then in unison the ears chorused

Without your glasses you are blind 

We can hear the music of the words.

The mouth joined in the conversation

A very wise mouth indeed! 

You must leave room for interpretation,

Each mind is unique! 

Together we make up the individual

Striving for unique expression,

Guidance is just another opinion

Generated with respect.

~

© Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved 

   I remember an unwilling, uninspiring English language teacher several years ago, who demonstrated some individual views on life that would have been highly criticised today. His major goal in life at the time was a high degree of self-promotion. His outward role was to attempt to instil in his pupils, (subjects), an interest in writing and appreciating poetry. He would start a session by reading his personal examples of poetry, then invite comments, which were obviously expected to be positive. The class would then be invited to write a poem on a set subject. An hour later our teacher would sit and take them apart piece by piece. The session would end by him handing out a subject to take away and use as an impetus to write a piece of poetry. When I wrote the above poem, I was influenced by some of his views and his comments. I included a couple of sentences that to this day I hope he noticed and took away with him. 

 Of course I’ve reworded and rejigged some of the words, since I resurrected it. When I look back, I can’t help thinking perhaps he wasn’t a bad teacher as he certainly stung me into action.