A Psalm of Life

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!

For the soul is dead that slumbers, 

And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest! 

   And the grave is not its goal; 

Dust thou art, to dust returnest, 

Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, 

   Is our destined end or way; 

But to act, that each to-morrow 

Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting, 

   And our hearts, though stout and brave, 

Still, like muffled drums, are beating 

Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle, 

   In the bivouac of Life, 

Be not like dumb, driven cattle! 

Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! 

   Let the dead Past bury its dead! 

Act,— act in the living Present! 

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us 

   We can make our lives sublime, 

And, departing, leave behind us 

Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another, 

   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, 

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, 

Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing, 

   With a heart for any fate; 

Still achieving, still pursuing, 

Learn to labor and to wait.

Gerrin’ Colder ..

Along a few Edges.
First evening of the year when your ears and nose tingle with the cold.

A think over the last few days of whether ‘we’ are getting less and less resilient to the winter ?

Minus 6c on Higger at 4pm.
Roads and paths with a northerly aspect frozen hard.
The SUV pirouetting display team out under Higger.

A veteran double-amputee waits for his 15 minute sunset exposure unflinchingly.
A kestrel waits above for its take-away.

Freezing fog slowly removes Stanage and Burbage from view.
Climbers blow on their hot aches.

The last vestiges of sunset glow like the three bar fire at your grandma’s house.


“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”
—William Blake

At What Cost ?

… we are often force fed the greenwashing of outdoor brands as they proudly tell us the environmental cost of making our shiny new bit of outdoor clothing – rather than *actually* doing anything about the environmental cost !!!! but seldom does the human cost of meeting the incessant demand for new make the news …. until THIS article appeared in the Guardian. A cry for help from a prisoner enduring very very low paid labouring conditions. Sadly their act and the ensuing media coverage of the story may well cost them dearly.

PS it’s not just Regatta doing this. The vast majority of clothing and equipment in the outdoor industry is made in factories where conditions are not all that dissimilar to this one.

Try and take the time to research not only the ACTUAL environmental cost of your purchases – and that doesn’t just mean looking at its air miles on a greenwashing website – but also the human cost.

Thirty Three Years Later

Back in the dark ages when I was at 6th Form I was in to the cleverest things that the words of the English language could do on a page. I’d written and had locally published a couple of anthologies of poetry (* by published I mean photocopied and folded in half and stapled and sold for 50p at college). I’d helped a lcal band called The Start write some song lyrics. I’d argued with my English teacher and the Northern Examining Board (or some such) that the nonsense verse of Edward Lear and the lyrics of John Lennon were as worthy of my study as Shakespeare and managed to be allowed to be examined on them.

I liked the things that words could do on a page. I didn’t care much at all (and still don’t) for grammar tossers.

Anyway … occasionally there used to be poetry reading nights at the local arts centre (the Dovecote Centre in the shire that Cleverley recently described as a ‘shithole’). I was booked. This was undoubtedly my springboard to poet laureatedom.

And then a few days before I was unbooked.

And nobody ever told me why. I was a bit political but not too political. It was the politics of an Arran cardigan and flares wearing teenager. I may well just have been a bit shit for the actually quite highly regarded Dovecote Centre.

So i wrote them a letter. The letter consisted of the first few verses of a song that was kicking about (in 1990) by a band called Trash Can Sinatras. The lyrics were from their first song off their first album – Obscurity Knocks from the album Cake …

Always at the foot of the photograph
That’s me there, snug as a thug
In a mugshot pose, a foul-mouthed rogue
Owner of this corner and not much more

Still these days I’m better placed
To get my just rewards
I’ll pound out a tune and very soon
I’ll have too much to say and a dead stupid name

And, though I ought to be learning, I feel like a veteran
Of “oh, I like your poetry but I hate your poems”

– Trash Can Sinatras

How clever did I think I was using that last line ……

Anyway, the song stayed with me.

After 6th Form and after a sojourn in a cave in Cumbria and a few other cul-de-sacs I ended up in the Army. When I came back on my first leave the exceptionally poor excuse for ‘parents’ had binned the original manuscripts of my poetry AND my collection of Walsh footwear. Greater hatred hath no man.

Every few years over the last 33 I occasionally find the black and white video on youtube of a very young looking Trash Can Sinatras playing the song in a town centre.

I was scrolling Twitter (you can shove your ‘X’) a few minutes ago and saw a photo of the ‘top ten’ by Trash Can Sinatras

and couldn’t figure out what was going on … ‘Cake’ was in the top ten. It must have been the top ten from 1990 ?… but the 1975 (who I don’t think were born in 1990) were number 5.

It turns out that Cake has been digitally remastered and re-released and in a moment of utter joy it has given the Trash Can Sinatras their Top 40 debut 33 years after the release of their debut album. 

I feel another letter coming on.

Or maybe a poem ….

I’ve cracked open a can of Memorial Device to celebrate.


*Reader caution – the podcast and documentary cover the subject of multiple deaths.

A podcast by Steve House in which he recounts some of the (non traumatic) detail of his involvement in the discovery and rescue / recovery of a large party of ski-tourers on the Haute Route on 29 April 2018. Seven of them died.

Swiss Television recently released a 90 minute documentary about the incident – view it HERE (if you click the ‘settings’ cog wheel you can translate the subtitles to your language).

Difficult but essential listening and viewing for anyone that makes decisions in the mountains.

‘Was it bad luck, human error or recklessness’ ???