Communication Breakdown


“Communication breakdown
It’s always the same
I’m having a nervous breakdown
Drives me insane..” (1)

How many of us of ‘certain age’ have called on Led Zeppelin’s lyric, manic vocals and pounding guitar for succour following a computer/internet meltdown? I certainly did when crashed in mid May with a deletion of two years posts. Even for those in the know the cause was a mystery with reinstatement of the site only possible by way of a security upgrade, password changes and a maintenance contract. Still it’s done now and the lost articles and images have been newly uploaded. Now for some news.

Speaking of ‘people of a certain age’, the site needs to pay tribute to Michelle Hanson who died earlier this year.(2) It’s opening page commences with her very words. A near contemporary, she repeatedly skewered the self serving shenanigins of those at the heart of our increasingly blighted Britain in her regular Guardian articles. Her black humour brought relief to those of us who like her still clung to the optimism of the early 1970’s. For my part I had imbibed a lot of sociology at that time and in particular had been taught by a professor who anticipated a ‘personal service society’. (3) Those of us drawn to that prospect spent our mature years experiencing it as a false dawn. With the commemoration of the revolutionary year of 1968 on the horizon, however, Michelle saw a glimmer of hope. She “sensed a chance voters would see the light and turn the world to the left while we still have a world to turn anywhere”. (4)

Naturalists everywhere would of course endorse the need for such a turn for all we see is armageddon on every corner. K. Rusby (5) cites a State of Nature report of 2016 which found Great Britain to be “ among the most nature depleted countries in the world.” M. McCarthy adds “most Britains remain blithely unaware that since the Beatles broke up we have wiped out half our wildlife.” (6) Perhaps giving ‘Help’ a spin might kickstart a wake-up call! Indeed on the very day I write Chris Packham asks for just that;
“we need a peaceful public uprising……we need people to stand up and say we want action now.” (7)

Seeds can be sown, however, small steps taken on ones home front as a catalyst to show what might be achieved if writ large. Sow Yellow/Hay Rattle in a lawn and watch it naturalise into a mini meadow as its roots open up the turf and let bees enjoy the re-wilding. Allow Bush Vetch (Crows’ Peas) to flourish at your garden’s margins and wait for the Orange Tip butterfly to seek out its nectar. If that sounds like too much re-wilding then plant purple hardy geraniums, a proven magnet for bees. Finally if you have no safety concerns regarding children then a pond is a garden must. All natural life will gather there and flourish. An evening’s pond dipping here at Innisfree revealed a water world full of wonders: tadpoles with back legs showing, stickleback young virtually transparent, a massive Great Diving Beetle, chocolate brown, a fiercesome dragon fly nymph with its tadpole prey in its jaws and a large Common or Smooth newt. Small step, worthwhile catch!

Gary Snyder observed:
loves to love” (8)

Even the smallest steps can help liberate that potential. Taking them will bring a profound reward for as John Berger noted:

“the earth shows up those of value and
those who are good for nothing.” (9)

Communication Breakdown. Led Zeppelin. First album. 1969
Michelle Hanson died aged seventy five. See Guardian obituary for more on this “funny,wise,angry” woman
Halmos. P. Personal Service Society
Rusby. K. Guardian. G2. 31/5/18
McCarthy. M. Guardian 26/3/18
Guardian. 11/6/18
Snyder.G. Mountains and Rivers Without End.1996. Counterpoint. p105.
Berger. J. Into Their Labours. Granta. 1992.

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