Raedwald and Wotan

On entering the King’s Hall at Sutton Hoo

It is as though within a temple apprehending

centrally confronted with this replica and enlarged likeness

 of the famous mask or helmet King Raedwald wore

A light plays on the face as if to illustrate

the red garnet and gold foil ornamentation

missing from the left eye , that appears dimmed

an allusion to Odin's losing his sight  for wisdom

On wearing this helmet Raedwald descendant of Odin

would become the bearer of the presence

Here one comes before that or whom represented

the people approach unaware

Raedwald although Christian had two altars

The enigma of the mouthless #Yoxman

The sculptor/artist Laurence Edwards is becoming the voice of the voiceless. In the premier at Snape of the film Yoxman and in the discussion is which he was present that followed afterwards he spoke of his “figures percolating doubt” and “uncertainty”. What do these figures represent?

He spoke of his interest in patination and illustrated this by how much of the locality has been incorporated in his work eg the fragiiity and the markings on the cliffs at Covehithe, elements of trees, eg bark. He summarised the message of Yoxman as: “watch what you do to this place, you are it”

He’s not a man with an ego ,as he remarked he’s “looking forward to when it is no known who made it (Yoxman)

It was described as “vulnerable” “reticent”, “in a daze”” at being “exposed” in the specially created landscape setting of mound and lake at Yoxford

Robert McFarland spoke of a magic as this figure was conjured up, Laurence himself of the process of creation being akin to Shelley’s Frankenstein

Calvin of the Sainsbury Centre commented it was specifically “non heroic” or macho”.

Perhaps as a token to the period of covid we have been living through there is no evident mouth, as if masked …

As if voiceless. All the wild places that are endangered by destruction and removal by money greed insensitivity unaccountability unconnectedness with with these local quasi-animistic forces even spirits.

It is as a cry to those who are here who truly belong to reconnect with the coastline the streams rivers mud-creeks the Sandlings woodlands and hedgerows countryside – all the wild places – to stand up for and truly represent , and to save these wondrous elemental forces and energies from threatened obliteration

He perhaps doesn’t intend this? but it is possible to read into his conception the idea of an equivalence of a people with their landscape and the cry for them to awake to take responsibility for what and whom they are there to care

Perhaps there may be a connection or parallel between the Yoxman and Tolkien’s Ents who were to join forces with the Fellowship of the Ring in that wider confrontation of the age?


An interesting collection of sculptures by the now renowned Suffolk sculptor and artist Lawrence Edwards greets the visitor to Snape for this year’s Aldeburgh Festival Exhibition: Remains to be Seen

We are pre programmed to expect these figures to be sub Saharan African but no on the contrary these appear as middle aged moustachioed white men, surprisingly

Entitled “tribe”.   We are also accustomed to hearing of the denigratory term white privilege”, but belong to a tribe is significantly one thing white people are not privileged to know much about let alone enjoy

Any sense of the collective has been purposely cut out from the corporate consciousness by the historic divisive attacks of notions of class warfare. Gone are any sense of a collective common interest. Similarly sex warfare between the sexes cuts and divides the folk when naturally together they would naturally be as “one body” against any common enemies 

Africans (from sub-Saharan Africa) customarily address fellow Africans as brothers, or Muslims their Muslim brother in a manner shockingly unthinkable or embarrassing for white people

They’re missing out on that sense of togetherness, of being one – part – of a collective or entity. The nearest remnant in the folk memory may be suggested at in the  Scottish  clan system 

Perhaps the last sense of tribe was the likes of Boudicca seen highlighted in her resistance against the brutal Roman invading imperialists?

Perhaps it has taken until BLM  to rekindle some innate consciousness that it is not only black lives that matter?  There had been romanticism and dreams of tribes expressed eg by the likes of Rousseau.  Psychologists such as Jung invoked the notion of collective unconscious. Raymond Bamford controversially that of a race ”soul”

As those who have lost all sense of collective appreciation value or self worth perhaps it is telling that our love of neighbour is seen as of anyone other than those of our own ‘tribe”.  Exemplified perhaps by the hierarchy of bishops of Church of England’s anti-racism and opposition to attempts to push back against immigration including deportations to Rwanda? To whom we belong one time used to be to whom we have the greater responsibility of cohesive love and care (not exclusively of course) 

And that includes particular collective management of our own society and homeland  and ensuring there shall be a future , for “the tribe” in particular to which we ourselves identify as historically belonging

No longer “Abide with me” for a bereft humanity … an update …

In funerals we used to address G-d Almighty

the Father from whom we came into being

and to whom we relinquish our spirits

In the realisation there will be that final reckoning,

for whom Christs’ blood was shed

enabling the opening up of that way to paradise


Of late funerals have for many become a rather secular affair

celebrating the person’s life

any achievements however banal

in the hum drum that is the essential human

with no reference to G-d

the end of a lived life and that’s it


It’s now become a busy industry

characterising society’s great reset

to get us to pay for our own cremation

as the thing we can do for our loved ones ,

to pass away without their incurring cost

as if we had never been


Even parties now are being held for the dying

a celebration before death by the loved one

with their nearest and dearest surrounding;

a farewell in person – forgoing a formal funeral –

imagining they do not lose out

but that’s forgetting eternal life …


The lady in question has now had her wake,

been admitted to hospital for end of life care

There is to be no funeral. That is the end.

It’s seems sad to have come so far

from the Source of our beings:

Who loves with an everlasting love

RS Thomas via @CamJSelf

There is no present in Wales,

And no future; 

There is only the past,

Brittle with relics, 

Wind-bitten towers and castles 

With sham ghosts;

Mouldering quarries and mines

And an impotent people, 

Sick with inbreeding, 

Worrying the carcase of an old song

my reply:

There is today 

a Celtic melancholy 

morose and brooding

losing connection with a dream

that once gave succour

forgetful now of saints and living light 

that once sustained 

through the great occupation and treading down

An abandoned sanctuary for its own people


dewi sant gweddïo dros gymru

making “light inaccessible” visible #Abbey1000

Where children clamber unthinking

over ruined stones

“Into the light” seeks and echos

what for many years was to be found here


The (Benedictine)  Abbey (of St Edmunds) stood 

 a beacon of devotion and worship,

accessing the life that is in God

for a people that otherwise would have walked “in darkness”


Built to house Edmund’s body, a saintly and martyred king 

here was offered ceaseless praise

to the uncreated source of all, from whence

all light and glory flows


Such majesty dignifies this house

an extraordinary dimension of power and wonder

the holy unimaginable, unutterable,

 blessing and sanctifying nation and community 


This civilising beam

splendour of universal wisdom

graces all 

Without which the glory has departed


Though that light remains to be accessed

For a moment the light did flow

and become apparent, through sound 

to a packed audience – and together presumed saints of yore 


At the conclusion of this “performance”

wasn’t it worship? There was applause,

The composer flushed with happiness embraced

those who had taken part – a highlight of #Abbey1000

the challenge facing Suffolk’s rural communities, including Akenfield

The trashing of the countryside 

While the Government is carelessly trashing the countryside with “same-y” housing estates it’s worth a glance to see whether there’s any thing there left of value worth keeping?

it is the people of any place that matter, and who characteristically define it

The essential value of rural communities apart from landscape setting of farmland and wildlife habitat is not meant to be picturesque for the Airbnb customers or second home owners and now being despoiled by inappropriate development, it’s to provide a location for lively living communities of families who know one another live alongside one another interrelate through time, in community

A shadow lies over rural communities

A chance meeting with Wayne in Charsfield sharpened my thinking.  I had stopped to enquire about the Three Horseshoes, but our ensuing conversation heightened a sense that all is not well in Suffolk villages. I had enquired about the one pub in the village which has remained empty for some while. Wayne explained he was care-taking there after a number of break-ins.  He further suggested an unsuccessful attempt had been made by the owner to sell to the village community, but that it’s now available for them to rent if they can agree terms, the owner being prepared to renovate first. The above photo is from a BBC report 2012, of villagers who formed Friends of The Three Horseshoes to try and re-open the pub. How sad their hope has not been realised

It was not just the one outstanding issue of the village pub, as a traditional place of meeting and the lack of a successful community initiative.   It appears the village hall isn’t used or cared for as it once was, neither either the Recreation sports grounds or other amenities

Atomisation of individuals

The picture emerges of residents who chose to stay at home or walk the dog rather than go out of their way to make an effort to engage with one another, this may be a caricature, but it does convey a sense of isolation a withdrawal inevitably exaggerated by covid and its restrictions made on social interaction. It probably doesn’t help that children nowadays rather than playing with other kids maybe are more involved with their screens

This being not any old village but Akenfield or rather the community on which that iconic Suffolk village is based, film and book. It may perhaps provide a bell weather test of whether all is well in our rural communities.  I have had heard similar misgiving expressed elsewhere including notably Stow on the Wold where McCarthy and Stone are building for the elderly as they are eg at Lavenham 

Social change and rural deprivation

There has been the appealing even romantic dream of a blissful rural life to be had in the country, although in reality it’s been very hard and historically poorly paid work in the countryside The villages now are not so agriculturally based for employment so there is a looser connection with the soil and the land when collectively folk were working together for a common purpose. Even so a small community where people can know one another and be known has its appeal as well as downside

Those who do work commute

Few residents – a minority – are those related to the folk of the old village, and although there is a swish new housing development on a rise above the village they would not be affordable housing to locals 

I heard recently expressed by a councillor and pub owner for Weybourne the problems with airbnb and how there is an absence there of families and those who work

Where are the village schools, where are the young families and their children?

Yet people want to escape from what? to live in the country 

It’s not as it once was when each village more or less had its own resident parson and all things were “bright and beautiful”, yes rich man and poor men all had their place and worshipped as a community together. The church facilitating community life for  the local people, but this has weakened eg Charsfield is just one of eight parishes in the Mid-Loes benefice

I can recall a Ralph Marriott who seldom left his village. There was a time when villages were said to have their own variation of the local dialect.   Lark Rise to Candleford maybe

It’s down to roots and belongingness 

The elders in any village everywhere are especial and not only for being the carriers of memories of what had gone before

When the elderly have passed away the folk’s active memory dies unless it has successfully been passed to a new generation 

The future lies in new families and children carrying on the lifeblood with its sense of belongingness of a people

Everyone needs roots identity

From this sense of belongingness and integration with people and place comes unselfconscious pride expressed not only eg in cottage gardens and care of the countryside as a green wildlife rich environment These are the people of that place

The vision thing and the need for rebuilding 

What is more worthwhile than to fight for a strengthening of this sense of folk-community before the elusive dream has gone forever

“Building Jerusalem” is a task that needs to be re-embarked upon without delay, before an entire way of life has been replaced by estates of residents who may never know just how onetime it has been

NB Make a date 4th June Charsfield Recreation Ground: https://platinumjubilee.gov.uk/event/platinum-charsfest-charsfield/

J., a very special lady

large snow flakes were falling

at the start of the day

sunshine shafted downwards 

on the occasion of J….’s funeral

The hearse arrived

with  floral tribute 

a-top a wicker coffin

surrounded by individual flowers 

carried in by loved ones into the new chapel 

all seats taken, some stood.

A photo of the lady greeted,

a sequence of selected photos reminded

bringing to mind loves and a life well lived

verses and songs portrayed

The parting glass read, as on her final journey 

This smiling kind good hearted wife mum grand-mum sister

She always thought of everyone else

and topped up the glass

considerate, strong, well organised.

… leaving amid cherry blossom petals strewn on the way …

Later that evening (at mass)

She came to mind, was accompanied

as if brought and entrusted to the Father,

the Father of lights of whom she had shone as one in this world


Behind the locked Lidgate church

is or what’s left of a wall 

 in a state of abandonment,

disrepair,  crumbling into oblivion 

This is an ancient site 

where motte and bailey once stood

commanding an elevation

overlooking village, stream and to distant horizons 

Bordering the church-yard,

pollarded  treestumps abut a portion of  a wall

still remaining – but failing,

as new growth undermines, de-constructs, and flints drop off

Trees previously planted here

are now grown concealing the ruins.

Memories recede and are forgotten –

redolent of the dissolution of this Country:

The fading of memories

the pushing aside of the old by the new

A  scene of increasing neglect

just left to disappear, as if had never been

An affirmation of genius

I’m still hearing the Emperor Concerto

being played, from yesterday’s recital

between the storms Eunice & Franklin

on this fragile coast, performed in Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Hall

Trees had been uprooted and thrown down, tumultuous forces

saw broken crashing waves upon these eroding shores

yet here displayed an energy   purposeful, life affirming 

an excellence flowing from human creativity itself 

Here gathered a full house To hear the playing of a masterpiece:

Enraptured possessed affirmation

as fingers hammered the keyboard

and head ballet like made motions in time with the music

A local lad virtuoso   tirelessly playing 

Energizing enlivening 

After the wreckage of wokery and the desert remaining

a much needed reaffirmation of sheer genius. a brief respite

How fortunate not to be living   in 

a cultural desert 

but in the wilds of Suffolk 

@AldeJubilleHall @N_W_Music

here civilisation survives