Poppy

I just love them, their colour, brilliance, shape, papery petals. Colourful flowers that are imbued with sorrow because they were used to commemorate wars. They sprang up in the fields of flanders after the battles there. And yet to me they don’t signify fighting or fears, but memories of summers long gone, my favourite colour and how tiny seeds can create such magnificent flowers.

Poppies for remembrance

Poppies germinate in disturbed soil so when the First World War came to an end they sprang up in ‘Flanders fields’. This then became the iconic symbol for armastice day and is used as a way of collecting donations. Paper flowers are sold in shops and by volunteers to raise money for the Royal British Legion charity.

Poppies come in a variety of forms, among which are the common poppy, probably the ones that grew in the fields after the war. Welsh poppies, oranges and yellows. Californian poppies (I’m not sure they are the same plant as I think they are called Escholsia? not Papaver). Oriental poppies, which are grown in some places to make opiates. Himalayan blue poppy (mecanopsis) one of which I managed to grow last year. Then also different garden varieties, perrenials and annuals.

My favourite annual poppy is Shirley. Lots of variety of colours from pale pinks and whites to deep reds and with different shading, also the perrenial Patty’s Plum although it’s colour tends to fade. I also love painting them….

Armistice day

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Poppies spreading from pole to pole,

Life and death must fight no more.

Let us give each other peace.

Think before we fight a foe.

Peace would be my lasting wish,

Giving back some bit of hope.

I know my wish can never be.

A world in peace I’ll never see.

But maybe once or twice the world

A life to spare, they can agree.

Orphaned lives must be saved,

Refugees must be delivered whole.

Shelter given, an end to fear,

No more war, a fairer share.

No more death of man or beast,

No more fighting,

Let’s have peace.

Flight

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The light flew across the sky, something not seen for centuries on the Earth.

The world had overheated in the previous millennia, viruses and bacteria had spawned a plague and 90% of the population had died before a cure was found. The remaining humans were all children, the fate of their parents leaving them in a world of technology they could partly use but not maintain.

Then came the explosions, nuclear power plants went offline, nuclear bombs rotted in their silos. Crops and fruit failed. A few books had been left, some technical papers, but the schools were gone. Children grew to adulthood and learnt to hunt and gather like their ancestors. Technology was stored in caves, but without power could not be used.

Then came wars over food and clean water. People living near reservoirs were lucky, but those downstream were cut off as the pumping stations failed. Humans were close to extinction. As the fable said ‘how the mighty had fallen’.

But a few people learned electronics from taking old things apart then putting them back together. They tinkered and played, and a light rose in the sky which was artificial. Who knew what would happen next?

War horse

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I don’t have any photos but I did a quick sketch from my memory of the horse in Warhorse that I went to see tonight.

The play starts with a puppet foal which is quite small. The story shows him being bought and then brought up on a farm in England in 1914. Suddenly the foal becomes a fully grown horse. He is sent along with thousands or possibly millions of horses across to be part of the cavalry in the First World War.

The story charts what happened to him and also his owner who enlists so he can find him.

The horses in the play are depicted by puppets which contain two puppeteers inside them and one moving the head and neck. In scenes where he is galloping extra puppeteers move the four feet. The horses move in realistic ways, flicking it’s ears, moving it’s tail. Rearing and bucking.

There are sections of horrific violence but through it all there is a strong streak of humanity. There are good and bad on both sides. I found myself enthralled  The play seemed to fly by.

I need to mention the other puppets, the goose, swallows flying on the wing, and a first World War tank that were  so well used to depict reality. You forgot there were puppeteers, you just saw the things they were meant to represent. If you get a chance to see it, its worth it.