Water Lilies by Jim Harris



In the dark


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I was up late watching the thrilling final of the Men's Singles at the US Open and Djokovic was about to serve for the match in the third set. Would Nadal hold on?

Before the World No.1 hit his first serve everything went black. I looked into the road and could see some lights on, but there was a dark area where the street light opposite our house was out. I lit candles and found a phone book with the Electricity Emergency number. They did not know of any faults in my area. I checked the fuse box and that was OK. They would send someone round, should be within four hours.


I tried to get our clockwork radio to work in the hope that I might find the result of the match in New York, but the band connecting the generator to the spring had snapped. So I lit candles, read a bit and then went around with a candlestick in my dressing gown like someone from a BBC Victorian drama . Eventually I went to bed. I was woken not long after I dozed off by a phone call. ...

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Just before the looting and burning began in London I was thinking about putting down some thoughts about house sparrows. Those in my back garden seem to have gone on days out somewhere now that their young have fledged and I hear them return in the evening. I have no idea where they go but I like to imagine them off in the countryside or down the River Thames taking a dip in the river. They enjoy a bath in the pottery dishes we leave out for them in the back garden.


At the same time as the scenes reminiscent of the Blitz filled the TV screen I read a review of a book about the wartime campaign that became known as Dig for Victory (The Spade as Mighty as the Sword: The Story of World War Two's 'Dig for Victory' Campaign by Daniel Smith Aurum Press).  Before 1939, Britain was absolutely reliant on food shipped in from around the world. At the outbreak of war, the German U-Boats laid siege and the Government appealed to the nation to start producing home grown crops and ...

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While I was sitting with friends in the garden of their north London home at the weekend a wren began to sing. I could not see it but the song is so loud and so distinctive there was no doubt what it was. For me, that is. When I stopped the conversation to say: " Listen!" there was a kind of blank silence. " Do you know what that is?" I asked. Nobody did. Why is it that so many people in a nation that prides itself on loving wildlife simply do not hear birdsong. Where i live in north London blackbirds sing beautifully all summer blackbird  in the winter the robins robin can be heard all day and sometimes all night. The little wren has the most piercing call and is more often heard than seen. wren The song of the wren is so penetrating that you would think it would make people stop and listen. But somehow most people seem to be deaf to it. Is it because they do not expect to encounter wild birds in London? Would they take more notice if they heard the song in the countryside? 

It ...

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Congratulations to Jim Harris, my nephew who is an artist living and working in Amsterdam on the commendation he has received from a major Dutch newspaper. In a review of an Art Fair the influential newspaper de Telegraaf had this to say about one of his paintings of the interior of an old church which he has visited and painted many times: " ..if one had to choose which work would then remain the most memorable, that would have to be 'de oude kerk', a painting of the interior of Amsterdam's oldest church by Jim Harris ( exhibited at Roger Katwijk). Harris has surpassed himself. A beautifully harmonious use of lines and sense of light, in nine panels....hopefully this painting will be preserved for the city".

You can click through to Jim's website on the painting in the top left hand corner of the Blog page.

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As a farewell to the astonishingly successful Oprah Winfrey show I offer a piece by my friend Brian Stewart of the Canadian Broadcasting Company written for CBC's website. It can be found here

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