Tuesday, 23 August 2016

POEM TO MY GRANDSON ON HIS FIRST BIRTHDAY

YOU ARE ONE YEAR OLD TODAY!

You peer into your mother’s amber eyes, rocked
in your father’s muscle, feel their deepest love, and start to grow.
Suckling and sleeping; dreams like clouds cross your countenance,
you whimper, frown and smile.
In your crib; you stare at the morning light bouncing off miles of old Thames flow creating waves on a ceiling flickering like a black and white movie.

Out in your buggy; poodles, clowns and bears act out their sky stories.
Sycamores scatter their autumn leaves, robins chirp, aeroplanes fly high.
You feel the chill of coming winter on your ruby cheeks,
and smell the odour of a season changing, and so are you.

You rub your fist on Tadcu’s stubble, pull off the Elder’s specs,
explore new textures of rough, bristle, hard, the joy of rustling paper,
contrasting the silky warm nectar of your own milky way.

You socialise with your chums; Elliot, Rufus, Maia and others from NCT.
You are a regular at Starfish Swim, Bumps and Babies, Storytime,
Baby Music and Babbling Babies.

You’re a real Music Monkey. You open your mouth, pull back your tongue and find your voice. Like an archer you project a tune cross the room on a whale-bone scale, drum a beat. Granj repeats and reflects your notes.
Our raw duet sears the quiet-still of a river mews.

You sit up straight in your high chair; you eat Weetabix, sweet potato mash, yoghurt and finger-food. When you’re done you shake your head exclaiming like De Gaulle to the British wanting entry to the Common Market, ‘Non,non, non!’  

You can kick a ball, hold a spoon, play the xylophone, lay out your toys and knock them down. At night time the tooth fairy wakens you with gifts of two and two more little pearls.

Spring and early summer come; the world is warming.
You stand up and are on the move; you walk with a helping hand.
You crawl backwards a bit, then fast forward like Popeye’s Pee Wee on a mission; opening cupboard doors, turning keys, closing books, pulling stuff from shelves, and laughing.

You watch the world and smile until the world turns round,
and the world smiles back.

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY,JOE!



9 August 2016

A Granj Poem (2)

Monday, 25 July 2016

AN URBAN SHETLAND ADVENTURE AWAITS

I was shocked to see I haven't written a blog entry since last December. Although it's not really surprising as it's been a tough year in some ways. I just stopped writing altogether. I have had no appetite or motivation for it. I stopped attending creative writing classes. It has felt like my creative well isn't blocked it's just run dry  I've decided that what my life needs is a good shake up and so I've decided to quit counselling for a year and seek my fortune in London. Well, Middlesex actually. Our house is on the market, a flat is rented and a new adventure is about to start...

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

SHETLAND SAGA: A SOOTHMOOTHER'S STORY OUT NOW IN PAPERBACK

Stuck for Christmas presents? 

If you haven't already downloaded the kindle version of my memoir SHETLAND SAGA: A SOOTHMOOTHER'S STORY , the book is now out in paperback, available from Amazon, The Book Depository and Wordery . Most reviewers have given it 5 * for a good read. At £8.99 from Amazon and cheaper through Book Depository  it makes a unique present. If you are adverse to Amazon or internet ordering you can buy directly from me.

As a reminder of what it's about...

      In 2004 Rhys and I left our South Wales home for the Shetland Isles., where I had a job as a counsellor in a new Primary Health Care service. This is the story of our year's experience, and explores themes of attachment, relationships, connection, remoteness and belonging.

What people have said about the book:

 'Quite different from the usual euphoric account of rural bliss on remote islands, this book is a rather deeper and more interesting description of the human process of relocating, filling a new and challenging post, and forging meaningful relationships in a beautiful but not always welcoming environment. The scenery is fabulous, the wildlife awesome, the winter celebrations long, unique and rumbustious, but communities and individuals are undergoing severe economic and social strains, all the more poignant in such a sparsely populated, scattered archipelago. Ms Teal Daniel has had the courage to write a frank and honest account of both the deep frustrations and intense joys of working in the Shetlands as a non-Shetlander' .    ***** (Amazon customer)   


'An honest and affectionate description of an outsider's place in a close community, this is an entrancing read that had me place Shetland at the very top of my travel 'wish list'. ***** (Jane R)


'This is an honest, humorous and thought-provoking journey. A middle-aged woman persuades her husband to upsticks and join her when she is offered a job on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. The couple - Jan a therapist and Rhys an artist - leave their family and friends in Cardiff to brave the weather, the gannets and the isolation of island life. This (true) saga is particularly compelling for its insights into the mind of the therapist. We hear her thoughts, we hear her conversations, how she copes with difficulties and how she throws herself enthusiastically into island life. I laughed out loud in many places. I was horrified in others. But mostly I felt drawn in and honoured by the honesty of the account. 
This is a beautifully crafted book, with a rich balance of cultural, historical information and personal triumphs. Highly recommended not only for people thinking of leaving their steady life behind; not only for middle aged women whose children have just left home; not only for people who want to get to grips with their inner psyche; but for anyone who wants to read a good story.' *****(Emily Hinshelwood)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

THE YEARNING OF THE SCREW: A COMMUNITY INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

   Rhys and I have been involved with Awel Aman Tawe for the past six years, inspired by the drive and enthusiasm of the founders, Emily Hinshelwood and Dan McCallum.
    I first got involved with Emily through Pontardawe Script Café and community plays about climate change and community action:- ‘Nine meals from Anarchy,’ ‘Conscious Oil’ and ‘Fall Out 84’.  
     It is my belief that when you meet individuals who inspire you (it doesn't happen very often!) through their commitment, beliefs and actions, they're really worth supporting. So when we held our art and poetry joint exhibition called ,’Sorry I don’t eat Fish,’ celebrating nature and raising awareness about climate change at the Roald Dahl Gallery in Cardiff Bay, we donated the proceeds of profits from sales of Rhys’ paintings to Awel Aman Tawe. The amount was tiny-just about enough to pay for one screw and bolt in one turbine! Last year we were pleased to invest a bit more in Egni-their community solar energy coop. Not sure how many screws we contributed to on one solar panel, but to Em and Dan it’s not the amount of money you give it’s the support it represents that’s important.
       The couple have spent the last two decades trying to get planning for a community wind farm-just two small turbines that will generate electricity to the community in the Aman Valley in West Wales-an area devastated by the decline of the coal industry.  As they've jumped through and over all the hoops and hurdles and finally got planning permission, the Government has reneged on their commitment to offer tax relief to community groups investing in renewable energy. So, Awel Aman Tawe have fast forwarded their plans in order to be able to attract investors who believe renewable energy is an important component of action against climate change, who want to get a good yield on their funds (7%) or who want to support a Welsh community that is struggling.
         After the hopes and failures of the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen many people felt despair. We attended workshops based on the work of American eco-psychologist, Joanna Macy, an environmental activist. They explored how we can empower ourselves as individuals and communities by understanding the inter-connectedness of all beings and our relationship to the land.  The Paris Summit on Climate Change looms ahead and if you feel like us that it is probably the most important issue for the future of our planet, buying a screw in a community wind farm may not change the world on its own, but one screw and one bolt at a time surely is a good start.
Janet Teal Daniel
Nov 14 2015


Sunday, 6 September 2015

IN CELEBRATION OF THE BIRTH OF OUR FIRST GRANDSON AUGUST 9 2015


 IN CELEBRATION OF THE COMING OF JOSEF RHYS

 

Monday’s child is fair of face

Mum-to-be swims

a mile,  freckle-smiling

checks her pulse.

 Not Monday’s child.

 

Tuesday’s child is full of grace

Mum-to-be watches breakfast TV, texts

by return of post, and yawns.

 Not Tuesday’s child.

 

Wednesday’s child is full of woe

Mum-to-be wobble-walks

to a Barnes café, drinks

NCT latté with other Mums in-waiting.

 Not Wednesday’s child.

 

Thursday’s child has far to go

Mum-to-be finger-winds

her hair, glances scullers rowing

up the Thames to Kew.

 Not Thursday’s child.

 

Friday’s child is loving and giving

Mum-to-be drums a tune

on her rolling tum, wonders

if her baby will ever come;

has acu-pressure and a sweep.

 Not Friday’s child.

 

Saturday’s child works hard for a living

Mum-to-be feels the squeeze, contractions,

labour pain- goes into hospital-

and home again.

 Not Saturday’s child.

 
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day

is bonny & blithe, good and gay

Mum-to-be breathes air and gas

with Dad’s help pushes hard;

At 10.20 the world welcomes Josef Rhys

Sunday’s child.                                                                                          

Friday, 4 September 2015

AN EYE OPENING VOYAGE


 This year I went on a Saga cruise to the Baltic States. I wrote an article about my experience which is published in this month's Telegraph-the monthly journal of Nautilus International-the professional magazine of Seafarers. See www.nautilusint.org.    In the September issue Page 20 under the section Seafarers' Rights. Please feel free to circulate the article among your friends and colleagues and write your views to the editor. I have already had feedback from a seafarer telling of his worrying experience working on the Saga Sapphire. I would like to persuade Nautilus to take up the campaign of Cruise Sweatships.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

SHETLAND SAGA: A SOOTHMOOTHER'S STORY

 
This is my first book -JUST PUBLISHED! It’s sat on my shelf since 2008 waiting for its moment.With encouragement from friends and help from Dave Lewis of  publishandprint it’s now available to download. I would welcome your feedback either directly or through Amazon reviews. Please feel free to circulate or forward this email to your friends and networks.
‘In 2004, Janet and Ieuan Rhys Daniel left their marital home of twenty-five years in South Wales to live and work in the Shetland Isles. This is the story of their experience and explores themes of attachment, relationships, connection, remoteness and belonging.’

A paperback version will be available this autumn.








          

Shetland Saga: A Soothmoother's Story
Shetland Saga: A Soothmoother's Story
by Janet Teal Daniel
  Learn more  

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Thursday, 23 July 2015

AMY: A documentary film

This latest documentary about the great jazz/blues singer/songwriter, Amy Winehouse, is directed by Asif Kapadia and currently on general release. It has had mixed reviews. I saw it last night.
 It felt apt as today, July 23rd, is the fourth anniversary of Amy's death, although it feels like a lot longer the world has been without her. She died of a heart attack brought on by alcohol poisoning.
  The film expresses Amy's fear, from the outset her career takes off and even before, that she would not be able to cope with the consequences of becoming famous. There were those who stood by her through her drunken, drug fuelled episodes, such as her two long-standing school friends and her first manager.What the film shows is that some of those close to her and who loved her also became part of a music industry machine in whose interests she became  their product. 
   Amy's brilliance, originality and superlative voice, like much great art came out of the pain of a difficult childhood, stormy adolescence, love and loss of love; her father and mother separated when she was 9years old, the very time before puberty when a child needs to feel secure. Then a stormy adolescence, when she started to develop bulimia and later relationships that were intense, wonderful and destructive.  She was vulnerable and particularly so in her relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, later to become her husband and who introduced her to crack cocaine and heroin.
    Although some of those close to her tried to help her go to rehab when things started to go wrong, her desire for her father's approval and advice, which was that she didn't need to,( so she said, No, No, No!), prevented her from getting help at an early stage. She did later get help and got off drugs but couldn't give up the bottle.
   She didn't want to go on her final tour but her agents would not listen. Too much money at stake. Her only way of getting her voice heard eventually was self-sabotage, getting pissed on stage in Belgrade, unable to sing and booed off by her fans. This was the saddest image to me of a vulnerable, beautiful and talented young woman, who just wanted to write her songs and make music.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

150

"Wales' two national theatre companies - National Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru - team up for the very first time, with one of the country's leading artists, Marc Rees, and broadcaster S4C to create ​a visual and storytelling feast.
Performed in English, Welsh and Spanish, {150} will bring to life key moments in the story of the 150 Welsh men, women and children who settled in Patagonia in 1865, and the lives of their descendants today.
This multi-platform production, combining live performance in Wales with a specially commissioned film from Patagonia, will be staged in the Royal Opera House stores near Aberdare - a vast building not normally open to the public, close to the homes of many of the original settlers.' (NTW publicity)
 
       We were not in a good mood arriving just in time as signposting was inadequate if you were coming through Abercomboi.  We gathered with others as the show started from outside the 'theatre.'
       This production is very ambitious and all credit to the NTW in continuing to look for unusual and dramatic settings for their productions of an epic nature. Last year's production of Mametz set in the Usk countryside and woods resembling the battlefields in France, was absolutely superb. All of our emotions and senses were brought into play.
       150 is in another dramatic setting; the stores of the Royal Opera House, dark, eerie and huge. The lighting and staging effects are amazing. However, without a script writer, the production is a series of dramatic fragments, it lacks cohesion and is difficult to follow. I had no sensory experience of the scale or the hardship of the pampas, apart from the scattering and pouring of oats and being told it was hard. I had little emotional engagement with the historical characters or their struggle.  This is mainly demonstrated by a few key incidents in the history of the Welsh colony that are repeated in different ways through dance, music, oration and sketches by school pupils.
         Interjected in the history is a video telling the contemporary story of a young Patagonian woman who has journeyed to Wales, worked in Pobol y Cwm, the Welsh language soap, and returned to Patagonia, confused about her identity and where she belongs. This works quite well as we have a character who we get to know and see her struggle mirroring in reverse the struggle of the early Welsh migrants.
       I came away disappointed. It would have worked so much better with a script pulling it together and staged in a place where our senses are invoked of the pampas, the bravery and courage of the pioneers, in a place perhaps such as the nearby scrubland of Hirwaun.
       Tickets available today, the last day from www.wmc.org.uk

Thursday, 18 June 2015

MERCHANTS OF DOUBT

 I went to see this film, Merchants of Doubt at the Watershed in Bristol last night. It's being shown as part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas. Based on the book of the same name co-written with Erik M. Conway in 2010 by Naomi Oreskes, professor of the History of Science and an affiliate professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. She analysed nearly 1000 scientific journals to directly assess the magnitude of scientific consensus around anthropogenic climate change. Naomi was at the film to answer questions afterwards.
In the blurb it says,
" The US scientific community has long led the world in research on public health, environmental science and other issues affecting the quality of life. Their scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers....'

    The film maker Robert Kenner shows us the games and strategies played by the PR consultants who work for companies in the oil and gas industry and who use dirty tactics to discredit scientific claims. In the so-called 'interest of balance' these views get disproportionate air time on TV and Radio.  The sad irony is that the impact of man made carbon emissions on the arctic and climate change means that the melting ice cap makes it easier and cheaper for these companies to explore new oil and gas fields.    
     When asked by a young woman where can we find hope in the situation, Naomi replied that some hope lies with China, who are starting to address the issue of climate change because of the considerable political impact that pollution in the big cities has on the health of the inhabitants and voters.  She also cited pockets of good practice in British Columbia. New technology such as carbon capture is really important, as is carbon taxing, and even the Pope through his forthcoming encyclical message may have Catholic deniers moving to the moral high ground.
    Merchants of Doubt is not on general release but look out for it at arts centres and festivals. It's probably one of the most important films about the deniers of climate change v scientific evidence since Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.