Category Archives: literature

it’s 50 years since Churchill died.


Well do I remember those cold winter days and nights when thousands queued silently to pay their respects to one of greatest figures of history.
And I remember the journey on the Thames barge, as if a salute by Royalty to a great Commoner.

To realize that was 50 years ago means we who remember him still have become a part of history.

sigourney weaver talks about the making of Avatar 2, 3 and 4

Sigourney Weaver is busy now. Cast in Exodus (to be released later this year) as Touya, the mother of Rameses, she is at present filming sequels of Avatar with James Cameron. Though secret, it has been well-trailed that there are at least three films being shot simultaneously, Avatar 2, 3 and 4. She has spoken about the Avatar project recently. A further Aliens sequel Prometheus 2 is scheduled for release in 2016.
Sigourney Weaver

From Avatar 2.
Sigourney Weaver 2
sigourney-weaver-914945l-214x0-wtm-ae022bfapic_13pic_1sigourneyweaver-workinggirl-800x540.png weaverpic_7
Sigourney Weaver 5


olaf stapledon wrote ‘star maker’ an sf masterpiece

012009With a magisterial sweep this imaginative and scientifically accurate (for it’s time) portrayal of the cycle of appearance of universes was published in 1938. Mankind is but one way of existing, intelligence can appear in many forms as a universe evolves, including wraith-like assemblies of multiple entities in deep space. These highly evolved cooperating consciousnesses are one way in which Stapledon shows how evolution might allow consciousness to develop. A situation intermediate between us here now and the ultimate eponymous ‘Star Maker’. Ideas presented here for the fist time have subsequently formed the bedrock of much subsequent science fiction.

herculaneum; the villa of the scrolls, another example of modern technology allowing the reading of the past

This beautiful villa in California was built by John Paul Getty but he never lived in it or even saw it completed. It is a replica of the Villa of the Scrolls at Herculaneum, the neighbouring town to Pompeii which was also overwhelmed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Like the rest of the town, this villa and all its contents is frozen in time because it was covered in volcanic cinders giving no time for escape. Sumptuously furnished, this villa was almost certainly lived in by Lucius Calphurnius Peto Caesoninus the father-in-law of Julius Caesar who was a scholar. The actual villa is ruined and has only been partially excavated. An extensive collection of papyrus scrolls written in longhand, the equivalent of our books has been found. To date 1700 of these carbonized scrolls have been found here; a unique treasure trove preserved by the volcanic eruption and covered in a thick layer of lava. Early attempts to unroll these fragile remains to read them produced limited success in some cases; even when the fragments were flattened out the writing proved almost impossible to read.  However modern scanning technology is helping to discover more about this unique treasure trove of literature from the ancient world.  Many of the scrolls turn out to be Greek philosophical texts 44 of which were written by the Epicurean philosopher and poet Philodemus.
  It is hoped that it will be possible to read the rest of the scrolls before too long.  Further excavation may yield more scrolls elsewhere in due course.


Above left. The villa as it is now, partially excavated and protected from the weather. Above right. A stage in the scanning process showing the partially crumpled scroll with markers indicating the exact profile.

the (re)searcher


Ceaselessly  he blazed the trail:

Light as a feather  over hill and dale

Alone always ahead of the crowd!

Travelling light! Nothing faster  allowed.

He went where he needed.  New ground,

Always  new ground. No sound!

No eating no sleeping, searching to find,

Thoughts?  No! profounds of mind!*

No explanations!  Intuition he needs.

No one to talk to, onwards he leads!

Hypotheses, models and explanation ;

Abstractions, predictions and replication.

Logic and mathematics  a new realm define.

Negative space the Mirror never need refine,

Unimagined, unseen, inverted but whole,

No longer a part.  He  found his soul.

All  in their dreams can reach this door

But nobody had ever passed through before.

No Grants to write or papers to publish.

Now to distinguish the truth from the rubbish.

geoff clements

* See ‘Ohio ImpromptuSamuel Beckett.

+ A general view of what some researcher’s inner lives are like, but also  might apply to explorers, sportsmen and women, indeed anyone who reaches their limit and goes beyond.  The writer Samuel Beckett described it in perhaps a more general context.  A researcher who came to mind was Paul Dirac whose mathematical logic forced him to predict the existence of antimatter before it was found experimentally.  ‘His’ equation is at the top of the poem.

seamus heaney 1939 – 2013

Seamus Heaney Timeline photos
Seamus Heaney Timeline photos

A great man has passed by and left his mark.

I will always remember going to an evening with Seamus Heaney in Glasgow 12 years ago.  His spirit filled the hall floating on the poetry he recited.  Not always easy poetry but based on experience and validated by struggle.  The importance of tradition and having come from somewhere distinct, in his case Northern Ireland, was evident, but tempered by an enormous depth of humanity and understanding.  A Nobel Prize and his numerous academic distinctions did not change him.

past and present-base sous-marine bordeaux(bordeaux submarine base)

The submarine base being built;
The Submarine Base Bordeaux now (Google)

Present and past are mixing now.

The veil of present sifting

Always sifting through the past.


Isn’t she like her mother!

Such a joker, always laughing!

Blonde hair and so keen on the boys!

Hope she doesn’t end up in trouble!


I remember being stuck in a tram

Stuck in a tram during an air raid

On the Pont de Pierre

Nothing to be done but sit and hope.


The RAF was bombing the Nazi submarine base.

Two kilometers away down the river.

If they missed French lives were lost.

It is still there built by slave labour.


Impossible to destroy even now!

Thousands of tons of concrete reinforced

With railway lines. The bombs bounced

Off the roof when they hit directly.


Now a marine base and exhibition centre

With many coloured flags, modern art

And children playing. So different

From that dark night many years ago.


That I remember and  which colours the present.

So when I am gone, who will remember?

Will some one carry the flame of that night

For those who died for us to be free.

Text Geoff Clements


French translation,:  thanks, Anne Marie Clements


gormenghast, is this our future? (or our grandchildren’s)



A relic of civilization survives.  Is this our future?  John Grey gives his thoughts on this massive work by Mervin Peake who grew up in China which heavily influences his writing.  He was also a superb illustrator.  Is the coming century China’s? Only time will tell.  Strange that the USA with its Constitution enshrining individual liberty and justice for all should sacrifice them so easily in its war on terror.  Is the USA, currently the world’s dominant superpower, going to buckle in the face of the increasing influence of China?

A more distant viewpoint was taken by Olaf Stapledon in his very influential and prescient writings (Last and First Men 1830, Starmaker 1938) which describe the rise and fall of civilizations over millennia.