Like John

This is a story about death, love, kindness and courage.

You can buy a copy here.


Les Feuilles Mortes

I bought an LP this week (I took more than three hundred to a charity shop last month). It’s an album I once had on cassette called After Hours, featuring Elly Ameling and Louis van Dijk singing songs from the 20s 30s and 40s. I liked it, and it’s not on CD or Spotify so I enjoyed the decision to buy it on vinyl.

It’s as gorgeous as I remember, especially the piano playing of Louis van Dijk – always sotto voce, as though he doesn’t want you to hear how good he is. Elly Ameling was more often heard singing opera or Bach’s sacred music, and she does sound a little inhibited in the bouncier bits of Gershwin, like I Got Rhythm, but in the slower and more intimate pieces she is wonderful, drawing you in with her effortless control.

Les Feuilles Mortes, or Autumn Leaves, was written by a Hungarian living in France during the War and published in 1945. I like it very much. I can’t say why, and it seems pointless to heap up superlatives. I just like it with a liking that comes from somewhere deep in me.

Here is van Dijk looking splendid in early 80s style.



  I’ve never seen spindle before, at least, I haven’t noticed it. It’s every bit as luridly coloured as the illustrations. This is in Martin Moore. Orange and shocking pink. Not what you expect from a native British plant. 

Bleeding canker

Doesn’t sound too serious, does it? I’m fairly sure this is what the chestnut tree is suffering from. These pictures show cracks in the bark, though it’s not clear if they are ‘bleeding’ or weeping. 

The silvery marks look like a mixture of spider webs and slug or snail trails. The latter could be the result of sugary sap leakage.

So the tree is red because it is dying. But I suppose all red and yellow leaves are that colour because they, if not their trees, are dying.


  Ahh! Red leaves in autumn. They are traditionally beautiful. We remark on them to friends, and no one ever says they don’t like them.
But this tree is red on only one side; the north side, as it happens. Its neighbours, also horse-chestnuts, are still mainly green, so I wonder if it is diseased. And if so, if the colour is a symptom of disease, does it stop being beautiful? 

How far is beauty related to the look, and how far does it depend on the meaning?

Old Chestnut

  I think these are late, this year. I’m pretty sure September was conker month last year, with some falling in October. Here we are at the end of September and the ground is largely clear of conkers.
Other trees are fruiting abundantly. 

   two varieties of rowan there.
And it would be wrong to forget the less showy trees. This lime still has all its fruits, when others have dropped them weeks ago, to pop and skitter under my cycle tyres.