Last night I dreamed that Emily, forceful daughter of a dear friend and Themself an Editor-Jounalist-#activist of awesome clout, told me sweetly but firmly, (as They would,) to Update my Blog.
I wasn’t aware that I had one, but it may be correct to assume that this sporadic posting is what They meant…

I awoke full of inspiration and resolve with the dream still present…

When also full of coffee, I located my most gemütlich Device, blew the cobwebs from the lid, thumbnailed it open and dived into: not the smoothly maintained Mac of remembered fancy but, a digital Petrie-dish of sliding desktops, multiple message systems, alerts and applications akin to the Sleeping Beauty forest of thorns with an added detour through the entropy of Password Hell, in order to fix the DNS of my website, the payment for the domain and, my access to the Demon Social Site that, like the Soma of the Lotus Eaters, softens the brain and dissolves all desire to return to work. It seemed cruel to ignore the messages from a new crop of honest if fancifully-named young persons in dire difficulties that need my friendship and my bank details to journey safely home and, buy themselves the underwear they so blatantly lack.
…so, Yes, I have learned some new stuff, tho’ not how to turn off the computer’s thuggish robotic voice notification that shouts
“It is Naow Sick Stein Huvvers” (the nearest the poor creature can get to pronouncing ‘hours’ on the nominally “British-English” setting) and indeed it is now: Four o’Clock. The ice-white sun is barrelling through the spectrum towards a hard horizon, slicing shards of chromatic unbelief through the diamond-rattling trees and across a sea the colour of butterflies’ wings.
My day is gone, my blog still nascent. It is Cold outside.

What I wanted to say is that society may indeed need scientists and mathematicians as well as its mightily undervalued workers; but above all, we need Historians, Journalists and, Artists.  

I allow that to cite the latter is to fight my own corner, as historically did the brilliant AA Milne in an essay I can’t find online; but Historians, now:
Historians will be able to tell you with proportionate hindsight what journalists are clamouring to tell us now – some with the hysteria of ignorance, some with tears of realisation – that: Market Forces enshrined as deity are every bit as harsh as the jealous god of the Old Testament, setting up tyrants without conscience to reward their Own faithful with obscene riches while they defecate on the legions of the poor who must balance the equation by sinking starving ever deeper into the mire.
They will tell you that even in fairly civilised Britain society is in crisis.

Did I say civilised? The last two men hanged here were dispatched in 1964, in living memory for many of us, in the Swinging England of Carnaby Street and the chart topper by British uber-band The Beatles called ‘Twist and Shout’.

The swinging, twisting rope would have prevented much shouting and they died largely unnoticed; but back in befrilled and pantalooned Merrie England, judicial murder was a rowdier affair. People (some of them actually guilty) were viciously unsexed and, literally gutted. Sliced up on the gallows in front of uncountable spectators who thought themselves not mentally sick for queuing up to watch. We know of this shaming underbelly of our most velvet-clad reigns through the journals of eyewitnesses and the writings of contemporaries. Word of mouth does not long outlast the mouth itself, but parchment and paper endure.
We also know what the people who relished or, suffered these horrors looked like, from the work of those who wielded the astonishing skills of the figurative artist.
In today’s rather kinder society (really? People are still entertained by graphic butchery albeit simulated in splatterfest cinema while outside in the street children die sleeping in cardboard boxes) …in today’s Kinder Society, we still need people that can depict: us and, what we are about in lasting form, for without such accounts and images, when our numbingly vast digital archives succumb to future technologies that will not know their codes, Archaeologists may be left with less to go on than a Millennial confronted with a floppy-disc.

Taking the attitudes of ourselves to lost civilisations as a marker we may be thought to have been just a little superstitious.

Why else would we place our Dead, some with their pets and toys to provide amusement in the afterlife, inside glazed, upholstered coffins with rubber-tyred wheels on the corners and, bury them in the basements of the half-mile -high steel and glass tombs that we, in our naive stupidity, believed would carry us to Heaven? It will be unthinkable to a wiser future – for we all consider ourselves wiser than our forebears – that these rusted and radioactive towers once housed a society that actually wanted to work and live in the sky, or that, blessed with a world of wonder and beauty, chose to loot it, poison it and, blow it, to pieces.

Maybe, against all the odds, we won’t…

It Is Finished

The story of the murder that took place at Golgotha under a grim eclipse among the bones of uncounted atrocities was once universally known. A young radical prophet, said to be a miracle-worker, was beaten half to death by the Authorities, stripped naked – as were all for this maximum spectacle of agony and shame – nailed through the bones of his extremities and hoisted up to writhe until dead for the gawping glee of the masses. Mary tore her veil to cover the loins of her son. His death was accompanied by metaphysical phenomena and his inalienable teachings persist, not least because he rose from the tomb.
The festival, from prehistory associated with rebirth, has many mystical layers; but for generations now it merely signifies the descent to Earth of Chocolate Rabbits.

It Is Finished…

Displayed in Saint Ruan Church on the Lizard Peninsula

A Stormy Spring

Since I last reviewed my website, the wider World has endured wars, volcanoes, floods, fires, and, the Covid virus pandemic. Here we’ve merely had a little über-wet roof-ripping weather.
Now a new, nearer war has begun: Irony rattles across the news screen: men with assault weapons wear anti-viral masks lest they breathe on their marks fleeing terrified across the snow.
There are some 12,705 nuclear warheads on the planet. 4,000 are already on the gas-ring awaiting a safety-match.
Past my allotted three-score years and ten as I am, there is scant I can do with whatever time is left, save to hope and pray for swift and effective dialogue and resolution and then view the meadows and minefields of my own life and my unscripted leaps, scrambles, lurches and spills along the unmarked and sometimes unlit path. While my mobility has changed (and my appearance! I thought it a fairy-story that hair could go white with shock and, I’d had no idea I was so vain!) the mind has expanded and the creativity has gone into – indeed jammed into – overdrive.
This is fortunate. My having agreed to become a trustee of the South West Academy, the Cosmos said Aha! and provided commissions for five unexpected and demanding canvases and, enquiries for enough further painting to keep me occupied for the next two years, while my role on the Academy Board has compelled a swift embrace – more of a grope in the dark really – of zoom meetings and not-so-very-broadband.
I started my life a full two miles away in a cottage in the lily-sweet valley of Landewednack on The Lizard Peninsula. My father, a muscular Fabian conscientious objector, had spurned a protected job in aircraft design, and was working as Ploughman and Cowman at Churchtown Farm while my mother was not entirely overjoyed to be the farm slavey.
With what conscience I know not, they held hands and watched the sky across the Channel gleam with fire as France burned.
Please may it never again come to that. Carn Barrow March 2022

Early Summer on the Edge

Doh, Mi-soh-la-soh *doh… ti/la/soh/mi/doh.

The weird spring has given us no young toads. The weather frightened the bees and, burned the buds from the Birches with icy wind, the unusual sequence of cold, wet, hot, wet, dry and, wet again, has delivered crazily overgrown Umbelliferae over a carpet of lesser grass-proof weeds, it’s also bestowed a merry cohort of Blackbirds, very many blackbirds indeed. They squabble a lot and evidently mate successfully, for there are treefuls of fat, torpid babies to tempt the Sparrowhawks. Meanwhile, in between feeding them beak-to beak, the glossy males find the energy to sing their beautiful well-known Blackbird song.  All save one eccentric whose liquid voice runs up and down a melody very close to – I think it’s the second subject? – a tune from Camille Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony.

         I’ve known other wild birds copy sounds they’ve heard; when there were abundant Starlings, they learned to drive me mad by mimicking the burble of a little frog-shaped telephone I’d bought in Singapore, sending me sprinting to a silent instrument whenever they felt like it; but Impersonator-Blackbirds?


There he goes again, Ta da te DAH diddlediddleum…


Listening to their music and the ripple of the ocean far below – so close to the shipping lanes that there really are Ferries at the bottom of the garden – one can apply Gravity to the Deckchair, elevate one’s feet and, in the words of Dobie Grey, Drift Away, but it’s only a month to Midsummer when the  The Labyrinth will be, for a few short hours, Open. With a few furlongs of paths to weed and, twice the same in hedges to clip and argue back into place after the spectacular overgrowth, leisure will now not just take a back seat but, ride standing on the running-board.   

                                                                                                             JXC 2019




I am STILL engaged with the long-overdue task of updating this website;  (I do after all, have a life) may I ask you to continue to make kind allowance for discrepancies, duplications and omissions?

Please, proceed as I must: with caution,

my thanks, JXC

High Summer on the Edge 2017

Not a breath of air.

Of course, that isn’t true, every living thing breathes the whole time that it lives; that’s more or less the point. But, as a metaphor for stillness it does the job. Without any further description, you can see leaves that usually dance with the lightest of zephyrs hanging from the birches as though frozen by a camera, the honeysuckle casting its fragrance in a  knot with nothing to waft it afield. The palms stand with their last blossoms Umber against a sky drained by the heat of everything but brightness, for it certainly is hot here above the sea.

The sea.  The cool sea… even in Summer it approaches tepid only in the pools left by an exceptionally low tide. It calls in whispers from below the Tamarisks that bloom pink gossamer on the edge of the precipice, the idle waters glittering through the twigs to beckon with depths of jade beneath the hypnotic dazzle.

Oh, to be again in that water where I spent my last pre-amorous innocence immersed hour after hour until my skin wrinkled to mimic the seaweed and my hair turned to hemp over shoulders of mahogany.

As, dripping salt, I clambered up the cliff I could smell the butter crisping things in the frying-pan over our Primus stove, a patented pump-up bomb of a cooker that added a redolence of kerosene to the dinner hour.  My own children are amused when I say I dressed then for dinner.  There was something delicious about the sundown tingle of clothes when one had worn none all day, a tingle that turned the twilight doubly cosy before the brief pre-sleep contact with the bedsheets.

Seemingly moments later, the song of the crickets in the wild grass outside had faded and, it was tomorrow.  I would kick off my covers, slide my feet into my sandals, tiptoe out to the pump and drink -how few children today know the taste of such water – and tiptoe again to take carrots and apples and cheese from the cupboard behind the house where the sun never reached – the cupboard with perforated panels that let in the air and, kept things cool before electricity brought refrigeration in its wake.  Stuffing my breakfast and luncheon into the bag with my goggles, my swim fins and my bone-handled knife, I ate on the climb, and was sliding down the barnacles  and into the kelped wetness while the house still slept.

My Nudist parents liked to swim in the afternoon.  My father was good, could dive well and with style and, would barge his burly form through the waves in a frothy crawl; my mother, ever careful of her glamour, performed with her head held high so that the raven hair piled on top should remain salt-free and lustrous, a languorous breast-stroke that would take her at leisure right across the bay.  I had no such skills; I simply kicked my rubber frog-feet and gurgled along, either on my back watching the birds, or under the water, weighed down by the biggest boulders I could hold; these would take me to the bottom where I would sit on the sand and smack them together, scaring the little fish and marvelling that I could strike sparks from the quartzite without air. Without air! I’d have to remember to drop the rocks and sprint for the surface, gasping and spluttering in the sunlight only to plunge again for another minute of silent blue.

Today, the paths have grown over with bramble and thorn at the cliff-edge and crumbled away  below. Tools, gauntlets and trousers would be needed on the slope.  On the drop, add ropes and, for safety a climbing companion which would destroy the magic of solitude. I could of course climb instead, up the cliff, get into a car and, drive to one of our beautiful and rightly popular public beaches… Ah, but I would have to wear drawers and, dodge the Surfing Young atop their fabulous boards, their hands and faces Teak from the sun over cola-fed bodies milk-white under their glistening wet-suits, bodies that will never know the sundown tingle anymore than will the suited divers cumbered with tanks of air that transform the depths into just another (albeit wondrous) location rather than, between one breath of air and the next, a portal on the miraculous. As I write, the trees are beginning to move, the birds to agitate. I too must move, for unlike those idle summers long ago, there is work to be done.

JXC Cadgwith

Life on the Edge, Spring and Summer 2017


Journalism is fast forsaking paper,

a pity for so many reasons, though not if you’re a tree.

I bought my first newspaper from a vendor on the street near my school, so I’d have been about twelve years old. It became a habit, informing me on the wider world and, acting as a barrier against my immediate world when I wished to exclude it. My father was in his brief parabola as a Television Personality (these days they’re called Celebrities, a curious term as it implies that something is worthy of celebration) and had bought, near the film studios so very far from beloved Cornwall, a rambling house that started out all low megalithic walls and ships timbers in the Domesday Book and expanded through the centuries into a Regency Pretension with French Windows and walls so slight that an iron brace had been put through the wing with a cross on one end and a letter ‘S’ on the other to stop the stuccoed brickwork bulging under the weight of the roof. I was allocated a bedroom somewhere in the late Seventeenth Century with elm floorboards that would today each cost the price of a dinner at the Ritz. A window with wobbly glass gave on the house where lived Jill and Gerry with their daughters Linda, Stella and Wendy who during my limited leisure leavened the monastic chill of my daily sorrows. Their house had been built as private library to J. L. Garvin, the Editor of ‘The Observer’, whose bronze head by the American sculptor Jo Davidson dominated our grandest chamber.

That icy morning, the bronze eyes watched me from their gothic alcove as, dashing in my socks towards hot porridge I slipped on the stairs and, tobogganed all four flights on my back to land shocked and winded on the cold tiles in the hall.

I was chided, inspected and, fed the porridge. My bones too sore for dressing myself, I was manipulated into the hated school uniform. The reading from a previous Morning Assembly came to mind:

“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.”

For the first time I felt sympathy for Saint Peter. I stepped out into the sleet.

My heart sank, as it did daily while I waited for the slim green coach that glided past the house of the children’s author Enid Blyton and the mysterious residence of the considerable movie star Dirk Bogarde before winding out through the beech woods into the dazzle of the frosted fields.

We slid on Saucy Corner. We slid again when we stopped at Penn Pond where the Gypsies were breaking the ice to water their horses. We missed the connection into town.

I blew glumly on my hands until the next bus came. It had more wheels and slid less, though with its two stories it rolled more, straining my bruised ribs. I arrived late at my classroom and was scolded and quizzed. Trying to gloss an awkward moment, I assumed a pleasant social manner and said,

“Well, it’s really rather complicated, but if you have the time, would you like to hear the whole story?”

The master’s normally florid face went livid above the muffler he wore to augment his gown against the chill. The purple capillaries in his nose stood out. I had not before fully registered through my liberal infancy the extent to which grovelling was expected of schoolboys, nor had I grasped that it was acceptable in that time and place to hit us quite so much or so hard. I now learned.

The time I spent standing in the corridor was not all bad; there was a radiator out there, and I sagged my bruises against it gratefully while French verbs were parsed on the other side of the wall. At length the day ended in an early twilight. I was told that, while my appalling insolence merited Detention and Worse, I would be released because of the extreme weather. My duffel coat had been confiscated because duffel coats were banned; viewed as somehow subversive.  I’d also been caught and punished by my housemaster for wearing a cricket sweater under my shirt. I was cold.

I bought my newspaper and ran for the tall, bright bus and swayed along within the frost flowers on its windows behind my paper, glad of the minimal heat.

Many corners later I was decanted alone at Penn Pond bus stop. I shivered. A muffled voice hurrying past told me that the slim green coach home had been cancelled because of the snow.

It is difficult to believe: in those days we did not have phones in our pockets.  But, there were plentiful public ones. They were housed in tall red boxes, boxes furnished with an unbelievable seventy-two little windows in three sides, from the pissy concrete floor to the ceiling where lurked a dim electric light.  A heavy sprung door with a leather restraining strap opened on a cigarette-smelling chamber with just enough room for one adult to stand upright facing a black-painted presence with a rotary dial, a banana-shaped receiver on a stout flex, a slot for your coins and, buttons ‘A’ to connect you and, and ‘B’ to get your money back should it fail. I felt in my pocket. My coins were in the satchel of the newspaper vendor. I set out on foot.

I had a wristwatch, a gift from my grandparents. At the end of the hour by its luminous dial I had perhaps gone one mile and was now pushing my way through chest-high snow drifts, kept warm – if you could call it that – by only my exertions, woollen gloves and socks, regulation school mac and cap and, my newspaper tucked inside my blazer and spread across my chest.

It ends happily. My father had finally looked at the clock, wondered where I’d got to, put down his pencils and set out in his indestructible Ford V8 to look for me. I heard the familiar rumble of its engine just as I was thinking I’d like to lie down in the snow and go to sleep. He assuredly saved my life, perhaps with a little help from my newspaper.

When, having survived childhood and my training as an Artist, I started my first serious earner on Jack de Manio’s ‘Today’ programme – now a harsher, bigger beast under the agile whip of John Humphries – I had to digest seven newspapers a day before breakfast in the small hours. I met them again, cold news wrapped around the evening fish and chips to keep them hot.

Today in Cornwall it is cold. But ah, not REAL cold.

                                                     JXC Spring, Summer… 2017

Life on the Edge; Autumn 2016



“We are surrounded by goodness, kindness, wonder and beauty. But, it’s human nature to take for granted the billions of beneficial bacteria, curse the bug that gives us influenza; gloss over the myriad songbirds, remember and, damn the seagull that snatches our chips…” The Damnathon ©Coudrille 2016

I was intrigued to see that the new hand-wash in the kitchen is called: Organic Surge.

Heard out loud it sounds as though pampered sheep have given their wool for a Jaeger trench-coat. But printed and read, the legend is unsettling. The suggestion of something both healthy and, unstoppable makes me think of the way I felt about girls when I was sixteen: if I once risk scrubbing my nails with the stuff, will it be content to loiter by the sink in case I pass by and fancy another wash? No. It will whistle and, if I ignore it, throw gravel at my window at two o’clock in the morning.

Splatter the label how you may with tiny print saying how delicate the fragrance, how mild the action, the damage is done. (It’s not mild anyway; ten minutes afterwards it feels though the skin has been tightened by an algorithm for faces in wedding photographs.)

I think then that I’ll avoid Antimicrobial Alkalis, and stick with good old-fashioned Soap. You know where you are with Sunlight and Pears.*

But Organic Surge could well describe the Summer of 2016 here on the Edge of Southernmost Cornwall, which culminated in a hyper-abundance of Sunlight and Apples.

Back in the Spring, the Tabloid Newspapers had shouted:

“BRITAIN is on a 10-day countdown to the start of what is shaping up to be the hottest summer in more than A CENTURY.”

This would have brought small comfort to the people staring from their bacon-smelling boarding-houses (or worse, tents) at rain like scaffold poles during a June that was, quote: the “WETTEST on RECORD.”

But, the unusual sequence of soak and scorch was amazing for the plants. Some that usually only flower in Autumn sprang to vivid extravagance in May and now, the Buddleias that startle us early with their brief bobbles are still thrusting out honey-scented lumps of colour to the delight of the butterflies and, the stragglers remaining from the thousands of bees that flocked in while pundits were saying there were no bees.

The Echiums, sucked dry, rattle their skeletons in the stiffening wind while droves of their grandchildren are already in infant leaf menacing the lawn.  Animate life has burgeoned too. Foxes have begat with success; the cubs are now gawky teenagers, glimmering through the bracken like orange ghosts.

Two yards from my feet a weary Blue-Tit is feeding a petulant babe; this has to be a second or even, a third brood. Jackdaws and, Jackdaw babes that look like small Rooks save for their startling blue eyes, are super-abundant. As are the Magpies.

The Sparrow Hawk thunders through like an express-train snatching mail-bags, yet the small songbirds remain more numerous than I can remember. I cannot tell one from another but I have noticed a finch that gains advantage by hovering, unlike the other finches, which do not.

There are but two carrion crows. One is content to fly, to give of its raucous song and to roost peaceably; and the other (and, try as I might to distinguish it, to me it looks just like the well-behaved one) cartwheels through the sky cackling in an eldritch falsetto like a Disney witch. It divebombs the seagulls, terrorises the Dunnocks and even feints at the mighty Ravens. It raps on the French windows at dawn like a Woodpecker on amphetamine. It mutters at its reflection in what sounds like abusive terms. Worse, it has plucked, eye-like, the sparkling badge from the venerable nose of my car and, put mushrooms on the roof. It has perched on the wing-mirrors and pecked dog’s tooth dags in the rubber seals around the windows. It has made free with the windscreen wipers. It has covered the glass in spit and the doors in shit. Does this Crow in its own world have a name? I wonder.  If so, I don’t know it. We have failed to bond. I have cawed back. I have offered it biscuits. It ignores me. If it continues in its misdemeanours, I may have to Take Steps.

From a cosmic perspective, we human beings are as numerous as the birds and it must be tough for even an Omniscient God to identify us all, to tell one from another. By our names? Having reached the age where names are elusive in a mere seven decades, I doubt if the Ancient of Days pays much attention to names. From our looks? We change our clothes, our spectacles, our expressions, as often as a classical composer changes key. We may however be recognised by our daily wave and smile, if in gratitude for our blessings we take the trouble to say hullo. Otherwise I suspect that it is by our bad behaviour that we are remembered.                                   JXC Cadgwith

*Sunlight and Pears are British brands of soap hallowed by time and famed for their unscented purity.