Highs and lows

Last weekend we had a family trip to see Matilda the Musical. Three generations of Roald Dahl fans enjoyed it hugely, not least the younger generation. One of the things that struck me, as one of the older members of the group, was the very contemporary relevance of some of the points Dahl was making.

He held up to ridicule Matilda’s parents for their scorn of books and learning, their philosophy that the television was king, and that knowledge wasn’t necessary if you just shouted loud enough. They sounded uncannily like some of the people we have elected to govern us – here in the UK, in the US and elsewhere. It felt frightening that these are the people with the upper hand at the moment. In the show they don’t win out – let’s hope the same is true in life.

Another sobering moment was reading some of the activities of extremist groups, not least holocaust denying groups which include both far right and far left members, united in their anti semitism. Have we learnt nothing? For some of us, this appears to be true. At least we have groups like Hope not Hate monitoring and making us aware of the nature of these groups and the threat they pose.

Shafts of light into this gloom were provided by Tony Marcoff who delivered a moving talk entitled ‘the gospel of flowers‘ to this week’s gathering of Mole Valley Poets. It was not just the insights of poets from around the world and across the centuries that inspired, although that was part of it. It was also the observation that there appears to be an outpouring of creativity. More and more people writing poetry. More people writing books and plays. More and more artists. This is largely anecdotal of course, although there are some measurable increases – in haiku writing for example. A healthy counterbalance to what appears to be the prevailing culture.

And artistic endeavour is important. As we face the climate crisis and despair of our politicians we can find hope elsewhere. In grass roots movements, in individual action, in technological advancement, and in the awareness raising and soul stirring potential of poetry, drama, the visual arts.

I came away feeling a degree of much needed encouragement, able to focus once more on current preoccupations, which include preparing for a mystery play in Gateshead, getting ready for the next outing of my dinner theatre show based on my novel Blessed Assurance (next Thursday, 5th March at the Stepping Stones, West Humble) and doing some rewrites on my next play. There is beauty despite the difficulties around us, and we can appreciate it – maybe it can even change things. In the words of one of the more celebrated haiku poets, Issa (1763-1827)

in this world

we walk on the roof of hell

& view the flowers

Tony Earnshaw

Comments are closed.