Thursday, 2 June 2011

Zen and the art of ....

This week Spanish cucumbers have had very bad press, accused, wrongly as it turns out, of causing an outbreak of e-coli in Germany. The declaration that the pepinos were innocent came too late for the poor Spanish market gardeners who have had to destroy crops and now find a kind of international reluctance to buy any of their products. The Russians, it seems, don’t want to have anything to do with vegetables coming from the EU. Advice is going out generally to wash fruit and veg before eating. Isn’t that a thing that you normally do?

My week, though, has been more concerned with Canadian exports. On Tuesday evening we went to listen to the wonderful K D Lang in concert in Manchester. Her support act was also Canadian. The oddly named Little Miss Higgins sang us songs and regaled us with stories of the part of Canada she comes from, apparently made up of “towns” of 400 people; her own place is now reduced to 398 inhabitants now that she and her accompanying guitarist have gone on tour with. In their area a big town is one with 800 inhabitants, about the size of fairly large primary school here. I bet they understand the idea of the “pueblo”.

K D Lang was mostly publicising her new album with her new band The Siss Boom Gang – very good they are too – but she did sing a good number of old favourites too. For me, you can’t beat her song “Miss Chatelaine”. She puts on a delightful, almost self parodying performance as she pouts and poses and dances around the stage in her own special way. However, the song she got the standing ovation for was Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluyah”, which she belts out to maximum effect.

It’s Leonard
Cohen who is the other Canadian export who has come to my notice this week. He has just been awarded the Premio Príncipe de Asturias de la Literatura, not just for his songs which are usually pomes in their own right, but also for his books. He has a big following in Spain. When we saw him there in the summer of 2009 masses of people turned out and all of them seemed to know his lyrics well. According to the article I saw in El País online, Leonard Cohen started touring in 2008 because his latest divorce had left him more or less penniless. Now I was led to understand that it was his accountant who had ripped him off while he (Leonard Cohen) was in retreat in a Buddhist monastery. Whatever the reason for him impecunious state, the €50,000 which accompany a Miró statuette to make up the prize will go some way to make up for it.

I’m not sure what it is with Canadian singer-song writers and Buddhism. At one point in her concert on Tuesday, K D La
ng mentioned the fact that she too is a Buddhist. All I need to discover now is that Joni Mitchell and Neil Young are also Buddhists. It must be a Zen thing.

Here in soggy Saddleworth I have just discovered an outbreak of toadstools in my garden. I’ve never seen them in the garden before. Maybe it’s a result of the warm and damp conditions that prevail at the moment.

They have promised us one of the hottes
t summers in a long time but it would not surprise me if that was just the rest of the UK and Saddleworth remained as wet as ever. Still we are escaping to Galicia for a visit in a few weeks time. Hopefully we will get a good dose of sunshine while we are there. And yes, before anyone informs me of this, I do know that Galicia is not reliable where sunshine is concerned. We will see!

My other discovery in the garden is the small cairns that the grandchildren have been building. Maybe there is a connection with the toadstools. Have they perhaps found fairies living at the
bottom of the garden?

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