Liminal vagabonds

Rima and Tom (not forgetting their otherwordly companion, Macha the lurcher) came to visit us this weekend and a fine time was had by all. They brought a bit of Devon (our homeland and source of much longing) with them - some mead, fudge and cheese - and we showed them some of the delights of Oxford, starting with the canal, which is currently fringed with hedge garlic, freshly leaved willows and birdsong.

Oxford is a beautiful place to live, but after a while you get a bit jaded and stop seeing. Guests make you look again. There are treasures everywhere. On the rooftops:

In the museums (an Indian 'map' of the cosmos, since you asked):

And especially in the Pitt Rivers museum, (a Noh mask that forms a salutory warning to us all):

In the evening we went out to a secret spot nearby. Nomi hung up some bunting and lit lanterns in the trees.

A waxing moon lit the gloaming.

And we did what you are supposed to do around a fire. We played music, homegrown and other: Breton, Balkan, and the occasional bhajan. Rima and Tom delighted us with Eastern Gypsy tunes from Russia and Poland. Nothing captures the beautiful ache of outsiderness as much as an accordion and clarinet, played in the small hours round a well-tended fire. We were liminal vagabonds, aesthetic pilgrims, children of the hedge.

In this modern, consumer world of ours, they haven't just papered over the cracks, they've grouted them in. There's so little space to be. They've made it harder and harder for anyone to live as artists: you know, old fashioned romantics who make music or poetry or art from a sense of calling. Because we have to no matter what comes of it. The worth of what we do can't be measured or quantified or assessed but it matters nonetheless. The agelasts don't know it but they need us.

Liminal vagabondage is a tough path to tread. It brings riches beyond compare, though scarcely any money. But there never was a choice. What a gift to be reminded of this by such wonderful friends and in such a wonderful place.


  1. Beautiful put, Andy. Thank you.

  2. Lovely post. I thought that I saw you in the Pitt Rivers the other day - I've been doing research there and I recognised you from this blog! Glad you had a great time.

  3. Hey Jenny - well spotted! Come and say hello next time. Can't think of a better place to do Museum Studies than the Pitt Rivers - we all agreed that it is a museum to museums, the uber-museum.

    Obviously I find myself drawn to the bagpipes and reed pipes, but every time I go I see something new. Particularly enjoyed the photo exhibition.

    But would you spend a night there on your own...?

  4. Yes, yes yes yes! I've been listening to Terri Windling's music choices this week, especially the Ewan MacColl song 'Moving on Song". Why oh why is there the persistent idea that if you don't have a 'proper' house (that stays in one spot and you have a huge mortgage hanging round your neck for), or a 'proper' job (preferably one you hate, then you can feel smugly self-righteous), then you're second class? A loser, a 'dole bludger' (I particularly hate that one), a lazy so and so. Artists get particularly short shrift in Australia, and yet, Football players are treated like gods...go figure!

    And yes yes yes to playing music around a campfire. I am getting out of suburbia if it kills me, and I'm going to have a little space where I can do just that (though not in Summer!)

  5. Grins :))

    Touched and honoured we were to share the fire with you excellent folk, and privileged to make music with you too... stand by for video evidence ;)

    The edge is the best of all places, a crucible of sorts for transformative magic...
    We must keep our balancing shoes polished... it's precarious but the view from the tightrope is spectacular!


  6. Ah, it is indeed! Look forward to seeing the vid...

    BTW the charger is in the post...x

  7. I will, next time I see you! And I'd certainly spend a night in the PRM on my own...though I'm not sure I'd emerge the same person afterwards.

    Just listened to the tracks by Wod, by the way, and love them!

  8. What a gorgeous post. Thank you.
    "Children of the hedge."
    A beautiful thing indeed.

  9. Thanks for the kind words Lynn x

  10. Wow, sounds like a magical night!

  11. It was a marvellous and precious time, to be repeated often - images from the Pitt Rivers and soul-sounds from the fireside keep on singing and cascading in me...

    I've a feeling that a night in the Pitt Rivers might be similar to a night on Cader Idris... Poet, madman or shrunken, dessicated and pierced with nails...

    The charger arrived safe and sound - thanks for that.

    Much love to you both - see you hither, thither or on some edge of the between, with more music and laughter and soul-stirrings to come.

  12. something for that waxing moon of yours...I keep finding these laying around and it seems to me that they belong to you...



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