online: 9 september 2003

5 september 2003 good examples

16:00 Feeling shattered after several hours waiting in a clinic for treatment that, when it came, seemed excellent. The doctors and nurses are wonderful (exemplary!) but the logistics of the free health service, and the rigid enclosed world in which the professionals and patients have to operate, are not.

Walking in Hyde Park:

Oscar Niemeyer*, his summer pavilion on the lawn of the Serpentine Gallery. Clarity, simplicity, non-symbolic forms, honesty... and his example of being active at 96. I feel refreshed. It's as if post-modernism never happened.

W H Hudson**: writer and field naturalist - a bird sanctuary, a pond, and an Epstein sculpture, all in his memory. But the pond is covered by a green water weed. And wasn't there a fountain? The inscription is partly obscured by moss... But at least there are birds - pigeons, thrushes - also squirrels - behind the railings. A woman walks by and tells me she is going to write to someone about the neglect of it. Me too - I'm writing this!

...However Hudson himself might not object to the neglect of his memorial - he could have found the water weed and the moss interesting - and he apparently wished that no one would remember him or his works. But I think it better that people know what he did and was - a rare and perceptive writer and person - in touch with the divine as well as with the natural (yet a non-believer) - and an inspiration to others.

As I walked away: a smiling man in wheelchair and his smiling companion. He looked as if he had been disabled, and smiling, all his life - how does he do it? ...Both say hello! hello!

*Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, the architects and planners of much of Brasilia, the administrative capital of Brazil, built inland away from the coastal cities. I don't know if I'd like the planned city, were I to visit it, but his temporary pavilion inspired me.

**W H Hudson, 1841-1922. Naturalist and novelist, much respected by Joseph Conrad and other writers of the time. David Miller, in his book 'W H Hudson and the Elusive Paradise, Macmillan, London 1990, isbn 0-333-46812-0, describes the spiritual openness of Hudson's nature writing and of his poetic fictions. Jacob Epstein's sculpture is of Rima, the half-mythical forest-woman of his best known novel Green Mansions.

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