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Balm of Gilead


I love this picture which I saw in a review for an exhibition at Tate St Ives and described as : ‘Astonishing splashes of colour' : ‘Square Green with Orange, Violet and Lemon’, 1969, by Patrick Heron’.

Although I didn’t visit St Ives we did go to a lovely herb centre where there were lots of interesting plants including Balm of Gilead which I had to have!

Balm of Gilead was a rare perfume used medicinally, that was mentioned in the Bible, and named for the region of Gilead, where it was produced. The expression stems from William Tyndale's language in the King James Bible of 1611, and has come to signify a universal cure in figurative speech. The Balm of Gilead that I got – Cedronella canariensis is not the true Balsam of Gilead which is, of course, a rare tree, but an interesting American herb with the same strong tangy scent of balsam. If kept in a pot, the scent can act as an effective insect repellent.

I got a few other herbs which I loved the sound of- Loosestrife, Purslane, Myrtle- I like that a lot of the herbs are used in medicine and perfumes or are insect repellants. At the moment there are plenty of beautiful roses to look at everywhere. This is a friend's garden; we have some nice roses too but I haven't taken a picture....:

Also judged to be beautiful are the Love Island contestants- sorry I am hooked- although of course that is in the eye of the beholder. They are all formulaically good looking ie good skin, teeth, hair and muscles, and enhanced in places, but that doesn’t mean that I find any of them ‘attractive’ (to dismiss what L I naysayers think is the only reason for watching ie ogling bodies; not my thing). We don’t really get to see their personalities, or haven’t yet, or at least only as defined by their behaviours when coupled up or vying for the attention of another contestant.

Though I struggle to articulate exactly what it is that I find so compelling about the show. Most people I know simply won’t countenance watching as it’s cultural crap. Nor do the papers seem to know whether it’s good or bad or what it’s really about either. The Guardian says ‘Love Island, in essence, is not about love but about loyalty – not only between the couples but the fake or not friendships that guide the participants in their most vulnerable moments. When we watch Love Island, we’re on Couch Olympus. Can we figure out someone’s game plan, their unconscious motivations and how they will act before they do? If yes, we feel satisfied. If not, well, it’s only trash TV.’

The Sunday Times says it’s also about being curious about other people’s lives: ‘We are fascinated by other humans and this show offers the most luridly intense glimpse of human behaviour.’ Both reviews don’t come out strongly for or against and neither are definitive about what makes it good telly. I’m not sure either but I remain captivated and am operating a 6 night a week Love Island curfew. Hot off the press - Women's Aid has accused one of the contestants of 'emotional abuse'; what tosh! I may formulate my reasons for that next week once I've cleared the red from my brain.

My Achilles is much improved and my only set back this week was breaking a front tooth, now temporarily repaired (apparently Jack Fincham’s- Love Island!- teeth cost 17,000 euros). Cardiology appointment is next week, so one step closer.....

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