I wonder how many other people after watching the entertaining Fry's Planet Word on BBC on Sunday, were left with the same question as me: when does a series of grunts move from being 'just' communication to being a language?

Fry argued, as many before him have, that it is language which sets humans apart from other animals. And, indeed, uniquely on this planet, we appear to have genes specifically geared towards making language acquisition a natural process, as well as the specialised vocal apparatus.

But what is language? Our nearest cousins in the primate world communicate with each other, and can be taught to use symbols which communicate with us. However, this is not language, according to Fry, because it is merely responding to an immediate emotion or need in the present moment.

So, in that case, when I request a glass of water or say, 'I'm scared', have I dropped from the pinnacle denoted as 'language' to the base 'communication'?


While at the Lapidus (http://www.lapidus.org.uk/) agm the other weekend, I attended a writing workshop facilitated by Vicky Field. We were exploring the idea of islands and afterwards I did one of my cartoons in my writing journal. It is the first time I have put one of my sketches on public view!

I am really enjoying seeing where my visual creativity can take me and how it complements or enhances my writing.

It is interesting that we tend to categorise ourselves in one art form or another, and yet, I'm beginning to feel, this is a false pigeon holing. There are famous examples of those who were wordsmiths as well as artists, such as William Blake, and less well known ones, for instance Daphne Du Maurier painted when she was blocked in her writing.

I heard Kwame Kwei-Armah say on the radio some time ago that in this country we distrust people who want to branch out into many art forms. It's a shame if this were true, since, I believe, the blossoming of one aspect of our creativity helps the fruition of another.

Found Poetry
I've just visited London, a place I lived on the edge of for some years, but never felt at home in. Going to pick up a tube map at Kings Cross, I found instead a similarly configured leaflet entitled 'Polish Poems on the Underground'.

What a trove. One poem, in particular, spoke to me immediately:

I returned to you years later,
gray and lovely city,
unchanging city
buried in the waters of the past.

I'm no longer the student
of philosophy, poetry, and curiosity,
I'm not the young poet who wrote
too many lines

(Extract from Star by Adam Zagajewski, trans Clare Cavanagh)
I'm still strimming my writing journals and have found this which appears appropriate for this time of year:

Autumn Jazz
Stewing apples on the old agar.
The last of the crop.
A nothing woman,
then she takes up the sax -
her notes crack the blue,
finding the lost.