Per ardua ad astra (the motto of the RAF) translates as through adversity to the stars. It is a fine sentiment but is it what I – an earth bound mortal – should be aiming for, the stars? Do I dare? What if I fail? But surely that is the important part of the quote after all is the adversity, the arduous toil in the dark and not the brief moment basking in the (reflected) glory of the stars.
But how do I start on the long trek towards that precious dream? Well I guess the answer would have to be carefully and beginning at the bottom. I would be a fool to expect the going to be easy or to even reach the final destination. As I don’t have a celestial sat-nav I can expect to make wrong turns but all I can do is try to aim for the next milestone along the way and stop and ask the way when lost.

I read yesterday (Daily Mail, 27 June 2014) that Professor Ronald Hutton of Bristol University had speculated that Stonehenge as well as being the “… most famous prehistoric monument in the entire world” was a great engineering cock-up. Either through rushing or poor planning our ancestors did not fulfil their vision, but what a vision and with little more than sticks and stones as tools – boy did they have a hell of a go.
While I’m not personally planning a project on the scale of Stonehenge and I wouldn’t suggest just because I’ve painted a couple that I could touch up the Sistine Chapel for the Vatican, but I am starting on the foundations of my own project and do look up at the sky occasionally and think Per ardua ad astra.


Angus crouched over the mahogany desk where the tarot deck lay in disarray, the jar containing the pencils Miriam used to create her delicate sketches had tipped over, scattering them like I Ching sticks among the cards. He wondered what future the two philosophies foretold; but he could not read them only Miriam could.

A solid weight dunched into him, he looked down over the bulge of his stomach to where Mr Mistoffelees was manoeuvring in a figure eight around his candy striped pyjama clad legs and nuzzling his head against Angus’ tartan slippered feet.

‘What is it puss, Mummy not fed you?’

The small black cat lifted his head and gave a loud meow of command.

It had been for a shock for Angus, finding the e-mail that Miriam had received from her lover. But he had been reasonable, willing to discuss what was wrong with their marriage, speaking softly in what Miriam called his shipping forecast voice; that treated calm seas with the same gravity as storm forced winds.

He stood upright, stretched, easing the pain in his back. It was his own fault he knew. Miriam always said he slouched, accepting the rounding of his shoulders as an inevitable consequence of being fifty while she fought age with every fibre of her being with her hobbies and Pilates classes.

But he had promised her he would change, he said he knew he had taken her for granted but that it would be different from now on. He would take time off work and take her away on the world cruise he had always promised her. He would make more of an effort, wear contact lens, have a hair transplant; whatever it took to make her happy.

Miriam had laughed said it was too late, that she was different that Angus was aged, despondent, the past. Her future was with Darren.

She was gone and Angus was alone in the now silent house.  

He picked up the scattered artists pencils in his inarticulate fingers and put them back into the jar and straightened the tarot cards and turned around away from Miriam’s possessions.

Stooping, he picked up the bloodstained laptop from off of the floor, stepped over Miriam’s lifeless body and left the room to feed the cat.