Report on my brilliant media career: the brief interview I was expecting to give to Premier Radio, turned out to be a one hour phone in, which involved me in talking to various sad women who called in and wanted to tell me all about their mental health problems. I felt very inadequate in my answers, but mostly they seemed to just want to talk. One of them even wanted to read out her poem, which turned out to be not at all bad. And at least the presenter plugged my book about every five minutes, which is bound to boost sales a bit. I have also kept my list of the names of all those who phoned in, so I can pray for them, which will make me feel better about not solving their problems.
Then presenter and I rushed off in a cab to the poetry prizegiving. As the competition is in memory of Jack Clemo, who was Cornish and very much a poet of the Cornish landscape (in spite of being deaf and blind), we had the Lord Lieutenant of London, who has Cornish connections, giving a long and dull speech about some Cornish event. There was also a little man from the Cornish Society, who looked like a pixie.
The buffet lunch was surprisingly good, especially the desserts of which I sampled four (in very small portions). And I think the poems were ok, though I always find it hard to tell when they’re read out, and I lent my little leaflet with the three winnning poems in it to someone else and didn’t get it back. Still, it was fun and I met several people I hadn ‘t seen for years, which was very pleasant and put me in a better mood than I have been in for some weeks. What joy it is being a literary lounger.
And today I finally went swimming, then met a friend for lunch and listened for a considerable time to the story of her husband having a breakdown, leaving her, coming back and leaving again. Which was very sad, but I hope it did her some good to talk about it.
PS Son finally did finish his Film Studies essay, going from ‘I think FS is not the right subject for me’ to ‘I think I’ll specialize in one aspect of film’, in less than half an hour.
We had a parents’ inclusion group meeting last night, in the pub where the Kinks used to play. My minutes may have been somewhat affected by alcohol (champage, provided on her business by the group’s chair) and the difficulty of hearing anyone against the general pub chatter. It was however a pleasant occasion, with nibbles as well as drink to toast the departure of The Demon Headmaster.
I had hoped to report that I was no longer secretary of the group, having declared when I took it on that I would not do it beyond July. However in the absence of any volunteer to take over, we agreed that minute-taking and typing up would rotate round the group, and that I would continue to draw up agendas and send meeting reminders. Given the amount of flattery the group gave me to persuade me to stay on, I just had to cave in.
So today I was typing minutes again, but also, much to my own surprise, managed to get together three fairly presentable, if old, poems to send to the poetry competition which had miraculously extended its deadline so I could still enter. I also discovered that although it feels as if I haven’t written any poetry at all in the last five to seven years, there has in fact been no year in which I didn’t write at least one. Which is better than nothing. Nothing however to match 2003 when I wrote 35 – but then I was in love. Now I’m not.
Something strange is happening to me. Having spent my entire life having unrequited crushes on one man or another, for the last few years (not sure how long) I have suddenly discovered I’m not in love with anyone. I think this is probably good (and I’m sure my husband appreciates it). But I also haven’t written a single completed poem in that time. Could the two be connected? Do I have to carry a hopeless torch for someone in order to write poetry? (Or is the dearth of poetry from me a gift to the world?)
Actually, I haven’t really written any poetry since I won first prize in the Barnet Open poetry comp four years ago. This could also be connected – now I’ve won a first, I’ve stopped trying. Or it could be that the prose and poetry workshop I went to for a while has completely killed my poetic inspiration (it certainly didn’t help it).
To return to the torch-carrying subject, it does sometimes feel as though I am having an unrequited relationship with God. But not always.
I have been alarmed and amused to see the following on Freecycle:
‘I am in desperate need of a outside rabbit hutch, I believed I brought
two female rabbits but one is actually a boy. So I really need to split them up a quickly as possible.’
Indeed she does. Otherwise they will be breeding like… well, like rabbits.
On a completely different tack (or not?) I have just drafted my first promising poem in three and a half years (in fact since I won the Barnet Open Poetry Competition, which seems to have completely destroyed my poetic ability for an extended period). I’m quite excited by this, as I have never had such a long poem-less period before. I was beginning to think I needed to fall in unrequited love again to inspire poetry. Which sort of brings us back to the rabbits…
There is a poem by.. well, I’m not sure whom but it might be Edwin Morgan or some other practitioner of concrete or avant garde poetry – which simply repeats several times the line ‘I have nothing to say and I am saying it and this is poetry’ (and I have probably violated copyright even by writing that, though I only put it once). Actually it might repeat the line with a different word order each time, I don’t wholly remember.
Anyway, ‘I have nothing to say and I am saying it and this is my blog entry for today’.
I seem to have been living it up the past few days. With absolutely no energy to do so. But what must be done must be done…
On Friday met a fellow poet and she and I went to hear that wonderful man Les Murray do a reading – the John Coffin memorial reading to be precise. Apparently no one knows anything much about John Coffin, but his son the euphoniously named Arthur Coffin (for burying ‘alf a corpse?) endowed a poetry reading and a seminar on Christian ethics in his memory. Actually this reading could have served for both, for there was something profoundly Christian about Les Murray’s observant, loving eye for his country, its people and their idiosyncrasies. One of his best known poems is called The Quality of Sprawl, and he has that quality in abundance: a sort of generosity of gaze. I bought a book and got it signed; thinking of reading a poem a day as part of a spiritual discipline. It might make me more open to God’s gobsmacking world.
There was free wine and nibbles after; I had intended to drink half a glass, bearing in mind my many medications, but by the time I’d had half, I didn’t care any more and so drank the rest. After a meal with friend (who was as knackered as I was) and the Tube back to where my car was, I still felt distinctly squiggly. Made it worse by attempting to use my screen wash, which was empty, and so had to drive home v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y peering through a screen totally smeared with sticky stuff from the trees the car had been parked under. Oh well, my car knows those roads as well as an old horse..
Last night was fiesta time again, as we went to a farewell party for the lovely Canadian couple who have been in our church for a year. Even more shattered than I had been on Friday, I restrained myself to a quarter of glass of Gewurztraminer (because I’d brought it and wanted to know if it was good) and one pina colada, which was delicious. Oh, and two sips of Polish pear liqueur (or was it polish?). After all that restraint on my part, The Grouch drove us home in any case! Games had been threatened at the party but I was very glad they didn’t materialise, at least not by the time we left. I really wasn’t up to games.
Today son has little friend round, so I’ve been able to drag myself out of bed and swap wardrobes for the winter (summer clothes to the spare room, winter ones to the bedroom). I have far, far too many clothes, so why do I never have anything to wear? Still, a reassuring proportion of them are fairtrade or charity shop. My glitzy top that I got for a tenner in a sale was much admired last night. That makes all the effort worth while.