24 May 2010


(a summery summary)

I actually used this phrase when talking to a dog-shackled stranger in scorching church grounds today... In fact, this was the ONLY thing I said.

21 May 2010

Purple Riot

Aging, faded, scuffed, delicate, purple and cream covers of slim Anne Sextons.
I took out two lovely narrow volumes of her poetry from the library. Because I could. Because I was free to do so. And they have irresistible covers.
And contain irresistible poetry...
The parasol girls slept, sun-sitting/their lovely years.
Once you read Lohengrin and every goose/hung high while you practiced castle life/in Hanover.
...the brown mole/under your left eye, inherited/from my right cheek...

My favourite is 'I Remember'. One long sentence of summer perfection. I won't include line breaks.

By the first of August the invisible beetles began to snore and the grass was as tough as hemp and was no color - no more than the sand was a color and we had worn our bare feet bare since the twentieth of June and there were times we forgot to wind up your alarm clock and some nights we took our gin warm and neat from... old jelly glasses while the sun blew out of sight like a red picture hat and one day I tied my hair back with a ribbon and you said that I looked almost like a puritan lady and what I remember is that the door to your room was the door to mine.

One of the collections has $3.95 stamped on the top corner. $3.95 for a bunch of poesy... that will never wilt.

She also kept a scrapbook. ADMIRATION and ENVY. She started it when she eloped. It began with a photograph of her and her betrothed, Kayo, sitting in beach chairs. She labelled this 'us' and taped in the key to their Virginia Beach hotel room... "the young bride pastes in laundry lists, gin rummy tallies, her husband's apology note after their first fight. She also starts to write poetry: romantic rhyming couplets and letters, ripped from a magazine, that spell "Bleat, Bleat."

She begins the collections I borrowed with letters from Schopenhauer to Goethe, or Franz Kafka to Oskar Pollack, or a harrowing extract from 'Macbeth' [All my pretty ones? Did you say all? O hell-kite! All? What! all my pretty chickens and the dams in one fell swoop?... I cannot but remember such things were, that were most precious to me.] Or dedicates them to Kayo.
But she writes to the reader. And to herself. Therapy. It did not save her, but it reads beautifully.

15 May 2010

So long and thanks for all the Antony and Cleopatra, Nightmare Abbey, beat poets and nonsense words.

HELLO dancing, and quilt races down the stairs, and big fat novels and slim poetry volumes, and whole days spent at the Islington cafe with purple sofas and banquet tables and candles lit at 5.30 and a scorched ceiling from flames and warm chocolate cake and colourful nudes on the wall, just reading, reading, reading...

HELLO Star Wars sleepover, and Rome day, and guilt-free Guardian perusal, and picnics, and hammocks, and actual cooking as opposed to pouring cereal, and Tina We Salute You, and exploring Dalston and Brixton and London, London, London...

HELLO Hop Farm, and ale, and Davendra, and Laura, and Steve.

HELLO miles and miles of smiles.

11 May 2010


Olive: Okay, pretend we're fairies. I'm a girl fairy and my name is ... La-ru...lee. And you're a boy fairy and your name is Teeteree.

Caden: Ok.

Olive: What's my name again?

Caden: La-ru-lee.

Olive: No. I said ... La-ru-la...ay.

Olive: Pretend we fight each other. And I say stop hitting me or I'll die. And you say okay, but you're fibbing. And you hit me again.

Caden: Okay.

Olive: Okay. Let's go. Hit me.

They pretend to hit each other. Olive makes hissing and roaring noises. She stops.

Olive: Okay. You have to stop hitting me now or I will die.

Caden: Okay.

He stops.

Olive: No! Pretend you're fibbing! Remember?

He mock hits her again. She falls.

Olive: Now I have to die. (BEAT) Pretend you say you don't want me to die.

Caden: I don't want you to die.

Olive: (compassionate whisper) But I have to.

Caden: But I'll miss you.

Olive: I have to. And you'll have to wait a million years to see me again. And I'll be put in a box. And all I'll need is a tiny glass of water. And lots of -- tiny pieces of pizza. And the box will have wings, like an airplane.

Caden: Where will it take you?

Olive: Home.

7 May 2010

Chocolate Raisin Revision

'We reap the benefit of a more poetic point of view. A line like the charming "At Godstow, they gathered hazel on the grave of Rosamond" could be written only by a writer who was at a certain distance from his people, so that there need be no explanations.'

A charming line indeed. No explanation needed for such loveliness as gathering hazel, graves, and the romance of a dead girl named Rosamond. Thank you, as ever, for your insight Virginia.

Charm is necessary, as I have taken to crying into pages in public. At the sad things. Like babies still trying to suckle from their dead mother's breast in 'A Journal of the Plague Year'. And Mary Shelley writing in her diary 'Found my baby dead. A miserable day' as a single entry. And the love letters of Keats to Fanny. Which I should know better not to read in public by now.

And I had to shout NO to Shelley's elegy for Keats being read aloud to me. A mere word, the mere thought... The Saddest Thing [Shelley's Elegy Shelley's Elegy Shelley's Elegy Tongue Twisting Tonguetwister. Also, if said over and over SEMANTIC SATIATION]

I would rather think of Byron and his petulant distaste for Keats' 'mental masturbation', and picture myself hanging out with darling John as he wrote poetry for me and ate nectarines and I would just stare at him all day long.

And as revision is leading us down this road, strewn with flowers as it is and was for Coleridge, we should spend a little time of each day acting like Christ and Socrates. Though Socrates is more fun. Talk a great deal, receive affirmations from your very own Glaucon, drink MUCH wine, and bugger young boys. Though Madiera is the thing, now that I'm all about the Romantics. Wine to sack to Madeira.

And I know nothing of Yeats, aside from the fact that he lived in a TOWER. Which is all there is to know really. I should like to live in a tower. Or at least have an enchanted garden where we can choose orchids for our buttonholes.
And I can sing Cratylic to Blondie's 'Atomic'.

3 May 2010

A Hazlitt and Lamb comedy sketch, not by Boz.

Londonlondonlondon. Lived here for three years. Three hour exam on London in the morning.

And all that is in my mind is my urchin Oliver, my little Pip, my saintly Esther singing the opening page of Bleak House.

London. Michaelmas term lately oooo-ver...

He has it memorised and set to a choral score. Urban beauty itself. His voice soars on the polluted city winds, angelically cutting through the fog like a swan cuts through the Thames sewage.

Three years of London, and twenty-one years of literature, condensed down to three hours of essaying. I shall end up writing such COCKney. Metropolitan poppycock.