Thursday, May 22, 2008

invisible companions

When I'm sitting with others and the conversation doesn't engage my interest, I have invisible companions. Like this morning, having coffee outside in the (brief) sun. Angela said, pointing to the garden, how beautiful the lilac was. Sandra, our cleaning lady: 'Yes, lovely.' Me, silently, 'When lilacs last in the door yard bloomed...' Then Angela described how our old blind dog had fallen into a patch of rosemary, but picked herself up, wagging her tail. Me: 'There's rosemary, that's for remembrance...' Their conversation moved to how our old house was beginning to show its age; Angela said, 'Things fall apart.' Me: 'Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold; / More anarchy is loosed upon the world...' I'm just smiling distantly, sipping my coffee; and the others don't know I've had momentary contact with Whitman, Shakespeare and Yeats.

I don't know if other people do this; but I'm grateful I remember so much poetry. It's an endless anthology of beauty in one's head, just like my memory of classical music or Broadway musical songs. It's an 'ever-present stay against troubles'. --NowI'll have to google that. Isn't it the Cranmer marriage service? I think so.

I've googled it, and it seems I'm wrong; there the psalm's 'An ever-present help in trouble.' Must have been thinking of that. Ah well...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

government - mixed success

The Labour government has made no difference to youth crime, despite enormous efforts; on the other hand it's been very successful in establishing that fathers aren't important to children.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


My website,, has been 'out of order' for over a week. Server problem, which apparently is taking time to cure. Should be up again soon; I'll let you know when it is. I'm busy preparing a 4-day workshop at the weekend, so have had less time for this blog. Apologies for that too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

questions for authors

I read some of The Devil and the Floral Dance to 120 kids at Helston library on May 7. All sitting crowded and crosslegged on the floor; consumed with excitement - not because of me, of course, but because of next day's holiday and Flora Day celebrations and fun fair. I'd asked the librarian if a CD of the Helston Town Band playing the Flora tune could be put on at low volume as I read verses describing the children's dance. He said unfortunately he couldn't, because the library didn't have a music licence: so they couldn't play a CD or even sing...
I got the kids to hum, saying there was no law against humming. They did so, boisterously. And girlsterously.
One could understand the librarian's concerns, though; the muted sounds of a band might have annoyed patients under the drill in next door's dental clinic, or the customers at Somerfields supermarket on the other side.
Some great questions from the (literally) floor. One boy asked me what time I finished writing the story (which was first written almost 30 years ago). I was puzzled, but at last managed to understand him: what time of the day or night did I finish it? I then 'remembered' I'd been writing all through the night, almost delirious with inspiration, and finished it just as dawn was breaking and the sun came up. A great question though; so much better than the usual 'Are you writing anything at the moment?' which Pushkin rightly said was the most irritating of all questions.
We wasted about 15 minutes before I could start the reading. A photographer for the Helston Packet wanted a photo of me with some of the kids. He had to ask teachers from two different schools, who had to ask the kids if they minded, and then had to check if their parents had given permission... You know what it's like these pc days. 'Happy the nations of the moral north,' as Byron wrote in Don Juan. Angela said I looked very stiff in posing with them, and asked why I hadn't put my arm round the two next to me. Not on your life! No way!

Monday, May 5, 2008

latin class (a triolet)

I fell in love with Sara's nape
Between her short black hair and collar;
Tonguetied and ugly as an ape
I fell in love with Sara's nape,
Its coolness, whiteness, slender shape;
She never knew I was its scholar.
I fell in love with Sara's nape
Between her short black hair and collar.

Friday, May 2, 2008

the tide turning?

The local election results seem to indicate that the tide is at last turning against Labour. People are very ungrateful; what has the Blair/Brown government done wrong, except for some minor flaws like waging an aggressive war on Iraq; unleashing unlimited immigration; abolishing habeas corpus; undermining the jury system; slaughtering and burning millions of cattle rather than inoculating them; 'spinning' endlessly, even on 9/11 ('a good day to bury bad news'); the crazy, puerile Dome; losing millions of people's personal details; undermining parliament by announcing initiatives on the media first; ignoring its manifesto promise to hold a referendum on the EU constitution; giving us 'banana state' elections through postal voting (vote early and vote often); waging vindictive class war in banning hunting; punishing the working-class by cutting out the 10% tax rate and banning smoking from the corner pub (and everywhere else); spending profligately, to little effect, on the NHS and schools; destroying proper standards in 'A' levels etc; encouraging destructive multiculturalism; setting up unelected regional quangos which bear no relationship to people's natural loyalties (e.g. the 'South-West Region', from Swindon to Penzance); planning to build another 20 million houses on England's green and pleasant land; creating an insufferable system in which Scottish M.P's can create laws for the English, whereas English M.P.'s can't legislate for Scotland; continuing to subsidize the Scots massively; nationalising losses and privatising gains (Northern Rock); and stifling us with political correctness and EU bureaucracy. These apart, what (I repeat) has it done wrong? Just remember the towering statesmen and women, like Stephen Byers, Peter Mandelson, Alistair Darling, Harriet Harman, Geoff Hoon. Not to mention that wonderful First Lady, Cherie 'freebies' Blair. I reckon we've been in a golden age.