Saturday, January 29, 2005

Did I mention?

How dull it's been here lately. I've got a bike, crusty with all that crap that comes off the road in January (you know, the salt & grime they put down here to keep the ice at bay) in the garage, thinking about going rusty. I woke up this morning thinking about being sick, then I realised it was Saturday and quickly got better. Still not quite right but I don't intend to do a lot. Arsenal are playing later and I'm getting nervous about that. Might tune into arsenalmuse to see what he thinks of the current situation (Championship gone, defence a bit ropey). Need to do a bit of DIY, since the kitchen I put in last April still needs finishing off (what can I tell you, I'm a writer not a builder). Thought I'd do a quick blog instead. More later.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Time - a poem

This poem sort of goes with my last blog:


I waste the lost hours
playing games—in the fun
of distant worlds, and words framed
from disappointment, another hour ticks by.

My disease is framed, in a circle.
Two remote hands edge, a semaphore
to the knowing, ever closer,
now nearer now far apart.

My daughter cannot tell the time.
Cannot tell it, it doesn’t matter to her
that things divide into other things,
and then dissolve.

It doesn’t matter to her that photographs
are lost, and with them memories
as if it wasn’t all contained
eternally, as if the brain had failed.

Is it an element then? Or an arbitrary
division of the moment, of anticipation
over before indulgence. Time;
convenience or torture,

dragging us onwards, admonishing,
with the wagging finger of electronics
or the old Grandfather,
monotonous, severe,

an heirloom of the family,
that ticks over arguments
and the door that closes
for the last time.

Defining moments

Dismal day here in Suffolk, raining, grey, that shivery kind of cold weather that gets in your bones, nose, everywhere and makes you remember the hot days of summer. One in particular I recall, driving down to Bev's parents' place in Abingdon. Get there, sticky in the car but although its only a little Skoda Bev made sure it had air con when we bought it (I was, I admit, sceptical about the need), so the journey with the kids was pleasant enough.

Anyway, stepped out of the car and blam, even hotter in Oxfordshire than it was in Suffolk! Walked through to the garden, and they have a long, long lawn, I can see it now, in my mind, can feel the sun, hear the kids running along after me, happy to be released, looking for a ball to kick, a cat to play with, or just run, run up and down the lawn until one of them falls over, laughing and the other one collapses giggling on top.

What does this all mean?

Imagination, that's what it all means, and memory, the ability of the human mind to hold everything inside, through a jumble (I use the word loosely, clearly it isn't) of neural pathways and biochemical reactions (OK, OK, so I've got a degree in Biology) and recall any feeling, any picture from the mind's eye, in an instant. Why? To give pleasure, to reinforce, to remind ourselves that the world is on the whole a wonderful place full of experiences, tastes, feelings, colour, light, degrees of heat and that everything is to be savoured and relished. Who knows, it may even be true that we come back again and again to experience it all over. If we choose to do that, it can't be all bad, can it? So, throw some more rain down at me, I love the contrasts in life, don't you?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Winter warmer

We're in the middle of an English winter, one of the 'modern' ones, i.e. not much snow, lots of rain, gales, some icy nights; a bit of everything. Kids are happy with a few snowflakes swirling about for a couple of hours. Older people are not impressed - what happened to 6 foot snowdrifts, cracked pipes and toboggans? If it's global warming then we have something to worry about. If it's just normal climate change (into or out of the next ice age) then I s'pose we can put up with it. Remember the winter of '63, so my Dad says. Oh yeh, I remember it (the year we thrashed our sledges down Kite Hill on Hampstead Heath). Later I learnt how Sylvia Plath was so depressed she put her head in the gas oven (not far away from us, she was living in Primrose Hill at the time).

Now poetry is usually a way of getting us out of a mess rather than in one. We write in moments of duress - someone close dies, a love affair fizzles out. Sylvia couldn't get that death wish out of her. She tried poetry; gut wrenching, almost too private stuff, very personal, but it wasn't therapeutic, it just kept on compounding the faults, the interminable winter just added to the burden. Not even her kids could keep her going, her husband (the poet Ted Hughes) had left her, what was it all about? So she took the way out she had tried before, and whether it was a cry for help or not, she did it too well, and died. The same way Berryman died, and numerous others, jumping off bridges or drinking themselves into oblivion. So, was poetry a burden to all of them? Or was it perhaps the only expression they had, always under duress, for diverse reasons, all of them universally unhappy, unadjusted, taking out in poetry, because it is the purest form of speech.

I don't think it was the winter, or poetry, or even her love affair with Hughes that did it. For Sylvia anyway, it was almost her destiny. Her soul was sensitive, needed to learn some lesson, leave something in life (her poems), as a signpost to others, to perhaps stimulate them when faced with the same depressions, the same blank wall, 6 foot drift of snow in an English winter, when winters really meant something, came upon us with a roar, before our centrally heated, double glazed and globally warmed modern existence began to cancel them out.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Starting somewhere

Blogging. The name has been jumping out at me for the past few weeks. I'm reading a book now on it, sort off jumped out at me from the library shelves. Blogging, by Biz Stone. Telling me how to get started. So, I thought I would have a look at the site, just to see. No commitment, just get in and get out. It's Sunday evening, and I haven't got a lot of time to set things up. Celebrity Big Brother is on (UK version, I don't even know if it's global yet). It will be - there's a fascination with looking at other people, ordinary people, living their lives in a goldfish bowl. I don't even like it, but it's on and I am trying to find other things to do.

There are lots of them. I could polish up some of my novel, send it off (again) to an agent or publisher. Just to see it come back. Recently it doesn't even do that. Are publishers that busy? Is the book that bad? Self doubt never hurt anyone. I could polish up a few poems, make them shine, dazzling so that no-one can ignore them. Browse the Web looking for sports articles, stuff on the Arsenal. Cricket - does anyone remember that? Speaking of Arsenal, we won today, 1-0 against Newcastle.

Which brings me back to the blog. The arsenalmuse set me off I suppose, he's written some stirring stuff about the team, in a distinctive style, almost philosophical in his 'musings'. I've got a web site, and it always seems so static (Biz Stone mentions this as well). Update a page, a few pages, post them up, look at the stats a few weeks later, lose enthusiasm for a couple of weeks, a month. I've removed the date on the home page so that no-one will know how infrequently I update! They know now. Here's a poem.


You're a cat all right,
don't know anything
but cat things, at the back door
squealing to come in,
looking for scraps, comfort,
the food that no one else brings you.

You're a cat all right,
collar against fleas,
face against mine, just
want some comfort, anything
this time in the morning,
early, and I'm writing.

Is it love? Or is your tongue
just searching for salt. Is it love
that brings you back through the night?
Knowing that if nothing
better comes up, the hope will be
that one day, when the ninth life
has leached away, you will take
some of that affection with you.

May it wash off on me,
because I often need
the crumbs of comfort,
the warmth of a hand,
the fur of delight,
rubbing against me
through me, with me.

The upshot is (I know you'll be glad to sense an ending) I have set up a blog. Later I'll link it to my website, do some advanced things with it. For now, I'm happy to be starting somewhere.