It’s Friday, early evening (late, I suppose, depending on how you look at it), and it’s one of those days where I question the wisdom of trying to write when my brain seems to be fading. The day has been very bitty.
Many things to do. As I said on the radio this morning, my musical year is now ended, and the hard work now starts to pick, out of over a thousand that I’ve played on the radio since 1st December last year, my top 20 or 21 of the year. And to decide which one is the best of those (if I decide to pick a song of the year at all – there are many equals). Aggie to collate and finish and edit (and that will be an interesting trial). Decisions to be made about whether or not I carry on daily blogging next year (though I suppose that decision can wait until the actual end of this calendar year).
Yesterday’s poem brought a lot of private comments. Was it a memory? No. Was it real in any way? No. To an extent, that poem encapsulates what I always say a poem is – a novel on one page. Just like novels, poems can be fictional, just stories that fly to us out of the thin air. The opening line came to me while I was standing in the garden having a smoke. Yes, I drew on certain places to visualise while I wrote it down, one particular cafe in Fredrikstad, in particular, that, if I recall correctly, was split into two levels, so that half the place was about two foot higher than the rest. It didn’t have a window seat. I used to sit in there, whilst still acclimatising to living in a country whose language I couldn’t speak perfectly, nursing a hot chocolate for ours while I wrote down my thoughts. Nowhere near a cemetery, never a place for a first encounter with someone I’d be sharing my life with. What struck me this morning about the poem is also that it’s so androgynous – and I think that’s probably a good thing. At the end, it’s about loss, but I suppose it’s better to have a loss after a life-time than at the beginning of the life-time. But the other thing is – do we poets ever really know what we mean, and are we lesser poets if we don’t know the meaning of what we write? Bottom line – the reader decides. That’s what makes writing superior to cinema.
I am sitting here at the desk in the bedroom, my legs covered in a double-folded blanket, a shirt and two jumpers on. The thermometer says it’s 8C outside, but it feels a lot colder than that. These English houses carry the damp like a cloak, inside and out, to be honest. It’s not that damp inside, but the walls remain cold to the touch most of the autumn and winter, and energy prices are not conducive to us turning the heating up another notch. And we’re not poor. When I was out walking earlier, I saw any number of school kids with bare ankles showing between the trousers and their shoes, and they weren’t wearing those short short trainer socks that seem to be all the rage nowadays. It’s a sign of poverty, I think. That the UK, such a rich nation, really, should have millions in abject poverty is a sobering and ultimately desperate fact. Things have to get better. But, in essence, we haven’t moved on much, if at all, from the Victorian age where empire and class definced the poverty of the rest.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 258