Friday, 30 December 2011
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Then on 10 March we see this beautiful woman with our friends who were also speechless when they received this Christmas gift. But first, we deal with 4 January.
Friday, 23 December 2011
Sunday, 11 December 2011
Friday, 2 December 2011
Friday, 25 November 2011
Sunday, 13 November 2011
Monday, 7 November 2011
Is 144 today, or would be had she lived beyond her 67 fruitful years.
Monday, 31 October 2011
‘Is she asleep?’
‘Yes, yes, of course I do.’ [Too quick to be convincing]
‘I won’t wake her, I’m just going to see her.’
'You said she wasn't asleep. I'm just going to say goodnight.'
Monday, 17 October 2011
Little did I realise my dying mother’s need when she tried to press upon me her old sewing machine. ‘It’s good you can use it, I know you have a new one but this is strong, it works well and see Bruno stripped it down, it runs like new.’
The arrival of this sewing machine in our house, a symbol of her being from which my childhood clothes emanated, partly restored some reputation. But often she’d lament her loss of past status, unable to start her own business due to fear, ‘I could have been somebody but your father said “no Lucy, the authorities, we don’t want to attract attention…”’ But of course that is exactly what she did want.
Monday, 10 October 2011
Monday, 5 September 2011
So to write a long blogpost about gaps in my knowledge as I scan around for inspiration, there is colour all around in postcards; little fragments, pinnacles of fabulous places I have been able to see on frugal travels, then I spot the anthology bravely supporting its little layer of dust; testament to inadequate domestic skill. Here’s a list to toy with: Baudrillard, Horkheimer, Adorno, Le Corbusier, Nietzsche (of course), Venturi, Deleuze, Hegel, Peirce, de Saussure, Heidegger, Foucault (yay, almost a friend), Jencks (who?), Hassan (yes, I think he popped up somewhere else recently), Lyotard (philosopher in Lycra?), Guattari (lost without Deleuze, where is he?) and, of course the incomprehensible Habermas!
‘The Plan proceeds from within to without; the exterior is the result of an interior.
The elements of architecture are light and shade, walls and space.
Arrangement is the gradation of aims, the classifications of intentions.
Man looks at the creation of architecture with his eyes, which are 5 feet 6 inches from the ground. One can only deal with aims which the eye can appreciate, and intentions which take into account architectural element. If there come into play intentions which do not speak the language of architecture, you arrive at the illusion of plans, you transgress the rules of the Plan through an error in conception, or through a leaning towards empty show.
So how strange it is to find myself currently leaning towards an empty show because of an enormous error in the conception of a Plan. In fact, there appears to be no Plan that I can detect at the moment; the architecture of my new job is there for me to construct but without foundation or guidance am I building a lean-to or an out-of-town shopping complex? My eyes and mind seek to appreciate the aims and intentions but this creation has been envisaged by eyes other than mine which leads me to wonder what becomes of intentions in these days of flux; would it be possible, for instance to remain in this limbo for several weeks, maybe even months? I’ve recently taken to describing my experiences thus: Day 1 in the Big Brother House, etc. I see myself as the new housemate but I don’t have a bed, a desk, a tea-stained mug or a PC on which to load my anchoring software. Permissions have not yet been granted to access files so I tap away at my old life on an external hard drive wondering if anyone knows where I am.
Monday, 29 August 2011
Or, I got a puppy!
I’ve seen the ballast carried by dog people, swinging wrapped in plastic at nonchalant arm’s length, as if they could divorce themselves from knowledge of its content. It’s an indisputable condition of ownership that one cleans up after one’s dog and lord help those who don’t hereabouts. This fact was the last barrier to fall before capitulation to Teddy’s charms. Hopefully my affection will expand commensurate with the size of his do-do, which is commendably tiny for now.
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
I will cease futile attempts at individualism immediatelyI will cease futile attempts at individualism immediatelyI will cease futile attempts at individualism immediatelyI will cease futile attempts at individualism immediatelyI will cease futile attempts at individualism immediatelyI will cease futile attempts at individualism immediatelyI will cease futile attempts at individualism immediatelyI will cease futile attempts at individualism immediatelyI will ...I will ...
Friday, 29 July 2011
Thursday, 21 July 2011
An odd and confusing day. It would be so much easier to drift, not to attempt to exercise will. But the only certainty seems to be that whether action or inaction is chosen, all decisions will result in some reaction. These reactions cannot be known, they can be anticipated and even multiple scenarios can be carefully calculated like playing chess.
Unlike chess where we know the pieces can only move in a finite number of directions, human beings are at the whim of a number of unfathomable variables. Fortunate are the folk that can accept. Unfortunate folk that suffer emotional ambush.
Monday, 11 July 2011
Sunday, 10 July 2011
Friday, 17 June 2011
As we age we take on more and more people, we learn to love and cherish them, especially the ones who come from outside to love our children. It is the hope that after we are gone there will be someone special. But they have to be able to dance, laugh and live, they really do.
The Greek father calls his son a couple of days before Christmas and says, "Niko, I hate to ruin your day, but I must tell you that your mother and I are divorcing - forty-five years of misery is enough."
"Mba mba, what are you talking about?" Niko screams.
"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer, We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister Toula and let her know."
Frantic, the son calls Toula, who explodes on the phone."No way are my loving parents getting divorced!" she shouts.
She calls Dad immediately and screams - - "Patera, you are not getting divorced! Don't do anything until we get there. I'm calling Niko back and we'll be there tomorrow. Do you hear me?" and hangs up.
The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Endaxi,"
he says,"they're coming home for Christmas and paying their own way."
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
All alone in the office, facing the prospect of diminishing job satisfaction without my long-term colleagues and a dearth of interesting stuff to do so off to the Oxfam bookshop. What should I happen upon on my 41% day but The Bell Jar - irresistible. But the best part is the inscription written inside it:
love G '82If that don't make you smile! And wonder. Enough to amend a 41% score.
(well not that sort of love
more a kind of creeping attachment
to your personality actually. And
almost definitely a reaction to
Tomorrow evening NT Live is screening Minghella's Madama Butterfly at the Met and I'm going to see it with Ruth. So there can only one choice of music, yes? Ah yes, personality will do it every time.
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
During the assent two ideas came to me: firstly that we were bodies in extremis - well as much as it was possible for a bunch of middle class wannabes to be – and secondly that this is what some people actually had to do to escape a grim fate.
To feel oneself tried to the limit of endurance but have to carry on alters the focus of preservation from the other to the self. What better illustration to show what happens at the immanent end of life, when all other considerations are irrelevant, that we are drawn upon our own resources and instincts for life, for the will, to continue? We find what we need, what has worked for us in the past, and we use it. We use it all.
The second consideration was in applying this idea to people who are in the process of escaping malfeasance of some kind. I remember hearing of stories gleaned from refugee women who were asked to bring objects of significance to a museum focus group (how to make British museums relevant to ethnic minority groups). One story tells of a woman who brought a humble cooking pot. She carried it over the mountains in deep winter, heavy in her pack and it’s been close by her ever since. Why? Because it belonged to her grandmother and to one of her earliest memories, it symbolised everything she lost in her flight for life. Her grandmother’s hearth, her love, her homeland. A simple pot that cooked food to nourish a family, to grow them strong, to help them work the land, to make more food, to nourish a family, to grow them strong…
What euphoria was shared with our fellow travelers in that descent from Ingleborough – that we were always going to be safe was never really in doubt. The mountain rangers like sheep dogs invested in our protection and we, like sheep, allowed it, happy for someone to be in charge. The euphoria came from knowing that in gamba sono ancora. Our boys and men were safe, our homes were still ours, our cooking pots weren't wanted because our families were fed, nourished, thriving and there’d be hot food for us at base camp, smiles and congratulations.
Friday, 3 June 2011
In the wind, hands reaching out, pulling in. The wind so strong. At night, in a dream, in the dark a hand reaches out. The night so dark.
Friday, 27 May 2011
Thursday, 19 May 2011
What is it about running that makes me feel so emotional? - it happens every time. Maybe it has to do with mornings like today's when the sun is rising, the sky is big and blue, the clouds are freshly washed hung out to dry and the hay meadows are showing whippets of swaying grass so sweet smelling it's almost possible to taste them. Just running past those meadows makes me want to tumble into them, rolling and laughing for pure joy. Like a child, remember that? Ach, childhood is long gone.
So maybe the emotion's there because everything is so clean and beautiful and alive, because on days like this I remember people who won't be running any more. So even if the left knee's getting dodgy, I can still run. Cue a bit of Andrew Marvell. Life is good, we don't have to follow the wraithes just yet, we can live if we choose.
Sunday, 8 May 2011
I am generally suspicious of gendered activites and it would be fair to say that with three men in tow last week's event could not reasonably be described as exclusively feminine but that's how it felt. Women gathered, conspired, to bring another woman home. To bring a woman back from 58 years of exile, back to the warm earth that held her parents, back to a country that accepted her from the moment of her birth to the moment of her return. From the florist to the stonemason to her sisters there was approval for the rightness of what we did. We brought one of theirs back and they were grateful for it. And the tears came and came and came and haven't stopped coming since. It is done and done well. And it seems as though all the living of the last 58 years was ancillary to the first 27 when another life was lived. Curious.
Sunday, 10 April 2011
Sunday, 27 March 2011
And then they sabotage themselves. Freud says it's because of our inner divisions, that I know. What I don't know is whether, in this moment before the moment, I will understand the implications of the 'tilt' I am about to make, or even care. It really doesn't matter if I'm 'tilting' at windmills, it really doesn't matter. Rather tilt at the windmill of your own making than that of others'
Ten years or so ago, I held some cards and played them; then - a wise and sensible player - but now? Well now the world is changing, some change invited, some not, some on a global scale, some domestic. Whichever it is, the gods hold up a mirror to us and say, 'Well? what are you going to do now, you little people?'
Tomorrow afternoon a group of decent, intelligent, hardworking people will gather to be told their fate, the day after tomorrow I will decide my own.
There can really only be one track, and one singer...
Sunday, 20 March 2011
Oh but my diners will face such challenges and indigestion that, frankly, it wouldn't be a gift of food would it? It would be a great big fat, in your face, 'look I've sweated over this so you're bloody well going to eat it and digest it, if it kills you' arrogance.
Whereas, some olives, good strong bread, oozy cheese, maybe warm, ripe tomatoes and sharp/sweet grapes. Oh! and a zingy wine, almost as green as the vines growing overhead. That's a meal that says, 'sit with me, eat with me, let us drink a little wine and pick at the grapes while we talk and laugh at our follies'. That's the one to write.
Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):
Time was away and somewhere else.
God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify the body's peace
God or whatever means the Good.
Sunday, 6 March 2011
Something like forty years later reading Saul Bellow's The Victim; does my heart ache for victims? Not sure it does when we could have invested our puerile energies into listening to the Kink's version of those endless Days and written a different narrative for ourselves. Sung here by Kirsty McColl.
Sunday, 13 February 2011
"Laughter? Do people ever care about laughter? I mean real laughter, beyond joking, mockery, ridicule. Laughter, an immense and delicisious sensual pleasure, wholly sensual pleasure..."
So Kundera quotes Leclerc in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and because Valentine's Day is so ludicrous let's laugh...
Saturday, 12 February 2011
So why, then, when I spilt a packet of seeds, was it worth my time to pick up every one, rolling hither and thither over the table, under the table; every seed returned to the pack (easy-grow fragrant mix, quality guaranteed, sow by 2002). Simple, because they might still grow into hardy little annuals; something good, sweet smelling. But sharing my grief with the dry cleaner won't grow into anything.
So on to a female poet of 15th century Rome for the romantic season:
Vivo su questo scoglio orrido e solo,
quasi dolente augel che'l verde ramo
e l'acqua pura aboree, e a quelli ch'amo
nel mondo ed a me stessa ancor m'involo,
perche expedito Sol che adoro e colo
vada il pensiero.
E sebben quanto bramo l/ali non spiega;
eppur quand'io 'l richiamo
volge dall'altre strade a questa il volo.
Ed in quel punto che sorge lieto e ardent
la ove l'invio; si breve gioria avanza
qui di gran lunga ogni mondan diletto.
Ma se potesse l'alta sua sembianza
formar quand'ella vuol, l'accesa mente;
parte avrei forse qui del ben perfetto.
I live on this rock, horrible and lonely
like a suffering bird that avoid the green branch
and the pure water, and from whom I love
in the world, and from myself, I fly away
to let my mind go as fast as possible to my
Sun that I adore and love.
And even if my love doesn't open his
wings, when I call him back from other
directions, he flies towards me.
And it's there that he rise happily and
ardently, there where I send him, and a
small joy outshines all the greater joys
of the material world.
I would like to form his beautiful image
in my burning mind whenever I want,
so that I should have a small portion of
For you Joe...
Sunday, 6 February 2011
A day with my boy yesterday. Because he was 26 on the 26th we spent the day together and it was good. Almost a man; he told me some things about his life and I told him some about mine. We laughed and ate and then we parted. As I watched him walk away my heart was squeezed with the same feeling I had the first time I watched him take his first walk into independence, away from me. He's going to be just fine.
So, although they've never met, he has something in common with his grandfather in this photograph. It was sent to a young Italian woman in 1945 and on the back was written: ti ricordo questa uomo? Not a bad way to tell a girl you've survived a war. And I guess it squeezed that woman's heart because the rest is history. Ah, the ability to squeeze a heart. Well the faeries have my boy now but he gives me a day now and then.
Monday, 31 January 2011
Defenceless, certainly she and that might make her appealing to some appetites. But it is thought she had orginally been looking at an apple that she held up in her left hand just below her eye level, whilst her right hand was resting on her raised left knee holding up her slipping drapery. Add to this that it was thought the statue was intended to be viewed from the right side profile then, to quote my source, the wonderful Wiki, ...'the sensuous juxtaposition of flesh with the texture of drapery, which seems about to slip off the figure, adds an insistent note of erotic tension that is thoroughly Hellenistic in concept and intent'.
So here is our entry to speak of arms and of love and beauty and whether beauty does, or should, matter. I think there's a beauty that comes from confidence, style and negligence. What S would call effortless style. That which does not appear so but which is actually highly contrived. Cue poem, Delight in Disorder by Robert Herrick:
A SWEET disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantoness :
I see a wild civility :
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.
So back to arms, of which Patti Smith is possessed a most beautiful pair, with hands to match. Fascinated by her style and, having watched Steven Sebring's 2008 documentary Dream of Life, I think I detect that negligent contrivance; in her shiney clean shoes and fabulously sensuous arms and hands, and all that happens in between, Ms Smith has created her style.
Rooted in Ginsburg and Blake to mention but two, and still delivering beat poetry, she manages still to beguile her audience. And for the record, I think Ann Demeulemeester has a lot to do with it. Last Saturday evening may have been considered dated and lazy delight, but when she sang this, the audience was transported once again. Look out for those arms on the album covers - I am not alone.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
I will be strong.
I will be resilient.
I will be independent.
The thought of going to pump my tyres,
Will no longer send me to a mirror,
To practice helpless looks.
I will walk into a pub alone,
And buy a drink alone.
Large dogs that run up to me in the park,
Will be sent away - by me.
I will no longer wonder ,
Was it me that almost caused that accident,
I will tell myself - it was him.
When winning at cards,
I will feel no pity for my opponents,
And when losing - I will expect none.
I will do everything to promote my own happiness.
I will not apologise after every argument.
I will not allow people to borrow my books.
When wine is spilt all over me,
I will not be nice about it,
I will not be cowed,
By large shop assistants.
I will be tough.
Well the dog thing still needs some work. But, you know, toughness is hard work, and there's a special feeling that comes from finding that someone has already bought you a drink and that it's there, waiting for you, on the table, by the fire.
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
... in the meantime, Damon Galgut can say something for me.
I remember every accusing word, including my own, like a knife in the guts, like something that has shamed us both. Yet she herself is untouched. Later that same day, for example, Sjef and Paula and Caroline all arrive together to help me. In an attempt to bring down her temperature we buy ice from the canteen downstairs and press it all over her body. She wails and protests but also smiles, look at me, she says, I have a whole team working on me, and in that moment she is angelic again, my coy and flirtatious friend, and the awful exchange of the mornng has disappeared. She remembers none of it, nothing of what is said and done, even by herself. She floats above all the pain and grief and guilt that she's created, looking down on our scurrying and striving. There is a very real element of contempt in the way she treats us now, a quality of mocking laughter at our concern. She is far beyond us all, because she's not afraid of death any longer, which is both her weakness and her greatest strength.
It's only now that the full force of what's happened begins to hit him. Until this point he has been constantly in action, at the receiving end of calamity, with no chance for reflection. It's like a hurricane has blown through his life, flattening every structure, and in the aftermath the silence and vacancy are immense.
There is nothing to do, but his body struggles to accept it. He is constantly on edge, constantly prepared for crisis. He sleeps badly and lightly, and wakes long before dawn. The days are empty and he doesn't know how to fill them.
His body slows and eventually accepts the aimlessness, but inside, deep down, it's like an engine with a missing part, forever turning over, screaming in the same high gear.In a Strange Room