Thursday, 6 November 2008
Liddypol, Lollipop, Lidl, Loblolly, Loadsamoney..
Hotel room with working wireless. By wireless i don't mean X but Y, as you no doubt realise. I have printed out the (eighth!) version of the lecture I am due to give tonight. I corrected for the last time about half an hour ago according to what seemed then a stroke of genius, but may well turn out to be something less. Too late now. Planned a very few poems to read too, so everything is as ready as it will ever be.
Train route, via Ely and Nuneaton. I know Ely platform better than the back of my hand and have certainly spent more time looking at it. It would, after all, be a sad affair to be spending a very long time staring at the back of one's hand, though there may well be a little Zen in it. As to Nuneaton I have waited on its platform too, but just once before, I think. Nuneaton has an air of post-industrial Adlestrop. Nothing comes and goes on the bare platform and mistier, farther and farther off all the Toyotas and Skodas of Warwickshire and Greater Birmingham.
All the way along the journey that slightly wet-looking, limpid, lightless light, as if houses had spent decades pressing their faces through water. It is what I think of as English light, a soused light, and not precisely light. I would call it dream light but it is more that state of waking from a dream very slowly, the dream-light hanging in there.
The Liverpool voice. I cannot help but think of it in terms of affection. That is quite something for a Manchester United supporter to be saying, but I am barely responsible for myself, I know not what I do. Chirpy and faintly inquisitive but matey, might locate it a little more accurately. The train grew dense with it, people on cellphones buttering each other up in Scouse. And the hotel staff are friendly and helpful. I know they should be, but hotels, especially reasonably smart ones like this one (The Hope Street Hotel, as it happens) tend to make me feel like a small errant boy in someone else's pristine parlour. Well, this one doesn't. It may be because I am in a suit and a white shirt but that can't entirely be it, can it? I am not actually wearing a tie. I don't much like wearing ties.
The light is exactly the same now at almost 4 pm as it was at 8 am. I like dependable light but I do think it should enjoy a good fling now and then, even in November.
It's done. It went far better than I anticipated or hoped. The lecture theatre is the place where dissections used to be carried out for the benefit of students who would crowd the amphitheatre. I left my coat and bag where the cadavers used to be stored before being wheeled out. It's an echoey place. A good crowd. I did the lecture then read four related poems. Signed some books, chatted a little, then went to dinner with the VC, the Dean, the Head of Department and others senior dons, as well as dear friend, M. In the audience, another old friend, Charley. Good dinner.
Now back in the hotel. Perhaps Beyoncé - also staying here - will drop in for a late drink? Yes, but I might be asleep. It could be straight Pete and Dud. Who do you think was tap tap tapping at the window, Dud? Who, Pete. Only bloody Greta Garbo... (see below, a little way in)
Go away, bloody Beyoncé...