Friday, 12 December 2008
No rest for whacked. From Bath to London to Hitchin to Wymondham to Norwich to Wymondham and tomorrow to London and back again, before London again Monday and Coventry Tuesday.
In Bath reading with Zoe Brigley, young Welsh Bloodaxe poet, followed by Indian meal to midnight then hanging round the deserted bar of the hotel with Zoe, Tim L and Carrie E until about 1am when one of us (not me, constable) inadvertently sets off the bar alarm in trying to get a drink of water. We continue sitting around for another fifteen minutes waiting to see what will happen. Nothing does. Eventually the night attendant, a sheepish boy from somewhere in Europe, appears and smiles sheepishly but doesn't know how to turn off the alarm. Then, at last, someone else does turn it off. I was faintly expecting the cops to burst through the door.
The train home is delayed half an hour. Spend time listening on iPod toy to Beethoven's String Quartet op. 132, one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, and Schubert's Quintet in C, another of the greatest pieces of music ever written.
The university has been asking to see my naturalisation papers. After fifty-two years in England they had better check I am not illegal or a terrorist in a sleeper cell. No one ever bothered before. In any case I find it and see, surprisingly, that what I had remembered about becoming one of her Majesty's subjects was wrong. The wording, according to the 1948 British Nationality Act is THE ABOVE NAMED HAS BEEN REGISTERED AS A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED KINGDOM AND COLONIES.
So British, United Kingdom and colonies. A pretty kettle of halibut. Now they want to see my P60 to check that the NI number they have had for a number of years is the NI number they have had for a number of years. It is, I assure them, the NI number they have had for a number of years.
The meeting I dashed into Norwich for was. appropriately enough, about refugees and asylum -seekers, as part of the City of Refuge programme.
Directed to a lovely review of the New and Collected Poems in The Morning Star today. Which reminds me. The hotel had a decorative book-case in the restaurant. Clearly no-one was expected to actually take a book from it. I did this morning. There was a well preserved copy of a New Statesman anthology, including H.G.Wells's interview with Stalin. It is faintly comical, Wells imagining he is putting Stalin on a spot with the odd Fabian half-nelson. Bernard Shaw also finds it amusing, but then Shaw is a repulsive bag of self-conceit. Neither of them pick Stalin for the monster he is. At that precise moment in fact. The purges were happily proceeding while the interview was going on.
Incidentally, pleased the Menezes case has exposed the police cover-up. The thing stank to high heaven from day one. And now the knife-crimes figures. It is getting very hard voting for this lot.