Tuesday, 13 January 2009

And back from London again

Life, surely, does not get more various than this. I shall look back on this time in ten years and wonder where all these halcyon days went when life was one long train ride. Except coming back was not a train ride.

But what did I go down for? A meeting. Was it an interesting meeting? It was an interesting infuriating meeting about poetry and where it goes and who funds it and what they fund and why they fund and why it exists and why anyone bothers etc. I grow fierce, excitable and foreign on such occasions and want to bellow: Poetry has been with us since the dawn of time, and it will carry on being with us until we die out. I don't care about your money and your surveys and your evaluations, this is not flower arranging or Disneyland (though flower arranging is an art too) it is a core human instinct and no one should apologise for it or go begging and, furthermore, it's a proud high craft and one of the greet deep pleasures, and I myself am proud, and you neglect poetry at your soul's peril. In other words, don't make us go through it time and again, why we are the deserving poor: you don't get it - it's your loss.

But then that's not what such meetings are for. They are for 'constructive' ideas and about cash and about high profiles and bums on seats. So we talk and talk and eventually the money will get dealt out by someone who has probably not even read what our great minds have combined to produce. And wherever the money goes, poetry, that great proud craft, the highest and lowest and most common art - because we all speak and most of us write - will continue to exist because that's the way it is, the way we are.

Then the meeting is over and I sit down and have a glass of water, chatting to fellow poet, F then go down to the BFI to meet daughter, whose birthday it is, plus son T, fresh back from Brazil and soon to be son-in-law R who is battling furiously to get his new book wrapped up. And this is nice. We talk and talk. I drink two Jamesons (a sweet cello-like burn as it passes down the throat) then, head back to King's Cross, where I get on the Cambridge train.

But at Cambridge I find the connecting train is not running because of a fatality at Thetford. No trains tonight. The best I can do, the guard says, is to catch the next train to Ely then ask God for help, or else find a taxi. Another person, a woman, is also wanting to get to Wymondham so we decide to share the taxi. The driver is a nice man who has been in the job about six months and has never heard of Wymondham, nor has he ever driven a far as far as Norwich. The train staff says we can reclaim expenses. The expenses between the woman and I are £80. We drive under the waning full moon for an hour - I guide the driver to Wymondham then explain part of the route to K - and now I am back. The woman is the daughter of a Jungian psychoanalyst who has written books, and she herself was an investigative journalist for The independent but is now working in the City. She is going to be almost an hour late for a business dinner at the big house in the hamlet of K. She swears like a trooper, has a deep tan and blonde hair with highlights. She is totally pissed off with people throwing themselves under trains, if that is what has happened. No consideration. On calming down she reckons it is the waning full moon that brings on the madness. .

It is true. I sleep badly when the moon is full. My werewolf ancestors are turning uneasily in their graves. They want out.

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