Monday, 12 January 2009
The Eliot readings last night at the Queen Elizabeth Hall were good as ever, in fact one of the best. A very big audience. The 900 seater 95% full. Good for poetry. A lot of people I have met before of course, but it's not an occasion for long talks. This morning found Robert Crawford at breakfast so talked long to him, partly about Eliot (we're both big fans) and partly about painting (he paints, I used to paint - that's after 5 years of art school and a number of years practicing afterwards with a few passing exhibitions of no great consequence.) I don't think we had ever met before but he was in the audience at my StAnza reading last year, he tells me. The hotel room was tiny. Just room for the bed and a wall-fixed TV at 90 degrees to it. My feet and head were practically touching opposite walls. Hotel describes itself as 'minimalist'. Truly, I lead the life of Riley. The trouble is you can never know which Riley. Tried to catch the grand 3-0 but too late, even at 90 degrees. Saw microseconds involving the goals. Meaningless.
It is much warmer today. Almost too warm. Gusty and edge-of-showery. Eliot's 'Preludes' weather. 'And now a gusty shower wraps / The grimy scraps / Of withered leaves about your feet / And newspapers from vacant lots...' (OK, so too late for withered leaves.) I spent much of the morning in the British Library reading a doctorate, with another to read on the late late train home. The lighting is truly terrible, though the proper 'Reading Rooms' may be fine. The only reasonably lit public place is the canteen. I don't think they want to encourage reading on the premises.
Tonight I make the 'thank you to everyone' speech at the award. Home very late. Tomorrow back down again. I think I have a form of madness but am too busy to work out what it is except that it involves trains.
In an internet cafe. I have developed a fondness for such places. I remember one in the back streets of Bombay / Mumbai. I think of myself as a pigeon roosting on a chimney stack. This one is relatively clean and bright.