Friday, 13 March 2009
Plugged into Miles
Listening, that is to say, to the sound track of Lift to the Scaffold, even as I write this. Film clip above. Jeanne Moreau stalks around the street, caressing cars, generally swathed in gloom. Louis Malle's first film in 1958.
Read the first of the three Bloodaxe Lectures to C, and it comes in precisely at forty minutes. On the other hand I was reading a little fast, so might cut a bit from the new beginning. Tomorrow I'll read lectures 2 and 3, which are longer. Earlier, concluding an interview over email with a magazine. To be published some time in the next month or so.
In the meantime start planning the keynote lecture I am to give at the BASEES conference in Cambridge the week after returning from Newcastle. It's about Hungary in 1989, with a bit of before and then some after, with poetry thrown in. Who would have thought I had so much to say? Not sure I have. We shall see.
Today's walk slightly curtailed by promise (unfulfilled) of rain. The little nature reserve, Toll's Meadow, is practically marsh. The water table must be high. Everything tinged with steely grey. On the way back I ask C: Do you like people? I mean people in the street, as you pass them? I ask myself this sometimes, as my own feelings fluctuate between a kind of sympathetic affection (almost lurv) and sharp recoil. She finds it impossible to say, of course. How could it be possible? Brodsky didn't like the look of human beings. I don't suppose Derek Mahon is keen either. A little misanthropy in a cold climate: St Petersburg, Belfast.
Budapest is hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. Room for extremes there.
I suppose it is possible to be warm and cool at the same time. A summery chill. A wintery warmth.
What's that Larkin poem?
Jan van Hogspeuw staggers to the door
And pisses at the dark. Outside, the rain
Courses in cart-ruts down the deep mud lane.
Inside, Dirk Dogstoerd pours himself some more,
And holds a cinder to his clay with tongs,
Belching out smoke. Old Prijck snores with the gale,
His skull face firelit; someone behind drinks ale,
And opens mussels, and croaks scraps of songs
Toward the ham hung rafters about love.
Dirk deals the cards. Wet century-wide trees
Clash in surrounding starlessness above
This lamplit cave, where Jan turns back and farts,
Gobs at the grate, and hits the queen of hearts.
Rain, wind and fire! The secret, bestial place!
Ah yes, the grate. The secret, bestial place.