Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Reading and reeling
I was unfair to Grantham Station. On the way back I stopped there for twenty minutes and it looked positively benign. Part of that may be down to the sun. Journey up fine. Journey down fine.
Hotel in Hull overlooking Pearson Park, the park also overlooked in his time by Larkin. Hard to form an impression of Hull from a taxi ride from station to hotel. Arrived there to do interview with PhD student Mary about poetry residencies. She being a Dubliner, I talked about my time in Dublin. Then CR arrived and after a little more talk Mary drove us over to the University. Somehow most mid century British institutional buildings remind me of breakfast cereals. The very dull ones are porridge, Hull is more Weetabix: something solid, almost grainy about it. The Larkin building facing me, Larkin's name clearly inserted not too long ago. Inside the corridors are wide and light, positively amenable.
CR leads me to the seminar group where I answer questions in my controlled at-length mode. There are questions about career and poetry and form and art and wordplay. I generally enjoy this, as I enjoy stretching any idea over a range of words, just in order to see what will have happened by the end. It's possible I might actually come up with a perception or at least a formulation that had never struck me before. In this case I think it's a good conversation because I feel quite high about it, but that's no guarantee of anything.
Before the reading I meet P, aka as The Plump, and he takes me into old Hull for a drink at The Old White Hart, a splendid set of rooms opening from a courtyard. The interior has something of the air of the Crown Posada in Newcastle, but is entirely panelled and Jacobean-conspiratorial. A very drunk woman is berating an almost equally drunk man in a corner, in broad Hull. There is a generous choice of whiskies on the shelves. P and I retire to a quiet corner and I hear something about adult education and rugby league and Greece and blogging.
We get to The Zest just in time for my reading there. It is pointless asking me how a reading went: I am too aware that I might be misjudging things, but this one seemed to go very well indeed: people sitting at tables, me with a mic, trying to turn pages. There are people with books to be signed. I should have brought a few because people ask. Ah, well...
Then eight of us, including P, go for an Italian nearby. Plenty of wine. In the meantime scores filtter through from the Liverpool-Arsenal game. DW, has an arrangement with the maître d' who informs him of changes via the kitchen radio. The scores sound so unlikely I imagine DW is having me on, but it's absolutely straight. Afterwards C and I stroll over the park back to the hotel.
There seems to have been a Budget in the meanwhile. Some talk of meltdown. Tax on wealthy up to 50%. This time they have nowhere to run. No longer sort-of-socialism-in-one-country, the whole world possibly obliged to go a faint pink. It may turn redder yet, of course. Good.
On return home a hideous, terrifying pile of obligations. I feel like anonymously exiling myself to Hull. It could be my tax haven. Or at least my pension haven, should I actually receive any pension. But I'm far from thinking about that yet.