Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Two anecdotes and a phone calll
Visit to solicitors this morning to start the process of probate for dad. Solicitor tells me the story of the family of spiritualists who were his clients, after the son took his own life. He said the parents conducted a conversation with the dead son in his presence, taking advice on various matters. A year or so later the father died and the solicitor went over again. The mother now conducted a conversation with both the dead husband and the dead son as well as with him. It turned out the the father had premium bonds and that he had four winning numbers.
At lunchtime I talk to prospective undergraduates again then have to dash off because the RNIB have booked a conversation with me as part of the book group's 'meet the author' sessions. I take the phone call on my university office phone. The other six or so people are sitting in their own homes with their own phones, with a facilitator somewhere else again, to help the conversation move. They have had two of my poems and I am asked to read them again. The group is mostly older, some twenty years older than I am. One lady reminiscences about remembering Bellow's Cautionary Verse, Jim. One of the men is quieter until he is addressed directly. He says his favourite poet is Shelley. I mention The Masque of Anarchy. He begins to recite it in a powerful voice and continues. It is marvellous to hear him and no-one interrupts. 'I was a red in those days,' he says when he is finished. 'I liked my poems the way I liked my steaks - with plenty of blood.' We talk for an hour.
I am home in the early evening when the phone rings. It is my father's younger sister from Buenos Aires. She wants to know what's happening. I'd rung them originally to tell them of dad's death. I tell her all about the funeral, about the family, about the will, about the work to be done. Do I mind her ringing me? She is ninety. I say of course not. Because there was a long feud between my mother and my father's side of the family - a terrible feud that went on for years, throughout my conscious life at home. Details are referred to in the long poem 'Metro'. Am I still angry? she asks. No, I have never been angry. I was just a witness of anger. She says it is very cheap for her to ring me. Two hours for three dollars. Can she ring again? Of course, I say, at any time.