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.


Poet in Residence said...

Point (1) is very interesting. Con men and charlattans aside, there is something to this.
It seems, for instance, that there's a holy cave in the Indian Himalayas where you can see and hear communications although you are alone in pitch black silence. I think it's only a matter of tuning-in. Being alone in a cave is possibly an easy way to do it for oneself. If we look back to stone age times we find the handprints and animal paintings in the deep innards of the caves - sonteage 'holy shrines'. But why? Echo is one thing. Perhaps a starting point. A place to call.

Ms Baroque said...

Three marvellous stories, George. Wonderful. Thanks.

George S said...

Thank you, Ms Baroque. As you know I am a frequent visitor at yours and think it rather marvellous.

Gwilym - I suspect that being alone in a cave for a long time one might find a lot of people to talk to, and maybe even more talking back. Mind you, I am not saying they don't really talk back. And like many, I suspect, I have been at a seance (just one) in my life - where the glass moved and sent messages, including to myself. More Hamlet than Horatio perhaps.

But then the oldest examination question of all: is Hamlet mad? Does he really know a hawk from a handsaw? I think I could tell the difference - most days.

Poet in Residence said...

'such stuff as dreams are made on', the strange unworldly things in the caves of our imaginations, and the shadows of our dreams and nighmares and all the other 'hidden' places° must in reality be part of the unseen quantum world and composed of quarks, bosons etc, ...and then the third person at the table for two must actually exist for the voice(s) are heard and visage is seen etc.
°organ transplant recipients report dreams and memories 'belonging' the donor for example
and I myself, like Wm. Blake, when a child have seen mysterious things