A quiet weekend, quiet, that is, apart from the pounding of fingers on keyboards and the tolling of the church bells. That is now, on Sunday.
Yesterday, the sight of many crosses of St George, his Day celebrated a week early. There is a choir of Lifeboatmen (waterboatmen?) - or are they the local Lions? - singing in the market square. A manly chorus of sea shanties. Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down.... About a dozen of them. R, of the bookshop stops beside us. Who's minding the shop? I ask. He too is a Lion. I am not a lion but a lamb. Should I lie down with R. for the sake of peace? No, not enough of the lamb in me.
The stalls are doing hoopla and fishing for plastic ducks. There are cakes and hot dogs. There is, in fact, a traditional plastic duck race down the mighty River Tiffey but not today. You can bet on the winner. Today there is a bookstall where I buy two paperbacks for 10p each. A man can never have too many cheap books.
Two lanky late-middle-aged figures are dressed as clowns - more Samuel Becket than Coco or Corky. In trampish ragged black suits and bowler hats, they are dead ringers for Vladimir and Estragon. They are not doing anything particular when we come across them, just sitting on a bench and engaging the passing kids in conversation. Like Vladimir and Estragon they have seen better days. Godot does not appear. Maybe this should be St.Godot's day?
But it's towards the end of events and the street, as you move away from the square, is very quiet.
I had spent the morning and early afternoon reading through a PhD upgrade. In the evening P and M for dinner. P is seventy-seven now but is as fiercely ebullient and funny as ever. P is a reader of the Feudal Times and Reactionary Herald so we can bat around the subject of last week's political version of The Weakest Link (hence no link) in which Nick ('the most popular leader since Winston Churchill' according to the polls - a fair comparison, surely) emerged triumphant. P is full of scorn. Scorn for Nick, scorn for Gordon, scorn - deep scorn - for Dave. P would prefer Dr Johnson for prime minister but the good doctor, that harmless lexicographical drudge, is not standing this year. So what would be the next best thing? A cross between Lord Carrington, Norman Tebbitt and David Gower? Boris Johnson (no relation to Samuel) a distant third?
It's an early supper and, P & M departing by ten (leaving me with a batch of new poems), I wash up, then we watch MOTD on a day of marvels (now a weekend of marvels). Apparently the good Lineker has literally hop-skip-and-jumped for twenty-four hours solid from Tenerife to get to the studio in time. Barely a crease. Hardly a puff. He doesn't even allude to it very much. It is a rather exciting season, about which I will write in due course. What is more Blackburn Ladies beat the Bristol Academy 2-1. There'll be unrest in Bristol tonight.
Today more sun. Odd to think of a pile of ash drifting above us, preventing flights for the fourth day running. So I do not meet my charming German agent, A, in London for lunch. So splendid Canadian poet J, another PhD in progress, will not be flying in from Canada for her annual review. So son T has had to cancel his Polish gig. And soon we may be starving for lack of imported food. Waitrose will be the first to go. So there are friends and relatives of everyone stuck where they are stuck. It is a very peculiar few days, something like August 1914, the world faintly suspended.
I have written at length to P on his poems. In the afternoon a short exhilarating cycle ride, donning helmets, past a field of rape not yet in bloom. Back to translation and the finishing of the terza rima essay. Ars far too bloody long, vita all too damn short. If I were Lord Byron I would try to swim the Hellespont this evening then see what the caravanserai offered as entertainment.
On Wednesday I read in London at the Poetry Cafe as half-myself and half-everyone else. Thus.