Zigeunerjazz from Weimar: Ein Lied der Puszta by Barnabás von Géczy*
So now I am sixty-four. The day spent writing reports for the university, trying to be clear, considerate, encouraging but truthful, as truthful as I can be given my subjective position, a position I make quite clear from the start. I am no use to anyone if I lie. But there are ways of truth-telling that take account of the truth-hearer and that is what one has to find. It is exhausting. I would far prefer to sit down with the student and just talk and make a few notes, but these formalities are baked into the brick now. Interestingly, as with everything, you do three times as much work to produce half the good. One travels down circuitous routes to get to the centre. The electronic office has a million ears but no brain.
But that is today, and since I am sixty-four I graciously accept the various references to the Beatles (not from near kin, I should say) and am even more graciously surprised when literally hundreds of people wish me happy birthday on Facebook. What a popular chap I must be... Well maybe, maybe not - I think I am probably one of the few nationally known poets to sit down regularly at the FB cafe and exchange banter and thoughts. And I believe I have made genuine good friends there, as on Twitter too. It is a strange world where so many voices weave in and out of the ether, recognise each other, nod and move on, or hang around to engage.
Having worked all day we went out this evening to have a meal in a very good restaurant round the corner - Number 24, if you want to know. The cooking is excellent, delicate but precise, and it isn't expensive - three courses plus aperitif, wine and liqueur came out under £75 for the pair of us. The starters were salmon for Clarissa and Cromer Crab for me. Having written so much on the subject of the doctor who turns into a crab it was impossible to resist a tower of it, almost a tower of Babel of it. Venison after was delicate, not gamy, sitting on sweetish red cabbage, the vegetables crisp, light and fresh. But this is not a restaurant column, nor do I have the knowledge to write any more than purple prose on the subject.
In any case I am sixty-four, of an age that twenty years ago I would have considered old. Next year the state will also consider me old and hand me my pension. The transport system has already recognised my age and handed me cheap or free travel. We have always lived on very modest terms so there is nothing we miss.
Except time and friends, and now Win.
The funeral was beautiful and simple. Some sixty people were there - family, friends, old acquaintance that had not fogotten. Two hymns, an address by the minister, built directly on the information given to him by Clarissa who had gathered more information from her brother and sister. Two readings - one from Romans, one from the Psalms. Part of a poem by me, then the end with its blessing. The moment the coffin was brought in the tears started. Clarissa didn't read because she knew she couldn't do so without breaking down. I myself found it hard. It was clear that Win was loved and treasured. I can't think of a better argument for religion than her life and the life of Clarissa's father, Bill, who died in 2008.
It was a cold day, very cold. We stood around outside afterwards, exchanging words with this or that familiar face. Next there will be a memorial service. That is still to plan.
Tomorrow I take a train to Newcastle to examine a PhD. Another very long day. The next week is as full as this one has been, maybe more so.
* YouTube kindly sent to me via Facebook by Pauline Fan in Malaysia. Thank you, Pauline.