Monday, 25 August 2014
From The Hurst 1
Almost a month without a blog but I'll try to keep one up from here, now that tutors get wifi.
It was a long journey of three parts, the first jogging along from Wymondham to Birmingham via Ely, the second a little nightmarish to start with because the journey from Birmingham to Shrewsbury had to be by bus, and not only is Birmingham New Street the worst possible major railway station in the country but also because though there was twenty minutes between arrival there and the departure of the bus there were no clues as to where the bus was likely to be found and the rail staff weren't too sure themselves, so the suspense and anxiety of possibly missing the bus did not help the sense of being in the rain in not only the worst possible station but the ugliest possible environment for it. The bus stop was in fact some distance from the station.
But the bus came and people got on and there followed two hours of mostly motorway - someone some time must write a book titled The Inexhaustible Pleasures of the Motorway - until we reached Shrewsbury then it was on to the small three-carriage train that goes all the way into the heart of Wales.
The last part of the journeyis beautiful even in the mist and mizzle, hills rising on hills, each peak fringed with cloud, the valleys billowing with it. It is wonderful to be among hills when one is used to living in a relatively flat landscape. Every hill is an event. Sheep everywhere, disposed, as Hans Arp might put it, according to the laws of chance.
Rain continues when I arrive along with a fellow student who introduces himself. A car is waiting for us and we are driven to The Hurst arriving at exactly the same time as Kathryn and a student who had driven her up from London.
We meet Natasha and Gabriella who show us round. The place has completely changed. The new architecture is nice though still needs snagging but everything is in one building now and my room is vast and modern and comfortable. The old circumstantial privations of Arvon are gone. We are a touch austere but there is space.
We photocopy material we want to use, Natasha talks to us, then we go into the dining room where I get involved in conversations about ekphrasis, Modernism, Max Ernst, manners and music. After that the introductions and the first session.
I offer some riddles and get people to write them, then suggest an epigrammatic poem by the morning, one in the form of an epitaph, the other in the form of a self-presentation. The course will concentrate on rule, self and voice.
Late. Almost 11pm. Which is not that late really but after an early rising and a seven and a half hour journey it feels late. And so to bed as Mr Pepys would say.
Therefore to bed. Pictorial matter later.