It’s tradition to say out loud white rabbits upon waking on the first day of the month, because doing so will ensure good luck. So I had better remember! My white rabbit came to two of my poetry readings last month and I believe may have got more attention than I did!
But they say never perform with children or animals!
I have lived here for ten years now and it has been far from easy to settle. I just loved London, so much going on and I could get to most of it easily, effortlessly and even cheaply with my freedom pass!
Retirement at the best of time just makes one think one is becoming an old person. God forbid! We joined a series of different things but it was still not easy to ‘fit in’. But in the end I guess we have just about found our feet.
Last week I came back from London by train and for the first time when I then got off the bus I thought well this is it! This is home, and it felt OK.
Had been up and down in terms of health so thought about giving up my allotment (I have been tempted two years running) but this time I wrote a new poem about it. By the time I had re-read it, I was so full of good vibes I couldn’t give it up after all. So now I am stuck with the joys of weeding, planting and watering all over again!
Have had a few outings up to London. The cost of going is off putting as are the endless delays on the trains but Kings College London Poetry Fest was brilliant.
A celebration of poetry hosted by the Centre for Life-Writing Research. A constellation of poets curated by Ruth O’Callaghan. A workshop run by poet Katherine Lockton, great readers including Fleur Adcock, an open mic session and all free.
I had a second visit to the Royal Academy and attended the SWWJ summer tea party at the Liberal Club in Whitehall. Just love walking up this grand staircase and then there is a chance to meet up with old friends and some new members.
A posh tea and a talk by Anita Marie Sackett who is a poet and very enterprising, she also gives talks to about living in the 50s, Victorian Christmas etc.
The SWWJ are struggling as are other writing organisations, not least because older members pass on. Personally I believe the days of writing full time particularly novels can only be for the lucky few in this day and age. But the SWWJ is about journalism, drama. poetry too and so far does attract new members.
I was accepted as a member many moons ago when I was a freelance journalist and had my play ‘Travelling Nowhere’ put on at the Young Vic. Writing poetry came later.
Went up to Earls Court again. I was a poet in residence for a weekend in Earls Court Square last year. I just loved Brompton Road Cemetery which is nearby and it’s even better than Highgate Cemetery (which was near where I spent much of my childhood..) My mother once took me to where my great grandmother had been buried. Not far from the Swains Lane entrance where ordinary people could be buried.
Brompton Road Cemetary has many famous people buried there. It is also a haven for wild life and was built partly on a market garden. One can still find wild artichokes in between the gravestones. It is such a tranquil place like a huge park. I love to wander and read the gravestones, obviously plenty of scope for new poems.
Last week John McCullough’s Advanced Poetry Course at New Writing South finished for another year. A fantastic crowd of poets one of whom won a competition and another had work published by the end of the three terms.
Another last night for Pighog too because their poetry readings stop for the summer!
Spent all today with Alan pruning and dead heading roses in the garden. All the hedges had gone bananas!
I tend to get carried away with planting veg. I just love picking stuff from the garden or the allotment that is so so fresh. Had my share of raspberries already and looking forward to the artichokes and tomatoes.
There is always the debate about going away on holiday but quite honestly we are very lucky and now we live at the seaside there is a lot going for staying put.
Although I am a bit of a gypsy at heart and the need to escape for a bit is very compelling not least because I love French and Spanish food. Maybe I should just learn to to make tapas and create even more of a holiday illusion.
An older allotment poem, a white rabbit poem and two seaside poems for good measure.
Miss Lottie’s Last Chance.
She sets the brim of her straw hat
at what she hopes is a rakish angle
brushes bits of twig from her brown
cotton skirt, pulls the arms of her holey
cardie closer like a hopeful hug.
She climbs on a stool and places
bits of stray string into a rusty tin,
wipes secateurs with an oily rag,
seals half-opened seed packets, placing
them into an obliging array of jars.
She takes a swig of a brandy from a bottle
marked for emergencies, while a grumpy owl
painted on a shopping bag glares.
She makes short shrift of him shaking the bag
upside down to dislodge lurking spiders.
From the corner of her eye she catches
sight of her old black wellies, blushes
at the memory of sitting, only yesterday
on her bench, near to tears, her limbs
too soggy with fatigue to pull them off.
How lucky that an old gent on his bike
was passing and joined in the tussle.
Today she slips out of her old gardening shoes,
watches a flock of rogue cockatiels
spreading their wings and taking flight.
Sprawled on the kitchen table
the Mad Hatter
his top hat
covered in papier-mache
picture of Putin,
the March Hare
missing an ear,
awaits her dress
washed and drying
on garden wire
hanging over the sink.
The White Rabbit,
checking his pocket watch
in the perfect condition
he was 30 years ago,
has plenty of time.
(from ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’)
Here they come streaming out of the station
and down to the sea
where squawky seagulls herald their arrival.
Ignoring stripy deckchairs at wind breaks
they settle for their beach mats and
Barefoot children brave the pebbles
to meet the chill of the sea,
throw stones to skim the waves.
Kites flutter with over optimistic gaze
ice creams melt,
tea in paper cups turns cold.
Too soon the fun comes to an end
and nervous crabs in buckets
await their fate.
But all is well,
everything is packed
children sent to discharge their captives.
(from ‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’)
The North Pier Blackpool
‘It’s a small world’ for our marionettes,
three shows daily on the North Pier.
Our parents busy, we take stock – the mighty
black tower, the circus and ballroom.
Donkeys stand in line ready for a ride
trams trundle along the promenade.
Crowds gather on the famous golden mile, kiss me
quick hats, tuppence to see a mermaid.
The man from Mars in a bright green jump suit
is surreptitiously eating a big cream bun.
And so the season goes on, families from the mills
the mines and the factories, everyone laughing.
(from ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’)