Painting over the cracks…a sort of half-term break

painting 2

Writing workshops three weekends in a row, Ann and Peter Sansom (twice) and Kim Moore in between. Shedloads of brilliant exercises, more ideas than I can shake a stick at. But have you noticed this (these?) bugs that are going around? Liz Venn at the Poetry Business yesterday put it as succinctly as you’d expect. Schools and colleges and universities are stewing petri dishes. I like that. I don’t teach any more, but half the writers I know do, and I’m rattling with Beechams pills..not quite just-in-case. I spent four days last week painting the bathroom. It’s a space of infinite planes and angles. It has lots of cupboard doors that demand masking tape and at least two brushes. It is not finished. It could be done by Tuesday. In which case, we can crack on with the landing, the bit of the kitchen that needs replastering thanks to a broken slate (and, by the way, if you’re shopping around for house insurance, take it from me that Privilege is not the firm you want. Not only will they refuse to pay up; they will also fail to answer any letters for months, and possibly forever.)….and then there’s the sitting room and two bedrooms. Five year cycle. I bet the Sistine Chapel job went quicker. All this is leading up to a weak apology for the fact that you’ll not get a value-for-money cobweb this week. On the other hand, you can have a poem that came out of a workshop earlier in the year. It involves a recurrent dream/fantasy that I have no explanation for. I hope there isn’t one.  here we go:

Stripped down

Sometimes you’ve had enough of doors,

their soft grain, the molasses of half-melted scumble,

split mouldings, the sting and reek of Nitromors,

and you think of walls,

how paper is more soothing,

suited to solitude, to pensiveness.


Layer after layer, peeling back the years,

the anaglypta coming off in satisfying chunks,

the thinner ones with pale blue stripes,

the stippled lining paper that only comes

away in grudging little bits,

the shiny one, with blowsy pinkish roses

on a midnight ground, the arsenic green

that someone once distempered

and smells like Infant Schools,

and under all of that

last layer peeling off the stripping knife,

an eye. It stares back.

Then it blinks.

It’s just as far inside the wall

as my eye is in front, this eye

in my house of mirrors.

As it became.


Next week a proper post with a proper cobweb guest, another undiscovered gem. I think I’ll go and have a hot drink. See you next Sunday, fingers crossed.

7 thoughts on “Painting over the cracks…a sort of half-term break

    1. thank you, Louella….I actually don’t mind painting, apart from skirting boards. It’s the furniture shifting that takes the time. We have a lot of stuff…paintings and what have you. Adds two days to every job, taking it down/out then putting it back xx


    1. always very happy with new plaster….much of mine 100+ years old and behaves like it. Invest in masking tape is what I say. I’m pleased you like the poem. It frankly puzzles me where it came from. I blame the Sansoms.


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