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:
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.