One of those days

skye 2011 004

A short and apologetic post, this. I’m not sure how it would be if it was crisp and bright and cold and blue. But it isn’t. It’s one of those days of cold rain and sleet that can lower the spirits even if you’re in a wonderful place. It’s a Sunday afternoon that reminds me of one in Achnacloich on Skye, when it never got properly light and the sheep were too miserable to bleat. The Scots have the best word for it. Dreich.

One of those days when you can wake up feeling an ill-defined guilt, as though you did something wrong the day before but can’t for the life of you think what it could have been. So you make it worse by imagining what it could have been. I was at the Poetry Business Writing Day yesterday. Did I say something inappropriate? Did I break my own rules about how you should respond to a workshopped poem? …that kind of thing.

Or maybe it’s a hangover from getting back to the Meadowhall Interchange and finding I’d left my headlights on when I parked there in the morning. Battery dead. Frost forming on windscreens. 40 minute wait for the nice AA man to come and get me started, and then finding that the radio/satnav/phone/media thingy was now unavailable because it needed an authentification code. Why don’t I immediately write this sort of thing indelibly somewhere inside any car I buy as soon as I get it? Anyway, the Spares/Service departments are closed on a Sunday. Natch. Who needs repairs/parts on a Sunday? but tomorrow if I ring up and give them my car reg. they’ll tell me the 4-digit code. Please, god, grant me the serenity to accept what I can’t change. Everything will be fine tomorrow. Yes it will.

And apart from that I have nothing to say. Someone asked me yesterday what I was writing. The answer is that I’m writing nothing of any consequence because I’ve nothing to say at the moment. Probably I need to charge my own batteries and hope all the codes are still working afterwards. I need to fill up with some substantial reading…I’m not sure about what. Landscape. Geology. Mining. The history of London. The Victorian underworld. Etching. Mountaineeering. Who knows. I’m not sure it matters so long as it’s something hefty and time-consuming.

In the meantime I’m waiting for guests to send me poems to share with you, and publishers to tell you about their joys and despairs. And I’m watching Spiral, and McMafia and series 1 of The Wire . And fiddling about with two lovely stained glass panels that our friend Chris has made, but which don’t quite to fit the door. Yet.

Oh..and reading David Constantine’s Collected Poems which will eventually lift anyone’s spirits. So I’ll finish by sharing a couple of things of his that speak directly and powerfully to me on a bleak and miserable day. How about this, from Sunflowers

They lap furiously at the sun

with rasping lion tongue-leaves. But they die

as big men do whose bodies the life finds heavy, they loll

and blacken like the crucified. At evening

you will hear them in the garden flapping their rags

groaning to fall from the fences

flat over the grass



And this on a weekend of women marching to protest the awfulness of the Trump presidency. This is from Atlantis

It dies hard,the notion of a just people;

The wish that there should have been once mutual aid

dies very hard ……………………………….

………………………………………………………..we imagine

a life courteous and joyful; see them lightly clad

loving the sun, the vine, the grey olive.

Over the water, from trading, they come home winged

with sails, their guide and harbinger the white dove


Both extracts are from Watching for Dolphins [1983]


And should I have inadvertently done anyone a discourtesy recently or ever, forgive me.

Let’s see what next week will bring, after the rain.


11 thoughts on “One of those days

  1. Found this in an old notebook on the inside cover. I think it’s from Macsweeney’s first collection. Let’s hope ‘lovely reason’ will be back soon.
    Greetings from all at Almassera Vella


    we sit for weeks
    in a tortoise shell box
    holding hands to our faces
    to collect tears; we receive stones

    we receive curious animals and stones
    the lovely reason leaves
    town, again, she goes, she
    is, I’m sure, feminine, she goes
    and she receives tears, gives us

    Barry Macsweeney


  2. Or even pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. Can’t even type, her. Seriously you have been on the crest of the wave. We are all pulled down by the undertow sometimes. Look st your track record. When you’ve been on overdrive, you have to let yourself run on empty for a little while sometimes. Way it is. W.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m interested to read your description of the unpleasant conviction – often on wakening – of having offended someone or having something on one’s conscience. I put mine down to early Catholicism in the fifties when guilt was guilt and was supposed to be good for you. But maybe it is the human condition and a response to stresses, such as, in our case, not writing?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.