30 April 2003
Ah, the lengths to which one will go: the interests dug up, the sudden passions revealed, the pains endured and the stupidities manufactured...
Monday evening, after I'd posted the latest set of Outremer proofs back to the States, I went to a poetry reading. Not so unusual, I do it fairly often; and no, it's not about knowing thine enemy. Hell, some of my best friends are poets. In this instance, David Constantine was the poet, and interesting enough to interest me in the series of lectures he's giving all this week. Poetry may not be my own practice any longer, but I do retain a fondness for the form, so long as it doesn't get uppity; and I could never claim any degree of disinterest, I am invested here. Fiction feeds from verse as much as it offers back; the rhythms of prose are the rhythms of poetry are the pulse of the language as it lives and breathes.
After the reading, I was taken out to dinner and then tempted to North Shields on a promise of whisky and chocolate. Tuesday morning, then, started a little blurry (damn that Belgian chocolate...); but I took the Metro back to Newcastle, walked home and spent an hour painting the back yard. Then I walked into town for my 11.30 physiotherapy appointment, to be told with much merriment that my appointment was for 2.00pm. So I walked home again, changed my clothes for the third time that morning and did another hour's painting. Then I walked back into town, suffered under Karen's iron thumbs and decided not to go home again; even that walk can pall. Whereas shop lights, as we know, can never dim. So I did some Chinese homework, and then I shopped. For pots, as it happens, for the back yard, but it might have been for anything. And so to David Constantine's lecture - on translation, and fascinating, and very much about Keats - and then immediately on afterwards to the Theatre Royal, to see 'The Gondoliers'. Straight up-and-down production, no offence in the world. G & S has never been my thing, particularly; I do musicals with relish, and opera with delight, but the bastard form, neither fish nor flesh nor good red herring - I don't really know what to do with it, how to read it, where to find the passion. Still, I was very glad to be there last night.
And today started with the first session of a morning course on M R James and the Victorian ghost story - and no, I'm not tutoring, that's Gail. I'm just a student. Then lunchtime drinking and I scurried home to do not very much before I scuttled out again, back to the lecture circuit: David C on the usefulness of poetry (and very much about Brecht), and then straight over the quad for the first Chinese lesson of the new term.
And all this self-improvement, all this home-improvement, can it really be all in lieu of Sophie? Or is at least a portion of it that more familiar displacement activity, the avoidance of work, of writing? I don't know, no one's asked me yet.
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.