Saturday, December 29, 2007

Phew!

"the truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more"

So Many Books! Gabriel Zaid

Thank you Lucy Mangan for alerting me to this enabling wisdom. I shall no longer feel guilty about the growth of my shelf of unread books. A growth which somehow continues unabated despite constant reading. Can I help it if books make me feel safe?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sometimes graffiti just says it all

On the grey stone wall of the alley I walk through to the train station each weekday morning:

F**K ENFIELD. TIME TO EAT.

Yeah, this place makes me hungry too.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Poetry party

Sunday night the poet and I went along to his publisher Enitharmon's 40th anniversary party. They also publish art books, so it wasn't all poets, but there were some well known literary figures (in the poetry world at least) there. And much grey hair. I usually wallflower at these events, or stick close to the poet as he moves around his various friends and acquaintances, and I did my share of that last night, but also spent a reasonable amount of time talking to a couple of people. I am so shy, especially around writers (probably because I feel I should be writing more myself).

It was a good night (at the Almeida restaurant) and had I wanted to share the poet's Monday hangover, the waiters who smilingly foisted wine and prosecco on us at every opportunity would have been my willing accomplices.
The poet introduced me to the man who took this famous photograph of WH Auden, Stephen Spender, Ted Hughes, TS Eliot and Louis McNeice (in random order). He told us how he scrambled around looking through the negatives when Sylvia Plath became well known (or died?) as she had been at the same event and was hanging around in the background, but found no potentially very lucrative photos of her. Wouldn't knowing the future be a boon in that kind of situation!

Memelicious

(from wirenth)

What FIVE items would you ask for, if you knew (or hoped) someone would buy them for you this year?

1) A digiscribble to make work life easier (I am taking so many minutes these days, which will teach me to be perceived as being good at it!)
2) A photo printer, to avoid the cutting out of photos
3) The top book on my Amazon wishlist
4) A dollshouse
5) Pet rats and a guarantee of someone to look after them when we were away

Friday, November 30, 2007

Also...


So long NaBloPoMo



And fingers crossed that I might win a prize, despite the dastardly tube making one of my posts after midnight.

I guess my post-it note can be retired until next year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy birthday poet!


Happy birthday to my darling poet.

May your 50th year be filled with love and new poems. Good wines, excellent food and improved health. Book sales and phenomenal readings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Almost there...

And while I will miss NaBloPoMo for the impetus it gave my blogging, it will be nice not to have to blog every single day unless I want to.

It's the poet's birthday tomorrow, so I'm wrapping his 'please only give me things that are useful' presents and getting ready for our big day out tomorrow. I'll probably go to the post office in the morning and send off a box of Christmas presents to Australia to avoid the hideous Saturday morning queues. Don't even speak to me about Abbey National - routinely queues out the door.

Just read in Metro tonight that there is another form of MRSA that's not hospital-acquired. Maybe this will be the pandemic the NHS is busy preparing for, not bird flu after all. I really really hope not. Not bird flu, not community MRSA, not anything. No pandemic, ok.

Monday, November 26, 2007

If Facebook doesn't believe in santa, I don't believe in Facebook

I've been over Facebook for a while. I don't really see the point apart from finding people you've lost touch with, and all those turkeys being thrown at me and being Superpoked is kind of irritating. Once I've found someone, I'd much prefer to keep in touch with people by email and snailmail, or in person if they're local.

I guess my internet community and livejournal experience, where you actually have a forum for discussion (that's not hidden under news feeds and who has friended who) and hearing about people's lives, probably made me a poor candidate for this kind of social networking site. Also, how do people have the time to do anything on Facebook except update their status and respond to all the invitations, pokes, growing gifts etc?

This Guardian article was the last straw. I'll keep my listing up, but I'll disable all of those applications.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I am grateful for Christmas cacti, cyclamen and fake Australian parrots in these dark November days. And Wes Anderson's latest, The Darjeeling Limited, for a spot of Indian sun in the midst of grey suburban London.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Howard out!

John Howard concedes defeat in the Australian election.

He definitely had long enough - ten years, or eleven? And Anne in Brisbane agrees with Anne in London who is from Brisbane,

I might look into postal voting for Australian elections in future. I think I've dropped off the electoral role after nine years in London. I did go along to the High Commission a few times to vote early on, but then it seemed to be more important to vote in the country I'm actually living in. Psst, Brown, can we have an election please?

Dammit

Well, I could backdate my post by 40 minutes and pretend I'm posting on Friday, but it's officially Saturday and I have lost my NaBloPoMo cred. Dammit.

A big shout out to London Transport for being so slow in getting me and the poet home from his reading at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden - an excellent night of poetry from Jacqueline Gabbitas and my poet, with wonderful jazz and blues. Somehow ended up talking about the upcoming Australian election with the singer (who is from New Zealand). I think that may well be the only conversation about politics I have ever willingly engaged in in my life, and I don't pretend to have said anything knowledgeable. I should vote, really, but I haven't for a few years (I've been in the UK 9 and a half) and I do vote in the UK elections.

p.s. Dammit. I was doing so well with the daily posting, it feels really unfair to be caught out by a time issue. If only I felt safe blogging at work.

(Does it count if I was composing this post all the way home in my head)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Just when you thought there would be no more Buffy blogging

It's been a little while now since we watched the last episode. The pain of Anya's death is fading. The jonesing for a regular DVD fix is waning. I'm no longer thinking in Buffy-isms (which is a bit sad actually as some of the dialogue is darn witty). But I do still have this to sustain me:


I only own the first five issues, but apparently there could be as many as 50 by the time they finish. Not quite the same as having all the characters speak their lines outside my head, and nowhere near as funny, but it is satisfying to see what their creator thought would happen to them next.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wherein spam is strangely appropriate as an opener

My Beloved,

As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday.
2007 has been a year of worrying about my health, maybe it's because now that I'm 37 I am starting to notice the signs of ageing. There has been mega-worrying about my teeth, which I've never had any problems with at all, but I now have some acid erosion, which isn't terrible or uncommon, but damn. So I'm rather obsessive about not eating lots of food which is acidic, and rinsing my mouth after fruit. Also, I'd like to get my teeth whitened but am concerned about the possible long term effects, also the sensitivity. I would hate to have lovely white teeth for a while, only for them all to fall out in 20 years...

And then I had a blocked ear from early August, which still hasn't cleared properly. No problems visible in two doctor visits and no real pain apart from occasional aching. Mystery. Strangely, I know several other people who've had ear issues recently, ongoing and mysterious like mine. Maybe there's some strange new virus around.

And just today, as the first period cramps from hell close in, I started to think about my ureters. Not that I often do, those poor neglected little tubes that run from my kidneys to my bladder. But it was relevant, I promise, because I have endometriosis, which happens to be on my ureters as well as other places. And I was in a Google kind of mood today, which was really reassuring. Like, renal failure reassuring. I shall think positive and since I haven't had any problems since surgery 4 years ago, I might just write to my consultant (I don't see her regularly as I don't really have much pain despite severe endo) and ask her if we should be monitoring those poor little tubes, especially if I decide to have a break from the continuous pill.

Not a particularly cheerful day, and I also made a silly non-work-related decision at work today, which I regret but felt right at the time. Hopefully it will all be ok.

But now, to finish as I began...
The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of Eleven Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars that I have with a Security Home/Deport in United Kingdom for safe keeping. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and disburse it to some charity organizations and to the less privileged. While I await to hear from you the earliest possible time to enable me give you some guard lines on how to get the project done.reply me through my reached email.
ok?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

BBDO (no, not the advertising agency)

It's the poet's birthday next week and we're going to continue the tradition (started last year) of a Big Birthday Day Out (BBDO). Last year we went into the West End and had lunch at the kind of all-you-can-eat Asian buffet the poet loves, then queued up in Leicester Square for half-price theatre tickets and saw a matinee performance of Les Miserables. Then it was over to the South Bank for a quick dinner and a very engaging theatrical interpretation of Virgina Woolf's The Waves.

(I had my own BBDO last year when we caught a train to Ely with a friend and played tourists for the day, cream tea included. This year we were in Italy for my birthday, it was more like a Big Birthday Weekend.)

This year the poet has to take his mother to an appointment late morning, so we'll be kicking off later, but I figure we can still fit in a matinee theatre performance and then dinner at Chez Gerard, where I am hopelessly in love with their anchovy butter. The poet likes his steak, so we'll both be happy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ugh, winter

Seriously, who could enjoy this weather - rainy and cold? I don't think even ducks would. I arrived at work with soaking feet and legs (umbrellas are so useless for any body part except the head), and after a day spent drying socks and shoes out on the radiator at work, I arrived home again with soaking feet thanks to walking between work, train, bus and home. At least it wasn't raining when I went for a walk at lunchtime.

I could potentially enjoy a very limited run of this weather if I was in a beautiful hotel with lots of good books, fine food and comfortable windowseats looking out onto some rugged and/or picturesque countryside. But having to go to work in it is not fun.

A friend just reminded me of this search engine -


Apparently, if Google had a black screen, taking in account the huge number of page views, according to calculations, 750 mega watts/hour per year would be saved. Being the eco-friendly little bunnies we hope they are, in response Google created a black version of its search engine, called Blackle, with the exact same functions as the white version, but with lower energy consumption: http://www.blackle.com/

It would be interesting to see if my power bills went down at all, using this instead of Google, but I'm not sure I use Google enough for Blackle to make a difference. An admirable idea, but really they should just change Google to a black background.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Winter

The BBC weather forecast for today was 4 degrees (!) and rainy. So I stayed up until the early hours last night watching 'House' and tidying my desk, and then stayed in bed today until early afternoon. I walked to the library and Waitrose mainly to get some daylight (for SAD avoidance) and then came home, did a bit of housework and put our rapidly-becoming-a-tradition Sunday roast chicken in the oven. The poet has arrived home from his very well-received presentation at the NAWE conference in York, and is presently having a hot bath.

At this time of year, when the days start to get cold, on the first really cold day I always think it can't possibly get any colder. Then it does. And I always think I can't possibly handle it getting any colder, being a born Queenslander, sub tropical native and all, but I do. I just wish it didn't have to be cold and dark. We have had some beautiful sunny days lately, I hope they continue throughout winter.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

wtf?

Um, I just got google.com on the NaBloPoMo randomizer!

Bus life

I bet the person who convinced some London bus companies to have automatic announcements on their buses thought they were pretty clever. They obviously don't have to travel with these excessively loud announcements blaring through the bus. And the problem with anything like this is that it's bound to be wrong at least some of the time. Making the problem they're ostensibly trying to solve (people not knowing where to get off) worse.

For some reason, the new electronic display always say 'Bounces Road' when the 192 goes down Fotheringham Road. Granted, it is a pretty bumpy and bouncy ride, but I have no idea where Bounces Road even is. I pity the non-residents who get off there thinking they're somewhere else entirely.

Tonight, on a very crowded 192, the entire bus collapsed in laughter when the announcement said, 'Please move down the bus. There are seats available on the upper deck.'

The 192 is a single-decker.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yes, just take the damn cheezburger already!


I need to stop obsessively refreshing this site: http://icanhascheezburger.com/ But there is just so much funny! Most of the pictures are cats, but I have a soft spot for frogs.


This little one reminds me of the tiny tree frogs that lived on a locut tree behind our garage when I was a kid. They were so incredibly sweet. We would stand under the tree and look for shadows on the leaves, then carefully put our hand over the leaf and pick up the frog. I'm sure they really loved that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


This was a birthday present from Cristina's family, made by Cristina herself. She is so talented. I adore the paper it's bound with and now I just need to find photos special enough to fill this very special album.

The organisation I work for is having its very first Christmas party ever this year. I'm kind of apprehensive. I don't like huge social gatherings. I will try to stick close to my friends and probably end up putting lots of faces to names and probably have a really good time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How to find a lost friend - part 3

Found!

The email I sent to a school who listed her as a staff member in 2005 reached her as she still works there.


Also, today, for the first time since I started doing the puzzles about a week ago, I got the Sudoku puzzle in Metro out! Now fingers crossed that I win the £200. It's been a lucky year, so maybe.

1 for Wednesday

The more I see of Heather Mills in the tabloid press (or any media), the more bewildered I become. She's obviously really angry about a lot of things, and not afraid to say so, no matter how much more negative publicity it gets her, and how ridiculous it makes her look to the public. Could she also not be realising that Paul McCartney is seen by many as a national treasure and his perceived dignity and silence on the matter of their divorce only makes him look even better, and her even worse?

Today I read in Metro that she wants to become a gay icon because 'Gay men love a strong woman and I think I fit the bill, don't you?' Um, Heather, I don't think you can tell gay men (or any other group) that you want to be their icon. An icon has to emerge because they value your qualities, not because you value your qualities and think they should too. Ok, probably iconship is carefully managed and marketed too, but still. Telling people you want to be their icon may not be the best way of going about it, especially if all you're in the media for currently is being really angry and vengeful.

Because she seems to be someone, like a lot of someone's in a society that is raising many of its children to aspire to being famous*, who is trying to cement her role in a celebrity-obsessed society so that the money keeps rolling in for doing very little except be seen

*Famous for what? you might ask. Oh, just famous. Because look at all the so-called celebrities who aren't famous for being wonderful actors, or accomplished musicians, or fascinating artists or witty writers, they're just famous because they were on a reality television show. What can they actually do? Who knows! Maybe nothing more than the averagely talented person in the street. Scary though the thought may be, maybe even less than that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Webshite

The poet's website has been down for about a month, and despite numerous emails to the provider of the free webspace, no reply has been forthcoming. It's been down before but they've always been prompt in resolving the problem. This time, however, we finally get a reply email along the lines of 'Oh, we're not offering free webspace anymore and you should have received an email advising you of this and offering you the opportunity to upgrade to a paid account.' No, we didn't. Shabby, Portland, very shabby.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to find a lost friend - part 2

Ooh! Google helps again, up to a point. Looks like her ex-husband stayed in Australia after the divorce and is now in Sydney. No contact details for him either. But he is on facebook. She is not on his friends list, but I don't think she was ever into the internet much. I have no irl friends who are!

If only everyone had a blog...

Monday Flaubert

Whereas the truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.

(Madame Bovary)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Why is this? Why have so many of us lost a sense of public courtesy? We are richer than we have ever been but, equally, our sense of social obligation has never been weaker.
I know I'm going to come across as a total Grumpy Old Woman with this post, but seriously, I'm noticing such a lack of respect for other people and one's environment in today's society. Just this afternoon, I went to the cinema and unfortunately sat in the same row as a couple who talked for a fair amount of time through the film, which has always been pretty much par for the course in our north London cinema. But did they really have to keep turning their mobile phones on and distracting me with the bright light of the screen? Maybe I'm becoming one of a minority who goes to a film to watch a film, not to talk and send text messages.

Then I walked over to B&Q to buy some last-minute crocus and tulip bulbs for the garden. Because I can never have too many spring flowers. Walking ahead of me were a couple of young boys, dropping fastfood wrappers in their wake. Ok, I understand that 'Keep Britain Tidy' is not as inspiring or convincing as 'Keep Australia Beautiful', but come on... didn't their parents teach them not to drop litter? And then, the piece de resistance. A motorcycle rider decided he didn't want to wait in traffic but instead drove across two pedestrian crossings and their accompanying traffic islands, narrowly missing pedestrians in the process. What is that about? Too many people just wanting to do what they want to do, go where they want to go with no thought for other people. 'Me and mine' above all else.

These days I'm not so game to challenge people on their antisocial behaviour, because mostly you get told to F off, oh, and didn't you know that these days you get stabbed for asking someone to stop throwing chips at your girlfriend? I did call security once when some teenagers were running riot through a screening of a film, literally running around the cinema, and that was satisfying. Luckily they weren't waiting outside for me afterwards.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Chicos


If you gradually eat a whole bag of these, sent with birthday presents from home, all by yourself because your husband doesn't like them, you're not going to feel very well. You'll probably also be wondering what your more politically correct associates might make of a bag full of little chocolate jelly babies. Sorry, jubes.

How to find a lost friend

It's gradually come to my attention that I seem to have lost a friend. As in misplaced, as in lost touch and had no luck in tracing through the easy routes. The last time I saw her was just before she left England (2002, 2003?) to go back to Australia with her husband and son, and we were in email contact after that for a couple of years.

Mutual friends haven't heard from her. The email address she was using isn't valid anymore, neither is her parents' email address, which she was using for a while. I got no response from the wedding invitation mailed to her parents' home address.

So I've been thinking for a while of printing out a few 'Hi, how are you, but more to the point, where are you?' letters and sending them to her parents' home address (they might have moved), but also to all the primary schools, preschools, kindergartens and nurseries (last we knew she was an early childhood teacher) in the last town she mentioned as being 'home'. It's fairly likely she's no longer there, except that her son was at school there and she may have wanted to stay settled for that reason, but I don't really know where else to look. Google helped me with the name of a school she was working at in 2005 - but the site doesn't seem to have been updated since then. I might email the school with a request for a message to be passed on if she's still there. Maybe she doesn't want to be in contact with us anymore for some reason, or maybe she's lost all our contact info as well.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Autumnal

I realised, slightly too late, that I need to carry my camera around with me to attempt to capture some of the gorgeous autumn details. Here are a few from today, and tonight. Of course, London's not a patch on the countryside, but it has its moments.




I saw my first famous person for a while today. Fiona Shaw (with Saffron Burrows I think - or a clone) waiting at the same bus stop as me in Camden Town. Actually, the only reason I realised this familiar-looking person was Fiona Shaw was because of her leggy companion. I saw Saffron a couple of years ago in Fresh and Wild in Soho. These little celebrity encounters remind me where I am. It doesn't happen so much in Brisbane.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

As I left my therapist's rooms tonight, I passed a girl in the waiting room, music blaring from her ears via her iPod. For a moment, I had the faint hope she might be there for some iPod rehabilitation therapy.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The work that never ends

The difficulty with being married to a poet, who also does teaching work and project work for the Royal Literary Fund (aka being kind of employed by Winnie the Pooh!), is that I come home from a day of being a very busy personal assistant, wanting to just veg out and watch Heroes, and the poet is still on the go.

Even worse, sometimes he wants to utilise my occasionally impressive skills on Powerpoint or Word, or needs me to design an Excel spreadsheet to help him do his taxes. Worse than that, sometimes he pays me to help him with a project and that means I have to get it done to time, on his terms. He is a perfectionist of the highest order. Which is admirable, but sometimes maddening. Thank goodness my boss at work is not a perfectionist or I would be tearing my hair out. Most of our arguments centre around the computer, like there is some irritated, grumpy vortex that just pulls me in when we sit down to work on something together.

My pc is the internet pc in our house, which means the poet spends a fair amount of time on it doing his email. His pc is the inviolable virus-free-clean-zone machine that has never been breathed upon by a dirty modem. And I've just come home to catch a peek at his inbox where there is a lengthy email from someone he's working with, with several attachments, which is going to mean he will be at my pc working for some time to come when he gets home. Hence this blog post being typed now. (Actually, hence this blog post at all!)

On a cheerier and less whinging note, am I the only blogger to get unfeasibly excited by someone I don't know commenting on my blog? It's just as well really, as I seem to have no irl friends who use the internet for fun (I feel like a 17-year-old with no friends who own mobile phones) and so Married to a Poet is mostly a comment-free zone.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rabbits, cake and Hello Kitty

I've slightly run out of blogging steam and time so instead of posting something about me, I'll direct your attention to these other very worthy blogs:

Disapproving Rabbits - A blog showcasing the disapproval of our bunny friends
Hello Kitty Hell - Who knew there was so much to share about Hello Kitty?
Cupcake Bakeshop - I don't bake cakes, I rarely even eat cupcakes, but I cannot resist this blog and the scrumptious photographs.

My current favourite cupcake

Also, check out the NaBloPoMo Randomizer (button just on the right). I seem to get a few repeats of blogs when I use it, but it's a great way of finding new sites to read. And let's face it, we can all do with a few more funny/witty/superbly photographed/insightful/silly blogs in our internet lives.


Oh, here is an Anne snippet of little or no importance - the poet and I have been watching Heroes on DVD. I think I'm falling into a space where I can only enjoy television series with a fantasy element. Here's hoping Joss Whedon's new show Dollhouse fits the bill, even if Eliza Dushku looks worrying like Heather Graham in that photo.

Monday, November 05, 2007

So Bourgeois


I'm not really up with contemporary art, or any art for that matter. I have a definite soft spot for Magritte, but otherwise my knowledge is pretty scanty. I saw a room filled with Louise Bourgeois' nighttime doodles at the Tate and was intrigued, but since then I haven't been that drawn to much of her work. Until I saw this cushion in last Saturday's Guardian Weekend magazine.

For someone in her nineties especially, that's pretty cool. With which succinct statement I cleverly illustrate just why I don't comment on art much.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

p.s.

The power of positive thinking

I just won £20 from the poet in a bet that a free PDF converter would work on his computer without any problems. He often seems to come to things relating to computers anticipating that they will probably go wrong - based on some past experience. So the PDFs worked perfectly and I now have £20. He originally wanted to bet £100, but as I am rather broke, I said no. How I wish now I had been more positive!

And yay for the lucrative power of positive thinking!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gel-what?-o

We've been lucky enough to travel to Italy twice this year, and both times ate a lot of gelati, because it really is the best, in Europe at least. I think King Island (Tasmania) might produce some pretty special ice cream along with all that cream and cheese. These two flavours, the top one from the best gelateria in the world - Della Palma (there's one in Rome and one in New York) - and the bottom flavour from Orta, gave us pause for thought.


Yes, it does say Viagra.

One last thing about poets

This one, anyway. He may profess that he adores a certain character in a certain sadly finished television series, and yet he takes particular pleasure in watching her die, over and over, on the DVD. Is it sexy or something to have a sword run through you from shoulder to navel?

Orta

So, Orta was really beautiful.

Picture an old cobbled-street town on the bank of a huge lake. And in the middle of that lake, a tiny island that looks like it has been torn from the pages of a fairytale book, crammed with ancient buildings including a church that houses a saint in a glass box. Actually, he's mostly just bones now. Look up from the lake to the surrounding mountains, the Dolomites, some with faint snow caps, and beyond them to the Alps and Switzerland. Look down to the plate on the table in the little restaurant you are sitting in and lift your fork.

You have to do all that work because the photo really doesn't do it justice.


Yes, actually, I am married to a poet

So I realised that for a blog called Married to a Poet, I don't really write that much about the whole being married to a poet thing. For all I know, you're thinking about spending a fairly big proportion of your life with a poet too and you've stumbled here in search of tips and experience.

Not sure I have much to offer there, unless your poet is like mine - not recognisably a stereotypical poet i.e. not fey or sentimental. He's not a performance poet by the popular definition of the word which seems to equate pretty well with 'rapper'. But he is an incredible performer (he co-founded a group called Shadowork, who create amazing voice soundscapes) and he writes damn good poetry. He has published about seven books, two of which have sold out and one is in a second print. Oh, and he was a physicist first. And yet not geeky either. Come to think of it, he is all about not conforming to stereotype.

Anyway, here are some musings about poetry from a poet wife's perspective.

1. The poetry world, in the UK at least, is rather political, and it does increasingly seem who you know rather than the quality of your work that gets you readings and festival appearances and residencies and sometimes even published. This is a big frustration that you will probably come to share and wish you could blog about.

2. You cannot make a living by writing and publishing poetry alone. Maybe someone like Seamus Heaney can, or the few poets in the curious higher echelons who are at every festival, have agents and command high fees, but your average pretty successful poet is going to need a day job, or at least do a lot of freelance work. Teaching is popular, and there is an ever-growing hungry adult student body for creative writing classes and workshops (witness the rise of the creative writing MA in the UK) as well as all those kids in schools. Getting work on BBC radio is good, because they pay per minute.

3. If you write poetry yourself, and you become intimate with another poet, you may just feel the desire to start working in another genre if your loved one's mastery of the art makes you wonder why you bother. Or maybe that's just me.

4. You may arrive home from work, or return from being in another room to find a poem or several awaiting your audience. You may get a phone call which is a poem. You may surprise yourself at just how usefully critical your reading of poetry becomes.

5. You may find yourself reading poems written before the poet met you, and wishing they were written for you, or just that you had been around to give him/her a hug.

Like this one.

IF YOU WERE TO COME BACK

I'd stand at the door like one bereaved:
Aghast and breathless,
With silence stretched between us
For a second
Before it snapped -
And my heart burst its banks
In belief.

Then I'd draw you in by both hands
I'd kiss you on the mouth, on the face
Wear out your name
with soft saying
I'd kiss you more than you would want
Until you'd have to draw back, breathless
As one wounded
To try to speak, to tell me
Why it was you came.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ok, look away now

This is so so silly, but now, having watched the last episode of Buffy, and knowing there are no more, it feels a tiny bit like a light has gone out. Sad. In a different way to Six Feet Under being over, or even The Flying Doctors when I was a lot younger. Because there was magic in Buffy, literally and in the very fabric of the show. Not to mention the seriously amusing dialogue.



And I cannot believe how appropriate this song would have been for Buffy. Or was it even used in it sometime?

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all OK
And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear

Seriously, if you ever enjoyed Buffy, close your eyes and let the montage happen. Tearfulness.



Maybe I'll grow up now.

Tricky

So for Halloween we are not answering the door, closing the curtains and ignoring rings on the doorbell from hooligans asking us for money. I really wish we had little kids coming around with their parents and we could give them sweets, but alas, not in this part of north London. I should have realised what Halloween in London would be like when I lived in Ealing and a kid at a bus stop, a few days before Halloween, asked me for a pound. I asked her why and she said, ‘For Halloween’. She didn’t blink when I said it wasn’t even Halloween yet. Eventually the lack of movement of my hand to my purse alerted her to the fact that she should probably ask someone else.

While closeted in our dark house, we will very appropriately be watching the final two episodes (ever! sob!) of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. Actually, she hasn’t been slaying too many vampires lately. She should probably be known as ‘Buffy the Slayer who investigates creepy demonic situations with her friends and sometimes slays vampires too’.. Maybe there will be some vampires in the final big battle for the world, because the poet gets bored when there’s no fighting. I get a bit antsy when there’s no Anya.

Also, I will be psyching myself up for NaBloPoMo – The Return.

I have never really seen the point of Nanowrimo unless you already want to write a novel. Maybe I do, maybe one day. For now I'm sticking to short stories. But hey, it keeps all the wannabe novelists off the streets, and creative endeavour can only be a good thing compared to crime, substance abuse and other popular pursuits. But would someone somewhere please share the draft novel they have produced during Nanowrimo? I have never seen one, which only reinforces my suspicion that they are all really crap. (Except for my friend Shari's, of course, because she is a writer).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gratuitous Anya post




Yes, I am actually a 14 year old girl living in 2003. And proud of it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Buffy Project - part 2

The poet is still addicted (less so than me, he gets bored with the non-fighty episodes) and I am starting to get sad because we have only one more disc to watch of the entire series. Three, maybe four episodes and it's all over. Is it just me, or when you really enjoy a television series, does it become like an alternative universe to you - the characters you love or hate do actually exist out there somewhere?

Sigh. Soon, no more Anya to adore from the wrong side of the DVD player. No more Buffy's clothes to study and sometimes covet. No more camp Andrew - how amused am I that he's become a regular character? No more occasionally irritating Willow and increasingly chubby Xander. No more Giles.... but wait! Do I detect the stirrings of a BBC television film (please let it be a series) in the wings? Or will I be reduced to starting the whole process over again with the Angel series, in hopes that Buffy characters will make regular visits, or that Cordelia will remind me of Anya?

And my lovely lovely favourite character dies, apparently. This is the problem with watching series years after they ended. The internet knows these things and tells you when you're not ready to know.

However, despite my fantastic ability to suspend disbelief, and in an attempt to distract myself from the upcoming series finale, I'd like to highlight two Buffy anomalies for the record:

1. All vampires turn to dust when staked, even those who only died very recently. It's a great visual effect, but surely only those who died so long ago that their original bodies would actually be dust should dust? Of course, that would mean that the very term 'dusting' would have to be reconsidered.

2. Vampires with souls, i.e. Angel and Spike (much prefer Spike, btw) feel remorse for their killings and cannot kill humans due to the emotional pain. However, humans, who supposedly had souls all along and are demon-free - kill all the time and some of them don't seem to feel much remorse. So does the reintroduction of a soul into a soulless creature make them better than human? Or was it just not thought through very well.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

You get what you give

This song has always had the strangest and most lovely effect on me - both saddening and uplifting. Now it also makes me homesick. I think I might have heard it for the first time in Australia (although it was released the year I came to London) and there's something about being twenty-seven in a bright climate in a young country that is so bittersweet now.

I still think it's slightly too slow-paced, but I can overlook that. The singer is kind of geekily endearing. Like a cute younger brother.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Frightening a little mouse under her chair

The poet is going to London to visit the Queen for National Poetry Day tomorrow.

He has threatened* to misbehave but is of course the epitome of a professional always.

We're just back from a fantastic weekend at Orta in northern Italy. Lakes, islands, poetry and new friends, a wonderful way to spend my 37th birthday weekend.


*Hmm, I wonder if a blog post with 'threat' and 'Queen' in close proximity is flagged up by the security services?


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Right Brain/Left Brain Freakiness

So I'm obviously a right-brainer, but it freaks me out that the poet and I saw her going in opposite directions at the same time! And that you can change her direction by concentrating.

Click here for the weird whirling woman

We're off to Lake Orta in Italy for the Poetry on the Lake festival and for the poet to collect a prize. Four star hotel on a lake, poetry and Italian weather for my birthday sounds pretty good. If only I didn't have a sneaking suspicion that London's weather is going to be even better over the weekend - but then has the BBC's forecasting ever been accurate?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Weeping guitars

I love this version of George Harrison's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. (And the way the video makes you think Nyjon plays the guitar...)



And I promise this is my last Nyjon post. But one last little thing, if any of you are interested in hearing the song the poet wrote for me with Nyjon, go to the cdbaby link a few entries earlier and click on 'First Love, Last Love'.

Useful site for UK ebayers

fatfingers.co.uk finds items on ebay (UK) that might get missed and not snapped up because the seller has mispelled the item description. Not that I'm encouraging ebay addiction or anything.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Must. Stop. Looking. On. Youtube. For. Videos. That. Make. Me. Homesick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oV_gY156LOQ&mode=related&search=

Must. Go. To. Bed. Now.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Music man

I keep forgetting to post about the debut album of a friend, Nyjon. He's a medical doctor (also trained as a naturopath) who runs a clinic on Harley Street (the prestigious medical location in England) using herbal medicine and diet to help people with cancer, and he's set up a charity (Chart) to raise money for people who can't afford this complementary medicine. And he sings, and writes songs, sometimes with the poet. I'm a bit too excited about the fact that the song 'First Love, Last Love' is one that the poet wrote for me with Nyjon, before the married days.

To use words not my own, [the album's] inventive blend of pop, funk and R&B carries a powerful and enduring message, spanning themes from responsibility and honesty in love to ecology and social reality. If only Al Gore would listen, I'm sure he'd snap up 'Lover Earth' (cowritten with the poet) as an environmental campaign song. Nyjon and the poet have just done another environmental song - Blue - which you can hear here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/DrNyjonEccles

You can listen to tracks, download them or purchase the CD from: http://cdbaby.com/cd/nyjon

His cover of George Harrison's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' is pretty special too. It's not on the album but is a fundraiser for Chart. To get the single, simply make a donation via their website.

The Buffy Project - part 1


When we got back from Australia at the end of May, and life in London seemed dismal and drab, as it often does, but PARTICULARLY WHEN THERE WAS NO SUMMER IN SIGHT, I decided it was time to finish something that was set in motion some years ago.

I was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. When I first moved to London in 1998 I stayed in on Friday nights to watch Buffy on Sky One. I watched Angel too, because it was on afterwards, but it never grabbed me so much. When I moved in with the poet in mid 2000, much of my concern at living in a house without a television was that I wouldn't be getting my regular fix of Buffy. I wasn't sure I could do it, and my mother was convinced I had a secret television hidden in a cupboard somewhere, but I grew to appreciate and enjoy not having a television. Buffy got left behind, and it was ok.

My brother had a couple of seasons on DVD which I watched back to back one December I was in Brisbane, when it was too hot to move and the rest of the city languished inside with their air conditioning. It was the last time I saw my father, and he watched many of the episodes with me. Somehow it became a bit of a bonding experience for us, not that you could have predicted my dad enjoying a show about a teenage vampire slayer.

But otherwise my life was Buffy-free. Perhaps it was the lack of sun turning my thoughts towards those who dwell in darkness, or maybe it was just silliness, but I decided to watch the entire series of Buffy this year - seasons 1-7 - to see what I had missed out on. It helped that the poet and I had just bought a portable DVD player so we could watch films (my pc was pretty old and slow and mangled most DVD viewing experiences).

And so began the great Buffy Project of 2007.

To be continued...


Silly as a bum-full of Smarties


I've just come back from the cinema, watching Kenny. What a guy. The film made me homesick for Australia, for the kind of guy I've met nowhere else in the world - completely down to earth and patient and decent, a bit rough and maybe not the smartest, but you'd trust him with your life. Not that people like that are peculiar to Australia, of course they're not, but there's a particular Australian breed of them. Fair dinkum types.

The kind of man who peppers his speech with 'he's serious as a heart attack, mate' and 'busy as a one-armed bricklayer in Baghdad'. Who has an unironic 'Advance Australia Fair ' singalong in the car with his little boy. Who looks out of his window in Nashville Tennessee on his first ever trip out of Australia, sees snow and says, 'Look at that, that's lovely. Good on 'em.'

Maybe I wouldn't want to marry him, but I sure as hell would want him for a brother-in-law or friend. Come to think of it, my Aussie brother-in-law is not far off. A good bloke.

'Useless as tits on a bull' got a big laugh from rest of the (British of course) audience, whereas the phrase just sounds normal to me. I guess I haven't lost all trace of Australian-ness, thank goodness. Even if I apparently sound like a Pom.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who would have thought that finally getting broadband (now that I have a pc that can handle it) would be so satisfying?

Who would have thought the poet would ever be able to access his email quickly and efficiently, in a way that didn't bring despair to the entire household?

Thank you Tiscali.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ire

How sad would it be for me to start carrying around my digital camera, just so that I would be able to gather photographic evidence of the blatant disregard for law that seems endemic in the UK today? Laws that are meant to protect the public.

e.g. two perfect opportunities from today

1. A van driving the wrong way down a one way street and nearly running me over. If I hadn't chanced to look in that direction just in case of idiots (a cyclist nearly mowed me down on the same street doing the same thing), it would not have been a pretty sight.

2. A man driving along while using his mobile phone. No hands free kit even.

I fantastised as I walked about getting clear photos showing the crime and the registration plate and sending them to the police, but who am I kidding?

It seems that too many people just want to do what they want to do, regardless of whether it might harm someone else. They obviously didn't have the same parenting I did. Which probably means they didn't get drummed into them that 'fooling leads to fighting' either. It does, it really really does!

Friday, July 06, 2007

London is a city of people that just want to get home on time

http://nostrich.net/archives/delays-on-the-underground/

I couldn't have said it better myself *. There's no panic on the Underground, no commuter terror as the threat level climbs to critical and then back to severe. I don't know whether it's the much-claimed Blitz spirit, or whether it's a big city mentality, but I seem to have lived here long enough to just get on with things, like everyone else. I do like seeing extra police on the streets and in the stations though.
* Oh, who am I kidding, the pedant in me would have said 'who' not 'that'.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Perfect

In one of the comments on the BBC Have Your Say Forum the other day:

This is the UK. We only have two seasons -
rainy and August.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Revelling in Croxley

On Saturday I went with some friends to the Croxley Revels - a big village fair that's been held annually for hundreds of years. There were lots of stalls for worthy causes, selling the usual range of weird and tacky but sometimes strangely useful items (I picked up a book stand for the poet's readings). Lots of plants, including a stall from the local allotment-holders, and apparently cakes, although I missed those. A milkshake stand making chocolate-bar-flavoured milkshakes, candy floss galore and at least three face-painting stalls. And three women wandering about covered in wooden clothespegs - hedgehogs, apparently.


It was fun, and what really impressed me was the sense of community: families and pensioners and young couples standing outside their houses (glasses of wine and cans of lager optional) watching the parade of Brownies, dancers, policemen and Noah's Ark (populated with very cute little lions and tigers) before all trooping behind in the street with their revelling shoes on and their cake and plant money in their pockets. I lost my camera, and someone handed it in. Call me cynical but I can't see that happening in London.

As well as the stalls (I bought a sage plant and a fuchsia - and I will not let the snails have them!), there was the central arena where one could watch 'dancers' aged 4-15. The baby cheerleaders were pretty cute.


And then the piece de resistance - Brownies dancing around the maypole.


After the brownies did their maypoling, rather impressively not once getting tangled up, ending with the creation of a 'spiderweb'...


there was some nonsense with local schools and an enormous ball as the grand finale.


Right on cue the rain bucketed down and we ran for cover into a local pub. Entirely appropriate that an English celebration of midsummer should conclude with a freezing deluge.

In and around a poet's house, chapter 1


We are not a Buddhist household. (Luckily for me, as last night I stomped about 25 snails. Not without regret and guilt, but it was them or my sunflower seedlings. Frankly, I have had to abandon my friendlier, less murderous practice of throwing snails into the nether regions of the garden because the little bastards keep coming back. Which is why last night at 1am I was confronted by an army of shelled leaf-munchers, of all sizes. And hence the stomping. Today I bought beer baits, but I think the stomping may be kinder than slow dissolving in salty beer - or is that just me?)

So we are not Buddhist. Some of us are. however, dipping our toes into the learning of Kabbalah. But this is ok, because in Kabbalism there is reincarnation, but there is no reincarnation as insects. Unless they just haven't got around to telling me that bit yet?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Monday


I miss natural spaces I can get lost in. Too much time spent underground and in busy London saps my spirit.

And oh! How I've missed my daily blog fix. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Oh, the love


Now I have two very convincing reasons to be in Australia.

The elder asked why the poet couldn't live in England and I live in Australia. When I explained my silly adult reasons, he looked calmly at me and issued an ultimatum: 'Live here!'


His baby cousin just grinned and tried to eat my hair.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

We went to Australia


Sadly, we had to return to London and the joy of January temperatures, wind and rain in late May.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

'If you set out on a search or a journey, because you are made to, because you sense something calling from within, some voice which may be still and small but will not let you rest until you pay it heed. Something that tells you you are in fact free to act in a different manner however impossible it might seem, well... if you set out on such a journey... you will be met.

You will be met.'


What Happens Now, Jeremy Dyson

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Photographic Proof of my Amazing Paranoia (TM)


Last week I had a little operation to remove a polyp in my uterus. Filling out forms with the registrar beforehand, I come to the consent form, and the section where I say yes, ok, I've been told about the things that may go wrong while you're cutting and scraping and poking cameras into places cameras shouldn't go and you may do what you need to if you mess up or my body messes up for you. Fun things like a perforated uterus or accidental injury to other parts.

Was hysterectomy on that list? No.


Was hysterectomy a realistic potential risk of the particular procedure they were carrying out on my anaesthetised body? No.


Was I sitting there in my flimsy gown and disposable pants, clutching a pillow and thinking, oh my god if I don't put 'hysterectomy' down and something goes badly wrong and they can't stop the bleeding* and they have to take everything out and I wake up sans reproductive organs I am going to be so pissed that I wasn't paranoid enough to say 'you guys have to wake me up if you're going to remove things other than the polyp and ask me if it's okay, ok?'


One guess.

(* my last, major, operation did entail that risk, and I was warned an emergency hysterectomy was possible if that happened)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter


Hope you have a happy and safe day.

(And hooray for the secret tulips which have really brightened our previously blue (irises, bluebells, hyacinths) garden.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Long Good Friday

If I had grown up in England, I don’t think there is any chance I would have continued to attend Sunday mass until the age of 20, as I did in Brisbane. I’ve only attended a handful of masses here in London, and I’ve never felt the spiritual life and joy I knew in my church in Brisbane. The hymns, for one thing, are so slow in comparison; even the same hymns sung in Australia are sung so slowly that for me they lose a lot of their spirit.

When I was a kid we had one priest, Father Dennis, who looked as I imagined Jesus must have, and was so kind and loving and playful, again as I imagined Jesus then. He had longish black hair and a big bushy black beard, bright laughing blue eyes, and after mass all the kids and young people would gather around him. He was just good to be around. I've never met another priest like him, but the priest who married us had a some of the same playfulness.

Today being Good Friday, I decided to go to the Stations of the Cross, or the ‘Celebration of the Lord’s Passion’ as our local Catholic church, the one the poet and I were married in, calls it. I have fond memories of attending the Stations in our church in Brisbane, a moving service where the priest took the cross to each ‘station’ around the walls of the church and we heard about the different parts of Christ’s journey carrying his cross to Golgotha, where he was crucified and died.

Today was rather different. The church was completely packed out when I arrived at about five minutes to three (the hour Jesus is supposed to have died) and some of us were shepherded to a side room, with a large glass window opening onto the altar.

After the readings and the gospel, after the priest’s homily and some rather drawn out sung prayers and responses, stertorously delivered by one of the priests, (to my mind, sung prayers only really work if the singer has a beautiful or at least tuneful voice, and they’re not very very slow, otherwise they are just as or more effective being spoken) there was the veneration of the cross. After various prayers, the congregation, all fifty-seven thousand of us, were invited to show our respects to the cross, by genuflecting or kissing it. Meanwhile, in our little side room, two little boys raced around an unfurnished space, playing war with imaginary guns and bombs, their parents sitting some distance away, either worshipfully oblivious or pretending not to know them.

I prayed for a while, and the choir sang hymns for a very long time, but then there was an interminable silence where nothing seemed to be happening in the part of the church we could see from our fishbowl window. This was punctuated by a tiny girl whimpering ‘my jeans are hurt-in me mommy,’ over and over. Her mother sat behind me staring straight ahead. Finally the priest brought the Eucharist to the altar.

I made an escape after communion. I’m glad I went, because I wanted to remember what Good Friday is really about. Things have been difficult for me lately and I wanted to be in the company of a sorrow greater than my own – someone who suffered tremendously and was humiliated and killed. Someone who had to believe the promise that his death wouldn’t be final, as in a much smaller way I have to believe that things will get easier. Next time, though, unless I’m in Australia, I’ll just stay home and use my little Stations of the Cross book to pray by myself.

I imagine it’s sacrilege to poke fun at typos in church literature, but this hymn…
His dying crimson like a robe,
spreads o’er his body on the tree;
then I am dead to all the globe,
and all the glove is dead to me.
Poor unloved glove.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Icy


Janetta's icecream (in St Andrews) deserves a post of its own.

Not a patch on D'ella Palma in Rome (and New York, apparently), but rather delicious all the same.

StAnza


A couple of weekends ago the poet and I went to the St Andrews Poetry Festival. It was a working weekend for him, he was reading and taking part in a discussion about the film based on his Chernobyl book, which was show twice and sold out both times. For me, it was a chance to enjoy a six-hour train journey, spent mostly snoozing, reading and watching the countryside wend its way past, while the poet chatted with a couple of women on their way to a hen night in Edinburgh, and then a couple of nights in a very cozy bed and breakfast, with two days wandering from event to meal to icecream (dutch chocolate and walnut & maple, from Janetta's, an experience I'd been advised not to miss) to brisk walk. Walking was necessarily brisk as it was absolutely freezing.

It seems the rest of the UK had fairly hellish, windy, snowy weather that weekend, but we were well-sheltered in St Andrews, and only glimpsed a few little snowflakes on the morning we left.

I had two chances to talk to to Gwyneth Lewis, author of Sunbathing in the Rain, which I read and found immensely helpful earlier this year and thank her for the book, but the first time I didn't want to interrupt her when she was eating and talking with friends, and the second time I was unsure whether the woman bending over a bag outside the 100 Poets reading (definitely very mixed quality there!) was actually here or just had similar hair. Kicking myself now.

Being so close to the poet and reading a reasonable amount of contemporary poetry over the years myself, has given me a fairly critical ear for what works and what doesn't. Regardless of whether I actually like it. There is a lot of underworked, or just not good enough, poetry out there - winning prizes and getting acclaim seemingly only because of the name of the poet - and it's frustrating when despite the quality of his work (and the number of prizes his work has won), the poet doesn't make the 'upper tier' of poetry in this country. More reason to move to Australia, I say!