Saturday, December 09, 2017

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF SAWDUST



Holmes - Watson, have you forgotten to sweep the new wooden floor in my study? Look, a fine film of dust is still clinging to it!

Watson - While you were out, Holmes, I went over it again and again but to no avail. Moments later the dust reappeared.

Holmes - My dear fellow, I do not doubt your good intentions but I'm afraid your eyesight is not what it was. You simply failed to see the remaining dust.

Watson - My vision is as good as yours, Holmes, and dare I say, better. I have been pondering a theory as to why the sawdust is lingering.

Holmes - Let's hear it. Then kindly redo the dusting while I go for a walk to clear my lungs.

Watson - Well, sawdust particles are tiny little things of infinite lightness and duration and millions of them were released into the room by the men sawing the wooden boards.

Holmes - Those foreign workers, yes.

Watson - That's neither here nor there, Holmes. The particles, being so small and light, are still floating in the air as we speak. Therefore as soon as the floor was cleaned, those which were still hovering above gently floated down.

Holmes - Watson, take off your shoes.

Watson - What? My Aberdummy and Kitch handmade brogues?

Holmes - Precisely. Take them off and show them to me.

Watson - Very well, if I must.

Holmes - Observe the soles, Watson. Do you see fine particles of sawdust clinging there?

Watson - I'm afraid I do, Holmes. I see what you're getting at. My shoes are responsible for the lingering dust.

Holmes - When I return from my walk I expect the study to be pristine, Watson.

Short interval. Holmes returns, finds Watson in an armchair, smoking his pipe. A fine mist of sawdust covers the floor.

Watson - I was right, Holmes. It's gravity, you see.

Holmes - Those foreign workers, you can't rely on them.

Watson - Einstein was a foreign worker, Holmes.

                                                                  THE END

Friday, December 08, 2017

FLOORED

It's what I imagine the aftermath of a face lift is like. If, for instance, you had your jowls lifted, afterwards you'd probably say: now my eyebags don't go with the rest.Then after the eyebag-lift you'd say OMG, the nose! So you'd get a nose job. And so on.

Not that I would ever consider having my face lifted even if I could afford it and even though every bit of my anatomy needs lifting at this stage of life. Have you seen videos of actual face-lifting surgery? I'd rather be drawn, quartered and hung out to dry.

But I was talking about my new floor, now finished. The spic-span loveliness of it makes all the rest look cips-naps. Naff old Argos sofa, stripped of the ethnic throw under which it has lived its whole life, naked as the day it was born, well...what can I say? A ready-made loose cover costs as much as a new cheap sofa therefore, in ongoing efficient/economy trance, I've decided to do it myself. Not by proper sewing or upholstering but via creative handling of staple gun and new fabric, yet to be acquired. That's just one of the consequential improvements to be DIYed.

New floor, old sofa

Old sofa with ethnic throw under which it has been hidden all these years.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

RENOVATING

When I posted a moan on 6th November about longing to clear out, reorganise, clean slate, start again, it was one of those typical moans that never gets beyond moaning. However it did lead me into a trance of efficiency. I can be very efficient when I want to but as I don’t often want to, I have to wait for a kind of self-hypnosis to take over.

Thus entranced I spent several nights and days investigating innumerable websites dealing with the installing of engineered wood flooring and other home-improvement madness. The whiny voice of comfortable passivity kept nagging me with questions such as Are you mad?  The mess? The stress? The time? The pain? The cost? You cannot be serious? I didn’t reply.  A trance is a trance and needs no justification.

I’m now halfway through the process and yes, whiny voice was absolutely right but I’m almost sure the disruption is worth it. I’ve disrupted everything habitual, nothing is where it was, stuff on top of stuff is shoved into the room where the flooring is not going to change. I’ve nearly cleared the living room and bedroom and on Monday a man is going to remove fitted carpet and begin laying the  engineered wood planks currently stacked in the back room. He’ll be finished in 3 or 4 days then I’ll do more renovating. I have plans. Action!

The trance continues. Exciting in an obsessive way. De-familiarising familiarity is liberating, innit?

Living room before renovation.

Living room and glimpse of kitchen, before renovation. Kitchen will not be renovated.

Enginered wood flooring and underlay stored in back room.

Stuff piled up in back room.

Books waiting for re-shelving.

Monday, November 27, 2017

MUSICAL THROWBACK

Here's my version of Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves) in a very old recording made in Vancouver with Reg who I was married to at the time. The lyrics to Les Feuilles Mortes are by Jacques Prévert, music by Joseph Kosma.

http://picosong.com/wFqvG

Reg Dixon and I in Mexico.


That recording included other songs from our repertoire like Guadalajara en un Llano the link to which is below. Oh,...I've just discovered that the title is actually Me he de comer esa tuna. (Transl: I've got to eat this prickly pear.) This Mexican song is by Jorge Negrete.  Spanish lyrics are here

http://picosong.com/wFkCr

Reg and I amid the cacti near San Miguel de Allende, Mexico a long time ago. At the time I was a student of mural painting at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel while Reg was teaching ceramics there.


Monday, November 20, 2017

PERFORMING

Muito obrigada to the fabulosa Nina Miranda who invited me to sing one of my old French favourites at her terrific gig last night. I've turned into Harpo Marx in this photo but that's fine by me. The whole evening was a joy.

The lyrics of Les Feuilles Mortes (1945) - translated (inadequately) as Autumn Leaves - are by the poet Jacques Prevert. The music is by Joseph Kosma. Yves Montand first introduced the song in the 1946 film Les Portes de la Nuit.




Facebook post by Nina Rocha-Miranda 20 November 2017

Natalie D'Arberloff graced the stage with her voice on Les Feuilles Mortes last night @ our 'Arti, Parti, Liberdadi' and the whole room joined her, the autumn leaves rose and danced, and our hearts thanked her. Also big O B R i G A D A to Mark Hudson for sharing your excellent film 'Tom went to Brazil'. (great intro!) Thank you Pedro Montenegro for taking such great photos and helping organise the night, and Paddy for being superbly helpful always.Thanks to all who came and hung out and sang together on an autumn Sunday night, you're magic! . To Antony Elvin on guitar and voice and so much humour, Oli Savill on percussion, Alex Afia and Abigail Dance on violin, William Summers on flutes and pipes, Inspirational Arícia Mess on voice, Caco Barros for fine Brazilian guitar and voice, Satin Singh and Tristan Banks for jumping on for percussion impromptu wikedness of the highest calibre, Julia Miranda and Flora McLean on the wheels of feel, beautiful selections, Miriam Nabarro for getting it all so beautiful from the start with your magic paper umbrella art unfurling to further scenic magic with Julia. Thanks to mum for painting as a Ninja sur La Seine, and to Gabby Sellen and Nikita for groovy Flora Mclean hat dancing. to Deirdre McGinnis Lopez for introducing me to this very, very , Funky venue. Aces & Eights - NW5.. you really are all ACE.. sound guy, front of house, Bar staff and decor. Cheers Tim and all. x x Nina

Sunday, November 12, 2017

NICK WADLEY R.I.P.

The warmth, wit, perceptiveness and graphic brilliance of Nick Wadley no longer grace this world.
He died on 1st November after seven weeks in hospital.

I only met him a few times but he left a deep and lasting impression. His Man + Book is being published in December by Dalkey Archive Press and an exhibition Nick in Gdansk will be held next year.

To me his Man + Doctor (2012) is the most devastatingly truthful, painful, joyful and liberating of any account ever drawn or written on the subject. In a few strokes, without a trace of self-pity or sentimentality, he manages to convey how it feels to be a sharp consciousness trapped inside the tragically vulnerable, unreliable, absurdly loveable human body.

Monday, November 06, 2017

BEGIN THE BEGIN

Every so often...so often!...I get a feeling of wanting to start from scratch, clear the decks, wipe the slate, begin again at a different beginning.

Usually it starts when I look around and decide that my home must be completely transformed. I must get rid of everything I no longer need, put my past artworks out of sight, give away old vinyl records, cds, books I won't read again etc. Apart from kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, turn the other two rooms into painting/building spaces - my upstairs studio is much too cramped, filled with STUFF which must immeditely be cleared.

What usually happens next in the radical transformation scenario is that reality, i.e. the colossal physical/mental energy required to achieve my goal, suddenly knocks me down, knocks me out and stands there laughing fiendishly while I crawl away, defeated.

The thing is: to start from the beginning, is it the mental space you need to clear rather than your physical space? Or is there no such thing as a new beginning?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

ROME RETURN

Leaving aside for a moment the cultural, historic, aesthetic, gastronomic, cinematic and other wonders of Rome, on this return trip I was struck by the invasion, occupation and dictatorship of the automobile. It’s universal of course but I saw it in sharper focus in this city to which all roads, ironically, lead.

Double parked everywhere no matter how narrow a street, looming impatiently over your shoulder as you cross on white lines, cars seemed like a plague of giant cockroaches. All the comforts of having private transport bubbles furnished with entertainment, navigation, air-conditioning etc. become absurdly useless because in a city with a zillion private bubbles they will, of course, compete fiercely for space and speed and the result is hell: road-rage, traffic-rage, parking-rage, accident-rage, fuel-rage, pollution-rage, drunk-driving-rage, death-rage and so on. Obviously. If cars are allowed to rule the world humans become their slaves.


But the best thing about Italy is the Italians. I love the warmth, the ease, the wit of communication, the way words roll deliciously on the tongue before becoming speech. I do very little talking in my normal life so Italian verbosity is always both thrilling and overwhelming. I forget a lot of words in Spanish and Portuguese which I used to speak easily but Italian has stayed whole. Maybe because of intense conversations, many letters written and received but most of all the family connection: my older sister Anne, creatrice of the Teatro Club di Roma, her late husband, the writer and polymath Gerardo Guerrieri, their two talented daughters Selene and Indira with their inimitable spouses and children. I am grateful that destiny landed me in an international family in which every single individual is memorable, so memorable that I really should do a portrait of every one of them. Okay I will. I’ve just put it on my To Do list.

 My niece Selene Guerrieri Martinelli and my sister Anne d'Arbeloff Guerrieri. Rome, October 2017

This trip was a totally unexpected gift from an old friend who rang me out of the blue saying he had booked tickets for us to attend a performance of Tosca and he was offering me the return flight to Rome. An absolutely un-refusable offer. Why Tosca? Some years ago, when Gaetano was in London, we listened to the dramatic aria "E lucevan le stelle" (Pavarotti does it brilliantly) and were especially fond of that deep BOOM just before the condemned Cavaradossi sings "E non ho mai tanto amato la vita". Afterwards we fooled around imitating the BOOM. That's all there was to our Tosca experience - neither of us particularly an opera lover. But Gaetano remembered that long-ago moment and I was deeply touched by his gesture.

 Gaetano Trusso, Rome, architect, painter, poet, with two of his paintings inspired by Persian texts. He has translated some Persian poetry into Italian.

Unfortunately he was cheated by one of those online ticket fraudsters who sold him very expensive balcony seats in which Gaetano could not see the stage at all and I, perched on a high stool, saw only a corner slice of the action. It didn’t matter - the evening and the whole trip were still memorable.

 Rome, National Opera House.


My view of the stage, Tosca.


Finale. he cast of Tosca takes a bow.

 The bar at the Rome Opera House.

 Romans eating lunch in the sun.


 Irresistible temptation in Roman cafe.


 I haven't mentioned the wonderful family reunions because those are private but I also finally got to meet in real life a longtime blogging friend, Cynthia Korzekwa, Mistress of Transforming Into Art Everything You Throw Away. Her blog is Art for Housewives but her talent cannot be categorised. I only spent a very short time with her but it was enough to cement our friendship.




Sunday, October 15, 2017

JOWLS revisited

Do you make yourself laugh? If not why not? I do, quite often. 

This video is one example.

I beg your indulgence. I know it needs more editing but I've just posted it on Youtube and kind of hope it goes viral because it might encourage me to pursue silliness seriously.


All comments are welcome, critical ones too. Am not fishing for compliments, only honest responses. I had fun making this video, totally improvised, no script. I showed it to a few people back then in '97 and now it's on Facebook and Youtube but I really have no idea whether people "get" my kind of humour or whether it bores them etc.. It's quite possible that I'm the only one who finds this video hilarious and that's okay but it would be nice to get feedback.

Friday, October 13, 2017

MINDCHATTER

What's on your mind Facebook asks me in its mindless way. Okay here's what's on my mind right now:

Mindchatter.

Like when my mind is replaying what I've said or written to someone, or what they've said or written to me, or repeating something I told myself an hour ago, or a week ago, or maybe twenty thirty forty years ago, as if I needed reminding even if it was chatter then and still is chatter now.

Mindchatter when the replay/repeat button in my head is on all the time. Except when I turn it off.

Which is when I'm asleep, or reading, or engaged in demanding physical activity (pleasureable or not) or...this is the big OR...when my mind is free of chatter and I allow it to be the tool which it is, an instrument whose function is to make something, create something.

Mindchatter is the spanner in the works. The blunting of the tool. The rust, the dust, the mildew, the mould.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

NO WORDS

Nothing of particular interest to say, aware of this and that, busy with family and other matters. Hello anyway.


WORD ASSOCIATIONS

Looking through the window of a bus I'm sitting in, stopped at a traffic light, I read an orange neon sign inside a restaurant as: JUKELESS BAR. Look again and see I was mistaken, it says: JUICEBAR. Look once more and read it as: JUKE'S BAR. Then the bus moves off.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

MIND THAT GAP!

You know how some things that are pretty obvious suddenly hit you as if they are revelations? Well, yesterday, one of those hit me in the shower. Hot water needles gently pricking the skin, watery acupuncture, often seem to have an AHA-inducing effect on me. Here it is, summarised.

We are all strangers to each other.
We are all one.

Both those sentences are true. 


Sitting behind the intricately self-assembled camera obscura through which each of us views the world, we are strangers. As strange as a giraffe is to a spider, even more so, because of all that extra human baggage we carry.

No matter how close we may be or think we are to another human being, the fact is that the way we perceive and experience life, the universe and everything is different, possibly radically different, for each of us. Whether family, friend, spouse, lover, colleague, member of the same club, school, country, political party, religion, ethnicity, social class, you name it, we may share the same tastes, opinions, pursuits etc. but whatever factors unite us make no difference, deep down, to the fundamental gap which exists between one individual and another.

Why is this gap so often and so universally a problem? MIND THE GAP! The mind is the gap. The gap between your mind and mine/his/hers/theirs.Why can’t we celebrate the fact that we really are, on the inside, very different from each other? The differences are, after all, what all the great stuff in art, in music, in poetry, in literature, in philosophy etc. etc etc. originates from.

Yes, consensus is essential if anything of value is ever to be achieved on the local and global level. But isn’t it equally essential that within the unity, any unity, we recognise and admit those differences which exist within ourselves and within every other individual? And learn from them?
A lot more could be woven from these strands but I’ll leave it with an image.

Monday, October 02, 2017

GYMNOPEDIC POETS ILLUSTRATED

If you had the pleasure of reading Thirty Poets Go To The Gym, the witty, inventive suite of poems which George Szirtes gradually posted on his Facebook page (they're no longer online) you may have seen his recent notice that they are soon going to be published as a small book

What you probably didn't see is a comment I made on his page when, one by one, he began writing and posting these gems, that if they were ever to be in a book, I'd love to illustrate them.

Well, an independent Press has taken it on, George recommended me as illustrator, et voilà! I've just finished this very enjoyable task and, in due course, publication will be announced. No sneak previews until then.

The poems are funny in a seriously skilful way, adopting the style of each of the dead poets chosen by George for their imagined visit to a gym -  not unlike a stand-up comic impersonating famous people's voices - but taking on the much more difficult challenge of inventing a poem they might (in self-parodying mood) have written, using precisely the structure, the cadences belonging recognisably to each of those poets. Recognisable, that is, to those very well versed in poetry's lexicon, which I cannot pretend to be. My illustrations are what I felt was the deadpan comic-serious-literal-quirky-possible-impossible mood created by the poems.

Monday, September 25, 2017

DOG'S DAY

Sometimes, walking past a shop, a dog, any dog, large or small, cute or ugly, sitting there humbly, patiently, loyally, insignificantly waiting for its human partner to come out, moves me almost to tears. I want to tell the dog that I love it and I want to bless it.

Not that I'm especially a dog lover, or even a cat lover - apart from Pushkin, the visiting cat whose slave I am. I do appreciate all animals but when I come across that look which a dog has on its doggy face when it's waiting for its master or mistress to come back from a temporary absence...that look of absolute concentration and hopeful, pleading, optimistic but fearful waitiing....an arrow hits a bull's eye in my heart. Call it sentimentality or anthropomorphism or whatever you like but it's real.

At that moment the dog, it seems to me, is exactly like we humans...some of us...are when in our heads, in certain circumstances, we silently pray: please God just make this (whatever it is) happen and I will be yours forever. Or thoughts to that effect. The dog's expression is like a prayer. A prayer for salvation but with no certainty that it will be granted.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Thursday, September 07, 2017

MYSTERY OF DISCIPLINE

Funny thing about discipline. If I'm given a task, an assignment, a job or a request, whether professionally or personally, I immediately go into soldier mode. I don't exactly salute but almost. All my dutiful and resourceful neurons start firing and a timekeeper starts keeping time and if there's a deadline I will meet it, you can be sure of that.

But for that machinery to start working, the task or request has to come from outside myself. If it's only me myself and nobody else telling me to do something, even something I really really want to do, you can bet your life I will procrastinate and procrastinate until procrastination becomes my middle name. It's my Achilles heel, my nemesis and my bête noire. Fortunately, tasks and requests do come along to save me whenever procrastinitis has bound and gagged me. For me, discipline is freedom.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

VINCENT VAN GOGH REVEALS THE TRUTH


VAN GOGH APPEARS ON FACEBOOK

That ear business, I want to clear it up once and for all. They tell me you can put a notice on this book face and then many people see it and it’s like a disease, everybody in the world gets it immediately. So I’m going to tell the real story about my ear and then I’m off.

That bastard Gauguin started it. I say bastard but I loved the man, I worshipped him before I had the stupid idea to invite him to Arles. Stupid stupid, yes, it was stupid. But it was such a beautiful idea. We would be brothers in art, work side by side, paint and talk and eat and drink together and then the other painters would come and we’d sell our work and support each other. We wouldn’t be lonely anymore and it would be paradise.

But Gauguin, what did he do? He laughed at me. He laughed, stomping around my room waving a brush. Ha ha ha, paradise? It would be hell, he said. Paint with you, live with you? I’d rather die! You’re crazy and you’re a bore and your paintings are a mess. Look at those worms of paint crawling around your canvases, wiggly wiggly, all your crazy feelings crawling around, no dignity, no design, no serenity. Paradise? Ha ha ha! Nobody will come here, they all think you’re boring and crazy.

So I let him have it. I took a tube of chrome yellow, squeezed it into my hands then smeared it all over his face and his hair. He got hold of me, pulled my head back, grabbed a knife off the table and slashed my ear. It all happened so fast, I must have passed out. When I came to Gauguin was gone and I was bleeding all over the place. The pain in my head was bad but not as bad as the pain of Gauguin’s words. I couldn’t stand it. I had to see another human being. So I wrapped up the bloody piece of my ear that was lying on the table and took it to Rachel at the bordello. I gave it to her, she was always nice to me.

 I never told anyone that Gauguin had done it.

That’s it. You won’t see me again.
Vincent

Thursday, August 31, 2017

FURTHER TO FACEBOOKING

Further to earlier facebooking post.

There are many more things in life that I disagree with or dislike than there are things I agree with or like. Sometimes I dislike what most others like and vice-versa. This might be because I am an independent thinker with a penetrating intelligence and a questioning attitude towards more or less everything. Or it might be because I'm an arrogant, argumentative know-nothing-know-it-all. Or you could attribute it to age-related grumpiness. I would disagree with the latter because I've always been like this, even as a child, even as a teenager, always. Wait, I'll get to the point in a minute.

Idly browsing the facebook universe (as one does) I often come across quite a lot of things I disagree with or dislike. Often I am tempted to express my dissidence in a comment, possibly even in a comment about someone else's comment on a thread where most of the commenters agree with each other. In my head I compose a carefully worded dissent, possibly curling my lip as I do so. But then I stop and think:

WTF is the point of my opinion? Opinions are a dime a dozen, a dime a million. WTF does it matter whether I disagree or agree? And hey, by the way, what's the intention behind my desire to add my two cents? Is it to imply that I can see while everyone else is blind? Or is it simply to feed the illusion that I'm actually doing something worthwhile when the fact is that I've been spending the past 3 or 4 hours glued to a screen like a fly squashed against a windowpane?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

FACEBOOK

Can't decide if facebooking is an addiction, an affliction, an inspiration or an irritation, distraction or destruction, indispensable or irrelevant, here today or gone tomorrow?

Those of you who have resisted Facebook won't know what I mean, those who are on it will understand.


Friday, August 18, 2017

BLIND SPOT

To the South Bank last night to hear Teju Cole talk about his new book Blind Spot.

I went with Jean Morris, Rachel Rawlins and Dave Bonta, all of us old friends of Teju's, part of a group of about a dozen bloggers who met online around 2003, when blogging was a new, uncrowded and exciting platform. Somehow we found each other's blogs via common interests in reading, writing, art, ourselves, seeing and interpreting the world through rainbow-coloured glasses. Then we met in real life, in New York, in London, and over the years followed each other's lives and work.

Teju Cole's career took off with Every Day is for the Thief in 2007, soaring steadily ever since and there's no doubt at all that he's headed for the stratosphere. Unsurprisingly, fame hasn't changed him a bit and I mean that in a good way. His warmth, humour and insightfulness are always genuine and of-the-moment. When he answers an interviewer's questions he takes his time, thinking on his feet, coming up with answers which you know are born right then and there. This is a quality I particularly appreciate when so many public utterances, on any subject, are so often calculated soundbites, selfie salestalk or rehashed re-heated rehearsed rhetoric.


Teju Cole and interviewer, Royal Festival Hall, 17 August 2017

Teju Cole, Royal Festival Hall, 17 August 2017

Photo by Teju Cole from Blind Spot

Clouds above the Thames, from the Royal Festival Hall, 17 August 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A HANDSHAKE

I was in Costa this afternoon paying for my coffee at the counter. A man who had been sitting at a table facing the entrance comes up to me and shakes my hand politely. I look at him, wondering if I know him. I don't. He sits down again.

I take my coffee and sandwich and sit at a table towards the back where I can observe him. He's a small, thin, balding man with glasses, nothing remarkable about him, except that he suddenly breaks into a recitation in a high, sing-song voice. I can't make out the words but it sounds like a multiplication table that a classroom of children might recite in unison. The man repeats exactly the same refrain every ten minutes or so, the palms of his hands resting flat on the table, as an obedient schoolboy might do, sitting up with straight back. He's not agitated but calm and concentrated on his ritual, looking into the distance. 

I thought he might go up to other people who enter the cafe and shake their hands but he doesn't. I seem to be the only one he chose for that gesture.

Obviously the man has mental problems. I feel enormous compassion, almost affection for him. I imagine the reasons why he ended up like this - perhaps he was beaten in school or at home for not keeping up with the others... or perhaps... There's no way I can know his story. I wish I could give him a hug but that might not be what he needs. I don't do anything at all.

A rage overwhelms me about those parents or other adults who abuse children in so many ways, unaware or not caring that they may be wrecking their lives forever. Those mothers or fathers I often see in supermarkets slapping and shouting and berating their little kid for some minor misdemeanor, or for nothing at all.

By the time I finish my coffee and sandwich the man is gone. I'll never know his story. But he did shake my hand.

Monday, August 07, 2017

BIRTHDAY

Born at midnight on this date long long ago in some distant galaxy.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

MORE AUTO AND BIO

Another short update to the autobio. I'm just going to keep adding to it in small chunks like this rather than wait until I've got many more pages.

Painting in T's kitchen

Monday, July 31, 2017

AUTOBIO UPDATE

Have added part 25 to the autobio and also altered parts 21-22. There's so much editing to do and so much digging into the pile of old diaries, photos etc. that I can only proceed at snail pace and in short installments.

One of the difficulties is to decide how confessional to be and I'm hopeless at making up my mind about this. How to be a censor/editor of one's own life? Any advice from you writers out there?

There are links to each installment on the starting page so you can click on wherever you left off, if you've been there before:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

VERY STRANGE

The following incident took place on 25th July. I described it on Facebook where it elicited quite a few kind comments, concerned that this might mean I was having a stroke, or a detached retina, or some other variety of disaster. They urged me to get to A&E asap. All of which was perfectly plausible and sensible but instead I went to Google and found an explanation which fitted my experience precisely. I had witnessed an Entoptic Phenomenon  and fascinating it was too. I have had similar visual experiences before but never as startling as this one.

Couldn't sleep last night, drank coffee after dinner, foolish. Stayed up writing until 3 or 4 am then went to bed. Pulled the sheet over my head to hide from daylight, closed my eyes, couldn't sleep. Opened my eyes. OMG what am I looking at?

A dense black and white pattern, like and unlike flowers or insects, slowly moving, pulsating, not going anywhere but contained, like something observed under a microscope, thin fronds around the edges gently swaying. I'm looking at this with my eyes open, not asleep, lying on my right side, right cheek pressed against the pillow (thin pillow, better for the back) left hand under the sheet. I move the hand to see if the 'vision' will disappear. It doesn't. But what the hell is it? Sort of beautiful but also scary. Why is it moving? An optical illusion, a trick of the light? I bring my hand closer and now the hand metamorphoses, turns into a pulsating pattern of dark and light layers, the solidity of the hand is gone, as if it was never there, but the moving, floating layers of plasma remain. 

I'm astounded,  I raise my head up and look around the room - full daylight, everything normal. After a while I manage to get a few hours sleep. When I wake up, I put my head under the sheet to see if the phenomenon is still there but more like a reconstruction of light effects.

Here's a Youtube video explaining the phenomenon scientifically in great detail which is probably more than we want to know but interesting nonetheless.

Friday, July 21, 2017

HEART BRAKE

I'm working slowly on updating the autobio. But meanwhile, nuggets of poem-like things suddenly pop into my head. I might or might not illustrate them. Here's the latest.

HEART BRAKE

That one
wears his heart on his heart
like a badge.
It says
THIS IS NOT A HEART.


But if you believe it
and turn away
the badge stabs
its sword
into his heart
and he cries.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

STOLEN FLOWERS

You gotta love a man
who brings you flowers
little white ones
cut from a neighbour's hedge
with nail scissors
he carries for this purpose.

A passing taxi driver
saw him doing it
and he was ashamed.
You gotta love a man
like that.


INTERNET CRASH

Internet connection went down for nearly 48 hours and it was like having a limb cut off.

No it wasn't. That's a wild and foolish exaggeration. It was a damn nuisance and of course I assumed it was all my fault, my computer's fault, and everything was going to crash. Moreover there was spectacular thunder and lightning last night.

So I backed up everything to my external hard drive, just in case apocalypse was at hand. Hard drives survive apocalypses, right?

Back to normal now.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

HELLO


Some sounds I made can be heard here.

And some moving pictures, already posted before, are assembled here.

INS and OUTS

A non-sequitur occurred to me. Here it is, for want of something more relevant.

INS and OUTS

When couples break up
it's often because of an in
or a whole list of ins
for example:


Infidelity
Inequality
Inattention
Insensitivity
Incomprehension
Inflexibility
Intolerance
Insecurity
In-laws


And when they look for a new love
they simply delete the ins
so their wish list
looks like this:

Fidelity
Equality
Attention
Sensitivity
Comprehension
Flexibility
Tolerance
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MORE POETS

On Thursday night upstairs at the City Pride pub Katy Evans-Bush and friends celebrated the launch of her truly marvellous poetry pamphlet Broken Cities. She is one of the winners of this year's Poetry Business competition and Astrid Alben and John Clegg joined her to read from their own new work.

I was happy to be there and to meet a few faces I'd only seen on Facebook before. Unfortunately the roar of trains outside the pub window blurred my already dodgy hearing and I had put the aids away because wearing them makes the world invade my head like Genghis Khan's army.

Never mind - I read the poems live on the page and the poets' voice spoke to me.
And I took some photos.


Katy Evans-Bush

John Clegg
Tom Deveson in foreground. I don't know the others' names.

Astrid Alben





Wednesday, July 12, 2017

POETS AT PHOENICIA

Ramshackle, unpretentious, seriously attentive ambiance and audience at the legendary Torriano Meeting House on 9th July. Grateful to have been theret to hear my friends and colleagues, excellent poets Dick Jones and Dave Bonta, reading from their respective books: Ice Mountain by Dave Bonta and Ancient Lights by Dick Jones.

Their publisher is Phoenicia, created, animated and independently run by writer-artist Beth Adams and photographer Jonathan Sa'adah from their studio in Montreal.

Dick Jones

Dave Bonta

Thursday, July 06, 2017

PLANT LIFE AND PAST LIFE

Today at a local garden centre, surrounded with beautifully chattering plant life, a tiny moon-coloured cactus type of thing humbly asked for my attention. It was named, the label said, Echevaria which sounds Paraguayan and reminds me of Mexico and I love the pale moon colour and it was only £3.99 and weighs almost nothing so I took it home. I can only offer it a kitchen windowsill but I think it will be happy.



I'm taking up my online autobiography again, after a very long hiatus, and hope to have a least another chapter up very soon. If anyone wants to browse previous installments of The Burial of Mickey Mouse, they're here.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

BACK TO FRONT

Writing backwards is not as easy at it looks.

Neither is the fact that you only ever see yourself backwards.


POETS GALORE GLITTERING

Life-enhancing evening at the British Library on Thursday in honour of Gwendolyn Brooks.

See George Szirtes' page for full description. He was one of the 20 poets who ran up to the stage and made the air vibrate with the music and passion and integrity of their words and their personalities.

I was a spectator but it was impossible to be an outsider in such an atmosphere of belonging. And the fabulous colours! I took some photos.