Checkmate. A Reverie

Since I seem to be getting nowhere with anything I thought I would resurrect a creation that I prepared earlier. Still edible I think!

 

329px-virginia_woolf_1927

 

Check Mate

‘Come at me from a new direction, find me by surprise’ I said to it, taking to my French box-bed and pulling the duvet under my chin. This is on a bank holiday and I’m not even tired, just tired of walking about with the same thuggish head on my shoulders, and tired of the options it monotonously offers. Bed is my way of saying no to all of them. It is my head I am talking to, or perhaps more accurately, my mind. I have after all, carried this same old mind about for over sixty years; it seems totally unappreciative, gives me no thanks. It never leaps up with a new idea or puts a posy on my pillow; those that appear new, on analysis, are simply re-assembled from older reclamation. I recognise all the components however painted over. I could do with a change. I’ll find a way to shut it up.

So I try to recover my old skill at meditation to put it in its place, imagining my muscles turning to stone like a weighty Henry Moore nude welded to a plinth and impervious to drifting leaves in some anonymous park.  Mind protests.

‘You think it’s that easy huh?’

It feels rather more like weighting a tablecloth with odd pebbles, so insistent is the flapping of windy thought. Ok then, I’ll conquer you with a book until sleep defeats you utterly. My mind gives me the two fingers.

The choice within reach is limited; the best thing on the locker this rainy noon is Virginia Woolf and her seductive solution; that all one needs is five hundred a year and a room of one’s own. I have both, but what she left out was the mind to go with it. If you were continually thinking her limpid, clear running-water thoughts which refresh every rock they flow over, you might even do without the five hundred. Anybody who can turn prunes and custard into a philosophy should be an alchemist.

‘I could do that, if I wanted to. It just never seemed worth it; I mean who cares?’ says Mind.

I pretend I cannot hear. I can’t quarrel with Virginia on any matter, not even her sly suggestions about George Eliot’s constraint and bitter social constipations- although George Eliot has always been hailed as our family’s most illustrious connection- the only orchid amongst our African daisies.

‘That’s why your pretentious Aunt decided to fly solo and give away that autographed first edition of Daniel Deronda, (destroying all the evidence just to collar all the glory.) I tell you something else; Daniel D was probably discreetly flogged to pay for a new catalogue for the smiling librarian, since Rhodes in the Eastern Cape is hardly on the George Eliot walkabout’.

This is the sort of monotony I’m talking about; tracking through arid claims without fresh water, hoping that some new succulent will sprout a flower. I already knew all that. I can’t forgive anything that hammers a point.

‘You’re a fine one to talk…Now no doubt we’ll get on to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’ says Mind yawning ostentatiously ‘can’t you leave it out?’

I could but I’m damned if I will. It’s their influences that have brought me to this point. The real reason I value whatever connection I have with George Eliot is the same as I derive from Elizabeth Barrett Browning-(Grandmama being a lesser Barrett, not that ‘lesser’ was a word she understood)- simply that they both ran off to do their own thing, in their metaphorically divided skirts. Wedlock was a serious one to pick in those days. Elizabeth, from her Italian roof-garden had it about right, but she probably started my rot of dreaming too insistently…‘What was he doing the great god Pan/ Down in the reeds by the river?’

pan-andrea_riccio_-_the_shepherd_daphnis_with_pipes_-_walters_54234_-_view_b

I know Mind will interrupt if I give it half a chance. It’ll say that originality never needs to quote, but that’s only because it can’t be bothered with the storage problem. Mind is an insubordinate secretary, who refuses an in-tray and prefers to clear the desk daily. It has never bothered to even file the archive that blows about in any gust under the cellar door. Going back to those two women; they were models not in the literary sense (that came later but never seemed to help), but in the ‘don’t expect to depend on a man’ sense, the mantra in a family consequently bereft of men. I took it much too literally; discounting the possibility that any man was any use at anything. You begin to see the difficulty. Mind, full of seductive rags, makes only heavy quilts in repetitive patterns, under which one takes refuge on a Bank holiday.

‘Nothing wrong with that. You need to remember Victorian thrift and candle light. What’s the hurry?’

Sod off.  I do want to make clear I start at the opposite end of Virginia’s arguments about women weighted down by the superior authority of men, and struggling to be born, shedding skins like snakes. Men were simply posturing fools playing at soldiers, in one sense or another. So it proved.

‘I could have persuaded you otherwise. You just never listened to logic or mastered statistics’

All the men I took up with or married… Continue reading “Checkmate. A Reverie”

Review of Go Set a Watchman- Harper Lee

Review of Go Set a Watchman- Harper Lee.

Hot words before the tears dry and the work is desiccated by analysis.

Imagine being kidnapped in the Tardis by Doctor Who ~Involution – An Odyssey reconciling Science to God by Philippa Rees.

Imagine being kidnapped in the Tardis by Doctor Who ~Involution – An Odyssey reconciling Science to God by Philippa Rees..

Over on the ‘other’ site  and reblogged from Vivienne Tuffnells post this Monday morning a most perceptive and generous review!

Hostile Author Refuses to Defend Own book!-Trial of ‘Odyssey’ Continues.

Hostile Author Refuses to Defend Own book!-Trial of ‘Odyssey’ Continues..

Need a Jury!! Your comments might count towards restoring belief in an Author, or offering respite…a win-win offering?

Involution-Odyssey. Second Prosecution Witness: Rev TG

Involution-Odyssey. Second Prosecution Witness: Rev TG.

The Observer to an academic Auto-de-Fe gives a witness statement. Involution spotlit in the academic jungle.

Review of Wood,Talc and Mr J by Chris Rose.

Wood,Talc, and MrJ by Chris Rose.

‘You weren’t supposed to be clever where I came from…’

Readers who are used to Walkers Crisps in portioned packets will find opening this unfamiliar shrink wrapped alternative challenging. I certainly did. The first taste is of something indefinable; salty and lime flavoured, with more than a hint of sea, of vinegar, of jellied eels and certainly bracing. This book takes a willingness to be persuaded, but becomes increasingly addictive, as you bite into separate scenes, and ride a great many buses in pursuit of Sheffield United, the possibility of ‘gear’ or a good dust up with Skin heads or Rockers, and those who fail to appreciate the finer distinctions in Motown and Soul. This is not a world I know anything about, yet something in the self-effacing and evocative staccato began to mesmerize. It got better and better, once the idiom lodged, and more compelling.

I am not sure I can analyse why, or even that I garnered half of what its sharp language referred to, for it is a new language, and describes a world as unfamiliar as Bangladesh, although it only asks me to travel as far as Sheffield, Ilkley, Barnsley, Skegness and environs. Names and words encircle. Well that’s not all: it asks me to take on trust Sheffield in the seventies, through the eyes ears and nostrils of Phillip, its narrator and interpreter of the author’s sardonic, nostalgic and dismissive memory. Into Phillip he pours his unstated affection for his home but like a shirt tail that should not escape but does. If a reader is tempted to sympathy, it quickly disappears.

I feel I begin to get a little closer to its hooking summons to travel with it: Phillip is disarmingly devil-may-care on the surface. He refuses any self indulgence; his affectionate love of Grom (his grandmother-Edith) is epitomized by his refusal not only to take the same bus with her to work, (in Hell’s Satanic Mill) but a different bus route entirely. Her habit of torturing him by eating pungent and unsavoury food with gusto (and without teeth) and in public is politely avoided without resentment on either side.

This family understands one another. They are diffident, tolerant, undemonstrative, and loyal, and the influence of Grom permeates, even when she is absent. His father’s moral rectitude about the obligations of work and discipline, however unrewarded (except in affording legitimacy to weekends letting rip) stem from Grom, almost everything retains integrity, below the surface of seeming chaos. Phillip is quintessentially English in his refusal to disclose more than is decent about his feelings, except about music and song titles for these are safe pegs on which to define himself. They were unfamiliar to me but that was unimportant in this rollicking ride through period, seaside arcades, scooter racing, police check points, imminent catastrophe dared to come out by jeering at it, and his friendship with Jed,JustAbout, Paul, Pete, Mick and Uncle James. His names are minimalist,(his girl friends loved and moving past and on) but as expressive of the time as they are of the character of Phillip, who takes all as it comes (and goes). As must the reader, for this is a ride through affectionate memory of those loved and lost and a world being unwrapped from its confines in maturity; from Batty with her purple hair and his brother Sam’s gradual growth, closely observed.

There is little of ‘story’ in any external sense unless a rite of passage from adolescent to adulthood is story, and for most of us writers until it is told, other stories cannot get top billing or full attention. But it is the poetic vernacular that springs the surprises; they allow dandelions to bloom between the paving stones, tossed over the shoulder prolifically and without stopping; those ‘wagged schooldays’, ‘Madame Shake ‘n’Vac’, ‘heart-splintering honesty’ and ‘prematurely ripened humbug’. This is an extraordinarily original writer seemingly with an endless ability to dislocate the image until the cartilage gleams in the joints of small agonies. Because Phillip pities himself not at all, you feel for him and want to steady him with a hand before he trips on his shoelaces or cuts his feet. Poor Phillip. He will remain with you long after the book is closed. Open it and stay with it, for it is rich, and new. Then read it a second time.

Friends to Meet Friends?

Dear friends (37). Could I invite you to meet others lurking elsewhere.? Will you stay with this site move…think of it as a holiday home? ( Right now we are sitting in the shade of the Marrakesh Market) where  my book has taken over proceedings and is telling stories. Soon we will move to Africa. Please stay friends and register as such on the book’s site. That way my modest blogs will find you and I will be able to talk to you and give you things, mostly ideas.

The Book that Wrote the Life.

I am relieved of duties and the book is taking over, offering small components it  fed into my life to ensure its production. I never knew till now that it had commandeered my entire journey. There is a warning for all of you here, watch out for your book behind the door, it is quite ruthless. Even your convivial friends for supper will feed its appetite. It is always listening in!

CELEBRATION. New reviews from very kind readers have been posted on Amazon’s book page and when you visit my blog over there, you may want to link, but I’d rather just talk direct for now. Really grateful if you’ll come.

Introducing Careless Talk (Costs Lives?)

CARELESS TALK (Costs Lives)

This blog will link to my other post where ideas implicit in the book ‘Involution-An Odyssey’. are played about with. There are many and they spread into everything. The Philosophy of Self-importance, that where I reflect. (Others more impulsive will be posted here)

It is about the world of logos, and the lives that give them breath. Reasons to record. Not the market, nor the stratagems, for I have no knowledge of that kind to offer.

It’s central observation is that lives are shaped by the ideas that also give rise to the books; books are the debris left by life. If we have something to say it is only because we recognise our uniqueness, and the extraordinary. Not the ordinary. So I will begin by being candid. My lives ( more like a cat ) have been improbable, but I suspect any reader of this blog would say the same. So here is a place to say it. How has your life shaped your book(s) and why was it so important to write it? I will happily host posts that are relevant to this idea because those will touch us all at some ganglion of connection. Making sense of life, be it in universal story (your twist? Your exposure? Your solution? And your hopes?) or your wisdom ( How derived? Why necessary? How provoked? What solved?). So both fiction and non fiction for they are both imagination. We’ll come to that anon.