[27-3-16](At Weymouth Library, 29th March, transcribing from flight notebook)
In which Billy Boo attempts to read the map as described in ornate Thai characters, ditto the travel times & distances, in the second or two before the screen switches to English. "Local Time at Melbourne 3-27 -- Local Time at Bangkok 11-27". Fair enough. He's already in credit : invited to move out of tight fit threesome to the aisle of a comfortable two. Boo thinks it's because he returned clasped hands greeting with hostesses on the ramp and they misheard his Lao 'sabaidee' for Thai 'sawasdee'. He's belted in, tentatively stretches leg beneath forward seat, glances through the porthole at the cloud plain topped by blue, --imagines lick of first G&T assuredly on its way! As the share passenger's snoring establishes its rhythm, Billy remembers his friends, living & dead, either way not here. The cloud clears, beautiful tracts of land thousands of feet below where Christy is, actually happy down there, stone cottage like Ulli & Celia's place in North Wales, '72, similar embellishments, the attic skylight for example, --Nick Johnson's place in Wiltshire, 90s pied a terre, --& the Abbot in attic heaven, nearer to yoga god than any other, no face, no name, though so many statues in his hermitage one suspects he's not yet run through the argument about idolatry! One of the old crew not yet invoked is Ed. Happens each time Billy flies. Ghost is same kind of disembodiment as flying. Forget about angels, Ed wasnt one. I'll give them turbulence, he swears behind conspiratorial hand as though the weather wore jackboots.....
Ed has the flight crew from captain to waiters in mind, not really the elements. All the way to deity via earlier English & later Russian divines, manifestations of magnitude. Ed spittin about pretenders, pretence of authority, supercilious from tie to socks, --purple uniform ultimate slight. Ah, Ed! Ed, mate! how goes it in ghost's Yorkshire heaven? Not there yet, he says, I'm in Purgatory writing poems, sans guide, following my own beaky nose. Hah! Ed, Ed, Ed. Tutoring me yet from beyond the grave, thinks Billy Boo.
At Bangkok airport Boo realized that following a straight line got you absolutely nowhere, may as well have been walking in circles. So then he walked around in circles, gauging the world, the non-stop airport world, more 'international' than when first coined (--Inge's daughters crooning 'international' over "Miami Vice", late 80s, --B B 's return to Europe after 12 years exile). Seems to him the Chinese had become the new Americans and everyone else from everywhere else in no way lesser. Each elsewhere a somewhere, similarly worldly-wise, ticket to prove it, legitimate travellers, commuters, no longer exotics of any empire.
But what about Christy, and how come he's let off so easily? Mebbe Billy thinks the boyo might bat him one! (What did Peter Finch say of him once, slightly misapprehending the relation of source to poem?-- "if these are Christy's dreams he must have a head like granite!")
Re- Ulli & Celia's place, in N Wales, '72 ; from Poem of the Clear Eye
there is a strangeness surrounds
which our thickest wall cannot evict
(for talisman take anything you find
a coloured slate a star from the constellation
which fills the skylight the vault of Caernarvon)
the foul smell from the town still gets to my nostrils --
Panzer fetch paper! go to
Gethsemane i rise up &
fall down i run till my side aches
i will return to the smoke only to bang the
beafeaters dead in their beds! in my boots
will make mincemeat of
rumours & subterfuge.(...)
(pp34/35; 1972/3; UK & Oz)
[In my poem, Ulli has two dogs, Panzer & Perfidy... The scenario is remembered/invented from the visit to Ulli & Celia for the Bangor Poetry Fest or the poetry event Ulli arranged at the Bangor Arts Fest back in '71 or '72... I believe that Jeremy Hilton drove me from Southampton... ah, Snowdonia…]
Daily round : walk from Goldy, down road, left at Pottery Lane (note to self : research derivation), through the small housing estate, cross highway at safety island to Radipole Lake foot & cycle path, past the blackberries ringing the lake six months ahead of bloom & harvest, up onto the bridge & into town... Library, Black Dog, pint!
Ed would approve : get a table, snap notebook or loose page onto it, “let’s get it over then!” through gritted teeth, lank hair & lengthening beard the frame for most ambivalent of propositions, --the argument concerning literature, thus “the literary bit”, not so much the sharing of poems but potential for such inflation as snatches poet from universe to be dropped into egotistical slurry (Ed’s favourite quote, Akhmatova’s rooster crowing upon shit-heap) --the “literary”, --snort into handkerchief, begin reading poem, over soon as began, --charmed by his accent & intonations, Bunting-ish but faster, Les Murray-ish too in that dont-take-it-too-seriously / throw-off style --not a style, an attitude --no audience but comrade t’other side of the low table, slosh of pints around & about, raucous fandango, infinitely preferable to bourgeois shush (--when you think of it, the poem cuts through the noise of the world, like sudden silence, the awareness of silence as the world’s hurtle’s suddenly brought to sudden screeching stop)...
Ask: Has my brother been in today? We were in the other day, he had a tomato juice... No, she says, dont think so... The Abbot & bro --two Abbots! --like Jack & Warnie, the Louises, or James & Stanislaus with whom BB once caned his younger for perceived deficit in fraternal support, but what would a teenager know... and too much water under bridge now...
All change. Traditional bar's gone. The regulars also unless sculking in the WASHROOM (white lettering on pale green board). The lacquered black of counter, tables, chairs has been replaced by grey & green throughout! What is this snack-bar, b& b, holiday-camp, light & bright in aid of?
We've only been gone a year --perhaps longer because didnt we go to the Swan (the Abbot & bro) around the corner from St Nicholas's Church last time? I'll lay bets no change there.
Ringwood Breweries' Boon Doggle's the strongest, 4.2... Innocents must understand we're on about the taste, which means a quality that tests the palate, resists it --on a continuum, then, with Frank Prince's teaching about same, --Robert Bridges, he said, ho-hum poetry aside, well worth my while to consider his thoughts on poetics... The point about form, Frank says, is that it stops one going on & on aimlessly... it resists that natural laziness, licentiousness etc...
[Ilchester Arms, Abbotsbury, 7th April, '16]
[April 22, '16]
It was great meeting up with John Phillips in St Ives a few days ago... went around to his place with Kelvin Bowers my old amigo from the £10 assisted passage on the Fairsky to Melbourne, FIFTY YEARS AGO on the 26 April, '66 !!! It's due to chance meeting on the coastal path between John & Kel that I've once more caught up with Kelvin, outa sight since '03. In the conversation with John, several mutual friends featured including Clive Faust & David Miller... Nice listening to John & Kel discussing the St Ives painters up on the wall including Mathew Lanyon --the fathers & sons conversation, apropos of which the catalogue of the Karl Weschke show, on in London presently, which Lucas Weschke had given me in Weymouth, also spiced the chat. If only I was in St Ives on May 16th as well for the poetry festival when John gives a reading!
[April 25, '16] ·
(Re- Jenni Kerr's Facebook post of actors celebrating Shakespeare anniversary, particularly HRH who finished it beautifully!) Great meeting again y'day with David Caddy at The Dolphin, Blandford Forum, our very own local... ordered our pint and our shiraz, and got the ball rolling saying : "Apart from what's in the latest issue of Tears In The Fence, if I asked you "what's the news?" what would you answer?" David hardly considered the question --well, he said, SHAKESPEARE, the 400th anniversary of course! And so we drank to him, Shakespeare all the way...
Karl Weschke’s View of Kenydjack (1962; reproduced in the Tate book of the St Ives scene, 1939-64) utterly different to the Sunday painting seen at the Penwith gallery of which the probably accurate sketching is vacant compared with KW’s monolithised brown tiered landscape, so deep & occupied. Could say ‘preoccupied’ but substantial or dense oughtnt imply brooding, since for all the ‘psychological’, ‘expressionist’, ‘existential’ persona there is always painting’s natural presence and nature always present as matter & sentiment...
[St Ives, Kel & Dooze’s house, 18 April, 16]
Every time (how many times?) the bus swings around Portesham through to Abbotsbury & beyond (today Bridport again), see St Catherine’s Chapel on the hill. And in Abbotsbury, out the bus window, there it is leftwards over & between the houses, farms. And leaving Abbotsbury, the chapel behind one on its mount, sheep in the green fields like a canopy beneath. And startlingly distinct, on top, along slow hill climb, Chessil & the Channel over the leftside rolls of green (their rolls eventually into the sea).
What is ‘familiarity’? --the first blessing of repetition one presumes, no story but imperceptibly the rise of feeling, full swell of which is Poem, Song, this Painting...
[21 April, ‘16; Weymouth to Bridport, Dorset]
English Journey, ‘16 [from the diary]
9-05 am. (late) Weymouth --> Yeovil -->Glastonbury
Hurrying up Goldcroft aggravated the leg/thigh strain. Hopefully walk it out. Shld have applied some Deep Heat beforehand.
Rain, not heavy but from drizzle to light. If raining i wont attempt to climb the Tor.
The Classes : Passenger / “My daughter’s studying in Glasgow; when she comes down to Durdle Door it soothes her spirit...”
Driver / “Oh yeah; well anywhere’s better than Blackpool heh heh heh...”
Passenger / “You drive so well; I admire your instincts!”
Driver / “I drove lorries before, buses are much smaller. Driving 800 miles up & back soon teaches you how to drive... A spot of rain, though, and the whole road comes to a stop...”
Thinking of Paul Blackburn -- mentioned him to B. last night, how I’ve picked up his poems each visit to Goldcroft over the years. There’s a Blackburn poem for Pete Spence in the Buckmaster section of my forthcoming book. P B’s the kind of American I have in mind re- intractably American & not easily ‘Anglo-American’ or ‘British/American’ as I wrote to Colin Still last night. Were we American poets after all? i asked B some months ago, phone from Melbourne, repeated in email to Colin. He tells me about all the docos he’s made on the American poets (wch he’s offered to send me). I say that my forthcoming book of poems is partly ‘Neo-Georgian’, partly ‘New American Poetry’!
--> Yeovil... Heavier rain. Great countryside. Stone houses stretches of wall fields & meadows...
Rich country -- fallow, ploughed, strips of woods, dividing stands, --the rain enhances the lushness -- Wonderful expanse of undulating ploughed fields -- Motorway runs between these huge sails, wings, of land -- Somerset’s version of Big Country --
Beautiful dip in the landscape, --trees, fields, cows --
After earlier wet am dry again in the coach -- thank goodness for modern technology! --
Woods then village, car-sales...
Friday, May 6, 2016
Thursday, May 5, 2016
The Black Dog Report, # 1
There arent many pubs anywhere in the country, he says, where you can get a pint straight out of the barrel. Of course I'm agreeing. Yes, I saw that yesterday (--with the Abbot, and noticed the enclave around & below the taps, and the bar-woman leant down to fish dregs out of bucket Billy thought! --surely not? --clot, Ed mutters, --unacceptable probably would be "twat" pronounced "twot", which is the natural rhyme, expletive or not), poured an Old Speckled Hen, the taste deserving better body but worth it for the palate. But today there isnt any! I dont have it today my love, she tells me, cheerfully. Oh no, says I... You drank it all yesterday, she laughs. The chap who extolled the barrels now recommends I.P.A., --the best drop in my opinion, he says. There's no choice. I go with a half. Let me know what you think, he says. But he's off soon after leaving me to bathe in the brown public bar, variously lighter & darker complexion of tables, chairs, floor boards, counter-top --English history's deep stained & lacquered culture. And that's most of the point of it --the pub thing --through a glass oakly, wallnutly, Andy Capp-ly, Sheila Chandra-ly, David Caddy-ly, Kris Hemensley, & Uncle Tom Cobbly & all & all...
[31st March, '16]
The Black Dog Report, # 2
Bustling beetling little old lady, "See you later or on a Christmas Tree…" Walk around the different leveled public bar --it's all public bar including snugs, billiard table near the Gents, room with open fire. Looking for a table away from the pop muzak. The only spot is on the walk-through, sufficiently close to the bar to catch eye, exchange word with barman. In the process ("See you at the Dog"), Ive lost the Abbot & the Wheel. Small town, bank on it we'll rendezvous soon.
After rain there's sun --taxi-driver suggested snow! 'Poor old England' the Alexandrian family would admonish seriously, looking down collective aristocratic nose on their in-laws.
Second pint with the crew about me again. They're the photographers, me the pen & notebook man. Drop into a place often enough… no, it's surely more than that --because the environment's familiar from the first, offers itself up, every black beam, each square of purple leaf & olive carpet, accommodating. 'Oldest Pub in Weymouth' the hook of course --snob in a snood, hah!
Next day, late afternoon, drop in for a pint & use of facilities, grateful after long ride from Salisbury. The alternating bar staff together on this occasion wearing blue shirt uniforms, both less voluble than when working alone. Today's piped music is eclectic, sounds authentic, --who'd knowingly pass on Harry Belafonte's There's A Hole in My Bucket duet with Odetta?
[4/5 April, '16]
The Black Dog Report, # 3
Amble along the sea-front in full sunshine --B B meditative --sea-shell beach sapped his energy, not proud of it. Plonks himself upon bench this morning in sunshine everyone's calling "gorgeous". Penny for 'em, says the Girl (--how long's he known her? --Christy's squeeze once upon a time --more than one Christy, more than one anyone --mebbe more than one life… Sudden voice in ear --Ed's --"only one? be careful what you wish for!")-- Not thinking of anything, he says, --which she wont have a bar of! But B B cant be drawn, old hand. Doesn't mention the Fielding Dawson style of narrative he's been thinking his own might resemble --cogitative, soliloquy, occasionally but unpredictably intersected by expressionistic flurry. This text is ahead of itself. B B simply thought of Fielding Dawson, the Black Mountain artist & writer he once corresponded with, whose stories & novels he devoured. No one talks about any of them, that entire '60s, '70s constellation --"no one" as fraction of erstwhile 'everyone', from way back everyone did read them. Ed's mate Long Tim Ville-john --or Long Johns what the Cornish friends called him after they'd wintered there --so excited when the new Dawson was published, The Black Mountain Book for example, compared it to the earlier work, Franz Kline, An Emotional Memoir, and as far as commentary's concerned, he said, the way to go (--sorry guys, just gotta butt in here : back in the day, attempting to get Fielding out to Oz, enlisted the support of worthies like Michael Wilding, Jim Hamilton, Elwyn Lynn, and sought out, importantly, Patrick McCaughey, but against the flow he declined --the writings by Dawson I'd cited as sparkling recommendations were, he said, the very things which brought art criticism into disrepute! --whaaaat? --1975! --where was he coming from?) --you've probably guessed this reminiscence occurs beneath the antique beams of the Black Dog to the "here you are my love"s &"thank you my darling"s of the mother of the usual barwoman who banters the very same affections in the identical manner, being the ultimate Dorset locals, inside of the piped Ray Orbison & the soul & reggae, in the all-around brown & black lacquered English cave, sunniest Spring day at bay…
The Black Dog Report, # 4
"Are there new faces around here or have I just been coming on the wrong days?" "I'm the new landlady… bought the business 7 weeks ago…"
Thinking how I love this pub --I'm sitting at table adjacent to the bar, back to the fruit-machine, facing down one step to the main bar & door, porch, & street.
Ah, the posts & beams. 'Please Mind Your Head' (--how did kids devise Fleas Love Your Head out of that on the school bus? Fleas out of Please, but Love out of Mind? I think it must have been Please Lower Your head. Of course)…
And here he is : black leather jacket & blue denims, the Bogart face but this time's shorn hair, earring. The Sailor. Steps outside for a fag, parks his pint of Thatcher's cider on the bar. Five minutes, puff & flick away, return, puff restored. Billy Boo takes it all in. "Who shot the deputy?" Sailor humms to the muzak. His foot-tapping's natural, the music's fake. Everything else is real.
Given icy breeze no choice between seafront & Black Dog, but choice made without weather in mind. Honour thy local, if not it'll go the way of all locals. Honour thy local bitter, thy Old Speckled Hen, thy Original Mini Cheddars (biscuits).
Sailor complains about the music, doesn't distinguish between the piped crap & the cartoon of rock'n'roll he mimics to the hilarity of bar-staff. "Doesn't like it but knows all about it!" one says behind his back. He's outside again, second cigarette of the day.