Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Age Difference

'It was a crappy film,' he said after we finished watching.

'It was a wonderful film,' I said.

It was the third time I'd seen it, his second. We both saw it when it came out, in 1969 (though not together; we didn't know each other then). I've appreciated it more each time.

'What did you think was so wonderful about it?' he asked.

'Why did you think it was crappy?' I asked.

I said it was the scenery, the music, the commentary on that era.

He said he conceded all that but he supposed it offended his sense of morals.

(I was only upset because this showing was cut to omit the crucial disclosure of a certain robbery. How could they do that?)

Ah well, he was 40 when it first came out; I was 30. It makes a difference. I knew people like those portrayed — well, like them in some respects. And that film was what made me fall in love with Harley Davidsons. Now you know what I'm talking about, don't you? Yes, Easy Rider.

It's been a long, long time, but in the scene where Captain America tells the young lawyer, 'Hold it in your lungs longer', I was surprised by a momentary wish.

It's also a bit of a shock to realise I have middle-aged friends who were mere infants back then, and perhaps won't know what I'm talking about. Let alone the young ones who weren't even born.

Looking it up afterwards on Google to check some details, I learn that Dennis Hopper has, only an hour ago, received a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in a ceremony where he was surounded by close friends including Jack Nicholson. He is 73 and he has terminal cancer.

Friday, March 26, 2010

NaPoWriMo


 


Or actually IntPoWriMo* as I'm not of the nation that has National Poetry Month in April.

Whatever you call it, I've decided I'm doing it. Other Aprils recently I've participated in the Poetic Asides Poem A Day challenge hosted by Robert Lee Brewer; and my first online experience of this kind, also repeated since, was the September month of poetry at Poewar, hosted by John Hewett. Both great fun and inspirational. Robert and John, in their respective months, offer prompts for participants.

NaPoWriMo is simpler, and perhaps more challenging — just write a poem a day.

They'll be on my Passionate Crone blog. See you there in April!


*(International Poetry Month) 

 





Monday, March 22, 2010

Anniversary Reaction

I wonder why the son from whom I am estranged is so much on my mind just lately. After all, I did a massive tie-cut, and the predominant feeling has been huge relief to have that man out of my life at last. When I think of the man, there is not much resemblance to the child.

Then I realise that it's the child who is coming back into my mind just now, and the reason becomes obvious. His birthday is coming up at the end of the month. Naturally I am going to have thoughts of him, and can no doubt expect them around this time every year. It is the same with those who have died; the people crucial to us float back into consciousness around the time of important anniversaries — births, deaths, marriages ...

I think I see with hindsight the tiny signs that pointed to his mental illness. But it's all so speculative. In many ways he was a dear litle boy too, and a nice lad growing up — 'a wonderful young man' as he is remembered by some of my friends who knew him then. Yet always troubled perhaps, now that I look back; always trying to make the world over into some better way that he knew it should be. Well, idealism is a good quality, and one he might well have imbibed from both his parents, but being certain of rightness in all things is quite another matter.

The surprise for me, looking back, is to perceive that loving parenting isn't necessarily enough. We were imperfect parents of course, and there are things I wish I could go back and do differently, but I always thought we gave them a firm foundation of love and that it would surely keep them sane and strong.

Well, I dare say it's useful to have these thoughts occasionally, and put it all into perspective a little more.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Thaw

Ruth's diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.
Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow here.
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These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It’s a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we’re being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.
The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they’re stuck to the outside of her hands. They’re a colour that’s difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.
I’m trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I’m giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don’t think I’m alone in wondering whether it’s all worth it. I’ve seen the look in people’s eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I’ve heard the weary grief in my dad’s voice.
So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I’m Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I’m sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?
Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat; books you have to take in both hands to lift. I’ve had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I’ve still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.
Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about; princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad’s snoring was.
I’ve always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I’ll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say; ‘It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for’, before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It’ll all be here. I’m using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I’m striping the paper. I’m near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I’m allowed to make my decision. That’s it for today. It’s begun.
Continue reading tomorrow here...