Thursday, 29 June 2017

Two Weddings, a Cricket Injury, Writer's Bleauque, and a Sonnet in the Tradition of Philip Larkin and Wendy Cope

This last month I went to the weddings of two of my brothers, firstly in St Agnes in Cornwall at the end of May, and secondly in Stockholm over that very hot weekend just before midsummer - thankfully it was a bit cooler in Stockholm - 27c? - than back in the UK. The weddings were both fun, but in different ways - sobriety & the keeping of wits vs. wedding-acceptable drunkenness. I drove to my Cornwall brother's wedding, and back home to Bristol on the same day, which necessitated staying sober, and so for the entire day I limited myself to a small glass of Prosecco before the wedding lunch, half as much Rioja with lunch, and later on a couple of very small sips of some kind of gin-based and very pleasant blackberry liqueur. This was in marked contrast to the Swedish stage of the narrative. I got fairly well inebriated at the pre-wedding soiree on the Friday night, which was held in a hotel salon in central Stockholm; and enjoyed a fair amount of wine the next night at the wedding dinner, which was held at the newly-weds' farm house half an hour from the City Centre.

I'm presently recovering from some kind of rib fracture, sustained on a Sunday in early June when I landed very clumsily while wicket-keeping for my club, The Old England, in the North Somerset League. My keeping really isn't what it used to be five years ago. I'm approaching my mid-50's, my eyesight's not getting any better, my reactions have slowed, and I'm half a stone overweight. At least my rib injury is a lot better than it was. I've gone from getting up out of bed being an ordeal to being able to run several miles and lift light weights slowly. Coughing and sneezing still hurt a bit, but not nearly as much. I'm not at all sure about cricket though. I'll be worried about something happening every time I have to dive for the ball.

I've also not been feeling very motivated to write recently. To some extent this is a normal phenomenon for me in my writing cycle - I tend to finish a project, immediately start a new on, and then break off for about six weeks, while feeling slightly pissed off with it all. Eventually, I build up a sort of choleric head of steam, and begin to vent it in the form of light burlesque. The difference this time is that it's taken three months. Hopefully, I'm coming out of this stage at last, because it's really pissing me off now. At least I haven't completely wasted my time, insofar as I've done a lot of reading and re-reading: Trollope, Graham Greene, Edward St Aubyn, Evelyn Waugh, Scott Fitzgerald, and presently Sons & Lovers, with Felix Holt next on the list. I did write a sonnet yesterday, which hopefully augurs a change's being afoot. It's intended as a contribution to the story of Mr Bleaney, which Wendy Cope satirically commandeered from Larkin:-


VI. Mr Bleaney Dies in South Bristol
He, quite alone, with wandering steps and slow,
through Sodom took his solitary way.
The block in Hartcliffe - where the rent was low -
had walls of pebbledash coated in grey.

He hung his coat upon the plastic hook,
and watched quite wearily through dirty glass
the Doberman fouling the football pitch.
At length he sighed, and read again his book,
and scratched distractedly his bony arse.

An interval elapsed. 

He briefly twitched.

The drainage people found him in the end.
A turned down page marked how far he had read.
There was no wake for wizened drinking friends
to speak no ill of him when newly dead.

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