Literature

South West Stillness

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I took this photo while fiddling with some settings in my bedroom this morning, but it seems a fairly accurate summary of life right now. Since moving out of London for a bit (SHOCK, GASP etc), life has slowed a great deal – despite the addition of a full-time job. In some ways this change of place and pace has been difficult; it’s hard not having a constant array of companions at your beck and call, and sometimes there just isn’t an obvious activity to occupy a Tuesday evening in Bath. But the benefit of this narrowing of life is that I think it may have given me a lot more space to think and to be. I’ve read six books in a month, listened to a lot of podcasts and shot a lot of 35mm. I’ve cycled for half an hour every day and explored two new cities, all the while feeling like I’ve had the time and the headspace and the freedom to do so. Even in the longest gaps between freelancing gigs, I had not felt that way since leaving university.

Again, perhaps this has nothing to do with escaping the Big Smoke and this is just what summer is like. Long evenings with beers and books and film-worthy golden hour light; I find I have always forgotten the pleasures of each season by the time they roll around again. But either way, my current state of affairs has really helped me out with my 2016 resolutions – next step is to find a West Country string quartet.

I Hazard A Poem

A few weeks ago I brashly proclaimed to a literary friend that it’s been a very long time since I found any poetry that resonated me, and I had therefore written off all of it. Her response was to send me a poem that has set me off on a personal poetry renaissance that has been a delight and a pleasure. Here is the piece that set off the chain reaction, and I challenge you not to relate to this little gem by Brian Patten.

If You Had To Hazard A Guess Who Would You Say Your Poetry Is For?

For people who have nowhere to go in the afternoons,

For people who the evening banishes to small rooms,

For good people, people huge as the world.

For people who give themselves away forgetting

What it is they are giving,

And who are never reminded.

For people who cannot help being kind

To the hand bunched in pain against them.

For inarticulate people,

People who invent their own ugliness,

Who invent pain, terrified of blankness;

And for people who stand forever at the same junction

Waiting for the chances that have passed.

And for those who lie in ambush for themselves,

Who invent toughness as a kind of disguise,

Who, lost in their narrow and self-defeating worlds,

Carry remorse inside them like a plague;

And for the self-seeking self lost among them

I hazard a poem.

#BookBucketChallenge

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There’s a tag going round on Facebook that challenges you to list 10 books that have proved formative for you as a person and the reasons why. The idea of making a Facebook status about the literature that has shaped me seems absolutely too awful for words, but from a purely personal (and procrastinatory) level I still wanted to try and single out 10 books that I can point to for being particularly life-changing or enhancing. So I’m doing it anyway. As someone who spent most of their childhood buried in a book it was no easy feat to choose just 10, but here we go; I’d be jolly interested to hear the same from you too, and I’m going to nominate Jazzy for a start. So here they all are, in order of discovery.

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#NewMayDays: Days 14-17

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Another selection of odds and ends of new things from a squelchy work week full of procrastination and glorious weather:

  • I witnessed a real spring sunrise in Oxford for the first time – over the New College sports ground to be more precise. The weather here has been GLORIOUS.
  • I branched out from my standard sandwicherie of choice (the Alternative Tuck Shop) to the highly-recommended (and rather classier) Olives, on the High Street. My goats cheese/roasted vegetable/salami baguette was pretentious and yet oh so delicious.
  • I ordered my first copy of the Dark Mountain magazine(/book), a publication from a network of creative sorts who write about the world as we know it coming to an end – but in more of an anti-capitalist/environmental awareness way than the crazy cult vibe. I was turned onto it by Nick Hunt’s superb book that I have been raving about elsewhere; he’s a big contributor.
  • I finally got round to using my cousin’s Christmas gift of a cupcake maker (basically a baking version of a George Foreman) and made several fluffy baked items for some friends and housemates. Noone was enormously impressed, but I’m hoping results will improve once I work out the measurements more precisely than the incredibly vague and also quite scary French instructions (SOYEZ PRUDENT! PAS TROP LONGTEMPS!).