Tuesday, 8 February 2011

festivities, flu, Ambit and Angela

Long lapse in the journal, or 'dear diary', aspect of this blog. Perhaps not so surprising, for after the successful book launch of Haiku At Seventy last December, as noted, came the snow and ice: minus 15 degrees just across the River Exe. Then 2 weeks of flu over xmas and my birthday, so the celebrations were necessarily scaled down. Lethargy ensued, along with the depleted energy of septuagenarianism etc.

Visitors from France, providing excellent and convivial cheer, arrived early on in the New Year, staying 10 days, a time which also proved most enjoyably inimical to writing anything here, except for a couple of miserabilist poems… We were given 2 extraordinary films, Claude Miller's Mortelle RandonnĂ©e (Deadly Run), a terrific thriller from 1982, with Michel Serrault and the wonderful Isabelle Adjani, about whom I've already raved. This sumptuously photographed and surprising movie (from Marc Behm's rather original American pulp noir) was quite a contrast with Vitaly Kanevski's gritty monochrome Russian epic, Bouge Pas, Meurs et Ressuscite! (Dont Move, Die and Rise Again!) (1989) which chronicles a nightmarishly wretched childhood in Siberian wastes. Marvellous children's performances: how do directors manage to get these non-professionals to act, or rather, exist, this way – so movingly and convincingly on the screen? The grimness though was riveting and quite relentlessly conveyed. Nothing like horrors of one kind and another to cheer one up, I always say! Read Gissing, for example; you'll feel so much better about your own health, finances, relationships and prospects etc: "there but for the grace of Fate" [certainly not god!] go we.)

Revitalised by these and other wintry experiences, I was glad of a brief London trip to see old friends Paul & Val and read at the launch of Ambit magazine's splendid issue no. 203. Apart from my own poems (of course!) there are excellent graphics and prose, and no less than 12 pages devoted to the unique American poet Fred Voss. Voss is absolutely one of a kind, and how many machinists in steel foundries are there who write anything at all, let alone such funny, moving and utterly distinctive work?

Finally, a superb concert a few nights ago, given by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in Exeter Cathedral, with the great Angela Hewitt playing Mendelssohn and Schumann. A nice note on which to close.

1 comment:

  1. I knew you liked Gissing Alexis, after all Ryecroft was a near neighbour:

    Well do I remember the rambles of that springtide. I had a lodging in one of those outer streets of Exeter which savour more of country than of town, and every morning I set forth to make discoveries. The weather could not have been more kindly; I felt the influences of a climate I had never known; there was a balm in the air which soothed no less than it exhilarated me. Now inland, now seaward, I followed the windings of the Exe. One day I wandered in rich, warm valleys, by orchards bursting into bloom, from farmhouse to farm¬house, each more beautiful than the other, and from hamlet to hamlet bowered amid dark evergreens; the next, I was on pine-clad heights, gazing over moorland brown with last year's heather, feeling upon my face a wind from the white-flecked Channel. So intense was my delight in the beautiful world about me that I forgot even myself; I enjoyed without retrospect or forecast; I, the egoist in grain, forgot to scrutinize my own emotions, or to trouble my happiness by com¬parison with others' happier fortune. It was a health¬ful time; it gave me a new lease of life, and taught me—in so far as I was teachable—how to make use of it.

    Followed immediately by Chapter X

    Mentally and physically, I must be much older than my years. At three and fifty a man ought not to be brooding constantly on his vanished youth.

    Hmm…yis George, but what about comparison with other’s worse fortune? Moving swiftly on I’m glad to read you are a fan of Fred Voss. Fred was a reliable contributor to the Penniless Press and 84 of his poems can be seen on its website at : http://www.pennilesspress.co.uk/poetry/fred_voss.htm