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 Randonnée (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.