Friday, September 29, 2006

A Wee Story

Guide Camp Loch Lomond 1963

He was eight and the sun was uncomfortable on his neck. They had stopped the car so his father could shout. Understandable, his mother used to say. The war. Look at the scars. The scars you couldn’t see. A door wrenched open and the row receded to a rim of hot tarmac. Beyond their silhouettes, water dazzled. There was the sound of a blow- his father kicking something- the boy could tell it wasn’t a punch. He walked through the trees. The grass was soft like sand or sponge. Cries, like birds, faded as he moved deeper, to where light swam through tall branches. He was dizzy but unafraid.

The wood thinned to a vision: hundreds of girls in a field of flowers. He was passed from one group to another in a sunlit dream. He had hot soup. He was kissed. He was proposed to and he married many times. When his frantic parents came he hid deep in the perfumed pleated skirt of his latest love.

They cried. Apologised as if they had caused the magic that had swallowed him, but for the rest of that day and many hundreds more he didn’t hear a word they said.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I have just returned from a brief visit to the TES Opinion Boards on which the nation's teachers discuss austere professional matters such as whether they should dump their boyfriends cos they snore and how their deputy heads keep groping them in the car park. I was outraged to find some hussy considering ditching her otherwise admirable partner because he drinks five cans of lager a night. All the harpies and drabs (middle aged women primary teachers no doubt) of the day were egging her on, of course, urging her to call in a hit squad from Alcoholics Anonymous before the man's liver exploded, or he murdered her in her bed. What rubbish!
Alcohol is great. Think of just some of its exponents.

Picasso, Manet, Degas, Gaugin, Allen Poe, Wilde, Hemingway, Dylan Thomas, Pitt the Younger, Asquith, Churchill and so on, all pissed as a parrot most of the time but living hugely successful and creative lives.

I came across a great story about Churchill the other day. Apparently he was meeting a senior Mormon and the latter said
"I will tell you why I avoid drink Mr Churchill, it is because alcohol combines the kick of an antelope with the bite of a viper" to which Churchill replied
"All my life I have been looking for a drink like that"

Friday, September 01, 2006

Simon and me

Well, the reading on Thursday night went alright, I thought, though the boy Armitage was obviously very nervous and who can blame him, reading with someone of my stature. I took the opportunity of taking him aside during the interval and giving the lad a few words of advice. "Simon " I said, "it's always hard when you're just starting out, but take a tip from me. Drink 6 and a half pints of Irish Cider before every reading, and read the same crap old poems that eveyone's heard about 40 times before. You do that and one day you'll get an annual Royalties cheque for £28.50 just like me." And you know, I think he was really grateful.