A rough, windy night and a lazy morning: at least up until my swim – which always seems like a defining moment in my day.
The pool was ‘full’ (that is, the designated swimming lanes were full) and I had to hug the floats in the ‘other ranks and children’ section. As this was empty that was not such a bad thing, indeed it is sometimes more spacious as the swimming lanes are sometimes filled by two people and I invariable bash watch or hand or arm against the floats. This is not a hardship, but I swim with the sort of determined resolve that means even the slightest touch of flailing arm against float is painful.
Lunch was from our usual take away with the excitement of the meal usually being the increasingly desperate search for a parking space within walking distance of the place. Only once have I given up and got the meal from somewhere else, but on a few other occasions it has come close to the break-off point where another restaurant beckons.
To understand quite what I go through you also have to understand the Spanish, well Catalan approach to parking. Any portion of road no occupied by a car is fair game. It doesn’t matter if the length of road is also the start of a zebra crossing or has zigzag yellow lines on it or ‘no parking’ signs: if there is nothing there, so the thinking goes, your car could be. However bad you think British parking is – Spanish is worse. Much worse.
My first three choices of ‘easy’ parking spaces were singularly full and as I was making for my ‘last chance’ area I came across that rarest of the rare: an empty legal parking space.
I hate reverse parking with a gut wrenching loathing, but that was the only way that I was going to get in. I don’t know what it is about the car that I am driving at the moment but I have not really come to terms with the length and turning circle of whatever you call it which makes reverse parking possible. Earlier in my driving life I was spoilt by owning a Triumph Herald Estate which would park, as it were, on a sixpence – and I have suffered from a continuing resentment that other cars have not been made with the same versatility with each new vehicle that I have owned.
And this space was on a busy road which means that your inept attempts to park will have an irate driver watching your lack of skill and radiating hatred at your delaying him.
In the perverse way in which these things happen, my parking worked out perfectly and it made it appear as if I had been reverse parking as a dedicated hobby for most of my life! I celebrate my competence wherever I can find it! And the food was good too!
Another positive step forward in my so-called research for my Open University course. A London interior designer who has at least four of the paintings by the artist I am interested in has agreed to let me visit him in his Chelsea flat and view the works! This is a major step forward, as I have yet to see a single example of Alvaro Guevara’s work in the flesh. The other artist in my writing is David Hockney, so there is no paucity of paintings and, from my point of view more importantly, no shortage of critical works to use. I think things are coming together pretty well. And, as my tutor has an especial interest in the work of the Bloomsbury Group I think that I am on to a winner here! As usual the only problem is getting the damn thing written!
A more pressing problem is the fact that I have to get another tutor marked assignment done before I can give full attention to the final project. The danger is that I allow myself to become complacent about the fact that I am at least a fortnight ahead of myself as far as the reading for the course is concerned. That way lies disaster! There is also the more interesting problem of our much-delayed holiday which will (if it takes place) eat into the study time available for me. I must admit that I get a most satisfactory frisson of academic panic when I consider how things might work out!
The ‘book’ progresses. I am now working on a poem with the title, ‘What dog was Rodney?’ which took its genesis from a waking memory of a tune as I marched resolutely towards the bathroom on waking. Toni gets nearer and nearer to desperation each time I explain about a poem on which I am working!
I am hoping that the usual inverse law does not apply to this poem. Usually I find that the more notes that I have the harder the final poem becomes to produce. Some of the most fluid work that I have written has come from the skimpiest of starting points. I am putting my trust in the fact that the fluency of my note making for this piece will be reflected in the smooth ease with which I produce a draft.
I can now see why some poets have used publication as a way of concentrating their minds on the definitive versions of poems. As I read through what I have written in the draft book form I constantly see the need for sometimes major, but often minor edits. I tell myself that this is part of the delight of production.
I have made a list of what I want the next book to look like and each time I add to the list I am conscious that I am adding cost. Still, I also keep telling myself that this is my birthday present to myself and so a little indulgence will not be out of place. I also think that I would be well advised to get other quotations for the publication as the little extras that I am thinking of will eventually add up to something momentous as far as the price is concerned!
Enough of this escapist writing; time to get down to the pencil work that comes with the production of a poem!