Saturday, September 22, 2012

Culture, Construction & Cleaning

As Lewis Carroll used to say, “I mark this day with a white stone” – any day in the middle of September on which I can sunbathe has got my vote.  The weather is undeniably cooling down and a dip in the pool would be too close to masochism for any degree of pleasure, but it is not raining and visits to the Third Floor are still possible!

I intend to wear shorts until my knees freeze.  I reckon that I might well be able to get to Christmas with exposed legs.  Hypothermia certainly, but my determination to extract every minute of almost fine weather until I am forced to concede that winter is upon us.  It is my main form of occupation!

I have just finished reading “101 Sonnets” Edited by Don Paterson and published by Faber and Faber which I bought in a small book shop in Herne Hill when I went to the UK to attend Stewart’s funeral.

This is an extraordinary collection and selection with old favourites juxtaposed with poets who are not quite as famous as Blake, Shakespeare and Coleridge.  Indeed looking at the index of names of poets at the back of the book I was almost up to double figures of the “unknowns” before I had left the C’s!

Trying to select a single poem which sums up the sense of discovery that the book gives is impossible – there is too much which is thought provoking, disturbing, shocking and unbelievably lovely.  And I am not ashamed of using the last word in the last sentence.

Paterson contributes an informative and stimulating introduction as well as highly personal and opinionated comments on each of the poems tucked away at the back of the book – who, for example, knew that Thomas Hood was “perhaps the only man ever to have been sent to Dundee to improve his health”.  It is impossible to resist information like that!

The “101 Sonnets” cover the history of literature in English and reading them is a true voyage of discovery.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book – and I think that this is one of those books that need to be bought as a real book and not downloaded to an e-reader.  A true delight.

The earlier part of the day was taken up with ferrying Toni to Terrassa to watch his nephew play in a match against Gava (a town which, technically, starts at the end of our road) and then returning to Castelldefels to bring some sense of order to the area around the recent construction works.

By using a combination of various noxious cleaning agents and wire wool I was able to get beneath the sheen of ingrained filth that has been a natural coating of the sink since we arrived.  I have been bitten to buggery and back again by coordinated hordes of mosquitos attempting to retain their murky living quarters but the cleanliness is apparent and even the tap how has a few metallic glints as I have burrowed beneath the patina of rust and residue to reveal the original material.

Some “stuff” has been earmarked for destruction – or at least to be put out in the rubbish where irregular bin persons then come with their bags and hooked sticks and see what is worth salvaging.

At the moment the scavengers are fairly obviously not Spanish; given the embarrassing antics of our government under the inept leadership of Rajoy who seems far more interested in semantics than economic reality, I think that we will see more native-born wandering from bin to bin in the near future.

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