‘A host of golden…’

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Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus: happy St. David’s Day. Not that I’m particularly Welsh, despite the surname—that’s just part of my divorce settlement. But I’m always glad to celebrate St. David’s Day because it means the end of February: that’s it for another year. Spring’s just around the corner. Yesterday I drove into Oldham and there was a ‘host of golden daffodils…fluttering and dancing in the breeze’ along the central reservation of the bypass, just in time for March 1st. February didn’t seem so bad this year; it was probably buffeted along by the following winds of Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge.

This week I’ve fitted in more poetry. On Tuesday, early, I sent out the ‘anonymous’ poems to the Stanza group. I had seven submissions in the end, so the group is rallying nicely. Coupled with three apologies for the evening, we’re back to a workable group, off life support. On Tuesday evening we met as usual in the Buffet Bar to read and discuss the poems. Oh my, it was a good and varied set this month, with good discussion and feedback. We had one particularly intense discussion around centre-justified poems: centre justification always produces a shape to a poem; but does the ‘shape’ enhance or detract from the work? Everything you put into a poem should contribute something to the poem, or it’s extraneous, isn’t it?

Anyway, it was a good, energetic meeting. It snowed on Tuesday, just a light dusting for most of the day, but by the time we left the Buffet Bar it was coming down more relentlessly. I had a message from Bill that it was settling in Saddleworth, so not to be too late home. But the drive home wasn’t too bad, the worst of the snow was within a mile of home. I didn’t take my car down our steep and snow-covered Lane, I parked it on the top road overnight.

It snowed all night on and off, and Wednesday was the worst, snow all day, louring skies, dark, dark, dark. It was everything I hate about February, right there in that one day. I brought myself upstairs to my study and did poetry stuff.  I sent some poems out to the Enfield competition: https://enfieldpoets.com/2019/09/07/poetry-competition/  The particular hook was Ruth Padel as the judge. She visited our Stanza once, in 2012 when we were invited to be involved in ‘Ruth Padel’s Poetry Workshop’ on Radio 4. She’s such a gracious woman, and it felt good to send off some of my work for her to read. I had a lovely morning escaping from the wild weather outside, sorting through my poems and choosing the ones to send out. I also wrote up a poem from Peter Sansom’s workshop at the Art Gallery. It was surprisingly disappointing to see it in Word. It felt vibrant in my handwritten notebook; when I typed it up into Word it looked a sad thing, no life in it at all. I’ve kept it to work up into something more alive one day; maybe; if I’m at a loss for something to do. I had another poetry day on Friday. I sent some poems out to journals. I don’t know if they’ll be accepted or rejected; but I’ll ‘treat those two imposters just the same’. If they’re successful, I’ll enjoy that; if not, I’ll enjoy trying sending them somewhere else.

I’ve been doing domestic stuff this week too. On Tuesday I decided to start to deep-clean the conservatory. It tends to get too cold in there to use it in the winter months, but I like to sit in there, watching the birds in the garden, enjoying seeing the daffodil spears forcing their way through frozen soil—yes, our daffodils are still only green spears up here on the edge of the moors. Not much ‘fluttering and dancing’ going on in our garden, not yet. It took a couple of days to get it all cleaned: I’m not as fast and furious as I used to be. The hardest job, possibly the hardest job  I’ll have this year, was changing the ‘loose’ covers on the sofa-bed we have in there. I had muscles like October cabbages by the time I was done.

Yesterday I decided to investigate upgrading my phone contract. I went on the Vodafone website and got myself a new iPhone XR in red, with a renewed two-year contract. I ordered it ‘click and collect’, so yesterday afternoon we went into Oldham for the ‘collect’ bit. I spent a few happy hours last night getting it up and running. It’s similar but different from my old phone, so I’m making it up as I go along. I couldn’t pair my watch with it, but I have a couple of resident IT experts in my sons, and I found out I had to unpair it from my old phone before I could pair it with the new one. It’s all sorted now, and the phone and my watch have photos of my Memoji as wallpaper.

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So, another good week. To finish off February, I had dinner with my friend Joan on Friday, the day I’ve lived with my partner Bill for seventeen years. I know, you only get fifteen for murder; but he’s not a bad old bugger, and last night we celebrated with a chilled Chablis, and waved goodbye to February for another year. The days are lengthening from both ends, and later this month we spring the clocks forwards. It’s all good.

Here’s the poem I wrote for Ruth Padel’s Radio 4 ‘Poetry Workshop’.  I’d broken my right arm, the head of the humerus, the day before the programme was recorded; so I found it hard to get involved in the warm-up writing activities on the day. Although, when I broke my right arm as a child, I discovered that if you write with your left hand but write backwards from right to left, you can make perfect mirror writing. I guess it works if you’re left-handed too.  And that’s what I did in those warm-up exercises in Ruth’s workshop. It’s not fast, but it’s surprisingly satisfying. You should try it: you never know when it’s going to come in handy. Anyway, before the event in the Buffet Bar, our Stanza members were asked to write poems inspired by travel, the theme interpreted loosely. I’d just been away to Zakinthos for a fortnight’s sun. We travelled on the silly-o’clock flight with a party of Club 18-30 revellers and this poem was inspired by the corporate ‘uniform’ of the group. As my Old Aunt Mary used to say, we didn’t do it like that in my day!  You can find the original draft of the poem here, along with other members’ poems from the event: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nx3rp  I redrafted it to include in my PhD collection.

 

I  (heart) Watford Gap

their tee-shirt says I (heart) Zante
and on the back, In Zante without panties.

I think of the trip we took after our results,
being driven at speed in boyfriends’ cars

along the new M1 to Watford Gap services
for frothy coffee, feeding the jukebox,

Lesley Gore singing ‘It’s My Party’
the boys calling us their birds and us

preening our feathers, chirping to be fed
how we used to before we read de Beauvoir

and Greer, before we burned our bras.
I can’t imagine the legend I (heart) Watford Gap

on a sixties tee shirt; but that was how
we severed the school tie, cut the umbilical cord
travelled from school girl to woman.

 

Rachel Davies

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