Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Love this. Read en route to Bologna the other day

Craig Raine

Tom Stoppard sold his house in France: ‘I was sick
of spending so much time at Gatwick.’

At the UK Border,
I double
and treble
through the retractable
queuing barrier.

Now I have my passport splayed
at the requisite page.

She glances, she frowns,
she turns it upside down
so it can be read by a machine.
She stares at a screen.

And then she asks,
looking up from her desk:
‘Craig Raine the poet?’

We have less than half a minute.
‘I studied you. For my MA at uni.
I did an MA in poetry.
Now I’m in the immigration service.’

I want
to give her a kiss.
But I can’t.
Why is this
so marvellous?
So hysterical?

We are close. We are both grinning.
We have come
together by a miracle.
Two sinners simultaneously sinning.
In passport control. No shame.

She is maybe 22,
like a snake in the zoo,
shifting, tightening, dwindling,
stretching, lost in her Kindle.

I want to say,
I like your boots. The way
the laces criss-cross
under, without piercing the eye-holes’
white majolica gloss
rising like perfect bubbles.

I want to say, hey,
I like your moles.

Which you get from your father.

This family of Swedes
sit in different seats,
directly behind each other
on the Gatwick-Oxford bus.

I want to say I like your big bust.
Which you try to disguise with a scarf.
You’d like it smaller by half.

I want to say,
you’re so young today
it’s almost painful.
For both of us.

And slightly disdainful
to your grateful parents,
patient, tamed creatures.
But when you get old,
(gradually, without a fuss,
because it makes sense)
you will have the handsome features
of your mother.

(I choose to ignore
her mother’s pelvis, large bore,
and the two foot span
of her hefty can.
Which is older and wider,
and also lurking inside her.)

I can say these things, I say,
because I am a poet and getting old.

But of course, I can’t,
and I won’t. I’ll be silent.
Nothing said, but thought and told.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Sketch of Cheyne Walk with blue circle

Love this sketch of Cheyne Walk - the blue circle is in fact a blue plaque and the house on the right was Dante Gabriel Rossetti's house. From the Urban Sketchers' blog - and I can't find the name of the artist. What a fantastic idea/group this is...

Back to Ruskin and the idea that you can possess/experience a place by drawing it.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Views in the Yeni V Sultan mosque

Views in the Yeni V Sultan mosque in Uskadar, Istanbul. This is the Asian side of the Bosphorus, The vista towards Mecca from the women's gallery is through this grid of hexagons.
More geometry in the huge and airy vaults overhead and prayer beads left in heaps on the carpet.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Spotted en route to Fatih Mosque, Istanbul

Spotted en route to Fatih Mosque, Istanbul.... a short walk along back streets to this mosque built on the site of the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles. A pilgrimage of a kind.  Ingenious plant holders made out of oil containers, David Beckham (every journey seems to involve spotting David Beckham) before the imperial splendour of the mosque. The carving over this entrance (and many other mosque entrances) is often the only carving to be seen on the exterior.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

A fortress at Barnard Castle

A frosty morning in Barnard Castle - assume that it is the first frost of the autumn but it's only the first frost for me.
Love the castle ruins - windows and corridors traced against the sky. Not a cloud to be seen.
Down on the road below there are banners for the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the Bowes Museum and the very last flowers of the summer....

A Mondrian dress

Gladioli and mombretia

The town still has a bit of a fortress feel, built up on the hill behind the castle. You can almost always see the moors beyond.

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy