Something, like nothing, happens anywhere


A bit of Larkin for a cold January night.

I went to see the new film of Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van at the Watershed Cinema in Bristol over Christmas. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and more moving than I had anticipated. I loved how personal it felt: like so much of Bennett’s work, it felt as though I’d spent a couple of hours in his own company, rather than in a cinema watching a projection on a screen.

So I came home and felt like I wanted to spend a bit more time with Alan (I hope he won’t mind if I call him Alan), and the first thing I managed to put my hands on was my audiobook CD of Alan’s Six Poets anthology, which is worth getting in audiobook format simply to listen to his voice.

One of the six poets is Philip Larkin, and Alan expresses his delight (or at least, a quiet note of admiration) at Larkin’s ability to turn the most mundane non-experiences into poetry, and talks about how this inspired and encouraged his own work.

So actually I have ended up reading Larkin, and enjoying the meticulously detailed, beautifully described mundanity of everyday life. I think one of my favourites is Dockery and Son, in which Larkin reflects quite profoundly on life and death during the course of a train journey. And so part way through you get the lines ‘...Yawning, I suppose / I fell asleep, waking at the fumes / And furnace-glares of Sheffield, where I changed, / And ate an awful pie, and walked along / The platform to its end to see the ranged / Joining and parting lines reflect a strong / Unhindered moon.’

Something, be it life, death, or simply an awful pie in Sheffield, happens anywhere.


Not Going Out


The Christmas festivities are drawing to a close and it’s back to normality this week. The past week and a bit have provided a wonderful bit of space to breathe and think, relax and enjoy.

Christmas this year began in Cambridgeshire, with the log burner blazing in the farmhouse and mulled wine on the stove. A frenetic Christmas Day with Mark’s family in St Ives (is Christmas with young children ever anything but frenetic?), Mark and I making a brief escape for a quiet walk as dusk fell. Boxing Day calm, and a walk through the village.

Then it was on to Bristol for the tail end, to see my family, to hang out on Gloucester Road and Stokes Croft, relax and write.

On New Year’s Eve I taught my mum how to make sweet potato chips, we all watched Star Wars, then toasted in the New Year with Champagne and the fireworks on the television. A quiet one really, but it’s how I like it. I’m not one for going out at the best of times.

Today I am on the sofa enjoying a final few hours of peace before the new year really kicks in. 2015 was a tough one, but I’m staying optimistic for the future months…