As the new year sweeps in, in all its glory, to each of you, in different parts of the world, as you celebrate at different times ....
XX EVERY BLESSING FOR THE NEW YEAR XX
All of these words and all of these pictures and these small scraps of purpose and intention and dreams will walk alongside of me and keep me company on this my great journey and will serve to remind me to savour all my days spent upon this earth.
Once upon a time there was a cat. One day a christmas tree arrived at his house. He was really happy, because he could take the decorations off the tree and put them under the bed! Every day he did the same thing. He was the happiest cat in the world! Then, one day father Christmas came and said, stop scratching that beautiful Christmas tree, it's for me to put the presents under. "Here's a Blue Bear for you"
Happy Christmas Everybody!
'I had never seen a train. It was so long I couldn't see the end. The platform was thronging with people with cases, the train windows were filled with faces.'
'After about ten weeks of married life I began to feel rather sick, not of Charles and married life - just sick in myself. At first it was just a whisper of sickness and I began to think that I was imagining it, then I thought that maybe it was the strawberries; they were very cheap that year ...'
'The 'Staircase to Freedom' leads to Scientific Language Guru's tower. It tips them into the tower room. They are terrified. Everything moves.The floor makes waves. The walls breathe in and out. The ceiling pings up and down. But, worst of all, Scientific Language Guru is all over the place. Here - there - everywhere. There - here - not there - not anywhere. Scientific Language Guru repeats itself over and over, blazing and fading around the room.'
Irina's poems of the seventies were crisp, mischievous, and romantic. She certainly defied the stereotype - that of a poet who spends long hours at home, preferably in a half-lit room, searching for metaphors and being otherwise unhappy. In fact, it was awfully hard to catch her at home at all. She couldn't stand small rooms, lifts and narrow corridors. She was always outdoors....
With time her poems became more reserved. She spent longer hours writing ....
And I undid the old shawl
And I undid the old shawl -
And at once there came to me
The four winds from all the roads,
From the clouds of the earth.
And the first wind sang me a song
About a house behind a black mountain,
And the second wind told me
About an enchanted arquebus.
And the third wind began to dance,
And the fourth gave me a ring.
But the fifth wind came laughing -
And I recognised his face.
And I asked: 'Where have you come from?
And who has sent you to me?'
But he looked into my features
And said nothing.
And I touched his shoulder -
And sent all the others away.
And this wind blew out the candle,
When night fell.
'No, I'm not afraid: after a year
of breathing these prison nights
I will survive into the sadness
To name which is escape.'
'Asleep, all are asleep, deeply asleep. Soft through the streets, the boy moves, brushing the furry dark. Across the wide road, quiet now, marked out by lamps. The lonely lamps in line. no wheel turns now.'
'The boy says, "Hold my hand. Don't go."
"I can't come farther. You have to face it alone. You have the strength."
"I don't feel strong."
"Yes, you are strong, you have shown it."
"How can I fight such power?"
"You face it, do not fight it. Face it with questions."
"If I can face it, I shall know the questions. That I know. But can I face it?"
"Yes, you can face it. You are yourself, yourself."
'coat of many colours'
'Like a nervous creature, Miss Steak creeps forward until she is in front of the ‘MEAT MEMORY’ box.
Quickly, Violet Jelly fills a ramekin with small pieces of steak. She hands it to Pansy Soup. Pansy Soup takes it and creeps towards Miss Steak. She spoons out a portion and holds it out to her. Miss Steak looks from here to there, like a startled bird. She does not see Morton, who has crept up behind her. Miss Steak stares at the spoonful of meat and steps towards it. Greedily, she grabs the spoon and pushes it into her mouth. She chews and swallows and looks for more. Pansy Soup holds out the ramekin. Miss Steak grabs it and pushes more steak into her mouth.
Morton is behind her. He is about to leap forward, to grab Miss Steak, when a deep noise freezes him to the spot and the lid of the enormous chest in the centre of the room opens. Out steps a ram- an enormous ram.
“Who is eating in my bank?” it bellows with a voice so deep that it bangs against the boxes and comes back again, like a thundering echo. Violet Jelly hastily pops the empty ramekins into her bag. The others cover their ears. But Miss Steak keeps on chewing. She can think only of steak.'
'The Abbot rose, and closed his book,
and donned his sandal shoon,
and wandered forth, alone, to look
Upon the summer moon.'
'The moon, like a flower,
In heaven's high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.'
'Slowly, silently, now the moon`
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;'
'Is the moon tired? She seems so pale
Within her misty veil;
She scales the sky from east to west,
And takes no rest.'
'The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.'
'He had been trying to visit all of the Betty's Tea Rooms - Ilkley, Northallerton, two in Harrogate, two in York. A genteel itinerary that would have done a coachload of elderly ladies proud. Jackson was a big fan of Betty's. You could guarantee a decent cup of coffee in Betty's, but it went beyond the decent coffee and the respectable food and the fact that the waitresses all looked as if they were nice girls (and women) who had been parcelled up some time in the 1930s and freshly unwrapped this morning. It was the way that everything was exactly right and fitting. And clean.'
He understands that the whole purpose of the evening has been to warn him: to warn him off. He will remember it, the fatal placement: if it proves fatal. That soft hiss and whisper, of stone destroying itself; that distant sound of walls sliding, of plaster crumbling, of rubble crashing onto fragile human skulls? That is the sound of the roof of Christendom, falling on the people below.
Bonvisi says, "You have a private army, Tomasso. I suppose you have to watch your back."
"You know I do." His glance sweeps the room: one last look. "Goodnight. It was a good supper. I liked the eels. Will you send your cook to mine? I have a new sauce to brighten the season. One needs mace and ginger, some dried mint leaves chopped -"
His friend says, "I beg of you. I implore you to be careful."
" - a little, but very little garlic -"
"Wherever you dine next, pray do not -"
" - and of breadcrumbs, a scant handful ..."
" - sit down with the Boleyns."
'The (historian) wonders why you don't include all the detail' .... 'and the (literary critic) wonders why you aren't more slick.'
'The art, therefore, lies in grasping why things happened and then forgetting the reasons.'
'The (novelist) lives inside the consciousness of her characters, for whom the future is blank' ... 'agrees just to move forward with her characters, walking into the dark.'
'The Wellwood's Midsummer was a slightly movable feast ... Philip was assigned to help with the decoration of the garden and orchard. ... All chairs were requisitioned - wicker chairs, deckchairs, schoolroom chairs, the nursery rocking chair, cane and metal garden chairs. They were placed in arbours, in the clearing in the centre of the shrubbery, even in the orchard. Then the lanterns were swung from branches ...'
'They sat, the survivors, quietly round the dinner table, and drank to the memory of Leon. ... Philip sat at the end of the table in a wheelchair that supported his leg. ...'
Lit. & Phil. Library, Newcastle
Lit. & Phil. Library, Newcastle