The Playthings Of Man

Those of you who have read my book will have come across a namecheck in the foreword of a certain Kenneth White. White introduced the term Geopoetics, the meaning of which has informed both my writing and the way that I see the world for a long time-long before I had even heard of Geopoetics or knew what it meant.

Being an admirer of White’s poetry and his waybooks, this afternoon I was sat outside in what is perhaps the final ebb of summer, reading House Of Tides. This quote, of an old Japanese saying, stood out:

In youth a man plays with women, in middle age with the arts, and in old age with a garden.

I put it in context for myself.

Here I am: happily married; playing at being a poet; thinking about peas.

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My Kids In The Shard: Perspective

How often the imagination compensates for the limited world view of the young.

Town borders; forest edges; the last stop before the motorway slip road. These are the limits of their everyday world.

But then they are elevated high, and their vision expands, the world opens up and they feel themselves diminishing.

Look there, on the horizon: it’s the future; it’s the unknown.

Go explore.

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Laughing Over Spilled Milk

Recently, while on my London jaunt, I was sat in a coffee shop in Canary Wharf, reading A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. A particurlar scene caused me to laugh out loud, gaining the attention of my fellow patrons, and I picked up my mobile to pretend that someone had sent me an amusing text.

It was as if I had been caught doing something shameful in public.

I don’t know why I did this, it was a spontaneous reaction to my sudden display of emotion at the book I was reading. It’s as if we should only be moved in some capacity by social interaction, in response to the prompting of others. Any bibliophile, or nature lover, or music fan, etc, can tell you that you can be adequately entertained and provoked by such solitary pursuits.

Ahem, anyway . . .

After my acute, public act of deception, I was pretty sure that out of this experience I’d be prepared for any future eruption.

It was soon put to the test.

I was reading All Points North by Simon Armitage in another coffee shop, this time, fittingly, in Manchester. I  was reading about a news item in a newspaper, as relayed by Armitage, about a Robert Ancliff of Bradford who was upset by a note left on his doorstep by his milkman:

The previous day, Mr Ancliff had typed a polite letter of complaint, asking what had happened to the extra pint of milk he had requested. The handwritten reply read: ‘I did get your milk delivered. It must have been stolen, so kiss my f****** a***.’ The milkman has quit without notice and has not been seen since. A company spokesman has apologized, and Mr Ancliff has been given complimentary milk for his trouble.

I laughed out loud at the milkman’s reply. Perhaps the poor man had been having a bad day and Mr Ancliff’s note was the last straw. As a former postman I can fully relate to that.

Anyway-I laughed out loud.

Immediately, I went to put the book down while fumbling in my pocket for my phone. But then,  previous self-analysis kicking in, I shrugged to the people around me, and carried on reading my book.

I came out there and then, in that coffee shop, as a book indulger, rereading the same sentence over and over among a bemused and curious crowd, smirking away into my Americano.

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That’s Entertainment!

I’ve just been reminded of this from a Facebook post I made three years ago, when my then six-year-old daughter and three-year old son were putting on a performance for me at home.

It was the best magic act I’d ever seen, more entertaining than Dynamo:
Millie was doing a magic trick with James as her assistant. He holds a tray, she has to get a toy figure in the tray without touching it, using a pencil. She takes too long, James pushes her, Millie pokes him with the pencil, so he hits her over the head with the tray.

Now that’s magic!