Monday, 2 May 2016

Sneaking In...

Are all criminals. War does this to people. It stretches the moral order until it breaks. The rituals of peace being lost, the ideas linked to them disappear, freeing the inhabitants to build their own lives out of the rubble that remains. So much liberty! And love is its symbol. Love. The biggest, most sustained raid to hit London during the 1940s.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Beautiful Collapse

At first we don’t see it. Then we do: it is Roe, he is a bore. This is what strikes us most, above everything else, above even…but we will come to that… Above all other things the hero of this book is an exceedingly boring chap.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

No No Mr Jones

You could work, you could say something, you could see where to climb, to fix what you said, you could see a clear flight of steps. You worked from bottom upwards, but suddenly this staircase was spiral, it had no end. You worked on, somewhere there was an end to these stairs, somewhere you could stand. Silence was long, had a leaden weight, so that you could feel this as you worked, from bottom upwards, you knew there was somebody about, someone in the forest of rounding stairs, someone who would watch. You would work on, and suddenly you came on him, he spoke, and you laughed, silence was broken, you had met one who understood your language.

A tour de force about a night in the Blitz is also an allegory about the artist in society; and we, the other residents in this boarding house, who watch Clem and Lena carry a painting up and down the stairs, are more likely to belittle than to understand him; what he does too strange, so bizarre, too eccentric to be easily understood.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Soft Power

Theodor Fontane tells it straight: Sidonie von Grasenabb is a “43 year old maid”, who likes to attack society for its immorality, and is particularly scornful of the young. 

Here she is different. Sidonie von Grasenabb is an attractive woman who living comfortably with her husband appears to enjoy extra-marital affairs - with both sexes.

Rainer: what are you doing?

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Crumbling Prison of Old Ideas

we strive to acquire one emotional
stance, one viewpoint for all life situations
and events: we usually call that being
of a philosophical frame of mind.  
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

Balanced finely on his heel tip
He swirls around
A lion on his back
His sword in the belly of its mate.

Two thousand years and more
He has killed this animal.
Today the carapace cracks,
Splintering, falling…

Armour and beast
 Flow as water 
  Down his back
   To rest as dust
     At his feet.

A smile drops out,
The last stone breaks;
And kicking aside the rubble
He walks into the sun.

I wait until he returns…

As a young woman, 
Her flamboyant skirts
A wild carousel
Swirling around her heels.

The lovers clap and sing.

Saturday, 19 March 2016


The man’s back: a cliff insouciant before a sea battering helplessly against it; we think of the White Cliffs of Dover grinning at the French. 

The man’s face is invisible. We imagine it relaxed, composed; a sailor sure of himself in charge at the ship’s wheel.

A ship making its steady way through turbulent waters.

We struggle to describe this sea; its wild mania refusing to be straight-jacketed by our sentences. The words flounder. Similes go overboard, and are lost.

The sailor is looking at the horizon. He has no need of our words; flotsam from another world, wrecked before he set sail, they are destined for some deserted shore.

Images are emerging. The waves are like… They are like…they are like a large herd loose on an undulating plain. Such monstrous beasts! mad heads shrieking at an angry sky; hooves stampeding the rolling water into a raging foam.

The sailor has tamed many a wild horse. He is happy here.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Midlife Crisis

It is the fantasies that condemn us. Like a dream continuing into our waking life, they pull us forever back into sleep; away from the world; its liveliness, its fun. So lovely these dreams; too lovely; their dazzling images an enervating drug, that weaken's the mind’s resistance, slowing it down, making it sluggish, that makes it dull. And so quickly: a sunlit street becomes a waterlogged marsh that grabs, that pulls, that sucks us down. 

At first so exciting soon these dreams bore us. The same old pictures repeating themselves day after day, it doesn't take long and we’ve had enough; are screaming: throw that damned zoetrope out! It is too late. Like horses in a carousel these dreams cannot run away. And we... We shout. We cry: let us off! let us off!  The attendant has disappeared; and the merry-go-round goes around and around, round and round, around and around and round.