Thursday, 22 May 2014

From sun, sea and sand...

and poems on buses and in airports... sun, rain, hail, thunder and lightning and poems at Ruskin College and the Albion Beatnik. More about the poems later.

Yes, I did go swimming in the sea, for those who kept asking if I would. It was 12 degrees and the same old story. Only children and people in their 70s were braving it - and a couple of teenagers who were clearly in love. What is it with the over 20s and middle-aged people? Do we get scared of living? Well, not to be put to shame by those much younger than me and those not much older, I threw myself in with gay abandon. It was thrilling. I love that icy tingle. After a while you grow accustomed, of course, and the tendency to want to stay in all afternoon grows. I had a proper good swim, then cycled back to the camp-site.

Guernsey is one of the most frustrating places I've ever visited. Half the roads aren't named or the names are hidden behind nettles, and the maps are pretty haphazard. I lost count of the number of badly drawn junctions. There were several  roads that didn't exist on the map even though they clearly did in reality. But everyone wants to help, even if they have no idea where they are. It took five hours to cover just nine miles one morning. Four of those hours were spent trying to puzzle out the map. 'What road is this?' I asked one woman after flagging her down in her car. 'I don't know,' she said. 'I've been driving it for years. I think it begins with a B.'

In the end, I gave up with map reading and just pootled along and hoped for the best.The Literary Festival - check out their Facebook page - was full of fun and there was something for everyone. I have to admit that the traffic put me off though. The congestion is appalling and the fumes and noise are really taxing, despite the fact that everyone gives way to cyclists and no one drives like an idiot. I only went to three events in the end. The rest of the time I cycled and swam and read. I also began to do some research about the occupation and what happened to the deportees. Britain classed Guernsey's three Jewish residents as 'aliens' so they weren't allowed to evacuate to safety. No prizes for guessing where they ended up. UKIP MPs and their supporters would have taken the same line no doubt. My uncle Grotius was also an 'alien' on account of being Welsh, so he was deported to Laufen in Germany along with several hundred other non-native residents. Retaliation for our internment of Germans in Iran. People are often just pawns in war.

A friend sent me a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to take away with me. If you want to read a book about why literature is necessary, this is a good place to start. It contains some great truths. It's also fabulously witty.

And so, back to England - land of torrential rain and thunderstorms.

Next on the horizon is Ruskin Arts Day organised by the even more fabulously witty Helen Kidd.

It'll be a pleasure to read alongside Martyn, Greg and George.

If you fancy a snifter of poetry on Saturday, do come along. There's a slam immediately after as well.

See you there?

And moving further ahead, Back Room Poets members will be reading at my favourite Oxford book store, the Albion Beatnik. This may well be a packed event, so perhaps arrive there a wee bit earlier and treat yourself to one of the shop's excellent coffees and browse their well-stocked shelves.

Jenyth Worsley has organised this. There will be readings of original work from the poets and also translations of war poets that are often overlooked in this country. This should be a thought-provoking evening and, hopefully, a reaffirmation of our humanity. I shall be reading several translations and focusing primarily on women's and the German experience.

The poster isn't terribly clear, I'm afraid, so here are the details:

Albion Beatnik Bookstore
34 Walton Street

6th June at 7:30 pm

The Pity of War is part of Oxford Fringe festival this year.

And that concludes this post. The sun is back and the dogs are anxious to go out and sniff around amongst the dashed down plants from the hailstorm this afternoon. And is that a blackbird singing? Yes, I believe it is...

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