Sunday, 22 July 2012

childish diversions

It's a feature of being bored out of your skull that you seize upon any tiny chance of entertainment. At my son's graduation ceremony this week, as the graduands paraded alphabetically across to have their hands shaken by the Vice-Chancellor, I noticed that the name Condon was followed by the name Cox.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Ivan Lendl

The presence, one year, of Ivan Lendl on a list of the world's best-looking men led one of the others on the list, Allie McCoist, to consider it a dubious honour. McCoist is now the manager of Rangers and looks appropriately frazzled. Lendl is the coach of Andy Murray but the cameramen only look at him when Murray makes an unforced error. His baseball cap and sunglasses are aids to inscrutability, but he still looks, in these moments, like someone whose anger management regime has given him the posture of de Niro weighing up a future victim. Is there a more dangerous-looking ex-sportsman in the world?

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Old Father Thames

Walking the Thames path last week from Oxford to its source,  I wrote the first two lines of a poem which will probably be called 'The Source':

My guide book thinks this river is a person or a nation
born near Cirencester gently

and it's true that the guide book talks about the 'gentle birth' of the Thames and then its passage through the carefree meadows of its youth towards the 'proud symbols' of its maturity - castles and colleges and palaces. It doesn't, being a tourist publication, talk about decrepitude and senility, and it doesn't mention authors like Dickens and especially T.S.Eliot who deal with the river in that state (unlike eg Jerome K Jerome and Kipling who do get mentioned). There's a nationalist subtext in the guidebook's imagery and my poem will mingle registers and mix metaphors in order to explore the status of the Thames as a symbol of Englishness, where national identity is represented both as river and person - or it'll attempt that, though sometimes the language will refuse to bend that way.