Sometimes I struggle with what I'm doing with my life, or what I should be doing. The happiest I've been was when I did both my degrees. The chattering in my head stopped. I knew I was doing something worthwhile. I was learning, improving, progressing. I didn't have any existential angst! Anyway, the other night I had one of those unplanned, 'at peace' moments. I had got this book out of the library: And was reading through it, sitting between Hagos and Meg on the couch. Hagos was trying out his new headphones and asked if I wanted to listen to the sound quality. I then sat for about an hour listening to great music (Tunng, Kate Nash, Nick Drake) and reading great poetry. It was bliss.
A poem I return to again and again is this one: I first read it at secondary school when we covered war poetry. I had a really great English teacher, Mr Girvin, who was so enthusiastic about poetry and literature and plays and English. I was lucky enough to have him teach me for four years. I can still remember him explaining how the weight of the consonants in the first line reinforced the meaning. It was a bit like those 3D pictures that were all the rage a few years back. You know, where you have to hold the picture really close and unfocus your eyes, then the form and depth suddenly appear?
Years later, when I lived in London, I went to a reading organised by Canongate in a really decrepit church in central London. It was to launch their '12 Books of the Bible' series where they'd published the 12 books individually in pocket format, and they'd got various writers to write a new foreward to introduce the books. I went with my friend Janie, and we were positioned up on the balcony. I think most of the 12 writers had turned up for the reading, and from memory they included Nick Cave, Doris Lessing, Will Self, Blake Morrison and Louis de Bernieres (the Dalai Lama was absent). Louis de Bernieres was spectacularly heckled by some man further along the balcony raving about blasphemy. It was great. Anyway, because Mr Girvin had impressed upon us how important it was to read the Bible for litarary reasons, I decided to buy him a couple of autographed books and send them to him and say thanks for being a great teacher. I sent the package off to my old school address and a couple of weeks later he replied! We ended up meeting for lunch in the City of London one day, where I was working nearby. It turned out his daughter and son-in-law lived in London and he was due to visit them anyway. It was really nice to see him. He was still enthusiastic about literature, though no longer working. I think he'd retired early due to health reasons. One of my favourite plays, Time and The Conways by JB Priestley, was also due to Mr Girvin's interpretation and passion. I love the anachronistic structure, the playing with Time. It satisfies my existential tendencies! That's why I also love The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Time, existence, development.
Talking of which, I must get on and do things.