Workshop, 31st July 2018

This summer it seems is never ending, particularly now that the workshop does not break for August but power on through with sheaves of past poems used as fans.  How is the modern poet expected to whinge about the commercialisation of the seaside if they never get the chance to go there and be appalled ?  Meanwhile, their de-schooled children are nagging them for a proper holiday and not some writers’ retreat in the Welsh mountains yet again – honestly, how are they ever to understand the unbearable tragedy of being if all they can think about is ice cream ?

Here at the Archive is no different, with the interns on the works placement scheme turning out to be a bunch of schemers, carping on all day about how it’s not fair and they want to be outside in the park, not down here in a cavern all summer filing all known occasions that Phil Larkin was observed to smile.  Honestly, for all the useful work we get out of them this month, we might as well send the lot of them to Brighton for the day to count cravats and berets.

Anyway, on with this week’s workshop – John Hurley uncapped the sunscreen and told us about an old woman who had been waiting for a very long time, and Anne Furneaux has been gathering what scant family lore she has on grandmother number two.  Michael Harris donned his mental pith helmet to visit the colonies of his consciousness, while Niall Cassidy has been going outside to soak up the heat.  Owen Gallagher then told us how he could always tell then his mother was being assisted by mother’s little helpers, and Pat Francis has been admiring an admirable tree.  Meanwhile, Peter Francis has been dreaming the Summer away, and finding it makes little sense, while Martin Choules has been both in awe and in regret at skyscrapers.

For Sir John it was much the same – each August he longed to close up the Manor and take himself off on an improving month in Greece or the Veneto in order to brush up his architecture and Italian, only to be faced with the prospect of finding the piazza full of the booming, moaning English voices of grand tourers complaining about how hot it is.  Just as a teacher cannot hope to slip away in the Summer without running into her work in the hotel dining room, so the society salonier couldn’t hope to ever visit a fashionable resort without running into the fashionable.  And so it was that Sir John would find Georgie Byron in Florence, pointing and laughing at the statue of David, or Bysshie Shelley randomly popping up in the middle of the Egyptian Sahara.  He wasn’t even safe by holidaying at home, unable to spend a quiet week on Exmoor ruined by a smashed and loutish Sammy Coleridge.


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