In my humble opinion, arguably the most beautiful words ever seen printed in a journal or publication are these; ‘Aubrey Ffinch-Whistler is on holiday’. This phrase normally makes its modest appearance at the bottom of some column, critique or other article the readership would otherwise have expected yours truly to have penned. The implication of these simple words being that I am absent, having cast off the cares of this veil of tears, and therefore in a more relaxed frame of mind than the vast maj. of my readership who are either still taking the elevator to the coal face, or are braving the various check-in desks, ticket-offices, ferries, aeroplanes, self-towed caravanettes and pedallos; to whit, your chosen means of escape.
At Pitshanger Poets we have long considered the option of a Summer Break, a couple of weeks away from the ardour of the regular Workshop, to find some shady bower to settle and jot down a few stanzas to bring ease to the world at large. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon your point of view), poets are simply dreadful at taking summer holidays. I blame the Irish poets. Start leafing through some Heaney, Joyce or Beckett and the last thing you find yourself wanting to do is roll out the old beach towel and slather on the Mazola. No, you’re much more likely to root out the walking boots and three-piece Gore-Tex leisure suit and find the number of that uncle you know with a small castle in Connemara or similar. In fact, the last time we know of any quantity of Pitshanger Poets going on a holiday in the sun together was in 1937, and a thoroughly miserable time some of them had – it’s a shame there was no ABTA back then as I’m sure some of them would have got their money back after the way they were treated.
You find me hastily jotting these words down on the back page of my Bradshaws as we hot-foot it to the station. My Man is accompanying me as we find our way to Uncle Archie’s place for a few weeks. I cannot actually tell you where I am going – Archie persuaded me that there is every likelihood that Interpol read this blog and that this trip is strictly on the QT, but I feel sure the ‘Old Bill’ will catch up with him soon enough, at which point I will be able to tell all. In the meantime, there is this-week’s Workshop to tell you about, which description I have scribbled on a largely white illustration of the Jungfrau Railway in Switzerland, so it will not spoil the volume too much. Who wants to travel to Switzerland anyway? Uncle Archie perhaps?
This week Roger Beckett got us started with a fine found poem based on the language used by professionals in the care sector. And they take care of us, too. Doig Simmons has been spending more time thinking about his corporeal form and wondering whether it is needed on board. John Hurley made a creative break with his usual style, in this pastoral observation of the nightfall at Glendore. Pat Francis has been thinking about poetry and the need to be believed. Nick Barth has noticed that we have a new coven in our midst, and wonders what wild predictions these strange characters will make. New poet James (we hope you come back to us so that we can get your last name, James) read his slam-tinged work on the superior sex. Anne Furneaux is ready to share her history of the thousand bomber raid with her Cologne friend, Host. Christine Shirley’s poem this week wanders a little and is all the better for it. Finally James Priestman brought back his peon to Andy Murray, as heard from a fanatic, we feel.
If you have been, thank you for reading.
Aubrey Ffinch-Whistler is on holiday