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I think that the last post had some kind of magical effect. Indeed! I don’t think it’s rained since. Seriously.

However it has been one looonnng week, and once again all I can do here is come up for air.

1) Poet’s Picnic on Saturday: a good time! writers, children, hot sunshine, and the most fabulous spot by the sea in Whitstable Tea Gardens.  A real pick-me-up.

2) Also on Saturday: a real live ball! This will mean nothing unusual to Brits, but to Americans…well, I’ve always wanted to go to one, and lo, I go. Long black dress, pearls (James Bond theme), stilettos. No R, not his scene, but I gamely sallied forth, and had a great time. I went for the dancing, and did plenty, losing my shoes more than once. Ahem. Also rode on bumper cars, four times. Ahem. Took a fake pistol. Ahem. And enjoyed draping myself over the pretend casino tables. I know, I know. I’m a child. I loved it. 

3) Journeyed up to Norwich School of Art & Design on Sunday night. I’m the new external examiner there for their creative writing BA programme. Given that I used to teach there (and so enjoyed it), it was a real treat to see what everyone and everything is up to. And it’s good stuff: fresh, vibrant, almost raw work sometimes — rarely if ever suffering from the over-writing that students also studying with literature with a vengeance can sometimes produce. There is also the added bonus of text and image work, which I’ve always found fascinating: index cards arranged in months, with an entry on each day. Accessible in order and randomly. Performance poetry with video link and guitar. Art house stuff. Exciting stuff. A pity then that the course has been cancelled. While there I heard that I shall see it out examining-wise: well, I’ll try to do it proud.

I’d like to be more involved with the visual arts. But I’m sorely, sorely lacking in skills and no doubt talent in that department. Alas.

4) Schubert has slain his first creature. After several weeks of (we thought) farcical hunting (I mean, a bright white cat jogging through the undergrowth, long hair flowing in the breeze — come on!), I walked downstairs this morning to frantic calls and a little deceased vole lying right smack in the middle of the doormat. He was delighted with himself, and I’ll admit it, I felt a tiny rush of pride.

5) M plays in yet another concert tomorrow. She has a new 3/4 Italian violin, which makes a much bigger sound. Suddenly her bowing arm has a life of its own. She’s the only first violin tomorrow, backed up by several second violins. She’s also the youngest. Somehow she just seems used to it all….

6) E is learning this. It is the cool of cool.

 

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be the food of love….

We had alot of music in the house this weekend, due to concerts and, well, maybe the sun, maybe Tilly’s death. Anyway, M on the violin, learning fourth finger position (don’t ask me, but it’s difficult) with impeccable (examiner’s word) tuning, and E returning to Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude, which he played in last autumn’s Kent Piano Festival. He’s brushing this piece up for a winner’s concert on 8 June at 3 pm, in St Peter’s Church in Canterbury, if anybody’s interested.

I simply love hearing my children play music. It has the same effect on me as reading poetry. More than that (of what I don’t know, but more of it) indeed. How often have I just stopped outside the closed sitting room doors, just to listen…

Here’s the Raindrop Prelude, played by someone else, but at a similar speed to E. I find it hugely powerful, always have.

Oh my goodness. What a week! Rarely so fried… You know how I like lists…. So I’ll do one and try not to use ellipses to the point of ridiculous…. (sorry).

1) Monday: M’s first solo violin concert. Plus three other group pieces. Did beautifully, despite meltdown over the previous weekend. Too much! Was supposed to do a maths challenge and a cross country run the same day. Hmm. We pulled her out of the run. Her violin teacher fetched and carried: playing the instrument, playing with dogs, a snack. That evening, she soared.

Oh, and we forgot E was off to London, to the Barbican to hear a concert. Oops. Got text: am on the bus to London. Have no money or lunch. Double oops. He begged, borrowed and stole. Apparently.

Beautiful food.

2) Tuesday: can’t remember a thing about it. Teaching.

3) Wednesday: M picked up by gorgeous Nancy, who took her for a picnic and brought her to Dance Warehouse, where I met them for an open lesson. E with me, and we both pas de basque-ed at some point…heavens knows when or how. Sandwiches in the car. E whisked into his concert — in two choirs — R showed up 10 mins beforehand from meeting. I went to Sainsbury’s to get something to take to writing group (hello Andrew, Nancy, Craig, Jeremy and Mark!). Ran into M’s drama teacher, who enthused about her and informed me that M had (once again) come home with Distinctions for top effort points in her form. Heavens! Forevermore. Lights under barrels and all that.

Writing group — a new combination — fantastic.

4) Thursday: admin, both kids home. Facing the chronic disaster of the house. Ikea building.

5) Friday: another concert, E on piano this time. Tear-bringing good. Again. Debussy and jazz. Not at the same time. A buzzy couple of hours, particularly seeing so many teenage boys in their element, being respectful, enjoying the music. Hurray Sam Bailey!

Ikea building.

Beautiful food.

6) Saturday: MY BIRTHDAY! Chocolate cake made by all, tulips for present still blooming. And beautiful food.

Laundry and Ikea building.

7) Sunday: Chocolate. Lamb, flagelet beans, mashed carrot & swede, potatoes dauphinoise, roasted parsnips.

Lordy. More laundry and vague Ikea building.

8) Today: end of laundry and end of Ikea building. Unpacking into it all! Trip to dump and a silly play a the swimming pool. Absolutely glorious chicken risotto.

25,000 words reading for next week. Hello students, hello world.

*

Don’t really want to do that again. Hoping to stop by here in two days rather than seven…! Thanks for listening.

p.s. if you come back later, you may find some rightful links added…I…just…can’t…do…them…now…

And yet two more good things (do I begin to worry when they come in threes?): my son E played in a piano festival today and won all his classes. Not for the first time I fought tears while he played. Too soppy. He didn’t see me.

Second, two copies of Losing You arrived today. Lovely. Deep red end papers. Substantial in the hand. Love it.

It’s evening. I remember once having seen a crescent moon seeming to lie settled in the sky something like this:

Cheshire cat at night

Of course tonight (too soppy) it’s a smile.

I HAVE MOVED

From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning

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Who am I?


A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.