London rolled in with a taint of hazy pastels in its violet sky and damask brick railway walls that enclose and pull you in. The sun seemed to have got off the train at the wrong stop, uncertain where to shine.

I read Keats along the journey from blinding gold marshes that looked like sea in the confusion of winter glare. Even the curling of a leaf, the drone of a bee or rose thorn can be of the utmost beauty from his pen. It is akin to Joanna Newsom’s songs and my rural rootings in springtime.

Long ago I read poetry in school; ‘Mirror’ by Slyvia Plath, Roe Deer and the Horses by her husband, ‘do not stand at my grave and weep’ and ‘The Jabberwoky’ and left it at that.

The question is posed for study on what is it that makes poetry difficult. I can not answer, I can not remember if it ever was. The question personally changed to be why don’t I read poetry? Why can a novel by absorbed and rellished no matter how ‘difficult’ yet the statements of poetry be ignored?

An so I read. William’s, Yeats. Keats and Patti Smith’s dear Whitman. Plath and Hughs again, loved again with their silent megalith horses and ‘terrible fish.’ Red wheelbarrows and Snarks filled my fire lit evening remote and friendless.

Only Keats led all elsewhere to a place of spring, of Pan’s footsteps and the deepest stirs of hearts. How can a man write so thoughtfull and sweet, so full of emotion? Look around at the boys on the train; young law students laughing at their drunk escapades. Look at men with their free newspapers and folded suits worn with perceptive frowns. Could they have words, love as his? Sweet, sweet little Keats. Not a stanza is remembered or scrutinized like my almost saintly Plath.

But he leads all elsewhere.

Ancient Mariners

On Monday I had the privilege to see inside St James Palace in London with my mum to view our ancestors painting of the Victory in the Battle of Trafalgar. My great x5 grandad William Huggins was commissioned to paint three works on Trafalgar, three of which are in the Royal Collection of art.

Hung in the banqueting room of red carpets, red flocked velvet wallpaper and chandeliers the painting dominates one wall. Walking up the sweeping staircase I discovered the banisters were covered in deep red velvet. It was so amazing to be the only people in there with curator Lucy giving us an insight in to how the palace is used and the Royal collection.

The fact the painting still hangs in a room used for functions and not stored makes me feel it still has some presence, is still seen.

William Huggins painted many mariner and naval works after sailing to the far East, often using bitchamen (spelling? the black stuff in tar) to emphasise the darkness in his high sea depictions. His son in Law was the artist Edward Duncan, also a marine painter.

Huggings originally painted the works for the Greenwich hospital and was grieved they never got there. I would be interested to know how they changed owners and came to be in Hampton Court and St Jame’s.

Both are buried in Highgate Cemetery.
Here’s a bit of Wikipedia on him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_John_Huggins

Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take photos and the finished works are not online only a watercolour prepratery sketch available as posters and completely different from the intense smoke and darkness in the final pieces in oil.

The Girl Who Was Wednesday

Varnished winding pavements lead me away from the stalwart,
London matriarch of St Paul’s Cathedral down passages that I set my
first novel in. Alone in rain as always I walked over my own
stories. On this bench I laid against a guitar with no sleep and
nowhere to live. On this piece of river I had read in the sun,
danced for tourists…. There is a residue of me everywhere in
London. Last night I read of the cathedral in the snow of a spy
novel called the Man Who was Thursday. All of the anarchists are
named after days of the week. I am undercover as a literature post
graduate. I say undercover because on my first day, despite
lavishing the ideas and theories my dull life craved, i haven’t the
intelligence. The class was great; being in a place to learn again
and the lecturer made what seemed confusing on paper, make sense
and make me question the subject more. People with understanding
and enthusiasm of their subject always make me enjoy studying. In the seminar I knew I had to say
something, couldn’t sit at the back and say nothing. But my words
were short and ill educated with no academic terms. Every author
spoken of I have not read. I haven’t even read Dickens! Even Mary
Shelley’s monster had read Milton. The books they are reading for
pleasure I haven’t read either and the course material plus 6 hours
work a day takes up my entire week. I read every night until 1am
making notes I shan’t share. I read Frankenstein. I wanted to prove
my intelligence. Dumbly I enrolled at uni with no money for the
fees and no career goal. I read Jane Eyre aged 10. I stole
Frankenstein and got through the opening letters before getting
caught aged 12. I read Little Women, Wuthering Heights, The Bell
Jar, 1984. I read Frankenstein. I adored Frankenstein. Where will
it ever get me? I’d love to write something on Victorian London or work in archives somewhere.

Victorian Terrorism

Esplanade, anarchists and terrorist bombers; not what I had ever associated with Victorian England.

For my literature module on London and modern literature I am reading ‘The Secret Agent by J.Conrad (free on Kindle). The novel set, in the 1880’s, centres around a group of (fairweather) anarchists and secret agents in the backstreets of Soho.

I’m more of a Heathcliff and Mad Hatter lover than a crime reader but this novel is fascinating me in the parallels with terrorist explosions in today’s world. When news reaches the characters that a man has blown himself up in Greenwich my first thoughts were that it was a suicide bomber and not the accident it turns out to be from detonating too soon. (As far as I know as I’m half way through.) it is written so the reader knows what happened before the characters. The main character Mr. Verloc exploits his vulnerable, unintelligent brother-in-law to become the victim. Insinuating this in the readers mind before any description of the body is revealed makes them that little bit as wrong and corrupt as Verloc in having the same idea as him.

This was inspired by a real terrorist attempt in 1895 to bomb the Greenwich observatory, the site of the Meridian line. The bomb detonated too soon killing French anarchist Marshial Bourdin.

I keep wondering though what their anarchism is against, what they are trying to scare societies belief in. Can anyone enlighten me as the politics and need for revolution are lost on me.

Ariadne Goes To School

I am now a post graduate student in English Literature in a London university. I am homeless living at my parents, have no money for the second year fees and haven’t studied literature since high school, but I’m in.

This all came about rather quick. I saw a screening of the National Theatre production of Frankenstein, my favourite novel. I saw it twice the second screening being in Kings College and I left so sad that I never went to uni. Don’t get me wrong, my degree in Theatre was brilliant like falling down the rabbit hole but I felt I never got to prove my intelligent and that real experience of University compared to a college.

My faculty is in a great art deco looking building with floors and lift buttons as confusing as Hogwarrs. I feel shy and uneducated yet strangely excited about being emmersed in texts.

The reading list includes The Bright Young Things, Woolfe and Carroll and H G Wells. My great escapism.

It’s Good to Hoophoops, circus, fitness

Sometimes I forget what a good hula hoop practise can do for my mood. I think it’s the focus and and the small but significant breakthroughs that cheer me.

On a tiny, muddy patio in a break from the storms I spun a hoop around my waist, my ribs, my neck and hips. I raised my arms in to a prayer pose above my head and felt nothing but the hoop hitting my body on each rotation.

Normally I am pushing out choreography, synching to music; it is very rare I simply hoop in silence.

In this state I realise I can manage things I gave up learning convinced it wouldn’t work.

The Year That Was

2013 I read Just Kids, I fell back in love with my teen idol Twiggy Ramirez, reunited with Paralympics crew and danced with the English National Ballet. I was homeless and learnt to dance in pointe shoes in a hostel dorm. I busked on Hungerford bridge, escaped Croydon, built an autoharp and learnt guitar. I wrote a novel. I wrote 10 songs. I didn’t do the Harlem shake or wear a onesie but I did wear latex and fur and listened to the Rolling Stone playing live at sunset. I protectively watched a bird feed it’s chick every dusk until they could fly. I escaped 7 years of squalor in Croydon and my skin disease healed.
I watched. Frankenstein. I cried at Frankenstein. I smiled because of Jeordie White. I danced in rain to Marilyn Manson. I deleted Alex Frith. I did aerial dance above London alone. I got in to uni as a post grad student of Literature.
I don’t know where I’m going but you were all here to share these things with. X