I finally sent my assignment by electronic mail on Thursday. Yesterday, Friday, is the day I balance the rent sheets for the Housing Association for which I work in my state of semi-retirement. My eyes were so tired from staring at this computer screen that I was more number dyslexic than usual. It might seem surprising that a former maths teacher can see £79.97 as £79.79. Fortunately the server was down at our Head Office in Staines and I didn’t receive the printout of the tenants who had paid by standing order until the afternoon. This was just as well as the phone kept ringing and I was the only one in the office which I had to leave briefly after a tenant in a wheelchair came through on the call system. She was unable to get a video to work and her carer had gone out for a couple of hours. I was unable to get the video to work but did leave her with one of the TV stations which was showing a film with Yul Bryner.
I did think that I might have another look at my assignment in the evening, but my daughter is off to her new flat in Canterbury today and we went out for a meal. After a glass of wine, and feeling rather drowsy, I decided that I would probably do more harm than good if I made amendments and over-wrote my submission (the deadline was midnight). So, having spent a long time with Katherine and Lewis, going round and round in circles whilst throwing too many balls up in the air, I move on to with relief to poetry. I now have to choose between contending landscapes in 1930s poetry and contending continents (America and Europe) in Eliot’s Prufock poems. So the first thing I come across is the question ‘Does poetry have to be difficult?’ and Auden’s ‘Poems XXX’ which is excruciatingly so. I like to think that I’m good at unravelling a poem, but the syntax in this one defeated me and I had to read the course material to get anywhere with it. Obscurity seems to be frowned on these days and some of my poems were criticised for this last year as were poems by two of the friends I made on the course.
My poem ‘Unidentified’ wasn’t one my tutor criticised for this particular fault, but said it might well find a place in an anthology of poems of war and peace. I have yet to find one! Anyway, it isn’t as accessible as I thought it was. I wrote the poem as a protest against the invasion of Iraq by Britain and America. The lines ‘Statesmen and diplomats hide behind/Casements of argument and gates of law’ refers to the action being taken in defiance of the United Nations. I though then, and still do think, that America reacted badly (an Old Testament ‘An Eye for an Eye’) to 9/11, rather trying to understand the motivation that lead to this terrible event. Sadly, the proliferation of terrorist cells (‘spores’) has come about, and the recent capture of British sailors by Iran is part of a deteriorating situation in the middle east. Yes, it is very frightening. Back to my books! It’s a beautiful day here in the New Forest: through my window I see fields and there is white blossom on my plum tree.