Thursday, 11 November 2010
Hey-ho - Golden Days.
Yesterday was our poetry afternoon - one of my favourite afternoons in the month, when eight or nine of us meet together in each other's houses and read our favourite poetry out loud (the best way to read poetry) and talk about it - about the poet, his or her life; about the construction of the poem; about memories it triggers in us. My choices yesterday were - Frances Horovitz's "Rain - Birdoswald"; Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 (That time of year thou mayst in me behold); Yeats's "The song of Wandering Aengus" (have you listened to Christy Moore singing it? fantastic) and a few others.
Sheila read Larkin's Whitsun Weddings. I have not heard it read aloud for some years - it had lost none of its resonance, and my goodness me, what memories it brought out.
Today - see the photograph above - sees sun, rain, black cloud, wind, a rainbow, thick mist - all at the same time. It is not a day for going out (although I am going out to lunch as it happens) - it is one of those days when, if I were staying indoors, I would get out one of the photograph albums and I would leaf through it, remembering a particular holiday. Golden moments. I show you two above. Both were on a holiday which started in Canada (my favourite country) and ended in New England. The first photograph is of the farmer sitting on a wooden horse and wearing the cowboy hat he has just bought (the hat hangs on our bedroom wall) and was taken on a farm in Canterbury; the second is of a boat trip across Lake Winnepessaukee (On Golden Pond). Sorry it is a bit hazy but the boat was moving and after all this is a hazy memory!
But back to the poetry afternoon. Larkin brought out such memories amongst us ladies of a certain age about our own weddings back in the days when hardly anyone had a car and most honeymoons started at the railway station with wedding guests coming to wave us off. If you haven't read Larkin's Whitsun Weddings lately - do have another look at it. I think it is one of his very best poems. And who knows what memories it might evoke in you.
Probably my most golden memory of all was not caught on camera - sadly - but it goes back to around 1974 ish. There was a gas strike in the UK and the heating was off in the school where I taught. The children were excluded but staff went in and had endless discussions etc. in the staff room. Because of this I was able to take a day off. At 11am. I collected my son from school and drove to the railway station where we boarded a train for London. We were going to the Royal Festival Hall to see Karl Heinz Stockhausen conduct the first performance of his piece Ylem. Stockhausen had long been Dominic's idol. I didn't tell him where we were going until the last minute. For us both it was a magical day.
During the performance Stockhausen left off conducting the several groups of players spaced around the hall, came into the audience and sat directly in front of us - we could have touched him. Dominic later read music at University and saw and heard many conductors over that time, notably Sir Michael Tippett, another of his heroes. But I know that, like me, that stolen day rates very highly for him as a stolen moment too.
Do you have a golden moment you can share with us?