Dr Goldenberg, I presume?

Yesterday I set out at dawn and, using a paper map, braved the streets of North London and miraculously encountered fellow blogger, Dr Howard Goldenberg. Since Howard had circumnavigated the globe from Australia via New York to London, his journey was a little more impressive than mine.

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This was in every way a delightful encounter, from the detailed description of how to make cholent, via the gift of a large slice of fruitcake, beautifully decorated by grandchildren and plaited bread with sesame seeds – challah – I hope I have that right? (do not forget the cake and the bread, O Best Beloved), to a very happy couple of hours in a nearby café. We talked. We drank our coffee, and we talked some more. I re-parked the car and we talked even more.

DSCN6969_2We talked about families, editors, book groups (see Howard’s recent post) and our own writing. I had enjoyed Howard’s complex, multi-layered novel, Carrots and Jaffas vDSCN6983 - Version 2ery much and am now captivated by his memoir of his relationship with his father; it shines with honesty and love. This is an appreciation, but not a blind worship, of his father’s forceful and engaging personality. We signed each other’s books (me with British reticence, he with warmth and generosity). Then we snagged a passing waitress and posed for a wholly blurred photo (I hope yours are better, Howard). It is an encounter I will cherish and we could have talked for many more hours.

Then I set off with my little map and reversed my route through London. I reached beginning of the Northbound motorway feeling smug at having made no wrong moves… and found it CLOSED. Forced to travel South, I then used the sun to head first East and then North through the outback of Essex in search of an extremely elusive motorway.

I stopped at a farm shop to ask where I was. The natives were extremely friendly and willing to help, but unable to use my primitive equipment (a road atlas), though they pointed me in the right direction. As I meandered down lanes no wider than the car, I was attacked by hunger and remembered the generous gifts from Howard and his daughter. I tucked into my Challah and fruitcake. They were delicious and saved me from starvation.

I made it home in time to see the tree surgeons who had been trimming our giant fir trees. They went from this, via this, to this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA via thisOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo this.  DSCN6975

We finished this wholly inspiring day by going to Cambridge for an entertaining lecture, in the Darwin Lecture series, by the rower Katherine Grainger on the Development of the Athlete.

 

Hercules Editions – small and mighty

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On Thursday night I attended the launch of a small book, The Heart Archives, by Sue Rose (a poet with a published collection to her name and another due later this year). Sue has photographed things meaningful to her and accompanied them with a series of sonnets, many relating to her own family. The poems have a sweet rhythm and a deep undertow, with mortality lurking in the background. Each is titled with a number in reference to the heartbeats recorded by Christian Boltanski and played continuously for his installation, Les Archives du Coeur. Sue’s book is one of two published by Hercules Editions (http://herculeseditions.wordpress.com), a press that came about to fill a need – the combination of photos and poetry.

DSCN4805The other book, Formerly, records disappearing London in photos by Vici MacDonald and poetry by Tamar Yoseloff. If you have ever wandered those streets of the city that have lost favour or are due for ‘redevelopment’, you will recognise in the photos the traces of the people who once lived and thrived here. The poems are sharp, bright, funny and heartbreaking. I love the verbal high jinks within them and the way they capture the flavour of what has now  disappeared (http://formerlysonnets.wordpress.com).

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One poem and photo, The Rose, took me back to my time as a struggling sculptor when my flatmate and I rented two bedrooms and a studio in The Rose and Crown in Deptford (long since demolished). The Studio was in the old strip bar (complete with appropriate murals). One of our bedrooms had to be given up to the Great Dane (who lived there too) to occupy with her puppies. I remember one day being told to stay away from the bar for a few days as Mick would be out (of prison) tonight. The barman then hid the rifle that used to hang above the bar. Exciting times!