April 29, 2007

Homage to PG Wodehouse

I'm just getting to the end of Uneasy Money by PG Wodehouse. I have recently read his Leave It To Psmith (1923) , Summer Lightning (1929) Thank You Jeeves the first full length Jeeves and Bertie novel (1934), along with several giggling re-reads of the classic J. and B. short stories. They must be the best convalascent reads on the planet. It strikes me that Uneasy Money, in particular, but all of them really, have all of the coincidences and complications of a Thomas Hardy novel, only they are comic instead of tragic. After all, we all get enough of the former at home and work. Wodehouse for me is Hardy's smiling twin, his dialectical opposite. The grim realist dystopian George Orwell (an unexpected admirer of Wodehouse) wrote that Bertie Wooster, if he ever existed, was probably killed in the trenches sometime during the First World War. Sad and true. But thank God Wodehouse didn't let that get in the way of an imperishable story.

April 16, 2007

Tales Out Of School- A Retired Teacher Lets It All Out

Below is my publicity shot for the Edinburgh Fringe. It was taken by Si Barber for the TES at Hunstanton Funfair. Note the highbrow fringe. The show is about someone who after twenty seven years of telling teenagers off and giving them work to do that they really don't want to do finally gets the chance to leave school and get a life. I'm doing nine nights in a row instead of my usual dozen first night nerves every one night stand series but hoping it will all be more than a nine day wonder because I'm looking to turn it into a serious tour. The plan is that the Star Club in Hamburg books me for a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, then that a young businessman named Epstein decides that an Edinburgh fringe and a cute suit will widen my appeal. After that, a booking at the Oasis club Manchester, a national tour, Garethmania and the Big Break in America via the Ed Sullivan show etc. One thing I will NOT do is play Sunday Night At The London Palladium by command of Her Majesty or accept an MBE. Oh all right, Ma'am, Brian, if you think it will help book sales...

April 13, 2007

April Poem Of The Month

Look, I have come through

I hear a moan - of the earth, but unearthly -

On the other side of the wall.

I creep round, girding my loins from some horror.

"A lamb's having birth!" pipes a child, beckoning.

I join the haggle,

Watch the quiet kindness of humans

As the lamb's bud-horns lock her

In the coffin of her mother's womb,

Watch them wrestling with spindly legs, dashing for aid,

While, irrelevant but insistent,

A turkey courts hens round our shins,

Feathers at full sail, twirling in absurd vanity,

Tattered, matted, red-sore raw and ugly beyond belief.

A man returns with a lifeline of coarse string.

A woman helps him coax birth

From the patiently groaning ewe.

The lamb is dead on the hay.

They lay it at the mother's mouth for her to lick.

"Is it all right?" asks someone, stupidly.

I knew it from the start.

....But the lamb stirs.

My heart shouts with the joy of it.


Stubborn, hopeless, quivering