Some literary thoughts from an oldie

Holmfirth Civic beer festival

Beer festival at Holmfirth Civic. Proud sponsor.
Radiators not helpful, guitars ascendent, could have done with more drinkers.


Anyone hear Simon Armitage on Radio 4 this week? Apparently, along with fellow budding poets in his class at school, he submitted a verse or two. The teacher adjudicated and posted his choices on the wall. Simon's was not amongst them. He thinks he may have been on a revenge mission ever since. He made Poet Laureate anyway.
  He says all writers and poets relate to and have conversations with 6 or so previous authors - who would be yours? It depends on the era for me. Steinbeck, Hemingway, Orwell and Greene when I was a lad. The Liverpool poets when I lived there. A black hole climbing the greasy pole. Seamus Heaney and Ian McEwan during a second period at university in the 1990s. Michael Parkinson's short intimate family and cricket pieces. Now, crime writing that takes you to different places and times. Rebus, Bosch, The Crookback Lawyer, Morse, Duffy and so on.

What is the 'jizz'. Writing about about birds in Nature Notes, Times Feb 22nd, Miriam Darlington describes it as the 'particular flitting moves that makes each species recognisable'. Simon Barnes, in his book 'How to be a bad birdwatcher' goes quite a bit further, comparing it with his other, sports, journalistic prowess. Recognising by familiarity, taking in distinctive detail in a moment, and unconsciously knowing that it's Beckham. It comes with watching a lot of football and a lot of birds. It's the music of pattern, the deep knowledge of what is normal. Medical diagnosis is just here, spotting the discordant notes. And, all the senses are in play together along with memory. We continuously collect data, analyse and act. Amazing, but it took billions of years of evolution.
  Simon suggests that once you have the jizz, you are on the way to losing the boundaries between us and the rest of the animal kingdom. It's all going on everywhere around us, successfully or otherwise, without our interference. Yes, I get that.


'Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights', by Helen Lewis (Johnathan Cape) is reviewed by Melanie Reid, Times 15th Feb. Case studies of successful women who display a range of disruptive behaviour 'fighting the tyranny of niceness'. It's not about being deliberately unpleasant, more harnessing the energy from the dark side, producing the goods and leaving casualties in your wake. Ring any bells? Can you be nice and successful? Not just work, but family and leisure as well.

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