Poem for Today








(no more hoboes any more)

On Demons

(Some Proustian thoughts)

When we moved into our chalet, my little hut in the woods, I experienced a total freedom from my demons.  But then one by one they arrived – and it was as if they had woken up belatedly to the fact that I was gone, smelled out my whereabouts (like Jack’s giant) and taken a series of later trains to find me.  I see them hanging out of the train in the attitude of a cowboy riding shotgun, looking a little like Blake’s Ghost of a Flea


or an evil spirit from “Spirited Away”,


intent on hunting me down.  I barricade myself in, but to no avail.  All I can do is try to pick them off one by one.

This experience does at least have the advantage of allowing you to recognise what demons you have, and seeing them as separate from yourself.

Now I am thinking that when I move on my demons must come with me.  Because this is about all of us.

Some Vague Book Reviews

The Botswana novels of Alexander McCall Smith ie “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”.  I woudl review those I have read, as the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reviewed planet earth,  in two words: “Slightly Charming.”  I was disappointed to find from a reading of the biographical notes, that the author seemed to have no connection with Botswana: I had had him down as an ex-civil servant perhaps.  But it seemed he was merely looking for a different location.  Anything wrong with that?  Umm – no, I guess not.  But it seems less authentic.

John Berger, The Foot of Clive.

In an L-shaped ward named after Clive of India, some men are convalescing and the novel tracks their consciousness.  This was not my favourite Berger novel:


first came across him when teacher training, and realised that if anyone looked over at the page I was reading in the staff room they would see a fairly explicit diagram of male genitalia.  It shocked me at that moment to realise that this might be a problem: I ought to have left then and there.  That novel was called “G” and I don’t remember much else about it.  Berger also wrote “Ways of Seeing” about looking at art and about how much of it is to do with people showing off their possessions.


He also wrote (with Jean Mohr) “A Seventh Man” which was about migrant workers in (mainland) Europe which at the time numbered one in seven: it was a study of dispossession in words and photographs.  Then in the nineties he went to live in rural France and wrote a series of novels called “Pig Earth”.  I like Berger not because I think he’s a great novelist but because he is a one-off: he has no time for the zeitgeist and follows his own voice.  As readers of my C****n-related nightmares will know, this is a quality I value in a writer, perhaps above all others.