That’s going to be the title of my memoir, I think: I’m doing a piece for Mslexia magazine and although I have a couple of short stories written in the first person, I think they read too much like fiction to be submitted for a memoir edition. Since I don’t want to alter them I may start from scratch. Or rather, not from scratch, since I’ve written most of these early memories down in some form or other: the vicarage garden, the planes going overhead, the air-raid shelter at the bottom and the iconic image of the spire’s shadow sweeping across the lawn like the finger of doom.
‘Its finger pointing at our hearts, we move
our deckchairs and decamp
into the light. Out of the sun
jets scream of foreign fields, brown bodies
on the beaches.
All clear now. Flats planted.’
That’s from my poem, ‘Vicarage Garden,’ which will appear in the collection I am about to send off: however, I now think it has too many sonnets in it so I shall replace them with a couple of others. It’s being judged by Simon Armitage and I have no idea what sort of thing he likes. You can’t always assume that the stuff judges will like is similar to their ownwork: in any case I always have a dilemma about how far to go in pleasing a judge or a publisher. Obviously it makes no sense not to try to do something they’ll like – you want them to publish you, after all – but then again, if you go too far down that road, you can end up being derivative and losing your own voice. So it’s always a balancing act – like most things in my life.
Is that because I’m a Gemini?
My star sign has probably little to do with how I shall vote today in the police elections. I shall be voting for Sarah Russell, a dedicated local councillor with a good record and someone who Gets Things Done. All candidates have expressed qualified opposition to further privatisation of the police force (sorry, ‘service’) – in my view, the last outrage of a mad ‘Mc-State’ agenda and should be resisted to the hilt. ‘I arrest you in the name of Group 4?’ Over my dead body. Wait – perhaps I should rephrase that…
PS I was looking for a picture of the Vicarage Garden as it is now: can’t find one but did find this video about people who are now reopening the church: