Thursday, 3 January 2008

Into the New Year with Bubba Ho-Tep and Kathleen Raine

Happy New Year reader, welcome to the first blog of the year; more specifically Happy 2008 as new years occur with frightening rapidity or so it seems. To at least label them firmly helps to create the illusion of the earth’s orbit slowing down a little, to the pace of a life well lived at least. Of course the happy well lived life tends to feel as if it is often fleeting but it is comforting to think that unhappy times turn at the same rate as happy ones so should be equally fleeting but personally I have to concentrate far harder to make the hands move on the clock during sadder times.

I read the collected works of Kathleen Raine over the holidays. She was a great scholar of Blake and Yates and her own poetry is shot through with a search for the transcendent and spiritual. She is a good poet to read at the turn of the year as she often manages to marry that sense of the momentousness of a moment with the everydayness of each second.
I note that she chose as one of her favourite quotes something by Yeats that echoes that.

"I know now that revelation is from the self, but from that age-long memoried self, that shapes the elaborate shell of the mollusc and the child in the womb, that teaches the birds to make their nest; and that genius is a crisis that joins that buried self for certain moments to our trivial daily mind. " - W B Yeats from Autobiographies

Her poem Into What Pattern seems to speak to me about all that breathless excitement and also slight trepidation that a new year can engender. It is a twelve line question; no full stops just that final question mark, which imbues it with that full pelt headiness of hope and fear. What next is a question we all ask ourselves, good fortune tellers make their living out of that question.

Today I am off to meet with an American based friend and her husband who have returned to clear her mother’s flat as she is now living in a residential home. My friend tells me that her mother, who is in her nineties, can no longer recall her old flat and therefore this transition is far from painful and she is ensconced in her delightful room being as awkward as she always was but with a greater audience to attend to her refusals. However, as we both remarked, in your nineties you are allowed to remain in your dressing gown all day if you so choose and not socialise with the other residents, regarding the racing on TV from Kempton and old videos as better company. I shall be equally awkward I’m sure, unwilling to change the habits of a life time at an advanced age just to fit in with others. I will try to keep just the pleasant side of difficult and see myself as mildly eccentric rather than a mad old bat. I shall insist on playing scrabble on line and losing to American High School Students, Indians and Koreans and octogenarian Mexicans. I will dance by myself to Tamla Motown and download old DVDs of obscure films like Bubba Ho-Tep, which if you haven’t seen it is a priceless, funny but mad B movie horror in which an elderly Elvis Presley and an elderly black John F Kennedy, now resident in a squalid old peoples home, fight against the evil mummy Bubba Ho-Tep who wants to suck their souls out of their anus….now that’s a movie to watch when you are old and grey and don’t want to sing Daisy Daisy round the piano with the other residents!

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