If Only I Could Write A Thousand Poems At Once


I’m sat in the spare room at my Aunty Sue’s flat in London. I’ve stayed here a few times and come to know it well. My head and heart are going like the clappers. Whatever the clappers are. Is it necessary to know the meaning of phrases that everyone uses in order to justify using them yourself? I don’t have a sodding clue what the clappers are. I could look it up, right now, but I’m not.

Tonight was the launch of Magma 62 at the London Review Bookshop. I got the coach down with my friend by accident, arrived at Victoria at half five and immediately got lost in London with a dead phone. I had to go into a posh coffee shop to charge it up. But I got there, sweaty and flustered and unprepared and read my poem ‘These Things Happen’ and another one called ‘Sandaig’ and people seemed to like them.

The evening was lovely. Somewhere between electric and fireside. But not like an electric fire. More like a wood fire but with a thunderstorm outside. It was one of those poetry gigs that left me wanting to write all of the poems, immediately. Now. One of those poetry gigs that leaves me feeling able to say more than I feel I usually could.

I told the gathered strangers and people I knew about being engaged, which was exciting. It’s nice to be able to tell a room full of people about an exciting thing.

There was some amazing poetry being read out. The theme of the issue is violence and the poetry was sometimes raw, sometimes subtle and always thoughtful and feelingful. If you like poetry, it’s a good magazine to buy. It is £7.50 and it is 93 pages long. I’m on page 89, which is the last page with poetry on. I like that my poem’s the last one. Apart from anything else, it’s easy to find really quickly.

Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to nick some photos of the readings to put on here – I forgot to bring my own camera and my phone died, but I’m pretty sure someone took some photos.

It’s quarter to one in the morning now and for all that I was feeling like writing a thousand poems earlier, I’m feeling pretty inarticulate now, so I think I’ll stop. I like having a blog though. I usually write stuff like this to myself anyway, which is nice, but only I see it, and I already know what it says cos I wrote it. Maybe this way, other people will see what I was thinking at quarter to one in the morning too. That’d be nice. My head feels like that of a fly who’s just won in a fight with a fly swatter. Not that anyone has tried to kill me tonight, or even recently. I just mean to say that I’m tired and simultaneously, well . . . buzzing.

We’ll leave it there, I think.

What a good night.

**phrases.org.uk has this to say about clappers: What ‘the clappers’ refers to isn’t entirely clear, although by far the most likely derivation is as a reference to the clappers of bells. An early form of the phrase was ‘go like the clappers of hell‘ and, given that bells have clappers, it may be that it may that the rhyme of hell and bell is significant. RAF pilots were often from English public schools where the ringing of handbells to mark the time was common. Bells were rung more vigorously as the time remaining to get to class/chapel etc. was about to run out. The image of schoolboys dashing to class while handbells were being energetically rung matches the meaning of the phrase very well.

That works for me. My heart earlier definitely felt like a posh schoolboy clutching his trouser waist and hat while running awkwardly to his next class. That sort of run you do when you’ve got a shoulder bag. Sort of almost sideways, like a crab, and with a look on your face that says ‘don’t talk to me, I’m really late and obviously very sorry about it.’ Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, nighty night.


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