Caught in Session

Can you imagine the looks on the two teenage faces when their mother tells them that she is going to invite people round to the house every eight weeks to sing in the back room …and say poems …and read stuff? WTF?! And she wants you boys to join in. You can just listen but you’re to be there. WTFF?!! On Saturday night the second such session took place. Enfant Terrible No. 2 engineered  a sleep-over. No. 1 actually showed his face at the end after a no-show eight weeks earlier.

Here’s what was on the menu…

Daffodils

Una opened with a Spring theme reading Wordsworth’s Daffodils.  The next morning this Wordsworth quote arrived by serendipity in my InBox (7th April being his birthday, in 1770):

The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love. 

Later she read one of her own poems, Bodies, a moving and intimate Heaneyesque account of dressing her father’s body for his wake. Towards the end she read another of her pieces, Underground, inspired by a Northern Line encounter and written on the spot.

Here are two of my own recent Northern Line encounters:

tube couple underground red

double bass man tube

For my contribution this time I read one of my favourite posts from this blog, Starless and Bible Black, and then the passage from James Joyce’s  Ulysses to which it refers. It’s when the two protagonists have an outdoor piss together under the night sky, all done in the form of a catechism, and containing that very special line:

THE HEAVENTREE OF STARS HUNG WITH HUMID NIGHTBLUE FRUIT.

At the first session I read the opening of the first chapter of my book in progress, When Sparks Fly, about Allen Ginsberg. I concluded with a Ginsberg poem referencing the same incident mentioned in the first line of the book.

Joyce linked nicely to the next person up, an actress specialising in Beckett (who was Joyce’s secretary) – she read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by TS Eliot (whose masterpiece, The Wasteland, was published seven years later in 1922, the same year as Ulysses).

ballerina-ballet-black-and-white-dancer-tutu

She also recited from memory a brilliant poem of her own about her days as a ballet dancer and how that went down in the Midlands of Ireland. And as if that wasn’t delight enough, she sang a powerful Sinead O’Connor song (from Universal Mother I think). And then a song in Irish about a boy from Loch Erne (Buachaill ón Eirne).

pints of stout in a triangle

All the music and much of the rest of the singing came from our friend Patmo and his gee-tar. Highlight for me was a song about the potboy in the Dorset Arms in Stockwell where we used to go to watch Patmo and his band The Stone Rangers play. It’s called Put one in the tank for Frank and celebrates plying the late lamented Frank Murphy with beer to get access to the storeroom with all their gear in it. He also played Una’s favourite of his songs, A Little Bit of Lace (as immortalised on Adie Dunbar and the Jonahs’ Two Brothers), as well as some classic singalongs from Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon to John Denver’s Country Road (some painful, submerged teenage memories there from the height of the punk era but surprisingly enjoyable all these years later).

Our old friend Roddy read from a great early 60s first edition he has of Brendan Behan’s Island, a beautifully illustrated (by Paul Hogarth) travelogue around the old country. His other half, Alex, also by coincidence a former ballet dancer, read some Yeats love poetry (it was an evening of the Irish reading the English, and vice versa – perfect to herald the week which sees poet and president Michael D Higgins making a state visit to London, on the very day (8th April) Gladstone presented his first Home Rule Bill to Parliament in 1886). Alex closed proceedings with a parting shot of Dorothy Parker.

dorothy-parker

All in all, a pretty darn good evening (and that’s not counting the Connemara whiskey and fresh homemade soup).

<0>

Dorothy Parker, when asked what she’d like for breakfast…

Just something light and easy to fix. How about a dear little whiskey sour?

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8 comments so far

  1. theluckhabit on

    Who said this:

    ‘I should be reading Ulysses and fabricating my case for and against. I have read 200 pages so far – not a third; and have been amused, stimulated, charmed, interested by the first 2 or 3 chapters – to the end of the cemetry scene; and then puzzled, bored, irritated and then disillusioned as by a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples. And Tom, great Tom (TS Eliot), thinks this on a par with War and Peace! An illiterate, underbred book it seems to me…’

    No googling!

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  2. ArkAngel on

    Marilyn Monroe?

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    • theluckhabit on

      Close. It’s Jayne Mansfied! Actually it’s Virginia Woolf. I am just reading a book that tells the story of the 20th Century through diaries. Really enjoying it. This little gem was written on 16 August 1922. Thought of you when I read it.

      Like

  3. ArkAngel on

    The cover of Ulysses & Us by Declan Kiberd has a fantastic photo of Marilyn reading Ulysses. For all the qualities of her writing, Woolf was not a quality person – really grim about the Irish (and Jews too if memory serves)

    I’m probably over-simplifying eg VW: “How I hated marrying a Jew – What a snob I was, for they have immense vitality.” So she was probably aware of her grimness. They must have lost the letter that said: “Some of my best friends are Jews/Irish/…”

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    • theluckhabit on

      I am quite shocked by the extreme language and views of many of the diarists. Not many of them come across well as human beings!

      Like

  4. ArkAngel on

    That’s probably why diaries (used to be) secret

    Like

  5. […] Caught in Session […]

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