David Green

David Green (Books) is the imprint under which I publish booklets of my own poems, when there are sufficient of them. Apart from that, the website has become what it is. I hope you find at least some of it worthwhile.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

So this is how it turned out

Suddenly, one realizes how much time has passed in a lifetime. It's about 40 years since the teenager I was then started reading poetry, when Linden Huddlestone introduced us to Ted Hughes' Lupercal in the third or fourth form and I went from the usual infatuation with the Liverpool poets to the greater sophistication of Thom Gunn.
Then, the history of C20th British poetry was summarized for us by Alvarez, who series of negative feedbacks explained how the high church modernism of Eliot had been blended with a more traditional Englishness by the Auden generation and the aberrant apocalyptic generation of Dylan Thomas had been cleared away by the empirical, downbeat Larkin and the poetry that emerged in the 50's. And that, is roughly, where I came in.
Since then, Hughes and Heaney were praised for having less to do with the 'gentility principle' identified by Alvarez, the Martian project with Craig Raine soon led into a cul-de-sac but a more adventurous, post-modern, elusive, allusive playfulness was brought into fashion by Muldoon and Donaghy which has led to roughly where we are now. And there's a hundred years of poetry in Britain simplified down into two short paragraphs. I dare say there was a bit more to it than that.
But, reading Frank Redpath's commonplace, sensible, ever accessible poems serves to remind me, at least, how nothing stands still and whatever you learn at school or find out for yourself  is soon out of date. I had wondered why Lanzarote and Comedy of Errors weren't favourites for next year's Champion Hurdle. But one's first loves stay with you the longest. Discovering the world for the first time, one can't help but think it was always like that. By the time of David Bowie, Bill Haley seemed an age ago but it was much less than the time between Oasis and now.
So, reading Frank Redpath for the first time now, his poems look unfashionable but quite refreshingly so. Time was that these rhyme schemes, the metrical discipline and enjambments and, most of all, the understatement and deliberate avoidance of grand gestures or high-mindedness, were very much to the zeitgeist's taste but in 2015, it has to be said, they have an endearing quaintness about them.
I would be an ambitious claim to say that the Larkin, Gunn, Donald Davie generation represented a Golden Age of English poetry when compared with, say, Philip Sidney and Elizabethan sonnet writers, Donne and his metaphysical comrades, the Romantic generations of Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Blake or the Modernist revolution dated very precisely circa 1910 but the worth of writing doesn't have to be judged by its place in a vaguely acknowledged canon and great value is to be found elsewhere and, in Larkin's phrase, 'can happen anywhere' and poets like Redpath provide much that we should be grateful for in a period in which one of their tutors has expressed the opinion that the young generation of poets writing now are,
the strongest ever in UK poetry.

Ever !

As Sean O'Brien remarks in his introduction (this volume was published in 1996),
Redpath, to a degree that would be almost inexplicable to the Darwinian young poets of today, was a good deal more interested in writing poems than in publicizing his existence.

Since marketing, networking and Creative Writing debentures sometimes appear as important as poems to poets by now, those words were quite prescient twenty years ago but one might take solace in the fact that it is still not true of all poetry activity and in many places poems can still be valued ahead of mere poetic reputations and the attention they attract.
There is, by all means, a homespun kindness and generosity of spirit in Redpath's poems that is unchallenging and his method involves plenty of use of hyphenated compound adjectives (and nouns), like the 'end-of-winter cloud', the 'long-time-used to loss' or 'between tick and yes-I thought-so tick'. Making his own reference to Larkin, he is not unaware of a debt that shows itself not only in form and style but a number of places in which we can't help but hear echoes of poems like The Whitsun Weddings or Sad Steps. None of which detracts from a highly likeable collection from a very enjoyable poet who doesn't lose much by not being completely original and being, quite possibly, 'minor'. The world would benefit from more minor poets who are as good.
He arrives at some fine endings, as in Knitting,
                                                  What's
There all the time? Ah, neither wind nor rain
Which any fool photographer can trap,
But light without place, unmarked on any map.

Such quiet observations, well made and carefully arrived at, happen throughout the book. I can do no more than recommend the book highly while The Rialto still have some in stock.

 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Frank Redpath

This is an item of more than ordinary interest,
http://www.therialto.co.uk/pages/2015/05/27/frank-redpath-aka-philip-larkin/

I'd heard of Frank Redpath but somehow imagined him to be one of the Peter Didsbury/ Roy Fisher provincial, slightly below the radar poets. On the evidence here, he's a little bit but not quite that.
You can see why Coming To might have been taken for a lost Larkin poem. My main doubt would have been how could there still be anything of this quality of Larkin's still lost but, of course, anything is possible.
You can search Amazon New & Used or Abebooks for a copy of the book and be asked for anything from 25 pounds to over 100 so, if you were at all interested, I'd click on the relevant parts of The Rialto's shop and buy one for 6.95, post free.
That has to be a bargain. It's not often you get shopping advice on this website.

I dare say in a short while there will be a Frank Redpath item here to further encourage the purchase.

Friday, 22 May 2015

View from the Boundary




One pastime I occasionally return to is looking up people from one's past on Google to see if I can find where they are now, and doing what. It's more easily done with men than women, sadly, because they are less likely to have changed their name.
Finding someone can be gratifying if they seem to have done well- however that may be judged- and in one or two cases I've got in touch with them, or others with me. But it can also be very grim.
LinkedIn is a site where professionals post CV's to advertise their talents to prospective employers, or for the sake of 'networking'. Last week I found a contemporary from Lancaster University (1978-81) who is now a Logistics and Supply Consultant. His profile describes him as, 'an intellectual' which is a grand claim for someone who took a 2:2 at Lancaster in 1981, and then goes on to say he has, 

a passion for process governance, 

 and I don't know if I've ever read a more depressing phrase. 

 A couple of years ago I found someone from my class at school, and a star pupil, who became a 

trainer passionate about including games, exercises and problem solving in any learning environment.

I hope this passion for passion is a passing fashion because to one outside of that corporate self-advertising environment, it all looks transparently like an exercise in stock phrase-making that renders all its claims meaningless. It looks like satire although you know it isn't but one assumes such profiles are what is required, that industry takes them at their word and they are successful in achieving what they set out to achieve because otherwise the first attempts at them would have been laughed out of court and nobody would have written such tripe again. 

Where's the irony, the ambiguity, the self-deprecation.  

However, another computer-based pastime I indulge in more regularly is Sitemeter, which monitors visitors to this website. It doesn't tell me who you are but claims to identify the area the reader is in, how long they spent looking at how many pages and which page they arrived at and left from. It might also say from where the reader was referred here. Last week, someone in Australia found their way here to read about Roger McGough but they had followed a link from Library Webs, a site that says,
Library Webs: an extensive Internet library which contains reliable websites from educational, government and commercial establishments, including primary sources, transcripts, videos, interactive websites, newspaper and magazine articles, maps, images and statistics.  

So I'm delighted, and a little bit overawed, to be able to claim this website is a 'reliable, educational establishment'.
But the difference is that they said it, not me. Only unsolicited endorsements count and certainly not composite careerist lists of off-the-peg buzzwords.
--
Recent reading has included Zwingli by G.R.Potter, Scenes from Clerical Life by George Eliot and, most lately, William Tyndale, If God Spare My Life by Brian Moynihan. The Zwingli had to be left halfway through as my date with George Eliot became more pressing but it could well be taken up again later.
 
All three books are about religious doctrine, to an overwhelming or slightly lesser extent.
The Tyndale book shows how Wycliffe and Tyndale were a hundred years ahead of Luther and Zwingli in their reforming zeal while George Eliot's stories are set at a later time when an evangelical movement challenged an established hegemony that was rather taking its position for granted.
But, reading the three books so closely together, it almost seemed as if all history could be reduced to a simplistic equation based on that idea and perhaps that is what Marx did. I don't really read books to establish or learn about such theories. I much prefer to be entertained.
There is not much funny about burning people but the gap of 600 years since the start of the Reformation somehow makes it less horrific than it happening today. It is very difficult to take sides because the principle at stake is which side gets closer to the word of God but one can sympathize with some figures more than others. However, the level of debate between Sir Thomas More and Tyndale is a joyful battery of the most heartfelt and hideous name-calling that leaves the small issues of crucial translations of words from the Hebrew, rather than the Latin, looking like mere footnotes. The frenzy of the debate between reform and orthodoxy was such that once guilt was established, appeals and suspended sentences were out of the question. The only suspended sentence was that one would be hung but in one case, where the culprit was guilty of treason as well as heresy, they were hung while a fire was lit beneath them. Hung for treason and burn for heresy at the same time. It was comprehensive retribution if nothing else.
But my favourite, so far, is the pope who sold his papal tiara to pay off gambling debts.
Bishop John Hooper, of Gloucester (probably the one to whom there is a monument outside the cathedral but it doesn't say that here) surveyed his 311 clergy and found that 9 priests didn't know there were 10 commandments, most thought they were in the Old Testament and 168 didn't know what they were. 10 couldn't recite the Lord's Prayer and 30 didn't know who was its author (despite the clue in the title?), but
Many were incapable of reading their missals. The rest (Tyndale said) were only interested in two books. One was a manual of female anatomy, over which they would 'pore night and day'  with the excuse it was 'all to teach the midwives': 

It's not the minutiae of the debate on transubstantiation that fascinates but the insight into the culture, how really not very long ago it was, how far we flatter ourselves thinking that we've come so far since, wondering if history is linear and progresses for the better or if it is cyclic and revisits old madness and, out of all the things we care about or believe in now, which will seem very odd indeed to future generations. 

Well, there's being passionate about 'process governance' for a start.
--

But all for all my claims to not being an over-achiever in business, I still have to find things to spend small bonus awards on and so this week bought a DVD player. I've not been able to watch my Trumpton or Camberwick Green DVD's for some time now. I also have a few films with Depardieu and Emmanuelle Beart in them.

And so, inevitably, I spent some time trying to find other things to buy. There's not much I want, I'm glad to say, and I'm not convinced the new facility is going to get much use after a first few usages. Obviously, a few more French films. Quand J'etais Chanteur is only a couple of quid so one can't not have that but one of the few remaining targets will be Derek Nimmo's finest hour in All Gas and Gaiters.

I just don't seem to be interested in films.

   

Monday, 18 May 2015

Tasmin's Schubert

Tasmin Little, Schubert Chamber Works (Chandos)

The general consensus would have Schubert not far behind the three giants, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Radio 3 devoted a week to playing nothing but Schubert, as they did for the others. Rather uncharitably, I wouldn't put him there and, even less charitably, I'd say he was a decorous version of Beethoven or a Mozart tribute act. Neither of those things are bad things to be, the Unfinished Symphony is a beautiful thing and Schubert did all he did by the age of 31. It's just that, on the first of these two discs, he is very pleasant company for an hour an a quarter but by the end, I don't feel much the wiser for it.
The first disc is four Sonatas expressedly for 'piano and violin' and, so, duets more than they are violin pieces with accompaniment. Piers Lane perhaps deserves rather more parity in the billing. Since one is accustomed to hearing the piano in a violin sonata as the second instrument, however, it is difficult not to do so here even if the theme in the D 385 is as much in the piano as the violin and swapped about unselfishly. The violin still has more capacity for light and shade, though, and Tasmin's touch is gentle and strong, restrained and then more boisterous.
The 1757 Guadagnini sounds as rich and lyrical as ever, the sonatas flowing together with their themes like currents in a river but the more captivating pieces, for me, come on the second disc.
The rippling ('tremolando') piano on the first movement of the Fantasie D 934 underscores long melodic lines in a high register on the violin. It is redolent of some loss reconciled, is tantalisingly all too brief at 3.53 before moving straight into a more energetic Allegretto that is ostensibly much more bravura than the opening and, again, piano and violin interplay or follow each other quite dazzlingly.
Tim Hugh on cello is the partner on the sonata for arpeggione, D 821, before all three musicians are joined together in the finale, the Adagio D 897. Among the last pieces he wrote, one wonders if this is a glimpse of where Schubert might have been going because he still had most of his adult creative life potentially ahead of him when he died. It is slow, meditative and rises to greater heights of passion, stretching towards profounder but less prettified statements on the basis of an uncomplicated theme. It is the piano that plays the most notes but the strings that say the most. By the end of disc two, one feels like one has been somewhere.
As a double CD, this is an excellent value release, presumably a must for Schubert fans. I had to have it because I'm a Tasmin admirer and I'm not disappointed. I recently bought the Debussy String Quartet on a disc having heard it played live a few weeks ago and was less thrilled with it on disc so heaven knows how much more compelling these pieces would be in a recital. However good the recording and whatever you play it on, there is no substitute for actually being in the presence of the performance.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Doctor, Doctor

A bloke goes into the doctor and says, 'Doctor, doctor, I keep seeing the future.'

So the doctor asks, 'When did this begin.'

And the bloke says, 'Next Tuesday afternoon.'

--

I was reflecting on my way home this afternoon how I'm glad I went out with a modest number of women rather than a number of modest women.

--

But, this is what Amazon think of me and it is a credit to the vague modern science of profiling.

Recommended for me are,

Flight of Angels by The Sixteen, choral music by Francisco Geurrero
Hey, Rock'n'Roll, the Greatest Hits by Showaddywaddy
Vespers of 1610 by Monteverdi
Greatest Hits by Mud
Tintinnabuli, the recent album of music by Arvo Part.

They know me so well. But what I ordered was the new Tasmin Little discs of Schubert Chamber Works and the box set of Abbado's Mendelssohn Symphonies and Overtures. I'm still waiting for 4 or 5 horses to win on the same day, joined together by me in all kinds of combinations before I treat myself to the Buxtehude Opera Omnia. One can't justify such a thing until one has really deserved it.




Monday, 11 May 2015

View from the Boundary

Barney McGrew reflects stoically on his defeat as Labour candidate in the Trumptonshire constituency. Farmer Bell held the seat with an increased majority for the Conservatives. So I wondered why there had to be two recounts. I assume either the Green or Lib Dem candidate were trying to save their deposit.
Listening again to the figures, it must have been Miss Lovelace, who had 3.8% of the vote and might be the sort of person who would make a fuss.
The full ballot paper read,
Barney McGrew (Lab)
Farmer Bell (Con)
Dibble (UKIP)
Miss Lovelace (Lib Dem)
Windy Miller (Green)

and if all this sounds far too good to have been made up by me, you're right but there's still time to listen to the full story on the Radio 4 i-player where it was featured at the beginning of last week's edition of More or Less, the programme about numbers and statistics.

What's Left

Today's news that Nigel Farage's resignation has been rejected by UKIP has closed off my next career option of standing for the leadership myself. With Jacob Rees-Mogg quoted by Paddy Power at 50/1 to get the job even though he's not yet joined the party, I had thought I could stand against him
I would have explained that I could take the party in a new direction with new policies like no immigration controls and compulsory reggae on all pop music radio stations.
I've been wondering why each beaten party has to re-assess, re-modernize and think again after each defeat. Surely, they stood for what they believed in last time and the verdict went against them. To have to think of some other things to believe in looks a bit contrived, as if getting elected is more important than the things one gets elected to do.
No vote has ever been as decisive as that returned by Scotland. The SNP is a National party, apparently a 'socialist' party and has democratically almost created a one party state but history hasn't looked fondly upon one party states run by National Socialist parties. I'm beginning to wonder what constitutes 'left' any more as I understood it to be an international movement, not sympathetic to nationalism.
I did a questionnaire on the BBC website a few weeks ago to find out if I was left wing or not and, according to them, I am, but the questions were all very similar and apparently written as part of an O level project. Do you think multi-national corporations should make billions of pounds of profit and the minimum wage should be abolished. 
It appeared that a bun fight over who gets all the cash was the only difference between left and right, as evidenced by Arthur Scargill's Socialist policy of a minimum wage of 25 thousand pounds a year. I'm sure it was a fully costed economic agenda and he asked, What's wrong with that?
Well, I don't regard Economics as a proper science, either, Arthur, but I think it could find a loophole in that proposition.
I can see how profit is a dirty word and 'each according to their needs' would be fine by me, my needs being whatever books and records I want to buy plus a few gin & tonics or a bottle of Chateau David. But there must be more to life and politics than an unseemly scrap over a pile of cash. 
It is certainly absurd to think that the pursuit of innocent wildlife across benign countryside in order to rip it to bits is okay. 
I would personally keep the royal family but I wouldn't let them out to go hunting, shooting and fishing, which they do seem prone to do.
A motor vehicle is a convenient thing to have, given a bit of open road, but I haven't had one for 20 years now and I don't miss it much. Admittedly, to get to certain places, I am taken by others in theirs but public transport can be good fun. No, not the Circle line in midsummer at 5 pm, but definitely the bus from Bowness to Hawick or even just the one coach train that runs from Westbury to Swindon and back all day.
If a University education that leaves you with a recondite certificate in a Humanities subject can also leave you with 30 thousand pounds of debt, then all education needs to be paid for or none at all. Since it was decided to send 40% or more of the population to higher education, it's no longer any kind of guarantee of forthcoming high earning potential and, so really, 'education' should be available to whatever level each individual is capable of attaining. But 'education' is a sinister word and showing that one has taken the point being made appears to be the way success is judged these days. It would be preferable if equal points were given for successfully arguing the contrary point.
But all of those things would be a part of a more complete definition of 'left' for me. In fact, it would include anything worthwhile that doesn't put the mercantile or speculative accumulation of money above all else.
And, by now, I think there's been enough politics on this website to last us a while. I look forward to seeing the new Labour leader, Yvette Cooper, being followed dutifully about by her swooning husband during the next General Election campaign. I hope his hair is nicely coiffured and he wears a lovely outfit.

Friday, 8 May 2015

You could have heard it here first

Quote from The Next General Election, posted here 26/11/2014,

I think the 9/2 about a Conservative majority government is worth a few bob at this stage

Is that the thanks you get

So, the election turned out to be a massive defeat for the psephologist party.

This website predicted the Conservative majority several months ago when first tipping up that outcome at, I think, 9/2, but in the face of polls stalled at a 34% each stalemate, one had to wonder.

It was a quite astonishing outcome but we don't want to hear complaints from the public about anything the new Conservative government do because they can compare it with what the Liberals prevented for the last five years and wonder how they could have done that to Nick Clegg. One-eyed selfishness will no doubt bring its own kind of rewards.


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Perfect Book

In a quaint little vignette of literary life on the boundary, I found three George Eliot books on a stall at St. Mary's May Fayre on Monday. The first three, Scenes from Clerical Life, Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss. Because she is rapidly becoming my favourite novelist and all the books on the stall were 50p, I could hardly leave them there. The stall-holder was short of change and so, with understated largesse, I insisted she kept the change from a two pound coin.
I made my way indoors for the organ recital, the choir's admirable attempt at some Stanford, They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships, Zadok the Priest and the Hallelujah Chorus before the one bit of a sing I have every year in the community singing, which this year was thankfully a better-known selection of four hymns than last year and, quite honestly, gave Jerusalem as much as I could and never mind what anybody near me thinks.
That one of the people near me was the poet, Pauline Hawkesworth's, daughter, was something I could never have imagined but I've waited this long to be recognized in public as the poet, David Green, and I had better stay in from now on.
--
But I have a plan to write The Perfect Book, the eventual follow up to The Perfect Murder. In the same way that Roddy Lumsden wrote The Book of Love, presumably so that if anybody asked him,

Did you write The Book of Love,

he could say,

Yes,

I will be able to say I wrote The Perfect Book. Not necessarily the perfect book, I'm sure it won't be that. But all I have to do is write a poem called The Perfect Book and make it the title poem of the next little collection. Which is a few years off yet. But I just want to lay claim to the title. There's nothing on Amazon of that title at the moment.
I have a first draft of a poem called The Perfect Book but it's not good enough to put here with any amount of provisos. I have at least a couple of years to write it.

Friday, 1 May 2015

View from the Boundary

Election Watch had to be suspended here as the campaign got underway. My paid employment in a civil service department means I, like everyone else there, enter a period of purdah during which I should do nothing to prejudice the outcome of the vote. After reminders were issued to that effect, I thought I'd better comply. Many postings here are have a readership well into double figures and sometimes might make three figures and, in a closer contest, you can see how a remark here might swing the whole thing and decide the make up of the next government.
So perhaps I'll share some thoughts at 10 pm next Thursday.
--
It was back to the more volatile edition of Ronnie O'Sullivan in this year's World Snooker Championships. Firstly playing without his new, painful shoes and then borrowing a pair from an official, then a petulant whack of the cue on the table after missing a shot when 2-0 before taking the next five frames and then an incident in which he placed the chalk on the table which he should have known is not allowed. Just when one might have thought he was all sorted out and could go on and be champion for several more years, he then announces the changing of the guard and the arrival of the new young turks. Except that Stuart Bingham is 39.
It is a tribute to his unique genius that in between all kinds of crises, he has still been champion five times but after his loss to Mark Selby last year, well, it has to come to an end eventually. Which will be a great shame. I won't watch much snooker once he's gone. I watched hardly any football this season, certainly nothing like a whole match and I've already missed Notts at the Rose Bowl this cricket season. I can get involved in a bike race if I feel like it but, really, it looks like my once burgeoning portfolio of sports interests is almost reduced to horse racing alone.
I've watched as much Scottish football as any this year, with the Alba channel showing Premiership action with commentary in Gaelic. Well played, St. Mirren, last week.
--
The theme for next week's Portsmouth Poetry Society meeting is 'A poet's partner speaks'. I don't know if I posted this before, at the time of writing, but it is a sonnet with the rhyme scheme AAAAAAAAAAAAAA,
taken from Roddy Lumsden's much superior An Older Woman, that I've always been a big admirer of.

Mrs. David Green

You told me you wrote poems when we met.
It’s something I’m unlikely to forget.
I was expecting at least a sonnet
A week from you but, what is it I get?
An each way tip for a horse at Market
Rasen or a copy of a booklet
Of poems, I might say, by an as yet
Not the least bit famous, scruffy poet
Once in a blue moon. It’s my fault I set
My eyes on you and, possibly, peut etre,
I sometimes do think I could have done bet-
ter. But, though we aren’t rich, we’re not in debt
either and when we have a tĂȘte a tĂȘte,
the fact I don’t exist I don’t regret.
--
And, if she is still a regular reader like she once said she was, Congratulations to Gillian Rimmer, 4 hours 27 minutes in the London Marathon.
Tremendous effort.