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.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Poetry? Never heard of it

The Poetry community, such as it is, is an odd thing, fragmented, clique-ridden and with only a fragile centre of canonical names and household-famous poems but to say that these 11 names would be ones you've never heard of is, as one or two comments already point out, pushing it a bit,  http://www.partisanmagazine.com/blog/2015/6/27/the-10-best-uk-poets-youve-never-heard-of-plus-1-you-should-read-again-you-lazy-git


If the link doesn't work, it's a blog called 'Partisan'.
We are, of course, betting without Yeats but still, to suggest that Adrian Henri has become obscure suddenly makes me feel very old indeed. Has that much time really passed already.
He was most gentle in answering my naive and innocent questions in the bar of Cartmel College, Lancaster University in the winter of 1978/79 after a reading. I had bought him a white wine and soda and was secretly jealous of those who had cornered Roger McGough. The occasion is not likely to be found in any memoir of either Liverpool poet but for me, at that tender, impressionable age, it was like talking to McCartney when you actually liked Lennon better (or vice versa). When he'd finished his drink, he offered to buy me one but I declined the offer, awestruck and unable to see why Adrian Henri should be buying me a drink.
It would appear from this evidence found on the internet that the white wine and soda that I bought him wasn't the only one he ever had.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Oh Babe, What Would You Say

Sumer has y cumen in. It's not quite possible to recreate the effect of those cooling draughts of Amstel in Winchester on Wednesday with a few tins of Becks. The 10 mile walk done before is obviously part of the recipe and sitting in the garden, however valiantly with torso exposed to direct sunlight, finishing Adam Bede, isn't quite as strenuous. I can already feel the effect, though, on that pale expanse of overly protected flesh. Even when I was a cyclist those areas remained covered up by lycra while arms and legs tanned fashionably to make me a reverse picture of someone with shirt and shorts on.
Adam Bede is another huge success in which Mary Ann delivers a finely-modulated ending, not all joyous but not tragic either. She also usefully includes a kind of manifesto for her fiction writing early in the text which could provide a good starting place for an essay on her novels. Although I'm sure that will already have been done. However, since it has been decreed that we must not begin sentences with words like 'however' and presumably 'although', well, I think I'm going to do it all the more.
--
The success and unalloyed enjoyment of Wednesday's walk was only tempered by returning to some grim office bureaucracies on Thurs and Friday. Whole industries exist around utterly self-serving processes and assurances and when one compares it to the dangling of feet into cold rivers, one wonders why.
I know there have been privileged generations in history before but I wonder if the franchise was ever widened quite as far as it was for my generation and the immediate post-War generation before us in which liberal 'education', for its own sake, was the whole point, including university paid for by grant, not loan.
Now that university is another commodity, or career requirement, libraries are closing and all study and learning needs to have an end, be measured and made to fit, will those few decades that we were lucky enough to coincide with be the charmed age in which Greek Tragedy, contemporary poetry, The Blues or any other extra curricula arts subject be looked at for their own sake. Otherwise students will be fed Shakespeare, Shostakovich or Sham 69 only so that they can reproduce the required assessment of them in exchange for the grade they need to secure an administrative role in project management and I can't believe that is what they were intended for. The generations that I was at the younger end of have a great deal to be grateful for and I don't want anybody to think I'm not.

Today the second bookcase has been initially populated with a top shelf of poetry biography, a second shelf of Thom Gunn, third shelf still vacant and fourth shelf of Philip Larkin. This has served to demonstrate how much more there is on Larkin than Gunn. Without being obsessively completist about either of them, I do have most of the essential material on each. But where Larkin fills a shelf, Thom leaves a six inch gap. This is before the long-awaited Clive Wilmer edition of Gunn and I have begun to doubt that I'll see the once-rumoured Gunn biography. But Larkin now has three biographers to Gunn's none, two Collecteds to his one and a Complete, which even I don't feel the need of. However, my assiduous collecting has gathered that pile of yellowing pile of cuttings, papers and other Gunn archive material and, modestly (when there is so much to be modest about in it), the manuscript of my own abortive Gunn book isn't among them.
But this ongoing re-organisation not only finds some long forgotten items that demand another look, it also raises worries about missing items. Where, for instance, is the CD of Matchbox Twenty's More Than You Think You Are. It must be somewhere, I've played it on You Tube to establish that I once had it and it is familiar enough to be sure of that. It is easily enough replaced but that is not the point.
But, we will see.
That empty middle shelf there can't be made any deeper and so large books won't fit on it. My Complete Ovid Loeb editions, the most scholarly-looking books I have, will look fine on there but will need some other small books for company; the Maggi Hambling and other art books can probably come downstairs to fill the bottom shelf. I don't think novels are going to make it onto these shelves beyond the George Eliots in the front room.
It's a thoroughly absorbing enterprise, this organizing, and not one to be hurried or taken lightly. However, one day it will be over and then I can get back to beginning sentences with 'however'.
Every Saturday, there's Oliver Kamm pedantically out-pedanting the pedants on grammar in The Times; at work one has semi-literate blogs from senior managers competing with those who think they know where apostrophes should or should not be placed and then the Oxford University English graduate, Michael Gove, decides that he is going to sort it all out. And yet still, somehow, those of us who benefitted from those glorious years of being shown we could enjoy language for its own sake, simply carry on doing so. Et in Arcadia we are.
Meanwhile, my little dog, Jock, is lying on the one-off edition of a t-shirt featuring Lips & Bananas. At the price they will need to be and the quality of the picture produced, I'm not sure this long-considered project has much of a commercial future.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Winchester, St. Catherine's Hill walk

This wouldn't be the first website you would come to for advice on walks but I've made mention of recommendable ones from time to time.
Today's excursion from Winchester out to St. Catherine's Hill, here http://www.walkingclub.org.uk/book_3/walk_15/index.shtml
 ensured a good time was had by all but beware of car parking in Winchester, or finding any at all, and if you are travelling there from any distance it is best to use the park and ride to the south of the city. But, otherwise, the climbing involved was not quite arduous enough to finish off a physical wreck like me so the 10 miles should be manageable by most.
There are some stretches of picturesque river, one particular example coming after about 9 miles and so a fine opportunity to take one shoe and sock off and treat a foot to the bracing chill of clean river water. I don't know whether that was the best moment for me or if it was the Amstel beer at the end. I would have happily endorsed Amstel for nothing after the first few cold, clean draughts but I suspect any cold, clean lager would have been equally welcome. Amstel just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
I took a number of pictures of this swan, also in the right place at the right time, because I had forgotten the new working title for my next booklet of poems is now The Perfect Book. Previously it had been Cygnus, and I was on the lookout for a swan photo, preferably on dark blue water. But the green here might be equally okay, a bit similar to the water in the Millais painting of Ophelia.
So, it's always nice to feel that something else was achieved in addition to a good time being had by all. Other occurences worthy of note were the appalling apostrophe inserted into the plural of dog on a sign put up by the Police, no less- although I realize that the constabulary isn't the highest authority on questions of grammar- and a pirate edition of Danny Baker's sausage sandwich game which went 1-0 to Portsmouth, represented by Denise but then Manchester United, under the auspices of Jan, came from behind to win 2-1 with Gavin being the celebrity whose answers decided the issue. And, if offered a sausage sandwich, would Gavin have chosen to take it with red sauce, brown sauce or no sauce at all.
Brown sauce.
You see, it is still possible to rustle up your own entertainment without access to a computer or a x-box. And acknowledgements are due to one of the greatest living English persons for inventing the game. I'm afraid Danny no longer has sole claim to the Greatest Living Englishperson title any more. I think we all know that is Vicky Coren now.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Southern Counter-Tenors

Southern Counter-Tenors, Portsmouth Cathedral, June 23.

It said in the Times on Saturday that the countertenor was a difficult sell, an acquired taste or a minority interest, I forget exactly what it said. I wouldn't have thought so but I'm sure there are record sales figures to prove it. Certainly record companies seem keen to market their respective assemblages of young tenors, dressed to impress but with their bow ties studiously undone as if they're on their way home from a bit of a shindig.

The Southern Counter-Tenors, 'back by popular demand' at the Portsmouth Festivities, are a valiant reply to such tenor dominance. They put on another very varied programme as the midsummer darkness gathered around St. Thomas's Cathedral. The duets were among several highlights. It's probably fair to say that Jason Stanbridge-Howard and Nick Pepin (whose picture I've lifted from elsewhere to here) are the star names and they opened with Purcell's Sound the Trumpet, a glorious baroque masterpiece which sadly was the only time we saw Hattie McCall Davies providing cello accompaniment. If there's one thing I enjoy more than a countertenor, it's a cello. This was immediately followed by a contrasting but very effective Missa Deus Genitor Alme with the singers hidden in the depths of the cathedral making a tremendously evocative and well-modulated sound.
A small ensemble setting of the Mozart Ave Verum Corpus caught the mood beautifully, Tom Watts provided my old favourite from third form Music, Where'er You Walk before a Bach duet. Jason's solo, Dvorak's Wen de Dich zu mir, was forlorn and wintry before apparently ending on a warmer note but even more ambitious, and perhaps the top highlight, was the Variations on Veni Creator by Durufle and it won't be often that I put Durufle top of any list of preferences. The singers were spread throughout the floor, and above it, their plainsong punctuating the organ passages to show off
the acoustics of the place, the fine sound the blended voices make and one of the more fulfilling of Durufle's works, which I believe extend only to Opus 11.
The later part of the programme relaxed into more comedic, easier listening with Flanders and Swann, a poem celebrating the Magna Carta in droll fashion and Jason made some early forays into camp theatrics which were to be more fully realized not much later.
As I believe they did last year, the group ended with the Clark arrangement of the Tallis Canon, a lively tintinabulation and sharing of parts, one of the pieces in which Alastair Hume, co-founder of the King's Singers, took part. It was a memorable and fine ending before the deserved encore, a semi-staged performance of the Meow Song which finally allowed Mr. Stanbridge-Howard the opportunity he had probably been waiting for all night to camp it up more than most Cathedrals (even including Catholic ones at High Mass) are usually witness to. I am no great authority on matters ecclesiastical but I don't believe that even the Pope disports himself in a pink boa very often. Not in public, anyway. If one had to find fault- and I don't really want to- one might say that the programme's variety was stretched plenty far enough. Speaking personally as a devout atheist fan of devotional church music, I'd have been happy with the baroque, the plainsong and the glory of the countertenor voice but it is the Festivities after all, and boys will be boys and must have their fun.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Oh Babe, What Would You Say

Two contrasting views of organisational aesthetics from this weekend, both still very much works in progress.
The completion of the hotel/conference facility as part of the scenic backdrop to the Ageas Bowl hardly warrants being called an atrocity because it's not even that. It is the dull, mercantile, commercial image of corporacy that provides the dumb spirit of a place ostensibly designed to play a traditional English game in that reduces it to a branding exercise that sells something to people who think they want it except it is gradually being removed from them as they watch while a poor, routine surrogate product is surreptitiously put in its place. Cricket never used to have much in common with brutalist architecture or the Bauhaus but here Hampshire County Cricket Club are selling themselves to anybody for their faceless sponsorship.
The Bowl, once called the Rose Bowl, is really set in a very pleasant woodland area with views for miles into the countryside in the other direction but once the playing area is eventually completely surrounded by concrete and glass, the cricket will have been detached from any of its original rural origins and corporate logos, advertising and overpriced beer and merchandising is all that one will see. There may still be some entertainment from time to time. One can't have any complaints about a 50 by Marcus Trescothick and a day ending on 310 for 6 which is exactly what one would expect to see but since every other saleable idea is commodified to the ultimate degree, whether it be pop music, poetry or going for a walk, there is no reason to think that cricket should be left behind.
Whereas the purchase of two fine bookcases from a charity shop, delivered here yesterday, organizes my sublime collection of CD's and books in a manner they've not been used to for many years as they have expanded in number to outgrow my capacity to store them nicely and ended up in ramshackle piles.
I would have made a terrible librarian. Unless I'm organizing a 10 syllable line, I'm not of a naturally orderly disposition but I like a sense of some decorum even if that only reflects the tenuous connections I make between things.
The bookcases are nowhere near properly populated yet but the classical CD's look gorgeously tidy in some sort of chronological order on the top three shelves, then we have a few DVD's on one side, George Eliot on the other with a gap for sundry items in the middle, below those are the Shakespeare biographical books and pop music will be put into a bottom section with some further storage (for exceptional items like The Magnetic Fields, T. Rex, Gregory Isaacs, Lindisfarne) to one side. It's already a joy to look at.
The second bookcase in the back room might yet be filled with rows of Thom Gunn and Larkin, maybe a sweeping vista of Murakami novels, a set of poet's biographies (Wyatt, Eliot, Donne, Keats, Marvell, etc.) or the Maggi Hambling books might come down from upstairs. Hard to say yet but it's a project to relish.
--
The Tour de France prospects this year are the most unfathomable they've been for a long time, possibly the most wide open they've been in some memories. Cycling has expanded so rapidly in recent years in this country that many keen followers don't have much heritage in the sport.
Paddy Power have shortened Chris Froome into 13/8 following his impressive showing in the Dauphine. Nibali had put in a good ride on the Friday there but then faded, or was he just 'foxing' like he did last year in the prep race. I feel sorry for the Dauphine, a proper classic race by any other standard but, due to its place in the calendar, now an event in which Tour contenders either issue a show of strength or hide their best hand and save themselves and you can't always tell what is what. I'd be reluctant to use it as a literal form guide.
Contador won the Giro convincingly enough but had a bad last couple of days. Perhaps the demands of a Giro's profile are genuinely more tiring than a Tour in which the mountains come in two easily identified packages.
 The Astana team might have worked him over to greater effect had they worked more in concert and the question over Contador is how well he will have recovered. I read that he beat Quintana, otherwise the most specifically specialist climber, up a big climb this week and so possibly he has recovered. That would tempt me to back Contador for the Tour but then I see you can help yourself to 9/2.
I've backed out of bets before because I thought the price on offer was too generous to be true but in cycling, I wonder if bookmakers really know enough about it yet and are reading the form too literally.
The winner of the Tour might be the one who has the best team around him and that might not be Froome. I don't think I'll speculate on an overall winner until I've seen them go up a mountain in earnest in the real event. Meanwhile Romain Bardet, at 25/1, makes some appeal for the King of the Mountains title, for which he will be able to accumulate points on mountains in leading groups without competing for the overall classification. And so a small interest in Bardet @ 25/1 KOM is the only advice I have for now.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A Day at the Cricket

A View from the Boundary, indeed. How soon after a theme is dispensed with does one need it again.

We might go the cricket on Sunday. What do you say, now, if it's a nice day, now. What are you doing Sunday, Baby.
It's day one of a four day game and so nothing will have been decided after one day. We've been on potentially interesting last days- I've been to Lords on a potentially interesting last day- when something might have been decided but, as it turned out, nothing was and, after four days of endeavour, the match was left as a draw and everybody went home. And one reflects on how such an event might be explained to an American, or any other nationality, that isn't accustomed to cricket. Four days were spent in esoteric consideration of field placing, bowling changes, defensive batting, time wasting, drinks taken out with a change of batting gloves, umpires deciding when to next inspect the wicket after a shower of rain, tea will be taken twenty minutes early.
The draw is a commonplace in chess and sometimes that is for tactical reasons after two players have played through moves they know well to arrive at a drawn position because it suits them both but it can be after one has gone on a foray of attacking moves, just failed to win the game and settled for the half. And so Russians would not be surprised at a draw but, increasingly, sport wants to see a winner on the day. A winner and a loser.
Whereas, in cricket, cricket is just something that happens, like going to church, gardening or poetry. You take a newspaper to do the crossword, devise a quiz on how old the famous people whose birthday it is now are, Brigadier Arthur St. John Carruthers is 92 today, and Tracey Emin must be at least 48 by now. You might take a flask and a few sandwiches, the field moves in and out for each delivery in a speeded up re-make of a film of the tide going in and out. Be careful not to be concentrating too hard on 15 across because you might miss a dropped catch in the slips. Years ago it was said the bowler was Holding, the batsman's Willey. Now the commentator can be Holding, the umpire's Willey. That is a perfectly acceptable, English thing that can happen.

It's a bloody tough game going on out there. That ball is very hard and can hurt if it hits you at 85 mph. It can kill people, and has. But the day passes in a bubble of arcane irrelevance as wars continue in other parts of the world, the FTSE moves down by 0.2% and somewhere in a University, a small discovery towards a cure for cancer is made or an academic works on a revision of his book on Duns Scotus. But here, the sun goes behind a cloud and the wind has changed direction since the morning, and, as a result, the bowler achieves a degree of reverse swing with an old ball and two wickets go down, taking the score from 225 for 3 to 232 for 5 and suddenly the game looks slightly different even if it will still almost certainly end in a draw.
Which you certainly wouldn't get in a T20 match, designed to be exciting, last not much more than three crash, bang, wallop hours and provide a winner and a loser almost every time to an accompaniment of repeated pop music soundbites and some enormous strikes made possible by the fact that the bowler has to bowl the ball in such a restricted area so that the batsman can.
It's tense, action-packed, usually provides a close finish and yet, to a cricket lover, is considerably more meaningless than the studied stalemate of a four day draw.
No longer, apparently, can the schoolboy in his summer holidays, spend a morning watching fast bowlers run in endlessly to bowl outside the off stump so that the opening batsman can carefully shoulder arms and watch it go by to the wicket-keeper. And, similarly, you rarely see the blacksmith in the country inn with his pint of ale, John Major riding his bike to the village green or John Betjeman mooching around a quaint old church in a straw boater. Even the England of Sean O'Brien's beloved delayed trains and heroic librarians, 'like Francoise Hardy's shampooed sisters', is forever a thing of the past because now a day at the cricket is a disappearing ritual, one that we never used to question, like the need (for a specialist, separatist sect of low church believers) to spend 12 Hours on a bike and see how far you could go.
Now England takes place on Twitter where Piers Morgan says it's a long time since John Cleese was funny and the great John diminishes himself by replying.

Oh Babe, What Would You Say

Indeed, what would I say here if not fuelled by some cold refreshment. Not much, I'd guess. And so it was that just when I'd settled on a new title for these idle thoughts, it seemed that the whole enterprise was threatened by a call back to the doctor's following a blood test. It said 'nothing to worry about' but worry one must, especially when worrying is listed among one's principle pastimes.
It may not be obvious to the reader that these pieces, or anything I post here, is much the sharper and wittier for the taking of a glass or two but, blimey, it seems a lot better to me.
But, there wasn't a big problem with the blood test, in fact there was a slight improvement and so, it is clear for another 12 months. On the other hand, a week of abstinence hasn't been quite as bad as it might sound, it's just that I'm not really me. Some might say that's not a bad thing. And so perhaps 55 is an age where some restraint might be advisable. It is downhill all the way from here.
--
But Saturday should be exciting as I take delivery of two new bookcases.  Exactly how they fit in remains to be seen but it did begin to be impressed upon me that the novels of Murakami, Alan Hollinghurst and Ian McEwan deserve better than to be kept spread among various random piles upstairs, out of the way and out of sight. The CD's have been lined up along the bottom of a settee for over a year now and I'm sure would prefer to be on shelves. The Shakespeare books will look fine lined up in some meaningful order and I can spend a little while in my long lost vocation of librarian as custodian of the library all of my own. The George Eliot section, newly curated, will be given some prominent position for easy access so that when the time comes for my seminal essay on her, they will be to hand.
---
I never said that taking a refreshing glass as I wrote made this a compelling and essential website to read. I was only imagining what it would be like without it.
But next week we can look forward to some pictures of newly installed bookshelves, perhaps some pictures from a walk near Winchester, I might go to see the return of the Southern Countertenors in the Portsmouth Festvities on Tuesday and there is no limit to what else might be here so it's not all over yet.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Penglai Pavilion

Penglai Pavilion ran fifth in the 2013 Arc de Triomphe and now appears in a novice hurdle at Hexham, the 2.25.
He'll surely notice the difference, is all I'm saying..

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Bohemian

Following Vicky Coren's investigation into How to be a Bohemian (BBC4, Monday), the subject suggested itself as a poem.
This 'ripple' poem form can become all form and little content. Some might say it often fails to be poetry at all. Certainly the process of writing one is more like doing a crossword than writing 'poetry'. But, in the absence of any burning issue to write about, a title can lend itself to the form, in which the consonants in the title recur in any order as the last consonants in each line. My entry for this year's Portsmouth Poetry Society competition fell back on this last resort strategy when otherwise I wouldn't have written anything on the theme of 'Dreamtime'.
But, building backwards from combinations of consonants to make lines and then ordering those lines and joining them up into something like a coherent line of thought, you never know. I'm quite pleased with this effort. It might be as good as Summer from The Last of the Great Dancers, which also had claims to actually being a poem. But I readily accept that some more natural way of making poems is more desirable and I would do that if I could and will when I can.
No, I don't know what a 'casbah moon' is, either, but perhaps it evokes something apposite to the occasion. Form can generate something that would not otherwise have been found and so, if it ever does, we should be grateful for it.


Bohemian

It’s such a long time since I have been home
as I wander beneath a casbah moon.
So this is what it is to be human.
I see the vagabonds, know each by name

and wonder when will he or she be mine.
My poetry’s a brief placebo hymn
that you can hear any bourgeois snob hum
in an attempt at some louche bonhomie.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Oh Babe, What Would You Say

Quite some time ago now, I wrote that I was trying to think of a new, and better, title for these miscellaneous postings but nothing suitable came to mind, the weeks went by and turned into a long time and nothing happened.
But let's try this, Oh, Babe What Would You Say, in honour of the great Hurricane Smith. It was the title of one of my earliest internet efforts and is ready to be revived now. It is no less borrowed than View from the Boundary was but I believe it to be more allusive and just as apposite as the previous heading, which began at a visit to the cricket at Arundel and was retained long after cricket was no longer any part of the subject matter.
Norman 'Hurricane' Smith was a recording engineer, responsible for The Beatles recordings up to Rubber Soul and subsequently albums by Pink Floyd and Barclay James Harvest. The story goes that he began making his own pop records during Pink Floyd's tea-breaks, thus not only making the most of the studio time but ensuring that something worthwhile came out of it. Don't Let It Die was a big chart hit in 1971 and was followed by Oh, Babe and the Gilbert O'Sullivan composition, Who Was It. They are still fondly remembered here and these haphazard columns, these idle thoughts of an idle fellow, will be a memorial to them.
--
So, we might consider why poetry is regarded as the highest of art forms and whether it should be. In places, it still seems to be and if the ancient world accorded it such status, then Emmanuel Kant seems to have been occupied with the question a couple of millennia later.
It is likely to have been around almost the longest but whether the first poem, or song, predates the first cave painting might not be independently verifiable. But the status of poets on the highest reaches of Mount Parnassus is due to the assumption that their special, rarified language is imbued with some magical power. Inevitably, a lot of poets are not going to be disposed to disagree with such a gift of an assessment but I would. And, sometimes, poets have since gone out of their way to make their language not special and not rarified so poetry might not be the same thing now as it was then.
The ancient world might have had prose to read but the idea of the novel doesn't appear until, when, more than a thousand years later and even then it probably didn't know it was one. But now that we have so many of them, I'd have to say that the achievement of a great novel is much beyond that of a great poem. Perhaps too much is made of poetry's heightened language, its perceived capacity for the sublime. Poets don't have that to themselves, novels can do it, too, and while poets can think their profound thoughts and sometimes concentrate them into telling phrases and verses, in our time they do so quite economically so that they don't need to be poets all the time. A novel needs far more craft, sustained consistency and hard graft than the work of the dilletante poem and has to produce and show its breadth, compass and range rather than suggest or hint at it in (sometimes only) a few inspired lines.
And so poetry might be hard pushed to claim to be the highest form of literature, if it wanted to, before it can even proceed to be a candidate for the highest form of art.
Literature is tethered by its words to meaning. Some have tried to slip those surly bonds, like 'concrete' poets or 'language' poets but none have done so with any lasting success. Music, by its very nature, is allowed to be more abstract. It can be programmatic or descriptive when it wants to be but a Bach partita can mean nothing, mean everything or mean whatever one wants it to. However many layers or perspectives one may find in Hamlet, it is tied by its text to some ostensible meaning. And so it is no fault of Shakespeare's, who might have been the greater talent (I don't know), that he can't be as good as Bach. A pool player doesn't have the capacity to be as good as a snooker player and a draughts player can't be as good as a chess player. Their disciplines are defined by limits that won't let them be.
And that's what the highest art form must be, that which allows the most. It is no reflection on the talents of the practitioners of each various genre.
Painting seems to me (not having the slightest technical understanding of how to hold a brush), more restrictive still and then sculpture, dance, architecture, film and origami are further restrained by the limits of their remit.
And so, let us not have it that poetry is ahead of other art forms. It might not even make the top three. It is not the poets' fault but they would be culpable if they were to accept this dubious distinction.
But I took Sean O'Brien's poem, The Beautiful Librarians, to this week's Portsmouth Poetry Society meeting and advertised it as a ready-made masterpiece. I was most gratified at how well it was received by the assembled company. It's a beautiful thing and it's a beautiful thing when others agree with you that it's a beautiful thing. 
--
Two years ago, I posted a tip for Ruler of the World to win the Derby here well ahead of the race but, a few days before it, I lost confidence in the advice and removed it. That was much to be regretted when it took its place in turf history at odds of 7/1.
This year so far looks like an underwhelming renewal with no obvious star emerging from the trial races. On the evidence available, one would have to back Golden Horn who is entirely justified as clear favourite but 7/4 is neither a price to get heavily involved at nor is it attractive to those who want to have a couple of quid.
I had a small interest in Elm Park after the Dante Stakes but there doesn't seem to be much confidence that he can find the necessary improvement to go passed Golden Horn.
One has to read into the paltry evidence what one can and it is one reason why I don't like the Derby or much flat racing as much as I do jump racing because there's never enough. Jack Hobbs won his race by a country mile but it was only a handicap. Not much has impressed enough to say they are any better, though, and so I'd take the gamble that Golden Horn might not stay and Giovanni Canaletto (pictured) has been well backed and so I'd follow that money if was to do anything at all.
But I had backed Crystal Zvezda for the Oaks, then that was well backed, she finished 10th and the race was won by a 50/1 shot. This is not my time of year for backing horses and I must stop and keep my year's profit so far intact for the autumn when I'll be right back with the regular Saturday Nap.
Unless I think of a new name for that.
--
And, finally. I do feature the occasional obituary when it is deemed necessary.
In another very uncompetitive field, Charles Kennedy was a favourite politician of mine. For once, the tributes that flowed in did not sound quite like those lip service soundbites satirized in Alas Smith and Jones where two gladiatorial types are taking each other on until one has a heart attack and dies and the other immediately switches to saying, 'he was, of course, one of the great parliamentarians, etc, etc.' It genuinely does look as if Charlie Kennedy was massively well liked.
I admired the way he didn't promise tax cuts but said, yes, we will put income tax up by a penny in the pound and spend it on education and, of course, he opposed the war on Iraq.
But it's too late now. Politics has decided to run itself on the same model of absurd correctness as business does- the same lies and corruption as the banks and FIFA, the same inane image management as the Miliband brothers- and Vince Cable and Simon Hughes have gone and the very honourable Nick Clegg has nowhere much to go.
What a shame. All that progress achieved by a Liberal party summed up in a disastrous General Election and then the death, at 55, my age, of one of its great architects.
When will they ever learn.