Letters of note: Violently dejobbed in a twinkling

This is my absolute favourite.  A wordsmith obviously heavily influenced by bible-reading.  Gorgeous!

February 2nd 1929.

Kind Sir,

On opening this epistle you will behold the work of a dejobbed person, and a very bewifed and much childrenised gentleman.

Who was violently dejobbed in a twinkling by your goodself. For Heavens sake Sir consider this catastrophe as falling on your own head, and remind yourself as walking home at the moon’s end of five savage wives and sixteen voracious children with your pocket filled with non-existent £ S D; not a solitudery sixpence; pity my horrible state when being dejobbed and proceeding with a heart and intestines filled with misery to this den of doom; myself did greedily contemplate culpable homicide, but Him who did protect Daniel (poet) safely through the lion’s dens will protect his servant in his home of evil. As to reason given by yourself — goodself — esquire for my dejobbment the incrimination was laziness.

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Letters of note: C S Lewis

Letters of Note is a website full of gems.  A Flavorwire article(*) reminded me about this letter of advice to a young writer, written by CS Lewis.

Dear Joan–

Thanks for your letter of the 3rd. You describe your Wonderful Night v. well. That is, you describe the place and the people and the night and the feeling of it all, very well — but not the thing itself — the setting but not the jewel. And no wonder! Wordsworth often does just the same. His Prelude (you’re bound to read it about 10 years hence. Don’t try it now, or you’ll only spoil it for later reading) is full of moments in which everything except the thing itself is described. If you become a writer you’ll be trying to describe the thing all your life: and lucky if, out of dozens of books, one or two sentences, just for a moment, come near to getting it across


What really matters is:–
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My daughter’s prom night

I take her to the best hairdresser in town,

where her tresses are washed and curlered and dried

and back-combed and teased and sprayed.

She loves it.

As she walks beside me, smiling and confident,

like a Charlie’s Angel in a hoody

I look beyond the traffic lights and over the bridge

to where another young girl is making her entrance.

A pink horse-drawn hearse leads a procession of six.

Teen -v- coffee cake

– Got any pudding?

– Do you want some cake?

– No thanks.

– Don’t you like my cake?

– It’s not chocolate.

– It’s coffee cake.  You like coffee.

– OK, I’ll have some.

– Here you go.

– Yuk.  You didn’t tell me it had nuts in!

– You like nuts.

– No I don’t.  Yuk, they’re all crunchy.

– They’re not crunchy they’ve been cooked in the cake.  They’re walnuts – coffee and walnuts are lovely together.

– I swear you’ve put yoghurt in the middle.

– It’s not yoghurt, it’s cream.

– Don’t like cream.

– Yes you do.  You like milk, you like butter, you like cream.

– What did you put in it?

– It’s flavoured with vanilla.

– Don’t like vanilla.

– Yes you do.  You like white chocolate, you like vanilla.

– I’m full.


Today is Bloomsday, the day on which the events of James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place, chosen because it was the day of his first date with Nora Barnacle.

I have not read Ulysses (although I have read the cheat’s guide!*), but I shall be listening to BBC Radio 4’s dramatisation, which is being broadcast in chunks throughout today.  It is available to listen to on iPlayer, or podcasts can be downloaded.

There is a whole Ulysses mini-site on the BBC website, which describes the book as a ‘modernist masterpiece, in which the author takes both Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to new heights’.

Joyce liked vulgarity.  He was a dirty old man: just read his letters to Nora.  Not for the lily-livered.  One of the cleaner comments that I enjoyed was:

Here is another note to buy pretty drawers or stockings or garters. Buy whorish drawers, love, and be sure you sprinkle the legs of them with some nice scent and also discolour them just a little behind.

* Also, I own the audio book of Finnegan’s Wake.  Yeah, straight to the hard stuff, me.  I bought it to listen to when a friend and I drove round Ireland for a couple of days.  She listened for about thirty seconds, talked over it for five minutes, then made me switch it off and put on Roddy Doyle instead.


Maybe you would not call her fat

just big. Maybe. But Callista bears

her bulk as though she were Atlas.


Powerful legs stride out, body lurches

to keep up. Rounded shoulders skulk

tense under giraffe-neck that glides

forward and back, propelling her along.


Mouse-brown hair – long and limp –

lacks wherewithal to do more than sit

sulking on her peanut-head so

she binds it with ivory ribbon.


Callista peers at the world

from beneath a draped fringe

in a way that was almost becoming

on a fragile young Lady Diana

but not at all on a big-boned

weak-chinned middle-aged woman

clinging to the remnants of youthful plainness.


Today is an important day

so Callista wears her trouser suit

dolphin-grey with a white pin stripe  smart

teamed with her best blouse

shell-pink silk  classy.

Underneath she wears her lucky pants

Winnie-the-Pooh  cute.


She moves through the city streets,

her arrival pronounced by the tactless

heels of plastic snake-skin ankle boots.


God help me whispers Callista

as she knocks.  Her right hand dips

deep in her pocket.  She lightly strokes

little-bear with her index finger.

Then Callista enters, to discover her fate.




Dessa darling

“If wordsmith-songbird Dessa isn’t the future of hip-hop, she should be.”

-Insight News


There aren’t many people for whom the words…



and hip-hop… 

…will gather together in a single sentence.

Her album A Badly Broken Code is one of my absolute favourites and you can listen to it (or to the more recent Castor, the Twin which is mostly a reworking of the same tracks into a more ‘organic’ form) free on her bandcamp page.  It’ll knock your socks off, so you’ll be glad to know you can purchase the download on bandcamp too.

(Also there, you can get a free download of the 5-track EP False Hopes.  This is from 2005, she was just finding her voice.  It’s ok, but really – pay the ten dollars and get her at her wordsmith-songbird-hip-hop best)

A witch in Waterstones

I am crouching down, rummaging through Seamus Heaney.  I am in Waterstones, in the sanctuary of the poetry section: a tiny corral of bookshelves behind the till.  I am aware of a puffing shuffle moving from the doorway.  It stops with a gasp and a moan and gathers to a voice far too loud for the hallowed shadows of Waterstones.

– Hello duck, I’m looking for the book on witchery.

I grab Seamus’ Rattle Bag and stand to look over the bookshelf.  A short broad woman is clinging to the pay-counter by her armpits.  Her great fleshy arms splay out, bending in at the elbows to meet at plump sweaty fingers.  A face round and flushed as an eclipsed moon comes to rest on the interlinking fingers, and are surrounded by breasts spread on the counter like two flat mounds of ballast. Her smile is as wide and as charming as the Cheshire Cat’s.

The polite little girl behind the till seems unphased.

 – Witchcraft would be in the lifestyle section, up on the second floor.

 – Go and get it for me, there’s a dear.

 – We have a lift just over there if you’d like to go and choose one yourself?

 – Go on duck, I’m whacked out.

 – We’ll have a selection.  Do you know the name of the one you want?

 – The one on head-witchery, she nods.

I finally decide on Crow by Ted Hughes.

The Graduate

I recently read The Graduate by Charles Webb.  It was a fun and easy read; here is a potted version:

Benjamin came home from college and was fed up.  Mrs Robinson offered him her body.  He refused, cleared his throat and put his hands deep in his pockets.

Later, he was bored and middle class suburban life held no excitement so he arranged to meet Mrs Robinson in a hotel, where they started an affair. Continue reading