The power of words

Had a pleasant dream this morning, in which I complimented a rugby-dad on his taut stomach and persuaded him that mine was not a bit wobbly – as he suggested – but actually nice and soft.  He seemed convinced.

I awoke feeling both confident in the influential power of words, and cheerfully susceptible, when along strode Keith Ridgway. Not the most promising of names, but who needs a potent name when you write like Keith Ridgway; I have admitted to being impressionable, but I think that even at my most sullen and impervious I would have been knocked sideways by him.  This is the start of the story that sucked me into his vortex:

I am ill. I have been ill for some time. Years now. It has become years.

I believe, though I cannot prove, that my illness is due directly to the perverted Catholicism and megalomania of Mr Tony Blair, former Prime Minister, whom I met once, whose hand I physically shook (at which point he assaulted me), and who, if you should mention my name to him, will tell you that he met me, or that he did not meet me, or that he cannot recall. Because he has all the answers.

You can read the rest here and I implore you to do so.  It is genius, and I don’t use that word lightly.  The story is an extract from his recent book Hawthorn and Child, which has now leapt to the top of my reading list.

Next, I found an interesting piece in The New Yorker in which he tries to evade the question of How To Write:

… I wait in terror for the judgements of those others—judgements that seem, whether positive or negative, unjust, because they are about something that I didn’t really do. They are about something that happened to me. It’s a little like crawling from a car crash to be greeted by a panel of strangers holding up score cards.

So, he is genius, witty and wise.  But – whatever – it’s all cerebral.  Until I find his blog.  And this post, which is open and charming and written in a minor key like only the Irish can do, and ends:

All you can really hope for is that the love you feel is not wasted. And you can tell yourself that even if it is – even if it is wasted – it is still love.

And, oh, haven’t we all felt like that and he knows.  He knows, and he feels my pain and I feel his pain and – oh! – I want to marry this man!

But then I notice the strap line on his Twitter account begins: queer Irish writers are two a penny but I cost a pound.

Looks like we could be fighting over that rugby-dad.  I’ll win though, because he likes my nice, soft, belly.

(If you are not yet convinced and require a more considered, authoritive review, click here to visit the asylum)


A happy ending

‘The little girl is dressed up

like a Gainsborough painting again’, Mary calls.

You join her at the window and watch

the frilly parasol twirling in the long dark curls

that lick her bare pale shoulders.

Her mother – ‘must be broke again’, Mary says –

takes her hand and leads her

into the crepuscular Portobello streets.


Continue reading

The muse

Once upon a time, there was a skinny little girl who dreamed the big world through huge glasses. Then her hair was cut short. Her mother was an impatient soul so it might have been nits or insolence, but short it was, and it meant that the little girl was constantly mistaken for a boy. One day in her third year at school, the little girl’s teacher was ill, so Mrs Maitland came to teach the class. Mrs Maitland brought along her daughter, who was the same age as the class children. This daughter may have been called Cassandra and she certainly didn’t have to wear the drab school uniform. Instead, she wore a red tartan pleated skirt and a jumper knitted from sparkly turquoise nylon that scratched the little girl’s face as they were squeezed together in the jostle of the queue for the midmorning trip to the toilet. The little girl hummed a tiny tune as her gaze wandered from Cassandra’s fluffy blonde hair to the downy skin of her neck to the harsh brash glitter of the jumper. This pleased the little girl, so she let her eyes roll up and down, up and down, like search lights on the lookout for textures and sensations. But her poor little cheek was getting quite sore, so the little girl was relieved when Mrs Maitland pulled her over to the other queue. Then, once Mrs Maitland had given the word, she tagged along until the little girl found herself in the little boys’ room, in front of a crowd of boys who considered her in a mixture of sympathy and embarrassment. The little girl turned slowly on her heel and, trusting their silence, left the little boys to their urinals.

Continue reading