Out last night seeing Carol Ann Duffy reading at the Charleston Festival. When you like a poet and her work as I have her, for many years, it feels almost personal, like going to see a good friend or close member of the family. Even though I have never seen her in the flesh before, when she appeared I had that sense of recognition and pride: ah, there she is, my own Carol Ann. It isn't often you will find me going on like this, so cut me some slack here. I am not one of those who is drawn to the fix of rubbing up against fame and the big name - I grew up with famous names aplenty milling around at the mater's dinner parties, smoking up the living room, gobbling the chocolate globes on the Christmas tree, throwing up on the hall carpet outside my bedroom - actually that's another post entirely. I am usually quite happy to meet writers in their work, knowing that this is in any case most probably the most substantial part of them. But just occasionally I am drawn (Jeanette Winterson, also at Charlestson) to share the space while they speak their work, these writers whose words have given utterance, given substance to my life - mattered to me.
We were in the enormous tent that is annually erected in the grounds. When the weather is rain and wind it can feel like being in a ship in a storm, but last night was pure perfect early summer balm, the air broken only by the lowing of cows and some determined braying of donkeys. CA read from her book The World's Wife and some new unpublished poems. I would have liked also to hear some of the Rapture and Mean Time poems, but after the lengthy introductions there really was not much time. Charleston introductions tend to go on a bit, as though one has come knowing nothing at all about the writer, and on this occasion, with her being the Poet Laureate, this was even more the case. The person who gave the longest address seemed at pains to pay tribute to her and did the job well enough, but she took up precious time that could have been taken by the actual poet. Afterwards we were invited to meet CA in the queue for book-signing, but I had had what I came for, which was the experience of seeing and hearing the poet standing in her words.
Mr. Signs is on Shrink-training this weekend. Son is here, briefly touching in. We're having lunch at the mater's - roast chicken (temporary suspension of veggie diet, too complicated otherwise) and a fruit fool I will make with concentrated mango pulp brought back from Mumbai. Then he back to London and I to Brighton - from whence a day trip to London tomorrow, with folding stool, to March* (or sit) for M.E.
* or not - if rag-doll condition continues I may only be there in spirit.