New Beginnings

Seasonality is a thing I cherish even though I hate winter.  The change in meter is energising even when, as today, I’ve had to turn the central heating on for the first time since Spring.  Edinburgh is a tourist city all year long but still it has its particular surges.  The Festival is an annual migration that, love it or hate it, brings a distinctive verve to the place.  So too the arrival of the students.  On my way to my Saturday night shift at the hospital this weekend I was stopped by a serpentine of raw recruits, each daubed with a green E on his or her cheek.  The lads, so callow, barely through puberty it seemed, their gawky bodies too quickly grown so they didn’t know where to put their shoulders; they slouched like dreamy wanderers in a land of promised treasure they dare not touch.  The girls in fly-away mini-skirts unaware of the autumn winds that are on their way.

This year I will be joining them.  I matriculate on Thursday onto a one year, full-time Msc in Creative Writing.  Msc, you query.  Well, so did I, but why not a Master of Science from the College of Humanities?  Is it not time we stopped making these arbitrary distinctions?  Creativity and writing are universal after all.

My ID photograph shows a woman of middle-age, albeit a relatively flattering image.  If you enjoy University Challenge you may, like me, pause when Jeremy does his ‘average age’ thing.  Nineteen, twenty-two.  What would I do to those averages if I ever took the challenge?  Not that I have any intention.  Several minutes too slow for the buzzer even when I know the answer.  But, still it is a thought.  How will I get on with my woolly thinking in a tutorial of twenty-something English Lit grads?  My degree (in biology) is now 34 years old.  I read at a snail’s pace, chewing over, rereading to try to make sense of the text.  I’ll have to sharpen up my act methinks.  Am I daunted by the reading list?  You bet.  Am I excited?  You bet.  And if my tutor on the Cubism week in the second semester can help me to understand the poetry of Gertrude Stein I will be delighted

Pablo Picasso – Gertrude Stein 1905

And because this is ostensibly a poetry blog, here is a little poem apropos nothing


 Did I tell you

I almost died

at the age of two

from cyanide?

Another time

I almost died again

A foolish thing –

not at all the same

My mother caught a crab

the year I left home

Therapeutic radiation

withered her jawbone

But she survived

dispatched from the ward

disfigured, frail

the size of a bird

A good friend died

of – I won’t say what

it doesn’t matter

chance would have it

My father thought

he’d conquer death

by never planning

his leaving bash

Until he died

from sulfonamide

I used to wonder why

he lived whilst others died

and now he’s died

I am surprised

Still, as I write this

I’m alive