September 2nd, 2008


time_shark drew my attention to Thomas Disch's LJ blog Endzone. and I spent most of yesterday evening browsing it. I wish I'd known about it sooner. I could have friended him and interacted. Now, of course, it's a closed and completed work- "deleted and purged" from LJ's server and housed elsewhere.

Endzone ran for just over two years. It's fascinating to watch this ageing writer of some importance as he adjusts to and settles into the new medium. He seems to have found it fun. Publishers may have been increasingly unwilling to buy his work, but here on LJ he could go on talking to the world- and have it talk back. Disch was ill, embittered and recently bereaved- and it shows- but he keeps on bravely and cheerily performing- tapdancing on the edge- and turning out poems like there was no tomorrow- until eventually there wasn't. The last entry- dated less than two months ago- deals, but not in any despairing vein, with the still topical subject of rising food prices. A couple of days later he shot himself.

What We Did Last Thursday

In the morning we went and wandered round Kenilworth Castle. We have a year's membership of English Heritage- and I mean to get my money's worth. Kenilworth belonged to a guy called de Clinton (an ancestor of Bill's?  I wonder...) who was your archetypal Norman brute and then to Simon de Montfort and John of Gaunt and a succession of English kings. It was a place where history happened. Eventually it passed to Robert Dudley- Elizabeth I's favourite- who went on a building spree and turned it into a Tudor palace. It got caught up in the Civil War and Cromwell slighted it- demolishing walls so it could never be garrisoned again. Most of it has been in ruins ever since.

Castles leave me cold, I've decided. Most of them, anyway. Kenilworth impresses, but is all about power and money and violence and ambition. 

Give me a monastic ruin anyday....

There's one on the other side of town, in the grounds of the parish church. Monasteries are about power and money and violence and ambition too- but also something else.

Here's what's left of the gatehouse...

And here's a curiosity. A romanesque doorway, snaffelled from the abbey, surrounded by Elizabethan fancy-work and installed in the parish church. This was probably done by Robert Dudley as part of an attempt to tart up the church in anticipation of a visit from the queen.

And here- just because I like it- is the churchyard path.

Curious. All these pictures are of gateways, portals.... I think it must say something about my current state of mind.

In the evening we went to see Hamlet... but I've already written about that.