June 10th, 2010

Ailz Says I'm Obsessive...

But you can't mess with the bin-men.

These are powerful individuals- and if you pile things in your bin so the lid won't shut they're perfectly within their rights not to empty it.

So imagine my dismay when I looked out this morning and found that Samina- who doesn't have a clue about the rules and etiquette of waste disposal- had loaded her surplus junk into my bin- there was a lot of it because some weeks she'll miss a collection-  with the result that there were two bins- hers and mine- side by side- both over flowing- and with extra grot piled up on the pavement.

I could see the binmen turning up their noses at us- refusing to shift either bin- leaving the rubbish to fester- and festering rubbish means rats.

So I did something a little desperate. I borrowed Renee's bin- she's not at home, she rarely is these days- and redistributed the surplus. Now there were three bins deployed on our stretch- all full, but with lids that would shut.

The binmen turned up shortly afterwards. I had acted just in time. A crisis in public health has been averted. 

The Labour Leadership Contest

Milliband, Milliband, Balls- three unhealthy-looking young men with starey eyes- all deeply compromised by their membership of the last government. I feel a revulsion that is almost physical. I wouldn't care to shake their hands.   

Burnham- I don't know much about Burnham except that he was questioned the other day about his support in government for something he now condemns- and his stuttering defence was that he's a team player and proud of it.

And then there's Abbot- a woman with a mind of her own.

Guess which one of them isn't being taken seriously.

Winged Chariot

My copy of Winged Chariot arrived. Although not advertised as such, it turns out to be a first edition. It's not in mint condition, but still has its dust jacket. It might even be the copy I once sold come back to me; stranger things have happened.

It is- forget the contents for a moment- a very beautiful book. I'm no expert on paper- but the paper used here is clearly of a very high quality - made from rags perhaps- with a coarse, tactile weave and an intrinsic, delicious, musky odour. I suspect- if stored in kindly conditions- it would last for a thousand years.

There is a vignette wood cut by the great Joan Hassall.

Winged Chariot was published in 1951 (the year of my birth, incidentally)  by which time de la Mare- always an anomaly, and hard to place- was outrageously out of step with his times (though his publisher- and champion- at Faber was none other than T.S. Eliot).  He remains unfashionable- and is remembered- if at all- for The Listeners and one or two other magical, nursery favourites- not for this.

But it's a wonderful poem- in my considered view the most beautiful poem published in the second half of the 20th century. De la Mare had a gift- an unequalled gift- for arranging words- simple, hackneyed, even shop-soiled words- the words every poetaster overuses- so that they sing in consort.  Mainly he wrote lyrics. This is a sustained lyric- remorselessly lovely- otherworldly- the work of a great poet who in old age pines (to quote himself) 

                                                                "to skirt the infinite; 
                       As birds sing wildlier as it draws towards night."