All weeks should include two bank holidays. Wednesday felt like Monday and then it was the weekend. As a bonus, this weekend was also half term, which meant that my teaching friends were around to hang out with. In other exciting news, I went on a bus on my own with Pip in her pram, and bought an amazing vintage dress (post coming soon once I've taken some photos in better light - if you follow me on twitter you may already have seen some rather poorly light snaps taken in the shop). The shop itself is a newly opened vintage shop just down the road, which pleased me no end, as I do like living close to a well edited vintage shop.
This weekend, the baby meets her third great-grandmother (and second great-grandfather). This time, it is my maternal grandmother and I look forward to having a photo of 4 generations of daughters. It also happens to my grandmother's birthday. On one of my excursions pottering around my local shops, I came across these cards by Anna Wright. I fell in love with her drawings, and could have happily bought the whole series and framed them for my wall. Which if we did not live in a rented flat where we have yet to even hang the paintings and prints we already own, I would have done. Thankfully, I am starting to learn my limits. Instead, I bought a couple. A Prickle of Hedgehogs for my sister; the Chinoise Ladies for my grandmother.
Her present? Jubilee Lines. A book of poetry commissioned by Carol Ann Duffy for the diamond jubilee. 60 poems, one for every year of the Queen's reign, written about that year, by contemporary poets. My birth year is by Simon Armitage, about the Falklands. I do hope that Grannie hasn't already got it, or read it. It was she and my grandfather who introduced me to poetry as a young child (literally, about 3 or 4, and we had books of poems for 4 year olds and so on) and with whom I have shared years of poetry books and discussions. Carol Ann Duffy is a particular favourite of mine. I have written, I'm sure (although I cannot find it) of stumbling across a collaboration at Glastonbury between Duffy and jazz musician Eliana Tomkins called Rapture, where first Duffy recited the poem, then Tomkins played/sang her version, accompanied by a guitarist. I had left my husband and friends doing their own "thing"and had wondered off on my own, and it was the perfect thing to come across. I remember being particularly taken with the juxtaposition of poety, dried mud, wellies and waterproofs, listening to words of text messages being sent like bullets, the phone as a gun in a holster, words able to wound.
There the great gathered with gallant allies,
massing on the foreshore, fitted out marvellously.
Dukes and statesmen, some strutting on their steeds,
Earls of England, armies of archers,
stout sheriffs shouting sharp instructions
to the troops who rallied before the Round Table,
assigning soldiers to certain lords
on the seafront, in the south, at their sovereign's say so.
The barges being ready they rowed to the beach
to ferry aboard horses and fine battle-helmets,
loading the livestock in their livery and tack,
then the tents, the tough shields, tools to lay siege,
canopies, kit bags, exquisite coffers,
ponies, hackneys, horses-of-armour . . .
thus the stuff of stern knights was safely stored.
And when all stock was stowed they stalled no longer,
timing their untying with the turn of the tide;
ships of all sizes ran up their sails,
all unfurling at the moment of their monarch's command,
and hands at the gunwales hauled up the great anchors,
watermen wise to the ways of the waves.
The crew at the bow began coiling in the cables
of the carriers and cutters and Flemish crafts;
they drew sails to the top, they tended the tiller,
they stood along the starboard singing their shanties.
So the port's proudest ships found plentiful depth
and surged at full sail into changeable seas.
Without anyone being hurt they hauled in the skiffs:
shipmates looked sharp to shutter the portholes
and tested depth by lowering lead from the luff.
They looked to the lodestar as daylight lessened,
reckoned a good route when mist rose around them,
used their knowing with the needle-and-stone through the night,
when for dread of the dark they dropped their speed,
all the seadogs striking the sails at a stroke.
Strike a Pose
A Prickle of Hedgehogs