"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
As you see, I’ve been mixing with fairies again. First, there was paperwork to do. One small difficulty in boating life is that by the time your post catches up with you, your car insurance is overdue/ your hospital appointment has passed/ your tax bill is overdue/ you have missed a party. A whole day passed in a blur of phone calls, cheque-writing, laundry, electoral register-sorting and talking to the boatyard.
Then I headed to London, to chair a meeting of our National Poetry Day steering committee. Jonathan Davidson of Birmingham Book Festival, always a source of bright new ideas, joined us. We I sat in the Wellcome Institute café afterwards and talked poetry until we were blue in the face. It was one of those snatched moments that make life richer. Then I had a cold Croque Monsieur at Euston and life became a little poorer again.
On Thursday I began a ridiculous marathon car journey, caused by offers of work too good to refuse but too far apart to make any sense. First we took Fourpenny Circus to the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal. Tiny local friend Maddy kindly covered me in porridge.
Then I drove right down to the Larmer Tree Festival near Salisbury. I pitched my tent in a half-hour gap between rainstorms, and waded into the main festival site. It was like the Somme with bunting.
In a tent surrounded by luminous spider webs I joined the slam, and did a proper reading on the Saturday night with others. The festival was friendly and good-tempered despite the mud, and the programme was great. There were, of course, the ubiquitous fairies of all shapes and sizes.
I saw Aussie comic Adam Hills, Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow (brilliant), the London Bulgarian Orchestra and the Peat Bog Faeries, amongst many others. The experience of watching scores of happy women belly-dancing was surprisingly joyous, too.
With immaculate timing, I had tickets for Rufus Wainwright’s new opera Prima Donna in Manchester on Sunday. I drove up with poet Lorna Meehan to see it, wiping mud from ankles and earlobes as we went. Alas, the ‘sweeping melodies’ mentioned in the programme swept right past me. I should have stayed for another day of muddy music at Larmer Tree. I’ve never seen the point of florid singing of lines like ‘Madaaaaaam, I have brought your breeeeeeeeeakfast,’ etc. But of course I am on shaky ground here. After all, there are plenty of people who, confronted with poetry will say ‘Why don’t they just SAY it?’
Back at Tinker’s Staffordshire mooring, I fancied the boat was in a bit of a huff – ‘what do you mean by leaving me here and letting strangers break into my engine room?’ The strangers had fitted a new inverter, which should give me electricity when on the move, as soon as I have worked out how to switch it on.
I had covered 730 miles between Thursday morning and Sunday night: I feel guilty about shagging the ozone layer and I’m tired, but in a good productive way. The nights are still short, and the days are fat with summer clouds…. as this festival-goer knows.