The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Rising above it

Dead birds, flying

Sometimes, Things get in the way of daily progress – do you find that, dear reader? This week Things have been positively obstructive. Sod them, I thought, and got on with life anyway.

In London for meetings, I hooked up with dear friend Derek Adams. Like all the best people, Derek is not entirely normal. His particular penchant is for death and its paraphernalia – so we went to look at Polly Morgan’s extraordinary exhibition of taxidermy/art, Psychopomps. I don’t think I’d want to be in her car when she finds some roadkill, but the (few) exhibits were startling, moving and other-worldly. There was plenty of life too…. at a meeting on the terrace of the Southbank Centre, I wondered why the air was filled with children’s screams and laughter. Round the corner I found this:

That would explain it then

Mia with Granny Wendy

Personally, I’ve always agreed with W C Fields on the subject of children – ‘like elephant’s foot hat stands, they are interesting but I wouldn’t want one in my own home’. My brother Kristian feels differently, and has gone to the trouble of making one (a little girl, not an elephant’s foot hat stand) with partner Sally. Mia Joy is not very interactive just yet, but she’s splendid from head to tiny tiny toes. She also has the world’s most glamorous granny – see?

I spent a couple of days at the ancestral home over the weekend, and ventured out with my mum to see my Companion Stone  in situ. It’s just inside the gates of the Longshaw Estate in Derbyshire. I know you’ve seen this before, but it did bring a lump to my throat to see it in place. It’s been set up so that as you read the words LOOK BACK, you are looking across at the Iron Age hillfort on Carl Wark. I was at first frustrated to see that the grid reference on the back is wrong – it should work if you take off the second SK, but no-one will figure that out. But then,  this is the kind of idiosyncracy that makes the old guidestoops so endearing: why should their companion stones not be equally quirky?

I think I’m prouder of this collaboration with artist Kate Genever than anything else I’ve done. So, art triumphs over Things. And if you ever doubt the strength of the artistic impulse, here’s another artefact I discovered in the Peak District this week. Even in times of government cuts, even in times of personal crisis or flood or fire or storm – so long as we have shit and stones, it seems that the impulse to create will always rise up : )

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5 comments on “Rising above it

  1. angelatopping
    August 12, 2010

    You and your mum are very alike!

  2. Max Wallis
    August 12, 2010

    here here!

  3. Jo Bell
    August 12, 2010

    I wish!

  4. Paul Beech
    August 12, 2010

    Yes, I do find that, dear writer. I shall be spending the afternoon grandchild-minding. Must say I agree with Kristian about kids, though – no way could my lot be confused with elephant’s foot hatstands!

    A quick lunch first, if I can stomach it after your final pic!

  5. Angi Holden
    August 12, 2010

    Shit and stones… I think I’ll adopt that as my mantra of the week!

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This entry was posted on August 12, 2010 by in Writing exercises and tagged , , , , , , , .
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