The only way I can come to terms with the ending of summer warmth, it seems to me, is to throw myself at autumn like a slapper on spritzers. She's pretty much of a slapper herself, this season of mellow fruitfulness, with her lipstick reds and russet ringlets. Prepubescent maple all decked out like Aunty Acer, whatever are they thinking, that's what the watching pines seem to say anyway.
So it's been a week of walking more than writing. Wells on Monday, wandering the Bishops Palace Garden with Grace Gould, talking about the difficulty of writing 'nature' poems to order.
And on Wednesday in Longleat, where golden poplars line the drive like debutantes in rustling taffeta, waxing owl moon behind me hanging opalescent in a blue pearl sky, and ahead the woods seem on fire with the setting sun.
So to end this analogous & anthropomorphic revelling, here's an (old) ode that just-about sums up my feelings about
I’ve hated you too long, old chum.
I’m tired of stamping your derelict leaves
and dreading your dismal rain.
So put your weary arms around me
mutter under muffled breath.
I’ll take your chilly fingers one by one
and try to thaw them into sweetness.
Sigh for me. Your ragged breath
stinks of death, but I’m faltering too
my longing lips sticky on that cold window.
We should be ready to forgive each other now.
According to children's author Terence Blacker, the best way to face the terror of being a writer is to contemplate facing a class of 14-year-olds, so I wasn't looking forward to Friday in Cheltenham College leading (5!) creative writing workshops with adolescent groups. I needn't have worried. They were fantastic: lively, pleasant to each other, full of original ideas and confident self-expression - all the things teenagers aren't supposed to be. I could feel my half-century of school phobia beginning to melt at the edges... The college has a real commitment to writing, with a programme of regular visitors including, I note, the Speil slam duo next term. Fantastic.