Thursday, July 03, 2008

Lists... I love them. Perhaps in an alternative reality somewhere I am a list. To-do lists cluster on my desktop, my diary will hardly close for the inlay of lists. And as for list poems... How do I love them? Let me count the ways - oh goody, another list.
So when Laurie asked to make a list of tracks for The Sunday Playlist on Frome FM, I was elated. An opportunity to trawl through all my CDs, to postpone work (this is a list already) and to make a list of the best music tracks in the world ever...
If you've ever tried this yourself, you will have spotted a flaw. The best music tracks in the world ever do not stay still in line. They run like ants, only more randomly; they rush from one end of the row to the other like naughty boys in those old-fashioned school photographs. I managed, in a kind of drenched sweat of ecstasy from hours of saturation in musical memories, to reduce the list to a fairly consistent baker's dozen. Only one more track left to face that Alan Sugar moment and creep from the list, hauling its long-handled cabin-baggage behind it.
And I had just about decided that Dylan must go. OK, he's god an' all that, but he's such an obvious choice... and the others had fought their case so irresistibly. And then I read an Arts Comment in the Guardian on the lyrics of Bob Dylan by Germaine Greer, the pundit who does for wit what Catherine Tate has done for grandmothers, headed "That creep couldn't even write doggerel."
"Great lyricist? Bah! Humbug!" the article began, but any coy pussyfooting-around ended there. My adjectival-list-ometer collected from the opening paragraph: agonised posturing, pretentious, illiterate, senseless, not even doggerel, and annoying. (It’s a good tip to end a list on a lighter note.)
So Mister Tambourine Man has retained its place, not on compassionate grounds but because in the great celestial list of women of our age, I don't want to stand anywhere near Ms Greer. This is the woman who said of aspiring writers: "Every week I am sent the effusions of people who, from springs bubbling up in the pits of their stomachs, have produced long strings of truncated syntactic elements, often rhymed but never intelligible or melodic, usually embarrassingly illiterate and often even more embarrassingly visceral.” (This went straight to the pit of my stomach, which promptly bubbled up the following visceral effusion:
There once was a writer named Greer
Whose views on her peers were severe,
Delusions of lyricism
had her snorting with cynicism
Support for the sisters? Stick it up your career.)
So if you want a Germaine quote to pin above your work area, I recommend going back to the days when she wrote:
"If a woman never lets herself go, how will she ever know how far she might have got?"

More about writers on Frome radio at Mike's blog. And of course more about Frome Festival just about everywhere. Where to begin? Try the free events on Saturday, for a start - Soapbox Poets on the hour in Cheap Street - and peer into shops and cafes at the pen-chewing scribes striving to win as one-day Writer In Residence. There's loads more writerly stuff & I'm tempted to push my own events (they looks so tasty!) so for more impartial coverage check the website, and pick up a Festival Fringe leaflet too. (Gremlins R Us spot: If you're wondering when Helen Feltham's "Spirit of Place" writing workshop is, it's Thursday.)
And for something " irreverent ~ risky ~ witty ~ strange", there's the innovative "Cabaret Sans Frontieres" at the Masonic Hall on Friday 11th. "Faded splendour, where echoes of Moulin Rouge and burlesque tangle with edgy contemporary performance" is the promise from distinctly non-faded, totally splendid, organisers Annabelle & Howard. They urge you to dress up, but Mimi and Fifi will be at your service on the night...

And writers everywhere, spare a blush for Tom Bullough, hailed as winner of Wales Book of the Year last night, for... erm, about 30 seconds. How that 15 minutes of fame is shrinking. Poor Tom has blogged it as 'A Glimpse of Hell' preceded by traumatic dreams of being hunted naked down a labyrinth. So if you get those dreams too, avoid Wales is my advice.

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