Wednesday, October 13, 2010

French night at Macfadyen's on Tuesday was a strange and lovely event, part soiree, part living-room theatre, as Timothy Adès joined hostess Annabelle in offering poésie Française et chansons avec l'accordéon to a small group of fascinated friends. Timothy was en route to BRLSI in Bath, where next day he presented a talk and readings on The Excitement of Rhyme and Metre to the uni-verse group. Timothy translates from several languages, publishing principally his re-interpretations of French and Spanish works, and prides himself that he is a poet in his own right in that he finds metre and rhyme in English to suit the mood rather than the form of the original. He specialises too in word-play, lipograms and naughty rhyme-matching - what you are with spatula - as well as sensual love sonnets and the poetry of Resistance in the Second World War. Perhaps because it reminds me of Kavafis's Ithaca, one of my favourites was The Voyage by the beach-comber poet Lámbros Porphýras.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower" - Albert Camus.
Every afternoon this week we've had a Greek blue sky framing exhilerating autumnal colours - here's Stourbridge, but Longleat and Ashton Court are just as fabulous.

PG Wodehouse was my pretend uncle when I was a child so I was delighted to discover the BBC archives include a 1958 interview, from which I learned that the Jeeves stories were set in a world that definitely did exist, according to their creator. "Before the first world war, as a young man I used to know them by the score. Now of course I suppose I'm writing historical novels." On the vexed question of sex, or rather lack of it, PGW was equally clear: "When I started writing, sex was absolutely taboo so I supose one gets set in one's ways - anyway I've never felt tempted to do anything in that line." Lord Emsworth couldn't have put it better.

And finally: Oxfam research reveals that Dan Brown is now their most donated author, but has failed to achieve No. 1 in their best-seller list... Could this be that he's sold a lot of books already? It's good to know your donations go to something important in overcoming poverty and suffering, though, isn't it?

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