Sunday, June 21, 2015

Life after Spain

It’s not easy taking over a course at short notice, and difficult too for participants who chose a specific facilitator, so big appreciation to the stoic souls who arrived at Cortijo Romero last week to seek their inner poet with me instead  ~ and did so with warmth & humour as well as honesty, integrity and sometimes a bite of raw sorrow. It was a delight to hear and a privilege to discuss these multi-textured, lucent, colourful pieces, whether free-flow or shaped into form, netted from experience or fly-fished from wild imagination. Cortijo Romero in June is exquisite and abundant: the gardens blossom-filled & tranquil, the cool dining room filled always with bowls bulging with local fruit ~ oranges, cherries, apricots, plums… On our day off I took the river walk to town, arriving after a long hot upward trail at a garden bar I remembered fondly. I stood at the gate, calling through “Are you open?"  "Not yet" said the barman courteously, "come in," and he gestured below shading orange trees and brought me a beer.  Spain, I love you.

Another consequence of my short-notice travel was anti-social flying hours, which meant I was at Malaga airport 12 hours early, which turned out to be a brilliant way to spend a final day in Spain: exploring old-town Malaga, revisiting the Picasso Museum, and remembering all over again why I love this perverse & puzzling painter. “You have to wake people up,” he said, “to force them to understand they're living in a very strange world that’s not what they think it is.” 
Picasso loved Malaga but he didn’t spend much time here: this collection, while beautifully curated & presented, doesn't reflect his best work. But there is one exquisite piece: a tiny, half-painted drawing of a young man watching his lover sleep. I can’t decide which is the most moving: the superb single-line drawing, sensuous fleshlike painting, the transcendental way both merge, or the inspiration of form, allegedly unfinished yet quintessentially perfect. I guess it’s all of these, and more.

Back home in Frome now and the week ahead is brimming over: Nevertheless Productions' Frome Festival production of Midsummer Dusk sold out completely on both nights and Rosie has enterprisingly organised an extra date on the final Saturday ~ get booking now if you were one of those missing out and clamouring! Rehearsals are in the cemetery, which in the summer solstice glow is more beautiful than ever. Principal gardener Gerald Shakespeare has trimmed branches and strimmed around the gravestones but there's still a sense of fecundity and wildness all around. The cast are so good they gave me goosebumps, I can't wait to see them in costume and fully off book...
In the meantime, Muffin Man (One & Two) is on at the Cornerhouse on Thursday and Saturday. This is a reprise of last year's 'Bard of Frome' comedy winner plus a sequel to the cliff-hanging ending, and with bonus tracks of song & comic standup from talented duo Ross Scott and Fleur Hanby Holmes.  A Festival Fringe event, we're calling it.

And on Wednesday I'm booked to do poems at Jo Butt's Speakeasy event in Bath, always a lot of fun and with a lively open mic so I'm hoping my theme of older women behaving badly will fit well... 

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