Since the subject of building a wall has been such a media sensation of late, I decided to re-watch the film of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I’d seen it once before when I was 19 and in a bad state and I don’t think I fully understood all its meanings at that time. What I got from it then was that Bob Geldof is a very good actor, which is something I stand by now, and lots of historical complexities I didn’t fully understand. Seeing it again, I realise how multi-layered it is. The grief of the son growing up post WWII in the shadow of the cold war, everyday walls between individuals and – the most outstanding part to me – the walls built by the segregation of the education system. I felt oppressed by school myself, by its rigidness, its streaming systems. I remember thinking some of the brightest, most interestering people weren’t in the top sets and wondering why. I also remember coming into school late and being told the headmistress had died by a fellow pupil. I was then dragged by a teacher to the office and interogated about my ten minute lateness (I’d missed the bus because I couldn’t sleep). I thought, all the way through her talking, about the fact that someone had died, the significance of this. The fixation on my ten minutes here or there in these circumstances undermined the whole system to me. I think it was around that time I stopped going to school.
In my own job now, I’m always aware of the position of power you’re put in as a nurse and make sure I emphasize that this could be reversed at any time. We can all become mentally or physically unwell and most of us do. I have no interest in hierarchy. I detest this aspect of the world of poetry. I can’t help but see that certain references, quotes in foreign languages and names that have a CV that fits snugly into the academic world do get more attention and accolades and, while I’ve bought the books with enthusiasm initially, some of them have been disappointing and very much style over substance. I don’t believe we should come away from a good piece of writing wrestling with its complex lingusitic puzzles and ancient analogies. From Shelley to Jean Rhys, the best writing should be accessible to everyone.
I’ve been ill for about 3 weeks now – real flu (I’d really forgotten how very bad this is) followed by secondary infections. What a gift it is to be physically well. You forget. I’ve been to work this week – physically unfit for it probably but afraid of the punitive NHS sickness policy. I’ve managed to do my job though. In fact, I’ve worked non-stop this week.
I watched the documentary on the Bernstein (and some Hitchcock) footage of the liberation of the Nazi war camps this evening which was recently shown on BBC4. There is very much an air of segregation now, in the present day, – of identifying differences not similarities, playing (preying) on these and how they undermine nationalism/security. Very worrying times. I think these undercurrents effect us in ways we don’t always pick up on consciously.
I’ve enjoyed Winterwatch this week, especially the foxes. We’re putting out mealworms and seed for the birds and have had robins, crows, rooks, sparrows, a blue tit and – obviously – seagulls at the bird table. I’ve written a tiny bit and not submitted much. I’ve been reading though. I’m going to re-read my dad’s second novel. It’s one of the most gripping novels I’ve ever read. There’s an atmosphere to it that settles on you like a mist and stays for a long time after you’ve finished reading it.
Given the current US situation, my dream of Yellowstone has diminished a bit. I would like to go somewhere special this year if I get the chance. Maybe Canada. It’s not looking hopeful, financially, but I think travelling – seeing new things – is what inspires writing. Dominica would be the absolute dream. Beans on toast for a few years might do it.