Since turning 70 a strange urge has come upon me.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to make an embarrassing personal confession! No, the urge I’m talking about is a desire to clear the decks of clutter and travel a little lighter into whatever time is left me.
Today I’ve been going through boxes in my spare room, rifling through folders of stuff I wrote years ago for fun. I was looking for things to recycle, in both senses of the word – ideas that could be reworked and junk I could bung in the bin.
After some inconsequential paper-shuffling I came to a slightly shame-faced conclusion. I wasn’t yet ready to decide what was worth keeping and what really deserved pulping. So I sat down and scribbled a quick list of, er, aesthetic principles that might help me sort out the wheat from the chaff.
- Make it modern (Arthur Rimbaud)
- Make it new (Ezra Pound)
- Be kind to your mind, write from the heart
- Be true to the earth (Friedrich Nietzsche)
- The words must be irrefutable (Joe Orton)
- Regard cliché and genre as portals
- Write about what you don’t know
- Don’t waste words, jump to conclusions (graffiti on a hermit’s cave-wall)
- Forget yourself (graffiti I saw on a walk)
- Rules are there to be broken
Not too bad for starters! I’m going to sleep on that and have another go tomorrow, doing a little every day until the paper-pile is processed – one way or the other. And who knows, some may pop up on here? I could do with some new inspiration, even if it’s sometimes rather old hat.
Any coincidences, of course, are serious contenders for inclusion.
Here’s one. The CD I’m listening to at the moment was plucked at random from my sizeable collection – how else to explore its full variety? – and connects with an old poem of mine that came to light while rummaging through my drawers (Ooh, missus!). That album – Jug of Love by the little-known Mighty Baby, who were previously called The Action – was also the focus of the poem, copied below:
follow your star, baby
in '69 a British band saw Gram play with the Byrds - the lads were blown away - that music gave them license (such lyrics, songs and harmony!) to sing like angels and play like little devils just like The Grateful Dead or Spirit or The Doors - a course of action with a load of perils but what a gas and what a mighty cause! they put their heads together one last time and made them there a picturesque swansong (such harmonies, such tunes, such lovely rhymes!) so deftly did they tread no foot was wrong - their jug of love was full though not their pockets and so this mighty baby missed the rockets!