So, yes… I woke up, I think, if I slept… looking my age and more and feeling in need of a personal masseur. Where are they when you need them, eh?
The buns that were left sitting sadly in the bottom of the bag, having been squashed by Oliver, looked decidedly unappetising. I chose not to cook and ignored the sighs and crestfallen faces, handed out money and told the children to forage. Jo and I went off to shower as the skies glowered overhead, ominously.
We emerged into brilliant rain and took ourselves off to the ‘make us a brew’ tent for strong tea and ginger cake. Suitably energised, we ventured back through the umber slick and slime to make up, pack up (JO) and find the car… Easier said than done… Rain pelting us at ninety degrees, wind biting at the bit to inside-out our brolly, we battled forth, unassailed, to the far off car park netherlands. We eventually found the car… an hour later… and ‘drove’ it to a nearer spot, thanks to the muscles of a very kind chap and ME! Mud splattered and soaked we attached a bright blue plakki bag to Jo’s car- for laters- and almost ran back to the centre of all that is good and the bar and cider and a fag! Phew!
The soulful strains of Anna Calvi’s Jezebel
accompanied us mournfully centreward and we returned just in time for the sun and the Waterboys… We sang along as you saw the whole of the moon… cup!
We sat on our waterproofs watching Iron and Wine and Jo sketched while I smoked and drank. A cheerful chappie approached, fascinated to know what Jo was up to, introduced himself as Gollom, (I later discovered it was Colm O’Connell… sorry Colm) He is Irish and talks a lot- amusingly, entertainingly even and we passed a pleasant hour. Colm bought us drinks and we declared our desire to watch Johnny Flynn in the Film Arena. We entered it’s dark and gloomy interior just as the heavens opened. And not only was it dry and (very, very) warm in there… it was also completely wonderful. Johnny is a genius- fact- plays guitar, fiddle, mandolin, trumpet, banjo and sings like Gabriel himself. It was all accompanied by a mesmerisingly gorgeous film made specially for Latitude. I SO enjoyed it. He’d written songs inspired by WB Yeats… (Waterboy’s new album also contains 10 songs inspired by the man himself…)
We went for another pee, (cider!) and may I now take a minute to rejoice in the improved quality of the lavatories at aLatitude this year. They were FANTASTIC, relatively speaking, and how else can one really speak? Any way- WELL DONE! Loo paper, clean, flushing, disinfectant handwash, manned (womanned), not so smelly. Big improvement. Jo apparently left a comment on Latitude’s website to the effect of-’If Vintage can do it- so can you…!’ and she reckons the improvement is all down to her. I’m not about to argue- Thank you Jo, x.
Lykke Li- Incredible, rhythmical, angelical, diabolical, popsical, whimsical, dance till you dropable. Loved her, them, it, the sight, the sound, the spectacle, although the stink of BAAAAD trainers still wafted around us in an all pervading cloud.
The final delight was EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELs
who possessed the stage looking like a bunch of hells angels dressed up for Grandma’s funeral. And when Mark ‘E’ Everett commanded, ‘Eels… sing!’ They did, like angels accompanying Grandma to heaven, and then they rocked the wake…
They were SO good. I love that everytime they play they re-invent every single song and it’s always brilliant and fun and amazing. They were fab. I’ve wanted to see them forever and I wasn’t disappointed. Superb, or as Mr Everett said… Delightful… Marvelous… Wonderful… Feel the Love… And one of my faves…
So… Jo went home, bravely, off into the night (school in the morning) and Colm and I went for a stroll in search of a space man in the enchanted forest- he’d gone home… and into the woods- for another pee in the bracken… Colm stood guard. We rounded off our evening by purchasing fresh buns for boys feeding time in the morning, tea, great conversation and some last cool sounds at ‘make us a brew’. Colm carried my box of goodies home for me and left me with the sweetest present ever- a recitation (and I mean a recitation- by memory…) of not one, but two achingly beautiful passages from the Dubliners.
This was the first… the opening of…
A Little Cloud
EIGHT YEARS BEFORE he had seen his friend off at the North Wall and wished him godspeed. Gallaher had got on. You could tell that at once by his travelled air, his well-cut tweed suit, and fearless accent. Few fellows had talents like his and fewer still could remain unspoiled by such success. Gallaher’s heart was in the right place and he had deserved to win. It was something to have a friend like that.
Little Chandler’s thoughts ever since lunch-time had been of his meeting with Gallaher, of Gallaher’s invitation and of the great city London where Gallaher lived. He was called Little Chandler because, though he was but slightly under the average stature, he gave one the idea of being a little man. His hands were white and small, his frame was fragile, his voice was quiet and his manners were refined. He took the greatest care of his fair silken hair and moustache and used perfume discreetly on his handkerchief. The half-moons of his nails were perfect and when he smiled you caught a glimpse of a row of childish white teeth.
As he sat at his desk in the King’s Inns he thought what changes those eight years had brought. The friend whom he had known under a shabby and necessitous guise had become a brilliant figure on theLondon Press. He turned often from his tiresome writing to gaze out of the office window. The glow of a late autumn sunset covered the grassplots and walks. It cast a shower of kindly golden dust on the untidy nurses and decrepit old men who drowsed on the benches; it flickered upon all the moving figures—on the children who ran screaming along the gravel paths and on everyone who passed through the gardens. He watched the scene and thought of life; and (as always happened when he thought of life) he became sad. A gentle melancholy took possession of him. He felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being the burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.
He remembered the books of poetry upon his shelves at home. He had bought them in his bachelor days and many an evening, as he sat in the little room off the hall, he had been tempted to take one down from the bookshelf and read out something to his wife. But shyness had always held him back; and so the books had remained on their shelves. At times he repeated lines to himself and this consoled him.
When his hour had struck he stood up and took leave of his desk and of his fellow-clerks punctiliously. He emerged from under the feudal arch of the King’s Inns, a neat modest figure, and walked swiftly down Henrietta Street. The golden sunset was waning and the air had grown sharp. A horde of grimy children populated the street. They stood or ran in the roadway or crawled up the steps before the gaping doors or squatted like mice upon the thresholds. Little Chandler gave them no thought. He picked his way deftly through all that minute vermin-like life and under the shadow of the gaunt spectral mansions in which the old nobility of Dublin had roystered. No memory of the past touched him, for his mind was full of a present joy.
He had never been in Corless’s but he knew the value of the name. He knew that people went there after the theatre to eat oysters and drink liqueurs; and he had heard that the waiters there spoke French and German. Walking swiftly by at night he had seen cabs drawn up before the door and richly dressed ladies, escorted by cavaliers, alight and enter quickly. They wore noisy dresses and many wraps. Their faces were powdered and they caught up their dresses, when they touched earth, like alarmed Atalantas.
He had always passed without turning his head to look. It was his habit to walk swiftly in the street even by day and whenever he found himself in the city late at night he hurried on his way apprehensively and excitedly. Sometimes, however, he courted the causes of his fear. He chose the darkest and narrowest streets and, as he walked boldly forward, the silence that was spread about his footsteps troubled him, the wandering, silent figures troubled him; and at times a sound of lowfugitive laughter made him tremble like a leaf.
He turned to the right towards Capel Street. Ignatius Gallaher on theLondon Press! Who would have thought it possible eight years before? Still, now that he reviewed the past, Little Chandler could remember many signs of future greatness in his friend. People used to say that Ignatius Gallaher was wild. Of course, he did mix with a rakish set of fellows at that time, drank freely and borrowed money on all sides. In the end he had got mixed up in some shady affair, some money transaction: at least, that was one version of his flight. But nobody denied him talent. There was always a certain…something in Ignatius Gallaher that impressed you in spite of yourself. Even when he was out at elbows and at his wits’ end for money he kept up a bold face. Little Chandler remembered (and the remembrance brought a slight flush of pride to his cheek) one of Ignatius Gallaher’s sayings when he was in a tight corner:
“Half time now, boys,” he used to say light-heartedly. “Where’s myconsidering cap?”
That was Ignatius Gallaher all out; and, damn it, you couldn’t but admire him for it.
Little Chandler quickened his pace. For the first time in his life he felt himself superior to the people he passed. For the first time his soul revolted against the dull inelegance of Capel Street. There was no doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could do nothing in Dublin. As he crossed Grattan Bridge he looked down the river towards the lower quays and pitied the poor stunted houses. They seemed to him a band of tramps, huddled together along the riverbanks, their old coats covered with dust and soot, stupefied by the panorama of sunset and waiting for the first chill of night bid them arise, shake themselves and begone. He wondered whether he could write a poem to express his idea. Perhaps Gallaher might be able to get it into some London paper for him. Could he write something original? He was not sure what idea he wished to express but the thought that a poetic moment had touched him took life within him like an infant hope. He stepped onward bravely.
Every step brought him nearer to London, farther from his own sober inartistic life. A light began to tremble on the horizon of his mind. He was not so old—thirty-two. His temperament might be said to be just at the point of maturity. There were so many
different moods and impressions that he wished to express in verse. He felt them within him. He tried to weigh his soul to see if it was a poet’s soul. Melancholy was the dominant note of his temperament, he thought, but it was a melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith and resignation and simple joy. If he could give expression to it in a book of poems perhaps men would listen. He would never be popular: he saw that. He could not sway the crowd but he might appeal to a little circle of kindred minds. The English critics, perhaps, would recognise him as one of the Celtic school by reason of the melancholy tone of his poems; besides that, he would put in allusions. He began to invent sentences and phrases from the notice which his book would get. “Mr. Chandler has the gift of easy and graceful verse.”… “wistful sadness pervades these poems.”…“The Celtic note.” It was a pity his name was not more Irish-looking. Perhaps it would be better to insert his mother’s name before the surname: Thomas Malone Chandler, or better still: T. Malone Chandler. He would speak to Gallaher about it.
He pursued his revery so ardently that he passed his street and had to turn back. As he came near Corless’s his former agitation began to overmaster him and he halted before the door in indecision. Finally he opened the door and entered.
And the second… The last two paragraphs of…
Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman, but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.
A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allenand, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannonwaves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
How beautiful are they- what a very special ending to a fabulous weekend. x