Saturday, September 18

Elongated Man

Jez and I went to see the anti-McDonald’s anti-fast food movie “Super Size Me” last night. It was okay. Very watchable, even if kind of preaching to the converted. The woman along from me laughed out loud at a lot of it, even though the movie wasn’t as funny as I’d been expecting. Afterwards, Jez and I strolled up the Mansfield Road towards home, which is a pretty interesting road whatever the time of day. (Even at 6:30 in the morning. When I walk to work I often pass a hooker left over from the night before, and the stuff people leave scattered across the pavements throws down a challenge to Nottingham’s clean-up the litter campaign, and it’s no contest.) Anyway, on a Friday night the Mansfield Road can threaten to become almost too full of life, if that’s possible. Perhaps it isn’t. But from the city centre to where it meets Forest Road it’s a great stretch, and always makes me feel alive. It’s never quiet. A few weeks ago I wrote a poem which was sort of about it – at least, as close to being about it as I’m likely to come.


The toilets on the Mansfield Road
perfume the air and if you spend
too long outside them you’ll be
on your knees. I think people live
in there. Once I heard singing
come from inside but not exact
words. I was hurrying home
after a movie I’d been told was
great and disappointment
weighed heavy upon me. People
live in toilets. They whisper
romantic crap to each other
and share the evenings. Some
of the fast food outlets on
the Mansfield Road fall short of
any reasonable hygiene standard
you can think of. I can’t believe
we bought food from them. It was
because they were open and
we are weak. Much of life extends
beyond our life. The graveyard is
newly mown. People fall asleep
there when the sun shines. Down
the hill is towards home. A tree
has been cut down by workmen.

I’m having trouble with the end of the poem, to be honest. There was a tree they cut down to make way for some new pavement and a bus stop, and at one point before they cut it down it had a sign on it someone had put there which said “Don’t Kill Me”, but I’m worried that in the poem it’s a lot of sentimental crap, and sentimental crap is the last thing I want to write and one of the first things I slap other people for. The movie in the poem was “Lost in Translation”, by the way. Jez and I are forging a career out of going to crap movies; we were beginning to think this was the only kind of movie there was. But last night’s was better than okay, although I’ve almost forgotten about it already.


Today I’ve been reading the reviews in the latest issue of “Tears in the Fence”. It always seems to take me ages to get around to reading poetry magazines, because even the ones I like have lots of things in them I don’t like, and I’m hesitant about doing something I know I’m going to not like much. This issue has been here a few weeks now, but I get there in the end. There’s some interesting stuff to do with Andre Breton and Jackson Pollock, and also John James, whose “Collected Poems” is out from Salt. I read James when I was at University, but have kind of lost track. I should get back there, because he’s really good: one of those Englishmen who took from the New York School but remained elegantly English and individual.

Speaking of Salt --

Rupert Loydell’s Stride has a new website. Or at least, Stride Books has a new website, which you can get to from here. And from there you can link to the Stride magazine site, Rupert’s blog, and also buy Stride books with your credit card via the Salt Publishing Bookstore site. It’s all very neat and attractive and worth a visit. As always, the latest things at Stride magazine, which include a review of Allen Fisher and new writing by Luke Kennard, are necessary reads.


My favourite bit of reading this week, however, was from a national newspaper……

“.….. Sue Dibney, wife of Ralph Dibney, better known as Elongated Man from the Justice League…….”

Oh yes: Ralph Dibney, better known as..... Sometimes I think I’m too easily pleased.

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