What is it about man’s connection with this earth? I truly believe we are walking with angels and cosmic energies stream down into our brains and down to our feet. Ancestral connections, and the feeling of having arrived home when first putting foot on England’s ancient soil, have spooked many a colonial returning. But a lot has to do with our intrinsic connection to culture; what is created, and who created it. Man doesn’t only leave behind oil slicks and empty coke bottles.
And, thank you, Kevin Ireland! ... I was in Paris recently, gazing at Rodin’s Kissers and Picasso’s big-hootered ladies and the outlandish big-uddered goat, and then on to the basement of Galleries Lafayette, shopping with my 15 year old daughter. Jeune Fille
, as the name implies, is the whole area devoted to her, and moi – I am the Beleagured Male Shopping Companion – a BMSC , new word, a Bimpsk, that’s me!
Back on the Metro, squeezing past lanky Italian teen-models hunting assignments in packs of two; out at St.Paul and up to The Marais and footsore by the time I applied a sneaky gaze at the classic Parisienne hookers on Rue St. Denis. All that jazz; the dazzling Max Factor complexity of the lives of this ancient city’s inhabitants and time passing unnoticed by the buildings and food…..till you get to the Père Lachaise cemetery and it’s monstrous erections to all the prominently dead Parisians, with Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde thrown in for good measure.
Thank you Kevin Ireland for the brilliant technical light you shone on Sir Thomas Wyatt’s
poem, They Flee from me that sometime did me Seek
for what does it mean when we go for that aimless, decadent (every10 years) injection of culture, shuffling with the other millions of culture-gazers through the halls of past Regimes and tickets into the bowels of all those Mona Lisas. It means we are there! And do you feel it?
Wyatt’s poem is set in London round about the 1530’s, not Paris today, but it helps, although the poem has nothing to do with travel. It’s about what went on inside the head of a renaissance man. And, I did not read Kevin Ireland’s piece in a publication until I returned to Auckland, a month later, which is a month earlier… from today. And poor old London was squeezed in between, somewhere after Marseille.
As an English Major in Renaissance poetry in 1989, I carried a pocket edition of Wyatt everywhere I went. In that little pocket was the rampant flush of uncontained desire and its denial, for that is essentially Wyatt; his pained, conflicted confessionals of sexuality and betrayal in the court of King Henry VIII, promiscuity tiptoeing through stone corridors under the unsettling surveillance of the Tower.
And, to which you added, Kevin, ‘its message, style and stance are stunningly fresh’, comparing ‘the past with the present, pleasure with regret, tenderness with rage, giving with receiving, insinuation with desertion, and a domestic and intimate physicality with a vague sense of existing in perilous times’……and isn’t that just what traveling with your wife and 15-year-old daughter could be like? Well, that was shopping at the very expensive Bon Marché in St. Germaine, the new un-hip part of the left bank.
I refer to Dear to Me – 100 New Zealanders write about their favourite poems
, nothing less than a substantial collection of a vast range of English poetry, and a magnificent scope of Kiwi celebs, apart from Kevin – Bob Jones, Bill Gruar, Helen Clark, Lance O’Sullivan, Otis Frizzell, John Tamihere, Dave Dobbyn – and their variefied commentaries.
All very entertaining and deliciously honest. You gotta’ read Bob Jones’s piece on Shelley’s Ozymandias
, then skip to the bejandalled one, Chris Knox’s shameless promo of an ancient song lyric from the bloody Mainland! The Jean Paul Sartre Experience’s Flex
(sorry Chris, but you won again, it is actually brilliant) and I sneaked in with the cream and popped up with my gay Manhattan friend, Frank O’Hara whose poem The Day Lady Died
, I chose. Read that, and you’ll see the very gay academic in me!
Amnesty International and the girls at Auckland Grammar, who were responsible for the production of this important book of poems, asked me to play at the launch, a week after landing back home – LA being the last shopping diversion – ‘I wanna go to Melrose Ave; Na! I wanna go to 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica!!’
Being of a withdrawn nature, I was honoured and flattered, and determined to deliver an appropriate piece. I chose – a relief after having to undergo the inertia of indecision of choice between 100 designs of Calvin Klein underwear in Galleries Lafayette Homme – a sneaky little ballad off my recent album of tunes, ‘HOOK’, from 2003, ‘Savage Little World,’ as I had managed to paint a picture of Kiwi innocence juxtaposed with the slaughter of children in war zones……
Barbeques and caravans
Jelly-tips and Superman
Tennis ball cricket on the beach
But don’t you know on the Ivory Coast
On the long hot summer days
Is a killing field
And the Jelly-tip’s a gun
I know, Kevin, the rhyming scheme falls off at the end. We have to impose a plodding angularity on a song lyric to suit the musical tempo and feel – a bit like Wyatt. His poems were also song lyrics meant to accompany ‘the lascivious pleasings of a Lute’ [WS].
Well, we’re back in the studio very soon, and I can give you some working titles of some tunes we’re working up; My House, Feed de Dog, Legwax of the Heart, Bric a Brac Shop, Bungalow Ave, The i Crowd, Tiny Voices…. We are rockier, funkier than ever, with Ricky and Paul taking a more active role. And, taking Ponsonby reggae on a journey towards Calypso. This is geographically an Auckland record and we mean to be dirty! Cos’ we’re old, and cos’ we can! And watch out for the book...