Thursday, 23 July 2009

A Relaxed Day

So, the alarm went off at 7am, so that I might get up, pull my ecru-coloured hessian meditation robe about me, make some fresh lemon verbena tea and do half an hour of zazen before breakfast.

That was the plan. In fact, I went straight back to sleep, and I dreamed a dream. I was living in an alternate universe in which Shakespeare, rather than being a historical person living from 1564-1616, was a kind of ectoplasmic disembodied poetic cuckoo. He would appear through other poets over the centuries and use them to dictate his work. So imagine how surprised I was when---just as Yeats and I were really getting into discussing A Vision by the fire in Dublin---Antony and Cleopatra came through all unbidden, and poor old William Butler had to spend the next two hours in a trance, writing the damn thing out.

My dream was interrupted by the cleaner knocking on my bedroom door, having let herself into my flat. 'Ghaaurhhh!' screamed I, jolted awake and realising to my horror that it was 9.51am. (I had been up till after 2 last night, reading A Guide to Chaucer's Language, so I have some excuse.) I staggered out of bed, the nice Polish cleaning lady for her part got to work, and because I am obsessively tidy she was done before I'd drunk half of my breakfast tea. (Rooibos, as I like the taste.) More tea, then a brief round up of the blogosphere and email, until 10.45am--I'd normally be at this stage two hours earlier. I then read the proofs of an article of mine on late medieval Welsh poetry which comes out soon, and set to work writing a mini-lecture on the linguistic features of Middle English and multilingualism in medieval Britain. I've been taken on to teach the period 1300-1550 to the English second years next term, and, bugger me, I'm going to do it well if it kills me. I am engaged in a huge volume of reading to get my teaching up to scratch, and am determined to bring some Celtic knowledge to bear on the subject: for example, when writing on medieval drama I shall make sure my students are aware that there were miracle plays and dramatised saints' lives written in Cornish, which would look sophisticated in an exam.

Then I went to the college porters' lodge to check my post just after midday, wandering in through the college gardens. A copy of the late medieval Irish saga Cath Finntragha was waiting for me, as was a bottle of Tauer's extraordinary unisex fragrance L'Air du Desert Marocain. I'd bought the latter online, 'odour unsmelled' as it were, having read dozens of reviews, including a boundlessly impressed one from Tania Sanchez in the wonderful Perfumes: The Guide. I unscrewed the lid in the lodge, and my first feeling was instant rapture. It is exquisite: cedarwood, petitgrain, amber, vanilla, frankincense and styrax, with top notes of cumin. It's both warm and cold, clear and yet smoky. It's deeply sober and curiously uplifting, with a faint smell of a cool, austere old church in which incense has been recently burned. Wearing it, I feel like all my neurons are about to break out spontaneously into Spem in Alium.

I then opened a snotty letter from the bank (overdrawn by £20, slapped wrist for Bo) and wandered into town. I stopped by Galloway & Porter, where I bought Moby Dick and Don Quixote in the Oxford World's Classics series, along with Jan Morris' Europe, Notes from Underground and Between the Acts, plus John Felstiner's new, interesting-looking Can Poetry Save the Earth? A Field Guide to Nature Poems. A sandwich and a coffee at Pret-a-Manger later, I went to the English Faculty to return a couple of books. Then at 2pm I went to a colleague's house to see my old PhD supervisor, who was in Cambridge for the day making maps for his forthcoming volume in the new OUP History of Wales series. The three of us had a delightful chat and catch-up for an hour or so, and I walked him to the train station. Then I came home, unpacked, catalogued and shelved my new volumes, made more Rooibos and did another two and a half hours' work on my (overdue) book. Then another spruce round the internet, more tea, and correspondence: I put a load of washing on, and then, dear reader, I sat down to write this. In a few minutes, I'm going to have a glass of wine and start dinner, having a DVD of Peter Hall's production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream to watch later over my pasta.

Tomorrow, up at 7am. For real, this time.

5 comments:

Titus said...

Ah. Compare and contrast. Woken at 6.30am by pair of 6-year-old boys asking if it's "Mummying up time" yet. Rest of day continues in much the same vein. Am I jealous? You have time to read? A cleaning woman? £20 is an overdraft? You don't smell of Dettol? How many grazed knees can one day generate? Ad infinitum.
I'm jealous, and suspect we inhabit separate spheres. Like the new banner though.
And don't forget "The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyn". Worth it for the title alone.

Bo said...

Oh dear!

Well, I have no kids, and the cleaner comes with the flat because I live in a college flat.

I'll remember the ref!

Titus said...

Not a problem, Bo. I just come here to luxuriate awhile.

Bo said...

:) It was an unusually nice day!

Sovay said...

In a few minutes, I'm going to have a glass of wine and start dinner, having a DVD of Peter Hall's production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream to watch later over my pasta.

I didn't know there was one! (One of the things I am currently pining for is the 1969 DVD of Peter Grimes . . .) Will you write up a report?

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