Seal poem, (s)old bike and Clive James interview

In my poetry calendar on Wednesday, was John Fuller’s Seal at Carreg Ddu. It compares the look of the seal on the rocks “like a half blown balloon” and the female seal “waddles to the waves,/Kilos of whiskered blubber”. The final verse is even more precisely descriptive and animated: “But look! Once in the water/Like a bullet she is free,/All muscle, all shoulders/Tunnelling through the sea. Fuller’s use of the word tunnelling makes this, for me, a great poem. In one word, he creates a video for the reader – of the seal arrowing through the water. If the seal was a huge earth moving rotator, it would be a speeded up form, creating a tunnel in seconds, instead of months. Carreg Ddu is an island off the coast of Wales. My poetry calendar ran from 2011 t0 2013 but I still turn the page every day. I might have a go at creating my own online poetry calendar – watch this space. Photo 1 has appeared on the blog before but it’s worth including again.

Seal in Dunbar Harbour

Seal in Dunbar Harbour


My cycling mate John, who has five bikes in his sheds, is a strong advocate of not selling your present bike when you buy a new one. Why? Well, just in case… What if … You never know the day… We only have garage space and as of last night, there were my two road bikes, my mountain bike and my wife’s bike. I decided to sell my older road bike. I advertised it on Gumtree and within an hour, I had a query about the bike frame size (you measure the length of the seat tube). I replied and got another email asking if James (from Dunfermline) could come to  see the bike. He arrived at 8.30pm and bought the bike. He even sent me a text today, saying that he had just completed his first proper bike ride on the Giant OCR and he thought it was brilliant. How good was that? Here is what James bought for (an absolute snip at) £150.

My old Giant OCR bike

My old Giant OCR bike


Out on my new bike earlier in the week, I listened to a download of Start the Week   – a Monday morning radio programme, in which there is usually a panel of people discussing a topic (e.g. nationality, culture, history etc). I’d missed the programme over the festive period but was delighted to see that, when I scrolled down the episodes, there was a whole show devoted to an interview with Clive James.   This writer – of prose, poetry and journalism – and broadcaster on TV and radio, has been a favourite of mine over four decades. I first started reading him when he was the TV critic of The Observer a UK Sunday newspaper. Some of his funniest articles were on the US TV series Dallas, about rich oil men and their shenanigans with oil and with other people’s wives. James’ keen ear for dialogue and pronunciation was brilliantly illustrated in the article Someone shart JR . In the article, Sue Ellen keeps her gern in a drawer and James ended the section by writing “Don’t be surprised if the sheriff turns up with a wornt for her arrest. There could be a tornt of wornts. ” He is also a very accomplished poet, so check out the radio programme and make an extended visit to the Clive James website.



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