Monthly Archives: October 2022

‘A Nest of Singing-Birds’ by Walter de la Mare

“It’s my belief we’re here because we are put; and you might as well be a cabbage as think you have got any say about it.”

So says chatterer girl on a train. Meantime, this story tells of a sensitive budding writer, Hilbert, and his loving mother who buys up his poetry books as if they are a token of a valued OLOGY! — and his poetry is on the cusp with prose, as the act of sleeping is on the dream cusp of waking, I guess.

“The degradation of becoming a bestseller had never even in fancy so much as darkened his mind.”

But he has a thesis that strangers randomly encountered in WDLM’s train journey and its corner seats, a WDLM running theme, that, as well as idyllic stations, and bird life and WDLM-rich evocations of peace before the hum of the rails betokens a train’s arrival … these strangers and their speech being tantamount to poetry and, and if their speaking to him passed his thesis’ test of intrinsic poetry, he would then give them a free copy of his book entitled PARLEYINGS, rather than leaving copies randomly in various places as he had tried before. Until he realises silence is tantamount to poetry! 

Here, the separate chatting strangers include a railway porter, two gossiping amazon girls, and an old man like me, and a socialist who looks like a junior archdeacon with cherry lips, and the latter’s silent sister whose sexuality perhaps wishfully overpowers Hilbert… 

Just get a gist of its gestalt …

“Why did cabinet ministers so seldom resort in their speeches to blank verse? Simply because their hearts were not in their work.”

“Why, thought Hilbert, watching him, is a green-glassed lantern so magical an object in full daylight? Was it because, like poetry itself, it is of no immediate use? And why, in a dear mediaeval little wayside station like this, where heavy luggage must be scarce, had the porter bow legs?”

“…he detested the thought of talking to strangers; particularly strangers engaged in really practical occupations…”

A railway bridge as a changing picture frame. And a train with a female gender…
“‘She,’ then, was probably not more than a mile away now. Yes, here she came, puffing out delirious clots of wool and advancing on the toy railway station as meditatively as a gigantic snail.”

Time’s tic tac of a septuagenarian like me…
“…the wagtail – nimble Sallie Dishwasher – and had never himself even noticed her shadow; no, nor the tic-tac either.”

“…as far away from the rocking clatter of his surroundings as a sleeping infant would be during a performance of Götterdämmerung.”

A basket woven from WDLM’s ‘bast’. A word I discovered earlier in his stories above.

Then, one of the amazons…
“What I say is, trewth’s trewth; and I don’t care what eavesdroppers perking their ears up in corners unbeknown and shamming doggo may have heard me.”

The archdeacon’s sister…
“…an oval face with highish cheekbones, and eyes and mouth from which a remote smile was now vanishing as softly and secretly as a bird enters and vanishes into its nest.”

A story that satirises creative writers but makes them spiritual, too. This story puts every reader in one of WDLM’s trains as a carriage corner sitter.

“…you see what is called poetry is merely a trying to put into words what can, of course, never, never be really said.”


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FOGTOWN by Attila Veres

“They outgrew music, outgrew youth.”
This is a strong episodic documentary by a series of interviews, showing editorial backdrops and drop-ins, and on-line blogs, a suspenseful journey towards gestalt that actually works, and works powerfully. Of sex and suspended orgasm for eons towards a new caged 4’ 33” and, for me, a blank fiction story called that which was printed in 2002 some have said to have heard of.
Of books being unpublished, and books about unheard rock bands in ratty pubs etc., the eponymous band in particular that reminds me of my own still today continued search in the past for Zelenyj’s Deathray Bradburys even before I read about them! This Fogtown work, too, affected me deeply, but differently.
“…he treated the present as a tomb, as if real life existed only in the past and the present was just suspended animation, a trance-like state of drawn-out death.”


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When Young Meets Old

When, today, the word ‘young’ met the word ‘old’, I knew their letters would dodge and weave, or play catch with each other whereby a mere touch meant those two letters thereafter were stuck together whoever was the one who touched first, and their order controlled by some strange hidden order from above, and then those two letters touched by a shadowy third, and so on, thereafter. And as I watched them play together, I gradually found the word they made today was sadly made. 

It was as if some doom impended from the same place in the sky where their order was pre-set. I normally would move closer to any of these word games in the twilight. I was tired of playing alone on a see-saw, silhouetted against the hills and sky. You see, I had inherited my family’s dare-devilry and I often could not help myself, but I never went close enough to be seen, as I was no part of their wordplay and if my presence was spotted, that may have altered the outcome. But today, I knew some outside influence was needed to alter the game’s trend towards the word ‘ungoodly’ of which I knew ‘old’ and ‘young’ as words could constitute exactly the right letters without overspill or shortage. A part of me knew that this word was not a real word; or if it was real, it was an ancient word no longer used. It felt real enough, though. I then thought of the word ‘ungodly’ which seemed as if it could readily be used today, such as in ‘an ungodly mess’, or ungodly like the devils I dared. Gods couldn’t be ungodly, only ourselves, I thought.

So, then, I let words be what words they would, and I prayed that those others who were hopefully not as foolhardy as me would take the hint and play their games today ‘unbadly’ — which is the best that we could hope. 

Yet, I knew the word was ‘ungoodly’ and indicated (at best or at worst) a ‘best-of-all-possible-worlds’ scenario, not an unmitigated doom, or if a doom at all, a doom with which we can countenance living, a doom that only happened in the usage of past times when mankind hoped that any perceived doom would be indefinitely delayed by the future, an everlasting future when young still meets old, and old still meets young, touching base together on the hillside amidst the golden shafts of a day’s ever-dying sun. And my regular ups and downs silhouetted against it. But who was at the other end I could not touch?

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To Bite A Dog by Attila Veres

“The boy got up on his elbows in the bed. Now it was getting interesting.”

Well, all elbow triggers are like that! A Covid pandemic story, a tale of predator and prey, master and victim, of blood and teeth, of lockdown curfews, of masks and masks of masks, of masks as muzzles, bodily abstractions, and parks at night, and a simple loving relationship between a young man, Zoltán, and a young woman, a relationship become complex and sexually polarised by power, the woman who becomes feral and an instigator of a plague of dog bites amidst the perceived anarchy of the curfews, this having been triggered by her having quelled a dog by biting it on impulse (“the moment she bit the dog her own aura grew”), all eventually evolving into a co-vivid synergy of a double bite that is forced upon the man, quelled himself by becoming a master over animals, growing tall by becoming one of a new plague of pet torturers? No, I think it is arguably Zoltán being induced into a new transgressive code of the Hungarian Kodály Method, as a new Close Encounter after Covid’s social distancing!


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