Apparently, when the monarch dies, the royal beekeeper has to go and tell the bees of their passing. They have to ask the bees not to fly away and to keep making honey. Because, a new monarch will be along shortly who will look after them just as well as the last one. True story.
Anyway, I thought I’d write a poem about this bewildering event. And, in doing so, may have inadvertently stumbled across the title of my next collection of poetry!
I found one the other day, while I was emptying boxes, that an old girlfriend had made for me in the 90s. I couldn’t play it, of course, as I don’t have a tape deck anymore. Or a record player. Or a CD player. In fact, I don’t ‘physically’ own any music. It’s all in the ether. Intangible. Owned by Apple, Spotify, Youtube or some other super corporation.
It got me thinking about how I would go about making one now, if I felt the urge to translate my love through the medium of music to my new-found paramour.
So I wrote a poem about it. As you do.
Then I had an epiphany!
Why not go ahead and actually make the mix tape as part of the poem.
For ‘mix tape’, I mean playlist, obviously. So, here you are.
(The link to the playlist is at the end.)
By David Milligan-Croft
Don’t talk to me about love;
I was making mix tapes before you were born.
Speaking of which, just how old are you?
I may look old, but inside, I feel 33 1/3.
It was easier to record from vinyl.
That way you could avoid abrupt endings.
Fade in, fade out, like a Grandmaster Flash.
If you were slick, you might include excerpts
Of dialogue from old movies,
Or from great speeches like- ‘I have a dream!’
…That one day you’ll kiss me!
(Not sure that’s what MLK had in mind.)
Recording off the radio was an art form.
You’d need the dexterity of a nuclear fission scientist
And a Watergate wiretapper to operate
Play, pause and record simultaneously,
Before some schmaltzy DJ chimed in with his drivel.
And if your tape got chewed up
From too much stopping and starting,
You’d have to pull it all out until you found the kinks,
Straighten it, then stick a pencil in the spool
And rewind it all back in again.
Praying it doesn’t happen while she’s listening to
Je t’aime moi non plus.
I hope you like it.
It took me a whole weekend to put together.
Quite good fun though. Reminiscing, and all that.
I imagine you listening to it in your bedroom.
Lying on your bed, looking up at the ceiling.
Your long, velvet hair cascading over the pillow,
Thinking of me, thinking of you.
Except we’re not Gainsbourg and Birkin.
The lyrics say things I never could,
Would or should. And are more self-indulgent
Than a box of Thorntons. But what can I do?
I’m just a 20th Century Boy in love with a 21st century girl.
Sally Mann is an American photographer who courted controversy with her ‘family life‘ series, due to nude depictions of her children growing up at their home in Virginia. And whether the photographs overtly sexualised children.
I haven’t included those shots here, but if you want to, you can see them by visiting Sally Mann’s website. In my opinion they are beautiful and sensitive. And many of us will recognise moments like them from our own children growing up. The controversy isn’t really about child nudity but more about consent to put them in the public domain.
Regardless of this, Mann’s work is challenging, provocative and defiant. And her compositions raise more questions than answers. Below is a selection of powerful shots I wanted to share with the class.
Friday is Library Day for patients on Arden Ward at Stepping Hill Hospital.
And, if you didn’t know already, reading is very good for your mental health. (Probably not if it’s by Piers Morgan or the Tory party manifesto, mind.)
Reading quality literature and poetry, however, is proven to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Quite serendipitously, I came across this collection of poetry by Mary Dickins entitled Happiness FM. I thought her poem, ‘How to administer a poem in an emergency’ was perfectly apt for the group. So, I thought I’d share it with you.
And here is the poem from whence the collection takes its name.
Of course, our visits to the library aren’t just about reading. They’re about social interaction and doing other mindful activities.
I first became aware of Aimee Mann via her soundtrack for P.T. Anderson’s sensational ensemble movie “Magnolia”.
In fact, Anderson said it was Mann’s lyrics that inspired the screenplay. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. It features an array of fabulous actors, including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, John C. Riley, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters and a sublime acting masterclass from Tom Cruise. Here’s the trailer:
But it’s Aimee Mann’s classic, ‘literate lyricism’ that I want to revisit. Anderson actually used her lyrics as a dialogue in the movie for Claudia’s character played by Melora Walters:
“Now that I’ve met you,
would you object to,
never seeing each other again?”
Here are three of my favourite songs from the soundtrack, but this time from Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse, which I hadn’t seen before, so I wanted to share them with the class.
And now, from the movie…
with the entire ensemble.
And here she is doing a cover of The Cars’ classic, ‘Drive’ about self-denial and facing up to alcoholism.
(You can still watch it, just click on the link to YouTube.)