I’d like to wish everybody a merry Christmas and a happy New Year – but that’s so difficult this year. The febrile excitement among the over eighties (faint reverberations of what they must have felt when they got their bus passes two decades ago) for the forthcoming vaccine is a pretty good indication of how bad it has been. It's also clear that Boris (Bo in my mythology) is trying to wish us a Covid Christmas and a Brexit New Year: two blasts of unrelated, coincidental, chaos (even with his U-Turn on his 'Geronticidal Yuletide Rules'). These are the themes of my latest writings.
My own shield, in a sense, has been the writing of Book Three of ‘The English Strain’ project, poems which started with the comedy of Brexit that quickly crashed into the tragedy of Covid. You can trace it in the poems, week by week, over the year, that I have been temporarily posting, and permanently commenting upon. At the moment I am writing the last part of the projected poems. Here’s one of my reports, a hub post as I call it, about Book Three (British Standards) in progress : https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/11/weird-syrup-final-keats-variation.html . You can see that I have been ‘versioning’ the Romantics’ sonnets.
What a pleasure then that book two, Bad Idea, versions of Michael Drayton’s 1619 sonnet sequence Idea, is now available, just what we need, a 2021 book (publication date April) today. ‘Bad Idea’ is a naughty version of Drayton’s muse, Idea, but also a sequence about a very bad idea, Brexit. Here’s me reading the only 'Christmassy' poem in the collection, from a copy that arrived the other day!
That poem was written two Christmasses ago, about the time that I wrote the following skit, Go’s message to the Dogging Community (the idea that all Britain will have left after Brexit is its native national sport has been a developing strain!). What a different world, where the once sacred dogging sites of the Kentish Yeomanry have been dug up to make a Brexit Lorry Park to deal with the congestion and chaos: Pages: Christmas Message from the Right Hon M. Go, secretary of Rural Affairs, the post-Brexit Dogging Agency (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)
Bad Idea, although dated 2021, is available now from Knives Forks and Spoons, and you may buy it HERE: https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/bad-idea-by-robert-sheppard-102-pages
See also my subsequent post:
The lurid cover by Patricia Farrell is just about right, and even more lurid in the flesh! (The cover, not Patricia, that is!) During composition, I wrote about Bad Idea here . (The final part of Bad Idea is slightly different; called ‘Idea’s Mirror’; that’s described here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/12/my-last-ideas-mirror-post-election-poem.html ).
Just before I sign off for my Christmas break, here’s a link to a post that describes Book One of the project, simply called The English Strain, whose proofs I have today sent back to Tony Frazer to correct for publication by Shearsman Books. Pages: Robert Sheppard: the Petrarch sonnet project finished with poem 100 In case you are confused, 'The English Strain' sonnet project consists of
1. The English Strain (Shearsman, forthcoming)
2. Bad Idea (Knives, Forks and Spoons, available now for 2021)
3. British Standards (work in progress)
See you in 2021 after my winterval break...