Sunday, September 01, 2019

Retirement: Mine and Roy Bayfield's: Remix of Words Out of Time (set list)

Two years ago I retired. You can look back at my account of my ‘first day of freedom’, AND at my retirement ‘do’ rap. and my thoughts after a year, here:

This year it was the turn of Roy Bayfield, (and of Ailsa Cox earlier in  the summer) who is also a member of the Poetry and Poetics Research Group, and whose poems I selected for my guest editorship of Stride (see here:
This is the cover of the booklet of imaginary events put together for Roy's leaving do, in the style of the Edge Hill Arts Centre publicity!

I was invited by Cathy Butterworth to read something at his 'do' and I thought I’d read this introduction and then this re-mix from my book Words Out of Time. In the event it was too long so I read something else. But here it is:

Roy’s book Desire Paths: Real Walks to Nonreal Places (Axminster: Triarchy Press, 2016) is a glorious exploration of – as it says on the tin – Nonreal Places. More on that book Here

Roy like me, is a South Coast poet: he comes from Portslade in East Sussex and I come from the next town along, Southwick in West Sussex.  I think it would take about 20 minutes to walk from the house where I grew up to the house where he grew up. In one paragraph he quotes me and explains the Southwick/Portslade dichotomy:

‘I don’t remember seeing Portslade on the radar screen…’ wrote Robert Sheppard in his chapbook The Given – a moment forgotten by the writer but remembered in a journal entry from an earlier decade. Robert was raised in Southwick, the town next to Portslade, and such dismissal is perhaps to be expected from the rival place, across the border in West Sussex. Admittedly, Portslade may not be on many people’s radars, at least not consciously so. (Bayfield 2016: 25)

He explains further:

As a child, the border between East and West Sussex, Portslade and Southwick, running at the back of our garden, defined by a footpath and a row of electricity pylons, seemed like such a line. Merely by virtue of being on the other side of the line, Southwick seemed slightly uncanny. (28)

I’d like to offer a special ‘Portslade/Southwick Remix’ of my text that Roy refers to, The Given, for Roy, and to wish him many psychogeographical explorations of uncanny nonplaces, wherever he may find them:

Portslade/Southwick Remix

I don’t remember going to the Grenada in Portland Road, Hove, don’t recall the film on show, and don’t remember, on the same day, seeing a play, or its plot, or its title. A frame set up, years later, by others. Coal dust on the doorframe, where the hood catches it. A dozen or so knapped flints pushed into the earth: a Roman road straight across the horses’ field, the wheat, the ridge of the Downs. Nazis machine-gun the cheese crates and screaming POWs leap up to their deaths. The pebbly beach beneath the Brighton B power station will do. An aluminium bowl of wasted food before which feeding is practised with moral intensity. I don’t remember the thunderstorm I watched from my window, lightning flashes over Southwick, flickering, striking ground. After the toad in the witness box, real policemen arrive to investigate stolen buttons, the wrecked foreign car. I don’t remember trying to buy This is Blues and finding the record sleeve contained only cardboard. I don’t remember tracking Radio 260 through the streets of Southwick, the ‘common’ English of the DJs, the warning that they’d cut up rough if we found them. The desire to write is the desire to write. I don’t remember reading The Day of the Triffids. I don’t remember watching colour TV. I don’t remember seeing Portslade on the radar screen, don’t remember the visit to HMS Collingwood. I don’t remember being shot at by somebody from a van. I remember the Ruby wine at the Romans, the way the barman would loll his tongue from the side of his mouth as he poured the soupy chemical liquid into Tony’s bottles. I don’t remember Doll and Arthur’s caravan at Selsey. I don’t remember getting a harmonica with Green Shield stamps. I don’t remember David’s bottled fish. I don’t remember Emerson Lake and Palmer playing a tribute to Hendrix at the Dome. I don’t remember seeing a band called Vomit. I don’t remember playing my tape of The Waste Land to an empty room. I don’t remember when poems became a currency. I don’t remember a girl called Annie flashing on Toby’s houseboat. I don’t remember writing a poem about Bill Butler’s Unicorn Bookshop. I don’t remember the night that was not particularly memorable. I don’t remember the Scottish woman who helped me at Metal Box in Fishersgate. I don’t remember sitting in Southwick Rest Garden to read Wilfred Owen. I don’t remember dancing with a girl with a big nose whose brother was a surrealist. I don’t remember that I bought Bomb Culture the day I saw Country Joe and The Fish. I don’t remember Tony arriving at 15 Oakapple Road, Southwick, with a letter from Henri Chopin. I don’t remember the German sailor dead drunk on the steps of the Crown and Anchor. I don’t remember the clever-dick who wanted to know why the Newhaven-Dieppe crossings were more expensive than the Dover-Calais ones. I don’t remember seeing the Doctors of Madness again, not getting it the second time, that blue-haired zeitgeister Kid Strange. I don’t remember reading Iain Sinclair’s Lud Heat in the swelter of ’76. I don’t remember Flatfoot at The Alhambra. I don’t remember the disco to celebrate Franco’s death. I don’t remember laughing at the statue of the past Mayor of Brighton. I don’t remember jumbling the verses of ‘Travelling Riverside Blues’, our first gig at the Burrell Arms in Shoreham. I don’t remember climbing Chanctonbury Ring, the moon rising, ensanguined, over charmed hills…

Remix July 2019: for Roy

This is not the first remix from Words Out of Time on this blog. I did a special remix as part of the eulogy to my mother (see here) and a presented continuation of the final part ‘Work’ to the day of my retirement, here. More on that here. Read my account of writing The Given, the part used for Roy’s remix here.  There are even some outtakes here, stretches of 'When' that didn't make the final edit, here. It is an extraordinary flexible text to form and re-form.

Words Out of Time is still in print and may be read about and purchased here:

So what did I read for Roy?

Well. I decided to play with his notion of Southwick being ‘uncanny’, and I more or less said what I’d already written as intro to the remix above, and then read one of the Charlotte Smith Sussex 'Brexit' sonnets or overdubs, ‘Composed during a walk on the Downs’. It may be read here, along with other poems from the sequence: It’s the second poem down:

It also seems appropriate to mention this poem because what did I do 50 years ago, according to my 1969 diary which I am blogging each day: 'In afternoon, went over Downs for a walk.'

I write about my sonnets generally here, and here and see here and here for more on my Petrarch obsession,which set this thing off.