Postal strike. Ahhhhh. What memories are evoked. My mother knitting us socks out of unsent bills. My dad making us soles for our shoes from unused stamps. My gran cooking unsent letters for soup. My grandfather hauling unused post boxes back to his shed for kinky stag nights. My uncle going home with a postal worker who he erroneously mistook for a harlot. (And who could blame him? They were all loitering on street corners and well-known to deliver!) My cousins weeping over the mail they knew was never ever going to come from me now. My aunt caught with nothing on except for two exotic stamps that she had intended to send to her new lover. My friend dead from a spit-ball stamp. My other friend lost in Warwickshire after taking it upon himself to deliver a letter to Sweden. My girlfriend studying semaphore and striptease. My other girlfriend deciding to convert from Catholicism to philately. And another girlfriend suddenly discovering I was on the game and writing a furious note denouncing her love for me only to discover there was no post.
Such happy memories. And if there is time tomorrow I shall recount the days of the power strike. And the coalman’s strike. And the leek strike. And the bordello strike on Cwm Ivor Road caused by the discovery of my drag queen uncle who had been masquerading as the Whore of Bangor, ancient city in Mesopotamia. The working doxies just couldn’t abide geographical errors so walked out, petitioning the town to have my uncle be know correctly as the Whore of Babylon.
(I’ll bet you Baudelaire, I’ll have a French companion.)
I’m not swayed by the argument that writing needs to be accessible to work. I think a reader has just as much responsibility for putting in time and effort to a book as the writer does. (Although, obviously, the writer has more of a duty.) Accessible makes me think of revolving doors. You’re in and out in no time. The enjoyment of a book should be how long it holds you in its short-lived read. It should allow a reader entry, of course, but then the experience of it should be a room with a chair that never lets you go. And it should be capable of stripping you before a mirror for a good long look.
My ambition is to write a book with all the terrible, wonderful roar of life. I hope I’m up to it. Not just hanging around in my linens on the line. Daft wind blowing down from the cold heights of dizziness. Got to feel it in the marrow. Or hear it bounce off an invisible echo-wall far off in curved space and listen for that rhythmic bouncing of a ball.
Ted Hughes said that writing poetry is like stalking an animal and being utterly patient and focused and swift. I think the same applies to fiction. Although it’s a more protracted stalking. And in poetry you are stalking something bigger in a smaller space, I think. Whereas in fiction you can still be stalking something big but it’s over a greater space, a tundra as apposed to an atom.