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In and Out of the Dark Mud Bath

Sphinx 12 has gone out in all its waspy colours to those and such as those. As usual, the posting process took longer than I could possibly have believed, but it is done.

So it's back to the poetry pamphlets: Jeremy Page's In and Out of the Dark Wood is just about done. The second draft went in the post to him yesterday. David Ford's Punch is sitting in front of me. These two should be printed in May.

Meanwhile, I have been working on a Selected Ruth Pitter for some time and must get back to that because it will be a lovely thing to have out. It will include a small number of unpublished poems, which may create a little additional interest -- that will be thanks to Thomas McKean who copied many poems out of Ruth's notebooks during his visits to her home. It has been very interesting to see the steady trickle of orders coming in for the Conversation with RP -- one never knows how the word gets round but round it does get. And readers have liked it very much, which is gratifying (though not surprising).

Another diversion has been a family publication titled Night Brings Home The Crowes, which is my mother's memoir about her grandmother's family, the Crowes, of which there were eleven children -- twelve if you count the one who died as a baby. She has been writing up the anecdotes and collecting information about them for at least ten years. Finally, it is all coming together as a pamphlet publication (Sally Evans led the way) but even the family tree, on which much work has already been done, is more complicated than I could have thought. I am not a genealogist but have begun to look at how this family research stuff works. I keep thinking about those seven women in Africa, to whom we are all originally (allegedly) related . . .

And all the while the garden is unfolding into Spring.


Thinking about mud baths . . .

Soon the new fence will have things growing up it again. The honeysuckle is recovering. The old clematis has brave little shoots here and there: I am keeping an eye on them. This morning we have rain, but this garden needs the rain so I'm glad of it. I bought a little crab apple tree in Aldi for a fiver, because I've always wanted one. It is sitting in a bucket, waiting for me to dig a deep hole, which may prove difficult. We'll see. I remember the stones just under the top soil the last time. Digging to Australia in this garden would not be an easy task.

One of our games in the summer when we were children was 'mud baths'. This entailed water (water being the underlying necessity of many serious games) and piles of newly dug (stoneless) earth. First you dig a deep hole, which you half fill with water. Then you put some of the nice loose earth back into the hole, mix the earth and water carefully to the right consistency, spread it over your legs, from foot to thigh and sit in the sun for some time, processing the sensation of mud caking your skin. You watch it start to dry and crack (because your days are endless and you have acres of time to spend on nothing else than this). Finally your sibling, who is playing the role of Mud-bath Attendant, gets the watering can and rinses the mud away. You feel renewed. You feel you could write the reviews that are waiting for your attention. Oops, sudden time jump there . . .

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Preparing for the 8th funeral
Spring arrives, and so does Sphinx 12


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Friday, 09 December 2022