Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I have a hardback copy of Commandments on the table by my bed. It was at the post office, waiting for me when I arrived home from the Tribe of Doris, my annual outing to the Blackdown Hills with the kids. It's also a chance to meet Pete, Alison, Isla, Iwan, Graham, Ursula and Dan. How comforting those names are, back in Brighton, without woodsmoke under the full moon and tin mugs of red wine.

At Doris I danced and promised myself salsa lessons in winter, if only to try and become more familiar with my left and right, improve my co-ordination and shake my bum more often. I had a taster of Maghrebi dance, new to me and very sensual. It's associated with rai music and is subtler than bellydancing. My teacher, Amel, is a Sufi, so she also showed us how to spin, promising a point when you feel at one with the universe. I didn't get there, quite, but I could see how you might. At one point everything sparkled but the music stopped and the thread was broken.

Amel's classes were the most stimulating of the week for me. It's dance for the older woman - liberating, unselfconscious, witty, wise. I dabbled in one session of Brazilian percussion and got to grips with south African gumboot dance, too. It was a week when words were set aside, as sometimes they need to be, in favour of the body's other languages.

Also waiting for us were Jane and Erdem, Aysha, Dide and Kaya, good friends who are now in Ludlow after several years in Turkey. They were looking after the house, catching up with mates in Brighton and stayed on so we could grab time together before term starts again and we all become trapped in routine. Jane is one of my oldest and dearest friends, so it was wonderful she was here to toast the first copy of Commandments with a cup of tea in the back garden. She's seen quite a few of the poems in the book in their early stages and was an enthusiastic nightclub companion when I first moved to Brighton and neither of us had children.