Saturday, November 23, 2013

Woman's eyes as telescope

A friend, a fellow poet who teaches, is overwhelmed with work as are many in full-time jobs. And yet whenever other friends gather round the kitchen table, all we can talk about is the absence of work, rising overdraft, invisibility.
Economics students, I read somewhere, are beginning to ask for lectures on alternatives to the model that is failing some of us so dramatically.
A wet morning in south Wales. I was visiting one of my oldest friends Helen (whom I've recently rediscovered in France) when she was living in a cabin in Tipi Valley.
My gorgeous first car, a Morris Traveller, didn't like the damp but Nigel, whose house I was lodging in at the time, always reassured me that it had the simplest engine. In fact he took the engine out once for me to replace the head gasket. The engine was so simple that there were two easy solutions when it wouldn't start - one was to bash the starter motor with a hammer. Nigel, a science teacher and subsequently writer of science textbooks, always had a knack of explaining how things worked. The hammer was his solution - why did it work? It disturbed the metal filings clogging up the motor.
The other solution related to spark plugs. I suspect modern engines don't have spark plugs, but there were four (I think) in the Morris Traveller engine. These were the problem in the damp. But they could be over-ridden by the starter handle.
So there I was with a car that wouldn't start, unable to ring the AA (it was a time before mobiles). I tried the starter handle. It worked. The engine made the right noise and I was off.
I trust that my memory's coughed up a working metaphor and there is a starter handle solution to the most serious lack of work I've experienced, or perhaps it's a hammer solution? I can't decide which describes the Writers' Masterclass, a series of small, six person workshops I'm planning (details on my workshop book blog).
What I do know is I'm going to have to turn and/or bash something.
In preparing for those two possibilities, I was going through old notebooks and rediscovered the list that accompanies my book title. It is optimistic, suggests possibilities, as does the continuing existence of Tipi Valley and the influence it exerted.
Woman's Head as Jug on Kindle: