Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The three Janes

There are three Janes: Guildford Jane was the first, then Ludlow Jane, then Portslade Jane.
In the space of a week, I've seen them all.
I met Guildford Jane at my first job on the Surrey Daily Advertiser. She was on the village desk with Ann Dent. I was a newcomer, dispatched almost straight away to the Godalming office where I'd stay for what seemed like too long when all the parties were happening in Guildford. I found my way around Surrey's sunken roads and through the Hog's Back fog on my moped, sometimes mistaken for a boy. One morning Guildford Jane turned up at the door of the house where I was lodging with Mandy and Nigel. I'd been at her party the night before. She was with Rebecca, also on the Surrey Ad and an old school friend. Both looked unhappy.
That good looking man I'd been with was Jane's boyfriend. I naively never imagined that he could have been anyone's boyfriend. We became friends. She's still in touch with him too. He has many children.
In a week, Jane's off to a new job. She chucked journalism for cooking on boats and is off to Oban.
I met Ludlow Jane at a party somewhere in Godalming and we re-met again when I moved to Brighton. On my first night in my new flat, I wandered up to Hanover from Campbell Road. The rain was torrential. Ellen and Jane were waiting with wine. Jane and I, both single, hit Brighton's clubs together. We somehow carried a cast iron fireplace into my front room, we bemoaned being single, we had children.
This weekend, Jane and I listened to poetry together in Much Wenlock and on Sunday walked in the woods near Ludlow with her dogs.
Portslade Jane and I went to the Avignon Festival with Fabrica Gallery years ago and that was the start of our collaboration and friendship that often involves many steepings of tea, eating and vinho verde. I'll see Jane today at a reading group in the gallery after the life class she runs.
A young woman at the poetry festival asked, after my reading, what I thought the future was like for young poets. I answered but afterwards wished I'd said that each generation finds its own solutions and keeps on doing that.
Do we mistake poetry for a being with its own mind? Poems come from the life I share with my friends, my family. Big questions about the art seem so far away from why those cucumber seeds haven't germinated and what I talk about with the three Janes.
Make friends, I wish I'd said. But she knows that.