Happy Summer Solstice. Time to write something a little less mysterious.
As the years pass by I’m believing more and more in Vivaldi’s depiction of summer, and becoming less ashamed of enjoying the clichés. London was at a violent temperature yesterday – 34.C. Mosquitos have already made a dance floor of my legs: clusters of mini gunshots along my calves and thighs. Damn these hungry, inebriated beasts. I am forced to douse myself with fēng yóu jīng and sprinkle it on my mattress. I leave the tiny bottle open on my bedside table; hopefully the fumes of magic, anti-demon potion will keep the evil spirits away.
Each day we wake up as if we’ve been wearing thermals in bed. We are hot from the air and the weight of time, then we cover ourselves against the ammunition of the sun. Hot hot hot. Layers and layers of chain mail.
Chainmail, Amartey Golding
In the Four Seasons, Vivaldi writes of a summer that rouses our blood and our propensity for violence. Violence and conflict, like the friction of two sticks, rub sparks, make fires. That much we have seen in London throughout June. From terrorists mowing people down on pavements, hitting worshippers at mosque, to the fires of nightmares; not to mention the news that is overshadowed by the blazing headlines and the offences that never get reported by the public…
I’ve just submitted a law essay which I believe has redirected me onto the path to Enlightenment, and I need to stop everything that I’m doing in order to write down what’s in my head. Brace yourselves…
And then he said to me, ‘Isn’t it funny we’re all just people walking around trying to put on appearances. . .’
‘I’m gonna grow a moustache and start smoking. It’s just another way to meet new people.’
a girl around LSE
carries great quantities three
offensive boring dams to
the current of her fighting
walk a snail-trail of droplets
whilst the trees falling sorely
out her hands save the trees don’t
let them go she thought as he
asked to help the dam problem
don’t leave twigs behind don’t mix
leaves up as she searched for her
silent library card
Glowing laptop screen –
my thirsty eyes in search of
a fresh cigarette.
It was a few weeks ago that I had the idea of mixing both English and French in a poem, and wowee last night it just appeared out of nowhere from the depths of my difficult slumber. And when I started reading over this patch of unexpected word vomit I broke into a laughing fit, which has also never ever happened to me with regards to my writing. I’ve rarely written something this strange, so please share your thoughts about it with the Noggin.
The events in the second poem did not happen to me personally.
I’m not very good at Haikus. That one there was a last minute addition.
Look after yourself and one another.
Take some time on your balcony.
You grab the frogspawn of the cosy pond and chuck it onto the ground like a bunch of black marbles. You take our friends away with a click of the spiky latch of the door by sucking the air out of their bedrooms; the only syllable I’ll hear from them and not even uttered by a human mouth. Continue reading →
I remember when the word University looked like a big mountain and
I remember when you shouted me into doing this degree after looking at all the Linguistics books I’d borrowed from the Central Library in Edinburgh.
I remember emancipation from music school, a place that flung me into the sky, to blissful, heavenly heights, and threw me back down onto the ground.
I remember how desperate I was to break away from school and everything I used to do, to the point where I was convinced – encouraged to believe – and not entirely by my own hand, that I should change my image and even my own name, for the second time; because having an unusual Chinese name would be an oral obstacle to professional networking and to becoming a success.
I remember during the summer before the great move I had researched, extensively, all the societies I considered joining, even emailing some of them in advance in order to indicate and validate my existence as an enthusiastic, energised new student ready to make her mark in the student community and all that yada-yada.
I remember the day I moved out of home. We packed many, many bags into the car. I had curled my hair with rollers the previous night and my locks had scooped into curls that bounced like the dancers in the flirty fifties. I remember picking utensils from the kitchen in the old house; we were very selective of the number of knives, forks, chopsticks, plates and bowls. My spatula was made of pink rubber with a stainless steel handle. The chopping board was grass green. Continue reading →
I am in a place where I congratulate myself for merely opening my violin case, tuning my strings and fumbling a scale on the fingerboard. If by some miracle I make it any further, my soul seems to shrivel with dissatisfaction and hopelessness into one of those slimy slaves in Ursula’s cave, the name of which is frustratingly hard to find even on such magnanimous search engine like Google.
I want to congeal in a glass case a piece of paralysed Time. In this Time, I will freeze more time, and continue diving into its heart to unearth more sparkling seconds. I want to keep all the milliseconds of taste, emotion and movement, to preserve textures, smells, the angles of the cobbled streets and to dance the rise and fall of the road ahead.
Looking at this glass, admiring it like my own little taxidermic creature, I’d also like to glitter it with something called Joy and Freedom, which I’d describe as a warm weightlessness that overcomes me when I grasp the rhythmic, tonal complexity of a perfectly pronounced French word, fluid and honest in its execution, watch it grace my mouth and tongue and transport a fragment of ‘me’ into the atmosphere that will, at last, be understood and appreciated. Or when the humour and sweetness of friends combines with the delights of French food, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet and a fruity coffee. Or when, on the way to class, you suddenly can’t help but stand up on the pedals of your bike and sing to yourself, and imagine the old bicycle wheels spinning in a stereo like a cassette tape. Continue reading →
People ask me how I am getting on here. It has been a month and the initial jitters have disappeared. I am no longer terrified of finding the right ‘Amphi’ (l’amphithéâtre’ = lecture hall) in campus. I have made friendships from a range of different situations, on my corridor, meeting ERASMUS students, organised language tandem nights and classes. In lectures I can understand 50%, sometimes 70% of what the teacher is saying, which is often at such supersonic speed not even the French students can keep up, reassuring for me to some degree. But at least the lecturers I have this semester are decent oralists, all thoroughly engaging and rigorous. I record all of my classes and re-listen at home, which takes hours and is incredibly boring. Finally I am in France and I want to go out and meet the world but in fact I must do this in order to survive the year and enjoy any hope of passing my exams. Oh God. Continue reading →