That time I met Simon Armitage

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.

Robert Frost

I needed to say something but I thought I would cry and if I cried I’d need to explain and that would be hard so I didn’t really say anything. In the end.

But I needed him to know the profound effect his ordinary poems had had on me. Like hearing someone with a similar voice say –

this is the day

this thing that you do

this language that you use

this voice that you have

it is okay

I would hear the the words and my voice and I  longed to sound different.

I wanted to show him that effect he had had, the difference he had made, with his ordinary poems on an ordinary person.

All I could manage was to ask for his signature and then wonder why I said signature not autograph and then why I bothered asking such a question at all considering there he sat and there I stood at the book signing table.

Behind him they sold his books.  Collections of his poetry. I had brought my own. Like a cheapskate at a cheap restaurant holding on to the cheap BYO wine. Free corkage. Bargain.

I felt a wave of guilt for my well loved copies. 

One I had bought on special at a closing down sale.

One was two quid at the Oxfam store in Notting Hill.

I wanted to tell him where I had stumbled on his poems. I wanted him to notice my copies stubbornly ignoring the gleaming newly designed slick covers of his back catalogue. Look at me. A true fan. With the real copies. Battered and read despite the uninspiring cover art. It’s the inside that counts. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or price tag.

But I didn’t say that. In the end.

I just politely asked for a signature.

Polite is boring. His smile didn’t quite reach his eyes.

Before I lined up I did the obligatory browse through the obligatory pop up book store that accompanies such events. Couples in expensive coats who are meant to be seen at such events pondered which book to buy. A woman sighed wearily. Looking was difficult – she didn’t realise there were so many, didn’t know which one to buy. She could have bought them all. I could tell by her umbrella.

Into her sighs I suggested my favourite. This is my favourite, I said. Politely. Of course. She had that umbrella. 

She smiled a non-smile and flicked through my choice. Quickly. Too quickly. Then she put it back.

No, she winced, these are short stories.

No, I said, they are poems.

And I left her to figure it out.

At the book signing table I thought I should tell him that story. But I didn’t. In the end. I asked for his signature and tried to find that thing to say, to make that connection, to have that moment that would make the change –

this is the day.

Suddenly, without warning, the word Inspiration fell out of mouth. A decayed tooth sitting there on the page he was about to sign. Or autograph. Or both. I wanted to pick it up and put it back. But there it was in all its clichéd glory … Inspiration … 

I tripped over an apology but on my way he offered a landing; you write poems? he asked with his voices and his eyes. 

I try, I told him.

We’re all just apprentices, he said.

And I felt like that was okay. In the end.

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Thursday morning

I am doing that thing where you drink a glass of warm water with lemon every morning. Someone told me about it. No, she didn’t just tell me about it, she raved about it. She told me how it Changed Her Life, or at least her mornings, and threw in the word “amazing” a bit. I hate to admit, but I can be very susceptible to that sort of thing; I’m influenced greatly by people’s ravings. It’s why I started watching Game of Thrones. And I have not regretted that. Well, except maybe for the terrible nightmares I have afterwards because, well, the violence … but, you know, it’s worth it – it’s Peter Dinklage and dragons and Peter Dinklage.

Anyway, I am doing this lemon thing. I have managed to remember to do it every morning for a week and I feel good. I don’t know if it is due to the lemon or due to what my mind believes is happening because of the lemon … I also don’t know if that matters.

The thing is though, whenever I smell the lemon I get this craving for the pancakes Mum used to make us when we were kids. English pancakes. They were sort of like crepes. She would throw them on our plates, straight from the pan, and we would add lemon and sugar and wish it would never end. Seriously. You could eat those things forever …

I don’t think that is quite the point of the lemon drink thing. I mean it is all about digestion and detoxing … not sugar and butter and flour and more sugar. Right? I mean, surely the Pancake is the antithesis of the Lemon Water. The Lemon Water is Obi Wan and the Pancake is Darth Vader (or would that be the other way around). Lemon in water is what we are meant to do; lemon on pancakes …

But I drink my lukewarm lemon water and remember the pancakes my food intolerance will no longer let me eat. That little memory alone makes for a nice start to the day – even if you are left craving pancakes and childhood.

 

when life gives you lemons - @jesswheatys

when life gives you lemons – @jesswheatys