The first, some kind of opening at Art Vinyl, I heard the Hackney choir sing ‘Sex n drugs n rock n roll’, I think I might join. I was introduced to the editor of The Eel magazine, which publishes stories from the Hackney area. Plus I met Oxfam Steve, the manager of the biggest London Oxfam, in Dalston. What are the strangest things you’ve had donated? I asked. “A large pot of cock rub, coloured bright blue and a defillibrator”. We pondered whether the defillibrator machine is needed after using the cock rub.
Then I followed Naked John down to the new “yummy mummy” designer dykes soirée at the bike shop on the canal. Bike shops tend to be quite masculine so it was refreshing to see so many lipstick lesbians in one place.
Today I drove to Neasden to teach my favourite pupil, a 15 year old Asian girl, 19th century romantic poetry. We compared First Love by John Clare and To My Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell. I love teaching this girl. I actually get paid to discuss poetry and love. Her take is so innocent but so wise.
I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale.
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay.
And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start —
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.
Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love’s appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more
John Clare was a poor farmer who fell in love with a rich mans’ daughter. This poem is both lyric and a lament. The shock of first love is tempered with almost immediate grief, for he knows this love is unrequited. He eventually died penniless in an asylum.