Monday, 22 November 2010


For many years I endured bouts of gloom that marched in from nowhere and occupied my entire being like some alien army, my mind grasped tight in a vice of misery. I would function on a superficial level as if I were normal and wouldn't share this fact. I would watch myself operating and wonder at it. Listen to myself chatting instead of screaming under this heavy grey miasma. I joke and my wit is intact if a little sharper, more barbed.  In fact it hardly impaired my function at all but totally filleted any joy. I can remember walking with my dog in my favourite place feeling desolate and trying to understand how this could be. All the things I loved were present and correct yet none of it was enjoyable, I was lost in the fog of misery with both exit and entrance barred. It was pointless talking about my mood and impossible for anybody to get through to me. The isolation was total.
Eventually the mood would move off spontaneously and I was capable of happiness again, or at least of a peaceful mind. During the glooms I often had a tune going through my brain, I remember one in particular was Chinatown my Chinatown and when I woke it was a warning of misery. Though a gloom is quite different from misery that can be addressed and dealt with or at least talked about. I can remember when I was teaching that during a gloom I would watch myself and even admire my performance which was detached and outside my self.
Alternatively I would drink myself into a stupor with the vain hope that it would shift the gloom and occasionally it did temporarily but it would roar back along with a hangover when I woke and the idiot song would churn in my mind like some unholy carousel. Beside which it was expensive and with the danger of revealing my pain in some drunken moment and I was terribly ashamed of these glooms. I often read about gifted people who vaunted their glooms as part of their genius as if the fact of desperate moods make them special but I knew this didn't apply to me and it sounded like a poor consolation too.
So why am I writing about this now? Because for the last few years since I had a stroke I have not had the glooms. Perhaps my brush with mortality scared it out of me or perhaps brain damage occurred. I am very glad to get out of desolation row mood and even as I type the words I am afraid of tempting fate but I will take a chance because the subject interests me and I can never resist a disclosure!
I know that we are all unique and that my own experience is not the same as that of anyone else but I would be interested in other experiences of the glump.


I will be supporting the lovely Nina Ludovica Smith who will read excerpts of my novel A Blues for Shindig and I will strut my stuff very briefly with a couple of three poems at the the events below in Berlin in late November
Stardust Boogie Woogie
Tania Antoshina, Mo Foster, Marcela Iriarte, Christian de Lutz, Jane Mulfinger, Bob & Roberta Smith, Jessica Voorsanger and a reading by Nina Ludovica Smith
Curated by Francesca Piovanot
Finissage with a reading by Mo Foster: 26 November 2010 8PM
Special event: Tuesday 30 November 2010, , A reading by Nina Smith and Mo Foster at the East of Eden International Bookstore, Schreinerstr. 10, 10247 Berlin-Friedrichshain -

Friday, 12 November 2010


I have been resisting the impulse to write this one for fear of seeming maudlin but maudlin is OK on occasion and if you don't like pets it will be best if you don't read this.
Since my delightful Border Terrier died I have felt desperately lonely for her company interspersed with feeling of guilt. I feel rather like Nero who gave the thumbs down to some misbegotten gladiator. There really wasn't much choice, the vet said she was in a great deal of pain and there was not much chance of her recovering fully. She had had Cushings disease for several years and now she appeared to have had a seizure and in spite of Rescue Remedy and drops of brandy she stood stiff, unable to sit, she also had a very high temperature and she was fifteen, so I let her go via the vet.
Miss Saffie was a special dog, I wanted to call her Sappho but she lacked the gravitas - or I did. I didn't get her from new so I missed all house training and she was the most continent of dogs - until Cushings struck and I had to measure her water intake against her visits outside quite carefully, her early days were spent alone because her owners both worked and when I came along to have her during the week she was very pleased and went into paroxysms of joy when she saw me and deep gloom when I left her so when I asked if I could keep her they said I could.
I always thought she was a bit dim and she was incredibly lacking in bravery, although she had very bold moments when she fell for yet another unsuitable very butch fighting dog. She was smitten with an unspeakable monster in the hairdresser shop round the corner a Japanese piece of exotica who hardly responded at all, she would rush in rudder waving, He would retreat. She was never put off and the next day she would plight her troth again. There was a dog called Hercules that she was quite passionate about and he reciprocated and she would become young again and cavort with him all over The Point in Greenwich.
A few months ago she was attacked by two Staffordshire Bull terriers one of which grabbed her throat in his teeth with no preliminaries at all, the other went for her tail. I kicked the second one away, a small crowd of onlookers gathered but the only person who intevened was a young Moslem guy on his way to the Mosque. He took off his slipper and whacked the dog in the face and it ran off. Then he dashed away white robes flowing into the Mosque. Heroic I thought - knowing the Moslem dislike of touching dogs. Since this incident Saffie had little taste for walks locally in Southampton which is hardly surprising. And I became more cautious. So we would drive in the car to places where she was happy to walk and on our train journeys to Waterloo she would make friends with people, I believe she had a happy life and she brought a lot of happiness to me. At a friends house yesterday she reminded me of the pitter patter of her claws on the floor as she trotted to the back door in he endless search for water. Even cat lovers liked her and I loved her so it's goodbye to you Miss Saffie and thanks again..