I am beginning this blog in an upstairs room in a charming house in the small town of Duvall, Washington State. The Susquehaney River flows in the valley below, a flood plain which has prevented it from joining the eversprawling concrete hive that is the Seattle city area. No soul-less retail parks here, just a few new builds & Emily’s memories. Many of these involve the very tangible presence of her mother, in whose house I am in the now. She shares it with her husband, who also built the house, a very erudite fellow called Matthew Waddington, & a cat who I am allergic to, as I am allergic to all the cats & dogs in every house we have visited during our stay in Seattle. America loves pets, it seems. And big portions, such as the 12 egg-omlette at Beth’s Cafe.
We have been in America a week, starting off at a place called Warm Beach, where Emily’s father, & chief Gigs-4-U honcho, Ed Beeson, rents an amazing waterside house. After a few days we left the girls with pops & me & Emily moved into her dad’s other house at Burien near the airport. Before then we had a night at Duvall & a Christmas party with a load of folk in their sixties, none of whom smoked which was reflected in their youthful vibrancy. For New Year’s Eve, being kindly driven about by Emily’s younger brother Michael, we found ourselves at the house of an opera singer on Queen Anne Hill – via one of his tenants who knew Emily – & it was a moment of pure beauty when we collaborated on Auld Lang’s Eyne for the bells, while the Space Needle erupted in fireworks.
I have also managed to catch two Burnley matches – which kick off at 7AM here. The first was down at Tacoma, a cool seaport whose Doyle’s Bar wasn’t actually showing the game but luckily Emily’s brother-in-law Caleb was nearby & we got the stream for Burnley’s 4-1 thrashing of Sunderland. Two days later we were at the George & Dragon in Fremont, this time with Emily’s other brother, Abe, a local Jazz Radio presenter, where Burnley lost 2-1 to Man City. The Americans loved the vibe, & also the curious idea of having baked beans for breakfast!
On leaving Fremont, we drove to Renton to visit the grave of Jimi Hendrix. A weird gazebo kind of thing, it’s a work in progress. Jimi’s dad had flown his son’s body home from London after its puky denouement, but could only afford a simple grave at first. Then, when he got access to his son’s estate, the tomb sprung up – with a bronze statue still to be put in place. I managed to puke up at Jimmy Hendrix’s grave – with the 7 AM beer & breakfast, the subsequent drive to Renton churned my stomach to chunder.
From Renton we returned to Duvall, where Emily picked up the kids from grans & then set off back to Warm Beach. I, however, stayed on, for Matthew has an amazing library. Yesterday I began to hit it, studying the works of Pacific North West poets such as Caroline Kizer, Gary Snyder & my favorite, Richard Hugo.
I spent yesterday in cat-induced asthmatic meditation, & got a clear plan of action. There is a company in Britain who can publish quite professionally up to ten books of mine, which are printed off as they are ordered. I have resolved upon creating teight texts – the Pendragon Collection – to mark the climax of my literary studies. My recent Chisper Effect & Humanology of course shall be among them. The other 6 would include Axis & Allies, The Silver Rose, my journals, &, well, we’ll just have to see, but a release of 10 volumes en masse transcends the fetid ‘one-book–at-a-time’ attitude of literary agents. Yes, the Pendragon Collection seems ready to be born, perhaps with a rainbow spine motif – first book red, second book orange etc. – so it stands out on a bookshelf!
On our last night at Warm Beach, Emily’s dad stuffed us full of oysters & seafood, & the following morning, while visiting Bruce Lee’s grave, I followed through! An hour later we were driving into a posh gated community where Emily’s rich auntie lived in a lovely house. All the family was there & on realising I was smelling a bit too much, I whipped off mi kecks in the toilet then went for a stroll around said gated community. Eventually I found a garden to stash mi undies & we got out of there with no comeback. Hope they were Trump supporters.
Flying back from Seattle is a bit like jumping into the future & missing a good night’s sleep. Add to that a Tinky Disco gig at Lisa Shaw’s 50th & let’s say I now know what jetlag truly is. I soon shook it off, however, I had to – it was time to move house. We’ve taken a new place in Haddington – I call it the boomerang, a long drive, a semi-detached at the bend, & a long garden.
Yesterday, in an almost empty Baro, I began work on preparing my 8-volume set of my writings – The Pendragon Lectures – which I’m going to self-publish on Completely Novel this year. I’d mused on the project that night in Duvall, & it seems a perfect way forward. The Publishing world is not really ready for me, but I’ve followed the path & this seems the correct thing to do at this time. It’s 2016, & the word ‘circumvent’ is terrifying the establishment
It’s been a cool literary sabbatical up here in the hills, forcing me to focus for weeks on end on projects which should now read extremely well. Today is Axis & Allies day, I have begun cutting the text by two-thirds & I squeez’d in the composition of one more stanza. On finishing I ritually threw my pen into Baro like the previous two times I had completed A&A.’
So, I flung my pen – an orange one – into the lake. This time it didn’t sink, but floated, wafting my sensibilities into bliss. Twenty years ago – maybe to the day – while reading Yeats in Barnsley, I realised I was a poet. Twenty years later, my bardic training is complete, which seems a perfect place to end my diaries, which in turn completes this book of mine, Marching on Parnassus. In it I hope to have tracked the growth of man individual’s poetic persona & projects, & also provided a comprehensive guide to other volumes in the Pendragon Collection. If you haven’t read any, I thoroughly recommend them!
Baro Farm Cottages
19th January 2017