Fancy being a poet? These days it’s easy – all you have to do is pop down to your local post office and pick up a poetic license. From there, like all the greats before you, you have no alternative but to live out your days knee-deep in misery, poverty, booze and thesauruses (incidentally, what’s another word for ‘thesaurus’?).
I recently met up with my poet chum, Thomas Dylan. Thomas speaks in rhyming couplets, which can be annoying but you get used to it. Enquiring as to how he was, his response, “Me, I’m fine. Glass of wine?” set the tone. When discussing his wife, he answered, “Nelly’s been naughty. We’re both nearly 40. She’s sleeping with others. And some of her brothers.” He’s also a bit of a gambler and likes a punt, but thankfully we avoided this subject. I asked him what it was like being a poet: “Fairly slow. Little dough. Is it worth it? Yes and no.” And what about the creative process? “The morn I put a comma in and fill myself with doubt. Then after lunch I too and fro and take the bleeder out.” After a while I explained I had to go home and read my favourite Philip Larkin poem, ‘They Really Really Mess You Up Your Mum & Dad’. “No. Don’t go. I’m full of woe. And I have more to show. So?” So I stayed, Thomas steadied himself, stood on the coffee table and spoke: “Of all the fishes in the seas the cleverest is the Barse. It climbs up little seaweed trees and slides down on its ‘hands and knees.” I scratched, made my excuses (“I have to leave you understand, my body’s full of boredom. You really need to work that verse, you’re not a patch on Auden”) and hobbled off.