3A Hyde Park Terrace
LONDON W2 00V
November 13 2000
I have had a recent success in a national poetry competition. I was awarded first prize for my poem Gran baciatore
which means “Great Kisser.” It contains much power and passion and maybe the judges liked it for its “liquid imaginings . . . ” In any event, winning meant that I had to travel up to Cottonopolis to read it to an audience of poets and other literati.
I wasn’t sure what to wear – bearing in mind the subject matter of my piece – but in the end decided upon an outfit combining both sense and sensuality. I wore a just-above-knee red (as in pillar box) dress; navy blue stockings (not that anyone would have known that); red high heel shoes, and a gold necklace with a sapphire at my throat.
It did occur to me beforehand that I would have to practice using a microphone, for there is nothing worse than a poet who comes on to the stage and reaches out a – visibly terrified – hand towards the stand. So I taped my kitchen mop to a table and rehearsed using it! This was time well-spent I think Mum, for – when I read my poem – you could have heard a pin drop and the audience looked mesmerized. I have been fortunate with my speaking voice; it has mellow and contralto tones and there have been times when I have aspired to become the voice of the UK’s speaking clock!
There was a reception afterwards, in a room notable for its glass ceiling and palms, in giant pots, which reached up towards it. There was also polished parquet flooring and leather sofas into which you could subside, if not sink out of view entirely. The usual array of poetry luvvies were in attendance and you could hear the occasional cry of, ‘Darling! How wonderful to see you!’ – cries which I feel may not have been totally sincere in every case. As I know myself, it is difficult to really feel thrilled for another prize winner if one has not recently one something oneself.
Anyway. At one point I was approached by a rather sad-faced man who said he was a librettist, and wondered whether he might be able to use the words in one of my poems for his latest cantata. (I have to say Mum, that I am not very sure what a cantata actually is, nor whether any of my poems might be suitable for being in one.) But at least Clive seemed scholarly and earnest and not, in any way, a similar style of man to Austen, my ex-husband, and Edgar, my ex-lover. In fact, he seemed the sort of man who might own a Bassett Hound; it was the red at the corner of his eyes and the drooping nature of his eyelids that made me think this.
I have given him my phone number (mobile) and he says that he will be in touch. I hope that he does not mean this literally, for too many men nowadays seem – and I know this is rather a change of subject matter – all too eager for sex in the first 24 hours of knowing one, while peppering their communications with strings of kisses. I have certainly come to feel – since Austen left – that it helps if one has at least met the man for dinner (at some neutral destination) and engaged in a series of actual conversations first.
Best love Mum
Your slightly successful daughter (ex- in law)