Ice Spoke of the Spells of Calm

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Three poetic pieces from the heady eighties, and more...

Submitted: August 17, 2007

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Submitted: August 17, 2007



A Westfield Narrative 1

"Ice Spoke of the Spells of Calm" is the second in a four-part series of writings inspired by my time at Westfield College. It has been fashioned out of modified versions of three previously published pieces, namely, "Ice Spoke" itself, "West of the Fields Long Gone", and "She Dear One who Followed Me", which first saw the light of day at the website on 10th August 2006. From "Ice Spoke" I lifted "A Westfield Narrative 2" and "The Nice Guy on the Sidelines", while "A Night in Scorpio's" and "One of the Greats" were taken from "West of the Fields", having first served as its introduction and main body respectively. "She Dear One who Followed Me" and its intro, now known as "A Westfield Narrative 3" have been reproduced in their entirety. The definitive "Ice Spoke" was published at in August 2007.

A Night at Scorpio's

Thanks to the copious quantity of notes I committed to paper at Westfield, this long vanished college can live again through writings I've painstakingly forged out of them, such as the poetic piece below. It was based on several conversations I had with Ged Allen, a great Westfield friend, and a tough-talking Liverpool wild kid with a heart of pure gold and a '50's style quiff. These talks took place late one night almost certainly in late 1982 in Scorpio's, a Greek restaurant situated opposite the college on the Finchley Road, following a college performance of Lorca's "Blood Wedding" in which I played the part of the doomed bridegroom.
The previous summer Ged had played Malvolio in a production of Shakespeare's "Twelth Night" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Directed by Dawn Austwick and designed by Gail Greengross, the play's action had been transplanted to an Arcadian swinging sixties, with Ged playing Malvolio as a brooding relic from the previous decade, while I as Feste was perfectly of my time as a Dylanesque troubadour in hippie attire. When we re-performed it at the college the following winter term, we were like conquering heroes freshly returned from the Edinburgh campaign, monarchs of all we surveyed.

One of the Greats

I think you should be
0ne of the greats,
Carl, but you've
Given up and that's sad...
You drink too much,
You think, ____ it
And you go out and get _____,
When I'm 27 I'd be happy
To be like you...
In your writing,
Make sure you've got
Something really
Then say...'Here, you _______!'
You've got the spark of genius
At sixteen, you knew
You were a genius,
At nineteen, you thought
You were a failure
& now you think...
What's genius anyway?

A Westfield Narrative 2

The piece featured below had as its starting point diary notes written on spare scraps of paper, only to be consigned to a series of receptacles, and then retrieved over two decades later to be edited and versified for publication on the internet, and referring to a single evening at Westfield, almost certainly taking place in 1983, but perhaps '82. It gives some indication of my painfully acute social sensitivity and unceasing need for attention, affection and approbation within a social setting, and the way it affected those who cared for me.

The Nice Guy on the Sidelines

Those sad faces
My soul was
in knots
I couldn’t speak!
I felt like the nice guy
On the sidelines,
but strong…
I spoke
Of the spells of calm
And the hysterical
Then anxious
I’d only approached
The latter
By my third
And Gail said
Your eyes are
You must be
S. said: “I’m afraid…
You’re inscrutable
You’re not just
Are you?”
I spoke
Of the spells of calm
And the hysterical
Then anxious

A Westfield Narrative 3

Sporadically throughout the 1980s, I catalogued my days through notebooks, cassette tapes, odd scraps of paper, and so on. Some of these rough diary entries produced "She Dear One Who Followed Me" which is featured below. It existed initially as a series of scrawled notes based on conversations I'd had in 1982 or '83 with someone who was once a very dear friend. One of these resulted from an incident in which I'd made something of a public spectacle of myself, causing distress to my sympathetic friend. The first section begins with "It was she", and ends with "you could hurt me, you know". It was composed using extracts from several separate conversations, all of which were also edited, while the second, taken from a single edited conversation begins with "You are a Don Juan" and culminates with "there's something look". The final section, also culled from a single conversation, was reproduced word for word. Portions of the piece were translated from the original French, this being my friend's native tongue. As a whole, it provides something of an insight into how my friend perceived me in those days, which is to say as a far more complex individual than my good time guy image might have suggested, and there were others who did so similarly.

She Dear One Who Followed Me

It was she, bless her,
who followed me...
she'd been crying...
she's too good for me,
that's for sure...
"Your friends
are too good to you...
it makes me sick
to see them...
you don't really give...
you indulge in conversation,
but your mind
is always elsewhere,
ticking over.
You could hurt me,
you know...
You are a Don Juan,
so much.
Like him, you have
no desires...
I think you have
deep fears...
There's something
your look.
It's not that
you're empty...
but that there is
an omnipresent sadness
about you, a fatality..."

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