I was chatting to Shutters in a middle of the morning displacement activity sort of way rather than read a book about madness. We were talking about acting as people's personal tempter - encouraging people to hang out with beautiful young things, or read slash, or eat expensive chocolate.
Ian said. 'Don't see you as a tempter, Roz. You're hardly the spirit that always denies, are you?' (Except he said the last bit in German, because last time he saw Faust, it was in the original.)
Quite spontaneously, and surprisingly in tune, I sang,
'Ich bin der Geist/ Thayut cay'nt say No'. Which was very disturbing. Goethe and Rodgers and Hammerstein - we are sick puppies...
One of the problems about a really good evening is how little of it you remember. I used to assume that this had to do with the effects of drink and age on the memory and now I know that it is not the drink. I suspect it is that when you are having good times, even the sort of good times that lead to you being thrown out of bars for having intellectual conversations too noisily. you are so busy having the time and saying the witty things that you don't actually monitor any of the details.
I know that we were talking about the cultural causes of innumeracy - the mediaeval church's suspicion of zero and the post-Blake writerly dread of measurement - that was just Robert and me and we drifted on to the Mayan count and the way that some people who are functionally innumerate will know, in a sense, quite a lot about mathematics from other culture because they have no instinctive dislike of them. Which reminded me of a woman I know who stopped dating women who beat her up in favour of an Algerian guy who beat her up and said 'I thought I could swing it politically if it was with a third world man.'
By this time, Colin and Charles and Claire were all talking about Poe and how much better he reads in French translation. And I suggested that the reason why Borges rated Lovecraft was that he had read him in French - the smaller French vocabulary omits all those bad word choices - no chance of eldritch and eerie when it is all etrange.
This got us on to verse translation generally - I talked about using it to check my sanity when I was ill and found myself saying 'When I translated de Nerval's sonnets' and being mocked - and Robert who publishes a lot of translation talked about how novels from some languages end up longer and some shorter.
Later on Colin and I were telling the slightly shockable Charles drugs stories, including the time that Colin got me up on crystal at some sf convention and I was stalking around being terrifying because uppers make me several times larger and more intense - this was in my bustier and thighboots period when I only weighed twelve stone which since I am six four is frighteningly thin.
I stalked through a party full of fluorescent dust bombs and somehow came out without a stain on my leather - which may mean drugs create a force field or may mean that I am just that scary when up. Which is why I have been clean and sober for so long - it is too scary to contemplate being On too much of the time.
And that led to me telling a lot of other embarrassing anecdotes from the memoirs which you won't get here now.
There was quite a long Buffy conversation between me and Tamsin, the smart teenage daughter of Frankie and Leon, and Charles, who has never got it. Tamsin's fave episode is The Body - which shows me up...
But it all went fast and we were all being brilliant and cultured and I remembered why I go to these first Tuesday writer's hang arounds...Just reassurance that I am as clever as I think I am.