December 16th, 2009


One good thing and one rather disturbing one

I tried to buy a book for a friend in the US from today - the book itself cost $15 which works out as £9 and change at the current exchange rate. I asked for Super Saver Delivery. because there is still time.

And they wanted to charge me £27 - the book was going to be £15 of that which means they were ignoring the exchange rate, but they were slapping me with quite staggering postage and packing charges (it's an ordinary-sized book) and some sort of surcharge. WTF?

Is there some new US law about foreign money that no-one told us about? Or has's computer gone into meltdown?

I certainly shan't be buying from them any time soon.

Meanwhile, I have to work out how to send my friend this peculiarly appropriate book...


And in other news, go and see Bright Star and take tissues with you. I saw it with ephemerita and we both cried buckets and so did most of the cinema.

For those people who don't know, it's the Jane Campion film about the last years of Keats, during which he wrote the Odes and 'St. Agnes Eve' and most of the stuff he is actually remembered for. He met Fanny Brawne and they fell in love, but he was too poor to marry, and was dying, and eventually went off to Italy for his health, and died. She never forgot him, even though she married and had children - and she kept his letters, most of which we have, along with her correspondence with his sister.

I have never seen grief so fabulously conveyed on film as in the scene where Abbie Cornish as Fanny hears of his death; I felt almost indecent watching it.

Some of the film is amazingly manipulative, but effectively so - Keats' friend Brown is shown as a sexist clot whose own feelings for Keats are pretty intense, which explains his preventing her visits to Keats when the poet was ill better than lectures on medical ideas could. The simple closing credits have Ben Wishup recite the Nightingale ode over a vocal arrangement of the adagio from the Mozart 13 wind instrument serenade which has pervaded the film.

One of the best and most serious things I have seen in ages - and, in the way it takes Fanny's fascination with fashion and sewing seriously, a film where feminism enables us to dispense with all the sexist nonsense of Victorian critics who thought Fanny an unworthy object of a great poet's devotion.

It's fabulous.

More Sappho

It's been one of those days when I would have a migraine if I hadn't had one a few days ago, and when I am sort of tingly - I ought to go and hear natalie456 read but I haven't done enough work and I ought to cook. And it is cold outside.

So I pulled out another of Sappho's Greatest Hits, and decided to see what happened. As with the last one, the speaker isn't me, exactly. It's someone much more confident, but not entirely.

And someone who hasn't been with someone 21 years.

Hymn to Aphrodite

Aphrodite, Astarte, Venus, Love
Many-named goddess
Who does not exist
But maybe talking to you
Makes you,
Brings you here.
Someone said it's states of mind.
Get there
by getting there.
So, do the humble bit
Good Goddess
Nice Goddess

You talk soft
to predators.

Please don't fuck me up
If you are there
Don't hurt me
your humble servant,

Like you're on the phone
And counsel me
like a Samaritan
Or a call centre.

you could come
through dust-coloured, soot-coloured grubby
thousands of them
little threads,
so strong,
tugging your chariot

or maybe it's a car,
a bright red Maserati
No sparrows,
London sparrows
any more
- that's sad.

Your birds
that fuck and twitter
And are many
common as dirt
and each one perfect
ball of feathers
and lust.

So beautiful
Not my type
The botoxed blonde
you see in ads
and movies.
How every goddess
in these sad days.
is telling them apart.

So come and say
As if we were old friends
What's up now Sappho?
Is your head hurting
or your heart
or is it just an itch
between your thighs?

Who's the girl this time?
Who do I have to pull
For you?
Who broke your heart
or gave you clap

bad girl?

She'll suffer
It'll turn around
She'll be the chaser
Who was oh so chaste?

The fire will burn her
Who sets you ablaze.
I'll fix it
Like I always do'

She yawns and smiles.

So good to have imaginary friends
for confidence
and maybe it will work
just one more time.

I really want this girl.

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