This seems to be about hyacinths.

This post becomes something about hyacinths.  It’s 23.52 – nearly midnight.  It’s dark cold, it’s dead winter. I conjured hyacinths out of memory, out of a  buried yearning for something to grow, perhaps, some stirring of growth down in the darkness there?

But first I wrote this:

Today, I read fragments of things  – a fragment of an article about ‘third camp’ socialists; a fragment of an article about Robert Klein; a fragment of my daughter’s excellent piece about digital mapping.   Too tired it seems right now. to read anything through.  Maybe give it a go tomorrow.  At least I finally sent off student’s reference tonight.  I wanted to finish off reading Judith Butler’s article about Can we live a good life inside a bad life – in which she explains her concept of grievable lives.  And how this immediately allows us to imagine the ungrievable lives and how that is so immediately a concept that we needed to have. So ‘props’ to JB (I’ve just learnt what ‘props’ means!).

I printed more of my lino cuts of rose hips.  Cousin thought they might be pomegranates – a category of scale error, and perhaps not noticing the thorns!  But – with another who loves the proper terms for things  – cousin’s husband notes the ‘calyxes’ and presumes they are not pomegranates, though not sure what else they might be.  We have a  short discussion about the plural of calyx – I go for calyses!

Brother brings pink hyacinths growing in a bowl. Just green fleshy cones – about an inch or so high.  It’s the fag end of the year – who said that? – I feel the earth’s sullen deadness; I’m waiting for the planet to shudder on its axis and tip again towards sun, light, growth.  Grateful therefore for the gift of hyacinths, their green growth nosing out of the earth;  marvellous, later, those intricate, curlicued petals, massy, pink, perfumed.

It has to be admitted, though, that the hyacinths are not blue, and so are not perfect.  My mum grew blue hyacinths for me – what love to do that, to remember that I loved the blue ones, and make sure I had them.  I don’t know now why I have a fixed preference for blue ones. I suspect – responding to hints and associations that may mean nothing – that there might have been something in a poem or a novel or even in Greek poetry – Seferis?  Some imagist or modernist perhaps – or just Eliot and his lilacs? – that I wanted to emulate as the forgiveably posturing teen I was.

I used to take bowls of the blue hyacinths my mother grew for me back to Aberdeen after New Year.  They filled my student room with scent, through the cold blast of January and February. They scent my memories of those winters – the rain and sleet, the wind, the dark dark dark.

I like dark blue hyacinths best – not the Cambridge blue ones, Oxford blue, despite my years of sojourn at Cambridge.  Feel somewhat dissatisfied with the blue hyacinths of today that never seem to attain those dark blue hyacinths that live only in my nostalgia.

I lost my sense of smell and cannot smell the hyacinths anymore.

I miss my mother,  winter deadness.

The dark dark dark of you.




Texts for nothing – Samuel Beckett

An orchestral conductor beats a silent bar or so to set the tempo for the orchestra – a ghost measure called the ‘measure for nothing’ – that explains Beckett’s choice of title for 13 brief tales he wrote sixty one years ago, my birth year, actually. At the time of writing the tales, Beckett described himself as struggling to ‘go on’, and wrote these ‘prose stutterings’ which expressed, he said, the “failure to implement the last words of The Unnameable [an earlier work]: I can’t go on. I’ll go on.

The conductor’s arm sweeps, preliminary, gearing up the orchestra – poised, all enter on time, the first breaking of the silence, all the stuttering rehearsals done now, here’s the real thing…

Sometimes the writing is like that – stutterings, a text for nothing.