Alexander Averin

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


The Other Elizabeth Taylor

Dear Diary,

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.

Ray Bradbury

Once again it has been too long time since my last posting and I do humbly apologise. My computer has been very poorly, it went on an absolute go-slow and had to have a spell in a local hospital for computers with some expert intensive care. It is back now thoroughly rejuvenated and raring to go with faster speeds than it has ever had and with more memory installed. To think I thought it was on the way out and was ready to throw it out the window such was my anger.

Wish I could go somewhere and have similar treatment for today I am a wee bit slow and poorly myself as I have a very sore throat and have lost my voice. It came on suddenly so I guess it is the laryngitis type virus which has been doing the rounds. (Some may call it a blessing perhaps, my loss of voice? But I say that if I lose my voice it can also be to my advantage as I don’t have to answer people if I don’t want to).

There is not much news to report. The monsoon season continues and I think we are probably into our sixth week of rain, it could be more.

Thank God for books I say and music and Strictly on TV, all pure escapism that I am happy to admit to. I may not be able to speak but I can read , I can watch and I can listen.

I have been doing a bit more on M’s family tree and was very excited the other night when I discovered that he is related to Elizabeth Taylor, no not the actress but the famous novelist. Now I am envious because I have not found anyone quite so illustrious in my family and a writer to boot.

I thought I would seek out a biography of said lady and lo and behold, one of those coincidences, her first and only biography was published in April of this year by Nicola Beauman of Persephone Books fame and we have copies in the library service. All are out on loan but I have placed a request for it. I have always admired Taylor and know several other people who do as well, little did I know that M was related to her.

I am reading a new book written by another of my favourite authors, Susan Hill. It is called Howards End is on the Landing, great title eh?

The subject is books and reading - a year of reading from home - so for a bibliophile like me it is pure heaven. Once I finish this blog post I will retire to my bed with honey, lemon and paracetamol and lose myself in her words. If you haven’t ever read Susan Hill, apart from this one I would recommend The Magic Apple Tree, it is one of my top ten favourites and a must-read book.

So that’s all for today, I have no energy for much more.

But I shall sign off with not one but two poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate. I watched the South Bank Show on Sunday night which featured Carol and was reminded again of two of my favourite poems.




Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims1 sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. 2 Grade I piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

Carol Ann Duffy

A Child's Sleep

I stood at the edge of my child's sleep
hearing her breathe;
although I could not enter there,
I could not leave.

Her sleep was a small wood,
perfumed with flowers;
dark, peaceful, sacred,
acred in hours.

And she was the spirit that lives
in the heart of such woods;
without time, without history,
wordlessly good.

I spoke her name, a pebble dropped
in the still night,
and saw her stir, both open palms
cupping their soft light;

then went to the window. The greater dark
outside the room
gazed back, maternal, wise,
with its face of moon.

Carol Ann Duffy

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


willow said...

I'm sure you already know how much I love genealogy. How fun to make the connection to the author Elizabeth Taylor! Loved this post. Hope you're feeling better soon.

Pondside said...

Beautiful poems, Cait - thank you.
I can't think of anyone who could enjoy (or deserve) the literary link more than you!

Frances said...

Hello Cait,
I hope that you will be feeling much better soon. (I've got a bit of the same cold as you do ... but can still speak!)

I've often meant to check out a book by the other ET, and I thank you for reminding me.

The two poems are sublime. Again I thank you for giving us a chance to see just what words can do when assembled by an artist.


Marcheline said...

I have never read Susan Hill, and have now added both books you talked about to my "Amazon wish list". Thanks for the heads up!

Pipany said...

Oh I love Carol Ann Duffy's peotry Cait. What do you think of her Warming her Pearls collection? I just love her imagery which is so evocative, conjuring the most tactile pictures in my mind. Ahh...I'll stop now! I hope you recover from your poorliness soon Cait x

elizabethm said...

I am a big fan of Susan Hill Cait and The Magic Apple Tree is one of favourite books of all time. I reread it every year.
Hope you are feeling better now. I am envious of the illustrious relative, love Elizabeth Taylor's novels too.

Mark said...

Cool to be related to Liz Taylor - and you could hint at film star or author depending on the company!

Never sure about Carol Duffy - but then we can't like them all.

I've recently discovered Kazuo Ishiguro and am reading Never Let me Go - it is brilliant but also one of the most disturbing books I've read; almost can't sleep at times.

pinkfairygran said...

This is one of those weird coincidences.. I read the Susan Hill two weekends ago, and just before that had read IN A SUMMER SEASON by Elizabeth Taylor!


Hello Cait - so sorry to hear you are not too well. Hope you feel better soon. The rain, yes, when will it stop? Particularly like the second Carol Ann Duffy poem - I can really identify with that one. A sleeping child - so very precious.
You never emailed me your poem - you know, the one you mentioned and wondered if I'd like to see. Yes I would. Please send it. I'll email you now to remind you!


Cait, sorry, me again. Just went to find your email address on your profile and it's not there. However, mine is on my profile, so would love you to send me the poem you wrote with regard to that disturbing TV drama about abused women we both watched.

Pam said...

I enjoy delving into family histories including other people's,and one of my favourite television series is both the Australian and British "Who Do You Think You Are".We also have a program here in Australia "Can We Help", where the often tricky detective work reunites families. Love it! can imagine the fun you've had finding out about the author Elizabeth Taylor.I was excited to find Sir Isaac Pitman ( of shorthand fame) in my husband's family tree. I was always useless at shorthand, so I've failed the family badly I'm afraid!! Glad the computer is better, now we just have to get you on the mend and feeling even better than before!Beautiful poems BTW

Irish Eyes said...

Go h-ána dheas ar fád a Chait, b'maith liom na dán - cinnte! go dearfa.

ds said...

Sorry to read that you are not feeling well; hope it passes quickly. Thank you for Ms. Duffy's poems. They are wonderful!

Tattie Weasle said...

The poems are lovely esp A Child's Sleep perhaps because I often just watch mine when they sleep. Do hope you are feelign a little better and I do agree reading is a most wonderful gift!

LittleBrownDog said...

What beautiful poems, Cait - I love Carol Ann. Hope you're feeling a bit better now - there seem to be so many nasty bugs about this time of year. But it's good to be able to devote time to reading (and watching Strictly!). x

Friko said...

I hope you still read the answers to this post.
I had forgotten about you, I am sorry to say, because I hardly have the time to visit the PC at all nowadays.
I too love Susan Hill, particularly her short stories, but Elizabeth Taylor has almost escaped me. The only one of hers on my shelves is "At Mrs. Lippincote's, which I enjoyed greatly. Poetry is a great love of mine, very much a part of daily life even.
I don't seem to hit the right poetry button for the PC, however.
We appear to have a lot in common and I think I had better follow you in order not to miss future posts.

Decadent Housewife said...

Beautiful poems. Thank you for sharing them.

Bee said...

I found both of the Duffy poems so very moving. Thank you for sharing.

I've got the Elizabeth Taylor biography on my bedside table. I plan to do a BIG READ of 20th century British writers come the new year. And p.s. I saw Nicola Beauman at Persephone this week. She gave me a glass of mulled wine!

CAMILLA said...

Hello Cait,

So sorry for arriving here late, just trying to catch up. Do hope you are now fully recovered from the horrid bug Cait.

How wonderful to know that your husband is related to Elizabeth Taylor the Author. I have the Persperone Quarterly here and will check it out, there are some wonderful classics.

Have not read Susan Hill, thank you Cait, another one for my list.!

Loved the Poems Cait, thank you for sharing with us.