When I first read Les Murray's poetry, an unfamiliar feeling of humility overwhelmed meby Clive James / June 11, 2019 / Leave a comment
Still recovering from an operation that has left me with what feels like a sofa stuffed into my left cheek while the eye above it, doing double duty, weeps for a world doomed to heat death, I contemplate existence with the poised detachment of the philosopher who has seen everything. He is especially likely to feel like this, I have discovered, when he can in fact see almost nothing.
It’s been several years now since it happened, but the news has just reached me that a vast number of English people elected the robin as Britain’s national bird. The robin strikes me as appropriate for a hopping and tweeting national symbol in view of the upcoming Corbyn government, which is surely close upon us, now that the press, over the course of many months, has run out of different ways to say it will all happen tomorrow. The robin is small, tuneless and very short of convincing muscle power. The robinical attribute that I like best is the ability to hop about in my verdant back garden and still manage to draw attention to itself. How does it manage to be insignificant and conspicuous at the same time?
I’m working on this question as I face my seemingly imminent entrance into the Halls of Dis, the inane regions. The lower left half of my face is returning to a horizontal alignment, but I still look like someone who has been in a punch-up with Joe Louis, who could hit so hard that he decked Jersey Joe Walcott. Names from the past, but then whose name isn’t?
BBC2 re-ran its overstuffed documentary on Leonardo. Playing the genius in his early years, Mark Rylance didn’t have much to do except look profound. But in the background the modern-day experts were assembling in droves. Owing to my bad eyesight I had trouble telling one pundit from another, but my favourite was a wildly gesturing female who drew pictures in the air. One of them was an evocation of the distance between the rails of a standard gauge railway line.
Watching, while I was half-blind, the World Figure Skating Championship…