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Thursday 13th Feb 2003


I went to see my dentist yesterday who is also a guitarist. I was thinking about how nice it is as one gets older finding the right people to do things to you. I like my hairdresser too, and my acupuncturist. I suppose we all gather a little troupe of people who ‘see to us.’ My dentist came to the ‘Valentines Poetry Reading’ that I was involved in last night. There were six poets and two musicians all reading and singing about love in its widest sense. the reading had been directed by the dramaturg Duska Heaney, and we’d done lots of work reading the poems in different ways, like they were shopping lists, or directions to somewhere. She put us all on luxurious looking sofas, and we didn’t speak between poems, so there was no rustling of papers, or talking about why we wrote the poems. This helped to make the reading wonderfully short. Poetry readings are very odd affairs…often you haven’t the faintest idea what the poet is on about. Still, this one was very successful and we got a good audience. Actually, I think poetry audiences are on the increase. Perhaps it’s because everyone feels a bit distressed at the moment and poetry is good medicine for complicated feelings. On Sunday Sean O Brien and Kathleen Jamie read at Live Theatre. It was a fantastic reading. Kathleen read poems about dolphins and whales, and Sean’s work was as inventive and brilliant as ever. Poets have so many good ideas, all packed into tiny poems. When I’m writing fiction I think reading poetry is very inspiring. It is where all the best images and ideas come from…where language is being made.

Now I must get on with my radio stories. I keep thinking about the women’s hour listeners. Once I went to hear Jenni Murray read at Hay on Wye from her book about the menopause. It was a hot day and the marquee was full of intelligent, grey haired,no-nonsense menopausal women who were all sweating and fluttering fans. Terrifying!