Monday, April 11, 2011

Looking for Lucia Joyce

It occurred to me this morning that I can print off the Prajnaparamita and Diamond Sutras rather than waiting for them to appear in book form (and being able to afford them). Then I can study them alongside my revision for the exams and my reading of James Joyce's Ulysses.

I'm up in Kingsthorpe now, though - 9a.m. Sunday morning, on a beautiful cool sunny day - to find (at last) the grave of Lucia, Joyce's daughter. I don't know why I've wanted to make this trip for so long - don't know why I've put it off for so long either - but here I am. I was thinking as I walked up from Semilong: how fitting this is, I have to walk for 45 minutes and then journey around Kingsthorpe Cemetery in circles with no guarantee of success, to locate physical evidence of Lucia, but her father I can pick up off my bookshelf.

On the way up, two Care Assistants with regulation cardigan over blue uniform sitting on the wall outside the E.P.H. smoking. Great anti-corporate image! Then somebody in full expensive shop window jogging outfit canters past holding regulation drinks bottle. Parked a little way up the street is a police car.

Now I'm in the park across the road from the Cock Hotel. I used to come here sometimes when I worked at ****. I'd just sit and have lunch in peace, listening to the traffic rushing past on the road just over the old stone wall. It's probably in old journals. (I hope if someone reads these things when I'm gone and finds negative stuff in them they can see under that and don't take it personally or think I was just a nasty old man hiding behind a congenial smile. I can be that but I don't think it's my default setting.) (Mememememe.) There are hundreds of cigarette butts on the ground around the bench I sit on. And twenty feet away a dropped, torn plastic bag with empty beer bottles in it - green glass shards strewn all over the footpath.

In the grass by the bushes over there a really tiny rabbit; and overhead a pigeon furiously beats its wings in the trees.

Ghost man hurries down the lane in blue suit and tie. Grey hair on his head and he's still being responsible.

I've found the graveyard (9.50). Now I'm going to look for the grave. I feel like Eli Wallach in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, contemplating all these stones. But by coming here I'm setting Lucia free from conservative, patriarchal constructions of sanity and reality. David Cameron's 'sane', for Christ's sake. Lucia was just an early sister of the Global Literary Renaissance - 'lucky to be nutty,' as Allen Ginsberg says - and if her father wasn't a lunatic by the time he wrote Finnegan's Wake all bets are off.


I walked around the graveyard for an hour but I couldn't find Lucia (where are you for fuck's sake Luce?) I found lots of Joyces, but the majority of those were first names. I found a fair few Norahs too; but no Lucia. Still, there was a whole section of the graveyard I didn't visit. If it hadn't been so warm, and my feet hadn't been complaining so loudly, and if there had been that necessary companion of all middle-aged people, a toilet, in the vicinity, I might have tried. But having a seizure and/ or pissing myself might have spoiled the experience somewhat.

I found an Askew and a Lovesy in different plots. I also found an Atack (one 't'), a Spittle (two), and - ironically, considering the Eli Wallach associations - a Stanton. Everyone of those people loved by someone. Missed by someone. Born from someone.

Existence in this world, this universe, this dimension, this form, is something we need lifetimes to get a handle on. (A fly and an insect on my page as I write, back in the park near the Cock Hotel, sitting underneath a tree in shade like Buddha. The insect just flew away but the fly clings on as the loose page flaps in the wind. Now he's gone like Askew, Lovesy, Atack, Spittle, Stanton, Hodder.) We need everything that exists around us to continue living so that we can live. Life somehow multiplies into grass, trees, butterflies, bees, supermarket vendors. How does it know to do that? We get 80 years if we're lucky to live and work out our karma, but we spend it working, blaming our parents because we feel shitty; we waste it killing ourselves with cigarettes, fucking up our brains with alcohol and drugs that help us face up to problems which either aren't really there, or which we could put behind us just by looking in the mirror and laughing.

We waste our time by chasing money, seeking happiness (you already ARE happy, idiot, unless you're working in a Zimbabwean diamond mine or something). We waste our time writing stuff like this in journals. Although I'm just acting a movie out in my head really, pretending I'm a combination of Ginsberg, Kerouac and Snyder writing hairy Buddhist wisdom to tear the Academies asunder and lead children into exile. I hesitate to say it, but since she came into my life I don't really want anything except food in my belly and somewhere warm to sleep at night. The blue sky over my head during the day and her love for as long as she sees fit to give it.

transcription of author's journal writings 11/04/11

n.b. askew and lovesy are significant because family name of friends of the author

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Email to Sarah Uldall

Sarah Uldall is running for the Liberal Democrats in my ward in the local council elections in Northampton, U.K. on May 5th. Here is the email I am sending her after discovering unwanted LibDem campaign literature on my doormat when I came home yesterday.

6th April 2011
Dear Sarah Uldall,

Recently I left a note at my door asking for no Liberal Democrat newsletters or campaign leaflets to put through my letterbox. So imagine how disappointed I was to come home today and find another edition of your Focus on my doormat.

Please stop sending me this material. Quite apart from your rudeness in ignoring my original request, I do not read anything either you or your new ideological bedfellows the Conservative Party send, so you are wasting your time. It all goes straight into the bin.

As far as I am concerned the local Liberal Democrats are inseparable from the national Liberal Democrats; and your Westminster masters, after misrepresenting themselves and their agenda shamelessly to con disaffected Labour supporters into voting for them, are conspiring with the Conservative Party to terrorise the poor and dispossessed, dismantle public services and make Britain – through assaults on higher education and the N.H.S. – a more socially divided nation than it has been since Charles Dickens died.

We expected that from the Conservative Party. But I am not alone in being appalled at the spectacle of supposedly liberal politicians colluding with a Tory programme no less extreme than that of Margaret Thatcher. Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have made themselves grotesque by giving into their ambition, and history will forgive David Cameron much sooner than they are forgiven.

So as I have said before, do not send me any more of this gibberish. I intend to vote Labour on May 5th and that wouldn’t be changed by an avalanche of badly-written nonsense about fly tipping and bin collections. But I do not want your literature in my house, period.


Bruce Hodder