I have long been a fan of poet Wendy Cope, so much so that I have Upstairs and Downstairs copies of her previous collections.
Bearing in mind that it is less than a week since I bought a copy of her new collection Anecdotal Evidence, it is very early for me to presenting it for your delectation. It normally takes me weeks and months and repeated readings to absorb and consider what I have read. Often I will do a quick scan through and then return in instalments according to mood, but Anecdotal Evidence has been very different...it is my new Best Friend.
One of things I hadn't anticipated about heading into my mid-sixties were the funny little anxieties that would creep into my mind; things that I barely gave a moment's thought to in my fifties, but suddenly there they loomed. Not even things I would voice to anyone else for fear of sounding morbid, or tempting fate, but they hover and I ponder for a while and then file them back in the Pending Department. I wonder if it's something about preparing for the inevitable and mortality and things...anyway I don't get depressed about it, just wonder...maybe at 5am, what's in store and from whence might cometh the consolation before carrying on carpe-ing the diem
Well, I have a funny feeling that Wendy Cope might have done this too because Anecdotal Evidence reflects me. The book is dedicated to the lovely Adele Geras and her daughter Sophie (Hannah) but these poems are all about me in fact...
About reunions of colleagues from long ago, and how so often you now have very little in common. Those halcyon days can never be recaptured...'It's over. It was over long ago.' says Wendy Cope and I thought ' Yes, I've been there.'
Remembering a day when your parents came to visit you in your student (in my case student nurse's) room because they were nearby. And how you never told them how fed up you were feeling, but how much good it did you to see them. ' I never loved them more than on that day' says Wendy and I thought, 'Blimey Wendy, I'd forgotten all about that but by jove you are right.'
The flat in Islington, London in 1972 ( Haringey,1975 for me) and the boyfriends...least said, but Wendy Cope and I could have been flatmates. In fact one of my flatmates was called Wendy and... well something like this did happen.
The fears that you have about losing a partner, about one of you 'disappearing to the eternal yonder'. Yes, Wendy Cope, I would want to make me and mine immortal too.
And if immortality is not to be and stuff happens, then 'One Day' says everything I would want and more, truly consoling..
'Trusting in our love, a sturdy boat
That's served us pretty well, year after year.'
There is a fine sequence of poems about Shakespeare, and some wonderful responses to individual sonnets...
On Sonnet 22 .... ‘My glass can’t quite persuade me I am old - in that respect my ageing eyes are kind...’ and Wendy had my full attention and complete agreement.
And I’m going to be hard put not to giggle the next time I see the Archbishop of Canterbury...but I won’t spoil that one.
And happy memories of singing Que Sera with my mum, but I won’t spoil that one either.
If it is consolation I am seeking the collection has it on almost every page. Chances to smile, to laugh at myself, to think ‘I must read that again when [insert here wherever it is ] happens, but above all to feel reassured.
I have purposely included only brief quotes because I remember reading something by Wendy Cope a few years ago, about the unfairness of people just grabbing a poet's work and plastering it around the internet without permission. I'm going off to do some sackcloth and ashes because, I may have occasional sins to answer for on here.
After a week I feel I have barely scraped the surface of this collection of fifty-two or so poems, it has much more to give me so I will be back writing more about it dreckly I feel sure. And it is on that basis I commend Anecdotal Evidence to the house because I would love to discuss it with you all. More evidence, were it needed, that poetry has to be the very best value for money going.
If you share the love please do leave your thoughts in comments.