Thursday, 25 October 2007

beer, coffee and novels

The writer Tessa West answered my appeal on the college intranet so after the core module lecture we hooked up for a coffee at La Parisienne as it's nearby and a latte is only £1.20 there!

With a full time student ID the coffee stall opposite the school will do you a latte to go for £1 which must be the cheapest anywhere. La Parisenne's service can be slow but then we weren't in a rush. With the place being empty, I wasn't going to be self-conscious about talking about me.

Tessa is quick and lively and is very clear about her purpose and ambition with her art, craft, call it what you will. She's got an interesting CV from her work in prisons and sounds like she's into thorough histories on obscure subjects. Something she's working on right now seems a lot more 'nerdy' than water towers.

She gave me her second novel 'The Reed Flute' to read. I gave her one of the last copies of the water tower guide. Her work has themes I can relate to; the power of landscape, grief and longing (and that's the first chapter) and she gets what I'm on about with towers. We shared mad ideas to subvert the publishing system and so who knows what will come of it.

I read it waiting for the bus for the Park and Ride (which turned out to be quite an appropriate setting) and I detected a cadence in the structure. I don't know if that's deliberate and related to music or just a facet of her 'voice' as a writer. Of the writers I know, none of them speak in any way recognisable from what they write. (Although Alan Bennett has about the most perfect voice for his own words). It might be possible with a writer you know well to identify anonymous extracts and you might identify their voices blind but I doubt anyone could match any quantity of anonymous text to a writer's speaking voice

We had to break it off after one cup because we both had things to do: I had to this critical mission to get my laptop power cord PAT tested. To plug a laptop into the college's networt you have to go to the IT help desk in one building for a form where they log your MAC numbers and you sign it saying you won't look at porn. Then you go to the main building to find the caretaker to PAT test your power supply . That done, you then go another building to find another bod in IT tech services to run a virus check. Only then you can go back to IT help desk for your log in password.

This is why I didn't go to the real ale festival being held in the old church-now-venue next to the college at lunchtime. It was hugely popular; by 2 PM the queue snaked down the street for 100 yards. When I went home the church was being evacuated. Two fire tenders and a TV crew were already there and about five thousand blokes standing around a wondering WTF was going on. As everyone was in a jocular mood and no doubt full of a few pints, if there had been a fire, they could have probably put it out themselves.

I might submit this blog as the course requirement to keep a learning journal.

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