• Keith Dersley

Chats in the Time of Covid, #9

Wednesday 1.VII.2020


Got, apart from a few pieces of tinkering, two podcasts of dining room chat in the can: Red Wine Dialogues. We’ve got ‘Early Imaginings’, with Brian Cohen, and ‘Catching Nostalgia’ with Graham and Julie Kemp.


I always thought that the sparks and glints you get when you and your friends have loaded the plates and extracted the cork deserve to be commemorated, and here some are. Some. More, actually, than I would have thought.


Now we’re painting with sound—and with light as well, because due to Covid-19, Zoom’s distance-shrinking technology has got to be used. I never even wanted to move to the computer back when. I would have stuck to the manual typewriter if I could. As for scribbling, the odour of the writing box brings back that of the books of Haggard and Buchan, but I have to change with the changes. The new way of creating now, or one of them, is with your High Definition webcam retailing at an extremely reasonable tariff. Years ago a shorthand artist would follow a famous writer around and jot down his pearls of conversation. Not unlike the webcam or phone cam.


I made a clip of me reading one of the poems from ‘All the Red Brick Streets’. I rolled my eyes on one line, thinking that this was a good bit of ‘heightening of the emotion’, but it came out so over the top it ruined the clip. They say at Warner Brothers and Universal it all depended on the adjustment of tiny dials and screws. You could go all day and get a few seconds of film that were usable. It’s similar with my version of Sesame Street here. You can get weird whistling noises in your speech, or grunts or clicks. They can spoil a shoot. (‘Shoot’!) The hardest thing is to be natural. You solve one hitch and two new ones appear.

Yesterday Joan went up the concrete corridor steps to our neighbour (also Joan) and

told her, on this her 100th birthday, to look out of her kitchen window. Down there on the grass I had come out through the French window with my music stand and guitar. I sang her ‘Happy Birthday’. Smiles and giggles and blown kisses. (We gave her a card yesterday too, went up in white masks.)

Got Desolation Angels on the Kindle. I’ve been promising myself the reread for ages. I bought this book in the Panther edition I think it was, in 1970 at University. I read the thing two or three times. Why then, did I wait fifty years before getting another copy and diving in? (I lost or misplaced the first copy.)


Well, it stirs the old git today just as it roused cherished emotions and poetic moods in the student.


The first part of the book is over-poetic maybe. Jackie Duluoz is up on the mountain, fire watching, and he muses on ancient Chinese and Japanese poets (also mountain dwellers sometimes) and lets his words dance and float, humorously and whimsically. A student I showed this part too in the snack bar invoked the name of Joyce.


In the second section, we get Kerouac returning to the world, going to meet his crazy jazz freak friends who are Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, etc., under other names. Enough said, I’m getting into that part now, it’s sublime and delicious.


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