It was probably Oscar Wilde who said something like, 'nothing distresses me more than the success of my friends' (and it was definitely me that said, 'you can waste your time googling misremembered quotations, I can't be arsed.'). But this is an example of a rare instance where the blessed Oscar (or whoever) and I are not in agreement. I actually get a kick out seeing those of my acquaintance (whether perfunctory or perpetual) doing well, getting on the world or otherwise achieving things that I haven't yet got round to. Such as being a prizewinning poet and Booker shortlisted novellist like Gerard Woodward who gets a whole page to himself in today's Guardian Review.
I was at Falmouth with Gerard in the early eighties and have fairly vivid memories this particular scene,
'The climax of his abortive artistic career was the construction of a "giant rubbish tip with a sausage roll on the top, and the names of tutors on various bits of litter: my clumsy way of saying the college was crap and the canteen was the only good thing about it.'
I didn't necessarily share his views at the time (personally, I was having the time of my life), other than about the excellence of the canteen but I could definitely see where he was coming from.
The last time I met Gerard was one of those surreal occasions where we were both in the middle of doing something else and were introduced to each other by someone who I knew slightly and he not at all. The resulting three way conversation (with added time constraints) was a puzzle to all of us. It's one of the few discernible benefits of facebook that I've been able to make contact with him again and been able to blag a freebie of his new poetry collection , The Seacunny. Not only that but he has kindly inscribed it with the unique dedication 'To Dave (not for resale on ebay)'. Incidentally, that Booker nomination was for 'I'll Go To Bed At Noon' one of the few books that I've actually bought multiple copies of to give to friends (although they were from Poundland, sorry Gerard). I'm tempted to wonder if the single anonymous 1 star review on the Amazon page was from a disgruntled ex tutor from Falmouth.
Anyway, enough with plugging other people's work, make a date in your diary for Sunday 16th December when The Picture Palace will be at Bank Square Arts Market's final event before Christmas, undercover and in the warm (I'm happy to say) at Tavistock Pannier Market. New work, cards and a maybe a little tinsel will be on offer.
Work in progress and other stuff that happens.