Saturday, 4 September 2010

In Lakeland in Spirit

So. 4th September and no swim.
I am disappointed and also, in truth, relieved. I don't feel in peak fitness (ha ha). What I mean is that, although the physical act of swimming a mile would have been feasible for me, I didn't feel mentally prepared for the event. Again, if I'd had to do it, I'd have been able to, but I'm glad to have been let off the hook. The organisers will be in touch before Tuesday with some options which are likely to include: an alternative date for Windermere in the next couple of weeks, transfer of place to the Great Swim in Salford Docks (hmm...that  just doesn't seem to have the same ring as Windermere somehow...), transfer of fee to next year's swim, refund of fee. 
Not sure yet which of those I'd go for. 
This week I've been reading Intimates by Helen Farish. This book won the Forward Prize for best first collection in 2005. She had a residency in Grasmere and lectures on the creative writing course at the University of Lancaster. I love the direct style of her poems which are also intriguing and somehow mysterious. I like poems which manage to combine those elements. Here's a poem from the collection which puts us in the Lake District, to mark the day.


I love to see the symbols on the map -
the cross, the less-than-4-metres-wide road,
the pub (named even). And I love
to see us as symbols and everything 
we saw: the two men
chess-playing at Skelwith Fold
in back-porch sunshine, mark it
with T for tranquillity. Put a P
in the graveyard for picnic (teabread,
coffee). An A just there on the verge
for sapling (ash) - how much growth
that summer? And the bend in the road
a double S for smiles (the greengold
light, the veneer of wood-water,
the tilt). And a capital J for summer
(joy), and a D for don't
(let this end), and a G and T left behind
at the pub (empty) and a capital U
for God saying I and the entire
universe wish this walk well.
By the Brathay and the underwater
bubbles that began us, an M
for completion by moonlight.
And all over, write, in full:
The Dazzle of this World.

Helen Farish
Intimates (Jonathan Cape, 2005)


  1. Swimming a mile, are ye mad!Lovely poem.

  2. and plenty more where that came from TFE! and mad...? well maybe....!