Wednesday 2 August 2006

International Urdu Literature Conference & Kensal Green Open Day

It's not just 'The shadows, the meadows, the lanes / The guildhalls, the carved choirs' that have gone. They haven't particularly, just changed their character under a deluge of visitors.  What scarcely lasted his time was a much dingier world - Churches, cemeteries, station hotels, digs, local trains, bikes, the seaside, parks, libraries. Larkin's world is no longer ours.  The unvisited church is now so unvisited it has mutated into a carpet warehouse or a furniture cave; the cemetery has been landscaped and incorporated into a heritage trail and precinct (largely pre-precinct) has swallowed the coach party annexes and the banquet halls up yards.  The fumes and certainly the furnace glare of Sheffield are no more, his awful pipe would be quality controlled and if Whitsun remains it's only on the church calendar and provokes no rush to the altar: the 'Spring Bank Holiday weddings' would not be quite the same.  
                                    Only the moon, strong, unhindered, dashing through the clouds or thinned to an air- sharpened blade ... only the moon persists in a world that, even in Hull, has changed, if not beyond recognition certainly beyond any poetic impulse Larkin had in his sad unwriting years to recognize it. This change is acknowledged, just, in his last notable poem ‘Aubade’ (1977).  Unpack the phrase 'All the uncaring / intricate rented world' and you have much of what has happened to England since his death - Or his 2 deaths, the death of the poetry and the death of the man. Typical, he might grumble, that someone in such dread of death should be made to go through it twice.
        Alan Bennett.  Untold Stories.  (Faber & Faber, 2005).  540.
People from all over the Urdu-speaking literary world. Indo-Pak TV channel reps who interview the likes of Madeline Albright, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, drama actors and actresses (some of whom I recognised), people discussing Mir and Ghalib! Enormous beauties swaying in colourful dresses, one publisher even gives me his contact card saying he would publish my biography of Mir! Great Food! The highlight, however, is the function of Ghazals by 2 ladies - Understand why Ghalib too had fallen for a Domni - One Ghazal each of Fez and Ghalib - It is a beautiful evening and I regret not being able to attend the second day for the Moshairah.

On to the Kensal Green Open Day. I should've done some work on the poets kept there, found their graves, taken photos - Which I'll have to do at a later stage. I've still not seen the grave of Byron's wife. The Open Day is always an amazing experience as it is this year though not as much as my first time 2 years ago. I go down into the catacombs and I take some photos before leaving.