Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Putinesque in the Cotswolds

Paul Bailey’s Joie de vivre was celebrated at Daunts in Holland Park on Wednesday last week. It was joyful, there was joie de vivre, and I could post photos to illustrate that but not now. This is not the right week.

Among the poems Paul read was one from the Kurdish, starting: ‘When the first people were fleeing, I fled. / When the first fires were started, I was burnt.’ The Kurdish man he had the original from, not a poet at all, was there.

Another poem for the book, about the body of a migrant child washed up on a beach, didn’t make the cut. How to write that poem better? How to live better? ‘“There’s no one to say,” she said flatly.’ That’s the reply given by a woman in a novel I’m currently reading to a man who has just said, in the course of a desultory domestic argument, ‘I wish someone would tell me how I can live.’

There I go again, back into books. I’m bookish. Books are important but they are not that important. Instead of a photo of a book launch, here’s a picture of a Putinesque building designed ‘for an estate in the Cotswolds near the village of Chipping Norton, UK’. If the owners run out of milk, they can pop next door to David Cameron. I’m sure his fridge is well stocked. ‘Named St John's House, the 6,692-square-metre home has been drafted for a 60-acre site that is currently being sold by Sotheby’s International Realty.’ After 24 February there may be fewer shell companies owned by Russian oligarchs in the bidding queue but there are still plenty others this government of shopkeepers kowtows to. What's happening in Ukraine is happening not least because of the continued greed, corruption and complicity with Putin this country has consistently voted into power.