To some extent, I am still a bit of a country bumpkin. I am a product of my upbringing but I am also autistic and a fussy person when it comes to food. I am getting better. My love of croissants, for example, came after a meeting I had with an employment adviser in Edinburgh when he shared his breakfast of an almond croissant with me. I tend to be more adventurous when there isn’t a choice. For example, recently I was at a friend’s house for dinner and almost everything I ate and otherwise consumed that evening was unknown to me, with the sole exception of a French martini, which I had tried on a previous visit. I enjoyed it too, not just the food and company but encountering something new. I spend a lot of my leisure time travelling but it isn’t entirely new as an experience. Spending time on buses and trains is familiar and comfortable. Eating chilli or broccoli soup isn’t. Neither is being social, at least to start with.
The reason I mention it is the serendipity that sometimes happens when you are thinking about something and the world responds to it. I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter called Lunchtime Poetry, put together by Laura Waddell of Freight Books. I think I have written about it before in the context of Pablo Neruda. One of the poems a couple of weeks ago was ‘Naming it’ by Leontia Flynn, published in 2004, which reads:
Five years out of school and preachy
with booklearning, it is good to be discovered
as a marauding child.
To think the gloomiest most baffled
misadventures might lead so suddenly
to a clearing – as when a friend
taking me to her well-stocked fridge says:
this is an avocado and this
is an aubergine.
I should add that to my knowledge I have never encountered an avocado or an aubergine. This poem is 54 words long and contains at least three moments that give me pause. I am just shy of ten years out of school though while I can be preachy at times, hopefully what comes out of my puss isn’t always booklearning. Hopefully I am still a marauding child, though, or at least a marauding man-child. I am still on the hunt for new experiences and adventures, or more likely baffled misadventures, which seems like a neat description of much of my life to date.
Leontia Flynn, incidentally, I hadn’t encountered before. I’m glad I did. I just looked at her website and she is from Northern Ireland, County Down to be precise, though now lives in Belfast. Read some of the poems on her website, ‘The Vibrator’ particularly is excellent. They are neatly worked poems, conveying a lot with not a lot, the best kind of poetry with those that take the feet out from under you with just a few stray words.