I seem to have mislaid my camera somewhere in the perilous mess created by moving halfway across the country. I am never very good at believing I have lost anything, and keeping checking the bag I thought it was in forlornly. But to no avail.
Thus, no winning pictures of the coy hollyhock outside my window, the merry carpet of windfall apples in my garden, or the decaying grandeur of the bench beside the back door, satisfied with itself despite peeling green paint and rotten wood.
But it is the thought that counts, sort of.
It is an unnecessarily gorgeous day in Cambridge: one of those south-of-England autumnal specimens which Scots refuse point-blank to believe in out of envy. It is perhaps made even more wonderful by the fact that, at ten to nine this morning, I will have a freshly made apple crumble, from apples in the garden, wafting away smugly on a cooling rack. I know, insufferability at its most potently domestic.
There is, however, a smudge of darkness across this otherwise rosy horizon: Latin. Declining, supining, conjugating, hesitating, and tripping over endings like spare shoes. I am trying not to sink back into a sixth-form, pencil chewing, hair-fiddling apathy mixed with panic, which I associate inextricably with dead languages. I am surrounded by unnecessarily intelligent fellow-learners, and feel a little as if Latin has gained the consistency of soup, and I am a fly which has forgotten how to swim.
Other things creep in though, which alleviate the discomfort of the ancient. Poems, sometimes, and fancy ideas for novels, and more tangibly, the pub, and new people, and punting, and difficult reunions, and the discovery of how much chili one should or should not add to lentil stew.
I have been watching America’s Next Top Model, which has no equal in the field of ludicrous television, and from it, looking at posing. As a lady with burlesque aspirations, I am particularly interested in the idea of what can be communicated through arranging your body in a certain way and then holding it there. Whilst no high fashion afficionado, I appreciate other forms of posing. Of particular interest recently has been Sunset Boulevard. As well as being a film so meta that it feels like a very well-directed trip, it is a film which questions the legitimacy of the female body (and the relevance of the body in relation to the voice), partially through dramatic posing. A dynamic relationship between moments of movement and statue-esque, almost gargoylian poses exposes the fundamental difficulty of the pose: it whisks off the veil created by movement. When there is no swish of fabric, no flutter of veil, and no background movement of props, even the most magnificent woman may suddenly seem older, frailer, and less glamorous than grotesque. I do have, however, a fondness for the pose as an invitation to examine the subject closely, critically, without mercy.
On which note, I am about to go and examine my crumble in a similar way, and then scrutinise Psalm 2, in Jeremiah’s Vulgate version, and attempt to extricate sense from an excess of literality on the part of the original translator into latin, and a lack of literality on mine.
Then, to the pub, because really, what is autumn for other than posing in knitwear whilst sipping cider by a fulsome river in tones of red, brown and fading green?