The window cleaner seems to dance as he wipes away the suds from the opticians window.
When I was at school I first learnt about T. S Eliot from fellow students rather than from teachers. Modern poetry as taught was Rupert Brooke, John Masefield, Walter de la Mare. That dates me I know. But it hadn't discouraged me from reading The Wasteland. This is the Penguin edition of Eliot's Selected Poems, which I bought at the time for 1s 6d. It contained among other poems which I grew to love The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. But it was the poet's 1922 masterpiece that I found most difficult and was determined to fathom. Here is the opening page with my pencilled notes on the blank page facing (the source of which I cannot remember). So it was revealed to me how Eliot fed into the poem strands of his reading from Jessie Weston's From Ritual to Romance to The Book of Ecclesiastes; from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde to Dante's Inferno; from Virgil to Baudelaire. Today, more than 60 years later I acquire an app on The Wasteland which includes: the text of the poem, a facsimile of the manuscript with Ezra Pound's suggested changes, Eliot himself reading the poem, a performance of it by the actress Fiona Shaw and some notes more precise and detailed than I ever had access to. I count myself lucky, oh so lucky to live at a time when technology opens doors the existence of which we never dreamt of in those bleak post-World War 2 years.
As I walk past wheelie-bins bursting with cast-off wrapping paper and card boxes which once contained the books and clothes, gadgets and toys lavished a couple of days ago as presents, I find myself thinking about returning to a simple existence where basic things matter and give pleasure enough. How hypocritical or at least inconsistent that I, of all people, who revel in gadgets, apps and DVDs, and consume away with the best and most accomplished of consumers, should have allowed such a thought to creep into my plump and greedy soul! But creep in it did, and I feel the need to record it.